Skip to main content

Full text of "Leisure labors; or, Miscellanies historical, literary, and political"

See other formats








846 & 348 BROADWAY. 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by 


In the Clerk'* Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 
District of New York. 




Eminent alike as a jurist, a statesman, and the friend of general litera- 
ture, I dedicate this book, as an humble evidence of the high value I set 
upon his friendship, and of my appreciation of those qualities of charac- 
ter which have drawn to him such universal attachment and respect. 

J. B. C. 
LONGWOOD, Aiigust, 1857. 














THIS is quite an old book, but, under the circum- 
stances of the day, not too old to be examined, or 
rather re-examined, and brought, along with its distin- 
guished subject, to the test of a critical review. For 
reasons which may appear during this examination, we 
begin by expressing our sincere regret that such a 
work, in view of all its contents, was ever given to the 
world ; and we are as little able to appreciate the 
motive as we are to admire the taste which prompted 
the editor to compile and publish such a series: A 
series of private papers, containing indeed many things 
extremely interesting and valuable as political history, 
but suggesting much that is painful in the same con- 
nection, and subjecting his venerable relative to a 
criticism that might have slumbered but for this un- 
wary challenge. We have long been of the opinion, 
that sons or immediate relatives of deceased statesmen, 
whose lives have been commingled with the fierce po- 
litical storms of the republic, should be the very last 
persons who undertake the task of giving to the world 
the life, character, and correspondence of their fathers. 

* Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, from tlie papers of 
Thomas Jefferson. Edited by THOMAS JEFFERSON RANDOLPH. Boston 
and New York. 1849. 


It is, under any circumstances, and by whomsoever it 
may be undertaken, a task of great delicacy, requiring 
the clearest faculties of discrimination, the nicest sense 
of prudence, and the nicest guarded vigilance. It is 
rare that sons, or relatives, can lay themselves under 
such restraint when their subject is viewed only in the 
light which affection dictates ; one to whose faults filial 
tenderness and respect have kindly blinded them, and 
whose virtues shine to their vision with a lustre which 
the golden eye of the world receives undazzled. De- 
formities appear where least expected, and are evolved 
from- passages and scenes which seemed to a partial 
judgment only as so much that was bright and honor- 
able ; and while charity may lift its soft mantle to shield 
the motive from harsh impeachment, it cannot disarm 
criticism of its legitimate province, nor be suffered to 
detract from the truth of history. When the angler 
casts his hook into the stream it is not for him to select 
what he brings up. He must be content to abide the 
issue. And while we are fully willing to allow to the 
poet or the painter, all the indulgences which the " Ars 
Poefica " claims for them on the score of craft^ we can- 
not consent to apply a like rule to biographers and 
historians, nor even to those who make their appear- 
ance before the world under the less pretending, but 
not less responsible character of editors of private 
papers and correspondence. These last may, indeed, 
be shielded from much that the two first do not hope 
to escape ; but they are fairly and fully liable in the 
way of taste, judgment, and that method of argument 
which looks to attain by inferences from ingenious col- 
lation and compilation, the same end that might be 
less easily accomplished by a different and more direct 

We sfiall not deviate from the immediate objects of 


this review to find fault with our editor's preface. It 
does not encroach on modesty, and infringes naught of 
that propriety which should govern the form of a pub- 
lication emanating from a source so intimately allied 
with its distinguished subject. Indeed, he could not 
have said less, or said better, if he said any thing at all ; 
and if Mr. Randolph could have squared his selection 
and compilation by as perfect a rule of taste, our pen 
might never have been employed in its present task. 

The life, character, and public career of Thomas 
Jefferson are identified with much that is glorious and 
interesting in the early history of these United States, 
and the struggle for independence that resulted in 
their severance from the parent country. The first 
germs of that mighty intellect which afterwards im- 
pressed itself on every department of the government, 
and diffused its influences so widely through every 
class of our people, were called into life in the dawn 
of that troubled era. Its blossoms expanded and open- 
ed with the progress of the Revolution, and ere yet the 
old Continental Congress met beneath the sycamores 
of Independence Square, its fruits had ripened in the 
fullest and most luxurious maturity. The events amidst 
which he had been forced into manhood were too hur- 
ried and interesting, the opening scenes of the drama 
too exciting and startling, and their promise too en- 
ticing, not to draw out in full strength and majesty the 
richest treasures of one of the master minds of the 
period, and develope in the inception those peculiar and 
vast powers, which, but for their occurrence, might 
have lurked under ground for long years subsequently, 
and in all probability, might never have reached the same 
enviable climax. Nor did he enter on the scene grudg- 
ingly, or by insensible degrees. His heart was fired 
from the beginning, and his first advance into the very 


body of the melee. He staked all, and became at once, 
and among the earliest, one of the responsible person- 
ages of the struggle. The memoir or autobiography 
with which the volumes before us open, affords a very 
sufficient clew to explain this precocious ardor. When 
the great debate in the Virginia House of Burgesses 
against the Stamp Act took place, Jeffersgn, as he tells 
us himself, was yet a student of law at Williamsburgh. 
Among the members who participated was Patrick 
Henry. His genius had then just burst from obscurity, 
and an eloquence scarcely akin to earth had dazzled all 
Virginia an eloquence which lives, as it must ever 
live, in tradition alone. The circumstances were most 
thrilling the occasion pne of intense anxiety.. The 
annunciation of the Stamp Act had thrown a feeling of 
despondency and gloom over the entire republic. 
Hearts which had never faltered, spirits which had 
never quailed, minds which had never shrunk before, 
seemed now on the point of giving way. Even the 
presses, which heretofore had sounded nothing short 
of direct rebellion, were manifestly confounded, and 
their tone changed suddenly from resistance to con- 
solatory appeals and submission. It was evident that 
the dreaded crisis was at hand. " It was just at 
this moment of despondency in some quarters, of sus- 
pense in others, and surly and reluctant submission 
wherever submission appeared, that Patrick Henry 
stood forth to rouse the drooping spirit of the people, 
and to unite ail hearts and hands hi the cause of his 
country." He projected and moved the celebrated 
resolutions in opposition to the Stamp Act, and resolved 
to support their adoption with the full and concen- 
trated force of that supreme oratory, which swept, 
tempest-like, from one quarter of the confederacy to 
the other, thrilling, trumpet-toned, and resistless 


and nerved even weakness to lift an opposing voice. 
Jefferson was a listener from the lobby. His young 
and ardent mind drank in eagerly the inspiring 
draughts, and his bosom throbbed with emotions of 
unknown, inexplicable ecstasy. The display, so splen- 
did, so unnaturally original, and so overpowering in its 
effects and influences, took his imagination captive, and 
enchained his senses with dream-like delight. The 
elements of sympathy were too strong to resist the 
effort, and his judgment followed his imagination. " He 
appeared to me," says the memoir, " to speak as 
Homer wrote." This thought gave birth to the after 
man. All the entrancing pictures, and vivid scenes, 
and splendid imagery of the Iliad were here brought, 
by a magic stroke, in full embodiment and bewildering 
reality. America oppressed struggling imploring 
was a theme more alluring than " the weightier matter 
of the law ; " and fancy, returned from the flaming 
walls and crimsoned rivers of Troy, found in the suf- 
ferings of Boston the living semblance of imagined 
woes, and fastened there with a tenacity that soon en- 
listed the strongest sympathies of his towering mind. 
The impression thus made was never forgotten, but 
strengthened with daily reflection ; and we are at ho 
loss to account for that restless ardor and untiring 
energy which characterized Jefferson through every 
and all phases of the great strife that followed. 

Four years subsequent to this period, Jefferson had 
become a member of the General Assembly. The in- 
sulting and arrogant address of the British Lords and 
Commons on the proceedings in Massachusetts was the 
first matter which engaged attention at the opening of 
the session. Jefferson took a prominent and undis- 
guised part in getting up counter resolutions, and an 
address to the King from the House of Burgesses. A 


dissolution by the Governor followed,. but the patriots 
met by concert in a hall of the Raleigh tavern, called 
the Apollo, and there drew up articles of association 
against any further commercial intercourse with Great 
Britain. Copies were signed and distributed "among 
the people, and the people sanctioned the proceedings, 
foiling to re-elect those only who had given reluctant 
assent to the course of the majority. Lord Botecourt 
was excitable, a thorough Briton in feeling and prepos- 
session, and, as might naturally have been supposed, 
violently opposed to the pretensions of the American 
colonies. Angry contests followed. In the interval he 
was succeeded by Lord Dunmore. Dunmore, already 
incensed, was still more impracticable and unapproach- 
able, and vastly more obstinate and imperious than 
even Botecourt. As it happened, an interregnum of 
comparative quiet followed. The Governor, flippant 
and vain-glorious, grew inordinately sanguine. But, 
in the meanwhile, a new storm was darkening the 
horizon. In the spring of 1773 a grievance of a char- 
acter far more aggravating than any which had yet 
been considered, became a topic of discussion in the 
:ubly. This was the institution by Great Britain 
of a Court of Inquiry, with power to transfer to Eng- 
land, persons committed for offences in the American 
colonies. Opposition to this at once became universal 
and alarming. It was even regarded with more abhor- 
rence than the stamp act or the duty -on tea. It caused 
ihc most conservative and moderate to despair of re- 
conciliation with the mother country. Voices which 
hitherto had been silent, now raised the cry of resist- 
ance resistance to the extremity. Fuel was added to 
tin- flame of revolution. Rebellion seemed inevitable. 
Men were convinced that it was the only remedy. 
Then, for the first time, the star of Independence, like 


the first light of hope, appeared on the verge of the 
horizon. Its genial ray, though ephemeral and meteoric 
for the time, was welcomed as the beacon of safety. 
Lukewarm members of the Assembly, whose courage 
and whose zeal diminished as difficulties increased, were 
promptly thrust aside, and such spirits as Henry, the 
two Lees, Carr, and Thomas Jefferson, were placed in 
the van. The crisis was soon reached. It was pro- 
posed and carried at a private meeting in the Apollo, 
that committees of correspondence and safety be es- 
tablished between the colonies. The resolutions to 
this effect were drawn up and prepared by Jefferson. 
They were proposed, at his suggestion, by Dabney 
Carr, his brother-in-law. Of this committee, Peyton 
Randolph was appointed chairman. Measures were 
forthwith taken to communicate their action to the 
different colonies. Messengers were despatched, and 
it is said that those from Massachusetts and Virginia, 
each bearing similar propositions and tidings, crossed 
on their way. This presents a fair question for his- 
torical research. We shall pause long enough only to 
give one or two facts, and our own inference from 
those facts. 

There cannot, we think, be any fair or rational doubt 
as to the real source from which such proposition 
originally emanated. Universal suffrage will assign its 
proper authorship to the distinguished subject of the 
volumes now before ns. But that a plan similar to it 
in purpose, had been previously proposed by Samuel 
Adams in Massachusetts, is a settled fact. As we in- 
cline to think, after a careful and minute examination 
of the leading authorities, the Virginia plan of com- 
mittee correspondence was intended to embrace all the 
colonies, the Massachusetts plan only the cities and 
towns of that particular province. A strong proof of 


this is found in the simple fact that no such plan as 
that suggested by Jefferson was ever submitted to the 
Virginia Assembly as coming from Massachusetts. On 
the contrary, such plan did reach, and was laid before 
the Legislature of the latter colony as a suggestion 
from the Virginia Assembly. The plan of interior or 
local correspondence belongs to Massachusetts. The 
plan of colonial inter-communication originated in Vir- 
ginia. The first of these, we incline to think, was the 
most prudent and practical method, but the latter 
looked more to the grand ulterior result, viz. : united 
resistance to the aggressions of Britain. 

These proceedings happened early in the spring of 
1773. In the meanwhile, events and their consequences 
were rapidly combining to stir the waking spirit of 
rebellion, and clearly foreshadowed the grand issue. 
The interdict of Boston harbor, or as- it is commonly 
called, the Port Bill, passed the British Parliament 
early in the year succeeding. The news reached the 
colonies in the spring, and thrilled with electric violence 
from Cape Cod to the Savannah. So far from increas- 
ing the confusion and dismay which had followed on 
the passage of the Stamp Act, or allaying the patriotic 
tumult, this intelligence served only to nerve the bolder 
spirits and to re-assure the weak. It roused the people 
from their temporary lethargy, and incited them to 
prepare for extreme measures. The Virginia Assembly 
moved promptly and unshrinkingly up to the mark, and 
passed a resolution setting apart and recommending 
the first day of June, on which day the Port Bill was 
to be carried into effect, for a day of fasting and prayer, 
imploring Heaven to avert the horrors of civil war. 
The design was obvious, and the language employed 
terribly significant. The Governor promptly dissolved 
them; but the spirit which animated the majority of 


those who had passed the resolution, was not so to be 
subdued. Jefferson, although no orator and never essay- 
ing to speak, had now become the master workman in 
that distinguished assembly. The work of the House 
was entrusted mainly to his discretion and guidance, 
although the junior of many whose names had already 
become distinguished. But his whole heart and mind, 
the entire energies of his own nature, were given to 
the task he had undertaken. Nothing was allowed to 
distract or seduce him from the pursuit of the grand 
object which possessed him. The attractions of, a 
polished society, the temptations of joyous social inter- 
course, -the allurements of a home made cheerful and 
happy by a lovely young wife, were all insufficient and 
powerless to divert him for an instant. It is hardly, 
then, to be wondered at that a man thus sleeplessly and 
entirely absorbed by the startling events now daily 
transpiring, especially when we consider that, even at 
his then early age, the evidences of that strong and 
towering intellect, which afterwards lifted its possessor 
to the side of the greatest in the world, were already 
stamped on many an enduring monument, should have 
been entrusted with the work of a body whose proceed- 
ings were giving tone to the sentiments of the entire 

On this occasion he was ready for the emergency. 
The dissolution had scarcely been announced, before 
measures were taken to hold a private meeting at the 
Apollo. The members promptly assembled, and on 
that night was projected and passed the most impor- 
tant resolution ever adopted on the American continent. 
It was the initiative step of the revolution, the one 
from which all that followed was -traced, the beginning 
which led to the glorious end. This was the proposi- 
tion to the various colonial committees, that delegates 


should assemble in a Congress, to be holden at such 
place as might be agreed on, annually, and to consider 
the measures proper to be adopted for the general in- 
terest ; declaring further, that an attack on one colony 
should be considered an attack on the whole. This 
was in May. The proposition was acceded to; dele- 
gates were elected in the August next ensuing, and on 
the 4th of September, Philadelphia having been agreed 
on as the place, the first Continental Congress assem- 
bled in Independence Hall. Its important and splendid 
proceedings are known to every reader of American 
history. Jefferson was not then a member; but in 
March of 1^75 he was, by general consent, added to 
the delegation from Virginia. A second career of ac- 
tion now opened before him. He had passed through 
the first honorably and successfully. Another was now 
to be ventured, and an enlarged field of labor and 
usefulness invited to the trial. 

About this time the conciliatory propositions of old 
Lord North, commonly known as the Olive branch, 
were submitted by Gov. Dunmore to a special session 
of the Virginia Assembly. It was found, on close 
examination, to contain nothing which entitled it to so 
honorable a designation ; artful, indefinite, ambiguous, 
and full of that ministerial trickery for which the old 
Premier was so famous. Jefferson, at the solicitation 
of many who dreaded its being replied to from a less 
resolute source, framed the answer of the delegates, 
and, after sonte discussion and " a dash of cold water 
here and 'there,'* the Assembly decided almost unani- 
mously to reject the proposition. They were, of course, 
immediately dissolved, and Jefferson took his departure 
for Philadelphia. He was in his seat on the 21st of 
June. As an evidence of the high esteem in which his 
talents were already held by the members of that 


august and venerable Congress, he was appointed two 
days afterward on one of the most important commit- 
tees of the session, and, indeed, of the whole revolution. 
This was to prepare a declaration of the causes of tak- 
ing up arms in opposition to the exactions of the British 
Parliament. It was a task of the greatest delicacy, and, 
as the premonitory step to an open and general rebellion, 
loaded with many difficulties, especially considering the 
complexion of a portion of the Congress. There were, 
even yet, many who clung to the hope of a speedy and 
satisfactory adjustment. Jefferson knew this well, and, 
being a new member and comparatively a young one, 
he proposed to Gov. Livingston to draw up the paper, 
trusting alike to the influence of his name and charac- 
ter, and to the admirable beauty and readiness of his 
pen. Livingston haughtily and somewhat impertinent- 
ly refused, insinuating to Jefferson that he was quite 
too familiar for " a new acquaintance." The latter re- 
ceded with a Complimentary apology, and on the as- 
sembling of the committee, the duty devolved on Jef- 
ferson himself. Not used to shrink from responsibility, 
Jefferson at once consented to undertake its prepara- 
tion. Of course it was similar in its tone to those 
which had previously been prepared by his pen in Vir- 
ginia. Many objected, and Mr. Dickinson balked out- 
right. Dickinson was among the most fervent of those 
who yet hoped for a reconciliation with Great Britain, 
and in deference to the scruples of one so eminently 
honest, the paper was handed over to him to be put in 
such shape as would more approximate his peculiar* 
views. He presented one entirely different, and as a 
mark of personal favor and indulgence, it was accepted 
and passed by Congress. Another paper from the 
same source was also received and passed by Congress, 
in the midst, however, of general dissatisfaction and 


disgust. This was an address to King George. Its 
humility was inexpressibly contemptible ; but the con- 
script fathers of America were men of compromise and 
moderation, an example which might be patterned 
with some profit by their descendants and successors. 
But the author was delighted with its passage, and 
" although," says the Memoir, " out of order, he could 
not refrain from rising and expressing his satisfaction, 
and concluded by saying, ' There is but one word, Mr. 
President, in the paper which I disapprove, and that 
is the word Congress ; ' on which Ben Harrison arose 
and said, 4 There is but one word in the paper, Mr. 
President, which I approve of, and that is the word 
Congress? " 

On the seventh of June, 1V76, the delegates from 
Virginia, in accordance with instructions, moved " that 
the Congress should declare that these United Colonies 
are, and of right ought to be, free and independent 
States ; that they are absolved from all allegiance to 
the British crown, and that all political connection be- 
tween them and Great Britain is, and ought to be, to- 
tally dissolved ; and that measures should be immedi- 
ately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign 
powers, and a confederation be formed to bind the col- 
onies more closely together." The reading of such a 
resolution startled the whole House. It was, in one 
sense, the utterance of downright treason. But there 
was no avoiding the issue. The majority were resolved, 
and the whole people called for action. Nor did any 
ly doubt for a moment the source from which the 
>lution sprang. All that was culpable and all that 
was meritorious, its odium and its popularity alike be- 
longed to Thomas Jefferson. Its tone, its wording, its 
emphasis and expression, all bore the unmistakable 
impress of his mind. He watched its fate with intense 


anxiety, and the moment of its reception was to him a 
moment of relief and of self-congratulation. He felt 
then as if the die had been irretrievably cast, the Rubi- 
con passed ; that the day had at length arrived " big 
with the fate of Cato and of Rome." But it encoun- 
tered powerful and serious opposition, and from persons 
and quarters where persevering opposition might have 
defeated its passage. Livingston, Rutledge, Dickinson, 
and some others, expressed doubts as to its necessity. 
They argued that action then would be premature, that 
the middle colonies were not ripe for revolt ; that una- 
nimity was the first thing to be desired ; that some dele- 
gates were expressly forbidden to yield assent to any 
such measure ; that France and Spain could not yet be 
counted on ; that England might find the means of sat- 
isfying both of these powers ; and that, above all, there 
was prudence in delay. 

It thus became apparent that New York, New Jer- 
sey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Car- 
olina, "were not matured for falling from the parent 
stem." The consideration of the resolution was, there- 
fore, wisely postponed until the first of July. But a 
great point had, nevertheless, been gained. Congress 
agreed that a committee should be raised for the pur- 
pose of drawing up the form of a Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. This committee consisted of John Adams, 
Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Livingston, and 
Jefferson. The latter was again selected for the duty 
of preparing the draught. We approach this period of 
Mr. Jefferson's public career with sincere and unalloyed 
pleasure. Envy does not interpose, malice itself has 
invented naught to discourage that heartfelt admiration 
which fills all America when contemplating this grand 
achievement. We feel the more gratification from the 
tact that in the course of these pages, we shall be com- 


pelled to offer a contrast between this and a subsequent 
period of his public life, which may not be at all favor- 
able to the latter. 

On the first of July, the resolution of the Virginia 
delegates was taken up and considered. After some 
discussion it was passed. The vote, however, was not 
unanimous. Pennsylvania and South Carolina went 
against it directly. The New York delegation stood 
off, approving the measure, but pleading the want of 
necessary instructions. Delaware was divided. When, 
however, the committee rose and reported to the 
House, Mr. Rutledge requested that final action might 
be suspended until the next day. The suggestion was 
caught at eagerly, and the request granted. No door 
was closed that might preclude unanimity. Accord- 
ingly, when the ultimate question came up, the dele- 
gates from that colony gave an affirmative vote, though 
they disapproved of the terms of the resolution. The 
timely arrival of a third member from Delaware, also 
changed the vote of that colony ; and, in the mean 
time, the Pennsylvania delegation mustering its entire 
strength, cast her final vote in favor of the resolution. 
Thus, out of thirteen colonies, twelve gave their voices 
for Independence, while New York had no authority to 
vote at all. The result of this vote closed all avenues 
to a reconciliation with the mother country, and men's 
minds were, from that auspicious day, turned wholly; to 
contemplating the means and the method of vigorous 
resistance. But another, and the most important, step 
remained yet to be taken. That was to publish to the 
world the Declaration of Independence. The vote on 
the resolution had scarcely been announced, before a 
report was called for from the committee which had 
been previously raised and charged with the^ execution 
of that duty. The task of preparing the draught every 


body knew had been assigned to Jefferson, and all eyes 
were turned instantly towards his seat. The members 
sat in stern and silent expectation. The galleries and 
lobby, the aisles and passages of the Hall were filled to 
overflowing, and trembled beneath the weight of anxious 
and curious spectators. All who were privileged, and 
many who were not, had crowded within the bar, and 
occupied the floor of the House. While this excitement 
was at its height, Jefferson rose, holding in his hand 
the consecrated scroll which spoke the voice of freedom 
for a New World. All was calmed and hushed in a 
moment. We may easily imagine the varied feelings 
of that august body, and of the immense audience, as 
the clear, full-toned voice of the young Virginian sent 
forth the melodious sentences and glowing diction of 
that memorable body and revered document. The an- 
nunciative tone of the first paragraph excited at once 
the most eager attention. The declaration of rights 
followed, and the grave countenances of the delegates 
assumed an aspect of less severe meditation, and opened 
with the inspiration of kindling hope. The enumera- 
tion of wrongs done, and of insults perpetrated, falls in 
succinct cadences from the reader's lips, and the effect 
is told on frowning brows and crimsoned cheeks, and 
in eyes flashing with aroused anger, and the throe of 
bosoms burning with intense sympathy. And when, at 
the close of this significant and withering summary of 
wrongs and oppressions^ the reader came to the elo- 
quent sentence, "A prince whose character is thus 
marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit 
to be the ruler of a free people," a picture presents itself 
to the mind's vision filled with thousands of glowing 
faces, marked with emotions of heartfelt and ominous 
approval. The conclusion was anticipated. The in- 
ward pledge of " life and fortune, and sacred honor," 


had been registered long ere it was reached in due 
course, and the form of subscription gave only the out- 
ward sign of sanction. When Jefferson sat down, he 
took his seat crowned with a fame that will perish only 
with the earth itself, and which has linked his name 
for ever with American Independence. An ecstasy of 
patriotism pervaded the entire audience. Statesmen 
and warriors, divines and philosophers, old and young, 
high and humble, were all alike filled with sensations 
of delight, of fervor, and of buoyant hope. Nor was 
night suffered to put an end to the joyous manifesta- 
tions. The people were aroused ; the spirit of revolu- 
tion had diffused its heat among the masses of the city. 
Bonfires were lighted in the principal streets, and illu- 
minated windows sent forth their merry light ; spark- 
ling libations were quaffed, and the." voluptuous swell" 
of music mingled with the cry of " Freedom and the 
American colonies ! " 

With all its faults, with all its susceptibility to criti- 
cism, we have ever regarded the Declaration of Independ- 
ence as one of the most remarkable and eloquent pro- 
ductions that ever came from a human pen. Association, 
doubtless, has contributed much to induce this preposses- 
sion. It is right that it should do so. It is interwoven 
with the dearest recollections of every true Ameri- 
can. It is whispered to him in the cradle ; it is learned 
by heart in the nursery the boom of every cannon on 
the Fourth of July, imprints it deeper in his memory 
it gathers accumulated force in his youth it is sacredly 
treasured in his old age and yet, candor and the facts 
of history compel us to the belief, that all the glory of 
its composition should not be associated with the name 
of Jefferson alone, although he himself has laid exclusive 
.claim to its authorship in the epitaph prescribed to be 
engraven on his tombstone. Throwing aside the al- 


leged discoveries and researches of Mr. Bancroft, we 
are willing to go to the record as left by Jefferson him- 
self, to support the assertion stated above. The origi- 
nal draught was, doubtless, prepared by Jefferson, un- 
assisted, and without much consultation. But the orig- 
inal was vastly mutilated and cut down by the severer 
pens of Adams and Franklin, and parts of paragraphs 
supplied anew, particularly by the latter. It was 
changed both as to phraseology and sentiment, and 
materially improved in point of taste. These facts will 
be apparent to any who will examine closely the fac 
simile of the original copy appended to the memoir 
of the book now under review. As it was first pre- 
pared, there was an unseasonable preponderance of the 
high-sounding Johnsonian verbosity without the pallia- 
tion of its elegance. It abounded with repetition and 
unmeaning sententiousness in some parts, while para- 
graphs and sentences were prolonged to an extent 
which might have startled Lord Bolingbroke himself, 
who, however, would have missed the grace and polish 
of his own didactic periods. In fact, the entire docu- 
ment underwent a shearing process in the revisory 
hands of the author's coadjutors, and was reproduced 
in a shape that has left it without a parallel of its kind 
in the history of any other nation. Some parts of it 
were really objectionable, and would most certainly 
have created bad blood both in the North and in the 
South. We allude to the long denunciation in the 
original draught, of commerce in slaves, and charging 
that commerce as one of the grievances on the part of 
the British monarch. Two of the Southern colonies, 
Georgia and South Carolina, were clamorous for the 
continuance of this traffic. Citizens of the North were 
the carriers and merchantmen, and it was, therefore, in 
both cases, a question of dollars and cents. Where 


great movements are contemplated, dependent on una- 
nimity for their success, it is hazardous and impolitic to 
begin operations by a war on sectional interests. Both 
Adams and Franklin knew this, and, although they 
must have agreed with Jefferson in the sentiment, they 
advised its total expunction. A few years later, such a 
clause might have met with the heartiest reception, and 
in this day would have been sanctioned by all Christen- 
dom. At that time it was an evil too general to be re- 
buked hi such a document, written, as averred, mainly 
with a view to "a decent respect for the opinions of 
mankind." In IT 7 6 it would have been a difficult mat- 
ter, if history is to be believed, to have laid a finger on 
any portion of enlightened Christianized mankind who 
were not equally obnoxious to the charge of slave-stealing 
'or slave-working as his Britannic Majesty. We speak 
of Governments or organized Societies, else we would 
pause to make an exception here in favor of the Qua- 
kers. This body of unpretending, consistent devotees, 
are the only portion of the Christian world, so far as 
we can now call to mind, whose hands are clear of this 
most abominable and nefarious traffic. 

That Jefferson was thoroughly anti-slavery in his 
notions, the whole of his political history in connection 
with the subject most conclusively establishes. He was 
so, conscientiously and uncompromisingly. He never 
degenerated into rabid or radical abolitionism, but his 
moderation and tolerance evidently cost him many 
struggles. He made known this opposition to slavery 
on every proper occasion, and before every legislative 
body of which he became a member. We find him 
meeting it at every assailable point, heartily endeav- 
oring to promote speedy emancipation, and to impede 
its extension. In the first of these objects he failed en- 
tirely. In the last, he met with gratifying success, 


through means of the celebrated* Ordinance of 1787. 
Among the latest records of his pen, after he had lived 
nearly fourscore years, is the emphatic prophecy, " that 
emancipation must be adopted, or worse would follow. 
That nothing was more certainly written in the book of 
fate, than that these people (the negroes) were to be 
free." The manner of this expression is less that of a 
philosopher than of an enthusiast. Whenever he speaks 
of slavery at all, he speaks of it in terms never less 
moderate than* those quoted ; and its opponents can 
fortify themselves, as we think, with no more reliable 
authority than the name of him who forms the subject 
of these volumes. 

On the fifth of September following the declaration 
of Independence, Jefferson resigned his seat in the co- 
lonial Congress, and became once again a delegate to 
the House of Burgesses of the Virginia Assembly. He 
entered at once upon a difficult line of duties. He in- 
troduced bills establishing Courts of Justice, to regu- 
late titles to property, to prohibit the further importa- 
tion of slaves within the colony, to institute freedom of 
opinion in religion ; and aided in reconstructing the en- 
tire Statutory Code of Virginia. Soon after, he was 
made Governor. He then declined, successively, three 
foreign appointments from Congress. He served the 
Commonwealth with distinguished ability during the 
darkest period of the war, narrowly escaping, several 
times, the dragoons of Tarleton and Simcoe. In the 
spring of 1783 he was again appointed a delegate to 
Congress, then in session at Annapolis. He served 
about a year, when he was again appointed to a foreign 
mission, and this time he accepted. On the sixth day 
of July, 1784, he arrived at Paris, where he was to act, 
in concert with Dr. Franklin and John Adams, in nego- 
tiating and concluding a general treaty of commerce 



with foreign nations. We design not to dwell on this 
portion of his public services, as it does not come prop- 
erly within the range of the object we have in view. 
He remained abroad until September of 1789. Return- 
ing home, he was appointed during the following win- 
ter to the new Department of State, under the Presi- 
dency of George Washington. 

This ends the second and brightest, if not the most 
important epoch of Jefferson's public career. The 
fourth and last may, indeed, have been philosophically 
and tranquilly passed ; but the third, on which we are 
now entering, is chequered alternately with light and 
gloom ; with much that is worthy of admiration, with 
more, we fear, that is obnoxious to censure. We pro- 
ceed to the task of criticism under stern convictions of 
duty, but not without reluctance. 

At this date of his political history, Jefferson con- 
cludes his memoir. Henceforth we must look to the 
Correspondence, and to what other authorities may be 
found appropriate, to complete the object of our inqui- 

Up to the year 1792, no distinct party organization 
had existed. The administration, fortified in the love 
and respect of the entire people, went on swimmingly. 
Washington himself could not be assailed. The other 
members of government were sheltered by the protect- 
ing ^Egis of his popularity. But the gigantic financial 
policy of Alexander Hamilton began now to beget se- 
rious uneasiness in the minds of all who dreaded the 
centralization of power in the hands of the General Gov- 
ernment, and the consequent depreciation of the State 
sovereignties. The State debts had been assumed, and 
a large and powerful body of creditors turned their at- 
tention to the Union, and not to the separate indepen- 
dencies. Duties were laid on imported goods, and the 


merchant transacted his business under the authority 
and patronage of the United States. The Bank, which 
now formed the great connecting link of commerce be- 
tween the States, was of federal origin. The manufac- 
turer looked to the Union for the protection he needed ; 
and the ship-owners and seamen looked also to the same 
quarter for the same favor. A fierce opposition sprang 
up. It found an adroit and a willing leader in Thomas 
Jefferson. lie felt his way cautiously, secretly, and by 
slow degrees. But there was one material obstruction 
in the way of an active and effective opposition. All 
the respectable presses in the country were strongly 
federal ; stout advocates of Washington's administra- 
tion. Nothing could be done, so long as this impedi- 
ment remained in the way.' Jefferson soon fell upon a 
plan to surmount it. His residence in France during 
the revolution, and his intimate acquaintance with the 
revolutionary chiefs, had schooled him in those arts and 
intrigues which ripen party schemes. He had his eye 
now upon a man, the only man perhaps in all America 
admirably adapted to the purposes of the opposition. 
A restless, narrow-minded, distempered little French- 
man, named Philip Freneau, was then conducting a low 
and scurrilous print in the city of New York. His 
boldness and carelessness of character, together with 
some fluency in the language of the fish-market, attract- 
ed the attention of those who were beginning to form 
a plan of opposition to Washington's administration. 
Jefferson, now Secretary of State, tempted him, by the 
offer of a clerkship in his own Department, to remove 
to Philadelphia. The starving Frenchman, whose most 
s-umptuous diet had been only stale crackers and cheese, 
of course jumped at the offer, and pledged himself to 
pursue with indiscriminate rancor, the wisest as well as 
the worst of Washington's measures. The National 


Gazette was established, and a repository of more than 
Augean uncleanness became the head quarters of those 
who had raised their parricidal hands against the Father 
of his Country. "During its short-lived existence," 
says a modern author, " it was notorious for its scan- 
dalous falsehoods and misrepresentations, its fulsome 
adulation of Mr. Jefferson, and its gross abuse of lead- 
ing federal men." The example thus conspicuously set, 
has been ever since assiduously followed by the party 
which dates its origin at this period, and which claims 
the powerful paternity of Jefferson's name and princi- 
ples. We shall not contravene this claim, nor question 
the authenticity of such origin. We believe that the 
claim is well founded, and the origin fairly attested. 
But their efforts against Washington and his adminis- 
tration signally and ingloriously failed. They did not 
venture even to name the real object of assault. The 
demonstration was made against Adams, the Vice 
President, and Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the 
Treasury. Against the administration of the first they 
subsequently succeeded ; while, in connection with the 
latter, they carried their design of opposition by coup- 
ling his name with an undue bias in favor of England ; 
thus making use of the ferocious prejudice which still 
existed against that country. Even so late as 1848, a 
distinguished statesman and Presidential nominee of 
this same radical party, has condescended to avail him- 
self of this odium, supposed to be attached to Hamil- 
ton's name, and, in the same letter (unwittingly, but, 
doubtless) tacitly admits his lineal party descent from 
the Jacobinical faction of 1793, by claiming this period 
as " the starting point of difference " betwixt the two 
great " parties " of the present day. 

In the summer of 1794 occurred the famous, or 
rather infamous, Whiskey Rebellion in the State of 


Pennsylvania. The law of '91 had imposed a duty on 
spirits distilled within the United States. It was vio- 
lently menaced and resisted by the parties interested. 
Inspectors were insulted, officers of the excise tarred 
and feathered, marshals attacked and fired upon. At 
length the patience of the President was exhausted ; he 
marched an army into the disaffected country, and the 
insurrection was speedily quelled. The opposition had 
not discountenanced the course or the cause of the riot- 
ers. Some of their presses had openly fomented and 
excited the revolt. " It was shrewdly suspected," says 
the same author before quoted, " that Jefferson did not 
look with very great reprobation on the Pennsylvania in- 
surrection." This suspicion has not been controverted, 
but rather confirmed, by the tenor of his published cor- 
respondence, and opens a dark and unpleasing chapter 
of his public history. Just previously to this nefarious 
outbreak, he had given utterance to opinions in this 
connection which would have disgraced Fouche or 
Robespierre, and which cannot now be characterized 
by a less mild term than atrocious. Speaking of Shay's 
rebellion in Massachusetts, he had said, "God forbid 
we should even be twenty years without such a rebellion. 
What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are 
not warned from time to time that the people preserve 
the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The 
remedy is, to set them right as to facts, pardon and 
pacify them. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from 
time to time with the blood of patriots and of tyrants." 
We venture the assertion that no sentiments more 
anarchical and dangerous can be found in any docu- 
ment of history from the period of Machiavelli's 
" Prince " to Dorr's Manifesto. They are precisely the 
sentiments which animated such men as Jack Cade 
and Watt Tyler, and Philip Freneau, and Callender, 


and Citizen Genet. The Russian Strelitzes or the 
Turkish Janizaries cannot be charged with motives 
more criminal, or with deeds more abhorrent than such 
sentiments would have brought about. The only palli- 
ation for^their utterance is to be found in that charity 
which covers the zeal of a sincere though misguided 
opposition. The French associations and prejudices of 
Jefferson had seduced him into a lamentable departure 
from the safe, moderate, and consistent revolutionary 
principles which marked the period of 1776. He had 
heard the fierce debates of the Jacobin Clubs, and 
thrilled under the reeking eloquence of Danton and his 
tiger-tempered colleague. Ah 1 the murders committed 
by the Revolutionary Tribunal all the blood which 
flowed from the scaffold of the death-dealing guillotine 
the horrors of the Reign of Terror the sighs and 
tears which had made Paris the terrestrial counterpart 
of a hell, were insufficient to disgust the author of the 
Declaration of American Independence. His philo- 
sophic eye beheld, tearless, the walking images of bro- 
ken hearts and crushed affections which crossed his daily 
path, and surveyed, unmoved, the mournful emblems 
which shrouded an entire city with funeral drapery. 
Nor do we assume any too much in saying this. The 
memoir before us contains nothing which can rescue its 
distinguished author from the severity of the inference. 
We find nothing in the Correspondence to explain the 
omission. It may, therefore, be fairly supposed, that 
Jefferson was not so greatly horrified at these manifold 
and ceaseless atrocities as ever to think that the cause 
of Liberty, thus conducted, was the cause of anarchy 
and of murder. We might extend these inferences 
further. During the reign of the bloody Triumvirate, 
private conversations and careless expressions, uttered 
even in the recesses of the family circle, were made the 


plea for butchering the speakers on the following day. 
It is not unlikely to suppose that Jefferson here learned 
his art of noting down what occurred at dining tables, 
and private parties, and social gatherings, that the 
compiler of the volumes before us might afterwards 
give to the world, in the shape of the " Ana," a method 
of espionage which would have shamed even Lavalette 
or Savary, and challenged attention from Bourienne 
himself. We would willingly have drawn a veil over 
this portion of the published political works of Thomas 
Jefferson. But we consider that the worst was done 
when the editor of these volumes passed the "Ana" 
into the hands of the printer. It is not for us to find 
fault with the taste which prompted the publication of 
a private journal. Our duty and intention are, as the 
undisputed right of a reviewer, to express our opinions 
of the production. But we must not digress further. 

Thus imbued with the effects, if not with the spirit, 
of Jacobinism, Jefferson had returned to America ; and 
we may thus account for his opinions on Shay's Rebel- 
lion, his supposed sympathy with the Whiskey insur- 
rectionists, his intimacy with suck men as Callender, 
and Freneau, and Tom Paine, and his- early and insidi- 
ous opposition to the administration of George Wash- 
ington. The first object of attack had been the finan- 
cial policy of Hamilton, and thus far we sanction, in 
part, at least, this course of policy. The views and the 
amis of that eminent minister have never had entirely 
our political sympathies. There was, in all his meas- 
ures, a too consolidating tendency, which might have 
resulted alarmingly in after days. But the thunders of 
the opposition were soon turned more directly against 
Washington himself by a merciless assault on the treaty 
of John Jay, which, it was known, had received the 
President's cordial approval. It was fought in every 


way known to Parliamentary warfare, and "Washington 
was goaded by every means to which an adroit and in- 
ventive opposition could resort. It was wranglingly 
and factiously debated in the Senate, and it was threat- 
ened with the vengeance of the House. To crown all, 
a resolution was brought forward by Livingston, re- 
questing the President " to lay before the House a copy 
of the instructions to the Minister of the United States, 
who negotiated a treaty with the King of Great Brit- 
ain, communicated by his message, together with the 
correspondence and other documents relative to the 
said treaty." This was subsequently qualified by a 
clause to the effect, "excepting such papers as any 
existing negotiation may render improper to be dis- 
closed." To this resolution the President first re- 
sponded, "that he would take the subject into consid- 
eration." He finally refused to lay any such papers 
before the House. This refusal stimulated the opposi- 
tion to increased bitterness, and " appeared," in the 
language of Marshall, " to break the last chord of that 
attachment which had heretofore bound some of the 
active leaders of the opposition to the person of the 
President." Long anterior to this, however, Jefferson, 
although still recognized as the head of the opposition, 
had resigned his post of State Secretary, and from his 
retirement at Monticello fulminated the signs, tokens, 
and passwords of determined and ceaseless hostility to 
the policy of the administration. He had openly ridi- 
culed the course of Washington in the Whiskey Rebel- 
lion, and had encouraged, while engaged in combating, 
the pretensions of citizen Genet. He now resorted to 
the more candid warfare of denunciation, and directed 
the whole influence of his name and the whole power 
of his pen against the Jay treaty. But all would not 
do. The magic of Washington's popularity continued 


to prevail, and it became evident that the nation fa- 
vored the prompt ratification of the treaty. It was 
ratified, and the hopes of Jefferson and his now numer- 
ous friends had to be postponed for a season. 

On the 4th of March, 1797, John Adams was inau- 
gurated President of the United States, and, at the 
same time, Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as Vice 
President. The character of Adams, according to the 
testimony of his best friends and warmest admirers, 
was an anomaly. " Of a restless and irritable tempera- 
ment," says a strong federal biographer ; "jealous of 
other's praise, and suspicious of their influence ; obsti- 
nate and yet fickle ; actuated by an ambition which 
could bear neither opposition nor lukewarmness, and 
vain to a degree approaching insanity, he was himself 
incapable alike of conceiving or of acting upon a settled 
system of policy, and was to others as easy a subject 
for indirect management, as he was impracticable to 
more legitimate approach. With the noblest impulses 
and the meanest passions, he presents a portrait which, 
in its contradictory features, resembles more the shift- 
ing image of a dream than the countenance of an actual 

It does not come within the design of this article 
either to endorse or to combat this opinion. We will 
barely add what the writer might properly have added, 
that the patriotism and native honesty of John Adams 
were sadly blurred by a bad temper and an excitable 
vindictiveness. " As was his character, so proved the 
administration of such a man ; flickering, unstable, with- 
out fixed rule or definite object." The hitherto ob- 
structed road of the opposition was now fairly cleared. 
The awe of Washington's great name stood no longer 
in their way. The far-reaching sagacity of Jefferson 
was at work, and his policy and plan of operations were 


soon developed. During the stormy period of the 
Revolution he and Adams had been attached and inti- 
mate friends. Their associations had been of a charac- 
ter more than usually cordial and confidential. Soon 
after Jefferson's return from France they fell out, and 
became partially estranged. But the difference did not 
quite amount to a personal quarrel, and they still re- 
mained on civil terms of intercourse. No one knew 
better than Jefferson the weak points in the character 
and constitution of John Adams. He believed firmly 
in the honesty of his heart, but he was well acquainted 
with the instability of his political opinions ; with his 
leaning, one day, to rank federalism, and the next, to 
downright radicalism. " He (Adams) by turns defend- 
ed the mob, and advocated hereditary power." This 
was an open prey to an ingenious and a watchful opposi- 
tion, and Jefferson did not scruple to turn his private 
knowledge and past associations to legitimate political 
account. We do not mean to say that he ever betrayed 
confidence. Jefferson had both too much caution and 
too much pride of character to act dishonorably. It 
may be explained easily on the score of ambition and 
selfishness, neither of which can be denied to him in 
their fullest latitude. But the object was now to 
estrange Adams from the party which had elected him, 
by this move, to weaken the federalists, to destroy the 
influence of Hamilton, and clear the way for the acces- 
sion of Jefferson and the Democrats. The accomplish- 
ment of such a plan required the most consummate ad- 
dress. It was not hard to perceive that such requisition 
was more than fulfilled in the person of the acknow- 
ledged leader of the opposition. Jefferson was just 
the man to play the game which was now in hand. His 
affectation was in being plain, and his plainness of ap- 
pearance and intercourse did amount almost to unvar- 


nished demagoguism. He desired to be known in 
America by the same popular cognomen by which Wil- 
liam Pitt had been long hailed and worshipped in Eng- 
land, that of the " Great Commoner." Pitt, however, 
not only was ambitious to lead, but to be thought to 
lead. Jefferson, on the contrary, was neither bold 
enough nor haughty enough to court the latter distinc- 
tion. He desired to lead, but to make others believe 
that he was led. This, however, was the choice rather 
of policy than of timidity. He may have lacked candor 
he may have been time-serving, accommodating, and 
subservient but he was not deficient in courage. . We 
are told, indeed, that he had acquired, about this time, 
a less enviable surname than the one which distinguished 
Pitt. He was called " The Trimmer." But all this, as 
Terry O'Rourke would say, was " a part of his system." 
He was engaged in running a mine which, when com- 
pleted, was to demolish the federal party, and he did 
not pause in his work or stop to defend himself from 
mere personal attacks. He, therefore, set assiduously 
about renewing his former intimacy with Adams. It 
was very well known that a portion of the Federalists, 
with Alexander Hamilton at their head, had manoeuvred 
to place Mr. Pinckney ahead of Mr. Adams on the party 
ticket ; and, if possible, to give the Presidency to the 
former. Adams's hot temper rose to the boiling point 
when this was made known to him, and he set the 
brand of his never-ending hatred on the brow of Ham- 
ilton. To foment this difference became the chief end 
of the opposition. Adams was adroitly cajoled, while 
Hamilton was still more virulently assailed. Jefferson 
addressed to him the most seductive and weaning let- 
ters, and wrote flatteringly about him to others. 
Prominent ultra-democrats, his former personal friends, 
crowded his reception rooms, and baited him with a 


thousand tempting morsels, all artfully directed against 
the known vulnerable points of his character. The vain 
old man proved an easy victim, and fell unwarily into 
the snare. He met cordially the advances of Jefferson, 
took Gerry, one of the most determined Democrats, 
into the closest confidence, and, in a tempest of exacer- 
bation and rage, drove many of the warmest Federal- 
ists from his councils and his presence. This was pre- 
cisely what had been played for by the opposition. 
Their point was gained, the fatal breach irrevocably 
effected. In the meanwhile the difficulties with France 
assumed an alarming aspect. The conduct of the Di- 
rectory had become intolerable. They had first insult- 
ed the American Envoy, and then driven him from the 
French territories. A special session of Congress was 
called by the President. The Federalists had a clear 
majority in both Houses, and the speech breathed war 
and vengeance against France, and breathed them most 
justly. The opposition then showed the drift of their 
policy. Denunciations the most ireful and menacing 
were hurled against the recommendations of the Execu- 
tive, and against a war with republican France. The 
President was roused to desperation by these sudden 
and withering assaults, and followed up his recommen- 
dations with all the influence of his name and his office. 
Measures were taken to prepare for hostilities ; Wash- 
ington was drawn from his coveted retirement to be 
invested once more with the chief generalship of his 
country's armies, and the spirit of the nation seemed 
to favor the course of the Government. The result 
might have been auspicious for the administration, if 
matters had been suffered to remain in this situation. 
But the temper of the President was despotic, and the 
least draught of popular favor intoxicated him with 
vanity. At the next session of Congress, at the espe- 


cial instance of the Executive, were passed the celebrat- 
ed Alien and Sedition Laws, and from that day the ad- 
ministration and political prospects of John Adams were 
doomed. They were the worst laws that ever ema- 
nated from American legislators, and their passage was 
a death blow to the Federal party. The opposition 
charged upon them with concentrated, irresistible force, 
and the thunders of the press were turned to the work 
of their demolition. The Legislatures of the different 
States entered energetically into the strife. The Vir- 
ginia and Kentucky resolutions of '98 followed, destined 
to a notoriety co -existent with the most treasured 
archives of the Republic. The first were prepared by 
James Madison, and the last by Thomas Jefferson. It 
is foreign to the purposes we have in view to discuss 
elaborately the merits of these well-known documents. 
We shall content ourselves with a single remark. They 
contain, in our humble judgment, much that is conserv- 
ative and worthy of remembrance ; but they also con- 
tain much more that we deem dangerous, Jacobinical, 
and wildly revolutionary in tendency. The remedies 
they inculcate for constitutional infractions are extreme, 
repugnant to genuine patriotism, and wholly unneces- 
vsary in a government where the people hold the power 
of the ballot box. This view gathers additional weight 
when it is considered that an intermediate umpirage 
exists in the Supreme Court. In fact, the American Con- 
stitution neither countenances nor warrants extreme 
measures in any case. If we correctly understand its 
language and spirit, we should say that all chances of 
aggression, from any quarter, are amply provided for and 
guarded against. Balances and checks, and legitimate 
remedial processes pervade its every feature. We regard 
it as the mere silly cant of suspicious, over-zealous enthu- 
siasts and designing demagogues, to advocate nullifica- 


tion, revolution, or dissolution as ulterior or unavoida- 
ble remedies in cases of encroachment. The ship may 
spring a leak, but the mariner does not desert and take 
to the open and unfriendly seas until the pumps have 
been thoroughly tried and exhausted. It will then be 
soon enough to take refuge in extreme measures, when 
the safeguards of the constitution are found unavailing. 
But the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions answered 
and fully attained the objects for which they were de- 
signed. They served to beat down the Alien and Se- 
dition laws, and formed the entering wedge to the 
subversion and eradication of the old Federal party. 
So far it was good. Happy would it have been for the 
country if this good could have been effected without 
the entailment of an evil scarcely less deplorable than 
that which had been crushed ! But from that day to 
this, the objectionable doctrines taught in these* papers 
(especially those of Jefferson) have been made the 
theme and the authority of coagitators, of aspirants, of 
factionists, and of demagogues. They have been leaned 
upon for apology, and for shelter from obloquy and 
odium. The tendency of their principles reaches and 
covers anarchy itself, and justifies the overthrow of 
established governments as a primary, extra-constitu- 
tional remedy against supposed infractions. Their ab- 
stractions, and, indeed, their proposed remedies, would 
have applied to the old colonial government under 
Great Britain. But the mischief was complete, when 
they were offered as suggesting a method of resistance 
to the authority and laws of the Government of the 
United States. Their teachings were hailed by all the 
discontented and revolutionary classes of that day. 
The Shay rebellionists, the Whiskey insurrectionists, 
the Jacobin clubs of Philadelphia and other cities, the 
followers of the Genet faction, and the satellites of Fre- 


neau and Callender, received them as text-books, and 
became associated in one solid Democratic phalanx. 
The Federalists shrank into disrepute, and gradually 
dwindled until they were extinguished by the proceed- 
ings of the Hartford Convention. Until then, or at 
least, up to 1807, the radical Democratic party, found- 
ed and fostered by Jefferson, held undivided, undis- 
puted sway. But at the latter period a new party 
emerged from the political chaos. It was composed of 
the moderate Democrats and the more liberal portion 
of the defeated Federalists. It numbered in its ranks 
such men as Monroe, and Crawford, and Gerry, the 
younger Adams, and Henry Clay the dawn of whose 
genius was just then irradiating the horizon. It was 
the Conservative party of the country the medium 
spot of patriotism, beat upon alike by rank Federalism 
and impracticable Democracy. It gathered strength 
with years, and soon numbered among its converts 
James Madison, who, however, had favored it from the 

We must here pause for the present. In some fu- 
ture number, the grounds here assumed will be further 
elucidated. We have now brought Jefferson to the 
end of the third era of his political life, and leave him 
on the eve of success and of elevation to the highest 
and proudest honors of his country. We shall soon re- 
sume the narrative, if permitted by health and life. 


HAVING, in our first number, conducted the distin- 
guished subject of these memoirs to the threshold of 
his greatest political elevation, we now proceed to de- 
picture and carefully analyze so much of the policy of 
his administration as may serve to develope the object 


of this essay, and to illustrate the representative fea- 
tures in the public character of the first Democratic 
President. We enter upon this important and delicate 
task after a most agreeable interval of mutual relaxa- 
tion, and with a greatly enlarged stock of material. 
We have long since done, however, with all that can 
be justly called disinterested and admirable in the life 
and character of Jefferson. Over a space of more than 
twenty years, dating from 1790, we are forced to con- 
template him in the character of a fierce and implaca- 
ble partisan chief, whose efforts and influence were 
directed solely to the demolition of a hated sect, and 
the aggrandizement of one of which he was the idol 
and the head. 

From the very moment that he detected the supe- 
rior and predominating influence of Alexander Hamilton 
in the councils and policy of Washington, his besetting 
sin of jealousy prompted in him a spirit of opposition, 
whose rancor has been equalled only by the " bitter- 
endism " of our day. To the sedulous transmission 
of this spirit from the parent fountain, is to be attrib- 
uted, we incline to think, that radical partyzsra which 
has since disfigured and marred the administration of 
government, and entailed upon the country a series of 
principles (so called), which, if such be our fate, will 
one day result in the disaster of secession or despotism. 

Jefferson did not enter the White House in a way 
very complimentary to his public character, or that in- 
dicated much personal popularity. The Electoral Col- 
leges gave him a meagre majority of eight votes only 
over his federal competitors ; whilst his republican col- 
league obtained the same number with himself. This 
last was Aaron Burr, who, at a subsequent period, was 
made bitterly to expiate this equalization with the de- 
spotic tempered sage of Monticello, whose pride was 


sorely touched at being thus unexpectedly levelled with 
one who had hitherto attracted but little notice beyond 
the limits of his own State. From the hour when the 
vote was announced in the Senate Chamber, to the 
gloomy day when Burr returned from Europe, long 
years afterward, friendless, poverty-stricken, and broken- 
hearted, the envious eye of Jefferson was fixed upon him, 
and misfortune and persecution, thus powerfully direct- 
ed, hunted him to a premature and unhonored obscurity. 
The unrelenting hatred of Jefferson can be accounted 
for in no other way, that history has so far developed. 
The good fortune of Burr was his only offence, in this 
instance ; though, as regarded others, he had an awful 
crime to answer for. His murderous hand had laid 
low the most intimate friend and counsellor of Wash- 
ington, the main author and expounder of the Consti- 
tution, whose profound mind and ready hand had aided 
more than any other's to carry into successful practice 
the project of our government. Of this, more anon. 

Through this equah'ty of votes betwixt the two 
democratic candidates the choice of a President de- 
volved upon the House of Representatives. The bal- 
loting began on the morning of the 17th of February, 
1801, and continued, with few intervals, through a 
period of seven days, without* a clear result. All 
Washington was in a ferment. The galleries and lob- 
bies of the House were daily crdwded to overflowing 
with anxious spectators, and Pennsylvania avenue was 
thronged with messengers passing alternately from the 
Capitol to the White House, bearing the news of each 
successive ballot to its nervous occupant Jefferson was 
on the ground, presiding daily in the Senate Chamber, 
and watched the progress of the struggle with all the 
inquietude incident to a dubious state of mind, and 
with all the eager solicitude of an aspiring and ambi- 


tious spirit. Burr designedly absented himself, having 
first placed his political fortunes in the hands and at 
the discretion of a judicious personal friend. It had 
been resolved at the outset that the House should 
discard all other business during the pendency of 
the election, and that it should not adjourn until an 
election was effected. This body was composed of sin- 
gular materials, in a political sense, for the business 
which had now devolved upon it. The vote of the 
colleges had shown clearly that there was a democratic 
majority of States. But of the one hundred and four 
members who then formed the House of Representa- 
tives, a majority were zealous Federalists. The position 
in which they were thus placed was one of peculiar and 
painful delicacy. Both the candidates for Presidential 
honors were Democrats, and one of them the founder 
and leader of that opposition party which, beginning 
stealthily during Washington's administration, had pur- 
sued federal men and federal principles with a rancor 
scarcely paralleled in the history of faction. For these 
reasons both were objectionable ; but, as may be very 
well imagined, Jefferson was viewed, particularly, with 
strong feelings both of personal and political hostility 
by the majority in whose hands lay the issue of the 
election. During two or three days, therefore, Burr 
seemed to be decidedly the favorite of the Federalists, 
and his prospects of success brightened in a manner 
that cast dismay and gloom over the ranks of the Jef- 
fersonians. They grew outrageous in their course, and 
uttered threats which plainly indicated the anarchical 
and revolutionary tendency of their political principles. 
They insisted that the people intended Jefferson should 
be President, they even attempted to bully the refrac- 
tory members, by declaring that, if the* House did not 
choose him, an armed democratic force from the neigh- 


boring States would march upon the District to compel 
his election, or else, with Cromwellian intolerance, dis- 
solve and break up the Congress, that " better men 
might occupy their places." The record of this fact is 
furnished in the third volume of the work before us, 
and its authenticity confirmed by Jefferson himself, in 
a letter to James Monroe, dated on the fifth day of 
the protracted and exciting contest. Nor is the an- 
nunciation of such resolves at all irreconcilable with 
the previous political manifestos of our distinguished 
subject, notwithstanding that the language of the Con- 
stitution conferring the power of choice, in such contin- 
gency, directly and solely on the House of Represen- 
tatives, is clear, pointed, and unmistakable. 

His known sympathy with the Shayites, the Whis- 
key Insurrectionists, and the Jacobin clubs of Phila- 
delphia, and his connection with the Nullification Pro- 
nunciamientos of the Virginia Legislature, as well as 
this threat of armed resistance, show clearly enough 
his contempt for the Constitution, and the disorganiz- 
ing elements which lay at the root of his political 

But this was only one among the exciting rumors 
which distracted the city of Washington during that 
stormy period. Various stories were afloat of bribes 
and accommodating offers, of Burr's open bids, and of 
Jefferson's private overtures. Among the rest it was 
currently whispered that the federal majority of the 
House being unable, after repeated trials, to make 
favorable terms with either of the candidates, and find- 
ing that the whole power was lodged with them, had 
resolved to prevent any choice, by prolonging the con- 
test until after the fourth of March, or to pass a law 
vesting the Executive power in some other person. 
In the same letter referred to above, Jefferson declares 


his apprehensions of such a course, and goes on to 
deprecate and denounce it. " It is not improbable," 
says a distinguished writer, "that, from the abhor- 
rence which some members may have felt at seeing 
Mr. Jefferson hi the office of President, means were 
spoken of to prevent such a national disaster. Doubt- 
less the Federalists would have done any thing which 
they believed to be constitutional and dutiful to prevent 
it ; but no such propositions are supposed to have been 
discussed." And, indeed, hard as the trial was to po- 
litical opponents, forced thus to sign, as it were, the 
warrant for their own political annihilation, the records 
show that the Federalists sought only the most favorable 
terms in their negotiations with the friends of the two 
democratic rival candidates. There was no avoiding 
the issue no shrinking from the responsibility, and it 
is clear, on a review of the proceedings, that an election 
was determined on from the beginning. 

The seventh day dawned on the contest, and thirty- 
five ballotings had been taken without an election. 
At length the struggle was terminated in a manner the 
most singular, and at the instance of a personage who 
might have been supposed to be the last man in the 
United States to interfere in a contest betwixt Aaron 
Burr and Thomas Jefferson. This was Alexander 
Hamilton. Hamilton regarded Burr with a species of 
horror that seems to have proceeded less from malign 
feeling, than from an innate consciousness of his utter 
want of principle, or the least moral susceptibility. 
Jefferson, too, had long been his political adversary 
and strong personal enemy, but when consulted by his 
friends as to the choice of evils, we are told that 
Hamilton unhesitatingly and most strenuously urged 
that the preference should be given to the latter. This, 
most probably, may have been the first link in that 


fatal chain of personal animosities which ended with 
the tragedy of Hoboken. 

It soon transpired that the majority had been, by 
some means, sufficiently united to bring the election to 
a close, and on the seventh day, every member was in 
his seat. The House presented a remarkable spectacle, 
strongly illustrative of the intense excitement then 
pervading the whole circles of Washington society. 
Many of the members were aged and infirm, and many 
worn down with fatigue, were seriously indisposed, as 
the array of pale faces and languid eyes plainly showed. 
Some were accommodated, from pressing considera- 
tions of prudence, with huge easy chairs. Others, 
again, were reclining on beds or couches, almost in a 
state of bodily exhaustion, induced by mental anxiety 
and suffering. Indeed, we are told by a contempora- 
neous writer, that one member was so prostrated as to 
require the attention of his wife throughout the day's 
sitting. The Departments, also, and bureaus, and va- 
rious offices attached, were deserted, that their incum- 
bents might be present at the expected finale of the 
great political drama which had created, during its 
enactment of nigh seven days, an interest of unprece- 
dented intensity. Numbers of grave Senators left 
their seats in the Chamber to occupy the benches of 
the lobby, or to squeeze their way among privileged 
spectators who filled the body of the House ; while the 
gallery teemed with countless faces, and groaned under 
the weight of a crowd, the like of which had never be- 
fore pressed on the stately pillars which supported it. 
At length the tellers took their seats. The ballots were 
deposited slowly, one by one, and then amidst a breath- 
less silence that seemed ominous in view of the vast 
numbers assembled, the counting began. The repre- 
sentatives for sixteen States had voted. The result 


showed that out of these sixteen ballots, there were 
ten for Jefferson, four for Burr, and two blank. Under 
these circumstances, after a struggle of seven days' 
duration, and after thirty-six trials, was Thomas Jef- 
ferson elected President of the United States. It is 
more than probable that if Burr had exerted himself 
in the least, had made the least concession, or suffered 
his friends to pledge him to leniency as regarded the 
distribution of offices, he would have prevailed ; and 
although it is unquestionable that Jefferson had been 
intended by the people for the first office, we cannot 
doubt that the choice of Burr by the House would 
have been acquiesced in and ratified as a strictly legiti- 
mate and constitutional proceeding. In long after 
years a similar contest occurred in the case of John 
Quincy Adams, who having been thrown before the 
House of Representatives with a far inferior electoral 
vote to Andrew Jackson, was, nevertheless, chosen 
President by that body on the first ballot ; and the 
people, unseduced by the dangerous theories which 
Jefferson had inculcated previously in his own case, 
did not " march an armed force from the neighboring 
States to compel" a different choice. This quiet sub- 
mission to the constituted authority would have been 
the same in 1801 as in 1825, the malevolent efforts of 
the Jeffersonians to the contrary notwithstanding. 

The acme of political elevation did not, in one sense, 
operate to destroy in Jefferson that inclination to dem- 
agoguism which had hitherto characterized him. The 
hard struggle it had cost his friends to make him Presi- 
dent rather whetted than abated his ambition, and his 
ardor for power increased in proportion as it had been 
difficult to secure it. His first acts after entering the 
White House showed that he was casting his net for 
easy re-election at the end of four years. He began by 


an emphatic repudiation of all the conventional customs 
and etiquette established by Washington and followed 
up by John Adams. The levees and drawing-rooms of 
Washington were given in a manner to impose the 
highest notions of official dignity, and were subjected 
to such rules of etiquette as seemed fit to govern re- 
ceptions at the mansion of the chief officer of the gov- 
ernment. Mr. Adams did not depart from these ; but 
Jefferson at once abolished all ceremony, and threw 
open his doors to every swaggerer who chose to in- 
trude. He had no regular or stated hours for visiting. 
He was accessible at any hour, to any person. His 
personal deportment was ever cringing, and amounted 
to an excess of humility that inspired a feeling of dis- 
gust, because, among other things, it was seen that af- 
fectation was at the bottom of such unseemly deference. 
He maintained no equipage. He rode about the ave- 
nues of Washington on an ugly shambling hack of a 
horse, which, it is said, was hardly fitted to drag a tum- 
bril. His whole address and manner indicated his sub- 
serviency to the same species of affectation that prompts 
a backwoods Methodist exhorter to elongate his face, 
to solemnize his looks, and to converse and read in a 
sepulchral tone. In fact, his receptions soon became a 
source of mortification to our own community, and fur- 
nished a subject of ridicule to European travellers. No 
President has copied his example since, though it is not 
hard to perceive that the levees at the White House 
smack yet of the levelling policy introduced by Jeffer- 
son. N~or did he stop here with what he doubtless 
deemed a system of democratic reform. It had been 
the habit of Washington and his successor to meet per- 
sonally the two Houses of Congress on the day of their 
assemblage, and address them a speech explanatory of 
affairs, and recommending what course of policy might 


have suggested itself in the interval of their session. 
This was the mode long sanctioned by precedent and 
by parliamentary usage. It is the mode evidently sug- 
gested by respect as well as convenience, and which 
clothes so august an occasion with the awe and dignity 
suitable to a re-assemblage of the State's and people's 
representatives. But Jefferson chose to annul the an- 
cient custom, and introduced the system of messages, 
since practised, and which, of late years, has been 
adopted by Presidents as a vehicle to set forth their 
own policy, to decry and calumniate their adversaries, 
and to bore the Congress with tedious disquisitions, 
better suited to penny lecturers or hired journalists 
than to the Chief Magistrate of a powerful nation. 
We are inclined to think, therefore, that Jefferson 
placed the seal of his displeasure on these customs more 
with a view to annihilate all traces of federalism, as 
represented by Washington and Adams, than from any 
conscientious suggestions of reform. The Mazzei letter 
had, moreover, fairly committed him to a sans culotte 
species of democracy, and, although he had labored to 
explain and palliate the offensive passages of that extra- 
ordinary document, he may yet have thought that con- 
sistency required that he should renounce those " Brit- 
ish forms," which he had so bitterly condemned in 
George Washington's official etiquette. 

The Inaugural Address of Jefferson breathed senti- 
ments of political tolerance, and abounded with expres- 
sions of political harmony, totally unexpected, and 
which excited high hopes of his administrative clemen- 
cy. We cannot find that he ever falsified these implied 
promises. The latter years of Adams's Presidency had 
been marked by a ferocious and virulent proscription 
of all who differed politically with the administration, 
and the last few months, especially when it was found 


that the Federal party had been beaten in the elections, 
were disgraced by acts of intolerance and selfishness 
that made the man and his party odious to a majority 
of the nation. Laws were passed by the Federal Con- 
gress which had the air of beneficiary decrees, and new 
offices created, it would seem, only that the President 
might fill them with his party and personal favorites, in 
time to exclude such as might otherwise be appointed 
by the incoming administration. 

To have continued or acquiesced in this course of 
conduct would have been the worst form of proscrip- 
tion. Jefferson, therefore, very properly began his ad- 
ministrative career by displacing numbers of office- 
holders who had been appointed mainly because of 
their federal principles, and filled the vacancies created 
with Democrats. This course was called for by com- 
mon fairness; and, although we must regard Jefferson 
as the author of the fierce party issue that yet darkens 
our political system, and has converted our Presidential 
elections into campaigns, and made the preparations for 
them a deceitful and despicable game, we cannot judge 
him hastily for conforming his conduct to that equality 
in "the distribution of offices which the justice of the 
case required. He did not procrastinate or trifle in the 
discharge of this duty, but went to the work with 
promptness and determination; and this promptness 
shielded him from the annoyances and the influences of 
federal " bitter-endism." The wailings of the opposi- 
tion prints were not over mere smoke or imaginary 
cases, as at the beginning of the present Whig adminis- 
tration. The heads of the highest in office fell first and 
fastest, and the axe of justice cut its way from the Ex- 
ecutive Departments and from the diplomatic offices, to 
the humblest post-office at a county cross road, and to 
the most obscure light-house that lifted its beacon on 


our coasts. There was no soft hesitation, no mistimed 
caution, no misjudged forbearance. This is a policy, 
under such circumstances, as weak as it is ruinous to 
those who practise it. It contributes to strengthen and 
to quicken opposition, while it discourages friends. So 
far from conciliating political opponents, it is more apt 
to induce contempt, and serves eminently to fan the 
flame of a malignant " bitter-endism." The bold pro- 
ceedings of Jefferson hushed while they defied rabid 
partisan clamor, and those who had been ostracised for 
opinion's sake were placed on a footing of full equality 
with the pampered favorites of the late administration. 
To this conduct may be traced the primary sources of 
that wonderful popularity to which the democratic ad- 
ministration soon attained, and which it preserved 
through a series of eight eventful years, marked by 
acts and measures that blighted the prosperity of the 
country, and threw gloom and distress over almost 
every household. Its energy and decision inspired 
confidence among friends, and drew the respect of ene- 
mies. Whatever, therefore, may have been the motive 
which induced these removals, the act was just, deserved 
by those who had indulged party asperities in their day 
of power, and strictly due to those who had labored to 
overthrow the reign of political intolerance and pro- 

The war which, on his accession, Jefferson waged 
against the Judiciary and Judicial authority and dig- 
nity, was a step very full of hazard as to the probable 
deleterious effects it may have produced on the public 
mind, and must ^e heartily condqnined by all unbiassed 
historiographers. It was a branch of the Government 
which he had, from the first, unscrupulously denounced 
and opposed, and notwithstanding his professed horror 
at the appointment of the "midnight judges" by Ad- 


ams' expiring administration, we are inclined to think 
that his hostility against the law establishing federal 
courts throughout the various States was superinduced 
mainly by his ancient prejudices and unconquerable 
jealousy. He evidently had little or no respect for the 
proceedings of courts of law, and never hesitated to op- 
pose the power of the Executive as of higher moment 
than the Judiciary arm of the Government. The best 
evidence of this is furnished by several letters contained 
in the fourth volume of the work before us, as well as 
by one among his first official acts. George Thompson 
Callender, the Scotch libeller and defamer of Washing- 
ton, had published, during the administration of John 
Adams, a scurrilous book, entitled, " The Prospect be- 
fore us," filled with the most inflammatory appeals, and 
calculated, from its most atrocious inculcations, to pro- 
duce widespread and dangerous discontent among the 
lower floating classes of people. He was arrested un- 
der the Sedition Act, speedily brought to trial, convict- 
ed, and sentenced to fine and imprisonment. The tri- 
bunal before which he had been brought was the 
appointed exponent of the Constitution and law, and 
was clothed with supreme jurisdiction in such cases. 
But Jefferson paid no regard to the facts, the law, or 
the Court. He pardoned and released Callender, and 
ordered the U. S. Marshal for Virginia to refund the 
amount of the fine to which he had been subjected. A 
letter to Mr. George Hay, the Government attorney, 
who subsequently prosecuted Burr with such distin- 
guished ability, unfolds Jefferson's opinion of the dig- 
nity of courts of law, and evinces in the most emphatic 
manner the native despotic tendency of his temper and 
disposition. He therein says, "In the case of Callen- 
der, the judges determined the Sedition Act was valid, 
under the Constitution, and exercised their regular 


powers of sentencing to fine and imprisonment. But 
his Executive (Thomas Jefferson) determined that the 
Sedition Act was a nullity, under the Constitution, and 
exercised his regular power of prohibiting the execution 
of the sentence, or rather of executing the real law." 
We know of nothing in the civil administrations of 
Charles the First, of Cromwell, of Napoleon, or of An- 
drew Jackson, the dictators of modern times, more 
high-handed, in tone and sentiment, or more pernicious 
in principle, than such declaration and such conduct 
from this great model Democratic President. The act 
of pardon was allowable, and belonged to his office. 
But a pardon under the circumstances, and with this 
declaration, was an insult to the Court and an outrage 
on the supreme law of the land ; while the order to re- 
fund the amount of fine was a flagrant usurpation of 
undelegated power. By the same rule of construction 
he might just as well have directed that Callender 
should receive every dollar in the Treasury. It so hap- 
pened, too, that, in the end, Jefferson was caught in his 
own trap. This low-minded Scotchman, like ah 1 other 
minions and parasites, had his price, and repaid all this 
official liberality by the basest ingratitude. He had 
scarcely been released, or purged of the dungeon's 
stench, before he applied to be made postmaster at 
Richmond. This Jefferson flatly refused to do, but, at 
the same time, tendered the hardy and beggarly appli- 
cant with a loan from his private purse. Callender ac- 
cepted the loan, but, dead to all the decencies of life, 
and fretting with disappointment (though complimented 
by his eminent patron as being " a man of science "), he 
no sooner pocketed the money, than in mean revenge, 
he published to the world that Jefferson had been his 
adviser and patron in ah 1 his scurrilous attacks on the 
two preceding administrations, had furnished him the 


means of printing " The Prospect," and had encouraged 
him to all he had undertaken in his career of political 
piracies. This act of treachery, coming from a genuine 
nursling of unadulterated Democracy, startled even the 
" great Apostle " himself, and seemed to rouse and 
ruffle his boasted serenity of temper under personal at- 
tacks and vituperation. Jefferson was forced into the 
defensive, and wrote several letters in explanation of 
these charges, and in extenuation of his friendly con- 
duct towards Callender. 

" If there be any thing," says a distinguished writer, 
" which is capable of sustaining popular government, 
and keeping their action within legitimate constitu- 
tional boundaries, it is a learned, self-inspecting, inde- 
pendent judiciary. To make the administration of jus- 
tice, and all questions on the excess of power, dependent 
on popular excitement, is to assume that mere human 
passion is the best arbiter of right and wrong." Widely 
different from this was the opinion of Thomas Jefferson. 
His doctrines and his example as respects judicial tri- 
bunals are highly exceptionable, obnoxious to good 
government, and dangerous in the extreme. We have 
seen, in the case of Callender, that he assumed to de- 
clare null and void a law constitutionally enacted and 
approved, constitutionally adjudged, and constitution- 
ally executed. Other acts strictly in unison with this 
may be easily cited. The case of Duane, another 
Democratic libeller, affords an exact parallel. During 
the trial of Aaron Burr, in which he was the real, 
though not ostensible prosecutor, we find him proposing 
to violate personal liberty, by suggesting to his attor- 
ney that Luther Martin, who defended the prisoner 
with quite too much ability and boldness to suit the 
purposes of Jefferson, should be arrested as particeps 
criminis, and thus, as he says, "put down this unprin- 


cipled and impildent Federal bull dog." No more dis- 
organizing proposition than this was ever made. But 
a little subsequently to this, we find that, impelled by 
ungovernable vindictiveness in prosecuting a man who 
had contested with him the chair of the Presidency, he 
asked a suspension of that great landmark of freedom, 
the act of Habeas Corpus. For arrogance similar to 
this, and for attempting, among other offences, to vio- 
late this same sacred shield of personal right, James 
the Second, more than an hundred years before, had 
been hurled from the throne of England, and expatri- 
ated for the remainder of his life. It will be thus seen 
that the sufferance of democracies, when conducted by 
the popular favorite, who, while writing speciously of 
liberty, outstrips the most arrogant monarch in his 
stretches for dominion, affords, sometimes, an exempli- 
fication of passive obedience from which even despot- 
isms might learn a lesson. But the climax of these ink- 
lings of anarchy may be found in a letter from the 
model Democratic President to the model Democratic 
editor, who yet survives to perpetuate his " early les- 
son," and to favor the world with valuable reminis- 
cences of the epoch of " '98," and the golden age of 
the Jefferson dominion. In a letter from Jefferson to 
Thomas Ritchie, found in the fourth of these volumes, 
we find the following : " The Judiciary of the United 
States is a subtle corps of sappers and miners, con- 
stantly working under ground to undermine the foun- 
dation of our confederated Republic. We shall see if 
they are bold enough to make the stride their five law- 
yers have taken. If they do, then, with the editor of 
our book, ./will say, that against this every man should 
raise his voice, and more than that, should lift his 
arm." This completed the series of what may be 
properly termed the Jeffersonian threats. In 1798 he 


argued closely, in the celebrated Kentucky Resolutions, 
to prove that the people might resist the Executive De- 
partment, lie had done this once before, in the time 
of Washington, by favoring the Whiskey insurrection. 
In 1801 we have seen that he menaced the Legislative 
Department with " an armed force," to " compel " a 
choice of himself as President. And now, in his old 
age, he winds up by instructing an apt disciple to " lift 
his arm" against the Judiciary, the only remaining 
branch of the Government. 

The figurative epithet here applied to the Supreme 
Court shows emphatically the abhorrence with which 
Jefferson regarded that august tribunal. The political 
reader may chance to be reminded, in this connection, 
of the high dudgeon which a certain distinguished Sen- 
ator manifested on a recent occasion, when, in his place, 
he denounced another distinguished personage for hav- 
ing characterized modern Presidential candidates as 
"prize-fighters." It is barely probable that, notwith- 
standing their acknowledged erudition, neither of these 
eminent individuals knew of this illustrious precedent 
example in the vocabulary of political billingsgate, else 
the first, a model professor of genuine Jeffersonism, 
might have refrained from the assault, and the last, a 
mild and equable member of the body thus reviled, 
would have been able effectually to shelter himself with 
a lawyer's most valued plea, though he flatly disclaimed 
the construction applied to his apt figure. 


AMONG all the men of the Revolutionary era, Jeffer- 
son is solitary and alone in the propagation of the per- 
nicious doctrine of armed resistance to constituted au- 
thorities. They are doctrines, however, not greatly to 


be wondered at in a disciple of Jacobinism, who 
thought that a rebellion, once in every twenty years, 
was a political blessing, and treated such as nothing 
more than a natural exuberance of patriotism, a rekind- 
ling of the smouldering fires of liberty. But the evil 
influence of such teachings, in connection with one yet 
so revered as the .father of progressive democracy, is 
felt and seen to this day. It was exhibited clearly in 
the conduct of one, who, in long after years, was folded 
in the mantle of Jefferson, and almost adored as his 
representative and worthy successor. The known con- 
tempt of the great apostle of Democracy for the dignity 
of constituted authorities, and especially for that of ju- 
dicial tribunals, was a carte blanche to all the vandalic 
excesses and frantic political conduct which, in many 
distinguished instances, have since been practised by 
his partisans. Andrew Jackson had need to appeal to 
no higher authority than the opinion of Jefferson, when, 
with the boldness of a Cromwell, at the head of a de- 
voted soldiery, he imprisoned a judge in the midst of a 
great city, for daring to sustain the right of Habeas 
Corpus. And again, in 1834, when, as the sceptred 
dictator of the White House, he sent his famous Pro- 
test Message to the Senate, claiming that he was the 
direct representative of the American People, and im- 
posing silence on Congress as regards the acts of the 
Executive, he had found enough, in the teachings of 
Jefferson, to sanction his haughty usurpations. By 
these teachings the Constitution had been reduced to a 
mere charter of expediency, to be set aside in certain 
emergencies, and of this expediency and these emergen- 
cies the President was to be the sole judge. And here 
we may pause to say, that the great constitutional 
speech of Daniel Webster in answer to this Protest, 
and in crushing refutation of these nefarious preten- 


sions, should be stereotyped on tables of gold, and bla- 
zoned in lasting characters on the official record-book 
of the Republic. 

The power and political influence of the Federal 
party terminated, along with the Federal administra- 
tions, in March, 1801. It has never since been resusci- 
tated. But the truth of history must extort the ad- 
mission, that Federal men originated, framed, and 
carried into successful practice the Constitution of 
1789, the first genuine republican experiment ever ven- 
tured. But this is not all. The period during which 
the Federalists held the ascendency in the administra- 
tion of the national government, was one of no ordinary 
trial. The system itself was a novelty, founded in the 
midst of dissentient opinions, and established in the face 
of powerful opposition. Its parts were to be adjusted 
and arranged, its proper attributes and limits settled 
and defined, the relations of the individual members 
with the whole to be harmonized, and the great and 
complicated machine to be set in motion. Besides the 
necessity of thus creating from a mass of disorganized 
materials the framework of society itself; of devising a 
system of finance by which, from a family of States 
hitherto unused to any general and common system, 
revenues should be raised, bearing equally upon all, and 
capable of meeting debts of extraordinary magnitude 
for a people whose numbers were limited, whose re- 
sources had not been developed, and who were already 
exhausted by a long and expensive war ; of adopting 
plans of State policy under novel circumstances and re- 
lations, expansive as the growth of the nation, and to 
be permanent as its existence ; of embodying laws ; of 
rebuilding commerce from its wrecks, and calling forth 
arts and manufactures where they had been unknown ; 
besides ah 1 these, there were still other obstacles in 


their path. Almost coeval with the birth of the 
American Government, commenced a series of wars 
which, in extent, magnitude, objects, and in impressions 
on the political world, were the most gigantic in the 
history of bloodshed. Institutions, hoary with age and 
venerable from their sanctity ; empires which had 
seemed as permanent as the existence of man ; despot- 
isms, whose iron grasp had for centuries stifled the very 
breathings of liberty; laws, and usages stronger than 
laws, which, for good or evil, had moulded men after 
their own fashion ; priestcrafts and castes, obeyed by 
prescription, were at once swept away before the whirl- 
wind of revolution. The effects of this convulsion had 
not been confined to the shores of Europe or the East. 
They had extended to America, also. Here, meanwhile, 
the same opposition which had exerted itself against 
the formation of a government, was continued against 
its operation. It was with mutiny in the crew that the 
Federalists had to steer the ship of state through the 
dangers of an unexplored ocean, in this most tremen- 
dous storm which ever devastated the civilized world. 
Every measure which might tend to a development of 
the power of the General Government, was resisted. 
Every embarrassment was thrown in the way of its ac- 
tion. The impatience which naturally arises from new 
burdens was taken advantage of, though their object 
was to pay the price of freedom itself. Sedition was 
stirred up to resist them. Falsehood and misrepre- 
sentation were employed ; distrust excited against tried 
and firm patriots. And yet, through all these shoals 
and quicksands the two Federal administrations had 
been fortunate enough to keep their course harm- 
lessly, and the Government was sustained in all its 
original purity. The Constitution remained intact and 
unmutilated in a single feature. No emergency had 


been so pressing, even through storms of insurrection 
and the most difficult diplomatic negotiations, to create, 
in the opinion of Washington or of Adams, any neces- 
sity to overstep the prescribed limits of the law. It re- 
mained for the Democrats, under the advice of their 
anti-federal leader, to find out that occasions might 
arise to justify the President in acting independent of 
the Constitution, as we shall soon see. Indeed, it is a 
fact in the history of the Democratic party, no less true 
than remarkable, that, notwithstanding they have ever 
claimed to be, par excellence, the party of strict con- 
struction, it has so happened that every one of the four 
Presidents who have been elected from their ranks 
(Van Buren, perhaps, excepted) have violated leading 
features of the Constitution, and grasped powers which 
can belong only to despots. This charge has never been 
made against either the two Federal, the two Whig 
administrations of Madison and John Quincy Adams, or 
the no-party administrations of Monroe and Tyler, if 
we except the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798. It 
may be remarked, however, that these laws, if uncon- 
stitutional and odious, must be laid at the door of the 
Congress which passed, as well as of the President who 
approved them. The Executive assumed nothing. It 
only put in execution a law of the people's representa- 
tives. But the history of republics does not furnish 
three bolder innovators on written constitutions than 
Jefferson, Jackson, and James K. Polk. 

The great achievement of Jefferson's first four years 
of dominion was the purchase of Louisiana. This trans- 
action is connected with many incidents of singular 
political history, to which, as illustrative of public feel- 
ing and opinion at that period, it may not be inappro- 
priate or unseasonable to advert. When Jefferson 
ascended the Presidential steps, he was regarded with 


strongly contrasted feelings by the two great parties of 
the country. By his own, he was represented as the 
advocate of religious freedom and of the rights of man ; 
the great apostle of liberty ; the friend of our revolu- 
tionary ally, France ; the foe of British influence ; a re- 
former, philosopher, sage, and genuine republican. 
The Federalists looked on him in a far different light. 
They charged him with being a revolutionist and Jaco- 
bin ; with being blindly devoted to France, and per- 
versely opposed to England ; with being hostile to the 
Constitution, and the promoter of partyism ; with being 
a free-thinker in politics and religion, whose learning 
was used to pervert rather than to uphold the land- 
marks of virtue and liberty. They argued that his 
messages and his writings prove him to have had in 
view, through his entire political and administrative 
career, only three great purposes, and that his whole 
efforts and influence were directed to their accomplish- 
ment. These were, say they, the aggrandizement of 
France, the humiliation of England, and the demolition 
of Federalists as a party, and the expatriation of all 
who held that faith. There can be very little doubt 
that Jefferson was liable to all three of these charges. 
But it is not for us rashly to say that the aggrandize- 
ment of France, or the humiliation of England, were 
the sole objects of his foreign policy, or that the anni- 
hilation of Federalism was his chief object at home. 
The purchase of Louisiana, or rather the circumstances 
attending that purchase, have been cited as evidence 
of the first proposition, and, collaterally, of the second. 
The same may be said, reversely, of the embargo and 
non-intercourse laws. It is with the first of these that 
we have now to do, and the facts premised will enable 
the reader to understand more clearly, and to apply as 
he may deem proper, the historical incidents belonging 


to that transaction. But we must here remark, that 
the purchase of that territory was the first of those 
violent shocks which the Constitution has since repeat- 
edly sustained under Democratic administrations. The 
blows have been sedulously followed up since, and all 
the agitation which ever distracted the country, or se- 
riously threatened its peace, has grown out of this 
Democratic principle and practice of territorial aggran- 
dizement. Louisiana, Texas, California, and New Mex- 
ico have come to us, for weal or for woe, through 
Democratic agency, and as on them must rest the re- 
sponsibility and consequences of their annexation, so, 
likewise, let them have the credit for what benefits 
have ensued or may yet ensue. But the Constitution 
is not healed, its infractions are not extenuated by 
pointing out and pleading the benefits, commercially 
and politically, that have followed from the purchase 
of Louisiana. The wound has been inflicted, and the 
gap fairly and widely opened for future aggressions of 
a similar character. The sanctity of the instrument 
has been repeatedly and roughly violated, and no one 
is able to tell or to foresee where the mischief will end, 
or how far the precedent may be abused by subsequent 
acts. History too truly teaches that the illegal or un- 
constitutional exercise of power in the best of times, 
for the real benefit of the people and with their silent 
acquiescence, has hardly ever failed to be resorted to, 
as a precedent, in the worst of times and often for the 
worst party or selfish purposes. Recent political events, 
under the administration of President Polk, afford, to 
our own eyes, a most striking confirmation of the truth 
of the lesson. 

The years 1762-63 were marked by fierce struggles 
on the American continent between England, France, 
and Spain. During the first year France ceded to 


Spain the island of "New Orleans and all her possessions 
west of the Mississippi river, and the name of Louisi- 
ana was thus limited to that part of the valley. After 
the close of the Revolutionary War, in settling the 
boundaries of the United States, some contentions arose 
between our own and the Spanish Government, espe- 
cially as regarded the free navigation of the Mississippi. 
These differences were not adjusted until 1795, when, 
during the administration of Washington, his Catholic 
Majesty agreed by the treaty of San Lorenzo, that "the 
citizens of the United States shall be permitted, for the 
space of three years from this time, the navigation of 
the Mississippi, with a right to deposit their merchan- 
dise and effects in the port of New Orleans." From 
several causes, however, this treaty was not fulfilled 
until 1798, and, most probably, but for a change of ad- 
ministration here, a war between Spain and the United 
States would have been the consequence. In 1796 
Spain and the French Republic formed an alliance, 
offensive and defensive ; and at that time France began 
a series of negotiations with a view to the recovery of 
her ancient province of Louisiana. This was not effect- 
ed till 1800, under the consulate of Napoleon, when, 
by the treaty of St. Ildefonso, Spain retroceded to 
France the colony of Louisiana, with the boundaries it 
had when given up to Spam in 1763. Spain, however, 
still continued to exercise, nominally at least, the powers 
of government in the country, and in 1802 the Intend- 
ant of the province gave notice that American citizens 
would no longer be permitted to deposit their goods at 
New Orleans, and this, too, without assigning, as by the 
terms of the treaty of San Lorenzo, " any equivalent 
establishment at any other place on the river." This 
extraordinary violation of national faith was followed up 
by acts of the most offensive nature. The Spaniards cap- 


tured and carried into their ports numbers of American 
vessels, destroyed or confiscated American property, 
and imprisoned the American Consul. This conduct 
very justly excited the most wide-spread indignation 
among our western citizens, and many threatened to 
march down the country, and take forcible possession 
of New Orleans. These outrages occurred long ante- 
rior to the assembly of Congress, in December, 1802, 
and yet, strange to say, the executive message was en- 
tirely silent on the subject. In January, 1803, the 
House promptly called for information concerning so 
delicate a matter, and this brought the fact of treaty 
violation on the part of Spain officially to light. A 
message was debated with closed doors, which, as Jef- 
ferson must certainly have known of the outrages be- 
fore the session began, leaves us to deduce questionable 
and unfavorable opinions of his conduct. It certainly 
was strange and unaccountable, indicative of but little 
spirit, and shrouded with a politic caution and forbear- 
ance that would have done honor to Louis the Elev- 

When redress for these wrongs and a compliance 
with treaty stipulations were demanded of Spain, the 
American minister was informed that Louisiana had 
been ceded to France. Jefferson then asked for two 
millions of dollars, and set on foot a negotiation for the 
purchase of " New Orleans and the provinces of East 
and West Florida." Mr. Monroe and Mr. Livingston 
were joined in the mission, and set out immediately for 

About the time of the arrival of the American 
Envoys, Great Britain began to manifest symptoms of 
alarm at the ambitious projects and growing power of 
Napoleon, and particularly in his acquisition of Lou- 
isiana, and the contemplated possession of that exten- 


sive country with a large army. With this view the 
fleet and troops under General Victor, destined for that 
country, were kept so long blockaded that they were 
finally disembarked, and turned to a different service. 
The inventive genius of Napoleon suggested an imme- 
diate remedy. He found that it would be impossible 
for him to occupy Louisiana, and he therefore resolved 
to exchange it for money, which France needed far 
more than she needed transatlantic territory. The fit- 
ful peace of Amiens was. drawing to its close, and the 
bad faith of England was about to plunge Europe into 
a war that laid low all the Continent, that crippled her 
own power and nearly exhausted her means and credit, 
and that carried death and devastation in its track 
through a long series of well nigh fifteen years. So 
soon as the French Emperor had resolved on his course, 
he convoked his counsel, and announced to them the 
approaching rupture. This was early in March, and 
Mr. Monroe had not then joined Mr. Livingston, our 
Minister resident in France. The designs of the Em- 
peror are unfolded by the characteristic speech made 
to his confidental advisers, and seem strikingly to com- 
port with the subsequent testimony of John Randolph, 
" that France wanted money, and must have it." " I 
will not," said Napoleon, "keep a possession which 
would not be safe in our hands, which would perhaps 
embroil me with the Americans, or produce a coldness 
between us. I will make use of it, on the contrary, to 
attach them to me, to embroil them with the English, 
and to raise up against the latter, enemies who will 
one day avenge us, if we should not succeed in aveng- 
ing ourselves. My resolution is taken; I will give 
Louisiana to the United States. But as they have no 
territory to cede to us in exchange, I will demand a 
sum of money towards defraying the expenses of the 


extraordinary armament which I am projecting against 
England.'' This declaration was made in March, only 
a fews days after the memorable scene with Lord 
Whitworth, the English Ambassador to France. With 
his usual impetuosity, the First Consul sent Marbois 
directly to Mr. Livingston, with instructions to open 
negotiations forthwith, concerning the purchase. Ac- 
cordingly, when Mr. Monroe arrived in Paris, he found 
the business to his hands, and that, instead of the island 
of New Orleans and the small territory of East and 
West Florida, alone, Napoleon was offering to cede 
the whole extensive territory west of the Mississippi. 
This was a most startling proposition. The American 
negotiators were confined by certain minute instruc- 
tions, and limited as to the amount to be expended. 
But Napoleon, bent on war, and eager for the strife, 
urged them to a speedy conclusion of preliminaries ; 
and on the 30th of April the bargain was struck, and 
for a consideration of fifteen millions of dollars, Lou- 
isiana was transferred from the dominion of France to 
that of the United States. Early in May, the peace of 
Amiens was terminated, and Napoleon, having thus 
supplied his chests, opened the scene of those bloody 
wars which shook Europe to its deepest foundations, 
blasted the commercial prosperity of the world, and 
ended with the total humiliation and subjection of 
France, while his own life was wasted away on the 
friendless shores of St. Helena. 

The acquisition of this territory was a perilous and 
most extraordinary assumption of undelegated power 
by one who claimed to be a model Democrat and a 
strict constructionist. It w T as seriously condemned, on 
principle, by all the opponents of the administration, 
among whom John Randolph, of Roanoke, already 
dissatisfied with the JefFersonian policy, now took the 


most prominent position. The main grounds of their 
opposition were, that the French title was contingent 
only, that the undefined boundaries would furnish a 
cause for future contentions, that a fraudulent title had 
been obtained from Spain through the Godoy ministry, 
which might subsequently be disavowed and repu- 
diated ; that Louisiana was not then in the actual pos- 
session of France but of Spain, which latter objected 
to the arrangement, and that the increase of Executive 
patronage consequent on so vast an acquisition would 
render the President almost a despot. But there were 
higher grounds of opposition than these, and they are 
grounds which still exist in principle, and are impreg- 
nable to argument. These grounds are founded in the 
Constitution of the United States. When the treaty 
was submitted to the House of Representatives for the 
purpose of having it carried into effect, the question 
as to the constitutionality of that part of it which 
stipulated for the admission of the country into the 
Union, was made and warmly debated. It was con- 
ceded that foreign territory might be acquired either 
by conquest or by purchase, and then retained as a 
colony or province; but could not be admitted as a 
State without an amendment of the Constitution. It 
was argued that the Government of this country was 
formed by a union of States, and the people had de- 
clared in the preamble that the Constitution was estab- 
lished "to form a more perfect union" of the "United 
States." The United States here mentioned could not 
be mistaken. They were the States then in existence, 
or such other new States as should be formed within 
the limits of the Union, conformable to the provision 
of the Constitution. Every measure, therefore, con- 
tended the opposition, which tends to infringe the 
present Union of the States here described, was a clear 


violation of the very first sentiment expressed in the 
Constitution. The incorporation of a foreign territory 
into the Union, so far from tending to preserve the 
Union, was a direct inroad upon it ; because it de- 
stroyed the " perfect union " contemplated betwixt the 
original parties by interposing an alien and a stranger 
to share the powers of government alike with them. 

Pressed by arguments of this kind, and by the opin- 
ions of JeiFerson himself, those who advocated the 
treaty took medium grounds, contending that the 
treaty merely stipulated that the inhabitants of the 
ceded territory should be hereafter admitted into the 
Union, according to the principles of the Constitution ; 
that by taking possession of the territory it did not 
necessarily follow that it must be admitted into the 
Union; that this would be an after question; that 
the territory would not be admitted into the Union 
unless warranted by the principles of the Constitu- 
tion. But they were met by the answer that there 
was no difference, in principle, between a direct incor- 
poration and a stipulation that such incorporation 
should take place ; because, as the national faith was 
pledged in the latter case, the incorporation must take 
place ; that it was of no consequence whether the treaty 
itself gave such incorporation, or produced the laws 
which gave it ; and that the question still returned 
whether there exists, under the Constitution, a power 
to incorporate a foreign nation or people into the Union 
either by a treaty or by law. Latter experience, we 
may here remark, en passant, has afforded the ground 
of proposing as a further query, whether such can be 
done by a mere joint resolution of the Senate and 
House of Representatives, independent of the treaty 
power under the Constitution, and in utter disregard 
of the two-thirds rule ! And yet this was done by the 


same legitimately descended radical Democracy in the 
case of Texas, which, in our humble opinion, has about 
as much Constitutional connection with this Union as 
Cuba or Liberia. 

But it is no less singular than true that Jefferson 
himself confessed, to the fullest extent, to the unconsti- 
tutionality of such acquisition of territory, or of its ad- 
mission into the Union as a State. He admits that the 
Constitution will bear no such latitudinous construc- 
tion, yet recommends the adoption of the treaty, and 
afterwards, the incorporation of Louisiana into the 
Union. The volumes before us contain divers letters 
illustrative of this inconsistency between theory and 
practice, and explanatory of so strange an anomaly. 
He addresses Lincoln, and Breckenridge, and Nicholas 
particularly, arguing most conclusively against the con- 
stitutionality of the very act he had recommended, and 
which he resolved to sanction as President. In one 
place he puts the question in its strongest light by say- 
ing, " I do not believe it was meant that we might re- 
ceive England, Ireland, Holland, &c., which would be 
the case on your (viz., the Attorney General's) con- 
struction." If not these, it might be asked, how will 
we admit Louisiana ; or, if Louisiana, why not England, 
Ireland, and Holland ? It is evident that if the clause 
of the Constitution can be construed so as to admit 
one, the same rule of construction will cover the ad- 
mission of all ; or, vice versa, if one be excluded by the 
Constitution, all are excluded. That posterity to which 
Jefferson is so fond of appealing, and which has wit- 
nessed each successive onslaught and "partisan foray on 
the Constitution which have grown out of and been 
justified to the people, from this precedent and this 
conduct of the great Democratic apostle, must judge 
also how far the first comports with the clause of the 


Constitution specifying that new States " may be ad 
mitted by Congress," and another clause binding the 
President on oath to protect and defend the Constitu- 
tion of the United States." We have only to remark 
that if Congress be the power to admit new States, it 
is clear that such States can be formed only out of ter- 
ritory belonging to the United States at the time the 
power was given, for, by the same Constitution, the 
Congress cannot, in, any manner, approach a foreign 
government. This is a prerogative of the President 
and Senate. As respects the inconsistency of Jeffer- 
son's conduct with his opinions, and then these with 
respect to the form of obligation prescribed to be taken 
by the President on his accession to that office, candor 
demands nothing short of severe censure. The Consti- 
tution is not to be made subordinate to expediency, and 
an upright officer must respect his oath, if we would 
desire to steer our political course in harmony and 
safety. If the Rubicon is passed, Rome must lie at the 
mercy of the dictator. She will have nothing to shield 
her from indignity, for that is the sacred boundary. 
Neither will fancied or prospective benefits justify a de- 
parture from the plain letter of the Constitution, or 
from the stringency of official obligation. Every Presi- 
dent might constitute himself a judge, and frame, in 
this manner, a pretext for any conquest or any expen- 
diture of the public money. As illustrative of this we 
might point to the successive innovations which have 
followed the acquisition of Louisiana. The Floridas, 
Texas, California, and New Mexico were all the natu- 
ral fruits of this first spurious blossom. The late 
President, fortified by illustrious examples and prece- 
dents, pursued an unscrupulous course of conquest with 
scarcely a decent pretext, expending millions of money, 
and destroying thousands of men, and in defiance of 


the inevitable consequences of civil discord and sec- 
tional agitations. Since 1803 the country has scarcely 
been five years in repose. It has been torn and dis- 
tracted by ill-boding dissensions. The tone of public 
sentiment has been infected. It has been poisoned 
with the thirst for some species of political excitement. 
-At the North, the Canadas afford fruitful sources for 
indulgence in this vicious propensity. At the South, 
since Texas has been annexed and since Mexico has 
been subdued and pillaged, Cuba has become the centre 
of this dangerous attraction, and sooner or later must 
share the fate of the two former. The public taste of 
both sections seeks gratification only in this species of 
furor. We are constrained to say that all this is justly 
chargeable to the example of Jefferson, and whether it 
bring weal or woe, his fame must answer to that pos- 
terity to which he appeals. 

The great mass of the people, however, were agreed 
as to the importance of this acquisition of Louisiana, 
and all must acknowledge that, bating the wounds in- 
flicted on the Constitution, its purchase has resulted in 
incalculable benefits to the United States ; thus Jeffer- 
son was so fortunate as to find, that an act which might 
have called for impeachment under some circumstances, 
has been regarded as the most meritorious of his pub- 
lic career. So much, we perceive, is the world gov- 
erned in its public conduct, by considerations, rather 
of interest and policy, than of conformity to established 
rules of law. 

But it is not to be disguised that, in his haste either 
to accommodate France, or to avoid a collision with 
Spain, Jefferson suffered the purchase to be, in some 
sense, unwisely concluded. In the first place, the sum 
of fifteen millions was probably thrice as much as needed 
to have been given, because Napoleon knew, at the 


time of the purchase, that on the renewal of war in Eu- 
rope the whole country of Louisiana would be taken 
possession of by the British, and consequently be lost 
both to France and to Spain. In the next place, the 
treaty was glaringly imperfect from the fact that no 
definable or tangible boundaries had been fixed or 
agreed on as respected the territory transferred. Con- 
sequently, Spain being exasperated any way, a state of 
hostility betwixt her own and the cabinet at Washing- 
ton soon sprung up in relation to the legitimate bound- 
aries of Louisiana. The United States claimed to the 
river Perdido, east of the Mississippi, and to the Rio 
Bravo on the west. But the negotiation under this 
mission entirely failed. The Spanish Court not only 
denied the right of the United States to any portion 
of territory east of the Mississippi ; but, in the most 
peremptory manner, declared their claim to the Rio 
Bravo to be totally unfounded. A long and angry cor- 
respondence took place between the Spanish negotiator, 
Don Pedro Cevallos, then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 
and the American Ministers. In the negotiations with 
France respecting the purchase of Louisiana, Mr. Mon- 
roe and Mr. Livingston had been given to understand 
that the territory extended as far east as the Perdido, 
and that the town of Mobile would fall within the limits 
of the cession. And we may also here observe that at 
the same time Bonaparte had given verbal assurance, 
that should the United States desire to purchase the 
Floridas, his aid towards effecting that object would 
be readily afforded at some future suitable time. In 
consequence of this intimation, Mr. Monroe, while at 
Paris, in 1804, made known the object of his mission in 
a note to Talleyrand, and requested aid of Bonaparte 
agreeable to his former assurances. But, in the mean 
time, a change had come over the spirit of the French 


Emperor's policy. The means acquired in 1803 by the 
sale of Louisiana had been totally exhausted by his 
subsequent wars, and he was now again pressingly in 
need of money. He therefore made a convenience of 
short memory, and not only professed total forgetful- 
ness of ah 1 such assurances, but gave unmistakable signs 
of a favorable disposition towards Spain. This, how- 
ever, was one of those artful demonstrations, or feints, 
so often and so consummately practised by Napoleon, 
in the accomplishment of his ambitious designs. Spain 
was indebted to France. France was in need of money, 
and Spain had no money with which to pay her debts. 
He therefore once again resolved to make the United 
States subsidiary towards raising means for the prose- 
cution of his European conquest. With this view, dur- 
ing the negotiation between Spain and the United 
States respecting the boundaries of Louisiana, a certain 
paper in the handwriting of Talleyrand, but not signed 
by him, was put into the hands of the American Minis- 
ter at Paris. It required but little acquaintance with 
French diplomacy to gather a full clue to the designs 
of the Emperor from this paper. It set forth that the 
present was a favorable time for the United States to 
purchase the Floridas of Spain ; that the same could 
probably be obtained ; and that Napoleon would assist 
the United States by using his influence with Spain to 
induce her to part with them. It was also suggested, 
in the same indirect way, that in order to insure a fa- 
vorable result, the United States must assume a hostile 
attitude towards Spain, and put on the appearance of 
enforcing their claims. These singular and indirect 
communications were, of course, made known to the 
American President; and Jefferson, with unaccountable 
deference to such questionable advice, embodied the 
same in his message to Congress. After going through 


with a concise preliminary statement of the matter in 
dispute, and with divers hints as regarded the probable 
dispositions of France in case of hostilities with Spain, 
he adopts almost the precise language of the anonymous 
paper when he says, " Formal war is not necessary, and 
will not probably follow; but the protection of our 
citizens, the spirit and honor of our country, require 
that force should be interposed to a certain degree. It 
will probably contribute to advance the object of peace. 
But the course to be pursued will require the command 
of means, which it belongs to Congress exclusively to 
yield or deny." It will be perceived that this message 
covers every design, and answers the whole purposes 
of Napoleon. His advice was scrupulously followed, 
though given quite exceptionably ; hostilities were 
threatened, and Spain was bullied. The " means " were 
what the Emperor wanted, and he resolved to coax and 
dally with the United States, and to intimidate Spain, 
that the first might furnish to the last money enough 
to extinguish her indebtedness to France, and thus ena- 
ble him to prosecute his series of conquests. 

In consequence of this message, Congress voted 
two millions of dollars that Jefferson might purchase 
the Floridas. But the appropriation was not made in 
quiet. It met with the most resolute opposition. John 
Randolph openly denounced it as subserviency on the 
part of Jefferson to the Emperor of France, and then 
made public, for the first time, that, on his arrival at 
Washington, the Secretary of State had told him, 
" that France wanted money, and that we must give it 
to her, or have a Spanish and French war." Randolph 
was the Chairman of the Committee to whom this 
message was referred. He opposed the two million 
appropriation on several grounds, ah 1 , as we think, 
equally cogent and reasonable. The money had not 


been explicitly asked for in the message ; that, after 
the failure of negotiations based on right, to purchase 
the territory would be disgraceful ; that France, thus 
encouraged, would never cease meddling with our af- 
fairs, so long as she could extort money from us ; and, 
that the Floridas, as he thought, and as France had at 
first admitted, were regularly ceded to us at the time 
of the Louisiana purchase, and, therefore, France was 
bound to make good her word and our title. But op- 
position availed nothing. The money was appropriated, 
and it is certain that the same never reached Spain. 
On the contrary, it is a fact of history, that it was car- 
ried to Paris on board the United States ship Hornet, 
and passed into the coffers of Napoleon. Not a foot 
of territory, as the facts of the case will clearly demon- 
strate, was acquired by this appropriation. In fact, it 
may be safely inferred that, having stopped it in Paris 
on a claim that Spain owed France, Napoleon used it 
to subjugate the very power to whom it was justly 
due, if due at all, and to whom it should properly have 
been paid.* 

Anterior to Jefferson's Presidency, the Constitution 
of the United States, administered by those who aided 
in its compilation, had been found to answer its purpose 

* The treaty of the cession of the Floridas, concluded at Washing- 
ton 22 February, 1819, between Spain and the United States, having 
been ratified on the one part by the King of Spain, and by the Presi- 
dent of the United States on the other part, possession was taken of 
these provinces, according to treaty. On the first of July, General 
Andrew Jackson, who had been appointed Governor of the provinces 
of the Floridas, issued a Proclamation, declaring, " that the government 
heretofore exercised over the said provinces, under the authority of 
Spain, has ceased, and that of the United States of America is established 
over the same, that the inhabitants thereof will be incorporated in the 
union of the United States, as soon as may be consistent with the 
principles of the federal constitution, and admitted to the enjoyment of 
all the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United 
Slates. Holmes 1 8 AnnaU, vol. 2d, p. 495. 


without being subjected to violent constructions, or 
rather to flagitious misconstructions. It was founded 
in genuine republican principles, and one of the great- 
est errors of republics was sought to be avoided. This 
was territorial acquisitions and extension. If other 
than the original limits of the original Thirteen States 
had been contemplated in its provisions for territorial 
governments, a line added would have closed the ques- 
tion and settled the point forever. This was not done, 
and the obvious inference is, as Jefferson himself 
argued, that no foreign territorial acquisition was ever 
anticipated or provided for by the framers of the Con- 
stitution. The only clause which the radical and pro- 
gressive democracy can claim, on which to rest their 
policy of territorial extension, is the clause which de- 
clares that Congress may admit new States. We have 
even thought this a strained interpretation, and a bad 
argument. All the rules for construing language with 
which we are acquainted, lay down, as the first prin- 
ciple, that a sentence must be interpreted connectedly, 
iind all its parts brought into a harmonious whole, if 
we would seek its true meaning. We cannot arrive at 
its meaning by construing only detached portions, or 
clauses of a clause. The postulate in this instance is 
destroyed by applying the rule to which we have re- 
ferred ; for the latter portion of the clause relied on by 
the democracy affords a key by which the first may be 
fully understood. " New States may be admitted by 
the Congress into this Union ; but no new State shall 
be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any 
other State ; nor any State Reformed by the junction 
of two or more /States or parts of States without the 
consent of the legislatures of the /States concerned, 
as well as of the Congress." * 

* Const. U. S. 


The first part of this sentence, granting the power, 
is governed by the latter clauses, defining the manner 
in which States are to be formed, if it is governed at 
all ; and if it was not intended to be thus governed, 
the two parts of the whole clause should have been 
disconnected by something else than a mere semicolon. 
Nor is it reasonable to suppose that the " Legislatures '* 
spoken of were foreign Legislatures ; for this govern- 
ment cannot prescribe for foreign Legislatures. Im- 
mediately succeeding this is the clause giving to Con- 
gress the care and regulation of the " territory " and 
"other property belonging to the United States? 
which concludes by declaring "that nothing in this 
Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any 
claims of the United States, or of any particular State." 
This can refer only to negotiations for territory be- 
tween the United States and " particular " States of 
"this Union." Neither of these could well have con- 
flicting " claims" to the "territory or other property," 
of any other country than this. 

We shall not dwell longer on this branch of the 
subject. These are briefly pur views of Constitutional 
construction. It will be seen that Jefferson him- 
self had previously urged the same doctrine, though 
his conduct clearly belied his inculcations, and this, 
too, in the face of his official oath. An example so 
pernicious, traced to a person so revered as a Consti- 
tutional expounder by a great and powerful party who 
profess to own his principles, cannot be too severely or 
too unqualifiedly condemned. A life of action, it is 
true to some extent at least, must be a life of compro- 
mise, if it is to be useful. A public man is often under 
the necessity of consenting to measures which he dis- 
approves, lest he should endanger the success of other 
measures which he thinks of vital importance. But 


the historiographer lies under no such necessity, and 
we feel it to be a sacred duty to point out the errors 
and to condemn the malfeasances of one who yet ex- 
ercises a baneful influence on the mind of the coun- 
try. Nor do we conceive that Thomas Jefferson is 
entitled to the charity of this rule when adjudging his 
public conduct. From 1792 until his election to the 
Presidency, he had been particularly addicted to in- 
veighing against the slightest Constitutional departures 
in others. He had thus well nigh succeeded in bring- 
ing temporary disrepute on certain measures of Wash- 
ington's administration, and had stirred up against that 
of the elder Adams such a storm of popular indignation 
as was satisfied only with the overthrow of Federalism, 
and which even yet exists in common connection with 
his name and his party. 

This is, as we have remarked, only the first of those 
glaring infractions of the Constitution which marked 
the dawn of the Democratic administrations, and which 
have since continued to distinguish the Democratic 
successors of the great Apostle. We have yet before 
us the task of narrating others of a similar character, 
which must, in the minds of some, at least, diminish 
the hitherto overshadowing and undisputed claims of 
one distinguished by the superior reverence of his 
countrymen. This must be reserved for a future 

The effects of a change from good government to 
bad government, says a great essayist, are not fully 
* felt for some tune after the change takes place. The 
talents and virtues which a good Constitution generates 
may, for a time, survive that Constitution. Thus the 
administration of Thomas Jefferson, notwithstanding 
its assaults on vital features of the Constitution and its 
approximation to the calm of despotism, is generally 


regarded as the golden age of genuine Democratic 
government. Thus, also, do the reigns of princes who 
have established despotisms by means of their personal 
popularity, and supposed subserviency to the popular 
will, shine in history with a peculiar brilliancy. During 
the first years of tyranny is reaped the harvest sown 
during the last years of liberty. The Augustan age 
was rich in great minds formed in the generation of 
Cicero and Cffisar. And yet, says Macaulay, most 
aptly, the fruits of the policy of Augustus were reserved 
for posterity. So, also, to bring the matter home, the 
age of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy 
Adams, was rich in minds formed in the generation of 
Washington. The fruits of this reign of liberty were 
fully reaped during the dictatorship of Andrew Jack- 
son. In the time of Jefferson, such was the prestige 
of his name in connection with Democracy, the masses 
of the people could not be made to understand that 
liberty and the Constitution might be seriously endan- 
gered by his example. The effects of this example 
were effectively checked by the conservative adminis- 
trations of Madison, Monroe, and the younger Adams, 
two of whom were recognized as prominent leaders of 
a great party, which was fast rising on the ruins of 
Federalism to oppose the anarchial tendencies of the 
radical Jeffersonian Democracy. But under the iron 
dominion of Andrew Jackson, on whom, as we have 
said, the mantle of the great Apostle had fallen, the 
whirlwind of Jacobinism rose to its height, and for 
eight years the country bowed submissively beneath 
the rule of a fierce spirit, whose pernicious impulses 
were never controlled by considerations of prudence 
or of consequences. In our next we shall enter on a 
period of the Jefferson administration, if not more im- 
portant, at least more entertaining in point of historical 


incident, and which serves to illustrate, equally with 
the acts just narrated, the deleterious influences of Jef- 
ferson's example in politics and his administration of 
the Federal Government. 


WE now enter on a period of Jefferson's administra- 
tion which excites intense interest and curiosity, and 
has connected it with the fortunes of a man whose 
great talents and address had foreshadowed for him a 
reputation of the most enviable exaltation, when-the 
path to renown was crossed by his evil genius. That 
man was Aaron Burr, and his evil genius was Thomas 
Jefferson. It was a grapple between giant champions, 
whose resources of mind were too vast, and whose en- 
mity, mutually and bitterly entertained, was too deeply 
rooted to terminate the struggle with other than ap- 
palling consequences to one party or to both. In one 
case, however, mind was aided by power and vast po- 
litical and official influence, and, as might be supposed, 
these united, overwhelmed the weaker antagonist. 

Aaron Burr was a native of the State of New Jer- 
sey, and one of the early graduates of Princeton Col- 
lege. His earliest exhibitions of character pointed to 
those traits which were afterwards developed in his 
eventful career. He was impetuous, restless, persever- 
ing, and wilful. Soon after graduating, he joined the 
Revolutionary army, under Montgomery and Arnold, 
and accompanied those generals in their awful and 
dreary march across the wilderness to Quebec. His 
indifference to fatigue and hunger, and his strict impar- 
tiality as an officer, sharing with his soldiers the priva- 
tions of the march, and openly condemning an opposite 
conduct in Arnold, gained him the admiration and 


deep affection of the men, while it elicited the commen- 
dation and respect of a majority of the officers. After 
the siege of Quebec was formed, Burr volunteered his 
services as aid to Montgomery, and was by that officer's 
side when he fell. He caught the dying patriot in his 
arms, and in defiance of the storm of grapeshot which 
roared around, maintained his post of affection and duty 
until proper assistance was obtained. . Burr was the 
only one of Montgomery's suite who escaped on that 
fatal day. 

Returning from Canada, he became an inmate of 
Washington's military family, at head-quarters near 
New York, and participated in all the actions which 
occurred between the American and British armies 
around that city. But his intercourse with the Com- 
mander-in-chief soon became restrained and unpleasant, 
and resulted in a mutual personal aversion, which lasted 
during Washington's lifetime, but for which no particu- 
lar reason was ever assigned. In consequence, when 
the disaffection broke out against Washington among 
the army officers in 1777, and it was contemplated to 
supersede him with Gates, Burr actively and openly 
took sides with the latter. This opposition, added to 
previous unpleasant passages, only served to increase 
Washington's prejudices. In long subsequent years, 
during the first Presidency under the Constitution, this 
dislike was bitterly evidenced, and the depth of Wash- 
ington's aversion fully developed. A deputation of the 
Democratic members of Congress, appointed by a cau- 
cus, thrice waited on the President, with a request that 
he would appoint Burr Minister to France. They were 
thrice peremptorily refused, Washington declaring each 
time that he would never appoint one to office in whose 
integrity he had no confidence. This anecdote should 
not, however, be rashly taken as irrevocable and infal- 


lible evidence against Burr. It was known that, from 
the first, Burr had expressed himself freely and harshly 
as to the qualifications of the Commander-in-chief, that 
he had condemned his movements around Long Island 
and New York, and that he had severely criticized the 
plan of the battle of Monmouth, in which battle Burr 
commanded a brigade in Lord Stirling's division. 
These facts were well known to Washington, as well as 
the partiality entertained by Burr for Gates ; and, in 
the absence of any tangible cause ever assigned by the 
General or his friends, we are forced to conclude that a 
shade of personal pique and rancor may have influenced 
the usually strict and admirable equanimity even of 
this illustrious and revered personage. He would, in- 
deed, have been more than mortal, could he have en- 
tirely subdued all such feelings feelings common to 
the best as well as to the worst of men. 

In March, 1779, Burr tendered his resignation to 
the Commander-in-chief. It was accepted by Washing- 
ton, in a letter the most complimentary and flattering 
to Burr's military ambition. He subsequently was ad- 
mitted to the practice of the law in Albany, and in the 
spring of 1782 was married to Theodosia Prevost, 
widow of Colonel Prevost of the British army, and 
mother of that Theodosia who afterwards became so 
distinguished in connection with her father and hus- 
band, and whose mysterious and melancholy fate, while 
giving rise to many awful and fanciful conjectures, 
blighted and crushed the sole remaining earthly hope 
of her solitary and suffering parent. 

The history of Burr's political career in New York 
and in the Senate -of the United States, his contest with 
Jefferson for the Presidency, and his duel with Alexan- 
der Hamilton, are well known to every general reader, 
and have been elsewhere alluded to in this essay. He 


left the chair of the Vice President in March, 1805, and 
closed his connection with the Senate with one of the 
most eloquent and affecting valedictories ever made on 
such an occasion. " The whole Senate," says Mr. Da- 
vis, in his memoir, " were in tears, and so unmanned, 
that it was half an hour before they could recover them- 
selves sufficiently to come to order, and choose a Vice 
President pro tern. One Senator said that he wished 
the tradition might be preserved, as one of the most 
extraordinary events .he had ever witnessed. Another 
being asked, the day following that on which Mr. Burr 
took his leave, how long he was speaking, after a mo- 
ment's pause, said he could form no idea; it might 
have been an hour, and it might have been but a mo- 
ment ; when he came to his senses, he seemed to have 
awakened as from a kind of trance." 

Bending beneath the weight of heavy afflictions, and 
pursued, both by the Democratic and Federal parties, 
with a vengeance that seemed to compass nothing short 
of his life, Burr, now fallen from his high estate, be- 
came a wanderer and a desperado. The envy and ran- 
cor of Jefferson were fully aroused against him, in con- 
sequence of their recent rivalry, and the Democratic 
party, of course, sided with Jefferson. He had slain 
Hamilton in a duel the year before, and the Federal 
party panted for the blood of their idol's murderer ; for 
as murderer he had been denounced and indicted in 
New York. His mind and temperament were too ar- 
dent, and his ambition too insatiable and restless to re- 
main inactive. The domestic circle afforded him no 
comfort. The charm of his home, once his delight and 
happiness, had fled. The wife of his youth, the devoted 
partner of his joys and his adversities, was cold in the 
tomb. His daughter, sole pledge of their love, was 
married and removed into a distant State of the South. 


His property, suffering for want of attention during 
his ostracism, had melted away, leaving him distress- 
ingly in debt. His early friends avoided him, as one 
contaminated or proscribed, whose approach was a 
shadow of evil, and whose touch was death. Profes- 
sional pursuits were out of the question. Law business 
was not to be intrusted to a fugitive from the law. 
Political advancement was forever closed to his efforts. 
No party would recognize him who was alike abhorred 
by Democrat and Federalist the object of Jefferson's 
hatred, and whose hands were stained with the blood 
of Alexander Hamilton. Thus bereaved and branded, 
Burr became another Ishmael. Every man's hand was 
against him ; it was no wonder that his hand should 
soon be turned against every man. His manner, his 
conduct, his conversations, his very looks were watched 
with the eye of suspicion. He fled from the haunts of 
man and sought the wilderness, in hopes there to create 
some employment calculated to appease his restlessness, 
and turn aside the gloomy fate which threatened to 
overwhelm him. Even here he was not beyond espio- 
nage. The friends and parasites of the jealous and in- 
flamed President kept their eyes on him, and sent fre- 
quent reports to Washington. If he sojourned at the 
house of any man, that man was from that day marked. 
He stayed a short time with General Dayton. Dayton 
welcomed him as an old Revolutionary soldier, failed to 
abuse hospitality by communicating with the President, 
and, as a penalty for his contumacy, was subsequently 
indicted, along with Burr, as a conspirator. It was 
the same in the case of John Smith. He responded to 
the invitation of Herman Blannerhasset, who was 
anxious to join in his land speculations, and paid a visit 
to the famous island in the Ohio. Blannerhasset, nar- 
rowly escaping with life, was afterwards stigmatized 


as a traitor, plundered of his wealth, and became a 
melancholy wanderer. He lounged a few days at the 
Hermitage, and even enlists its honored tenant in his 
scheme of invading Mexico, in case of war with Spain. 
The lion nature of Andrew Jackson had not then been 
aroused, and the emissaries of Jefferson approached 
him with monitory voices. They succeeded for the 
moment, and he writes an anxious letter to Burr. Burr 
replies to his satisfaction, and then the awakened lion 
raises his defying mane ; and for once the proscribers 
falter, and are ignominiously baffled in their selfish 
machinations. They succeeded in ruining every body 
else who had held the remotest connection with this 
hapless exile. 

The Grand Juries of Kentucky twice lodged accusa- 
tions against Burr. He was honorably acquitted on 
both occasions. On both of these occasions he was de- 
fended by Henry Clay, who was afterwards so far 
duped by false testimony in the hands of Jefferson, as 
to repent his efforts, and then openly affronted (by re- 
fusing to speak to) Burr at the New York City Hall. 
And yet it is a fact well authenticated that the very 
document in possession of Jefferson, and on which 
rested the evidence of Burr's treason, had been muti- 
lated by General Wilkinson, and he so acknowledged at 
Richmond. At this time there was a strong probability 
of hostilities between Spain and the United States, and 
it was known that the President had instructed the com- 
mander of the forces to drive the Spaniards beyond the 
Sabine. It had become a popular sentiment, even 
then, that in case war was begun it should end only 
by the conquest of Mexico. To this project no one 
was more intensely wedded than Andrew Jackson, as 
evinced both by a letter to Governor Claiborne, pro- 
duced by General Wilkinson as an appendix to his tes- 


timony on the Burr trial, and by his sympathy with 
Aaron Burr. Burr was a military man by nature, and 
his greater ambition was to excel in military achieve- 
ments. He was more tenacious of his revolutionary 
than of either his political or professional fame. He 
was evidently fired with the scheme of invading and 
conquering so splendid a country as Mexico, with its 
ancient treasures, its mines, and its magnificent cities ; 
and the more so, that he might thus retrieve his fallen 
fortunes. He was not friendly enough to the Govern- 
ment to ask or obtain honorable service, with such 
prominence as he courted, under its direct auspices. 
His plan, as disclosed on the trial at Richmond, evi- 
dently was to raise an independent force, to be near 
the scene of action, and to be prepared to strike a 
grand blow on the first opening of hostilities. With 
this view he must have entered into communication 
with General Wilkinson ; for as that officer was already 
in high command, and enjoyed the boundless confidence 
of his Government, Burr was too sagacious to have at- 
tempted his seduction, by offering him peril and uncer- 
tainty for safety and certainty. This tallies with the 
testimony of General Eaton, not with his inferences. 
It is not contradicted by that of Commodore Truxton 
or Dudley Woodbridge, who was to have furnished 
the boats intended to convey the expedition. Nor 
would Burr, without a clear understanding with Wil- 
kinson, have undertaken to pass the whole American 
army with less than one hundred ragamuffins. This 
project of invading Mexico, under the countenance and 
not by orders of the Government, was certainly not in- 
tended as treason, which consists only in " levying war 
against the United States," or aiding and comforting 
the enemies of the country. It certainly was a rash 
and reprehensible movement, and if designed to have 


been pursued independently of the Government, it was 
a punishable offence, but not treason. The more relia- 
ble conclusion is that Burr, unfriendly to Jefferson, and 
bitterly persecuted by him, endeavored to use Wilkin- 
son as an instrument for opening hostilities ; for, under 
his orders, Wilkinson might do this at any time, and 
thus bring the whole within the shelter of the Govern- 
ment. The plan w^as to proceed under the apparent 
authority of the Government, without directly asking 
its connivance. And if, it may be remarked, General 
Wilkinson, who was clearly playing a double part (per- 
haps it might not be unfair to say a treble part), in- 
tended to play the traitor towards Burr, it is certain 
that he played his hand well. Burr never suspected 
him until after his interview with one Swartwout, whom 
he had sent to Wilkinson with the letter in cipher. As 
soon as he had made the discovery, he abandoned the 
idea, turned attention again to the Washita purchase, 
and resolved to await a more favorable crisis. This 
lucky discovery saved his life. Being thus guarded, he 
directed himself to other projects less questionable. If 
Burr had been proven to have been at Blannerhasset's 
island when the boats started down the Ohio, the overt 
act would have been made out, and in all probability 
the Government would have obtained a conviction. 

By this time, however, Jefferson had fixed his talons 
on Burr, and appearances seemed to justify the conclu- 
sion that the blood of his ancient rival would be soon 
spilled to satiate his jealousy and rancor. He had been 
informed of Burr's movements months before; but 
merely to suppress the mischief was no part of the ta'c- 
tics he had prescribed for his conduct. Burr was al- 
lowed to continue his preparations, and Jefferson looked 
on supinely, hi the hope that some plain act which 
might be tortured into overt proceeding, should have 


been unwarily committed. His design was not so 
much to quell disaffection as to secure his prey. At 
length a communication from General Wilkinson in- 
duces him . to believe that the time has come, and he 
issues the order for the destruction of the boats and 
property of the expedition at the island, and for the 
arrest of Burr. The first is done forthwith ; and in a 
short time, the main victim being stopped near Fort 
Stoddart, on the Tombigbee, is conveyed by a military 
escort to the city of Richmond, Va., and placed on 
trial for his life. 

The proceedings of this famous trial have been long 
embodied as a part of the national history. A more 
important state trial never occurred, not excepting 
even that of Warren Hastings. All that was interest- 
ing or romantic in Burr's previous history all that 
could charm the fancy in connection with Blannerhasset 
and his beautiful island home all that was magnificent 
and inspiring, as regarded the ancient country of the 
Aztecs and the Montezumas, were concentrated and 
thrown into this trial. There were startling rumors, 
too, that many among the highest and most popular 
would be hurled from their proud positions as the tes- 
timony progressed. Added to these, it was known 
that Jefferson had enlisted ardently in the prosecution, 
and would move his whole official influence to crush 
the man who had once competed with him for the 
Presidency. The odds against Burr were truly appal- 
ling, and his chances for escape seemed completely 
blocked. Against the powerful personal influence of 
an -implacable enemy, the machinations of two enraged 
political parties, to whom he -was alike odious, the 
whole artillery of the Government, and the prejudging 
voice of an aroused and indignant nation, was opposed 
a single individual stripped of power, and of property, 


and of home ; abandoned by friends, and from whom 
even relatives shrank with trepidation. In all America 
one only heart throbbed in unison with his own ; but 
that one heart devoted fixed changeless ; sensitive 
alike to his joys and his sorrows, was to him more than 
all America, or all the world. It was the heart of 
Theodosia, " sole daughter of his house ! " 

Throughout the whole period from the arrest until 
the discharge of Burr, and his departure for England, 
the conduct of Jefferson was obnoxious to grave criti- 
cism, and evinced a want of magnanimity unworthy of 
his great fame and his exalted station. True taste 
would have suggested to him a dignified neutrality of 
action, especially in view of his official prerogative of 
pardon, should the accused be brought in guilty ; but 
more than all, in view of his past relations with the dis- 
tinguished prisoner. He chose to pursue a course less 
delicate ; aided the law by personal exertions, and min- 
gled officially in the prosecution by employing eminent 
counsel to assist the District Attorney for the United 
States. It is said that he expended more than a hun- 
dred thousand dollars of the public money in aiding 
this prosecution. His letters to the District Attorney, 
Mr. Hay, are full of the most ireful and splenetic effu- 
sions against the judge, the counsel for defence, and 
the prisoner. He even condescends to charge the 
Federalists, as a party, with sympathizing in the trea- 
sons and troubles of Aaron Burr. " The Federalists 
make Burr's cause their own, and exert their whole in- 
fluence to shield him from punishment." " Aided by 
no process or facilities from the Federal courts, but 
frowned on by their new-born zeal for the liberty of 
those whom we would not permit to overthrow the 
liberties of their country, we can expect no revealments 
Trom the accomplices of the chief offender. Of treason- 


able intentions, the judges have been obliged to confess 
there is a probable appearance. What loophole they 
will find in the case, when it conies to trial, we cannot 
foresee. Eaton, Stoddart, and Wilkinson will satisfy 
the world, if not the judges, of Burr's guilt. The na- 
tion will judge both the oifender and judges for them- 
selves. If a member of the Executive or of the Legis- 
lature does wrong, the day is never, far distant when 
the people will remove him. They will see then, and 
amend, the error in our Constitution which makes any 
branch independent of the nation. They will see that 
one of the great co-ordinate branches of the Govern- 
ment, setting itself in opposition to the other two, and 
to the common sense of the nation, proclaims impunity 
to that class of offenders which endeavors to overturn 
the Constitution, and are themselves protected in it by 
the Constitution itself; for impeachment is a farce 
which will not be tried again. If their protection of 
Burr produces this amendment, it will do more good 
than his condemnation." In this last letter, four points 
are very clearly made. It is evident that he intends to 
cast an ungenerous slur at Chief Justice Marshall, the 
Federal judge, offending; it is evident that, in con- 
ducting Burr's trial, having despaired of doing any 
thing in Court, he intends to play the game out, to 
arouse the anger of the nation against the errors of 
the Constitution ; it is evident that he insinuates an at- 
tack on the independence of the Judicial department 
of the Government ; and it is evident, that in the ebul- 
lition of his partisan acerbity, he casts a censure on the 
Senate of the United States, because their impeachment 
of Judge Chase, at a previous session^ did not terminate 
in his displacement. Now, with all due deference to 
the opinion of our distinguished subject, we must be 
permitted to say, that in our opinion, Burr's projected 


invasion of Mexico, by itself, would have done much 
less harm than this proposed degradation of the Judi- 
cial Department of the Government. We have no 
sympathy with Jefferson's views on this question, and 
hold them to be wholly irreconcilable with his professed 
democracy ; for, to our view, his plans would ultimately 
have led to a centralization of all power in the hands of 
the Executive. The time may come when a popular 
President and a subservient Senate may place in judi- 
cial seats mere instruments of Executive will. This is 
one way in which despotism may approach, and not an 
improbable one ; quite as probable as in military form. 
We have seen, thus far, sufficient evidence to convince 
us that Jefferson, despite his favor for democratic prin- 
ciples, leaned towards a policy which strengthened the 
Executive arm of the Government, and weakened the 
judicial arm. But besides claiming for the Executive 
an ultimate judicial authority, looking to entire supre- 
macy, as we have shown some pages back, he, on this 
occasion, demanded, and had nearly obtained, a sus- 
pension of the Habeas Corpus, and usurped the right to 
seize, impress, and imprison witnesses. These arbitrary 
acts and demands are in full accordance with the spirit 
of his letters just quoted, and go to illustrate that pub- 
lic liberty is not always safest in the hands of ultra 
Democrats. Danton and Robespierre conversed spe- 
ciously, and harangued eloquently, about the liberties 
of France, when the Place de Louis Quinze was reek- 
ing daily with the blood of slaughtered victims, and 
the guillotine dealing its death strokes by the minute. 
We do not mean to say that Jefferson would have 
been, under like circumstances, either a Danton or a 
Robespierre. But we mean to say that, in his Presi- 
dential conduct on this occasion, he was arbitrary, vin- 
dictive, and unjustifiably bent on shedding the blood 


of Aaron Burr. Nor can we at all concur in his harsh 
and vituperative censures on Chief Justice Marshall. 
That eminent judge may have experienced uncommon 
embarrassment at this trial, and, in consequence, ex- 
hibited more than usual hesitation and inconsistency in 
delivering legal opinions. The array of learned counsel, 
the vast importance of the cause, the enlightened audi- 
ences ever present, and the distinction and acknow- 
ledged legal acumen of the prisoner himself, very natu- 
rally contributed to produce both embarrassment and 
occasional inconsistency. It has rarely fallen to the lot 
of any judge to have had occasion to seek so earnestly 
for the truth, both as to law and evidence ; and none 
ever presided with more dignity and impartiality in the 
most responsible station in which one can be placed. 
Old and previously settled principles of law were more 
than once battered down by refined argument. New 
principles and points were sprung, and discussed with 
an ability seldom if ever displayed on any former occa- 
sion. Every point of law was jealously disputed, on 
one side or the other, and the nicest discrimination was 
necessary to distinguish between mere forensic powers 
and profundity of argument. Judge Marshall proved 
equal to all these requisites. 

The conduct of Jefferson, on this occasion, is liable 
to reprehension on still another ground. He exhibited 
a degree of intolerance and impatience at being crossed, 
that argued downright Jesuitism. Among the counsel 
for Colonel Burr was old Luther Martin of Maryland, 
one of the framers of the Constitution. He manifested 
a deep and sincere zeal in the cause of his client, and, 
when warranted, did not scruple to charge home cut- 
tingly on the real prosecutor Thomas Jefferson. He 
especially animadverted on the President's presuming 
to withhold any papers necessary to the defence of 


Burr, and declared that Jefferson's papers were no 
more sacred than those of his client, who had been 
robbed of the same by order of the Government. This, 
together with the charge of violating the New Orleans 
post office, in the person of General Wilkinson, although 
believed to be true, stung Jefferson to the quick, and 
roused his fierce resentment. His rage might have 
been justified, had he suggested a less exceptionable 
means of vengeance. But passion and the pride of 
power blinded him. On the 19th of June he thus 
writes to Mr. Hay : " Shall we move to commit Luther 
Martin as particeps criminis with Burr ? Graybell will 
fix on him misprision at least. And, at any rate, his 
evidence will serve to put down this unprincipled and 
impudent Federal bull-dog, and add another proof that 
the most clamorous defenders of Burr are his accom- 
plices." We cannot imagine any language more excep- 
tionable than this, when uttered by a high dignitary of 
state, nor any course of conduct so really mean and un- 
fair on the part of a chief magistrate. It shows the 
effervescence of an over-wrought party bitterness, and 
betrays a willingness to abuse power by using it for 
purposes of private revenge. It is well known that 
Burr was acquitted, both as to treason and to misde- 
meanor. The verdict was proper, and the only one 
that could have been justly rendered under the circum- 
stances. After months of long testimony and tedious 
legal arguments, the counsel for Burr had moved that 
the further progress of the trial be arrested, inasmuch 
as it had been proved that Burr was not present when 
the overt act, as charged in the indictment, had been 
committed, and that, therefore, all other testimony was 
irrelevant. This motion threw consternation and sur- 
prise among the prosecutors, and produced one of the 
most learned, discursive, and powerful legal arguments 


to be found in the whole course of judicial proceedings. 
Wirt characterized it as " a bold and original stroke in 
the noble science of defence, and as bearing marks of 
the genius and hand of a master." He stated his ob- 
jections to the point, and enforced them in one of the 
most splendid forensic displays ever recorded. It will 
stand a favorable comparison with Burke's celebrated 
chef cfrceuvre in the great case of Warren Hastings be- 
fore the British Parliament. Independent of its power 
as an argument, it stands unrivalled in point of elo- 
quence and emphasis of delivery. After having de- 
scribed Burr and Blannerhasset ; coupling the first with 
all that was dangerous and seductive, and the last with 
all that was interesting and romantic ; painting vividly 
the beautiful island on the Ohio its blooming shrub- 
bery its gorgeous palace the noble library which 
opened its treasures to the master the celestial music 
which melodized its recesses, and charmed " the beauti- 
ful and tender partner of his bosom ; " after dwelling 
on its quiet, rural scenes, and its domestic innocence 
and loveliness, interrupted and perverted by the arrival 
of Burr, he scouts the idea that Blannerhasset can now be 
made principal instead of accessory, and closes with the 
emphatic appeal : " Let Aaron Burr, then, not shrink 
from the high destination he has courted ; and having 
already ruined Blannerhasset in fortune, character, and 
happiness forever, let him not attempt to finish the trage- 
dy by thrusting that ill-fated man between himself and 
punishment." But splendor of oratory and majesty of 
description did not meet the issue, or answer the case. 
The defence held obstinately to the naked and resist- 
less principle of the law, and its inevitable application 
to the point submitted. It involved all, it reached and 
covered the whole merits of the case, but the Chief 
Justice did not waver. He walked boldly up to his 


duty, and charged the jury that such was the law. Of 
course, a verdict of "Not Guilty" was the conse- 

It might have been supposed that this elaborate and 
painful trial, its exposures and its mortifications, and this 
verdict, would end the matter, so far as contentment, 
under the consciousness of duty honestly discharged, 
was concerned. The law had had its fair operation, 
the prosecution had staked all, the defence had risked 
all, and the jury had pronounced. But Jefferson had 
been deprived of his vengeance, and the event rankled 
within his bosom. His anger and dissatisfaction found 
vent, and, strange to tell, his grandson's has been the 
hand to parade his weakness and his vindictiveness be- 
fore a curious world. A letter to Mr. Hay, found on 
page 102, vol. 4th, of the work before us, contains this 
remarkable and petulant language : " The event has 
been (Here follows a number of stars, quite signifi- 
cant) that is to say, not only to clear Burr, but to 
prevent the evidence from ever going to the world (!!!). 
It is now, therefore, more than ever indispensable, that 
not a single witness be allowed to depart until his testi- 
mony has been committed to writing. The whole 
proceedings will be laid before Congress that they may 
decide whether the defect (viz., the omission to con- 
vict, we suppose,) has been in the evidence of guilt, 
or in the law, or in the application of the law, and 
that they may provide the proper remedy for the past 
and the future. * * * This criminal (that is Burr) is 
preserved to become the rallying point of all the dis- 
affected and the worthless of the United States, and to 
be the pivot on which all the intrigues and conspiracies 
which foreign governments may wish to disturb us with, 
are to turn. If he is convicted of the misdemeanor, 
the Judge must, in decency, give us respite by some 


short confinement of him ; but we must expect it to be 
very short." 

We must award to Mr. Thomas Jefferson Randolph 
a more than usual share of candor and concern for the 
public, in thus surrendering the worthy object of his 
veneration to the scarifiers of political journalists 'and 
reviewers. But we must again object to his taste. It 
would have been better to have altogether suppressed 
such a letter to his confidential friend and agent ; but 
it was a grievous error to curtail and star it. The in- 
ferences liable to be drawn from its general tenor will 
be far more unfavorable to his grandfather than would 
be the part of the sentence omitted. But the whole 
letter is objectionable, especially the parts we have 
quoted and italicized. It exhibits the discontents of a 
mind laboring under tormenting disappointment at 
having lost its victim. It unfolds the desire of its 
author to dishonor the Constitution by threatening to 
appeal from a Judicial Tribunal to Congress and to 
the people. It shows that Jefferson was capable of un- 
dermining, or eifdeavoring to dishonor, a judicial 
officer, because, instead of laboring to convict and hang 
an accused person, as the President evidently wished 
he should do, he had, with the guard of a jury, sternly 
administered the law. It proves that Jefferson, in the 
fury of thwarted vengeance, was willing to urge on 
Congress to act retrospectively, or fall on some " remedy 
for the past," which would still enable him to pur- 
sue and destroy his enemy, It accuses the Court 
and Jury of deliberately preserving a criminal, that he 
might incite " the disaffected and the worthless " against 
his country. !N"ow we protest utterly against the in- 
culcation of such principles, and must hold the lan- 
guage and intent as eminently seditious in tendency 
We feel at liberty to denounce, and repudiate such 


teachings, let them emanate from what source they 
may. Because Jefferson is claimed as being the apostle, 
par excellence, of Democracy ; we do not choose to re- 
ceive from him, under this assumed sanction, maxims 
that would have startled Napoleon in the days of his 
greatest power, and would drag an English King from 
his throne. It will not do to panegyrize Republican 
liberty under Federal administrations, and then, in its 
name, grasp at powers which were never dreamed of 
in connection with Federal usurpations. The sedition 
law of '98, so much complained of by the nation, could 
work its mischiefs only under the sanctions of a judicial 
tribunal. The Executive had very little to do with its 
operations. But if Jefferson's recommendations at this 
time had been carried out ; if the Habeas Corpus had 
been suspended ; if the inculcations gleaned from his 
various letters had been reduced to practice, the 
Executive would have been supreme in legal and civil 
matters, as it is already in military affairs. Here is 
another and striking proof, that they who boast most 
speciously of genuiue Democratic principles, are not 
always the safest persons to be trusted with power. 

In connection with this trial of Aaron Burr is mixed 
up another affair, which although somewhat collateral 
to the main issue, yet serves to show how determined 
Jefferson was to bring about a speedy conviction of the 
prisoner. Among those who had been violently arrest- 
ed in New Orleans, by order of General Wilkinson, 
and dragged to Richmond to testify against Burr, was 
a Dr. Erick Bollman. This man was a German, and 
was distinguished for character, science, and enterprise. 
In 1794, in company with a young South Carolinian, he 
crossed the Austrian frontiers, made his way into 
Moravia, and resolved to undertake the desperate ef- 
fort of liberating Lafayette from the dungeons of Ol- 


mutz. By means of his profession, he gained some 
communication with the captive, who was said to be 
gradually sinking under the effects of confinement. 
After repeated efforts they contrived to enable La- 
fayette to quit his prison, but it was only a momentary 
release. He was soon retaken, and along with his heroic 
friends, again buried in the depths of his dungeon. 
So great was the resentment against Bollman and his 
coadjutor, they were chained by the necks to the floor 
of the apartments they severally occupied. After six 
months' confinement, however, Bollman and Huger 
were released at the intercession of a powerful and 
influential nobleman. Bollman became a naturalized 
citizen of the United States, and in 1806, in some way, 
was connected with the schemes of Colonel Burr. 
In December of that year, he was arrested, and 
told for the first time, that he was particeps criminis 
with a traitor at the head of several thousand 
troops, and whose design was to levy war against the 
United States. Indignant at being thus wickedly con- 
nected, and totally disbelieving all treasonable intent 
on the part of Burr, he solicited on his arrival in 
Washington, a personal interview with President Jef- 
ferson. He there made a full revelation of the whole 
plan and schemes of Burr, so far as he knew them, 
utterly repudiating all designs of any attempt to dis- 
turb the Union. But he had unwarily committed him- 
self to an artful diplomatist, who cared little about his 
disclaimers or impressions, so that he could use him in 
gathering any fact that might subserve his purpose of 
indicting, convicting, and hanging Aaron Burr. A 
short time after this interview, and in order to make 
matters doubly sure, Jefferson addressed a note to 
Bollman, adroitly worded, and solicited him to put in 
writing what he had communicated verbally, but pledg- 


ing his " word of honor " that the same " should never 
be used against Bollman," and " that the paper should 
never go out of his hands." To this proposition, Boll- 
man very artlessly and unhesitatingly, but most 
thoughtlessly, assented. It was the seal to his ruin 
and ostracism. It was scarcely given before a pretext 
was set up .that it involved matters which seriously im- 
plicated the author in Burr's misdemeanors, and that 
sufficient cause for indictment by the grand jury existed. 
Bollman was a prisoner, confidently relying on the 
President's word of honor. In June, 1807, he was 
summoned before the grand jury at Richmond, as a 
witness against Burr, his testimony being predicated 
on what he had divulged to the President. By this 
time he had been apprised of the snare set for him, and 
he refused to testify in a case where he might inculpate 
himself. But Jefferson had planned his tactics. He 
had privately dispatched to Mr. Attorney Hay, a full 
pardon for Bollman, in order to deprive him of that 
plea. Bollman not having been indicted or tried, de- 
nied that he needed any pardon, and refused it with 
indignation in open court, as a " badge of infamy " 
proffered him by Jefferson. The District Attorney 
repeatedly thrust it at him, and to Bollman's great sur- 
prise, referred undisguisedly to the document he had 
penned for the President, on his word of honor that 
the same should not be used against him, and never go 
out of the President's hands. At this tune, Bollman 
charges, it was not used against him only, but actually 
was in the hands of Mr. Hay, who had allowed General 
Wilkinson to read it also. The existence of such a pa- 
per became so notoriously public, that it was even sent 
for, and demanded by the grand jury, sitting on the 
case of Aaron Burr. 

Now, let these transactions be construed as they 


may, the most charitable and indulgent will find much 
to condemn in the conduct of Jefferson. One fact is 
clear and unquestionable. Jefferson certainly broke 
deliberately his word of honor, and without assigning 
any reason to palliate the violation. In his zeal to con- 
vict Burr, Jefferson had withheld papers necessary to 
the defence ; had sanctioned the most violent outrages 
on personal liberty, to compel the attendance of wit- 
nesses ; had violated the law by removing the accused 
beyond the limits of the territory in which the crime 
was alleged to have been committed ; had opened the 
doors of the national treasury to engage assistant coun- 
sel in the prosecution ; had turned prompter and prose- 
cutor himself; had refused to attend court on a sub- 
poena duces tecum; had offered, by dangerous stretches 
of power, to break up the defence by imprisoning, on a 
doubtful charge, one of the leading counsel, and had 
done all that he dared to do, to gain the cherished ob- 
ject of his desire. But all this was better than betray- 
ing the confidence of an injured man, a prisoner ^and in 
his power. Candor, as a reviewer, calls on us to place 
the brand of unqualified reprehension on such conduct. 
Before dismissing this branch of our subject, it may 
not be inappropriate to mention, that Burr always de- 
nied that treason against the United States or the dis- 
memberment of the Union ever formed any part of his 
design in these movements. He denied it first, when 
questioned seriously, to Andrew Jackson. He denied 
it, in the confidence of client and counsel, to Henry 
Clay. He denied, under the seal of devoted friendship, 
to Senator Smith, declaring, " if Bonaparte with all his 
army was in the western country for the purpose of ac- 
complishing that object, they would never again see 
salt water." He denied it indignantly on his dying 
bed, exclaiming, "I would as soon have thought of 


taking possession of the moon, and informing my friends 
that I intended to divide it among them." A careful 
perusal of the evidence adduced on his trial, and an 
impartial review of all the facts and circumstances of 
his case, satisfies us that Burr was sincere in the above 
declarations. The precise objects he had in view will, 
in all probability, never be ascertained. His ambition 
and restlessness led him into many wild schemes, and 
perhaps into many censurable errors, but we are never- 
theless satisfied that he was a persecuted man, and the 
victim of a malignant proscription. 


THE attention of the President was now, however, 
suddenly diverted from the domestic affairs of the na- 
tion to more important matters relating to its inter- 
course and understanding with foreign governments. 
While the trial of Burr was in active progress at Rich- 
mond, an excitement of a character far different and 
more intense was raging at the neighboring city of 
Norfolk, and ere long it had spread its contagious fires 
from Maine to the Mississippi. It seemed as though 
some latent torch of the Revolution had recaught its 
expiring flames, and was again on the point of kindling 
into a patriotic blaze that defied all extinction save in 
the blood of our ancient oppressor, now turned into a 
haughty and insulting enemy. The cause of such em- 
phatic and unanimous hostile demonstrations we shall 
now proceed to narrate, as prefatory to the most inter- 
esting epoch of the Jeffersonian administration, and 
which cannot be justly passed over in a review intended 
to reach the whole of Jefferson's public life. 

The 22d day of June, 1807, was signalized by an 
act of aggression and outrage on the rights and honor 


of the nation, which, even at this distance of time, must 
excite a feeling of anger and mortification in all Ameri- 
can bosoms. For some months previously to this date, 
a British squadron, under command of Admiral Berke- 
ley, had been anchored near Norfolk, with the ex- 
pressed intention of enforcing His Britannic Majesty's 
recent proclamation, requiring all subjects of Great 
Britain to be forcibly impressed, wherever found on the 
high seas, into British service. With this view, a de- 
mand had been made by the British Consul at Norfolk 
on Commodore Barron of the frigate Chesapeake, then 
lying at Norfolk, for four seamen on board his vessel, 
claimed as deserters from British ships. With the ad- 
vice and privity of the Cabinet at Washington, Com. 
Barron peremptorily refused to comply, assigning as a 
reason that he had been cautious in making up his 
crew, and that he had no deserters on board. He then, 
in obedience to orders, put to sea on his destination to 
the coast of Barbary, unfit and unprepared, as yet, for 
sustaining an action, and never dreaming that an attack 
would be made on him by an armed enemy lying within 
the jurisdiction of his own Government, and in the very 
eyes of the whole American people. But such did, in- 
deed, actually occur. The Chesapeake had scarcely 
got out of Hampton Roads, and was yet off Cape 
Henry, when the British vessel Leopard, of fifty-four 
guns, detached itself from the Admiral's squadron, and 
put to sea in pursuit. The Chesapeake was soon over- 
hauled, and the four sailors again formally demanded. 
The American commander again refused, when the 
Leopard cleared for action, and forthwith began a 
heavy fire on the American frigate. Strange to say, 
the Chesapeake offered not the slightest resistance ; but 
after having stood under the fire of the British guns for 
near half an hour, losing some thirty men in killed and 


wounded, besides sustaining heavy damage in her hull, 
the frigate's colors were struck, and a message was 
sent to the British commander that the Chesapeake 
was his prize. An officer from the Leopard came on 
board, mustered the crew, and having seized the four 
sailors in question, returned without offering the slight- 
est apology. The Chesapeake was then released, and 
Commodore Barron, disabled and humiliated, put back 
into Hampton Roads. 

The news of this transaction excited at once the 
deepest sensation. Indignation meetings were called, 
and resentful resolutions passed in every town and city, 
from Passamaquoddy Bay to the Gulf of Mexico ; and 
the whole Union rose as one man to demand the means 
of redress at the hands of the Executive. Nor was the 
administration at all behind the spirit of the nation, 
Jefferson acted with becoming promptitude, and turned 
the whole weight of his influence on the popular side. 
A proclamation was issued, setting forth succinctly and 
vividly our causes of aggrievance at the hands of the 
British Government, and peremptorily ordering all 
armed vessels bearing commission from that power, 
then within the harbors or waters of the United States, 
to depart immediately from the same ; also interdicting 
the entrance of all harbors or waters to all vessels, 
of every description, commissioned by the offending 
power. Warm responses came in from every quarter. 
Federalists and Democrats waived their party animosi- 
ties, and rallied around the administration. The Brit- 
ish Minister resident was called upon, but failing to 
give due satisfaction, dispatches were forthwith sent 
across the waters, and an explanation demanded at the 
very doors of the royal palace. 

But while this was yet pending, and the American 
mind still festering and rankling under the atrocious 


outrage, the British Government rose to a still higher 
and more insolent pitch of arrogance, and ordered that 
even merchant vessels, trading peaceably under the 
guarantee of mutual good understanding, should be 
stopped and searched for British subjects. And, as if 
intending to push matters to the extremity, and so far 
from pausing to redress grievances already alleged, an 
order in council was adopted yet more destructive to 
American commerce, pretended as an answer to the re- 
cent decree of the French Emperor. But we are anti- 
cipating ; and in order to proceed intelligibly, we must 
retrace, and, crossing the Atlantic, survey the condition 
of Europe. 

The successes and bold schemes of Napoleon were, 
at this tune, the source of absorbing interest to the civ- 
ilized world. His coronation as Emperor had been fol- 
lowed immediately by the great battle of Austerlitz, 
which had prostrated Austria at his feet, and reduced 
the Czar of Russia to so humiliating a condition as 
ended in the total disruption of his confraternity with 
the Germanic powers. The battle of Jena, fought in 
October of the succeeding year, demolished Prussia, 
and placed her capital in the conqueror's hands. Elated 
with this important victory, Napoleon now meditated 
the most gigantic and startling ideas ever put forth. 
The whole continent of Europe was now under his in- 
fluence, and the world beheld the singular spectacle of 
a solitary island power, with a population of scarce 
twenty millions, and protected by the ocean alone, 
boldly struggling against a despotism which looked, 
and seemed likely to attain, to universal dominion. 
The orders in council, adopted in the month of May 
previous, had established what was derisively termed a 
paper blockade along the entire coast of France and 
Germany, from Brest to the mouth of the Elbe. As 


this order forbade all commerce to neutrals, in defiance 
of international law, and was aimed especially against 
France, Napoleon, seated in the royal palace of Berlin, 
burning with resentment against** England, and filled 
with the idea of conquering the sea by the land, indited 
and promulged the famous decree of November 21st 
the first of that series of measures afterwards known 
as his continental system. It declared the British 
islands in a state of blockade, and prohibited all com- 
merce and intercourse with them. But it is worthy of 
remark, that Gen. Armstrong, our Minister at Paris, 
was officially notified that the Berlin decree was not to 
be enforced against American commerce, which was 
still to be governed by the rules of the treaty estab- 
lished between France and the United States. This 
significant exception aroused the jealousy of England, 
and her ministry were impelled into a policy that 
closed all avenues to a friendly adjustment of the diffi- 
culties already existing between her Government and 
ours. The orders in council, adopted on the llth of 
November, 1807, as retaliatory of the Berlin decree, 
contained provisions which bore intolerably hard on 
American commerce. Among the most odious of 
these was that which condemned all neutral vessels 
which had not first paid a transit duty in some English 
port before proceeding on their destinations ; thus 
bringing the merchandise of neutrals within the limits 
of the Berlin decree, as also of that of Milan, which 
soon followed, and in which Napoleon denationalized 
all vessels sailing from any English port, or which had 
submitted to be searched. 

From a calm consideration of these retaliatory 
documents, thus promulged by the two great belliger- 
ent powers, it is evident that had any American vessels 
put to sea after December of 1807, or during the winter 


and spring of 1808, they would inevitably have been 
sacrificed those bound to France or her dependencies, 
to British, and those bound for the British dominions, 
to French cruisers. And this leads us, having thus 
succinctly premised, to the consideration of the great 
measure of Jefferson's second administration. It will 
be understood, of course, that we allude to the Embar- 
go a restrictive law of Congress, recommended by the 
Executive, withdrawing the whole American commerce 
from the ocean. 

Now that the excitement and evil passions of those 
eventful times have died away, or been absorbed in 
other questions more intensely interesting and mo- 
mentous, we may calmly review the causes and the 
justification of this much-abused measure. It must be 
remembered that the last war with England dates its 
origin to the disputes which began in 1804. During 
this year, the Jay treaty with England, effected in 
1794, under the administration of Washington, and 
which had bred serious dissensions at the time of its 
adoption, between the friends and enemies of the then 
Executive, had expired by its own limitation. Jeffer- 
son had been one of its earliest and most inveterate 
opponents, had denounced it as crouching, submissive, 
incomplete ; and now, in the day of his power, refused 
the overtures of the British ministry to renew it for 
the period of even two years. In consequence of this 
refusal, and in view of the serious inconveniences arising 
from the absence of any international compact, Mr. 
Monroe was dispatched to England as an adjunct with 
Mr. Pinckney in promoting satisfactory negotiations 
and adjustment. After many long conferences and 
tedious correspondence, these commissioners agreed 
on a treaty which contained satisfactory clauses as con- 
cerned the rights of commerce, and of free trade, and 


of paper blockades all prominent grounds of discord- 
ance. But in regard to the all-engrossing subject of 
impressment, they had been enabled to obtain only a 
sort of bond or certificate from the British ministers, 
unengrafted on the treaty, and scarcely dignified even 
with the uncertain name of protocol, declaring that, 
although his Britannic Majesty could not disclaim or 
derogate from this right, yet that instructions should 
be given to all British commanders to be cautious, in 
its exercise, not to molest or injure the citizens of the 
United States, and that prompt redress should always 
be made in case injury was sustained. The treaty, 
with this appendage signed by the British negotiators, 
was concluded in December, 1806. It was sent over 
immediately to Mr. Erskine, the English minister resi- 
dent in the United States, and by him submitted to 
Jefferson and his Cabinet. The omission of a special 
treaty stipulation concerning impressment was deemed 
a fatal error ; and taking the ground that any succeed- 
ing minister might, at pleasure, withdraw the paper 
accompanying the treaty, Jefferson, on his own respon- 
sibility, and independent of any action on the part of 
the Senate, then in session, sent it back as rejected. 
We must believe that Jefferson's interpretation of this 
paper (a stranger, any way, to the diplomatic world) 
was correct ; but at the same time we incline to the 
opinion that, in view of the magnitude of the subjects 
in issue, and of the momentous results involved, it was 
his duty to have sought the advice of the Senate, two- 
thirds of which body, and the President, constitute, 
under our government, the only treaty-making power. 
The questions at issue, thus adjourned and unad- 
justed, added to the fact that no treaty existed be- 
tween the two countries, led to many other disputa- 
tious differences. The treaty had scarcely been returned 


to the negotiators in London, thus black-marked by the 
American Executive, before the offensive proclamation 
of the British monarch, already alluded to, was widely 
promulged. The affair of the Leopard and the Chesa- 
peake soon followed, and then came the Orders in 
Council, and the Berlin and Milan decrees, all widen- 
ing the breach betwixt our own and the British Gov- 
ernment, and throwing us in a state of quasi hostility 
with France. Under these circumstances only two 
courses were left for the American Government to 
adopt, viz., war with both the great belligerent powers, 
or an embargo. The first of these, in our then en- 
feebled state, would have been a mad as well as a most 
ridiculous course. Besides, no adequate cause for war 
existed against France, who had actually gone far to 
show herself our friend. The history of the times 
proves, that however severe the Berlin and Milan 
decrees may have been in their effects on American 
commerce, they were yet allowable precautionary and 
retaliatory measures, the consequents of England's 
atrocious and unparalleled conduct. With regard to 
us, England was the only aggressive power; and it 
was not until our interests clashed directly with the 
provisions of the imperial decrees as they bore against 
England, that France gave us the least cause of com- 
plaint or offence. Then, indeed, in the plenitude of 
his power, Napoleon committed outrages on America 
which left us no alternative but unfriendliness. But 
to have submitted, as Jefferson himself justly argued, 
to'pay England the tribute on our commerce demand- 
ed by her orders in council, would have been to aid 
her in the war against France, and given Napoleon 
just ground for declaring war against the United 
States. The state of this country, thus situated as to 
the two belligerent powers, was therefore exceedingly 


embarrassing. It required the skill of an unshrinking, 
but a discerning and discriminating pilot, to steer clear 
of overwhelming difficulties. That pilot was eminently 
fulfilled in the person of Thomas Jefferson ; who, with 
a sagacity that rarely failed him, adopted promptly the 
only remaining alternative of an embargo. 

On the 18th of December, 1807, accordingly, Jeffer- 
son communicated the Berlin decree, the correspond- 
ence betwixt Gen. Armstrong and Champagny, the 
French Minister, and the proclamation of George the 
Third, to the two Houses of Congress, together with 
a message, as before intimated, recommending such 
measures as he deemed necessary for the protection of 
American commerce. The Embargo Act was imme- 
diately introduced, carried through both Houses by 
large and significant majorities, and took effect on the 
23d of the same month. It had scarcely become a law, 
before it encountered the most factious, violent, and 
well-directed opposition ever before exhibited. The 
whole Federal press, from New Hampshire to Georgia, 
raised its hand to beat it down, and thundered forth 
volleys of abuse and vituperation. It was denounced 
as oppressive, tyrannical, and wicked ; as having been 
dictated by Napoleon ; as a sacrifice of the dearest in- 
terests of the nation, and as unconstitutional. The 
clamor which had assaulted the Alien and Sedition 
Laws of 1798 was nothing to that which now poured 
its indignant torrents on Congress and the Executive. 
The entire cordon of Eastern States were kindled into 
the most appalling and intense excitement. The col- 
umns and segments of my stic flamewhich irradiated 
their northern horizon, seemed to glow with increased 
lustre, as if doubly reflected from the fires which burned 
and roared beneath. The most monstrous and improb- 
able cause was assigned as the justification of this fe- 


rocious and ruthless opposition. The embargo was 
reprobated as a measure intended to combine the 
South and West for the ruin of the East. The more 
that unprincipled demagogues and silly enthusiasts 
repeated the declaration, the more fervently it was 
believed by honest people, too mad or too ignorant to 
be pacified with reason or truth. Ships were angrily 
pointed to, rotting at the wharves of Boston and of 
Newport. Idle, drunken sailors, in reeling hordes, 
clamored for employment, swearing that they could 
exist only on the seas, and that they were unfit for 
aught else but reefing sails or manning halyards. 
Wharfingers and shipbuilders united in a common 
chorus of discontent. Merchants, from behind their 
groaning counters, sent forth grumbling calls for re- 
lief; and seemed willing to sell themselves, their piles 
of goods, and their country, to the common enemy, 
could they only obtain release from the embargo, and 
fill the hostile seas with their commerce. At length, 
dark hints of meditated treason were whispered about, 
and stunned the ears of Jefferson and his Cabinet. 
The crime which had just been charged against Aaron 
Burr, and on the mere suspicion of which he had been 
placed by an angry Government on a trial for his life, 
was now openly advocated, and the opposition prints 
teemed with threats of dissolving the Union. Then it 
was that Jefferson's own bad teachings and mischievous 
principles were hurled mercilessly at his own govern- 
ment. The pernicious ultraisras of the Kentucky and 
Virginia Resolutions of '98 rose scowlingly and warn- 
ingly to his vision, and would not ."down" at any 
"bidding." He had condemned and ridiculed the 
means used by Washington to suppress the Whiskey 
Insurrection in '94 ; and it seemed now as though the 
" poisoned chalice " had been " commended to his own 


lips/' He had defended and justified the Shay Rebel- 
lion of '87, declaring that " no country could preserve 
its liberties unless its rulers were warned from time to 
tune that the people preserved the power of resistance, 
and washed the tree of liberty in the blood of patriots 
and tyrants." That resistance was now every where 
and undisguisedly preached ; the people were invited 
to join in a crusade against the rulers, and, in case of a 
rupture, it seemed not unlikely that the blood of the 
first apostle of Nullification and Secession would be 
first offered as a propitiatory sacrifice on the altars of 
dissolution. So sure it is, that the evil counsels of sel- 
fish and unrestrained ambition will recoil, in an unex- 
pected hour, and cover their propagator with confusion 
and dismay ! 

But notwithstanding this factious clamor and insane 
opposition, a calm consideration of the circumstances 
and situation of the country, at the period in question, 
will lead us to the conclusion that the embargo was a 
wise, salutary, and prudent measure. It was the only 
available or practicable remedy against the withering 
policy of England and France, then engaged in a war 
of extinction. But at the same time it is not to be de- 
nied that, as a measure of coercion to obtain redress 
from foreign powers, and to be continued until such 
redress was obtained, it certainly was a most severe, 
and, we may add, bold experiment on the interests as 
well as on the patience of an active and enterprising 
people. If, however, the embargo had not been adopt- 
ed ; if American vessels had been suffered, as of yore, 
to put forth on the high seas, it as certainly is not to 
be denied but what they would have been universally 
seized and confiscated. This would have produced un- 
precedented bankruptcy. Insurance offices and mer- 
cantile houses would have been speedily ingulfed in 


hopeless ruin ; and scenes of calamity and distress, only 
equalled by the explosion of Law's famous Mississippi 
bubble in the beginning of the eighteenth century, 
would have pervaded this Union from one extreme to 
the other. The plunder of our ships and the captivity 
of our seamen would have operated to augment the re- 
sources of the belligerents and enfeeble ourselves. We 
should thus have suffered all the worst consequences of 
war, without the chance of obtaining any of its com- 
pensatory advantages. Under these circumstances, it 
was evidently more politic that our vessels should re- 
main at our wharves, the property of our merchants, 
than that they should be carried to England or France, 
the prey of pirates and of privateers. Besides this, by 
unfettering American commerce at such a time, with 
the risk of having our ships seized and ruthlessly se- 
questered, we would have been pursuing a course emi- 
nently calculated to multiply the difficulties already 
existing as barriers to a good understanding and ami- 
cable relations with the hostile powers over the water. 
We should again, as in the case of the Chesapeake with 
England, and of the Horizon with France, have been 
reduced to the mortification of negotiating for repara- 
tion in vain. We should have been ultimately goaded 
into a fierce war, after having been defeated in our en- 
deavors to escape it, and deprived of the most efficient 
means for its prosecution. 

The charge of French influence in connection with 
the embargo was confidently attributed to Jefferson at 
the tune, and Federal writers continue to urge it to 
this day. But the charge has never been adequately 
proven, and cannot, we think, be at all sustained. That 
Jefferson cordially despised England and its Govern- 
ment we do not doubt ; nor does he any where attempt 
to conceal his dislike. Nor do we doubt but that his 


sympathies were in favor of France, from the beginning 
of the struggle in 1792 to its melancholy close after the 
battle of Waterloo in 1815. He retained, to his dying 
hour, lively and cherished recollections of his residence 
in that country. He had known and been intimately 
associated with all her leading statesmen and warriors. 
He had formed social attachments in the hospitable 
circles of Paris that outlived absence and survived sepa- 
ration. He had been domesticated in France during 
the opening scenes of her eventful strife with England, 
and while yet the memory of British outrages during 
the struggle for American independence was fresh and 
green. He had, therefore, imbibed the double hatred 
of American and of Frenchman against British arro- 
gance and British pretensions. These feelings were 
rife within his bosom when he came home from his 
mission, and had been fanned and sedulously nurtured 
throughout the whole eight years of Washington's ad- 
ministration. They were not smothered in his subse- 
quent fierce Conflicts with the Federal party, and his 
arduous competition for the Presidency with the elder 
Adams. And now that he was at last on that eminence 
which crowned his towering ambition, and had been 
long the goal of his ardent aspirations, it was not likely 
that, as regarded the interesting attitudes which marked 
the two great hostile powers of Europe during his ad- 
ministrative career, he should forget his early preju- 
dices against England, or his strong prepossessions in 
favor of France. But we have been unable to satisfy 
our minds that he was actuated by undue influences in 
the adoption of his foreign policy. The history of his 
whole official conduct in connection with the Embargo, 
the Non-intercourse Act, and his diplomatic dealings 
with the belligerents, shows that he acted as became 
an American President, and lifts him triumphantly 


above all unworthy imputations. Throwing aside all 
other considerations, Jefferson was not a man to bear 
being dictated to, even by Napoleon. He felt the in- 
fluence and power of his high official station, and showed 
that he felt them. It was rather his weakness to be- 
lieve that he could coerce and dictate to France, know- 
ing, as he did, the deep anxiety of Napoleon to enlist 
the United States as his ally against England. And, 
indeed, the French Emperor, even while committing 
outrages on American vessels, pleaded necessity as his 
apology ; and while throwing the whole blame on the 
British ministry, plied the American Executive with 
artful and flattering laudations. With this view, Na- 
poleon, unconsciously playing into the hands of Jeffer- 
son's Federal opponents at home, affected to consider 
the embargo as a friendly interposition on behalf of the 
American Government to aid his continental system 
a system professedly devised to humble and weaken 
English ocean dominion. In the saloons and reception 
rooms of the Tuileries he made a show of boasting of 
the United States as his ally, and constantly and pub- 
licly assured Gen. Armstrong, our Minister, of his great 
respect and friendship for the American people and 
their Government. " The Americans," said the French 
Minister, speaking for the Emperor, " a people who in- 
volve their fortunes, their prosperity, and almost their 
existence, in commerce, have given the example of a 
great and courageous sacrifice. They have prohibited, 
by a general embargo, all commerce and navigation, 
rather than submit to that tribute which the English 
impose. The Emperor applauds the embargo as a wise 
measure." (Pitkin's Statistics, p. 385). 

This speech was, of course, directly communicated 
to the President of the United States, and speedily 
finding its way into the newspapers, was seized upon 


and turned against Jefferson and the embargo, as prima 
facie evidence of a collusion with the French Emperor. 
There is every cause to believe, as well from his own 
letter in answer to the one communicating the above, 
as from other circumstances, that this commendation of 
Napoleon was exceedingly grateful and pleasant to Jef- 
ferson ; and there can be no doubt that, in his public 
communications relative to our foreign affairs, he sought 
to inculpate England far more than France. He re- 
garded England as the first and principal aggressor on 
the rights of America, while France was reluctantly in- 
volved, and forced to retaliate that she might preserve 
her own integrity against the insidious and ruthless 
policy of the British ministry. The object of the Presi- 
dent was, then, especially in view of his unquestioned 
predilections, to turn popular indignation mainly against 
the first power, and leave the conduct of the trench 
Government palliated by the unanswerable plea of stern 
necessity. It must, therefore, have been deeply morti- 
fying to Jefferson, when dispatches reached him of Na- 
poleon's sudden change of mind in regard to the opera- 
tion of the Berlin and Milan decrees ; declaring that 
America should be no longer exempted, that she should 
be forced to become either his ally or his enemy ; that 
there should be no neutrals in the contest betwixt him- 
self and the British ; and that all vessels belonging to 
American merchants then lying in the ports of France 
should be condemned and confiscated. It is said that 
this news reached Jefferson in an authenticated form, 
anterior to the delivery of his embargo message ; and 
his enemies charge him with having wilfully kept back 
this important paper (a letter from Gen. Armstrong) 
solely with a view to relieve France from the storm of 
anger and indignation which was gathering against 
England. Jefferson has not explained this, and his 


friends have been silent also. If he had received such 
news, it was, undoubtedly, his duty to have communi- 
cated the same to Congress along with the offensive 
orders in council and the Berlin decree. It may have 
been, and most probably was his motive, to give Na- 
poleon time to get over his passion and retrace his steps 
before throwing himself irrevocably in opposition to his 
former conciliatory policy. It was well known that, 
when Bonaparte heard of the last order in council, and 
while preparing to fulminate his Milan decree in retali- 
ation, he had openly said, " that he could not doubt 
but that the United States would now immediately de- 
clare war against England, and become his associate." 
On learning that war had not been declared, Napoleon 
became exasperated ; and although, for the reason that 
he might better justify his outrages, he afterwards pro- 
fessed to be pleased with the embargo, he resolved from 
that day to adopt a policy that might, it was hoped, 
coerce the Americans to become his allies. It will be 
thus perceived that Napoleon shifted his policy three 
times, and in very short intervals. Jefferson may very 
naturally have been embarrassed ; but on learning that 
Napoleon had ordered the confiscation of American 
vessels, he forthwith communicated the letter of Gen. 
Armstrong to Congress, leaving them to take the 
proper retaliatory course. The Embargo Act was well 
intended, and ought to have been made a powerful 
weapon in procuring redress from England. We give 
Jefferson all due credit for recommending it in lieu of 
war, which was not then practicable. But he was 
highly culpable on account of his imbecility and vacilla- 
tion in enforcing it, even after having been invested 
with the fullest powers by Congress. Properly carried 
out, the embargo would have greatly incommoded the 
English colonies in obtaining the necessaries of life, and 


would have injured her trade and naval power by with- 
holding supplies of raw material and stores. But it 
was most flagitiously violated. The greatest license 
was given to smugglers and contraband dealers, and 
these made rapid and unhallowed fortunes at the ex- 
pense of the honest and law-abiding citizens. Its dele- 
terious effects were thus most severely felt at home, 
and were impotent to conduce and force the beneficial 
consequences from abroad so confidently predicted. It 
failed in a great measure to answer its main objects, 
and failed as much in consequence of Jefferson's imbe- 
cility and lethargy, as of the factious, disorganizing, and 
Jacobinical clamors which pealed in from the Eastern 
States. An impartial judgment must pronounce, there- 
fore, unfavorably as concerns the conduct of the Presi- 
dent in this instance. That conduct would justify a 
very harsh sentence at the hands of an independent 
disquisitor; and that sentence would be, that while 
Jefferson was bold to originate, intolerant and obstinate 
in the exercise of power when conscious of being sus- 
tained, he was yet faint-hearted and time-serving when 
assaulted by popular clamor and denunciation. It will 
be readily conjectured that the embargo could not 
stand long under such circumstances. It was accord- 
ingly repealed on the first of March, 1809. It was 
stamped in the dust by Federal rancor, and consigned 
by its enemies to unmerited infamy. And although its 
action was countervailed by the imbecility of its friends 
and the opposition of its enemies, its failure is attributed 
alone to its intrinsic insufficiency and to its so-called 
iniquitous conception. It is even now pointed to as 
one of the errors and weaknesses of Jefferson's vicious 
administration. And yet it was sanctioned by illustri- 
ous precedent another proof that its failure in 1807 
was attributable to the bad conduct of its enemies and 


to the bad management of its friends. It had been au- 
thorized to a much fuller extent in 1794, and was sanc- 
tioned as a wise measure equally by Federalists and 
Democrats. Washington had, in fact, been empowered 
to lay an embargo whenever Tie should think the public 
safety required it, and to take what course he pleased 
to enforce it. (Vide Olive Branch, pp. 138, 139, 140.) 
This discretionary power was conferred, and this dicta- 
torial privilege given, at a time much less portentous 
and critical than in 1807. And it answered its full pur- 
pose ; because, thus empowered, it was known that 
Washington was a man who would act if occasion 
should require. He had shown this in his whole public 
conduct, and quite recently and effectively in forcibly 
suppressing the Whiskey Insurrection. The embargo 
ceased, or was raised, on the first of March. It was 
succeeded by an act declaring non-intercourse with both 
the hostile powers. England felt it severely ; and un- 
der less exciting circumstances, or in the absence of 
other causes of difference than mere commercial dis- 
cordances, it would doubtless have led to an amicable 
adjustment. As it was, the Erskine arrangement came 
very near succeeding. But Napoleon was exasperated 
on hearing of its passage beyond all reasonable bounds, 
and vented his fury in offensive reproaches and incohe- 
rent taunts to the American Minister resident. At this 
time, however, ceased also Jefferson's official connection 
with the Government. He retired from the Presidency 
on the fourth day of March, 1809, and was succeeded 
by Mr. Madison. It is not, therefore, legitimately 
within the objects of this review to pursue further a 
history of governmental affairs. We pause on the verge 
of the war, and must leave the interested reader to 
search the pages of his histories for further satisfaction, 
hoping that we have succeeded in pointing out to him 


a proper clue to the elicitation of hitherto neglected 

After retiring from the Presidency, Monticello be- 
came the permanent residence of Jefferson. He never 
afterwards appeared on the stage of political action. 
His time was quietly spent in superintending the busi- 
ness of his farms, in the pursuit of literature and science, 
and in familiar correspondence with his numerous 
friends. The Virginia University, however, soon be- 
came a pampered hobby, and enlisted his ardent interest 
and sympathy. He lived to see it flourish under his 
fostering care, and it yet continues to flourish, a noble 
monument of his public spirit and laudable enterprise 
of character. 

One other subject now began to engage his reflec- 
t tions seriously and deeply. It was that of religion 
the Christian religion. He never thought it worth 
while seriously to investigate the claims or merits of 
any other. Compared with the religion of Christ, that 
of the Jews or of Mahomet was, in his estimation, mere 
superstition or gross imposture. At the same time, it 
is quite apparent that he had studied closely both the 
ancient and modern systems, with & view to compare 
them with the religion of Jesus. For many long years, 
in the midst of political bustle as well as in the quiet of 
retirement, did Jefferson devote his thoughts to serious 
meditations and minute inquiries on this important 
subject. The fourth volume of his correspondence 
abounds with letters on Christianity, and unfolds be- 
yond any question the religious opinions of its distin- 
guished author. "We hesitate not to say that his inqui- 
ries ended with a firm and total disbelief in the divine 
inspiration of the Bible. He argued an entire dissimi- 
larity between the God of the Old Testament and the 
Supreme Being taught by Jesus ; viewing the first as 


an angry, a bloodthirsty, and vindictive being the last 
as merciful, forbearing, just, and paternally inclined. 
He denounces the doctrines of Moses, but extols those 
of Jesus. He looked on Jesus as a man only the 
most excellent and pure that ever lived, but still no 
part or essence of Divinity. The doctrine of the Trinity 
was to him an incomprehensible and inexplicable mysti- 
cism too refined, too inconsistent with the weakness 
of human understanding, and too subtle to have been 
inculcated by so plain and unsophisticated a teacher as 
Jesus Christ. He admits that it is more than probable 
that Jesus thought himself the subject of divine inspira- 
tion, because it was a belief incident to his education, 
and common among the Jews, that men were often in- 
spired by God. But he denies that Jesus any where 
attempts to impose himself on mankind as the Son of 
God. The four Gospels were regarded by him as in- 
accurate and exaggerated biographies of some lofty- 
minded and splendid character, whose conceptions 
were too towering for the " feeble minds" of his " grov- 
elling" companions. (See p. 326, vol. IV.) "We 
find," he says in the letter referred to, " in the writings 
of his biographers, matter of two distinct descriptions. 
First, a ground-work of vulgar ignorance, of things im- 
possible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications. 
Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the 
Supreme Being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest 
morality and benevolence, sanctioned by a life of hu- 
mility, innocence, and simplicity of manners, neglect of 
riches, absence of worldly ambition and honors, with an 
eloquence and persuasiveness that have not been sur- 
passed . . . Can we be at a loss in separating such ma- 
terials, and ascribing each to its genuine author ? " In 
a letter to John Adams on the same subject, found on 
page 240, volume fourth, our author says again : " The 


Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Jesus lev- 
elled to every understanding, and too plain to need ex- 
planation, saw in the mysticisms of Plato materials 
with which they might build up an artificial system, 
which might, from its indistinctness, admit of everlast- 
ing controversy, give employment to their order, and 
introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence. The 
doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself 
are within the comprehension of a child ; but thousands 
of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms en- 
grafted on them : and for this obvious reason, that non- 
sense can never be explained." 

And again, the letter to Dr. Rush, found in volume 
third, on page 506, holds this language: "I am, in- 
deed, opposed to the corruptions of Christianity, but 
not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a 
Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one 
to be ; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference 
to all others ; ascribing to himself every human excel- 
lence, and believing he never claimed any other." The 
last extract we shall quote is found on page 349, vol. 
fourth, in a letter to Dr. Waterhouse : " Had the doc- 
trines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they 
came from his lips, the whole civilized world would 
now have been Christian. I rejoice that in this blessed 
country of free inquiry and belief, which has surren- 
dered its creed and its conscience to neither kings nor 
priests, the genuine doctrine of one only God is re- 
viving ; and I trust that there is not a young man now 
living in the United States who will not die an Uni- 
tarian. But much I fear, that when this great truth 
shall be re-established, its votaries will fall into the 
fatal error of fabricating formulas of creed and confes- 
sions of faith, the engines which so soon destroyed the 
religion of Jesus, and made of Christendom a mere 


Aceldama ; and they will give up morals for mysteries, 
and Jesus for Plato." 

These extracts fully confirm the analysis of Jeffer- 
son's religious views we have given on a preceding 
page, and leave no doubt of their character or extent. 
He admired the morality of Christ's teachings, but 
denied the divinity both of system and of teacher. 
The apostles and their writings met with no favor from 
Jefferson. He speaks of them more than once " as a 
band of impostors, of whom Paul was the great Cory- 
phaeus ;" and we have abundant evidence to show that 
he doubted not only the genuineness of the Pentateuch 
and of the prophecies, but of the whole writings of the 
Old Testament. Still we cannot consent that Jefferson 
shall be ranked as an infidel, as most of the orthodox 
world demand. He protests himself against such a 
sentence, and we have been unable to detect such ten- 
dency in his writings. He admired and adopted Chris- 
tianity as an inimitable and unsurpassed system of mo- 
rality, and inculcates and defends its principles. But 
he examined its merits and viewed its transcendent 
teachings through the medium of reason and plain 
common sense. Where these stopped, and where the 
foggy empire of faith began, there he abruptly halted. 
His mind was so constituted as neither to be terrified 
by dogmas, nor seduced by imaginary beauties, and 
illusive, speculative mental vagaries. He regarded the 
tenets of Calvin with ineffable and undisguised abhor- 
rence. The doctrine of one God, indivisible and indis- 
soluble, made into three parts, and these three parts 
yet one only, a Unity made Trinity at pleasure, or to 
suit particular cases ; the doctrine of moral necessity, 
the necessity of the eternal perdition of one part for 
the salvation of another part of mankind, and for the 
perfect glory of God ; and the doctrines of the immacu- 


late conception of the Virgin, and of the mystical in- 
carnation of Jesus Christ, he had taught himself to re- 
gard as mere fanciful theories of a selfish priesthood, 
designed only to establish and support an independent 
" order " of clergy. A theory that announced as its 
basis incomprehensibility and infinitude, yet attempt- 
ing to explain and elucidate acknowledged mysteries ; 
which claimed reason in defence, and denounced it as 
unlawful in antagonists ; which shuts out free inquiry, 
and seeks shelter from human efforts within the un- 
trodden precincts of an inexplicable and undefinable 
faith; which proscribes doubt, interdicts examina- 
tion, denounces as blasphemous the exercise of judg- 
ment, and intrenches itself in dogmatism and preju- 
dice ; which claims to be infallible, yet teaches the 
consistency of sectarianism, such a theory and such 
religion were totally rejected by one accustomed to 
such bold latitude of thought and severe mental disci- 
pline as Thomas Jefferson. It is no part of our task, 
nor is it our inclination, to examine the correctness or 
the fallacy of these views. But when reviewing so im- 
portant a subject, and the character of so distinguished 
a personage, we feel bound, in candor, to give both the 
subject and the character the full advantage of undis- 
guised array. Such were the private and well "di- 
gested " religious opinions of Jefferson, and by such, 
fairly set forth, he must be judged. It would be un- 
fair to expose him to censure, while smothering the 
grounds of his belief or disbelief. And if, in the perusal 
of these pages, any reader shall feel aggrieved on any 
point of conscience by this expos& of our author's doubts 
and skepticisms, let him, while preparing to grasp the 
vengeful dart, pause and reflect, that many as good 
and great, if not better and greater than Thomas Jeffer- 


son, have been honestly perplexed by like doubts, and 
mystified by like skepticisms. 

The volumes before us close with the celebrated 
" Ana." As a material part of the memoirs of one of 
the leading representative men of America, it should 
not be passed over lightly or inadvertently. We view- 
its character, contents, and objects as forming quite a 
suspicious feature in the public character of our dis- 
tinguished subject. We shall not aver that it is unfair 
or unallowable to treasure what me may casually hear 
in the course of general conversation among distin- 
guished personages, with a view to profit by the same 
in making up an estimate of character and principle. 
We believe that free conversation is the surest index 
to honestly-conceived opinions. It is the apposite and 
quick expression of thoughts induced by reading, or 
by previous casual reflection the more to be relied 
on, inasmuch as it is usually unprompted by cold cal- 
culation, and is unrestrained by policy or timidity. 
But to note down table-talk at dinings, evening parties, 
and at cabinet consultations in difficult, novel, and try- 
ing times, as Jefferson has done in his Ana, is not only 
culpable, but is violative of all rules which govern free 
social and political intercourse. During the adminis- 
trations of Washington, republicanism was in its in- 
fancy, and the government in its chrysalis state. The 
hopes of freemen were suspended on a thread. The 
capacity of the people for self-government was an un- 
tried experiment. The best and the wisest were doubt- 
ers ; and among these was Washington himself. Ham- 
ilton was an open and professed skeptic, and did not 
scruple to declare, as his firm opinion, that monarchy 
was the most reliable form of government. Old John 
Adams believed the same way, and even James Madi- 
son indulged apprehensions. But all of these had re- 

l'2'2 THOMAS 

solved that the experiment should have a tair trial. 
Hamilton was urgent and steuuous in his advocacy ot' 
the policy, and joined with Madison and Jay in pro- 
ducing a scries of papers remarkable tor ability and 
power in support of a popular form of government, and 
of the Constitution. These papers were embodied into 
a volume which has attained to a world-wide celebrity 
under the name of the "Federalist." And yet it is 
principally to defame Adams and Hamilton that Jef- 
ferson indited the Ana, although every member of 
ington's administration came in for a full share 
of espionage. Indeed, itMctVerson is to be regarded as 
a credible and an unbiased witness, the fathers of the 
government, excepting Madison and himself, must have 
been the most corrupt and selfish cabal of politicians 
that ever disgraced the history of any country. He 
spares "Washington, truly, but in a manner not very 
complimentary to the intellect of that illustrious and 
venerable personage, lie represents him as having, 
indeed, a good heart, but a weak, vacillating head; as 
being entirely under the influence of Federal advisers, 
and as indecisive and wavering in time of action. 

But it is altogether unfair to judge either Hamilton 
or his associates by opinions expressed at the time in 
question, especially on the subject of popular govern- 
ment. The experiment, fairly tried under their aus- 
pices, was incontcstably proven and demonstrated ; 
and, like all demonstrations, carried conviction. Its 
proof was unquestionable. Washington modified his 
original views so far as to admit its practicability, 
but died seriously doubting its permanency. Hamil- 
ton's conduct evinced his satisfaction at the result, in 
the uudeviating support he gave to the judicial and 
popular branches of the government. The election of 
Jefferson to the Presidency, a few years afterward. 


showed a general confidence in the success of the 
scheme, and the acquiescence of the Federalists, then 
One of the most formidable and powerful parties that 
ever existed, was the clearest evidence of the triumph 
of republicanism. 

Under these eireuinstanees, and being cognizant of 
these facts, we can find no excuse for the author of the 
Ana in thus noting down and publishing conversations 
uttered at an unsettled and a trying period of political 
atlhirs; and when opinions, far from being firmly fixed, 
were hastily formed, according to the ever-shifting 
complexion of the experiment, and expressed less witli 
a view to convince or persuade, than to elicit informa- 
tion. We confess to an instinctive distrust of talk- 
gatherers. AY hen we find or hear of a politician min- 
gling in social circles, or among his adversaries around 
the festive board, listening attentively to conversation, 
while cautiously and rarely giving utterance to his own 
opinions, and then noting down or retailing the results 
of his observation, we feel an involuntary apprehension 
of mischief, and are inclined strongly to suspect foul 
play. 1>\ this rule we are constrained to judge Jeffer- 
son in this instance. That he squared his conduct, in 
alter days, from the notes and information thus suspi- 
ciously gleaned, is quite evident both from his unre- 
lenting jealousy of Hamilton, and from his remorseless 
persecution of Aaron Burr. 

In view of this, as well as of other cogent reasons, 
it might have been supposed that a relative, justly 
proud of his distinguished ancestor's fame, would have 
spared the readers of his book the mortification of pe- 
rusing these unpleasant revelations the evidences of 
an aspiring and a jealous mind, resorting to a most 
questionable and unworthy espionage in working out 
the overthrow of unwary adversaries. But the candor 


of Mr. T. J. Randolph was stern 'proof against all pru- 
dential suggestions or delicate considerations. A very 
natural and pardonable unwillingness to reduce the 
profits of his work, and to lop off the main value of 
his grandfather's bequest, may also have had some 
influence in scotching his candor against the invitations 
of delicacy and prudence. Nothing, however, is more 
certain than that the publication of the Ana has ope- 
rated to detract largely from the private character of 
Jefferson, and to tarnish his claims to fair play and 
candid opposition in political warfare. We may, then, 
safely assert, that while Mr. Randolph very prudently 
counted the cost of suppression as weighed against the 
profits of publication, the memory of his illustrious and 
venerable ancestor has expiated dearly the fruits of his 

Our task is completed. We have now little else to 
do than briefly to sum up the prominent representative 
features in the character of our distinguished subject, 
and then to leave the merits of our review to the im- 
partial judgment of the reader. 

The influences of Jefferson's character have been 
sensibly impressed on the people of this country from 
the dawn of the Revolution to the present hour ; and 
they have been, and continue to be, secondary alone 
to those of Washington. Our conclusion has been that 
his influence has produced baneful and most depreca- 
tive effects on the moral tone of our political world. 
His opposition to all the essential features of the Con- 
stitution, and to our present form of government, was 
deep-rooted, insidious, and unceasing. His political 
and governmental theories were eminently and dan- 
gerously Jacobinical. Deeply tinctured with the as- 
cetic and disorganizing principles of the French Revo- 
lution, he worshipped an ideal of democracy that bor- 


dered on downright Utopianism. On all points touch- 
ing the practicability or durability of popular govern- 
ments, he was almost fanatically radical and ultra. He 
advocated the largest reservations of power in favor of 
the people in their collective capacity, and the most 
unlimited right of suffrage. He mistrusted and de- 
nounced the well-guarded prerogatives of our Federal 
Executive, and grumbled at the least restraining exer- 
cise of even delegated power. And yet, during his 
own Presidency, his practice afforded a most singular 
contrast to his theories, as we think we have abun- 
dantly shown in the preceding pages. No President 
was ever so peremptory in demanding to be intrusted 
with hazardous and questionable powers, and none so 
arbitrary as regarded manifest infractions of the Con- 
stitution. He openly defied and overruled judicial 
authority; suggested to his Congress the enactment 
of laws whose operation threatened a violent severance 
of the Union ; demanded and obtained a severe en- 
forcing act ; invaded the Treasury at will to aid his 
policy or to gratify his caprices ; and boldly assumed a 
stretch of executive power, without precedent or paral- 
lel, by rejecting, at his single discretion, a treaty that 
ought to have been submitted to the Senate as required 
by the Constitution, and especially while that body was 
in session. 

As the founder and leader of the Democratic party, 
and the consequent promoter, originally, of the fierce 
party dissensions which have since distracted the coun- 
try, we are forced to pronounce the representative ex- 
ample of Jefferson pernicious beyond computation. We 
regard the influence and progress of that party as emi- 
nently deleterious to the political welfare of the Union, 
and as the incipient step and prime mover towards a 
severance of the States if, indeed, that calamity shall 


ever befall us. Their disorganizing and "pestilential 
teachings began with the very dawn of the govern- 
ment. The democratic members of the Convention 
which formed the Constitution maintained, during its 
session, an active correspondence with Jefferson on 
each and every element proposed as its basis. Their 
cabals and caucuses were as frequent as the meetings 
of the Convention. Their efforts were directed to the 
adoption and introduction of Jacobinical features cal- 
culated to countervail and to mar all that was practi- 
cal, or that looked to durableness. Regarding society 
more as it ought to be, than it is, or ever has been, or 
is ever likely to be ; seduced by theories more plausible 
than solid ; applying to a free elective government, de- 
riving all its powers and authorities from the voice of 
the people, maxims and precautions calculated for the 
meridian of monarchy ; they turned all their views and 
directed all their influence towards depreciating and 
weakening the Federal Government. Against this, as 
the Hydra-headed monster of all their professed appre- 
hensions, their combined batteries of talent and of na- 
tional influence were solely directed. Had they pre- 
vailed, the General Government would have been com- 
pletely shorn of all its efficiency ; and mankind would 
have been treated with the singular spectacle of a 
powerful and growing people, belonging in classes to 
thirteen separate and independent sovereignties, seek- 
ing a precarious union in an instrument allied with 
anarchy and founded in the grossest radicalism. But 
what they failed to obtain directly, they have contrived 
and managed to effect indirectly, with almost perfect 
success. The history of the country has clearly shown 
that the root of evil and the elements of destruction 
lie, not in the Federal Government, but in perverted 
construction of the rights and powers of the State Gov- 


ernments, ana supposed reservations to the people. To 
secure the ascendency and popularity of this doctrine, 
the Democratic leaders have fallen on any and every 
species of party tactics, as cases or circumstances war- 
ranted. They have resorted, alternately, to a latitudi- 
nous construction of the Federal Constitution, and to a 
strict construction ; first, they have contended for re- 
striction, and then for unlimited extension of federal 
power ; first closing the door to all constitutional ad- 
mission of foreign territory, and then abruptly break- 
ing down every barrier to acquisition and conquest, 
and bringing in new States formed out of territory 
reaching from the tropic of Cancer to the fiftieth paral- 
lel of north latitude, washed severally by the waves of 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. With Jesuitical un- 
scrupulousness, they have pursued their ambitious ends, 
little regardful of the means used for the accomplish- 
ment. Consistency has been reckoned a virtue only so 
long as it accorded with expediency. Principle has 
been made the handmaiden of policy. Party and 
power have been the watchwords through all phases 
of political or sectional differences, and among all the 
strifes of ambitious and aspiring rulers. And, as the 
crowning point of their incongruous system, it may be 
stated as a remarkable and an instructive fact, that the 
Democratic party, while using the whole enginery of 
political power to hang Burr for suspected designs 
against the Union, and while threatening the Nullifiers 
with the cannon of the General Government, has yet 
been the apologist for every popular outbreak and rev- 
olutionary movement, from the tune of the Massachu- 
setts insurrection to the Dorr rebellion in Rhode Island. 
The connection of Thomas Jefferson with all these dis- 
organizing principles has been sufliciently explained in 
the foregoing pages. We regard him as the master- 


spirit of former mischievous inculcations, and his influ- 
ence as the mam prompting cause of all succeeding po- 
litical malversations of " the progressive Democracy." 
In fact, and at the best, the impartial reviewer is con- 
strained to measure the public character of Thomas 
Jefferson by a rule of selfishness that shone conspicu- 
ous through his whole political career, and which must 
ever detract materially from his claims to gratitude 
and veneration as a statesman. And while all unite in 
ascribing to him great powers of mind, vast cultivation 
and information, and much that elicits and merits 
thankfulness in connection with our Revolutionary his- 
tory, his memory will be mainly perpetuated, and his 
admirers 'must consent mainly to hand him down as the 
eldest Patriarch of radical Democracy. 

With all his budding honors in the political world, 
Jefferson had been through life, in another and tenderer 
connection, a man of afflictions and sorrows. Death 
had visited his family circle more than once. One by 
one its loved members had been snatched away. While 
yet at the starting point of elevation, and while the 
halo of future honors gleamed but faintly in the distant 
political horizon, he beheld the grave close over all that 
had been affectionate and beautiful in her who had 
blessed his youth with her love, and made happy the 
earliest home of his manhood. She left him two little 
daughters, and the memory of her love ; and these 
were the sole pledge and token of their union. Her 
memory found its shrine in the warmest affections of 
his heart, and his love was never shared by another. 
The daughters, under his paternal care, survived the 
trials of youth, and grew to be accomplished and fas- 
cinating women. They married ;. and his home and 
fireside were left cheerless. In a few years, the elder 
of the two sickened and died, before the father had 


even grown familiar with her absence. This was in the 
meridian of his first Presidency; but the pomp, and 
circumstance, and splendor of high office could not as- 
suage the anguish of a wounded heart. The blow fell 
heavily and unexpectedly. Henceforth his earthly af- 
fections were absorbed in the love of his only remain- 
ing child and her children. And while yet the chasten- 
ing rod of death was suspended, and he was bending 
beneath its trying inflictions, and when the ease and 
emolument of office were approximating to a close, a 
new source of anxiety and of misfortune was sprung. 
Forty years of his life, and more, had been abstracted 
from his own and given to the affairs of the country. 
As property possesses no self-preserving principle, that 
of Jefferson had suffered seriously and alarmingly under 
such long neglect. He left the Executive mansion 
deeply embarrassed, and returned to Monticello heavily 
oppressed in mind and circumstances. His books, his 
apparatus, his literary and scientific pursuits were all 
impotent to chase off these mortifying reflections, and 
the rich treasures of intellectual research were soiled 
by a commixture with the less welcome but necessary 
employment of lottery draughts and financial calcula- 
tions. The generous interposition of Congress enabled 
him to keep his library ; and the forbearance and liber- 
ality of those he owed, added to other matters, helped 
him to avoid the sheriff's clutches. His estate, how- 
ever, was never relieved, and his principal bequest to 
those he left behind consisted of the papers which com- 
pose the volumes we have just closed. 

On the fourth of July, 1826, just fifty years from 
the memorable day which had witnessed the birth of 
American Independence, and simultaneously with that 
of John Adams, the spirit of Jefferson took its flight 
from earth. He died at Monticello, in the arms of his 


surviving daughter, at the ripe age of eighty-three 
years. His last conversations showed that the waning 
faculties of mind were busy with the long past eventful 
scenes of his life. His thoughts wandered from the 
strifes and unpleasant personal collisions with old po- 
litical friends which had blurred the latter years of his 
public career, and seemed to dwell amid the conse- 
crated shades of Independence Hall, and the stirring 
scenes of the Revolutionary era. His last wish was 
" that he might be permitted to inhale the refreshing 
breath of another Fourth of July." And the wish was 




AMONG the public men of the past generation who 
may be styled representative characters, few stand 
higher on the list than WILLIAM HAKEIS CKAWFOKD. 
His name and political character have been indelibly 
impressed on the history of the country, and long suc- 
ceeding generations will look to him as an eminent 
republican exemplar. His fame, therefore, will be 
permanent; but the remains of his public career, 
owing to his peculiar temperament and habits of life, 
are singularly intangible, and belong entirely, as natu- 
ralists would say, to the fossil species. There was 
nothing in his private or public character to invite the 
gossipry of history that surest method of emblazon- 
ing one's reputation. He did not belong to that class 
of politicians whom crowds follow and admire, of whom 
every penny writer has something to say, and whose 
journeys form one continuous and glaring pageant. 
He never acted for the multitude. If he had ambition 
to be great, it was of that elevated order that looked 
less to ephemeral popularity than to great and durable 

* Sketch of the Life of William H. Crawford. National Portrait 
Gallery. Philadelphia. 1839. 


results. When the ends for which he strove had been 
accomplished, he did not pause, like most other leading 
statesmen, to preserve the means of such accomplish- 
ment. History, therefore, is barren of his deeds, and 
perpetuates his name only. It is true that, now and 
then, as we wade through ponderous tomes of the na- 
tional archives, we stumble on some majestic record of 
his genius that shines forth from the dreary waste with 
surpassing splendor ; or that, like some towering col- 
umn among ancient and unidentified ruins, unbroken 
by age and erect amidst the crumbled masses around, 
tells of a giant race that have passed before. 

The sketch before us, understood to be from the 
pen of his accomplished son-in-law, Mr. George M. 
Dudley, of Sumter county, Georgia, was not designed, 
as its limits evince, to be full or satisfactory. We must 
say, however, that the deficiency appears to have pro- 
ceeded more from injudicious and unauthorized prun- 
ing* by some witless paragraphist, than from any origi- 
nal omission in the article itself. The arrangement does 
not quite indicate the tasteful handiwork and nice dis- 
crimination which we happen to know to be character- 
istics of the author. We have been informed, in fact, 
that the sketch was unwisely mutilated, and so sheared 
and nipped as to entirely pervert its chief purposes and 
intended historical effect. At all events, however, the 
world is indebted to Mr. Dudley for the only authentic 
biography of his illustrious relative. We have, there- 
fore$ chosen to make his sketch the text of the following 
article ; with no view, let us say, to criticism, for, under 
the circumstances, that would be neither allowable nor 
tasteful, though it is possible that we may take the 
liberty of dissenting, in an instance or two, from what 
we candidly think to be, perhaps, some of its too ready 
conclusions. We design, however, not so much to 


coiiiine our objects to mere succinct biographical de- 
tail, as to briefly review the prominent features in the 
life of an individual reckoned among the greatest of 
his day, and of times which form an important epoch 
in the political history of the Republic. We address 
ourself to such task not without considerable embar- 
rassnlent and distrust. The difficulties already inti- 
mated are very discouraging. Mr. Crawford left no 
materials on which to build any connected account of 
his life. His contemporaries are ready to expatiate 
largely concerning his greatness, but they can point to 
but few recorded monuments of his fame. Although 
twenty years have not elapsed since the period of his 
decease although numbers even of the rising genera- 
tion have seen and spoken with him yet is he already 
shelved as the Hortensius of his time who, while glim- 
meringly acknowledged as a greater than Cicero, and 
whose name will be familiar through countless ages to 
come, has left " not a wreck " of his genius, and lives 
only in tradition and in the eulogies of his rival. This 
is not the only difficulty. The history of the period in 
which Mr. Crawford figured as a statesman, apart from 
its mere general features, has never been compiled ; 
and it is not only undefined, but is quite obscured from 
ordinary research. It embraces much collateral in- 
terest that must be patiently gleaned from scanty and 
scattered remnants, and which we are obliged to intro- 
duce very detachedly in the course of this review. It 
extends through a period which witnessed a total dis-. 
solution and absorption of one of the ancient political 
parties, the reconstruction of the other, and the estab- 
lishment of a third of which he himself must be reck- 
oned the principal founder, but which had not obtained 
its present identity and compactness when disease hur- 
ried him prematurely from the theatre of political life. 


It also embraces some points personal to himself, and 
to other distinguished public characters, which render 
their evisceration and discussion quite a delicate under- 
taking, but which, nevertheless, ought not to be passed 
over unnoticed especially by the candid and privileged 
reviewer. Thus much we have deemed it necessary to 
premise, as well to explain the meagreness of what 
might be otherwise regarded a prolific subject, as to 
advertise the reader of the more immediate purposes 
of this article. 

Crawford was born, as we are told, in Nelson coun- 
ty, Virginia, in February, 1772. While yet quite a 
youth his parents removed to Georgia, first to near 
Augusta, and afterwards to Columbia coiinty. Here 
he was sent to school, and learned the ordinary Eng- 
lish branches of education. He had scarcely attained 
the sixteenth year of his age when his father died, 
leaving the family in very reduced circumstances. 
Young Crawford immediately turned his yet scanty 
learning to active account, and supported his mother 
and family by teaching school, until he was twenty-two 
years old. At this time he began to feel a desire to 
obtain a classical education, and was not at all deterred, 
even at his comparatively advanced age, from seeking 
its gratification. There was, in the same county as his 
own little school, an academy of high repute, under the 
superintendence of a teacher who afterwards became 
famous as the instructor of the leading statesmen of 
the South. Even then, his obscure literary realm con- 
tained subjects who, in after years, adorned the na- 
tional councils, and filled the country with their fame. 
That retired academy was, in fact, the nursery of Geor- 
gia*! most distinguished sons, in politics, literature, and 
religion. The rector was the Rev. Dr. Moses Waddell, 
who, at a subsequent period, became widely known as 


the founder of Willington Academy, in Abbeville Dis- 
trict, South Carolina, celebrated as the matriculating 
font of John Caldwell Calhoun, as also of many others 
whose names are eminently renowned in the land. 

In 1794 young Crawford entered Carmel Academy 
as a student. He soon obtained the confidence and 
favor of Dr. Waddell, and was promoted to the situa- 
tion of usher, receiving, as his compensation, one-third 
of the tuition money. We have heard it told of him, 
that while at this academy, in the double capacity of 
tutor and pupil, it was determined by himself and some 
few of the elder school-boys, to enliven their annual 
public examination by representing a play. They se- 
lected Addison's Cato; and in forming the cast of 
characters, that of the Roman Senator was, of course, 
assigned to the worthy usher. Crawford was a man 
of extraordinary height and large limbs, and was always 
ungraceful and awkward, besides being constitutionally 
unfitted, in every way, to act any character but his 
own. He, however, cheerfully consented to play Cato. 
It was matter of great sport, even during rehearsal, as 
his young companions beheld the huge, ungainly usher, 
with giant strides and Stentorian voice, go through 
with the representation of the stern, precise old Roman. 
But on the night of the grand exhibition, an incident, 
eminently characteristic of the counterfeit Cato, oc- 
curred, which effectually broke up the denouement of 
the tragedy. Crawford had conducted the Senate 
scene with tolerable success, though rather boisterously 
for so solemn an occasion, and had even managed to 
struggle through with the apostrophe to the soul r but 
when the dying scene behind the curtain came to be 
acted, Cato's groan of agony was bellowed out with 
such hearty good earnest as totally to scare away the 
tragic muse, and set prompter, players, and audience in 


a general, unrestrained fit of laughter. This was, we 
believe, the future statesman's first and last theatrical 

In the fall of 1796, leaving his situation in the Car- 
mel Academy, he bent his way to the then young city 
of Augusta, and became principal in one of the largest 
schools. It was here that floating dreams of profes- 
sional eminence first passed through his mind ; suggest- 
ing, at the same time, more enlarged plans of accumu- 
lation. He accordingly set himself to studying the law, 
and pursued his task with an assiduousness and dili- 
gence that knew no abatement, and that augured a 
speedy and successful accomplishment. He was admit- 
ted to the practice in 1798, and the year following, 
with a view to seek a suitable theatre of pursuit, he re- 
moved into the county of Oglethorpe, and opened an 
office in the little village of Lexington, its county seat. 
" Such were his perseverance, industry, and talents," 
says Mr. Dudley, " that he soon attracted the notice of 
that distinguished statesman and profound jurist, Peter 
Early, then at the head of his profession in the Up 
Country, and to whom he became ardently and sin- 
cerely attached. His great professional zeal, that al- 
ways made his client's cause his own, his unremitted 
attention to business, his punctuality and promptness 
in its despatch, his undisguised frankness and official 
sincerity disdaining the little artifices and over-reach- 
ing craft of the profession combined with a dignity 
>?hich, springing from self-respect alone, was entirely 
unmingled with affectation ; his honesty and irreproach- 
able jnoral character, accompanied with manners the 
most plain, simple, and accessible, secured for him a 
public and private reputation seldom equalled, and 
never surpassed in any country." This graphic account, 
tallying with the whole character of the distinguished 


subject, is not at all exaggeration, but is testified to by 
the speedy advancement of Crawford, who, indeed, 
after Mr. Early's entrance into Congress during 1802, 
might fairly be said to stand at the head of the bar of 
the Western Circuit. 

These arduous professional duties and this severe 
mental discipline were not without early and abundant 
fruits. The greatness and overshadowing lustre of his 
expanding mind began soon to diffuse an influence else- 
where than in the court-room. The dull precincts of 
the bar, cramped jury boxes, stale law arguments, and 
the harsh routine of office business, abundant though it 
was, were insufficient to afford that scope which might 
satisfy the intellectual energies of such a person. The 
excitement of the political arena tempted him to the 
trial for larger honors; and in the fall of 1803 he was 
called by the people of his county to represent them in 
the Legislature of Georgia. In this station a new field 
of ambition was suddenly opened to the grasping intel- 
lect of Crawford; and plunging as he did forthwith 
into the absorbing vortex of politics, we lose sight of 
him as a professional man for many long and eventful 
years years of triumph and of trial, of pride and of 

At this period began also a new and most memora- 
ble epoch in the political history of Georgia, which, 
dating from Crawford's entrance into the Legislature, 
controlled her destiny for well nigh thirty years, and 
continues its influence, though in a greatly modified de- 
gree, to the present time. Indeed, it is a striking and 
most remarkable fact, that the grapple of great minds, 
stimulated by malignant and inveterate rivalry, never 
fails, even in the mild contests of civil life, compara- 
tively speaking, to imprint lasting and influential traces 
on the age which witnesses the struggle. This is emi- 


nently the case in political circles, from which, for the 
first time, are to be drawn the bitter elements of party. 
And so it was, as we have already intimated, in the 
present instance. At one of the sessions of the Legis- 
lature, during the time of Crawford's service in that 
body, it so happened that a member introduced a series 
of resolutions which looked to the impeachment of a 
leading judicial incumbent of one of the Georgia cir- 
cuits. The individual thus assaulted had been long a 
prized friend and confidential associate of Crawford. 
He had been also an active and industrious opponent 
of another personage who was then becoming rapidly 
conspicuous in the political world, and whose prominent 
position had already enlisted the sympathy of such as 
were placing themselves in opposition to our distin- 
guished subject. This was General John Clarke. 
Clarke, finding on the present occasion an opportunity 
to vent his intolerance and vindictiveness, supported 
the resolutions with ardor and unabating zeal. On the 
other hand, Crawford opposed them with the energy 
of fast friendship, and with a violence that betokened 
at once the depth of personal feeling and the indignant 
contempt in which he held those who were urging their 
adoption. As might have been expected, this fierce 
collision of master minds soon diverted attention and 
interest from the true issue, and all eyes fastened 
eagerly on the hostile champions. Parties and factions 
were formed, and the limits of social intercourse were 
jealously confined to those of factional sympathy. The 
soirees of the fashionable world were governed by like 
envenomed rules. Innkeepers, and publicans of all de- 
scriptions, imbibing the excitement, eschewed indis- 
criminate gatherings, and advertised their cheer as 
being intended only for those who espoused the cause, 
respectively, of Clarke or of Crawford. The contagion 


spread through all castes and classes of society ; it, in 
fact, found way even to the bosom of hitherto harmo- 
nious and exclusive religious fraternities. Nor was it a 
strife alone of words. Forensic weapons were soon laid 
aside, and the rival champions, urged on by implacable 
and impulsive factionists, resorted to weapons of a 
deadlier character. A challenge to mortal combat 
passed and was accepted. The terms were soon ar- 
ranged, the parties met, and a fight with pistols, at the 
usual distance, ensued. Crawford, though brave and 
fearless to a degree scarcely compatible with his pol- 
ished amiability and amenity of disposition, was natu- 
rally awkward, nervous, and every way unqualified for 
a genuine duellist. Clarke was, on the contrary, a 
practised fighter, and highly skilled in the use of weap- 
ons, while, at the same time, of equally unquestionable 
courage. The result might have been anticipated. 
Heedless of all precautionary monitions and instructions 
from his friends who accompanied him to the field as 
seconds, Crawford took his position at the peg with the 
same carelessness as he was wont to swagger to his 
seat at the bar of a county court, exposing his left arm 
in a manner to catch the ball of even the rawest duel- 
list. Consequently, when fires were exchanged, Clarke 
was found to be entirely untouched, while his unerring 
ball had taken effect in the wrist of his antagonist, hor- 
ribly crushing the bones, and producing the most ex- 
quisite pain. 

This shot, of course, terminated the fight; and 
Crawford was removed from the field to linger* for 
months in expiatory anguish. But so far from appeas- 
ing factional differences, the fight only served to add 
fuel to the flame. The news of the duel, and .of its 
unpleasing result, spread rapidly through ah 1 portions 
of the State, stirring up new and fiercer elements of 


nently the case in political circles, from which, for the 
first time, are to be drawn the bitter elements of party. 
And so it was, as we have already intimated, in the 
present instance. At one of the sessions of the Legis- 
lature, during the time of Crawford's service in that 
body, it so happened that a member introduced a series 
of resolutions which looked to the impeachment of a 
leading judicial incumbent of one of the Georgia cir- 
cuits. The individual thus assaulted had been long a 
prized friend and confidential associate of Crawford. 
He had been also an active and industrious opponent 
of another personage who was then becoming rapidly 
conspicuous in the political world, and whose prominent 
position had already enlisted the sympathy of such as 
were placing themselves in opposition to our distin- 
guished subject. This was General John Clarke. 
Clarke, finding on the present occasion an opportunity 
to vent his intolerance and vindictiveness, supported 
the resolutions with ardor and unabating zeal. On the 
other hand, Crawford opposed them with the energy 
of fast friendship, and with a violence that betokened 
at once the depth of personal feeling and the indignant 
contempt in which he held those who were urging their 
adoption. As might have been expected, this fierce 
collision of master minds soon diverted attention and 
interest from the true issue, and all eyes fastened 
eagerly on the hostile champions. Parties and factions 
were formed, and the limits of social intercourse were 
jealously confined to those of factional sympathy. The 
soirees of the fashionable world were governed by like 
envenomed rules. Innkeepers, and publicans of all de- 
scriptions, imbibing the excitement, eschewed indis- 
criminate gatherings, and advertised their cheer as 
being intended only for those who espoused the cause, 
respectively, of Clarke or of Crawford. The contagion 


spread through all castes and classes of society ; it, in 
fact, found way even to the bosom of hitherto harmo- 
nious and exclusive religious fraternities. Nor was it a 
strife alone of words. Forensic weapons were soon laid 
aside, and the rival champions, urged on by implacable 
and impulsive factionists, resorted to weapons of a 
deadlier character. A challenge to mortal combat 
passed and was accepted. The terms were soon ar- 
ranged, the parties met, and a fight with pistols, at the 
usual distance, ensued. Crawford, though brave and 
fearless to a degree scarcely compatible with his pol- 
ished amiability and amenity of disposition, was natu- 
rally awkward, nervous, and every way unqualified for 
a genuine duellist. Clarke was, on the contrary, a 
practised fighter, and highly skilled in the use of weap- 
ons, while, at the same time, of equally unquestionable 
courage. The result might have been anticipated. 
Heedless of all precautionary monitions and instructions 
from his friends who accompanied him to the field as 
seconds, Crawford took his position at the peg with the 
same carelessness as he was wont to swagger to his 
seat at the bar of a county court, exposing his left arm 
in a manner to catch the ball of even the rawest duel- 
list. Consequently, when fires were exchanged, Clarke 
was found to be entirely untouched, while his unerring 
ball had taken effect in the wrist of his antagonist, hor- 
ribly crushing the bones, and producing the most ex- 
quisite pain. 

This shot, of course, terminated the fight; and 
Crawford was removed from the field to linger* for 
months in expiatory anguish. But so far from appeas- 
ing factional differences, the fight only served to add 
fuel to the flame. The news of the duel, and .of its 
unpleasing result, spread rapidly through all portions 
of the State, stirring up new and fiercer elements of 


strife, and confirming and strengthening all previous 
animosities. Hill and vale, mountain and plain, echoed 
to the war-whoop of arousing factions, and rang with 
the angry notes of a gathering that might have startled 
" Clan- Alpine's warriors." Men waited not to hear or 
to argue the causes and grounds which divided their 
respective champions, but each side mustered to the 
banner of its favorite, and formed in line for a long, 
bitter, and distracting conflict. The names of the ri- 
vals were assumed as the watchwords of the two par- 
ties, and for many years afterwards every election, from 
that of beat constable or militia captain to that of 
, Congressman or Governor, was decided, not with re- 
gard to principle or qualification, but by a trial of 
strength between the friends of Crawford and the 
friends of Clarke. Even after Crawford had been 
transferred from the councils of the State to those of 
the Nation, the flame of dissension was kept alive with 
vestal- like fidelity and tenacity ; for there arose up in 
his place a successor who, from the first, asserted a full 
right to the fiery inheritance by his high-handedness 
and party bigotry, and whose name, when uttered even 
at this day, stirs up within the bosom of the old Geor- 
gian a wild association of ancient party jealousies and 
of long-gone personal predilections. Indeed, the elec- 
tion struggles of the Clarkites and the Troupites have 
been too recently absorbed by those of Whig and 
Democrat to have passed from the recollection of even 
the youngest of the present generation of voters. 

This ferocious contest, even after one side had 
changed its original battle-cry, lasted continuously and 
witli rvi-r-inc.ruasing malignancy for twenty years. Aji 
the great Slate elections of 1825, victory, no longer un- 
certain and wavering, perched finally on the standard 
of the Troup party. A pitched battle, decisive in its 


results as that of Pharsalia, had been fought by mutual 
consent. Every log had been rolled every stone had 
been turned. Obscure, unfrequented county corners 
had been diligently scoured to swell the voting hordes. 
The sinks of cities had been ransacked. Cross-road 
and village drunkards, who had slept for- months in 
ditches or in gutters, and whose sober moments had 
been as few and far between as angel visits, were as- 
siduously excavated and hauled to the polls. The 
prison doors were flung open to pining and ^hapless 
debtors, who, but for this fierce war of parties, might 
have languished away the prime of their lives within 
the gloomy walls of a dungeon. Old men who had 
been bed-ridden for years, and who had long since 
shaken adieux with the ballot-box, were industriously 
hunted up, and conveyed by faithful and tender hands 
to the nearest precinct. Patients shivering with ague 
or burning with fever, struggled with pain long enough 
to cast their votes ; and it is within the recollection of 
many now living, that drooping paralytics, unable to 
move from the carts or dearborns which had borne 
them from their couches, were served with the box at 
the court-house steps, by zealous and accommodating 
officers. Nothing, in fact, had been left undone which 
might contribute to bring the struggle to a decisive 
and unquestioned issue. Accordingly, when the day 
arrived, each party, marshalled by its favorite chieftain, 
was ready for action ; and amidst drinking, cavillings, 
partisan harangues, quarrels, and ring fights, the polls 
were opened. Every minute of time was wranglingly 
contended for in favor of lagging voters every sus- 
picion was made the pretext for a challenge. But the 
scrolls soon showed on which side the tides of victory 
were rolling. The contest resulted in a complete tri- 
umph of the Crawford or Troup party, while the Clark- 


ites, chagrined and crest-fallen, acknowledged for the 
first time that they had been fairly overcome. 

When the issue of this memorable election had been 
fully ascertained, and disseminated through the State, 
all Georgia became a scene of rejoicing and revelry. 
Magnanimity was forgotten in the maddening mirth 
of triumph at the defeat of a long-despised foe. The 
ordinary greetings of civil life were ungenerously ex- 
changed for taunts or exultant blusterings when in the 
presence of a vanquished adversary. Little children 
ran about singing and shouting from the very contagion 
of gladness. "Women threw aside the needle and the 
shuttle to prepare for the dance and the feast. The 
men gave up business for merry-making ; and many 
who had been long famed for their severe morality and 
ghostly manner of life, were surprised in the joyous 
melee, and were seen reeling about and carousing with 
their less austere neighbors. The day was enlivened 
by hilarious and gratulatory gatherings, and the night 
made beautiful and merry by gorgeous illuminations 
and garish festivities. 

Such is, briefly and imperfectly, the origin and par- 
tial history of those local factional issues which so long 
distracted the State of Georgia, during the stirring 
times of Crawford's political life. During the period 
of their baneful ascendency, society was awfully af- 
flicted. Friendships were often rudely severed, fami- 
lies divided, and whole neighborhoods broken up and 
made hostile by the deplorable influences of this par- 
tisan rancor. In fact, the Presidential election of 1840 
was the first contest since 1806 which possessed suffi- 
cient strength, as regarded other issues, to overcome 
this ancient embodiment of party warfare ; and it is 
remarkable that, even at this day, the Democratic and 
Whig parties of Georgia are composed, in the main, of 



these old factions the Clarkites being mostly of the 
former, and the Troupites of the latter party. 

At the session of 1807 the Legislature of Georgia 
had elected Crawford a Senator of the United States, 
to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Abraham 
Baldwin, a signer of the Declaration of Independence 
and of the Federal Constitution. This flattering mark 
of distinguished merit, thus early conferred on one so 
recently an humble and unaspiring pedagogue, evi- 
dences, in a striking manner, the brilliant dawn of 
those splendid talents which, while yet in the meridian 
of life, soon lifted him to the highest honors of public 
office, and gave him in the political world an influence 
that has survived his death. When it is stated, how- 
ever, that these superior mental endowments were 
aided by a rare boldness and independence of character 
and of opinion, it will not be difficult to account for 
this rapid preferment. 

The political sentiments of Crawford were decidedly 
liberal, and, in some respects, differed widely from 
those which have been promulged and advocated as 
the peculiar tenets of the Jefferson school. He marked 
out his own course, and pursued his own conclusions, 
little regardful of those party trammels which have 
generally obtained a controlling influence with prom- 
inent national politicians. Accordingly, at an early 
period after his entrance into the Senate of the United 
States, he joined issue with William B. Giles, of Vir- 
ginia, the veteran debater of that august body, and the 
acknowledged spokesman of the Jefferson Administra- 
tion. The contest was on the Embargo question ; Giles 
earnestly advocating its policy, while Crawford opposed 
it as a measure fraught with mischief and distress, and 
a useless and unwise preliminary to a war already vir- 
tually begun, and which was clearly inevitable. Craw- 


ford had very little tolerance for concessions and dila- 
tory action, in a cause which he conceived to have 
been closed to amicable adjustment. He was no half- 
way man. He never paused to compromise, when he 
could see his way to a favorable result by risking a less 
indirect procedure. In fact, Crawford was in favor of 
declaring war from the moment that the British Gov- 
ernment refused to make proper amends and satisfac- 
tion for the unwarrantable attack of the Leopard on 
the Chesapeake, off the harbor of Norfolk ; and, in 
after years, did not scruple to charge Madison with 
ambiguousness on the point of war or peace in his cele- 
brated message of 1812, characterizing it as akin- to 
the sinuous and obscure declarations of a Delphic 

The Embargo was the darling scheme, along with 
the Non-intercourse Act of 1809, of the Jefferson and 
Madison Administrations. Crawford was thus thrown 
into an attitude of partial opposition to the Democratic 
leaders of that day, although far indeed removed from 
any fraternizing sympathy with the then unprincipled 
and rancorous remnant of the old Federal party. From 
these differences, slight as they were, sprang the germs 
of that conservative, national party which, soon gather- 
ing compactness under the lead of Madison, of Clay, 
and of the younger Adams, has opposed, ever since, a 
steady and unyielding barrier, amidst varying fortunes, 
to the unbridled radicalism of Democracy, as also to 
the baneful extremes of Federalism. The declaration 
of war, it may be observed, was not favored by Jeffer- 
son. With him the milder and, as he thought, scarcely 
less effectual remedy of spirited retaliatory measures, 
as concerned the British orders in Council and the 
French decrees, was the preferred line of conduct. 
Madison, long his warm adherent and premier cabinet 



officer, had: his doubts and his difficulties. The multi- 
plied aggressions of the British Government had, in- 
deed, stirred up within the American nation fierce and 
ominous fires of resentment. Still they perceived that 
the business men of the country deprecated hostilities. 
New England had gone quite to the point of rebellion 
on account of the Embargo and restrictive measures. 
She was now loud in her denunciations of war. The 
commercial cities of the North were scarcely less recon- 
ciled to the commencement of hostilities that would 
certainly depress and cripple them. The cotton-plant- 
ers and the tobacco-growers dreaded the ruinous de- 
preciation in the then high price of their staple pro- 
ductions, which was sure to result from a declaration 
of war. The Federalists, rejoiced to take hold of aught 
that might offer to prop their sinking fortunes, or to 
worry their exultant opponents, harangued bitterly 
against the rupture of peaceful relations with England, 
and bullyingly defied those who advocated the last re- 
sort. The Democrats hesitated ; and although Madi- 
son afterwards broke through these procrastinating 
counsels, and staked his administration on the issue of 
the war, yet there was a time when his delay had called 
forth no light reprehension from those of his political 
friends who coincided with Crawford. His decision 
lost him some friends and gamed him legions of ma- 
lignant enemies ; but, at the same time, it operated to 
change wholly the original complexion of the Jeffer- 
sonian Democracy, and gave vitality and impulse to a 
third party, which had suddenly emerged from the 
chaotic political elements, under the bold lead of Wil- 
liam Harris Crawford. But in 1811 the transition had 
been powerfully aided by the position which had been 
taken by Crawford and his Republican friends with 
regard to the question of rechartering the Bank of the 


ture and approval, .with a decent respect to the sharp 
conflicts of opinion among his friends, demanded an 
opinion from each of his four ministers. Three of 
them, at his request, reduced their ideas to writing. 
Knox, who was a poor hand with the pen, gave his in 
conversation, and they were found to coincide with 
those of Hamilton. The Attorney-General, Randolph, 
sided with Jefferson in an unqualified opposition to the 
scheme. How far the personal animosities and differ- 
ences of the two Secretaries may have affected this 
great public interest, may never be known. At all 
events, Washington decided according to the views of 
Hamilton, and signed the charter. He carried along 
with him a sufficiency of the Republican influence to 
rescue the scheme from the odium of an extreme Fed- 
eral measure ; and thus the question had rested from 
1791 to 1811. 

At this session^ to the confusion and dismay of the 
ultra Democracy, the friends of the Bank again entered 
the arena, and applied for a renewal of its charter, un- 
der the advice and lead of Crawford. Crawford had 
not taken his position inconsiderately or unwarily. He 
was, in his sentiments, a firm Republican and supporter, 
in the mam, of the Jefferson and Madison administra- 
tions. But his mind was of too comprehensive and ac- 
tive a cast to be fettered by narrow party ties, when 
reason and experience pointed to a useful result. In 
tracing the history of banking institutions, he was 
doubtless forcibly struck with the fact that they had 
found admission and patronage among the principal 
and most enlightened commercial nations; that they 
had successively obtained in Italy, Germany, Holland, 
England, and France, as well as in the United States ; 
and that, after a candid estimate of their tendency and 
an experience of centuries, there existed not a doubt 


about their utility in the countries where they had 
been so long established and so fairly tried. Wherever 
they had been created and properly sustained, industry 
and trade had been indebted to them for thrift and 
important aid, and Government repeatedly under the 
greatest obligations to them in dangerous or distressing 
emergencies. In reviewing the history of the Bank of 
the United States, he found that the greatest amount 
of good had followed its establishment, and that for 
twenty years every department of industry, as well as 
of government, had received timely aid and advantages 
from its beneficent operations. These facts weighed 
heavily with one of his eminently practical constitution, 
whose mind, directed always to great and standard 
measures, was wholly incapable of being dwarfed to the 
pitiful dimensions of insane factious opposition, and was 
impervious alike to the threats or the allurements of 
sectarian predilections. He decided promptly on his 
course of action, and determined to advocate the re- 
newal of the expired charter openly and zealously. 
With him were ranged Albert Gallatin, Secretary of 
the Treasury, Pope, the Senator from Kentucky, and 
some few more distinguished Democrats or Republi- 
cans. But against him there appeared a formidable host 
of talents and influence, and the entire prejudices of the 
Jeffersonian sect. The principal of these opponents 
were Smith of Maryland, and Henry Clay, the Senato- 
rial -colleague of Mr. Pope. William B. Giles sided 
with the opposition, but made a speech so rambling 
and tortuous as to leave his opinions on the main ques- 
tion well nigh undefined, and which his then coadjutor, 
Clay, wittily characterized as having " discussed both 
sides of the question with great ability, and as having 
demonstrated to the satisfaction of all who heard him, 
both that it was constitutional and unconstitutional, 


highly proper and improper to prolong the charter of 
the Bank." 

Crawford was chairman of the committee to whom 
the application of the stockholders, praying Congress 
to renew the charter of the Bank, had been referred. 
He applied himself to the duties of his station with an 
ardor that showed his disregard of party associations 
where the public good was concerned, and with a zeal 
and fidelity that eminently evinced the depth and sin- 
cerity of his convictions. He fortified his cause and 
himself with every necessary extrinsic aid; took the 
elaborated opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury ; 
and consulted extensively with deputations from the 
commercial and industrial interests of the great sections 
of the Confederacy. But the mastery of extrinsic facts 
did not alone serve to fit him for the ensuing struggle. 
The benefits arising from the establishment and con- 
tinuance of the Bank were unquestionable. The neces- 
sity and expediency of renewing the charter could not 
be successfully controverted. The battle had to be 
fought on the ramparts of the Constitution, and of this 
Crawford was fully aware. He had calculated that the 
opposition would direct their main efforts against the 
constitutionality of the measure, and thus drive the pe- 
titioners out of Congress without allowing them to 
bring in their array of popular evidence and convincing 
facts. But he had prepared to meet them at the very 
threshold, and armed himself with a panoply of reason 
and argument which, supported by unquestioned au- 
thority, effectually dislodged his adversaries from their 
defiant position, and threw them at once on the defen- 
sive. He courted, and evidently desired them to at- 
tack ; but, failing in this, he was nevertheless fully pre- 
pared to assume the offensive. 

On the 5th of February the report of the Commit- 


tee had been made to the Senate, and a majority con- 
curred in the motion to accompany the same with a 
bill to extend the expired charter of the Bank. The 
bill was subjected to some amendments, and its con- 
sideration postponed for one week. On the morning 
of the 12th, Mr. Anderson, of Tennessee, moved to 
strike out the first section, but declined giving any 
reasons in support of his motion, on the ground that 
the question had been doubtless already decided, in the 
mind of every Senator, as of every man in the nation. 
This course at once unfolded the policy of the opposi- 
tion. Crawford easily perceived that, confident of 
numerical strength, they had decided either to provoke 
assault, or else quietly to demolish the bill section by 
section. He replied to Anderson, by observing that 
such a method of dispatching business was novel and 
astonishing ; that a bill had been presented to the 
Senate to continue the operation of an institution of 
twenty years' standing, whose good effects were uni- 
versally admitted, and whose influence on the public 
prosperity was not to be denied ; and yet, in place of 
giving any reason against the continuance, the Senate 
was told that public sentiment had decided the ques- 
tion. He appealed to the mover if this was a fair and 
magnanimous mode of procedure ? How was it possi- 
ble, he asked, foj* the friends of the bill to meet objec- 
tions never made ? When a question of such magni- 
tude was to be decided, he contended that it was 
proper to offer some reasons why the bill should be 
rejected. It was answered by General Smith, that 
there was nothing novel in the course suggested by 
the Senator from Tennessee ; that it was parliamentary 
to make such motion ; and that it always became the 
introducer of a bill to give some reasons to induce the 


Senate to give the same its support. Anderson con- 
curred, and again repeated his former motion. 

Crawford promptly rejoined. He intimated that 
his remarks had been misconceived ; that he made no 
complaint against the motion ; but that it was not 
usual in any deliberative body that a chairman should 
be called on to state the reasons which induced a com- 
mittee to report any provision to a bill, when a motion 
was made which went to put an end to any discussion 
of the detail. " Gentlemen," he said, " were about to 
defeat the bill, and it was fair that they should assign 
their reasons. How could he foresee their objections ? 
Or if, perchance, he should foresee and answer them, 
would not gentlemen say that such were not the rea- 
sons which influenced their votes ? It was like pur- 
suing a will-o'-the-wisp you can never arrive at the 
true object of pursuit." 

He was again answered by Gen. Smith, that it was 
always the duty of a committee to inform the Senate 
of the reasons which induced them to report a bill ; 
that it was expected by himself and others, that the 
chairman would favor them with an argument to induce 
their support of the bill, and that then he might con- 
sider of his duty in making answer. 

This last rejoinder fully exposed the plan of action 
which had been agreed on by the opponents of the bill. 
It was clear that they did not intend to take the initia- 
tive in discussion, and Crawford persisted in his en- 
dc:ivor to provoke assault no longer. -He asked for no 
postponement, he craved no further time for prepara 
tion, but proceeded forthwith, and to the surprise of 
the opposition, to deliver his views in a speech which, 
ibr vigor and originality of thought, cogency of argu- 
ment, and power of intellectual research, has never 
been surpassed in any parliamentary body, and which 


fixed his claims to greatness. He begins by boldly 
laying down the premise that the Federal Constitution 
had been so much construed as if it were perfect, that 
many of its best features were about to be rendered 
imbecile, and that prejudice was thus tending to ac- 
tually destroy the objet of affettion ; that when this 
was carried so far as to endanger the public welfare, it 
was necessary that its imperfections should be disclosed 
to public view ; which disclosure, while it might cause 
the adoration to cease, would not, therefore, necessarily 
place the Constitution beyond the reach of ardent at- 
tachment. He follows up this startling declaration 
with a severe analysis of the Constitution, to prove its 
force ; showing that the very numerous incidentalisms 
which appertain to its express grants of power, clearly 
demonstrate the fallibility of the instrument, with all 
its just claims to our respect and deep veneration. 
After going through thus with the entire list of the 
specified powers of Congress, adroitly using each to 
illustrate his premise, he finally seizes on the fourth 
article of the Constitution to prove " the absurdity," 
as well of the idea of its perfection, as of the construc- 
tion that the enumeration of certain powers excludes 
all other powers not enumerated. His method of rea- 
soning this point is so novel, so interesting, and so re- 
sistlessly convictive, that we shall venture to transcribe 
the portion which embraces this head of his speech. 

" This article," he says, " appears to be of a miscellaneous charac- 
ter, and very similar to the codicil of a will. The first article pro- 
vides for the organization of Congress ; defines its powers ; prescribes 
limitations on the powers previously granted ; and sets metes and 
bounds to the authority of the State Governments. The second arti- 
cle provides for the organization of the Executive Department, and 
defines its power and duty. The third article defines the tenure by 
which the persons in whom the judicial power may be vested shall 



hold their offices, and prescribes the extent of their power and juris- 
diction. These three articles provide for the three great departments 
of government, called into existence by the Constitution ; but some 
other provisions just then occur, which ought to have been included in 
one or the other of the three preceding articles, and these provisions 
are incorporated and compose the fourth article. The first section of 
it declares, that ' full faith and credit shall be given, in each State, to 
the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State ; 
and the Congress may, by general laws, prescribe the manner in which 
such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect 
thereof.' In the second section it declares that a person charged, in 
any State, with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from 
justice, and be found in another State, ' shall, on demand of the ex- 
ecutive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to 
be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.' A similar 
provision is contained in the same section, relative to fugitives who 
are bound to labor, by the laws of any State. In the first case which 
has been selected, express authority has been given to Congress to 
prescribe the manner in which the records, &c., should be proved, and 
also the effect thereof; but, in the other two, no authority has been 
given to Congress ; and yet the bare inspection of the three cases will 
prove that the interference of Congress is less necessary in the first 
than in the two remaining cases. A record must always be proved 
by itself, because it is the highest evidence of which the case admits. 
The effect of a record ought to depend upon the laws of the State of 
which it is a record, and therefore the power to prescribe the effect of 
a record was wholly unnecessary, and has been so held by Congress 
no law having been passed to prescribe the effect of a record. In 
the second case there seems to be some apparent reason for passing a 
law to ascertain the officer upon whom the demand is to be made ; 
what evidence of the identity of the person demanded, and of the guilt 
of the party charged, must be produced, before the obligation to de- 
liver shall be complete. The same apparent reason exists for the 
passage of a law relative to fugitives from labor. According, how- 
ever, to the rule of construction contended for, Congress cannot pass 
any law to cany the Constitution into effect in the two last cases se- 
lected, because express power has been given in the first, and is with- 
held in the two last. But Congress has nevertheless passed laws to 
carry those provisions into effect, and this exercise of power has never 
been complained of by the people or the States." 


The speech then proceeds with an able argument to 
prove that there must necessarily exist, in the Consti- 
tution, powers derivable from implication. He con- 
tends that it is only by implication that Congress ex- 
ercises the power to establish a Supreme Court, because 
the express grant is limited, as concerns the action of 
Congress, only to the creation of " inferior tribunals." 
Thus, he argues, is derived the sole power to accept or 
purchase places for the erection of forts, magazines, 
dockyards, and arsenals; as also the pow^r to build 
light-houses, and to legislate for the support of the 
same. These all being clearly implied powers, and 
having never excited complaint when exercised by 
Congress, he maintains that the same ancient and 
thoroughly settled rule of construction will leave Con- 
gress with the power to create a Bank, derivable from 
the clause which gives the power " to lay and collect 
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises." He argues : 

" A law to erect light-Houses is no more a law to regulate com- 
merce, than a law creating a Bank is a law to collect taxes, duties, 
and imposts. But the erection of light-houses tends to facilitate and 
promote the security and prosperity of commerce, and, in an equal 
degree, the erection of a Bank tends to facilitate and insure the col- 
lection, safe-keeping, and transmission of revenue. If, by this rule 
of construction, which is applied to light-houses, but denied to the 
Bank, Congress can, as incidental to the power to regulate commerce, 
erect light-houses, it will be easy to show that the same right may be 
exercised as incidental to the power of laying and collecting duties 
aud imposts. Duties cannot be collected, unless vessels importing 
dutiable merchandise arrive in port ; whatever, therefore, tends to 
secure their safe arrival may be exercised under that general power : 
the erection of light-houses does facilitate the safe arrival of vessels in 
port ; and Congress can, therefore, exercise this right as incidental to 
the power to lay imposts and duties.." 

Pursuing this course of syllogism and logical de- 
duction, he goes on to argue that the creation of a 


Bank is necessary and proper, as the very best means 
to collect, safely keep, and disburse the public revenue ; 
not because the National Government is actually de- 
pendent on a Bank, but that it is materially aided by a 
Bank, and that it must, therefore, be a constitutional 
agent indirectly or impliedly contemplated as necessary. 
Adverting to the idea that the* States have reserved to 
themselves the exclusive right of erecting Banks, he 
boldly promulges the doctrine that, so far from such 
power having been reserved, the States are actually 
prohibited by the Constitution from exercising this 
power. He says : 

" In the tenth section of the first article of the Constitution, it is 
declared, among other things, that no State shall coin money, emit 
bills of credit, or make any thing hut gold and silver a tender in pay- 
ment of dehts. What, sir, is a hill of credit ? Will it he contended 
that a hank hill is not a bill of credit ? They are emphatically bills 
of credit. But it may be said that the States do not, by the creation 
of banks, with authority to emit bills of credit, infringe upon the Con- 
stitution, because they do not emit the bills themselves. If they have 
not the power to emit bills of credit, d fortiori, they cannot delegate 
to others a power which they themselves cannot exercise. But, sir, 
according to the maxims of law and sound reason, what they do by 
another, they do themselves. " 

Leaving the field of solid constitutional argument, 
the speaker next proceeds to discuss his proposition 
with reference to its alleged party connections, and, 
incidentally, as regards the competency of a State Gov- 
ernment to resist the establishment, within its limits, 
of a branch of the United States Bank. At the time 
that the constructive rules obtained which authorize 
the erection of a Bank as the fiscal agent of the Gov- 
ernment, he contends that party, in its present sense, 
was unknown ; that the Constitution itself was just 
framed, and not beyond the influence of unquestioned 


first impressions ; and that the Bank had then been 
sanctioned by the best authorities, and in the best days 
of the Republic. After contrasting those purer times 
with the rancorous scenes in which he was then mix- 
ing ; denouncing the intolerance and vindictiveness of 
the then " Democratic presses ;" and protesting against 
the illegal interference of certain " great States " with 
the regular operations of Congress, he gives vent to 
the following splendid philippic : 

" The Democratic presses have, for more than twelve months 
past, teemed with the most scurrilous abuse against every member of 
Congress who has dared to utter a syllable in favor of the renewal of 
the Bank charter. The member who dares to give his opinion in 
favor of the renewal of the charter, is instantly charged with being 
bribed by the agents of the Bank with being corrupt with having 
trampled upon the rights and liberties of the people with having sold 
the sovereignty of the United States to foreign capitalists with being 
guilty of perjury by having violated the Constitution. Yes, sir, these 
are the circumstances under which we are called to reject the bill 
When we compare the circumstances under which we are now acting, 
with those which existed at the time when the law was passed to in- 
corporate the Bank, we may well distrust our own judgment. I had 
always thought, sir, that a corporation was an artificial body, existing 
only in contemplation of law ; but if we can believe the rantings of 
our Democratic editors, in these great States, and the denunciations 
of our public declaimers, it exists under the form of every foul and 
hateful beast, and bird, and creeping thing. It is a Hydra, ; it is a 
Cerberus ; it is a Gorgon ; it is a Vulture ; it is a Viper. Yes, sir, in 
their imaginations, it not only assumes every hideous and frightful 
form, but it possesses every poisonous, deleterious, and destructive 
quality. Shall we, sir, suffer our imaginations to be alarmed, and 
our judgments to be influenced by such miserable stuff? Shall we 
tamely act under the lash of this tyranny of the press ? No man 
complains of the discussion in the newspapers of any subject which 
;omes before the Legislature of the Union ; but I most solemnly pro- 
test against the course which has been pursued by these editors in re- 
lation to this question. Instead of reasoning to prove the unconsti- 
tutionally of the law, they charge members of Congress with being 


bribed or corrupted ; and this is what they call the liberty of the 
press. To tyranny, under whatever form it may be exercised, I 
declare open and interminable war. To me it is perfectly indifferent 
whether the tyrant is an irresponsible editor, or a despotic monarch." 

But Crawford was not content even thus to rest his 
case on the solid basis of primitive republican authority. 
Assuming that the Democratic or regular Jeffersonian 
party were opposed, on principle, to the establishment 
of a Bank, he proves that their public acts give the lie 
to their opinions, inasmuch as this same party indirectly 
sanctioned the Bank by establishing a branch in Louis- 
iana in 1804, and, in 1807, by passing laws to punish 
offences of counterfeiting, or otherwise improperly in- 
terfering with the Bank monopoly ; and this, too, with 
such unanimity, that the bill glided through both 
Houses without a call of the yeas and nays on its final 
passage, or any of its intermediate stages. And it is 
under this head of the speech that, speaking of the 
right of States to oppose the erection of branch Banks 
within their borders, we find the following emphatic 
and unqualified declaration of opinion on a point which, 
so far as the name and authority of our distinguished 
subject may be regarded, must startle and disconcert 
the wild secessionists and ultra States' rights men of 
the present critical times : 

" Permit me, sir, to make one or two observations upon this com- 
petency of the State Governments to resist the authority or the execu- 
tion of a law of Congress. What kind of resistance can they make, 
which is constitutional ? I know of but one kind and that is by elec- 
tions. The People, and the States, have the right to change the 
members of the National Legislature, and in that way, and in that 
alone, can they effect a change of the measures of this Government. 
It is true, there is another kind of resistance which can be made, but 
it is unknown to the Constitution. This resistance depends upon physi- 
cal force ; it is an appeal to the sword ; and by the sword must that 
appeal be decided, and not by the provisions of the Constitution." 


After a concise and lucid exposition of banking 
principles as illustrated and developed in connection 
with the history of many of the States, and the special 
benefits to be derived from a National Bank, the dis- 
tinguished speaker, towards the end of his argument, 
notices the objection raised by many to a Bank, because 
a portion of the stock may be owned by foreign capi- 
talists. Formidable as this objection may at first seem, 
he seizes and wields it as an affirmative argument, prov- 
ing that what has been so generally deemed a disas- 
trous policy, is really an advantage to the country. 
He argues that if, by investing their principal means in 
an American institution, dependent entirely on the will 
of the American Government, and existing by the suf- 
ferance of the American people, foreigners acquire any 
influence over such institution, it is their interest to 
exert the same in our favor. A country hi which the 
capital of foreigners is employed, and whose Govern- 
ment can, at any moment, lay its hands on the same, 
must of necessity possess more influence with these 
foreigners than they possibly can over us or to our 
injury ; besides the important fact that, in case of ap- 
prehended war between their nation and ours, self- 
interest would impel them to exert a beneficial influ- 
ence in favor of that which holds their money. 

The conclusion of this finished argument is worthy 
of its principal features and main body, and is eminently 
characteristic of its author : 

" Sir, we have the experience of twenty years for our guide. 
During that lapse of years your finances have been, through the 
agency of this Bank, skilfully and successfully managed. During 
this period, the improvement of the country and the prosperity of the 
nation have been rapidly progressing. Why, then, should we, at this 
perilous and momentous crisis, abandon a well-tried system faulty, 
perhaps, in the detail, but sound in its fundamental principles ? Does 


the pride of opinion revolt at the idea of acquiescing in the system of 
your political opponents ? Come ! and with me sacrifice your pride 
and political resentments at the shrine of political good. Let them 
he made a propitiatory sacrifice for the promotion of the public wel- 
fare, the savor of which will ascend to heaven, and be there recorded 
as a lasting, an everlasting evidence of your devotion to the happi- 
ness of your country." 

This speech, and the one which followed a few days 
afterwards from the same source, proved to be unan- 
swerable in every respect. Crawford had forestalled 
and neutralized the whole plan of argument in opposi- 
tion, both within and without the pale of the Constitu- 
tion. He had gone over the whole ground, and sur- 
veyed it in its every point, before he engaged in the 
conflict of debate. Consequently, the speeches of his 
opponents which followed the delivery of his own, are 
mostly discursive and declamatory, rarely ever argu- 
mentative. They did not bring forth a solitary new 
objection, although, as we have already intimated, the 
speakers were among the most talented men of the 
country. Their efforts seemed to be mainly directed 
with a view to defeat the bill by conjuring up against 
it long dormant party prejudices, and to enlist all the 
rabid animosities of political warfare. And so irrefuta- 
bly had Crawford planted his positions, that even Henry 
Clay, with his spicy variety and raciness, was forced to 
the unworthy resort of meeting argument with the 
usual demagogical appeal to the lower and baser preju- 
dices of the mind. But, at the same time, it is not un- 
likely that the boldness and independence displayed by 
Crawford on this occasion, served first to attract and 
wean him from the ultra Democracy of the true Jeffer- 
sonian school, and to direct his ardent and high-toned 
ambition to the attainment of great political purposes 
and ends, which rose above the circumscribed and im- 


practicable views of the radical sect in whose opinions 
he had been raised. 

The discussion, however, was not altogether of a 
peaceful and quiet character. Most of the opposition 
speakers, aware of Crawford's extreme sensitiveness 
and irascibility of temper, were careful to avoid all ex- 
ceptionable allusions to the differences of opinion which 
separated him, on this question, from the main body of 
his political friends, and to eschew all course of remark 
which might induce unpleasant personal application. 
But Whitesides, a Senator from Tennessee, was not so 
prudent and forbearing, and declared, in the course of 
a very indifferent speech, that members of the Demo- 
cratic party who were now found making common 
cause with the friends of the Bank, must be regarded 
as political apostates. This remark stung Crawford to 
the quick, and aroused at once that deep sense of re- 
sentment which possesses all spirited persons who are 
conscious of honest motives. In reply, he denounced 
the use of such language, in connection with a member 
or members of the Senate, as indecorous and unbecom- 
ing ; declaring that no one should, without the walls 
of the chamber, apply such to him with impunity. 
Whitesides attempted to exculpate himself by an ex- 
planation ; but explanation had then been offered too 
late to restore friendly feeling. He did not deny hav- 
ing used the expression, and Crawford persisted in de- 
nouncing it as an assertion made without the proof to 
sustain it, and which was plainly contradicted by the 
record. This closed all doors to an amicable adjustr 
ment, and, so far as appears, Whitesides made a merit 
of submission to the denunciation. 

It is known that the bill, reported by the commit- 
tee, failed to pass at the session of 1811. Crawford, 
therefore, did not succeed in accomplishing his main 


object, although he paved the way for a resuscitation, 
at a future session of Congress, of the expired charter, 
and the stand he had taken lent a support to the Bank 
which sustained its political fortunes through many 
years of trials and struggles. But the debate, in view 
of the previous party relations of those who participated 
in it, gave rise to political events of the most important 
and permanent character. The whole project of the 
National Bank was conceded to Federal paternity. 
This fact at once arrayed against it the entire forces of 
the Democratic or Jeffersonian party, and among these 
was James Madison, then President, though known to 
be less attenuated in his opinions than the illustrious 
leader and founder of that hide-bound sect. Crawford 
had entered the Senate, a member of the same party, 
but, as we have seen, crossed swords with its prominent 
champion, on a vital issue, at the very first session. 
The gap thus made was never fairly closed ; and al- 
though Crawford was reckoned an anti-Federalist dur- 
ing his entire public career, it is yet a remarkable feet 
that he never acted with the Democratic party on any 
of the important issues at stake. When, therefore, in 
1811, he was put forward as the leader of the Bank 
party, it became evident that a confusion of parties, 
already foreshadowed in 1808, must speedily ensue. 
The main body of the Federal party gladly followed 
his lead. The prominent liberal Democrats took their 
stations by his side. At the session of 1816, the Bank 
charter, thus aided by this timely co-operation of dissen- 
tient factions, was passed. In this manner a third party 
began slowly to emerge from the confusion; for the 
largest portion of the Federalists, although co-operating 
with their opponents on the Bank question, had marched 
off under the anti-war banner, sheared, however, of its 
brightest ornaments, and of its most patriotic and lib- 


eral members. While, then, the new party did not ab- 
sorb this rancorous phalanx, their ranks were soon 
swelled by important accessions from the Democratic 
fold. Chief among these was President Madison, who, 
after signing the Bank charter, became its hearty and 
powerful advocate, and, of course, approached Craw- 
ford with every demonstration of confidence and politi- 
cal sympathy. Clay soon followed, and publicly an- 
nounced, as he has repeatedly done since, his entire 
change of opinion on the Bank question ; while, on the 
floor of the House of Representatives, Calhoun himself 
was recognized as the prime mover and leader of those 
who favored the re-establishment of the Bank. 

These events gave birth to the Whig party, which, 
soon gathering compactness and strength, has exercised 
great influence in the political world from that day to 
the present. Men may since have changed, and run 
the gauntlet of political tergiversations ; but the party 
is essentially the same, and at its head may still be re- 
cognized many who were principal actors in its original 

It is painful to pause, at this interesting period of 
Crawford's political history, to record the unwelcome 
fact that his opinion, as concerned the constitutional 
power of Congress to charter a Bank, underwent in 
his latter life an entire change. His great speech in 
support of the Bank had not been successfully answered 
at the time of its delivery. It gave birth to an influ- 
ence that shortly afterwards created the elements of a 
new party organization, converted to its opinions many 
of the most distinguished of the Bank opponents, and 
brought about a train of legislation that established the 
Bank as one of the cardinal means of carrying into 
effect the granted powers of Congress. This legislation 
remained unaltered, and almost undisturbed, for nearly 


twenty years after the charter of 1816, during which 
time the Bank had faithfully and correctly transacted 
all the fiscal business of the Government ; and at last 
its political fortune had only gone down before the 
selfish animosities of jealous politicians, and the indom- 
itable will of an equally implacable and intolerant party 
chieftain. During all this long period Crawford was 
alive, in retirement, at his rural seat of Woodlawn. 
His Bank speeches, if they had not made for him all the 
political consequence he ever enjoyed, had at least first 
introduced him to the nation, and laid the foundation 
of his greatness. The fruits of his bold exertions and 
labors were manifested on all sides, and in every quar- 
ter of the Union, by an unparalleled progress of general 
prosperity. He had made the Bank a favorite with the 
nation, and, in the outset of his brilliant career, had 
staked his fortunes on its single issue. Long years 
rolled away, and his fame became identified with this 
first object of his public devotion. But time, which 
had developed the full scope of his policy, verified his 
expectations and predictions, and crowned his efforts 
with unsurpassed success, had touched him with a 
heavy and blighting hand. Disease had made rapid 
encroachments, and dealt him a blow from which he 
never recovered. Artful and unprincipled men, seek- 
ing his confidence under the guise of friendship, had 
abused his weaknesses and inveigled him in unpleasant 
personal controversies, which subjected him to the 
merciless assaults of ancient political enemies whose 
rancor he had been led to provoke, and which grew to 
be too serious, too bitter, and too intricate in their final 
connections, not to dislodge an equanimity which, 
never very settled, had now been so severely ruffled by 
disease. It so happened, too, that Clay and Calhoun, 
with whom he was then so fiercely engaged, and origi- 


nally his opponents on the Bank question, had become 
of late the peculiar friends and guardians of the Bank 
interests. It is not, therefore, surprising that, under 
such circumstances, he should have been dispossessed 
of his calm judgment and discretion especially when 
it is further considered that the varying tide of politics 
had thrown him alongside of those who were moving 
their whole official and personal influence to the de- 
struction of the United States Bank. 

It was at such a time, and in the midst of such ex- 
citing events, that the world heard first of Crawford's 
change of opinion on this question. It occurred just 
before the close of his life, and after he had been in 
close retirement for more than seven years, during 
which time the whole complexion of parties and of 
politics had undergone a change, leaving no outward 
discernible marks of the eventful era in which he had 
figured. His immediate circle of intimate and confi- 
dential friends were all opposed to a Bank. A distin- 
guished member of Congress from Georgia, his early 
friend and political follower, was leading opposition to 
the Bank in the House of Representatives, and against 
him, in favor of the Bank, was arrayed the entire Sonth 
Carolina influence, headed by McDuffie, who had just 
publicly assailed Crawford's veracity on a delicate and 
important point. Thus was presented to him the un- 
welcome spectacle of enemies sheltering themselves from 
overthrow behind the solid ramparts of his own previous 
opinions, while his friends were being daily confused 
and driven off by the exhibition of this proof armor 
which himself had forged. It would be attributing to 
him more than human endowments to suppose that 
these facts did not materially influence the apparent 
change of opinion to which we have adverted. 

About this time, as our information unfolds, Craw- 


ford, in his capacity of Circuit Judge, went over to the 
county of Elbert for the purpose of holding the semi- 
annual term of its court. He staid there over night, 
as had long been his custom, with an ancient and confi- 
dential friend, himself an active and zealous politician. 
Conversation turned on the proceedings of Congress, 
as regarded the Bank, and, incidentally, concerning his 
own former political relations with that institution. 
During its progress, the host adverted to a copy of the 
debates, in his possession, on the formation of the Fed- 
eral Constitution, and its adoption by the States. The 
book was placed in Crawford's possession ; and then it 
was that recently engendered prejudice found, as it 
was thought, a genial and strong covert behind which 
to plant and sustain the change of opinion so much de- 
sired by friends, incautiously excited, and perhaps so 
long meditated by the veteran statesman himself. 
These debates show, among other things, that the 
framers of the Constitution failed to pass a resolve giv- 
ing to Congress the express power of chartering corpo- 
rations. The importunities of friends, powerfully aided 
by the very natural bias of personal resentments, in- 
duced him to seize on this as the pretext for a change ; 
and as conviction is not difficult where inclination leads 
the way, the change was easily accomplished and was 
soon announced. This account of so strange a revulsion 
of opinion, once, in the zenith of intellect and of life, 
deeply entertained and cherished, is fully confirmed 
both by his own pithy letter to the editor of the Savan- 
nah Republican, and by the admission of Mr. Dudley 
in the sketch to which we have elsewhere briefly ad- 
verted. It is an account well worthy of a nice and 
scrutinous observation ; and we should scarcely deem 
our task to be fairly fulfilled did we not address an 
effort to that effect. The justice of history requires, 


especially at the hand of impartial and candid review- 
ers, to be fully vindicated in connection with one whose 
opinions will inevitably exercise great influence with 
the future generations of the Republic-, as they have 
eminently done with those of his own times. 

It is true that the Convention of 1787 failed to en- 
graft within the express powers of the Federal Consti- 
tution the power of chartering corporations. But it is 
equally true that a proposition to invest Congress with 
the direct power of erecting forts, arsenals, and dock- 
yards, also failed.* And yet Congress has always exer- 
cised, and must continue to exercise both powers. The 
principle of implication reaches and covers both cases, 
and we contend that Crawford's own argument, to 
prove the existence of implied powers, is irrefutable. 
The context and tone of the Constitution tend clearly 
to show that only general and cardinal powers were 
intended to be expressly granted; for to have bur- 
thened a written form of government with the distinct 
recitation of every grant necessary to put in operation 
the whole machinery of legislation, would have been to 
swell the present admirable limits of the Constitution 
into crude, indigestible, and impracticable dimensions ; 
would have sheared it of that remarkable simplicity 
and comprehensiveness which render it so accessible 
and practical, and would have entailed upon the coun- 
try a tome of Institutes or Pandects as intricate as 
those of Justinian, instead of establishing a constitution 
as the fountain from which to draw all proper laws. 
The grant " to regulate commerce " is an elementary 
and cardinal grant of power, and needs to be amplified 
by all proper species of legislation tending to promote 
the ends of commerce, in order that it may be rendered 

* Viz., in the rejection of Pinkney's draft. The power was after- 
wards made an incidental one. 


tangible and operative. So also with the power " to 
establish post-offices." A post-office would not be de- 
sirable without the supervision of a postmaster; and 
this officer, by the will of Congress acting under the 
implied power drawn from this clause, is appointed by 
the Executive or his Cabinet. These two instances are 
sufficient to show the nature and character of the Con- 
stitution, and fully establish Crawford's own former 
position, " that the enumeration of certain powers does 
not exclude all other powers not enumerated." 

How then could the bare fact, that the Federal Con- 
vention of 1787 had rejected a proposition to invest 
, Congress with the express power of chartering corpora- 
tions, while the same Convention had rejected similar 
propositions as applied to other enumerated grants, and 
while his own argument on the point, more than twenty 
years previously, still remained without answer, how 
could this naked fact operate to produce a change of 
opinion so sudden and wonderful in Crawford's mind, 
as regarded the constitutionality of the Bank ? A 
change on this point involves a change of all his former 
ideas concerning the character and context of the Fed- 
eral Constitution; and the fact that the Convention 
had rejected the proposition to insert, directly, the 
power to erect forts, arsenals, and dock-yards, similarly 
construed with the fact which induced his change of 
opinion on the Bank question, would have compelled 
him to deny all such powers to Congress. The labors 
and the reflections of his whole political career, direct- 
ed, as they were, with an energy and talent that never 
stopped short of complete satisfaction, would thus have 
been forced to succumb to the unsettled impressions of 
an intellect, shorn by disease of its meridian strength 
and lustre, and naturally impaired, to some extent, by 
long retirement and premature old age. Our admira- 


tion for Crawford's character and talents, our sincere 
respect for that greatness which filled the world with 
his fame, would forbid us rashly to yield the ability of 
the splendid argument which distinguished his Senato- 
rial career, to the less studied and undigested opinions 
of his latter years. 

There are, moreover, very strong reasons for sup- 
posing that this fact, alleged in after years as the cause 
of his change of opinion on the constitutionality of the 
Bank, could not have weighed very heavily with him 
at the period of 1811. He may not have then exam- 
ined its history as minutely as he did afterwards ; but 
the fact that such proposition had been rejected in the 
Convention, was evidently before him. It was alluded 
to in the debates which first occurred in connection 
with the charter of the Bank in 1791. It was inciden- 
tally brought up in answer to his own speech of 1811. 
His investigations must have brought the fact to his 
eye in the elaborate opinions officially submitted by 
Edmund Randolph and Jefferson, when required to do 
so as cabinet officers by President Washington ; not to 
name that of Hamilton, who argues the point at consid- 
erable length. The contents of these papers were 
known well to the politicians of the Revolutionary era. 
Besides, Crawford was in the habit of frequent inter- 
course with members of the Convention who voted on 
the very question mooted, and from whom he must 
have learned the history of the proceeding. We yet 
find no allusion to the matter hi either of his speeches ; 
and the fair conclusion is that the fact then weighed 


veiy lightly in his estimation. And why should it not ? 
How could it be regarded in a serious view ? Ought 
not the Constitution to be decided on by the import of 
its own expressions ? Crawford was too astute a poli- 
tician not to be made aware of the evil consequences 


which might result, if an obscure and scantily reported 
history, as to certain matters which occurred in the 
Convention, shall govern the construction of the Con- 
stitution. The instrument, like all other written forms, 
is entitled to a fairer and less attenuated measure. All 
must admit that there are incidental powers belonging 
to the Constitution. If the conclusion shall, therefore, 
be, that because some incidental powers are expressed 
(as those for erecting forts, dock-yards, etc.), no others 
can be admitted, it would not only be contrary to the 
common forms of construction, but would reduce the 
present Congress to the feebleness of the old one, which 
could exercise no powers not expressly granted. 

Crawford, even in his latter days, could not have 
questioned the power of Congress to grant a charter of 
incorporation to the municipal body of Washington 
City. And yet no such power is expressly conferred 
by the Constitution. If, because the Convention re- 
jected a proposition to insert the express power to 
charter any incorporations, the Bank is unconstitu- 
tional, the same rule must hold good as concerns any 
other description of incorporation. A corporation is 
the same, whether applied to a bank or to a munici- 
pality ; and if the absence of express power constitutes 
a restriction, the rule must be universally applied to 
all subjects of legislation coming under that head. 
Such a mode of reasoning would capsize the legislation 
of every State in the Union, as well as of the National 
Government. It must be remembered that the express 
power to charter banks or incorporations is not given 
in any State Constitution, any more than it is given in 
the Federal Constitution. 

But the validity of such a reason, as the basis of a 
radical change of opinion, may be impeached on other 
and stronger grounds. The mere rejection of a propo- 


sition to insert an express power to grant charters of 
incorporation, is not, a, fortiori, the evidence of opinion, 
on the part of the framers, hostile to the proper exer- 
cise of such power. In arranging a form of government 
adapted to the growing and varying wants of a country 
which bid fair, even then, to become a populous and an 
enterprising empire, it is scarcely allowable to suppose 
thaH a Convention would have assumed the responsibil- 
ity of fixing as an immutable feature of the Constitution 
a special fiscal agent which, for better or for worse, 
was to be the perpetual depository of the Government 
funds. This would have been absurd. The Bank, in 
the process of time and amidst the vicissitudes of trade 
and commerce, might have been found less convenient 
as a disbursing agent than some other project. The 
means by which national exigencies are to be provided 
for, national inconveniences obviated, national pros- 
perity advanced, are of such infinite variety, extent, 
and complicity, that there must of necessity be great 
latitude of discretion in the selection and application 
of those means. The wisest course under such circum- 
stances was, as the Convention fortunately decided on, 
to engraft a general clause based on necessity and pro- 
priety, leaving it to the judgment of the legislators of 
each succeeding age to select the means of procedure. 
Besides, the debates and proceedings of the Convention 
on the subject of adopting the proposition in question, 
clearly show that its rejection was carried on numerous 
grounds, none of which refer to a decided opinion as to 
its incompatibility with the general powers belonging 
to the Constitution. Some friends of the Bank of 
North America, as it existed under the charter of the 
old Government, voted against the insertion of an ex- 
press power to erect incorporations. The Constitution 
had been, after much contention and struggling, nearly 


perfected. The elements of opposition had sprung up 
at every step in its progress to formation. Each ex- 
press power had been jealously argued. It was only 
after mutual concessions that opposing factions had co- 
alesced on its main features. It was known that fierce 
and powerful opposition awaited the question of its 
adoption before the people of the States. Every thing, 
therefore, which might tend to feed this opposition%as 
strictly excluded ; and it is probable that, after agree- 
ing upon the few express grants of cardinal power, the 
clause giving to Congress the general power to pass all 
laws necessary and proper to carry into effect the ex- 
press powers, united more differences of sentiment in 
its support, and at the same time was intended to con- 
vey more extended import, than any clause of like size 
ever united or conveyed before. 

Now it is well known that, throughout his entire 
political career, Crawford had been distinguished by 
bold expansion of thought and liberality of opinions. 
He had been in advance of his friends and of his politi- 
cal party on all the great practical questions at issue. 
He had planned his action on these views, and never 
varied from their pursuit. The views we have here 
set forth are deducible from his own speeches and re- 
ports to Congress; and it is hardly to be presumed 
that his sagacious mind had, in its zenith, failed to take 
in and act upon their full scope. We cannot, therefore, 
consent that the foundations of his fame and greatness 
shall be thus undermined by arraying the prejudices of 
his latter years, as of superior authority to and against 
the splendid achievements of his meridian life. Leaving, 
then, these facts and reasonings to be appreciated as 
may best chance, we shall now proceed with the regu- 
lar course of narrative. 

The Bank excitement in the Senate was soon sue- 


ceeded by the thrilling scenes which preceded the 
declaration of war against Great Britain. It was well 
known that, however widely Crawford might differ 
from the body of the Republican party on questions of 
domestic policy, on the subject of declaring war he 
was with them heart and hand, and even zealous for 
an immediate resort to direct hostilities. He had 
given his voice for war since the time when the Chesa- 
peake had been so wantonly outraged by the Leopard ; 
and now, that repeated injuries to American commerce 
at the hands of British subjects had followed that first 
insolent invasion of our national rights, he did not hesi- 
tate to declare that further postponement of hostilities 
would bring dishonor to the American name and na- 
tion. The timid and dallying policy of the Adminis- 
tration was not in accordance with his bold and ener- 
getic nature. Negotiations had been prolonged from 
year to year, while both England and France were 
daily preying on American commerce. Pirates and 
privateers swept the ocean from one end to the other ; 
our sailors were violently seized and impressed; our 
merchandise was ruthlessly confiscated. No quarter 
was shown by either of the belligerents, and no excep- 
tions were made in any instance, or under any circum- 
stances. Embargoes were raised only to subject our 
vessels to pillage, and restrictions modified only to 
benefit enemies and robbers. The Berlin and Milan 
decrees were still rigorously enforced, to our dishonor 
and injury, and British orders in Council still remained 
in full effect, notwithstanding our protestations and 

Such was the complexion of our intercourse with 
Europe when the session of 1811-12 was opened. It 
had progressed until April of the latter year, when the 
Vice President, George Clinton, died. In consequence 


of this melancholy and sudden event, the chair of the 
Senate became vacant. An election for President pro 
tempore was held, and Crawford was unanimously 
chosen. His elevation, however gratifying, withdrew 
from the active sphere of senatorial duties one of the 
most zealous and powerful advocates for the war. He 
however discharged the delicate functions of this high 
office with an ability, impartiality, and promptness that 
won golden opinions from all parties, and that materi- 
ally expedited the now complicated business of the 
chamber. But his abstraction from the floor did not 
operate to weaken his deep interest in the war ques- 
tion. Hi* vote will be found recorded in favor of 
every measure which looked to preparation for an 
event that was now deemed inevitable ; and when, at 
length, towards the beginning of summer, test ques- 
tions began to be taken almost every day, the name of 
Crawford stands conspicuously in the affirmative on 
each occasion. The final act, as is well known, having 
passed both Houses early in June, was approved and 
published on the 1 8th of the month ; and Congress, 
after voting fuh 1 supplies to meet the interesting exi- 
gency, soon afterwards adjourned. 

It is not within the purposes of this article to pur- 
sue further allusion to the events of this memorable 
war. This is more properly the province of some fu- 
ture historian, whose labors shall be directed to that 
subject. We will barely say, that the history of that 
period remains to be written. Those who have essayed 
to do so, thus far, have been strangely ignorant or cul- 
pably negligent, if we are to judge their talent or their 
industry by the fruits of their attempts. There are 
pouits involved which claim the deepest interest, apart 
from the shock and thunder of battle-fields and of hos- 
tile navies, but which have received scarcely a passing 


notice at the hands of the penny-picking hordes and 
demagogue adventurers who have heretofore thrust 
their puny efforts on the reading public. 

Crawford's reputation, at this time, had become 
equal to that of any statesman in the Republic. He 
had been not more than five years a member of Con- 
gress, and only eight years in public life. A compara- 
tively short period had but elapsed since he had been 
an humble and obscure pedagogue. Yet his fame was 
now spread through the whole land, and the public 
voice ranked him among the greatest ef the nation. 
The eyes of the people turned to him with confidence, 
as the crisis approached which all dreaded. His en- 
ergy of character, boldness, and known business qualifi- 
cation elicited general admiration, and his rapidly in- 
creasing popularity induced Mr. Madison to invite him 
to become a member of his Cabinet. He was offered 
the important post of Secretary of War, and earnestly 
solicited to accept. After mature reflection and con- 
sultation, he decided to remain in the Senate. This 
act we feel bound to condemn. ' In view of approach 
ing hostilities with England, and consequent disruption 
of nearly all foreign intercourse, the Department of 
War was to become the principal, and most interesting 
arm of the Government ; especially when it is consid- 
ered that the President himself was not peculiarly 
gifted with those qualities which constitute an ener- 
getic and successful war officer. Indeed, the event 
showed that Mr. Madison was wholly deficient in this 
respect, and, therefore, eminently in want of a counsel- 
lor like Crawford. We hesitate not to declare the 
opinion, that if Crawford, instead of the then incum- 
bent, had been in charge of the War Department, a 
British force would never have crossed the boundaries 
of the District, and Washington would not have been 



pillaged and burned by the invaders. It is now gen- 
erally conceded by military men that the battle of 
Bladensburg was lost to the Americans in consequence 
of bad management ; and it is even a question whether 
a more energetic Government would not have been 
able to prevent the expedition and landing of Admiral 
Cockburn altogether. We do not mean to say that 
Mr. Madison was not an able and efficient executive 
officer, in the discharge of his general duties. As a 
civilian we regard him as standing pre-eminent among 
all his compeers. But we do mean. to say that he was 
totally unacquainted with the practical rules of the 
military art, and most singularly deficient in natural 
endowments as concerns the qualities of a war officer. 
No one, we imagine, better knew of these deficiencies 
than Crawford. He was high in the confidence of the 
President, and was often advised with by members of 
the Cabinet. He was quite too sagacious not to have 
found out that they were all entirely unlearned in mili- 
tary affairs, and accomplished only in the civil routine 
of statesmanship. Mr. Monroe, it is true, had seen 
some active service, but it is no disparagement to say 
of him, that he had never discovered any extraordinary 
qualifications as an officer, beyond the possession of un- 
questioned personal courage ; and this is not to be de- 
nied either to Mr. Madison or to his Cabinet. Besides, 
a long and successful diplomatic career had doubtless 
contributed to unfit the then Secretary of State for the 
prompt and energetic service of military life. The di- 
plomatist and the commander are antipodes in char- 
acter. The kind of study which makes the first is pre- 
cisely that which is calculated to unmake the last. The 
one must study how to dally, to delay, to mystify lan- 
guage, to misinterpret expressions, to avoid direct 
issues, and, sometimes, to feign irresolution. It is true 


that the ancient mode of warfare was formed somewhat 
on the same basis ; but modern warriors, Frederick the 
Great, Bonaparte, Wellington, Jackson, have proven 
that the opposite of all these qualities are the true 
characteristics of an accomplished commander. It 
may happen, as to some extent in the case of Napo- 
leon, that the diplomatist and the captain may be 
united in one person ; but it is certain that they were 
not united in the person of Mr. Monroe, although he 
was one of the most useful and distinguished executive 
officers ever known to the country. But Crawford, 
while having never received a military education, was 
eminently prepared to manage the War Department at 
a time when energy, decision, and bold qualities of 
mind and^>f character were so imperatively needed. 
Rapidity of thought was a chief trait in his mental 
structure, and immediate action followed. He pos- 
sessed great enterprise, great prescience, and great 
resources of mind, while passion and enthusiasm were 
strangely blended with calmness and deliberation. 
None, in fact, who have studied and compared human 
character, will fail to perceive that his prominent traits 
of character were the very same as those which distin- 
guished the elder William Pitt. The Department of 
War, then, was the office for which he was, at that 
juncture of affairs, particularly fitted ; and having been 
so early, unwavering, and conspicuous an advocate for 
the declaration of war against Great Britain, there was 
restirfg on him, we think, a very heavy obligation to 
accept and enter upon the duties of the office which 
was tendered to him by the President. He chose to 
decide differently, and justice to his known disinterest- 
edness of character requires us to believe that his re- 
fusal was induce'd by some strong personal reasons 
which have not been declared. 


In the spring of 1813 Crawford was appointed Min- 
ister to the Court of France, in the room of Joel Bar- 
low, who had died just a few months previously, whilst 
in the active discharge of the important duties of his 
mission. Our relations with his Imperial Majesty, at 
this time, were most delicately and singularly involved, 
and their conduct required the aid of just such a person 
as Crawford. There was no subtle diplomacy to be 
resorted to in their management, but a bold demand 
to be made for redress of past injuries, and an explana- 
tion asked of an act which betokened bad faith. The 
spoliations on American commerce and the sequestra- 
tion of American property, which followed on the Ber- 
lin and Milan decrees, had begun to be most severely 
felt by all classes of our citizens, and a spirifc of resent- 
ment was becoming rife throughout the whole land. 
In proportion to the delay of Congress to pass measures 
which looked to direct hostility with England, did Bo- 
naparte increase the rigorous execution of these harsh 
decrees. He had resolved, from the first, that our Gov- 
ernment should choose between France and England. 
Knowing that the British Ministry were pursuing a 
policy towards the United States which must inevitably 
lead to a war, he directed his whole efforts to precipi- 
tate that event. To this end, while sternly enforcing 
the Berlin and Milan decrees against us, he never failed 
to intimate, at the same time, that those decrees would 
be relaxed the moment that our Government took the 
initiative steps to hostilities with England. Indeecl, he 
assured the American Minister that his course was the 
consequence alone of British insolence, which last being 
manifested as well to the United States as to France, 
he was resolved to make no exception in our favor until 
our Government prepared to resent the orders in Coun- 
cil ; further declaring that the decrees were to be sus- 


pended so soon as we should procure a revocation of 
the British orders. These pretended friendly advances, 
made at a time when, in addition to the evils we were 
suffering in consequence of suspended commerce, our 
seamen were being daily impressed into the British 
service, were received with marked favor by the Amer- 
ican Government and nation, notwithstanding that 
every one saw clearly the selfish motive which actuated 
the French Emperor. No one doubted but that the 
advances were made with a view to throw the whole 
blame where, in fact, it properly belonged, on the com- 
mon enemy of both countries ; and thus, by producing 
angry and fruitless correspondences, to compel us into 
a state of hostility with England. But the American 
Cabinet were wise enough to see that these overtures 
from Bonaparte, no matter how intended, might be ef- 
fectually used to bring our relations to a determination 
with either belligerent. Accordingly, on the first of 
March, 1809, a non-intercourse with France and Eng- 
land was substituted by Congress in lieu of the em- 
bargo, the President being authorized, at the same 
time, that in case either power should repeal or modify 
their exceptionable edicts, intercourse with the same 
should be renewed. Mr. Erskine was then the Minister 
of Great Britain at Washington. He was a warm ad- 
vocate of peace between the two countries, and, avail- 
ing himself of this law, gave assurances to the Secretary 
of State that the orders in Council should be withdrawn 
after the 10th of June following. Without waiting to 
inquire how far this declaration might comport with 
the ambassador's instructions, Mr. Madison very pre- 
cipitately, as we think, issued his proclamation, opening 
the ports of the United States to British vessels, and 
renewing intercourse with England. It would have 
been more prudent, as the event showed, to await a 


confirmation of this promise from the British Govern- 
ment, and at the same time to cause that of France to 
be notified of the arrangement, so that her protesta- 
tions of friendship might have been fairly tried. But 
the President, seemingly in too hot haste to conciliate 
Great Britain, issued his proclamation ; and, as a nat- 
ural consequence, this act, so well calculated to wound 
the pride and excite the jealousy of France, inasmuch 
as a discrimination was thus rashly made to her preju- 
dice without allowing to her ordinary grace time, threw 
Napoleon into an uncontrollable ecstasy of passion. 
The -Berlin and Milan decrees were executed against 
American vessels with tenfold rigor, and our Minister 
resident was loaded with taunts and reproaches. 

In the meanwhile, the declaration and promises of 
Mr. Erskine were disavowed by the British Govern- 
ment, and it was announced that, in making such, he 
had exceeded his instructions. The whole arrange- 
ment, therefore, fell to the ground ; and the President, 
repenting too late his precipitancy, renewed the Non- 
intercourse Act against England, early in the ensuing 
August. Mr. Erskine, chagrined and mortified, ' de- 
manded to be recalled, and the last prospect of a satis- 
factory adjustment faded away. 

In this extraordinary state of afiairs, the Govern- 
ment of the United States was indeed seriously embar- 
rassed as to its future course with the two implacable 
belligerents. In his anxiety to preserve amicable rela- 
tions with both, and to avoid war, it is not to be denied 
that Mr. Madison, constitutionally timid as a politician, 
and perplexed by the unpatriotic course of the Eastern 
States, committed many blunders, and was guilty of 
extreme precipitancy in more than one instance. But 
the purity of his motives cannot be questioned, not- 
withstanding that his course may be liable to severe 


censure. To relieve this embarrassment, however, and 
to guard against future precipitancy, it was now deter- 
mined to change position with respect to both bellig- 
erents. It was determined that the merchant vessels 
of both nations should be admitted into American 
ports, while their armed ships were excluded. The 
President, too, was again authorized to propose that in 
case either power revoked its offensive edicts within a 
certain time, the same was to be declared by proclama- 
tion ; and that then, if the other nation did not also 
relax its policy, the non-intercourse law was to revive 
against the latter, and all restrictions raised as to the 
former. This act being communicated to both Gov- 
ernments, drew from that of France a letter from the 
Minister of Foreign Affairs to the American Ambassa- 
dor, declaring that the Berlin and Milan decrees were 
revoked, and that after the first of November, 1810, 
they would cease to have any effect ; " it being under- 
stood^ the Minister said, " that, in consequence of this 
declaration, the English shall revoke their orders in 
Council, or that the United States shall cause their 
rights to be respected." The guarded language of this 
letter, as well as the fact of its not being signed by the 
Emperor or accompanied by any authoritative repeal, 
should have placed, we think, a degree of prudent re- 
straint on the course of our Government. There was, 
clearly, a most serious condition attached; and the 
question arose, whether it was precedent or subsequent, 
when construed by the technical rules of law. The 
American Executive adopted, promptly, the latter in- 
terpretation, and, despite the signal consequences which 
had followed his hasty action in a previous case, imme- 
diately issued his proclamation as prescribed by the 
act, without even the formality of a communication 
with England. The proclamation, as before, gave rise 


to many and serious disputes. That Napoleon intended 
the concluding sentence just quoted as a precedent con- 
dition, and that his degrees should remain in force un- 
til the British orders in Council were definitively re- 
voked, the issue evidently unfolds. It was confidently 
predicted that England would not regard such an ob- 
scure declaration as a revocation of the decrees ; that 
she would not, without a more formal promulgation of 
the Emperor's designs, relax her own policy ; and she 
did so decide and act. As a natural consequence, 
therefore, American vessels were still seized under the 
Berlin and Milan decrees, as had been predicted, and 
the declaration of the French Minister produced no 
visible fruits. Bonaparte's crafty policy began to be 
clearly developed. Every one now understood that 
the Berlin and Milan decrees, since England had de- 
clined to revoke her orders in Council, would only be 
relaxed in our favor when the United States should de- 
clare war, as had been expressly provided in the French 
Minister's letter, against Great Britain. In this dilem- 
ma, an appeal was again made by the American Cabinet 
to England, to the effect that the declaration of the 
French Minister should induce a relaxation of policy. 
This appeal called forth the celebrated annunciation 
from the Prince Regent, that England would only re- 
voke the orders in Council when the French Govern- 
ment, by some authentic act, publicly promulged, should 
make known the unconditional repeal of the Berlin 
and Milan decrees. This answer was intended to be 
final, and it was so regarded ; and at this point opens a 
chapter of history as interesting as singular, the eluci- 
dation of which is still locked up within the unexplored 
recesses of diplomatic craft. 

The American Cabinet had now fairly taken its po- 
sition. France had responded to its demand, and, if 


equivocally, at least in such way as had been recognized 
and acted upon. England had peremptorily refused, 
and to such extent had this refusal exasperated public 
sentiment, that no alternative was left but a resort to 
the last appeal of nations. It is clear that Bonaparte 
had been all along laboring to produce this result. His 
policy was developing at every period of the negotia- 
tions ; and a fact which now soon came to light, left no 
doubt as to his designs in so long delaying a public and 
authentic revocation of his decrees. Here is the start- 
ing point of the secret history. The declaration of the 
Prince Regent, while it precipitated the declaration of 
our war with England, had been seized upon by Mr. 
Barlow, our Minister to France, as a ground of appeal 
to the French Emperor to leave England without ex- 
cuse for her conduct, by promulging an authentic and 
definitive repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees. It 
was urged that Napoleon should explicitly declare that 
these decrees had not been applied in our case since the 
previous, though disputed, declaration to that effect. 
Not having yet heard what eifect the Prince Regent's 
declaration had produced on the American Congress 
and Government, Napoleon was reluctant, at first, to 
make any response to this appeal. If he should re- 
spond, and, in that event, England should revoke her 
orders in Council, he feared evidently lest such revoca- 
tion on his part might calm excitement in the United 
States, and thus break up the prospect of war, which 
had now opened so auspiciously for his purposes. But 
in the meanwhile there came to France such rumors of 
hostile preparations in this country, of embargoes laid, 
and of moneys to be raised, of armies to be recruited, 
and of fleets to be equipped, that all doubt as to the re- 
sult was fully removed, and war placed beyond the 
reach of remedy. Then he answered the call. A de- 


cree, bearing the imperial signature, was produced and 
handed to Mr. Barlow, which purported to have been 
dated and duly issued on the 28th of April, 1811, de- 
claring unequivocally that no application of the Berlin 
and Milan decrees had been made, as respected Ameri- 
can vessels, since November of the year previous, and 
fairly confirming the disputed declaration of the last 
date. This document, thus long and singularly con- 
cealed, was no sooner published, than England at once 
revoked the orders in Council. But the revocation 
came too late. War had been declared by the Ameri- 
can Congress just five days before, though, of course, 
the news had not reached Europe. 

The correspondence which produced the delivery 
of this mysterious document occurred in May, 1812. 
It reached Washington early in July of the same year, 
and threw surprise and consternation on the whole 
Cabinet. Congress had risen. War with England had 
been declared, and was then going on. It was now 
evident, from the date of Mr. Barlow's despatches, that 
the decree thus tardily published must have produced 
a change of British poh'cy, and in August news came 
that the orders in Council, in accordance with the 
Prince Regent's declaration of nigh twelve months pre- 
viously, had actually been repealed before the passage 
of the war act through Congress. Suffice it to say that 
the American Cabinet was doubly confused by these 
startling developments, well knowing that Congress, at 
the approaching session, would institute rigorous in- 
quiry into the whole matter. We do not charge that 
they deprecated or dreaded such inquiry. It is to be 
supposed that they did not. We certainly do not be- 
lieve that they could have been seriously inculpated ; 
for, admitting, as we must candidly insist, that the 
Cabinet had been guilty of some indiscretions, that 


they had been somewhat outwitted, both by England 
and France, but especially by the last, and that they 
had fallen into some errors, we yet believe that war 
would have been declared against England in the face 
of this revocation, unless she had renounced the right 
of search and of impressment. 

Such was the singular state of our relations with 
France, when Crawford was appointed Minister to that 
Court. Mr. Barlow had been instructed to demand an 
explanation as to the causes which had induced the long 
concealment of this definitive decree, to insist upon 
ample indemnity for spoliations on our commerce under 
the imperial decrees, and to bring about a favorable 
commercial treaty. But in the mean time Napoleon 
left Paris for the Russian campaign. He caused Mr. 
Barlow to be invited to meet him, late in the winter 
following, at Wilna. On this journey Mr. Barlow was 
stricken with the malady which produced his death, in 
December, and ere yet he had been able to perfect the 
negotiation. Crawford reached Paris in July of 1813, 
and was charged with the same instructions. But the 
Emperor was not then in his capital. He had been, 
since May, with the armies in and around Dresden, and 
was wholly absorbed with the events and scenes of the 
memorable campaign of that year. His mind was en- 
gaged with other and sterner matters than indemnities 
and spoliations ; the coming event of his downfall had 
already cast its shadow in his path, and disasters and 
reverses, hitherto unknown to his arms, were already 
combining to hurry the fatal event. 

Nevertheless, on the 27th of July, fourteen days 
after his arrival, Crawford took occasion to inform the 
Duke of Bassano, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in an 
official note, of his presence as the Envoy of the United 
States near his Majesty's government. The Duke re- 


plied, welcoming him to France, and recognizing his 
official presence ; but requested that he should await 
the Emperor's return to Paris, and present his creden- 
tials at that time. It is known to all readers that this 
return was long delayed. During the entire summer 
and part of the fall, the campaign was vigorously prose- 
cuted on both sides, and victory would declare for Na- 
poleon to-day, only to be wrested from him to-morrow 
by the allies. At length the disastrous battle of Leipsic 
was fought, and Napoleon retreated from Germany. 
The brilliant victory of Hanau restored, for a moment, 
the prestige of his military fame ; but the days of Ma- 
rengo and of Austerlitz had passed, and the light of his 
ancient glory was fast fading before the gloom of ap- 
proaching ruin. He entered Paris on the ninth of No- 
vember, dejected and mistrustful, in no mood for nego- 
tiating concerning a matter comparatively so prospective 
and secondary as was his difference with the American 
Government. Yet, in token of the sincere respect 
which he had always professed to entertain for our 
Government and nation, he received the new Minister 
with great civility and favor. Crawford presented 
himself at the very first public reception after the Em- 
peror's return. Napoleon advanced to meet him, sa- 
luted him, it is said, with a most profound bow, spoke 
in high terms of the character of the United States, and 
even complimented him, with true French urbanity, on 
his fine personal appearance. He remarked tb the 
courtiers who stood around, that the American Minis- 
ter's looks corresponded most strikingly with his great 
reputation as a statesman, and realized all previous 
conceptions of him. 

Notwithstanding this civil deportment, however, 
the negotiation made no progress, and Crawford's over- 
tures were constantly postponed. The "Bulking fortunes 


of the Empire left Napoleon and his Minister no time 
to pursue the business for which Crawford had crossed 
the Atlantic. Indeed, the patience of the American 
Minister, never very great, was beginning fast to tire. 
In January, 1814, after having been in Paris more than 
six months, he writes to Mr. Monroe that he had only 
been able to effect one interview with the Duke of Bas- 
sano. This resulted in nothing. The communications 
of Crawford, touching the demands of his Government, 
were drawn with marked ability and skill; but the 
rush of startling events in Europe prevented the Duke 
from making any reply. At length, on the 25th, the 
Emperor again left Paris for the armies, without having 
given any reason for the long concealment of the coun- 
ter decree of 28th of April, 1811, or making any ar- 
rangement to satisfy the demands of the American 
Government. Crawford never saw him afterwards, 
and there the business rested during the whole winter. 
It is known that in less than two months from the 
time that he left Paris, Napoleon was beaten at all 
points. The allies, pressing their advantages, advanced 
rapidly on Paris, and forced the garrison to capitulate. 
King Joseph and the Empress fled at their approach, 
and, on the 31st of March, the allied sovereigns, fol- 
lowed by their victorious bands, made their entrance 
into the city. The eighteenth Louis was restored to 
the inheritance of his ancestors, and Crawford received 
instructions to press the demand for indemnity on the 
new Government. But a serious obstacle was now 
presented. The King assumed the ground that his 
Government was not liable for the acts of the usurper. 
Crawford argued the point with great force, and clearly 
established the contrary position. The negotiations 
were prolonged throughout the year, and, had the 
Government lasted, it is more than probable, we in- 


cline to think, that our demands might have been 

But an event was suddenly interposed which again 
distracted the entire business. Negotiations could 
scarcely be fixed on a treaty basis, before revolution 
unsettled the foundations. Napoleon escaped from 
Elba, landed safely in France, and, on the 20th of 
March, rode triumphantly into Paris. All Europe im- 
mediately declared war against him, and every other 
business gave way before the pressing necessity for 
preparation to maintain his throne. 

The memorable Hundred Days followed. The few 
days that were allowed to Napoleon to remain in the 
capital were sedulously devoted to a resuscitation of 
the embarrassed finances, to the raising of funds and 
provisions, to the levying of troops, and to the organi- 
zation of armies. The forces of Austria and Prussia 
were already on the confines of France. The martial 
hordes of Russia were swarming on the banks of the 
Vistula. The British army had crossed over into Bel- 
gium, under command of the Duke of Wellington, and 
was forming rapidly for a march to Paris. The bris- 
tling bayonets of twenty banded nations were pointed 
against his single throne, and France, threatened on all 
sides, was looking to him as her only hope. Negotia- 
tions and treaties with transatlantic nations were not to 
be thought of at such a time, and if thought of, there 
was no leisure to answer their demands. In fact, Na- 
poleon left Paris for the armies so soon as his arrange- 
ments for prosecuting the campaign were completed, 
and his ministers were not clothed with authority to 
make any negotiation during his absence. 

The scenes of the eventful campaign which ensued 
are well known to all readers of history. Napoleon 
lost the battle of Waterloo on the 18th of June, and in 


a few weeks afterwards Paris once again opened her 
gates to the allied armies. The fierce Prussian and the 
haughty Briton were bivouacked on her promenades, 
and each day witnessed some appalling act of military 
power, or some scene of national degradation. Treas- 
ured trophies of victory, and cherished monuments of 
glory and of architectural taste, were alike swept away 
and destroped by the ruthless conquerors. No houses 
were spared save those occupied by the foreign ambas- 
sadors, and among these, none was so respected as that 
of Crawford. The well-known banner of stars and 
stripes floated proudly above his door, and its broad 
folds were a sure protection to all who came within 
their shadow. 

During the occupancy of Paris by the allied armies, 
a public procession was ordered to celebrate the King's 
return. All the resident ambassadors from foreign 
governments were invited to participate, and as the oc- 
casion was to be made one of great attraction and 
splendor, all were desired to appear in their court cos- 
tumes. Crawford was, of course, especially invited, as 
both conquerors and conquered were agreed in a com- 
mon admiration of the American Government, and in 
the desire to court amicable relations through its repre- 
sentative in France. The day arrived, and was distin- 
guished, among other things, by a mirthful incident in 
connection with Crawford, peculiarly characteristic of 
the man and of his habits. A forgetfulness of small 
matters, particularly in the way of etiquette, was not 
the least distinguishable trait of Crawford's character. 
He could never bring his mind to the little task of em- 
bracing all the minutia3 of ceremony. Accordingly, at 
the hour designated, Crawford presented himself on the 
promenade, but had utterly forgotten to don his court 
vestments. He appeared in the ordinary dress of a 


plain American citizen, and would have doubtless failed, 
in consequence of this fact, to receive the attention due 
to his rank, but for an act of artless self-possession, 
which eminently demonstrated his republican sense and 
simplicity, and which astonished the numerous gaudily- 
apparelled spectators. It so happened that Crawford 
was intimately and favorably known to the Duke of 
Wellington, who was of course the lion of the day ; and 
without pausing to calculate the amount of infringe- 
ment on the stated rules of etiquette, he adroitly at- 
tached himself to the suite of His Grace, by whom he 
was received with genuine, unaffected English hospi- 
tality. This frank recognition on the part of the old 
Iron Duke, who had as little taste for mere peacock 
display as his blundering friend, produced a burst of 
applause from the assembled thousands around ; and 
that which was, in fact, a great mistake on Crawford's 
part, was set down to his credit as a very harmless but 
apt exhibition of republican simplicity, designed to re- 
buke the glare and glitter of royalty. 

In the August ensuing Crawford threw up his mis- 
sion and returned home. He had failed to accomplish 
the object of his Government, but the failure did not 
proceed from incapacity or negligence on his part, or 
from any causes within his control. Revolution had 
followed revolution too rapidly to admit of tardy diplo- 
matic business. France was in a continual turmoil 
during the whole period of his residence at her capital. 
Monarchs and ministers and governments had been 
changed repeatedly within periods so short as to re- 
semble more the flitting pageantry of the stage than 
the scenes of real life and form. He had* been inter- 
rupted and impeded at every step of the negotiations ; 
and what progress had been made to-day was lost 
among the strifes and struggles of to-morrow's revolu- 


lution. Proj6ts of adjustment and of explanation would 
be scarcely formed under the imperial dynasty, before 
the storm would rise as the ancient regime swept on. 
ward with its foreign allies. The basis of a treaty re- 
cognized under one government would be peremptorily 
disavowed by that which succeeded. Crawford's tem- 
perament was not suited to a mild endurance of such 
political tergiversations and fickleness on the part of the 
French nation, while his republican notions of popular 
rights were daily outraged as he beheld France groan- 
ing under the sway of a monarchy, not its choice, but 
imposed on it by allied despots. It is probable, there- 
fore, that disgust rather than discouragement induced 
him to demand his recall. 

Thus was lost the last chance of ever obtaining a 
satisfactory solution of the secret history as Concerned 
the famous counter decree of April, 1811. The final 
overthrow and banishment of Napoleon, the ostracism 
of his ministry, and the untimely death of Joel Barlow, 
closed ah 1 penetrable avenues to its elucidation ; and it 
will probably remain ever a mystery to the world, un- 
less chance or some posthumous revelations, yet to be 
made public, shall unfold and explain its details. We 
may as well remark also, in closing this period of Craw- 
ford's political life, that our claim for spoliations of 
commerce under the decrees of Berlin and Milan was 
prosecuted, amidst vexatious delays and despondences, 
under many succeeding administrations both in this 
country and in France, until, at last, the impetuous, 
resolute course of President Jackson extorted justice 
and satisfaction at the point of the bayonet. The first 
instalment was paid by France in 1836, under the gov- 
ernment of Louis Philippe. 

Crawford brought home with him, as we are in- 
formed, not a very elevated opinion of French charac- 


ter. He regarded the French as an impulsive and 
restless people, governed less by judgment or reflec- 
tion than by enthusiasm. He esteemed highly the 
noble qualities and genuine patriotism of Lafayette and 
his compeers, and viewed with just severity the ab- 
sence of like appreciative tastes on the part of their 
giddy-minded countrymen. The ascendency and great 
popularity of Bonaparte was founded, as he argued, 
not so much in real attachment and healthful admira- 
tion, as in morbidly-excited passion, and in pride un- 
duly and fatally influenced by a perverted longing for 
national glory and aggrandizement. He denied to the 
French people the possession of the sound discriminat- 
ing sense and sterling qualities of character which so 
eminently belong to the English and the Americans in 
their rational capacity. This may be regarded, by 
many, as a harsh and overwrought judgment. We 
incline to think, however, that those who judge France 
by the sure test of its history will yield a concurrence 
of sentiment. The prestige of great military fame, and 
of martial deeds, has ever allured and controlled the 
admiration and affections of the French people, from 
the days of Clovis and Charlemagne to the present 
time. It is unquestionable, we think, that the charge 
at Lodi, the battle of the Pyramids, the passage of the 
Alps, the victory of Marengo and its splendid results, 
did more to endear Napoleon to the ardent French- 
men, than all the grand achievements of his civil ad- 

The works of Cherbourg, the magnificent quays and 
bridges of the Seine, the spacious docks of Antwerp 
and of Flushing, the maritime works of Venice, the 
passes of Simplon, of Mont Cenis, and of Mont Genevre, 
which open up the Alps in four directions, exceed in 
boldness, grandeur, and art any thing ever attempted 


by the Romans ; yet it is not going too far to say that 
these noble monuments of genuis, as compared with the 
glories of Austerlitz or of Jena, form, not a single cor- 
nice of the broad pedestal of affection from which towers 
his adored image. It is not to be supposed that a man 
of Crawford's austere constitution and sound judgment 
could sympathize with a people thus supercilious and 
vain. He had no tolerance for that species of patriot- 
ism which springs from man-worship, and which burns 
only at the shrine of military renown. It was enough 
to fix and settle his opinion, when he had detected the 
extreme susceptibility of the French people on this 
point. Their chivalry, their bravery, their learning, 
their numerous unequalled accomplishments, were all 
powerless, in his view, to palliate such fatal perversion 
of taste and of reason. On the whole, we incline to 
acquiesce in the correctness and justness of his opin- 
ions ; though, at the same, time, we have always cher- 
ished, and cherish still, a very high admiration of 
French chivalry and generosity of character, and must 
award to them the palm of excellence in all those beau- 
tiful accomplishments which so adorn the domestic cir- 
cle, and constitute the charm of society. 

Immediately on his return from France, Crawford 
was appointed, by President Madison, Secretary of the 
War Department. His distinguished services abroad 
had justly increased his popularity with the people of 
his own country, and his reputation as a statesman rose 
to its zenith. He had been, for many years anterior to 
his departure for France, pre-eminently the leading 
member of the Senate, and his opinions and influence, 
as we have already seen, had not only given tone to 
the politics of a large portion of the country, but had 
actually opened the way to the formation of a new 
party organization, that seemed likely to absorb all the 


better elements of both the Federal and Democratic 
parties, as also to reconstruct, in all its original purity, 
the true Republican party of l790-'92, of which Wash- 
ington had been the leader. The government was then 
in its chrysalis state, and this last-named party had 
been formed on the basis laid down by the writers of 
the Federalist. The advocates of a monarchical, or 
strongest form of government, with Hamilton at their 
head, had so far surrendered their original opinions as 
to fall into its ranks, determined to test fairly and fully 
the present Constitution. The Virginia politicians, 
represented by Madison and John Marshall, and the 
conservatives of New York, represented by John Jay, 
formed its mam pillar. The ultra and radical Demo- 
crats had not then been gathered into that fierce and 
impracticable phalanx which was marshalled and con- 
troled, a few years afterwards, by Thomas Jefferson, 
though they had already organized upon the basis of 
opposition to the Constitution. This instrument was 
adjudged by them to be too centralizing and latitudi- 
nous in its main features, to harmonize with their crude 
notions of State sovereignty and independence. There 
were many who desired to be free from all national 
government, but a large majority decided that there 
must be some permanent confederation of the States. 
The discussion, in convention and in the public papers, 
on the powers to be given and the powers to be re- 
served, became zealous and rancorous, and divided the 
country into two great parties, which were designated 
as Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The first favored 
a strong government, and the last insisted upon a weak 
government, or rather, no government at all. The 
general sentiment of the country settled upon a com- 
promise of these extreme opinions. Hamilton and 
Madison united in support of the present Constitution, 


and the Democrats of the ultra school were left in a 
hopeless and deserved minority. This union between 
these two great men, with Washington as their com- 
mon head, formed the foundation on which was erected 
the National Republican party. The high-toned gov- 
ernmental theories of the Federalists were so attenu- 
ated and modified as to harmonize with the conserva- 
tives of the Virginia school, although the latter yielded 
many of the ascetic and refined tenets of their sect. 

It was under the guidance of this party that the 
Constitution was framed, and that tho government 
went into operation. But its compactness was soon 
invaded. The dark and dangerous principles of the 
French revolution began to sow and scatter dissensions 
in the United States. Early in the year 1793, war was 
declared to exist between England and France, and in- 
tense sympathy was excited for the latter, who had so 
recently been our ally and faithful benefactress in the 
war against the former, which resulted in American 
independence. The proclamation of President Wash- 
ington, under date of the 18th of April, asserting neu- 
trality to be the settled policy of the United States, 
encountered violent opposition, and soon led to a 
partial disruption and reorganization of parties. Under 
the auspices of Thomas Jefferson, a strong French party 
was formed in this country, and Philadelphia, then the 
residence of the General Government, was scandalized 
by the organization of Jacobin clubs, or Democratic 
societies, which promulged doctrines subversive of the 
true principles of the Federal Constitution, and de- 
structive to healthy political sentiment. About the 
same time Hamilton published his numbers of Pacificus, 
defending the executive proclamation. Madison, now 
thoroughly detached from his late associations by the 
influence of Jefferson, answered him under the signa- 


ture of Helvidius. This controversy between the chiefs 
of the constitutional organization of 1789-90, effectually 
broke up the composition of parties which originated 
at that date, and Madison continued steadfastly to co- 
operate with the Jeffersonians until the era of 1816. 
It is not for us now to inquire minutely into the his- 
tory of the rival factions which soon sprang up after 
this disruption between the adherents of Jefferson and 
the elder Adams. The former, however, carried off 
with them the designation of republicanism ; and 
through the prestige of this name, Jeffersonian democ- 
racy acquired an influence with the nation, which has, 
for much the largest portion of the time, controlled its 
destiny from that day to the present. But the inhe- 
rent, vital energies of the government, combined with 
every natural element of greatness, as also with the 
strong collateral influence exerted by a conservative 
national party, have saved the institutions of the coun- 
try from a contamination of Jacobinism, which other- 
wise might have been fatal to their health and exist- 

It was to this original republican party, formed at 
a time when patriotism could not be questioned, and 
when the true principles and spirit of the Constitution 
could not be mistaken, that Crawford evidently looked 
in his efforts to direct the current and composition of 
party organizations, during his senatorial career. On 
his return from France, he clearly perceived that such 
a party had again assumed shape, and, under the lead 
of master minds, was rapidly advancing to influence 
and popularity. The Hartford Convention had drawn 
down upon the factious remnant of the old Federal 
party a weight of infamy and obloquy from which it 
could not recover, and the lapse of a few years wit- 
nessed its final extinction. The Democrats had been 


seriously confused and disjointed by the events of a 
war which, although begun and carried on under their 
immediate auspices, had evidently demonstrated the 
inefficiency and impracticability of their political theo- 
ries and experiments. They had been forced to aban- 
don their absurd and silly preference for the gun-boat 
system of Jefferson, and to build up and rely upon an 
efficient naval system, such as, years before, had been 
recommended and advocated by Hamilton and John 
Adams. They were now forced, at the close of that 
war, to withdraw their opposition to the establishment 
of a National Bank, and even to yield their constitu- 
tional opinions. Their leading champion of 1811, 
Henry Clay, who had then done more to defeat Craw- 
ford's Bank bill than any other senator, had openly 
changed his opinions, and was now in favor of the im- 
mediate charter of such an institution. Calhoun re- 
ported a bill to that effect early in the year 1816, and 
declared that a bank only was adapted to meet the 
financial exigency, although he had been raised in the 
strictest sect of Jeffersonism. Madison himself surren- 
dered a long-continued opposition, signed the charter, 
and made Crawford, its principal advocate, his Secre- 
tary of the Treasury. In addition to this, they were 
driven to incorporate high protective features in the 
adjustment of the tariff of 1816, and that, too, not in- 
cidentally, but directly, and in so many words, if the 
speeches of Calhoun, and others of its advocates can be 
admitted as proof of the fact. The war had depressed 
all the industrial pursuits of the country, and these 
called too loudly for aid and protection at its close, to 
allow politicians to take shelter behind mere fastidious 
constitutional scruples, or selfish partisan policy. The 
emergency required enlarged and liberal legislation, 
such as was adapted to the growing importance of a 


great nation, and would prove the beneficence and 
practicability of our system of government. The 
statesmen of that day met the crisis boldly, and the 
crude theories of the Jeffersonian school (ever more 
taught than practised, even by their founder) received 
a decided check and rebuke at the very moment that 
the ancient monster of Federalism was finally beaten 
down and smothered. It was just the time to indoc- 
trinate public sentiment with the safer, more reliable, 
and more vigorous constitutional theories which had 
been already foreshadowed and indicated by Crawford's 
great speech, in 1811. It was just the time, too, to 
erect a purer and more efficient party. There was a 
sufficiency of conservative material to be found in both 
the Democratic and Federal ranks, to form such party, 
without incorporating the radicalism of the first, or ab- 
sorbing the rancorous elements which distinguished the 
last. The fruit of these events was the construction of 
the National Whig party, which, having thus taken 
root, gradually emerged into activity and compact- 
ness ; and for the twelve succeeding years, its health- 
ful and invigorating influence imparted a tone and be- 
neficence to the administrative policy of the country, 
which induced unparalleled prosperity, and which placed 
the United States in the class of the world's greatest 
nations. Nor was this influence entirely effaced even 
by the whirlwind of radical democracy, which tore 
through the land during the administration of Jack- 
son ; although the lustre of a military fame, too daz- 
zlingly illustrated in the achievements of that victori- 
ous hero, not to win popularity among a grateful and 
chivalrous people, at any hazard to national interests, 
had well nigh totally obscured its milder radiance, 
while it did for ever eclipse and mar the political for- 
tunes of the prominent Whig leaders. 


As the Presidential term of Mr. Madison was now 
drawing to its close, the eye of the nation was directed 
to James Monroe as his successor. But the leading 
politicians of the party to which both Monroe and 
Crawford belonged, did not pretend to disguise their 
preference for the latter. Crawford peremptorily de- 
clined ; but when the Congressional caucus assembled, 
and proceeded to ballot for a nominee, Monroe ob- 
tained only a few more votes than Crawford, notwith- 
standing this prompt declination. This result was ex- 
actly what it should have been. Crawford possessed 
and showed more discernment as well as more disin- 
terestedness than his friends. The pertinacity of these 
was both impolitic and untasteful. Monroe was much 
the more experienced, both as a man and a statesman, 
had served with credit in the Revolutionary War, and 
was evidently the choice, as also the favorite of the 
nation. It may be true, as Mr. Dudley says in the 
sketch before us, that " it has often been confidently 
asserted by a great number of experienced politicians 
of that day, that if Crawford had permitted his name 
to have been put in nomination at that tune, he might 
have been elected with perfect ease." We even think 
it is probable, from all we have heard, that Crawford 
might have been of such opinion himself. Still, we 
cannot agree that such hypothesis will quite bear out 
Mr. Dudley's inference, when he says, that " the event 
showed the influence of such a nomination, as it re- 
sulted in the election of Mr. Monroe." It is our opin- 
ion that the nomination would not have resulted in the 
election of Crawford ; for the reason that we do not 
believe, under the circumstances, that the people would 
have been satisfied with such nomination. There is 
abundant reason to believe, in view of what we have 
stated, that electoral tickets would have been formed 


for Monroe, despite the caucus nomination of Craw- 
ford. Besides his long experience and revolutionary 
claims, Monroe had lately won upon the affections of 
the people by superadding to the arduous duties of the 
State Department those of the Department of War, 
and through this had directed the latter operations of 
our arms to a brilliant and triumphant close. There 
would have been great difficulty in resisting such ap- 
peals as these, before a nation whose first impulse has 
always been to reward with civic honors those who 
have gained even a moiety of military fame. The su- 
perior qualifications of Crawford as a statesman would 
not have weighed in the balance with Monroe's mili- 
tary prestige, inconsiderable as it was, when compared 
with the dignity of the award which he was about to 
receive from the popular voice. NOT has the " event " 
always showed that a caucus nomination " resulted in 
the election " of the nominee. Eight years later than 
this, Crawford did receive the caucus nomination for 
President, and yet he barely obtained a sufficiency of 
electoral votes to find his way to the House of Repre- 
sentatives with Jackson and John Quincy Adams. 

On the fourth day of March, 1817, James Monroe 
succeeded James Madison as President of the United 
States. He immediately tendered the office of Secre- 
tary of the Treasury to Crawford, and the tender was 
accepted. For many years afterward, we lose sight of 
him as an active politician. The labors of a ministerial 
office are wholly incompatible with party intriguings. 
Its incumbent is removed from the sphere of political 
attraction, and is measurably overshadowed. Conse- 
quently, we are wholly unable to trace our distinguish- 
ed subject in connection with the numerous important 
and startling questions which arose during Monroe's 
administration, nor do we find such connection even so 


much as hinted at in the sketch of Mr. Dudley. We 
do not think that it is unreasonable to find some fault 
with such omission. Nobody can doubt that Mr. Dud- 
ley is possessed of all such information ; and, in view 
of the national character of his illustrious relative, we 
can see no good reason why he should have withheld 
such from the public. The public have a right to know 
all that can be known of the political connections of 
such men as Crawford. It is the duty of those who do 
know to make all such known, especially when, in re- 
sponse to a public call, they essay a biographical sketch. 
But there is a cogent and special reason why we regret 
that Mr. Dudley should not have been more explicit. 
It was during the last term of Monroe's presidency 
that the policy of the United States respecting foreign 
nations was so elaborately discussed. It was then that 
the doctrine of intervention was so seriously mooted 
among American statesmen, and measured by prece- 
dent and by the terms of the Federal Constitution. 
The struggle of the Greeks and of the South American 
republics elicited then deep interest in this country. 
Hungary and other European nations form now the 
basis of much political sentiment among the people of 
the United States, and there is an evident tendency to 
depart from the safe maxims of the early fathers of the 
republic, and to change the policy of the government. 
The opinions of such men as Crawford on such ques- 
tions, and in times like the present, would doubtless 
exert efficient and salutary influence on a great portion 
of the public mind. We cannot doubt that these opin- 
ions were in accordance with the policy of Washing- 
ton's proclamation in 1793, though there existed con- 
siderable differences in the Monroe Cabinet on this 
subject. We know that John Quincy Adams was 
quite latitudinous, and that Calhoun was very conserv- 


ative. The President himself had no settled opinion, 
if we may judge either by his language, his policy, 
or the conflicting testimony of Adams and Calhoun. 
Each member of his Cabinet, it would seem, puts a 
different construction on his language, and holds a dif- 
ferent interpretation of his motives and his policy; 
whilst Hayne, of South Carolina, did not hesitate, in 
after years, to charge the language of Monroe as being 
non-committal, and as having been employed merely in 
the nature of a ruse de guerre. But history, of what- 
ever description, is silent as concerns the opinions of 
Crawford. The only clue to these is to be vaguely 
gathered from the acts and movements of his prominent 
friends in Congress. Taking, of these, Macon, Ran- 
dolph, Van Buren, and Cobb of Georgia, and such test 
would easily unfold his sentiments and views. 

Crawford served as Secretary of the Treasury dur- 
ing the entire period of Monroe's presidency. We can 
add nothing to what Mr. Dudley has so well said of 
this period of his career, and shall therefore dismiss 
this branch of the subject by quoting that gentleman's 
language : 

" Much of the period during which Mr. Crawford acted as Secre- 
tary of the Treasury," says Mr. Dudley, " times were very doubtful ; 
our domestic relations embarrassed, pecuniary difficulties pressing 
upon the people, home and foreign commerce fluctuating, commercial 
capital deranged, a public debt to be managed, and, above all, a mis- 
erably depreciated and ruined currency, had to be dealt with. The 
political essayists of those days agreed that it required ceaseless vigi- 
lance and profound ability to preserve the national estate from bank- 
ruptcy. But the public credit was never better at any period of the 
republic than during his administration of the affairs of the Trea- 
sury. The national debt was faithfully discharged, and the burdens 
of government upon the people were light and inconsiderable. At 
the time of the greatest difficulty the estimated and actual receipts of 
the Treasury only varied ten per cent., while the estimates of his dis- 
tinguished predecessors had varied from seventeen to twenty-four per 


cent. But the best evidence of his fidelity, zeal, and ability as a 
Cabinet officer in this department, was the length of time he served ; 
the unbounded confidence reposed in him by Mr. Madison and Mr. 
Monroe, during the whole period of his service ; the great interest 
manifested for his retention in that office by Mr. Gallatin, and Mr. J. 
Q. Adams' opinion of his merit, as evinced in his tendering him that 
office during his administration. Such men are rarely deceived in 
their estimate of character and qualifications." 

An almost unnatural lull in political strife followed 
on the election of Monroe, and party dissensions and 
animosities ceased to disturb the course of legislation 
for many years. The President himself owned no dis- 
tinctive party creed. A majority of his Cabinent were 
Republicans, though not allied with the Jeffersonian or 
Democratic school, further than by association. The 
Secretary of the Navy rather inclined to the Federal 
tenets, while Mr. Calhoun inclined to the Democratic, 
though his course of action in Congress had been widely 
variant from the ascetic teachings of that sect. In both 
Houses of Congress, the Republicans of the Crawford 
school of politics were in a decided majority, controlled 
the legislation of the country, and were under the lead 
of Henry Clay. They were not then, nor for many 
years afterward, known by the name or appellation of 
Whigs. The absence of all acrimonious party strife, 
consequent on the extinction of the Federal party, and 
the dismemberment of the original Democratic party, 
rendered it unnecessary to assume any distinctive ap- 
pellation. Still they acted steadily together, in oppo- 
sition alike to the extremes of Federalism and of De- 
mocracy, respectively represented on the floor of Con- 
gress by Rufus King and John Randolph; and the 
great American system progressed gradually to a happy 
consummation. There was a vitality and an energy 
then discernible in the legislation of Congress, which 


diffused life and spirit into all departments of business. 
The nation looked to its 'government for proper encour- 
agement and relief under the yet depressing influences 
of the wa, and soon the whole country smiled with 
prosperity, and gave token of speedy release from the 
thraldom of cramped legislation. The spirit of the age 
brooked no fastidious obstruction. Even when the Ex- 
ecutive halted and wavered, the majority of Congress 
came off victorious from every trial of strength between 
them. The black clouds arising from the Missouri 
question, in 1820, shed a passing gloom over the bright 
prospect ; but patriotism triumphed over fanaticism, 
though not without an unwary sacrifice. The internal 
health of the country otherwise was never so great ; 
and it is a fact worthy of notice, that this very period, 
when genuine Whig policy and principles were de- 
cidedly in the ascenadnt, is now looked back to by 
all parties as the age of good feeling and of golden 

But the elements of strife were not long wanting. 
The great Presidential contest of 1824 afforded ample 
material with which to reconstruct a system of party 
warfare, although it is remarkable that no solitary po- 
litical principle was involved in the contest. There 
was no attempt to keep up, but every effort to keep 
down, old party organizations. The Federal party, as 
we have already remarked, had been extinguished. 
The Democratic party had been dismembered. It had 
become rude and unfashionable to couple the name of 
Federalist with that of any gentleman. A Democrat 
was considered no better than a Jacobin. The words 
were never heard in political circles. It was almost 
impossible to draw a line of distinction between the 
aspiring politicians, or to set up any distinctive party 
standard by which to judge their opinions. Old mea- 


sures and the divisions they had occasioned had passed 
away. New measures, under entirely new and variant 
circumstances, had been brought forward ; yet nothing 
is more true, as we have already intimated, than that 
all the leading measures of Congress were of the genu- 
ine Whig stamp, that they involved the same princi- 
ples of interpretation, and required the same course of 
argument in their defence, that Whigs have used for 
the past twenty years. 

It will readily suggest itself to every mind, that a 
contest for the Presidency, under such circumstances, 
would be resolved wholly into a contest of mere per- 
sonal preference among the people. The original can- 
didates were John Quincy Adams, William H. Craw- 
ford, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay. There being 
no party differences between them, the strife became 
one of a peculiarly fierce and acrimonious character. 
It was soon exasperated and rendered more furious by 
the unexpected and unwelcome appearance of a fifth 
competitor, in the person of an illustrious military chief- 
tain, whose hot temperament and passionate energies 
were not likely to soften the asperity of the contest. 
This was Andrew Jackson. His appearance on the 
field was at once productive of two most important 
events. It caused the prompt withdrawal of Calhoun, 
who became the candidate for Vice President on the 
Jackson ticket, and materially weakened the prospects 
of Henry Clay, by dividing the preferences of the West. 
Jackson had been a senator and representative in Con- 
gress, but had not taken even a respectable stand as a 
politician. It was quite common to ridicule his aspira- 
tions for the Presidency as being mere mockery. His 
nomination was generally considered too absurd to 
have been made in good faith. It would not at first 
be credited that a man notoriously deficient in educa- 


tion, so uninformed as to the duties of a civilian as to 
have resigned several offices with the frank admission 
of incompetency, fonder of sport than of study, and 
whose training had been mainly hi the camp or on the 
frontier, would be seriously urged for the first office in 
the Republic, on the single merit of one fortunate bat- 
tle. Those great qualities of mind, or rather of will, 
which afterwards made him the most popular and pow- 
erful ruler that ever wore the executive mantle, which 
commanded the worship of his friends and the admira- 
tion of his opponents, and which identified the Ameri- 
can name and nation with his own strong and heroic 
character, were not then known to the nation. His 
only claim to office was based upon the victory of New 
Orleans ; and this alone made him formidable, and gave 
him a decided advantage over his three competitors. 

With such fearful odds against them, the friends of 
the other candidates sought now to make favor with 
the people, by endeavoring to prove eac.h that their 
candidate was, par excellence, the true Republican can- 
didate. Crawford's partisans did not stop at this. 
They sought to obtain a more thorough advantage by 
procuring for him a regular caucus nomination, accord- 
ing to the ancient usages of the party. It is to be re- 
marked, in this connection, that Crawford numbered 
in the ranks of his followers a greater proportion of the 
old Jeffersonian Democrats than either Adams or Clay, 
notwithstanding his known liberal opinions. These, 
considering themselves as the true standards of genuine 
Republican orthodoxy, insisted on assembling a caucus, 
although they were seriously opposed. They would 
not listen, when reminded that, Federalism having long 
ceased an organized opposition, such a course was not 
now necessary to secure the ascendency of the Repub- 
lican party. They grew intolerant when told that such 


a resort to party machinery, in the absence of all the 
higher motives for combination, was the evidence of 
an endeavor only to subserve the purposes of faction, 
and to give an undue advantage where none was really 
deserved. They persisted in their resolve, and called 
together their caucus, on the 14th of February. The 
movement resulted in an entire failure. Out of two 
hundred and sixty-one members of Congress, only 
sixty-four attended the meeting in person, and there 
were two proxies. Crawford, of course, received the 
nomination. Sixty-four out of the sixty-six votes were 
cast for his name ; but more than half of these were 
from Virginia, Georgia, and New York. No one will 
contend that such a nomination was entitled to any 
great authority or weight. It could scarcely make 
pretension to even full and fair party organization, 
much less to nationality. But its contrivers claimed 
for it all these, proclaimed it as the regular nomination, 
and invoked all true Republicans to respect and sustain 
it as such. The responses, however, were far from 
equalling their expectations ; and we think that it will 
now be readily conceded that the movement rather 
injured than benefited Crawford's prospects for the 
Presidency. It is certain that many of his devoted 
and confidential friends inclined to such opinion, and 
among others, one whose letters now lie before us, 
written at the time of which they speak. This was 
Thomas W. Cobb, then one of the senators from Geor- 
gia. He was recognized as the most intimate and fa- 
vored of Crawford's personal associates, and was bound 
to him by every tie of admiration and gratitude. He 
was attached to Crawford's party not only from princi- 
ple, but from affection for its head. From the time of 
Crawford's nomination to the day when defeat and 
disease consigned him to premature retirement, Cobb 


embarked in his cause with a zeal that never flagged 
or abated, and pressed his claims with almost frantic 
fervor. He mourned his overthrow with a grief more 
akin to personal devotion than political attachment; 
and imbibing, doubtless from this cause, a settled dis- 
taste for public life, soon afterwards threw up his sena- 
torial commission, and retired with his friend to the 
quiet of private life. 

It is clear, from the tenor of this gentleman's letters, 
that the Crawford caucus had not been followed by 
such auspicious demonstrations as hope had flattered 
his friends to expect. He now writes to one of his 
friends, Dr. Meriwether, that the caucus had not been 
productive of very favorable manifestations. In fact, 
this movement seems to have drawn down upon the 
Crawford party the concentrated and increased bitter- 
ness of both the Clay and Calhoun factions, while it 
gained them no additional strength among the partisans 
of Adams. Notwithstanding that Calhoun had openly 
declined for the Presidency, the newspapers favorable 
to his election still kept his name up in connection with 
that office, with the evident intention, as Cobb writes, 
to prevent his supporters from going over to Crawford 
ere the coalition with Jackson had been definitely 
effected. The caucus movement was received with 
approbation only in the States of Virginia and Georgia. 
North Carolina was not so decided, though Macon's 
influence in that State was considered sufficient to 
secure its vote. There had never been, even before 
the caucus, any doubts as to the preference of Georgia 
for Crawford. In Virginia he was equally popular. 
But in New York the result was very different, and the 
caucus met with decided opposition, notwithstanding 
the efforts and influence of Martin Van Buren. Van 
Buren was considered one of the most dexterous party 


managers of that day and time. His success with the 
people of New York caused him to be regarded with 
deep interest by the various candidates for the Presi- 
dency. He was at first understood to own some prefer- 
ence for Adams, but his final decision was in favor of 
Crawford. There was much and varied conjecture in 
connection with this decision at the time, even among 
the political friends of the parties. Crawford had a 
comprehensive and sagacious eye, and could read men 
with as much accuracy as most other politicians. Being 
at the head of a dominant and powerful party in Geor- 
gia, he resolved upon a stroke of policy which, un- 
seemly as it might and did appear even to his own 
friends, it was hoped might win to his support the great 
State of New York. This was none other than the 
nomination of Van Buren for the Vice Presidency by 
the State of Georgia. The project was no sooner made 
known than carried out, for Crawford's wish was law 
to his party in that State. The nomination was made 
reluctantly by the Crawford party, and was received 
with laughter and ridicule by his old enemies and op- 
ponents hi Georgia, the Clarkites. The act appeared 
so ill-timed and so barefaced, in view of Van Buren's 
then obscure pretensions, that the term " Vice President 
Van" was jocosely bandied at every corner, and soon 
Became a bye-word and slang expression. Long and 
cruelly did the Clarkites use it as such against the 
Crawford party. As an amusing illustration of this, 
when the next General Assembly of the State convened, 
the Clarkites, being in a decided minority, kept Van 
Buren as their standing candidate for all the lower 
order of appointments, with no other design than, by 
thus showing their contempt for the nomination, to 
annoy their sensitive opponents. There are many now 
living who may remember with a smile the description 


of tickets that were exhibited and read out on such oc- 
casions. They had Van Buren caricatured on them in 
every possible form. Sometimes it was a half man 
joined to a half cat, then half fox and half monkey, or 
half snake and half mink all bearing some resemblance 
to the object of ungenerous and indecent satire. He 
was designated on them as "Blue Whiskey Van," 
" Little Van," " Vice President Van," and many other 
nicknames, far more disgraceful to the perpetrators 
than disparaging to Van Buren. It proved to be the 
more disgraceful to them from the fact that, in a few 
years subsequently, the caricaturists and satirists turned 
to be the cringing partisans of him they had thus as- 

But the policy (whether intended as mere policy or 
a legitimate party manoeuvre) did not succeed. The 
nomination of Georgia for the Vice Presidency met 
with no response. New York proved obdurate and 
refractory, and showed signs of wavering between Ad- 
ams and Clay. The Crawford party grew desperate, 
and began bitterly to accuse and denounce Henry 
Clay. Macon, Cobb, and others laid to his charge all 
the injuries and reverses they had sustained in New 
York. But Van Buren did not despair of carrying the 
State so soon as his party friends. He was not one to 
give up without first using serious and zealous efforts* 
to effect the object in view. "If we can get New 
York," said Cobb, " we shall then be sure of Connecti- 
cut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Without New 
York, we are lost." This opinion was known to Van 
Buren, and tending, of course, to confirm him in the 
like view, he went to work to secure the desired object 
with an earnestness and adroitness that had seldom 
failed of success before. There is no question but that 
personal attachment to Crawford, as well as the usual 


allowance of political ambition, influenced .Van Buren 
on this occasion. He had long admired Crawford, and 
now, in the hour of trial, when his enemies were about 
to triumph over his defeat, the noble exertions and 
eminent ability he brought to bear in the endeavor to 
save and secure the election of his favorite, must ever 
excite a kind remembrance in the bosoms of Crawford's 
family and friends. His efforts, at one time, had come 
very near the point of success. He had now found out 
that Crawford was clearly not the choice of the people 
of New York. Up to this period, the electors for 
President in New York had been nominated by the 
Legislature ; and it was in the Legislature that Van 
Buren and his party, certain of defeat before the people, 
now determined to take refuge. The majority of the 
House of Representatives was against Crawford. His 
friends carried a majority to the Senate, and a fierce 
contest now ensued. The people were clamorous to 
take into their own hands the election of President. 
Consequently, a bill to that effect passed the lower 
House, with only a few dissenting voices. The Senate 
promptly rejected it, when sent up for its concurrence. 
Scenes of the most intense and rabid excitement fol- 
lowed, in the midst of which the Legislature adjourned. 
Popular resentment rose to a resistless height, and the 
Governor re-convoked the Legislature, with a view 
that the will of the people might be expressed and exe- 
cuted. But the same scene was re-enacted with the 
same result. The Senate again defeated the bill, and 
before any thing was done to meet the popular demand, 
another and final adjournment occurred. In the end, 
however, the people carried their point. The mani- 
festations against Crawford had been too decided ; and 
when the nominations were made by the Legislature, 
he sustained a signal and crushing overthrow. 


This result abundantly foreshadowed the grand 
finale, so far as Crawford was concerned, especially 
when taken in connection with another untoward event 
which occurred during the canvass, and which put a 
final extinguisher on his chances for election. This 
event was a sudden and violent attack of paralysis, 
which deprived him for a time of his speech, his sight, 
and the use of some of his limbs, and which so shocked 
his whole nervous system as seriously to impair his 
memory and to obscure his intellect. This sad news 
effectually depressed the spirits of his friends, whilst it 
raised the hopes of his enemies. He was forced, in 
consequence of this affliction, to give up the business 
of his office, ceased to appear in public, or to- receive 
any but select company, and was removed to a delight- 
ful cottage in the vicinity of Washington, in the vain 
but fond hope that the quiet of rural life and the purer 
breath of the country air might induce a speedy conva- 
lescence. But that hope was never fully gratified. 
After a struggle of many months, his speech, to a great 
extent, was restored ; he regained the use of his limbs, 
and his vision was slightly improved. But the great 
intellect which had once controlled the opinions of a 
nation, and had made his name famous wherever that 
nation was known, had been blighted to a degree which 
human skill could not reach, and was never again to 
return with its original strength and lustre. 

The extreme illness of Crawford was not generally 
known, and the canvass was carried on with unabated 
warmth. There being four candidates in the field, it 
was soon ascertained that there could be no election by 
the people. Adams and Jackson ran ahead, but for a 
considerable time it seemed to be uncertain whether, 
under the constitutional provision, Clay or Crawford 
would get to be the third candidate before the House 


of Representatives. The State of Louisiana held the 
die, and the friends of Clay confidently expected that 
it would be thrown in his favor. But their calculations 
were not verified. Jackson and New Orleans were as- 
sociated by a common glorious link, and the memory 
of his great victory turned fortune in his favor, at the 
very moment that the die was cast. He obtained a 
majority of her electoral vote, and Clay was thus 
thrown out of the contest. This left a small balance in 
favor of Crawford, who now" went into the House of 
Representatives with an electoral vote nearly two-thirds 
less than that of Jackson, and not quite one-half that 
of Adams. 

In December, 1824, Congress met. Washington 
was the scene of an intense excitement, growing out 
of the pending election for President, and scarcely a 
day passed that some new phase of the contest did not 
occur, or that a new political trump was not turned up. 
But the excitement was of a strictly legitimate charac- 
ter. No threats of violence by force of arms were re- 
sorted to, as in 1801, during a similar contest between 
Burr and Jefferson, when it was proclaimed, on the au- 
thority of Jefferson himself, that, in case the House 
should defeat his election, " the Middle States would 
arm." Such seditious, Jacobinical sentiments, would 
not have been tolerated at the time in question. But 
there was not less of anxiety or of interest. The 
friends of all three candidates were alike energetic, and 
the movements of each party were watched and sifted 
with sleepless jealousy. Not a step could he taken, 
nor a proposal made by one, that was not immediately 
traced and rebutted by the others. Nor was the ex- 
citement confined to the members of Congress. Every 
citizen of Washington was an electioneered for the one 
party or the other in some shape, and every visitor 


within its walls was an active, working partisan. The 
hotels were only so many caucus or club-rooms, in 
which to plan and direct the various schemes of party 
procedure. The drawing-rooms were thronged alike 
with the votaries of fashion and the satellites of the dif- 
ferent champions ; nor were these limited to the sterner 
sex. The theatre was monopolized by one particular 
set of partisans in regular turn, as the most proper 
place for a public demonstration; but the artificial 
representations of the stage flagged and faded before 
the real exhibitions of the political drama. The legis- 
lative business of Congress received little or no atten- 
tion. The members thought about nothing, talked 
about nothing, and wrote home about nothing but the 
Presidential election. Calculations were tortured by 
each party into results suited to their own prospects of 
success. A letter written by Cobb about the middle 
of January, to a friend in Georgia, affords a striking 
illustration of these illusory calculations ; and being a 
legitimate link in the history of its time, we shall quote 
from it at some length, for the reader's satisfaction : 

" Doubtless, in common with others, you feel the greatest anxiety 
about the Presidential election. Recently, few changes have been 
manifested on that subject. Every thing has depended, and does de- 
pend^ on the course which the Western States friendly to Mr. Clay 
may take. Should they join us, even to the number of two, the game 
is not desperate. It is impossible to decide with certainty whether 
they will do so. Their conduct has been extremely mysterious and 
doubtful. At one time, they led us to believe they would unite with 
us. At another, they are antipodal. Two days ago we received the 
news that the Kentucky Legislature had instructed their representa- 
tives to vote for Jackson. This information has brought out five of 
them who will do so ; the others (seven) have not yet declared. Ohio 
is divided, but this morning I have the positive declaration of one of 
their most honest and intelligent members, that they have determined 
not to vote for Jackson. But it is not settled how they will go be- 
tween Crawford and Adams. The objections made by those friendly 


to us in both Kentucky and Ohio have their root in the state of Craw- 
ford's health ; and as an honest man I am bound to admit that, 
although daily improving, it affords cause for objection. He is very 
fat, but his speech and vision are imperfect, and the paralysis of his 
hand continues. His speech improves slowly. His right eye is so 
improved that he sees well enough to play whist as well as an old 
man without spectacles. His hand also gets stronger. Yet defect in 
all these members is but too evident. My brother-in-law, Mr. Scott, 
has not positively promised to support him, but I think he has made 
up his mind to do so. So also do I think of Mr. Rankin. If, how- 
ever, I am deceived in all these calculations (in which I think I am 
not), General Jackson will be elected on the first ballot. It is true, 
Maryland and Louisiana are now said to be divided, but I doubt not 
they will unite on Jackson, which, with the Western States, secures 
his success, inasmuch as he would have New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennes- 
see, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. New York is yet set- 
tled for no one. "We count sixteen, certain. We want two to make a 
majority, and these we shall get, as I am told by an intelligent mem- 
ber, Mr. Clarke, upon whose judgment I would sooner rely than on 
Van Buren's. 

" Should one or two Western States withhold their vote from Jack- 
son, Crawford's election is probable. The New England States are in 
excessive alarm. We have told them that Mr. Adams has no right to 
calculate on any support from us. This is in some measure true. 
Jackson's strength is such that Adams can gain nothing from him. 
The Yankees are determined that a President shall be made. 

" New Jersey is willing to join us, if success becomes probable, 
and I am assured that five out of six of New England will do so too, 
when Adams's prospects are blasted. Should Crawford be elected, it 
will be by a combination of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, 
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North 
Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky or Ohio. Dela- 
ware, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia have nailed their flag, 
and will sink with the ship. New England, if they wish to prevent 
the election of Jackson (and they say they do), must come to us, for 
we will not go to them. Colonel Benton is active in our cause, and 
is likely to do us good. Could we hit upon a few great principles, and 
unite their support with that of Crawford, we should succeed beyond 
doubt. But the fact is, we are as much divided as any other people. 
On the whole, I do not feel alarmed, though I am not confident. Here 


the}'' call me croaker. I say I will not express a confidence which I 
do not feel." 

This letter speaks for itself, and unfolds much that 
is interesting in connection with the history of that 
memorable contest. Congress had now been more 
than six weeks in session, and yet there had been no 
developments which could point the result, even to the 
most sagacious. There was, indeed, much to cause 
Cobb's expression of " mysterious and doubtful," be- 
cause, so nicely balanced was the apparent strength of 
Adams and Crawford, that the Clay party were unable 
to decide which would prove the most available to de- 
feat, by a united movement, the election of Andrew 
Jackson. Thus much, it would seem, the majority had 
resolved to do from the beginning of the strife ; but 
that majority was scattered among three distinct and 
unfriendly parties, and Clay held the power of fixing 
the desired union. On him, therefore, as is well known, 
all eyes were eagerly fastened. It was known that he 
viewed Jackson with unfeigned distrust ; that he had 
held him amenable to the censure of Congress for law- 
less and unconstitutional conduct as an officer of the 
army ; that he never hesitated to pronounce him to be 
unfit for tjivil office ; and that he had already expressed 
a determination not to vote for him. Jackson never 
expected him to do so, and with his usual frankness had 
caused it to be proclaimed that such a vote by Clay 
" would be an act of duplicity." But the Legislature 
of Kentucky had instructed him to sustain Jackson, 
and the Jackson party, therefore, built up high hopes. 
But they little knew the man with whom they were deal- 
ing, if they ever supposed that such instructions would 
guide him any further than they might comport with 
his own judgment. He took, and has ever maintained 


the ground that the Legislature had no right to instruct 
him, and that he felt no more respect for such instruc- 
tions coming from the Legislature, than from any other 
assemblage of his fellow-citizens. Under these circum- 
stances, therefore, he was forced to make a choice be- 
tween Crawford and Adams. Still, the friends of Jack- 
son did not cease to importune him with their efforts 
to obtain his support and influence for their favorite. 
It has even been shown that some of them advised, and 
recommended an arrangement by which Clay should 
be tempted -into his support by the allurements of high 
office, in case Jackson was made President. On the 
contrary, there has never been exhibited the least 
shadow of proof that the friends of Adams or Crawford 
made overtures of any character to Clay or to any of 
his friends. That both of these were anxious to secure 
his co-operation by all legitimate means, there can be 
no doubt. There is some reason to think that Clay's 
inclination, as well from their personal as political asso- 
ciations, rather impelled him to a preference for Craw- 
ford. But his stern temperament has never been 
warped by private preference contrary to his sense of 
public duty. His disposition is marked rather with the 
severe attributes of Roman character, than with the 
flexile impulses of the softer tempered Greek. 

We have seen already that Crawford's health was 
extremely precarious, and that Western members had 
been urging this as as a reason why they ought not to 
support him in preference to Adams. His ilhiess, and 
the serious afflictions with which he had been visited, 
were well known to Clay. He spoke of them often, 
and always with unfeigned kindness and sympathy. 
Anxious and interested partisans had, it is true, sent 
abroad through the country very exaggerated accounts 
of his convalescence and improving state of health, but 


in Washington the whole truth was known. But his 
immediate friends attempted no concealment, although 
they were sincere in the belief that he was rapidly 
growing better, and would soon be sufficiently restored 
to enter profitably into the discharge of any official 
duty to which he might be called. Under this illusory 
impression, in order as well to confute the malicious as 
to convince and persuade the doubtful, they resolved 
upon a course which, though corroborative of their sin- 
cerity, resulted fatally to their hopes and expectations. 
It had been now a long time since Crawford had min- 
gled with the public. He had not been present at any 
of the numerous festive and social meetings for which 
this season is famous. To drawing-rooms and soirees 
he was an utter stranger. Only a select and ultimate 
few were in the habit of visiting him, eveii at his home. 
A few days previous to the time of election, however, 
and to the surprise of nearly all Washington, his friends 
conveyed him to the Capitol, and kept him there in 
company for several hours. The old man looked much 
better than was generally expected, and deported him- 
self with accustomed amenity and dignity. Many who 
saw him only from a distance, were most agreeably 
disappointed. Those with whom he shook hands and 
spoke, however, were observed to leave him with grave 
faces, and with all the signs and tokens of a melancholy 
interview. Among these last was Clay himself; and it 
was afterwards remarked by one of Crawford's friends, 
who was present, that his manner on that occasion told 
plainly enough that their hopes of his co-operation and 
support were at an end. " Defects were but too evi- 
dent," as Cobb had written to his friends, and these 
sounded the funeral knell to his chances for the Presi- 

The contest was at length narrowed down to the 


issue between Adams and Jackson, as nearly every one 
had, from the first, predicted it would be. Parties 
still continued immovable and uncertain. It was diffi- 
cult to tell where either had lost, or where either had 
gained. Calhoun had been elected Vice President by 
a large majority, and refused to take part or mingle in 
the election either way. He was known, however, to 
be bitterly opposed to Crawford, and he afterwards de- 
clared that he had no preference as between Adams 
and Jackson, though his friends were already zealous 
for the latter. Clay maintained a steady and decorous 
reserve, which many, whose anxieties were zealously 
excited, characterized as mysterious and politic. The 
Crawford party no longer expected his co-operation, 
and the Adams party, relying on his well-known dis- 
trust of Jackson, and fully informed of Crawford's 
wretched health, confined their electioneering efforts to 
an intercourse marked only by cordiality and respect. 
There is not on record the least particle of evidence 
that they ever made any overtures to Clay's friends, or 
approached himself improperly. But the partisans of 
Jackson pursued a different policy altogether. It is in 
proof, on their own testimony, that prominent members 
of their party consulted frequently as to the propriety 
of coaxing Clay's friends to support Jackson by an in- 
timation that, in the event of the latter's election, the 
" second office of the government " would be tendered 
to Clay. They even went so far, in guarding against 
the rumor that Jackson had declared his intention of 
continuing Adams in the State Department in case of 
election, to persuade Jackson to allow them to an- 
nounce publicly and by his authority, that he had made 
no such declaration, that he had not decided as to any 
official appointments, and that, if elected President, he 
should be free to fill the offices of government as he 


chose. While doing this much, however, Jackson took 
very especial pains to denounce all attempts at intrigue 
or improper collusions, and expressed himself with char- 
acteristic emphasis and honesty of purpose. .We must 
candidly say that we believe Jackson himself was intent 
on running the race with Adams for the Presidency 
fairly and independently ; although we must further 
say that his subsequent conduct showed a vindictive- 
ness that is wholly irreconcilable with the general 
frankness and manliness of his disposition. 

It has not transpired whether these declarations 
were ever formally communicated to the friends of 
Clay. But when the Jackson party found that Clay's 
resolution was still fixed not to sustain the pretensions 
of their favorite ; that neither persuasion, nor flattering 
intimations, nor attempts to intimidate could move 
him from his purpose ; that the star of the hated Adams 
was rising to ascendency; that Clay and his friends 
would certainly make Adams the President, their rage 
seemed to know no bounds. Their execrations were 
uttered without regard to decency or propriety. Then 
it was that the first hoarse whispers of the " bargain 
and intrigue " were heard. They were hissed serpent- 
like through the political circles of Washington, though 
the venom was first discharged within the bosom of a 
quiet and obscure rural district in a neighboring State. 
No one doubted then, no one doubts now, the source 
from whence those charges sprang. It is one of the 
infirmities of our nature to judge others by ourselves. 
They who had so cautiously discussed the policy of 
illicit overtures within their own cabal, were naturally 
unable to account for their defeat upon any other than 
the ground that they had been outbidden by their wit- 
tier adversaries. But they directed their attack behind 
a masked battery, and attempted to resolve the contro- 


versy into a personal issue between Clay and an old, 
simple-minded Pennsylvania Dutchman, by the name 
of Kremer. Kremer was a member of Congress, and 
from his character, habits, and standing, was evidently 
selected with special reference to all these, as the in- 
strument to fire the train of this infernal machine. It 
seems that he was notorious for ignorance, insignifi- 
cance, and vulgarity. In his address to the House, 
Clay alludes to him with a species of kind contempt, 
implying less of malevolence than scornful indifference ; 
and afterwards he tells his constituents that to have 
held such a man responsible would have subjected him 
to universal ridicule. Nobody believed that Kremer 
composed either his original letter charging Clay with 
corruption and bribery, or the subsequent elaborate 
letter which was sent to the committee raised to act on 
those charges. The only thing he himself did write, 
which was a positive contradiction of his original 
charge, was seized and pocketed by one of his 'friends, 
who at the same time admonished him to do nothing 
without advice. That he was a mere tool of others, is 
seen by his original letter, in which he makes charges 
that he afterwards denied were charges of either bar- 
gain or bribery, and about which he evidently under- 
stood nothing at all. That he was a vainglorious blus- 
terer, is proven by his vaunting reply to Clay's card 
denouncing the charges of his letter as false. That he 
was a driveller, if not a fool, is evidenced by his whole 
subsequent conduct. His cringing denials, his bolstered 
re-affirmations in the face of those denials, his verbal 
confessions to Clay's friends, his written statements 
given to Clay's enemies, his challenge before the com- 
mittee, and his subsequent disgraceful retreat, at one 
time boasting, at another time begging, and always 
blindly obedient to his dictators, all these show clearly 


that he was much better fitted to mould cheeses and to 
manufacture sourkrout than to conduct a plot or dis- 
cuss state affairs. His only redeeming quality is to be 
found in Clay's own admission, that " he may have pos- 
sessed native honesty." 

Such was the man and the instrument which was 
thrust forward by the contrivers of this atrocious plot 
to confront and accuse Henry Clay. Having failed to 
flatter or to frighten him into the support of Jackson, 
they now assailed him through the more trying medium 
of his sensibilities. They endeavored to compel his 
support by leaving to him only a choice between com- 
pliance and the chances of political destruction. Their 
scheme failed as to the first, as every body knows, 
Clay was not shaken for an instant, but challenged in- 
vestigation and defied conviction. At the same time 
he caused his friends to assert publicly and positively, 
that he had resolved not to sustain Jackson under any 
circumstances short of the most extreme and improba- 
ble necessity. But the conspiracy, especially in view 
of its subsequent identification with Jackson himself, 
who endorsed the accusations in the very zenith of his 
gigantic popularity, did indeed result in the destruction 
of Clay's chances for the Presidency. The strongest 
armament of proof that was ever before arrayed in a 
similar case, (and that, too, the proof of a negative,) 
has not been sufficient to clear him, before the masses, 
of these groundless charges. Every effort to make 
him President, from that day to this, has failed, solely 
in consequence of the unwelcome fact, that his friends 
have been met at every corner with these deathless 
charges of the bargain and intrigue of 1825. It was in 
vain that they were disproved ; that all proof was in- 
vited and challenged ; that it was shown no proof ex- 
isted, or ever had existed. One letter of five lines 


from the Hermitage, containing the mere declaration 
that the opinions of its revered and idolized master had 
" undergone no change" on the subject, was enough to 
confute a world of substantial evidence, and to stamp 
the baseless charge with the seal of divinity. 

It is a significant and an instructive fact that the 
friends of Crawford, so far from aiding and abetting 
this unworthy attempt to destroy the character of a 
high-minded opponent, with the view to force him to a 
course which his judgment and inclination both con- 
demned, accorded to Clay their generous and steadfast 
support in all attempts which were made to obtain the 
action of the House on the charges contained in the 
Kremer letter. Forsyth came zealously to his aid, and 
put forth in his cause the splendid parliamentary ac- 
complishments and abilities which made him the orna- 
ment of Congress. Crawford himself turned his face 
against the conspiracy, with feelings that appeared to 
have partaken of both horror and disgust, and after- 
wards wrote to Clay a letter expressive of surprise that 
he should ever have been thought capable of believing 
such charges, and assuring him that he " should have 
voted just as he did, as between Jackson and Adams." 
At the same time, the Crawford party, warmly devoted 
to their chief, never pretended to disguise their hostility 
to Clay, in consequence of his preference for Adams 
over their own candidate. They were mostly of a 
school of politics which repudiated the latitudinous 
constitutional theories of the day, and considered Ad- 
ams as being more obdurate and unreliable on such 
score than Crawford. 

At length the day of election arrived. It was a 
cold, stormy day of February. The hall was beset and 
crowded at an early hour by every class of spectator. 
Every member was at his post, and the area was jammed 


with privileged dignitaries, Senators, ex~members of 
Congress, members of State Legislatures, judges, and 
foreign ambassadors. Doubt was portrayed in every 
countenance ; anxiety throbbed in every bosom. The 
galleries and lobbies, filled to an excess that almost 
stifled the eager multitude, presented a solid sea of un- 
covered heads ; nor was there, perhaps, a solitary indi- 
vidual of that vast number, who had not made a choice 
and a preference between the three opposing candidates 
for President. It was the second time in the history of 
the Government, and within a quarter of a century, that 
such a high duty and responsibility had devolved on the 
House of Representatives. Most of those present were 
alive and in political life when Burr and Jefferson came 
as contestants before the same assembly, and some had 
been actors in that memorable scene. They now recalled 
with misgiving the frightful recollections of those seven 
days' ballotings, which had been carried on amidst 
threats of rebellion and of armed interference. It was 
now to be tested whether the lapse of twenty-five years 
years allied with glory, with greatness, and with un- 
paralleled prosperity had imparted the salutary influ- 
ences necessary to dispel and subdue seditious resorts, 
and to substitute a spirit of allegiance for a spirit of an- 
archy. The foreign ministers present, observing the 
immense concourse, and the absence of soldiers and 
guards, seemed by their looks to have agreed that the 
occasion would fully confirm or disprove the republican 
theory of our political system. But there were no in- 
dications of a character that seemed likely to lead to 
any untoward development. At the usual hour the 
Speaker ascended to his chair, and the rap of his ham- 
mer brought the House to order. The roll was called, 
and the first business being to proceed with the election 
for President, in conformity with the terms of the Con- 


stitution, tables were duly arranged, and tellers ap- 
pointed. John Randolph presided at the table on the 
Speaker's left, and Daniel Webster at that on his right 
hand. The vote was to be taken by States, and amidst 
breathless stillness and the most painful suspense, the 
balloting commenced. When all the votes had been 
deposited and counted out, Webster rose, and with 
deep, sonorous tones, announced that at his table, Ad- 
ams had received thirteen votes, Jackson seven, and 
Crawford four. Scarcely had he again taken his seat, 
when the wild, shrill voice of Randolph was heard 
ringing high above the buzz which followed Webster's 
announcement, as he proclaimed a similar result at his 
own table, but so varying Webster's phraseology as to 
say that the respective candidates had received the 
votes of so many States, instead of so many votes. 
There being at that time but twenty-four States of the 
Union, and a majority only required to elect, it ap- 
peared that Adams had obtained just the complement, 
and was, of course, duly and constitutionally elected 
President of the United States. 

So soon as this result had been officially made 
known, there was heard some slight demonstration of 
applause in one of the galleries. McDuffie, a member 
from South Carolina, and a fierce partisan of the Jack- 
son faction, sprang to his feet ere scarcely the first 
sounds were distinctly heard, and in a manner that in- 
dicated every symptom of anger and keen mortification, 
moved that the galleries be instantly cleared. This 
motion, and the corresponding order which was imme- 
diately given by the Speaker, seemed to produce great 
surprise among the foreigners present, in view of the 
immense and excited crowd which filled the hall. It 
seemed to them incredible that such an order at such a 
time could be carried out, and that, too, by an invisible 


force. But their surprise was lulled, and their incredu- 
lity satisfied completely, when the Sergeant-at-arms 
proceeded quietly to motion the crowd to the doors, 
and when that crowd quietly obeyed ; and all skepti- 
cism, if any had really been entertained, as to the bind- 
ing influence of law in the absence of physical force, 
must instantly have vanished, when, in a few moments, 
those spacious seats, which were so recently teeming 
with conscious, anxious spectators, presented nothing 
to the eye but the magnificent colonnade and the long 
rows of empty benches. The House now soon ad- 
journed, and every body quitted the Capitol, some 
filled with joy, and others struggling to conceal the de- 
feat of expectations which had been more fed by hope 
than by reason. The important question had been ir- 
retrievably decided by a first vote, notwithstanding 
that many had anticipated that a struggle similar to 
that of 1801 was about to occur again. 

On the evening of the same day, the drawing-rooms 
of the Presidential mansion were thrown open, and ah 1 
Washington flocked to witness the scene. The gather- 
ing was brilliant beyond parallel or precedent; and 
amid the universal exhibition of good feeling and appa- 
rent vivacity, it was difficult for a stranger to distin- 
guish the victors in the morning's contest from the 
vanquished. Adams was there, but the same frigid 
and callous deportment which always belonged to him 
was not exchanged for a manner of even seeming 
warmth. The bright and piercing eye alone gave 
token that deep feeling, and stormy passions, and acer- 
bities of temper that partook of stern Jesuitism, dwelt 
within a bosom to all appearance so impervious and 
phlegmatic. The polished amenity and winning suavity 
of Jackson shone in marked contrast with the less en- 
gaging manner of his successful rival. There was not 


the slightest symptom, of even a lurking disappointment 
observable in his mild, dignified deportment. He 
shook hands with and congratulated Adams with a cor- 
diality that seemed to defy scrutiny or question. No 
one could have ventured to predict that the frank and 
friendly courtesies of that evening would so soon be ex- 
changed for a personal warfare, vindictive beyond what 
has ever occurred in the history of the republic. Yet 
no one will now question but that Jackson's behavior 
on that occasion was forced and insincere, and that his 
bosom was even then burning with wrath and the de- 
sire of vengeance. How these were afterwards wreaked 
against both Adams and Clay, history has told with a 
particularity of detail more truthful than welcome. 

Crawford was not present ; disposition and tastes 
would have withheld him from going, even had his 
state of health allowed. Besides, the result of the 
morning's contest had both astonished and disappointed 
him. He had never, perhaps, shared the sanguineness 
of his friends, but we are told by one who had long 
stood in a very confidential relation to him, that he was 
evidently not prepared for so early and abrupt a ter- 
mination of the struggle before the House. His friends 
were prepared no better for a decision on the first bal- 
lot. They had hoped and wrought for a protracted 
contest, conscious that Crawford's only chance lay in 
some sudden turn of the game which might spring from 
the animosity of the stronger factions, and finally bene- 
fit him as a compromise candidate. Consequently, they 
were astounded when the vote was announced, though 
they betrayed no outward sign of chagrin or mortifica- 
tion. Some of the most ultimate of their party repaired 
to Crawford's dwelling shortly after the adjournment, 
and among these were Macon, Lowry, and Cobb. The 
first two of these went immediately into the room 


where Crawford was calmly reclining in his easy chair, 
while one of his family read to him from a newspaper. 
Macon saluted him, and made known the result with 
delicacy, though with ill-concealed feeling. The invalid 
statesman gave a look of profound surprise, and re- 
mained silent and pensive for many minutes, evidently 
schooling his mind to a becoming tolerance of the event 
which had for ever thwarted his political elevation. 
He then entered freely into conversation, and com- 
mented on the circumstances of the election as though 
he had never been known as a candidate. He even 
jested and rallied his friend Cobb, whose excess of 
feeling had forbidden him to see Crawford until the 
shock had passed for he knew that the enfeebled vet- 
eran would be shocked. The conversation, on the part 
of these friends, was not untinged with bitterness and 
spite, vented against the prominent actors hi both the 
adverse political factions, but more especially against 
those of the successful party, as being more immediately 
responsible for the crushing overthrow of their own be- 
loved candidate. Crawford himself refrained from giv- 
ing utterance to the least exceptionable sentiment, and 
behaved, during the remainder of his stay in Washing- 
ton, with a mildness and an urbanity befitting one of 
his exalted station, who had just staked and lost his 
political fortune. As a proper conclusion to this por- 
tion of our task, we again draw some extracts from the 
correspondence of Thomas W. Cobb, under date of the 
thirteenth of February, just four days after the contest 
had been decided in the House. 

" The Presidential election Is over, and yon will have heard the 
result. The clouds were black, and portentous of storms of no ordi- 
nary character. They broke in one horrid burst, and straight dis- 
pelled. Every thing here is silent. The victors have no cause to 
rejoice. There was not a single window lighted on the occasion. A 


few free negroes shouted, ' Huzza for Mr. Adams !' But they were 
not joined even by the cringing populace of this place. The disap- 
pointed submit in sullen silence. The friends of Jackson grumbled 
at first like the rumbling of distant thunder, but the old man himself 
submitted without a change of countenance. Mr. Crawford's friends 
nor himself changed not their looks. They command universal re- 
gpect. Adams has caused it to be announced that they shall have no 
cause to be dissatisfied. Two days ago, the Treasury Department 
was tendered to Crawford, and refused. On the same day, General 
Jackson paid him a friendly and civil visit, but nothing passed but an 

interchange of civilities Crawford will return home, 

and we must do the best we can with him. Should he and our 
friends wish that he should again go into the Senate, the way shall 
be open for him. I am sick and tired of every thing here, and wish 
for nothing so much as private life. My ambition is dead." 

The events of this memorable campaign, and their 
consequences, afford an instructive page of history, and 
may be easily traced to an intimate connection with 
the party politics of the country from that day to the 
present. They served to form the tempest which suc- 
ceeded to the calm of the preceding eight years. The 
absence of all principles from the contest, gave to it 
peculiar virulence and acrimony, and made defeat to 
be far more keenly felt. It caused a general prevalence 
of the belief, that the cessation of party strifes, based 
upon honest differences of opinion on the fundamental 
theories of the government, was rather injurious and 
hazardous than beneficial to the political safety of the 
republic. Hitherto, since the day of Washington, on 
whom even his opponents bestowed their suffrages, the 
conflicts of the political world had turned on substan- 
tial and great principles. From 1824 to 1848, compe- 
tition has turned principally upon personal attachments 
and preferences on one side, and personal antipathy 
and hatred on the other. Andrew Jackson was not 
the man to restore harmony ; and his advent, at such a 


period and crisis, must ever be regarded as having ma- 
terially balked and impeded the progress of the great 
national interests, although no one can consistently 
question his honesty or his patriotism ; while all must 
admit that, in the eye of the world, his administration 
gave a character and tone to the American name which 
the lapse of many future generations will not alter or 
obliterate. His passions and his pride were alike un- 
regulated, and the pernicious and corrupting principle 
of favoritism was a prominent element of his nature. 
He gave out to his friends to expect from him every 
thing in the way of patronage, and warned his oppo- 
nents to expect nothing. He very seldom showed 
quarter in battle, never in the political world after his 
accession to the Presidency. These strong passions 
came to be mutual and reciprocal as between the lead- 
ers and followers of both parties ; and they increased 
in intensity until, at last, the poh'tics of the country 
was resolved into personal idolatry, a sort of man-wor- 
ship on both sides. The highest public interests were 
subordinate considerations, and the support of a favor- 
ite chieftain became the primary object in the political 
struggles which followed. It will be allowed by all, 
we think, that this state of things was most inauspicious 
to a regular and constitutional operation of the govern- 
ment, and to a wise and stable policy in any branch of 
public interest or economy. True it is that the nation 
has prospered in every branch of industry, and our ter- 
ritorial limits have been vastly increased within the last 
twenty years, though we doubt whether this last will 
eventuate in good or evil to the public interests. For 
nearly the whole period intervening since Jackson's 
election, the Democratic party has held the reins of 
government, and partiality or ignorance of political 
history might beget an inference in favor of Democratic 


policy, at first sight, in view of the increased national 
importance during its sway. Nothing, however, could 
be more fallacious. No government ever withstood 
such violent assaults on its integrity and strength as 
this government has withstood, during the period of 
Democratic ascendency, against the wild spirit and 
radical tendencies of Democracy. Its domestic peace 
has been twice seriously threatened in consequence ; 
and the government owes its rescue, on both occasions, 
mainly to the conservative influence of the Whig party. 
The commercial and mercantile interests of the country 
were visited with a blow that had well nigh disabled 
them for ever. Their resuscitation has been brought 
about by a resort to Whig measures. In fact, the 
Whigs have been routed and overthrown only because 
the Democrats have adopted and acted on their princi- 
ples, while repudiating their name. The only Whig 
measure which has gone down entirely beneath Demo- 
cratic furor, is that of a national bank. That is obso- 
lete and dead, beyond recovery or resurrection. On 
the other hand, the two cardinal principles of the Whig 
party have been permanently impressed on the country 
by Democratic men : viz., those of protection to na- 
tional industry, and a moderate system of internal in: 

Early in the spring following, having declined the 
offer from Adams of the department he had so long 
presided over, Crawford set out from Washington on 
his return to Georgia. Political life had no longer any 
charms for his ambition, and his whole family seemed 
to rejoice that its idolized head was at last cut loose, 
even though abruptly and mortifyingly, from the re- 
straints and the miseries of a public career. The state 
of Crawford's health was too feeble and precarious to 
withstand the rapidity and discomforts of a public con- 


veyance, and it was decided that they should travel in 
his private carriage, and pursue their route by easy 
stages. They were accompanied by his friend, Mr. 
Cobb, whose devotion to the fallen statesman was never 
bounded by the measure of prosperity or success, but 
clung faithfully in the hour of misfortune and failure. 
His aspirations for political greatness seem to have ex- 
pired with the close of the day which had witnessed 
Crawford's final overthrow for the presidency: it was 
but little more than two years afterwards that he threw 
up his commission as senator, the victim of severe do- 
mestic afflictions ; which, added to his keen mortifica- 
tion at Crawford's defeat, fixed his determination to 
leave the theatre of public life. 

The people of Georgia met Crawford at every 
county-town through which he passed on his return, 
with all the evidences of affection and respect. A few 
miles from Lexington, the court-house site of his own 
county, the citizens of Oglethorpe, headed by his an- 
cient and unwavering friend, Judge John Moore, were 
gathered in considerable numbers to receive and escort 
to his home their illustrious but afflicted friend and fel- 
low-countryman. After greeting the old statesman 
with a warmth that indicated the deepest sincerity of 
attachment and admiration, and with an enthusiasm 
none the less ardent that he had been overthrown by 
the nation, they formed in procession, and conducted 
him to the town amidst demonstrations rather of tri- 
umph than of mortification. He was here quartered 
in the hospitable mansion of Judge Moore, and the day 
was devoted to the reception of his earliest and fastest 
friends, many of them descendants of those who, twenty 
years before, had first called him into political life. 
They viewed the friend of their youth with mingled 
feelings of curiosity, veneration, and sorrow ; many 


years had passed since he had been in Georgia ; a great 
many of those present knew him only by report. Their 
fathers had told them of his greatness, and had encour- 
aged their youthful exertions by pointing his career to 
them as a proud example of industry and application. 
But he was not now the Crawford of his prime ; dis- 
ease had robbed him of that fine appearance and ma- 
jestic carriage which had so impressed all who knew 
him in the zenith of his career. The commanding in- 
tellect which had won the reverence of a nation no 
longer shone with original splendor ; he was, in fact, 
the mere shadow or wreck of what he ha4 been. Some 
who went in with beaming eyes came away saddened 
and downcast, when they called to mind the vast dif- 
ference between the Crawford of 1812 and the Craw- 
ford of 1825. All had heard of his sickness, and they 
expected to find him somewhat altered, but none were 
prepared for the awful change which met their vision. 
He could scarcely see ; he spoke with great difficulty, 
and even with apparent pain ; his walk was almost a 
hobble, and his whole frame evidenced, on the least 
motion, that its power and vigor had been seriously 
assaulted. Those now living who met Crawford on 
that occasion, mention the interview as being one of 
the most melancholy of their lives. 

Three miles distant from Lexington was Wood- 
lawn, Crawford's private residence ; this was now his 
next and last stage ; and the family entered within its 
grounds with feelings more akin to those of exiles re- 
turning from a painful banishment, than such as might 
be supposed to oppress those whose ambitious aims 
have just been disappointed. It is a retired, peculiarly 
rural spot, unadorned with costly or imposing edifices, 
and boasts of no artificial embellishments of taste; 
every thing around partakes of the simplicity and un- 


ostentatious habits of its illustrious owner. It was 
fronted with a magnificent forest of oaks, through 
which the mansion was approached from the main 
road, along a romantic and winding avenue, just wide 
enough for vehicles to pass with convenience. In the 
rear opened an extensive clearing which formed the 
plantation, dotted here and there with peach and apple 
orchards, and affording an agreeable prospect of hill 
and meadow ; around and through these meandered a 
clear little brook, which found its source in a delight- 
ful spring, only a few yards distant from the mansion, 
and which lent a charmingly pastoral appearance to the 
whole scene. The garden bloomed with an abundance 
of shrubbery, and of choice, tender fruit-trees, which 
were planted and tended by Crawford and his elder 
children alone, and smiled in the luxuriance and gayety 
of its numerous flower-beds. A rich carpet of blue 
grass covered the lawn in front ; and here, of a calm 
summer evening, beneath the shade of a venerable oak, 
might be seen frequently gathered the entire family, 
the retired statesman himself being always in the midst, 
and ever the happiest and liveliest of the group. The 
memories of the past, laden alike with greatness and 
with gloom, seemed now to have faded to mere secon- 
dary and subordinate importance. The quiet joys of 
domestic life, unmixed with aught that could mar their 
loveliness, spread content through the familiar circle, 
and enlivened his secluded homestead with a warmth 
of affection and harmony too pure and too substantial 
to be compared with the fleeting pleasures and ephe- 
meral honors of the political world. 

The derangement of private business consequent on 
such long absences from home, and the very depressed 
state of Crawford's finances, drove him to embark, even 
in his enfeebled health, once again in professional life, 


with the hope of restoring his pecuniary aflairs. His 
sons were yet under age ; and it was not until four 
years later that he gave the hand of his eldest daughter 
to Mr. Dudley, that daughter who had been so long his 
most trusted and confidential friend, whose delicate 
hand had drawn or arranged many of his most import- 
ant official papers during the progress of his malady, 
and whose qualities of heart and of mind distinguished 
her as well in the fashionable as in the political and 
social circles which centred at her father's residence in 
Washington. While yet he was determining the mode 
of his return to professional life, it so happened, how- 
ever, that the bench of the circuit in which he lived 
was made vacant by the death of its incumbent, the 
celebrated cynic and wit, James Dooley. Governor 
Troup immediately appointed Crawford to fill the va- 
cancy, and this timely compliment secured for him at 
once an honorable official station, and an annual salary 
of three thousand dollars. He was elected to the same 
office, the year following, without opposition ; but, as a 
singular and striking illustration of the instability of 
political fame, when the subject of his re-election came 
again before the legislature, three years afterwards, the 
pitiful majority of only three votes decided a contest 
between a man of less than ordinary ability, and of 
scarcely second-rate standing as a lawyer, and a man 
of pre-eminent talents and position, who had filled the 
enlightened world with his reputation. 

We must now turn reluctantly from these pictures 
of domestic felicity and quiet professional duties, and, 
as a candid and impartial reviewer, give our serious 
and close attention to a subject far different in charac- 
ter, which brought in its train much that was unpleasant 
and mortifying in Crawford's latter life. The calm and 
content of Woodlawn were but of short existence : he 


who had been so long associated with the strifes, the 
struggles, and the malignities of the political arena, 
could not be expected or suffered to close these con- 
nections by retiring suddenly from their perplexities. 
Others were still struggling whose interests had been 
involved with his own, and who would not surrender 
him to private life while a hope of their own promo- 
tion, either by his influence or his instrumentality r , 
glimmered in the political horizon. 

The conflict for the presidency betwixt the friends 
of the administration and the party of General Jackson 
had waxed violent and warm early in 1827. Calhoun 
was again the candidate for Vice President on the 
Jackson ticket, and was understood to be high in the 
esteem and confidence of that chieftain. Most, if not 
all, of the old Crawford party had taken sides in the 
same cause ; and the combined forces of all these an- 
cient and still unreconciled foes were turned into a 
common crusade against the coalition of Adams and 
Clay, which had wrested from their respective favorites 
the crown of success in the late election. The cry of 
the " bargain and intrigue " was the theme of every 
Jackson editor throughout the Union, and, as remarked 
by Hamilton of South Carolina, formed the sole " elec- 
tioneering staple " of the Jackson party. The contest 
was one of desperation on the part of the coalition 
which held the reins of government ; Clay mingled 
personally in the strife, and struggled with a gallantry 
that has never been equalled in the history of partisan 
warfare. He met his accusers with a proud defiance, 
and went even to the headquarters of one of the oppos- 
ing factions to gather testimony in his favor. He ob- 
tained from Crawford the letter to which allusion has 
been already made, and published it in Washington. 
The effect was universal surprise and consternation in 


the hostile camp. This letter showed that Crawford 
did not share the general belief of the party with which 
his friends were acting, and, in fact, directly acquitted 
Clay of any improper act or motive, so far as the opin- 
ion of its writer was concerned. Crawford evidently 
bore no personal ill-will to Clay ; if he had, Clay never 
would have obtained from him aught else than sheer 
justice might have demanded from a fair and honora- 
ble enemy. He went farther, however, and expressly 
endorsed the choice of Clay as between Adams and 
Jackson ; and yet, as if to afford but the melancholy 
evidence of decayed faculties by exhibiting the most 
remarkable of inconsistencies, a few months later we 
find Crawford busily corresponding to secure the elec- 
tion of Jackson over Adams in 1828. His letter to 
Clay, approving the choice of the latter in preferring 
Adams to Jackson in 1825, is dated in February of 
1827. In the April following he authorized his opin- 
ions in favor of Jackson's pretensions, as he declares in 
a letter to one Alfred Balch. This letter, first made 
public in the great quarrel between Calhoun, Crawford, 
and Jackson, bears date in December of the same year ; 
in which, while decidedly advocating the claims of 
Jackson, he denounces Calhoun as being inimical to 
the General, and urges that his name on the Jackson 
ticket will create difficulty in the State of Georgia. 
His dislike of Calhoun outweighed his preference for 
Jackson ; and as he could not, without separating from 
his friends, support Adams, this fact had well nigh 
fixed him in a state of neutrality, so fearful was he that 
Jackson's election " might benefit Calhoun." He even 
wished to stipulate with Jackson that such benefit 
should not follow on his election, and urges Balch, who 
was a near neighbor and friend of Jackson, " to ascer- 
tain " if such cannot be distinctly understood. He and 


Calhoun had been enemies for many long years, and the 
events of 1824 had produced an open personal rupture 
between them ; their intercourse had been confined to 
the mere ordinary civilities of life, and retirement did 
not bring any abatement of Crawford's animosity. He 
was as little prone to forgiveness as Jackson himself, 
where his dislikes had taken firm root; he believed 
that Calhoun was an unreliable and a deceitful man, 
and, being now favorable to Jackson's election himself, 
he could not bear " to see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting 
at the king's gate." In other words, he believed that 
Calhoun was too bad a man to stand in such intimate 
relations with a President of the United States, or to 
be quietly allowed thus to ride into power on Jackson's 
popularity. It is clear that this intolerance did not 
proceed from envy, or ambition, or that meaner feeling 
which craves company in disappointment. Crawford 
no longer aspired to office, and thought as little of ever 
being made President as of succeeding the Great Mo- 
gul ; but it is beyond doubt, in our mind, that his sub- 
sequent unfortunate agency in bringing about the cele- 
brated controversy which drove Calhoun from power 
and place, was owing alone to the depth and earnest- 
ness of this long-cherished enmity. The connection of 
Crawford with this memorable quarrel between the 
two first officers of government, is too well known, and 
has been too much censured, to be passed over without 
a most rigorous and impartial investigation at our 
hands ; and as our judgment has led us to conclusions 
quite variant with the common impressions in regard 
to his conduct, we shall proceed candidly to set forth 
the reasons which have induced such conclusions. 

Crawford's opposition to Calhoun was deep-rooted 
and interminable ; and to effect his defeat he began, 
early in the fall and during the winter of 1827, to cor- 


respond extensively with his friends in the Western 
States, denouncing the candidate for Vice President as 
unworthy of the support of Jackson's friends. Among 
these letters was one written to Alfred Balch, of Nash- 
ville, in which, after acknowledging the receipt of one 
from his correspondent, Crawford goes on to deprecate 
being made prominent in the approaching contest for 
President, declares with great candor his preference 
for private life, but says, nevertheless, that he had 
already authorized Van Buren and Cambreleng, who 
had visited him the previous April, to make known his 
opinions. These opinions were favorable to the election 
of Jackson ; but Crawford continues by asserting that 
there is some difficulty in consequence of Jackson's as- 
sociation with Calhoun. Then follows a series of accu- 
sations against Calhoun, fixing upon him the charges 
of duplicity, inconsistency, and enmity to Jackson. 
The letter, on the whole, though eminently illustrative 
of the candor and honesty which had ever characterized 
Crawford's intercourse with his fellows, is a wretched 
and most incoherent specimen of composition, showing 
much more of determined prejudice than of care or taste. 
It bears not the slightest resemblance to the finished 
compositions which had emanated from its author in the 
days of his prime ; his speeches in the Senate, his re- 
ports as Secretary of War and of the Treasury, and his 
diplomatic papers while Minister to France. It is so 
awkwardly expressed in some parts, and the commix- 
ture of personal pronouns so incongruously strung to- 
gether, as to require every auxiliary of emphasis, pa- 
renthesis, and all kindred resorts, to point and explain 
his meaning. True, there are to be found unmistakable 
traces of the author's mind, though not the mind of 
1811 ; the polished style and classic elegance which dis- 
tinguished the productions of his zenith are, however, 


nowhere to be discerned in this series of letters. This 
fact, of itself, must be held to demonstrate what has 
been already assumed in this review, that the intellect 
of Crawford had been seriously impaired by the attack 
with which he was visited in 1824. 

This and other letters were shown to Jackson, but 
they produced no visible change in his feelings for Cal- 
houn, nor did they, as expected and hoped, influence 
the result, so far as Calhoun was concerned, in the 
popular elections. He was elected Vice President by 
a decisive majority, on the Jackson ticket ; but the 
electoral colleges for President and Vice President yet 
held the final determination. These have always been 
held with peculiar sacredness in our system of govern- 
ment : the electors are the trustees of the high sover- 
eign power of the people of the States, as it relates to 
the choice of the two first officers under the Constitu- 
tion. The degree of fidelity with which this trust is 
thus discharged, controls in a great measure the opera- 
tion of our governmental system. Still obstinately bent 
on effecting the political ruin of one he held to be so 
unworthy of confidence as Calhoun, Crawford did not 
now hesitate even to strike at him through the electoral 
colleges ; he wrote certainly to two of his friends, and 
urged them " to use their influence " to secure his ene- 
my's defeat in the colleges, when they should respect- 
ively convene. We are obliged to say, that while this, 
strictly speaking, was a legal, and perhaps an honest 
course of political opposition, it was not fair or unex- 
ceptionable. The colleges are not specifically intrusted, 
but the received opinion is, that they are bound to 
carry out the popular preference as evidenced by a 
majority of the votes cast in the respective States which 
they represent. Every body knows that these votes 
are cast with reference to the known views of the di 



ferent candidates for electors who are before the people. 
The successful ticket is, therefore, the sure index of 
popular preference as to the candidates for President 
and Vice President. At the same time, then, that we 
insist on upholding Crawford's character for integrity 
and candor, we most decidedly condemn, in view of 
the grounds here taken, any attempt to influence an 
electoral college contrary to the evidences of popular 
preference. Jackson and Calhoun were recognized as 
running on the same ticket in the State of Tennessee, 
the first for President, and the last for Vice President 
of the United States. This had been proclaimed by 
the electoral candidates, and the people had voted ac- 
cordingly ; we therefore enter protest against the pro- 
priety of Crawford's course, when he undertakes, in a 
letter of a date subsequent to the popular elections of 
that State, to persuade his friend Campbell, one of the 
successful Presidential electors, to endeavor to cut off 
Calhoun from the vote of Tennessee as Vice President. 
Nothing could be more hurtful to the integrity of our 
political system than to adopt his course on this occa- 
sion as a legitimate precedent. That will be the sad- 
dest day in the history of this republic, when an at- 
tempt to countervail and nullify the popular decisions 
shall succeed through the medium of extraneous influ- 
ences brought to bear upon the electoral colleges. 
There is not a more delicate feature belonging to the 
Federal Constitution than the mode of making a Presi- 
dent, and its very delicacy argues its wisdom. The 
trust is one entirely of honor, and dreadful is the re- 
sponsibility of accounting to the people for the forfeit- 
ure of such confidence; the very absence of all pre- 
scribed safeguards to enforce compliance with their 
decision, makes dereliction the more terrible to be en- 
countered. If there was a legal penalty involved, a 


legal and full defence would be necessarily allowed. 
Both are precluded, and the safety of our government 
lies in the strict observance of the sacred obligation im- 
posed on the electoral colleges. 

The fact that Crawford wrote letters both to Gen- 
eral Campbell and Colonel Barry, urging them to use 
their influence to defeat Calhoun before the colleges, is 
unquestionably true ; the political world was made ac- 
quainted with the fact more than twenty years since. 
That he intended mischief to the Constitution, no one 
can or will say, not even his fiercest enemies ; but that 
his advice involved mischief, is clear and undeniable. 
That advice was melancholy evidence of his waning 
faculties of mind, which were now too far impaired to 
comprehend prudential political considerations, where 
no direct invasion of the Constitution or the law was 
intended, and where the aim was to defeat a man whom 
he honestly thought to be unprincipled and dangerous. 

This project failed signally. Calhoun went into the 
office of Vice President by a triumphant majority, was 
considered first in the confidence of the President, and 
was generally regarded as the most prominent aspirant 
for the succession. Together, he and Jackson were duly 
installed on the fourth day of March, 1829. Every thing 
went on prosperously and swimmingly with the party in 
power ; the administration at once attained to a popu- 
larity that seems, at this distance of time, to have been 
nearer akin to blind idolatry than rational approbation. 
The country went mad with admiration of Jackson, and 
his favorites and ministers were so far lifted along on 
this scale of popularity as to be thought incapable of 
doing wrong ; and among these, Calhoun stood con- 
fessedly highest. Having failed to effect his overthrow, 
Crawford had now retired from the contest, apparently 
reconciled to the inevitable course of events. But new 


actors now suddenly appear on the stage. A conspira- 
cy for it can be called by no other name, in our judg- 
ment was hatched and perpetrated, of which Crawford 
was made the unconscious instrument, of which Jack- 
son himself was the dupe, and of which Calhoun was 
the victim. This was to drive Calhoun from power and 
popularity by destroying him in the confidence of the now 
all-powerful President. The same motive which actu- 
ated Crawford's efforts in the late election, here again 
prompted him to pursue Calhoun : inveterate personal 
enmity, which aimed at nothing short of the disgrace 
of one alike distrusted and hated. When we say that 
Crawford was the unconscious instrument, we do not. 
mean to say that he was unconscious of attempting to 
ruin Calhoun ; we think it is quite clear that he was 
expressly aiming to effect that end, by making public 
certain transactions of Monroe's Cabinet, which had 
been discussed in 1818. 

On a sudden, the nation was astounded with the 
news that an irreconcilable feud had sprung up between 
the President and Vice President. This was in the 
spring of 1830, but little more than twelve months 
since the inauguration. A copy of a letter had been 
placed in Jackson's hands, which excited on the instant 
the whole ferocity of his nature, and made him the 
mortal foe of Calhoun. This letter made known that, 
at a meeting of Monroe's Cabinet in the summer of 
1818, called to deliberate on the events of the Seminole 
war, Calhoun had distinctly proposed that the com- 
manding general, Jackson, " should be reprehended in 
some form, or punished in some form," for alleged un- 
authorized and illegal conduct in the prosecution of 
said war. The writer of this letter was "William H. 
Crawford, and it was directed to John Forsyth, one of 
the Senators from the State of Georgia. How or for 


what reason such a letter was wrung from Crawford at 
such a time is, to some extent, a matter of conjecture 
to this day ; though no one who is informed of all the 
facts, doubts that the design was to effect a personal 
breach between Jackson and Calhoun, and thereby to 
destroy the political consequence of the latter. Craw- 
ford had authorized Forsyth to show his letter to Cal- 
houn ; this is proof that he believed what he said, and 
that he desired no concealment. Forsyth, for some 
reason, did not comply ; he sent the letter immediately 
to Jackson, and Calhoun never saw it. A copy was 
given to him, but it was not a complete copy ; impor- 
tant and significant names were left in blank, which the 
author would have scorned to conceal. He was play- 
ing, if not a magnanimous, at least an open game. 
Crawford was the last man on earth who would conde- 
scend to palpable meanness or to disguise ; he was both 
too independent and too fearless to resort to either. 
If he was guilty of improprieties, they were improprie- 
ties consequent on a failing and an erring judgment, 
not the offspring of a bad heart or of wilful wrong. 
But others were neither so nice nor so frank. We are 
wholly unable to find an excuse for Forsyth, much less 
for the contrivers of the plot ; we think that Forsyth 
was bound to show the original letter of Crawford to 
Calhoun, as directed, before he gave it into the hands 
of Jackson. There was no injunction laid on him by 
the writer to show it to Jackson at all, though few will 
doubt that such was intended. But there is a twofold 
reason why Crawford must have desired and why he 
directed that the letter should be shown to Calhoun in 
the original. In the first place, it was due to candor 
and fairness of dealing ; and in the next place, Crawford 
evidently desired that his enemy might have the chance 
of attempting a correction, if he had inadvertently 


erred in the statement of facts. Had his directions 
been followed, the main correspondence would then 
have occurred between himself and Calhoun, instead of 
between Calhoun and Jackson. Besides, in such event, 
much injury might have been averted from Calhoun, as 
he would then have possessed the full means of unravel- 
ling the plot the suppressed names in the copy being 
undoubtedly the index. Much mortification might also 
have been spared to Crawford. After the correspond- 
ence had been opened with Jackson, in consequence of 
Forsyth's omission to obey his friend's injunction, Cal- 
houn peremptorily and quite haughtily refused to re- 
cognize Crawford as a principal in the controversy, re- 
turned his letters with a most insulting reply, and 
declined all correspondence except through the Presi- 
dent. We must say that, on the whole, we think For- 
syth occupied quite a remarkable, not to say unenviable 
position in connection with this affair ; and we are at a 
loss to reconcile Calhoun's ready admission that he did 
not allude to Forsyth as being concerned in the efforts 
which were being made to cause a rupture between 
Jackson and himself. No matter what may have been 
Forsyth's motives (and these we shall not impeach), it 
is clear that the breach was effected through his imme- 
diate instrumentality. At the request of one Hamilton, 
of New York, a friend and political ally of Van Buren, 
Forsyth writes to Crawford, asking a statement of the 
Cabinet transactions of 1818, relative to Jackson's con- 
duct in the Seminole war. Hamilton asked this of 
Forsyth at the request of Jackson, who states that he 
was induced to make the request from what had been 
told a friend of his by the Marshal of Columbia Dis- 
trict. This certainly looks quite mysterious, especially 
in view of Hamilton's connections. Who was the friend 
that had thus informed Jackson of the Marshal's state- 


ment, and of Hamilton's knowledge of the same fact : 
viz., that Calhoun had moved to punish Jackson at the 
Cabinet meeting alluded to ? This personage has never 
been positively known, though conjecture (and circum- 
stances were pointed to which were held to authorize 
such conjecture) has settled the identity on Martin 
Van Buren. This we shall not attempt to confirm or 
to confute ; but it is clear that Forsyth's interference 
at this period of the plot directly caused the rupture 
between the President and Vice President ; and his 
omission to comply with Crawford's directions to show 
the letter to Calhoun, would seem to imply, on his part, 
at least a very questionable indifference as to the re- 
sults that were sure to follow. 

During the progress of the controversy, several 
questions of veracity arose between Crawford and Cal- 
houn, which were never definitely settled, so far as his- 
tory is concerned. The first of these was in relation to 
a letter from Jackson to President Monroe, dated pre- 
vious to the invasion of the Spanish territories, which 
Crawford asserts to have been produced at the Cabinet 
meeting in question. This Calhoun denies positively, 
and brings to his aid, as proof of the denial, a long ar- 
ray of letters from various heads of departments, all of 
whom profess to recollect nothing about such a letter 
as Crawford had designated. The last was the alleged 
change of opinion on Crawford's part, regarding the 
conduct of Jackson on the same occasion. Calhoun 
again brings in letters from McDuffie and others to sub- 
stantiate the charge. We shall not attempt to pass 
judgment on so delicate a point ; we may believe that 
Crawford was liable to err, and, from a treacherous 
memory, probably to mistake facts, inadvertently, as 
most men may do. But no testimony could induce us 
to entertain for one moment the charge that he was 


ever guilty of deliberate falsehood. We have ever 
held an equally high estimate of Calhoun's integrity, 
and thus feel restrained from dwelling further upon so 
unpleasant a matter. In long years after, when the 
immediate families and friends of each party shall have 
been gathered to their fathers, and when feelings in- 
duced by the controversy shall no longer glow within 
living bosoms, then the impartial reviewer may enter 
with propriety on the discussion, and thus eviscerate 
the truth of history. 

The quarrel between Calhoun and Jackson was per- 
manent and irreconcilable, and it was most probably 
intended by those who had fomented it, that no recon- 
ciliation should take place. The object was evidently 
much more allied with motives of political advancement 
and degradation, than with private enmities and prefer- 
ences. Calhoun was driven from power, and his national 
popularity sank beneath the irresistible fiat of his more 
admired though less gifted rival. He never afterwards 
regained his former hold on the affections and confi- 
dence of the American people, and it is seriously denied 
by his friends that he ever made any attempt which 
looked to such object. He quitted the post of Vice 
President, and obeyed the voice of his beloved State, 
which had called him to the United States Senate, to 
there expound and advocate, with his great powers of 
mind and of debate, the unfortunate doctrine of nullifi- 
cation. He devoted the balance of his life to the pro- 
mulgation and defence of this and kindred doctrines, 
and became wholly sectionalized in feeling and in con- 
duct, although the whole country acknowledged, to his 
dying day, the powerful influence of that splendid, com- 
manding intellect, which had made him a giant of his 
time, and had sustained him in all his parliamentary con- 
flicts with the combined forces of our greatest statesmen. 


SINCE the days when the celebrated novels of Sir 
Walter Scott were issued from the Edinburgh press, 
and heralded forth to the eager and admiring world as 
productions from, the magic pen of the unknown " Au- 
thor of Waverley," no work has created such high ex- 
pectations or been read with such lively enthusiasm as 
that now before us. Indeed, it has been rather de- 
voured than read, and seems to have been sought after, 
(if we may be pardoned the expression in connection 
with so popular a book,) more with the desire to gratify 
an ephemeral curiosity than with a view to solid im- 
provement. This species of furor is harmless and tol- 
erable when produced by the pompous annunciation of 
a new novel from Bulwer or Alexandre Dumas ; but it 
is very apt, if not quite sure, to prove fatal in the end 
and consequences, to the permanent popularity and 
esteem of a grave history and more especially of a 
history of England. The impressions of fiction are 
pleasing, light, and transient, and even where a novel 
is deficient as to style and sound moral instruction, the 
interest of the story, if only tolerably sustained, will 
rescue it from harsh or condemnatory judgment. But 
it is far different with a work of history. Diffuseness 
* Macaulay's History of England. New York : Qarper and Brothers. 


of style, sparkling sentences, entertaining and brilliant 
episodes, occasional and tasteful metaphors, will do 
well in romance, and it is mainly in romance that such 
things are looked for by the refined lovers of literature. 
In a work of history these all, in our humble judgment, 
are both untasteful and sadly out of place, especially if 
the author's ambition is directed less to ephemeral pop- 
ularity and to the desire for speedy profits, than to a 
lasting fame and lofly place among historians who will 
be read in after ages as reliable for authority and refer- 
ence, as well as for useful instruction. We shall be 
much deceived if the brilliant and gifted author of the 
work now before us, does not experience the truth of 
the above remarks before many years will have passed. 
We are much mistaken if Mr. Macaulay does not soon 
find that his hopes of greatest fame must rather be re- 
posed on those splendid Selections and Miscellanies, 
recently collected and published from among his nu- 
merous contributions to the Edinburgh Review, than 
upon this work of greater labor and higher expecta- 
tions. The first may challenge not admiration only, 
but the severest ami harshest scrutiny also, as to 
beauty, novelty and terseness of style, acute and un- 
equalled powers of criticism, splendor of description, 
correctness and vigor of judgment, and rare fertility 
and chasteness of imagination. Besides all this, the 
Miscellanies are replete with sound lessons of instruc- 
tion in ethics, the sciences, and politics. They abound 
with nice and elaborate iUustrations of human character 
in all its features, and of human nature in ah 1 its as- 
pects. Ah 1 of this description of writing that we find 
in his history, we shah 1 find previously and better done 
in his Miscellanies. Nor is Mr. Macaulay at all singular 
in the notion, if, indeed, he has chosen to rest his repu- 
tation on the work which has cost him most time and 


labor, in preference to what he doubtless deems his 
lighter productions. Both Petrarch and Boccaccio 
were engaged for years in writing ponderous volumes 
of Latin on which to repose their fame, and through 
the medium of which they had fondly expected to be 
handed down to a remote posterity. Yet these works 
of labor are scarcely known, never or very rarely read, 
and are passing from all connection or association with 
their names ; whilst the Sonnets of the first, and the 
enchanting Decameron of the last, written by both at 
intervals of leisure and as mere pastime, have attained 
to a world-wide fame, and, as specimens of elegant and 
pure Italian, have long been preserved as precious and 
priceless treasures of the literature of the fourteenth 
century. Machiavelli labored arduously and long at 
his history of Florence, a work which embodies vast 
learning and which contains many reflections that afford 
a clue to his real political sentiments and governmental 
notions, and by which he doubtless hoped to live in the 
memory of after generations. Yet it w r as in the gloom 
and sad seclusion of a prison that he produced that 
singular little volume, singular fcoth for its power of 
thought and atrocity % of sentiment, which has con- 
signed him to an eternal fame of odium, and coupled 
his name with that of " the Prince " of demons. Even 
Sir "Walter Scott thought seriously, near the close of 
his unparalleled career, of discarding his grandest pro- 
ductions as a basis on which to rest his permanent 
fame, and even boasted at the well known " Theatrical 
Fund dinner," that a work was soon to see the light 
from the author of Waverley, that would throw all 
other productions from that celebrated and gifted 
source, completely into minority and secondary esti- 
mation. This work, thus singularly announced, was 
his life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Yet the contrary, as 


doubtless every sagacious hearer imagined when the 
declaration was made, has been the case. The biogra- 
phy, except for the beauty and power of its style, is 
generally regarded as imperfect in point of main facts, 
and as every way unworthy of its illustrious author ; 
while the novels, read now in every class of society 
with the same interest and enthusiasm as when, years 
ago, they flew from the press like lightning, to dazzle 
and charm a bewildered world, have been long set 
aside and marked for perpetual stereotype. Mr. Ma- 
caulay, then, has distinguished associates, if indeed, like 
them, he has been weak enough to suppose that the 
volumes before us, bearing though they do, the marks 
of untiring labor and diligent research, will be hailed 
by a succeeding generation in preference to his Miscel- 
lanies, as the enduring monument of his fame. 

But, apart from considerations of this character, it 
is very certain that no book of the present time has 
been welcomed from the press with such general lauda- 
tion and eagerness, or read with such blinded avidity. 
So popular a miscellaneous writer has surely not ap- 
peared in the character of a historian since the days of 
Sir Walter Scott. And although we must candidly 
confess our disappointment in the work, yet its popu- 
larity is so great and the prestige of the author's name 
so overshadowing, that we feel it to be an act of pre* 
sumption and temerity to offer even the least disparag- 
ing criticism. And if it be true that high expectation 
is almost always followed by disappointment, as Lord 
Jeffrey remarks, it is scarcely possible that any readers 
of Macaulay's history should not be disappointed. It 
is by no means our design in employing this remark to 
reflect upon the general merits of the production, or to 
depreciate its justly high fame, even were it in our 
feeble power to do so. On the contrary, we regard it 


as one of the most brilliant and entertaining histories 
we ever read, or expect ever to read. True, it con- 
tains little that is new in point of general facts little 
that could not be learned from Hume, or Fox, or Bur- 
nett. But the minutiae of those facts are spread out 
with taste, amplified, and explained in a manner that 
must interest even the most fastidious. The concise 
and discriminative review of English history, previous 
to the epoch on which he intends finally and principally 
to treat ; the learned and methodical disquisitions on 
English Church History, the nice and finely drawn de- 
lineations of party differences in the different ages ; the 
bold portraitures of monarchs and statesmen and all 
descriptions of distinguished persons, either in politics 
or ecclesiastical history; the power and splendor of 
diction, the brilliancy of description, the flashes of with- 
ering sarcasm, the beautiful episodes, the occasional 
lovely pictures of domestic life, of love and of death 
scenes full of agreeable pathos and tender associations, 
all these, and much else that might be justly added, 
form a whole of vivid and absorbing interest that could 
spring only from a mind of extraordinary vigor and 
versatility. But it is not like a history from the aus- 
tere pen of Hallam, profoundly collated, tersely con- 
densed, meditative, and perspicacious; bringing mat- 
ters to the test of severe scrutiny rather than of super- 
ficial or critical review. It does not impress with the 
force of the smooth, well-arranged, and methodical 
narrative of Robertson. We do not find in its pages 
the analysis, the profound philosophy, and rapid but 
digested condensation of Hume. Mr. Macaulay, there- 
fore, must not expect, when the " hurly-burly's done," 
and when the buoyant emotions of curiosity, excited as 
well by the pompous heraldry of interested booksellers 
as by his own great literary reputation, shall give place 


to the calm and sober reflux of uncaptivated judgment, 
to sit unchallenged by the side of great historians. 
That time will surely come, and it is not, we incline to 
think, very distant. He who has so often wielded 
against other aspirants to a like high place the fierce 
weapons of criticism, must not think to be allowed to 
pass unassailed and unscrutinized. 

Thus far, indeed, our author has swept critics and 
fault-finders from before him, and the public has sus- 
tained him. The only prominent critic who has inked 
his pen for the task of review was so bitterly and un- 
qualifiedly assaulted by editors and journalists, so bul- 
lied by Quixotic litterateurs, and so worried by personal 
attacks, that his effort may be said to have increased 
rather than diminished the popularity of the work. 
There were, however, two all-sufficient reasons why the 
merits of that criticism were disregarded. In the first 
place, it was put forth at an ill-chosen time. The whole 
literary world was in a blaze of excitement and silly 
enthusiasm. Had the excitement been of a rational 
character, or the enthusiasm been kindled by less furi- 
ous elements, had the longings of rabid curiosity been 
in the least degree sated, the criticism might have 
been received and treated with more leniency. But a 
stronger reason against its favorable reception existed. 
It was known that it was from the pen of one hostile to 
Mr. Macaulay, and who owed him a grudge. This, of 
course, determined its fate. But the circumstances of 
the case are different now. The excitement and enthu- 
siasm are fast subsiding. It may not, therefore, be 
deemed presumptuous to scan the merits and demerits 
of this great work, impartially and fairly. 

The introductory chapter of this history is written 
after the true style of its author. No one who has 
read his Miscellanies could fail to tell that both must 


be from^the same gifted pen. It abounds with excel- 
lent ideas on the nature and consequences of early his- 
torical events, imparting at once useful information and 
suggesting whole trams of deep and improving reflec- 
tion. Especially were we pleased with the author's 
suggestions concerning the ancient pilgrimages, the 
crusades, abbeys, and the spiritual supremacy arrogated 
by the Pope in the dark ages. From all these the au- 
thor very clearly and justly deduces important and 
beneficial results on society and on governments. The 
pilgrimages caused rude and barbarous nations to be- 
come acquainted with the refinements and civilization 
of Italy and the oriental countries. The crusades un- 
folded the secret of the benefits to be derived from na- 
tional combinations, or coalitions between different 
powers in a common cause. " It was better," as the 
author says, " that Christian nations should be roused 
and united for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, than 
that they should, one by one, be overwhelmed by the 
Mohammedan power." It is certain, we believe, that a 
superstitious zeal and a fanatical spirit saved the whole 
of Europe, 011 this occasion, from the corrosive influ- 
ences and intellectual darkness of Islamism. Political 
considerations merely, on the rough diplomacy of that 
early age, could never have brought about those im- 
mense and formidable combinations which diverted the 
arms of Saladin from conquests and invasions, and 
drove him to defend his own soil. It is equally certain 
that if priestcraft had not in that age been predominant, 
and literature nursed and cultivated in quiet cloisters, 
the world would not yet have witnessed the lapse of 
the dark ages. The sombre shadows would still have 
rested over mankind, and the lore of the early ages 
been unrescued from the womb of the past. The spiri- 
tual supremacy of the Pope was a species of mild patri- 


archal dominion which formed a strong bond of union 
between the nations of Christendom. A common code 
of international or public law a fraternal tie an en- 
larged benevolence, were among the happy conse- 
quences of this supremacy, generally denounced as 
arrogant and unrighteous in the sight of God and man. 
" Even in war," says the learned author, " the cruelty 
of the conqueror was not seldom mitigated by the re- 
collection that he and his vanquished foe were all mem- 
bers of one great federation." It is to the reception of 
the Anglo-Saxons into this religious federation, and to 
the consequent inter-communication between the Island- 
ers and Italians, that Mr. Macaulay traces the first 
dawn of a permanent improvement in the civilization 
and literature of the English people. 

A condensed and spirited history of the Norman 
character and conquest follows upon these reflections, 
and then the author travels by long and rapid strides 
to the reign of John of Anjou, the brother and succes- 
sor of Richard Coeur de Lion. An event in this reign 
which has been generally represented by English histo- 
rians as disastrous and disgraceful, is here demonstrated 
by the author as having been the basis of all the pros- 
perity and glory of England. This event was the ex- 
pulsion of the English monarch from Normandy by 
Philip Augustus of France. The Norman barons and 
nobles were now forced, from motives of interest, to 
confine themselves and their hordes of wealth to the 
island. They began to look on England as their coun- 
try, amalgamated with the Saxons, made common 
cause with the Saxons against a bad and weak monarch, 
and then followed the memorable scenes at Runymede 
where the Magna Charta was extorted; Here, says 
Mr. Macaulay, commences the history of the English 
nation. Mr. Hallam also, in the first part of his " Con- 


stitutional History," appended to his Middle Ages, 
speaks of this event as having been the first effort to- 
wards a legal government. Yet the same author, in a 
previous chapter, ascribes the date of many of the lead- 
ing and valued features of the English Constitution to 
a period earlier than the reign of Alfred the Great ; 
and in another sentence, declares that there is no single 
date from which its duration is to be reckoned." Cer- 
tain it is that the main features of the judicial system, 
and especially the right of trial by jury and the num- 
ber of jurors, were in existence before the time of 
Alfred, were further improved by that wise monarch, 
and were at last confirmed and permanently defined in 
the Great Charter. 

No reader of history, it is true, can well question 
the fact that it was at this period that " the English 
people first took place among the nations of the world ; " 
but their authentic history, many of the noblest and 
most admired features of their great Constitution, may 
be fairly traced to a period of time much earlier than 
the conquest. The Great Charter of liberty the es- 
tablishment of the House of Commons the distribution 
of civil rights to all classes of freemen the preservation 
of national independence under the ancient line of sov- 
ereigns, which some were rashly anxious to exchange 
for the dominion of France the definition and limita- 
tion of the king's prerogative ; all these, however, date 
their tangible origin and adoption from this period; 
and, in this sense, English history proper may also date 
its beginning from the same era. 

At page 46 (Harper's edition), after asserting that 
it is doubtful whether England owes more to the Ro- 
man Catholic religion or to the Reformation, the author 
opens his account of the origin and character of the 
Church of England. Much that follows is tinctured 


with a good deal of that party asperity and bias which 
political feeling might very naturally engender in the 
bosom of a Whig historian when treating of this epoch. 
No one who reads these pages can fail to discern, at a 
glance, the political and religious sentiments of the dis- 
tinguished historian. It is perhaps to be somewhat 
regretted that the author, in this instance, had not 
drawn a more salutary and substantial lesson from a 
complaint which he bitterly utters on a previous page ; 
viz., "the drawback," which English history has re- 
ceived from being " poisoned with party strifes." The 
author, in the true and bigoted Presbyterian spirit, 
seeks to rob the church of all claims to that spiritual, 
apostolic origin which eminent and erudite divines have 
long labored to demonstrate as being her due. With 
a disputatious reference to some mere petty differences 
between her first established clergy, Mr. Macaulay ab- 
ruptly narrows down and attributes the origin of the 
church to a motive .of political necessity alone a politi- 
cal "compromise" between conflicting Protestants. 
He will find many, we imagine, to disagree with him on 
these points. It is an attack against the whole plan of 
spiritual economy inculcated and held by her ablest 
ministers. If Mr. Macaulay's premise and reasoning be 
true, a fatal blow is given to the high pretensions of 
the church. Episcopalians believe, and labor to prove, 
that the church proper existed in England long prior 
to the date of Henry VHL's apostasy, and its subse- 
quent permanent recognition and establishment under 
Elizabeth. It would be as well, they would contend, for 
Mr. Macaulay to assert that Christianity itself had no 
tangible or respectable existence until its adoption and 
legal establishment by the great Constantine ; for what 
is most unquestionably true, until that period the Chris- 
tian religion was held to be the lowest, most contempti- 


ble, and plebeian form of religion then practised in the 
world, and scarcely more than dared to show its face 
for fear of utter and helpless annihilation. The insig- 
nificance and political debasement of the early Anglican 
zealots, the Lollards and others who preceded them, 
are not to be used as an argument adverse to their 
holy, apostolic calling, if we believe with eminent di- 
vines of the present day. English bishops, say they, 
were known to have sat in the Council of Nice, a coun- 
cil which was held long anterior to the date of Augus- 
tin's visit to the British Islands. They persuade us 
that the flame of the Church was burning stealthily but 
steadily through long ages of persecution, until at last, 
by a concurrence of great events, divinely directed, it 
shot to its zenith amid the tempests of the Reforma- 
tion. Right or wrong, therefore, the opinions and ar- 
guments of learned and accomplished prelates clash 
directly and fundamentally with those advanced by this 
great historian. In his character of reviewer, Mr. Ma- 
caulay had the full right to advance and maintain such 
opinions, and none could find fault with him. It was 
Ms individual opinion only, and carried no further 
weight than his personal influence and consideration 
were entitled to receive. But these opinions and views 
carried into an elaborate historical work, intended to 
be used as authority, and as a guide for opinion to 
future generations, is quite a different matter ; and we 
much question if Mr. Macaulay will meet with tacit 
assent on the part of astute and proud divines of the 
communion of the English Church and its branches. 

His character of Cranmer too, though true as to 
fact and history, must be viewed more as a caricature 
than a faithful portrait of that distinguished and unfor- 
tunate prelate. If governed by Mr. Macaulay alone, 
we would be seriously at a loss, in forming our relative 


estimate of character, whether to plant our deepest ab- 
horrence on Cranmer, the hypocritical villain, or Jef- 
freys, the open and shameless villain. Certain it is that 
no previous writer of English history, with whose works 
we are acquainted, has dealt half so harshly and severely 
with this most esteemed of all Protestant martyrs who 
expiated their faith in the flames of persecution. In- 
deed, from the author's frequent reference to Bossuet, 
a bitter and bigoted Roman Catholic writer, the reader 
might very well suppose, that, discarding all contem- 
poraneous English authorities, Mr. Macaulay had as- 
siduously drawn his character of the Archbishop from 
the jaundiced picture left by that biassed Frenchman. 
Even Hallam, who, when dissecting character, as our 
author himself says in his elegant review of the " Con- 
stitutional history," most generally draws on the "black 
cap," deals with remarkable caution and kindness when 
he comes to speak of Cranmer. He attributes his faults 
more to the effect of circumstances than of intention, 
though he insinuates that the Archbishop might have 
avoided placing himself in situations where those cir- 
cumstances were almost sure to occur. " If," says Mr. 
Hallam in his Constitutional history, " casting away all 
prejudice on either side, we weigh the character of 
this prelate in an equal balance, he will appear far 
indeed removed from the turpitude imputed to him by 
his enemies, yet not entitled to extraordinary venera- 
tion." This is a mild, and, as we incline to believe, a 
just sentence. If Cranmer was entitled even to vener- 
ation at all, he cannot have been considered so bad a 
man by Mr. Hallam as he is represented to have been 
by Bossuet, with whom Mr. Macaulay mainly agrees 
in opinion. Mr. Hallam condemns, as all right-thinking 
men must condemn, the execution, under Cranmer's 
management, of the woman convicted of heresy, and 


of a Dutchman who was found guilty of teaching Arian- 
*sm. Yet these religious atrocities were the prevailing 
sin and shame of the age, and may be ascribed, in this 
instance, more to the weakness and intolerance of edu- 
cation, and to the influence of generally sanctioned cus- 
tom, than to any rancorous or unusual malignity on the 
part of Cranmer. 

A truly charitable and unbiassed mind will find 
much in the melancholy scenes of Cranmer's closing 
days to palliate, if not to justify his alleged errors and 
weaknesses. He had been marked by Mary, and her 
vindictive advisers, as a victim, for whom death, speedy 
and without torture, was not deemed a sufficient pun- 
ishment. His grave, unassuming piety, his anti-Catho- 
lic counsels to Henry the Eighth, the reverence with 
which he was regarded by the Protestant world, his 
equally notorious opposition to Mary's succession, his 
exalted position in the Church, and his abhorrence of 
papal supremacy, were all taken into account in that 
barbarous reckoning which possessed the bosom of the 
fierce and implacable queen, and prompted her to visit 
such awful and appalling vengeance on the eldest Pa- 
triarch of the Church of England. With this view, 
Cranmer, in the first place, was committed to the 
Tower for treason, in September, 1553, a short time 
after Mary's accession to the throne. In the month 
following he was convicted of this crime for his share 
in Lady Jane's proclamation. An inhuman motive 
soon prompted Mary to pardon him ; and then began 
the first scene in that bloody drama. It was resolved 
to take his life for heresy, the more to satiate revenge, 
and to signalize his execution. With this view he was 
cited to appear before the Pope at Rome, and although 
a close and guarded prisoner in England, was promptly 
condemned for his non-appearance as contumacious. 


His first punishment was degradation at the hands of 
one who was nearer akin, in his nature, to fiends than 
to men Bishop Bonner. Then Mary began with her 
blandishments and unholy cajoleries. His total infamy 
and dishonor, before death, was the object of these de- 
ceits. Cranmer was visited and entertained by Catho- 
lic dignitaries, was treated with marked courtesy and 
hospitality by the queen's servants, was tempted by 
every allurement of hope, was courted to his doom by 
every seductive art. High expectations of preferment 
were flatteringly held out to him, and then, by way of 
awful contrast, and to confirm the work of flattery by 
arousing his fears, the warrant for his execution was 
shown to him. Cranmer, overcome by a natural fond- 
ness for life, and appalled by the prospect of the tor- 
tures which awaited him, unwarily fell into the snare. 
He signed his recantation of the Protestant faith, and 
subscribed to that of papal supremacy, and of the real 
presence. Then the monsters of the queen's vengeance 
mockingly laughed in his face, and were unable to con- 
ceal their fiendish exultation. . Cranmer at once saw 
through the plan, and divined his fate. But he re- 
solved to thwart their unholy schemes, and to turn his 
recent apostasy and his awful death to the benefit of 
his beloved Church. When it was believed that he 
was about to make a public confession of his conversion 
to popery, and when the church to which he was car- 
ried was filled with crowds of anxious and exultant 
Catholics, Cranmer surprised his audience by solemnly 
abjuring his recent recantation, by confessing humbly 
his weakness, and by declaring his firm resolve to meet 
death as a martyr to the Protestant religion. He was 
immediately hurried to the flames, and died heroically. 
This, surely, cannot be the man, allowing for all his 
human and natural weaknesses of character, whom Mr. 


Macaulay bitterly stigmatizes as " saintly in his profes- 
sions, unscrupulous in his dealings, zealous'for nothing, 
bold in speculation, a coward, and a time-server in ac- 
tion," and as one every way qualified to bring about a 
coalition of church and state, where religion was to be 
sacrificed to policy ! This same man is eulogized by 
David Hume, the most learned and accomplished of all 
English historians, " as a man of merit ; as possessed of 
learning and capacity, and adorned with candor, sin- 
cerity, and beneficence, and all those virtues which 
were fitted to render him useful and amiable in socie- 
ty." Sir James Mackintosh goes even further than 
Hume, and no one can doubt that these two were pos- 
sessed of quite as many facts, and full as much infor- 
mation, concerning Cranmer's character, as Mr. Macau- 
lay. We are told by Mackintosh, when speaking of 
the primate, that " courage survived a public avowal 
of dishonor, the hardest test to which that virtue can 
be exposed ; and if he once fatally failed in fortitude, 
he, in his last moments, atoned for his failure by a 
magnanimity equal to his transgression." The united 
testimony of these distinguished and impartial histo- 
rians, united on points which contravene materially 
that of our author, though, doubtless, collated from 
the same sources, should serve to qualify, to some 
extent at least, in the reader's mind, the distorted and 
uninviting portraiture of this venerable prelate's char- 
acter, as given by Macaulay, with such bitter emphasis. 
We do not doubt that Cranmer was faulty in many 
particulars, and deeply so ; but it is going further than 
history would seem fairly to warrant to characterize 
him as base, crafty, hypocritical, and perfidious. 

We come next to one of the most interesting di- 
visions of the first chapter, and, indeed, of the whole 
volume. It is ground on which Mr. Macaulay may 


tre^d fearlessly, for he has elsewhere evinced that he is 
thoroughly master of the whole subject. We mean 
the reign of the first Charles, "a period," says the 
author, " when began that hazardous game, on which 
were staked the destinies of the English people." It 
is truly delightful to travel along with the author 
through this portion of his task. You see, at every 
stage, the unmistakable impress of the great mind, 
with whose thoughts you have grown familiar in the 
Miscellanies. Every scene of the preliminary drama 
of the rebellion, is brought vividly before the mind's 
eye, and every part and feature of each scene, even to 
the minutest details, are as vividly arrayed. No one 
can rise from the perusal of this account of that in- 
teresting period without a feeling of conscious improve- 
ment and instruction, without feeling that he has be- 
come much better acquainted with the causes and 
character of a contest which exercised such mighty 
influence on the English Government. The dawn of 
the coming strife the contests between king and par- 
liament, growing gradually fiercer as we turn each 
page the towering energy and unbridled ambition of 
the one, often so mortifyingly humbled ; the mild and 
adroit opposition of the last, untiring, undivertible, 
proof alike against bullying and cajolery, and at last 
strengthening into open and formidable resistance ; 
the rush and confusion of civil war ; the impetuosity 
of the gallant cavalier; the calculating, irresistible 
strategy, the cautious ambition, the vaulting aspira- 
tions of Cromwell, never revealed till developed by the 
consequences, yet never miscalculated or misdirected ; 
the trial, execution, and heroic fortitude of the un- 
fortunate Charles, are all pictured with startling effect, 
and treated in a way which tells all who read that a 
master's hand is guiding them through the mazes of a 


period in the world's history, where small minds should 
never intrude for other purpose than to inquire. 

We cannot find that our author anywhere condemns 
the execution of the king as an act of injustice, or 
moral turpitude, on the part of his grim slayers. Yet 
we must venture to say that we have always viewed it 
as such in the most aggravated form, at the same tune 
that we fully admit the faults and crimes of Charles. 
We can never be brought to believe that subjects have 
the right to inflict, in cold blood, and under a mock 
form of trial, the last penalty of the offended law, or 
rather, as in all instances of this character, of no law at 
all, on the person of their constitutional and legitimate 
monarch. Yet we do not, by any means, subscribe to 
the doctrine of passive obedience. We object only to 
the character of the remedy. The punishment of James 
the Second was quite as efficacious, as to consequences, 
as the more revolting punishment which overtook his 
hapless brother. One is justifiable and proper, and the 
undoubted right of every free people ; the last is odi- 
ous, unwarranted, and wholly inexcusable, in point of 
justice and sound morality. It cannot be defended 
even on the grounds of necessity, policy, or example. 
The banishment or imprisonment of Charles would have 
been sufficient security to the new government, as was 
evidenced both in the case of Charles the Second, and 
of James the Second ; and as the ofiice of king was 
about to be abolished, it was needless on the score of 

Mr. Macaulay, however, in a most beautiful and 
powerful passage, demonstrates the execution of Charles 
to have been, if not a crime, at least that which Fouche 
pronounced as worse than crime, a political blunder. 
His public execution, his fortitude, his Christian meek- 
ness and courage in view of death, his adroit protest 


against the forms and authority of his condemnation, 
his public appeal in favor of the ancient and venerated 
laws of the realm, threw all advantages against his 
enemies, and clothed him in the apparel of a martyr. 
" From that day," says our author, " began a reaction 
in favor of monarchy and of the exiled house, a reac- 
tion which never ceased till the throne had again been 
set up in all its old dignity." 

The succeeding pages, descriptive mainly of the 
Protectorate of Oliver, though written with great 
power of argument, and perspicuity and splendor of 
style, betray again the evident penchant of the learned 
author to lay hold on every thing which may be wield- 
ed, even through the august medium of history, in 
favor of the principles and political tenets of that party 
to which he is so prominently attached. The English 
people may well be proud of the government of the 
great Protector, but, to the eye of Mr. Macaulay, it 
seems to afford peculiar charms. The praises which 
he has taken care to " dole " (begging his pardon for 
using a phraseology which we humbly think he has 
fairly ridden down in these volumes) so sparingly out 
to the monarchs and statesmen at whom he has been 
previously glancing, ingeniously lavished on this cold- 
hearted, unprincipled, though gifted usurper, with 
showery profusion. Not that there is aught of elabo- 
rated eulogy or fulsome panegyric. Every body ac- 
quainted with his writings must know that Mr. Macau- 
lay does not at all belong to this class of authors. He 
possesses too much of taste and stern unbending inde- 
pendence for such a task. He appears greatly to pre- 
fer the office of judge to that of advocate, of censor to 
that of flatterer. But he seems now to forget, or to 
be too willing to pass over the crimes and odious quali- 
ties of the regicide in the high admiration which he evi- 


dently feels for the lofty genius and bold character of 
the Protector of England's proud Commonwealth. At 
the same time he cannot refrain from an occasional tilt 
with his favorite weapons of sarcastic, crushing ridicule 
against the sanctimonious pretensions and drawling 
hypocrisy of this arch politician and intriguer. Whilst 
we hear much of the glory and greatness of the Pro- 
tectorate its formidable power its prominent um- 
pirage in Europe the dread it inspired abroad the 
respect it extorted at home ; we are reminded now and 
then of the author's fondness for " old Mortality," or 
" Woodstock," by a sly thrust at corporal preachers, 
versed in Scripture, leading the devotions of back- 
sliding colonels and majors ; at canting, sour-faced 
hucksterers who cover a thirst for blood under the 
garb of righteousness and godly pretensions, and at the 
contemptible, ludicrous picture of Lord Oliver's Bare- 
bones Parliament. 

But it is very easy to perceive from a perusal of 
this portion of the history, when taken in connection 
with other productions from the same gifted pen, that 
Mr. Macaulay is not only a Roundhead in sympathy 
and political prejudices, but that, of all great men who 
have ever stamped undying influence upon the world, 
Cromwell occupies the first and highest place in his 
estimation. Whether this exalted opinion of one so 
generally hated by all readers of history, is induced by 
an undisguised detestation of Charles and his party, or 
by an excusable pride in the glory which Cromwell 
threw around English character, or by community of 
political and religious predilections, we shall not ven- 
ture to say. Certain it is, however, that while our 
author ranks him inferior to Caesar only in taste and 
polite accomplishments, he places him far ahead of Na- 
poleon in native strength of mind, and in all the car- 


dinal qualities (invention only excepted) which form 
the characters of truly great men. We do not find 
this comparison in the pages which now lie open before 
us ; but we find it in pages far more brilliantly written, 
brilliant as these are, and where it is evident Mr. Ma- 
caulay spent his principal force of thought and power 
of composition. Indeed, the character of Cromwell is 
far more forcibly drawn in the admirable review of 
Hallam's Constitutional History by this author, than in 
the more labored work of his English history." It is 
from the review that we derive our opinion, mainly, of 
the author's antipathies and predilections. Indeed, the 
recollection of these previously expressed, and, doubt- 
less, more candid sentiments, prepared us to examine 
this portion of the history closely and cautiously. We 
wished to guard against unwary temptations by a bril- 
liant author, who might carry into a work of history 
the bias of early and cherished prejudices, and the 
influences of that Jesuitical acerbity of thought which 
kindles so easily in the mind of a partisan reviewer. 
We now find that we did not act unwisely. The same 
course of thought, and the same one-sided, prepossessed 
judgment which we easily discover in the reviewer, we 
find existing in all their original force in the mind of 
the historian, only somewhat retrenched, perhaps, and 
attempered more to the graver character he now as- 
sumes. The Cromwell of the review, so feelingly and 
eloquently eulogized, is eminently the Cromwell of the 
history. The only discernible shade of difference is, 
that, in the last, the scope of the reflector through 
which the reader looks, although one and the same in 
both cases, is sensibly and prudently diminished. 

We were not a little startled on finding that Mr. 
Macaulay, by a kind of specious negative insinuation 
rather than by direct assertion, attempts to persuade 


his readers of a fact which we have never hesitated to 
disbelieve. This is, that Cromwell at one time had se- 
rious notions of interfering to save the King from mur- 
der by his infuriated partisans infuriated, too, by 
Oliver's own artful teachings and profound intriguings. 
Our author even goes farther, in another place, and en- 
deavors to leave the inference that Cromwell, if he had 
been left alone, would have desired to restore the Stu- 
arts. The two passages from which we take these im- 
pressions are the following : " Cromwell had to deter- 
mine whether he would put to hazard the attachment 
of his party, the attachment of his army, his own great- 
ness, nay, his own life, in an attempt which would 
probably have been vain, to save a Prince whom no 
engagement could bind. With many struggles and 
misgivings, and probably not without many prayers, 
the decision was made Charles was left to his fate." 
(p. 119.) Again, a few pages afterward, we meet with 
the following in describing the dilemma in which Oliver 
found himself placed after he had slain his sovereign : 
" The course afterward taken by Monk was not open to 
Cromwell. The memory of one terrible day separated 
the great regicide forever from the house of Stuart." 
(p. 124, vol. 1.) 

Now, in the first place, Mr. Macaulay will find it 
difficult to persuade most of his readers that this crafty 
usurper ever put up a sincere prayer after he had be- 
gun his public career, or after the first faint sparks of 
his lurking ambition had begun to kindle and burn. 
Measuring the rise, and the stealthy, deeply-planned 
progress of this amazing career by its still more amaz- 
ing consequences, no one can fail to perceive that from 
the very first outbreak of civil war, the designs of 
Cromwell were directed to nothing less than supreme 
power. His own mysterious and politic conduct on all 


important occasions, the assiduous court which he man- 
aged always to pay to the army while training and 
inuring it to the strictest discipline, his fierce and unre- 
lenting mode of carrying on the war, together with the 
concurrent opinions of all previous writers of English 
history, leave this clearly to be deduced. 

In the second place, it is quite discernible, we think, 
that Mr. Macaulay t in his great zeal to throw every 
palliative circumstance around the character of his 
great favorite, has been led to adopt this opinion from 
contemporaneous journals and memoirs of interested 
witnesses, many of whom are referred to and quoted by 
Mr. Hallam. Ministers, officers, and associates (who 
mainly compose this class of writers), who survived 
Oliver, and who lived after the Restoration, would be 
very naturally inclined to interpolate every thing of 
this character in their account of a period which was 
abhorrent to the reigning family and the friends of 
the Protector had too long possession of the public 
archives and documents, and were too wily and saga- 
cious to have neglected such an opportunity of prepar- 
ing for a reverse or reaction. If, a century or two 
hence, a historian of the French Consulate and Empire 
were to build up the character of Napoleon from mate- 
rials of this description alone, and to discard those more 
vigorous tests of deeds which the Saviour of mankind 
himself inculcated as the true standard of judgment, 
and to which selfish man must be brought if we would 
ascertain his true nature who of that generation could 
question the patriotism or purity of a single act of his 
public life ? We choose, therefore, to put aside all 
evidence of this character in making up an opinion of 
Cromwell, and to trust to it no further than it can be 
legitimately reconciled to his deeds. By those deeds 
and their intrinsic merits must we alone seek to meas- 


ure the great Protector. The feats of personal prowess 
performed on the field of Marston Moor, the consum- 
mate generalship so conspicuously displayed at the de- 
cisive battle of Naseby, the haughty expulsion of the 
Long Parliament, was no more done by Oliver to save 
Charles's life or to restore the Stuart dynasty than was 
the fiery charge of Napoleon at Arcola, or the disper- 
sion of the French deputies at St. Cloud hazarded with 
the view of restoring the Bourbons. Covetousness of 
supreme power, ambition to rise on the ruins of govern- 
ment, were the governing influence and chief motive 
with both the stern Englishman and adroit Corsican. 

The concluding pages of the first chapter abound 
with the vigorous and spirited description characteristic 
of this writer. They are read with the intense interest 
which is created when one is drawing nigh to the 
denouement of a novel like Kenilworth or Woodstock. 
Like the novelist, our author holds his readers in a de- 
lightful suspense when dwelling upon the feigned ir- 
resolution of Monk ; and we almost forget, in our ad- 
miration of the singular power with which the exciting 
scenes are brought to their conclusion, that the catas- 
trophe has been familiar to us from childhood. Fancy 
pictures with a vividness that amounts almost to reality, 
the eager suspense in each countenance, when first the 
tidings of Monk's advance were announced in London. 
Then appears the whole gorgeous panorama of which 
all England was the scene. Hill and vale, field and 
forest, teem with multitudes flocking, with open arms, 
to welcome the hardy legions of the Scottish army. 
Cavaliers and Roundheads, Monarchists and Republi- 
cans, Churchmen and Regicides, make up this enthusi- 
astic and strange assemblage all united against one 
artful and dangerous faction. Every eye is now anx- 
iously turned on the cold-blooded, taciturn, inscrutable 


general, on whose decision rests the destiny of England. 
At length he summons that convention which invited 
the long exiled and friendless monarch to the home and 
inheritance of his ancestors. Then are seen the flushed 
cheeks and sparkling eyes of the down-trodden, perse- 
cuted cavaliers, whose lips, after long years of tortuous 
silence, are now at last unsealed and the excited 
reader almost finds himself listening to catch the wild 
strains which ascend heavenward, as thousands of glad 
voices mingle in chanting one of those pensive lays 
which were treasured secretly during the iron sway of 
" Old Noll," and rude snatches of which Sir Walter 
Scott so aptly puts into the mouth of his unique charac- 
ter of Roger Wildrake : 

" Though, for a time, we see Whitehall, 
With cobwebs hung around the wall, 
Yet heaven shall make amends for all, 
When the king enjoys his own again." 

Then opens the beautiful picture which closes all, 
and which our author so briefly but brilliantly describes. 
We see again that exciting scene which so charmed us 
in the closing pages of Woodstock. Clouds of dust in 
the distance, blazing rockets streaming against the 
brighter rays of the sun, tell us that the restored wan- 
derer is approaching. " Onward come, pursuivant and 
trumpet ; onward come, plumes and cloth of gold, and 
waving standards displayed, and swords gleaming to 
the sun ; and, at length, heading a group of the noblest 
in England, and supported by his royal brothers on 
either side, onward comes King Charles." * He is seen 
to pass amid smiles of welcome, and tears of joy, and ex- 
ultant acclamation. But what sullen, sour, staid faces 
are those which, amidst this general joy, alone venture 
* Woodstock page 283, vol. 2. 


to frown at the monarch's approach ? Let the answer 
be given in the matchless language of our author. 
" On Blackheath the army was drawn up to welcome 
the sovereign. He smiled, bowed, and extended his 
hand graciously to the lips of the colonels and majors. 
But all his courtesy was vain. The countenances of the 
soldiers were sad and lowering, and, had they given 
way to their feelings, the festive pageant of which they 
reluctantly made a part would have had a mournful and 
bloody end." 

We have long thought that this splendid scene, on 
which both " the great Unknown " and " the great 
Known " have bestowed their inimitable powers of de- 
scription, must have been one of the most exciting and 
joyous spectacles that the world has ever witnessed ; 
and this declaration, we trust, will find us some allow- 
ance with the reader who may chance to judge us aus- 
terely for thus long dwelling upon it. 

Having, at the end of the first chapter, safely 
" lodged the restored wanderer in the palace of his an- 
cestors," Mr. Macaulay opens his second with a whole- 
some and astute, though rather uninteresting disquisi- 
tion on the condition of the English Government at the 
era of the Restoration. He condemns the inconsistency 
and bad policy of allowing the exiled family to return 
without exacting new and reliable securities against 
mal-administration, though he inclines to disagree with 
the majority of historians in representing the Restora- 
tion as a disastrous event. He seems to think, and 
justly, no doubt, that this event, all unqualified as it 
was, delivered the English people from the domination 
of a soldiery that equalled the Pretorian bands of Rome 
in capriciousness and ferocity. The crisis which fol- 
lowed the deposition of the weak successor of Crom- 
well was, indeed, one of imminent danger to the integ- 


rity of the ancient and venerated constitutional govern- 
ment of England. A fanatical and intolerant faction 
had seized the reins, and supreme power was on the 
verge of passing into hands which would soon have de- 
molished all the cherished landmarks of constitutional 
liberty, and substituted instead a rule more galling, 
more repulsive, and far more precarious than that even 
of the Rump Parliament which had been indignantly 
kicked out of doors by Cromwell. Then or never, 
therefore, was the time for all lovers of rational liberty 
to harmonize and unite, adjourning, as Mr. Macaulay 
says, all factious differences until a more convenient 
season. Monarchy was found to be far preferable to 
anarchy. The body of the English people acted with 
characteristic judgment and good sense; dissenting 
politicians and religionists united for the common weal, 
and the fruit of that union was the speedy and timely 
restoration of the exiled monarch. 

This chapter is truly a history ; differing thus from 
the first, which is more in the style of a review. It is 
a succinct and neatly arranged narrative of facts, inter- 
spersed with less of that digressive and continuous es- 
saying which we find in the preceding, with fewer of 
the romantic and entertaining episodes which abound 
in those that follow, and with very little indeed of that 
proneness to tiresome biographical detail which dis- 
figures the entire work. If the whole had been writ- 
ten in the style and method of the present chapter, the 
book might truly have been less brilliant, less enter- 
taining, and less rapidly sought after by the multitude. 
But, at the same time, there can be little doubt, we 
think, that it would more surely have outlived this 
mere ephemeral and superficial popularity, and be 
finally stored away with such authors as Hallam, as 
Robertson, and as Clarendon, as a work to be consulted 


hereafter, more for solid instruction and authority than 
for entertainment merely. 

During the earlier years of Charles the Second's 
reign, England may be said to have been in a state of 
transmutation. During the reign of the Puritans all 
kinds of public and private amusements were sedu- 
lously and harshly discouraged. The whole country 
was a vast religious camp-ground for the operations of 
drawling snufflers like " Tribulation Wholesome," or 
" Zeal-of-the-land Busy," like " Praise God Barebones," 
or "Boanerges Stormheaven." The cottages were 
filled with prototypes of " douce David Deans," the 
palaces with sycophantic minions of Pym and Harrison. 
The public squares, the village-greens, and cross-roads 
were nowhere made merry by Punch and Judy, or 
May-day festivities. Drawling sermons, tortuous pray- 
ers, and nasal psalmody in " linked sweetness long 
drawn out," had supplanted all such abominations and 
sacrifices to the beast and to Baal. The nose of Icha- 
bod Crane would have been rarely valued in an age 
which produced Ludowick Muggleton, and other fer- 
vent " sons of grace," like himself. Such was the so- 
cial condition of England when the " merry monarch " 
came home to his inheritance with "Wilmot and Villiers, 
and their accompanying trains of bastards and prosti- 
tutes, and pasquinaders and buffoons. The^transition 
was sudden startling bewildering ; but, in one sense 
it was complete. It was like exchanging on the mo- 
ment, the sombre gloom of a prayer-meeting conducted 
by saints and psalm-singers, for the gorgeous brilliancy 
and entrancing scenes of an opera saloon. In a short 
time, too short, it seemed, to be otherwise than a pleas- 
ing vision of the night, the churches which had long 
been closed to the established form of worship were 
again opened, and nave, and arch, and gallery, whose 


echoes had long been silent, once more resounded with 
those loved and melodious strains which the solemn 
organ hymned forth to celebrate this joyous exit of in- 
tolerance and persecution. The down-trodden and 
proscribed drama was speedily resuscitated, and the 
play-houses were crowded nightly with blazing de- 
votees of fashion and pleasure. The glittering pa- 
geantry of "Whitehall dazzled eyes which had long 
been accustomed to view with awe the grave and 
stately pomp of Cromwell's court. The voluptuous 
charms and winning graces of Eleanor Gwynn and 
Louise de Queroaulle, shone with a lustre in the saloons 
and drawing-rooms that called up lively images of Ver- 
sailles and Marly, and which dimmed the vision of those 
who could scarcely credit that these were the successors 
of Mrs. Ireton and her staid sister. Armed troopers 
and godly expounders of the Word were no longer 
jostled in the ante-rooms of the presence-chamber. 
Ambassadors, and nobles in their robes of State, lords 
of the bed-chamber in their flowing, splendid vest- 
ments, gaudily attired pages in waiting, and liveried 
lacqueys had now taken the place of these ; while, in 
the presence-chamber itself, was seen a showy, easy- 
mannered and accomplished personage, affording, in 
every respect, a singular contrast to the grave deport- 
ment and mean appearance of his grim predecessor. 
In fact, it was every where evident that the domination 
of the saints, both socially and politically, was for ever 
done. Nor is it to be taken for granted, that all even 
of this class mourned the downfall and overthrow of 
the sombre and cheerless reign. Many humble cot- 
tagers and peasants who had conformed to the pre- 
vailing habits doubtless for peace and security, rejoiced 
when the time came that they might safely indulge 
once again in fond Christmas festivals, And week-day 


convivialities ; and wild country squires, and rude 
jockeys and sportsmen, hailed the return of that lib- 
erty which relieved their halls of crop-eared lecturers 
and exhorters, and allowed them again to bear-bait and 
horse-race. Some who, in the days of the Protectorate, 
had been most fervent and vociferous in amens and 
ejaculations during worship, afterwards took petty 
bribes to pimp for Buckingham, and introduce favored 
rivals of the king to the boudoir of Barbara Palmer. 
Indeed, if the divine standard of secret thought and 
forced compliance to right be erected by which to 
judge, we should doubt most seriously whether the 
moral condition of England was at a lower ebb after 
the Restoration, than during the saintly dominion of 

We were pained, however, to find on page 169 of 
this chapter, more evidence of that bitter spirit which 
influences our author hi his opposition to the Episcopal 
form of religion. Not satisfied with denouncing the 
prevailing immorality of libertinism, both in the politi- 
cal and social world, Mr. Macaulay indirectly, and by 
insinuation, seeks to lay some of the blame on the 
Church of England. We are prepared to admit that 
her clergy were too intent on religious vengeance 
against Puritans, and too eager in extorting amends 
for the pillage and deprivations they had suffered from 
their stern persecutors. But the pure morality of the 
liturgy, the whole admirable economy of the Church, 
stand forth in noble vindication of slurs which a his- 
torian, whose duty is rather to instruct than to prose- 
lyte, should be cautious in throwing out. Yet our 
author does not hesitate to use the language of the fol- 
lowing sentences : " The ribaldry of Etherege and 
Wycherley was, hi the presence, and under the sanc- 
tion of the head of the Church, publicly recited by 


female lips in female ears, while the author of the Pil- 
grim's Progress languished in a dungeon for the crime 
of proclaiming the Gospel to the poor. It is an un- 
questionable, and a most instructive fact, that the years 
during which the political power of the Anglican hie- 
rarchy was in the zenith, were precisely the years during 
which national virtue was at the lowest ebb." (p. 169, 
vol. 1.) 

It is impossible to mistake the intention of the au- 
thor in these sentences, or to avoid the inference so 
unfavorable and unjust to the integrity of the Church 
of England. Does Mr. Macaulay mean to say that the 
Church was scandalized in the person and by the vices 
of the monarch, or that she is responsible for the same ? 
And yet it would seem that such are the points of al- 
lusion, inasmuch as " the head of the Church " allowed 
and countenanced ribaldrous indecencies. Under the 
statute of Henry the Eighth, the king " is reputed to 
be the only supreme head in* earth of the Church of 
England." This important relation of the king to the 
Church is attributable to the connection in England 
between Church and State, and is of a legal or govern- 
mental character exclusively. In this capacity he has 
the right to nominate to vacant bishoprics, to convene, 
prorogue, restrain, and dissolve all ecclesiastical convo- 
cations. He alone receives a resignation from the chief 
dignitary of the Church, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury ; and to him lies the ultimate appeal in Chancery, 
from the sentence of every ecclesiastical judge. This 
is the sum and substance of Blackstone's interpretation 
of this connection of the king, as the supreme head, 
with the Church. But, in no case is the king named 
as guardian of the spiritualities of the Church. "Dur- 
ing the vacancy of any see in his province," says the 
great commentator, in speaking of the Archbishop of 


Canterbury, " he is guardian of the spiritualities there- 
of, as the king is of the temporalities." Under this 
view of the subject, we think Mr. Macaulay's readers 
have the right to complain of his disingenuousness in 
this instance. It certainly is unfair to arraign the 
Church for the immoralities of a king who is only her 
supreme temporal head by virtue of his sovereign pre- 
rogative, and who is the recipient, and never the dis- 
penser, of her spiritual benefits. The expression, alto- 
gether, is less worthy of an impartial historian than of 
a disputatious and biassed controversialist, and forms 
an exception to the general tone of the chapter. 

The latter part of this first sentence, quoted above, 
can only be characterized, we are bound to say, as 
demagogical, and as being strangely out of place in a 
grave work of history. Nor is this all. It does not 
strictly convey the truth, nor does it leave the truth to 
be inferred. At the time of Bunyan's most unjust con- 
finement he was not "the author of the Pilgrim's Pro- 
gress," and it is more than probable that had he never 
" languished in a dungeon," that beautiful and treasured 
allegory would never have been given to an admiring 
world. During the civil war Bunyan had borne arms 
in the Parliament army, and imbibed all their austere 
notions of religious duty and severity of life, as his 
after career proves. Having inflicted upon himself a 
series of mental tortures which would have terrified a 
monk or a friar, he turned preacher, arid, in open defi- 
ance of the law, began to proclaim tenets and doctrines 
which were deemed mischievous, and as being too 
nearly allied to the dangerous inculcations which had 
led to the fierce persecutions of the commonwealth, to 
be publicly allowed ; and for this contumacy and oppo- 
sition to Government, and not "for proclaiming the 
Gospel to the poor," was John Bunyan thrown into 


prison, and left to drag out a miserable confinement of 
twelve years, narrowly escaping the transportation to 
which he had been condemned. It did not matter in 
the eye of the law, nor do we presume that it was in- 
quired into on his trial, whether his hearers were men 
of wealth, or poor men ; the sentence, in either case, 
would have been the same. It was during this long 
and painful imprisonment that Bunyan conceived ideas 
of authorship ; and then it was, in the depths of a dun- 
geon, more sombre and solitary than the valley of the 
Shadow of Death through which Christian is made to 
pass in his road to the Delectable Mountains, that he 
indited that wonderful book which has made him the 
delight of nurseries and firesides, of the palace and of 
the cottage, and which has given immortality to the 
name of a tinker's son. It may not be without its pur- 
pose, that we add to this narration the fact that Bun- 
yan was, at last, released from prison through the 
influence and intercession of one of that "Anglican 
hierarchy," which Mr. Macaulay so sweepingly dispar- 
ages in the page before us. 

We are unable to perceive any thing else than the 
ebullition of strong prejudice in the " unquestionable 
and instructive fact" which the author states in the 
last sentence quoted. Apart from this, we cannot dis- 
cern its force and meaning. We cannot discern its 
pertinence to the history at all. But, admitting the 
fact, we deny the truth of the inference intended to be 
deduced. The fact may be true, and yet not detract, 
in the least, from the spiritual integrity or moral pre- 
tensions of the Church. If the legal re-establishment of 
the " Anglican hierarchy," after years of persecution 
and proscription, is to be termed the " zenith of its po- 
litical power," we do not perceive why this should con- 
nect the same with the profligacy of the age, or make 


the Church responsible for the " low ebb of national 
virtue," immediately after the Restoration. Political 
power may be conferred and confirmed in a day, and 
from the date of the enactment. Spiritual influence is 
the work of time, of labor, and of unremitting diligence. 
At a time when all England was wildly engaged in 
celebrating the joyous Carnival which had, in this in- 
stance, succeeded a tortuous and long Lent, was deliri- 
ous with excitement, and mad with delight at escape 
from Puritan dominion, it might not have been safe or 
politic it certainly would have been no easy task for 
the Church stringently to have interfered so soon after 
her own restoration, and to have impressed her pure 
morality and admirable precepts on a giddy population. 
We have very great veneration for the ancient and 
venerable Church of England, as well as for its more 
faultless branch in the United States, and, American 
though we are, would most sincerely lament its down- 
fall as politically connected with the Government. We 
believe that separation would prove fatal ; or, in other 
and plainer words, that the destruction of the one 
would be the inevitable destruction of the other.' 
Much of England's national glory and all of England's 
happiness is attributable to her admirable and cherished 
social attachments and associations, and these last are 
closely interwoven with her Established Church. We 
can appreciate and understand our author when he 
speaks of Cavaliers, who, indisposed to " shape their 
lives according to her precepts, would yet fight knee- 
deep in blood for her cathedrals and palaces, for every 
line of her rubric, and every thread of her vestments." 
She is intimately connected with all the associations of 
love, with all the tender relations of marriage, and with 
all the fond endearments of home and of family. She 
is a bond of union between hostile factions in the state. 


Even civil war and ruthless proscription could not 
eradicate her influence, or destroy the strong hold she 
has on the affections, the associations, and social preju- 
dices of a majority of the English people. It is, in- 
deed, " an unquestionable and a most instructive fact," 
that since her legal existence and connection with the 
state, no hostile foot has trodden her soil, even if we 
make an exception of the descent of William the Third, 
which was invited and connived at by the whole nation, 
and in which Englishmen were the prime movers. We 
have no desire to see these strong ties severed, or this 
fortunate union of Church and State broken, in a coun- 
try where is centred the peace and prosperity of two 
great continents. We fully believe Mr. Macaulay when 
he says, " that a civil war of a week on English ground 
would now produce disasters which would be felt from 
the Hoangho to the Missouri, and of which the traces 
would be discernible at the distance of a century." 
(p. 32.) And it is for these reasons, and these alone, 
that we regret that a writer of this author's great in- 
fluence and celebrity should partially convert a work 
of history to the purposes of depreciating an institution, 
and disparaging an establishment, in the most vital of 
its claims to honor and reverence, on the perpetuity of 
which, as we humbly conceive, depends the welfare of 
the English Government, and, in that, the peace and 
prosperity of the whole world. 

But the same people who, in this age of profligacy 
and immorality, were entertained with the lewd pro- 
ductions of Congreve and Wycherley, were also suffi- 
ciently impressed with the interests of civil liberty and 
private rights to project and extort the great act of 
Habeas Corpus, the day of the sanction of which our 
author justly denominates " a great era in English his- 
tory." This key to the dormant and inactive immuni- 


ties contained in the Great Charter was reluctantly 
given over to the English people by their jealous mon- 
arch. Our author tells us (page^232) "that the king 
would gladly have refused his assent to this measure, 
but he was about to appeal from his Parliament to his 
people on the question of the succession, and he could 
not venture, at so critical a moment, to reject a bill 
which was in the highest degree popular." So mate- 
rially, we thus perceive, do the most treasured rights 
of mankind depend on the caprice or policy of selfish 

In this chapter we are treated to concise and spirited 
accounts of the Popish Plot, the Ryehouse Plot, the 
perjuries of Titus Gates, so sickeningly bloody in conse- 
quences, and the treasons of Monmouth, Charles's bas- 
tard son by Lucy Walters, who was married by his 
father to the heiress of the noble Scotch house of Buc- 
cleuch, a house from which collaterally descended, hi 
long after years, the "mighty wizard of the North," 
the great " Author of Waveiiey." The important and 
romantic interest which belongs to the life of this un- 
fortunate nobleman, together with the melancholy fate 
which overtook him in the reign of his cruel uncle, au- 
thorize Mr. Macaulay in dwelling on his birth, parent- 
age, and early court life and military achievements, 
which he does in a manner at once the most entertain- 
ing and instructive. We are next introduced succes- 
sively to three of the most noted political characters 
which figure in English history. These are the younger 
Hyde, Godolphin, and Lord Halifax, whose name has 
been commemorated, in divers ways, as well in these 
United States as in England. Mr. Macaulay has given 
a description of this distinguished and influential states- 
man (the most so of his time), which, while it raises our 
previous estimate of his consummate abilities, rather de- 


predates our opinion of the consistency and inflexibility 
of his character as a statesman and minister. And we 
might extend this remark to most of those great men 
whose portraits make up the general contents of this 
volume and part of the next. It is a characteristic of 
Mr. Macaulay, as a historian as well as reviewer, to deal 
rather with the dark than the bright side of human 
character. He goes mostly upon the levelling princi- 
ple, and before he has done with a character of history, 
the reader scarcely knows whether to admire or to de- 
test ; and between the two issues, generally leaves both 
for a feeling of contempt. We shall give examples of 
this propensity of our author before these desultory re- 
marks are brought to a conclusion. 

The ludicrous account of the Dutch war excites our 
contempt, at the same time that it moves us to laugh- 
ter; and the language in which this dark story of 
Charles's reign is told, shows in a manner the most em- 
phatic, our author's utter detestation of " that feeble 
tyrant," trembling in his luxurious palace at the sound 
of De Ruyter's cannons. " Then it was," says our au- 
thor, "that tardy justice was done to the memory of 
Oliver. Every where it was remembered how, when 
he ruled, all foreign powers had trembled at the name 
of England ; how the States-General, now so haughty, 
had crouched at his feet, and how, when it was known 
that he was no more, Amsterdam was lighted up as for 
a great deliverance, and children ran along the canals 
shouting for joy that the devil was dead." (p. 179.) 
And, indeed, at no period of her history had the chiv- 
alry of England been at an ebb so low, or her resources 
so little understood or at command. Buckingham and 
Rochester could flirt with women, and venture a tilt 
at swords with jealous gallants or outraged husbands 
and fathers ; but they did not relish the sterner game 


of meeting armed Dutchmen in battle. The few gal- 
lant spirits around the person of the king were dis- 
gusted with these insolent favorites, and shrank from 
encouraging a contest in which such minions and para- 
sites might exert an influence at once to be deprecated 
and dreaded. The position of England in the Euro- 
pean system during this entire reign was far from being 
important, if it was not even despicable. Indeed, she 
was almost regarded as the mere vassal of France, as 
her monarch certainly was the stipendiary of France's 
king. And yet it was during this same feeble reign, 
as we learn further on, that sprung the first germ " of 
that great and renowned army, which has in the pres- 
ent century marched triumphant into Madrid and Paris, 
into Canton and Candahar." To this army England 
owes all of her glory and all of her greatness. Com- 
mercial houses whose operations extend from the 
Thames to the Ganges, and from the Exchange of Lon- 
don to the bazaars of Pekin and Benares, would never 
have reached beyond the European or American Con- 
tinents, if even so far, if the military spirit and strength 
of the nation had been less fostered and cultivated. 
Even so late as the present century, England might 
have shared, at the hands of the French Conqueror, the 
fate of Prussia and of Austria, but for this energetic 
and formidable development of her martial power. It 
can scarcely be doubted that, if victory had declared 
for Napoleon on the field of Waterloo, England would 
have been crushed, or, at least, severely and vitally 
crippled. And yet the civil liberties of England are 
not at all endangered by her grand military system. 
Experience has abundantly shown that the arm of gov- 
ernment generally deemed the most dangerous to free 
constitutions and free systems elsewhere, is in this 
country skilfully converted into an efficient and power- 


ful arm of defence to both. England was never truly 
great commercially and politically, until her regular 
standing army was regularly established and appointed. 
Here, in our judgment, may be found the best means 
of solving the enigma which for two centuries has puz- 
zled mankind. It was not until then that her policy 
expanded and ripened, not until then that her enter- 
prising citizens found that great wealth and great glory 
might be made to travel hand in hand, and that both 
must be found elsewhere than within the narrow limits 
of their own island. From that moment, through all 
diasters and reverses consequent on long and bloody 
wars, all classes of society began to improve, and her 
commerce began to spread and to prosper. Since then, 
it is true, England has scarcely seen a whole year of 
uninterrupted peace with the whole world, but, in the 
mean time, she has scarcely experienced even the 
slightest retrogression. Trite maxims of ethics may 
do to inculcate as the basis of all proper government 
in some countries ; England has staked her destinies on 
pursuing the more practical system of politics. 

The strong faith of Mr. Macaulay in his own plan 
of writing history, as laid down in his essay on " his- 
tory," and given to the world years since through the 
pages of the Edinburgh Review, is abundantly shown 
in the third chapter of the first volume now before us. 
The whole tenor and nature evince his desire to come 
up to his own standard. The conformity of the his- 
tory to the model erected in the essay, in point of long 
and occasional prosy detail, in point of anecdote and 
memoir, in point of biographical narration, and in point 
of minute statistical inquiry, is admirable and eminently 
successful. The same ideas are advanced in his pleas- 
ing review of Mackintosh's history of James the Sec- 
ond "a history of England" he there says, after 


having gone through his imaginary plan, " written in 
this manner, would be the most fascinating book of the 
age. It would be more in request at the circulating 
libraries than the last novel." 

A fleeting shadow of this coining event to be real- 
ized so gratifyingly in his own case, doubtless prompted 
this remark. If Mr. Macaulay's ambition was directed 
solely to attain the name of having written a 'history 
most intensely " fascinating," and which would outstrip 
competition with works of fiction in the race of demand 
at the book depots, he has every reason to be satisfied, 
for his history has been even more sought after than 
any of the " last novels." But with all becoming def- 
erence to so august a judgment, we still think that his- 
tory should be written mainly with a view to some- 
thing else than these "charms" so peculiarly fancied 
by Mr. Macaulay. With all his staid and severe nar- 
rative, and " majestic etiquette " of method and style, 
we must say that we tire less soon of Henry Hallam 
than of T. Babington Macaulay, with all his flowing 
redundancy of narrative, his rare accomplishment of 
style, and his total disregard of those " conventional 
decencies " of historical compilation which he denounces 
as " absurd." 

The chapter under consideration may be useful to 
the masses of the curious, and to such as are fond of 
minute statistical research, especially in England, but 
we must hazard the confession that its great length, its 
scrupulous, undeviating particularity, even in the nicest 
points, and its barrenness of general historical interest, 
wearied us sadly before we saw its end. The cause of 
this may be, and we are bound to consider was, less in 
the distinguished author's want of taste, than in our 
own want of the proper appreciative faculties, but so it 
was, any way, and the confession must pass for what it 


is worth. We surely wished that the author had sought 
less to avoid an error which he so unsparingly condemns 
in other writers when, in the essay on history, he speaks 
of the most characteristic and interesting circumstances 
being omitted or softened down, because too trivial for 
the majesty of history. After preparing to read grave, 
condensed history as that " philosophy which teaches 
by example," we cannot find much of interest in length- 
ened descriptions of the size of great towns in such and 
such a century ; of how milliners, toy-men, and jewellers 
came down from London, and opened bazaars under 
the trees which surrounded the watering towns of 
Cheltenham, of Bath, of Brighton, and of Tunbridge ; 
and of how fiddlers played, and morris dancers capri- 
oled " over the elastic turf of the bowling green " of 
fine genial evenings. We do not look for such things 
in a work which has just absorbed our interest in re- 
counting the more solid scenes of Cromwell's career, 
and of grave contests between monarchs and their par- 
liaments. In Miss Pardoe's Court of Louis the Four- 
teenth, and in Mrs. Jameson's Beauties of the Court of 
Charles the Second, we delight to read of these pleas- 
ing interludes and romantic indulgences ; but, after 
conducting us to the very eve of that stirring epoch on 
which he has promised his readers more particularly to 
dwell, the ardent admirers of Mr. Macaulay (in the list 
of which we regard ourselves) must pardon us for say- 
ing that the author wearied us by this long account of 
what we conscientiously look on as " too trivial for the 
majesty of history." The polite literature of this bril- 
liant literary age does not long arrest the attention of 
Mr. Macaulay. A few pages of pithy, forcible review 
make up all that we hear of it, while science and phy- 
sics are alluded to only with distant reverence. Both 
are themes eminently worthy of the historian's atten- 


tion, but our author had treated of them too fully 
elsewhere to patiently pause and go minutely over old 

The change in the character and spirit of literature 
at this period is mainly to be ascribed to those essential 
differences which marked the seventeenth century from 
the preceding. With the substitution of living for the 
dead languages, new tastes had been introduced and 
were grown popular. The sixteenth century teemed 
with scholars of profound erudition ; but, in the latter 
part of the seventeenth, the new philosophy began to 
obtain. As the great writer from whom we derive 
these reflections remarks, " men were less learned, but 
more able ; " more subtle understanding and more ex- 
quisite discernment had been diffused through the re- 
public of letters. At the era of the Restoration every 
species of taste had grown more sprightly, and from 
this the literature of that period took tone and charac- 
ter. Literary ambition and interest were then mainly 
absorbed in the drama, and to this department the 
change in taste had also penetrated. In France the 
racy and brilliant productions of Moliere and Regnard 
had supplanted those of the grave Corneille, and more 
exquisite and refined Racine. In England, as was 
quite natural at such a time, the austere and prescrip- 
tive antipathy which had banished all sources of amuse- 
ment during the reign of the saints, broke up effectu- 
ally the continuity of those w r orks of elder dramatists 
which had given tone before to sentiment, and made 
way, after the Restoration, for a lighter, more frivolous, 
and more meretricious species of dramatic entertain- 
ment. One extreme in any department of policy 
adopted by one party, is sure to lead to the adoption 
of the opposite extreme by another party, in retaliation, 
if from no other higher motive. Such was the case in 


this instance, and it was under this new order of things 
that the genius of a Congreve, a Dryden, an Etherege, 
and a Wycherley, rose to the culminating point, and at- 
tained to such enviable ascendency. To the more en- 
tertaining and lively peculiarities of style in these wri- 
ters over the old school, was added another attraction 
which lent superior lustre and fascination to dramatic 
amusements. This was the introduction on the stage 
of female performers, who had never been admitted 
under the ancient regime. To this bold but adroit in- 
novation on established custom, the theatre-loving 
world is indebted for its long subsequent acquaintance 
with the brilliant histrionic talents and accomplishments 
of Mrs. Siddons and Miss O'Neil. In view of the many 
attractions of this fruitful theme, and of our admiration 
of Mr. Macaulay as a writer, we have sincerely wished 
that he had chosen to retrench other portions of the 
chapter before us, and dwelt more at length on its de- 
scription. The few pages, however, which he devotes 
to its consideration are captivating beyond all parallel. 
We only regret that we cannot transcribe largely for 
the benefit of readers who have not met with the his- 
tory, if, indeed, there be such. We may add that these 
few pages form the only oasis in the whole barren waste 
of this chapter, in point, at least, of true historical in- 

To quote, then, the full language of Junius we 
now " turn with pleasure from this barren waste, where 
no verdure quickens," and where no interest fastens, 
and open at a page which more than compensates for 
all of dryness that may have been encountered in the 
preceding chapter, and which kindles at once to the 
most intense and vivid pitch. We glide lingeringly 
over the successive paragraphs, and almost sigh when 
the brilliant though melancholy scene is closed. It will 



be understood, of course, by those who have read this 
book, that we allude to the author's graphic and suc- 
cinct account of the dying hours of King Charles the 
Second. All the personages of the mournful drama, 
all the scenes and their singular changes, appear at 
once before the eye, traced and drawn out with re- 
markable clearness and power. Barbara and Louise, 
and Hortensia, the queenly and voluptuous Duchess of 
Mazarin, niece of the great Ordinal, were all there, ra- 
diant with robes and gems, lustrous in all the glories 
of matchless personal charms. We see the timid, mild- 
mannered queen, abashed before the superior beauties 
of the king's frail sultanas, venturing nervously to the 
bedside of her distressed husband, fearful, even in that 
awful extremity, of indifference and repulse. There, 
too, for the first time distinctly, we behold the grim 
lineaments of the stern James, striving with bastards 
and prostitutes in kindly attentions to his departing 
brother. Then comes the trials and struggles of 
Charles with the Protestant clergymen their efforts 
to console and absolve his strange apathy and indiffer- 
ence. At length the solemn hour approaches, the se- 
cret has been unravelled by the devoted Louise ; and, 
by that secret staircase which has so often been used 
by Chiffinch to introduce frail damsels to his master's 
bedchamber, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church is 
ushered into the room. Then the dying monarch 
raises himself from his pillow, receives meekly the last 
solemn sacrament, and preserving to the last that " ex- 
quisite urbanity so often found potent to charm away 
the resentments of a justly incensed nation," thanks his 
attendants for their attentions and kindnesses, apolo- 
gizes for the length of tune he had been dying, and 
then resigning himself to the stroke, passes away with- 
out a struggle. 


This is the mere abstract of pages which might fur- 
nish to a poet ample material for a tragic drama. No 
scene was ever more splendidly or graphically described ; 
no living moving scene was ever more clearly realized, 
or ever afforded more intense and absorbing delight. 
Innovation, bold and broad though it be, upon the con- 
ventional, established form of writing history, to intro- 
duce so lengthy and minute a picture of a monarch's 
death-bed, we yet cannot be so untasteful as to find 
fault with that which has afforded us such exquisite en- 

Immediately on the heels of this follows the account 
of the proclamation of James the Second as King, and 
then comes that hollow-hearted speech to the Council, 
so profuse in satisfactory promises which were after- 
wards so shamelessly falsified. From this point the 
thread of legitimate historical narrative is taken up and 
pursued, with very few exceptions, to the end of the 
volume, with unexceptionable tenacity. With the 
odious retaliatory measures of religious persecution 
which disgraced the reign of this cold-blooded mon- 
arch ; the tortures of the perjurer Gates ; the cruel 
treatment of the Scotch Covenanters ; the contumelious 
secret negotiations with France ; and the assiduously 
pursued, crafty, mad-minded effort to crush the Estab- 
lished Church, in order to restore the supremacy of 
that of Rome, we have little or nothing to do in follow- 
ing up the object of these remarks. The chapter con- 
tains much of biographical delineation. Sir George 
Jeffreys and the brutal qualities of character and disposi- 
tion so witheringly attributed to him, fill the reader with 
sensations of unmitigated disgust and loathing ; while 
John Churchill, the future illustrious Duke of Marlbo- 
rough, is described in that characteristic manner which, 
as we have before said, leaves us in doubt whether to 


abhor or to admire a man who filled the world with his 
fame. The account of his early life really inspires con- 
tempt, and causes a regretful and unpleasing train of 
emotions when we connect the same with earlier and 
more grateful impressions of the victor of Blenheim and 
Ramillies, the proud conqueror of Villars and a brilliant 
array of brother marshals; the Captain-general of a 
coalition which embodied such commanders as Eugene 
and Peterborough. We give Mr. Macaulay full credit 
for candor and accuracy, but we cannot thank him, in 
view of these agreeable associations, for spoiling, with a 
dash of his cutting propensity, so interesting and ex- 
citing a connection of historical inquiry. There is 
something immeasurably disgusting especially, as we 
should think, to a proud Englishman when we connect 
the hero of such mighty battle-fields, the active agent 
of so mighty a coalition, with the mean, low-minded, 
despicable, and petty miser and sharper of the history ; 
with the kept minion of Barbara Palmer, Duchess of 
Cleveland, from whose adulterous bed he was once 
forced ignominiously to fly at the king's sudden ap- 
proach, or with the cringing recipient of a heavy purse 
of guineas from the haughty paramour, for having ac- 
complished, so successfully, a feat at once so wither- 
ingly ridiculous and full of hazard. We should as little 
feel obliged to an American historian who, in giving 
the account of Washington's early manhood, should 
choose to represent the Father of his Country in the 
midst of his slave quarters, engaged in flogging a re- 
fractory negro tied naked to the stake. Such scenes in 
connection with the world's venerated heroes should 
never find a place in history, which, we are told, is phi- 
losophy teaching by example. We can tolerate, in such 
a memoir as that of the Duchess of Abrantes, the story 
of Napoleon, as " Puss in boots," quarreling with pert 


young girls, and of his playing, while Chief Consul, at 
childish games of leap-frog and prisoner's base, during 
his recreations at Malmaison. But how would such a 
page as this appear in Thiers' History of the Consulate 
and Empire, where this same man is shown to us as the 
stern arbiter of the Duke d'Enghein's fate, as the victor 
of Marengo and Austerlitz, and as the haughty Dictator 
of prostrate kingdoms and empires ? As little did we 
expect to derive from the volumes before us impressions 
of contempt for the character of the greatest Comman- 
der ever born in England, and the loftiest ornament of 
her history. As Mr. Macaulay is the first, so we trust 
he will be the last of historians who seek to combine 
with the gravity and decorum of legitimate history 
gossiping memoir and scandalous anecdote. 

We come now to that portion of these volumes 
which has, doubtless, startled all American readers. 
In tracing the character of William Penn, the venerated 
Patriarch of one of our greatest States, our author has 
opened a chapter of his life which we confess is new to 
us, and, we imagine, to a great many others who have 
preceded and may succeed us in reading this work. It 
is somewhat to be wondered at, that a man whose 
shining virtues and spotless benevolence of character 
have won for him heretofore the admiration and eulo- 
gium of historians, and whose name has been handed 
down through generations, even, of wild, untaught sav- 
ages as the choicest model of his kind, should come in 
for so immoderate a share of our author's keen sarcasm 
and pungent exacerbation. Even Voltaire, the most 
critical and supercilious of modern authors, and not 
famous for universal leniency and tolerance, yet as- 
cribes to this good man qualities of heart and of char- 
acter that alone would have made him immortal. 
(Diet. Phil., Art. Quakers.) Yet Mr. Macaulay would 


have his readers to believe that William Perm would 
have been delighted to take air passage from London 
to Paris to have witnessed the tortures of Damiens. 
He would have them believe that he was miserly and 
extortionate, cringing, time-serving, and hard-hearted, 
to an extent that begets abhorrence. Penn, again, 
belongs to that class of persons alluded to some pages 
back, whom Mr. Macaulay first exalts, then abases ; 
praises in one breath, in the next damns ; and then 
leaves his readers to doubt and to contemn. This pro- 
pensity reminds us of an anecdote, familiar in Missis- 
sippi, of a certain juror, who was called on to try an 
issue between two suitors as to the right of property in 
a calf. The plaintiff's lawyer states his case, and our 
juror at once conceives a verdict in his favor. The 
defendant's lawyer next explains the nature of his claim, 
and our juror yields his first impressions. Finally, the 
Judge sums up the testimony, and expounds the law, 
and, in this charge, so mixes up the points in dispute, 
that our juror finds himself completely riddled, and 
protests that he cannot say who does own the calf. 
But asking the pardon of our author's admirers for 
this liberty we must introduce one or two extracts 
from the work to convey these impressions the more 
properly, and to exemplify the justice of these remarks. 
After devoting nearly an entire column to the praises 
of William Penn, our author (p. 471, vol. l) says: "his 
enthusiasm for one great principle sometimes impelled 
him to violate other great principles which he ought to 
have held sacred. Nor was his integrity altogether 
proof against the temptations to which it was exposed, 
in that splendid and polite, but deeply corrupted soci- 
ety, with which he now mingled. The whole Court 
was in a ferment with intrigues of gallantry, and in- 
trigues of ambition. The integrity of Penn had stood 


firm against obloquy and persecutions ; but now, at- 
tacked by royal smiles, by female blandishments, by 
the insinuating eloquence and delicate flattery of vete- 
ran diplomatists and courtiers, his resolution began to 
give way. It would be well if he had been guilty of 
nothing worse than such compliances with the fashions 
of the world. Unhappily it cannot be concealed that 
he bore a chief part in some transactions, condemned, 
not merely by the rigid code of the society to which 
he belonged, but by the general sense of all honest 

Now, these involve a charge of the deepest corrup- 
tion, sensuality, and hypocrisy. The courtier Penn, 
intriguing with frail, pretty women, seduced from hon- 
esty by flattery, easily cajoled and easily bribed, and 
the grave, benevolent-hearted, scrupulous patriarch 
Penn, treating with, and winning the confidence of 
rude sons of the wilderness, ruling a colony by the law 
of justice and morality alone, and then spurning to 
obtain royal favor by abjuring the customs of his soci- 
ety, are two dissimilar characters which we cannot 
reconcile. The one is despicable, the other venerable. 
We do not mean at all to impeach the authority of 
Mr. Macaulay, but we must see the proofs before we 
can be brought to believe in their identity of person. 
In this we are fortified and sustained both by the gen- 
eral voice of history and the solemn denial of Mr. Penn 
himself, when charged as guilty by his enemies of the 
court. The mere fact that such charges were made in 
Penn's lifetime cannot be taken as proof of their truth. 
Any man who occupies an envied position is h'able to 
be vitally impugned by his contemporaries. The 
charge of " bargain and intrigue " to obtain the office 
of Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams, has 
been levelled by unscrupulous enemies against Henry 


Clay for more than a quarter of a century ; yet no de- 
cent historian would venture to allude to it. otherwise 
than in the stern language of reprobation. Even Wal- 
ter Scott suffered in public opinion when it was found 
that, in his life of Napoleon, he had condescended to 
dignify with historical notice petty scandals against his 
illustrious subject. We will hazard the assertion that 
proofs just as strong going to show that Henry Clay 
was basely bribed, that Napoleon caused Pichegru and 
Captain Wright to be strangled in prison, and that he 
whispered proposals of incest in the ear of the Princess 
Borghese, (both of which are alluded to by Sir Walter 
Scott, though qualified with the expression of his dis- 
belief in their truth,) can be brought up by active, 
low-minded enemies, as any that can be arrayed to 
show that Penn intrigued with the court beauties of 
James the Second, and was bribed through his " vani- 
ty," as Mr. Macaulay intimates, to abet foul corruptions 
repulsive to "the general sense of all honest men." 
Yet no one ever candidly believed the first, every body 
rejects the second ; and we may safely add that no his- 
torian has ever before taken such pains to prove up the 

During the reign of terror and bloody assizes under 
James the Second, a company of young girls who had 
borne a banner in honor of Monmouth's entry into 
Taunton, were suddenly arraigned and imprisoned, at 
the instigation of the queen's maids of honor, in order 
to wring heavy sums in their ransom from the pockets 
of wealthy parents and friends. The maids made sev- 
eral attempts to engage gentlemen to undertake this 
task of unworthy extortion, but met with indignant 
rebuffs and scornful answers. At length they applied 
to William Penn. " Penn," says Mr. Macaulay, " ac- 
cepted the commission ; " and then the author adds, 


significantly, " yet it should seem that a little of the 
pertinacious scrupulosity which he had often shown 
about taking off his hat would not have been alto- 
gether out of place on this occasion." (p. 607.) The 
sarcastic tone of this sentence cannot be misunderstood, 
and betrays sufficient evidence of biassed judgment to 
induce us to take Mr. Macaulay's character of Penn 
with many qualifications and allowances. The invidi- 
ous at least unnecessary allusion, in another place, 
to the fact that Penn rode post haste from Tyburn, 
where he had just seen a man kick his life away under 
the gibbet, in order that he might not miss the show 
of seeing a woman burned in London, strengthens our 
impressions in this particular. Now we infer from the 
general character of Penn, that a high and noble hu- 
manity of sentiment prompted him to both these acts 
so liable to be used as the means of blackening his 
fame. Never before having met with either in any 
defined form, (never with the last,) we cannot venture 
to contradict or defend further. Mr. Macaulay him- 
self thinks that this was the "probable" motive of 
Penn on both these occasions. If we thought for a 
moment that such was not certain, our veneration for 
the name and memory of Penn would be speedily turn- 
ed into a feeling of unmitigated abhorrence and detes- 

The first volume of this history closes amidst scenes 
of melancholy and blood, appalling and sickening to an 
extreme that inspires disrelish for perusal. The awful 
scene of Monmouth's execution; the bloody assizes; 
the hanging, drawing, quartering, and transportation 
of the hapless victims of revenge: rotting skulls grin- 
ning at every cross-road; the noisome atmosphere; 
harrowing scenes of domestic affliction and suffering 
all told in the peculiar graphic and forcible style of this 


author, make up a total of disgusting facts unparalleled 
in the world's history, and which haunt one's reflections 
for days after reading of them. 

We shall not extend these remarks to the second 
volume, at this time ; our only remaining task is, there- 
fore, to condense and sum up our impressions of the 
general tone and character of the first. 

Upon the whole, then, we are inclined to regard 
this work more as a terse, well-digested, and brilliant 
essay on the history of England, than what it purports 
to be a history proper of England. It is altogether a 
new visitor to the circles of the literary world, both as 
to manner and method of telling history, and, in this 
sense, has attracted, as was naturally to be expected, 
unparalleled admiration. But like all preternaturally 
bright bodies in another sphere of attraction, it par- 
takes more of the meteoric than of the fixed or intran- 
sitive nature, and, we are inclined to believe, will be 
pronounced in the end rather splendid miscellany than 
unadulterated history. But it has served its purpose. 
Mr. Macaulay has allured many to a branch of reading 
which has generally been considered forbidding and 
uninviting, and his brilliant, captivating style has in- 
duced and held many to a task who might have been 
repelled by the austere gravity of Hallam, or the pithy 
sententiousness and severe condensation of Hume. He 
has smothered the harsh frown and wrinkled brow of 
English history, and wreathed her face with winning 
smiles, and in this has achieved a pleasing revolution in 
the taste and character of the literary world. "Whilst, 
therefore, he may not inspire the distant, reverential 
awe associated with Hallam or Robertson, his pages 
will always be opened with that agreeable anticipation 
of healthy and rational entertainment which possesses a 
reader of Kenilworth or Ivanhoe. Nor do we consider 


such comparison with these last wonderful productions 
at all disparaging to the claims of this history. Sir 
Walter Scott has, it is true, created many of his grand- 
est scenes, and clothed them with a garb and face of 
startling reality. Mr. Macaulay has thrown around 
real and authenticated scenes of history all the dazzling 
attractions of fanciful conception. This peculiarity 
constitutes the principal charm of his history a pecu- 
liarity and novelty of feature that must ever secure to 
it, independent of glaring innovations and bold episod- 
ings, a welcome place in all private libraries. It bears 
no resemblance to the historical works of the authors 
we have named. To compare Mr. Macaulay's history 
to that of any of these, would be like comparing a 
luminous mezzotint, or rich, variegated enamel, to the 
more grand, but at the same time more subdued, paint- 
ings of Rubens or Corregio. 

When it was made known to the world that Da- 
guerre had published his celebrated discovery that a 
process had been invented by means of which lifelike 
representations of person and of landscape could be 
taken by the agency of light only, reflected through 
the camera obscura, that the images thus produced 
were so clearly expressed that silk might be distin- 
guished from satin, and marble from plaster, every body 
predicted that the easel and the brush would be abol- 
ished, and that the art of painting would be effectually 
superseded by this more speedy and wonderful method. 
And for a time it seemed that this prediction would be 
verified. Painters looked sad, and began to throw 
aside canvas and pallet, and to purchase cameras and 
copper plates. Curiosity ran wild. Old pictures and 
family portraits became objects of jest and ridicule, and 
for a moment the splendid galleries of Florence and of 
Rome were forgotten and neglected. But it was only 


for a moment that the daguerreian process held this su- 
premacy. While all yet admire the genius of the dis- 
coverer and the strange and novel splendors of the dis- 
covery, while the magic operation still continues to 
dazzle and to puzzle beholders, it is yet evident that it 
is placed subordinate to the grander and more enduring 
achievements of the pencil. In making the application 
of this apologue (if we may thus speak), we mean only 
to express our convictions that historical works of this 
class and description, brilliant though they may be, and 
sparklingly as they may be welcomed, will be consigned 
to a, like subordinate station when compared with the 
labors of the elder and greater race of historians. We 
do not even mean to say it is our belief that Mr. Ma- 
caulay will meet this fate. There are many reasons to 
believe that he will not. His vast genius, his profound 
learning, his literary accomplishments, the fame with 
which he has filled the two hemispheres as a miscella- 
neous writer and reviewer, added to the fact that he is 
the author as well as leader of this style of writing his- 
tory, may, and most probably will, effectually preserve 
him from the fate of less gifted or less fortunate imita- 
tors and successors. 

But it is time these remarks should be brought to a 
close. We shall reserve much that we had intended to 
say, in this connection, for some future continuation of 
a task which was undertaken less to criticise, than to 
endeavor to show that even the greatest writers, when 
moving in a sphere of authorship different from that in 
which we have been most accustomed and delighted to 
hold converse with them, are very apt sometimes to 
disappoint high expectations. 


THIS book is certainly a literary curiosity not be- 
cause of its superior merits or rare composition, but be- 
cause of its singular popularity and success, when we 
compare these with its absolute unworthiness. Mr. 
Willis himself has long been eminent among a certain 
class of American literateurs, and his writings have 
generally been puffed into a sicklied notice through 
their influence ; added to the efforts of a whole legion 
of venal journalists, whose inferior talents, wholly dis- 
proportioned to their ambition, find always a most 
agreeable task in coming to the rescue of poems ema- 
nating from their cherished model, and whose life and 
occupation consist in playing an eternal and endless 
game of " Tommy, come tickle me ; " that thus, by a 
method of amiable collusion, they may hoist their con- 
federates and themselves into an ephemeral notoriety. 

Now, as we, in common with all true friends to 
genuine American literature, have a thorough contempt 
for this species of writers and literary representatives 
though these are not the most objectionable class and 
sincerely regard them as obstructions to all healthful de- 

* The Poems, Sacred, Passionate, and Humorous, of Nathaniel 
Parker Willis. Complete edition, revised and enlarged. New York : 
Clark, Austin & Co. 1850. 


velopment of a pure national literature, we have a mind 
to express our opinions quite freely and candidly in 
connection with Mr. Willis's book. But we desire it 
to be distinctly understood that no personal antipathies, 
as concerns our author, prompt us to the task. We 
have no acquaintance, personally, with Mr. Willis. We 
never met him or saw him, to our knowledge, and we 
know nothing unfavorable to his character or reputa- 
tion ; for if we did, we should be very far from entering 
into a review of his poems, which, we fear, may justly 
be considered harsh and condemnatory. If we had any 
personal spleen to vent, we should seek a more manly 
course of satisfaction ; while we should regard a goose- 
quill ebullition of wrath as contemptible and ridiculous 
indeed, dishonorable. We are thus particular, be- 
cause we have an especial object in view while we go 
through with our task of criticism, which object mainly 
is to expose the unworthiness of Mr. Willis and Ms co- 
terie to represent American literature, and, at the same 
time, to unfold some of the causes which make us, in a 
literary sense, the slaves of English writers, and the 
mere tools of Anglo-American publishers. We shall 
address our efforts, in an especial manner, to this latter 
class, for we believe that they are justly answerable for 
the ascendency of that herd of venal pretenders to 
literary excellence, whose daily flip-flap from job presses 
not only discourage meritorious and independent com- 
petitors, but have created such disgust for home litera- 
ture as to divert the interest of our truly tasteful and 
literary people across the waters, and to sicken them 
at the sight of an American work. Their selfish and 
unpatriotic conduct is manifested daily. Not content 
with flooding our country with mutilated and spurious 
English books, we are favored by these enterprising 
gentlemen with reprints of foreign magazines and re- 


views, to the serious and ruinous disparagement of our 
American works of that description. They go even 
farther. Their bloated fortunes are sparsely lavished 
on English and French writers, who, unprotected 
against American book pirates, and debarred from all 
pecuniary profits in this country, are willing to write 
for pennies, rather than lose all. A monthly maga- 
zine may thus be gotten up by influential and wealthy 
houses, which will overmatch American productions, as 
well in quantity as quality of matter. American wri- 
ters and journalists are generally too poor to write and 
work for nothing, which they must do if they would 
enter into competition with Anglo-American writers 
and Anglo-American publishers. . The absence of an in- 
ternational copyright law cuts off British writers in 
America, and, vice versa, cuts off American writers 
from all profits in Great Britain. Hence, a large pub- 
lishing house, like that of the Harpers, wealthy, influen- 
tial, and anti-American in feeling as concerns literary 
development and encouragement, may easily swell their 
enormous gains by pampering British writers who are 
legally debarred from copyright in this country, and 
who, poorly paid at home, pleasantly condescend to 
pick up pennies from foreign bidders ; while an Ameri- 
can-hearted publisher, devoted to the culture of home 
literature, and forced to pay high for good writers, is 
crowded out of the market. 

It is not difficult to perceive the drift and intent of 
these prefatory discursive remarks. We mean to be 
understood as endeavoring to demonstrate, that we, 
Americans, owe all our literary discouragements to 
Anglo-American publishers. An American journal or 
review, high-toned and able in character, is necessarily 
very expensive, because its contributors must, in gen- 
eral, be well paid. But an Anglo-American publisher, 


who refuses high-toned American productions, which 
are protected by law, and casts his bait for British 
writers who have no copyright privileges in our midst, 
is at no expense save that of his paper and type. The 
last can afford to undersell the first, and, of course, ob- 
tains precedence with the public. American readers 
are far more familiar with British novelists, poets, es- 
sayists, and historians, than with those of the United 
States. Thus is America made the slave of England, 
literarily, not for want of equal talent on the part of 
her writers, but from the selfish policy of large and 
influential publishers. An American journalist is un- 
derbid by literary poachers on British disabilities. The 
American writer offers his work to an Anglo-American 
publisher, only to be told that a British work of equal 
merit can be thrown before the public free of all orig- 
inal cost. Hence American literature is almost in the 
dust; and when Irving, Cooper, Prescott, and some 
few other master souls shall have passed away, it is 
greatly to be feared that genuine American literature 
will be without a worthy representative. 

Such are some of the hapless causes from which has 
sprung the sickly ascendency of such poetry as that of 
Mr. Willis, and his numerous confreres. America is 
without a poet, or a poetical prestige. Here, in our 
opinion, is the reason. We have no Byron, no Moore, 
no Walter Scott. The minds, if any such have ever 
been born in our midst, which felt a consciousness, per- 
haps, of inspiration akin to theirs, have shrunk from 
competition with mere handicraft pretenders, or else 
have been deterred by repulsive and avaricious pub- 
lishers. But we have Mr. Willis, and, as the Coryphaeus 
of his venal band, it is with Mr. Willis we intend to 
deal. He has habitually assumed to himself, for a long 
series of years, a species of supremacy in the second- 


rate literary circle, which makes him pre-eminently fit, 
and proper, and legitimate game for our present under- 
taking. The lofty and self-important tone which dis- 
tinguishes, even yet, his weekly editorial bulletins, im- 
presses, and is doubtless designed to impress, all readers 
with an idea of his judicial super eminence in literary 
affairs. Nor have we the least fault to find with this. 
On the contrary, we award to Mr. Willis a high and 
enviable degree of moral courage in playing his game ; 
for it must be confessed, in view of his slender materi- 
als, that he plays his game with remarkable address. 
It is not every day that we find a man who has the 
courage to put forth and father such a production as 
Mr. Willis's " Sacred Poems," and yet complacently 
and serenely supererogate weekly patronage to all 
other American poets and writers. 

Nobody will doubt, we imagine, but that Mr. Wil- 
lis has acquired his poetical notoriety by means of a 
systematic and well-directed course of magazine and 
newspaper puffing; for no sane person, we are per- 
suaded, can read his poetry, and trace the same to any 
merits he possesses in that line. We know that puffers 
can do much. We know that authors, when placed in 
certain situations, can do more still, to emblazon their 
works, and snap public opinion, or rather public noto- 
riety. But we confess that, to our judgment, neither 
puffers per se, nor puffed authors par excellence, ever ac- 
complished a more dexterous or unaccountable achieve- 
ment than when they succeeded in puffing Mr. N. 
Parker Willis into existence as a poet. It is no incon- 
siderable source of amusement, we may remark en pas- 
sant, to sit apart and watch the trickery of now-a-day 
authors, especially poetical authors, to create for them- 
selves a salable notoriety. The method is complete, 
and may lay claim to quite a venerable antiquity. The 


proprietor of a magazine projects a creditable scheme 
to disseminate agreeable light reading, mingling with 
the same fashion plates, fancy engravings, and much 
learned talk about tournures and trousseaux. He en- 
lists one or two really talented and able writers, and a 
dozen or two second and third-rate writers. The first 
require too high pay to fill up an entire number with 
their writings. Therefore, the last are called in to fill 
up the intervals ; serving the first pretty much in the 
same capacity as common actors, in a stock company, 
serve the "star" actor. By-and-by the best of the 
commoners is selected for a puff offering ; and then the 
clangor of editorial clarions begins : " Wonderful genius 
developed," " unrivalled debut," " Tom Moore surpass- 
ed," " Walter Scott equalled," " Byron matched," and 
many other rare and rich specimens of genuine blarney 
are blazoned on the covers, and new contributions an- 
nounced from the pen of some " newly-discovered, fast- 
rising, and world-eclipsing poet." The whole pack of 
venal pennymen open on the scent, and weeks and 
months are consumed in crying up a literary synonym 
of " Jarley's wax works,'* or Barnum's " Chinese lady." 
In the mean while, the readers of the magazine are all 
agape with astonishment at their protracted obtuseness 
as regards the merits of this amazing child of letters. 
They have whiled away years of intimacy with the 
author's writings, and yet were required to be waked 
up to his accomplishments. The din of trumpets is 
systematically prolonged ; their ears are so continu- 
ously racketed with the noise of his achievements, that, 
at length, they read every thing bearing such a re- 
doubtable name, and tacitly consent to have him en- 
rolled as a standard author. 

This account will not, we incline to think, be con- 
sidered too overwrought or exaggeratory to those who 


are familiar with the reading of the various literary 
newspapers and magazines of our northern cities. At 
all events, we think we may safely say that the " Sa- 
cred Poems " of our author are mainly indebted to this 
species of collusive heraldry for their singular notoriety. 
And to increase the chances of their being shelved as 
standard specimens of American poetry, Mr. Willis has 
thought proper, we suppose, to bring them out at this 
time, in connection with other poems, prefaced with a 
serene-tempered, somewhat self-gratulatory introduc- 
tion, and quite a pretty picture of himself in one of his 
most sentimental attitudes. 

Whatever may be our opinions, we are, however, 
constrained to criticise Mr. Willis as a poet. Maga- 
zine publishers and newspaper editors chronicle his 
comings and his goings, his sayings and his writings, 
his adventures and his onslaughts, as those of "the 
poet." He himself tells us that he " has no hesitation 
in acknowledging the pedestal on which public favor 
has placed him." We are forced, therefore, to regard 
such high authority ; and as he looms forth to the pub- 
lic eye, self-sculptured and architraved, we should be 
wanting in respect to " public favor," not to recognize 
his claims to the name of poet. 

We expect to confine this article mainly to a notice 
of the " Sacred Poems," as these, we believe, are gen- 
erally supposed to form the principal cornice of that 
"pedestal" to which our author refers. We must 
begin by saying that they are, to our judgment, very 
tame and unsuccessful transpositions of beautiful Scrip- 
tural incidents. That which is intended for poetical 
amplification and illumining, pales and flickers beside 
the unpretending but impressive diction of the sacred 
writers. Indeed, in the progress of their perusal, we 
meet oftentimes, as we shall presently demonstrate, 


with really pitiful and sickly attempts to retouch and 
embellish what has been far better told hi the original, 
thousands of years ago, when languages had scarcely 
assumed definite form. They abound with expressions 
which are not only shamefully unpoetical, but are un- 
euphonious, ungraceful, and improper ; while they are 
most untastefully repeated, as applied to the different 
characters, and for lack of originality of thought, in 
nearly every poem of the series. 

We cite, as an instance of this striking want of true 
taste in the choice of expression, the following lines 
from the poem of " Jairus's Daughter : " 

" The old man sunk 
Upon his knees, and in the drapery 
Of the rich curtains buried up his face" 

Also the following from the poem of " The Leper : " 

" And in the folds 
Of the coarse sackcloth shrouding up his face" 

Again, in the " Sacrifice of Abraham," we are fa- 
vored with the same expression as the first, as fol- 

" And Abraham on Moriah bow'd himself, 
And buried up his face" &c. 

In the poem on " Absalom," David is reduced to 
the same grievous necessity as Jairus and Abraham, 
but the expression is slightly varied for the better, 

" He covered up his face, and bow'd himself," &c. 

" We next find " Hagar " seeking like consolation 
as her predecessors in the volume : 

" And, shrouding up her face, she went away," &c. 

The last example to which we shall refer in corrob- 
oration of our ah 1 eged fault against " the poet," is found 


in the poem of " Lazarus and Mary," where the latter, 
seemingly in a sort of mesmeric communication with 
Hagar, David & Co., resorts to the very same expedient 
while grieving : 

" She covered up Tier face, and turn'd again 
To wait within for Jesus." 

Now, we contend that the term " buried up," or 
" shrouded up," is not only an unpoetical and ungrace- 
ful, but a manifestly incorrect term, besides being harsh 
and discordant ; not to mention the fact that the ex- 
pression is used six or eight times in short, succeeding 
poems, comprising in all only some fifty-eight pages. 
We had better say bury down than " bury up? for the 
first is more likely; but the phrase, either way, is 
clearly unchaste especially when, seeking to glide 
softly through the melodious flow of blank verse, we 
chance suddenly to stumble against its roughness. In- 
deed, we must say that Mr. Willis pays quite a poor 
compliment to the taste of his readers when he supposes 
that they will charitably endure such continuous and 
ugly repetitions, in the absence of all excuse for such, 
unless he shall plead, in extenuation, a want of origi- 
nality, or an over-desire to obtain those " present gains " 
which, in his preface, he very frankly tells us, were 
more his object than was any " design upon the future." 
We might, probably, account for the uncouthness of 
expression more easily. In truth, we feel greatly in- 
clined to attribute the same less to a want of proper 
discriminative powers, than to the feeling of arrogant 
confidence which easily prompts to immoderate self-in- 
dulgence and unallowable liberties, those persons who 
are under the influence of that intoxication which is en- 
gendered by incautious admiration of themselves. 

But more than all, we must seriously object to the 


justness of that popular award which seems to have 
greeted these poems, because of their unpleasing, spirit- 
less sameness and resemblance. They are alike in 
thought, in character, in description, and in language, 
nearly ; and if the names were not different, and the 
scenes slightly shifted, we might unconsciously mistake 
Jairus for David, and Abraham for Jephthah ; as also 
the Shunamite mother for the widow of Nain, Hagar 
for Rizpah, and Absalom on his bier, for Lazarus as he 
lay shrouded for the grave. There is a grating continu- 
ity of all the essential features and groundwork which 
form each separate poem throughout the entire series ; 
and, even if they possessed intrinsic merits, all interest 
in them would be marred and spoiled by so inexcusable 
a blemish. We turn over leaf after leaf without finding 
that relief which is so necessary when engaged in read- 
ing poetry; that variety of thought and description 
which constitutes the secret of true poetical composi- 
tion, and without which, as they well know, the best 
of poets become soon insupportably tiresome. The ge- 
nius of Spenser and of Ariosto is universally admired 
and admitted ; yet no one wades through the Faerie 
Queene or the Orlando Furioso, without wearying sadly 
under the weighty and monotonous versification. We 
do not, by any means, intend to compare Mr. Willis or 
his " Sacred Poems " to these fathers of poetry and 
their hallowed chefs d'ceuvre ; we mean only to say that 
he has fallen into their only error and that, not be- 
cause he intended to do so on the ground of allowable 
precedent, but because, although poet-born as he seems 
to think, he has failed to learn one of the very first ele- 
ments of the ars poetica. Our private opinion is, to say 
truth, that these awkward and uncomely transpositions 
of Scripture were squirmed forth by their author just 
as the blank pages of Mr. Godey's " Book " required, 


or as Mr. Godey's purse could afford, monthly offerings 
to the pile of those " present gains." Their arrange- 
ment and composition do not indicate or foreshadow 
that slumbering genius which, after long years have 
passed, can now inspire its possessor with such exultant 
confidence as to herald the publication of his early-day 
poems with an assurance to his readers that the " ripe- 
ness of poetical feeling and perception are all before 
him." The series forms a perfect family, in which the 
resemblance between the various members is so great 
as to strike the most casual observer. Each succeeding 
poem is but a transfiguration of its predecessor ; and 
the shade of difference is so slight as to be almost im- 
perceptible, excepting, as we have said, as to locality 
and name. 

Sir Walter Scott, in his book on Demonology and 
Witchcraft, if we may pursue farther this course of re- 
mark, tells us of a young London gentleman who, from 
extreme nervous disarrangement, was seriously annoyed 
by a troup of phantoms which appeared to his vision 
nightly at a certain hour. He found it necessary to 
call the advice of a medical gentleman. After examin- 
ing the state of his patient, the physician advised a re- 
moval to his country seat. The change of scene effected 
wonders. The patient thanked his physician, deter- 
mined on settling permanently in the country, broke 
up his house in town, and brought his furniture to the 
villa. But this, alas ! proved to be a fatal move. The 
sight of the familiar furniture revived the unhealthy as- 
sociations of his malady, and he had scarcely retired to 
bed before the whole company of dancing spectres re- 
appeared with an expression of countenance that seemed 
to say to him, " Here we all are again ! Here we all 
are again ! " 

Now this anecdote we take to be aptly illustrative 


of the character and style of Mr. Willis's series of Sa- 
cred Poems. We read the first and second, and then, 
for a rest, lay the book aside. In a short time we take 
the notion to resume. We naturally look for some 
novelty and refreshment. But, lo ! the third is but the 
first and second, dignified with a change only of inci- 
dent and name ; the same thoughts, the same concep- 
tions, the same descriptive outlines, except, perhaps, 
that one transpires at day-dawn, another at noontide, 
and the third at twilight or late evening. With the 
precision of a musical box, which is wound up at inter- 
vals that it may play over the same tunes again and 
again, we find Mr. Willis, in nearly every successive 
poem of his sacred series, true to his familiar portrait- 
ures of a distressed father, an anguished and doting 
mother, an interesting corpse, and a ministering spirit ; 
varied only as the scenes are made severally to occur 
by sunlight, or starlight, or moonlight. 

But there are, in these poems, other and more seri- 
ous blemishes than those of repetition and sameness, 
merely. The diction is oftentimes imperfect, and some- 
times quite obscure. For instance, in the opening lines 
of the poem of Jairus's Daughter, we have the follow- 
ing lines : 

" The shadow of a leaf lay on her lips, 
And as it stirred with the awakening wind," <fec, 

Here is a palpable impropriety. The pronoun it must 
refer to the noun nominative, or the sentence is without 
meaning ; and if it be intended thus, the idea is non- 
sensical, for we are at a loss how to imagine that " the 
awakening wind" can stir the shadow of a leaf; and 
yet shadow is the relative of it, as leaf is in the objec- 
tive case. We have heard of " airy tongues that sylla- 
ble men's names," where the scene supposed is mingled 


with something unnatural or superstitious ; but, in a 
plain, matter-of-fact case, taken, too, from Holy Scrip- 
ture, we have never before observed where shadow is 
so complacently made substance. Nor are we at all 
satisfied, as a reader of poetry, or of what is meant for 
poetry, with the figure of speech to which Mr. "Willis 
here resorts to bring forth his idea. There is something 
strained in the idea of casting the shadow of a leaf on a 
dying girl's lips. Her bosom, her cheek, her forehead 
any of the three could more properly have been used 
than lips. The whole sentence is mawkish and ungain- 
ly, even though it had been properly constructed. 

A few lines further, speaking of Jairus as he " buried 
up his face " in the drapery of curtains, he thus goes on : 
"And when the twilight fell, the silken folds 
Stirred with his prayer, but the slight hand he held 
Had ceased its pressure ; and he could not hear, 
In the dead, utter silence, that a breath 
Came through *her nostrils ; and her temples gave 
To his nice touch no pulse ; and at her mouth 
He held the lightest curl that on her neck 
Lay with a mocking beauty," &c. 

Here we have again a most obscure and incorrect 
phrase, insomuch that one cannot easily imagine how 
silent prayer can possibly stir " silken folds." There 
is, moreover, an ungraceful abundance of anatomical 
delineation ; for we have, in the few lines quoted, little 
else than a description, in regular succession, of hands, 
nostrils, temples, mouth, neck, &c., besides the rather 
odious picture of a delicate, dying young lady breathing 
through her nose. 

The seven or eight opening lines of the next para- 
graph will do something better, and possess a moiety 
of prettiness : 

" It was night ; 

And softly, o'er the sea of Galilee, 


Danced the breeze-ridden ripples to the shore, 
Tipp'd with the silver sparkles of the moon, 
The breaking waves played low upon the beach 
Their constant music, but the air beside 
Was still as starlight, and the Saviour's voice, 
In its rich cadences unearthly sweet, 
Seem'd like some just-born harmony in the air, 
Waked by the power of wisdom." 

But, after much tame and badly-conceived descrip- 
tion, we find in the closing paragraph a repetition of 
the author's anatomical peculiarities, in a long and ful- 
some jeremiad about "transparent hands" and "taper- 
ing nails ; " " nostrils spiritually thin " and " breathing 
curve ; " " tinted skin " and " azure veins ; " " jet lash " 
and " pencilled brow ;" " hair unbound," " small, round 
ears," "polish'd neck," and "snowy fingers." Each 
noun is regularly mated with an adjective, two, three, 
or more, as the length of the line may admit, or as the 
author's invention may quicken. In the midst of this 
poetasting dissection the first of the series closes, ab- 

The second is taken from the Scripture account of 
a person whom Christ cured of the leprosy as he was 
passing on to Capernaum. The incident is narrated by 
St. Matthew in the eighth chapter, second, third, and 
fourth verses of his Gospel, thus : 

2. " And behold, there came a leper aud worshipped him, saying, 
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 

3. " And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I 
will : bo thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 

4. " And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man ; but go thy 
way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses com- 
manded, for a testimony unto them." 

The manner and style of this pithy narration are 
exceedingly chaste and impressive ; with a melody and 
simplicity of diction, at the same time, that fall agreea- 


bly on the ear, and are evincive of much closer alliance 
with true metrical harmony, than is the pompous and 
elaborated poem of which we are speaking. But Mr. 
Willis has chosen to misconceive the spirit, and to mis- 
interpret the facts of the incident both, too, to the 
disparagement of the gospel version. He sets out with 
a warning flourish of trumpets, and an array of notes 
of exclamation truly appalling, and which are wholly 
at war with the mild and unpretending features of the 
real incident. The Bible scene is eminently character- 
istic of all that was lovely in the Saviour's earthly min- 
istrations and associations. The portrayal made by 
Mr. Willis in his poem is unstriking, and very badly 
conceived in every respect ; while its execution is so 
flat and commonplace as to excite a feeling of amaze- 
ment that the author should ever have been reckoned, 
or should presume to reckon himself, a poet. There is, 
besides, an ungraceful perversion of one of the not least 
impressive facts, which robs the story of its principal 
charm. Jesus, after healing the suppliant leper, bids 
him " tell no man," but to go and " show himself to 
the priest," and offer the gift as commanded by Moses. 
Mr. Willis, on the other hand, and with most unac- 
countable want of artistic taste, chooses to send his 
leper to the priest in the first instance, and that not to 
offer " the gift " as " testimony," but to solicit a cure, 
or rather to hear an official affirmation of the " doom " 
which he was already expiating. Now we can imagine 
something peculiarly interesting, as well as suggestive, 
in connection with Matthew's story, of how the poor 
crushed victim of a loathsome disease might fall at the 
Saviour's feet, and implore that compassion which he 
had heard was never solicited in vain ; and, being 
healed, should then go to the soul-hardened priest, and 
show himself, as directed, with the gift in hand. But 


we are unable to perceive the beauty or force of Mr. 
Willis's tortuous and unnatural version, or of the wiz- 
ard-like malediction which he puts into the priest's 
mouth. We seriously object, also, to the application 
and correctness of the following simile, when, speaking 
of Jesus, he says : 

" Yet in his mien 

Command sat throned serene, and if He smiled, 
A kingly condescension graced his lips, 
The lion would have crouch? d to in his lair." 

A look of command is always associated with pride, 
or with haughtiness of demeanor, or with some physi- 
ognomical development indicative of superiority. The 
Saviour is not thus represented ; but is always humble, 
meek, unpretending, and studiedly unostentatious ; 
while command, in the sense intended above, is never 
evidenced in look or word. As for " kingly condescen- 
sion," in connection with the character of this person- 
age, the idea is as absurd as it is misapplied ; and, at 
the same time, we have always loved to imagine " the 
lion " rather as following and fawning upon so benign 
a being as Jesus caressingly familiarized as in the par- 
adisal time than " crouching in his lair " to an awe- 
inspiring and commanding master. We never before 
met with so gross and reckless an onslaught on the 
mildness and meekness of the Saviour. 

The third poem of the series opens thus : 

" 'Twas daybreak, and the fingers of the dawn 
Drew the night's curtain, and touched silently 
The eyelids of the king." 

We take this to be, on the whole, the worst con- 
ceived and most unstriking similitude in the world. 
We might very well go further, and pronounce it to 
be the least allowable, and certainly the least apt. We 


have often known primer publishers to represent the 
sun with a great red rubicund face ; but we have here- 
tofore failed to find an instance where any writer, 
whether of the primer or poetical order, has gone so 
far as to picture the dawn wtih fingers. Mr. Willis's 
conceptions must be far ahead of any that his readers 
can claim, to imagine the remotest reality or plausible- 
ness of this unique metaphor. How much of the hori- 
zon, we beg to ask, will Mr. Willis invest with his im- 
aginary fingers ? We must suppose that he had chalk- 
ed out something definite and shapeful hi this respect, 
for we can scarcely think that he refers to, or means to 
finger the whole line of " the dawn." Nor do we at 
all sanction the idea of "the dawn's fingers touching 
silently the eyelids of the king." It is something outre 
and unimaginable, and evinces a woful lack of that fer- 
tility of thought which is the most essential element of 
a genuine poetical endowment. 

But a few lines further on, we meet with another 
figure of speech which, if less allowable, is at least 
equally novel and original. It occurs in the last of 
the lines employed to describe David's wont of a morn- 
ing to 

" Play with his lov'd son by the fountain's lip." 

It would be, we incline to think, quite a difficult task 
to go about trying to picture such a member to such a 
thing. Mr. Willis is either very dull about finding 
similitudes, or very reckless, or else very deficient in 
proper discrimination as concerns figurative acumen. 
We know that the Mississippi river is said to possess a 
mouth, in geographical parlance ; but a poet, unless he 
possessed Mr. Willis's boldness, would scarcely venture 
to clothe such mouth with lips. 

On the next page our author quite coolly employs 


other fingers than those of the dawn to perform their 
morning service when, describing another daylight 
scene he says : 

" and they who drew 

The curtains to let in the welcome light." 

This is genuine flesH and blood no undefinable and 
unimaginable ethereality ; and looks more like the plain 
common sense of every-day life. The repetition, how- 
ever, indicates a scrupulous nicety and distinctness of 
description, which is not usual to novelists or poets. 
Mr. Willis has a most inveterate penchant to designate 
the very time of night his characters go to bed, the 
precise hour at which they get up, how they washed, 
how they prayed, and never fails to tell his readers 
that the bed curtains were punctually drawn aside by 
something or somebody ; while the alternations of time 
which mark each poem vivify the illustration of name 
which attaches to Bulwer's novel of " Night and Morn- 

Passing over the " Sacrifice of Abraham," we come 
next to an expression in the "Shunamite," which 
strikes us with its absolute childishness : 

" She drew refreshing water, and with thoughts 
Of God's sweet goodness stirring at her heart," &c. 

Nor have we the least patience with such flippant taste 
as we find evidenced in the closing lines of the poem, 
where our poet does not allow his readers even a 
breathing spell but favors them only with a starry 
interval betwixt the period of the child's lingering, 
"long drawn out" death, and his hocus-pocus (a la 
Willis, we mean) restoration to life by the prophet. 

The poem of Jephthah's Daughter, we think, begins 
with entirely too much abruptness : 

" She stood before her father's gorgeous tent" 


There is a sort of sneaking resemblance to the opening 
line of Mrs. Hemans's heroic poem, Casabianca : 

" The boy stood on the burning deck." 

Or if Mr. Willis and his admiring coterie will pardon 
the allusion, we may rather liken it to a smack of the 
fine old nursery song : 

" Lord Lovell he stood at his castle gate." 

We should suppose from the following, from the 
same poem, that Mr. Willis had no very keen relish 
for a woman's lips, or no very nice perceptions of their 
daintiness, or else, having been born and bred in north- 
ern regions, was unused to the tropical growths of the 
sunny South : 

" Her lip was slightly parted, like the deft 
Of a pomegranate blossom" 

Now we are not at all of opinion that the term 
deft when thus applied is an admissible expression, for 
we read much oftener of clefts in rocks than in blos- 
soms. We have heard of Moses being ensconced in 
the cleft of a rock while God's glory passed along : we 
cannot imagine how Moses could seat himself in the 
deft of a blossom; and yet, the objects being totally 
dissimilar, the phrase must be incorrect in one or the 
other case. But we take the liberty to submit that 
" the cleft of a pomegranate blossom " is as unlike the 
parting of a woman's lips as it is possible to conceive ; 
and as the cleft of this blossom is by no manner of 
means a very graceful or luscious severance, but on the 
contrary rough and rugged for so gorgeous a flower, 
we incline to think that so exquisite a gentleman as 
Mr. Willis would have hesitated about the comparison 
if he had ever seen the petals of a pomegranate bloom. 

While describing with much enthusiasm the beauty 


of Jephthah's daughter, the poet winds up with the 
following : 

" Her countenance was radiant with love ; 
She looked like one to die for it" &c. 

After having exhausted description of the same ana- 
tomical tendencies as previously gone through with in 
the case of Jairus's daughter, and lavished on his young 
heroine every beauty of thought of imagery, we are 
quite too suddenly let down with the expression above 
italicized. To " die for it" is a loose, vulgar arrange- 
ment of words, amounting almost to downright inde- 
cency. We do not look for such within the pages of 
so neat a book, or from the pen of so courtly a littera- 
teur, especially when that pen is engaged with such 
lofty and sacred subjects. We recollect to have come 
across such an expression in the first pages of the Heart 
of Mid Lothian, where, after the mob had broken down 
the door of the tolbooth, one of the number releases an 
imprisoned fellow-bandit, with the advice, "Rin/or it, 
Ratcliffe !" Now, at such a time, in such a place, and 
uttered by such a person, no expression could have 
been more appropriate or in better taste. But as ap- 
plied to so lovely and interesting a creation as Jeph- 
thah's hapless daughter, no set of words can be more 
harsh or unseasonable. 

" Onward came 
The leaden tramp of thousands." 

This, again, found a few lines afterward, is an incor- 
rect and unfortunate simile. There is nothing martial 
or stirring in connection with leaden materials. Lead 
gives back a dull, dead sound. Nor is it possible to 
understand or perceive the pith and point of an expres- 
sion which presupposes leaden shoes, as it is a metal 
never used ibr that purpose, whether for men or horses. 


The last being evidently alluded to, we rather think a 
son of Vulcan would smile at stumbling on such an 

We are glad we can reconcile it to the task we have 
undertaken, to say that we consider the poem on Ab- 
salom quite a creditable and successful effort, much 
the best of the sacred series as so far noticed. The 
prettiest lines and strongest description which occur 
in the whole series may be found, we think, in the 
poem of " Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem." 

" As he reach'd 

The summit's breezy pitch, the Saviour raised 
His calm blue eye there stood Jerusalem I 

* * * * How fair she look'd 
The silver sun on all her palaces, 
And her fair daughters 'mid the golden spires 
Tending their terrace flowers, and Kedron's stream 
Lacing its meadows with its silver band, 
And wreathing its mist-mantle on the sky 
With the morn's exhalations." 

The imagery here shadowed forth is inconceivably 
grand and magnificent, wholly beyond the bounds of 
the rather contracted and too tame description of Mr. 
Willis. Indeed, we have long thought that this most 
interesting Scriptural event is eminently prolific of wide 
and glorious themes of contemplation, and we wonder 
that so spiritless a writer, poetically speaking, as our 
author, should so boldly have ventured to versificate 
the simple and unadorned narrative of the sacred pen- 

We have loved, oftentimes, to imagine the incidents 
of that eventful morning when, seated on the pictur- 
esque summit of the Mount of Olives, the august son 
of Mary gazed sadly, though with the eager admiration 
of expanded tastes, on the glorious beauties and re- 


splendent panoramic scenery which all around opened 
to view. And what would not his adorers of the pres- 
ent day have bartered to have been numbered among 
the little group whose wondering eyes were fixed, en- 
tranced and bewildered, on the benign and mysterious 
young Being whose lips were giving utterance to that 
gloomy prophecy which announced, in mournful strains, 
the approaching calamities and woes of Zion ! 

" There stood Jerusalem ! " 

The early rays of the sun dispensed, perhaps, a cheerful 
hue over the scene, and the soft breath of the morning 
breeze swept gently through the groves of palm trees 
which waved in the valley. Just beneath, at the moun- 
tain's base, was the smiling little hamlet of Bethany, 
the quiet abode of the lovely sisters and their brother, 
with its groups of neat cottages, and modest pastoral 
mansions, half obscured in the vast shadows which yet 
enveloped them. Beyond, arose in sullen majesty the 
bleak and frowning mountains which overlooked the 
ancient city of the Canaanites, and immediately be- 
tween was Jerusalem itself with its hills, and winding 
walls, and wild ravines looming in the mellow light, 
with those stupendous architectural monuments which 
had endured since the age of Solomon, and which, long 
centuries anterior, had fallen under the eye of the Mace- 
donian conqueror. Rising proudly above the rest was 
the famous mount of Zion, the ancient Acropolis of 
King David, crowned with the splendid palace which 
had once sheltered the royal lover and his frail Bath- 
sheba; whose spacious harems swarmed afterwards 
with the thousand voluptuous houris of their amorous 
son, and which, even in ruin, seemed to assert its former 
grandeur. Opposite was the crescent-shaped mount of 
Acra, romantically studded with lesser eminences ; and 


from whence to wo red the grand and gorgeous struc- 
ture first consecrated to the worship of Israel's God, 
the gigantic dimensions of which yet startle and be- 
wilder mankind. We may easily imagine that, as the 
sun's brilliant rays irradiated the glittering front, it 
appeared to the group on Mount Olivet as a vast moun- 
tain of dazzlingly white marble, presenting a magnifi- 
cent array of domes, and pillars, and turrets, all fretted 
with golden pinnacles, which, touched with the resplen- 
dence of the early morn, shone with surpassing gran- 
deur. Intervening was the broad valley of the Cheese- 
mongers, so famed in Bible story, and from the dark 
bosom of which bubbled the sparkling pool of Siloam ; 
while on the north, from amidst cliffs and crags cov- 
ered scantily with dwarfed shrubbery, was Calvary 
destined, a few months afterward, to tremble beneath 
the wonders* and the horrors of the crucifixion. Be- 
neath were seen the rock-clad streets which had been 
so often threaded by the hostile bands of Gentile con- 
querors, and so often drenched with the blood of pros- 
trate Israel. Before that temple had Alexander paused 
to reverence the High Priest. There the Syrian chief- 
tain, surrounded by his fierce soldiery, had designed to 
honor the Jehovah of his fallen foe ; and there, too, 
had Pompey the Great, fresh from the gory field, bent 
his haughty spirit before the hallowed associations be- 
longing to the spot. 

Such are the imperfectly told and mere skeleton 
outlines of a theme which might have challenged the 
minstrelsy of a Homer, but which Mr. Willis, with 
singular apathy and negligence, has been content to 
cramp up within the space of some half dozen lines, in 
despite of its crowds of suggestive associations so le- 
gitimately appropriate to his subject. 

The limits of a critique will not allow us thus to loi- 


ter ; we must pass on, therefore, to the " Baptism of 
Christ." Our attention is first arrested by these 

"Softly in 

Through a long aisle of willows, dim and cool, 
Stole the clear waters with their muffled feet? 

We do not know, in the first place, what business the 
preposition in has where we find it, unless Mr. Willis 
designed, at the risk of grammar, to lengthen his line 
to the proper measure ; but we are utterly confounded 
when our author eomes to speak of the " muffled feet " 
of " clear waters." We are familiar with the expres- 
sion, " foot of the mountain," or " foot of the hill," but 
we have jumped up for the first time that of the feet 
of waters muffled at that. We are to suppose, how- 
ever, that as we become acquainted with Willisiana 
perfumes, we are in like manner to learn Willisiana 
figures of speech, having already shaken hands with 
the " fingers of the dawn," and stumbled against the 
"muifled feet" of water. 

A few lines after these we find that Mr. Willis, with 
the unrestrained privileges of a poet, ventures unhesi- 
tatingly and quite complacently to settle a Scriptural 
quarrel which has consumed hundreds of disputatious 
folios, and has puzzled learned theologians ever since 
the apostolic era ; for, alluding to John the Baptist, we 
meet with the lines describing him as 

" He stood breast-high amid the running stream, 
Baptizing as the Spirit gave him power." 

It is by no means conceded by Christians that John 
actually went into the " running stream ; " and although 
Mr. Willis's version may be sanctioned by the sectaries 
of the old Baptist denomination and the neophytes of 
the Campbellian school of divinity, we yet think that 


the same would be denounced as heretical and unortho- 
dox by the doctors of Geneva, of Oxford, and of the 
Sorbonne ; while even Rome might fulminate her Pa- 
pal bulls against the rash assumption. 

We take the following from the poem of Hagar in 
the Wilderness : 

" It was an hour of rest ; but Hagar found 
No shelter in the wilderness, and on 
She kept her weary way, until the boy 
Hung down his head, and open'd his parch'd lips 
For water ; but she could not give it him. 
She laid Urn down beneath the sultry sky 
For it was better than the close, hot breath 
Of the thick pines and tried to comfort him ; 
But he was sore athirst, and his blue eyes 
Were dim and bloodshot, and he could not know 
Why God denied him water in the wild. 
She sat a little longer, and he grew 
Ghastly and faint, as if he would have died. 
It was too much for her. She lifted him 
And bore him further on, and laid his head 
Beneath the shadow of a desert shrub ; 
And shrouding up her face, she went away, 
And sat to watch, where he could see her not, 
Till he should die." 

Taken as a whole, we must pronounce this extract 
to be very awkward, very inexpressive, unideal, and 
commonplace. Besides the sluggish composition, there 
is exhibited a most woful deficiency in creativeness of 
imagination and artistic ingenuity. If we analyze mi- 
nutely, it is to be feared that numerous minor blem- 
ishes may be shown. In the short space of eighteen 
lines the words he and she are made to occur eleven 
times ; as if the author's ideas could not be cut loose 
from his characters. During the same time Hagar rose 
up and sat down again twice. She lifts Ishmael up 
and lays him down twice. The last time she leaves 


him to repose in a rather intangible and undefinable 
place, for Mr. Willis tells us she " laid his head beneath 
the shadow of a desert shrub." We should suppose 
that a desert or leafless shrub would afford but scanty 
shade, where even " thick pines " had been found too 
" close and hot." 

" Fair were his locks. His snowy teeth divided 
A bow of Love, drawn with a scarlet thread." 

These lines are found while describing one of the 
sons of Rizpah ; but the reader is wiser than we claim 
to be, if he can unravel the meaning. How " snowy 
teeth " can divide a " bow of Love," we are wholly un- 
able to divine ; nor can we tell what earthly connection 
a " scarlet thread " can have with the figure. 

The same poem furnishes another specimen of laby- 
rinthal composition : 

" He who wept with Mary angels keeping 
Their unthank'd watch, are a foreshadowing 
Of what love is in heaven." 

It would require, we think, a ball of our author's " scar- 
let thread " to wind through this foggy complicity of 
words at all understandingly. 

We next get something of an ethereal adventure : 

" conscious heart ! 
Number thy lamps of love, and tell me, now, 
How many canst thou re-light at the stars, 
And blush not at their burning ! " 

This is decidedly of the Swedenborgian cast so refined 
and so spiritualized as to bully conjecture and frighten 
fancy. We would be pleased, moreover, if Mr. Willis 
will explain the aptness of the allusion, when, speaking 
of the heart, he asks if it will blush f 


"We decline, for the present, to notice " Lazarus and 
Mary," and must here close with our excerpts from the 
" Sacred Poems." We trust that the admirers of Mr. 
Willis may pardon to candor much that has seemed 
bitter and harsh in the foregoing review. We have 
been led to undertake the task less from any exalted 
opinion of our author's merits as a poet, than with a 
view to set before the reader, fairly and undisguisedly, 
the nature and quality of that poetry, which, in certain 
circles, has lifted Mr. Willis to that pedestal of favor 
which he so modestly acknowledges in his preface. It 
has been perceived, doubtless, that we do not concede 
that unhesitating and redoubtable supremacy to which 
our author has so flippantly laid claim. On the con- 
trary, we must frankly declare that we consider Mr. 
Willis a very ordinary and indifferent writer of poetry, 
and can only wonder how he became so grossly pos- 
sessed as to suppose that he could conjure with a true 
wizard's rod, or sweep the harp with a minstrel's grace 
and skill. But his poetry, such even as it is, has been 
too much the theme of undisputed laudation heretofore 
to make it altogether a condescension to scrutinize and 
test its merits. The admirers of Mr. Willis cannot ex- 
pect to so venalize others of less susceptible, and, per- 
haps, less indulgent temperaments, as to extort univer- 
sal concessions in favor of their poet's claims to the 
laurel wreath. It has been, all along, their good pleas- 
ure and his interest to cry up and extol these feeble 
offerings to the shrine of the Muses. Nobody has felt 
any pleasure, or taken any interest, in crying them 
down. But we think that this indifference has been 
carried quite far enough ; while leniency may become 
culpable in view of Mr. Willis's vaulting ambition and 
excessive vanity, as well as of the extravagances of his 
admirers ; and especially in view of the very serious 


fact that American literature, and not its counterfeit 
votaries, has to pay the penalty of all this hapless amia- 
bility and indifference. For nothing is more certain 
than that by thus clogging the avenues to eminence 
with swarms of rampant, vain-glorious, elbowing pre- 
tenders, the doors are effectually closed against such as 
may really deserve to enter. Men of real talent disdain 
to resort to unworthy devices, or to join in unbecoming 
scuffles. Their mushroom competitors, on the contrary, 
are none too proud to stoop to any or all species of 
what may now be termed Barnumania, to attain a 
sickly and an ephemeral notoriety, and to pick up those 
scanty " present gains " to which Mr. Willis so candidly 
alludes in the preface to his book. 

But we would not be understood as meaning to 
class Mr. Willis with that herd of despicable and dis- 
gusting scribblers who, despite their blathering and 
nauseous excrescences, have so subsidized penny presses 
as to crowd out, temporarily, all genuine literary vota- 
ries, and to infect the country with daily emissions of 
noisome nonsense, alike baneful to the encouragement 
of merit, and to the development of national literary 
resources. On the contrary, we desire to say that 
whatever contempt we may entertain for Mr. Willis's 
verses, we have yet seen much from his pen in a more 
appropriate and dignified department, that indicated, 
to our humble and imperfect judgment, talent of a very 
high and enviable order. But while entertaining a very 
high opinion of much of his prose writings, we are yet 
constrained to say, that our author would, to our judg- 
ment, have better consulted his self-respect by abstain- 
ing from all adventurings in the way of poetry. 

We shall now dismiss Mr. Willis and his poems, for 
the present; promising, by-the-by, that we design to 
resume and complete, in some future number, our con- 


fcemplated task of examining his entire book of " sacred, 
passionate, and humorous " poems ; and that although 
we have chosen to select him, first, as the expiatory 
offering to the offended literary genius of America, he 
shall not be the last. 


THESE poems, taken as a whole, form a book at 
once tasteless, tedious, and uninteresting. We had 
once some hopes of Mr. Longfellow as a poet, but his 
book has, unfortunately, spoiled all has even spirited 
away the partiality we had entertained for some of his 
fugitive poems which chance threw in our way some 
years since, and which, now that they are thrown in 
company with the pithless train before us, have some- 
how lost their former hold. Familiarity, it is said, 
breeds contempt ; and if the truth of the old proverb 
is doubted, we need only refer, in proof, some lang 
syne friend of this author, who, like ourself, may have 
been momentarily won to an American poet by some 
stray lines travelling the newspaper rounds, we need 
only to refer such, we say, to the elaborated produc- 
tion now in our view ; and if he can so tax his patience 
and his taste as to read through both volumes, we are 
quite sure that he will doubt no longer. We know 
that this is a very harsh sentence, but there is consola- 
tion in knowing also that malice is not the prompter. 
There are, on the contrary, strong reasons why we 
could have wished to admire and praise Mr. Longfel- 

* Poems. By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In two volumes. A 
new edition. Boston : Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 


low's poetry. He is, in the first place, an American ; 
and this, of itself, is a sufficient cause to induce regret 
that his book of poems has fallen so very far short of 
that standard which, in our judgment, must be fully 
compassed, if one would attain to even passing excel- 
lence in this hallowed art. It is greatly to be lament- 
ed, indeed, that our land should have been, thus far, 
so barren in this respect ; and the mystery is, how to 
account for it ? The harvest is plentiful themes are 
not wanting minstrelsy is challenged on all sides. 
The Indian history, wandering through the checkered 
fortunes of a thousand different tribes, abounds richly 
in the lore of tradition. The charms of nature, whether 
in the association of primeval forests, of scenery wild, 
majestic, and beautiful, of lakes and rivers overflowing 
with legendary interest, are every where displayed 
through a region extending from latitudes of unbroken 
winter to perennial spring and tropical suns. History 
teems with numberless events thrilling, vivifying, en- 
chanting which are linked with poetic inspirations, 
and which belong more properly to verse than to prose. 
Romance and reality, both, dallyingly open their storied 
arms, and invite a foray on their luxuriant possessions. 
The wondrous tales of the Mexican Conquest the 
lovely and touching story of Pocahontas the landing 
of the Pilgrim Fathers the wild legends of King 
Philip's heroism the Salem witches and many other 
incidents which might be named, all afford tangible 
material with which to weave a poet's chaplet. The 
poetry shines in every page of the old chroniclers' 
quaint books, from Bernal Diaz to Captain Smith and 
Cotton Mather. No pedantry, no tasteless detail can 
distort or smother the enlivening features of song, 
which gather shape and symmetry as we turn each 
succeeding leaf. 


Here, then, is ample ground ample inducement ; 
but genius, so far, is the thing yet lacked. So far, in- 
deed* as prose is concerned, master artists have been 
engaged in the work. Prescott, Irving, and Cooper 
have gone over the field, and illumined the path to 
poetical elicitation. Their works have clothed history 
with a fascination that the sons of song, whose province 
it more properly is to gather the romance of early time, 
may well envy, and has thrown all attempts at min- 
strelsy completely in the background. What Goethe 
and Schiller have done for Germany what Camoens 
did for Portugal what Moore has done for Ireland, 
and Walter Scott for Caledonia, these illustrious 
writers, though no poets, have accomplished for our 
country. All human beings, of whatever clime or 
tongue, long for some information about past times in 
their history, and are delighted with narratives which 
present pictures to the eye of the mind. To this may 
be traced the origin of ballad poetry and of metrical 
romance ; and the man who possesses the genius to 
embellish the scanty but treasured memorials of early- 
day scenes and events, will always be highly esteemed 
in his own generation, and almost reverenced by a 
grateful posterity. To this enviable fame, no one in 
our country has yet preferred a successful suit. The 
materials languish in neglect, and have nearly gone to 
decay. Our rhymers are full of every other kind of 
poetry save that which alone is open to them. They 
are eternally inditing silly verses about every-day silly 
things are lavishing pretty words in the sickly at- 
tempt to retouch and embellish Scriptural incidents 
making sonnets about flowers, and cigar-girls, and 
pigeon-nests ; or else, like Mr. Longfellow, are running 
a wild-goose chase to catch up insipid fragments of 
German or Swedish verse, for which the reading por- 


tion of their own countrymen care about as much as 
they care for a translation of Merlin, or a reprint of 
Henry the Eighth's Defence of the Roman Church. 
And yet these venal pretenders are called poets, have 
admiring coteries, assume a puny arrogance of air and 
manner, and, now and then, flaunt over to England, 
that, after begging a reluctant moiety of praise from 
one or two writers anxious to court American favor, 
they may prop their petty productions by exhibiting a 
transatlantic puff. 

" These are the themes that claim our plaudits now, 
These are the bards to whom the Muse must bow." 

We may here quite aptly observe, in this connec- 
tion, that among the aphorisms admitted by general 
consent, and inculcated by frequent repetition, there is 
none more famous than that compendious monition : 
Gnothi seauton be acquainted with thyself. In gen- 
eral, we are far more willing to study others than to 
study ourselves ; and hence it so frequently occurs that 
men, seduced by incautious self-admiration or by the 
flattery of weak friends, so often mistake their calling 
and their gifts, and blindly run counter to their des- 
tiny. Men of good common sense, and of unquestiona- 
ble talent, are sometimes as apt as their inferiors to fall 
into this common error. On no other ground can we 
account for Mr. Longfellow's poetical adventurings. 
No one can doubt but that he is a man of practical 
sense, of very considerable talent, and of high and en- 
viable attainments as a scholar ; yet we see the strong 
evidences of nature's inconsistency in his condescension 
to father poems which might have graced the Dunciad, 
and which, for bad taste and tame composition, might 
stand a comparison with the shallowest specimens of 
the American school. Indeed, this gentleman, highly 


accomplished though he may be in other respects, 
seems to be fatuitously possessed with the idea that 
whoever can make words rhyme, or arrange words in 
strange and fantastic measures by square and rule, may 
aspire to minstrelsy ; that a man may become a poet 
by a simple act of volition. This same hallucination 
has, we suppose, given birth to the thousand and one 
scrambling and puny contestants who have ventured 
to attune their crazed, discordant lyres, and to set up 
for being recognized as American poets. The observer 
has only to witness, momentarily, this selfish, elbowing 
strife of frantic aspirants each, like the hackmen who 
infest hotels and depots, crying and huckstering for the 
floating penny to find out the secret of our deficiency 
as regards true poetical development. It thus stands 
disgustingly revealed to his vision, and, of course, ex- 
cites most unmitigated contempt. No wonder that 
the muse should shrink from competition with the 
rampant and vulgar herd ! 

Now, we should have thought that Mr. Longfel- 
low's ripe scholarship would have effectually unfolded 
to him the dangers and the miseries of poetasting in 
the absence of natural endowments, and have also con- 
vinced him that Horace uttered no untruth in declaring 
that a poet is born, not made. Indeed, we incline to 
think that the Roman bard, when inditing the follow- 
ing advice, was seeking to forewarn just such unwary 
aspirants as the author of whom we are speaking : 

" Ludere qui noscit, campcstribus abstinct armis, 
Indoctusque pilae discivo trochive quicscit, 
No spissae risura tollant impune coronas : 
Qui nescit, versus tamen audit fingere ! Quidni ? 
Liber et ingenuus, praesertim census equestrem 
Summam nummorum, vitioque remotus ab omni. 
Tu nihil invita dices faciosve MincrvA ; 


Id tibi judicium est, ea meus : si quid tamen olim 

Scripseris, in Metii descendat judicis aures, 

Et patris, et nostras ; nonumque preraatur in annum. 

Mcmbranis intus positis, delere licebit 

Quod non edideris ; nescit vox raissa reverti." 

If Mr. Longfellow had been less learned than he is ; 
if he had been gifted with no talent more likely to lift 
him to eminence ; if, longing for fame, he could have 
addressed himself to nothing else as a mean of attain- 
ment than reckless poetical errantries ; if, in fine, he 
had not opened a pathway to literary renown through 
the surer medium of classic and dignified prose, there 
would be more excuse for his presumption in throwing 
before a critical and discriminative public the rickety 
verses of the two volumes now under review, and we, 
in common with many others, might have been inclined 
to exercise more amiability and charity. As it is, we 
have before us the picture of an accomplished and as- 
tute Professor turned topsy-turvy by a poetic mania, 
and evidently laboring under the inflictions of a diseased 
and morbid ambition. The least censorious would be 
hard put up to find a palliative for this rhyming furor 
in one from whom better things might have been ex- 
pected ; for it requires no ordinary effort to suppress a 
feeling of contempt that tastes, otherwise so well adapt- 
ed, should thus have been perverted to idolatrous ob- 
lations at the shrine of a mongrel deity, no more akin 
to the true goddess of verse than was the spurious cre- 
ation of Prometheus to a real man. Mr. Longfellow 
may, we think, gratefully thank his stars if, after these 
feeble offerings to the muse, he shah 1 escape the just 
vengeance which overtook this bold usurper of Jove's 

The first of these volumes opens with a prelude, as 
the author calls it, to a series of poems entitled " Voices 


of the Night," and is not altogether unpleasant ; in- 
deed, we are not quite certain but that it is the pret- 
tiest composition to be found in the whole book. It 
certainly approximates much nearer than any other 
piece to real poetry, of which the following stanza is a 
partial evidence : 

" The green trees whispered low and mild, 

It was a sound of joy ! 
They were my playmates when a child, 
And rocked me in their arms so wild ! 
Still they looked at me and smiled 
As if I were a boy." 

We desire not to be hypercritical with our author, 
and we will say that the sentiment of the stanza is 
tinged with true poetry, though we must insist that 
the stanza itself is not so harmoniously worded as the 
idea might have warranted. 

The author is represented as the hero ; who, after 
giving us an introduction to himself, tells of how he 
wandered into the heart of a venerable forest, com- 
muned with the trees and the air, received a call to 
write poetry, and then winds up by informing us that 
he is restricted to writing only solemn lines. We can 
assure the reader that the restriction is not broken. 
The whole work is sicklied over with the snuffling cant 
of the conventicle, sometimes bordering on a sort of 
versified litany or Te Deum. 

The first Voice is a Hymn to the Night, consisting 
of six stanzas, set to some particular metre with which 
we happen not to be acquainted. As a specimen, we 
quote the three last, italicizing what we consider es- 
pecially flat and puny : 

"From the cool cisterns of the midnight air, 

My spirit drank repose ; 
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there 
From those deep cisterns flows. 


" holy Night ! from thee I learn to bear 

What man has borne before ! 
Thou layest fay finger on the lips of care, 
And they complain no more, 

" Peace ! peace ! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer : 

Descend with broad-winged flight, 
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair, 
The best-beloved Mght!" 

Next in succession comes a Psalm of Life dull and 
commonplace enough which reminds us, as to meas- 
ure, of the mystic chant of Meg Merrilies, beginning 

" Twist ye, twine ye, even so," &c. &c. 

But the half-demented old gipsy indulges a strain at 
once wild, striking, and rhythmical ; whereas, the Psalm 
is deficient in every respect, and we cite a stanza in 

" Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 
Is our destined end or way ; 
But to act, that each to-morrow 
Find us farther than to-day." 

The first line is as bad as it can be not only bad 
taste, but bad grammar ; for we have two nouns nomi- 
native most unmusically and incorrectly qualified with 
a negative each, and then connected by a conjunction. 
Poetry is not passable when, by disjointing the rhythm, 
it will not make good prose ; and this being so, we 
cannot see how Mr. Longfellow will ever reconcile his 
two negatives. 

"We cannot pause to find fault with each of this 
series as they come ; but the fifth in the succession is 
so strangely unique, so flimsy, and so peculiarly of the 
heteroclitical species, that, in justice both to the author 
and to our criticism, we feel bound to transcribe it en- 
tirely; only asking the reader to notice the noncha- 
lance with which rhyme is taken up and then dropped, 


tacked on or shaken off to suit the idea,. evoked or dis- 
carded as caprice may suggest, or as invention may 
hold out. It is entitled, " Footsteps of Angels : " 

" When the hours of Day are numbered, 

And the Voices of the Night 
Wake the hetter soul, that slumbered, 
To a holy, calm delight ; 

" Ere the evening lamps are lighted, 

And, like phantoms grim and tall, 
Shadows from the fitful firelight 
Dance upon the parlor wall ; 

" Then the forms of the departed 

Enter at the open door ; 
The beloved, the true-hearted, 
Come to visit me once more. 

" He the young and strong, who cherished 

Noble longings for the strife, 
By the roadside fell and perished, 
Weary with the march of life ! 

" They, the holy ones and weakly, 

Who the cross and suffering bore, 
Folded then* pale hands so meekly, 
Spake with us on earth no more ! 

"And with them the Being Beauteous 

Who unto my youth was given, 
More than all things else to love me, 
And is now a saint in heaven. 

" With a slow and noiseless footstep 

Comes that messenger divine, 
Takes the vacant chair beside me, 
Lays her gentle hand in mine. 

" And she sits and gazes at me 

With those deep and tender eyes, 
Like the stars, so still and saint-like, 
Looking downward from the skies. 


" Uttered not, yet comprehended, 

Is the spirit's voiceless prayer, 
Soft rebukes, in blessing ended, 
Breathing from her lips of air. 

" Oh, though oft depressed and lonely, 

All my fears are laid aside, 
If I but remember only 

Such as these have lived and died ! " 

Surely nothing more insipid, lifeless, unoriginal, was 
ever put off for poetry ! What though a moiety of 
soft sentiment dwells in the idea and Mr. Longfellow 
does not lack for ideas how tantalizing it is to shroud 
and smother the same in a congealed mass of stale, 
shilly-shally rhymes ! 

The " Midnight Mass for the Dying Year," we must 
candidly pronounce to be really pitiful and drivelling. 
We give below the three first and the middle stanzas : 

" Yes, the Year is growing old, 

And his eye is pale and bleared : 
Death, with frosty hand and cold, 
Plucks the old man by the beard. 

Sorely sorely I 
" The leaves are falling, falling, 

Solemnly and slow : 
Caw ! caw ! the rooks are calling, 
It is a sound of woe, 

A sound of woe! 
" Through woods and mountain passes 

The winds, like anthems, roll ; 
They are chanting solemn masses, 
Singing, ' Pray for this poor soul, 

Pray pray ! ' 
* * * * 

" To the crimson woods he saith, 
To the voice gentle and low 
Of the soft air, like a daughter's breath, 
* Pray do not mock me so ! 

Do not laugh at me ! ' " 


With this poem ends the first series. "We come 
next to the " Earlier Poems ; " and we will here ven- 
ture to suggest that it is a pity the author's poetical 
aspirations could not have been satisfied at this point, 
and with these juvenescent achievements. His 'fame as 
a writer would then have been without a shade, and 
we should have been spared the present undertaking ; 
for although there is, as might be naturally expected, 
some silly sentimentalizing among them, there is yet 
much to admire in these youthful offerings to the Muse. 
The following verses, taken from the poem of " Woods 
in Winter," possess much harmony and sweetness : 

" When winter winds are piercing chill, 

And through the hawthorn blows the gale, 
With solemn feet I tread the hill, 
That overbrows the lonely vale. 

" Where, twisted round the barren oak, 
The summer vine in beauty clung, 
And summer winds the stillness broke, 
The crystal icicle is hung. 

" Alas ! how changed from the fair scene, 

When birds sang out their mellow lay, 

Ahd winds were soft and woods were green, 

And the song ceased not with the day." 

These poems, as we are, indeed, frankly told in the 
preface, were written in the halcyon period of life the 
bright and balmy years of youth. It is the season 
when the spirit of poetry stirs within evel"p bosom. 
The humble ploughboy, even, feels the inspiration, 
though he may never attune the sentiment and bring it 
into being ; and as he roams the flowery fields, and in- 
hales the freshening breath of early spring, words of 
song float dreamingly through his untutored senses, in- 
fusing into his soul the healthful incense of bright hopes 


to cheer the dull monotony of more real scenes. The 
same feeling pervades, to a much greater extent, the 
inmate of the academy or the college who, imbibing 
daily the glowing imagery of the classic writers, and 
feasting the young mind on choice dainties" culled from 
the rich garner of ancient and treasured lore, gives 
vent to inspiration by clothing opening life with the 
genial garb of poesy, mingling with its real scenes the 
lively impressions of excited fancy, which are only 
erased when remorseless time first lays its cold touch 
on the heart to awaken it to a sense of the world's 
drudgery. Hence, we suppose that there is scarcely 
one graduate out of every hundred who has not, at 
some golden moment of this shining period, blotted a 
lady's album or his own scrap-book with some fugitive, 
heartfelt offering to the Muse, which, even in long after 
years, will be found to own some sentiment allied with 
purer days, and to be possessed of some merit interwo- 
ven with the dawn of thought, and fresh from recesses 
of the heart which then knew not the world's corrosive 
blight. Most men, instinctively aware of these illusory 
temptations, stop with their early effusions, well know- 
ing that, though almost every person may thus be im- 
pressed with poetic impulses, it is not decreed that 
every man shall be a poet born. Others, unwarily se- 
duced by these guileful phantasmata, and foolishly per 
suading themselves that " the Land of Song " lies before 
them, swim along heedlessly with the current, until, all 
at once, the limpid waters of the fountain are swallowed 
up in that muddy abyss where so many frail barques, 
with their frailer pilots, have gone to wreck and ruin. 

This, we gather from his " Prelude," has been the 
case with Mr. Longfellow, who, if not already stranded 
on these friendless shores, will, unless he shall take 
timely warning, ultimately perish among the wild and 


desert wastes of this unfathomed ocean. And if, in the 
course of these further remarks, we shall draw from his 
after productions such specimens as may serve to bring 
him to his proper senses, or that shah 1 wean him from 
these will-o'-the-wisp pursuits, and set him again on the 
open plain of his true element, we think his readers, yet 
remembering with pleasure the interesting pages of 
Hyperion, will thank us for the deed, no matter how 
roughly it may have been achieved. 

To effect this, we must now pass on from these 
early-day offerings, and pause for a while amid the soul- 
less pages of his " Translations." We are not sufficient 
scholars to undertake to scan the merits of his German, 
French, or Spanish renderings ; and, as concerns these, 
therefore, must content ourselves with the single ob- 
servation, that we never before met with a more bar- 
ren and bleak foundation on which to begin the labor 
of translation, than we behold in the poems selected on 
this occasion. But there is one, purporting to have 
been rendered from the Anglo-Saxon, which evinces 
such genuine devotion to crazed drivelling, that we can 
scarcely credit the fact that the work is from a source 
of unquestioned erudition. The piece is entitled " The 
Grave," and to satisfy the reader that we have not 
been unjustly harsh, we shall quote, as amply sufficient 
to answer the purpose, the two first stanzas, premising 
that we are wholly unacquainted with the measure : 

*' For thee was a house built, 
Ere thou wast born ; 
For thee was a mould meant, 
Ere thou of mother earnest. 
But it is not made ready, 
Nor its depth measured, 
Nor is it seen 
How long it shall be. 


Now I bring thee 
Where thou shalt be : 
Now I snail measure thee, 
And the mould afterwards. 

" Thy house is not 
Highly timbered, 
It is unhigJi and low ; 
When thou art therein, 
The heel-ways are low, 
The side-ways urittigh. 
The roof is built 
Thy breast full nigh, 
So thou shalt in mould 
Dwell full cold, 
Dimly and dark," 

We think the reader will agree with us that this 
can be called nothing else than gibberish a sort of 
jabbering incantation, that makes one involuntarily 
couple with the most solemn of subjects a feeling of 
ridicule. But turning over some few pages, we find 
that such is not alone confined to the Anglo-Saxon min- 
strelsy; for Mr. Longfellow has eviscerated its mate 
from a relict of German poetry, attributed in the orig- 
inal to Klopstock. It is to be hoped, for the memory 
of Goethe and Schiller, that the American version is 
not literal ; for, although the Italy of Horace and Vir- 
gil produced also a Bavius and Maevius, we yet hope 
that, in this enlightened age, the same soil has not pro- 
duced the author of such strains along with the venera- 
ted fathers of German song. The title of the poem is 
" The Dead," and we quote it entire, as follows : 

" How they so softly rest, 
All, all the holy dead, 
Unto whose dwelling-place 
Now doth my soul draw near ! 


How they so softly rest 
All in their silent graves, 
Deep to corruption 
Slowly down sinking! 

" And they no longer weep, 
Here, where complaint is still ! 
And they no longer feel, 
Here, where all gladness flies ! 
And, by the cypresses 
Softly o'ershadowed, 
Until the Angel 
Calls them, they slumber." 

We are really no little astonished that this learned 
gentleman should thus audaciously venture to trifle and 
dally with the patience of partial readers. American 
literature will never be reared on a dignified and solid 
basis, if its votaries be too amiably indulged with such 
idle flippancies, and allowed thus, with impunity, to in- 
corporate as poetry the merest balderdash, having not 
the faintest approach to either sense or harmony. And 
while we are willing to recognize Mr. Longfellow as, in 
many respects, a worthy representative of our dawning 
national literature, we, at the same time, must seriously 
protest against that increasing leniency which suffers 
him quietly to excavate or invent nonsense only to 
swell out a volume intended to be shelved as a specimen 
of American poetry. 

The Translations are succeeded by the Ballads. 
That of the " Skeleton in Armor " is well conceived, 
and is not altogether without either merit or extrinsic 
interest. It is founded on the fact that, some years 
ago, a skeleton was disinterred near Newport, clad in 
broken and corroded armor. The author has connected 
this with an antiquated Danish structure near by, and 
framed quite a legend out of the materials thus afford- 
ed; which, however, we regret he did not choose 


to tell otherwise than in verse. But the " Wreck of 
the Hesperus," although very tame and commonplace 
now and then, is yet, we think, much the best of the 
series, and partakes strongly of the genuine ballad tone 
throughout. To justify ourselves with both the author 
and the reader, we shall venture on quoting the entire 
poem, leaving clear thus every chance to confirm or to 
refute the correctness and justice of the judgment we 
have meted out to it : 

" It was the schooner Hesperus, 
That sailed the wintry sea ; 
And the skipper had taken his little daughter 
To bear him company. 

" Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, 
Her cheeks like the dawn of day, 
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds 
That ope in the month of May. 

" The skipper he stood beside the helm, 

His pipe was in his mouth, 
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow 
The smoke now west, now south. 

" Then up and spake an old Sailor, 
Had sailed the Spanish main : 
* I pray thee, put into yonder port, 
For I fear a hurricane. 

" ' Last night the moon had a golden ring, 

And to-night no moon we see ! ' 
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe, 
And a scornful laugh laughed he. 

" Colder and louder blew the wind, 

A gale from the north-east ; 
The snow fell hissing in the brine, 
And the billows frothed like yeast. 

" Down came the storm, and smote amain 

The vessel in its strength ; 
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed, 
Then leaped her cable's length. 


" ' Come hither ! come hither ! my little daughter, 

And do not tremble so ; 
For I can weather the roughest gale 
That ever wind did blow.' 

" He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat, 

Against the stinging blast ; 
He cut a rope from a broken spar, 
And bound her to the mast. 

" * O father ! I hear the church-bells ring; 

O say, what may it be ? ' 
* Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast ! ' 
And he steered for the open sea. 

"'0 father ! I hear the sound of guns ; 

say, what may it be ? ' 
' Some ship in distress, that cannot live 
In such an angry sea ! ' 

" ' father ! I see a gleaming light ; 

O say, what may it be ? ' 
But the father answered never a word, 
A frozen corpse was he. 

" Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark, 

With his face turned to the skies, 
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow 
On his fixed and glassy eyes. 

" Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed 

That saved she might be ; 

And she thought of Christ, who stilled the waves 
On the lake of Galilee. 

' And fast through the midnight dark and drear 

Through the whistling sleet and snow, 
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept 
Towards the reef of Norman's Woe. 

" And ever the fitful gusts between 

A sound came from the land ; 
It was the sound of the trampling surf, 
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand. 


" The breakers were right beneath her bows, 

She drifted a dreary wreck, 
And a whooping billow swept the crew, 
Like icicles, from her deck. 

" She struck where the white and fleecy wave's 

Looked soft as carded wool, 
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side, 
Like the horns of an angry bull. 

" Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, 

With the masts went by the board ; 
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank : 
Ho ! ho ! the breakers roared ! 

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, 

A fisherman stood aghast, 
To see the form of a maiden fair, 

Lashed close to a drifting mast. 

" The salt sea was frozen on her breast. 

The salt tears in her eyes ; 
And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed, 
On the billows fall and rise. 

" Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, 

In the midnight and the snow ! 
Christ save us all from a wreck like this, 
On the reef of Norman's Woe ! " 

A few pages further on, Mr. Longfellow favors us 
with another and more distinctly marked specimen of 
that outlandish metre with which his book abounds. 
What earthly motive can prompt him to turn off as 
poetry such miserable, prolix, drawling stuff, we cannot 
imagine ; nor are we, or, we suppose, any other mortal 
man, able to understand the bent of a taste which, 
although highly cultivated in some respects, can coolly 
go to work and disentomb from a Swedish literary 
charnel-ground so despicable a production as "The 
Children of the Lord's Supper." We venture the as- 
sertion that no ordinary reader can extract from it the 


first novel or interesting thought, the first pretty ex- 
pression, the first engaging sentiment, the first approach 
to any thing like poetry. It is tasteless, tedious, and 
trifling, from beginning to end leaving the mind un 
impressed but with disgust, or with wonder that such 
flippant jargon should ever have been revivified. 

The piece purports to be translated from the Swed- 
ish of some prelatical diatribist, whose mind, we should 
imagine, was about as barren of poetical impulse as the 
bleak hills and ungenial soil of his native land are of 
aught that contributes to the sustenance of life. We 
shall subjoin a few lines by way of example : 

" Lo ! there entered then into the church the Reverend Teacher. 
Father he hight and he was in the parish ; a Christianly plainness 
Clothed from his head to his feet the old man of seventy winters. 
Friendly was he to behold, and glad as the heralding angel 
Walked he among the crowds, but still a contemplative grandeur 
Lay on his forehead as clear, as an moss-covered grave-stone a sunbeam. 
As in his inspiration (an evening twilight that faintly 
Gleams in the human soul, even now, from the day of creation) 
Th' Artist, the friend of heaven, imagines Saint John when in 


Gray, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, so seemed then the old man ; 
Such was the glance of his eye, and such were his tresses of silver. 
All the congregation arose in the pews that were numbered, 
But with a cordial look, to the right and the left hand, the old man, 
Nodding all hail and peace, disappeared in the innermost chancel." 

Such is the stale, puling verbality which Mr. Long- 
fellow adopts, and attempts to put upon his readers as 
poetry. We protest. It is by no means our disposi- 
tion or intention to abet that silly furor which seems to 
possess many who, ascribing to this author all the quali- 
ties of a poet, witlessly admit as poetry that which is 
not even receivable as good prose. Without pausing, 
however, to dwell on the general imperfections of the 
lines we have quoted from this effusion, we shall only 


notice those which the reader will have remarked are 
specially italicised. We should think Mr. Longfellow 
might be puzzled to reconcile a similitude of the kind 
above marked. If " contemplative grandeur " lay on 
the old preacher's head no clearer than a " sunbeam " 
on a " moss-covered gravestone," we are of the opinion 
that the sign was not very distinctly impressed ; for, of 
all sheltering in the world, a thick cover of moss is the 
most impenetrable. This, however, is about on a par 
with the very tame description of the old man's en- 
trance into the church, where the author is so hard run 
for the wherewith to fill out his line, that he obligingly 
acquaints us with the fact that the pews were " num- 
bered," leaving it somewhat doubtful, by the way, 
whether we shall infer this mere fact from the expres- 
sion, or whether he intends to convey that it was only 
that part of the " congregation " which sat in " num- 
bered pews," that had the good manners to rise when 
the pastor entered. 

If Mr. Longfellow does sincerely and really set any 
store by this flat portraiture of a village pastor, it is to 
be lamented that his taste is so low as not to have been 
frightened by the contrast with that most lovely and 
inimitable picture of the same personage found in Gold- 
smith's "Deserted Village." To enable the reader 
readily to mark the difference betwixt poetry and its 
counterfeit, we take the liberty, to save reference, of 
copying a few lines from that beautiful and admired 
poem : 

" Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd, 
And still where many a garden flower grows wild ; 
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, 
The village preacher's modest mansion rose. 
A man he was to all the country dear, 
And passing rich with forty pounds a year ; 


Remote from towns he ran his godly race, 

Nor e'er had chang'd, nor wished to change his place ; 

Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power, 

By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour ; 

Far other aims his heart had learned to prize, 

More bent to raise the wretched than to rise. 

Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride, 

And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side ; 

But in his duty prompt at every call, 

He watched, and wept, he pray'd and felt for all ; 

And, as a bird each fond endearment tries, 

To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies, 

He tried each art, reprov'd each dull delay, 

Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way. 

At church, with meek and unaffected grace, 
His looks adorn'd the venerable place ; 
Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway, 
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray. 
The service pass'd, around the pious man, 
With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran ; 
E'en children follow'd with endearing wile, 
And pluck'd his gown to share the good man's smile. 
His ready smile a parent's warmth express'd, 
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed ; 
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, 
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven. 
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, 
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, 
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, 
Eternal sunshine settles on its head." 

We delight, as doubtless does the reader, to glide 
lingeringly along with soft, melodious cadences like 
the above, and while nestling in the music of smooth- 
flowing words, to float placidly down the limpid current 
of these genial and inspiring sentiments. We will not 
be cruel and unamvable enough to invite a too strict 


comparison with Mr. Longfellow's unhappy attempt to 
draw a like picture. 

What shall we say of Mr. Longfellow's poems on 
slavery ? Here, too, he is treading in the footsteps of 
a most illustrious predecessor putting forth a feeble 
effort to share the laurels of Montgomery. Perhaps, if 
we were mischievously inclined, we might here cite, 
alongside the modest name of our author, that of quite 
a noted competitor in the same race. It must not be 
forgotten, especially in sunny climes, that a lately 
Americanized writer, not content to rest on the achieve- 
ments of his " Richelieu " and his " Gipsey," would fain 
essay a rhyming tilt in the very sentimental tournament 
where Montgomery had flashed his maiden sword. Mr. 
Longfellow may, we think, well afford to congratulate 
himself that he is thus shielded by so redoubtable an 
exemplar in the lists of flimsy imitation. 

The slavery poems are prefaced with a somewhat 
pompous, serene-tempered note, telling us that they 
were written while at sea ; and that the first verses, ad- 
dressed to Dr. Charming, who had just written his book 
about slavery, were no longer appropriate, since the 
death of that eminent gentleman. Being thus spe- 
ciously charged, we were, quite naturally, as one may 
imagine, very considerably impressed as to the charac- 
ter of the production about to be read. The opening 
stanza, however, brought us, very unwelcomely, down 
several steps : 

" The pages of thy book I read, 

And as I closed each one, 
My heart, responding, ever said, 
Servant of God, well done ! ' " 

To say the least, this was coming at his subject in 
quite a point-Wank, somewhat too unpoetical manner ; 


though we doubt not that its benediction would have 
been very encouraging to Dr. Channing, had he been 
alive to see and read it. There is besides in its tone a 
positiveness, an abruptness, which is always inelegant 
and ungraceful in metrical composition. 

We have next quite a spiteful ebullition of rhyth- 
mical invective : 

" Go on, untill this land revokes 

The old and chartered Lie, 
The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes 
Insult humanity." 

There is, if we do not greatly misjudge, something 
else than mere poetical sentiment involved in this fierce 
denunciation, to which some, who live in parts of " this 
land," might quite reasonably object. Indeed, we are 
not so sure but that these lines to Dr. Channing might 
come within the meaning of certain laws enacted by 
States of this Union to prevent the circulation of cer- 
tain mischievous documents. There is, at least, more 
of feeling in its tone and expression than prudence 
might warrant ; and because Mr. Longfellow chooses 
to come among us as a votary of Apollo, we are not 
therefore estopped from guarding against the bad ten- 
dencies of his poetry. But we are loath to believe that 
any mischievous effect was intended ; and though we 
might have been better pleased to have found his book 
prudently retrenched of this one poem, we desire not 
to be understood as endeavoring to affix any improper 
motive on so amiable a writer. 

" The Slave's Dream " is prettily conceived, but in 
view of so prolific and suggestive a subject, very indif- 
ferently and tamely executed. There is, however, 
much of genuine spirit in some of the stanzas, as, for 
instance, the following : 


" Wide through the landscape of his dreams, 

The lordly Niger flowed ; 
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain, 

Once more a king he strode, 
And heard the tinkling caravans 

Descend the mountain road." 

We cannot dwell on each poem of the series ; but 
passing over much fanciful and silly jeremiading, we 
pause a moment or two to notice the one called " The 
Witnesses." Montgomery, in his celebrated poem of 
the "West Indies," has the following eloquent and 
stirring lines, in speaking of sunken slave-ships : 

" When the loud trumpet of eternal doom 
Shall break the mortal bondage of the tomb ; 
When with a mother's pangs the expiring earth 
Shall bring her children forth to second birth ; 
Then shall the sea's mysterious caverns, spread 
With human relics, render up their dead : 
Though warm with life the heaving surges glow, 
Where'er the winds of heaven were wont to blow, 
In sevenfold phalanx shall the rallying hosts 
Of ocean slumberers join their wandering ghosts, 
Along the melancholy gulf that roars 
From Guinea to the Caribbean shores. 
Myriads of slaves, that perished on the way, 
From age to age, the shark's appointed prey 
By livid plagues, by lingering tortures slain, 
Or headlong plunged alive into the main, 
Shall rise in judgment from their gloomy beds, 
To call down vengeance on the murderers' heads." 

Now for Mr. Longfellow, as he essays to attune his 
lyre to similar lofty strains : 

" In ocean's wide domains, 

Half buried in the sands, 
Lie skeletons in chains, 

With shackled feet and hands. 


" Beyond the fall of dews, 

Deeper than plummet lies, 
Float ships, with all their crews, 
No more to sink nor rise. 

" There the black slave-ship sioims, 

Freighted with human forms, 
Whose fettered, fleshless limbs, 
Are not the sport of storms. 

" These are the bones of slaves ; 
They gleam from the abyss ; 
They cry from yawning waves, 
' We are the witnesses ! ' " 

We shall not sport with Mr. Longfellow or his ad- 
mirers by invoking a comparison at this point ; but we 
will say that he must possess a goodly share of courage 
or of self-esteem, to put forth suck lines in the very face 
of those we have quoted from Montgomery, and from 
which, doubtless, the idea of " The Witnesses " was un- 
guardedly borrowed. But, apart from comparison, we 
are seriously bothered to make sense of Mr. Longfel- 
low's expressions and references ; for who on earth can 
possibly understand how ships can " float " in an ethe- 
real element, "beyond the fall of dews," "deeper 
than plummet lies," and where they can " no more sink 
nor rise." This, we think, all will conceive, is truly in- 
comprehensible. It brings to mind an anecdote quite 
apropos, which may, perhaps, afford Mr. Longfellow 
some defence for his senseless paragraphs, on the score 
of precedent. 

The great Edinburgh publisher, Constable, while 
reading over a manuscript poem by the " Ettrick Shep- 
herd," which had been submitted to him, tartly ob- 
served, on reaching some obscure sentence, " Deil's in 
it ; but I canna tell what you mean by this ! " To 
which Hogg artlessly replied, " Hout, tout, man, that 


is na strange, for I dinna ken, sometimes, what I mean 
mysel' ! " 

The poem of " Evangeline," in the second volume, 
is most excessively dull, stiff, and tiresome. We can- 
not say one word in its favor, and only wonder how a 
reader can beat his way through its long succession of 
prosing lines lines much more apt to induce a com- 
fortable siesta than to excite admiration. It is the 
lengthiest production of the two volumes, except per- 
haps the Spanish Student, and is composed to the same 
mumbling, unmeaning measure as " the Children of the 
Lord's Supper," while it is, if possible, even more bar- 
ren of ideality. We cannot get our consent to tran- 
scribe any portion of it, lest we might by such repeated 
intrusions effectually worry out the reader's patience. 
ISTor can we so reconcile it with our present undertak- 
ing as to dwell any longer on the second volume. It 
is of like sort with the first ; perhaps, if there be any 
difference at all, even less creditable to the author. 

We shall close our notice of* Mr. Longfellow by re- 
marking very briefly on the " Spanish Student." This, 
in our opinion, is a work of much intrinsic worth, and 
evinces talent of a high order. It is piquant, racy, full 
of spirit and vivacity, and contains much pretty com- 
position never rising, perhaps, into the powerful, yet 
never falling into the commonplace. The plot is quite 
artistically conceived, and the dramatic features are 
fully developed and well delineated. The character of 
Preciosa is most gracefully and handsomely drawn; 
and Crispa is not, in her department, less happily por- 
trayed; while Victorian and his rival bring out the 
full contrast of right and wrong. It is to be regretted 
that our author was not content to rest his ambition 
with this achievement, and that he could not have 
reconciled it to himself to leave out of his book all 


else but this single production looking for a perma- 
nent fame more to those works by which he doubt- 
less sets far less store. In fine, it is quite grateful and 
refreshing, after having found so much fault with Mr. 
Longfellow, though justly so, as we think, that we are 
enabled thus to bid him so kindly a farewell. 


DIGRESSION and irrelevancy in the discussion of po- 
litical issues are characteristic of American writers and 
speakers. In Congress, especially, debate is rarely con- 
fined to the question under consideration. Collateral 
points even, which, in an assembly collected of wisdom, 
true taste would warn us to leave to inference mainly, 
fail to afford scope sufficiently ample. Matters totally 
disconnected with those at issue, are tortuously intro- 
duced to make up the speech. Hence, on a memorable 
occasion in the Senate, Mr. Webster found it necessary, 
in order to be properly understood, to commence his 
celebrated speech on Foot's Resolution, in reply to Mr. 
Haynes, by requesting the Secretary to read the reso- 
lution under discussion. Every body recollects the 
beautiful and appropriate figure of the mariner tossed 
about for days in the open seas without chart or com- 
pass, by which he illustrated the digression. This hap- 
pened more than twenty years ago, when, it may be 
supposed, demagoguic influences were less common 
than at this day. And, indeed, if a speaker were to 
rise in his seat, now-a-days, and deliver a speech of 
twenty or thirty minutes length, confined solely to the 
topic of debate, without once calling to his aid irrele- 


vant party issues, he would be stigmatized by reporters 
and lobby members as empty-headed and stupid. Dis- 
cursive and inappropriate discussion has grown so com- 
mon, that it may now be regarded as a settled prece- 
dent in Congressional economy. 

No more cogent illustration of the truth and justice 
of the above general remarks may be cited, than the 
history of the debates in Congress on the Wilmot Pro- 
viso. A discussion of the power of Congress to pro- 
hibit or regulate slavery in the Territories of the Unit- 
ed States has opened, in the course of the debate, the 
entire question of slavery, in all its points, and placed 
it in every conceivable attitude. Prominent among 
these irrelevant issues is one of very startling moment, 
not because of its complexity or obscurity, but because 
of the petty and contemptible jealousy which pervades 
both sections of the Union concerning its permanent 
adjustment. It will, of course, be inferred that we al- 
lude to that of the powers of Congress over slaves and 
the subject of slavery within the District of Columbia. 
On this point, all candid and discriminating minds must 
admit that, in discussing the question, the South has 
claimed more than is just and constitutional, and that 
the North has chosen an ill time and showed an im- 
proper and intolerant spirit in asserting and claiming 
what is doubtless just and constitutional. We cannot 
think that true patriotism or devotion to right and 
justice, have had any influence with the majority in the 
introduction or discussion of this subject. The govern- 
ing influences, in both cases, we fear, have been of a 
different and far less meritorious character. On the 
side of the North it seems to be an ill-timed and un- 
worthy attempt to wreak its prejudices upon an institu- 
tion which, to say the least, is recognized, if not by 
name, at least de facto, and protected from invasion by 


the federal constitution. On the part of the South it 
has been an unwary and hazardous attempt to make 
political capital at home of a question that embodies 
elements of the most dangerous nature, as regards the 
welfare of the Union, and to feed a flame, of which the 
calmest and most moderate politician may stand in 
dread. But it has been our pride and pleasure to ob- 
serve that, in both sections of the Union, the conserva- 
tive national whig party, as a body, has asserted and 
maintained a course of conduct unquestionably con- 
servative and national. By moderation and dignity, 
by wisdom and true patriotism, the party has well sus- 
tained its ancient and honorable character. 

In a like spirit, it is trusted, and with a mind beset 
on eliciting and expressing the truth, we now proceed 
to present, in a condensed and summary shape, our 
views and opinions. The true opinion, as we conceive, 
may be best arrived at, by first propounding, and then 
endeavoring to answer two leading questions ; which, 
it is believed, embrace the entire matter of debate : 

1st. Has Congress the right, under the Constitu- 
tion of the United States and deeds of cession from 
the States of Maryland and Virginia, to abolish 
slavery in the District of Columbia f 

2d. Has Congress the right or power, under the 
same instruments, to pass laws of a Municipal or Po- 
lice character concerning slaves, and to regulate or pro- 
hibit the slave traffic in said District f 

The first of these questions we do not at all hesitate 
to answer in the negative, and shall state briefly the 
reason and grounds on which that answer may be 

The abolition of slavery in any State, District, or 
Territory, within the limits of the United States, can- 
not be a matter of legislation, because it involves rights 


of persons and of property which existed previously to 
the establishment of the government, and which not 
only constitute a principal element in the government 
of all, but are beyond the reach of legislative majori- 
ties. The legislature of a State ought not to decree 
the abolition of slavery. It is a body of limited pow- 
ers, limited and defined, too, by an instrument which 
is formed by the Sovereign power in convention. This 
Sovereign power is the people. The legislature would 
have no more right or authority, unwarranted or un- 
empowered by any previous form of assent from the 
people, to pass a law modifying the entire social sys- 
tem, than it would have to pass a law establishing or 
abolishing the Christian or Jewish form of worship, or 
the tenures of land, or the right of self-defence, or the 
right to bequeath or to inherit. These are all inherent 
properties and elements of government, and belong, 
under our system, to that class of powers and natural 
rights which are of none the less force and effect be- 
cause partly unwritten and undefined in the original 
compact, and which are removed beyond the reach of 
Assemblies whose powers are limited and differently 
intended. Slavery, as it exists in the separate States, 
is equally entitled to be thus classed. The power, 
therefore, abruptly to abolish such an institution, can- 
not belong to a state or national legislature. It is es- 
sentially a prerogative of the sovereignty of the people 
themselves. It is in the province of a convention of 
that power from which emanates the constitutions both 
of federal and state governments. A contrary action 
or decision, vesting such power either in Congress as 
regards the District of Columbia, or in any of our State 
legislatures, would be to create a ruinous instability in 
property in both instances. It would be committing 
the most cherished and sacred of all rights, namely, 


that of modifying the fundamental relationship of man 
to man, to a bare majority in Assemblies notoriously 
impulsive, and fluctuating in opinion, and always af- 
fected by local prejudices, and educational predilec- 
tions. It would be placing individuals and entire com- 
munities at the mercy of partisans and fanatics, of op- 
posite opinions, looking neither to justice nor reason nor 
to any thing beyond their own ambitious aims and vio- 
lent purposes. 

The second question must be regarded by all candid 
and dispassionate persons in a widely-different sense, 
inasmuch that it involves matters and issues of a very 
different character, and which are totally irrelevant to 
the first. 

We hold that the powers of Congress, as concerns 
the subject of regulating slavery in the District of Co- 
lumbia, are not at all analogous to the powers of the 
same body as applied to the Territories of the United 
States. Conceding the power in the one case does not 
and cannot necessarily embrace the other. In the first, 
the power is explicitly given, and is clearly derivable 
from all the sources where it ever belonged in law. In 
the last it is not to be found in any bond, compact, or 
conveyance of any description, and must be left to 
vague inference, and ever remain an obscure and vexed 

The power to regulate the slave traffic in any or in 
all its branches, (save one, perhaps,) is a matter en- 
tirely of police, and belongs properly to legislative 
bodies in their capacity of police conservators. Even 
in our State legislatures a wide discretion is claimed 
and often exercised on this subject. But no one who 
takes the trouble to examine the Constitution of the 
United States, defining the special powers of Congress, 
or the deeds of cession from the States of Maryland 


and Virginia, can justly or successfully question the 
unlimited discretion of Congress concerning all police 
regulations of slavery within the District of Columbia. 
The ten miles square is ceded not to the United States, 
as are the territories, but to the " Congress and Gov- 
ernment of the United States." Where territories 
have been relinquished by any of the States, or ac- 
quired by purchase, the conveyance has ever been to 
the United States and for their " benefit," and, in the 
first instance, a parenthesis has always been made " in- 
cluding " the State which thus cedes. Territories ac- 
quired by conquest are conveyed by treaty to the Gov- 
ernment of the United States, and thus become the 
property alike of all the communities which form that 
government. In none of these cessions is Congress a 
specified party. But, on the other hand, "the Con- 
gress " is a joint and specified party with the " Govern- 
ment of the United States " in the ownership of the 
District of Columbia. Now, as all must very well 
understand, the Government of the United States is 
made up of three co-ordinate branches or departments, 
each separately defined, and charged with separate and 
distinct functions. Of these, Congress is only the leg- 
islative power subject in its action, within certain 
limits, to the check of both the Executive and Judicial 
departments. Yet " the Congress " is placed independ- 
ent of, and as a joint and equal partner with the 
" Government of the United States " in the ownership 
of the District, and its majority is thus the "full and 
absolute" arbiter and conservator in all legislative 
functions, excepting only in so far as restrained by the 
provisos and stipulations of the original cession. 

This proposition may impress some persons as being 
rather outre and metaphysical, if not erroneous. But 
we venture to conceive, that when measured by the 


sense and words of the deed of cession from Maryland 
and by the same in the Constitution of the United 
States, the fair and legitimate inference will be in favor 
of its entire correctness. To this end we deem it ad- 
visable to transcribe the said deed of cession in full, as 
well as the language of the Constitution, concerning 
the powers of Congress in the District of Columbia : 

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Mary- 
land : That all that part of the said territory called Columbia, (as 
described in the previous section,) which lies within the limits of this 
State, shall be, and the same is hereby acknowledged to be forever 
ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United 
States in full and exclusive right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of 
soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor 
and effect of the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution 
of the United States : Provided that nothing herein contained shall be 
so construed as to vest in the United States any right of property in 
the soil, as to effect the rights of individuals therein, otherwise than 
the same shall be transferred by such individuals to the United 

The italics in the above are our own ; and now, we 
say, let that grant be considered as it may, the close 
and candid reasoner will be forced to infer that Con- 
gress is a separate and distinct party in the transac- 
tion, independent of its co-ordinate connection with the 
Government of the United States. The laws of Con- 
gressional majorities, as has been already intimated, 
are subject both to be vetoed and over-ruled by the 
other two departments, but these last are motionless 
until Congress shall first have acted. Being, therefore, 
an independent partner, as well as a partner by virtue 
of its co-ordinate connection with the Government of 
the United States, and being also the active and mo- 
tive branch of the Government, we safely conclude 
that Congress, thus doubly interested, is on rather 
more than an equality with the Government of the 


United States in the ownership of and jurisdiction over 
the District of Columbia, and is, in fact, the main arbi- 
ter and conservator of its destiny, civil and political. 
The difference between the two propositions thus sub- 
mitted, is simply this, viz. : that slavery being in ex- 
istence as a domestic institution within the ten miles 
square when Congress accepted the deed of cession, the 
relation between master and slave was distinctly recog- 
nized ; Congress is, therefore, fairly estopped from 
abolishing the institution without previously expressed 
assent from the people, or from passing any law to de- 
stroy the right of the owner in the property of his 
slave, as acknowledged by the acceptance. But, in 
the second place, the power so to regulate those rela- 
tions as to abridge or prohibit the general and indis- 
criminate traffic in slaves, within the limits of the Dis- 
trict, being essentially a matter of police and legisla- 
tion, and being clothed with " full and absolute " power 
in legislating for said District, Congress has the un- 
doubted right to interfere so as to modify or abolish 
such traffic, and that too without any appeal to the 
will or wishes of the State Governments. 

But, continuing our argument on the second propo- 
sition, the powers of Congress within the limits of the 
federal district are yet more explicitly defined than in 
the deed of cession above recited. The eighth section 
of the first article of the Constitution of the United 
States declares : " That Congress shall have power to 
exercise exclusive jurisdiction, in all cases whatsoever, 
over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as 
may, by cession of particular States, and by the accept- 
ance of Congress, become the seat of Government of 
the United States." 

It must be admitted, we think, that this, literally, 
is a sweeping clause. It could not well have been 


framed so as to convey larger powers. It is not even 
qualified. It can be limited only by bringing the pow- 
ers thus sweepingly conferred to the test of established 
precedent, and natural or pre-existing rights. In the 
first instance, the deed is " full and absolute ;" in the 
second, the acceptance carries along with it, under the 
supreme law of the land, "exclusive jurisdiction in all 
cases whatsoever." It is, indeed, a clause in which the 
most biased and fastidious stickler will find little to 
restrict the discretion of Congress in any matter of 
legislation ; and that the slave traffic is a matter of 
legislation no intelligent reader will venture to deny. 
It has been claimed as such, certainly, by every gov- 
ernment in which slavery has existed, ancient and 
modern. That of Rome, which gave to the master the 
power even of life and limb over his slave, always 
claimed and exercised exclusive control over the slave 
traffic. But it could not destroy, by simple legislative 
majority, the relation between master and slave, nor 
deprive the first of the labor and value of the last. 
Greece, as a Government, was anxious to rid the coun- 
try of the slavery of the Helots, long before the body 
of the people were either prepared for, or willing to 
favor such riddance. The Government, therefore, 
claimed and exercised the undeniable right of all gov- 
ernments to abridge and prohibit the indiscriminate 
and unnatural traffic in the unfortunate beings whom 
she had enslaved, but it dared not, even in that early 
age, to infringe the right of property by destroying the 
relation itself. Russia, although a sombre and quiet 
despotism, where all legislative power is lodged with 
the Czar, would not venture, perhaps, by a peremptory 
ukase, to abolish serfdom within its limits ; yet the 
slave traffic is entirely and most effectually prohibited, 
and the serfs go along with the land on which they 


were born, and all their local and family attachments 
are sacredly preserved. The rash and unjust exercise 
of the first power, even by the Autocrat of Russia, 
would kindle a flame of resentment that would spread 
quickly from the Don to the Vistula, and an insulted 
people would bring down vengeance on even that 
august head, which, they believe, wears its crown by 
divine right and will. In the exercise of the last pow- 
er, however, which is conformable both to justice and 
custom, no opposition was encountered, and a general 
acquiescence evidenced its popularity. 

Under our Government of sovereign States and de- 
fined powers, Congress is entirely restricted from the 
exercise of this power, as concerns the States, but its 
power over the subject is "full and absolute," when 
applied to its " exclusive jurisdiction " over the District 
of Columbia. Neither Congress, nor State Legisla- 
tures, have the power to abolish slavery within their 
respective jurisdictions ; but neither would be tran- 
scending their legitimate powers, as we humbly con- 
ceive, to pass such laws as could tend to prohibit indis- 
criminate traffic in slaves, without regard to number or 
social relations. 

It must be borne in mind that slaves, both under 
the Federal and State Constitutions, as well as by the 
laws of each, are considered as being something more 
than mere property. That they are (de facto) prop- 
erty, no one will venture to gainsay ; but they are a 
peculiar species of property. They are not at all re- 
garded as irrational animals, or perishable live stock, 
as horses, or swine, or cattle. Some have been weak 
enough to urge and advocate this fallacious point, as- 
suming, with singular hardihood and pertinacity, that 
which no person of ordinary information will sanction. 

Slaves are regarded, both under the Constitution 


and the laws, as persons also, and, in some sense, as 
members of organized society, though certainly and 
properly excluded from the dignity of citizenship, and 
from civil privileges. They are regularly apportioned, 
in accordance with the Federal Constitution, (in the 
true spirit of that great American system of protection 
and encouragement, which reaches and covers every 
species of labor, a system long upheld, and ardently 
cherished by the conservative Whig party of the Union,) 
for full representation in the Congress of the United 
States. They are entitled to protection, under the 
law, in life and limb, and are, individually, amenable 
for any infractions of the criminal code. They are 
shielded, by the lasv, from all cruel and unusual pun- 
ishments at the hands of bad masters. In all these is 
exhibited very clearly the wide distinctions between 
negroes transferable, by sale, from one master to an- 
other, and all other kinds of property. This view of 
the subject is very ably arid elaborately expounded by 
Mr, Madison in No. 54 of the "Federalist." He there 
expresses himself thus : " But we must deny the fact 
that slaves are considered merely as property, and in 
no respect whatever as persons. The true state of the 
case is, that they partake of both of these characters. 
... It is the character bestowed on them by the laws 
under which they live ; and it will not be denied that 
these are the proper criterion. The slave is regarded 
by the law as a member of society, not as a part of the 
irrational creation ; as a moral person, not as a mere 
article of property. The Federal Constitution, there- 
fore, decides with great propriety on the case, when it 
views them in the mixed character of persons and of 

This leaves a clear inference that an indiscriminate 
traffic in slaves is not to be regarded as beyond the 


reach of legal interference and restriction, or as the 
same with that of horses and cattle. Congress may 
not possess the power to abolish slave dealing in all its 
branches, but it does not follow from this that the 
right to regulate and restrict the trade is prohibited. 
On the other hand, it is clearly within the legitimate 
province of Congress to do so, pro\dded no legislative 
steps are taken to infringe the rights of resident own- 
ers in the property of their slaves. Congress, however, 
under the deeds of cession, is restricted, on this sub- 
ject, only as regards resident owners. In the case of 
transient persons and traders, an arbitrary and perverse 
stretch of power might easily give a different aspect to 
these relations. 

We feel assured that no one will deny the power 
of Congress to prohibit a banking company from New 
York or Delaware from establishing a bank within the 
limits of the District, either by positive enactment to 
that effect, or by refusing them a corporate existence. 
How, then, can it be denied that the same body has 
the same sort of power to interdict a slave dealer from 
Maryland or Virginia from carrying on his odious traf- 
fic within the same limits ? Or how, under the Consti- 
tution and law, can Congress be denied the authority 
and right to interfere even so far as to regulate or re- 
strict the trade as between resident owners themselves ? 
It must be remembered that, unlike any other legisla- 
tive assembly in the Union, Congress possesses here 
"full and absolute" power, and that its "jurisdiction" 
within the District limits is not only independent and 
unqualified, but " exclusive in all cases whatsoever." 
There is nothing in the Federal Constitution to pro- 
hibit the abolition of the institution by Congress, be- 
yond the right of all citizens to claim protection for his 
property. Still less is there to be found any clause or 


enactment denying the right to abridge and restrict 
the traffic. Neither are such prohibitory or restrictive 
clauses to be found in the deeds of cession, for in these, 
except only as relates to owners of " soil," the power 
of Congress is totally unlimited. It is even a question, 
in view of the broad and unqualified powers thus con- 
ferred on the Congress within the District limits both 
by the Constitution and the deeds, whether the right 
to prohibit the trade in all its features can be success- 
fully confuted or denied ? But thus far we do not pre- 
tend to go in this article. 

But there are other views in which this subject may 
be argued. The ten miles square must be considered 
as belonging exclusively to the " Congress and Gov- 
ernment of the United States," and not, as do the Ter- 
ritories, to the United States, over which Congress 
can only exercise trust powers. Against any improper 
or unequal, or discriminating, legislation by Congress 
as concerns the last, the States would have a right to 
protest. But as concerns legislation by Congress within 
the District, they are estopped. Resolutions, intro- 
duced before Congress, and intended to do away with 
the slave trade in the said District, are nothing to us 
of the South, in the capacity of States. We are un- 
willing to admit that our right of self-regulation can be 
thus endangered. We should as soon think of fearing 
the effects of the recent emancipation in the French 
West Indies : and w T e have about as much right to pro- 
test in the last case as in the first. On the contrary, 
we incline to believe that the interference by Congress 
with the slave trade in the District would result bene- 
ficially to the negro slave in the States. If the traffic 
was prohibited there, and those loathsome and disgust- 
ing depots of degraded and distressed humanity were 
effectually broken up within the District limits, it would 


force the Southern slaveholding States to protect them- 
selves by adopting similar laws, or else their soil would 
be flooded with an inundation of traders with their 
long, thick gangs of wretched creatures, hurried to 
market to avoid total losses. There is no telling what 
would be the consequences, if, in the event of such law 
passed by Congress, the slaveholding States should fail 
to adopt similar laws. The wanton cruelties and re- 
volting barbarities of the British West Indies would 
speedily be re-enacted in a region where quiet, and 
content, and jolly cheerfulness prevail among white 
and black. The land would swarm with hordes of 
sullen and desperate creatures, torn suddenly from 
home and from family, and ready for any act of mas- 
sacre, or for any kind of death. The whites, driven to 
fury by the fall of property, and by this repulsive in- 
novation of their domestic arrangements, would soon 
grow discontented ; the better and more polished por- 
tion would endeavor to leave the State ; and anarchy 
more appalling than ever before exampled, would then 
become the order of the day. But would the Southern 
States fail, in such event, to pass such laws ? We haz- 
ard little in saying that they would not. They value 
their homes, their property, and their domestic associ- 
ation far too highly, thus unwarily to jeopardize the 
peace and security of all. In Mississippi, especially, 
opinion is even now rife for the passage of such laws ; 
and had the emancipation question, lately submitted to 
the people of Kentucky, prevailed, a foreign negro (by 
which we mean those of other States and portions of 
the confederacy) had never set foot on our soil. It is 
a settled and cherished hope and desire with many in 
this State, that the slave traffic shall speedily terminate 
within its limits. Already has it been declared, by 
resolution of the Legislature, a public nuisance for 


traders to expose their gangs of chained human crea- 
tures within view of the capitol of a sovereign State. 
The negroes now owned in Mississippi are, in general, 
thoroughly domesticated and happy as a race, attached 
to home and their masters, and they are the most cheer- 
ful and light-hearted of human beings. There is no 
State of the South where they are so comfortably pro- 
vided for, so well treated, and so amply protected by 
law. It is thought, moreover, that the natural increase 
of those now here, will be more than sufficient to culti- 
vate all our soil in a few years. Thus situated, we have 
little cause to invite or allure an influx of strangers and 
traders with their living herds. We have every thing 
to lose, and nothing to gain, by such a course of con- 
duct. If, then, such action by Congress, within a juris- 
diction exclusively its own, should induce a like action 
on our part ; should influence a movement which would 
lead to consequences thus beneficial to our interests 
and prepossessions, and which would have the eflect of 
strengthening slavery as a strictly domestic institution 
in the States, and relieve it, at the same time, of its 
most repulsive and unwelcome feature, we would have 
little cause for complaint. On the contrary, we might 
very consistently contribute toward bringing about so 
agreeable a state of things. 

To recur now to our original propositions, we must 
reiterate the opinion, that while the right to emanci- 
pate lies with the people in their collective body in 
convention, a right they inherit from sources of power 
older than the Constitution or the laws, and conse- 
quently of unassailable and impregnable integrity as 
weU as of superior magnitude, slaves, like all other 
kinds of property, are subject, nevertheless, to legisla- 
tion for regulation. It would be surely and strangely 
anomalous if they were not, especially in that feature 


which we have been more particularly employed in 
treating of. 

Indeed, it may be further contended, that Congress 
has far more power, under the Constitution and deeds 
of cession, over the subject of slavery in the District 
of Columbia, than the Legislatures have in the various 
States. The States are sovereign, independent powers. 
The District of Columbia, on the other hand, is not 
sovereign or independent. Its inhabitants are isolated 
as regards their relations with the different States or 
sovereign communities which form the United States. 
They have no voice either in the election of the Presi- 
dent, or of the Congress which govern them. They 
are passive subjects. 

The people of a sovereign State possess privileges, 
and claim immunities which the people of the District 
do not enjoy. The State Legislatures are not arbitrary, 
irresponsible bodies. As regards the ten miles square, 
Congress is entirely an arbitrary, irresponsible body. 
Here, then, is a wide and vital difference, the grounds 
of which can neither be controverted nor denied. 

But, more than all, the District of Columbia is the 
neutral ground betwixt the jarring and conflicting sec- 
tions of the confederacy. As applied within its limits, 
the nature of the government undergoes a change, and 
presents a new face. Sovereign power, unchecked and 
undefined, is lodged elsewhere than in the people. An 
assembly composed of representatives from all other 
portions of the country, is its sole owner and supreme 
arbiter. Taxation and representation are here em- 
phatically disallied. One can be imposed without the 
recognition or voice of the other ; and the great princi- 
ple which gave birth to American independence, and 
which has built up one of the most powerful empires 
under the sun, is thus signally repudiated and disre- 


garded in a neutral territory, set apart for the resi- 
dence of the supreme powers. 

But, independently of this paradoxical fact, and 
being the neutral ground between North and South, 
every reason is afforded why all grounds of exception 
or offence to the opinions and prejudices of both sec- 
tions should be peacefully removed. Congress can 
never abolish slavery in the District without abruptly 
transcending its legitimate powers. This should be 
satisfaction enough to us of the South. 

The indiscriminate traffic in slaves, exposing them 
for sale in droves, without regard to family or attach- 
ments, and under the very eye of men unaccustomed 
to such sights, is odious in the extreme. It is a cus- 
tom not only foreign to the tastes and prejudices of the 
Northern men, but is revolting as the most disgusting 
nuisance. It is a repulsive and unwelcome sight to all. 
It is generally regarded as an unseemly and objection- 
able spectacle on the neutral ground of a free republic, 
one-half of which, in the capacity of sovereign States, 
has abolished and repudiated all connection with the 
institution, excepting only in so far as ^hey are consti- 
tutionally bound to protect the rights, in this respect, 
of the slaveholding States. It is a custom barely toler- 
ated even in the States where slavery exists as a do- 
mestic institution. In many of these Mississippi 
prominent among them the introduction of slaves to 
vend in large droves is prohibited by statute, and made 
a penal offence. Why then should we claim and con- 
tend for more in the District, which belongs to Con- 
gress, than is generally practiced in our State Govern- 
ments ? Or why perversely deny a right to Congress 
so to regulate a traffic carried on within its " exclusive 
jurisdiction," as to make the same less objectionable 
and odious to one-half of its body ? It is a right be- 


longing unquestionably to the " Congress and Govern- 
ment of the United States," and when they shall decide 
to act under that right, where will we find authority to 
prevent or successfully oppose them ? We cannot call 
on the States, for they would be stopped at the outset, 
for want of formal and proper authority to interfere in 
a matter which both the Constitution and the law have 
removed beyond the reach of their control. No right 
of any sovereign State, no clause or portion of the 
great federal compact, would be infringed by such ac- 
tion on the part of Congress, within a territory owing 
allegiance to it alone. The States, then, would be left 
without the shadow of complaint or aggrievance. We 
could not appeal to the General Government, for, be- 
sides being the offending party itself if it be offence 
it can only move in such case by the terms of the law, 
and that law will afford us no pretext for the call. The 
army and navy will not be at our disposal, for we could 
not make out a constitutional case of aggrievance, or 
frame a proper exhibit to claim them at the hands of 
the Executive. If we should attempt to bully or to 
threaten, Congress might silence us at once by pro- 
ducing the Constitution and deeds of cession, and by 
challenging us to show any cause for questioning the 
supremacy of the General Government within its proper 
sphere and within its " exclusive jurisdiction." They 
might also plead our favorite doctrine of " hands off," 
or the rapidly-obtaining principle of " non-intervention." 
They would tell us to let them alone in their " absolute 
and exclusive jurisdiction," and then they in turn will 
forbear to interfere with ours. It will be time enough, 
we think, to resort to all these extreme remedies, and 
to others more extreme still, when Congress shall seek 
to disturb the institution in the States. Even then we 
are inclined to believe that remedies less harsh, less ex- 


treme, and less repulsive than force of arms, may be 
found to allay the tumult, and afford redress. But in 
a case where we can establish no right, found no pro- 
test, and exhibit no authority to interfere ; where, at 
the best, we would be so entirely excuseless and help- 
less, reason and mature reflection will tell us to pause 
and inquire before we take the final, fatal step. Other- 
wise we might chance to be placed in the perplexing 
situation of the American army before the broken gates 
of fallen Mexico, or in the more ridiculous attitude of 
the French army before those of Rome. We might be 
found eager to inquire into the cause of the tumult 
after all the mischief had been done ; or, what is worse 
still, we might be unable, when questioned by the op- 
posing party, to state the grounds or the nature of our 


A CRISIS has been reached in our national affairs 
when it becomes us all, fellow-citizens, to reflect. The 
crisis is not, as heretofore, illusory and unreal, or con- 
fined merely within the narrow limits of party contriv- 
ances. The least sagacious may see that danger is 
imminent, and that the impulsiveness of some, the bad 
influence of others, and the selfish ambition of many, 
have wrought the public mind to a degree of excite- 
ment that bodes dire and permanent mischief to the in- 
tegrity of the Government. It is not to be concealed 
that the issue so long and so earnestly deprecated by 
Washington and other fathers of the Republic, is about 
to be joined. That issue is, Union or Disunion. No 
subtlety of argument or speech, no specious array of 
words, no ingenious or metaphysical terms, can longer 
cover the designs of those who are promulging the 
pernicious doctrine of resistance to the constitutional 
acts of Congress, or, what is worse, abetting schemes 

* Union or Disunion ; being a Review of the alleged causes of ag- 
gression at the recent action of Congress, together with some views 
concerning the proposed Southern Convention ; and an examination of 
His Excellency's late Proclamation, as also of the doctrine of Secession. 
Addressed to the People of Mississippi. By a Southron. Columbus, 
Mississippi. 1850. 


and movements which look, in their consequences, to 
nothing less than actual secession and dissolution of the 
Union. Mark the word, fellow-citizens. I do not men- 
tion secession without premeditation ; nor do I charge 
it, as yet, on any class of persons hereabouts. I affix 
the odium to their schemes, and shall endeavor to ex- 
plain the grounds of the charge more fully as we pro- 
gress with the subject. 

It is the purpose of these papers to review calmly 
and succinctly the doctrines set up by those who advo- 
cate resistance to the laws of Congress, recently passed, 
which admit California as a State of the Union, and 
which embrace the whole series of bills reported by the 
Senate Committee of Thirteen, of which Henry Clay 
was chairman ; better known as the Compromise or 
Adjustment Bills. I purpose to review the whole 
grounds of what is termed the list of Southern griev- 
ances. I shall examine the various constitutional ques- 
tions that have been raised, and the exposition of which 
has been depended on as the reason for extreme resorts. 
I shall inquire into the necessity for the proposed con- 
vocation of the Legislature by Governor Quitman, and 
also of the reassemblage of the Nashville Convention ; 
and, lastly, I shall invite your attention to the remedies 
proposed by the advocates of resistance, viz. : secession 
or dissolution of the United States, and the formation 
of a Southern Confederacy. . 

To accomplish fully this design, it is necessary to 
enter into some preliminary details of history, inti- 
mately connected with the subject, and which may not, 
therefore, prove unprofitable. It may serve, and is de- 
signed to show, the vicious tendency of party, and the 
countless evils which have flowed from the policy of the 
last administration. 

The dangers which now threaten the peace of the 


Union date their origin from the dark period of the 
Texan annexation. No matter what may be our obli- 
gations and relations with Texas now, it is undeniable 
that her introduction as a member of the United States 
has brought about the present dissatisfactions and dis- 
tractions. Previously to 1845, parties had been divided 
mainly on internal questions, which the lapse of a few 
years would have settled peaceably and with satisfac- 
tion. The United States Bank had fallen beneath the 
ponderous arm of Andrew Jackson, and its advocates, 
after a manful struggle, had submitted quietly to its 
overthrow. Internal improvements had ceased to be 
a ground of difference, because the States had taken 
them in hand separately. The manifold and exagger- 
ated evils which had been charged on the Protective 
System had been averted (if, indeed, they had ever 
existed) by the pacificatory influences of the Compro- 
mise Bill of 1833 ; and their partial revival in 1842 had 
been effectually checked by the law of 1846. Mean- 
while, however, a new cause of difference had been sur- 
reptitiously introduced by the expiring administration 
of John Tyler. The recent developments made by this 
last-named personage and the Hon. Samuel Houston, 
leave no question as to the fraudulence which marked 
the incipiency of the annexation project ; the depth and 
consummate artifice of which, in connection with the 
fabled alliance between England and Texas, seem to 
have inveigled the strong perceptive powers of Mr. 
Calhoun himself. At least, he was called in to consum- 
mate the plan, and, although it was, on the part of Ty- 
ler, a last effort at popularity, and on the part of Hous- 
ton a last chance of escape from Mexican reconquest, it 
is certain that his object was to guard, by its speedy 
annexation to the Union, an interest to which he was 
devoted, and which he believed was assailable by Eng- 


land from that exposed quarter. The name and influ- 
ence of Calhoun gave, thus, very high respectability to 
a project which might otherwise, under the auspices of 
Houston or Tyler, have fallen into speedy and meritori- 
ous disrepute. But the respectability thrown around it 
by Mr. Calhoun, though probably well intended by him, 
resulted most disastrously. No sooner was 'it made 
known that the distinguished Carolinian had asserted 
the claims of Texas, than the Democratic party, cha- 
grined by their defeat in 1840, seized adroitly on the 
question, wrested it from the feeble grasp of John Ty- 
ler, and, under the pale and sicklied light of the " Lone 
Star," succeeded in their efforts for the Presidency. 
Mr. Polk was elected, Texas hastily and inconsiderately 
annexed, and it is a remarkable and not uninstructive 
fact, that just as the ancient party warfare had expired, 
the Democratic party simultaneously introduced a fire- 
brand of contention, which, it is feared, will yet prove 
the entering wedge to a dissolution of the Union. 
Scarcely had Texas been annexed, before, in conse- 
quence, the war with Mexico ensued. It was persisted 
in until California, New Mexico, and Texas were all 
brought into the Union, and in despite of the warning 
voice of many who had at first advocated the annexa- 
tion of the latter ; not believing that it would result 
in war and extensive conquest. California and New 
Mexico thus becoming the property of the United 
States, there was revived, as a natural consequence, the 
exciting issue which had previously grown out of the 
purchase of Louisiana, and which, in 1819, had well 
nigh caused a disruption of the Government. This is- 
sue, of course, was the extension or restriction of the 
slavery interest. For weal or for woe, therefore, the 
last administration is justly chargable with the dangers 
and the evils which now, if not checked, so imminently 


portend a bloody and devastating civil war. Its advo- 
cates should not shrink from the responsibility ; else, 
having now seen and felt the disasters of their hasty 
policy, let them come forward, and aid to rescue the 

It will not be denied that the circumstances of the 
admission of California into the Union, with her present 
Constitution, were such as to engender much and seri- 
ous jealousy on the part of the South. Her boundaries 
were too large and extended by more than half; and 
the Convention which framed her Constitution was got- 
ten up with a haste and informality that argued a pre- 
determined hostility to the peculiar Southern institu- 
tion. But it is equally undeniable that the people of 
California possess the right, in a conventional capacity, 
to exclude slavery from their midst ; and the exclusion 
having been made, it was a very serious question 
whether more mischief would not have ensued from 
the attempt to undo the act, in the face of our settled 
principles of popular right, than any which is likely to 
follow from a recognition of her claims. It is also a 
very delicate point to assume that Congress has the 
right to impose, under such circumstances, any other 
than its solo constitutional restriction on the terms of 
admission, which is a republican form of government. 
Such power has ever been strenuously denied by South- 
ern statesmen, and the contrary assertion by the North 
in the case of Missouri in 1819, was then the great 
cause of contention and aggravation. The irregulari- 
ties which marked the formation of the California Con- 
stitution were no legitimate bar to her admission, 
although certainly an objection. Precedent has settled 
that point against the advocates of resistance. Not to 
mention the recent cases of Michigan and of Texas, his- 


tory has preserved the action of Congress on two mem- 
orable occasions, directly analogous. At the session of 
1802 the territory comprising the present State of Ohio 
made application for admission into the Union. The 
application was referred to a Committee of the Senate, 
of which the celebrated Mr. Giles was chairman ; and 
on the fourth day of March succeeding, it was reported, 
that although the requisitions of the law had not been 
strictly complied with in the formation of the Constitu- 
tion, and the prescribed number of inhabitants nearly 
twenty thousand short, yet that it comported " with 
the general interest of the confederacy " to admit said 
State of Ohio into the Union, " on the same footing 
with the original States, in all respects whatsoever." 
(Amer. State Papers. Mis. vol. 1st, page 326.) It is 
worthy of remark that the term, " general interest of 
the confederacy," covers the whole ground of admis- 
sion, and evinces, in a striking manner, the proclivity 
of the past generation of statesmen to submerge all fac- 
tional issues in the common weal of the Union. 

The principle of non-intervention was more clearly 
settled still at the session of 1808, on an application of 
the people inhabiting the Indiana Territory to establish 
a separate government west of the river Wabash. The 
Committee, in this instance 2 reported that, " being con- 
vinced it was the wish of a large majority of said Ter- 
ritory that such separation should take place, deem it 
always wise and just policy to grant to every portion 
of the people of the Union that form of government 
which is the object of their wishes, when not incom- 
patible with the Constitution of the United States." 
(Amer. State Papers. Mis. vol. 1st, page 946.) 

So much as concerns the admission of California at 
the recent session of Congress, and which some few 
discontented spirits, North and South, but mainly at 


the South, propose to resist at every extremity. The 
facts of the case only have been intended to be given. 
With the Congressional speeches, and other evidences 
touching its merits, so extensively distributed among 
the people, it is not deemed necessary to burthen this 
treatise with lengthy detail. 

With regard to the bill proposing an adjustment of 
pending difficulties with the State of Texas, it is only 
necessary to say, that the whole subject is now before 
those most deeply interested, and who alone are to be 
the judges of their right to accept or reject the propo- 
sition of Congress. If the people of Texas shall prove 
to be incapable of ascertaining their interests and im- 
munities as citizens of the republic, it will then be full 
time, but not until such is fairly proven, for their wise 
neighbors to assume their administration and direction. 
It may be as well to add, that this is the view taken of 
this bill by both the Texan Senators, concurred with 
by the Hon. John M. Berrien, of Georgia, and the 
Hon. Jere Clemens, of Alabama. Their opinions are 
herewith subjoined : 

" Nothing more has been done than to submit a proposition to 
Texas to settle a question of boundary, admitted on all hands to be 
lull of difficulty. It is at her option to accept or reject the offer. 
ft will not do to argue that the amount of money will bias unfairly the 
action of her Legislature. Put the question to any Alabamian ask 
him if he thinks our State would sell her poorest county for all the 
treasures of the Union, and he would treat it as an insult. Are we to 
assume that we are better than others, or that Texas will accept what 
we would spurn ? I was willing to trust Texas with the care of her 
own honor. I was willing also to trust to her own knowledge of hetr 
rights" Clemen's letter of August 20th. 

" My reasons for voting for the bill to adjust the Texas boundary 
sire as follows : 

1st. As evincing a disposition to reconciliation which strengthens 
our cause. 

2d. Because Texas, as a sovereign State, was the party entitled 


to decide the question of disposing of her own territory. If any State 
had interfered in our (the Georgia) cession of 1802, I should have 
considered it an intrusion. 

3d. Because the territory to he ceded would hecome part of New 
Mexico, and free from the Proviso. 

4th. Principally because relieving Texas from her debt, it would 
develop her energies ; and I consider a strong slaveholding State in 
that quarter as of incalculable importance, in itself, and necessarily 
leading to the formation of others." Berrien's Macon letter. 

The third in the series of what is called the aggres- 
sive or anti-Southern measures of Congress, is the bill 
erecting Territorial Governments for the Territories of 
New Mexico and Utah. These bills, respectively, con- 
tain the following section : 

"Be it further enacted, That when admitted as a 
State, the said territory, or any portion of the same, 
shall be received into the Union with or without slave- 
ry, as their Constitution may prescribe at the time of 
their admission." 

This clause, were there no ulterior objects in the 
view of those who now so busy themselves in promulg- 
ing the doctrine of secession, or its equivalent, the prin- 
ciple of sedition, would, it might reasonably be inferred, 
have proven perfectly satisfactory to the entire South. 
There is, at least, no restriction as concerns slavery, 
and it is assuming what might not be safe for the South, 
to contend for its direct establishment by Congress in 
those Territories. If the influence of Texas shall be 
what Judge Berrien, in the latter clause above quoted, 
predicts it may be, there is almost a certainty that new 
slaveholding States may yet be formed out of this iden- 
tical Territory. It is the mere cant of disunion to 
stickle on the point of non-protection by Congress to 
slave property in those Territories. The Constitution 
of the United States is now extended over those Terri- 
tories. The Constitution expressly recognizes the in- 


stitution of slavery ; but it has been left for the local 
authorities always to regulate the municipal and police 
features. The doctrine of non-interference with slavery 
by Congress has been too long and too sedulously 
claimed by the South to stickle now on this point. It 
is taught in the celebrated Southern Address penned 
by Mr. Calhoun ; and it is remarkable that this great 
statesman and friend of slavery never, in any speech or 
address, contends for what many now deem so very 
essential to Southern interests viz. : protection by Con- 
gress for slave property in the Territories. 

The bill most objected to by factious sectionalists 
in connection with the late Congressional measures of 
harmony and pacification, is that which abolishes the 
indiscriminate slave trade in the District of Columbia. 
It is pretended that this is not only aggressive on the 
rights of the South, but is palpably contrary to the 
Federal Constitution so much so as to warrant hos- 
tilities to the Government on the part of the Southern 
States. Now if it can be shown that this bill is con- 
formable to the terms of the Maryland deed of cession 
and to the Constitution of the United States, the last 
objection of course falls to the ground, and, as a neces- 
sary consequence, the first is removed ; for it cannot be 
rationally contended that the South could be aggrieved 
by any course of action on the part of Congress which 
is proven to be in accordance with these two instru- 

The political situation of the District, in view of the 
strong popular features of our government, is certainly 
anomalous. As applied within its limits, the nature of 
the government undergoes an entire change, and pre- 
sents a new face. Sovereign power, unchecked and 
undefined in the original compacts, is lodged elsewhere 
than in the people. An assembly, composed of persons 


from all other portions of the Confederacy, is its sole 
owner and supreme arbiter. Taxation and representa- 
tion are here emphatically disallied. One can be im- 
posed without the recognition or voice of the other ; 
and the great principle which gave birth to American 
Independence, and which has built up one of the most 
powerful empires under the sun, is thus signally repu- 
diated and disregarded in a neutral territory set apart, 
in the very heart of the nation, for the residence of the 
supreme powers. Before progressing with this branch 
of the subject, however, I have thought it would be 
better, my fellow-citizens, to place before you the 
Maryland deed of cession, conveying this District to 
Congress, and which, now that the portion of its origi- 
nal limits belonging to Virginia has been retroceded to 
that State, is the only deed to which it becomes neces- 
sary to refer. Side by side with this deed, I shall place 
that clause of the Federal Constitution which accepts 
the same, and prescribes the powers of Congress over 
the District limits : 

" Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Maryland, 
That all that part of the said territory called Columbia, which lies 
within the limits of this State, shall be, and the same is hereby ac- 
knowledged to "be, for ever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and 
Government of the United States, in full and conclusive right and ex- 
clusive jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing, or to reside 
thereon." Deed from Maryland. 

" Congress shall have power to exercise exclusive jurisdiction in all 
cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as 
may, by cession of particular States, and by the acceptance of Con- 
gress, become the seat of government of the United States." Const., 
art. 1st, section 8th. 

The only proviso affixed to this deed is, " that no 

right shall be vested in the United States as to soil 

owned by individuals otherwise than the same might 

be transferred by such individuals." The deed, any 



candid reasoner must admit, is full and absolute, while 
the language of the Constitution is so explicit as to 
amount, literally, to an unqualified, sweeping clause. 
They both are so framed as to convey as large powers 
as it is possible to conceive that language can possibly 
convey. The deed parts with Maryland's right to the 
District ''for ever ; " the " acceptance " in the Consti- 
tution carries along with it, as the most biased and fas- 
tidious stickler will concede, " exclusive jurisdiction in 
all cases whatsoever." 

It will be seen, moreover, that the Congress is a 
party to this deed in more ways than one. It is a party 
independently, because the cession is made to the Con- 
gress and Government of the United States. It is also 
a party by virtue of its co-ordinate connection with the 
government of the United States. 

Congress is thus armed with double powers, and as 
to the ceded District may be said to be sovereign, ex- 
cept as concerns pre-existing rights, which no cession 
could transfer, and no Constitution, or acceptance of 
such cession, wrest from the people. I pause to say 
that among the pre-existing rights is that to hold slaves, 
and that Congress can have no power, consequently, to 
abolish slavery in the District, without the previously 
expressed assent of the people thereof. The power to 
abolish is not the function of a legislative body, deriv- 
ing its power from instruments less ancient than the 
institution proposed to be abolished. It is a power 
which can belong only to those who own slaves, 
wherever found living under our present Federal Con- 

But Congress being clothed with absolute power, 
and with exclusive jurisdiction over the District, must 
needs possess supreme legislative powers, from which 
there can be no appeal to the States, and with which 


the last have no right to interfere. It cannot be denied 
that the slave traffic is legitimately the subject of legis- 
lation. The traffic is carried on under the law. The 
right of the master to the slave as property is older 
than the law, and can no more be assailed by the law 
than could the right to bequeath or inherit, or the right 
of self-defence, or the freedom of conscience; all of 
which are of none the less effect because partly unwrit- 
ten and undefined. The traffic has always and every 
where been reckoned as among the municipal or police 
features of slavery. It has been so considered by every 
government, ancient and modern, under which slavery 
has existed. That of Rome, which gave to the master 
even the power of life and limb over his slave, always 
claimed to regulate the slave traffic ; but it never 
claimed to destroy, by simple legislative majority, the 
relation between master and slave. Greece, as a gov- 
ernment, was anxious to rid the country of the Helot 
slavery long before the body of the people were either 
prepared for, or willing to, such riddance. The gov- 
ernment, therefore, claimed only the right of all gov- 
ernments, to abridge, and finally to prohibit the indis- 
criminate traffic in the beings who were enslaved ; but 
it dared not, even in that early age, to infringe the 
right of property by abruptly destroying the relation 
between master and slave. Russia, although a simple 
despotism, where all legislative power even is lodged 
with the Czar, would not venture, by a peremptory 
ukase, to abolish serfdom within its imperial limits ; yet 
the slave traffic is not only effectually regulated, but is 
so far prohibited as that serfs go along with the land 
on which they were born, and thus they are termed 
slaves of soil. The rash and unwarranted abolition of 
serfdom, even by the sceptred Autocrat of all the Rus- 
sias, would kindle a flame of resentment that would 


quickly spread from the Don to the Vistula. In abol- 
ishing the traffic, which was an exercise of power con- 
formable both to justice and to custom, not the slight- 
est opposition was encountered. 

Under our government of sovereign States and 
limited powers, this power is not dormant. All power, 
of whatever description, must reside somewhere. There 
are powers which belong to the body of the people, to 
the States in their separate capacity and in constitu- 
tional convention, and to Congress. We have assumed 
that the will of the people is alone the arbiter of slavery 
as an institution, and they alone may abolish slavery, 
whether in the States or in the District. The regula- 
tion of the slave trade is a matter of legislation, both in 
the States and in the District. As to the States, their 
own Legislatures may and do exercise this power. 
Within the District, the Congress is absolute, and un- 
questionably possesses a similar power. Nor have the 
States any right to object, or any ground of aggriev- 
ance, unless they are aggrieved by the terms of the 
Constitution. Congress has exercised this power re- 
cently by breaking up slave depots and markets within 
the District, by prohibiting the introduction of slaves 
within the District for purposes of traffic or sale, and 
by declaring such slaves to be free in all such cases. 
How shall we go about resisting, in a constitutional 
and peaceful way I mean, the exercise of an unquestion- 
ably existing power by a body " absolute " by the deed 
of cession within the ceded limits, and declared to pos- 
sess " exclusive jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever," 
by the very Constitution under which our Government 
exists, " over such District as may, by cession of par- 
ticular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become 
the seat of government of the United States ? " The 
evil, if evil there be, must be traced to the terms of 


the original cession, and not charged against the body 
acting under that cession ; must be imputed to the 
Constitution, and not to the body which exercises a 
power conferred by that Constitution. But more of 
this anon. 

I have thus, fellow-citizens of the State of Missis- 
sippi, gone through with a brief but concise summary 
of all those measures of Congress which have been de- 
nounced as intending mischief on the Southern institu- 
tion, and against which it is proposed, in some quarters, 
to direct the artillery of public indignation, if not of 
Southern chivalry. I have said nothing about the fu- 
gitive slave bill, because it seems to be generally satis- 
factory. But I purpose, in this number, to call your 
attention to the remedies intended, or by some agitated, 
to cure these alleged evils, and the modes of resistance 
so boldly promulged by the disaffected. This was 
the more immediate object of this essay, than discussion 
of the merits of the bills, at which I have but glanced. 

These remedies are, I regret to say, all of a violent 
character ; the resistance proposed looks alone to dis- 
organization and dismemberment of the Union. The 
ultra doctrines of the South Carolina Ordinance, so sig- 
nally buried in 1833 by the Proclamation of General 
Jackson, have been disentombed, and are held forth as 
the nucleus around which discontent and sedition may 
rally. There is, I fear, this great difference between 
the period of their inglorious sepulture, and their resur- 
rection in this day. Then, their pernicious influences 
were mainly confined to South Carolina; now, their 
baneful exhalations are far more widely disseminated. 
The day may be near at hand when an Andrew Jack- 
son might prove a blessing to the integrity of the Re- 


It is proposed to call a Convention of the Southern 
States ; and to aid this project, doubtless, our belliger- 
ent Governor has convoked the Legislature for the 
eighteenth day of next month. The objects which such 
Convention is intended to subserve cannot be of a very 
peaceful tendency, if we are to judge by the proclama- 
tions of His Excellency and the Governor of Georgia, 
the only authentic evidences of a design to resist the 
Government, so far given to the world. If the objects 
of the Convention be peaceful, I, for one, see no use in 
its assemblage. It is, under any circumstances, a ques- 
tionable resort, and certainly a dangerous mode of col- 
lecting public sentiment. It is not only a dangerous, 
but very unreliable mode, where such wide and fun- 
damental differences of opinion exist, as surely do exist 
among the Southern people at this time. A conven- 
tion can only answer a good purpose when there is a 
great coincidence of opinion and unity of sentiment as 
to the aggressions of the General Government. When 
I go into the advocacy of a convention which is to de- 
liberate concerning alleged grievances from Congress, 
I must be prepared for revolution. I must be con- 
vinced that there has been not only deep and serious 
innovation on Southern rights, but a palpable and dan- 
gerous violation of the Constitution. If I feel that 
there has been nothing of either of these, I prefer to 
seek a remedy through the ballot-box, or by remon- 
strance, or in some way authorized by the Constitution. 
If the advocates of a Southern Convention design to 
direct its action against the laws of the land, or the 
Government of the United States, I oppose such Con- 
vention entirely. If it is hinted, as some wish us to 
believe, to deliberate concerning prospective or antici- 
pated grievances, concerning the mere " shadow of 
coming events," or for adopting an ultimatum against 


merely fancied wrongs, supposed to be intended by the 
North, I must still say I cannot concur in the policy. 
" Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," especially 
when that evil is only suspected ; when it exists only 
in the imaginations of those who seem to delight in dis- 
cord, and who hold pertinaciously to the dogma, that 
" no good can come out of Nazareth." I am of those 
who see no adequate cause for assembling a Convention 
to resist what has been done ; and I assuredly am not 
so enlightened as to the future, that I shah 1 advocate 
preparation against mere phantom encroachments. I 
am not haunted by any distempered visions. I see no 
" grinning horrors " in the unrobed future of the Re- 
public, as it stands. If my fancy ever wanders into the 
dreamy future, I am always greeted by smiling visions 
of the brightness, and glory, and greatness of the Union 
beaming with the mild radiance of its original purity, 
and gathering increased lustre as it sweeps onward to 
its high and holy destiny. Sometimes, I confess, the 
gorgeous hues of the picture are momentarily darkened 
by the ghastly intrusions of spectred fanatics, or of 
Gorgon-like agitators, such as emanate from Tammany 
Hall or Nashville Conventions ; but ere long the bright- 
ness reappears familiar faces, like those of Washington 
and Franklin, peer forth from the transient obscurity, 
and the " black spirits," frowned into nothingness, van- 
ish as mists from before the rising sun. 

A convention, fellow-citizens, whose members are 
composed of citizens of particular States only, elected 
without the " consent of Congress," and which looks to 
the formation of any agreement or compact among 
themselves, is an unconstitutional and a seditious assem- 
blage. The late Nashville Convention assembled with- 
out the consent of Congress, expressly to form some 
agreement among the Southern States. Its address 


was directed alone to the people of the Southern States, 
and its action was submitted alone to Southern States. 
It is now proposed to sanction a re-assemblage of this 
Convention, or to call into being another looking to the 
same objects. It is useless for the advocates of a Con- 
vention to attempt a disguise of their objects. If their 
object was peaceful deliberation merely, they would re- 
sort to a peaceful, constitutional method of deliberation. 
Their design is to attempt to unite the South in some 
scheme .of resistance against the recent laws of Con- 
gress. The pretext to deliberate with a view to future 
aggressions, is too senseless and too shallow to dupe 
even the least sagacious. 

Now, fellow-citizens, if we are a law-abiding people, 
let us look well to our sworn duty, which is to support 
the Constitution. Let us see what that Constitution 
says, and act accordingly. If, on the contrary, we are 
ripe for anarchy and revolution, let us face the matter, 
and so declare. The Constitution declares, in the tenth 
section of its first article, that " no State shall enter into 
any treaty, alliance, or confederation." This language 
is clearly unmistakable, and asserts a prohibition on the 
separate States against uniting in any confederation. 
But there is still a more direct inhibition against assem- 
blages convened for the purposes above stated. The 
following clause declares explicitly, that "no State 
shall, without the consent of Congress, enter into any 
agreement or compact with another State, or with a 
foreign power." 

If words have any meaning, fellow-citizens, that 
meaning is apparent in the above clauses of the Federal 
Constitution. I construe them to assert that any body 
convened on the basis and in the manner of the late 
Nashville Convention, or which may be convened, at 
any time, without the consent of Congress, for any pur- 


pose of resistance or deliberation hostile to the action 
of Congress, is an unconstitutional assemblage. If the 
objects of the Convention were those of remonstrance, 
then the people, or their delegates, might peacefully 
and legally assemble. But a Convention, formed of 
citizens of different States, and which advises a course 
of action on the part of those States inimical to the 
Government, or hostile to the laws of the land, comes 
within the prohibition of the Constitution. For these 
reasons I have said that when I shall advocate a Con- 
vention to be thus formed, and that shall be intended 
to band the South against the action of Congress, I 
shall be prepared for revolution. Of course, the people 
have a right, when the majority so decide, to revolu- 
tionize and form a new Government; and when the 
present Government fails of its intents and purposes, 
and when all constitutional remedies shall have been 
exhausted in attempting to obtain proper redress against 
palpable aggressions, no one will deny that then will be 
the time to choose between evils, and to count the 
value of the Union. But when the ship springs a leak, 
it is faint-hearted and treacherous to desert until all 
the pumps have been thoroughly tried and exhausted. 
Let me say, by way of illustration, that if, in defiance 
of alllthat has occurred, and of law and justice, Con- 
gress should assume to abolish the institution of slavery 
in the District, and shall pass a law to abolish the slave 
'trade within, or as between the slaveholding States, 
the infraction will then be sufficiently palpable and vio- 
lent, in my judgment, to warrant violent remedies and 
harsh resorts. But disunion, even then, would be a 
useless remedy ; for thereby we lose not only the power 
to enforce proper redress, but we lose every thing. 
Secession and dissolution are the very worst of all evils, 
as I shall presently demonstrate. We let slip the ad- 


vantages we now hold over our enemies, by resorting 
to a disruption of the Government. It is just what 
they wish, and are attempting to drive us into. So 
long as the Constitution lasts, our rights as regards 
slavery, being recognized therein, are safe, and our op- 
ponents are obliged to abide and submit. If they 
violate the Constitution by palpable aggression, why 
should we be made the sufferers ? If we break up the 
Union, the Constitution falls, the Government is de- 
stroyed, our enemies are released from all obligations, 
while we are thus cast loose from the only bond that 
links us with the civilized and enlightened world. We 
thus lose every advantage and gain no compensation. 
We weaken our cause by shearing it of its great arm 
of strength. If the Constitution is violated by them, 
they are the disunionists, and they should be stigma- 
tized as such. If there is to be a collision, let us of the 
South at least be in the right. If the majority of Con- 
gress should violate the Constitution as I have suggest- 
ed, let us wait to see if the body of the North upholds 
and endorses the violation and aggression. Let us see 
if their constituents sanction their treachery. This, in 
my opinion, is by no means probable. The great States 
of New York and Pennsylvania are bound to us by the 
golden cords of self-interest. Their principal wealth, 
and the greatness of their two mammoth emporiums, 
are derived from traffic with the South. The New 
England States are worth nothing to them in compari- 
son with the Southern States. Cut them off from the 
Southern trade, and they are well aware that they 
must diminish ruinously. The severance of the Union, 
and the consequent anarchy and disruption of trade, 
would bankrupt the cities of New York and Philadel- 
phia, and every cotton merchant would become insol- 
vent. Three months of hostilities between the States 


would shock their business in a manner that ten years 
of peace could not repair. The body of the people, 
therefore, knowing these things and they are too sa- 
gacious not to know them would be far from counte- 
nancing a course of action by Congress that would lead 
to disunion. They would make common cause with 
the South ; the offending Congress would be displaced 
at the term's end, these two States will have been 
gained on the side of the Union, and the Constitution 
and Government have been saved. 

But suppose that, immediately on the heels of the 
aggression, we appeal only to a Convention of Southern 
States. Do we not rashly and unnecessarily jeopard 
the dearest of causes by closing the doors to all other 
States ? We lose every thing without even attempting 
to gain any thing. We lose the protecting influence 
of the great bond of Union, without even opening a 
door for its salvation. 

Such, fellow-citizens, is the course of conduct, and 
its consequences, advised by the advocates of the Con- 
vention, and by the disciples of Mr. Rhett, and their 
seditious coadjutors in Mississippi. I, for one, repudi- 
ate any such doctrine, and abjure all such tutelage. I 
desire to matriculate at some other than the fountain 
of South Carolina Rhett-oric. 

But can a Convention of Southern States be gotten 
up which will fairly and truly reflect and represent 
public sentiment at the South ? I think not. In the 
first place, the party distinctions of Whig and Demo- 
crat are by no means obliterated. It is true that a 
slight coalescence has been formed among a few. Some 
of the Whigs, tempted by ambition, perhaps, or be- 
trayed by ardent temperaments into an over-wrought 
zeal, or misled by erroneous calculations, have been in- 
cautious enough to join the seditious wing of the great 


Democratic party. But the body of the Whig party 
remain firm to their integrity, and have openly repudi- 
ated all such leaders. Some Democrats have united 
with them in the vain attempt to form a par excellence 
Southern party ; but the body of the Democrats are by 
no means committed to an ultra platform. They ad- 
here to party and to party men, and refuse any direct 
coalition on what is termed the Southern question. 
They are, it is true, more equally divided on the Union 
and Disunion question, than are the Whigs ; and, per- 
haps, as some of their leaders claim, the majority is for 
resistance. But the issue has not been fairly joined 
and put ; and, as yet, they manifest every desire to co- 
here as a party, on the ancient and popular principle, 
that " a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." 
When their hot-headed leaders approach them on the 
subject of coalition, the answer, if we may judge by 
actions, has always been in the language of Scripture : 
" Go thy way ; at a more convenient season " we will 
join you. At the same time, the body of the Whigs, 
in every instance where a coalition has been attempted, 
have protested against their absorption, and consequent 
extinction as a conservative, national party. With a 
conservative and genuine Whig administration, which, 
so far, has stood true to Southern rights, because true 
to the Constitution, and which, relying on the cheerful 
support of its friends in both sections, is endeavoring to 
impress conservative and national Whig principles on 
the Government, and to illustrate their beautiful influ- 
ence the Whigs seem unwilling to surrender their 
tried friends, ere yet they have offended. Nor do they 
seem at all inclined to the belief that they will offend. 
Millard Fillmore and Daniel Webster were never so 
popular at the South as now, and their friends evince 
every reliance in their administration. 


Parties, then, are still jealous, still disunited, and 
there is little prospect of a coalition. An effort, there- 
fore, to elect delegates to a Southern Convention, would 
most likely take a party turn, and become a party mat- 
ter. This would beget bad blood at the South, let suc- 
cess perch on whichever side it might ; the moral, or, 
to speak more properly, the sectional influence of the 
Convention would be completely baffled, and the result 
would be lamentable divisions and enmities among 
Southern friends. This, my fellow-citizens, is of itself a 
sufficient argument with me to oppose all attempts at 
the Southern Convention. 

But this is not all. I fear that, after assembling, 
such Convention would rather be found lending itself 
to the manufacture of public sentiment, than conform- 
ing to the will of those they would be said to represent. 
That will could not now be ascertained. The advocates 
of the Convention are either unwilling or afraid to avow 
their objects, or to meet the issue of Union or Disunion 
of resistance or obedience to the laws of the country. 
They could not sustain, before the people, an effort to 
call a Convention merely to deliberate, or to adopt an 
ultimatum against aggressions not yet committed. The 
people will claim the privilege of deliberating, and then 
send delegates from their midst to act. You cannot 
get the Conventionists to join the issue of war or peace, 
resistance or non-resistance, by their proposed Conven- 
tion. Their addresses, their resolutions, even their 
speeches in primary assemblies, all point to resistance, 
and cover a settled purpose of dissolution. But they 
disclaim violence and repudiate disunion, where the 
naked issue is made. A Convention, therefore, is im- 
practicable, and would not reflect truly and entirely 
public sentiment. The question of a Convention may 
then be thus resolved : If intended only to deliberate, 


it is not their province ; if to adopt an ultimatum 
against airy aggressions, it is unnecessary ; if to decide 
the issue of resistance or obedience, or of Union or 
Disunion, no such issue will have been made, and the 
South is not united. 

In the preceding sections, fellow-citizens, I have 
forborne to amplify. I have left much to your own 
reflection, and preferred to do so. I have mainly en- 
deavored to mark out the true issues, believing you to 
be fully capable of filling up the detail of argument, and 
of following the same to its just and legitimate conclu- 
sion. My only remaining task now is to examine, 
briefly but minutely, the other proposed remedy of se- 
cession a remedy which I shall endeavor to dissect 
of its countless enormities and mischiefs, and to demon- 
strate to be worse than the alleged disease. I am happy 
to find, however, that this course is suggested by very 
few is disavowed by many even of the most disaffect- 
ed, and is dreaded by nearly all. 

Has a State of this Union the constitutional right to 
secede " without the consent of Congress," or the other 
States? This question unfolds and opens the whole 
issue. I shall argue it in a somewhat novel point of 
view, and invoke your unbiased attention. It will be 
for you to say, after going candidly through with the 
argument, whether I sustain my premises. 

Let me ask first, however, what is the nature of our 
bond of union ? Is it the creature of the State Govern- 
ments, or the people of the States united? Is it an 
agreement merely, a league between the different 
States, a copartnership of separate and distinct Gov- 
ernments, or a regularly "ordained and established 
Constitution," the declared supreme law of the entire 
confederacy ? If I understand history, fellow-citizens, 


it surely is none of the three first ; and if the instru- 
ment, or the bond, does not utter a lie on its very face, 
and in its every feature and provision, it is unquestiona- 
bly and undeniably the last. Its very birth and origin 
show that I am correct in point of fact. The old con- 
federation was, indeed, a league a mere compact be- 
tween the different States. Under that the General 
Government was, in very truth, a mere creature of the 
State Governments. It could not move nor act with- 
out their consent. It could not lay or collect taxes and 
duties, nor form treaties, nor declare war, nor make 
peace, without the consent of the State Governments. 
It was imbecile and inefficient, a mockery and a nullity, 
and was soon found to be so. A Convention was 
called to revise and re-adapt its deficiencies. That 
Convention met in 1787, in Philadelphia, and their first 
resolution declared that a " national government ought 
to be established, consisting of a supreme Legislature, 
Judiciary, and Executive." Afterwards, this resolution 
was so altered that, instead of " national," it was termed 
the " government of the United States," which was the 
name and style of the confederacy. The present Gov- 
ernment was framed and sent out for ratification, not 
by the States or the State Legislatures, but by the 
people of the States in convention assembled. It de- 
pended for adoption on consent and agreement / but 
the moment that it was adopted, its declarations were 
fairly confirmed. These declarations are not of a league 
or compact between the States, but of a " Constitution 
of the people of the United States." The language of 
the preamble is not to agree or stipulate, but to " or- 
dain and establish." It declares itself to be, together 
with the " laws and treaties made in pursuance thereof, 
the supreme law of the land." And, as if to give un- 
mistakable emphasis to this declaration, it adds, "any 


thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the 
contrary notwithstanding." (Art. 6th.) This Consti- 
tution can lay and collect taxes, impose duties, make 
treaties, declare war, and conclude peace, independently 
of the consent of the States. It even lays injunctions 
on the State Governments, does not receive such from 
them. It tells them they " shall not " make treaties, 
form alliances or confederations, coin money, pass any 
bill impairing the obligation of contracts, engage in any 
war, enter into compact with another State or with a for- 
eign power, keep any regular troops, maintain any navies. 
(Art. 1st, section 10th.) This surely is not the lan- 
guage of a creature, a mere agent of the various State 
Governments ! Washington tells us " that it is utterly 
impracticable, in the Federal Government of these 
States, to secure all the rights of independent sover- 
eignty to each, and yet provide for the safety and in- 
terest of all." (Letter to Congress on the Constitution.) 
In his Farewell Address he speaks of the " unity of 
government which constitutes us one people," and of 
our indissoluble community of interest as one nation. 

Mr. Madison, the highest authority, in his letter to 
the editor of the North American Review, speaks of 
the Constitution of the United States " as constituting 
the people thereof one people for certain purposes," and 
as an instrument which cannot be altered or annulled 
at the will of the States individually. The fifteenth 
number of the Federalist, the acknowledged authorita- 
tive commentary on and exposition of the Constitution, 
penned by Mr. Madison, speaks of " sovereignty in the 
Union, and complete independence in the States, as ut- 
terly repugnant and irreconcilable." But I have a 
more pertinent, if not a higher authority still. Mr. 
Calhoun, in his celebrated letter to Governor Hamilton, 
uses this significant language : " In the execution of the 


delegated powers, the Union is no longer regarded in 
reference to its parts, but as forming one great commu- 
nity, to be governed by a common will." 

I cannot pause, fellow-citizens, to multiply authori- 
ties. I have adduced sufficient, both from the Consti- 
tution itself, and from the legacies of its expounders 
and fathers, to show to you the grounds of my opinion 
that it is not a mere league or compact between the 
States, but the supreme law of the land ; and that, 
too, independently of State constitutions or State laws. 
These are facts of history. I tell them to you honestly 
and truthfully. If they are unwelcome, they are none 
the less true ; and I cannot be held responsible for tak- 
ing the Constitution for that which I know it to be. 
And I may here add, en passant, such being the history 
and interpretation of the Constitution, the doctrine of 
secession finds but little constitutional sustenance. 

But I may be pointed to the Virginia Resolutions 
of 1798, passed to denounce the odious Alien and Sedi- 
tion laAvs of the Adams administration. Being penned 
by Mr. Madison, I cheerfully defer to their authority 
as he interprets them not as Nullifiers and Secession- 
ists interpret them. They are held by these last to 
assert the complete independence of the States of the 
General Government, and as covering the right of se- 
cession by the States at their own option. If this be 
their meaning, I reject them as dangerous and Jacobin- 
ical. But do they really look to the right of secession, 
or to the resistance of the laws of Congress by hostile 
States ? I confess that they wear such appearance, and 
would seem to contemplate such end. But the drawer 
of them protests against such interpretation, and the 
endorsers of them, at the period of their promulgation, 
deny and disclaim any such inferences. Mr. Madison, 
in the letter above referred to, speaking of the interpre- 



tation thus put on his resolution, says : " It may often 
happen that erroneous constructions, not anticipated, 
may not be sufficiently guarded against in the language 
used." And again he says: "That the Legislature 
could not have intended to sanction such doctrine (viz., 
nullification and secession), is to be inferred from the 
debate in the House of Delegates, and from the address 
of the two Houses to their constituents." Mr. Monroe, 
then Governor of Virginia, in his message relating to 
these resolutions, and referring to the action of the 
Legislature on passing them, says, " they looked to a 
change in public opinion, which ought to be free ; not 
to measures of violence, discord, and disunion, which 
they (the people and Legislature) abhor." The mover 
of the resolutions himself declares, " The appeal is to 
public opinion ; if that is against us, we must yield." 
And in later years, a distinguished disciple of the Vir- 
ginia school of politics declared in the United States 
Senate, when alluding to these resolutions, " The whole 
object of the proceedings was, by the peaceful force of 
public opinion, to obtain a speedy repeal of the acts in 
question, not to oppose or arrest their execution while 
they remained unrepealed." (Speech of Hon. Wm. C. 
Rives, in 1833.) And as evidence in support of this 
interpretation, I may here add, that even while the 
resolutions were yet before the people of Virginia, de- 
nouncing the laws of Congress as "unconstitutional 
and dangerous," the Sedition Act was cruelly enforced 
against a popular favorite and protege of Mr. Jefferson, 
in their very capital, and by one of the most brutal and 
despotic judges that has ever disgraced the ermine 
since the days of Jeffreys. (State Trials, case of Cal- 
lendar, page 688.) So much, then, for these resolu- 
tions ; and being thus interpreted, I willingly receive 
them as high authority. 


But I propose to examine this principle of secession 
still more minutely, and to measure it by the terms of 
the Constitution. I must say, in all sincerity, that it 
seems to me to be an absurd proposition to contend 
that a solemn bond of government and of union, delib- 
erately formed, should contain, as one of its essential 
features, an element of its own destruction and dissolu- 
tion. A Constitution designed and framed, among 
other purposes, to destroy itself, and dissolve the Union 
which was the prime object of its ordination and estab- 
lishment, could have been formed by none but madmen 
or Utopians, and could never have received the solemn 
adoption of an intelligent and sagacious people. Sup- 
pose a State could secede from the Union at its own 
time, and by its own option ! To what would it subject 
the rest of the States, but to the despotism of a frac- 
tion, more intolerable and arrogant than any oligarchy 
that ever existed. Well may Mr. Madison exclaim, as 
in the letter above referred to, " that nothing can bet- 
ter demonstrate the inadmissibility of such a doctrine, 
than that it puts it in the power of the smallest fraction 
to give the law and even the Constitution to the re- 
maining States ; " each claiming, as he says, " an equal 
right to expound it, and to insist on the exposition." 
Such a bedlam of discord would never before have 
existed to curse a nation, if such had been the end of 
the present Constitution, and the design of those who 
framed it. Greatly would I have preferred a re-estab- 
lishment of the old Articles of Confederation, to such 
a Constitution as these secessionists would have ours 
to be. 

I know it is contended that certain States, as Vir- 
ginia, New York, and Rhode Island, claimed and re- 
served the right of seceding, at their own pleasure, in 
their several ratifications. I do not so read or under- 


stand the record. They would not have been admitted 
with any such baneful and disorganizing reservation, 
but would have been kept out, and treated as aliens, as 
they deserved. A pretty government would it be, 
where a meagre minority of the people could claim the 
supremacy of dictators to the majority. I would pre- 
fer, vastly, the sway of a Czar or a Sultan ; because, 
under either of the last, we might, at least, have peace 
and permanence not an Italy of the middle ages, cut 
up by parties of Guelphs and Ghibellines. Such a gov- 
ernment, fellow-citizens, as secessionists would force on 
you, was never designed by a Convention over which 
Washington presided, and in which Madison, and Jay, 
and Hamilton were principal actors. 

But did these States make any such reservation ? 
Let us go to the record, and take it by its plain, com- 
mon-sense, usually received meaning. I find in the 
\ irgima ibrm of ratification, that the delegates decided 
that they " do, in the name, and on behalf of the people 
of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers 
granted under the Constitution, being derived from the 
people of the United States, may be resumed by them 
whensoever the same shall be perverted to their in- 
jury or oppression." There is no sophisticating this 
declaration. The "people of Virginia" declare that 
" the powers granted under the Constitution are de- 
rived from the people of the United States." That is 
clear. Virginia, then, does not claim supremacy, or 
even individuality, except in so far as her people assent 
to the Constitution. These powers, " when perverted," 
may be " resumed," not by the people of Virginia alone', 
but by the " people of the United States." That is 
clear also. But further on they declare that they (the 
delegates) "do ratify the Constitution," not on the 
condition, but "with a hope of amendments." This 


language needs no explanation. It is the language of 
unqualified assent. It is language which looks to any 
thing else than the right of States to secede when they 
please from the Union. (Elliott's Deb., vol. 2, p. 476.) 
But New York presents a more direct refutation of 
this doctrine. I find their form of ratification to read 
thus: "That the Constitution under consideration 
ought to be ratified by this Convention, upon condition 
nevertheless," &c. ; among which conditions, I may 
say, there is not one which includes secession. Indeed, 
on the day following, a delegate moved to strike out 
the words " upon condition," and insert, " in full confi- 
dence / " and the motion prevailed. But, as if to clinch 
the whole, a Mr. Lansing did move, when the final 
question was put, to adopt a resolution, "that there 
should be reserved to the State of New York a right 
to withdraw from the Union, after a certain number of 
years, unless the amendments proposed should be pre- 
viously submitted to a general Convention." The mo- 
tion was promptly and largely defeated. This, fellow- 
citizens, would not seem to contemplate secession. (El- 
liott's Debates, vol. 1, p. 357.) 

Can a State then secede ? I can think of but one 
way, by which, under the Constitution, this can be 
done, and that is by "consent of Congress." Even 
this is not very clear, but it is, I think, fairly debatable. 
In reflecting on the subject, and investigating its mer- 
its, I was arrested by the following language, found in 
the latter clause of the tenth section of the first article 
of the Constitution : " No State shall, without the con- 
sent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops 
or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agree- 
ment or compact with another State, or with a foreign 
power ," &c. I have been unable to find any contempo- 
raneous explanation or elucidation of this latter member 


of the clause. Indeed, Mr. Justice Story, in his admi- 
rable Commentaries on the Constitution, remarks, as 
concerns this expression : " What precise distinction is 
here intended to be taken between treaties, agreements, 
and compacts, is nowhere explained, and has never, as 
yet, been the subject of any exact judicial or other ex- 
amination." (Com., p. 512.) 

If, however, a State, by consent of Congress, may 
lay a " duty of tonnage," the same power, by the same 
construction, and under like consent, may form a " com- 
pact with a foreign power." This certainly Implies a 
separation of that State from the United States Gov- 
ernment, in some shape ; for by the Constitution, the 
President and two-thirds of the Senate alone can form 
a compact or treaty with foreign powers. This, fellow- 
citizens, is the only cloak which I can find in the Con- 
stitution to cover the doctrine of secession. It is very 
remote, and implied at the best. It is a bone, however, 
at which its advocates may gnaw, with entire safety to 
the country and the Union. If it covers their doctrine, 
it at least carries along a previous condition which 
would be fatal to their theory. It demands a subser- 
viency to the will of the great aggrieving power, which 
is " Congress." They may make the most of it. 

I have other questions to submit, and I have done. 
What would be the situation of a seceded State, in the 
presence of a powerful and overshadowing empire like 
that of the United States admitting, that is, that a 
State may peaceably secede ? Why, in the first place, 
such State would be an alien, a foreign power, having 
no sympathy or interest with the other States, and no 
claims upon them. Would such State be freer or more 
independent, thus dissevered ? Would she be allowed 
to exercise a single attribute or privilege of sovereignty, 
when we chose to interfere ? And would we not inter- 


fere if she formed any alliance with a foreign power, 
prejudicial to our interests, or that might be dangerous 
to our liberties ? She would, in fact, be a mere miser- 
able dependency, constantly watched and suspected by 
an all-powerful neighbor, liable, at any time, to be over- 
run and subdued, or blockaded and invested on all 
sides, so that she could not move. An interior State, 
like Arkansas, for instance, which has not even an out- 
let or seaport of her own, would be especially ruined in 
case of secession. If the seceding State, as is more 
likely, was South Carolina, a squadron of United States 
cruisers would never be out of sight of Charleston har- 
bor. It most likely would be so ordered that no vessel 
could enter that port without first being searched by a 
man-of-war boat. The very thought of such disruption 
is repulsive the picture absolutely humiliating. But 
a State being once severed from the protection of the 
Constitution must look out against unpleasing conse- 
quences. She is then under that law only which makes 
the weaker power the very creature of the greater. 
May such spectacle never disgrace our shores ! 

This brings me to the close of my task. I have 
thought that I see enough of danger in the dissemina- 
tion of certain doctrines from high and influential 
sources, to authorize this intrusion. This, at least, is 
my apology, if I shall encounter uncharitable criticism 
or rebuke. The good and wholesome doctrine of true 
State rights has, in my opinion, been perverted to sub- 
serve unlawful ends. I have been raised to venerate 
the true State rights doctrine, but not those which lead 
to disruption, and unconstitutional resistance of the 
laws of the General Government. It is still my pride 
to claim affinity with that enlightened school of politi- 
cians ; but when they so torture the teachings of the 
early fathers as to ally with disunionists and secession- 


ists, under a counterfeit of their ancient sacred banner, 
I part company with them. I believe that it is right to 
inculcate the doctrine of State sovereignty as assumed 
by Madison, and to guard against the tendencies to 
consolidation. I confess, however, that I see but little 
danger of the last. I never felt such danger, except 
during the iron dominion of Gen. Jackson. Such dan- 
ger is more to be feared in connection with resolute 
and over-popular men, the pampered pets of a powerful 
party, than in any undue tendencies of the Government. 
In conclusion, fellow-citizens, I am unable to see 
any thing so ominous in the present aspect of our na- 
tional affairs as will authorize us to go about banding 
and marshalling the States for a crusade against the 
action of the General Government especially under 
the lead of such Hotspurs as I perceive to be at the 
head of the resistance forces. I am a Southerner by 
birth and education a Southerner in pride of land and 
in feeling a Southerner in interest, and by every tie 
which can bind mortal man to his native clime ; and I 
shall abide the destinies of the South. But I venerate 
the Federal Constitution. I love the Union. I love 
the first for its beneficent protecting influence and 
power ; I love the last for its proud and glorious asso- 
ciation with all that is dear to an American heart. 


Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

JUN 1 6 195 

LD 21-100m-7,'52(A2528sl6)476