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Full text of "The public man. A discourse on occasion of the death of Hon. John Fairfield, delivered in Washington, Dec. 28, 1847"

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* THK < 

ALPHEUS FELCH HISTORICAL LIBRARY \ 

> < 

> < 

BEQUEATHED < 



UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN 

BT THE 

HON. ALPHEUS FELGH. 
1S96. 



t. 






THE PUBLIC MAN, 



A DISCOURSE 



ON OCCASION OF THE 



DEATH OF HON. JOHN FAIRFIELD, 



DELIVERED IN WASHINGTON, DEC. 26, 1847, 



BY JOSEPH HENRY ALLEN, 

PASTOR OF TJtE UNITARIAN CHURCH. 



I'VBLttiHED BT REQUEST. 



WASHINGTON 

T, flARNASD, PHI NT EFT. 

1 8 4 8. 



•/"fc^-O^ 



THE PUBLIC MAN. 



Va^LI 



A DISCOURSE 



ON OCCASION OF THE 



DEATH OF HON. JOHN FAIRFIELD, 



DELIVERED IN WASHINGTON, DEC. 26, 1847, 



BY JOSEPH HENRY ALLEN, 

PASTOR OF THE UNITARIAN CHURCH. 



PUBLISHED BY REQUEST. 



WASHINGTON: 

T. BARNARD, PRINTER. 
1848. 



;■***■?■ 



Washington, December 27, 1847. 

Dear Sie : — The undersigned were present yesterday, and listened, 
with those feelings which it was adapted to excite, to your chaste, ap- 
propriate and eloquent Discourse upon the death of Governor Fairfield. 

Although it must necessarily have been the result of a few hours of 
study and application on your part, it was conceived in such good 
taste, and its tone and sentiment are calculated to do so much good, 
that we respectfully request you to furnish a copy for publication. 

JOHN P.-HALE K W. W. SEATON, 

JOHN G. PALFREY, WM. G. ELIOT, 

B. B. FRENCH, JAMES ADAMS, 

CHARES HUDSON, C. S. FOWLER, 

DANIEL P. KING, GEO. J. ABBOT. 
LEVI WOODBURY, 

We concur in the above request. 

J. W. BRADBURY, 
W. CRANCH, 
ALBION K. PARRIS. 



Rev. J. H. Allen. 



Washington, December 28, 1847. ^ 
Gentlemen : — I have received your note of yesterday, asking a. 
copy of my Discourse for publication. To a request coming in swA ' y*' 
a form there is no room for refusal ; and the manuscript is accordraglj^*./ 
at your service. j* ^ 

Thanking you for the unexpected honor you have done me by this •* 
proposal, and with sentiments of the highest esteem, 

I am your obedient servant, 

J. H. ALLEN. 
Hon. John P. Hale, and others. 



<» 



NOTE. 

I have employed the interval of time since the delivery of the following Dis- 
course, in carefully substantiating the accuracy of the facts and allusions contained 
in it, and have not found cause to vary at all from any statements I have made. 

The gentlemen to whose friendly interest I am indebted for my materials, will ac- 
cept my grateful acknowledgment. To those who have kindly offered to furnish 
additional data to be embodied in the Discourse, I return my sincere thanks ; but 
as its nature and design, no less than the short time of preparation allowed, pre- 
vent its being a full and authentic record of events, I have preferred to retain it in 
its original form, only adding a few lines where required by the connexion. 

By the courtesy of the gentlemen whose duty it became to announce the death 
of Governor Fairfield in the Houses of Congress, I am permitted to insert their 
remarks in the form of an Appendix. 

J. H. A. 
Washington, December 29, 1847. 



* 1 * •*- 



DISCOURSE. 



JOB xxiv. 24. 

They are exalted ; — in a little while they are gone ! 
They are brought low and die, like all others ; 
And like the ripest ears of corn are they cut off.* 

The sudden and painful announcement, made to us 
yesterday morning, as we entered this house for our 
Christmas service, has left one thought foremost and 
prominent in every mind. It would be doing injustice 
to the occasion which Providence has offered us, to re- 
fuse to take the notice of it, which its grave and melan- * 
choly importance demands. The thoughts suggested by 
an event so striking, gathered up in the brief interval 
that has since elapsed, it is my duty and my mournfuj \ v 
privilege to offer to you now. \ " 

I need not stand here, my friends, to moralize upon 
the uncertainty of life, and the unlooked-for coming of 
death. God has spoken to us, in the events of his Pro- 
vidence, louder and better than the voice of any man can 
speak in his behalf. Within these last few months the 
Senate of our country has been nearly decimated by the 

* Noyes's Version. 



6 

impartial and unsparing hand of death. And now, for 
yet further warning that our counsellors act in th6 direct 
presence, as it were, of futurity, and before the judgment 
of the spiritual world, one more is taken from our very 
side;— one in the midst of days and the full maturity of 
judgment; one in the active and^busy discharge of the 
duties of his station; one singularly trusted, and honored 
by the forward and repeated testimonials of his fellow- 
citizens' esteem ; one blending the strict principle and 
clear conviction of Christian faith, with the cheerful 
spirit and domestic affection which bring a man most 
near to the friendly regard of others; one diligently ful- 
filling the unostentatious duties of humble life, worthily 
bearing the unsought honors of office, patiently submit- 
ting to the long pressure of disease and pain, and with 
a steady and quiet faith preparing through his life's course 
for its inevitable and at last strangely sudden close. 

It is not wise, as a general rule, to speak of the per- 
sonal character of those lately deceased, at least from this 
sacred and public place. A friend's partiality, the un- 
avoidable uncertainty of human judgment, and the altered 
and softened feeling which one's death brings about in 
us, are so many perils to that perfect truthfulness, with- 
out which praise is but impertinent, and eulogy a poor 
and impotent pretence. Yet some circumstances may 
justify me in departing for the first time from that rule. 



We meet, many of us, as strangers ; and a stranger's 
death impresses us far less than that of a neighbor and 
friend. We lose here, in some degree, that sense of the 
close interweaving of life and life, of the intimate inter- 
dependence whereby each man is united with all others, 
which in a differently constituted community makes one 
of the strongest incentives to virtue, and the most pow- 
erful restraint upon wrong. The more seriously, then, 
should an instance of this sort be reflected on, so as to v 
restore a portion of that impressiveness, which is in dan- 
ger of being lost. 

And besides, the voluntary assumption of a high and 
public responsibility excludes a man from the possibility 
of escaping the world's judgment, that cannot be bribed 
to withhold its condemnation or applause. His acts are 
done in the world's eye. His conduct is seen and judged 
from far. His influence, for good or harm, is widely 
felt. For example or for warning, it must and ought 
to be widely used. And in view of all these reasons, 
I will use the privilege of this day, to speak a few 
words of him who is lately gone. Rendered more 
pleasant and valuable to me by the slight acquaintance 
which I can only regret now was not longer, the unani- 
* mous and singularly concurring testimony of his personal 
friends, borne out by what I can gather of the public acts 
of his life, is urging me to improve this occasion, to speak 
the word, frankly and sincerely, which is now his last 
earthly due. 






8 

John Fairfield was born on the thirtieth day of Jan- 
uary, 1797, and died on the evening of the twenty-fourth 
of the present month; having served his State four years 
each, as Representative, Governor, and Senator. He 
has therefore lived something more than half a century; 
and of this period about one-fourth has been passed in 
the highest councils of his State or country. It belongs 
to another time and place, to consider more in detail 
both the incidents of his life, and the traits of character 
which have made him so widely honored and beloved. 
Here and now, we may think of him as one we have 
been accustomed to meet in friendly and religious fellow- 
ship; as a constant friend and supporter of our little 
Church; as a man and a Christian, whose private worth 
we have known somewhat, and esteemed. And the il- 
lustration which his life has given us of a few sterling 
* qualities of mind and heart, must needs be welcome, and 
. cannot fail to be impressive now. It may serve as a fit in- 
troduction and enforcement to some few words touching 
* the standard of personal character, by which one in his 
«■ % high and responsible position should be measured. 

I would first mention, as an honorable thing for him, 
that in all the expressions I have heard of warm esteem and 
approbation, no allusion whatever has been made to 
anything of a party character. Whatever honor he has 
gained has been from the integrity of his position as a 
man, and from the discharge of what he held to be his 



9 

personal and private obligation. His name is most nearly 
associated with no sectional or party triumph ; but with 
acts involving what he held to be Christian duty, and the 
claim either of private humanity and justice, or of a 
broad and generous nationality. Of the numerous pub- 
lic measures in which he doubtless had a share, and in . 
which it is but common candor to presume that he fol- 
lowed his own conviction of right, it does not become 
me to pass any judgment in this place. His own private 
conception of duty is that by which each must abide the 
perfect witness of the all-judging God. That is a private 
matter between a man and his Maker. A sacred and im- 
penetrable veil is drawn over it, which the eye of man ;< 
cannot pierce — beyond which his verdict may not dare 
to go. Of one's opinions and modes of judging, so far '?"' 
as they involve his personal character, presuming his sin- 
cerity, we have no right to speak. And it is the more * J " - 
grateful therefore to me, to remind you of the public J*' 
acts and passages of his life, where he has planted him- * 
self on Christian principle, and independently pleaded in * " ? J 
behalf of the simply right. It is honorable alike to him . V T 
and to his fellow-citizens, that the strong regard and in- 
terest manifested towards him, by which he was almost 
by acclamation lifted to the highest offices of trust in his 
native State, was due, not to the advocacy of any one in- 
terest, or fidelity in party allegiance, but to the ground 
he nobly took and vindicated at first, alone, when a 



7" fi^-w^ 



THE PUBLIC MAN. 



VuM 



A DISCOURSE 



ON OCCASION OF THE 



DEATH OF HON. JOHN FAIRFIELD, 



DELIVERED IN WASHINGTON, DEC. 26, 1847, 



BY JOSEPH HENRY ALLEN, 

PASTOR OF THE UNITARIAN CHURCH. 



PUBLISHED BY REQUEST. 



WASHINGTON: 

T. BARNARD, PRINTER. 
1848. 



12 

ed, honest and true, in each different sphere of action. 
It was this which made him — dbmestic as he was in his 
tastes and affections, and rather seeking privacy than no- 
toriety — yet clear decided and unalterably firm, when 
called to assume a difficult responsibility; and which 
made him acknowledge one and the same obligation, 
wherever he chanced to be. It was a fine illustration 
of this, that once, in answer to the direct and searching 
question of his youthful pastor at home, he answered, 
without any sign of impatience or resentment, " Yes, I 
dp, when I take my seat as legislator, remember then my 
responsibility as a Christian, for the word I speak or the 
vote I give." How beautiful a testimony to the truthful- 
ness of their Christian intercourse, — to the fidelity of the 
pastor, and the simple frankness and integrity of the man. 
The same religious faith and principle sustained him, not 
- in patience so much as gladness and alacrity of spirits, 
' ; through the many years' course of the painful complaint 
.;Vfc T which has now taken him away. " Cheerfulness is half 
'* * .the victory," said he to one who was suffering under 
a like severe disease ; giving then the counsel, we may 
be sure, wrung painfully enough out of the well dis- 
guised and uncomplaining experience of long years of dis- 
tress. With the willing sympathy of friends and fellow- 
Christians, we remind each other now of his example, in 
life, in duty, in suffering and death : and in submissive 
trust commend his family, so afflictively bereaved, to the 



13 

love of the widow's God, and the Father of the father- 
less* 

Before the solemn portal of the grave, all human pas- 
sion is at peace. The envy and care, the jealous ani- 
mosity, the party strife, have no more a voice in the still 
and silent courts^f Death. Difference of opinion is for- 
gotten now in the commori thought of mortality; or 
swallowed up in those broader principles, of sentiment 
and duty and faith, which make the best .portion of the 
life of every man. We forget the partial, in which we 
were at variance, and remember the universal, wherein 
we are all alike. We bOw in reverence before the die* 
tate of the Almighty ; and, subdued by that, we cherish 
the memory of the departed, as of a fellow in our hu- 
manity — as of a brother in our Lord. 

• ■.* 

I do not, brethren and friends, I darenot^ hold up axw ^ ^i 

one man's character as a standard or a model for our own. ^ ^0 

It is for the sake of the personal interest which attaches T * 

to a few special traits, when illustrated in the life of one 

we have known and lately lost, that I bring together, in 

this passing record, what I have been able to gather of 

the character and acts of our departed friend. Quietly, 

unobtrusively, as a good man would choose to be spoken 

of, — without vague declamation and empty praise, which 

are but dishonor to the memory of the deceased, — I have 
2 



14 

sought now to bring before you, as grouped in my own 
mind, the facts and principles that made the ground-work 
of his life. They help, by a living example, to make 
more clear a few points in the ideal standard of personal 
character, which should be held by every man, and es- 
pecially by every public man. 

I make no apology, then, for going on to say in a few 
words something of what that character should be. I 
shall not insult your understanding, or trespass on the 
liberty of your own moral judgment, by any attempt to 
define and prescribe the requirements of duty for you ; 
but the sacred motive and the universal principles from 
which all duty must proceed, it is always in place to urge. 
The dignity of the topic, the solemnity of the occasion 
which brings it before us now, the imperishable majesty 
and grandeur of the scheme of Christian truth, of which 
it is but a part — all combine to abate the imposingness of 
personal distinctions, and to place us on the even level 
of our humanity. We stand together all alike as men. 
Far towering above us is the majestic form of our Chris- 
tian faith. Around us lies the great plain or battle-field 
of life ; and at our side solemnly sound the hushed and 
awful voices of the dead. But one thought seems to 
belong to this hour. One lessons seems impressed by 
the dread event One question presses heavily on the 
conscience. One solemn mandate comes to us in the tones 
of mourning that pay a sad respect to the memory of 



15 

the yet unburied dead. The honored and trusted man 
that is among yoi^ what is it for him to be in all respects 
as he should be — an upright and true man, a whole man, 
a Christian man in his appointed place ? 

Taking up the principles suggested, in the order in 
whiqh they have already been ranged and illustrated, I 
shall go on to state in a few 'short words the correspond- 
ing points of Christian character. None is so mean, and 
ndne so proud, but he must confess the authority of that 
law. 

The very first feature of such a character, is that it 
proceeds by broad principles, and personal fidelity to the 
highest right; not by allegiance to any set of measures 
or set of men. This is the absolute and indispensable 
condition of all public virtue. However much the man 
may act with and for a party, and to favor its interests, 
it must be because he believes that in that particular 
thing he does, he is doing best service, not to his side, 
but to truth, to his country and to God. He must be 
utterly forgetful and unconscious that any other obliga- 
tion can possibly for an instant interfere with his sense 
of what is right. By whatsoever name any such other 
obligation may be called, when he rises in behalf of prin- 
ciple, it ought to fall from him, " as a thread of tow is 
broken when it toucheth the fire,"— as the green withs 
fell from the hands of the stout Jewish champion. The 



"4. 



16 

language in which any such factitious obligation is spoken 
of, should be to him as a lost and unknown tongue. The 
ideal of absolute right should so penetrate and take pos- 
session of his soul, as to render utterly impossible any 
minor sense of imperfect obligation, — consuming it as 
fire burns dry stubble, or as the rod of a more potent 
enchanter devoured till the magicians' rods, that tried 
their rival arts. 

It 1$ only by some such image as these, of perfect au- 
thority, of absolute supremacy, that we have a right to 
represent the majesty of the command of truth and justice. 
No doubtful jurisdiction, no divided >or disputed sove- 
reignty^ can there be brooked or endured. Right and 
policy ~- principle* and expediency — fair allies enough if 
the former is supreme, cannot stand for an instant on an 
equal footing. No man can serve two masters; for 
either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he 
lyill hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot 
serve God and Mammon. 

If section or party is the rival to a true patriotism, 
nothing less broad than the whole country,— if the whole 
country in its length and breadth is the rival to humanity 
and right, nothing less broad than the universe, should 
be comprehended in the circle of your vision. Are you 
a man the humblest in the land, having yet the right and 
duty of opinion with respect to the public welfare; or 
are you the highest in place and authority in the land, 



17 

so that her weal or wo may perchance depend on your 
single voice, — that only must be the principle to guide 
you — that and no lower. Bate not a jot or tittle of that 
requirement; else your footing is a quicksand, while 
you breast helplessly the wild and surging storm. 

Next, let the principle be one and the same, that 
guides your public and your private life. " As Bishop 
I nay not shed man's blood," said one of the ecclesias- 
tical nobles of France, "but as Prince I will lead my men 
to battle." u But," said his servant, too simple to com- 
prehend the casuistry, "when Satan comes for the 
Prince, what shall become of the Bishop?" In the 
sight of God, of man, of your own conscience, armed 
with the terrors of both, the man in his public or his 
private capacity is absolutely one and inseparable. If he 
does not bring the honor to the station, the honor it 
brings him will be but the empty prefix to a name. >*,' 
Nothing is worthy of any man's respect, but that gen- 
uine self-respect, which regards all stations as alike in 
dignity, if alike in the worth that fills them ; which is 
above the paltry vanity or the miserable conceit that 
perpetually seeks to plant its footsteps still above another 
grade; which scorns the base compliance and the un- 
worthy arts, whereby some have sought the fictitious 
and imaginary consequence of some special department 
of service. Q reform it altogether ! Keep to that whole- 



18 

ness, simplicity and truthfulness of that character, which 
sees in the variety of places only varying opportunities 
of doing right. Seek in all alike the integrity, purity 
and high-mindedness, which are every man's best trea- 
sure in the sight of God. 

What a privilege it is, beyond almost every other, that 
the high principle and honorable conduct of a man of the 
world, is such a sincere and unsuspected tribute to the 
power and reality of virtue ! What a rebuke to the 
mean and cowardly betrayal some men make, in distant 
places, of the personal purity and the moral obligation 
they would have been afraid and ashamed to betray at 
home ! Men cannot say, such an one does so of course, 
and because he must. They cannot enfeeble the force 
of his words, by saying or hinting that he says them pro- 

... fessionally, and because just that is expected of him. 

^p Nothing of that ungenerous and pitiful surmise which so 
ft*'' "-/ft utterly stops the preacher's mouth and shackles his hand, 
: *.V* that he has not nerve enough to put his own doctrine in 
practice, — no slur upon his inexperience in real life, can 
be in the way, when a man of business, dealing daily in 
the affairs of the world, lives out simply, strongly, unos- 
tentatiously, the law of right as it lies in his own con- 
science and heart. He is the true teacher. He is the 
prevailing preacher of righteousness. He delares, un- 
embarrassed and free, the principles he has tested, and 
lived out, and abided by. Here virtue is not a sounding 



19 

name, but an outstanding fact; not an exhortation, but 
a fulfilment; not an assertion or an anticipation, but a 
life. There is not a single one of you, my hearers, 
whom I may not envy the opportunity you have, of 
being a far more effectual preacher of righteousness, 
than ever I could be. 

And lastly, religious principle as the foundation and 
vital element of such a character — faith in God and 
Christ, as the support of virtue, the inspiration of manly 
endeavor, the consoler of grief, the assuager of pain, 
the preparation for life and. death, — of this too must 
one word be said. That one word is, you are men. In 
the heavy pressure of duty, in the whirl and perplexity 
of care, in the burdensome and weary responsibility, in 
the dread anticipation of possible calamity and certain 
death, you have the wants, the trials, the spiritual need of ^ 
the universal human heart. "One may live," (I useM* **** 
the solemn language of a tribute paid but two years .^"V^ 
since to one of our most wise and distinguished jurists,) ■* f 
" One may live as a conqueror, a king, or a magistrate ; 
but he must die as a man. The bed of death brings 
every one to his pure individuality — to the intense con- 
templation of that deepest of all relations, the relation 
between the creature and his Creator. " 

Here is something which comes close home to the ex- 
perience and secret thought of us all. This gradual dis- 
solution j this conflict, day by day and week after week, 



20 

with pain; this yielding before the Slow approaches of 
disease; this parting one by one with the thoughts and 
plans and prospects that had made life pleasant to us ; 
this familiarizing ourselves, through suffering; with the 
form and features of death; — all this-— yes, all, in its 
slow inevitable progress, in its varied processes of agony 
and feebleness and the gradual loss of hope — we must 
submit to it all, in such measure and in such shape as we 
shall be called to meet it. Whether with us the strug- 
gle be one of moments, or hours, or days, or weeks, or 
months, or years, it is yet the same ; in its brief agony 
or lengthened tediousness, it is all the same. It is the 
one continually repeated struggle of Life with Death, of 
Nature with Dissolution. We can hold parleyings 
with the Destroyer. We can make a truce with him 
for a time. We can deal with symptoms by science, and 
prolong our days by care. But the process is still the 
* 7 same,* and the result the same. Life grapples with 
Death; and the strife may hold out long: but Death 
always comes off victorious. One after another is en- 
countered and overthrown, and still Death unwearied 
seeks his man. The furrows on the brow, and the pale- 
ness of the cheek, the features becoming more thin and 
the step more unsteady, — all these are the signs and 
tokens Death puts upon his victims, when he marks them 
for his own. The time is coming with us all. The 
change we see in one another's faces, after the interval of 
no more than a single year, is too plain a symptom to be 



21 

mistaken. The tokens of Death we read in one another. 
We know that we are wearing them ourselves. Gradu- 
ally but surely we are walking together towards the si- 
lent valley ; and it will not be long before we are all 
gathered there. 

Look back upon that interval of a single year. Its 
last Sabbath has summoned us to this solemn service. 
Besides those who have fallen in blood upon the bloody 
battle-field, count the number of those high in place and 
honorable, whom God has called away. 

" They are exalted ; — in a little while they are gone ! 
They are brought low and die, like all others ; 
And like the ripest ears of corn are they cut off." 

One thing only is safe and sure — that stainless vir- 
tue, reposing on religious faith and principle, which 
is as far from bravado as from fear, in the face of life and 
death, — which is perfect trust in God, and perfect re- 
liance on the word of Him, who brought life and* 

IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT. 

And once again : — Is it too tedious a repetition, to 
say that the time for your Christian virtue to act is 
now. It is no one single burst of generous sentiment 
that is wanted, no enthusiasm of the moment, no loud 
and boastful talk, no noisy measures of sudden sectarian 
or private action. All these are easy and cheap. What 
we want, what you want, is something higher, broader, 



22 

deeper far than they. It demands nothing less than the 
serious and earnest purpose of a full-grown man. It 
exacts the whole homage of the heart, and the steady 
allegiance of the life. The price will be no less than 
that; and what is purchased is fairly worth the price. 
It is that great joy, which " fills the soul as God fills the 
universe, silently and without noise." It is like unto 
treasure hid in a field ; the which when a man hath found 
he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that 
he hath, and buyeth that field. 

Now is the trial of your principle. Now is the test 
of your integrity. Now is the time for your virtue to be 
at work. As I look upon you, one by One, I cannot but 
feel that in the natural course of things I shall record, 
one by one, in my own memory, the deaths of all or most 
of the strong active and influential men, whom I see be- 
fore me; and that, in all probability, you will be severally 
taken out of the very press of care, in the fulness of days 
and strength, still surrounded with the occupations, and 
bound in the habits of thought, that belong to your pres- 
ent way of life. Any plan for virtue hereafter, that does 
not include the practice of virtue now, is thoroughly de- 
ceitful, false and wrong. To God and your own con- 
science I then commend you ; that you may follow the 
footsteps of all the honorable wise and good; that your 
life may be perfect and upright, and the end thereof be 
peace. 



APPENDIX 



IN SENATE. 

MONDAY, December 27. 

THE LATE SENATOR JOHN FAIRFIELD. 

Mr. BRADBURY rose and addressed the Senate as follows: 

Mr. President : I rise for the performance of a duty too painful 
for language to describe. 

One who was with us in this Chamber, at the last meeting of the 
Senate, attending to his official duties, assisting in our deliberations, 
and as confidently looking forward to the future as those who are now 
present, has suddenly fallen in our midst. He is now numbered with 
the dead. 

Four times has the Senate already been called during the few days 
of its Session, to manifest the last tokens of respect for the honored 
dead, who have been prevented from entering upon the field of their 
labors in the present Congress. Now, the destroyer has entered these 
Halls, and struck down his victim before our eyes. 

The Hon. John Fairfield is no more. He died at his lodgings in 
this city on Friday last. 

The sudden and startling announcement of his death preceded the 
intelligence of danger. 

On the morning of that day he was in his usual health, and met his 
friends with his accustomed cheerfulness and cordiality. At noon, he 
submitted to a surgical operation, to which, with undoubting confid- 
ence, he had looked for relief from an infirmity under which he had 
labored. His physical energies were not equal to his fortitude and 



24 

courage. His system sank under the unabated anguish which fol- 
lowed ; and at twenty minutes before eight o'clock in the evening, in 
the full possession of his mind, he breathed his last. Scarcely had 
the friends that were with him anticipated danger, when his pure 
spirit took its flight. 

From an affliction so appalling, it is difficult to divert attention, 
even to contemplate for a moment the life and character of the 
deceased. Gov. Faihfield was born at Saco, in the county of York, 
Maine, January 30, 1797. In that place he has ever resided. Dis- 
tinguished by an ardent love of knowledge, an active mind, and great 
strength of purpose, on arriving at manhood he devoted himself to the 
law, and entered a profession which has contributed its full share in 
the establishment and defence of constitutional liberty. At the bar he 
soon acquired such reputation, that he received from the Executive of 
the State, the appointment of Reporter of the Decisions of the Supreme 
Judicial Court. 

While in the successful performance of the duties of this office, he 
was called by the electors of the First Congressional District, without 
solicitation or desire on his part, to take his place in the councils of 
the nation as a Representative in Congress. He received a re-elec- 
tion ; and it is well known, that he discharged the responsible duties 
devolved upon him on trying occasions in a manner alike honorable 
l o himself and to his constituents. 

His services were now demanded in a different sphere. He was 
elected Governor of his native State ; and so strong was his hold upon 
the confidence and regard of the people, that he was thrice re-elected 
to the same exalted station. It was during this period of his public 
life, when great and unusual responsibilities were thrown upon him as 
the Chief Executive of the State, growing out of collisions with a For- 
eign Power, that he displayed a decision and firmness of character 
which commanded the respect, and fixed upon him the attention of the 
whole country. He became, emphatically, the favorite of his State ; 
and he was now transferred from its Executive chair to a seat upon 
this floor, to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of his predeces- 
sor. In 1845, he received a re-election to the Senate, for the term of 
six years. It may be remarked, as a singular fact, that in all the offi- 



25 

ces he has held, he has never served out the regular term, but has been 
transferred, by promotion, to a higher place. 

To you, Mr. President, who knew him well, and to the Senators 
long associated with him, and united by the ties of respect and friend- 
ship, I need not speak of his honorable career in this body. 

You will bear witness to the sound judgment and ready zeal which 
he brought to the discharge of his varied duties — to that honesty of 
purpose which knows no guile — to that frankness and sincerity inca- 
pable of concealment — to that firmness of resolution which no diffi- 
culties could shake nor dangers overcome — and to that purity of life, 
and conscientious regard to his convictions of right, which distin- 
guished him as a man and a Christian. 

How happily these qualities were blended in his character, is known 
to you ; how justly they were appreciated by the people of his native 
State, is seen in the confidence they yielded, and the honors they be- 
stowed. 

As a friend, he was devoted and sincere; and few there are who 
have secured the attachment of a wider circle, or bound them by 
stronger ties of affection. His loss to the public, to his friends, and 
above ail to his deeply afflicted family, what words can express ! I 
cannot attempt it. 

He has left behind his example, his character, the influence of his 
actions, and, in his sudden death, the admonition that " public honors 
and exalted station add no strength to the tenure by which life is held." 



HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 

Mr. HAMMONS rose and spoke as follows : 

Mr. Speaker : In raising my voice for the first time in this Hall, it 
devolves upon me to perform the most painful and melancholy duty 
of my life. 

The Hon. John Fairfield, Senator from Maine, on Friday last, at 
twelve meridian, was in the enjoyment of good health, with an unusual 
flow of spirits, surrounded with honors, and possessed of all the en- 
joyments that earth can afford ; at a quarter before eight on the evening