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August following, he was a member of the Convention called to revise the constitution of the state of New York. In December, 1821, he took his seat in the United States Senate. During the presidential canvass, which resulted in the election of John Quincy Adams, Van Buren was a zealous supporter of Mr. Crawford, and distinguished for his zeal and activity against Adams's administration.
In November, 1828, Mr. Van Buren was elected governor of New York state. Though his gubernatorial career was brief, it was signalized by the adoption of the safety fund system, which combined the moneyed interests of the empire state in an indissoluble league of mutual dependence. On the 12th of March, he resigned the office of
governor, being appointed by President Jackson to the office of secretary of state. In April, 1831, he resigned this station, assigning various reasons satisfactory to the president, who appointed him the same year to succeed Mr. McLane as minister to St. James. This appointment was not confirmed by the Senate. His rejection by this body was deemed by his friends a.“ proscriptive act," but was more than made amends for by his election, in 1833, to the office of vice-president, by virtue of which he presided over the same body that so recently rejected him as minister to England.
More through the influence of party feeling and the approval of President Jackson, than from personal popularity, he was elected to the office of president of the United States, and was inaugurated March 4, 1837. His presidential career was one of difficulty, doubt, and peril, owing to the unfortunate derangement of our fiscal affairs, and the generally embarrassed state of the country,
His administration was far from being a popular one; and he had to contend with a violent opposition. No pains were spared to prevent his reëlection; and in this
was realized. He was succeeded by General William H. Harrison in the presidency, and retired to his native place in New York state, where he now is residing:
What subsequent changes may occur in the political world, to bring him out again into public life, is not known; but, from the counter current now set in, there is a probability that the next change in the administration
will see the party that elevated Mr. Van Buren to the presidency again in power.
Whether or not his age or inclination will again favor active participation in public life, or continued retirement for the future, remains to be seen. The latter would probably be in accordance with the dignity vi an ex-president of the United States.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON was born at Berkley, in Charles county, Virginia, on the 9th of February, 1773, and was educated at Hampden Sidney College. He lost his father in 1791, and found himself poor in the gifts of fortune, but rich in the lessons of liberty and patriotism, derived from his noble father. He commenced the study of medicine, and pursued it with earnest devotion, until the war-whoop of the Indians, in the north-west, aroused in his mind an ardent desire to distinguish himself among the defenders of his country. Though this inclination was opposed by his guardian, Robert Morris, yet he could not divest himself of it; and when he found his wish approved by General Washington, he gave to it the energies of his whole being, and, with the liveliest gratitude, received from him an ensign's commission in a company of artillery destined to be stationed on the Ohio. At the
age of eighteen, he entered a field of toil and strife, that many a veteran would gladly avoid.
The deep and deadly hatred of the north-western Indians against us had been sedulously fostered by Britain through the whole course of the revolutionary war, and never ceased with her acknowledgment of our independence. Though the brightest jewel had fallen from her crown, she was determined at least to mar its beauty, and, if possible, to shatter and destroy it. Large amounts of presents had been annually lavished on the Indians, who were thus induced to believe in the sincerity of British professions of friendship, and to give them aid in all their machinations against the people of the United States. During the six years following the peace of 1783, it is estimated that 1500 defenceless inhabitants became victims of savage ferocity. In 1794, Wayne advanced into the heart of the Indian country, and on the 20th of August he gained a complete victory over the combined forces of 2000 Indians and Canadians. In the despatch to the president, the name of Harrison is honorably mentioned.
In 1794, when he was but twenty-one years of age, Harrison received a captain's commission, and was placed in command of Fort Washington, with extensive powers and heavy responsibilities, which would have been intrusted to none but a man of tried integrity and sterling ability. He married the daughter of John Cleves Symmes, distinguished as the founder of the Miami settlements.
In 1797, Harrison resigned his commission, and received the appointment of secretary of the North-west Territory. Two years after, at the age of twenty-six, he was elected delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States. The absorbing question of legislation for his constituents, was the disposal of the public lands. Hitherto, the lands had been sold only in large parcels, not less than 4000 acres. Of course, very few could purchase from government, but were compelled to obtain it from the extensive dealers at a considerable advance in price. Harrison, from his extensive acquaintance with the wants and wishes of the actual settlers, was appointed chairman of a committee to inquire into the expediency of making sales of smaller parcels, in order that the settler might obtain it at the minimum price, and the exorbitant exactions of monopolizers be thereby repressed. Through his exertions, the bill granting the sale of sections of 320 acres was passed; subsequently it was sold in still smaller parcels.
In 1800, Harrison was appointed governor of Indiana. Through the whole course of his administration, his perfect integrity shone conspicuous. Though he possessed the power of confirming or of rejecting certain grants to individuals, the stain of a bribe never rested on his hand.
But one heart fraught with malice was found to harbor a wish to tarnish the unsullied integrity of Harrison, One McIntosh ventured to accuse him of defrauding the Indians in the treaty of Fort Wayne. An action for slander was brought against him, which resulted in a fine of 4000 dollars, of which Harrison gave one third to the orphans of some of those who had perished in the field, and restored the remainder to the culprit himself.
As commissioner and superintendent of Indian affairs, his correspondence with Congress exhibits him in the most favorable light.
The government of the United States was particularly anxious, at this time, to avoid a collision with the Indians, while the inclinations of the Indians, whetted by the false representations of the British, all urged them to war. The treaty of Fort Wayne was made in the absence of Tecumseh; and, on his return, he threatened with death some of the chiefs who had executed it. Harrison invited him to a conference. Tecumseh approached the conference with four hundred warriors, whose appearance indicated deep and determined hostility. Tecumseh urged his argument against the right of one tribe to sell land without the consent of all. Harrison replied, that the Miamis, with whom he had formed a treaty, were the original possessors of the lands they had transferred, and the Shawnese, who had been driven by the Creeks from Georgia, had no right to attempt to control them in any thing relating to their territory. This roused the ire of Tecumseh. He sprang to his feet, exclaiming, "It is false!” and, calling on his warriors, they gathered around him, with war-clubs in their hands, raised to begin the battle. General Harrison calmly drew his sword, repressed the ardor of his men to punish their insolence, and, with a resolute brow and appearance, his keen eye resting on that of the fierce Tecumseh, told him that he was a bad man; and that he would have no further talk with him ; that he must return to his camp, and leave the settlements immediately
The bold warrior found that he had mistaken his man. From the mildness and urbanity of his general bearing, he evidently believed that he had only to make demonstrations of hostility, to obtain from him whatever he desired; but when he saw the same calm, but resolute exterior, differing in nothing save in the additional keenness of his flashing eye, and the more erect and lofty bearing of his person,
he paused for a moment, then departed from the council, followed by his braves. The next day, Tecumseh apologized for his violence, and solicited another interview, which terminated in Tecumseh's declaration, that he still adhered to his opinion of the preceding day. The danger of war with England every day becoming more imminent, the Indians became more daring. A large body of them had collected at Prophet's Town; and now General Harrison prepared to repress their hostilities, either by negotiating a peace or by chastising them. The Indians desired a conference for the purpose of assassinating him in council, as it was afterwards ascertained; but he knew too well the Indian character to be thrown off his guard, and immediately requested two of his officers to choose a place for a camp. They selected an elevated spot, surrounded with low, moist ground, acknowledged by all to be well adapted to their purpose. On this ground the army encamped in order of battle, ready to engage at a moment's warning. The next morning, General Harrison arose before the dawn, and sat with his aids by the fire, when the alarm was given by a musket-shot froin one of the sentinels, succeeded by the war-whoop, and a fierce attack by the Indians. The general mounted his horse, and hastened to the point of attack; where finding his men hard pressed, he ordered up two companies to their support. Major Davis and Colonel White fell in attempting to dislodge some Indians from a clump of trees near at hand. In the act of leading a company to reënforce the right flank, the general's aid, Colonel Owen, of Kentucky, fell at his side. The battle continued for some hours, when the Indians were completely routed, though the solemn chant of the prophet was heard in the intervals of the battle, mingling with the rattling of deer's hoofs, invoking the aid of the Great Spirit.
A short time previous to the declaration of war with Great Britain, Governor Harrison was constituted a majorgeneral in the militia of Kentucky. But the government of the United States, ignorant of the circumstances connected with his appointment, ordered General Winchester, of the regular army, to take the command. General Harrison consequently retired to resume his duties as governor of