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tile powers were immediately and efficaciously explained and enforced by Hamilton in the applied to restore the authority of the laws. character of Pacificus. The attempts to corThe principal burden of the important civil and rupt and intimidate were resisted. The British military arrangements, requisite for this pur- treaty was justified and defended as an honorpose, devolved upon his shoulders. It was able compact with our natural friends, and owing to his humanity, that the leaders of this pregnant with advantages, which have since rebellion escaped exemplary punishment: and been realized and acknowledged by its oppothe successful issue was, in public and unquali- nents. fied terms, ascribed to him by those, whose By this pacific and vigorous policy, in the political relations would not have prompted whole course of which the genius and activity ihem to pay the homage of unmerited praise. of Hamilton were conspicuous, time and infor
He was highly instrumental in preserving our mation were afforded to the American nation, peace and neutrality, and saving us from the and correct views were acquired of our situation ruin which has befallen the republics of the old and interests. We beheld the republics of Euworld. Upon this topic, I am desirous of avoid- rope march in procession to the funeral of their ing every intimation which might prove offen- own liberties, by the lurid light of the revolusive to individuals of any party. God forbid tionary torch. The tumult of the passions subthat the sacred sorrow, in which we all unite, sided, the wisdom of the administration was should be disturbed by the mixture of any un- perceived, and America now remains a solitary kindly emotions! I would merely do justice monument in the desolated plains of liberty. to this honored shade, without arraigning the Having remained at the head of the treasury motives of those who disapproved and opposed several years, and filled its coffers; having debis measures.
veloped the sources of an ample revenue, and The dangers, which menaced our infant gov- tested the advantages of his own system by his ernment at the commencement of the French own experience; and having expended his prirevolution, are no longer a subject of contro- vate fortune; he found it necessary to retire versy. The principles, professed by the first from public employment, and to devote his atleaders of that revolution, were so congenial to tention to the claims of a large and dear family. those of the American people; their pretences What brighter instance of disinterested honor of aiming merely at the reformation of abuses has ever been exhibited to an admiring world! were so plausible; the spectacle of a great That a man, upon whom devolved the task of people struggling to recover their “long lost originating a system of revenue for a nation ; liberties” was so imposing and august; while of devising the checks in his own department; that of a combination of tyrants to conquer of providing for the collection of sums, the and subjugate, was so revolting; the services, amount of which was conjectural; that a man, received from one of the belligerent powers, who anticipated the effects of a funding system, and the injuries inflicted by the other, were so yet a secret in his own bosom, and who was recent in our minds, that the sensibility of the thus enabled to have secured a princely fortune, nation was excited to the most exquisite pitch, consistently with principles esteemed fair by To this disposition, so favorable to the wishes the world ; that such a man, by no means adof France, every appeal was made, which dicted to an expensive or extravagant style of intrigue, corruption, flattery and threats could living, should have retired from office destitute dictate. At this dangerous and dazzling crisis, of means adequate to the wants of mediocrity, there were but few men entirely exempt from and have resorted to professional labor for the the general delirium. Among that few was means of decent support, are facts which must Hamilton. His penetrating eye discerned, and instruct and astonish those, who, in countries his prophetic voice foretold, the tendency and habituated to corruption and venality, are more consequence of the first revolutionary move- / attentive to the gains than to the 'duties of ments. He was assured, that every people official station. Yet Hamilton was that man. which should espouse the cause of France would It was a fact, always known to his friends, and pass under her yoke, and that the people of it is now evident from his testament, made unFrance, like every nation which surrenders its der a deep presentiment of his approaching fate. reason to the mercy of demagogues, would be Blush, then, ministers and warriors of imperial driven by the storms of anarchy upon the France, who have deluded your nation by preshores of despotism. All this he knew was tensions to a disinterested regard for its liberties conformable to the invariable law of nature and and rights. Disgorge the riches extorted from experience of mankind. From the reach of your fellow-citizens, and the spoils amassed this desolation he was anxious to save his coun- from confiscation and blood! Restore to imtry, and in the pursuit of his purpose, he breast- poverished nations the price paid by them for ed the assaults of calumny and prejudice. “The the privilege of slavery, and now appropriated torrent roared, and he did buffet it." Appre- to the refinements of luxury and corruption ! ciating the advantages of a neutral position, he | Approach the tomb of Hamilton, and compare co-operated with Washington, Adams, and the the insignificance of your gorgeous palaces with other patriots of that day, in the means best the awful majesty of this tenement of clay! adapted to maintain it. The rights and duties! We again accompany our friend in the walks of neutrality, proclaimed by the President, were l of private life, and in the assiduous pursuit of his profession, until the aggressions of France Let us, then, in an age of infidelity, join, in im compelled the nation to assume the attitude of agination, the desolate group of wife and chil defence. He was now invited by the great and dren and friends, who surround the dying bed enlightened statesman, who had succeeded to of the inquisitive, the luminous, the scientific the presidency, and at the express request of Hamilton, and witness his attestation to the the commander-in-chief, to accept of the second truth and comforts of our holy religion. Let rank in the army. Though no man had mani- us behold the lofty warrior bow his head before fested a greater desire to avoid war, yet it is the cross of the meek and lowly Jesus; and be freely confessed, that when war appeared to be who had so lately graced the sumptuous tables inevitable, his heart exulted in the tented and society of the luxurious and rich, now re. field," and he loved the life and occupation of a gardless of these meaner pleasures, and aspiring soldier. His early habits were formed amid the to be admitted to a sublime enjoyment with fascinations of the camp. And though the pa- which no worldly joys can compare ; to a decific policy of Adams once more rescued us from vont and humble participation of the bread of war, and shortened the existence of the army life. The religious fervor of his last moments establishment, yet its duration was sufficient to was not an impulse of decaying nature yielding secure to him the love and confidence of officers to its fears, but the result of a firm conviction and men, to enable him to display the talents of the truths of the gospel. I am well informed, and qualities of a great general, and to justify that in early life, the evidences of the Christian the most favorable prognostics of his prowess religion had attracted his serious examination, in the field.
and obtained his deliberate assent to their truth, Once more this excellent man unloosed the and that he daily, upon his knees, devoted a helmet from his brow, and returned to the portion of time to a compliance with one of its duties of the forum. From this time he per most important injunctions: and that, however sisted in a firm resolution to decline all civil these edifying propensities might have yielded honors and promotion, and to live a private occasionally to the business and temptations of citizen, unless again summoned to the defence life, they always resumed their influence, and of his country. He became more than ever would probably have prompted him to a public assiduous in his practice at the bar, and intent profession of his faith in his Redeemer. upon his plans of domestic happiness, until a Such was the untimely fate of Alexander nice and mistaken estimate of the claims of Hamilton, whose character warrants the apprehonor, impelled him to the fatal act which ter- hension, that “take him for all in all, we ne'er minated his life.
| shall look upon his like again." While it is far from my intention to draw a Nature, even in the partial distribution of her veil over this last great error, or in the least favors, generally limits the attainments of great measure to justify a practice, which threatens men within distinct and particular spheres of i in its progress to destroy the liberty of speech eminence. But he was the darling of nature, and of opinion; it is but justice to the deceased and privileged beyond the rest of her favorites. to state the circumstances which should palliate His mind caught at a glance that perfect comthe resentment that may be excited in some prehension of a subject for which others are good minds towards his memory. From the indebted to a patient labor and investigation, last sad memorial which we possess from his In whatever department he was called to act, hand, and in which, if our tears permit, we may he discovered an intuitive knowledge of its trace the sad presage of the impending catas- duties, which gave him an immediate ascendtrophe, it appears that his religious principles ency over those who had made them the study were at variance with the practice of duelling, of their lives ; so that, after running through and that he could not reconcile his benevolent the circle of office, as a soldier, statesman and heart to shed the blood of an adversary in pri- financier, no question remained for which he vate combat, even in his own defence. It was, had been qualified, but only in which he had then, from public motives, that he committed evinced the most superlative merit. He did this great mistake. It was for the benefit of not dissemble his attachment to a military life, his country, that he erroneously conceived him- nor his consciousness of possessing talents for self obliged to make the painful sacrifice of his command; yet no man more strenuously advoprinciples, and to expose his life. The sober cated the rights of the civil over the military judgment of the man, was confounded and mis- power, nor more cheerfully abdicated command directed by the jealous honor of the soldier; and returned to the rank of the citizen, when and he evidently adverted to the possibility of his country could dispense with the necessity events that might render indispensable, the es- of an army. teem and confidence of soldiers as well as of In his private profession, at a bar abounding citizens.
with men of learning and experience, he was But while religion mourns for this aberration without a rival. He arranged, with the happiof the judgment of a great man, she derives est facility, the materials collected in the vast sonne consolation from his testimony in her fa- storehouse of his memory, surveyed his subject vor. If she rejects the apology, she admits the under all its aspects, and enforced his arguments repentance; and if the good example be not an with such powers of reasoning, that nothing atonement, it may be an antidote for the bad. / was wanting to produce conviction, and gener
ally to ensure success. His eloquence combined To observe that such a man was dear to his the nervousness and copious elegance of the family would be superfluous. To describe how Greek and Roman schools, and gave him the dear, impossible. Of this we might obtain choice of his clients and his business. These some adequate conception, could we look into wonderful powers were accompanied by a natu- the retreat which we had chosen for the solace ral politeness and winning condescension, which of his future years; which, enlivened by his forestalled the envy of his brethren. Their presence, was so lately the mansion of cheerhearts were gained before their pride was fulness and content; but now, alas! of lamenalarmed ; and they united in their approbation tation and wo!of a pre-eminence, which reflected honor on their fraternity.
“ For him no more the blazing hearth shall burn, From such talents, adorned by incorruptible
Or tender consort wait with anxious care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return, honesty and boundless generosity, an immense
Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share." personal influence over his political and private friends was inseparable; and by those who did With his eye upon the eternal world, this not know him, and who saw the use to which dying hero had been careful to prepare a testaambition might apply it, he was sometimes sus-ment, almost for the sole purpose of bequeathpected of views unpropitious to the nature of ing to his orphans the rich legacy of his princiour government. The charge was inconsistent ples; and having exhibited in his last hours to with the exertions he had made, to render that this little band the manner in which a Christian government in its present form, worthy of the should die, he drops, in his flight to heaven, a attachment and support of the people, and his summary of the principles by which a man of voluntary relinquishment of the means of am- honor should live. . bition, the purse-strings of the nation. He The universal sorrow manifested in every was, indeed, ambitious, but not of power; he part of the Union, upon the melancholy exit of was ambitious only to convince the world of this great man, is an unequivocal testimonial of the spotless integrity of his administration and the public opinion of his worth. The place of character. This was the key to the finest sen- his residence is overspread with a gloom which sibilities of the heart. He shrunk from the im- bespeaks the presence of a public calamity, and putation of misconduct in public life; and if the prejudices of party are absorbed in the overhis judgment ever misled him, it was only when
flowing tide of national grief. warped by an excessive eagerness to vindicate It is, indeed, a subject of consolation, that himself at the expense of his discretion. To diversity of political opinions has not yet excalamny, in every other shape, he opposed the tinguished the sentiment of public gratitude. defence of dignified silence and contempt. There is yet a hope that events like these, which
Had such a character been exempt from bring home to our bosoms the sensation of a foibles and frailties, it would not have been common loss, may vet remind us of our
common loss, may yet remind us of our common human. Yet so small was the catalogue of interest, and of the times, when, with one acthese, that they would have escaped observation, cord, we joined in the homage of respect to our but for the unparalleled frankness of his nature, living as well as to our deceased worthies. which prompted him to confess them to the should those days once more return, when world. He did not consider greatness as an the people of America, united as they once authority for habitual vice; and he repented were united, shall make merit the measure of with such contrition of casual error, that none their approbation and confidence, we may hope remained offended but those who never had a for a constant succession of patriots and heroes. right to complain. The virtues of his private But should our country be rent by factions, and and domestic character comprised whatever the merit of the man be estimated by the zeal conciliates affection and begets respect. To of the partisan, irreparable will be the loss of envy he was a stranger, and of merit and talents those few men, who, having once been esteemed the unaffected eulogist and admirer. The by all, might again have acquired the confidence charms of his conversation, the brilliance of his of all, and saved their country, in an hour sot wit, his regard to decorum, his ineffable good
peril, by their talents and virtues.humor, which led him down from the highest range of intellect to the level of colloquial “So stream the sorrows that embalm the brare; pleasantry, will never be forgotten, perhaps
The tears which virtue sheds on glory's grave.' never equalled.
DE WITT CLINTON.
This energetic statesman and political economist was born in the Province of New York, on the second day of March, 1769. He was educated for the bar, under the tuition of Samuel Jones, but, before he had made any considerable progress in practice, was appointed private secretary to Governor George Clinton, his uncle. From this time he i ecano identified with the politics of the State, mingled in the discussions of the day, and soon distinguished himself by the power and pungency of his occasional writings. In the protracted controversy that arose during the period prior to and at the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution, Mr. Clinton took a prominent part. He opposed the arguments of Jay, Hamilton, and Madison, in a series of papers, over the signature of A Countryman, which, although failing to answer the triumphant exposition of the Federalist, “carried conviction to a large proportion of the voters of the State of New York.” During the session of the Federal Convention of his native State, he was present and reported the debates. “His letters at this time," says Professor Renwick, "show him to have been in principle an anti-federalist. Mature reflection in after days changed his views on this subject; and his official letter to the mayor of Philadelphia, on the occasion of the death of Hamilton, shows how completely satisfied he had then become of the wisdom which directed the framers of the constitution.*
Mr. Clinton also opposed the treaty of Mr. Jay, and the foreign policy of the General Government. In 1794 he turned his attention to military affairs, was elected lieutenant, and subsequently captain of a company of volunteers, that had been formed anticipating an open rupture with England or France, both of which nations were committing constant depredations upon American commerce. About the same time he occupied the post of secretary to the Regents of the University, and also to the harbor commissioners.
The election of John Jay to the governorship of New York, in 1795, deprived Mr. Clinton of his several official stations, and he immediately returned to the profession of the law, but for a short period only. In 1797 he was a member of the legislature, and the following year took his seat in the State Senate. Here he occupied a leading place, originated and perfected many important measures, and displayed the most comprehensive views of governmental policy. He supported President Adams in the defence of the honor of the nation against the aggressions of France, lent a helping hand towards the abolition of slavery, and in other great questions exhibited extraordinary diplomatic skill and legal force.
In 1801 he entered the Senate of the United States, where he met in debate, and as an opponent, the powerful orator and statesman, Gouverneur Morris. The most important question that came before the Senate during his career, was that of the navigation of the Mississippi. The debate was a violent and protracted one, in which he and Mr. Morris took part. How well Mr, Clinton sustained himself, can best be jadged from his speech, which is embraced in the presunt collection, as is, also, that of his eloquent and more experienced opponent. Mr. Clinton remained in the Senate two years; but brief as his career was, he rendered services
* Life of De Witt Clinton by James Renwick, LL. D.
inferior to none of his associates, either in number or consequence. At the close of his senatorial term he returned to New York, and in 1803 was appointed mayor of that city. * His mayoralty, by the just, fearless and unbiased character of his judicial decisions, and the constant activity he manifested to promote the welfare of the city, won the highest applause and confidence of the people. In 1812, opposing the war with Great Britain, he consented to become the candidate of the peace party for the presidency, in opposition to Mr. Madison.t The character of that political contest, which terminated in Mr. Clinton's defeat, is too familiar for particular notice in this place.
Mr. Clinton's mayoralty terminated in 1815. He had occupied that important post since his first election in 1803, with the exception of two terms, and at the same time, for many years, held a seat in the State Senate.
In the administration of his senatorial duties he was, in a high degree, distinguished for activity and statesmanlike capacity. Among his earliest acts was the advocacy of the system of free schools, the establishment of benevolent institutions for the sick, aged and indigent of his fellow-men, the tolerance of Roman Catholics, the defence of the New York harbor, besides many other measures calculated for the improvement, elevation, and general welfare of the people. In 1811 he was elected lieutenant-governor, and presided, with great dignity and credit, over the Senate, of which he had so long been a member.
He retired from public life in 1815. His attention was now turned to the subject of the Erie Canal, the plan of which had been projected in 1809, but delayed in consequence of the war with Great Britain. Mr. Clinton, associated with Gouverneur Morris, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Simeon De Witt, and others, was appointed, in 1809, a commissioner to examine and report the most feasible route for the great improvement. In 1816 their report was made, and, principally through the instrumentality of Mr. Clinton, an act was passed “to provide for the improvement of the internal navigation of the State." A new board of commissioners, of which Mr. Clinton was a member, was appointed, and immediately entered upon their duties. The next year plans and estimates of the work were laid before the legislature, and a law was passed. authorizing the canal, the cost of which was estimated at over five millions of dollars. The liinits of this sketch will not allow of a particular recital of Mr. Clinton's services in this gigantic undertaking.
A short time after the passage of the canal bill, Mr. Clinton was elected governor of his native State, and continued in the gubernatorial chair until 1822, when he declined a re-election. As chief magistrate he displayed the energy and ability that characterized his former public career. He was strenuously devoted to the cause of internal improvement, to the extension of the benefits of education to all classes and conditions of men, and to other plans of reform, among which that for the inspection of wheat is not the least important. His speeches to the legisla. ture not only evince the highest order of literary ability, but exhibit the soundest principles and the purest patriotism. After spending three years in retirement, he was again elected governor. and about the same time (1826), President Adams tendered him the mission to Great Britain. He declined the mission, preferring to remain in the service of his State.
Mr. Clinton's connection with the literary, scientific and historical institutions of the United States was extensive, and in each he manifested an active interest. “The documentary history of his life," says Tuckerman, in his admirable sketch, “bears ample evidence of his varied learning, his large discourse of reason, his broad views, and his unwearied activity. It comprises orations before philosophical and benevolent societies, speeches, reports, letters, journals, and messages to the legislature. It attests facility as a writer, versatile knowledge, and earnest
The office of mayor was at that time held by a commission from the Executive of the State, exercised under the construction of the constitution by the council of appointment. It was of much greater importance than it has possessed of late years. The mayor presided in the meetings of the Common Council, not yet divided into two chambers, and in this body he had a vote and a deliberative voice. A great number of valuable offices were in his direct gift; he was also the chief judge of the common pleas and of the criminal court, as well as the actual head of the city police. He was also er. officio chairman of the board to which, with almost absolute power, the care of the public health was intrusted.--Renacica
+ See the Life of Harrison Gray Otis, in the preceding pages of this volume.