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The cabinet which he formed, with Daniel Webster at its head as Secretary of State, was one of the most brilliant with which any President had ever been surrounded. Never were the prospects of an administration more flattering, or the hopes of the country more sanguine. In the midst of these bright and joyous prospects, Gen. Harrison was seized by a pleurisy-fever, and, after a few days of violent sickness, died on the 4th of April; just one short month after his inauguration. In the delirium of his sickness, as if aware that death was approaching, and fancying that he was addressing his successor, he said,—
"Sir, I wish you to understand the principles of the Government: I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."
These were his last words. His death was universally regarded as one of the greatest of national calamities. The nation mourned with unfeigned grief. Never, then, since the death of Washington, were there, throughout our land, such demonstrations of sorrow. A careful scrutiny of his character and life must give him a high position in the affection and the esteem of every intelligent mind. Not one single spot can be found to sully the brightness of his fame; and, through all the ages, Americans will pronounce with love and reverence the name of William Henry Harrison.
His Parentage. - Education and Scholarship. - Early Distinction.
Success at the Bar and in Political Life. - Democratic Principles.- Course in the Senate. - Elected VicePresident. Accession to the Presidency. - False Position, and Embarrassments. Retirement from Office. - Joins in the Rebellion. Death.
JOHN TYLER was the favored child of affluence and high social position. His father possessed large landed estates in Virginia,
and was one of the most distinguished men of his day; filling the offices of Speaker of the House of Delegates, Judge of the Supreme Court, and Governor of the State. John was born in Charles-city County, Va., the 29th of March, 1790. He enjoyed,
in his youthful years, all the advantages which wealth and parental distinction could confer. At the early age of twelve, he entered William and Mary College; and graduated, with much honor, when but seventeen years old. His commencement address, upon "Female Education," was pronounced to be a very masterly performance. After graduating, he devoted himself with great assiduity to the study of the law, partly with his father, and partly with Edmund Randolph, one of the most distinguished lawyers of Virginia.
At nineteen years of age, he commenced the practice of the law. His success was rapid and astonishing. It is said that three months had not elapsed ere there was scarcely a case on the docket of the court in which he was not retained. When but twenty-one years of age, he was almost unanimously elected to a seat in the State Legislature. He connected himself with the Democratic party, and warmly advocated the measures of Jeffer son and Madison. For five successive years, he was elected to the Legislature, receiving nearly the unanimous vote of his county.
Sympathizing cordially with the Administration in the second war with England, when the British were ravaging the shores of Chesapeake Bay, he exerted himself strenuously to raise a military force to resist them. When but twenty-six years of age, he was elected a member of Congress. Here he acted earnestly and ably with the Democratic party, opposing a national bank, internal improvements by the General Government, a protective tariff, and advocating a strict construction of the Constitution, and the most careful vigilance over State rights. His labors in Congress were so arduous, that, before the close of his second term, he found it necessary to resign, and retire to his estate in Charles County to recruit his health.
He, however, soon after consented to take his seat in the State Legislature, where his influence was powerful in promoting public works of great utility. Many of his speeches developed statesmanlike views, and powers of eloquence of a high order. With a reputation thus constantly increasing, he was chosen by a very large majority of votes, in 1825, governor of his native State,a high honor; for Virginia had many able men to be competitors for the prize. His administration was signally a successful one. He urged forward internal improvements, strove to remove sec
tional jealousies, and did much to rouse the people to an appreciation of their own interests. His popularity secured his
John Randolph, a brilliant, erratic, half-crazed man, then represented Virginia in the Senate of the United States. A portion of the Democratic party was displeased with Mr. Randolph's wayward course, and brought forward John Tyler as his opponent; considering him the only man in Virginia of sufficient popularity to succeed against the renowned orator of Roanoke. Mr. Tyler
was the victor; and, in taking his seat in the Senate, he said to his Democratic constituents,
"The principles on which I have acted, without abandonment in any one instance, for the last sixteen years, in Congress, and in the legislative hall of this State, will be the principles by which I shall regulate my future political life."
John Quincy Adams was then President of the United States, having been placed in that office by the Whigs. Mr. Tyler, immediately upon his election, declared, in a public letter, his uncompromising hostility to the principles of Mr. Adams's administration.
"In his message to Congress," wrote Mr. Tyler, "I saw an almost total disregard of the federative principle, a more latitudinarian construction of the Constitution than has ever before been insisted on. From the moment of seeing that message, all who have known any thing of me have known that I stood distinctly opposed to this administration."
In accordance with these professions, upon taking his seat in the Senate, he joined the ranks of the opposition. He opposed the tariff; he spoke against and voted against the bank, as unconstitutional; he strenuously opposed all restrictions upon slavery, resisted all projects of internal improvements by the General Government, and avowed his sympathy with Mr. Calhoun's views of nullification; he declared that Gen. Jackson, by his opposition to the nullifiers, had abandoned the principles of the Democratic party. Such was Mr. Tyler's record in Congress, a record in perfect accordance with the principles which he had always avowed.
Perhaps there was never hate more unrelenting than that with which John C. Calhoun and Andrew Jackson regarded each other. Mr. Tyler was in sympathy with Mr. Calhoun; voted with him;
and it thus happened that Mr. Tyler was found in opposition to Jackson's administration. This hostility to Jackson caused Mr. Tyler's retirement from the Senate, after his election to a second term. The Legislature of Virginia passed resolutions, calling upon their senators in Congress to vote to expunge from the journal of the Senate a vote censuring Gen. Jackson for his usurpation of power in removing the deposits of public money from the United-States Bank, and placing them in State banks. Mr. Tyler had cordially approved of this censure, avowing his convictions that Gen. Jackson had usurped powers which the Constitution did not confer upon him. He had also very emphatically expressed his belief that it was the duty of the representative to obey the directions of his constituents. Under these circumstances, he felt constrained to resign his seat.
Returning to Virginia, he resumed the practice of his profession. There was a split in the Democratic party. His friends still regarded him as a true Jeffersonian, gave him a public dinner, and showered compliments upon him. He had now attained the age of forty-six. His career had been very brilliant. In consequence of his devotion to public business, his private affairs had fallen into some disorder; and it was not without satisfaction that he resumed the practice of the law, and devoted himself to the culture of his plantation.
Soon after this, he removed to Williamsburg, for the better education of his children; and again took his seat in the Legislature of Virginia. He had thus far belonged very decidedly to the Calhoun or States-rights party. The complications of party in this country are inexplicable. There have been so many diverse and clashing interests, the same name being often used in different sections to represent almost antagonistic principles, that one need not be surprised to find Mr. Tyler, without any change of views, taking the name of a Southern Whig, still opposing the tariff, the bank, and advocating, to the fullest extent, State rights. He was still what the North would call a Democrat.
By the Southern Whigs, he was sent to the national convention at Harrisburg to nominate a President in 1839. The majority of votes was given to Gen. Harrison, a genuine Whig, much to the disappointment of the South, who wished for Henry Clay. To conciliate the Southern Whigs, and to secure their vote, the convention then nominated John Tyler for Vice-President. It