A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
As a speaker, he was logical, clear, and always
deeply in earnest. Daniel Webster said of him: "He had the indisputable
basis of all high character--unspotted integrity and honor unimpeached.
Nothing groveling, low, or meanly selfish came near his head or his
heart."


HENRY CLAY.

[Illustration: HENRY CLAY. (1777-1852).]

Henry Clay was born April 12, 1777, in the "Slashes," Virginia. He
studied law, and at the age of twenty removed to Kentucky, which is
proud to claim the honor of having been his home and in reality his
State. His great ability and winning manners made him popular
everywhere. He served in the Kentucky Legislature, and, before he was
thirty years old, was elected to the United States Senate, of which he
was a member from 1806 to 1807. He soon became recognized as the
foremost champion of the cause of internal improvements and of the
tariff measures, known as the "American System." His speakership of the
Kentucky Assembly, his term as United States senator again, 1809-11, and
as a member of the House of Representatives in 1811, followed rapidly.
Against precedent, being a newcomer, he was chosen Speaker, and served
until his resignation in 1814. He was as strenuous an advocate of the
war with Great Britain as Calhoun, and it has been stated that he was
one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty of Ghent in 1814. The
following year he was again elected to the House of Representatives, and
acted without a break as Speaker until 1821. He was the most powerful
advocate of the recognition of the Spanish-American States in revolt,
and but for Clay the Missouri Compromise would not have been prepared
and adopted.

Absent but a brief time from Congress, he again acted as Speaker in
1823-25. President Adams appointed him his secretary of State, and he
retired from office in 1829, but two years later entered the Senate from
Kentucky. For the following twenty years he was the leader of the Whig
party, opposed Jackson in the bank controversy, and secured the tariff
compromise of 1833 and the settlement with France in 1835. He retired
from the Senate in 1843, his nomination for the presidency following a
year later. Once more he entered the Senate, in 1849, and brought about
the great compromise of 1850. He died June 29, 1852.

Clay's vain struggle for the presidency is told in the succeeding
chapter. It seems strange that while he was indisputably the most
popular man in the United States, he was not able to secure the great
prize. The American Congress never knew a more brilliant debater, nor
did the public ever listen to a more magnetic orator. His various
compromise measures in the interest of the Union were beyond the
attainment of any other man. His fame rests above that which any office
can confer. His friends idolized and his opponents respected him. A
strong political enemy once refused an introduction to him on the ground
that he could not withstand the magnetism of a personal acquaintance
which had won "other good haters" to his side. John C. Breckinridge, his
political adversary, in his funeral oration, said: "If I were to write
his epitaph, I would inscribe as the highest eulogy on the stone which
shall mark his resting-place, 'Here lies a man who was in the public
service for fifty years and never attempted to deceive his countrymen.'"


DANIEL WEBSTER.

[Illustration: DANIEL WEBSTER. (1782-1852).]

Daniel Webster was born January 18, 1782, at Salisbury, New Hampshire,
and died October 24, 1852. He was educated at Exeter Academy and
graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801. After teaching school a short
time in Maine, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1805, and
began practice at Boscawen, in his native State. Two years afterward, he
removed to Portsmouth, where he speedily became a leader at the bar and
served in Congress from 1813 to 1817. At that time he was a moderate
Federalist. He settled in Boston in 1818, and assumed a front rank among
lawyers by his argument before the United States Supreme Court in the
celebrated "Dartmouth College Case," which involved the obligation of
contracts and the powers of the national government. He was congressman
from Massachusetts from 1823 to 1827, was chairman of the judiciary
committee, and attracted great attention by his speeches on Greece, then
struggling for independence, and his pleas in favor of free trade.

Webster's fame as an eloquent orator was already established. As such,
he was the greatest that America ever produced, and many claim that he
surpassed any who spoke the English tongue. Among his masterpieces were
his speeches at Plymouth, 1820, on the bi-centennial; at the laying of
the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill monument, 1825; and his eulogy on
Adams and Jefferson, 1826.

When he entered the United States Senate in 1827, he immediately took
rank beside the giants, Calhoun and Clay. He was an advocate of the
protective tariff of 1823, and in 1830 reached the highest point of
thrilling and eloquent logic in his reply to Robert Young Hayne, of
South Carolina, who asserted that any State had the right to disobey
such laws of Congress as she deemed unconstitutional. Webster's speech
is a classic, never surpassed in its way, and the debate won for him the
proud title of "Expounder of the Constitution."

Naturally Webster opposed nullification, and he and Calhoun had many
earnest contests worthy of two such masters of logic. W.H. Harrison
appointed him his secretary of State, and he remained with Tyler until
1843. In 1845, he was again sent to the United States Senate, but in
1850 he alienated many of his former supporters by his speech in favor
of Clay's compromise measures, He was secretary of State in 1850-52, and
his death called out more addresses and testimonials than any other
since that of Washington.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1836.

The following was the electoral vote cast in 1836: Martin Van Buren, of
New York, Democrat, 170; William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, Whig, 73; Hugh
L. White, of Tennessee, Whig, 26; Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts,
Whig, 14; Willie P. Mangum, of North Carolina, Whig, 11. For
Vice-President, Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, Democrat, 147; Francis
Granger, of New York, Whig, 77; John Tyler, of Virginia, Whig, 47;
William Smith, of Alabama, Democrat, 23. The vote for Johnson as
Vice-President was not sufficient to elect him, but he was chosen by the
House of Representatives.


MARTIN VAN BUREN.

Martin Van Buren, eighth President, was born December 5, 1782, at
Kinderhook, N.Y., and died July 24, 1862. He became eminent as a lawyer,
and his skill as a Democratic politician caused him to be known as the
"Little Magician." He held a number of public offices, being State
senator, United States senator, 1821-28; governor of New York, 1828-29;
and secretary of State under Jackson, 1829-31, when Jackson appointed
him minister to England, but his political opponents secured his defeat
in the Senate. Becoming Vice-President under Jackson, he presided in the
Senate from 1833 to 1837. Jackson was so pleased with Van Buren that he
chose him as his successor. He was the Free Soil candidate for the
presidency in 1848, and thereby brought about the defeat of Cass by
Taylor.

The administration of Van Buren was one of the most unpopular we have
ever had, and through no fault of his. A great deal of the prosperity of
Jackson's term was superficial. He had been despotic, as shown in his
removal of the United States Bank deposits and the issue of the specie
circular of 1836. Confusion ensued in business, and an era of wild
speculation followed a distribution of the surplus in the treasury among
the States. The credit system took the place of the cash system, banks
sprang up like mushrooms, and an immense amount of irredeemable money
was put in circulation.

[Illustration: MARTIN VAN BUREN.

(1782-1862.) One term, 1837-1841.]

These institutions were known as "wild-cat banks," and their method of
defrauding the public was as follows: They bought several hundred
thousands of cheap bills which, having cost them practically nothing,
they used in offering higher prices for public lands than others could
pay in gold and silver. They trusted to chance that their bills would
not soon come back for redemption, but if they did so, the banks
"failed" and the holders of the notes lost every dollar.

The fraud was a deliberate one, but the establishment of the national
banking law since then renders a repetition of the swindle impossible.


THE PANIC OF 1837.

Van Buren was hardly inaugurated when the panic of 1837 burst upon the
country. The banks were forced to suspend specie payment, many failed,
and mercantile houses that had weathered other financial storms toppled
over like tenpins. In two months the failures in New York and New
Orleans amounted to $150,000,000. Early in May, a deputation of New York
merchants and bankers called upon the President and asked him to put off
the collection of duties on imported goods, to rescind the specie
circular, and convene Congress in the hope of devising measures for
relief. All that the President consented to do was to defer the
collection of duties. Immediately the banks in New York suspended specie
payments, and their example was followed by others throughout the
country. The New York Legislature then authorized the suspension of
specie payments for a year. This left the national government without
the means of paying its own obligations (since no banks would return its
deposits in specie) except by using the third installment of the surplus
revenue that had been promised to the States.

The country was threatened with financial ruin, and Congress convened in
September. The President in his message proposed the establishment of an
independent treasury for the custody of the public funds, and their
total separation from banking institutions. Such a bill failed, but it
became a law in 1840. Congress, however, obtained temporary relief by
authorizing the issue of $10,000,000 in treasury notes.

The fact remained, however, that the country was rich, and though much
distress prevailed, the financial stress began to lessen as more healthy
methods of business were adopted.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.