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THE

MERCHANTS MAGAZINE

AND

COMMERCIAL REVIEW.

JANUARY, 18 66.

HIRAN WALBRIDGE. The career of General Walbridge affords a bright example of the influence of American institutions in developing character. Eudowed with a genial temper, rare tact and energy, he has added to it indomitable purpose, patience of labor, and accurate knowledge of men. As a result he bas attained wealth, social position, and a national reputation to wbich he can refer with honorable pride. The obstacles which he has surmounted would bave discouraged others; and he bas displayed talent as a statesman, sagacity and probity as a man of business which do him the highest credit. He is, perhaps, one of the best examples of the Young America school dow on the stage of active life.

Walbridge is of a New England family, but was born at Ithaca, New York, February 2, 1821. His ancestor, General Walbridge, fought at the battle of Bennington. Early in life bis father moved with bis family to Ohio, where he spent bis boyhood. In 1839 he became a student at the Ohio University; but his career at that institution was soon finished. Having become warmly attached to General Harrison, then a candidate for the Presidency, at wbose house be had been a frequent and welcome guest, and though a Democrat in his proclivities, and vut nineteen years old, he, with his usual earnestness, espoused the cause of the bero of Tippecanoe. Being invited to make a speech at a political gathering, and not obtaining leave to attend, took it for bimself. While addressing the andience with great earnestness, word came to him that he had been expelled for his disobedience. This, however, did not move him, but he finished bis remarks, bad an ovation, packed bis trunk, returned home, and afterward finished bis education at another college.

He took up his residence at Toledo, where he was speedily elected an alderman. In 1874 he received, from Governor Bartley, the commission of Brigadier General of the 18th division of the Militia of 0.110. Eotering upon the political canvass in support of Mr. Polk, he became one of the most popular young orators of Obio. He was offered the position of Colonel during the war with Mexico, but declined it, baving resolved VOL. LIV.-NO. I.

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to make New York bis future home. Here he engaged in business with extraordinary success ; never losing his interest in public affairs. The establishment of a republic in France, and the heroic struggle of the Hungarians awoke bis liveliest sympathies. In 1851 he visited Europe making the acquaintance of the leading statesmen and men of science. On bis return home he was elected to Congress. He soon afterward visited California, making himself familiar with its situation, and returned in time to take bis seat in Congress. His official career was a successful one. Every measure to promote commerce and national integrity received his strongest support. He opposed the protection policy in all its forms, and the following resolutions were proposed by him in relation to our maritime rights:

“ Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled : That the United States, as a maritime power, having neutral rights to maintain, deem it proper in view of the existing war in Europe, to declare and make kpown that every American vessel engaged in the lawful pursuits of commerce is held by this Government to be protected by the flag which covers her, and which shall be the evidence of her neutrality; that we attach to all such vessels a character of sovereignty, considering them as clothed with immunities corresponding with those appertaining to our territory ; that our rights, as thus declared, rest upon no precarious or temporary basis, nor upon the concession of any power, but upon public law as insisted upon from the early history of the Republic; and that any attempt to enforce an obsolete right of impressment, secret detention, or irritation in regard to such American ship will be regarded as an act of hostility to the United States, and just cause of war.

* Be it further Resolved, That as the existing conflict in Europe may lead to the change of political sovereignty in others, we deem it proper for Congress to make known to them that we affirm the doctrine that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system of Government to any part of this bemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety; and from the geographical and commercial posi. tion of the Island of Cuba to this continent, we will never consent to her sovereignty being transferred except to the United States, to which she seems naturally to belong.'

The adoption of this policy by our Government would have obviated the unfortunate affair of the San Jacinto. The express declaration by Congress of our mercantile rights at the time when England and France were engaged in a conflict with Russia would bave been a favorable moment to prescribe an Ainerican policy commensurate with our power, and in conformity with the position which we expect to occupy as a pation abroad.

Actuated by his strong professions in favor of popular sovereignty, General Walbridge arrayed himself with the friends of Judge Douglas, and continued while that statesman remained in public life, to sustain his principles and policy. After his death General Walbridge, in a a speech, paid him the following tribute :

“ One senti nent always controlled the actions of Mr. Douglas. His love for the Union was a passion. He had paid a visit to the hermitage during bis earlier Congressional course, and received from the venerable Jackson his acknowledgement and benediction. The old hero predicted for him a glorious career. Indeed, the same idea which Jackson had once enunciated pervaded the whole mind of Douglas : “ The Union must and shall be preserved.”

"Queen Mary of Eogland declared that when she was dead the name of Calais would be written on her heart. Jackson might have also affirmed that in his heart was inscribed the purpose to maintain the American Union. That purpose he had Sequeathed with his blessing to Stephen A. Douglas, by whom most nobly it was maintained. We all remember the story of Bruce who, when ho died, committed his heart to the brave James Douglas to convey to the Holy Land. The chief took the sacred charge and set out for the holy sepulchre. Arriving in Spain he was persuaded to delay his journey and aid King Alfonso in a battle against the Moors. For a sea80.1 the claymore swept its way murderously among the Infidel hosts ; presently their commander massed a troop of men and hurled them against the adventurous Scot. Douglas was surrounded, and found himself in mortal peril

. Instantly taking from bis bosom the silver case which enclosed his sacred charge, he hurled it into the midst of the Paynien host, shouting, Lead on, brave Heart, where thou wast wont, and Douglas will follow ! l'hep cutting through the ranks of the enemy, he made his way to the heart of the Bruce, and fell, expiring upon it.

“Our Douglas had been entrusted with ihe purpose engraven on the heart of Jackson, devotion to the Union. He bore it, if not to the field of battle, certainly to the place where mighty men did violence to the Constitution of the nation. He was ito champion while they were perpetrating the sacrilege. As his life ebbed away, he, with his dying breath, shouted out, like his immortal namesake, 'I will follow and in the very act of defending the Union against the assaults of traitors, died full of glory."

At the close of the first session in 1854, the Democrats of his district offered General Walbridge a nomination which he was compelled to decline. When he first took office he withdrew from business, and entrusted his property to a friend. On his return from Washington he found it sunk. He was not the man to be disheartened ; his immense vitality would not suffer him to despond. He resumed business at once, and before long was more prosperous than ever.

The next important public measure proposed by the General was the celebrated one of the * Militia of the Seas." He first suggested this in a speech at Tammany Hall, on the 21st of August, 1856. It was copied with approbation by journals of every shade of public sentiment all over the country. An edition was subsequently published and widely circulated. After discussing the condition of the different ceuntrios of Europe he described the tonpage of the United States and its inadequate protection. He then explained his proposed mode of reorganizing the navy to meet the exigency-a plan which, if adopied, would have utterly prevented the destruction of our commerce by European privateers during the late rebellton, and abridged the duration of the contest. He said :

"Snggestions that seek to make radical changes should always be advanced with hesitation and distrust; yet all great improvements in government has heretofore sprung from the experience of the people themselves, who are usually in advance of their rulers in whatever most concerns their own prosperity and welfare.

The general government should bold out some inducements to our great commercial mariner to aid in protecting itself. Uuder the sanction of law, with ample guards and restrictions, there should be organised a Militia Navy, an arm of defense corresponding to that employed by the government in the land service, under our enrolled militia sistem, by which hipowners should receive encouragement and aid by law in construction of their vessels, so as to make them capable of bearing guns if required in the service of their country. The captains and subordinate officers should be commissioned in the name of the General Government, upon some equitable plan that will give them rank and emolument in proportion to the demands upon their time and service in the new capacity of representing the naval power of the Union. The haro blest youth who enters as a cabin-boy, or in the lowest capacity as a seaman, should be educated and traiced in his honorable though adventurous and dangerous profession Tbat not only in the navy proper but in this new service, the naval powers of the Union will be represented.

Our poble empire State, second to none but foremost of all, this great commercial emporium, the seat of energy, enterprize, and commercial power, are felt and acknowledged throughout the world, have a right to be beard upon this as apou all

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