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Information then, when there were neither railroads nor telegraph wires, travelled slowly. It was not until late in the afternoon of the next day, that a coach, drawn by four foaming horses, came thundering down Pennsylvania Avenue, with official commu nication of the glad tidings. What pen can describe the excitement of that hour, as cheers burst from all lips? The drawing-room at the President's mansion was speedily thronged. Mrs. Madison was there, radiant with joy, the President being absent with his cabinet. In a moment, to use the expressive phrase of John Adams, the country had passed from "gloom to glory."
No one rejoiced more heartily than did President Madison. It had been with the utmost reluctance that he had been forced into a war. England did not relinquish her claim of the "right of search;" but, as there was peace in Europe, there was no longer any motive to continue the practice. It was, of course, inexpedient for the United States to persist in the war for a mere abstraction. It is safe to say that Great Britain will never again undertake to drag a man from the protecting folds of the stars and stripes. Americans of all coming ages will revere the memory of James Madison for resisting such wrongs. "I am an American citizen " will henceforth be an argument which will command the respect of the world.
On the 4th of March, 1817, his second term of office expired, and he resigned the presidential chair to his friend James Monroe. Happy in his honorable release from the cares of state, he retired to the leisure and repose of his beautiful retreat at Montpelier. He was within a day's ride of Monticello, and was thus, in the estimation of a Virginian, a near neighbor of Mr. Jefferson. Here, in his paternal home, imbosomed among the hills, a victor in life's stern battle, he passed peacefully the remainder of his days.
The mansion was large and commodious, situated at the base of a high and wooded hill. A fine garden behind the house, and a spacious lawn in front, contributed their embellishments to the rural scene, where over countless acres the undulating expanse was covered with the primeval forest. The venerable mother of Mr. Madison still resided with her son, the object of his unceasing and most affectionate attentions. One wing of the mansion was appropriated to her.
"By only opening a door," writes a visitor, "the observer passed from the elegances, refinements, and gayeties of modern life, into
all that was venerable, respectable, and dignified in gone-by days; from the airy apartments, windows opening to the ground, hung with light silken drapery, French furniture, light fancy chairs, gay carpets, to the solid and heavy carved and polished mahogany furniture darkened by age, the thick, rich curtains, and other more comfortable adjustments, of our great-grandfathers' times."
Mr. Madison's health was delicate. He was much beloved by his neighbors and friends; and, though his union had not been blessed with children, his accomplished and amiable wife was ever to him a source of the greatest happiness. Nineteen years of life
still remained to him. He seldom left his home, though he took much interest in the agricultural prosperity of the country, and very cordially co-operated with President Jefferson in watching over the affairs of the university at Charlottesville.
In 1829, he consented to become a member of the convention at Richmond to revise the Constitution of the State. Small in stature, slender and delicate in form, with a countenance full of intelligence, and expressive alike of mildness and dignity, he attracted the attention of all who attended the convention, and was treated with the utmost deference. He seldom addressed the assembly, though he always appeared self-possessed, and watched with unflagging interest the progress of every measure. Though the convention sat for sixteen weeks, he spoke but twice; but, when he did speak, the whole house paused to listen. His voice was feeble, though the enunciation was very distinct. One of the reporters Mr. Stansbury - relates the following anecdote of the last speech he made. Having carefully written out the speech, he sent the manuscript to President Madison for his revision.
"The next day, as there was a great call for it, and the report had not been returned for publication, I sent my son with a respectful note, requesting the manuscript. My son was a lad of about sixteen, whom I had taken with me to act as amanuensis. On delivering my note, he was received with the utmost politeness, and requested to come up into Mr. Madison's chamber, and wait while he ran his eye over the paper, as company had, until that moment, prevented his attending to it. He did so; and Mr. Madison sat down, pen in hand, to correct the report. The lad stood near him, so that his eye fell on the paper. Coming to a certain sentence in the speech, Mr. Madison struck out a word, and substituted another; but hesitated, and, not feeling quite satisfied with the second word, drew his pen through it also.
"My son was young, ignorant of the world, and unconscious of the solecism of which he was about to be guilty, when, in all simplicity, he suggested a word. Yes, he ventured, boy that he was, to suggest to James Madison an improvement in his own speech! Probably no other individual then living would have taken such a liberty. But the sage, instead of regarding such an intrusion with a frown, raised his eyes to the boy's face with a pleased surprise, and said, 'Thank you, sir; it is the very word,' and immediately inserted it. I saw him the next day, and he mentioned the circumstance, with a compliment on the young critic." On the 28th of June, 1836, Mr. Madison, then eighty-five years of age, fell asleep in death. His memory is embalmed in a nation's veneration and gratitude. Like all public men, exposed to much obloquy in his political life, that obloquy has now so passed away, that we can scarcely believe that it ever existed. In a glowing tribute to his memory, uttered by the venerable ex-President John Quincy Adams, the following words, eloquent in their truthfulness, were uttered:
"Of that band of benefactors of the human race, the founders of the Constitution of the United States, James Madison is the last who has gone to his reward. Their glorious work has survived them all. They have transmitted the precious bond to us, now entirely a succeeding generation to them. May it never cease to be a voice of admonition to us, of our duty to transmit the inheritance unimpaired to our children of the rising age!"
Mrs. Madison survived her husband thirteen years, and died on the 12th of July, 1849, in the eighty-second year of her age. She was one of the most remarkable women our country has produced; and it is fitting that her memory should descend to posterity in company with that of the companion of her life.
Parentage and Birth.-Education. - Enters the Army. - A Legislator.-A Senator.- Political Views.-Mission to France. - Bonaparte. - Purchase of Louisiana. - Unfriendliness of England. - Prospective Greatness of America. - Washington's Views of the French Revolution. - Col. Monroe Governor. - Secretary both of War and of State. Elected to the Presidency. - Northern Tour. - Purchase of Spain. - Sympathy with Revolutionary Soldiers. The Monroe Doctrine.- Retirement and Death.
MANY years ago, there was a hotly contested election in Virginia, when two young men, James Madison and James Monroe,
were rival candidates for some local office. The friends of both parties were exhausting their energies to bring every voter to the polls. A very infirm and aged man was transported from a con
siderable distance, in a wagon, by the friends of Mr. Madison. As he was sitting in the building, waiting for his opportunity to vote, the name of James Monroe struck his half-paralyzed ear. He started up, and inquired if James Monroe was the son of the man of that name who some years ago lived and died in the province. Upon being told that he was the grandson of that person, the old man exclaimed with emotion,
"Then I shall vote for James Monroe. His grandfather befriended me when I first came into the country, fed me and clothed me, and I lived in his house. I do not know James Madison. I shall vote for James Monroe."
Virtues seem to be often hereditary. That same spirit of benevolence which prompted the grandfather to feed and clothe and shelter the child of want descended to his children and his children's children. The Monroe Family were among the first who emigrated to this country, and selected their home in what is now Westmoreland County, Va., that beautiful expanse of fertile land which is spread out on the western banks of the Potomac. They were the near neighbors of the Washington Family; and, being the owners of a large estate, were in comparative opulence.
James Monroe, who became fifth President of the United States, was born upon his father's plantation on the 28th of April, 1758. At that time, Virginia presented an aspect somewhat resembling feudal Europe in the middle ages. Here and there, in wide dispersion, were to be seen the aristocratic mansions of the planters, while near by were clustered the cheerless hovels of the poor and debased laborers. There were intelligence, culture, luxury, in the saloons of the master; debasement, ignorance, barbarism, in the cabin of the slaves.
James Monroe, in childhood, like all his predecessors thus far in the presidential chair, enjoyed all the advantages of education which the country could then afford. He was early sent to a very fine classical school, and at the age of sixteen entered William and Mary College. It was his intention to study law. But the cloud of the great Revolution which sundered the colonies from the mother-country was gathering blackness; and young Monroe, an earnest, impetuous, vigorous youth, whose blood coursed fiercely through his veins, could not resist his impatience to become an active participator in the scenes which were opening. In 1776, when he had been in college but two years, the