"I was not unaware of the hazards of accepting office under Mr. Adams, and yielded my judgment to gratify my friends. I was deeply solicitous of rendering the country independent: our population was increasing; I was sure large immigration would add to the natural increase; and I felt it was the true policy of the Government to commence the manufacture of all articles necessary to its population, and especially the articles of prime necessity, iron and clothing. We had the minerals, the coal, and the cotton; and the sad experience of the recent war warned us to prepare against the same consequences should we unfortunately be again in a similar condition. I was satisfied that this policy would meet powerful opposition by those who supposed their interests affected by protection; and I knew, to build up the manufactures at home, they must be protected against foreign competition—at least for a time. Once capital was abundant and largely invested in manufacturing, with an abundance of educated skill, this protection could be withdrawn; as home protection would not prevent home competition, and high prices would stimulate this competition to the point of producing more than was necessary for home consumption; which would force the manufacturer to find a market abroad for his surplus; this would bring him into competition with the European manufacturer, and he would be compelled to be content with the prices he could obtain under this competition; this would necessarily, by degrees, reduce prices at home, and finally obviate the necessity of protection. Already this has come to pass. The good of the country I thought demanded this; and for this I exerted all my powers and all my influence; never for a moment doubting but that in time and from results the whole people would approve the policy. Nor did I ever anticipate any political result to my own interest. I have never thought of self, in any great measure of policy I may have advocated. I have looked to final results in benefits to the country alone, with a hope that my name should not be a disgrace to my children, who should witness the working and the effect of measures connected with my public life. With an honest purpose, I feared no consequences; and desiring, above temporary popularity, the good of the country, I assumed all the hazards and consequences which my enemies could torture out of the act of accepting office under Mr. Adams. I have never regretted it, and have lived to see the slanderers of my fame rebuked by the whole country.
"This terrible Mexican war now raging, I fear, is to result in consequences disastrous to our Government. That we shall drive Mexico to the wall there cannot be a doubt. We will avail ourselves of the conqueror's right in demanding indemnity for the expenses of the war. She has nothing to pay with, but territory. We shall dispossess her of at least a third, perhaps the half of her domain; this will open the question of slavery again, and how it is to be settled God only knows. For myself, I see no peaceful solution of the question. The North and the South are equally fanatical upon the subject, and the difficulties of adjustment augmenting every day. You will agree with me that the institution violates the sentiment of the civilized world. It is unnatural, and must yield to the united hostility of the world. But what is to be done with the negro? You cannot make a citizen of him, and clothe him with political power. This would lead rapidly to a war of races; and of consequence to the extinction of the negro. He will not labor without compulsion; and very soon the country would be filled with brigands; the penitentiaries would not hold the convicts; and the public security would ultimately demand that they should be sent from the country.
"To remove such a number, even to the West Indies, would involve an expense beyond the resources of the Government; to force them into Mexico would make her a more dangerous and disagreeable neighbor than she is; besides, this would only be postponing the evil, for I apprehend we shall want to annex all of Mexico before many years. As I remarked, I can see no peaceful solution of this great social evil; but fear it is fraught with fatal consequences to our Government."
John Randolph, soon after the election of Mr. Adams, was sent to the United States Senate by Virginia. His enmity to Mr. Clay had received a new whetting through the events of the year or two just past; and the natural acerbity of his nature was soured into bitter malignity. He believed every word of the story of Creemer, and harped upon it with the pertinacity of the Venetian upon the daughter of Shylock. He was scarcely ever upon the floor that some offensive allusion was not made to this subject. It was immaterial to him what the subject-matter was under discussion: he found a means to have a throw at the Administration, and of consequence, at Clay; and bargain and corruption slid from his tongue with the concentration of venom of the rattlesnake. The very thought of Clay seemed to inspire his genius for vituperation; his eye would gleam, his meagre and attenuated form would writhe and contort as if under the enchantment of a demon; his long, bony fingers would be extended, as if pointing at an imaginary Clay, air-drawn as the dagger of Macbeth, as he would writhe the muscles of his beardless, sallow, and wrinkled face, pouring out the gall of his soul upon his hated enemy. It was in one of these hallucinations that he uttered the following morsel of bitterness, in allusion to the story of bargain and corruption: "This, until now, unheard-of combination of the black-leg with the Puritan; this union of Luck George with Blifell," (an allusion from Fielding's novel of "Tom Jones.") Language could not have been made more offensive. But the fruitful imagination of Randolph was not exhausted, and he proceeded with denunciation which spared not the venerable mother of Mr. Clay, then living—denouncing her for bringing into the world "this being, so brilliant, yet so corrupt, which, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, shined and stunk."
This drew from Mr. Clay a challenge, and a meeting was the consequence. There was no injury sustained by either party in this conflict, the full particulars of which may be found in Benton's "Thirty Years in the Senate;" and I have Mr. Clay's authority for saying that this account is strictly correct.
In General Jackson's letter to Carter Beverly, he states that Buchanan came to him and stated that the friends of Mr. Adams had made overtures to Mr. Clay, to the effect that, if Mr. Clay would with his friends support Mr. Adams, and he should be elected, then he would appoint Clay to the position of Secretary of State; and that Buchanan recommended Jackson to intrigue against this intrigue.
Buchanan denied the statement in toto. Beverly wrote a letter, in 1841, admitting the falsehood of a former letter of his; and again, another to Mr. Clay, in 1844 or 1845, asking Clay's forgiveness for the part he had acted in the matter.
GEORGIA'S NOBLE SONS.
A MINISTER OF A DAY—PURITY OF ADMINISTRATION—THEN AND NOW—WIDOW TIMBERLAKE—VAN BUREN'S LETTER—AMBRISTER AND ARBUTHNOT—OLD HICKORY SETTLES A DIFFICULTY—A CAUSE OF THE LATE WAR—HONORED DEAD.
Immediately upon the inauguration of Mr. Adams, Mr. Crawford left Washington, and returned home. His residence was near Lexington, Georgia, upon a small farm. It was an unostentatious home, but comfortable, and without pretensions superior to those of his more humble neighbors. Mr. Crawford had held many positions in the service of the country, and had honestly and ably discharged the duties of these for the public good. As a senator in Congress, he won the confidence of the nation by the display of great abilities; and gave universal satisfaction of the pure patriotism of his heart, in all he said, or did. He was distinguished, as minister to France, for his open candor and simplicity of manners—so much so, as to cause Napoleon to remark of him "that no Government but a republic could create or foster so much truth and honest simplicity of character as he found in Mr. Crawford."
For years, he had served the nation as financial minister, and at a time when the method of keeping, transferring, and disbursing the moneys of Government afforded infinite opportunities for peculation—when vast amounts of money arising from the sale of the public domain in the West and the South was under his control, and when he had the selection of the depositories of this, and when these deposits were of great value to the local or State banks, so that they would have paid handsomely for them; yet this noble being came out of the furnace without the smell of fire upon his garments.
There was but one man who ever imputed dishonesty to him, or selfish motives in any act. When the claims of Mr. Adams and Mr. Crawford for the Presidency were being discussed, and party asperity sought to slay its victims, Ninian Edwards, a senator of Congress from Illinois, charged Mr. Crawford with impropriety of conduct in depositing, for selfish and dishonest purposes, the public moneys arising from the sale of lands in Illinois, in banks notoriously insolvent. Edwards had been appointed minister to Mexico, had left the Senate, and had gone to his home, preparatory to his leaving for Mexico; and from his home made this attack upon Mr. Crawford. The son-in-law of Edwards, a man named Cook, was the representative in Congress from Illinois, and, if I remember correctly, was the only representative who at the time reiterated these charges from his seat. Mr. Crawford immediately demanded an investigation of his conduct. This was had, and the result was a triumphant acquittal from all blame; and so damaging was this investigation to Edwards that the President recalled the commission of Edwards as minister to Mexico, and appointed Joel R. Poinsett, of South Carolina, in his stead. Edwards was at New Orleans when the letter of recall from the President reached him, that far on his way to Mexico: he returned in disgrace, and soon faded from public notice forever. At the time, it was asserted he was the brother-in-law of Mr. Adams, and knowing that some of the banks in which Crawford had deposited the public treasure had failed, he imagined complicity of a dishonest character, on the part of Crawford, with the officers of the banks, and expected to injure him and subserve the interest of Adams. In what contrast does this transaction place the purity of the Government, as then administered, with its conduct of to-day, and how peerless were those who were trusted then with public confidence and high places, in comparison with the public men who fill their places now!
Georgia has given to the nation two Secretaries of the Treasury—William H. Crawford and Howell Cobb; they were citizens of adjoining counties. Cobb was born within a few miles of Crawford's grave. They were both administering the office at a time in the history of the nation when she was surrounded with perils. The one, when she was just coming out of a war with the most powerful nation on earth; the other, when she was just going into a war, civil and gigantic. Both were afforded every opportunity for dishonest peculation, and both came out, despite the allurements of temptation, with clean hands and untainted reputation. They were reared and lived in the atmosphere of honesty; they sought the inspiration from the hills and vales, blue skies, and clear pure waters of Middle Georgia. The surroundings of nature were pure; the honest farmers and mechanics, her professional men and merchants, were and are pure. It was the home of Upson, Gilmer, Thomas W. Cobb, Peter Early, Eli S. Sherter, Stephen Willis Harris, William Causby Dawson, Joseph Henry Lumpkin; and now is the home of A.H. Stephens, Ben. Hill, Robert Toombs, Bishop Pierce, and his great and glorious father, and in their integrity and lofty manhood they imitate the mighty dead who sleep around them.
Glorious old State! though long trodden with the tyrant's foot, there is a resurrectionary spirit moving thy people, which will lift thee again to the high pinnacle from which thou wast thrust, purified and reinvigorated for a career of brighter glory than thou hast yet known—when the men who plague you now shall be driven from your State, and the sons of your soil, in the vigor of their souls, undefiled and untrammelled, shall wield your destinies.
Like a Roman of latter days, Mr. Crawford retired from the service of his country poorer than when he entered it. There was sweet seclusion in his retreat, and honest hearts in his humble neighbors to receive him with "Come home, thou good and faithful servant; we receive thee, as we gave thee, in thy greatness and thy goodness, undefiled." He had only partially recovered from his, paralysis, though his general health was much improved; rest and retirement, and release from public duties and cares, served to reinvigorate him greatly. His estate was small, his family large, and his friends, to aid him, secured his election to the bench of the Superior Court, the duties of which he continued to discharge until his death. He survived to see General Jackson elected President, to whom he gave a cordial support. Mr. Calhoun had been nominated and elected Vice-President with General Jackson, both with overwhelming majorities. Crawford had carried all his strength to the support of the ticket, and the friends of Crawford and Calhoun were found acting in concert, notwithstanding the hostility yet unappeased between their chiefs. It was the union of necessity, not of sympathy or affection. At this juncture, there was perhaps as cordial a hatred between the people of South Carolina and those of Georgia, as ever existed between the Greek and the Turk.
Mr. Calhoun, it seemed now to be settled, was to be the successor of General Jackson. The new parties were organized, and that headed by General Jackson assumed the name of Democrat, and now held undisputed control of more than two-thirds of the States. Mr. Calhoun had broken away from the usage of former Vice-Presidents, which was to retire, and permit a president of the Senate pro tem. to be chosen to preside over the deliberations of that body. He determined to fulfil the duties assigned by the Constitution, and in person to preside. His transcendent abilities and great strength of character by this course was constantly kept before the nation. His manners and presence gave increased dignity and importance to the office, daily increasing his popularity with the Senate and the nation. His position was an enviable one, and was such as seemed to promise the power to grasp, at the proper time, the goal of his ambition, the Presidency of the republic.
From the commencement of General Jackson's Administration there was a powerful opposition organized. It consisted of the very best talent in the Senate and House. The Cabinet was a weak one. Mr. Van Buren was premier, or Secretary of State, with John H. Eaton, a very ordinary man, Secretary of War; Branch, Secretary of the Navy, and Ingham, Secretary of the Treasury; with John M. Berrien, Attorney-General. Eaton was from Tennessee, and was an especial favorite of General Jackson. He had been in the Senate from Tennessee, and had formed at Washington the acquaintance of a celebrated widow of a purser in the navy, Mrs. Timberlake. This woman had by no means an enviable reputation, and had been supposed the mistress of Eaton, prior to their marriage. She had found her way to the heart of Jackson, who assumed to be her especial champion. The ladies of the Cabinet ministers refused to recognize her or to interchange social civilities with her. This enraged the President, and it was made a sine qua non, receive Mrs. Eaton, or quit the Cabinet. Van Buren was a widower, and did not come under the order. He saw the storm coming, and, to avoid consequences of any sort, after consultation with Jackson, resigned. His letter of resignation is a literary as well as a political curiosity. General Jackson, it is said, handed it to Forsyth, with the remark "that he could not make head or tail of it; and, by the eternal, Mr. Forsyth, I do not believe Van Buren can himself." This was the forerunner of a general dismissal of the entire Cabinet, save Eaton, who resigned. This rupture startled the whole nation, but nothing Jackson could do, seemed capable of affecting his growing popularity. A new Cabinet was organized, and soon after Mr. Van Buren was sent minister to England, and Eaton minister to Spain.
The opposition were in a majority in the Senate, led on by Clay and Webster. These were confronted by Forsyth, Benton, and Wright: the wrestle was that of giants. The world, perhaps, never furnished a more adroit debater than John Forsyth. He was the Ajax Telemon of his party, and was rapidly rivalling the first in the estimation of that party. He hated Calhoun, and at times was at no pains to conceal it in debate. In the warmth of debate, upon one occasion, he alluded in severe terms, to the manner in which Mr. Crawford had been treated, during his incumbency as Secretary of the Treasury, by a certain party press in the interest of Mr. Calhoun. This touched the Vice-President on the raw: thus stung, he turned and demanded if the senator alluded to him. Forsyth's manner was truly grand, as it was intensely fierce: turning from the Senate to the Vice-President, he demanded with the imperiousness of an emperor: "By what right does the Chair ask that question of me?" and paused as if for a reply, with his intensely gleaming eye steadily fixed upon that of Calhoun. The power was with the speaker, and the Chair was awed into silence. Slowly turning to the Senate, every member of which manifested deep feeling, he continued, as his person seemed to swell into gigantic proportions, and his eye to sweep the entire chamber, "Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung," and went on with the debate.
The cause of the animosity of Jackson, toward Crawford was a report which had reached Jackson, that Crawford, as a member of Mr. Monroe's Cabinet, had insisted in Cabinet meeting upon the arrest of Jackson for a violation of national law, in entering without orders, as the commanding general of the army of the United States, the territory of a friendly power, and seizing its principal city by military force. General Jackson had entered Florida, then a dependency of Spain, with which power we were in amity, and seized Pensacola.
A band of desperate men had made a lodgment in Florida, headed by two Scotchmen, Ambrister and Arbuthnot. These men had acquired great influence with the Indians, and were stimulating them to constant depredations upon the frontier people of Georgia. When pursued, they sought safety in the territorial limits of Florida. Remonstrances with the Government of Spain had produced no effect. It could not, or would not expel them, or attempt any control of the Indians; and it became necessary to put a stop to their aggressions. Jackson commanded, and was the very man for such a work. He placed before the President the difficulties, but said he could and would break up this nest of freebooters, if he had authority from the President to enter the territory, and, if necessary, take possession of it. It would be an act of war to authorize this course, he knew; but he was prepared for the responsibility (he generally was.) "I do not ask for formal orders: simply say to me, 'Do it.' Tell Johnny Ray to say so to me, and it shall be done." Johnny Ray was a member of Congress at that time from East Tennessee, and devoted to Jackson. This was done, and the work was accomplished. The two leaders were captured and summarily executed, claiming to be British subjects.
Mr. Monroe in some things was a weak man; he was surrounded by a Cabinet greatly superior to himself; he had not counselled with them, and he feared the responsibility he had assumed would not be sanctioned or approved by his constitutional advisers, and he timidly shrank from communicating these secret instructions to them. The matter was brought before the Cabinet, by a remonstrance from the Spanish Government, in the person of her representative at Washington. In the discussion which arose, a motion was submitted to arrest and court-martial Jackson. Calhoun was indignant that as Secretary of War he had not been consulted. General Jackson was sent for, and very soon the matter was quieted, and Spain satisfied.
It was in this discussion, or Cabinet meeting, that Mr. Crawford was represented to General Jackson as moving his arrest. Mr. Adams defended Jackson most strenuously, and it is not improbable that the President may have informed him, sub rosa, of what had been communicated to Jackson. The intimacy between Mr. Monroe and Mr. Adams was close, and it was thought he preferred him, and gave him more unreservedly his confidence than any of his ministers.
I believe it was in the early part of the year 1829, or 1830, (I have, where I write, no means of reference, and will not pretend to great accuracy in dates,) when Mr. Crawford received a visit from Mr. Van Buren, and his friend, Mr. Cambreling, at his home in Oglethorpe. What transpired during that visit, I do not pretend to know; but soon after, Mr. Forsyth received a letter from Mr. James Hamilton, of New York, making certain inquiries with regard to this move in Mr. Monroe's Cabinet. Mr. Forsyth appealed to Mr. Crawford, who responded, and in detail revealed the proceedings in council upon this matter, charging, without equivocation, Mr. Calhoun as being the secretary who had moved the arrest and trial of Jackson. At the time of this development, General Jackson was absent from Washington, on a visit to his home in Tennessee, and Mr. Calhoun was in South Carolina. A correspondence ensued between the President and Vice-President of the most acrimonious character. Mr. Calhoun denied in toto the charge. Mr. Crawford appealed to the members of the Cabinet, Adams and Crowninshield, who sustained the truth of Mr. Crawford's statements, and Mr. Calhoun clearly implicated himself, by accusing Crawford of a breach of honor in disclosing cabinet secrets. It is not my purpose to enter into the minutiae of this affair, further than to show the part taken in it by Mr. Crawford. Mr. Van Buren did not appear in this imbroglio; he doubtless had his agency, as his interest, in bringing this matter to General Jackson's knowledge. Mr. Calhoun was identified with the popularity of Jackson and his party, and was now, by common consent of that party, the prominent man for the presidential succession. Mr. Van Buren had been the Secretary of State of General Jackson, had studied him well, and knew him well. He knew also the temper of the Democratic party: through his agency the political morality of New York politicians had permeated the Democracy from one end of the country to the other: the doctrine subsequently enunciated by Mr. Marcy, that "to the victors belonged the spoils," was in full operation throughout the nation as the Democratic practice. This was the cement which closely held the politician to party fealty. Jackson rewarded his friends, and punished his enemies; Jackson was an omnipotent power; Jackson was the Democratic party. To secure his friendship was necessary to success; to incur his enmity, certain destruction. Van Buren was as artful as ambitious: he had indoctrinated Jackson with his own policy, by inducing him to believe it was his own; and the frankness of Jackson's nature prevented his believing anything was not what it professed to be. It was the ambition of Van Buren to be President, and his sagacity taught him the surest means to effect this end was to secure effectually and beyond peradventure the friendship and support of Jackson. Mr. Calhoun was between him and the aim of his ambition: to thrust him from Jackson's confidence was to effect all he desired. This was done; the breach was irreparable. Van Buren was sent, in the interim of the session of Congress, minister plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James.
Mr. Clay had come back into the Senate, and was heading and leading an opposition, then in the majority in the Senate; and the nomination of Van Buren was rejected. Jackson, assured that Calhoun had deceived him, was bitter in his denunciations of him, and Calhoun was sympathizing with this opposition. Jackson denounced Calhoun as his informant of Crawford being the Cabinet minister who had in Cabinet council moved his arrest. Calhoun gave the lie direct to the assertion; and that Jackson was capable of lying, referred as evidence to his statements relative to the charge of bargain and intrigue against Mr. Clay. But enough had been done to crush out the popularity and the hopes of Calhoun, beyond the limits of South Carolina. There never has been so sudden and so terrible a fall from such a height of any man in this nation—not excepting that of Aaron Burr. John C. Calhoun, in talent, learning, and statesmanship, was greatly superior to Jackson, and unsurpassed by any man of the age. But the breath of Jackson was the blight which withered his laurels, and crushed his prospects, and destroyed his usefulness forever, in a night.
What consequences have grown out of this quarrel, I leave for the pen of the historian. Yet I cannot forbear the speculation that the late and most disastrous war was one, and of consequence the ruin and desolation of the South, and the threatened destruction of the Government at this time. The agitation which led to these terrible consequences, commenced with Mr. Calhoun immediately subsequent to these events. Does any man suppose, if Mr. Calhoun had succeeded to the Presidency, that he would have commenced or continued this agitation? For one, I do not. The measure of his ambition would have been full: his fame would have been a chapter in the history of his country—his talents employed in the administration of the Government, the honor and boast of her people, and her preservation and prosperity the enduring monument of his fame and glory. But, wronged as he believed, disappointed as he knew, he put forth all his strength, and, Samson-like, pulled down the pillars of her support; and, disunited, crushed, and miserable, she is a melancholy spectacle to the patriot, and in her desolation a monument of disappointed ambition.
That Mr. Calhoun anticipated any such results, I do not believe. To suppose he desired them, and to the end of his life labored to produce them, would be to suppose him little less than a fiend. Blinded by his prejudices and the hatred natural toward those who had accomplished his political ruin, he could not calmly and dispassionately weigh the influence of his acts upon the future of his country.
Mr. Crawford was now rapidly declining, his nervous system was completely undermined, and he felt the approach of death calmly and without fear. Still, he continued to give his attention to business, and was sufficiently strong to go abroad to calls of duty. In one of these journeys he stopped to spend the night in the house of a friend, and was found dead in his bed in the morning, after a quiet and social evening with his friend and family.
William Holt Crawford was a native of Virginia: his family were Scotch, and came early to the United States, and have been remarkable for their talents and energy. Since the Revolution, there has scarcely been a time that some one of the family has not been prominently before the public as a representative man. Mr. Crawford was an eminent type of his race, sternly honest, of ardent temperament, full of dignity, generous, frank, and brave. Plain and simple in his habits, disdaining everything like ostentation, or foolish display—strictly moral, firm in his friendship, and unrelenting in his hatred, his sagacity and sincerity forbade the forming of the one or the other without abundant cause. He was never known to desert a friend or shrink from a foe. In form and person he was very imposing; six feet two inches in height; his head was large, forehead high and broad; his eyes were blue and brilliant, and, when excited, very piercing. His complexion was fair, and, in early life, ruddy; he was, when young, exceedingly temperate in his habits, but as he advanced in years he indulged too freely in the luxuries of the table, and his physicians attributed mainly to this cause his attack of paralysis, which ultimately destroyed him. His mind had been very much excited during the Presidential canvass; the attacks of his enemies were fierce and merciless, and very irritating to him; and this doubtless had much to do with it. He lies buried in the garden of his home, without a stone to mark the spot. It is a reproach to the people of Georgia that her most eminent son should be neglected to sleep in an undistinguished grave. But this neglect does not extend alone to Mr. Crawford. I believe, of all her distinguished men, James A. Meriwether is the only one whose grave has been honored with a monumental stone by the State. Crawford, Cobb, Dooly, Jackson, Troup, Forsyth, Campbell, Lumpkin, Dawson, Walker, Colquitt, Berrien, Daugherty, and many others who have done the State some service and much honor, are distinguished in their graves only by the green sod which covers them.
A FRUGAL PEOPLE—LAWS AND RELIGION—FATHER PIERCE—THOMAS W. COBB— REQUISITES OF A POLITICAL CANDIDATE—A FARMER-LAWYER—SOUTHERN HUMORISTS.
The plain republican habits which characterized the people of Upper Georgia, in her early settlement and growth, together with the fact of the very moderate means of her people, exercised a powerful influence in the formation of the character of her people. She had no large commercial city, and her commerce was confined to the simple disposal of the surplus products of her soil and the supply of the few wants of the people. It was a cardinal virtue to provide every thing possible of the absolute necessaries of life at home. The provision crop was of first necessity, and secured the first attention of the farmer; the market crop was ever secondary, and was only looked to, to supply those necessaries which could not be grown upon the plantation. These were salt, iron, and steel, first; and then, if there remained unexhausted some of the proceeds of the crop, a small (always a small) supply of sugar and coffee; and for rare occasions, a little tea.
The population, with the exception of mechanics, and these were a very small proportion, and the few professional men and country merchants, was entirely agricultural. This rural pursuit confined at home and closely to business every one; and popular meetings were confined to religious gatherings on Sunday in each neighborhood, and the meeting of a few who could spare the time at court, in the village county-seat, twice a year. There were no places of public resort for dissipation or amusement; a stern morality was demanded by public opinion of the older members of society. Example and the switch enforced it with the children. Perhaps in no country or community was the maxim of good old Solomon more universally practised upon, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," than in Middle Georgia, fifty years ago. Filial obedience and deference to age was the first lesson. "Honor thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land," was familiar to the ears of every child before they could lisp their a, b, c; and upon the first demonstration of a refractory disobedience, a severe punishment taught them that the law was absolute and inexorable. To lie, or touch what was not his own, was beyond the pale of pardon, or mercy, and a solitary aberration was a stain for life.
The mothers, clad in homespun, were chaste in thought and action; unlettered and ignorant, but pure as ether. Their literature confined to the Bible, its maxims directed their conduct, and were the daily lesson of their children. The hard-shell Baptist was the dominant religion; with here and there a Presbyterian community, generally characterized by superior education and intelligence, with a preacher of so much learning as to be an oracle throughout the land.
The Methodists were just then beginning to grow into importance, and their circuit-riders, now fashionably known as itinerants, were passing and preaching, and establishing societies to mark their success, through all the rude settlements of the State. These were the pioneers of that truly democratic sect, as of the stern morality and upright bearing which had so powerful an influence over the then rising population.
It is more than sixty years since I first listened to a Methodist sermon. It was preached by a young, spare man, with sallow complexion, and black eyes and hair. I remember the gleam of his eye, and the deep, startling tones of his voice—his earnest and fervent manner; and only yesterday, in the Baronne Street (New Orleans) Methodist Church, I listened to an old man, upward of eighty years of age, preaching the ordination sermon of four new bishops of the Methodist Church. It was he to whom I had first listened: the eye was still brilliant, the face still sallow, but wrinkled now, and the voice and manner still fervent and earnest; and the great mind, though not the same, still powerful. It was that venerable, good man, Lovie Pierce, the father of the great and eloquent bishop. What has he not seen? what changes, what trials, what triumphs! Generations before his eyes have passed into eternity; the little handful of Methodist communicants grown into a mighty and intelligent body; thousands of ministers are heralding her tenets all over the Protestant world—mighty in learning, mighty in eloquence—yet none surpass the eloquence, the power, and the purity of Lovie Pierce.
When I first heard him, Bishop Asbury, William Russell, and he were nursing the seed sown by John Wesley and George Whitefield, a little while before, upon the soil of Georgia. All but Pierce have long been gathered to their fathers, and have rest from their labors. He still remains, bearing his cross in triumph, and still preaching the Redeemer to the grandchildren of those who first welcomed him and united with him in the good work of his mission. How much his labors have done to form and give tone to the character of the people of the State of Georgia, none may say; but under his eye and aid has arisen a system of female education, which has and is working wonders throughout the State. He has seen the ignorant and untaught mothers rear up virtuous, educated, and accomplished daughters; and, in turn, these rearing daughters and sons, an ornament and an honor to parents and country. Above all, he has seen and sees a standard of intelligence, high-breeding, and piety pervading the entire State. The log-cabin gives way to the comfortable mansion, the broad fields usurping the forest's claim, and the beautiful church-building pointing its taper spire up to heaven, where stood the rude log-house, and where first he preached. He has lived on and watched this growing moral and physical beauty, whose germs he planted, and whose fruits he is now enjoying in the eighty-fourth year of his age, still zealous, still ardent and eloquent, and a power in the land. Should these lines ever meet his eye, he will know that the child whose head he stroked as he sat upon his knee—the youth whom he warned and counselled, loves him yet, now that he is wrinkled, old, and gray.
From parents such as I have described, and under the teaching of such men, grew up the remarkable men who have shed such lustre upon the State of Georgia.
The great distinguishing feature of these men was that of the masses of her people—stern honesty. Many families have been and continue to be remarkable for their superior talents and high character; preserving in a high degree the prestige of names made famous by illustrious ancestry. The Crawfords, the Cobbs, and the Lamars are perhaps the most remarkable.
Thomas W. Cobb, so long distinguished in the councils of the nation, and as an able and honest jurist in Georgia, was the son of John Cobb, and grandson of Thomas Cobb, of the County of Columbia, in the State of Georgia. His grandfather emigrated from Virginia at an early day, when Georgia was comparatively a wilderness, and selecting this point, located with a large family, which through his remarkable energy he reared and respectably educated. This was an achievement, as the facilities for education were so few and difficult as to make it next to impossible to educate even tolerably the youth of that day. This remarkable man lived to see his grandson, Thomas W. Cobb, among the most distinguished men of the State. He died at the great age of one hundred and fifteen years, at the home of his selection, in Columbia County, the patriarch pioneer of the country, surrounded by every comfort, and a family honoring his name and perpetuating his virtues; and after he had seen the rude forest give way to the cultivated field, and the almost as rude population to the cultivated and intellectual people distinguishing that county.
Thomas W. Cobb, in his education, suffered the penalties imposed in this particular by a new country; his opportunities, however, were improved to their greatest possible extent, and he continued to improve in learning to the day of his death. In boyhood he ploughed by day, and studied his spelling-book and arithmetic by night—lighting his vision to the pursuit of knowledge by a pine-knot fire. This ambition of learning, with close application, soon distinguished him above the youth of the neighborhood, and lifted his aspirations to an equal distinction among the first men of the land. He made known his wishes to his father, and was laughed at; but he was his grandfather's namesake and pet, and he encouraged his ambition. The consequence was that young Cobb was sent to the office of William H. Crawford at Lexington, to read law. He applied himself diligently, and won the respect and confidence of Mr. Crawford, which he retained to the day of his death. When admitted to the bar, he located with his fellow-student in Lexington; thus taking the place of Mr. Crawford, who was now in political life. He rose rapidly in his profession, and while yet a young man was sent to Congress as one of the representatives of the State.
At this time the representation in Congress was chosen by general ticket. The consequence was the selection of men of superior talent and character: none could aspire to the high position whose names had not become familiar for services to the State, or for the display of talent and character at the bar, or other conspicuous positions, their virtues and attainments distinguishing them above their fellow-men of the country. Throughout the State, to such men there was great deference, and the instances were rare where it was not deserved. The discipline and trickery of party was unknown, nor was it possible that these could exist among a people who, universally, honestly desired and labored to be represented by their best men. To attain to the high position of senator or representative in Congress was so distinguishing a mark of merit, that it operated powerfully upon the ambitious young men of the State, all of whom struggled to attain it by laboring to deserve it.
The standard of talent established by Crawford, Jackson, and Baldwin was so high, that to have public opinion institute a comparison between these and an aspirant was a sure passport to public favor; and this comparison was in no instance so likely to be made as between him and the pupils of his teaching. This fact in relation to Jackson and Crawford is remembered well by the writer.
In the low country of Georgia, the fiat of James Jackson fixed the political fate of every young aspirant. In the up-country, Crawford was as potent. In Crawford's office the student was required to apply himself diligently, and give promise of abilities, or he could not remain. The writer remembers to have heard the question asked of Mr. Crawford, in his later days, why a family in his own county, distinguished for wealth, had uniformly opposed him politically. In the frankness of his nature he said: "Aleck came, when a young man, to read law in my office, and though he was diligent enough, he was without the brain necessary to acquire a proper knowledge of the law. I liked his father, and in reply to an inquiry of his relative, as to Aleck's capacity, I told him 'his son would doubtless succeed as a farmer, for he was industrious; but he had not sense enough to make a lawyer.' He thanked me; and Aleck left the office, and, profiting by my advice, went to the plough, and has made a fortune, and a very respectable position for himself; but from that day forward, not a member of the family has ever been my friend. I think I did my duty, and have got along without their friendship."
Jackson had his proteges, and they were always marked for talent. In early life he discerned the germ of great abilities in two youths of Savannah—George M. Troup and Thomas U.D. Charlton. Through his influence, these young men, almost as soon as eligible, were sent to the Legislature of the State, and both immediately took high positions. Talent was not the only requisite to win and retain the favor of Jackson: the man must be honest, and that honesty of such a character as placed him above suspicion.
Under the operation of the Confiscation Act, many who had favored the mother country in the Revolutionary struggle had fled with their property to Florida. Conspicuous among these was one Campbell Wiley, a man of fortune. This man applied to the Legislature to be specially exempted from the penalties of this act, and to be permitted to return to the State. A heated debate ensued, when the bill was being considered, in which Charlton was silent, and in which Troup made a violent speech in opposition to its passage, ending with the sentence, "If ever I find it in my heart to forgive an old Tory his sins, I trust my God will never forgive me mine." This speech gave him an immediate popularity over the entire State. Charlton in secret favored the bill; but knowing its unpopularity with his constituents, he contrived to be called to the chair, and was forced to vote on a material motion which was favorable to the bill. The wealth of Wiley, and Charlton's equivocation, attached suspicion to his motives, and brought down upon him the wrath of Jackson, blighting all his future aspirations. As a member of the bar he attained eminence, and all his future life was such as to leave no doubt of his purity, and the cruel wrong those suspicions, sustained by the frown of Jackson, had done him.
Thomas W. Cobb was eminently social in his nature, and frank to a fault; his opinions were never concealed of men or measures; and these were, though apparently hasty, the honest convictions of his judgment, notwithstanding their apparent impulsive and hasty character. Like his tutor, Mr. Crawford, he cared little for ceremony or show; and in every thing he was the kernel without the shell: his character was marked before his company in five minutes' conversation, whether he had ever met or heard of them before; and in all things else he was equally without deceit. This openness to some seemed rude; and his enemies were of this class. He expressed as freely his opinion to the person as to the public; but this was always accompanied with a manner which disrobed it of offence. But human nature will not in every individual excuse the words because of the manner; and sometimes this peculiarity made him sharp enemies. It will be supposed such traits would have rendered him unpopular. At this day, when social intercourse is less familiar, they certainly would have done so; but they seemed a means of great popularity to Cobb, especially with those who were most intimate with him, as all who met him were, after an hour's acquaintance. His public life was as his private, open and sincere; he never had a sinister motive, and this relieved him from duplicity of conduct. His talents were of a high order: in debate, he was argumentative and explicit; never pretending to any of the arts of the orator; but logically pursued his subject to a conclusion; never verbose, but always perspicuous. As a lawyer, he was well read; and the analytical character of his mind appeared to have been formed upon the model of Judge Blackstone. Before the juries of the country he was all-powerful. These, in the main, were composed of men of very limited information—and especially of legal lore. But they were generally men of strong practical sense, with an honest purpose of doing justice between man and man. Cobb with these was always sincere; never attempting a deception, never seeking to sway their judgments and secure a verdict by appealing to their passions or their prejudices, or by deceiving them as to what the law was. Toward a witness or a party of whose honesty he entertained doubts, he was sarcastically severe; nor was he choice in the use of terms. As a statesman, he was wise and able—and in politics, as in everything else, honest and patriotic. In early life he was sent to the House of Representatives, in the Congress of the United States, and soon distinguished himself as a devoted Republican in politics, and a warm supporter of the Administration of Mr. Monroe. Here he was reunited socially with Mr. Crawford and family, and so close was this intimacy that he was on all political measures supposed to speak the sentiments of Mr. Crawford. Associated with Forsyth, Tatnal, Gilmer, and Cuthbert, all men of superior abilities, all belonging to the same political party, and all warm supporters, of Mr. Crawford, he led this galaxy of talent—a constellation in the political firmament unsurpassed by the representation of any other State. Nor must I forget, in this connection, Joel Crawford and William Terrell, men of sterling worth and a high order of talent. Mr. Cobb was a man of active business habits, and was very independent in his circumstances: methodical and correct, he never left for to-morrow the work of to-day.
He was transferred from the House to the Senate, and left it with a reputation for integrity and talent—the one as brilliant as the other unstained—which falls to the lot of few who are so long in public life as he was. Unlike most politicians whose career has been through exciting political struggles, the blight of slander was never breathed upon his name, and it descended to his children, as he received it from his ancestry, without spot or blemish.
Toward the close of his life, he was elected by the Legislature of the State to the Bench of the Superior Court, then the highest judicial tribunal of the State. This was the last public station he filled. Here he sustained his high character as a lawyer and honest man; carrying to the tomb the same characteristics of simplicity and sincerity, of affability and social familiarity, which had ever distinguished him in every position, public or private. He assumed none of that mock dignity or ascetic reserve in his intercourse with the Bar and the people, so characteristic of little minds in elevated positions: conscious of rectitude in all things, he never feared this familiarity would give cause for the charge of improper bias in his decisions from the bench or his influence with the jury.
Mr. Cobb died at the age of fifty, in the prime of his manhood and usefulness. In person, he was a model for a sculptor—six feet in height, straight, and admirably proportioned. His head and face were Grecian; his forehead ample; his nose beautifully chiselled; gray eyes, with sparkling, playful expression, round, and very beautiful; his head round, large, and admirably set on; the expression of his features, variant as April weather, but always intellectual, they invited approach, and the fascination of his conversation chained to his presence all who approached him. In fine, he was a type in manner and character of the people among whom he was born and reared; and I scarcely know if this is the greater compliment to him or them.
With few exceptions, this peculiar population of Middle Georgia has furnished all of her distinguished sons, and to the traits which make them remarkable is she to-day mainly indebted for her exalted prominence among her sister States of the South. The peculiar training of her sons, the practical education and social equality which pervades, and ever has, her society, acquaints every one with the wants of every other; at the same time it affords the facility for union in any public enterprise which promises the public good. All alike are infused with the same State pride, and the equality of fortunes prevents the obtrusion of arrogant wealth, demanding control, from purely selfish motives, in any public measure.
This community of interests superinduces unity of feeling, and unity of action; and the same homogeneous education secures a healthy public opinion, which, at last, is the great controlling law of human action. Thus the soil is one, the cultivation is one, the growth is one, and the fruit is the same. Nowhere in the South have these been so prominent as in Middle Georgia, and no other portion of the South is so distinguished for progress, talent, and high moral cultivation. There is, perhaps, wanting that polish of manners, that ease and grace of movement, and that quiet delicacy of suppressed emotion, so peculiar to her citizens of the seaboard, which the world calls refinement; which seems taught to conceal the natural under the artistic, and which so frequently refines away the nobler and more generous emotions of the heart. I doubt, however, if the habit of open and unrestrained expression of the feelings of our nature is not a more enduring basis of strong character and vigorous thought and action, than the cold polish of refined society. Whatever is most natural is most enduring. The person unrestrained by dress grows into noble and beautiful proportions; the muscles uncramped, develop not only into beauty, but strength and healthfulness. So with the mind untrammelled by forms and ceremonies; and so with the soul unfettered by the superstition of vague and ridiculous dogmas. The freedom of action and familiarity of language, where there are few social restraints to prevent universal intercourse, familiarizes every class of the community with the peculiarities of each, and forms an outlet for the wit and humor of the whole. This was the stimulant to mirth and hilarity, for which no people are so much distinguished as the Georgians of the middle country. At the especial period of which I now write, her humorists were innumerable. Dooly, Clayton, Prince, Longstreet, Bacon (the Ned Brace of Longstreet's Georgia Scenes), and many others of lesser note, will long be remembered in the traditions of the people. These were all men of, eminence, and in their time filled the first offices of the State. The quiet, quaint humor of Prince is to be seen in his Militia Muster, in the Georgia Scenes; and there too the inimitable burlesque of Bacon, in Ned Brace.
WITS AND FIRE-EATERS.
JUDGE DOOLY—LAWYERS AND BLACKSMITHS—JOHN FORSYTH—HOW JURIES WERE DRAWN—GUM-TREE vs. WOODEN-LEG—PREACHER-POLITICIANS—COLONEL CUMMING—GEORGE McDUFFIE.
John M. Dooly was a native of Lincoln County, Georgia, where he continued to reside until his death, and where he now lies in an undistinguished grave. He was the son of a distinguished Revolutionary soldier, whose name, in consideration of his services in that struggle, has been given to a county in the State. In early life he united himself to the Federal party, and from honest convictions continued a Federalist in principle through life. But for his political principles, his name in the nation to-day would have been a household word, familiar as the proudest upon her scroll of fame. In very early life he gave evidence of extraordinary powers of mind. With a limited education, he commenced the study of the law when quite young. But despite this serious defect, which was coupled with poverty and many other disadvantages incident to a new country impoverished by war, and wanting in almost everything to aid the enterprise of talent in a learned profession, soon after his admission to the Bar he attracted the attention of the community, and especially the older members of the Bar, as a man of extraordinary capacity, and already trained in the law. So tenacious was his memory of all that he read or heard, that he not only retained the law, but the author and page where it was to be found. His mind was eminently logical and delighted in analytical investigation. In truth, the law suited the idiosyncrasy of his mind, and it was most fortunate for his future life, that he adopted it as a lifetime pursuit. Nature, it seems, gives to every mind a peculiar proclivity, as to every individual a peculiar mind: to pursue this proclivity is a pleasure; it makes work a delight, and this secures success. Hence it is fortunate to learn this peculiarity, and to cultivate it from the beginning. When the mind is strong and vigorous, this peculiar proclivity is generally well-marked to the inquiring observer in very early life.
It is related of Benjamin West, the great painter, that at five years of age he was continually soiling the floor of his good and sensible mother with charcoal sketches of the faces of the different members of the family; and of Napoleon, that in early childhood his favorite amusement was to build forts and array his playmates into column, and charge these, and assault and enter them. Stevenson, the great engineer, spent all his idle time, when a boy, in attempts at constructing machinery and bridges.
In these great minds this natural trait was so strongly marked, and so controlling in its influence, as to defy and overleap every obstacle, and develop its wonderful energy and capacity in the most stupendous manner. In such as these, this manifestation is early and palpable. Yet the same peculiarity exists wherever there is mind sufficient to connect cause and effect; but it is proportionate with the strength of the mind, and in ordinary or feeble minds it is less conspicuous, and requires close observation to discern it in early life.
The folly and ambition of parents and adverse circumstances too often disappoint the intentions of nature, and compel their offspring, or the victims of circumstance, to follow a pursuit for which they have a natural aversion, and absolutely no capacity: hence we see thousands struggling painfully through life in a hated avocation, and witness many a miserable lawyer whom nature designed to be a happy blacksmith. His toil of life is always up hill, without the possibility of ever attaining the summit. Sometimes the rebellion of nature is successful, and the misdirected will shake off the erroneously imposed vocation, and dash away in the pursuit for which the mind is capacitated; and immediate success attests the good sense and propriety of the act.
Fortunately, John M. Dooly, selected, under the guidance of natural inclination, the profession of law. His eminence was early in life, and the public eye was directed to him as one worthy any public trust. He was frequently chosen a member of the Legislature from his native county, and was distinguished for extraordinary ability in the capacity of a legislator. His conspicuous position and commanding talents pointed him out as one to take a foremost rank with the first of the nation; and his friends urged his name as a fit representative in Congress for the State. At this time the acrimony of party was intense; the Republican, or Jeffersonian party, was largely in the ascendant in the State, and would accept no compromise. It was willing to receive new converts and prefer them according to merit, but would accord no favor to an unrepentant enemy. At this time there were many young, talented men rising to distinction in the State, who were Federalists. With some of them ambition was superior to principle; they recanted their principles, and, in the ranks of their former opponents, reaped a harvest of political distinction. Prominent among these was John Forsyth. He had delivered a Fourth of July oration at Augusta, distinguished for great ability and high Federal doctrines. Abraham Baldwin, who, with the astuteness of the Yankee—which he was—had renounced Federalism, and was now a prominent leader of the Republican party, spoke of this effort of Forsyth as transcendently great, and always, when doing so, would add: "What a pity such abilities should be lost to the country through the influence of mistaken political principle!" Whether this had any effect upon the views of Forsyth or not, certain it is that very soon after he repudiated Federalism, and published a formal renunciation of the party and its principles. From that time forward his march was onward, and now his name and fame are embalmed as national wealth.
Dooly was less facile: his convictions were honest and strong, and he clung to them. He won the confidence not only of his party, but of the people, for high integrity; but this was all. Out of his county he was intrusted with no political position, and those who most prized his talents and integrity could never be persuaded to aid in giving these to the country. He was more than once beaten for the Senate of the United States; and once by Forsyth, who was not announced as a candidate, and who was at the time minister plenipotentiary of the nation at the Spanish Court. His great legal abilities were, however, complimented by the Republican Legislature, by placing him upon the bench of the highest judicial tribunal of the State, where his usefulness was transcendent, and where most of his life was spent.
As a wit, Dooly never had an equal in the State, and there might now be written a volume of his social and judicial wit. Its compass was illimitable—from the most refined and delicately pungent to the coarsest and most vulgarly broad; but always pointed and telling. Nature had given him a peculiarity of look and voice which gave edge to his wit and point to his humor.
The judicial system of Georgia at this time was peculiar. The State was subdivided into districts, or circuits, as they were denominated; and one judge appointed to preside over each. These were elected by the Legislature, on joint ballot, for a term of three years; and until faction claimed the spoils of victory, the judge who had proven himself capable and honest was rarely removed, so long as he chose to remain. Dooly was one of these. Party never touched him, and both factions concurred in retaining him, because it was the universal wish of the people of his circuit. The law of the country was the common law of England and the statutes of the State. In the expounding of these, the judges frequently differed, and the consequence was that each circuit had, in many particulars, its own peculiar law, antagonistic to that which was received as law in the adjoining circuit. The uniformity of law, so essential to the quiet and harmony of a people, and so necessary in defining the title and securing the tenure of property, by this system was so greatly disturbed, that it led to the informal assembling of the judges at irregular periods, and upon their own responsibility, to reconcile these discrepancies. This in some degree obviated the necessity of a supreme court for the correction of errors; but was very unsatisfactory to the Bar, who were almost universal in their desire for the establishment of a tribunal for this purpose. But there was another feature peculiar to the judicial system of the State, to which her people were greatly attached: that of special juries. They feared the creation of a supreme court would abolish this, and for many years resisted it. This system of special juries, in the organization of her judiciary, was intended to obviate the necessity of a court of chancery. The conception was a new one, and in Georgia, with her peculiar population, its effects were admirable. It was an honest, common-sense adjudication of equity cases, and rendered cheap and speedy justice to litigants. It was unknown in the judiciary system of any other State, and I will be excused by the reader, who may not be a Georgian, for a brief description of it here.
By direction of the law of 1798, the justices of the Inferior Court took the tax list, which contained the name of every white man of twenty-one years and upwards in the county, and, from this list, selected a certain number of names, and placed them in a box marked "The grand-jury box." The remaining names were placed in another box marked "The petit-jury box." Those selected as grand jurors were chosen because of their superior intelligence, wealth, and purity of character. These selections were made at certain stated periods; and the jurors thus chosen from the mass never served on the petit jury, nor were they liable even as talesmen to serve on that jury. The same act made it the duty of the presiding judge of each circuit to draw, at the termination of each term of his court, and in open court, a certain number of names from each box, which were entered as drawn upon the minutes of the court, to serve as grand and petit jurors at the ensuing term of the court. The special juries, for the trial of cases in equity, and appeals from the verdicts of petit juries, were formed from the grand juries, and after the manner following: A list was furnished by the clerk of the court to the appellant and respondent. From this list each had the right to strike a name alternately—the appellant having the first stroke—until there remained twelve names only. These constituted a special Jury, and the oath prescribed by law far these jurors was as follows; "You shall well and truly try the issue between the parties, and a true verdict give, according to law and equity, and the opinion you entertain of the testimony." Under the pleadings, the entire history of the case went before this jury, and their verdict was final. It was this method of trial which prevented so long that great desideratum in all judicial systems—a court for the correction of errors and final adjudication of cases.
Dishonest litigants feared this special jury. Their characters, as that of their witnesses, passed in review before this jury, whose oaths allowed a latitude, enabling them frequently to render a verdict, ostensibly at variance with the testimony, but almost always in aid of the ends of equitable justice.
The system was eminently promotive of honesty and good morals, as well as the ends of justice; for men's rights before it were not unfrequently determined by the reputation they bore in the community in which they lived. This fact stimulated uprightness of conduct, and often deterred the wrong-doer. It has passed away; but I doubt if what has replaced it has benefited the interests or morals of the people of the State.
Like Mr. Crawford, Judge Dooly relied more upon the practical good sense of the people as jurors, for justice between man and man, than upon the technicalities of the law; and especially upon that of special juries. Dooly had great contempt for petit juries, and evinced it upon one occasion by declaring in open court that he thought, if there was anything not known to the prescience of the Almighty, it was what the verdict of a petit jury would be, when they left the box for the jury-room. Dooly was an opponent of Crawford through life—a friend and intimate of John Clark, Crawford's greatest enemy. But his character was devoid of that bitterness and persistent hatred characteristic of these two. Crawford and Judge Tate were intimate friends, and between these and Clark there was continual strife. Tate and Clark were brothers-in-law; but this only served to whet and give edge to their animosity. Dooly, in some manner, became entangled with Tate in this feud; and an amusing story is told of the final settlement of the difficulty between these men.
Tate, it seems, challenged Dooly to mortal combat. Mr. Crawford was Tate's friend. Dooly, contrary to all expectation, accepted, and named General Clark as his friend, and appointed a day of meeting. Tate had lost a leg, and, as was usual in that day, had substituted a wooden, one. On the appointed day, Tate, with his friend, repaired to the place of meeting, where Dooly had preceded them, and was alone, sitting upon a stump. Crawford approached him, and asked for his friend, General Clark.
"He is in the woods, sir."
"And will soon be present, I presume?" asked Crawford.
"Yes; as soon as he can find a gum."
"May I inquire, Colonel Dooly, what use you have for a gum in the matter we have met to settle?"
"I want it to put my leg in, sir. Do you suppose I can afford to risk my leg of flesh and bone against Tate's wooden one? If I hit his leg, why, he will have another to-morrow, and be pegging about as well as usual. If he hits mine, I may lose my life by it; but almost certainly my leg, and be compelled, like Tate, to stump it the balance of my life. I cannot risk this; and must have a gum to put my leg in: then I am as much wood as he is, and on equal terms with him."
"I understand you, Colonel Dooly; you do not intend to fight."
"Well, really, Mr. Crawford, I thought everybody knew that."
"Very well, sir," said Crawford; "but remember, colonel, your name, in no enviable light, shall fill a column of a newspaper."
"Mr. Crawford, I assure you," replied Colonel Dooly, "I would rather fill every newspaper in Georgia than one coffin."
It is scarcely necessary to say, that Tate and Crawford left the field discomfited, and here the matter ended.
Dooly never pretended to belligerency. When Judge Gresham threatened to chastise him, he coolly replied he could do it; but that it would be no credit to him, for anybody could do it. And when he introduced his friend to another as the inferior judge of the Inferior Court of the inferior County of Lincoln, and was knocked down for the insult, he intreated the bystanders not to suffer him to be injured. When released from the grasp of his antagonist, he rubbed his head, and facetiously said: "This is the forty-second fight I have had, and if I ever got the best of one, I do not now recollect it."
Judge Dooly was much beloved by the younger members of the Bar, to whom he was ever kind and indulgent, associating with them upon his circuit, and joining in all their amusements. His wit spared no one, and yet no one was offended at it. His humor was the life of the company wherever he was, and he was never so burdened with official dignity as to restrain it on the bench. Unbiassed by party considerations or personal prejudices, and only influenced by a sense of duty and wish to do right, it was impossible he could be otherwise than popular. This popularity, however, was personal, not political, and could never secure to him any political distinction. He was ambitious of a seat in the United States Senate, a distinction to which he more than once aspired; but here the grinning ghost of Federalism always met him, frightening from his support even the nearest of his social friends. Mr. Crawford's wishes controlled the State, through the instrumentality of those he had distinguished with his countenance. None doubted the patriotism or capacity of Dooly for the position; but he was a Federalist, and the friend of many of the prime movers of the Yazoo fraud; and these were unpardonable sins with Crawford and his friends. No one ever charged upon Dooly the sin of a participation in this speculation, or the frauds through which it became a fixed fact, as a law of the State, by legislative act. But it was, for a very long time, fatal to the political aspirations of every one known to be personally friendly to any man in any way concerned in the matter. They were pariahs in the land, without friends or caste.
Of all the men prominent in his day, George M. Troup was the most uncompromising in his hostility to those engaged in this speculation. It certainly was the work of a few persons only, and did not embrace one out of fifty of the Georgia Company. All, or nearly all of these, honestly embarked in the speculation, not doubting but that the State had the power to sell, and knowing her pecuniary condition required that she should have money. Had they known that it required bribery to pass the measure, they would have scorned to become parties to such corruption; nevertheless they were inculpated, and had to share the infamy of the guilty few who thus accomplished the purchase, as they shared the profits arising therefrom. But it did not stop with the participants. Their personal friends suffered, and no one individual so fatally as Dooly. He asserted the power of the Legislature to sell—he was sustained by the decision of the Supreme Court—he was not a stockholder—he afforded no aid with his personal influence; yet the public clamor made him a Yazoo-man, and Troup was foremost in his denunciation of him. On this account it was that, upon a memorable occasion, Dooly declared that Troup's mouth was formed by nature to pronounce the word Yazoo. It had been proposed to Dooly, at the time Forsyth abandoned the Federal party, to follow his example; but he refused to part with his first love, and clung to her, and shaded, without a murmur, her fortunes and her fate, which condemned him to a comparative obscurity for all the future.
It was long years after, and when Mr. Forsyth was in the zenith of his popularity, that the friends of Dooly proposed his name for the Senate of the United States. His was the only name announced as a candidate to the Legislature, but, on counting the ballots, it was found Forsyth had been elected. Dooly was present, and remarked to a friend that he was the only man he ever knew to be beaten who ran without opposition. He saw the aspiring companions of his youth favorites of the people, and thrust forward into public places, winning fame, and rising from one position to another of higher distinction. He witnessed the advance of men whom he had known as children in his manhood, preferred over him; and, in the consciousness of his own superiority to most or all of these, rather despised than regretted the prejudices of the public—influenced by men designing and selfish—which consigned him to obscurity because of an honest difference of opinion upon a point of policy which ninety out of every hundred knew nothing about. While the companions of his early youth were filling missions abroad, executive offices at home, and Cabinet appointments, he was wearing out his life in a position where, whatever his abilities, there was little fame to be won. Still he would make no compromise of principle. In faith he was sincere, and too honest to pretend a faith he had not, though honors and proud distinction waited to reward the deceit. As true to his friends as his principles, he would not desert either, and surrender his virtue to the seductions of office and honors. Toward the close of his life, his friends got into office and power. His friend, John Clarke, was elected Governor, upon the demise of Governor Rabun; but his day had passed, and other and younger men thrust him aside. Parties were growing more and more corrupt, and to subserve the uses of corruption, more tractable and pliant tools were required than could be made of Dooly.
The election of Clarke was a triumph over the friends of Crawford, who was then a member of Mr. Monroe's Cabinet, and had long been absent from the State. It revived anew the flame of discord, which had smouldered under the ashes of time. The embers lived, and the division into parties of the people of the United States, consequent upon the disruption of the Federal and Republican parties, and the candidacy of Mr. Crawford for the Presidency, caused a division of the old Republican party in Georgia. Clarke immediately headed the opposition to Crawford, and his election was hailed as an evidence of Mr. Crawford's unpopularity at home. This election startled the old friends of this distinguished son of Georgia, and revived the old feeling. Clarke was a man of strong will, without much mind, brave, and vindictive, and nursed the most intense hatred of Crawford constantly in his heart. The long absence of Crawford from the State, and the secluded retirement of Clarke, had caused to cool in the public mind much of the former bitterness of the two factions in the State, but now it was rekindled. There were very many young men, who had been too young to take any part in these factions, but who were now the active and ambitious element in the State. Many persons, too, had immigrated into the new-settled parts of the State, who were strangers to the feuds which had once divided her people, and which now began to do so anew. Each party sought to win and secure this element. Every newspaper in the State, every judge upon the bench, every member of Congress was in the interest of Crawford; and yet there was a majority of the people of the State attached to the Clarke faction. He and his friends had long been proscribed, and they pleaded persecution. The natural sympathies of the heart were touched by these appeals, and it was feared the State would be lost to Crawford in the coming Presidential election. Every effort was now to be made to defeat this faction against him, headed by Clarke. The election of Governor at this time was by the Legislature; and it was not anticipated that there would be any difficulty in the re-election of Rabun, and, consequently, there had been no agitation of the question before the people at the recent election of members of the Legislature. Scarcely a tithe of the people had even heard of the candidacy of Clarke when his election was announced; and, at the time, so little interest was felt on the subject, that very few objected to his election. Clarke was a man of violent passions, and had been, to some extent, irregular and dissipated in his habits. When excited by any means, he was fierce; but when with drink, he was boisterous, abusive, and destructive. Many stories were related of terrible acts of his commission—riding into houses, smashing furniture, glass, and crockery—of persecutions of his family and weak persons he disliked. This had aroused in the pious and orderly members of society strong opposition to him, and at this time all his sins and irregularities were widely and loudly heralded to the public. The preachers, with few exceptions, denounced him, and those who did not were very soon with him denounced. Very soon after his inauguration, the celebrated Jesse Mercer—the great gun of the Baptist denomination in Georgia—was invited to preach the funeral sermon of Governor Rabun. Mercer was an especial friend of Mr. Crawford, and a more especial enemy of Clarke. In many respects he was a remarkable man—a zealous and intolerant sectarian, and quite as uncompromising and bitter in his political feelings. His zeal knew no bounds in propagating his religious faith, and it was quite as ardent in persecuting his political opponents. It was doubtful which he most hated—the Devil or John Clarke. Rabun had been his neighbor, his friend, and, above all, a member and elder in his church. It was quite fitting under the circumstances that he should be selected to officiate in the funeral services in honor of the late Governor. From respect, Clarke and the Legislature were present. The moment Mercer's eye, from the pulpit, descried Clarke, he threw open his Bible violently, and for many minutes was busy searching from page to page some desired text. At last he smiled. And such a smile! It was malignant as that of a catamount. Turning down the leaf—as was the custom of his church—he rose and gave out to be sung, line by line, his hymn. This concluded, he made a short and hurried prayer—contrary to his custom—and, rising from his prayerful position, opened his Bible, and fixing his eye upon Clarke, he directed his audience to his text, and read:
"When the wicked rule, the land mourns."
The expression of his countenance, the twinkling of his eye, all pointed so clearly to Clarke as to direct the attention of every one present to the Governor. This was followed by a sermon half made up of the irregularities of Clarke's life. This was the tocsin to the church, and it came down in force with the opposition to the Governor elect. It was, too, the slogan of the Crawford party to rally for a new conflict.
Mr. Crawford's conduct as a representative of the State in Congress, and the representative of her people in his foreign mission, had been eminently satisfactory; and his present elevated position as Secretary of the Treasury of the United States was exceedingly gratifying to their pride. When it was determined by his friends to present his name to the nation as a candidate for the Presidency, it was supposed his support would be unanimous in Georgia. Time had given opportunity for the prejudices and hatreds of youth to wear out with the passions of youth. Those, however, who knew John Clarke, were not deceived when he successfully rallied a party in opposition. So little interest had been felt in the personal difficulty formerly existing between Clarke and Crawford, that even those who remembered it attached to it no importance, and they did not suppose Clarke's election was to be the commencement of an organized opposition to Crawford's election, and of the bitterness which was to follow.
There was scarcely the show of opposition to the election of Clarke. Those who remembered the old feud, and how completely it had pressed down all the ambitious hopes and aspirations of Clarke, were willing to forget the past, and, though warm friends of Mr. Crawford, to vote for Clarke, and honor him with the first office in the State. Some felt his treatment had been too harsh, and that for his father's Yazoo antecedents he had been made to pay quite too severe a penalty, and were desirous to manifest their feelings in their votes. Besides, his family connections were most respectable. Griffin Campbell and Dr. Bird were his brothers-in-law, and were men of high character and great influence. The friends of these gentlemen united in his support. And there was still another, whose influence, to the writer's knowledge, carried four young, talented members of the House to the support of her father—Ann Clarke, the only daughter of John Clarke, who had no superior among her sex in talent, beauty, and accomplishments, in the State. During the incumbency of her father she did the honors of the executive mansion with a dignity, grace, and affability which won all hearts, and added greatly to the popularity of the Governor. She married Colonel John W. Campbell, and all her after-life has justified the promise of her girlhood. Left a widow with many children, she has reared and educated them to be an honor to their mother, and, as she was, an ornament to society. She is now an aged woman, and resides in Texas, honored and beloved by all who know her.
The election of Clarke was illy received by the old and tried friends of Crawford throughout the State. They knew him. His stern, inflexible character and indomitable will were sure to rally about him a party; and his personal bravery and devotion to his friends would greatly aid in keeping and inspiring these. His position now was one of strength, with the capacity to increase it, and the material was abundant; yet there were formidable difficulties in his way. All, or very nearly all of the leading families of the State—the Lamars, Cobbs, McIntoshes, Waynes, Telfairs, Cummings, Tatnals, Dawsons, Abercrombies, Holts, Blackshears, and many others—were Republicans, and active in the support of Crawford for the Presidency. These apparently insurmountable difficulties were to be overcome in the organization of new parties. The complete breaking up of the Republican party of the nation was favorable; and there was another element which the sagacity of Campbell soon discovered and laid hold upon. There were many ambitious and disappointed men and families in the State beside Clarke and his family.
The overwhelming popularity of Crawford as the head of the Republican party in the State had enabled his friends to monopolize all the offices, and give direction to every political movement and fix the destiny of every political aspirant. Under this regime many had been summarily set aside, and were soured. The talents of Troup, Forsyth, Cobb, Berrien, Tatnal, and some others, pointed them out as men to be honored, because they honored the State. They seemed to hold a possessory right to the distinguished positions, and to dictate who should be elected to the minor ones. Young ambition submitted, but, was restless and impatient to break away from this dominion. Party stringency had enforced it, but this was loosened, and all that was now wanting was a head to rally them into a new and formidable party. Every old Federalist in the State who had clung to his principles attached himself to Clarke. There were many strong families, wielding a potent influence in their neighborhoods, attached to Federal principles. The Watkins, Hills, Walkers, Glasscocks, and Adamses all soon sided with the new party. A press in its support was greatly needed, and was soon established, and given in charge of Cosein E. Bartlett, than whom no man was better calculated for such a service as was demanded of him.
There were not at this time a dozen newspapers in the State. With all of them had Bartlett to do battle for the cause in which he had enlisted, and right valiantly did he do it. He was a fluent and most caustic writer, and was always ready, not only to write, but to fight for his party, and would with his blood sustain anything he might say or write. Like most party editors, he only saw the interest of his party in what he would write, and would write anything he supposed would further the ends of his party. Almost immediately after the election of Clarke, the opposition presented the name of George M. Troup, who had been voted for as an opposing candidate at the time of Clarke's election. It was but a little while before the State trembled with the agitation which seemed to disturb every breast. None could be neutral. All were compelled to take sides or be crushed between the contending parties or factions; for this division of the people was only factious. There was no great principle upon which they divided; it was men only. Clarke and his friends favored the pretensions of Mr. Calhoun to the Presidency solely because he was the enemy of Crawford, and they were subsequently transferred to the support of Jackson as readily as cattle in the market.
For two years was this agitation increasing in intensity, and so bitter had it made animosities arising out of it, that reason seemed to reel, and justice to forget her duty. Men were chosen indiscriminately to office because of party proclivities. Intelligence and moral worth were entirely disregarded—families divided—husbands and wives quarrelled—father and sons were estranged, and brothers were at deadly strife. There was no argument in the matter; for there was nothing upon which to predicate an argument. To introduce the subject was to promote a quarrel. Churches were distracted and at discord, and the pulpit, for the first time in Georgia, desecrated by political philippics. Pierce then, as now, was the leading minister of the Methodist Church in the State, and abstained in the pulpit, but made no secret of his preferences upon the street. Duffie travelled everywhere. He had by unkindness driven from him his wife with her infant child, and, in her helpless and desperate condition, she had taken refuge with the Shaking Quakers in the West, and remained with them until her death. His son came to him after maturity, and was established by him on a plantation with a number of slaves; but, having inherited all the brutal ferocity of his father, it was not long before he murdered one or two of them. Incarcerated in the county jail, his father invoked party aid to release him, openly declaring it was due to him for party services in opposing that son of the Devil—John Clarke. Whether his party or his money did the work I know not; but the miserable wretch escaped from jail, and was never brought to trial.
Peter Gautier was another prominent preacher-politician, and exercised his talents in the service of Clarke. He was by birth an American, but his parents were French. He was a bad man, but of eminent abilities, and exercised great influence in the western portion of the State. After Pierce, he was the superior of all of his denomination as a pulpit orator; and in will and energy unequalled by any other. Bold, unscrupulous, and passionate, he, regardless of his profession, mingled freely, at county musters and political barbecues, with the lowest and vilest of the community, using every art his genius suggested to inflame the mad passions of men already excited to frenzy. In after life the viciousness and unscrupulousness of his nature overmastered his hypocrisy and burst out in acts of dishonesty and profanity, which disgraced and drove him from the State. He sought security from public scorn in the wilds of Florida; but all restraint had given way, and very soon the innate perfidy of his nature manifested itself in all his conduct, and he was obliged to retire from Florida. At that time Texas was the outlet for all such characters, and thither went Gautier, where he died.
Every means which talent and ingenuity could devise was put into requisition by both parties to secure their ascendency. The men of abilities greatly preponderated in the Troup faction; and the pens of Cobb, Gumming, Wild, Grantland, Gilmer, and Foster were active in promoting the election of Troup, and thereby regaining the lost power of the old Crawford or Republican party. Many young men of talent had espoused the Clarke faction, and, under the guidance of Dooly, Campbell, and Clarke, were doing yeomen's work for the cause. Among these was Charles J. McDonald, whose fine character and family influence rendered him conspicuously popular. This popularity he retained to the end of his life. It elevated him to the Gubernatorial chair, after serving in the United States Congress and for years upon the bench of the Superior Court. His talents were not of the first order, but his honesty, sincerity, and goodness made him beloved.
Bartlett was struggling with all his energies to write up the administration and to defend the Governor against the fierce and reiterated attacks of the opposition. About this period there appeared some articles in a paper in Augusta, Georgia, reflecting upon Mr. Crawford, in reply to several papers signed "C.," which were written by Richard H. Wild, then a member of Congress from Georgia. These articles were attributed to Colonel William Gumming, of Augusta, and "C.," in reply, attacked him severely. He was not a man to be badgered by an anonymous writer in a newspaper. He demanded immediately of the editor the name of his correspondent, and that of George McDuffie, of South Carolina, was given. A challenge ensued—a meeting followed, in which McDuffie was seriously wounded, and which ultimately caused his death. This affair increased the hatred between the Georgians and Carolinians, as it did not cease with a single meeting. Gumming renewed his challenge in consequence of a statement made by McDuffie in a paper to the public, narrating offensively—as Cumming felt—the particulars of the affair. A second meeting was the consequence, at which a difficulty arose between the seconds, and it was adjourned to another day and another place. At this third meeting, in an exchange of shots, McDuffie's arm was broken, and this terminated the difficulty; but it did not appease the animosity of the friends of the parties.
These combatants were both men of remarkable abilities. Colonel William Cumming was a native of Augusta, Georgia. Born to the inheritance of fortune, he received a liberal education and selected the law as a profession. He read with the celebrated Judges Reeve and Gould, at Litchfield, Connecticut. At the period of his study this was the only law-school in the United States. Many anecdotes of his peculiarities during his residence at the school were related by his preceptors to the young gentlemen from Georgia who followed him in the office in after years. A moot court was a part of the system of instruction, in which questions of law, propounded by one of the professors, were argued by students appointed for the purpose. On one occasion, Cumming was replying to the argument of a competitor, and was so caustic as to be offensive. This was resented by insulting words. Turning to the gentleman, and without speaking, Cumming knocked him down. Immediately, and without the slightest appearance of excitement, addressing the presiding professor, he remarked: "Having thus summarily disposed of the gentleman, I will proceed to treat his argument in like manner."
Upon his return to Georgia, the war with England having broken out, he procured the commission of a captain and entered the army. He was transferred to the northern frontier—then the seat of active operations—and soon distinguished himself amid that immortal band, all of whom now sleep with their fathers—Miller, Brook, Jessup, McCrea, Appling, Gaines, and Twiggs. Cumming, Appling, and Twiggs were Georgians. At the battle of Lundy's Lane he was severely wounded and borne from the field. He was placed in an adjoining room to General Preston, who was also suffering from a wound. Cumming was a favorite of Preston's, and both were full of prejudice toward the men of the North. Late at night, Preston was aroused by a boisterous laugh in Cumming's apartment. Such a laugh was so unusual with him that the general supposed he had become delirious from pain. He was unable to go to him, but called and inquired the cause of his mirth.
"I can't sleep," was the reply, "and I was thinking over the incidents of the day, and just remembered that there had not in the conflict been an officer wounded whose home was north of Mason and Dixon's line. Those fellows know well how to take care of their bacon."
He was soon promoted to a colonelcy, and was fast rising to the next grade when the war terminated. In the reduction of the army he was retained—a compliment to his merits as a man and an officer. He was satisfied with this, and, in declining to remain in the army, wrote to the Secretary of War:
"There are many whose services have been greater, and whose merits are superior to mine, who have no other means of a livelihood. I am independent, and desire some other may be retained in my stead."
He was unambitious of political distinction, though intensely solicitous to promote that of his friends. His high qualities of soul and mind endeared him to the people of the State, who desired and sought every occasion which they deemed worthy of him, to tender him the first positions within their gift; but upon every one of these he remained firm to his purpose, refusing always the proffered preferment. Upon one occasion, when written to by a majority of the members of the Legislature, entreating him to permit them to send him to the Senate of the United States, he declined, adding: "I am a plain, military man. Should my country, in that capacity, require my services, I shall be ready to render them; but in no other." He continued to reside in Augusta in extreme seclusion. Upon the breaking out of the war with Mexico he was tendered, by Mr. Polk, the command of the army, but declined on account of his age and declining health, deeming himself physically incapable of encountering the fatigue the position would involve.
The habits of Colonel Cumming were peculiar. His intercourse with his fellow men was confined to a very few tried friends. He never married, and was rarely known to hold any familiar intercourse with females. So secluded did he live, that for many years he was a stranger to almost every one in his native city. He was strictly truthful, punctual to his engagements in business matters, and honest in all things. In person, he was very commanding. In his walk the whole man was seen—erect, dignified, and impetuous. Energy and command flashed from his great, gray eyes. His large head and square chin, with lips compressed, indicated the talent and firmness which were the great characteristics of his nature. Impatient of folly, he cultivated no intercourse with silly persons, nor brooked for a moment the forward impertinence of little pretenders. To those whose qualities of mind and whose habits were congenial to his own, and whom he permitted familiarly to approach him, he was exceedingly affable, and with such he frequently jested, and hilariously enjoyed the piquant story in mirthful humor; but this was for the few. He was a proud man, and was at no pains to conceal his contempt for pert folly or intrusive ignorance, wherever and in whomsoever he met it.