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J. A. & R. A. REID, PUBl '" 


BY J. A. & R. A. REID, 



My purpose has been, in preparing these sketches, to tell 
the story of each President's life, directing attention to the 
distinguishing features of hi^s character and the more impor- 
tant events of his career. It will be understood that this work 
can only present a summary oi these movements and inci- 
dents, for the full narration of which many volumes would be 
required. My endeavor has been to be accurate in the record 
given, at the same time striving to make the biographies as 
i-eadable, symmetrical and well balanced as their condensed 
form would allow. In conformity with this thought, care has 
been taken that all data of historical statements should be re- 
liable; that the individuality of each biographical subject 
should be made conspicuous; that a proper emphasis should 
be placed upon the lessons naturally associated with the 
records of patriotic endeavor and wise statesmanship. 

In studying the lives of the Presidents, there is made appar- 
ent not onl}" the greatness of these honored men, but the I'act 
of the !N^ation\s progress as it has gathered to itself more and 
more the conditions and elements of an endurin«- strenofth. 

H. W. RUGG. 

List of Illustrations. 





. 120 

. 136 

. 152 

. 168 



Boyhood Life and Surrouuding-s— Kesponsibilities Early Assumed— The Young Commander — 
Military Services During the French War— Domestic Life — American Revolution — Com- 
mander-in-Chief of Colonial Array— Washington as General— Close of the War— Presi- 
dent of the Federal Convention — President of the United States — Closing Scenes at 
Mount Vernon — Summary of Character, Pages 8-15 


Birthplace and Ancestry— His Course as a Student — Teaches School in Worcester, Massachu- 
setts — Practices Law in Boston - Champions the Cause of Liberty— Marriage and Domes- 
tic Life— Connection with Independence — Commissioner to France — Vice-President 
under Washington — Elected President — His Administration — tteturn to guincy — Per- 
sonal Worth and Character, Pages lft-33 


Boyhood — A Cultured Home —Helpful Influences and Surroundings — .In Ardent Student — 
A Successful Advocate — Residence at Monticello — Marriage — Member of the General 
Congress — Author of Declaration of Independence — Governor of Virginia — Secretary 
of State — Vice-President — President for Eight Years — Closing Scenes — liecord for 
Ability and Service, Pages 24-31 


Boyhood and Studious Habits — College Life — Early Public Services — " Father of the Constitu- 
tion "— Marriage and Life at Montpeller — Secretary of State — President During the War 
of 1812— Second Term — Treaty of Peace — Quiet Life in His Virginian Home —Tranquility 
and Usefulness of Later Years — His Death — Tributes to His Career and Greatness, 

Pages 33-39 


Distinguished Ancestry —Student and Soldier — Commissioned as Colonel — In Legislature and 
Council — Diplomatic Career— Governor of Virginia —Eminent Positions as Secretary of 
War and State — Fifth President of the Republic — " Monroe Doctrine "— The Story of His 
Old Age — A Tribute to His Noble Character, . . . . , Pages 10-47 


Crossing the Ocean — Irregular Education in Europe — The Youthful Secretary — Return Home 
and Graduation at Harvard — Study and Practice of Law — Appointed by Washington 
Minister to The Hague— His Marriage — Important Diplomatic Services — Secretary of 
State Under President Monroe — Elected President — Seventeen Years' Congreasional Ser- 
vice— His Death at the Capitol — Illustrations of Character, . . . Pag«848-55 



A Settler's Home — A Boy of Fouiieen in the KevolutioDary War — Practices Law In NashviiJe 

— Romantic Marriage— United States Senator — Judge of the Supreme Court— Indian 
Campaigns — Battle of New Orleans — President for Two Terras — His Administration — 
Nullification in South Carolina — Returns to Private Life — Death — His True Character, 

Pages 56-63 


Influence of Parents — Academy at Kinderhook — Increasinj? Law Practice— In the Senate — 
Governor of New York — Efficient Helpfulness in the Election of Jackson — Secretary of 
State - Minister to the Court of St. James — Rejection by the Senate — Elected "Vice-Pres- 
ident—Attains the Presidency — His Administrative Course— Pleasant Old Age — Elements 
of a Just Popularity, Pages 64-71 


Influential Father — College Life and Medical Studies — Successive Promotions in the United 
States Army— Private Life — Services in Congress— Efficient Governor of Indiana — 
Victories in the Battles of Tippecanoe and the Thames —Defeat as Presidential Candidate — 
Election in 1840 — Brilliant Inauguration —Death of the President after an Administration 
of One Month — His Principles and Influence Upon National Affairs, . Pages "2-7« 


Favored Surroundinga,- At College and Student in His Father's Law Office — Influential Member 
of Congress — Sent to the Senate — Refused to Obey State Instructions — Resigned His 
Office in Consequence — Vice-President — President by Reason of General Harrison's 
Death — Unsuccessful Administration — Unpopular Acts — Retirement from Office — Con- 
nected with the Confederation in the Civil War— Closing Days— A Character Full of 
Faults, Yet Possessing Many Redeeming Virtues, ..... Pages 80-87 


Family Name — Pursuit of Knowledge — Good Habits — Legal Studies— In Congress Seven 
Successive Terms — Speaker of the House — Governor of Tennessee — Pleasant Home Life 

— Mrs. Polk — Elected President Over Henry Clay — Notable Acts in His Administration — 
Retirement from Office — Sickness and Sudden Death, .... Pages 88-a5 


Lite under Primitive Conditions— A Soldier from the Beginning — Lieutenant in the American 
Army — Conflict with the Indians — The Seminoles in Florida — Oflicial Recognition of 
Patriotic Services— Hero of Buena Vista— Unexpected Nomination — Elected President — 
One Year's Record— His Death— Honorable Place in American History, . Pages 96-103 


Limited Education — Apprenticed to Learn a Trade — Helped to Study Law — Extensive Legal 
Practice — In Legislature and Congress — Comptroller of New York — Vice-President — 
Succeeded to the Presidency — Administrative Policy and Results — Later Period of Political 
Activity — Candidate of the "American " Party for President — Death at Buffalo, 

Pages 104-lU 


Ancestral Inheritance — Student at Bowdoin College — Studies Law under Judge Woodbury — 
Enters the Field of Politics— Successful Professional Career — Services in the Mexican 
War — Nomination for the Presidency — Administration of the Presidential Office— Retire- 
ment and Home — Causes of Personal Popularity and Professional Success, Pages 112-119 



Stiident of Nature — Wise Parents — At Dickenson College — Extensive Law Practice — Elected 
to the Legislature — Congressional Services— Minister to Russia — United States Senator — 
Secietary of State— Minister to Great Britain — Election to the Presidency— A Stormy 
Period — Hesitation in Otficial Action — Opinions of the President — His Abilties and Purposes' 

Pages 120-127 


Ancestry — Boyhood Life and Struggles— Clerk and Surveyor— Studies Law — Admission to the 
Bar — Elected to the Legislature— To Congress — Firm Stand against Slavery — Debates 
with Senator Douglas— Election to the Presidency —Administration- Emancipation Proc" 
lamation — Second Election — Assassination — Character and Services, . Pages 128-135 


Humble Birth — Early Marriage — Popularity among His Townsmen — Chosen to Fill Several 
Public OflBces — Military Governor of Tennessee — Elected "Vice-President on the Ticket 
with Abraham Lincoln — President of the Mourning Nation — Disappointing Administration 

— Impeachment — liemaining Years and Duties — Unfulftlled Possibilities of an Heroic 
Nature, Pages 136-143 


His Ohio Birthplace — West Point Military Academy — In the Mexican War — Life on the 
Frontier — Farming and in the Leather Business —Honorable Record in the Far West — 
Many Victories —Promotion to the Rank of Major-General — President for Two Terms — 
His Administration — Centennial — Death after Months of Suffering — The Watchwords of 
His Career, .......... Pages U4- 151 


Birthplace in Ohio — Preparatory Education — Graduates from Kenyon College — Attends Law 
School at Cambridge — Begins to Practice Law in Marietta — Removal to Cincinnati — 
Volunteers in Aid of the Union Cause — EflBcien t Service In the Army — Advancement of 
Military Rank — Congressional Career — Governor of Ohio — Elevation to the Presidency 

— Administrative Policy and Acts — Retirement from OflBce — A Private Citizen, 

Pages 152-159 


Distinguished Ancestry — Poverty and Struggles in Boyhood — Employed in Varions Occupa- 
tions — Resolute Purpose to Acquire an Education — Eminent Scholarship — A Successful 
Teacher — A Preacher and a Lawyer — Entrance into Politics — Military Career— A Leader 
in Congress — Elected President — Brief Administration — Struck Down by an Assassin — 
Struggle for Life — The End — A Noble and Attractive Character, . Pages 160- 1«7 


Son of a New England Clergyman — A Humble but Inspiring Home — Supports Himself in 
School and College — Notable Traits of Character — Enters the Legal Profession — Cham- 
pions the Cause of Colored People — Political Activity — Important Services During the War 

— Collector of Port of New York — Vice-President — Successor of Garfield in the Presi- 
dential Office— The Man and His Work— Death. .... Pages 168-175 


New England Ancestors — Assiduity and Energy of the Lad — A Strong Will — Lawyer and 
Politician — Elected Governor of New York — Biwiness Methods in Office — Personal Bear- 
ing and Characteristics — El'cted President — Conduct of Public Affairs — A Well-Deflned 
Individuality, .......... Pages 176-183 




PRESIDENT, APRIL 30, 1789 — MARCH 4, 1797. 






THE hero, like his humbler brother, cannot choose his 
birthiDlace. The great man, however, may make the 
place of his birth what he will by virtue of its associa- 
tion with his genius and fame, for the most unattractive spot 
on earth may thus arouse a human interest more wide-spread 
and abiding than any sentiment inspired by mere beauty of 
situation or surroundings. So it is that the tract of land on 
Bridge's Creek, in old Virginia, has a charm for the Ameri- 
can, and many another, because here, in the one-story farm- 
house overlooking the Potomac, was born, February 22, 1732, 
Greorge "Washington, the fn-st President of our United States. 
The homestead has disappeared, but the place in Westmore- 
land County where the f\imous general was a " baby new to 
earth and sky" is still pointed out to the inquiring traveler. 
The family removed from this farm-house soon after the new 
life had been added to the circle, to another farm near Fred- 
ericksburg, and on higli gi-ound overlooking the waters of the 


Happahannock River. Here and at Mount Vernon, then 
owned by his half brother, Lawrence "Washington, and at 
Belvoir, the home of WilUam Fairfax, all situated compara- 
tively near together and close to Fredericksburg, the lad spent 
his boyhood days. The youth, George Washington, was very 
much as other boys are, if a pure-minded, healthy, intelligent 
lad be a type. He lived an out-door life, had a perfect physical 
being, a manly frame and bearing, and added to this was a 
training of books and the influence of a refined home, so that 
the boy, while lacking some of the advantages oftered the 
youth of to-day, had much to help him in his preparation for 
xhe future, whatever that might bring. Doubtless his admira- 
tion for William Fairfax, and the frequency with which he vis- 
ited that cultured home, instilled into his heart a love for books 
and study, and a desire to form a literary style as correct and 
polished as that of his friend, who had been a comrade of 
Addison and a contributor to the columns of the Spectator. 
Washington could never have been the great man he was, had 
not this foundation been laid; and his coimtry and the world 
owe a debt of gratitude to his family and friends who trained 
the boyish frame and the boyish mind to meet the trials and the 
emergencies which great leaders are called to endure. 

Washington was not long allowed to remain a boy; he took 
upon himself responsibilities at an early age. . Lord Fairfax, 
owning vast lands, unexplored, in the region around the Blue 
Ridge Mountains, suggested that young Washington should 
make a survey of the district and report its condition. This 
was done, and he gained much knowledge concerning the 
country, Indian life, and many other things useful in the war- 
fare and campaigns which followed. Then came the time when 
a person was chosen to be sent on a mission to the French out- 
posts and among the Indians on the frontier, and Governor 
Dinwiddie selected George Washington, though he had but 


recently attaiiie<l his ma jority. The mission required diserecion, 
courage, and skill on the part of its leader, and the demand 
was met. The young man showed tact and wisdom, and the 
expedition, perilous to the extreme, was successful, besides 
revealing the capabilities and powers of the man, and preparing 
him by another step for his life-work. 

The French aggressions continued throughout the year 
1754, and Colonel Washington, in command of Virginia troops, 
rendered excellent service, displaying military genius and the 
essential qualities of successful leadership, remarkable in a 
young man but twenty-two years of age. Declining the chief 
command, Washington volunteered as aide, and accompanied 
General Braddock on his expeditions. This English officer, a 
man of some renown, and possessed of much technical mili- 
tary knowledge, was utterly unskilled in the methods of Indian 
warfare, and being somewhat opinionated, listened to no advice, 
and pursued his own plans, so unsuitable to the country and 
the foes to be encountered. Washington warned Braddock 
against the dangers of Indian ambuscades, but the warning 
of the colonial colonel was unheeded, and when the English 
army was near Fort Duquesne, on the shore of the Mononga- 
hela Kiver, July 9, 1755, Braddock's command was suq)rised 
by the French and Indians, and suffered a terrible and humili- 
ating defeat, Braddock himself being killed and the greater 
part of his officers killed or wounded. AYashington showed 
great courage and skill, seeming to l)ear a charmed life, for 
bullets passed through his garments and two hoi'ses were shot 
under him, leaving him unhurt. By his coolness after the 
catastrophe, he saved the forces from absolute ruin, and prac- 
tically assumed command of the disorganized remnant of the 
troo|)S. Soon after, Govei-nor Dinwiddle, never very friendly 
to AVashington, appointed him commander of the Virginia 
forces, and he remained in connnand until the close of the 


French and Indian War. During this part of his mihtary 
career he met with many troubles, could not carry out his 
desired plans, sufltered in bodily health, endured hardships and 
fatigue, Avas misunderstood and at variance with Governor 
Dinwiddle and others. He yet proved himself a distinguished 
military leader, and was the most popular officer in Virginia. 
The victory of Wolfe at Quebec, September 13, 1759, 
practically closed the French war, and ended for a time 
Washington's military career. 

In the midst of this busy existence Washington found 
time to Avoo and win a Avife, the beautiful Mrs. Custis, of Yir- 
ginia. They Avere married January 6, 1 759, and soon after took 
possession of Mount Yernon, A\here they resided for nearl}^ 
sixteen years, probably the happiest period of Washington's 
life. Ahhough fond of out-door living and agricultural pur- 
suits, it must not be inferred that Washington AvithdrcAV him- 
self from all public affairs and patriotic interests. During all 
the time of his so-called retirement from political life, he AA^as 
a member of the House of Burgesses and associated with 
Patrick Henry and other foremost patriots in resisting the 
claims of Great Britain. England, hoAvever, paid no atten- 
tion to these Avarnings, and soon the situation became serious, 
and armed resistance Avas necessary. In 1774, the first Conti- 
nental Congress Avas conA^ened at Philadelphia, and the year 
folloAving George Washington, representing Virginia, Avas 
unanimously elected commander-in-chief of the Amei'ican 
Army, forces having already been gathered and blood already 
shed in the cause of American Independence. 

Washington accepted the responsible position to Avhich he 
was called, and proceeded as expeditiously as possible to 
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Avhere, under the shadow of the 
great elm, now standing, he read his commission and assumed 
command of the American forces. It is difficult to sum up in 


a few words his conduct and generalship during the war, 
which histed between eight and nine years. Xo meteor 
Hashes of mihtary glory make Washington's name famous. 
His was the steady courage, the fjicing of all obstacles, the 
unassuming yet determined action, the just dealings, which 
made the true man and the true soldier, the successful general 
and the JS'ation's hero. He was criticised, as all reformers 
and leaders must be ; he had no wealthy government, and but 
few supplies of war to aid in his movements; he had to con- 
tend with ignorance and incapacity on every side, with 
jealousies of his associates and the interference of Congress. 
It Avas the thousand small victories instead of the one grand 
triumph, the unwavering patriotism and forgetfulness of self, 
that made George Washington the hero and the leader, whose 
name the American people reverence, and all other nations 

The war of the Revolution virtually came to an end with. 
the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1783. 
The closing scene of the war was the withdrawal of the 
British troops from :N"ew York, JS'ovember 25, 1783. A few 
days later Washington took farewell of his troops, and in the 
course of a fortnight formally surrendered his conmiission as 
general to the Congress then sitting at Annapolis, Mai-yland. 
In accepting the resignation, the president of the Congress, 
in his address to Washington, closed with these proi)hetic 
words : " The glory of your virtues will descend to remotest 

At the close of the war Washington retired to Mount 
Yernon, and lived there a quiet, jK'aceful life for nearly three 
years, all the time keeping up his interest in American i)olitics 
and watching the struggles of the young nation to establish a 
form of government. At last affairs were in such a condition, 
that a convention composed of delegates from the states was 


held at Philadelphia, and Washington represented Virginia, 
as a matter of course. He was made president of this con- 
vention, which framed the Constitution of the United States. 
The year following he was elected President of the ^Nation, 
and was inaugurated in ]^ew York, April 30, 1789. He was 
re-elected in 1792, and served eight years as President, refus- 
ing re-election for tlie third term, as he felt unable to bear 
longer the trials and duties of a public life. His administration 
showed a wise statesmanship at a time when the Nation was 
testing a new form of government, and there were many diffi- 
culties in the way. The Pennsylvania riots, the Indian 
troubles along the frontier, the influence of the French 
Pevolution, the criticism and distrust, oftentimes, with which 
he was regarded by his countrymen, these, and many other 
troubles came uj)on Washington, and with all his courage and 
steadfastness, it is reported that he once said in desperation: 
" I would rather be in my grave than be President of the 
United States." At the close of his administration affairs 
were comparatively smooth in the land, but it has remained 
for later years to testify of the wise judgment and the firm 
hand which guided and ruled our Nation in its infancy, and 
placed it upon such a foundation of permanence and strength. 
In the year 1797, on the 3d of March, Washington gave 
a farewell dinner to his friends, and among the distinguished 
guests were the newly-elected President, John Adams, and 
his wife. Washington at once went to his home at Mount 
Vernon, and for a brief time enjoyed the tranquil pleasures of 
a country life in the place he loved so well. His domestic life 
was singularly happy, and was a' soothing balm for the many 
trials endured in his public career. Death came to him quickly, 
as he would have chosen, for, with a brief illness of only forty- 
eight hours, the glorious spirit sought its new and better home, 
alter having " fought a good fight " here on earth and being 


entitled to tlie rest and <;l()rk's of the immortal state. Wash- 
ington died at Mount Vernon, December 14, 1799. 

A thoughtful and just estimate of the character of George 
Washington reveals a man having the right balance of mind, 
more valuable as an attribute of successful leadership than 
brilliant traits of one kind offsetting defects and lack of 
character in one form or another. Washington's faculties and 
attributes were evenly develoj^ed, and his greatness did not 
lie in any one form of achievement. He had a noble purpose, 
a confidence in his own judgment, and while he listened to 
advice from others, and consulted the accumulated wisdom of 
the world, he carried out his own plans in the face of all opposi- 
tion, if they seemed to him best for the prosperity of his 
beloved nation. Washington had many traits of character 
which endeared him to those around him, and make his 
memory precious to the American people. He was manly, 
and not effeminate; he was true and straight-forward, knowing 
no deceit and capable of no subterfuges; he Avas an angler and 
a hunter, a polished writer and a statesman, a genial host, an 
agreeable companion, and an affectionate husband and father. 
When history writes and shall write her praise of George 
Washington, as President and General, she need not shun the 
oi)en page that tells of his home life, nor cover it Avith charity; 
but she may picture the rounded, symmetrical man, the well- 
balanced mind, and the life, crowded with duties, yet showing 
no neglected talents. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1797 — iMARCH 4, 1801, 





MASSACHUSETTS has furnished two Presidents of the 
United States, John Adams and John Qiiiney Adams, 
father and son. The oUl town of Quincy was the l)irtli- 
place of both, although when the elder Adams w^as born, Oeto- 
ber 30, 1735, the settlement formed a part of Braintree, and so 
remained till ineorpoi'ated under the name of Quiney, in 1792. 
John Adams, the second President of this Republic, inherited 
something* of firmness and strength of character from his father, 
a hard-working. God-fearing man, and from his earlier ances- 
tors, Henry Adams and John Alden, both prominent among the 
Pilgrim founders of IN^ew Enghind. Brouglit up with farmers, 
and living an out-door life, the boy became impressed with the 
idea that he woukl follow agricultural pursuits, and would not 
spend his life among books and in the seclusion of a libiaiy. 
A few days of hard work on the farm, even in tlie midst of the 
natural beauties which had so attracted him in his hours of idle- 
ness, satisfied the lad, and he was quite willing to go to school, 


Avhere he applied himself diligently to his studies, so that he 
entered Harvard College when sixteen years old, graduating 
four years later with a record for ability as a st'udent and for 
straightforward and manly characteristics. Having received a 
good education, all that the father was able to give the young 
man, he must now support himself and lean upon his own 
resources. He studied law in Worcester, Massachusetts, and 
paid his expenses by teaching school. He was admitted to the 
bar of Suffolk County in 1758, and began the practice of law in 
his native town soon after, showing early in his career ability in 
his profession, and acquiring a reputation for his talents as a clear 
thinker and able counsel. Devoted to his profession, young 
Adams sjDent some of rare leisure in wooing Miss Abigail 
Smith, of Weymouth, whom he married in October, 1764. 
This clergyman's daughter possessed the qualities of a noble 
womanhood, and was a helpmeet to her husband in every 
sense of the word. The name of Abigail Adams is honored 
and respected, not only because she was the wife of the illus- 
trious President, but by reason of her womanly graces, her 
rare force of character, and her intellectual and moral endow- 

Shortly after his marriage he removed to Boston, where 
wider fields were opened to him for the exercise of his abilities 
as lawyer and citizen. At this period the exactions of England 
upon the American colonies became intolerable, and Adams, 
who had always maintained his interest in public affiiirs, came 
to the front as a pati'iot, and, in company with James Otis and 
other distinguished men, held councils as to what course their 
country should pursue in resisting the arbitrary encroachments 
of Great Britain. His first prominent connection with a move- 
ment to resist England's hard rule was at a public meeting 
held in Braintree to oppose the Stamp Act. Adams, whose 
writings had already excited favorable comment for their liter- 


ary style and clear presentation of snbjeets discussed, prepared 
and offered resolutions condemning the act. These resolu- 
tions were unanimously adopted, and were so timely and for- 
cible, and so well expressed the popular feeling, that forty 
other towns in Massachusetts adopted them without a single 

Although Adams was an ardent j^atriot, he was large^ 
minded and tolerant; several of his acts at this period show 
both his natui-al force of character and that he did not blindly 
follow the popular will. After the Boston Massacre, in 1770, 
he acted as one of the counsel to defend Captain Preston, who 
ordered the soldiers to fire upon the citizens of Boston, and 
Mr. Adams was of course censured by the populace. Although 
criticised by many, he was generally popular, as before, and 
was sent as representative from the town of Boston to the 
Massachusetts Legislature. He held to his bold convictions 
and antagonized many of the measures of the Provincial gov- 
ernor, Hutchinson, while serving in the legislature, and con- 
tinued to write able articles for the press, condenming the 
course pursued by the British Government. In 1774 he was 
api^ointed to represent Massachusetts in the Continental Con- 
gress at Philadelphia, Avhere he took foremost rank as an able 
advocate of liberty, a leader Avell equipped for his position. 
His mind had grasped already the idea of indei^endence, but 
the people were not ready for it, and popular feeling was 
against those, Adams among the number, supposed to be in 
sym]iathy with the thought. England shoAved no disposition 
to relent; Boston Harbor Avas filled with armed ships, and the 
port was closed; and Adams and a few others felt that no 
longer was it a question of redress of grievances: it was time 
for independence. In 1775 Mr. Adams successfully used his 
influence in Congress to procure the appointment of Washing- 
ton as connnander-in-chief, and the next year he was called 


to aid in the framing of the Declaration of Independence. 
Althongh Jefferson drafted the important document, it was 
John Adams who supported it in Congress with so much of 
eloquence and power. Jefferson wrote of his friend and col- 
league : " The great pillar of support to the Declaration of 
Independence, and its ablest advocate and champion in Con- 
gress was John Adams." How Adams himself regarded the 
Declaration and the results sure to follow, is shown by a letter 
which he wrote to his wife on the day following its adoption: 
" Yesterday, the greatest question was decided that was ever 
debated in America ; a greater, perhaj^s, never was or will be 
decided among men. A resolution was passed that these 
United States are, and ought to be, free and independent 
states. The 4th of July, 1776, will be a memorable epoch in 
the history of America. I am well aware of the toil and blood 
and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and 
support and defend these states; yet through all the gloom I 
can see that the end is worth more than all the means, and that 
posterity will triumph, though you and I may rue, which I 
hope we shall not." 

In December of 1777, Mr. Adams was appointed commis- 
sioner to the court of France in place of Silas Deane, recalled. 
In February of '78 he embarked on the frigate Boston, to 
undertake as soon as possible the duties imposed. The voy- 
age was made in rough and stormy weather, and was an event- 
ful and perilous trip. Several British ships were sighted, and 
the Boston gave chase to and captured one, which proved 
to be a, the Martha, carrying fourteen guns. It 
is said that Mr. Adams took part in this engagement, carry- 
ing a musket, and doing excellent service, till he was forcibly 
removed from danger by his friends. Although Mr. Adams 
was respected in France, he showed little talent for diplomacy, 
and his dignity, his stiff manners, and unflinching honesty 


were not oftset by the tact of a skillful embassador. Franklin 
bad already concluded a treaty of alliance with France, and 
by bis gracious bearing bad made himself popular in the 
country where so much attention was paid to the ])oliteness 
and the minor courtesies of social life. In 1779 Adams 
returned to his native land, and found congenial occujDation in 
belj/mg frame the new state constitution of Massachusetts. 
While be was eugaged in this work he was appointed minister 
to Great Britain for the purpose of negotiating a treaty of 
peace and commerce. He reached Paris in 1780, and finding 
much to annoy him in the motives which caused France to 
enter into the American alliance, and, feeling himself alienated 
from the views held by Franklin, Adams decided to go to 
Holland, where he w^orked successfully to establish an alliance 
of amity and commerce. Holland recognized the United States 
as a free and independent nation, and Adams, as its acknowl- 
edged minister, was welcomed in the diplomatic bodies of The 
Hague. He also succeeded in obtaining large sums of money 
as loans for his country fi"om the bankers of Amsterdam. 
Returning to Paris, he was associated with Franklin, Jay, and 
Laurens in a commission to conclude treaties with the several 
countries of Europe ; and under their direction, Adams ren- 
dering important aid, the treaty of peace with Great Britain 
was signed September 3, 1783, the provisional treaty having 
been agreed to i^ovember 30, 1782. The services which 
Adams rendered for his country during the war of the Pevolu- 
tion were no less important in the light of histoiy than those 
of Washington, though they were of a different character. Of 
this " Washington of negotiation," one of his biographers says : 
"As we ascend the mount of history, and rise above the vapors 
of party prejudice, we shall all acknowledge that we owe our 
independence more to John Adams than to any other created 
being, and that he was the great leader of the American 



Peace having been proclaimed, Mr. Adams was appointed 
minister to Great Britain to represent the RepubHc of the 
United States, an office justly held to demand the utmost 
ability and discretion. At that time, 1785, he was living in 
Paris, bnt at once crossed the channel to assume the ardnous 
and delicate responsibihties imposed. He met with a court- 
eous reception from the king, but felt himself hampered in 
thought and action, and soon asked leave to return to his own 
country, coming back in 1788, and receiving from Congress 
recognition and thanks for his services. He then repaired to 
his home, applying himself to professional and literary pursuits, 
and sought to encourage art, science, and letters. In that same 
year he was given honorable preferment by being chosen Vice- 
President, and in that office he was closely associated with 
Washington during the eight years of his administration. At 
its close, after a hotly-contested election, Adams was chosen 
President, and inaugurated at Philadelphia, March 4, 1797. 

The administration of John Adams is more justly estimated 
in the light of history with the progress of years, and a proper 
value is placed upon the man, his strict integrity of purpose 
and life. He was never very popular among his contempo- 
raries, though many of them realized his worth and patriotism. 
He did not know how to conciliate his party or personal op- 
ponents, and the four years of his administration were years 
of struefSfle and trial. The French Pevolution caused strife 
among the American patriots, and they became alienated from 
each other because of their intense partisanship with either 
France or England. Some of Mr. Adams' measures were suc- 
cessful, however, and he maintained the dignity of his countiy 
among the foreign powers. He served only four years, being 
defeated at the election in 1801, when Jeiferson was chosen 
President, being more popular than Adams on account of his 
more tolerant and sympathetic views. Mr. Adams retired to 


his home in Qiiiney, and lived there till the time of his death. 
He iHaint.iined, throughont his long hfe, the full possession of 
his mental laeulties, and enjoyed i-eviewing his triumphs and 
livin"- them over again in the suceesses of his son, John Quiney 
Adams. In 1818 the nohle wife who had shared the sorrows 
and ioys of her husband for over half a century passed away, 
and the eight years longer which Mr. Adams spent on the 
earth were tinged with a sadness never quite overcome. On 
the 4th of July, 1820, his mortal career was ended, and that 
same day is made memorable by the death of Thomas Jeffer- 
son, his friend and fellow-worker for the principles of inde- 

The outward attractions of gracious manners and magnetic 
personality, John Adams never possessed. The sterling qual- 
ities of his inner self rang true in every instance, however, and 
the " Duke of Braintree," as he Avas frequently termed, was a 
man to rule, and, by force of his powerful intellect and his judi- 
cial mind, to sway the destinies of a nation. He was something 
of a scholar, and a writer of considerable skill and elegance of 
expression. His family were very dear to his heart, and his 
friends, once gained, enjoyed his confidence and esteem ever 
after. Many there are who can be courteous and genial ; few 
who can possess the enduring virtues which made John Adams 
capable of doing so much for his country, and his own deeply- 
imbued principles of right and justice. History dismisses with 
a single word, and oblivion hides the man whose claim for 
attention is a gracious manner, while true merit is always 
acknowledged, if but slowly, and wins an ever-deepening 
regard from a world that, in spite of all its follies and errors, 
respects virtue and truth wherever found. So the generations 
of the American i)eople reverence the name of John Adams, an 
honest gentleman, and a clear thinker; an able writer, and a 
conscientious President of the United States. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4. 1801— MARCH 4, 1809. 







HE thoughts of manhood always return in fontl remem- 
brance to childhood's home and surroundings, and it is 
a cause for congratulation when such memories bring to 
mind the outward beauties of natural scenery and the tender 
recollections of a happ}^ family gathered under the sheltering 
roof-tree. So the lad, Thomas Jefferson, l)orn April 2, 1743, 
in Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia, must have been 
influenced by the attractive scenes Avhich met his view, the far- 
I'caching undulations of the Blue Kidge Mountains, the encir- 
cling forests and the peaceful valleys and slopes of a well- 
cared-for and prosperous farming district. The home was a 
cultured one for those times, the husband and father, Peter 
JefiJerson, possessing some wealth and considerable education; 
quite a prominent man in the hamlet where he lived, and be- 
lieving in the helps of acquired knowledge for his children. 
Thus the boy Thomas Jefferson was encouraged in his stu- 
dious tendencies, had a private tutor for Greek and Latin, 
and was well-prepared to enter an advanced class in William 
and Mary College in 17G0, graduating from that institution in 


1762, when but nineteen years of age. The quiet youth pur- 
sued his studies in an earnest love for the acquirement of 
knowledge, and had a rare faculty for the languages, an almost 
equal ability for science and mathematics, so that his mind was 
well-balanced and equipped for mature efforts. Having man}' 
advantages of position, and the wealth to make his college life 
a gay one, Jefferson was a student from the love of learning, 
and his simple, regular habits, his upright principles, his court- 
eous manners, early developed, characterized him throughout 
his entire life. 

When Jefferson decided to enter the legal profession he 
began the study of laAV w ith Mr. George Wythe, then holding- 
foremost rank among the lawyers of Yirginia. Jefferson was 
admitted to practice in 1767, and won immediate success at the 
bar. Although possessing a weak voice and an unimpressive 
manner, which kept him from being an effective and eloquent 
speaker, he had the quick perceptions, the power of applica- 
tion, the learning, which made him a skillful and successful 
advocate, as he soon came to be regarded among the profession 
and elsewhere. He acquired some means in the practice of 
law, thus adding to the considerable property which had been 
left him by his father, who died in 1757. Thus he prospered, 
until the plantation of 1,900 acres, which came to him by in- 
heritance, was increased in 1774 to 5,000 acres, owned with- 
out incumbrance. 

Jefferson's public life may be said to have begun with his 
election to the House of Burgesses in 1768, an office which lie 
continued to fill by repeated elections until the Provincial 
Legislature was closed by the Revolution. Before his election 
to the House of Burgesses, he had been aroused by the o]> 
pressions of the British government in dealing with the Amer- 
ican colonies, and was ready to aid in a resistance of the 
mother country to the utmost of his ability. "When a law stu- 


dent, in 1765, he had listened to Patrick Henry's celebrated 
speech against the Stamj) Act, in the Virginia Ilonse of Dele- 
gates, and from that time he was committed heart and sonl to 
the canse of American independence and linked to the band 
of patriots in Virginia and Massachusetts, Avorking so enthusi- 
astically for their country's rights. His first decisive action 
of a public nature was taken in 17G9, when the governor dis- 
solved the Virginia Legishiture five days after its organiza- 
tion, and the members, Jefferson among them, meeting in a 
hall, signed their names to a document, agreeing to stand to- 
gether and co-operate with Massachusetts in her resistance of 
the Stamp Act. 

During the next two or three years Jeflerson was busily 
occupied in preparing a residence at Monticello, a beautifully 
situated home, afterwards a historic place, whose walls ever 
lield a reputation for tlie graceful and abundant hospitalities 
of its owner. On the first day of the year, 1772, Mr. Jeffer- 
son married Mrs. Martha Skelton, a beautiful, highly-accom- 
plished, and wealthy widow of Williamsburg, Virginia. 

The events that gave rise to the American Revolution fol- 
lowed each other in quick succession. Great Britain contin- 
ued her harsh measures in dealing with the colonies, and so 
encouraged the growing feeling of resistance in the hearts of 
the people. The patriotic leaders in the new world, Jefferson 
among the number, at first thought to avoid an actual conflict 
of arms with England, but when it was seen that war was 
inevitable, these men were soon convinced that the colonies 
must make a bold push for freedom. As early as 1774: Jefier- 
son Avas in correspondence Avith able patriots, advocating the 
making of a common cause by the colonies in vigorously resist- 
ing the i)retensions of the British CroAvn. At this time and 
shortly after, Avhen the crisis was still impending, he Avrote and 


])iiblished several notable articles bearing upon the condition 
of attairs in his country. 

Under the intensified feeling aroused by the passage of the 
Boston Port Bill and the harsh enforcement of its provisions, 
a convention was called in Yirginia to consider and act upon 
the alarming situation. Jetferson, who was a member of this 
body, gave intelligent advice which was regarded in almost 
every action that was taken. He was soon after elected to the 
General Congress then sitthig at Philadelphia, taking his seat 
in June, 1775, eight days after Colonel George Washington 
had been chosen Commander-in-Chief of the American armies. 

Jefierson soon identified himself with the measures and 
movements in that Congress, which cuhninated in the Decla- 
ration of Independence. As the coercive action of England 
increased, the delegates in Congress, together with their con- 
stituents generally, felt more in favor of independence. After 
the battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775, the common feeling 
became manifest that there was only one course to pursue — 
the Colonies must strike for complete freedom and seek to 
establish a nation. Congress had already passed a resolution 
declaring " that these United Colonies are, and of right ought 
to be, free and independent States," and soon a committee was 
appointed to draft a resolution in accordance therewith. This 
committee was composed of Thomas Jefferson, Jolm Adams, 
Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Living- 
ston. Jefferson wrote the declaration, though a few of its 
sentences were suggested by other members of the committee. 
It was adopted July 4, 1776, and received throughout the 
country with great rejoicing. 

Jefferson participated in efforts to reorganize the Govern- 
ment of the Confederation, and prosecute the war of independ- 
ence to a successful issue. He was an important factor on 
the American side in the long, hard contest. At the darkest 


period he was elected governor of Yirginia, succeeding Pat- 
rick Henry. Soon after Virginia suffered greatly from the 
English troops that, with General Tarleton in coinmand, Avere 
seeking to capture Governor Jefferson, at Monticello. He es- 
caped, but his estates at Elk Hill were seized by the enemy 
and left a waste. The conduct of Jefferson, as governor, was 
criticised in many respects, but it has been shown that he tried 
to act in harmony Avith Washington's policy ; and on his re- 
tirement, the thanks of the Assembly were voted him in ac- 
knowdedgment of his services while holding the gubernatorial 


In 1782, he was appointed member of a commission to ne- 
gotiate a treaty wnth Great Britain, but the negotiations ad- 
vanced so rapidly that he was not called to go abroad; he 
reported in Congress the next year the treaty, which was 
shortly afterwards ratified. During the year 1784 he visited 
several of the capitals of Europe, and was associated w^ith 
Adams and Fraiddin in attempting negotiations, efforts which 
Avere not at the time completely successful. In March, 1785, 
he succeeded Dr. Franklin at the Court of France, retaining 
the position till 1789, when he returned to the United States, 
entering, the year following, upon the duties of Secretary of 
State in Washington's Cabinet, a position which he held till 
December 31, 1793. At that time he resigned the office and 
retired to private fife at MonticeUo. While Secretary he an- 
tagonized many of the measures approved by the President, 
especially those originated by Mr. Jlamilton, Secretary of the 
Treasury, between Avhom and himself there were great differ- 
ences of opinion on political matters. Mr. Jefferson led the 
opposition to the Federal Administration, and helped form the 
l)arty called Republican by its friends, and Democratic by its 
enemies. In 179(), he Avas candidate for the presidency 
against John Adams; the latter was elected, and Jefferson 



was inaugurated as Vice-President, March 4, 1797. In 1800, 
Jefferson was again nominated for the presidency and, after a 
hotly-contested campaign, was successful; he was inaugurated 
at Washington as third President of the United States, March 
4, 1801. He was re-elected to a second term, serving eight 
years in all, and conducting an administration marked by sig- 
nal events, and by increasing prosperity and progress through- 
out the country. 

Among the important events which illumine the adminis- 
tration of Jefferson are the closing of the African slave-trade, 
the extermination of the Algerine pirates, the exploration and 
development of the Western territories, and especially the pur- 
chase of Louisiana. President Jefferson was greatly criticised 
by his contemporaries for his course in buying this vast tract 
of land, including a region of nearly nine hundred thousand 
square miles, extending westward from the Mississippi to the 
Rocky Mountains and northward from Mexico to British 
America. The Pi'esident may have exceeded his constitutional 
authority in securing this immense territory for the United 
States, but he showed a wise and far-seeing statesmanship in 
this transaction, for which he assumed the responsibility, and 
which now stands as the crowning achievement of his admin- 

President Jefferson, although urged by his party and many 
friends to be again a candidate for re-election, refused the 
honor, and on March 4, 1809, after a continuous public ser^^ce 
of more than forty j^ears, laid aside the duties of President, 
and retired to his home at Monticello. He lived there for 
more than seventeen years as a private citizen, yet regarded 
as one of the most illustrious personages in the Republic. 
His advice was frequently sought and followed in political and 
other matters. Thus his usefulness to the IS'ation and the com- 
munity continued through these declining years of his life. 


Allli()u«;li President Jeftersoii luid suffered many reverses of 
iortnne dnring his public career, losin^^ most of his property 
and coming in these later years to comparative poverty, having 
ex[)erienced famih' sorrows in the loss of wife and daughter, 
and failing in many of his cherished plans and undertakings, 
his noble character sustamed and gave him courage, so that 
he was cheerful and bi'ave-hearted to the end of life. 

The illness of Mr. Jefferson was a brief one. He died at 
Monticello, July 4, 1826, his life-long friend, although some- 
times his political opponent and rival, John Adams, dying on 
the same day. This date is memorable as the fiftieth anni- 
versary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, 
in the framing of which Jefferson and Adams were both inter- 
ested, Jefferson di'afting the famous document and doing so 
much for its support. In estimating the character of Jeffer- 
son it may be truly said that a love of freedom and toleration 
sank deep into his nature, and to promote the cause of liberty 
he was willing to work with brain and hand, to endure opposi- 
tion and hardships, to hold office, or, at the call of duty, relin- 
quish honors, that his country might Avin in the struggle for 
truth and the right. A nation lives in such heroic souls as 
these, and, as his more enlightened countrymen of to-day pay 
their tributes to the hero and patriot, they think with Avonder 
of Jefferson's abilities as student and statesman; as philan- 
thropist, when the humanities were not encouraged as now; 
as founder of a university at Charlottesburg, Virginia, when 
education Avas by no means the ruling pOAver it is to-day, and 
realize the security and strength of the Rei)ublic as it em- 
bodies the life-principles of such men as these, such piHars of 
mighty thoughts and giant deeds. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1809 — MARCH 4, 1817. 






EACH human life, however much of mdividuaUty it may 
possess, owes something in the shaping of its thought 
and action to outward influences of condition or sur- 
roundings. What men call inherent beliefs are but the 
consequences of early training, of custom, or of circumstance, 
such important factors in the development and upbuilding of 
character. Born in Yirginia, March 16, 1751, at a time when 
the State was filled with patriotic ardor, James Madison, the 
fourth President of the United States, was early influenced by 
the atmosphere of culture and intelligent thought which sur- 
rounded him. Although his parents lived in Orange County, 
at Montpelier, his birthplace was in King George County, 
where, at the time of his birth, his mother was paying a visit 
to some of her relations. His father, a man of Avealth and 
distinction, owned a large estate in the region of the Blue 
Ridge Mountains, and was a neighbor — as persons Uving within 
a radius of fifty miles were neighbors in those days — of 
Thomas Jefferson, then residing at Monticello, twenty-five 



miles away. Although the lad was a member of a family con- 
sisting of seven children, he was never very fond of boyish 
sports or out-door play, but preferred study and his books to 
anything else, and under the direction of a private tutor, 
applied himself diligently to the acquisition of knowledge, 
becoming proficient in the ancient and some of the modern 
languages. During his college life at Princeton he applied 
himself so closely to his books that his health suffered in con- 
sequence, and the effects of this over-indulgence in the way of 
study continued throughout his whole life, for, although never 
a feeble man, his naturally strong constitution suffered a seri- 
ous and enduring loss of vigor. He graduated from Prince- 
ton in 1771, and after a year more of study under the able Dr. 
"Witherspoon, president of the college, he returned to Yir- 
ginia and began the study of law, combining it with research 
and reading in the lines of philosophy and theology. His 
refined home, his cultured mind, his dignified manners, his 
friends and associates, all these were influences leading him 
into the paths of a public service and contributing to his after 
character as statesman and able defender, by word and pen, of 
the principles he advocated with such ability and power. 

Passing rapidly over this period of the young man's career, 
a time when he was searching into theology and religion, and 
grasping the truths ever after firmly held, — a time when he 
was associated with Jefferson in opposing the claims of the 
Church of England, in demanding and striving to establish 
religious freedom in Virginia, the year 1776 marks his appear- 
ance in political affairs. He was chosen at that time delegate 
to the convention which was to form the constitution for the 
State of Virginia. His ability and learning were recognized 
thus early in his career; his talents, as shown in the Council 
of State where he served as a member under Patrick Henry 
and Thomas Jefferson, the first and second governors of Yir- 


ginia, iiiaclc liiiii a valued supporter of these ardent patriots. 
Sitting at the feet of the illustrious leaders who appreciated 
the worth of the young man, Madison doubtless gained much 
tliat was to help him in later years, and probably this recogni- 
tion from men of admitted character and standing, assisted 
him to more quickly attain a well-deserved position of honor 
and dignity. In the year 1780 Madison became a member of 
the Continental Congress, serving three years with conspicu- 
ous ability, during the period which included the closing events 
of the Revolution, the ensuing difficulties in the government 
calling for a wise guidance of the new Republic. 

As a delegate to the Convention of States, which adopted 
the Constitution, September 17, 1787, Madison labored most 
earnestly in debate and had more to do with moulding the 
form in which the provisions of the Constitution finally took 
shape than any other man. His work was not ended with its 
adoption, however; the people must accept and the states 
ratify it. So Madison rendered important service in its behalf, 
arguing its claims, explaining its features, disabusing the objec- 
tions arising in the public mind, finally, in 1788, uniting with 
Hamilton and Jay, in writing articles, celebrated then as now, 
discussing and defending the merits of the Constitution. 
These articles in collected form were Imown by the name of 
The Federalist, while by these Avritings and his other efforts 
in this direction, Madison gained the well-deserved title of 
Father of the Constitution. Temporarily this earnest advo- 
cacy alienated him from the support of the majority of the 
people in his State and he was defeated as a candidate for the 
United States Senate, but was elected from the District in 
which he resided, a Representative to the lower house, tak- 
ing his seat in the year 1789 and rendering important aid in 
organizing the new government. As a rule he did not favor 
the measures of Washington's administration, but sided with 


the opposition, becoming their acknowledged leader in the 
House of Representatives. 

Having met with a disappointment in his affections during 
his early life, it was not until he was forty-three years old that 
Mr. Madison again lost his heart, this time to the charming Mrs. 
Dolly Paine Todd, a young widoAV Avho had been the reigning 
belle of New York and Philadelphia. His suit was success- 
ful, and they were married in the year 1794. Mrs. Madison was, 
in beauty of person and character, well fitted for the dignity 
and honors of her position. She was charming in her home 
life, sought after as a shining light in society, was a brilliant 
conversationalist, contributing not only to her husband's do- 
mestic happiness, but to the eminence and popularity of his 
public career. , 

When Madison's term in Congress expired, in 1797, he 
returned to his home at Montpelier, to private life, in spite of 
the entreaties of his friends who urged him to be a candidate 
for the presidency. During the administration of Mr. Adams 
the " Alien and Sedition Acts " were passed and aroused dis- 
sensions throughout the country, causing the Kepublicans and 
Federalists to be more bitterly antagonistic than before. 
•Through the influence of Jefierson, Madison became actively 
interested in the opposition of these acts, drawing up res- 
olutions which were carried in the Virginia Legislature, and 
his masterly writings during this period in favor of " strict 
construction," served as a text-book for his party, while some 
thirty years after they were used by Calhoun and others in 
advocating the principles of nullification, although Madison, 
much annoyed by such perversion, had repeatedly repudiated 
the idea that his arguments could be used in supporting a doc- 
trine so opposed to his belief and judgment. 

In the year 1801 Jefferson was elected President and soon 
appointed his friend Madison as Secretary of State, a position 


which he held during the eight years of Jefferson's adminis- 
tration. Madison was eminently fitted to fill this honorable 
position which called for intellectual ability, the cool and fair 
decisions of an able diplomat. The correspondence of Madi- 
son as Secretary of State, shows his polished style as a writer, 
together with his abilities as statesman and scholar. It was 
after this preparation that Mr. Madison Avas elected as Presi- 
dent and inaugurated into his high office March 4, 1809. He 
followed for a time the peaceful policy of his predecessor, 
Thomas Jefferson, but soon became aroused by the action of 
Great Britain in her impressment of American sailors, so that 
in 1812 he signified his apj^roval of the action of Congress in 
declaring war against the mother country. 

In 1813 Mr. Madison was re-elected to his second term, and 
showed wise administrative abilities in the conduct of affairs, 
though he had not the bold, aggressive powers of leadership 
necessary to the carrying out of his own wise theories and 
plans. lie did the best of which he was capable, but the qual- 
ities wherein he excelled, the impartial judgment, the calm 
reason, the dislike he had to forcing his opinions upon others, 
were not the attributes to make the greatest President in time 
of war, though they did contribute to the renoAvn which he 
achieved as a statesman and constitutional authority. During 
the war, lasting nearly three years, the town of Washington 
was captured by the English, the public buildings destroyed, 
the President narrowly escaping cajiture by the British troops. 
N^one rejoiced more than Madison at the Treaty of Peace, 
signed at Ghent, December 24, 1814, which ended the war of 
1812, made memorable by the victories won by the American 
navy, offsetting the numerous losses and defeats on land. 
The later years of Madison's administration were tranquil and 
pleasant ones; the country increased in prosperity, its popula- 
tion grew rapidly, its revenues were larger, and more than 


twenty-t^YO thousand immigrants arrived in 1817, an enormous 
number for those early days. 

Throughout the administration of Madison, the labors and 
influence of his cultivated wife played no small part. As a 
recent writer says : " She had the great gift of healthy beauty, 
and much clear common sense as well as quick wit ; but her 
crowning talent was her charm of manners. She had what 
the French term courtoisie de coeur, as well as the courtesy of 
form also." Speaking of Mrs. Madison at her receptions in 
the White House, the same writer adds : " She always moved 
about the rooms as a lady would in her own house, and in her 
own bright, natural way said something to every one, especially 
to those shy and nervous people, which made them glow with 
the pleased feeling that they were welcome and made to l3e 
part of her reception." 

At the close of his second term, 1817, Mr. Madison retired 
to his home at Montpelier, Yirginia, spending his closing years 
quietly and happily, interested in agricultural pursuits, con- 
sulted as an authority upon political aff*airs, entertaining his 
friends and neighbors and maintaining his interest in study 
and education. He was once again called to act in the public 
service by becoming a member of the State Convention of Yir- 
ginia, which met to revise its constitution in 1829. He also 
delivered several addresses and speeches in these later years, 
maintaining his reputation as a gifted writer, a logical thinker, 
to the close of life. His death took place June 28, 1836, 
when he had reached the age of eighty-five years. 

The quiet, studious boy in the home at Montpelier, the 
courteous, gentle youth at college, the learned counsel and 
impartial statesman, the dignified Secretary of State, the firm 
yet peaceful President of the Kepublic, the dearly-loved hus- 
band and friend in the quiet of his declining years, these are 
the pictures which the life of James Madison most vividly 


presents. The hints of character shown in boyhood devel- 
oped throngli middle life and age into a harinonions, rounded- 
out existence, marked by no bursts of genius, no wonderful 
ideas or startling actions. America has reason to be proud of 
producing a man so scholarly and tolerant, so conciliatory and 
judicial, so courteous a gentleman, although he had never vis- 
ited the old w^orld or hardly traveled beyond the borders of 
Virginia. He was criticised, perhaps justly, for his timidity, 
and certainly he had not the qualities of a bold leader in poli- 
tical opposition, yet his quiet, analytical arguments, above 
all, his own calmness of judgment, often convinced men and 
helped his cause as much as more aggressive movements might 
have done. 

Madison's married life was very happy: he was a husband, 
she a wife, whose examples make domestic felicity the sublime 
state here on earth, and teach humanity what a true marriage 
may mean. The dutiful son, caring so tenderly for his mother 
throughout her long life, could not fail to be otherwise, and 
the respect for old age wdiich ever characterized Madison was 
a striking attribute of his noble nature. As a writer he was 
wonderfully gifted; his literary style is excellent; his language 
and form of expression models in their special lines of compo- 
sition. These documents which he carefully prepared are val- 
uable studies for the statesman and political leaders of to-day, 
not only for their literary merits, but also for the j)i'oducts of 
intellect and learning wliich they embody. The great talents 
of Madison, his distinguished position, his long and honored 
life have given him a place forever in the pages of liistoiy; 
his manly attributes, his sterling virtues, his gracious disposi- 
tion, his pure, unsullied character have given him a higlier 
rank in the hearts of the American people. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4. 1817 — MARCH 4, 1825, 





THE most democratic of men must derive a certain amount 
of pleasure in tracing his ancestry to the distinguished 
leaders of a past age, to the honest, courageous souls, 
sometimes of noble name, ahvays of noble nature, who played 
important parts in shaping the destinies of nations or commu- 
nities. Certainly it must be admitted that biographers are 
prone to toucii upon the family distinctions of their subject, 
while readei'S are ahvays delighted to think of their hero as 
descended from a notable and historic line of ancestoi's. 
Although it is true that great men have sprung from very lowly 
beginnings, from obscure families of almost unknown origin, 
it is e(iiially a fact that, even in democratic America, the his- 
tory of some of her ablest leaders brings them into view as 
only sharing in the triumphs and distinguished careers of a 
race born to influence men and affairs. Thus it is that James 
Mom'oe, the fifth President of these United States, belonged 
to an honorable and somewhat influential family, one of his 
ancestors, Hector Monroe, being prominent among the Scottish 
cavaliers of the seventeenth centurv, an oflicer ardentlv devoted 


to the fortunes of that ill-fated monarch, Charles I. The 
descendants of this Scottish cavalier were prominent among 
the early settlers of the IS'ew World, and the Monroe family, 
living in Westmoreland County, Virginia, where James was 
born April 28, 1758, were prosperous and well-known peojDle. 
It is of interest to note the fact that four of the early Presi- 
dents of our Kepubhc, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and 
Monroe, were born and reared in the same region, lying in the 
vicinity of the Blue Ridge Mountains ; Avere doubtless affected 
by the same influences, imbibed the common principles of 
patriotic zeal, and shared in a like service for their country's 

James, the subject of this sketch, vfas a bright, intelligent 
boy, a thoughtful student, yet not so devoted to his books 
as to neglect the sports of boyhood or the enjoyments of 
out-door life. After an excellent preparation in a classical 
school, he entered William and Mary College when he was 
sixteen years of age, having already learned to appreciate 
the value of the best possible education, as a foundation 
for life-work in any direction. This was an eventful time 
in the history of the country. The air was filled with rumors 
of impending war and it was with difficulty that young- 
Monroe could properly attend to his work as a college student. 
At length his patriotic ardor so impelled him to take active 
service in defense of his country that he left college in 1776, ^ 
at once going to General Washington's headquarters in 'New 
York, there taking his place as a volunteer in the ranks of the 
American army. 

Monroe, after following the army in its retreat through 
New Jersey, taking part in several engagements, was wounded 
at the battle of Trenton, where he so distinguished himself 
that he was promoted, receiving a commission as captain. He 
accepted, a little later, a position on the staff of General Arm- 


strong, doing creditable service in the battles of Brandywine, 
Germantown, and Monmouth. He was regarded with favor 
bj General Washington, who gave hiin a commission as colo- 
nel, together with the authority to raise and equip a regiment 
of Virginia volunteers. This undertaking was for many 
reasons, none of them reflecting upon his ability or patriotism, 
however, unsuccessful, so that Colonel Monroe decided to 
carry out his early plan of entering the legal profession, thus 
ending his militar}^ career, although he volunteered, at a later 
period, in defense of Virginia, and stood always ready to 
engage in the scenes of battle, whenever his services should 
be required. He studied law in the office of Mi-. Jefferson, 
then governor of Yirginia, who probably did much towards 
forming the character of the young man, as well as directing 
his professional studies. 

It was but a short time alter Monroe* began the practice of 
law that he was called into public life, to take part in the leg- 
islative councils of his country. He assumed the responsibil- 
ities and duties of a member of the Yirginia Legislature in the 
year 1782, and was a little later chosen by that body as a mem- 
ber of the executive council. He was called to represent Yir- 
ginia in the Continental Congress of 1783, taking his seat as a 
member of that body, in time to be a witness of the memorable 
scene at Annapolis, Maryland, when General Washington 
resigned his commission to that authority which he always rec- 
ognized as a supreme power. In the debates of Congress, 
Colonel Monroe took part with ability and judgment, soon 
gaining a position of prominence and, young as he was, exert- 
ing a very considerable influence. Under a law then in force, 
he was ineligible for re-election, and retired from the legisla- 
ture at the expiration of his term of service, in the year 178G. 
It was during the closing year of his membership in Congress 
that Monroe met Miss Kortrio:ht, whom he married, after a 


comparatively brief courtship, and with whom he hved hap- 
pily throughout the half-century of their earthh^ existence. 
While serving in Congress, Mr. Monroe became impressed 
with the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation as a form 
of rule for the government of the newRejmblic. He deemed 
these articles unsuitable to the prevailing modes of thought 
and life among the American people, so he favored the forma- 
tion of a new constitution which should augment the dignity 
and power of the central government. When, however, the 
constitution, framed in 1787, was offered for the public adop- 
tion, Monroe opposed its ratification, in the convention of Vir- 
ginia, where he was a member, because he believed that it 
would grant too much power to the government, and for other 
reasons was not what the people required. In following out 
this course of action, based upon his best judgment, he antag- 
onized the views of Mr. Madison, who had earnestly argued 
in behalf of the new constitution, and of many others among 
his associates and friends. The Virginia convention finally 
adopted the constitution as presented, Mr. Monroe finding 
himself in the minority. His opinions upon this matter did 
not seem to affect his popularity among his constituents, for, 
in 1789, he was elected a United States Senator by the Vir- 
ginia Legislature. He actively opposed many of the lead- 
ing features of Washington's administration, but that great- 
minded and tolerant President saw only the integrity and 
honest purpose of Monroe, and retained him in his confidence 
and friendship, notwithstanding these important differences of 
opinion. This is sho^vn by Washington's act in appointing 
Monroe as Minister to France in 1794, in the place of Gover- 
neur Morris, recalled in accordance with the request of the 
French Government. Monroe, who belonged to the party 
sympathizing, to a large degree, with the rulers and people of 
France, was welcomed in that country with great rejoicings 


and eiithusiasni. His course at Paris, however, was not in 
conformity with President Wasliington's ideas as to the strict 
nentrahty which his administration on^^'ht to maintain, as 
between France and England, and in 179G Mr. Monroe was 
recalled. Tn the year 1791), he became governor of Virginia 
and Avas twice re-elected to that office. Soon after Jefferson's 
accession to the ])residency, he was again sent abroad in a 
diplomatic cai)acity as Envoy Extraordinary to France, there 
aiding JNIr. Li\ingston, minister to that country, in his negoti- 
ations for the ])urchase of ^ew Orleans and contiguous ter- 
ritory. Having concluded this special business, he })ro- 
ceedcd to England, acting under a comniission as minister to 
that country in place of Kufus King. At this time, also, his 
services as diplomat Avere called into requisition to aid in set- 
tling a controversy with Spain. This attempt was unsuccess- 
ful, as was also the chief purpose he had in view in his rela- 
tions with England, namely, that of negotiating a treaty with 
Great Bi'itain, which should be more fiivorable to the interests 
of the United States. 

Mr. Monroe, who refused to antagonize Madison as a can- 
didate for the presidency, was again elected governor of "Vir- 
ginia, in 1811, but hardly had he entered uj^on the duties of 
that office before he was invited to take the place of Secretary 
of State, that office haAdng been made vacant by the retirement 
of Robert Smith. Mr. Monroe accepted the appointment and 
held the office during the remainder of Mr. Madison's admin- 
istration. As Secretary of State he took a bold, decided stand 
against the encroachments of England, and advocated a policy 
which resulted in an open rupture with that country in 1812. 
After the capture of the capital, Mr. Monroe assumed the 
duties of the war department, in addition to those devolving 
upon him as Secretary of State, evincing much energy and 
ability in ol^taining supplies and api)lying measures requisite 


for a vigorous prosecution of the war. His patriotism was 
specially shown by pledging his private credit, as subsidiary to 
that of the government, to provide the needful outfit and 
equipment for the army defending IN^ew Orleans. By this act 
New Orleans was successfully defended, the British army 
defeated, and an honorable peace was soon brought about. 

Mr. Monroe was elected President in 1816, and re-elected 
almost unanimously four years later. His administration of 
the government was marked by a liberal and progressive 
spirit, and was generally satisfactory. Although a disciple of 
Jefferson and elected by the Democratic party, he yet chose a 
course of public action which commended him to the Federal- 
ists, while it did not take from him the support of his own 
party. At that time, however, party lines were well nigh 
obliterated, okl issues had lost their bitterness, and new lines 
of difference had not yet been marked out. It was indeed an 
" era of good feeling " when the President found it compara- 
tively easy to bring into his Cabinet prominent men represent- 
ing both parties, and to pursue a course of administrative 
action approved by a large majority of the American people. 
At first he was too strict in his construction of the Constitu- 
tion, as defining the powers of the general government, to 
favor a system of internal improvements, but finally he yielded 
his own scruples in this respect in order to advance the nation's 
welfare. His administration was distinguished by the acquisi- 
tion of Florida, obtained from Spain, in 1819, by the payment 
of $5,000,000, the admission of five new states, the avowal 
and insistence of a policy relating to foreign nations, since 
known as the " Monroe Doctrine," under which no European 
interference on this continent was to be allowed, and the pas- 
sage of the " Missouri Compromise," after a prolonged struggle 
over the admission of Missouri, during which the " era of good 
feeling " was disturbed by the growing hostility manifested 


between the Slave States and the Free States, and the strife 
of each section to obtain increase of power. N'otwithstand- 
ing the feehng thus awakened, the country greatly prospered 
during the eight years of President Monroe's administration, 
marked by many evidences of his wise, patriotic, and states- 
manlike career. After leaving the jorosidential office, he took 
up his residence at Oak Hill, Loudoun County, Virginia, where 
he i^assed the remainder of his years in an honorable retire- 
ment. His death occurred July 4, 1831, at the residence of 
his son-in-law, Samuel L. Goveneur, of Kew York, Avith whom 
he was temporarily residing as guest and ^asitor. 

The men who founded this Kepublic were influenced in 
tliought, were roused to action, by the self-same principle of 
patriotic devotion, impelling them to active service in behalf 
of their native land. "With this one motive as a basis for the 
formation of character each of these early leaders worked out 
his own personality, exercising his various talents to further 
the prosperity of his country along individual lines of well- 
defined, persistent efioi-t. President Monroe was lacking in 
some of the qualities wliicli distinguished the other patri- 
otic leaders of his time, yet he w^as a man of intelligent thought, 
of varied intellectual powers, of dignified bearing, a true 
patriot and an illustrious statesman. He was thoroughly reli- 
able, an honest gentleman, conducting himself as such in all 
the high ])ositions of public trust which he was called to fill. 
He was a true friend to those who enjoyed his confidence, 
was utterly unselfish, desired his country's good above all per- 
sonal considerations, and was a singularly ]nuc-minded pi-oduct 
of the best American civilization. 




PRESIDENT MARCH 4, 1825 — MARCH 4, 1829. 








EAKLY ill the inoiitli of February of the year 1778, the 
good ship Boston lay at anchor in Massachusetts Bay. 
The frigate was waiting for its distinguished passenger, 
America's Ambassador to France, Jolin Adams, Avho, in com- 
pany with his son, John Quincy, a boy of ten years, went on 
board the Boston one stormy winter (hiy, leaving his brave 
wife and little family in the shelter of his native land, Avliile he 
devoted himself to serving his country's interests, enduring 
risks and hardsliips, sacrificing all personal ambitions at the 
call of patriotic duty. It was this lad, born in the quiet town 
of Quincy, Massachusetts, July 11, 1767, separated from his 
mother and childhood home at so early an age, who after- 
wards, in the course of events, was called to fill the honored 
position of Chief Magistrate of this Ilei)ul)lic. 

Born at too late a jK'riod to take [)art in the Revolutionary 
War, at a time when the government of the Republic had 
already been founded, John Quincy Adams early acquired a 
love of freedom; received as a boy lasting impressions of the 


meaning of war, the principles of liberty, the resistance of 
oppression, and the defense of the right. He never forgot the 
sight he witnessed when only eight years old, the spectacle of 
burning Charlestown, the smoke from the battle of Bunker 
Hill, the sounds of war which at that time he heard. On 
board the Boston, also, there were British frigates encountered, 
and a prize taken, so that the boy quickly learned the import- 
ance attached to his country's welfare and the services which 
must be rendered in her behalf, l^aturally an intelligent lad, 
this life of travel and intercourse with distinguished men 
taught him in ways not possible to the average youth, while to 
offset this he lost something of the advantages connected with 
home training and a systematic education. 

When John Adams again crossed the ocean in 1779, being 
empowered by the President to negotiate a treaty of peace 
with Great Britain, John Quincy accompanied his father, trav- 
eling Avith him from Spain to Paris, beginning on this journey 
to keep a diary, as a record of daily events, a practice which 
he continued throughout his life. The elder Adams resided 
for a time in Holland, so the boy was sent to school in Amster- 
dam, afterwards studying for a brief period in the University 
of Leyden. When a youth of fifteen, he accompanied Mr. 
Francis Dana in his unsuccessful mission to St. Petersburg, 
acting in the capacity of a private secretary. After the journey 
back to Holland, which he took alone, he joined his father, 
entering the best society of The Hague and profiting by an 
intercourse with the diplomats there assembled. When John 
Adams was appointed Ambassador to the Court of St. James 
in 1785, his son preferred to return to America, relinquishing 
the brilliant life in London for the student career of an Amer- 
ican college, as he already felt the love for his country and its 
institutions Avhich afterwards impelled him in his performance 
of all public service. He graduated from Harvard College 
with honor, in July, 1787. 


The young law student was admitted to the bar in 1791, 
after having pursued his legal studies under Theophilus Par- 
sons, of Kewburjport, afterwards Chief Justice of Massachu- 
setts. He took an interest in public affairs early in life, writ- 
ing articles upon political subjects, showing very quickly the 
abilities of a rising young man. In a series of articles pub- 
lished about this time, Mr. Adams argued in favor of the strict 
neutrality which he thought it was the duty of the United States 
to maintain in the war impending between France and England. 
These ideas, in conformity with the thought and policy of 
President Washington, doubtless influenced him in his choice 
of Aml)assador to The Hague, an appointment which he gave 
to Adams in the year 1794. Although John Adams was Vice- 
President at this time, he exercised no influence in securing the 
appointment of his son, Washington acting in the matter with- 
out his counsel or even knowledge. Thus it is that we find 
John Quincy Adams enjoying the confidence of Washington, 
honorably identified in carrying out the foreign policy of the 
United States when only twenty-seven years of age. For two 
years Mr. Adams remained in Holland. At the expiration of 
that time, he was appointed Minister to Portugal, but while 
proceeding to undertake his duties there, he received a new 
commission, changing his destination to Berlin. His father, 
at that time President, felt some hesitancy in appointing him, 
fearing public criticism, as personal motives might be thought 
to influence the action. President Adams asked counsel in 
this matter of his friend, George Washington, then retired 
from public office, who replied in a letter bearing testimony to 
the high esteem in which he held both father and son, one of 
its clauses being as follows: " I give it as my decided opinion, 
that Mr. Adams is the most valuable pubHc character we have 
abroad; and that there remains no doubt in my mind, that he 
will prove himself to be the ablest of all our diplomatic corps." 


Just before proceeding to the Court of Berlin, Mr. Adams, 
waiting in London for instructions from his government, mar- 
ried Miss Louisa Catherine Johnson, daugliter of the American 
Consul in that city. Mrs. John Quincy Adams would have 
been a notable woman in any position; as the wife of the 
distinguished American statesman, she received the respectful 
homage to which, because of her beauty, accomplishments, and 
intelligence, she was entitled. 

While serving in the capacity of Ambassador to Berlin 
Mr. Adams conducted negotiations with skillful diplomacy, 
concluding a commercial treaty with Prussia before he was 
recalled to this country by President Jefferson in the yeai- 
1801. He returned to this country with a reputation alread}^ 
established for a scholarly statesmanship, while, on resuming- 
his law practice in Boston, he added to the renown already 
Avon by the judicial learning which he displayed. Soon called 
to public life again, he served one term in the Massachusetts 
Senate, afterwards, in 1803, he was elected United States 
Senator. Although in general sympathy with the opinions of 
the Federal side in politics, Mr. Adams held to more moderate 
political views; he separated himself almost entirely from his 
party in supporting the Embargo Bill, which had been recom- 
mended by President Jefferson. He was censured for this 
course by the Massachusetts Legislature, consequently he 
resigned his place in the Senate, and retired to private life. 

During the three years which followed, Mr. Adams not 
only attended to the duties of his profession, but also ably 
filled the Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at Harvard 
College, giving lectures which were received with approbation 
by the students and other scholarly men. These lectures were 
published, attracting favorable notice in the literary as well as 
the social world. Mr. Adams returned to public life soon 
after the accession of Mr. Madison to the presidency, receiving 


an appointment, in 1809, as United States Minister to Kussia. 
He soon gained the confidence of the Russian Emperor, a 
valuable influence of good at the time when war broke out 
between England and the United States, for, as a result of this 
confidence, Kussia oifered her mediation to both belligerent 
nations. Thus it was that, though England declined this 
offer of mediation, she was led to signify her willingness to 
deal directly with the United States, and so peace was brought 
about. Mr. Adams was at the head of the commission which, 
after six months of negotiation, came to an agreement with 
the English Connnissioners, the treaty of ])eace being signed 
at Ghent, December 24, 1814. Shortly after this date Mr. 
Adams was promoted to fill the office of Minister to England, 
well performing the duties of this important diplomatic posi- 
tion until he was recalled to his native land in the year 1817 to 
assume the responsible place of Secretary of State under Pres- 
ident Monroe. He acted in this capacity for eight years, 
helping to shai)e the foreign policy of Mr. Monroe's adminis- 
tration"^ and deserving credit for many of the measures which 
distinguished that period. 

The candidates for the presidency to succeed President 
Monroe were Andrew Jackson, William Henry Crawford, 
Henry Clay, and John Quincy Adams. There was no choice 
made by the electoral college, so the election was by the House 
of Representatives, voting by states, Mr. Adams being elected 
as a result of the first ballot. 

The administraticm of President Adams was decidedly 
unpopular, especially among the friends of General Jackson, 
whose increased popularity resulted in his election as President 
over Adams in the campaign of 1828. John Quincy Adams 
seems to have inherited something of the austerity, coupled 
with the cold maimers, which characterized his father, so that 
his personality drew towards him few personal or party 


friends. The younger Adams was not an intense partisan; 
followed his individual thought to whatever distances it might 
lead away from his political party, but he was always true to 
liis own best convictions as to his country's interests and wel- 
fare. During his administration there was great material pro- 
o-ress throughout the country, the President being foremost 
to promote all national improvements. 

When General Harrison was inaugurated in March of the 
year 1829, Mr. Adams retired to his home in Quincy, thinking 
to spend his remaining years on earth quietly as a country 
gentleman, enjoying the competency aiforded him by his 
fathers fortune in addition to his own. But Massachusetts 
needed his services; he was elected from his district to Con- 
o-ress, and kept there by repeated re-elections until the time of 
his death. In Congress he maintained his independent posi- 
tion, holding aloof from both parties to a great extent. He was 
scholarly, judicial, and able, possessing rare acquisitions for 
congressional leadership. He struggled persistently for the 
" right of petition," and witnessed, in 1845, the abolition of 
the " gag rule," restricting the right to petition Congress on 
the subject of slavery. 

It was when the " old man eloquent " was gaining more 
and more of his associates' respect and love that he was 
stricken down, while in the Hall of Representatives, with a 
paralytic attack, February 21, 1848. He was carried to the 
Speaker's room in the Capitol, where, under the roof which 
had echoed with his ringing speeches in behalf of human 
rights, he breathed the last feeble words, so consistent with 
the whole tenor of his life, " This is the end of earth ; I am 

There are two or thi'ee notable pictures in the career of 
this distinguished patriot that come into the mind whenever 
his name is mentioned. One is of the youthful traveler and 


associate of celebrated men, early trained into the forms of 
cultivated society, yet never accommodating himself to the 
ceremonies foreign to his nature, nor assuming those graceful 
manners which might have been expected from his education 
so cosmopolitan in its surroundings. 

The second picture is that of the man advanced in life, 
who, with blazing eyes and a heart beating so warmly in 
defense of what he thought Avas the right, stood up in the 
House of Kepresentatives, making that grand speech whicli 
silenced all antagonisms, as he argued in behalf of the petition, 
objected to by the House, because several of its signatures 
were those of women. 

Again another picture presents itself as the pages of his- 
tory are reviewed. When, in the reorganization of the 
Twenty-sixth Congi-ess, December, 1839, the disputed seats of 
'New Jersey occasioned trouble in the choice of speaker, it 
was John Quincy Adams, who in response to repeated calls, 
rose, and made a speech advocating decisive action in the 
matter. When it was asked how the question should be put, 
as the clerk refused to act, amid tumultuous applause, Mr. 
Adams replied, " I will put the question myself" Mr. Wise, 
of Virginia, in commending this speech said, "If, when you 
are gathered to your fathers, I were asked to select the words 
whicli in my judgment are the best calculated to give at once 
the character of the man, I would inscribe upon your tomb 
this sentence, 'I will put the question myself.'" The world 
has accepted this epitaph as expressing the force of character 
possessed by John Quincy Adams, which showed itself, not 
only in that one memorable act, but in the whole course of his 
long and useful public career. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1829 — MARCH 4, 1837. 




EVERY man OAves somctliing* to his fatherland. A nation 
has no favoritism to bestow; she gives to all her chil- 
dren the same virgin soil, out of which grow the weeds, 
or the useful plant, as individuality asserts itself in the devel- 
oi)inent of character. Men may be trained in lines divergent 
as the poles, yet they will still possess certain characteristics 
common to all their countrymen; there is a vein of similarity 
running through every child of the same nationality, however it 
may be concealed in the expansion of individual life. It is this 
thought which is forcibly presented as the life of Andrew 
Jackson is reviewed. He represents a type of the American 
character, widely differing from the earlier Presidents of the 
Republic, presenting a specially marked contrast to his imme- 
diate predecessor in office, John (^uincy Adams. Andrew 
Jackson was born amid the humblest surroundings, in a log- 
cabin, of a Carolina settlement, enduring ])i-ivation and want, 
early thrown upon his own resources; while Adams had all 
the advantages of foreign culture, together with a college 
education, the iuHuences of a refined home and intelligent 


friends. Both men inherited something in common from 
their mother country, enal)Hng- them to serve her equally well, 
though aided by such different resources and possessing capa- 
bilities of so opposite a nature. 

The life of the seventh President of the United States began 
on March 15, 1767. His family was numbered among the 
early settlers of Waxham, situated near the line which divides 
]N^orth from South Carolina. They had a hard struggle to 
obtain the necessities of life, and the fiitlier, bi'oken down by 
overwork and privation, died in the year 1767. The widow 
abandoned the desolate log-cabin, and, with her two sons, was 
sheltered in the family of her married sister, living near l)y, 
until after the birth of Andrew, which occurred amid the sur- 
roundings of destitution and sorrow. Removing at a little 
later period to the home of another relative, Mrs. Jackson 
worked early and late to maintain her boys in respectable cir- 
cumstances. Andrew was sent to the rough school in the set- 
tlement, where he obtained the little education which he 
received. He was not an attractive boy; one could hardly 
expect him to be, subjected as he was to rough usage, and the 
influences which surrounded that hard frontier life. He was 
undisciplined, quick to resent a supposed injury, i)assionate in 
speech and action, showing, however, one redeeming virtue in 
his love for the mother who sought in her humble way for his 
welfare, laying the foundation of that filial devotion and re- 
spect, which continued until her death, and gave rise, pro])ably, 
to his well-known chivalric opinions in regard to woman. 

The courageous lad of fourteen years bore a slight part 
in the Revolution, fighting gallantly the Tories and troojjs 
under General Tarleton, who had invaded the Carolinas. His 
brother Hugh, when only eighteen years old, had lost his life 
at the battle of Stono; while Robert and Andrew Jackson, 
taken prisoners by a party of dragoons in 1781, suftered cruel 


treatment from tlicir captors, the effects of which caused the 
death of Eobert, while Andrew's hfe was only saved by the 
extraordinary strenofh of his constitution. After his recovery 
he studied law at Salisbury, North Carolina, being admitted 
to the l)ar, and beoinning a law practice in IS'ashville, Tennes- 
see, where he afterwards made his home. In this vicinity, then 
on the borders of civilization, he made many friends, and 
gained reputation as a lawyer. Here he met Mrs. Rachel 
Robards, whom he married in the year 1791, both parties sup- 
posing that her divoi-ce from Louis Robards had been granted. 
Through some technicality it was not legal, and they were 
re-married in tlu^ year 1791. Mr. Jackson was always sensi- 
tive on this subject, thinking so highly of his wife that he 
resented any imputation upon her character. Their married 
life was exceedingly happy, though Mrs. Jackson's position 
Avas made painful at times, and her husband annoyed, by their 
union becoming a cause for public discussion and scandal. 

Mr. Jackson began his public career in 1797, when he was 
appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate, where 
he served during the winter session of 1797-8. It was at this 
time, in the year 1798, that he was elected Judge of the Su- 
l)reme Court of Tennessee, holdmg this position for a period 
of six years. During the next seven or eight years we find 
Judge Jackson enjoying a quiet home-life in his residence, 
the "Hermitage," situated near :N'ashville. Here he found 
opportunities to engage in business transactions, combining 
them with his pursuit of fjirming. It was during this time that 
he became involved in many disputes by reason of his quick 
temper and hasty judgment in the difhculties arising from the 
conditions of society as it then existed. He fought several 
duels, mortally wounding his antagonist, Charles Dickenson, in 
one of them, and receiving severe injuries himself in another 


"When the War of 1812 bi-oke out, General Jackson, who 
had ah'eady acquired some mihtary skill and experience, offered 
his services to President Madison, pledging himself to raise a 
supporting force of twenty-five hundred volunteers. His offer 
was accepted; he became a skillful military leader, manifest- 
ing early in the campaign those qualities of endurance, strength, 
and will power, which earned for him the suggestive title of 
"Old Hickory." His attributes made him a specially success- 
ful commander in the campaigns against the Indians — the 
powerful Creek and other tribes, who, under their famous chief, 
Tecumseh, had been won over as British allies. Jackson's 
.troops gained decisive victories, so that the power of these 
formidable tribes was forever broken. 

General Jackson was appointed major-general in the reg- 
ular army of the United States, May 31, 1814, and was im- 
mediately ordei'ed to the defense of 'New Orleans, where the 
British were then concentrating their forces. Acting under 
his new commission, Jackson's first move was one of peace. 
He succeeded in making a treaty with the Indians of Alabama 
and vicinity, so that they should not enter into an alliance 
with the enemy. It was as early as November of the year 

1814, that he captured Pensacola, used by the British as a 
base of operations, and only a few months later, January 8, 

1815, he fought and won the memorable battle of New Or- 
leans. The defeat of the well-disciplined English troops,' 
whose experienced commander, General Pakenham, Avas 
killed on the field of battle, was a signal victory for Jackson, 
made more apparent when, ver}^ quickly after the battle, the 
British were forced to evacuate New Orleans. The country 
was wild in its rejoicings over this event, and General Jack- 
son became the Nation's hero. 

Idleness was not possible to General Jackson, so in the 
year 1818-19 he was active in the Seminole War, fighting the 


Indians and entering upon Spani!?li territory, an act for which 
he was much criticised. The purchase of Florida, however, 
put an end to the diplomatic questions suggested by the 
course of this impulsive commander. In the year 1821 he was 
appointed governor of Florida, but soon after resigned this 
office, not approving of the powers with which he was vested. 

Again, General Jackson took his seat in the United States 
Senate, in 1823. The year following he was a candidate for the 
presidency, receiving the largest number of votes from the 
electoral college. There was, however, no choice, and the 
House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams, Feb- 
ruary 9, 1825. General Jackson firmly believed this to be the 
result of collusion between Henry Clay, one of the candidates, 
and Mr. Adams; this thought Avas confirmed by the fact that 
Mr. Clay afterwards held office in the Cabinet of President 
Adams. General Jackson wrote and said many harsh, bitter 
Avords at this time, his hasty judgment leading him to utter- 
ances characteristic of his impetuous temperament — utterances 
made with little regard for the consequences which might 
ensue. One of his letters, concerning the matter, contains the 
following sentence : " I have been informed that Mr. Clay has 
ijeen offered the office of Secretary of State, and that he will 
accept it; so you see the Judas of the West has closed the 
contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver." 

In the fall of 1825 General Jackson resigned his seat in the 
Senate of the United States, returning to his home near Nash- 
ville, where he lived as a private citizen until he was elected 
to the presidency in 1828. The political campaign of that 
year was carried on in a bitterly personal manner. General 
Jackson was assailed with unsparing severity, but triumph- 
antly elected, the vote in the electoral college being one hun- 
dred and seventy-eight for him, against seventy-eight for Mr. 
Adams. In 1832 he was re-elected by a large majority over 


Hemy Clay, his chief competitor for the place, and served 
until March 4, 1837 — eight years in all. 

The administration of General Jackson, extending over a 
period when political strife was most violent, was of a notable 
character in many respects. It was characterized by some 
important acts which met with popular favor. The general 
conduct of foreign affairs was conunended, and measures, 
such as the removal of Indian tribes to the more distant terri- 
tories, and the settlement of the French spoliation claims, were 
received with a good degree of public approval. Other meas- 
ures, however, were unsparingly denounced by one party, al- 
though enthusiastically commended by the other. Thus it was 
in regard to his course respecting the establishment and re- 
chartering of the United States Bank, and other matters relat- 
ing to the financial policy, while much the same divided judg- 
ment was passed by the people on his appointments to and 
removals from office. 

President Jackson's prompt resistance of nullification, 
when South Carohna in 1832 proposed to withdraw from the 
Union, merits special recognition. He declared the United 
States to be a I^ation, and that no state had the right to secede 
from the Union, and sent General Scott to South Carolina with 
troops and vessels of war to repress any movement of secession. 
His firmness and patriotism thus manifested soon brought 
about acquiescence to the law on the part of the dissatisfied 
people of South Carolina, and the danger that had appeared 
so threatening, was, for a time, averted. Better now than 
then can the American people appreciate the bold stand taken 
by President Jackson in this matter, and the emphasis which 
he put upon the words, " The Union, it must and shall be pre- 

Wlien public opinion puts an estimate upon character it 
sometimes seems that many noble qualities are left entirely out 


ol' accouiil, just because they lead to actions not in liai-inony 
with the prevaiUng thought. History presents a broader view 
A\itli tlie progress of civihzation, and men Hke Andrew Jack- 
son are more wisely judged, as their petty differences of opinion, 
their minor faults, their lack of culture or attainments sink 
into oblivion, while the enduring record of the positive attri- 
butes which made their influence felt upon the destiny of the 
Nation, grows brighter with each succeeding year. 

It is good for us to remember Andrew Jackson for his 
honesty of purpose and life, the integrity of his nature, which 
betrayed itself amid the rough surroundings of the new world 
settlers, in the camp of the American Army, as well as during 
his eight years of service as the honored President of the 
United States. That the rough soldier, the stern leader, the 
passionate opponent, had yet another, more gentle side to his 
nature, those of his contemporaries who knew him best bore 
ti'stimony. He was nevei' too busy to entertain or watch over 
a little child, never too careless of another's suffering to leave 
a beggar in distress, never Avilling to listen to any adverse crit- 
icism of a woman, while he always reverenced the memorv of 
his devoted mother, and gave to his wife the whole affection of 
his noble, warm heart. Quick to resent an injury, he would 
turn aside from an}' i)ursuit in order to confer a favor upon 
one of his many friends wliom his personal magnetism drew 
towards him in an enduring association. This is a tyj^e of 
manliood that Amei-ica does well to lionoi- in these days Avhen 
the simple repul)lican vii-tues are sonietimes forgotten as men 
celebrate the scholar and the distini>uished statesman. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1837— MARCH 4, 1841 





I^N" the story of the Presidents of the United States thei-e 
occur several chapters which record fewer stirring events 
or memoi-able issues than are found in the other, perliaps 
more intei'esting pages. These lives, less notable in their 
attainments, influence, however, the progress of nations, just 
as the constant dropping of a tiny, noiseless stream eventually 
wears away the rock which the volcanic eruption had left un- 
touched in its path of destruction. So a nation needs the 
quiet lives to weave into its history; the men of earnest con- 
victions and wise statesmanship Avho impress their individuahty 
upon epochs, just as much as it requires its dashing, n^ilitary 
heroes, who appeal more strongly to the admiration of the gen- 
eral pubUc. Thus the life of Martin Yan Buren, eighth Pres- 
ident of this Republic, atfords little material for the graphic 
writer to indulge in romantic, sensational biography, if he seeks 
truthfully to depict the career of one who most distinguished 
himself in intellectual and political achievements. 

Ml*. Yan Buren, Martin's father, kept the village tavern in 
the old town of Ivuiderhook, on the banks of the Hudson 


River, and made that inn a popular resort of the traveler 
because of the hearty good-humor displayed by the genial 
projDrietor, whose ancestors were numbered among the earliest 
settlers of the region, the well-to-do families from Holland who 
made their homes on the shores of that noble stream. The 
mother of the future President was also of Dutch origin, hav- 
ing an intelligent, well-trained mind — a superior woman for 
those early tunes. The boy, Martin, born December 5, 1782, 
was educated amid these influences, and inherited, doubtless, a 
love for mental acquirements, as well as that imperturbable 
good humor which characterized the father and descended to 
the son, although, perhaps, in a more refined form. There 
Avas a basis of character inherited, good habits early incul- 
cated, and all liking for study encouraged, so that Martin Yan 
Buren early developed a quick perception, a ready wit, schol- 
arly tendencies, and a genial, pleasant manner. He attended 
the academy of Kinderhook, making such rapid progress 
while there that he was fitted to enter college, in an* advanced 
class, at an unusually early age. He decided not to do this, 
however, but devote himself entirely to his law studies and 
enter upon the profession which he had chosen. At first he 
studied in a law office at Kinderhook; afterwards he went to 
ISTew York City, where he continued his student life under the 
direction of William P. Yan ]!^ess, until the year 1803, when 
he returned to his native town, l)eginning there his practice in 
the legal profession. 

Although as a lawyer Mr. Yan Buren was energetic, 
jjrompt, and suave, soon gaining the reputation as an able 
advocate which he highly prized, he was a natural politician, 
having political instincts and likings from the first. The tav- 
ern-keeper of Kinderhook had been an ardent Republican, so 
that the son imbibed a strong attachment to Jefiers(m, to the 
political principles and policy of that great leader, together 


with the feeling" that every true man must hold opinions aiul 
be actively interested in whatever pertains to the good of his 
country. The intelligent knowledge thus acquired upon the 
great questions of the day, while not interfering with the pur- 
suits of his profession, prepared him for the career of public 
service which he was soon destined to undertake. 

His growing reputation as a lawyer led him to seek larger 
opportunities for the use of his talents, so he removed, in the 
year 1809, to Hudson, the shire-toAvn of his county. In this 
3^ear he had assumed the responsibilities of a married man, 
his talented wife contributing much to his happiness during 
the twelve years longer allotted her on earth. Hci- death, of 
consumption, after this comi)aratively brief period of married 
life, was a great blow to Mr. Van Buren, and the unusual 
buoyancy of his earlier nature failed to entirely reassert itself. 
During the period of his life in Hudson, certainly a happy 
time for the young husband and successful lawyei', Mr. Van 
ihu'cn won many friends, attracted to him by his talents, his 
intellectual abilities, his courteous, affable manners. 

In 1812 his public career may be said to have had its 
beginning in an election to the State Senate. He Avas ap- 
pointed Attorney-General in 1815, soon after moving his 
residence to Albany, a more central location for the perform- 
ance of the duties incident to that honorable position. While 
undertaking these serAiices of public trust, Mr. Yan Buren was 
actively interested in political affairs, exerting upon them a 
somewhat powerful influence. He was not a strict adherent 
to party, and received, in consequence, the accusation of 
inconstancy. He was, however, always true to his ardent demo- 
cratic principles, which sometimes carried liim away from his 
|)Mrty associates, and what appeared to be the popular feeling. 
Thus he warmly ftivored " restricted suffrage," maintaining that, 
Nvhile the privilege of voting should be open foi* the acquire- 


ment of every citizen, there ought, however, to be pre-requisite 
quahties of intelhgence, morahty, and the possession of, at 
least, a small amount of property. A division of the Demo- 
cratic party occurred in 1818, and Mr. Van Buren became a 
leader of the majority section, often designated as the " Albany 
Kegency," which was a controlling force in ISTew York polities 
for a quarter of a century. 

When, in the year 1821, Mr. Yan Buren was elected United 
States Senator, his abilities as a statesman brought him speedy 
recognition among the foremost leaders of political affairs. He 
was unrelenting in opposition to the administration, in favor of 
" state rights," as antagonistic to the federal views entertained 
by President Adams. Mr. "Van Buren showed himself a wise 
legislator, possessed of a sound judicial mind, throughout his 
services in the Senate, being re-elected to that body in 1827. 
He resigned his seat soon after, in the year 1828, to assume 
his duties as governor of 'New York, having been elected to 
fill that responsible position. 

In the presidential contest of 1828, the name of Yan Buren 
had prominent place. He was influential in forming and 
carrying out plans to defeat President Adams, giving all the 
force of his attainments and talents to aid in the election of 
General Jackson. IsTone were more instrumental in pressing 
the claims of " Old Hickory," as opjjosed to the so-called 
" eflfeminate " John Quincy Adams, than Mr. Yan Buren; none 
were able to render more intelligent, well-defined assistance. 
Greneral Jackson, appreciating the value of these services, 
invited his warm adherent to accept the position of Secretary 
of State. 

During the administration of President Jackson the pow- 
erful influence of Mr. Yan Buren made itself felt. The Sec- 
retary of State was affable to friend and foe alike, capable of 
quickly grasping the bearings of any measure, or understand- 


ing any situation of affairs, so that his services were of great 
vahie to the government. His extraordinary talents and energy 
displayed at this time, made evident his fitness for the office 
of President, and the idea of his candidacy became probable. 
Mr. Jackson, as a matter of course, urged the claims of his 
friend Yan Buren, who had so aroused, however, the enmity 
of Mr. Calhoun and others, that when he was appointed l)y 
the President in 1831, Minister to England, the Senate refused 
to ratify the nomination. Before this Mr. Yan Buren had pro- 
ceeded to England and had been received there mth much en- 
thusiasm. After his rejection he returned to his native land 
and became a candidate for the office of Yice-President, to 
which office he was elected at the time President Jackson 
was chosen for a second term. Thus he was soon called to 
preside over the Senate which had refused to confirm his ap- 
pointment as Minister to England. 

In 183G Mr. Yan Buren received the Democratic nominji- 
tion for President, and was elected by a considerable majority. 
His inauguration, on the dth of March, 1837, specially brilhant 
in its various features, was witnessed by an immense concourse 
of people. His inaugural address, which gave general satis- 
faction, was particularly pleasing to the friends of the retiring 
President, as it indicated the purpose of Mr. Yan Buren to 
continue the fine of policy marked out by his immediate pre- 
decessor. The whole country had confidence in the conspicu- 
ous aljilities of President Yan Buren, whose experience and 
acquisitions made him so eminently fitted for the duties he was 
called to discharge. But times of trial and peril were at hand, 
for soon there swept over the land a financial storm of unprec- 
edented severity. There was a revulsion of national prosper- 
ity, and a dark and tln-eatening condition of affairs. Foreio-n 
complications, Indian wars, the growing excitement in regard 
to the slavery question, added to the depression of business, 



the suspension of specie payments by the banks, and the clamors 
of the extremely poor then ont of employment, created a feel- 
ing of dismay throughout the countr}^ President Yan Buren, 
called to fill the presidential office at a time beset by so many 
and such great difficulties, was unable to make his administra- 
tion fruitful in the ways he desired. He was a candidate 
for re-election; but public sentiment grew strong against him, 
and his rival, William Henry Harrison, was chosen in the ear- 
nest campaign of 1840. Four years later the many friends of 
Mr. Yan Buren pressed his name upon the Democratic nom- 
inating convention, but Mr. Polk bore off the honor. In 1848 
the " Free-Soil " party placed him in nomination, and he 
received a considerable popular support in the Northern States. 
His life was that of a private citizen, however, from the time 
of his retirement from the presidency, but not by any means 
unduly limited or unpleasant. He died at Lindenwald, July 24, 

While serving in the capacity of Minister to the Court of 
St. James, Mr. Yan Buren was presented with a silver gilt 
dessert service, which was afterAvards used in administering 
the hospitality of the White House. This President of the 
Kepublic was often criticised because of his liking for lux- 
urious appointments, and his Avell-known fondness for the 
refinements of cultured society. One of the men whom he 
frequently entertained at the Executive Mansion, joined in 
the attacks, laying great stress in his speeches against the 
President, uj)on the " gold spoons." Some one asked Mr. Yan 
Buren if he really used, as had been alleged by the speaker, 
" gold spoons." " He ought to know," was the answer, '^ for 
he has often had them in his mouth." 

Another incident, connected with Mr. Yan Buren's Minis- 
try to England, illustrates his calm, urbane bearing, which no 
calamity, reverse of fortune, or unexpected defeat, could change. 


When the news reached him that the United States Senate had 
refused to ratify his appointment, he was enjoying the social 
pleasures of a large gathering in one of the prominent London 
homes. He showed no traces of the disappointment he nuist 
have felt at such a proof of enmity, or at least disapproval of 
his political views, but moved through the rooms witli his 
usual gracious manner, his friendly words for all, his tact in 
selecting topics of conversation, always betraying his wonted 

Popularity is gained when one assumes or feels an interest 
in the affairs of all human beings. Mr. Van Buren had that 
suave manner, as he listened to the most uninteresting details. 
that spoke of sympathy in whatever was being said, so that 
each man felt himself honoi-ed by pei-sonal regard and concei-n. 
Another element entered into the popnlarity which distin- 
guished this illustrious man: it was that ti-ait of joyousncs.s 
which, descending from the genial tavern-keeper of Kinder- 
hook to his eldest born, clung to his life throughout all its 
changing scenes of joy or sorrow. The world always admii-es 
this happy nature, one of heaven's greatest gifts. As a mod- 
ern poet truly writes : 

" Laucfli, and the world laughs with you, 
Weep, and you weep alone." 

There is nuicli that is agreeable to linger over in a con- 
templation of this statesman who occupied the presidential 
chair, but it must not be forgotten that these outward gifts 
which made charming a personality, had a foundation oi" u])- 
pright character, good habits, a pure life, an active intelli- 
gence, and talents of a high order. Without this basis of 
real worth. President Yan Buren would never have occupied 
the high office as President, oi- commanded the respect which 
his name inspires. 



William Henry Harrison. 

PRESIDENT, A1ARCH 4, 1841 — APRIL 4, 1841. 







HE State of Virginia has often formed a picturesque back- 
ground for important events in the history of the American 
nation. The reader of colonial records quickly learns to 
associate this region with sonic of the most striking episodes 
connected with the progress of this republic, while the truth 
becomes apparent that many of the scenes connected Avith the 
founding of the nation were laid among the Blue Kidge 
Mountains or in the fertile valleys of Tirginia. The subject 
of this sketch, William Henrj' Harrison, althougli elected from 
Ohio to fill the office of ninth President of the United States, 
was born at Berkeley, Charles County, in Virginia, February 
9, 1773. His father was one of the grouj) of intelligent and 
thoughtfid men who were leaders in the patriotic struggles of 
those early days; men distinguished for ability and culture, 
who were proiiiinent in the best society of Virginia at that 
period. To this little circle, so influential in i-evolutionary 
times, belonged General Washington, with Avhoni Benjamin 
Harrison enjoyed a confidential friendship. The elder Mr. 
Harrison was Governor of Virginia for several terms, and his 


signature was affixed to the Declaration of Independence. 
Thus the boy, William Henry, inherited a love for country and 
Avas early taught in the principles which ever afterwards were 
inseparable from his nature. 

The residence of the Harrison family was a Yirginia home- 
stead, whose interior was brightened by all the evidences of a 
refined taste. There was the good cooking and skillful man- 
agement of the numerous servants that prevailed in the best 
Yirginia households of that day, while the exercise of a 
generous hospitality made the group, gathered about the 
blazing back logs, always a large one. William Henry Har- 
rison was a favorite among his young associates as well as 
among his teachers and the older family friends. He had, as a 
boy, an active, enquiring mind, which gave him a fondness for 
books and a desire for wide information concerning men and 
things. He had acquired the basis of a thorough education 
when he entered Hampden Sidney College, where he devoted 
himself closely to his studies, graduating therefrom when nine- 
teen years old. During the time of his college life his father 
had died, so the young man, thrown somewhat upon his own 
responsibilities, decided to go to Philadelphia, where he could 
pursue to best advantage the study of medicine. Several of 
his father's fi-iends took an interest in the youthful medical 
student, among them his instructor. Dr. Rush, who had been 
an associate of the elder Harrison in signing the Declaration 
of Independence. 

At this time, during the Presidency of AYashington, the 
Indians on the frontier were committing the greatest outrages, 
and frightening by their depredations the settlers throughout 
the northwestern territory. These Indian tribes were power- 
ful because of numbers and the abundant supplies and mun- 
itions of war furnished them by the British provincial officials. 
Young Harrison felt the patriotic ardor running through his 


veins as he learned of one and another of the atrocities which 
had been committed along tlie frontier, so that he abandoned his 
medical studies and gladly accepted the commission of ensign 
oifcrcd him by President Washington, who was then engaged 
in organizing an army against these hostile tribes. Harrison 
soon reported for duty to the officer in command. General St. 
Clair, at Fort Washington, on the Ohio River, and was at once 
actively engaged in the fortunes of the campaign. He speedily 
developed the traits of a good soldier, showed physical endur- 
ance unlooked for in so slight a frame, and won renown for 
courage and military skill unusual in so 3'oung a man. He 
received special commendation from General St. Clair, who 
recogiiized the soldierly characteristics of the youthful ensign. 
It was thus early in his military career that Mr. Harrison took 
a strong position in favoi- of the principles of temperance, 
adopting for himself the rule of total abstinence from all strong 
drink, a habit Avhich he maintained to the end of his life. It 
M as no easy matter for a young man to keep from drinking in 
those days of army service, when intemperance was the rule 
among the soldiers, and temptations were offered on every 
side; but Mr. Harrison was true to his own convictions of 
right, and could not be turned aside by any allurement which 
might be offered. 

The services of this faithful soldier merited and soon re- 
ceived recognition by a promotion in the army, and, under 
General Wayne, Lieutenant Harrison fought efficiently in the 
bloody battles which followed one another during the Indian 
warfare. As aide-de-camp to General Wayne, he gave proof 
of courage, coolness and military skill, as displayed on I lie 
Held of battle. He was again ])romoted in 1797 to the rank of 
ca})tain, and it was about this time that he became interested 
in and married the daughter of one of the earliest settlers on 
the banks of the Maumee River. 


Captain Hari'ison resigned his commission in the army in 
1797, and was appointed secretaiy of the northwest terri- 
tory, rendering important services to the people of that newly- 
organized district, who elected him, in 1799, to represent them 
as delegate in Congress. When, in 1801, the northwest 
territory was divided, Mr. Harrison was appointed governor 
of the section organized nnder the name of Indiana, which 
then included the present States of Indiana, Wisconsin and 
Illinois. For a period of twelve years Governor Harrison dis- 
charged the duties of his office with notable ability and zeal. 
He was specially successful in his treatment of the Indians, 
his campaign on the frontier having given him valuable knowl- 
edge on the subject of the methods and habits of savage life. 
He was able to obtain for his Government vast areas of land, 
about sixty millions of acres, ceded in the various important 
treaties which he concluded with the Indians. When, in 1811, 
hostilities again broke out. Captain Harrison took command of 
the troops and was eminently successful in the memorable 
battle of Tippecanoe, where his army gained a signal victory 
over the Indians who attacked them in greatly superior forces. 
After this military success he was commissioned by President 
Madison, in 1813, as Major-General and Commander of the 
l^orthwestern Army. Again he conducted his troops to vic- 
tory, winning the battle of the Thames over the British forces 
and their savage allies, Tecumseh, the great Indian warrior,' 
being killed during the encounter. 

In the year 1816, General Harrison was elected to Congress 
as Representative from the State of Ohio. He was known as 
an able, active, influential member; his speeches were eflective 
and logical, while his energy gave him a well-deserved reputa- 
tion for diligence in the conduct of those afiairs that claimed 
his official attention. While in Congress he supported the res- 
olutions censurinof General Jackson for his course in the Sem- 


inole wiir. This somewhat reckless military leader had pur- 
sued his own policy with but little regard for law or courts, 
and, in consequence of his action in the matter, he was cen- 
sured by many persons in the expression of public opinion. 
General Harrison, in ajjproving of the resolutions, paid a high 
tribute to General Jackson's gallantry, at the same time giving 
utterance to his opinion that the action of the famous military 
commander in disregai-ding civil laws ought to be disapproved. 
In the year 1824 General Harrison served as one of the 
Presidential Electors from Ohio, casting his vote for Henry 
Clay, and that same year he was elected United States Sena- 
ator. It was four years later, in 1828, when he was appointed 
Minister to the Republic of Columbia by President John 
C^iincy Adams. Only for a brief period was he contimied in 
this diplomatic station, for he was recalled soon after the inau- 
guration of President Jackson. While it may not be affirmed 
that this action of the newly elected President was altogether 
due to a feeling aroused by Harrison's support in Congress of 
the resolutions censuring General Jackson it is a flict that the 
friendly relations of the two men were never quite the same after 
the incident, and it seems but natural that something of personal 
feeling should have entered into the quick, positive call to re- 
turn Avhich President Jackson issued. 

After this period of public service General Harrison re- 
turned to his comfortable home at North Bend, Ohio, where 
he passed a few yeai-s in the quiet pursuits which he enjoyed so 
nuich, indulging in the pleasant duties of a farmer and country 
gentleman. But his abilities as statesman and patriot were too 
generally known to allow of a private life, so that in 183G he 
became candidate of the Whig party for the Presidency. He 
ran against Martin Yan Buren, who was successful in the 
contest, but in 1840 Mr. Hari-ison was elected over the same 
candidate by an overwhelming majority. The canvass was a 


memorable one. The candidate of the Whig party was from 
Ohio, then a region of the Far West, and the log cabin, which 
became the emblem of his party, signified the prevailing 
thought concerning Western civilization. The campaign was 
most lively. With General Harrison was associated, as can- 
didate for Vice-President, John Tyler of Virginia, so the 
political songs rang with the refrain of " Tippecanoe and Tyler, 
too," while the hard cider, the appropriate beverage, was drank 
enthusiastically to the success of the " hero of Tippecanoe." 

The inauguration of President Harrison was a brilliant 
pageant, and was witnessed by immense throngs of the 
American people. The inaugural address of the President 
was permeated with that spirit of moderation which ruled his 
entire life, which controlled his actions, and which he desired 
his countrymen to exercise in the administration of the nation's 
affairs. Judging by his former attainments and his success- 
ful statesmanship, this policy would have been carried out by 
President Harrison in a manner to reflect honor upon himself 
as upon his beloved country; but this great and good man did 
not long live to enjoy the exalted position to which he Avas 
called. It was only a month after his inauguration that the 
death of President Harrison occurred ; the echoes of the ani- 
mated campaign and the exultant chorus of the triumphant 
party still sounded through the country, and the Whigs' 
I'ejoicing over a long-deferred victory was turned into mourn- 
ing, not only for the able head of their party, but for the 
political situation sure to ensue. The death of President 
Harrison, April 4, 1841, was a great blow to the American 
nation, and his funeral awakened intense ihterest throughout 
the country, following, as it did, so soon after the imposing 
ceremonies connected with his inauguration. 

There was a simple dignity in the character and life of 
President Harrison that endears his memory to every true 


heart wherever virtue and honest worth are acknowledged as 
sovereign factors in the elevation of humanity to the achieve- 
ment of its highest ideals. America comes more and more to 
realize what great men have been a part of her history, what 
a debt of gratitude she owes to those who, in differing degrees, 
have rendered such service to establish her upon the solid 
foundation whicli to-day she occupies. These men who have 
stood for something in their day, compare favorably with the 
leaders and statesmen of other lands and times; viewed from an 
impartial position each has played well his part in the drama 
of America's establishment. The different talents, the varied 
acquirements have been used to make the ISTation what it is, 
and, though men do not judge alike to-day or ever, they are 
more willing in this nineteenth century, as it seems, to value 
whatever is good, whatever makes for the prosperity of a peo- 
\)\e, even though the qualities displayed may not be in accord- 
ance with their own thought or judgment. So the just esti- 
mate of President Harrison makes prominent those principles 
of moderation, that temperance in all things, that well-balanced 
mind, those quahties of a successful military leader which 
were sufficient to distinguish this man above his fellows and 
render him capable of valuable service in behalf of his coun- 
try's advancement. His was a consistent, manly career, a life 
overflowing with benevolence and justice towards all, a respect 
for the rights of every human being, however degraded its 
condition. He was American to the centre of his personality; 
i-ejoiced in all her prosperity, advocating no reckless measures 
while he advised that moderation which the impetuous sons of 
the new Republic were sometimes slow to heed. Such men as 
William Henry Harrison leave better records for future gen- 
erations to admire than the more brilliant heroes of popular 
fancy, whose reputation, easily gained, is as easily forgotten 
in the progress of time. 




PRESIDENT, APRIL 4, 1841— MARCH 4, 184?, 







IT is good for the American people to remember that their 
leaders have frequently been men of lowly origin, that the 
log cabin fitly represents the humble birth-place of some 
heroic ones destined to fill highest offices and win their country- 
men's respectful homage. This truth has been so much dwelt 
upon that many doubt the genius of a man, unless his early sui- 
roundings were those of homespun inheritance, if not of actual 
poverty. While paying all honor to any who have made for 
themselves a name, coming from obscurity into the full light 
of a national reputation, there is nuich to commemorate in 
other prominent lives which have been developed by the 
influences of a cultured home, surrounded by the advantages 
of wealth and refinement. Some of the presidents of the United 
States were thus " born to the i)urple/' tracing their ancestry 
to distinguished men, and belonging to fiimilies of high social 
position. One of these favored ones was John Tyler, born 
March 29, 1790, at Greenway, in Charles City, County of 


The tenth Chief Magistrate of the nation was a precocious 
lad, devoting himself so assiduously to his studies that he 
entered William and Mary College well prepared, at an early 
age, gi-aduating from that institution when but seventeen 
years old. He studied law for a time under Edmund Randolph, 
and afterwards with his father, both of whom were dis- 
tinguished advocates, well known and highly esteemed 
throughout Virginia. Pie rapidly acquired distinction in the 
profession, and also gained a reputation for his knowledge of 
political matters, so that when he had but just attained his 
majority he was elected a member of the Virginia House of 
Delegates. Mr. Tyler, in December of the year 1811, took 
his seat in the legislature, where his abilities as a ready debater 
and eloquent speaker were quickly recognized. He served in 
this body for five successive years to the satisfaction of his 
constituents, who retained him in his seat by large majorities 
at each election. 

The military services of Mr. Tyler were not of great 
importance, although, at the time when British forces were 
threatening Norfolk and Kichmond, he raised a company of 
soldiers, of which he was placed in command, and with which 
he subsequently served in the Fifty-Second Regiment, stationed 
at Williamsburg. 

When but twenty-six years old, in 1816, Mr. Tyler was 
elected to Congress, soon becoming conspicuous for his skill 
in debate, as well as for his familiarity with the important 
questions discussed. He won distinction during his several 
terms of service; he was an intense worker, applied himself 
diligently to master the subjects of legislation, that he might 
best discharge the duties which devolved upon him. By close 
attention to official labors his health became affected, forcing 
him to resign his place in Congress. He returned to his home 
in Charles City County, and, rapidly regaining his usual 


health, entered with renewed ardor upon the practice of his 
profession. Soon after he again accepted an election to the 
legislature, exerting in that body a most pronounced influence. 
Mr. Tyler was elected Governor of Yirginia in 1825, and 
re-elected the following year, almost unanimously. His ad- 
ministration of this im]>ortant office was generally acceptable. 
He showed rare skill in composing sectional ditterences and 
assuaging the bitterness of party animosity, while he sought 
to stimulate the growth and development of his native state. 
At this time, when his popularity was greatest, he was elected 
to the United States Senate, succeeding Mr. John Randolph, 
the regular candidate of the Democratic party for re-election. 
Governor Tyler's victory, under these circumstances, was 
indeed a proof of the general esteem in which he was then held 
by the people of Yirginia. 

On the third of December, 1827, Mr. Tyler assumed the 
duties of Senator, at once allying himself with the opposers of 
President Adams' administration, notwithstanding the support 
he had received in the Yirginia Legislature from its friends. 
He was a strict constructionist of the Constitution, disposed 
to limit the powers of the general government, and to sustam 
the doctrine of state rights. He voted against the tarifi" bill 
of 1828, and most of the measures for internal improvements 
which came under consideration about this time. When 
Genei-al Jackson succeeded to the presidency. Senator Tyler 
gave the new administration his support, although often pur- 
siung an independent, not to say erratic course. He was 
in sympathy with Mr. Calhoun and the nullifiers of South 
Carolina, justifying their course on the extreme ground of 
state rights, while he was antagonistic to the efficient and 
patriotic course of President Jackson in seeking to compel the 
people of South Carolina to obey the laws. He gave vigorous 
opposition to the force bill, designed to provide for the collec- 


tion of the revenue in the disaffected region, and vesting 
extraordinary powers in the President. At a later period, 
however, he used his influence in favor of the compromise 
and pacification measures introduced into the Senate by his 
personal friend, Mi-. Clay. 

Senator Tyler was re-elected to the Senate for six years, 
dating from March 4, 1833. Though nominally identified with, 
and owing his election to the Democratic party, he severed 
himself from such party affiliation by voting to sustain the res- 
olutions introduced by Mr. Clay in 1834, censuring President 
Jackson for the removal of the public deposits, holding that 
he had exceeded his rightful authority in so doing. The Vir- 
ginia legislature instructed the senators from that State, in Feb- 
ruary 1836, to vote in favor of expunging from the Senate 
journal the resolutions censuring President Jackson. Sena- 
tor Tyler refused to obey these instructions, but held that it 
was not right for him to retain his seat after so refusing; 
therefore, he resigned his senatorship, three years only of his 
term having expired. His conduct in this matter was gener- 
ally commended and he lost nothing of reputation by making 
his action in this respect conform with his previous record. 

After his retirement to private life, in February, 1836, he 
again resumed the practice of law in Williamsburg, where he 
had removed his family two or three years previously. In the 
presidential campaign of 1836, the name of Mr. Tylei- was 
associated with that of General Harrison on the ticket sup- 
ported by the Whig party in some of the states; but Maryland 
was the only State which voted for Harrison that also gave its 
electoral vote to Mr. Tyler for Yice-President. He received, 
however, other votes from the state rights party of the South 
and West, which opposed Mr. Van Buren, so that in all he 
obtained forty-seven electoral votes for the office named. 

At a convention of the Whig party held in 1839 at Harris- 


bur«", Pennsylvania, to nominate candidates for President and 
Vice-President, Mr. Tyler, delegate irom Virginia, zealonsly 
snpported Mr. Clay for the first place. General Harrison, 
however, was nominated; then, as a sort of propitiation to the 
friends of the defeated candidate, Mr. Tyler was selected as 
candidate for the office of' Vice-President. This position was 
not thought to be specially important, no President having 
died in office; the idea of Mr. Tyler's ever suGceding to the 
presidency was not taken into account. Had it been, the choice 
of the convention would probably have fallen on some one 
more thoroughly committed to the policy of the Whig party, 
one on whom a greater confidence could be placed for his reli- 

The exciting campaign of 1840 has elsewhere been referred 
to; it is sufficient in this connection to state that it resulted in 
the triumphant election of General Harrison as President and 
Mr. Tyler as Vice-President. President Harrison died one 
month after his inauguration; Mr. Tyler, in accordance Avith 
the provisions of the constitution, succeeded to the presi- 
dency, Api-il 4, 1841. Two days later he took the oath of 
office as President and entered upon the responsible duties of 
that position. His course during the three years and eleven 
months of his presidential service greatly disappointed the 
political leaders of the country and almost completely estranged 
him from his former friends. It has well been said ot him that 
*' he lost the respect of the party by which he was elected 
without gaining that of their political opponents." He vetoed 
various measures supported by the party to which he owed his 
election and for the most part declined to act with the major- 
ity in Congress. His successive vetoes of bills to incorporate 
a national bank caused great indignation. He was accused of 
bad faith, of working for a re-nomination which he thought he 
might secure from the opposition, with whom he was most in 


sympathy, though he was not much liked or greatly trusted by 
them. His administration was characterized by sevei-al impor- 
tant acts and measures, one of them being the settlement of 
the difficulties with Great Britain, by the adjustment of the 
northeastern boundary between Canada and the United States. 
Another important negotiation was the treaty with China, 
Avhile the annexation of the republic of Texas awakened bitter 
opposition, partly because of the expenditure of money called 
for in assuming the Texas debt of $7,500,000, partly on 
account of the j^revailing idea at the ^orth that the new 
acquisition of territory was "to uphold the interests of slavery, 
extend its influence, and secure its permanent duration." 

It was probably a great relief to President Tyler, whose 
administration had been so generally unacceptable to the coun- 
try, when he could retire from office and enjoy his pleasant 
home at Shei'wood Forest, Charles City County, Virginia, 
where he passed the years of his age in comfort, until the 
beginning of the Civil War in 1861. Then his old ideas of 
state rights and his advocacy of Mr. Calhoun's doctrines led 
him to join the Confederates. He was afterwards chosen a 
member of the Confederate Congress, but his death occurred 
at Richmond, January 18, 1862, and he never served in that 

President Tyler was twice married, first to Miss Letitia 
Christian, who died in 1842, and was an invalid through much 
of her life. During his presidency, Mr. Tyler married Miss 
Gardiner of [N'ew York, whose father was killed by an explo- 
sion which occurred on the steamer Princeton, when Commo- 
dore Stockton was giving an entertainment to the government 
officials, the President being on board at the time, and two 
members of his Cabinet losing their lives by the disaster. The 
second Mrs. Tyler was a woman of distinguished appearance, 
who assumed more of the outward dignities of her position 
than any of her predecessors in the White House. 


History is truth itself, but the records of nations are not 
history till time has separated the wheat from the chaff, until 
the years have weighed men's actions in an even balance, 
adjusting rightly those influences and currents of thought not 
taken into account by a hasty judgment or the sentiment of 
the hour. While his best friend could hardly justify President 
Tyler for his action in some of the important issues of the day, 
his greatest enemy would acknowledge the many praiseworthy 
characteristics of his public and private life. He was a man 
of the world in the best sense of the phrase ; educated, not 
only in books, but in the school of experience. He was a firm 
friend to the small circle of intimates whom he loved, while he 
displayed eloquence and brilliancy, both in his famihar con- 
versation and in his public speeches. His life was beset with 
many trials; he forfeited in later years the public confidence 
which he had held to so great a degree during his earlier politi- 
cal career, and he was tried in ways as unusual as they were 
severe. He would have been censured, whatever his course, 
even though it followed the best promptings of his nature, for 
his position, surrounded by difficulties, allowed of no popular 
way to overcome the murmurs and dissatisfaction incident to 
his administration. The world, very apt to give publicity to 
the failings of great men, will slowly learn to remember Pres- 
ident Tyler for the virtues he displayed, those excellent traits 
of character which ought to do something towards blotting 
out the record of the many errors he so prominentl}' exhibited 
during the later years of his public service. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1845 — MARCH 4, 1849. 





LANGUAGE, in maintaining a continuity of existence, 
has merged within itself varied elements; the English 
tongue has assimilated words and phrases from all cor- 
ners of the earth. Many familiar names, common in America, 
are corruptions, referring back to the time of the Norman con- 
quest, or to the lands of the Celtic kings. Whenever the sons 
of this new world can trace their ancestry through many gen- 
erations, they may be sure that their name, perhaps in some 
different form, has crossed the ocean from its former European 
home, probably France or Great Britain. The ancestors of 
James Polk were of Scoto-Irish origin ; they bore the name of 
Pollok, easily contracted into Polk by the family that left Ire- 
land and settled in America some time during the eighteenth 
century. The father of the future President was a farmer, 
living in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, when James 
Knox Polk was born, November 2, 1795. 

There were ten children to be reared in this home, removed 
soon after the birth of the eldest son, James, to the region of 
the Duck river in Tennessee. Samuel Polk, though a man of 


small resources, possessed the spirit of enteriDrise, combined 
with energy, in all his pursuits. He actively engaged in the 
work of farming, occupying himself also with the duties of a 
surveyor, thus being able to comfortably provide for his large 
family, and, in later years, to amass a considerable foi'tune. 
The son James gained exjDeriences connected with both these 
occupations, learned to endure the hardships of joiu-neys 
through the wilderness of that region, as well as to conform to 
the more prosaic discipline connected with a boy's life on a 
farm. He early developed a fondness for nature, was also inter- 
ested in his studies, while from both parents he received lessons 
of industry, thrift and promptness, necessary requisites foi- 
success in life. 

The lad was a bright scholar, but not being physically 
strong, it was thought best that he should be fitted for some 
trade or business; accordingly he became a clerk, although 
having no liking for such occupation. He was so unhaj^py 
during a few weeks' trial of this kind of work, that his fathei- 
decided to send him to Murfreesborough Academy, where he 
remained about two years, until prepared for the Sophomore 
class in college. He entered the University of North Caro- 
lina, on Chapel Hill, receiving high honors Avhen he graduated 
therefrom in the year 1818. 

When Mr. Polk left college his health was impaired, as. a 
result of the close attention he had given to his studies, rest 
and change being needed that he might gain physical strength. 
After a brief period of leisure, he resumed his studies, this 
time those of law, under Mr. Felix Grundy of ^N^ashville. He 
was admitted to the bar in 1820, and shortly afterwards began 
the practice of his profession in Columbia. At once success 
attended his efforts. His abilities, his logical powers of rea- 
soning, his methodical habits, helped him greatly in becoming 
an eminent lawyer; not more so, perhaps, than that gracious 


oliarm of maiiiicr, that winning ])ers(>nalitj, which hkuIc him 
popular anioiig-liis associates in society and business circles. 

Mr. Polk's entrance into i)olitics dates from the year 182:), 
when he was cliosen to rc])i-esent his county in the state legis- 
lature. He identified himself with the Republican ])arty, and 
as a personal as well as a ])olitical friend of (ieneral Jackson, 
helped in tlie election of that distinguished mnii to the United 
States Senate. In August, 1825, Mr. Polk was chosen to i-c])- 
resent his district in Congi-ess, to which position lie was i-e- 
elected every succeeding two years until 1839. He advocated 
the ideas of Jefferson and Jackson, being ranked as a demo- 
cratic Republican of the strictest sect, holding persistentK to 
his oi^iiiioiis throughout all i)arty mutations. Pie opposed the 
administi-ation of President John Quincy Adams, while he 
ardently supported in Congress the i)olicy of President Jack- 
son during his terms of service. Mr. Polk's reputation and 
influence were undoubtedly great, by reason of his extraordi- 
nary energy, his indomitable will, his powers of close a])j)lica- 
tion to whatever engaged his earnest attention. 

His ten years' service in Congress fitted him for the ele- 
vated position of speaker, to which he was twice chosen by 
his associates, in the years 1835-7. In this important station 
there was o])])ortunity to display all the skill of ])olitician and 
statesman, j Popular with his own party, Mi-. Polk's abilities 
were recognized by many of his opponents; and his decisions 
as speaker upon questions of parliamentary law, many of them 
complex and difficult, were uniformly sustained. 

In the year 18;)9, after fouiteen years' service in Congress, 
during which time Mr. Polk was never absent from the sittings 
of the House, except on a single occasion, he declined to l)e a 
candidate for re-election. That same year he was elected 
governor of Tennessee; he served one term, but was defeated 
for re-election, and, on becoming a candidate, in 1843, again 


i ailed to secure the executive chair. He now enjoyed for a 
little time the quiet home life in the family circle where he dis- 
played so many of the charming characteristics of his nature. 
He had married in his early manhood Miss Sarah Childers, of 
Tennessee, a woman of dignified personal appearance, who 
possessed much executive ability; was a notable housekeeper 
as well as an intelligent companion and admirable hostess. 
There were no children born to this couple, and when they 
occupied the White House it offered few attractions for youth- 
ful visitors, though it afforded cheerful surroundings for many 
older guests. Mr. Polk drew towards him numerous warm 
friends, for he possessed ready sympathies, had always a kind 
word of greeting, was courteous to everyone, betraying an 
honest interest in the well-being of his neighbors. 

These uneventful years of Mr. Polk's life were followed by 
his nomination as a candidate for the presidency, Henry Clay 
being the opposing candidate. Mr. Polk was elected by a 
majority of sixty-five electoral votes. One of the main issues 
of the campaign was the annexation of Texas, a measure 
strongly advocated by Mr. Polk, and consummated by Presi- 
dent Tyler just before the close of his presidential career. The 
new administration found itself confronted with many and 
serious difficulties growing out of this measure, and war with 
Mexico soon ensued. Mr. Polk felt the embarrassment of the 
situation, and much regretted the disruption of friendly rela- 
tions with that country which occurred shortly after his inau- 
guration. As a strong advocate of the annexation of Texas, 
he did not hesitate to join issue with Mexico in the alternative 
presented. He was in thorough accord with that section of 
the Democratic party which had done so much to bring about 
the result accomplished in the closing days of the administra- 
tion of his immediate predecessor, and he was resolute to keep 
and defend the acquisition thus gained at all hazards. Presi- 


dent Polk was sustained in his war policy against Mexico by 
a large majority in Congress, the whole force of the United 
States being ])laced at his disposal to enable him to prosecute 
the war to a si)eedy and successfnl termination. 

In the Noi-thern States the Mexican war was regarded with 
much disfavor, and the President lost popularity from this cause. 
In the Southwestern States, however, a different feeling jn-e- 
vailed; vohuiteei'S came readily to the aid of General Taylor, 
who led an army of some ten thousand soldiers across the bor- 
der, ibught several battles and gained signal victories. At a 
later date. General Scott, at the head of a victorious army, 
entered the capital and took possession of the city of Mexico. 
This was on Sept. 14, 1847. Negotiations for peace resulted 
in the " Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo," by which Mexico ceded 
'Ne^y Mexico and California to the United States and agreed 
that the Rio Grande river should be the boundary line between 
herself and Texas, thus giving up a vast territory to this couu- 
try. The United States government, however, by the terms 
of the treaty, agreed to pay to Mexico |15,000,000, besides 
paying all the claims of citizens of this country against Mex- 
ico. That President Polk was greatly elated over the results 
of the Mexican war cannot be doubted. lYe may well believe 
that he justified to himself the course pursued by this country 
in its aggressive dealings with Mexico, and wresting from her 
as the "spoils of war" such innnense grants of tei'ritory; but 
had he been a less ardent upholder of slaveiy he would ])r()b- 
ably have been somewhat less enthusiastic both as regards the 
annexation of Texas and the prosecution of a war which was 
disapproved by so many of his countrymen. 

Another act of his administration was of quite a different 
character. This was the settlement of the Oregon boundary 
dispute between Great Britain and the United States. Presi- 
di^nt Polk believed the American title to be good to tlu- wlioK- 


territory, but favored a compromise, which was finally brought 
about, the boundary line being fixed at the forty-ninth degree 
ol' nortli latitude. In this adjustment of a long standing dif- 
ference between the two nations the wise and conciHatory 
thought of the Pi'esident was consiiicuous. While he did not 
actually direct the negotiations resulting in the treaty made at 
Washington in June, 1846, and ratified by the Senate the same 
month, he yet made the influence of his own good judgment, 
not less than his official position, felt in the determination thus 

There were other acts belonging to the administration of 
President Polk that were of a most important and creditable 
character, and during the four years in which he held the high- 
est office in the gift of the American people, our conntry 
gained wonderfully in many of the elements which mark mate- 
rial pi'ogress and prosperity. Three new states, Texas, Iowa 
and Wisconsin, were added to the Union ; there were immense 
territorial acquisitions, togethei' with a gratifying increase in 
wealth and population ; and the influence of the President was 
i-ecognized as a factor in many movements that tended to 
advance the Nation's glory and strength. He was an ai-dent 
npholder of slavery, however, and his views and acts had much 
to do with the deepening of feeling on that question — a feel- 
ing which in the ISTorth became so prominent in the last year 
of Mr. Polk's administration as to lead to the formation of the 
" Free Soil '' party, out of which grew the Republican organ- 
ization which finally obtained control of the government. 

At the inauguration of President Taylor, Mr. Polk was a 
pi'ominent figure. After joining heartily in the celebration 
incident to this occasion, the ex-President left Washington, 
intending to reach his home in Nashville, Tennessee, by a 
somewhat circuitous route. During his journey through sev- 
ei-al of the States he received ovations from his countrymen, 


as they honored, witli appropriate demonstrations, the man of 
sterhng worth who liad <^iven the best jji'oof of his love for 
American institutions by renderin<^ sucli efficient aid in their 
l)ehalf during the long years of his public service. 

His mau}^ friends at !N^ashville cordially welcomed Mr. 
Polk and his devoted Avife, and the future seemed to hold in 
store for them many temporal blessings. The former Presi- 
dent was comj)aratively a young man, but fifty-four years of 
age ; with erect i rame and great intellectual powers, he seemed 
destined to exert a helpful influence for a long period ol" time, 
altliough retii'ed from the activity and anxieties attendant uj)on 
tile holding of public office. His death, however, occuri'cd 
shortly after his return to Nashville, June 15, 1849, when he 
sank peacefully to sleep at tlie close of several days of intense 
suffering. All through the Nation there was mourning for the 
death of so true a man; the honors paid to the distinguished 
dead were no empty tributes or meaningless forms, but ex- 
pressed a sense of personal bereavement as well as grief for 
the Nation's loss. 

The distinguishing characteristics of President Polk, shown 
in his student life, were as prominent during his later man- 
hood as in the college days, when it was said of him that he 
was always prompt at every recitation, and gave the best atten- 
tion possible to whatever was the occupation of the hour. 
These qualities of punctuality, promptness, and the ])ower he 
possessed to concentrate his attention distinguished his career 
as a statesman, and made possible the best results of his un- 
tiring, well-directed energy. He was conscientious in fulfill- 
ing the tasks which lay nearest him, however unimportant they 
might seem to the casual observer, always showing that 
laithfulness to duty which was a j)art of his nature, revealed 
in liis private life as well as during his term of service as 
President of the American Nation. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1849 — JULY 9> 1850. 






IN looking backward to the men foremost in establishing 
this Kepublic, they compare favorably with those pi-omi- 
nent in the American history of to-day. It is only when 
we regard the outward conditions of this new world, then and 
now, that we come to realize the great progress of the Nation 
in all that makes for the best civilization. Men were heroes 
and leaders in those early days; but the material resources, 
now available for the service of American interests, were not 
theirs to command, while the story of early struggles in the 
wilderness indicates the great strides which comparatively few 
years have witnessed in the material prosperity of our cc»un- 
try. With a foundation into which has gone the sacrifice and 
work of men honored in every time, the future results could 
not fail to be those of successful achievement; but the rapid 
growth in all the advantages of civilization has far exceeded 
the limits prophesied of by the fathers. Up to the life time of 
the twelfth President of this Republic the West and South 
were lacking in many extrinsic aids to prosperity. Alth<>ni;h 


Zachary Taylor was born November 24, 1784, in Orange 
County, Yirginia, his parents, the year following, removed to 
Louisville, Kentucky, and the lad was brought up in this little 
settlement, the humble beginning of the prosperous city which 
now bears the name. 

This rough life, combined with the inherited tendencies from 
his father, a trusty soldier of the Revolution, brought out the 
military qualities and likings which were so soon apparent in 
the boyish nature. He was a soldier from the very beginning, 
not as all boys are Avho play with toy-drums and wear a min- 
iature sword, but as one who fully realized what duty to his 
country meant, the hardships it involved. In the training as 
a farmer's boy, as well as during the little school education 
which he received, he was decisive and quick in his actions, 
somewhat blunt, yet frank in speech, honest in thought and 
deed, impetuous, ready to encounter personal risk, yet obedi- 
ent, as he felt every true soldier ought to be. 

Colonel Taylor was as much delighted as his son Zachary, 
when, in 1808, the young man, then twenty-four years of age^ 
received a commission as Lieutenant in the United States army. 
There was no question in his mind as to whether or not he 
should accept the position ; he felt that he was fitted for a sol- 
diei", and applying himself diligently to the duties required, he 
soon came to be regarded as a capable, trustworthy officer. It 
was about this time that he married Miss Margaret Smith, 
whose home was in Maryland. 

The Indian attack led by the famous chief Tecumseh 
against Fort Harrison was an opportunity for Captain Taylor, 
who, in defense of the fort, gained distinction for his courage 
and skill. He was publicly complimented by General Hop- 
kins for his conduct of this afiair and was promoted to the rank 
of Major. His energy and coolness characterized his leader- 
shi]) in the various movements against the British and Indians, 


which were terminated by tlie restoration of peace with Great 
Britain, in 1815. At that time Major Taylor resigned his com- 
mission, his intention being- to engage in agricnltural })ursuits 
for a time at liis liome in Louisville. After a year spent in 
this wa}^ he was re-instated in tlie army, resnming his duties 
with renewed ai'dor, rendering such efficient service that he 
was promoted to the rank oC Colonel in 1832. He was ex- 
tremely popular among the soldiers because he cheerfully bore 
his part with them in any danger or hardship, and had a stock 
of sound common sense which they could respect. His early 
op})ortunities had been fcAV, but he had profited by his expe- 
riences; was skilled in Indian Avarfare; his habits of disci- 
jjline and study still aided him, and he became an intrepid, 
wise commander. 

The conduct of the Seminole war aroused much criticism 
in the United States because of an alleged undue harshness in 
dealing with that ferocious tribe of Indians. Its result, in the 
dispersion of the Seminoles to the west banks of the Missis- 
si p))i caused general satisfaction, however, and was a signal 
victory for Colonel Taylor, who, by reason of his military skill 
and services in this connection, was elevated to the rank of 
Brigadier-General and ap})ointed to the chief command of the 
army of the Southwest. During this time, while faithfully, yet 
in a very quiet manner, discharging his military duties, he 
bouglit a plantation near Baton Kouge, La., where he estab- 
lished his family in a comfortable, well cared for home. 

It was not possible, however, for a military man like Gen- 
eral Taylor to remain in obscurity while his country was agi- 
tated by the difficulties brought into prominence during the 
presidential campaign of 1814. Mr. Polk, a friend of slavery, 
and a pronounced champion of the annexation of Texas, was 
llie successful candidate for election as President, and in this 
state of affairs it became ap])arent that war with Mexico was 


inevitable. General Taylor was directed to hold his troops in 
readiness for service along the frontier. He did this, but re- 
fused to enter upon aggressive measures to bring about a col- 
lision with Mexico, or to undertake any forward movements 
upon his own responsibility. As a good soldier he waited for 
instructions and obeyed orders. In March, 1846, in accordance 
with a command from President Polk, Genei-al Taylor ad- 
vanced his army to the banks of the Kio Grande, claimed as 
the boundary line between Texas and Mexico. The Mexican 
government had already ordered its troops to the same local- 
ity, so that it was evident a conflict must soon take place. 

During the months of April and May, 1846, the American 
army met the enemy in several severe engagements, being vic- 
tors in every case. In his oflScial reports concerning these 
battles General Taylor said: " Our victory has been decisive. 
A small force has overcome immense odds of the best troops 
that Mexico can furnish — veteran regiments perfectly equipped 
and appointed. Eight pieces of artillery, several colors and 
standards, a great number of prisoners, including fourteen 
officers, and a large amount of baggage and personal property 
have fallen into our hands. The causes of victory are doubt- 
less to be found in the superior quality of our officers and 

The conlluct of the commanding officer in all these engage- 
ments was worthy of the praise it called forth* from military 
men and those in authority. Congress conferred the rank of 
Major-General upon the successful commander, and compli- 
mented his bravery by appropriate resolutions. So much of 
confidence was felt in his abilities as a military leader that his 
troops were reinforced hj volunteers, money and supplies were 
voted him, and he was thus prepared for the encounters which 
quickly followed. 

The battle of Monterey was won by the Americans after 


days of hard fighting, against great odds, both of position and 
numbers. General Ampiidia leading the defeated forces. Gen- 
ei-al Taylor's course in treating with the Mexicans was criti- 
cised on the ground that he liad allowed them too favorable 
terms. This occasion of dissatisfaction with him, felt at Wash- 
ington, together with the influence of political intrigues, per- 
liaps, caused the order, given to a considei-able part of General 
I'aylor's trooi)s, that they should join the Ibrce of General 
Scott, then about to attack Vera Cruz, preparatory to liis con- 
templated advance on the City of Mexico. General Taylor 
showed his patriotism, his true soldierly instincts, by obeying 
this order to send the best part of his troops to the support of 
(xeneral Scott, changing his plans so as to stand, for the time, 
only on the defensive. 

General Santa Anna saw what seemed to be his opportu- 
nity to crush the reduced forces imder General Taylor, and 
moved rapidly upon them with his large, well-disciplined army, 
giving battle at the pass of Buena Vista, February 22, 1847. 
Although this encounter did not end the war, it being left with 
General Scott to conduct skillful military operations until the 
capital of Mexico was taken and the spirit of its people broken, 
it was in fact the turning point of the long struggle, and prop- 
erly ranks as one of the most notable battles in American liis- 
tory. During the two days' fighting at Buena Yista, General 
Taylor displayed again his qualities of military leadership, 
showing judgment in selecting the position for his men and in 
directing their movements, while he inspired his troops to 
bravery by his own courage and his coolness in confronting 
the dangers to which he was constantly exposed. 

The counti-y, thoroughly awakened to the heroic virtues 
of General Taylor, now rang with his praises; "Old Rough 
and Ready " was transformed into the " hero of Buena Vista." 
His growing fame and popularity caused him to be spoken of 


as a candidate for the presidency. General Taylor distrusted 
his fitness foi- that position. He liad taken no part in political 
affairs, had seldom voted, and had never held public office. 
He was, however, nominated by the Whig Convention held in 
Philadelpliia, June 1, 1848, and elected President in the No- 
vember following, over General Lewis Cass, the Democratic 
candidate, and ex-Pi-esident Van Buren, candidate of the Free 
Soil party. 

President Taylor was inaugurated at Washington, Mai-ch 
4, 1849, after having resigned his army commission with a 
record for forty years' consecutive military service. lie was 
greatly tried and perplexed during his administration of politi- 
cal affairs. His training had not been that of a statesman or 
political leader, but his natural shrewdness, his practical judg- 
ment, his insight into what was best for his country, enabled 
him to do excellent service as the executive head of the gov- 
ernment. The exciting questions of slavery were still agitated 
through the land, the purchase of Cuba and the admission of 
California caused much feeling and discussion. The President 
helped still the waves of dissension, won the hearts of those 
associated with him in administering the government, while his 
countrymen generally appreciated his efforts to faithfully dis- 
charge the duties of his position, never shirking the res]:)onsi- 
bilities which at times weighed heavily upon him. 

It was after a 3 ear of conflict, more trying to the great 
soldier than all his encounters on the battle field, that Presi- 
dent Taylor ended his mortal career, dying, after a brief ill- 
ness, July 9, 1850, one year, four months, and five days after 
his inauguration. Everywhere in the land there Avas mourn- 
ing for the kindly man, the gallant soldier, who had so warm 
a place in the affections of the American people. 

The story of the Mexican war, possessed of nuich roman- 
tic historical interest, is inseparably connected with the fame 


of General Taylor, luaking evident his prowess in the condiKi 
of battles, and his reputation as a ])opular officer to whom liis 
troops were personally attached. More f i-equently is he i-cnicm- 
bered as the hero ol' J5uena Yista than as America's Cliii'l' 
Magistrate, though in the latter position he Avas far from bei!ig 
a nonentity or unfitted for his responsible duties. A true man 
is of value to his country whatever his capacities, if an honest 
heart beats in defense of his nation's liberty, of truth and the 
right. President Taylor was this and more. He was plain, 
simple in his tastes, possessed of little scholastic learning, yet 
his intellectual powers were not to be denied, his sound, i)ra(- 
tical wisdom not to be gainsaid. His life was not si)ent in the 
political arena, yet he had learned enough of statesmanshii) to 
skillfully grapple with the issues of the day, to shrewdly esti- 
mate men and aifairs, so that he was not often misled or easily 
influenced. His pleasant, cordial manners did not proceed 
from a weak desire to court favor, but expressed his sym])a- 
thetic feelings, which, however, did not lead him into erroi-s of 
judgment or to vacillating oi)inions. As a quick, bold, decis- 
ive commander of armies, so he was an energetic, firm Pn>i- 
dent,his true patriotism urging* him to every service which his 
country might command. Cai-ried into office by the enthusi- 
asm which his great generalship had aroused, he did not allow 
himself to be regarded simply as the popular hero of the lu»ur; 
he at once directed his energies to establishing his re})utati<)n 
as President upon something more enduring than the reflected 
glory of his military career; he was sincere, faithful to evei-y 
trust conunitted to his keeping, a man of the people, a icpre- 
sentative American, worthy to be enrolled among the noble 
few Avhose names are interwoven with the fibi-e of onr national 




PRESIDENT, JULY g, 1850 — MARCH 4, 185 






THE public school system of America, now so firmly estab- 
lished, has been of gradual growth, beginning in the 
log cabins of the IS^ew World settlers, Avhere teachers and 
pupils together struggled with the " three R's," among primi- 
tive surroundings and with few facilities for the pursuit of 
learning. The architectural pretensions of the modern school 
buildings mark progress in the estimate placed upon the value 
of a free education ', but it must be remembered that in those 
days there were pioneers of this movement, or the log cabin 
school-houses would never have been builded by men forced 
to work early and late to keep their families from absolute 
want. Honor is due to those who believed in the benefits of a 
public school education when the thought was not popular as 
now ; to those among the early settlers of our country who 
fostered the germ which has ripened into the present broad 
system, capable of such glorious results. One who thus appre- 
ciated the advantages of education was the father of Millard 
Fillmore, thirteenth President of the United States. This 
liberal-minded man, of Massachusetts origin, removed his fam- 


ily to what is now Summer Hill, in Cayuga County, New 
York, in the year 1795, and the son, Millard, was born there, 
January 7, 1800. 

This region was then but sparsely settled, the schools 
offered few advantages, books were expensive luxuries not to 
be indulged in by the farmers of that region, the most pros- 
perous of whom were in somewhat humble circumstances. 
Both the parents of Millard Fillmore, however, encouraged 
his liking for intellectual pursuits and his desire for knowledge, 
though they could do little towards placing him in a position 
where his intelligent mind could be developed to its full extent. 
When a lad of fourteen years he was sent to a mill in Living- 
ston County, to learn a clothier's trade. He was a diligent 
worker, but in his leisure hours he devoted himself to reading 
all the books available, specially those of travel, history, and bi- 
ography. He thus rapidly trained his mental powers, while he 
acquired much information useful to him in his after life. 

The lad of studious habits, quick intelligence and prepos- 
sessing appearance attracted the attention of Judge Wood, a 
man of kindly nature, who became friend and benefactor to the 
young clothier, taking him into his law office and giving him 
pecuniary aid for the pursuit of legal studies. Appreciating 
the advantages thus offered, Mr. Fillmore worked steadily in 
the way of preparation for several years under the guidance 
of Judge Wood, and afterwards in a law office of Buffalo, pay- 
ing his necessary expenses in that city by teaching school. 
He was admitted to practice as a lawyer in 1823, and at that 
time established his residence in Aurora, Erie County, where 
his father had removed a few years before. In 1826 Mr. Fill- 
more married Miss Abigail Powers, the youngest child of Rev. 
Lemuel Powers of that village. 

After a few years spent in a course of extended reading 
and the regular routine of a lawyer's life in a secluded village, 


Mr. Fillmore returned to Buffalo and entered into partnership 
with two distinguished members of the bar in that city. Al- 
though his early education had been restricted, he partially 
made up for the defect by his diligence in the preparation of 
later years, so that, as opportunities were offered, he rapidly 
acquired a reputation for talents of a high order, for industry 
us well as ability in his profession. 

During this period of his life Mr. Fillmore became actively 
interested in politics, having been chosen in 1829 a member of 
the State Legislature from Erie County. The Whig party, to 
which he belonged, was then in the minority in ^ew York, 
nevertheless he exerted considerable influence, and was the 
principal mover in helping to secure the passage of the law 
abolishing imprisonment for debt, his speeches on the subject 
winning admiration for their clear, logical presentation of the 
matter. He continued to ably serve his constituents in the 
House of Assembly until 1832, when, in the autumn of that 
year, he was elected to Congress. In this capacity his abili- 
ties were more widely recognized, as there were greater oppor- 
tunities foi- the display of intellectual gifts and political ac- 
quirements. But in this body, as in the State Legislature, 
Mr. Fillmore, being in the minority, was unable to render any 
large service, or make himself specially conspicuous, though 
he performed all his Congressional duties with characteristic 

With the ex])iration of his term of office he resumed the 
practice of law in Buff'alo, continuing it for two years. In 
1836 he again consented to be a candidate, and was re-elected 
to Congress, being kept in that office by successive elections 
until 1842, when he declined further service. During these 
later years of his Congressional career, he held a foremost 
position as one of the leaders of his party, was popular througli- 
out the State, and acquired a national i-eputation. He was pains- 


taking and industrious in performing the duties incident to his 
position; he was skilled in debate, the solid basis of legal knowl- 
edge which he possessed enabling him to discuss public inter- 
ests without special preparation. He was called to responsi- 
ble labors as chairman of the Committee on "Ways and Means, an 
office which required all the intellectual resources, the quick per- 
ceptions, the constant attention which he devoted to its service. 
During his several terms in office he was identified with many 
notable measures. He held pronounced views in the matter 
of protection, and was influential in securing many of thepro- 
\'isions incorporated into the tariff of 1842. ^N^aturally con- 
servative in feeling, he yet favored the restriction of slavery 
in the District of Columbia, the abolition of the slave trade 
between the States, and stood with John Quincy Adams in 
support of the rights of all persons, including women and 
slaves, to petition Congress. He left his place in the House 
of Representatives with an honorable record for his work in 
behalf of his country's interests, while his retirement from 
office was deplored by his party and constituents. 

For a brief period only was Mr. Fillmore relieved from an 
active participation in political affairs, for in 1844 he wasnom- 
inated^by the Whig party as candidate for Governor of !N'ew 
York. He was defeated, however, after an exciting canvass, 
by the opposing candidate, Mr. Silas "Wright; but he drew tq 
his support the full strength of his party. In 1847 he was 
elected State Comptroller. He resigned his lucrative profes- 
sional practice in Buffalo to assume this position, removing to 
Albany shortly after his election, that he might better dis- 
charge the labors which devolved upon the incumbent of that 
important public trust. 

Mr. Fillmore at this period was popular with his party, both 
in New York and beyond its limits. He had made an excel- 
lent record, and shown many statesmanlike qualities. His gen- 


eral reputation was that of a wise and skillful political leader, 
Avho well deserved to be called to a higher place than any he 
had yet filled. When the Whig Convention met at Harris- 
burg, Pennsylvania, in June, 1848, to nominate candidates for 
President and Vice-President, it selected for the first office 
General Zachary Taylor, famous as a soldier, but untrained in 
civil matters, and greatly deficient in knowledge of political 
aflPairs. In view of this selection it was thought best to asso- 
ciate with the popidar soldier a man versed in government 
matters and more of a statesman, and therefore Millard Fill- 
more, holding the esteem of his party, was its choice as candi- 
date for Vice-President. The election of 1848 resulted in the 
success of the Whig ticket, General Taylor and Mr. Fillmore 
being inaugurated in their respective positions March 4, 1849. 

As the presiding officer of the Senate, Vice-President Fill- 
more showed marked ability, was dignified, firm, and always 
maintained order and decorum in debate. The exciting ques- 
tion of slavery aroused great interest on both sides. Party 
feeling was intense, the whole country was in a fevered condi- 
tion; there were strong men in the Senate, and to preside over 
its deliberations called for more than ordinary mental equip- 
ment, but Mr. Fillmore was able to meet all the requirements 
which the position demanded. After this preparation there 
was soon to ensue a more responsible and trying charge. 
President Taylor died July 9, 1850, and Mr. Fillmore was his 
constitutional successor in office. 

Thus unexpectedly called to assume the arduous duties of 
this exalted station, it yet seemed that Mr. Fillmore had special 
fitness for the discharge of the duties thus devolved upon him. 
He encountered many difficulties during the nearly three years 
of his career as Chief Magistrate, one obstacle being that the 
party in opposition was in the majority in both Houses of 
Congress for the greater part of this time. President Fillmore 


did not win the entire approbation of his party associates, 
much less of the people of the country. He disappointed the 
expectations of the ^orth by approving the Fugitive Slave 
Law, and issuing a proclamation calling upon government offi- 
cials to enforce its provisions. The various compromise meas- 
ures regarding slavery adopted during his administration 
were by no means successful in conciliating the South, while 
they intensified the anti-slavery opinions of the !N^orth and 
resulted in the disruption of the Whig party. 

Among the pleasant features which were notably associ- 
ated with the nearly three years in which President Fillmore 
was at the head of the government, were the reception of the 
Hungarian patriot, Kossuth, the sending of an embassy, under 
Commodore Perry, to Japan, the passage of an act securing 
cheaper rates of postage for the American people. In recall- 
ing the history of this administration, not altogether a suc- 
cessful one, the discretion, faithfulness and ability of the Pres- 
ident are now admitted, however much of adverse criticism 
some of his acts may seem to deserve. In the clearer judg- 
ment of to-day more allowance is made for the mistakes he 
committed, while it is seen that these mistakes are offset by the 
earnest efforts he made to promote good feeling between the 
different sections of the country and to advance its interests. 
It is now generally conceded that he was " always honest, 
capable, and faithful to the constitution." 

Just before the expiration of his term of office Mrs. Fill- 
more died. The President, accompanied by his son and 
daughter, left Washington soon after the inauguration of his 
successor, and again entered upon the life of a private citizen 
in Buffalo. In 1858 he married Mrs. Carolina M'Intosh, of 
Albany, and not afterwards taking an active part in public 
affairs, he was able to enjoy his home and follow the quiet pur- 
suits in which he took so much delight. 


1 1 1 

His views upon the questions of national interest were 
often sought, and sometimes freely given. On several^ occa- 
sions after his retirement from the Presidency he. was called 
upon for public addresses, in which he avowed his opinions in 
a way to command attention. In one of these addresses he 
exjjressed a wish that both Canada and Mexico might be an- 
nexed to the United States. At one time he was prominent in 
the ^N^ative American party, and was named as its candidate 
for President. When the storm of Civil War broke upon the 
land Mr. Fillmore kept silence. ]S"either then, nor afterward 
during the four years' struggle, did he speak the approving 
word which would have been most encouraging to patriotic 
heai'ts at a time when the American Union was in direst peril. 

The ex-President died March 8, 1874, in Buffalo, New 
York, that city having been his residence for much the greater 
part of his life. He was held in high esteem by those who 
stood nearest to him — his neighbors, associates and personal 
friends. Whatever differmg regard there may be as to some 
acts of his public career, this approving estimate is greatly to 
his credit. There can be no question as to the uprightness 
which marked his private life, nor the conscientious devotion 
with which he applied himself to the discharge of all official 
trusts. His plain, simple manners were never altered by the 
honors which he received, and his dignified, courteous bearing 
was the same throughout his long life, in the various conditions 
and circumstances by which he was influenced. To a man of 
this stamp there is due a meed of praise because of his intelli- 
gent labors, however much of criticism may attach to his plans 
of work, ideas of public policy, and some of his official acts. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1853 — MARCH 4, 1857. 






IN this land of ours, where the distinctions between the rich 
and poor are not so marked as in the older nations, the 
home life of all its families has much in common. From 
these homes arises a bond of union, linking together lives which 
share the domestic atmosphere surrounding alike the fireside 
groups in the mansion of the millionaire, and those in the poor 
man's humble cottage. The early American settlers did more 
than eke out , a scanty existence on the shores of the N^ew 
World; they founded homes whose influence has extended 
until the present day, a means of strength and blessing to the 
Nation. That this common sympathy exists is proved by the 
interest shown in the private life of distinguished citizens, as 
well as by the fact that biography deals more and more largely 
with the surroundings, conditions, the birthplace and home life 
of its subject, instead of closely confining itself to public 
events or the incidents contributing to a national i-eputation. 


Among the happy homes situated among the hills of ^N'ew 
England four score years ago, was that of General Pierce, a 
soldier in the Revoluti m, afterwards an energetic citizen who 
had acquired some littl _' property, had made for his family a 
comfortable dwelling-place, and was honored by several respon- 
sible public positions, among them that of Grovernoi* of his 
State, just tributes to his intelligence and worth. His wife 
helped in the establishment of that home, was true-hearted, 
prudent and refined, a faithful companion, a loving, wise, and 
devoted mother. Here, in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, 
November 23, 1804, was born Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth 
President of the United States. 

This boy, one of a family of eight children, was a bright 
and promising lad, entering Bowdoin College, Brunswick, 
Maine, when sixteen years old. During the four years spent 
in college he was noted for his agreeable, courteous manners, 
which attracted to him many friends among the students and 
those connected with the institution. Two of the acquaint- 
ances made thus early in his career were the poet Longfellow 
and the gifted writer Hawthorne, who, associated with him in 
college days, continued to be his life-long friends. 

After his graduation from Bowdoin, in 1824, he studied law 
under the direction of Judge Woodbury, of Portsmouth, 
aftei-wards with Judge Parker, of Amherst, his admission to 
the bar occurring in the year 1827. In addition to his profes- 
sional interests, Mr. Pierce was early inclined to take active 
part in politics. An ardent Democrat, he warmly supported 
the general principles of his party, and earnestly advocated, by 
speech and with his pen, the election of General Jackson to 
the presidency. Mr. Pierce's official political labors dated 
from his entrance into the State Legislature, in 1829. He 
served in this capacity for several terms, being chosen speaker 
of that body in the year 1832, an office for which he was 


specially qualified by reason of his gifts, and which he filled 
to the general acceptance. Elected in 1838 to Congress, he 
gained little influence and did not attract much attention for 
his services in this direction. He was, however, popular 
throughout his State, as was shown by his election to the 
United States Senate in 1837. While there he gained no con- 
spicuous rank, though he was able in debate, and conscientious 
in his performance of all official duties. 

In the year following his election as Senator Mr. Pierce 
married Miss Jane Means Appleton, and enjoyed establishing, 
with her aid, a pleasant home at Concord, the capital of his 
native State. He resigned his position as Senator in the year 
1842, engaging in the jDractice of his j^i'ofession, achieving 
more than ordinary success. He declined at this time the offer 
of a position in the Cabinet of President Polk, also refusing 
the proffered nomination as candidate for Governor of New 
York. He now devoted thought and energies to his large law 
practice, evincing an excellent quality of mind, as well as the 
possession of many legal accomplishments, in caring for his 
clients' interests. He achieved wonderful success as a lawyer, 
his popularity doubtless depending not only u23on the mental 
powers and intellectual training which he displayed, but also 
upon his gracious, urbane manners; his great personal magnet- 
ism influencing juries as it influenced all his associates. 
Never was a man more courteous in his treatment of friends 
and foes; he was always calm, moderate, and even-tempered, 
however trying the occasion or vexatious the circumstances. 

At the beginning of the Mexican War, Mr. Pierce joined 
the army of volunteers, enlisting in a company raised in Con- 
cord. Soon commissioned Colonel of the Ninth Regiment, 
another promotion to the rank of Brigadier-General followed 
quickly in his mihtary career, as his leadership gave evidence 
of skill, resolution and bravery. He took part in the battles 


of Contreras and Molino del Rey, accompanying General Scott 
to the City of Mexico, the capture of which virtually ended 
the war. 

General Pierce returned to his home during December of 
1847, after these services in defense of his country, entering 
again upon the professional duties which were waiting his 
attention. In 1850, he occupied a prominent position as pre- 
siding officer in the convention called to revise the constitu- 
tion of N^ew Hampshire. Two years later he was made the 
standard bearer of the Democratic party, and elected President 
by a large majority, only four States casting their electoral 
votes against him. 

Sorrow quickly followed upon the election of President 
Pierce, his only son, a boy of twelve years, being killed in a 
railway accident, the mother witnessing the horrible disaster^ 
yet powerless to aid her beloved boy. The blow of sudden 
bereavement fell upon Mr. Pierce with a terrible severity, while 
it almost crushed his sorrowing wife. From that time forward 
she carried a saddened, weary heart, and though she tried to 
cast off the gloom which encircled her life, she was yet greatly 
changed by this event, which touched the hearts of all who 
knew its details, and brought into expression a tender sympa- 
thy for the parents thus sorely afflicted. 

Mr. Pierce entered upon the office of President March 4^ 
1853, under conditions which seemed to indicate a pleasant and 
successful administration. He had been elected by an un- 
usually large majority. The party which supported him was 
strong and confident, while the opposite was divided and 
dispirited. The material prosperity of the country excelled 
that of any former period. For a brief time the excitement 
regarding the distm'bing questions of slavery was lessened. It 
was thought by many that the compromise measures would 


ensure a permanent settlement of these questions. An era of 
internal peace and mutual good feeling between the North and 
the South was confidently antici23ated. There was not to be, 
however, a full realization of such expectations. President 
Pierce, by the terms of his inaugural address, left no doubt as 
to his purpose to support slavery in the United States, while 
he announced his resolve that the Fugitive Slave Act should 
be strictly enforced. Thus President Pierce sounded forth the 
key-note of his administration, the result being a renewal of 
agitation, an increase of hostile feeling between the IN^orth and 
the South, giving indications of a struggle that was close at 
hand. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the attempt 
to establish slavery in Kansas and to strengthen it elsewhere, 
augmented the feeling between the two sections. The Presi- 
dent acted upon the policy that everythmg must be done to 
conciliate the South and thus avert consequences so much to 
be dreaded. Thus he went to the extreme in sanctioning the 
irregular measures by which slavery was nominally established 
in Kansas. The people of that territory resisted the imposi- 
tion, however, and the slave-holding interest was finally de- 
feated, although not without a great cost of suffering and 

In nearly all the acts of his administration, as related to 
the subject of slavery, Pi'esident Pierce went contrary to the 
general feeling of the North, pursuing a policy of conciliation 
to the South that was not altogether satisfactory to many of 
his o^\Ti party. His course in dealing with these questions, 
together with the legislation of that period respecting slavery, 
stimulated the growth of the Pepublican party, which, at the 
expiration of his term of office, became clothed with the ele- 
ments of an abiding political power. It is pleasant, however, 
to consider in this connection other acts of President Pierce's 


administration which stand very much to his credit. His con- 
duct of foreign affairs, William L. Marcy being Secretary of 
State, merited and received general commendation. The firm- 
ness shown by the American government in the case of Martin 
Kosta was much praised, and the action taken in securing a 
treaty with Japan was regarded in the same favorable light. 
The purchase of the vast regions of Arizona and l^ew Mex- 
ico has been justified in what has since been shown of the 
needs and progress of our country, while the price, $10,000,000, 
was but a small sum to pay for 45,000 square miles of terri- 

President Pierce failed to receive the nomination of his 
party for re-election, Mr. Buchanan being selected as the 
Democratic candidate, and elected after an exciting canvass. 
The retiring President left Washington on the inauguration 
of his successor, and soon after traveled extensively through 
Europe. Returning from his protracted journeying, he settled 
at his home in Concord, ]^ew Hampshire, where he passed the 
remainder of his mortal life, taking no active part in political 
affairs. He died October 8, 1869. 

One of President Pierce's distinguishing characteristics 
Avas the steadfastness which he showed in his friendships. He 
attached himself very deeply to those whom he thought merited 
his confidence, believing in them so strongly that he was will- 
ing to hear no criticism of their actions from others, though 
perhaps he admitted to himself that it was deserved. Refer- 
ence has been made to his notable friendship with Longfellow 
and Hawthorne; he held also the kindest relations with many 
of his official associates, Senator Benton specially winning his 
esteem, though at one time political differences of opinion 
threatened estrangement. President Pierce's actions in behalf 
of the Senator, however, gave proof that his friendly feeling 


always remained the same, for as Mr. Benton said: "It is 
Pierce's head that is wrong — his heart is always right.'' 

The cheerful, social qualities of this representative man 
were best sho^vn in his personal life, where he delighted in the 
meeting of congenial acquaintances and exercised a most 
cordial hospitality. There was something attractive in his 
bearing which caused even strangers to feel the warmth of his 
personality and be induced to linger in his presence. As a law- 
yer his popularity was wonderful ; men liked to hear his words 
upon any subject, and unconsciously were influenced by that 
charm which pervaded his being. These amiable graces which 
he exercised were more powerful to win for him success, than 
more striking qualities of greatness would have been; they ap- 
pealed directly to the hearts of men, and did not shock them, 
as genius sometimes does, into a forced appreciation of its 
greatness. While not underrating President Pierce's intellect- 
ual abilities, it may be justly said that in his human sympathies, 
his warm heart, his courteous demeanor, was hidden the se- 
cret of his success in life; the sweetness of disposition which 
entered into his manly, upright nature, would have made him a 
noticeable character, even had he not been exalted to the high 
rank of a political leader, and called upon to assume the lielm of 
national affairs. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1857 — MARCH 4, 1861. 






NATURE pleases us most when she fui-nishes a back- 
ground for historical or biographical incidents ; when 
there is associated with the grandeur of her mountains 
or the quiet loveliness of her valleys, some human interest, 
leading to that " proper study of mankind," as connected with 
the gracious influences of the outward world. When the boy- 
hood of James Buchanan, fifteenth President of the United 
States, is recalled, there arises a thought of the lofty Alle- 
ghany Mountains, whose peaks overshadowed the secluded 
fiirm-house, situated in a little settlement of Franklin County, 
Pennsylvania, where he was born April 23, 1791. As soon as 
he was allowed to explore the wooded region near his home he 
spent much of his time out of doors, learning in his childhood 
days to appreciate the beauties which Nature so lavishlj^ dis- 
plays for her admirers. His mother, having an artistic nature, 
an inherent love for the beautiful, encouraged and educated 
her son's taste for the refinements of life, although in that sim- 
ple frontier home it Avas not easy to acquire luxui-ies or receive 


the benefits of books and cultured society. About the year 
1800 these thoughtful parents removed then- family to the 
town of Mercersburg, that they might secure more of educa- 
tional and social advantages for their son, an intelligent, inter- 
esting, somewhat precocious lad. Thus early separated from 
his beloved mountains and the forests where the settler's axe 
had but recently resounded, he never forgot, during the varied 
experiences of his after life, the surroundings of his early 
home, the intercourse with ^N'ature which distinguished his boy- 
hood days. 

Having made rapid progress in his studies, James Buchanan 
entered Dickenson College, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and 
graduated with honor from that institution when he was 
eighteen years old. At once he began the study of law, was 
admitted to the bar in 1812, and established his legal practice 
in the city of Lancaster, rapidly gaining reputation as an able 
advocate, in S23ite of his youth and inexperience. Important 
cases were entrusted to his care, and his treatment of them 
more than justified expectation. " At the age of thirty years,'' 
says one of his biographers, " it was generally admitted that 
he stood at the head of the bar, and there was no lawyer in 
the State who had a more extensive or lucrative practice." 

"When, in 1820, he entered Congress, where he remained 
for five successive terms, he was obliged to relinquish a large 
proportion of his practice in order to perform the services 
devolving upon his official position. As a member of the State 
Legislature, in 1814, he had urged the vigorous prosecution 
of the war of 1812, and while originally a Federalist, his opin- 
ions changed somewhat, so that he came to advocate the Jeff er- 
sonian idea of a strict construction of the powers granted the 
general government. JSTaturally he allied himself with the 
Kepublican, afterwards the Democratic party, taking ground 
against a protective tariff, and in opposition to the general 


policy of President John Qniney Adams, while he warmly 
espoused the measures advocated by General Jackson, At 
the completion of his fifth term he retired from Congress, having 
earned a reputation for a sound judgment, a wisely-directed 
activity, made apparent in all labors for the State or IS'ation 
which he had been called upon to perform. 

Appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to St. Petersburg, in 
the year 1832, Mr. Buchanan was able to negotiate, in his rep- 
resentative capacity, a commercial treaty, securing to the 
United States important privileges in the Baltic and the Black 
Sea. On his return to this country the Pennsylvania Legisla- 
ture elected him to a seat in the United States Senate. Among 
such representative men as "Webster, Clay, Calhoun and 
Wright, his influence was yet felt, and he gained a position 
well to the front, among the foremost leaders of his party. In 
matters where the interests of slavery Avere involved he was 
generally inclined to favor the demands of the South, although 
it is to be remembered to his credit that he supported Presi- 
dent Jackson in his course against nullification. Mr. Buchanan 
took the position that Congress had no power to legislate on 
slavery, but evidently he was willing to perpetuate and extend 
the system, and to bring Congressional influence to bear upon 
such extension. 

At the period of President Yan Buren's administration, 
Mr. Buchanan gave his earnest advocacy to the measures pro- 
posed by the [N'ational Executive, notably, that important action 
respecting the establishment of an independent treasury. In 
1845, he accepted the invitation of President Polk to enter his 
Cabinet, where, as Secretary of State, his abilities found ample 
and congenial scope. With the retirement of Mr. Polk from 
the Presidency there came to Mr. Buchanan a welcome relief 
from official duties and the activities of political interests. 
After enjoying for several years the life of a private citizen, 


he was summoned therefrom by President Pierce, who ap- 
pointed him Minister to Great Britain. While abroad in the 
fulfilhnent of his mission, he joined Messrs. Mason and Sonle, 
Ministers respectively to France and SjDain, in a conference at 
Ostend, which resulted in the issue of a manifesto, proposing 
the acquisition of Cuba, by purchase or otherwise. This Os- 
tend Manifesto, which caused great excitement in the United 
States and Europe, reflected but little honor upon Mr. Bu- 
chanan, the originator of the movement. 

Upon returning to his native land, in 1856, Mr. Buchanan 
became the candidate of the Democratic party for the Presi- 
dency. He was elected over ex-President Fillmore, candidate 
of the American party, and John C. Fremont, supported by 
the newly formed Republican organization, to which were 
attached man^^ members of the Whig and Free Soil parties. 

In many respects President Buchanan was eminently fitted 
for the high position to which he was called by the Amer- 
ican people. He had native and acquired ability, a large and 
varied experience, and was familiar with all departments of 
the public service. He was confronted, however, by unusual 
difiiculties, so that he was tested to an extreme degree. His 
administration was unique and eventful from its beginning to 
its exciting close. A condition of affairs amounting almost to 
war existed for the greater part of the time, and new perils 
were constantly appearing. There was an inheritance of {he 
Kansas-Nebraska imbroglio, with other questions of a trouble- 
some character. Soon followed the Dred Scott Decision, 
which greatly intensified the anti-slavery feeling by declaring 
the right of slave-holders to take their slaves into any State 
and hold them there as such, despite any local law to the con- 
trary. This decision, regarded as changing slavery from a 
local to a national institution, acted as a new stimulus to the 
agitation which President Buchanan vainly hoped to quiet. 


The famous raid of John Brown, in 1859, produced the 
greatest excitement throughout the country. The leader was 
a brave, conscientious man, of noble impulses, but fiinatical 
to the extreme regarding slavery. His ambition was to be 
a liberator, and his raid at Harper's Ferry was designed to 
force the issue and bring on a general uprising of the slaves. 
It was impossible that such a movement as that which he inau- 
gurated should succeed. He and his associates were soon capt- 
ured by a United States military force, and the brave leader 
paid the penalty of his mistaken ardor with his life. The move- 
ment, however, and all that went with it and followed, tended 
to widen the breach between the I^orth and the South, and aug- 
ment the difficulties of Mr. Buchanan, who was seeking to do 
a work of pacification, for which the time had passed. 

There were other troubles with which the President had to 
deal, besides those directly relating to slavery. The Walker 
filibustering expeditions gave him much annoyance; but these 
movements terminated with the capture of Walker, who was 
tried and executed by the military authorities of Honduras. 
There w^ere likewise old questions of a complicated natui*e per- 
taining to foreign aff*airs; and, in his dealing with these issues. 
President Buchanan Avas remarkably fortunate. He caused 
the English government to abandon its alleged right to search 
American ships — a claim, the attempted enforcement of which 
caused the war of 1812. This was a most satisfactoiy settle- 
ment of a question that had been one of frequent irritation 
between the two countries. 

As the administration of President Buchanan approached 
its close, the aspect of affairs grew more threatening, the South 
being determined to withdraw from the Union and establish a 
separate government. When the Presidential election of 18G0, 
which resulted in the choice of Mr. Lincoln, was decided, 
there was no longer hesitancy in going forward with the move- 


ments of secession. Forts were seized, public property appro- 
priated, and various measures instituted and actively entered 
upon which were intended to result in the disruption of the 
Union. The President was halting and irresolute at this crit- 
ical juncture. He was neither bold nor prompt enough in his 
action to meet the emergency. He hesitated, and counseled 
inactivity when he should have moved forward to check the 
attempted movement of disunion. 

President Buchanan declared in his address to Congress, of 
December, 1860, that no State had the right to secede from the 
Union ; but he doubted his own powers to coerce a sovereign 
State, though he thought he could protect the Federal forts and 
prevent their capture. He tried to do this at the last, but was 
unable to keep Forts Sumter and Moultrie in Charleston Har- 
bor from passing into Confederate hands. He did not believe 
that the Constitution gave him the power which he would like 
to use against secession. He was not cast in heroic mould, 
and could not deal with the impending crisis as a bolder man, 
one not carrying so great a weight of years, and by nature 
less conservative, would have done. He did not wish to bring 
on civil war, albeit the very course he took may have tended 
to that result. IS^o doubt he misapprehended the situation and 
showed a lack of firmness, but there is no proof that he was 
at heart unpatriotic, or that consciously he wrought in aid ^of 
secession. After the organization of the Confederacy he still 
hoped that it might prove a " rope of sand," and the way to an 
honorable compromise would open. 

The retiring President remained in Washington to witness 
the inauguration of his successor in office, Abraham Lincoln, 
shortly afterwards going to his home in Wheatland, Pennsyl- 
vania, where he passed the uneventful years until the time 
of his death, June 1, 1868. During this period he prepared 
and published a defense of his administration, an interesting 


work, throwing much light upon the question at issue and the 
motives by which his actions were guided. This defense con- 
firmed the estimate now so generally placed upon his charac- 
ter, that he was not unpatriotic in feeling or purpose, and that 
he was opposed to the principles of secession. The judgment 
hastily given concerning President Buchanan during his hfe- 
time, seems more harsh than is warranted by the facts pre- 
sented in the clearer light of dispassionate, historical record 
to-day. His mistakes and errors were many, but his surround- 
ings called for exceptional qualities rarely combined in the 
individual life, and few men, situated as he was, would have 
been equal to the demand. 

Among the many offices of public trust that Mr. Buchanan 
filled, he served perhaps the most acceptably in his diplomatic 
relations with foreign countries. He was distinguished in his 
bearing, had much grace and tact in his intercourse with the 
representative men from different nations, and was more firm in 
negotiation when representing his country's interests abroad 
than in his policy to preserve the American Union. 

Although criticised so widely, his moral character was 
never assailed, amid all the bitterness of denunciation which 
attacked his public career. ' He was never married, but he had 
an underlying vein of tenderness in his nature, possessed a 
kindly, genial disposition, was most interesting in conversa- 
tion, a pleasant acquaintance, a true friend. Called to the 
Presidency at a most trying time in the IS'ation's history, he 
ought not to be judged apart from the environments of his 
position, which should serve as excuses for some of his errors, 
while throwing into greater prominence the virtues of his un- 
sullied character, his acknoAvledged integrity, his abiUties and 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1861 — APRIL 15, 1865. 





BETTER than written description is that statue standing 
in Lincoln Park, Chicago, to indicate the trne expres- 
sion of a hfe, iamihar in its details to the American 
people, yet a character whose depths w^ere never sounded in 
any study of its many-sided development. The bronze figure 
of Abraham Lincoln not only reproduces his physical attri- 
butes, but the artist has brought out, in a right conception of 
what the statue should reveal, the greatness of the man, sug- 
gesting, by the expression and the attitude, that personality 
which a biography sometimes fails to present. In the sympa- 
thetic treatment of so difficult a subject, the sculptor has pro- 
duced an instantaneous picture, a composite representation, 
embodying the uncouth lad, tlie diligent surveyor, the useful 
lawyer, the skilled leader of debate, the ^N'ation's Chief Magis- 
trate, and its martyred hero, — while above all shines the glory 
of simple, honest virtues, the goodness as well as the great- 
ness that was his. Thus the statue emphasizes the biographi- 
cal teachings of an individuality, potential not only by reason 
of its opportunities, but from its inherent moral balance ; that 


wonderful spirit, enveloped in so rough an exterior, which ex- 
panded, in dignity and simplicity, among all the rude and 
unfriendly influences to which the life of Lincoln was sub- 

Diligent search has revealed but httle concerning the life 
of Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, the fragments of 
biography, however, being sufficient to indicate the toil and 
suffering by which his life was bounded. Li the midst of the 
dense forest on Nolin Creek, of what is now La Rue County, 
Kentuclry, Thomas Lincoln and his young wife built a home, 
a rude log cabin, where their son Abraham was born February 
12, 1809. 

The boyhood of Lincoln offers an inviting field, but it must 
not be enlarged upon within the limits of this sketch. It in- 
cluded an early childhood spent in the backwoods; an immi- 
gration with his family to Indiana; the loss of a dearly-loved 
mother; the advent of a step-mother who was truly a parent 
to the neglected children ; a limited education in books, but 
the using of every opportunity for study, so that he learned to 
read and write ; another removal of the family to Illinois, and 
the rough, laboring life of a new frontier settlement. Mrs. 
Lincoln's testimony that " Abe " was a good boy, was in har- 
mony with the general tribute paid to his generous, amiable 
qualities, his defense of weaker, down-trodden humanity, of 
cruelly-used animals, his straightforwardness, his determined 
will, and his energy as displayed in those boyhood years passed 
in poverty and hard work. 

Having attained his majority and aided in the establish- 
ment of a new home for his parents, the young man went forth 
to seek occupation and begin the shaping of a career which in 
its progress was to be invested with a marvellous power and 
attractiveness. He first engaged himself as a laborer to work 
on a farm near his father's residence. There he was employed 


a part of his time in building fences, so that in the poUtical cam- 
paigns of late years he was frequently designated as the " rail- 
splitter "of Illinois. Then he went to Springfield, the shire 
town of Sangamon County, and since made the capital of Illi- 
nois, where he wrought in the construction of a large flat- 
boat, which he helped to guide down the Sangamon, Illinois, 
and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. Returning from this 
trip, he worked in a country store at New Salem, Illinois, gain- 
ing the confidence of the people, who quickly discerned his 
abilities and manly work. In 1832, at the breaking out of the 
Black Hawk War, young Lincoln promptly volunteered, and 
was chosen to be captain of the companies raised in Sangamon 
County. While he did not participate in any battle, he yet 
bore the hardships of the three months' campaign in so brave 
and uncomjilaining a way that he returned to New Salem with 
his popularity deservedly augmented. At this period, besides 
performing the duties devolving upon him, he was studying 
surveying, becoming so well fitted for this work that in 1838 
he was appointed a deputy of the county surveyor. 

Mr. Lincoln's political career may be said to date from the 
year 1831:, when he was elected to the Illinois Legislature. 
He belonged to the Henry Clay school of politics, and was in 
sympathy with the general policy of the Whig party. His 
legislative course, which lasted through four successive terms, 
was marked by energy and ability, united with an earnest pur- 
pose to maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed, and do 
exact justice to all classes. About the time of his first elec- 
tion, Mr. Lincoln began to pursue a course of reading, with a 
view of entering the legal profession. He was admitted to the 
bar in 1836, and the next year removed to Springfield, where 
he was associated with his friend and adviser, Mr. John T. 
Stuart, in a practice that soon became extensive and lucrative. 
Mr. Lincoln achieved success in the practice of law, especially 


in his conduct of cases before juries. He was eloquent and 
persuasive in speech, logical and convincing, yet noted for his 
fairness in the treatment of an opponent. His integrity was 
never questioned. His entire faithfulness to a cause or princi- 
ple which he had espoused was always conceded. He won 
his way sloAvly, but surely, to a prominent place, being ranked 
as an upright, hard-working, capable lawyer, in whose hands 
the most important interests might be safely reposed. Al- 
though giving the most of his time to his law practice, he still 
retained an active interest in local politics. In 1846 he was 
elected to Congress and served one term. 

The abrogation of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 
deeply affected Mr. Lincoln, and from that time forward he 
made frequent and strong expressions of his views on the sub- 
ject of slavery. He became identified with the Republican 
party at its formation, taking, as of right, a place among its 
foremost leaders. In 1858, when the senatorial term of Mr. 
Douglas was near its close, Mr. Lincoln was put forward for 
the succession. In accordance with a general feeling, the two 
candidates arranged for a public discussion, which excited 
great attention throughout the country, and did much to 
enhance the reputation of Mr. Lincoln. He did not succeed 
in obtaining the senatorship, although a majority of the pop- 
ular vote was in his favor, but he attained distinction by his 
method of treating the slavery question, going to the very 
heart of this disturbing issue, and dealing with the moral 
element. He was not an abolitionist; he was not inclined to 
disturb slavery in any rights that it might have under the Con- 
stitution in the States where it existed, but he boldly opposed 
its further encroachments. He had the clear vision to see what 
the issue would be. Thus he declared in one of his addresses 
in 1858 : " A house divided against itself cannot stand. I 
believe this Government cannot endure permanently half slave 


and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I 
do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease 
to be divided." 

As the time drew near for the holding of the RejDublican 
Convention to nominate candidates respectively for the offices 
of President and Vice-President, the name of Mr. Lincoln 
Avas sometimes mentioned for one or the other place. The 
skill which he had shown in his debates with Senator Douglas 
was generally conceded, and yet he was not regarded with that 
measure of general favor accorded to Mr. Seward and others 
who had been largely instrumental in the formation of the 
Kepublican party. In the early part of 1860 Mr. Lincoln 
visited the East, speaking in New York and elsewhere with so 
much of intellectual and moral force as to command special 
attention. Thenceforth he became more widely known, and 
a much higher estimate was put upon his powers. It was 
hardly thought possible, however, that he could secure the 
nomination for the Presidency at the hands of the Convention 
which met in Chicago May 16, 1860 ; but on the third ballot 
he received more votes than were given for all his distinguished 
competitors, and under the pressure of an intense feeling of 
enthusiasm his nomination was made unanimous. 

Then followed a bitter j^olitical contest, resulting in the 
election of Mr. Lincoln, who received 180 electoral votes, the 
remaining 123 being diAdded among the opposing candidates. 
During all the heated canvass, and the threatening days fol- 
lowing his election, Mr. Lincoln bore himself with composure, 
making expression, however, not infrequently, of the resolute 
fibre of which his nature was formed. His letters, written at 
the time, show how far-seeing his vision was, and how quick 
and strong his impulses of patriotic devotion. Possessed of 
a deeply religious nature, he had a firm reliance upon Divine 
Providence, and believed that thus he was to be led and upheld 


in the arduous path of official duty. Preserved from dang-ers 
of one sort and another, Mr. Lincoln was duly inaugurated as 
the Chief Magistrate of the Nation. His inaugural address, 
while it declared " the Union perpetual and all acts of seces- 
sion void," was moderate in tone — even conciliatory towards 
the seceding States. But the South would not be propitiated; 
the bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter quickly followed 
Mr. Lincoln's accession to power, and in a few weeks from the 
time of his inauguration he found himself involved in all the 
hard, trying conditions of a civil war — a terrible and pro- 
longed contest, which extended over the whole of the first 
term of his administration, and tested him as rarely any other 
man was ever tried in the place of exalted leadership. 

As the war progressed he had to pass upon perplexing 
questions connected with slavery. It seemed to some of his 
friends that he was over-cautious, and did not quickly enough 
seize the opportunity of profiting by the help of the enslaved 
population of the seceding States. He would not allow his 
commanders in the field to issue proclamations declaring free- 
dom to the slaves. He was disposed at the first to compen- 
sate the States Avhich would adopt a plan for the gradual and 
voluntary abolition of slavery; but he was watchful of events 
and of public opinion, and at the right time he issued the proc- 
lamation of emancipation, which, being sustained by the force 
of arms and subsequent legislation, resulted in the removal of 
slavery from the Kepublic. 

The unexpected prolongation of the war, the vast expense 
of treasure and life by which it was carried on, together with 
political complications and clashing material interests, caused 
much criticism of the President and his administration. He 
was very patient under the burden of care and responsibility, 
and the added load of harsh, mistaken judgment often laid upon 
him. The great majority of the loyal people were in sympa- 


thy with him and rallied to his support, so that he was tri- 
umphantly elected to a second term, upon which he entered 
just as the war was drawing to a close. General Lee surren- 
dered to General Grant April 9, 1865, and this was practically 
the end of the war. 'Now that victory was assured to the 
national government, the hope of Pi-esident Lincoln was to do 
a blessed work of reconstruction, building anew the shattered 
fabrics of seceding States and so causing the restored Union 
to stand fair and strong. His was the great heart to do this 
work " with malice toward none, with charity for all ." This pur- 
pose he was not to realize. His mortal mission was accom- 
plished. He died April 15, 1865, from the efiects of an assas- 
sin's bullet, honored and mourned by the great body of the 
American people. 

And so this noble, true soul, this strong-minded, great- 
hearted man passed hence to his reward. His place is assured 
among the illustrious leaders of the Republic. He represents 
democracy in its finest instincts. He is a grand, attractive 
model for individual character and for national life. It is a 
suggestive picture of the honored, martyred Lincoln whicli 
Mr. Lowell draws : " I have seen the wisest statesman and 
most pregnant speaker of the generation, a man of humble birth 
and ungainly manners, of little culture beyond what his own 
genius supplied, become more absolute in power than any mon- 
arch of modern times, through the reverence of his country- 
men for his honesty, his wisdom, his sincerity, his faith in God 
and man, and the nobly humane simplicity of his character." 




PRESIDENT, APRIL 15, 1865 — MARCH 4, 1869. 




ASSOCIATED together in the political campaign of 18G4: 
were the names of Lincoln and Johnson, nominated 
for the respective offices of President and Yicc-Presi- 
dent. The former was the well-tried leader and statesman, 
named by the Republican party for a second term in the high 
office whose duties he had ably discharged; the latter, less 
known and experienced, a representative of the Southern 
States, who had given an unwavering support to the Union, 
and shown a general sympathy with the principles of the party 
that placed him in nomination. The tragic event which fol- 
lowed so soon the induction of these men into the offices to 
which they had been elected, was not foreseen. Had it been, 
perhaps the nominating convention would have hesitated in 
selecting Andrew Johnson as candidate for Yice-President, 
from which position, a few weeks after his inauguration, in 
consequence of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, he was ad- 
Tanced as the constitutional successor of the Chief Executive, 


and thus became the seventeenth President of the United 

Born in Raleigh, l!^orth Carohna, December 29, 1808, lie 
shared the common poverty and iihteracy of that district in the 
beginning of the nineteenth century. The dull monotony of 
his boyhood was only relieved by the force with which he 
applied himself to every pursuit, his ardent attention giving a 
flavor of interest to the daily round of severe tasks imposed 
by conditions and surroundings. His early marriage bright- 
ened his existence, not only by appealing to his aifections, but 
also by awakening his intellectual powers, as the young wife 
became a teacher, instructing her husband how to wi'ite and 
cipher, he already having learned to read by his own diligent, 
persevering efforts, unaided by personal instruction. 

With this rudimentary education, Andrew Johnson, then 
living in Greenville, Tennessee, working at his trade, that of 
a tailor, began to feel an interest in public affairs, and to take 
somewhat prominent position in local political matters. He 
identified himself with a workingmen's party which helped in 
his election, first, as an alderman, and afterwards mayor of 
the small town where he lived. He was chosen in 1835 a 
member of the State Legislature, Avas elected State Senator in 
1841, and the year 1843 entered Congress, where he served by 
successive elections a period of ten years. After fulfilling 
these important duties he was twice elected Governor of Ten- 
nessee, in 1853 and 1855, doing excellent service for his State 
while occupying the gubernatorial chair. His election to the 
United States Senate occurred in 1857. Although he gave 
his support to the general policy of the Democi-atic party, 
agreeing with many of the Southern politicians that Congress 
had no authority to limit the territorial extension of slavery, 
he opposed the idea of secession, and expressed, in all his 
speeches in the Senate, an unfaltering support of the Union. 


Upon his return to Tennessee Mr. Johnson endeavored to 
estabhsh a Union party in the State in accordance with the 
principles he had advocated, arousing great feeling and many 
threats against him from the adherents of secession. In the 
year 1862 President Lincoln made the appointment of Andrew 
Johnson as Military Governor of Tennessee, a position re- 
quiring executive ability, cool judgment and prompt action. 
Beginning his labors in Nashville, soon a besieged city. Gov- 
ernor Johnson's course in dealing with the disheartened Union- 
ists and the desperate secessionists won for him an enviable 
reputation in the North, and probably led to his nomination 
for the office of Vice-President. His bold, determined course 
against secession and its producing cause, now allied him to the 
Pepublican party, though he had supported Breckenbridge, 
the Democratic candidate for the presidency, in the election 
of 1860, which had resulted in the defeat of that candidate 
and the iDreferment of President Lincoln. The personal hard- 
ships endured so bravely by Governor Johnson, while in Nash- 
ville, his forced separation from family and friends, his hostil- 
ity to slavery, openly declared, his devotion to his country's 
interests, gave him prominence as one of the leaders in the 
Republican party, and showed him to be a strong man for any 
public position. 

Liaugurated as Vice-President, March 4, 1865, it was only 
a few weeks later that he was called to fill the high office 
as Chief Magistrate of a people mourning for the hero cruelly 
murdered by the hand of an assassin. It was about two and 
one-half hours after the death of President Lincoln that Mr. 
Johnson took the oath of office, administered to him by Chief 
Justice Chase, and entered upon the duties of President of 
the United States. A sorely-stricken and greatly-bereaved 
people, just emerging from a long and terrible, but now suc- 
cessful war, looked to him in confidence, believing that he 



would prove a worthy successor to the martyred Lincoln, 
whose wisdom and patriotism were now set before their vision 
in clearest lines. A few days after he had assumed the duties 
of his new position, while the body of the dead President was 
yet unburied, Mr. Johnson, in response to a delegation fi*om 
Dlinois that called upon him, made a vigorous denunciation of 
treason as a " crime that must be punished," and intimated his 
purpose to use strong, if not severe, measures in dealing with 
all enemies of the government. The sentiments thus avowed 
were received with marked favor by the loyal people of the 
land, who felt that their interests were quite safe in the hands 
of a man cherishing such sentiments. He seemed to represent 
a quality of manhood that was specially required in dealing 
with the perplexing questions of reconstruction, and with other 
problems presented as an inheritance of the long and terrible 
Civil War. There was hardly a doubt but that President 
Johnson would be in harmony with a Republican Congress as 
to the course to be pursued in dealing with the States lately in 
secession, and all collateral matters related to the policy of the 
government. To the surprise of Congress and the people, 
however, President Johnson soon made a manifestation of 
some of the idiosyncracies of his nature, revealing the fact 
that he was self-willed and opinionated, stubborn to a fault, 
and reckless of consequences, however honest he might be. at 

The picture that is presented of President Johnson at this 
period, when he stood in opposition to the party to which he 
owed his election — a Republican Congress, and the great 
mass of loyal people — is not altogether pleasant to look upon, 
and yet there are some lines of light let in upon the view. 
The President might show a sudden and mysterious change of 
opinion in the matter of dealing with the Southern States; he 
might approve of measures favored by those who had been 


supposed to sympathize more or less with secession ; he might 
pursue a hne of public pohcy regarded as most detrimental to 
the country's interests; yet there he stood, a brave, capable, 
not unpatriotic man, who Avould both avow and maintain his 
ideas at any cost. He compels a measure of respect for the 
position he took, however mistaken it was, and much to be 
deplored as was the antagonism that grew up between the 
President and Congress, resulting at last in a movement for 
his impeachment. 

It is not required, nor does it come within the scope of a 
biographical sketch, that these causes of dissension should be 
noted in their order, or any opinion j^assed upon the opposing 
theories of reconstruction. The fact, bi'iefly stated, is this: 
President Johnson held that the Southern States were never 
legally out of the Union, their ordinances of secession being 
void, and therefore he thought they were entitled to resume at 
once their former relations to the government. Congress held 
otherwise, taking the ground that, Avhile the acts of secession 
were void, the States which had sought to break away from the 
Union should be required to legislate in a certain manner and 
offer certain guarantees before being allowed to enter again 
upon the enjoyment of all their privileges and have represen- 
tation in the councils of the Nation. Just here was the vital 
point of antagonism. The President vetoed bill after bill passed 
by Congress in relation to reconstruction matters, but gener- 
ally these measures were enacted into laws by a constitutional 
majority over the vetoes. 

In the elections of 1866, the policy of Congress was ap- 
proved by the votes of the people, and henceforth the Presi- 
dent was placed at a greater disadvantage; but he would not 
yield. Congress made an effort to limit the functions of his 
authority in the matter of removing officers. Refusing to con- 
foi-m to the provisions of such a Congressional enactment, and 


making an attempt to remove Secretary Stanton after the Sen- 
ate had refused to approve, President Johnson precipitated a 
crisis which tested again the strength and stabiHt}^ of Ameri- 
can institutions. The House of Representatives, on February 
24, 1868, passed a resokition impeaching him for high crimes 
and misdemeanors. He was tried by the Senate, as the Con- 
stitution provides, on the charges thus preferred; but, as less 
than two-thirds of the members of that body voted to sustain 
the charges, he was acquitted, and continued to serve as Pres- 
ident until the end of his term. 

The administration of President Johnson was characterized 
by many important events attesting the progress of national 
life and influence. Nebraska, formed out of the Louisiana 
purchase, and concerning the territorial condition of which 
there had been so much of political dispute, was admitted as 
a State in 1867, and during the same year the vast region of 
AUiska was purchased from Russia at a cost of more than 
seven million dolhirs. 

On March 4, 1869, President Johnson retired from his 
official responsibilities and duties at the White House, taking 
up his residence as a private citizen at Greenville, Tennessee. 
He did not cease, however, to manifest an interest in public 
aflairs, and he was still a somewhat influential factor in politi- 
cal matters of State concern. In January, 1875, the legisla- 
ture of Tennessee elected him to the Senate of the United 
States, and he was about to re-enter public life when the sum- 
mons came to him to pass on and join the silent majority. He 
died July 31, 1875. 

Called to fill the Executive chair at so trying a time in the 
history of the Kation, succeeding the honored Lincoln whose 
assassination had wounded every true-hearted citizen the world 
over, President Johnson bore himself with a degree of cour- 
age, with a reliance upon his right convictions that cannot fail 


to awaken something of admiration for his inherent strength 
of character. Personally, his features were commonplace, his 
bearing unostentatious; he was always inclined to bring into 
prominence the fact of his plebeian origin, yet he had a native 
force of character which gave dignity to his presence, and he 
impressed the ])eholder as an heroic exponent of whatever 
should appeal to his best judgment. He had sparse opportu- 
nities to cultivate friendships, for his entire life was a struggle, 
with few quiet periods or untroubled hours. The White 
House sheltered Mrs. Johnson but for a brief time, and, though 
her daughters were graceful and liberal in their hospitalities, 
it was not the scene of social amenities or friendly pleasures 
under the administration of President Johnson. He had the 
possibilities of a more sympathetic nature than he ever dis- 
played, but the calls for courage and the sterner virtues were 
so urofent that there was little time for the cultivation of more 
graceful, attractive, personal qualities. The right estimate to 
be placed upon one Avho has been severely criticised, and who 
certainly made many lapses in the way which he undeviatingly 
pursued, is suggested by a sentence from a modern writer, giv- 
ing an account of a personal interview with Mr. Johnson: " I 
left him Avith the conviction that, how^ever impolitic or mis- 
guided might be his course, a more honest-hearted man did 
not exist; nor could I believe that the indomitable courage and 
persistency in behalf of principle which had characterized his 
conduct before the war, and had made the country ring with 
the name of 'Andy Johnson,' had become debased by truckling 
to the sycophancy of disloyal Southern politicians." 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1869 — MARCH 4, 1877. 






THE marginal notes in a printed volume are often neces- 
sary to make the text complete and convey the infor- 
mation intended by the writer in his conception of the 
work. So, in the narrative of a notable career, the side issues, 
the minor incidents of the life ought at least to be suggested, 
otherwise a biography, emphasizing only the one heroic act or 
successful achievement, but inadequately presents the individ- 
ual, the development of personal qualities and distinguishing 
characteristics. It is no easy task for the biographer to avoid 
simply eulogistic writing, to withstand the temptation of 
dwelling upon well-known events in the human history which 
he is considering, to clearly bring out the less important details 
which contributed, however, to the shaping of a career and 
the moulding of personal qualities. To condense, in a brief 
sketch, the record of one prominent and useful as Ulysses S. 
Grant, eighteenth President of the United States, is difficult, 
indeed, and a limited space almost entirely precludes allusion 
to the interesting marginal notes, interspersed throughout a 
life so pregnant with honor and activity. 


On tlie borderland of the great IN'orthwest, in one of Ohio's 
undeveloped settlements, Point Pleasant, Clei-mont County, 
AjDril 27, 1822, a son was born to Jesse Root Grant and his 
wife, Hannah Simpson. Hiram Ulysses Grant was the name 
given the boy, but on his entrance to West Point, the official 
documents, by some mistake, christened him Ulysses Sydney 
Gnint, afterwards changed to Ulysses Simpson, which Avas 
adopted by the lad, who was commonly designated " Uncle 
Sam " by his boyish associates. His father's occuj^ation, that 
of a tanner, was not congenial to Ulysses, who after strenuous 
efforts on the part of his friends, secured an appointment to 
West Point United States Militar}^ Academy, where he was 
an earnest student, but displayed no brilliant mental qualities 
in any branch of learning which he pursued. His rank on 
gi-nduating in 1843 was twenty-one in a class of thirty-nine, 
and his assignment to the Fourth Regiment, then stationed 
in Missouri, was as second lieutenant in the infantry. He ac- 
compained this regiment to Louisiana, where it was sent in 
anticipation of troubles arising from this proposed annexation 
of Texas, and at a little later period took active part in the 
Mexican War. Serving under General Taylor, and afterwards 
under General Winfield Scott, Lieutenant Grant was always 
obedient to his superior officers, prompt to fulfill all duties, 
never murmured at the hardships of army life, and endured its 
discipline in the spirit of a true soldier. He was twice pro- 
moted for gallantry on the field of battle, and, at the close of 
the war, he held a Captain's commission. On his return from 
Mexico, in 1818, he was married to Miss Julia Dent, of St. 
Louis, and with his wife he spent nearly four years at various 
ports and garrisons where he was assigned for duty. He was 
then sent to the Pacific Coast, Mrs. Grant being unable to 
accompany her husband in his transfer to this distant post of 
duty. While stationed at Fort Vancouver he was appointed 


to a captaincy and given another assignment; but he declined 
further service in the army, resigned his commission in July, 
1854, and returned to St. Louis, where his wife and children 
were then residing. 

Captain Grant was now thirty-five years of age, a strong, 
resolute man, showing some marked peculiarities of mind and 
character. He had gained large experience by events and 
associations, and was seemingly fitted for a more prominent 
career than that which he entered upon when he left the army 
and settled down to a farmer's life near St. Louis. He applied 
hunself diligentl}^ to the pursuits of agriculture, but he was 
not successful in his new avocation. Then he tried a real estate 
and collection business, for which he had no liking, and from 
which he soon withdrew. After experimenting with several 
other occupations he removed to Galena, Illinois, where he 
became associated with his father and brothers in the leather 
business. This was in the early part of the year 1860. Here 
he lived a quiet, uneventful life until the breaking out of the 
Civil War. He attended to the commonplace duties which 
claimed his attention, held himself a good deal in reserve, 
formed few acquaintances, took no active part in political affairs, 
and was comparatively unknown in the community. 

The war for the Union opened a new career for this quiet 
man; it gave opportunity for the real quality of his nature 
to declare itself, and brought into expression hitherto hid- 
den traits of character. With the breaking out of hostilities 
Grant felt that he had no choice but to offer his services to the 
National Government. He had received a military training; 
he was in the full maturity of his strength ; he was moved in 
all the earnestness of a noble nature to contribute some help 
for the preservation of the Union, and therefore he promptly 
tendered his services to the authorities, proposing " to act 
until the close of the war in such capacity as may be offered." 


He was first assigned to the work of organizing some of the 
Elinois volunteers, and afterwards, for a brief period, was con- 
nected with the Adjutant-General's office in Springfield, of 
that State. Grant wanted a place of activity in the field, how- 
ever, and on June 16, 1861, he was commissioned as Colonel 
of the Twenty-first Illinois infantry. At once he secured the 
confidence of officers and men. He showed military capacity 
by soon bringing his regiment up to a notable condition of 
discipline and efficiency. He was promoted to the rank of 
Brigadier-General, being honored with a commission dated 
May 17, 1861. General Grant was now called to one and 
another position of importance, where he was subjected to 
various trials and tests, under which he made ample proof of 
energy and military skill. General Grant's capture of Fort 
Henry and Fort Donelson in February, 1862, added greatly ta 
his reputation, while the plan of the movement gave proof of 
the fact that he had a wise and far-seeing vision as to strate- 
gic positions and the various combinations essential to an 
aggressive warfare. 

General Grant, after the successes noted, was advanced in 
rank, being commissioned by President Lincoln as Major-Gen- 
eral. After this preferment, however, he was subjected to 
harsh criticisms, and for a time was without a command. Only 
for a brief period, however, was he held to inactivity, fory, 
being restored to his place, he was soon displaying his charac- 
teristic energy in organizing and moving his troops for an 
impending conflict. Whether or not the terrible assault upon 
the Union army at Shiloh was in any sense a surprise to Gen- 
eral Grant, is not made clear ; but there can be no question of 
the fact that this battle was one of the great engagements of 
the war, with most important issues depending on its result. 
During the two days' engagement the generalship of Grant 
was conspicuous. He handled his troops skilfully, he infused 


confidence into officers and men, he never lost heart himself as 
to the result. 

Following the battle of Shiloh, the capture of Corinth, and 
other movements by the army of the Tennessee, General Grant 
advanced upon Yicksburg, then regai-ded as " the Gibraltar 
of the Mississippi." After a protracted siege, this Confederate 
stronghold was surrendered to General Grant on July 4, 186.3. 
It was a signal victory, leading to important results. General 
Pemberton surrendered an army of about thirty-two thousand 
men, with one hundred and seventy-two cannon and thousands 
of small arms. The surrender of Fort Hudson followed in a 
few days, and thenceforth, as President Lincoln said, "the 
Mississippi went un vexed to the sea." The fall of Vicksburg 
caused rejoicing in all the loyal States, while the hearts of the 
people were moved in sympathetic, grateful accord toward the 
successful commander whose operations against the fortified 
city have often been compared to the brilliant movements of 
Napoleon at Ulm. Advanced to the rank of Major-Gen- 
eralin the regular army and placed in command of the newly 
created Division of the Mississippi, General Grant soon gave 
additional proof of his possession of the attributes of success- 
ful military leadership. He massed his forces at vital points, 
forced the blockade at Chattanooga, directed several move- 
ments in such a way as to secure the desired results, and fought 
and won the notable battle of Missionary Ridge. 

It does not seem surprising, after the brilliant results 
attending his military campaign in the West, that General 
Grant should have been called to Washington a few months 
later and placed in command of all the armies of the United 
States. His merits were now generally recognized. Congress 
had revived the grade of Lieutenant-General — a rank held 
only by Washington and Scott — for the purpose of confei'ring 
upon him a superior mark of distinction, and thus grandly 


augmenting his power. Thenceforth his hand guided the great 
forces of the war until a successful issue was reached. He led 
the army of the Potomac against General Lee, fought many 
hard battles, pushed the enemy from one point to another, at last 
compelled the evacuation of Petersburg and Kichmond, which 
brought about the surrender of General Lee, an event that j^rac- 
tically ended the war. General Grant's magnanimous course 
in dealing with a brave and conquered foe, at the time of the 
surrender at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, reveals a breadth of 
mind and a generosity of feeling which were alike conspicuous 
elements in his nature. 

The close of the war, followed all so quickly and sadly by 
the assassination of President Lincoln, brought many new 
duties to the hands of General Grant, who, in the rehabilita- 
tion of the regular army, was placed at its head, to the general 
satisfaction of the soldiers and the people. He gave wise and 
energetic attention to all matters thus placed in his charge, 
holding himself aloof, so far as possible, from the political 
complications that characterized President Johnson's adminis- 
tration. He showed due respect to the President, but he was 
too keen, self-reliant and patriotic to take any step in opposi- 
tion to the will of the people as expressed by Congress. 

General Grant's prudent course during this trying period, 
no less than his military popularity, led to his being placed in 
nomination, in 1868, by the Kepublican party, as its candidate 
for President. He was elected by a large majority, his inau- 
guration, March 4, 1869, commanding more than* ordinary in- 
terest. On that occasion he said: "I shall on all subjects 
have a policy to recommend, but none to enforce against the 
will of the people." Li 1872 General Grant was elected for 
a second term, thus giving to him an administration of eight 
years. His conduct of public affairs was in the main com- 
mendable, his honesty of purpose was freely admitted by those 


who at times were his unsparing critics. He had not the 
training of a statesman; he kicked some of the elements es- 
sential to a perfect character, and requisite to the largest 
public service; but as he was, and as he revealed himself in 
the eight years of his holding the office of President, he gave 
abundant proof of ability and good sense, united with sincere 
devotion to his country's interests. His administration was 
characterized by many striking events — among others those 
attending the Centennial observances of 1876, especially the 
noteworthy exposition at Philadelphia, opened by the Presi- 
dent, and continued from May to JN^ovember of the year named. 

Upon his retirement from the office of President, General 
Grant spent some two years in a journey around the woi-ld, 
visiting Europe, India, China, Japan, and other important 
countries, where he was received with great honor and dis- 
tinction. On his return to the United States he entered into 
business, in which he was not successful, in New York City. 
In 1881 a cancerous disease developed which did not admit 
of any surgical operation for its mitigation or removal. Under 
this disease he suffered and languished until death came to his 
relief. He died at McGregor, N^ew York, July 25, 1885. 

The teachings of such a life, imperial in its influence, can- 
not be overestimated. Biographers have dwelt upon its heroic 
expression, its brilliant successes, its great powers for the 
leadership of men ; there is also another, the " everlasting," side 
of character, to be extolled. Early in his manhood General 
Grant nailed upon the door of his heart that thesis embodied 
in the words, obedience and work. Quietly, yet continuously, 
he followed the path where they guided his steps, never for- 
getting the allegiance Avhich they demanded in the perform- 
ance of the most humble act, as well as in the great deeds, of 
a life filled with honorable service. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1877 — MARCH 4, 1881. 







AMONG the twenty -two eminent men called to fill the 
chief place in the Government of the American Xation 
since its formation, a century and more ago, only two 
are now living, the present incumbent in office, and ex-Presi- 
dent Rutherford Birchard Hayes. The life of Mr. Hayes, 
though less eventful and conspicuous than were the careers of 
some of his predecessors in the office of President, has in it 
many points of interest, and well deserves the attention of his 
countrymen. It has a suggestive attractiveness, not only 
because of its connection with public affairs, but likewise for 
the reason that it presents so clear an expression of attributes 
fostered by the culture and civilization native to the soil of a 
prospei'ous i-epublic. 

The nineteenth President of the United States was born at 
Delaware, Ohio, October 4, 1822. In his boyhood he was sub- 
jected to many of the limitations of a frontier settlement, 
especially in the matter of books and schools. Ohio, however, 
had already inaugurated a movement for common schools, and 


laid the foundation of institutions of learning of a higher 
grade, so that the lad of whom we write found better means 
and facilities for satisfying his active, enquiring mind, than 
would have been the case had his life begun in the same local- 
ity a quarter of a century earlier. He first attended the 
schools in the vicinity of his home with a view of preparing 
himself for an advanced course of instruction. The death of 
his father seemed likely to frustrate the boy's desire in this 
respect, but an uncle, Sardis Birchard, becoming interested in 
the youth, furnished the means to enable him to continue his 
studies and acquire a liberal education. After attending an 
academy at JN^orwalk, Ohio, and a preparatory school at Mid- 
dletown. Conn., he entered Kenyon College at Gambler, Ohio, 
graduating therefrom in 1842, some months before the comple- 
tion of his twentieth year. Having decided that he would 
enter the legal profession, he became a student in the Law 
School of Harvard College, at Cambridge, Mass., where he 
made a good record for ability and industry, besides indicating 
that he had a strong and steady purpose of mind which would 
most likely bear him well to the front in any path he might 
enter upon. After graduating at Cambridge he returned to 
Ohio, being admitted to the bar in 1845, and commencing the 
practice of his profession at Marietta. 

The professional career of Mr. Hayes was attended by. a 
notable degree of success. His natural and acquired compe- 
tency was quickly recognized, and his careful attention to the 
interests of his clients did not pass unnoticed. His law j)rac- 
tice increased and his reputation grew accordingly. In the 
year 1850 he removed to Cincinnati, where, in a broader field, 
with still greater responsibilities given into his hands, he ac- 
quired more of prominence as a lawyer, besides gaining in a 
remarkable degree the esteem and respect of the community. 
For several years he filled acceptably the important ofiice of 


City Solicitor, evincing, in the discharge of the duties of that 
position, a carefuhiess and zeal greatly to his credit. In this 
service, as in the performance of other like trusts, he made 
expression of many of those qualities which belong to the 
upper range of human natui-e, and are always the sign of a 
strong and attractive individuality. 

In 1861, when the Civil War broke out, Mr. Hayes is pre- 
sented to view as a strong, well-matured man, who had profited 
by the culture of books and schools, and not less by the expe- 
riences of an active professional and public career. If he had 
not acquired signal distinction, or become widely known, he 
was yet regarded in the community where he lived and among 
a constantly increasing circle of appreciative friends, as a pru- 
dent and safe man, intelligent and thoughtful, whose counsels 
might well be followed in the matters of public concern. 
Thus his influence was felt on the side of the National Gov- 
ernment when all so promptly he offered his services in behalf 
of the Union. He was first commissioned as Major in the 
Twenty-third Ohio Infantry, the regiment being assigned to 
duty in West Virginia. During the first year of the war he 
saw considerable service, endured many hardships, and gave 
ample proof that he had in his composition the essential ele- 
ments of a true soldier. Advanced to the rank of Lieutenant- 
Colonel, he led his regiment in several engagements, and 
showed such qualities of military skill as to win another pro- 
motion, when he was placed in charge of a brigade. He was 
made Brigadier-General in 186J:, for " gallant and distinguished 
services " at the battle of Cedar Creek. While it may not be 
claimed tha't General Hayes is entitled, either by his militaiy 
ability or achievements, to rank with the few great command- 
ei-s of the war, it may yet be said he deserves a place of honor 
with them, both on account of his patriotic devotion and his 
o:allant deeds. He served until the close of the war with 


a true, unwavering determination to do his full duty, partici- 
pated in several hard-fought engagements, and was wounded 
four times. 

At the close of the war General Hayes entered upon his 
Congressional duties, giving close attention, not only to the 
special interests of his constituents, but to other more general 
questions, which, at that critical period, assumed an excep- 
tional importance. He was re-elected to Congress in 1866, 
and the year following was chosen Governor of Ohio. While 
discharging the duties of the last named office, he showed a 
rare degree of administrative capacity, and so conducted the 
affairs of the State as to merit and receive a large measure of 
approval. He Avas re-elected to a second term in 1869, making 
a continuous service of four years — from 1867 to 1871- — in 
the Gubernatorial office. At the close of the second term, 
having declined to be again a candidate, he resumed the place 
and duties of a private citizen, taking up once more many of 
the lines of professional interest which for a time had fallen 
from his hands. Four years later he was again induced to 
allow his name to be placed at the head of the Republican 
State ticket, and at the election in October, 1875, he was chosen 
Governor of Ohio for a third term. 

In the year 1876, memorable as the Centennial year of the 
Kepublic, there came a season of more than usual political 
excitement. Both of the great parties were considerably agi- 
tated within their own lines as to men and measures. When 
the Republican ]!^ational Convention assembled at Cincinnati, 
in June of that year, to nominate candidates for President 
and Vice-President, a wide divergence of opinion was found 
to exist as to the name that should be placed at the head of the 
ticket. When the convention entered upon its session Gov- 
ernor Hayes was hardly mentioned as a candidate, and no 
effort had been made to secure support in his behalf. When, 


however, several ballots had been taken, resulting in no choice, 
his nomination was strongly urged, and, by a combination of" 
delegates opposed to Mr. Blaine, such a result was effected on 
the seventh ballot. Senator William A. Wheeler, of !N"ew 
York, was named for the Vice-Presidency, this ticket being 
opposed, in the exciting political campaign that followed, by 
the Democrats, who put in nomination Samuel J. Tilden, of 
New York, and Thomas A. Hendricks, of Indiana. 

When the election took place, in ]!*<rovember, 1876, the first 
announcements of results seemed to justify belief in the suc- 
cess of Mr. Tilden; but when the electoral votes came to be 
counted by Congress it was found that there were conflicting 
claims in regard to the votes of Florida and Louisiana, with- 
out which Mr. Tilden lacked one vote of the number required 
to elect. If the votes of the two States could be counted for 
Mr. Hayes his election would be secured. The situation was 
critical in the extreme. Party feeling ran high, and it almost 
seemed as though another civil war was impending. The two 
Houses of Congress, one body having a Republican and the 
other a Democratic majority, being unable to agree in passing 
upon the intricate questions involved, decided to refer the 
whole matter, with full powers, to a Commission composed of 
five Senators, five Representatives, and five Judges of the 
Supreme Court. The Commission, after hearing arguments 
on all the points, decided, by a vote of eight to seven, that the 
oflScial returns of the State authorities must be accepted as final, 
thus obliging Congress to count the votes of Louisiana and 
Florida on the Rei)ublican side. This being done, Mr. Hayes 
was declared to be elected, having received 185 electoral votes 
to 184: given Mr. Tilden. 

The inauguration of the President-elect took place on 
Monday, March 5, 1877; but in order to guard against any 
possible contingencies, and that there might be no interregnum 


from Sunday to Monday in the Presidential oflBice, the neces- 
sary oath was administered to Mr. Hayes on Saturday evening, 
March 3, only a few witnesses being present. 

In entering upon the discharge of the duties of his high 
office Mr. Hayes had to encounter a considerable distrust and 
ill-feeling, which were natural, in view of the peculiar measures 
by which his election was established. His bearing at this 
somewhat trying period, as indeed through all the long con- 
troversy from November to March, showed his possession of 
the elements of a well-balanced nature. He held himself in 
a proper reserve, was quiet, dignified, self-contained, and mod- 
est in manner and in speech, so that he won respect even from 
those who were greatly dissatisfied by the action of the Elect- 
oral Commission, which resulted in his being seated in the 
Presidential chair. At the very outset of his administration 
he gave evidence of his breadth of thought and far-reaching, 
statesmanlike vision, by adopting a policy of conciliation in 
dealing with the Southern States. This policy was signified 
by his appointment of a committee to visit the South and 
report on the measures needed to restore confidence and good 
feeling among the people of that section. Agreeably to the 
views of a majority of this committee, and in accordance with 
his own well-matured thought on the subject, he withdrew the 
United States soldiers employed in support of. the civil of- 
ficers in several of the States, and prohibited the troops of 
the General Government from interfering with elections. The 
character of President Hayes is nowhere better defined or 
more attractively shown than in his firm adherence to this 
policy of conciliation and fair treatment to the South. It 
brought him into ^direct opposition with many of the leaders 
of the Republican party; but time has justified his course in 
this respect, and the American people of to-day will generally 


applaud, rather than condemn, his action in dealing with the 
Southern States. 

The administration of President Hayes, while not specially 
brilliant, stands out to view as eminently reputable and clean ; 
an administration characterized by many notable events and 
attractive features. It presents a wise and economical man- 
agement of the various branches of the Government, reflecting 
credit upon the thought and purpose of the Executive, whose 
influence was acknowledged in all departments. The first 
steps in civil service reform were taken; foreign affairs were 
well managed; a new treaty was made with China; the laws 
protecting the public domain were well enforced; material 
interests were fostered; specie payments resumed; and thus, 
as in various other ways by which the progress and prosperity 
of the country were helped, or signified, the fact was declared 
that Mr. Hayes had brought a good store of ability, energy 
and moral purpose to the discharge of the duties of the Pres- 
idential office. In this connection it may be mentioned that 
during the four years from 1877 to 1881 the White House was 
admirably presided over, in its social affairs, by Mrs. Lucy 
Webb Hayes, an accomplished and much respected lady to 
whom the President was married December 31, 1852. The 
twenty-fifth anniversary of the marriage was observed at the 
White House, a large number of distinguished guests being 
present on the occasion. 

When Mr. Hayes retired from the Presidential oflSce he 
returned to his pleasant Ohio home, Avhere he still resides. 
Although he holds himself aloof from active participation in 
matters of a merely political nature, he yet engages in much 
good work related to education, philanthropy and matters of 
social and moral reform. Thus he finds nuich of the zest of 
life as the years of a vigorous and useful age accumulate. 




PRESIDENT, MARCH 4, 1 881 —SEPTEMBER 19, 1881, 






HUMAIS" greatness is sometimes signified by a single con- 
trolling trait of excellence, or by a notable event, per- 
haps a series of events, with which the individual is as- 
sociated. There are historic characters and heroic lives which 
are attractive by reason of manifestations that are thns exce})- 
tional. One bright, noble element of being atones for maii}^ 
defects; an occasional service, cons])icnons and honorable, glo- 
rifies the whole life, though a close scrutiny may reveal much 
that is wanting in the complete record. But in other cases the 
revelation of human greatness appears of a less fragmentary 
order; there is seen to be a beautiful combination of the virtues 
and o-races which most ennoble character, while the whole life 
bears Avitness to the rich and i)otent forces that control it. To 
the class last named belongs the subject of this sketch, James 
A. Garfield, the twentieth President of the United States. His 
is the strong, full formed, syuuneti'ical character, attractive as a 
whole not less than by its distinctive elements, and his is the 
growing, productive life, interesting at every point of its ex- 


Among the pioneer settlers in that part of Ohio known as 
the Western Reserve were Abram Grarfield and his wife, 
Elizabeth Ballon Garfield. They were married in Zanesville, 
Ohio, in 1819, the bridegroom being but twenty years and the 
bride but eighteen years of age. They began life for them- 
selves in a very humble way, making a clearing in the forest 
at Kewberg, Cuyahoga County, where they established their 
home in a comfortable log cabin, according to what was the 
custom in that frontier region. In the year 1830 they re- 
moved, with several children that had been born to them, to 
Orange Township, in the same county, where they made an- 
other home on a farm of eighty acres, most of it uncleared 
land, and entered courageously upon the work and struggles 
incident to a poor farmer's life, in what was then considered 
the far West. There in the rude log house, on what seemed 
to be the outer line of civilization, James A. Garfield was born 
:N'ovember 19, 1831. 

He was born to a condition of poverty — a condition set 
about by many limitations, which of necessity would involve 
the boy in hard struggles. He had an inheritance, however, 
both on his father's and mother's side, which helped him to 
break through the limitations of outward condition and make 
for himself a noble, successful career. His father was a man 
of energy and intelligence, imbued with an honest, manly pur- 
pose of life. He was descended from good Puritan stock that 
came to Massachusetts Colony with Winthrop in 1630. " Each 
of the six generations that dwelt in Massachusetts," says Mr- 
Hoar, " has left an honorable record still preserved." On his 
mother's side, also, the subject of this sketch could claim this 
best sort of inheritance. His mother, N^ew Hampshire born, 
was a direct descendant of Maturin Ballou, a prominent Huge- 
not who fled from France, after the revocation of the edict of 
Nantes, to a home of freedom in Khode Island. From such 


an ancestry James A. Garfield derived much of native force of 
character and essential preparation for the important station 
he was to fill. 

His boyhood life was somewhat hard and nnpromising. 
He was but a babe when his father died, leaving four children 
to the care of the faithful mother, who applied herself with 
the utmost of energy and courage to the support of her 
dependent household. She wrought with her hands in the 
house and in the fields to provide for them ; but while thus 
held to burdensome toil she found time to train the minds of 
her children and help them in obtaining the first acquisitions 
of learning. James had a strong will, a cheerful temper, 
an acute moral sensibility, was resolute to maintain his 
rights, but most ready to be fair and just to others. When 
sixteen years old he left home to seek employment. He 
engaged in different kinds of labor, being employed for some 
months as a driver of horses upon the tow-path of tlie 
Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal. This kind of work was not 
congenial to the thoughtful, studious youth, and on his return 
home, prompted by his mother's advice, he determined to 
obtain an education and strike out for a more ambitious course. 

In the year 1849 young Garfield became a student in 
Geauga Seminary, located in Chester, a few miles away from 
his childhood's home. For two years and more he attended 
this academy, not continuously, however, for he was forced to 
take long vacations in which he wrought with his hands or 
taught school, in order to obtain the means to pay tuition fees 
and supply himself with books. 

In the fall of 1851 he entered the Hiram Institute, at Hi- 
ram, Ohio, where he was both pupil and instructor. In 1854 
he was admitted to the junior class of "Williams College, at 
Williamstown, Mass., graduating therefrom with highest honors 
two years later. While a member of these institutions his cheer- 


ful disposition, genial manners, and general uprightness of 
demeanor, gained for him a large measure of esteem. His 
ca^^acity for study was marvellous and his diligence untiring. 
He was fond of athletic sports and social life; but the intellect- 
ual part of his being was in the ascendancy, so that he left col- 
lege with an excellant reputation for literary scholarship and 
general culture. 

This was James A . Garfield as he is j^resented to view when 
twenty-three years of age, at the time of his leaving college 
and entering upon the more active and responsible duties of 
life. Accepting the position of Professor of Ancient Lan- 
guages in the Hiram Institute, he taught successfully for some 
two years, when he was elected its President. He adminis- 
tered the larger trust with general satisfaction, finding time 
in addition to his routine engagements for wide and varied 
reading and the giving of some attention to political affairs. 
For a time, during 1857-8, he preached almost every Sunday, 
having joined the Communion of Disciples, and being much in- 
terested in religious work; then he studied law, being admitted 
to the bar after due examination. His activity in politics be- 
gan with the Fremont campaign of 1856, at which period he 
made a number of public addresses, discussing the issues in- 
volved, and advocating the election of General Fremont. By 
these addresses he became more Avidely known, and the w^y 
was opened to increased political activity and prominence, re- 
sulting, in the year 1859, in his election to the Ohio Senate, 
where his ability as a leader was quickly recognized. A year 
previously, on November 11, 1858, he had married Miss Lu- 
cretia Rudolph, whom he first met at Geauga Seminary, and 
to whom he was engaged before his entering college. 

Mr. Garfield participated in the exciting campaign of 1860, 
rendering an able service on the platform in behalf of the prin- 
ciples of the Republican party. He rejoiced at the election of 


Mr. Lincoln, and when, soon after his inauguration, the Presi- 
dent issued a call for 75,000 men to uphold the Union, the in- 
fluence of Senator Garfield was an important factor in the 
Ohio Legislature in determining the prompt response that was 
made by that body to the appeal. Having declared his purpose 
of entering the field, he was commissioned by Governor Den- 
nison, August 14, 1861, as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Forty- 
Second Kegimcnt Ohio Yolunteers. Two days later he was 
mustered into service, entering upon a mihtary career for 
which he had no special training, although he brought to the 
discharge of the new duties a well-trained mind, a quick and 
comprehensive judgment, and an ardent love of the Union. 
While holding the rank of Colonel he was placed in charge of 
a brigade of soldiers, and conducted important operations in 
eastern Kentucky. His zeal and ability thus shown won for 
him a promotion to the rank of Brigadier-General. He took 
part in the battle of fehiloh ; was a member of several military 
courts, notably the one convened in Washington for the trial 
of General Porter; served as Chief of Staff to General Rose- 
crans, and bore a leading part in the battle of Chickamauga, 
being promoted to a Major-Generalship for his gallant con- 
duct in that engagement. 

Practically, the military career of General Garfield ends at 
this point, for obedient to a sense of duty, he decided to resign 
his commission in the army and accept a place as Representa- 
tive in Congress, to which he had been chosen, in his absence, 
by the voters of the Nineteenth Ohio District. He entered 
Congress in 1863, being continued there by successive elec- 
tions for nearly seventeen years, and making the mark of his 
keen, incisive thought upon much of the legislation of that 
period. He made a clear showing of the quaHties that char- 
acterize an able party leader, as likewise of those higher gifts 
which belong to the statesman. Mr. Blaine, in his eulogy on 


President Garfield, delivered February 27, 1882, paid him a 
high tribute, declaring " that no one of the generation of pub- 
lic men to which he belonged has contributed so much that 
will be valuable for future reference. His speeches are nu- 
merous, many of them brilliant, all of them well studied, care- 
fully phrased, and exhaustive of the subject under considera- 
tion." In another portion of the eulogy, reference is made to 
the comprehensiveness of Mr. Garfield's mind, and his far- 
reaching political vision, as shown by his speeches in Congress. 
"His speeches forecast many great measures yet to be com- 
pleted — measures which he knew were beyond the public 
opinion of the hour, but which he confidently believed would 
secure popular approval in due time." He was always in- 
fluential in Congress, and in the later terms of his service he 
was the foremost leader of the Republican party in the House 
of Kepresentatives. 

In the early part of 1880, General Garfield was elected 
United States Senator from Ohio ; but before he had resigned 
his seat in the House to enter upon the higher position he re- 
ceived the RepubHcan nomination for the Presidency. This 
nomination came to him unsought and unexpected. It was 
after two days' undecisive balloting that his name was brought 
forward against his own protest, and the Convention turned 
to his support. The result of the campaign that followed was 
his election over General Hancock, the Democratic candidate, 
by a considerable majority. He was inaugurated President 
of the United States on March 4, 1881. 

The view presented of President Garfield at that time is 
certainly an attractive one. He was in the prime of life, well 
versed in the science of government, a man of large and va- 
ried attainments, favorably known as a scholar and a states- 
man, and specially fitted by these acquisitions, as by the in- 
tellectual and moral tone of his life for the exalted oflice he was 


called to fill. The hearts of the people went out to him in 
great confidence, the general feeling being that under his guid- 
ance all departments of the public service would be wisely 
directed, and the interests of the whole country promoted. 
Thus Pi-esident Garfield started out upon the seemingly bright 
course before him; he showed statesmanlike qualities in deal- 
ing with diificult questions, but the few months of his admin- 
istration were insufficient to develop his purposes and plans. 
While in the midst of his exalted usefulness he was struck 
down by the bullet of an assassin, receiving a wound that 
caused his death after eighty days of languishing and suffer- 
ing. President Garfield was shot at about 9 a. m., on Satur- 
day, July 2, 1881, while in the waiting room of the Baltimore 
and Potomac Eailway Station, in Washington, D. C. On tlie 
7th of September he was removed to Long Branch, where he 
died on the 19th of the same month, the whole land mournino- 
his fate; the whole ci^dlized world in sympathy with a l3e- 
reaved people. 

The character and services of James A. Garfield ensure to 
him an honored, grateful remembrance in the heai'ts of the 
American people. " Well may we be proud of him, " said Mr. 
Lowell, " this brother of ours, recognized also as a brother 
wherever men honor what is praiseworthy in man. AVell may 
we thank God for him, and love more the country that could 
produce and appreciate him." Fortunate is that nation whose 
heroes are compounded of such excellent qualities! Fortunate 
a people privileged to look upon the true types of manly great- 
ness, as witnessed by those who have filled exalted stations, 
and been all so diligent in serving their country's interests 
and helping the world to better things ! 




PRESIDENT, SEPTEMBER 19, 1881— MARCH 4, 1885, 






TESTS, many and severe, have been applied to the organic 
hfe of the United States. The strengtli of the Repub- 
Uc has been shown by the endurance of these tests. 
Thus four Presidents have died in office, leaving to the Yice- 
President the constitutional succession to the first place in the 
government; and such succession has been accomplished with- 
out undue excitement, and with no interruption to general pros- 
perity. It was the fourth instance of so critical a change when 
Chester A. Arthar was called to the office of Chief Magistrate, 
having trusts and duties thus devolved upon him quite unlike 
those attached to the position to which he had been elected. 

In tracing the early career of the twenty-first President of 
the United States, we are led to the humble abode of a Bap- 
tist clergyman in Fairfield, Vermont. Rev. WiUiam Arthur, 
father of the subject of the present sketch, came to this coun- 
try from the North of Ireland some two or three years before 
he had attained his majority. Although his talents were not 


conspicuous, he was intelligent and well educated. He minis- 
tered to parishes in Vermont and 'New York, wrote several 
treatises on religious subjects, and was actively interested in 
antiquarian and genealogical pursuits. He died in IN'ewton- 
ville, New York, in the year 1875. It was while settled as 
pastor at Fairfield, Vermont, that his son Chester was born — 
on October 5, 1830. The Vermont birthplace was of a very 
unpretending character. There was, however, a homely charm 
to the spot; with something of education in the picturesque 
surroundings. Early in the boy's life his father moved to 
Troy, New York, where better advantages in the way of books 
and schools were available. The lad in the fifteenth year of 
his age was so far advanced in his studies, that he had no 
trouble in being admitted to Union College, Schenectady, New 
York, where he graduated in 1848. Notwithstanding his 
youth, he suj^ported himself in part during his college course 
by teaching school. He is remembered as a young man of 
ready speech and winning manners, whose influence in the 
community was remarkable for one whose years were so few. 

After graduating from Union College Mr. Arthur contin- 
ued to teach as opportunity offered ; he also applied himself to 
a prescribed course of reading and study, with a view of pre- 
paring himself for the legal profession. Having accumulated, 
by diligence and economy, a few hundred dollars, he went to 
New York City, and there entered upon a more ambitious 
course of activity and usefulness. Admitted to the bar in 
1853, he was, within a year from that date, given a share in 
the law business of Mr. E. D. Culver, the firm name being 
Culver, Parker and Arthur. The junior member, although 
but twenty- three years of age, soon found opportunity to make 
proof of the natural quickness of his mind, and the worth of 
that careful training which he had received. He gave a close 
application to his profession, was orderly and business-like in 


his methods, and gained reputation as an advocate, both as a 
logical reasoner and for the ability he evinced to bring into 
use all available resources in his clients' interests. 

Early in the professional career of Mr. Arthur he became 
identified with a case in the courts turning upon the question 
as to whether or not a slaveholder could take his slaves into a 
free State and hold them as property while temporarily resid- 
ing there. Judge EHjah Paine decided that a slave brought 
voluntarily by his master into IN'ew York was free. This 
judgment was appealed from, and the case was carried into 
the Supreme Court of the United States, great efforts being 
made by the slave holding interest to obtain a reversal of the 
decision. Mr. Arthur made an earnest appeal to the Legisla- 
ture of New York, that this body should engage counsel to 
maintain the constitutionality of the laws of the State, and ac- 
tion was taken accordingly, the result being that the original 
decision was sustained, and the JSTew York statutes relating 
to this question were pronounced to be in accord with the 
Constitution. By his interest and zeal shown in this cele- 
brated case, and his readiness to protect the colored people in 
their legal rights, he advanced his reputation, became more 
widely known in political circles, and his influence Avas corre- 
spondingly increased. 

Mr. Arthur acted with the Whig party in the declining 
days of that organization. "When the Republican party was 
formed, his sympathies and convictions naturally led him to its 
support. Xor was he an inactive member. He contributed in 
essential ways to strengthen the organization, to perfect its 
plans and make them successful. He was a born oi-ganizer, 
and in the way of skillful arrangement and management, ren- 
dered an efficient service to the new party, and made his influ- 
ence felt outside the lines of the immediate locality where his 
political activity was most conspicuous. He became popular by 


reason of his free and genial manners, his sympathetic attitude 
toward the common people, and the faith and fearlessness he 
manifested in maintaining whatever interests related to men 
or measures, that might claim his adherence. In the campaign 
of 1860 he used his best efforts for the election of Mr. Lincoln, 
to whose administration he gave cordial support. When the 
Civil War broke out Mr. Arthur held the place of Engineer- 
in-Chief on the Staff of Governor Morgan, of New York, and 
in this official relation to the Chief Executive of that State 
was called to the exercise of important trusts. Early in 1861 
he was placed in charge of a branch of the Quartermaster's de- 
partment in I^ew Yoi'k City, given large powers, which were 
increased with the increasing demands of the Government for 
military support, until practically he had almost sole charge of 
preparing and equipping the soldiers of 'New York for service 
in the field. In 1861, as Inspector-General, he visited the New 
York regiments in the Army of the Potomac and admiuistered 
to their wants. During the same year, as Quartermaster-Gen- 
eral of the State, he stimulated the raising of re-inforcements, 
gave attention to the providing of needed supplies, and took 
care that there should be no lavish expenditure in the furnish- 
ing of these requisites. His services at this time may well be 
counted for as much on the Union side as though he had been 
in the field commanding a brigade or an army corps. 

In 1863, following the election of Horatio Seymour as Gov- 
ernor, General Arthur retired from these responsible positions 
and resumed the practice of law in New York City. His in- 
terest in public affairs continued unabated, and his hand was 
upon many important political movements. As Chairman of 
the Republican State Executive Committee of New York he 
wielded a potent influence during the political canvass of 1868. 
He was especially devoted to General Grant, and most heart- 
ily did he seek to advance the political interests of that great 


chieftain, and secure his elevation to the Presidency. IN^ear 
the close of 1871 President Grant appointed General Arthur 
to be Collector of the Port of JN'ew York, an office for which 
he had more than ordinary fitness. His management of this 
responsible trust gave such satisfaction that, when he was re- 
appointed, on the expiration of his first term, the Senate, by a 
unanimous vote, confirmed the appointment, without any refer- 
ence of the matter to a committee. As the outcome of a com- 
plicated political situation, he was removed from the office of 
Collector in July, 1878, but this removal was understood to be 
no reflection upon his integrity, or his generally careful and 
business-like management of the office he had held for a period 
of nearly seven years. 

The Republican National Convention which met in Chicago 
in June, 1880, after two days' balloting, selected James A. 
Garfield as candidate for President, and associated with him, 
as candidate for Yice-President, the subject of this sketch. 
In the election that followed these candidates were elected, 
and their inauguration took place March 4, 1881. As presiding 
officer of the Senate, Yice-President Arthur gave proof of 
abiUty; although altogether without legislative experience, he 
was dignified, courteous and self-possessed. The severest 
criticism made against him was the charge of undue political 
interest and manipulation, as evinced notably in his endeavor 
to secure the re-election of Roscoe Conkling by the 'New York 

From the time of the attempted assassination of President 
Garfield there seemed to be a marked development of char- 
acter and responsibility on the part of the Yice-President, who 
bore himself in an admirable manner during the trying period 
when the life of the Chief Executive hung trembling in the 
balance. With the death of the President, September 19, 
1881, all the powers of the first office devolved upon Yice^ 


President Arthur; he took the oath of office on September 20, 
1881, and at once entered upon the momentous tasks thus as- 
signed. He made no attempt to frustrate the supposed pin-poses 
of President Garfield, but on the contrary avowed his inten- 
tion to carry out the policy of his predecessor. If in any- 
thing he caused disappointment, it was that he proved himself 
to be less radical and clannish, more broad minded and tolerant, 
than some had anticipated. His inaugural address, which 
contained no special reference to the Southern States, gave 
a clear intimation of a decreasing feeling of sectionalism, and 
of the putting aside, as belongiug to jDast issues, many of the 
disturbing questions resulting from slavery. 

President Arthur, very soon after his succession to the 
Chief Magistracy, was called to take part officially in the Cen- 
tennial celebration of the surrender of Cornwallis, at York- 
town, Virginia, on which occasion there were present, besides 
the President, membei'S of his Cabinet, Senators, Pepresenta- 
tives. Governors of the States, and other prominent officials, 
together with invited guests from France and Germany, and 
a large concourse of citizens. Although the nation was but 
just recovering from the stroke of severe bereavement, this 
celebration was observed in the heartiest mannei*, and refer- 
ence may well be made to it here as one of the notable events 
with which the President was associated during his temi of 

President Aj-thur, with skillful hand, gave direction to 
23ublic interests, making his robust thought and intelligent 
purpose to be felt in all departments subject to the Executive 
control. Most certainly he grew in public favor by the course 
he pursued while holding the Presidential office — by his man- 
ifestation of statesmanlike qualities, and not less by his evident 
purpose to act fairly in respect to all questions on which he 
was called to pass judgment, and to recognize the claims of 


all sections of the countiy and all classes of citizens. For 
some of his administrative acts he was greatly criticised, but 
on the whole, he received commendation as one who sought to 
do his full duty in the exalted office to which he had succeeded. 
Impressed by his administrative skill shown in the successful 
guidance of public affairs, his many political friends rallied 
about the leader they honored and admired and sought to se- 
cure for him another term in the Presidential office. He was 
a candidate before the National Republican Convention of 
1884:, but failed to obtain the number of votes needed, Mr. 
Blaine being chosen as the standard bearer of the Republican 
party in the campaign of that year. 

On the 4th of March, 1885, President Arthur retired from 
the cares and responsibiUties which he had sustained for nearly 
three and a half years as Chief Magistrate of the Republic. On 
leaving Washington he went to his home in New York City, 
having the purj^ose to rest his severely taxed mind and give 
attention to physical ills which had assumed a somewhat 
threatening character. The desired renewal of health and 
strength did not come to him; gradually he grew weaker 
imder the malady which had fastened itself upon his system, 
until death ensued on November 18, 1886. Thus passed on 
the spirit of one who presents a character in many respects 
bright and attractive. President Arthur was a man of culture, 
broad-minded, sweet-tempered, having a good share of those 
attributes and characteristics which mark manly worth. He 
is deserving of remembrance for these things, as well as for 
the offices he held and the services he rendered. 








POPULAR government implies the existence of political 
parties. Wherever the people are recognized as the 
source of power, having in their hands the choice of their 
rulers, and a determination of the general course of public 
procedure, there must be opposing organizations to represent 
differences of opinion respecting important questions and issues. 
The parties thus formed exercise checks and balances, without 
which popular government would be exposed to greater risks 
than ever, while they stimulate men to the discharge of the 
duties of intelligent citizenship. It is when the people by 
their votes have expressed a judgment respecting men and 
measures that the political party thus approved acquires the 
control of the Government, for a fixed period, within the lines 
marked out by the Constitution. 

Parties have existed from the the days of Washington 
until now. Since the year 1856 the two opposing organiza- 
tions have been designated by the respective names Republi- 
can and Democratic; these two titles, it should be remem- 
bered, having been used formerly with much the same signifi- 


cation. The Republican party came into power with the in- 
auguration of Mr. Lincoln in 1861, and continued to be charged 
with the administration of the General Government until 
March 4, 1885, when the subject of the present paper, Grover 
Cleveland, was conducted into the office of President. After 
twenty-four years of Kepublican rule and direction, a change 
was effected by the success of the Democratic party in the 
campaign of 1884, and a transfer of power from one of the 
great political organizations to the other, peacefully accom- 
plished according to the will of the people expressed at the 
ballot box. 

In preparing a biographical sketch of the man thus chosen 
to fill the most exalted office in the gift of his countrymen, 
there is no call to review so long and eminent a course of pub- 
lic service preceding such election, as in the case of some of the 
occupants of the Presidential chair. Mr. Cleveland came sud- 
denly into public favor; his nomination and election to the 
office of President appear somewhat remarkable, and most cer- 
tainly are typical of our time and country. That he was in 
many respects well prepared for his elevation to the first place 
of public responsibility and duty, is evident, however, to all 
who give careful scrutiny to his strongly marked traits of char- 
acter, the culture and ti-aining of his life, and the acquirements 
and experiences by which he had so much profited. 

Grover Cleveland, like his immediate predecessor in office, 
was a minister's son. His father, Pev. Richard F. Cleveland, a 
clergyman in the Presbyterian communion, was settled for some 
time at Caldwell, Essex County, New Jersey, where the sub- 
ject of this sketch was born, March 18, 1837. His early home 
was a humble one, but favorable to both mental and moral cul- 
ture. He had a native endowment of no mean order, deriving 
a heritage better than material wealth from an illustrious ances- 
try, whose history began with the coming of Moses Cleveland, 


an Englishman, to Massachusetts, in the year 1G35. Aaron 
Cleveland, second son of Moses, and the great-grandfather of 
the President, was a man of much influence in his day and 
generation. He was a Congregational clergyman located in 
Connecticut. His son, the grandfather of Grover, also a res- 
ident of Connecticut, was a man much respected. With this 
bright line of lineage on his father's side, and having an excel- 
lent mother, the daughter of AbnerNeal, of Baltimore, Mary- 
land, Grover Cleveland entered upon life well equipped for 
a successful career. 

When about four years of age the boy was taken by his 
parents to Fayetteville, Oneida County, N^ew Yoi-k, where the 
father was stationed as a preacher. A little later another 
removal was made to Clinton, and afterwards to Holland Pat- 
ent, at which place his father died in 1853. The years of the 
lad's existence during the time preceding this event were not 
of an eventful character. He studied some, read a good deal, 
2)rofited by attending the schools available, and still more by 
the excellent home instruction he received. With the death 
of his father came a breaking up of home, a change in con- 
ditions and surroundings, which, no doubt, had much to do 
with shaping the future life of the son. His first engagement 
was that of a teacher in the JS^ew York Institution for the Blind- 
He was a faithful, patient teacher, applying himself diligently 
to the duties of the subordinate position he held. With two 
years of experience thus gained, he started West to find a 
broader field of opportunity. At the suggestion of an uncle, 
residing at Buffalo, New York, the young man decided to 
remain at that city. He entered the law office of Pogers, 
Bowen and Pogers, worked hard, made rapid progress, so that, 
being admitted to the bar in 1859, he soon became the manag- 
ing clerk of the office where he had obtained his professional 
training. His energy as at that time displayed, his orderly 


methods of work, his industry, and his earnest, bold expres- 
sion of a strong individuality, gained for him a large meas- 
ure of public respect and confidence, while they pointed to a 
career of honored usefulness. 

In the year 1863 Mr. Cleveland was appointed Assistant 
District Attorney of Erie County, 'New York, an office which 
he held some three years. His scrupulous attention to matters 
of detail was specially noticeable, as well as the completeness 
of service in any work once entered upon. As Sheriff of the 
same County, to which position he was elected in 1870, he 
added to his reputation in the respects indicated. After hold- 
ing the office of Sheriff for three years he resumed his law 
practice, becoming professionally associated with Lyman K. 
Bass and Wilson S. Bissell. At a later period Mr. George J. 
Sicard was admitted to partnership, the law firm then being 
designated as Cleveland, Bissell and Sicard. Mr. Cleveland 
was at this time in the full maturity of his powers, ranked as 
an able advocate, a self-reliant man, having the courage of his 
convictions. Thus he was selected, in 1881, to be an expon- 
ent of the Keform sentiment in Buffalo; for although nomi- 
nated as candidate for Mayor by the Democratic party, he was 
supported and elected on a platform of administrative im- 
provement in municipal affairs. His conduct of public in- 
terests while Mayor served to draw him more closely to the 
friends of good government, and caused his name to be ap- 
provingly mentioned, not only in the city and county where 
he resided, but outside of these local lines. When the Demo- 
cratic State Convention met in Syracuse, in the fall of 1882, 
Mr. Cleveland was nominated for the office of Governor, great 
enthusiasm being expressed in his behalf. His triumplfant 
election followed in IS^ovember of that year, the popular feel- 
ing turning to him far in excess of any mere party approval. 
No political leader, no candidate for any office, ever succeeded 


in carrying the people of ISTew York with him, more numer- 
ously and more "earnestly than did Mr. Cleveland in the mem- 
orable election of 1882. His majority of 192,854 votes was 

Governor Cleveland signified in his inaugural message, 
delivered January 2, 1883, some of the underlying features of 
good government, while he pointed out very distinctly his pur- 
pose to exercise a watchful supervision over all departments, 
thus ensuring, so far as possible, a prudent and economical 
administration of the State Government. Probably no Gov- 
ernor ever worked harder than he, or exercised a more careful 
scrutiny in regard to all branches of service more or less di- 
rectly subject to Executive controL He sought to know the 
merits of every question upon which he was called to pass offi- 
cial judgment. When he had once reached a decision, how- 
ever, he was tenacious in maintaining his position. His fre- 
quent exercise of the veto power brought him at times into 
opposition with the Legislature, while his views on public ques- 
tions were not always in accord with the sentiments of his 
party. But though subjected to adverse criticism because of 
his approval or disapproval of certain measures, and not always 
in harmony with the leaders of the party to which he belonged, 
Governor Cleveland's course was generally approved; both by 
his words and acts he made impression upon the people 
throughout the country, and his place was acknowledged to 
be among the foremost leaders of the Democratic party. 

When the :^rational Convention of the Democratic party 
met at Chicago, in July, 1884, the name of Grover Cleveland 
was brought forward for the Presidential nomination. On the 
second ballot he received the nomination, which afterwards 
was made unanimous. A political campaign of more than or- 
dinary excitement followed, resulting in his election as Presi- 
dent of the United States. He received 219 electoral votes 


against 182 cast for Mr. Blaine, the candidate of the Repub- 
lican party. 

The inauguration of President Cleveland, March 4, 1885, 
was on many accounts a memorable occasion. It signified the 
return of the Democratic party to power in the control of the 
Executive Department of Government, after an interregnum 
of twenty-four years. It signified the preferment of a man 
whose absolute official integrity had never been questioned, 
and whose administration of the Government, it was generally 
believed, would be both honest and efficient. The time has 
not come to pass in review the administration of President 
Cleveland, the end of whose term of office has not yet been 
reached, or to estimate without partisan favor or prejudice the 
acts that have marked his course as Chief Magistrate of the 
American I^ation. It will be conceded that he has given care- 
ful attention to the duties of the Presidential office, that he 
has never sought to avoid work or responsibility, and that he 
has wrought successfully in many respects, if not in all, in his 
endeavors to promote the best welfai'e of the people and main- 
tain the Government in its dignity and its strength. In his 
messages he has discussed important questions with boldness, 
and whatever dissent there may be to his recommendations, 
he will not be likely to suffer in reputation on account of his 
presentation of living issues in connection with his own plainly 
avowed opinions. He may have failed in not accoinplishing as 
much in the way of Civil Service Keform as the people antici- 
pated, but he has done something in this direction, as he has 
always advocated the underlying principles of the laws enacted 
during late years to improve that ser^dce and separate it from 
the "spoils system" of politics. In his conduct of foreign af- 
fairs, also, while there may not have been the desired measure 
of success in all negotiations carried on, he has shown fu^mness 
in upholding American rights under the law, united with an 


earnest purpose to bring about a satisfactory settlement of any 
and all questions in dispute. 

President Cleveland's administration, now drawing to a 
close, will be remembered as associated with a period of ma- 
terial prosperity and general good feeling throughout the 
country. It will be recalled, also, as including a hmit within 
Avhich the people of this country were called to mourn the 
death of prominent statesmen and great conunanders whose 
services illumine the pages of the IS'ation's history. Among 
these, mention may be made of Ex-President Grant, who died 
July 23, 1885, and whose funeral was attended by President 
Cleveland, the members of his Cabinet, Generals of the Army, 
and prominent officials of the Government, together with a 
mighty concourse of people, all testifying of the :N'ation's 
mourning for the dead hero, and its just recognition of the 
fame of one who will forever live in remembrance as " a great 
soldier, a fliithful public servant, a devoted defender of the 
public faith, and a sincere patriot. " 

In writing the closing sentences of this biographical sketch, 
reference may well be made to an event which has contributed 
to bring President Cleveland nearer to the hearts of the peo- 
ple and augment his popularity, viz., his marriage to Miss Fran- 
ces Folsom, which took place June 2, 1886. Mrs. Cleveland has 
presided over the White House to the great acceptance of vis- 
itors and guests, Avhile the way and manner in which she 
has met all demands of her position, have drawn to her a 
kindly feeling throughout the country, quite superior to any 
partisan sentiment. Fortunate, indeed, is the President of the 
United States thus blessed in domestic companionship, and 
so strengthened and better prepared to discharge the duties 
and fultill the trusts of his exalted official position. 

Jw| ifSC^Jfsffll l' 


011 414 349 2