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office, to the regret of neither party, and probably to his own unspeakable relief. His first wife, Miss Letitia Christian, died in Washington in 1842; and in June, 1844, President Tyler was again married, at New York, to Miss Julia Gardiner, a young lady of many personal and intellectual accomplishments.

The remainder of his days Mr. Tyler passed mainly in retirement at his beautiful home,- Sherwood Forest, Charles-city County, Va. A polished gentleman in his manners, richly furnished with information from books and experience in the world, and possessing brilliant powers of conversation, his family circle was the scene of unusual attractions. With sufficient means for the exercise of a generous hospitality, he might have enjoyed a serene old age with the few friends who gathered around him, were it not for the storms of civil war which his own principles and policy had helped to introduce.

When the Great Rebellion rose, which the State-rights and nullifying doctrines of Mr. John C. Calhoun had inaugurated, President Tyler renounced his allegiance to the United States, and joined the Confederates. He was chosen a member of their Congress; and while engaged in active measures to destroy, by force of arms, the Government over which he had once presided, he was taken sick, and, after a short illness, died. There were but few to weep over his grave, excepting his own family, to whom he was much endeared, and the limited circle of his personal friends. His last hours must have been gloomy; for he could not conceal from himself that the doctrines which he had advocated were imperilling the very existence of the nation. Unfortunately for his memory, the name of John Tyler must forever be associated with all the misery and crime of that terrible Rebellion whose cause he openly espoused. It is with sorrow that history records that a President of the United States died while defending the flag of rebellion, which was arrayed in deadly warfare against that national banner which he had so often sworn to protect.



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Ancestry of Mr. Polk.- His Early Distinction. - His Success as a Lawyer. - Political Life. -Long Service in Congress. - Speaker in the House. Governor of Tennessee. Anecdote. Political Views. - Texas Annexation. - Candidate for the Presidency. - Mexican War. - Its Object and Results. - Retirement. - Sickness.- Death.

NEAR the south-western frontier of North Carolina, on the eastern banks of the Catawba, there is a region now called the

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

County of Mecklenburg. In this remote, almost unexplored wilderness, a small settlement was commenced by the ScotchIrish in the year 1735. Among these settlers, there were two brothers by the name of Polk. Both of them were men of much

excellence of character and of extensive influence. Early in the spring of 1775, news reached those distant settlers beneath the primeval forest of the atrocities which the crown of Great Britain was perpetrating against the liberties of this country, in Massachusetts. There were several public meetings held to discuss these wrongs.

At length, Col. Thomas Polk, the elder of these brothers, "well known and well acquainted in the surrounding counties, a man of great excellence and merited popularity," was empowered to call a convention of the representatives of the people. Col. Polk issued his summons; and there was a convention in Charlotte, the shire-town of the county, held on the 19th of May, 1775. About forty of the principal citizens of the county of Mecklenburg were present as delegates. At this meeting, the announcement was made, that the first blood of the Revolution had been shed in Lexington, Mass. The excitement was intense. Anxious deliberations were protracted late into the night, and resumed the next morning. People were, in the mean time, rapidly gathering in large numbers. Resolutions were at length adopted unanimously, which were read from the court-house steps by Col. Polk, declaring that "we, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the mother-country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British crown; and that we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people."

This heroic and extraordinary declaration of independence was unquestionably the first that was made. Col. Thomas Polk, and his brother Ezekiel, who resided then across the border, in South Carolina, were among the most prominent men in this movement. In the course of the war which ensued, Lord Cornwallis established his headquarters at Charlotte, which he called the hot-bed of rebellion, and the hornet's nest. But little more is known respecting Ezekiel Polk, who was the grandfather of James Knox Polk, the eleventh President of the United States. He left a son, Samuel, who married Jane Knox. Samuel Polk was a plain, unpretending farmer. James was the eldest son of a family of six sons and four daughters. He was born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., on the 2d of November, 1795.

In the year 1806, with his wife and children, and soon after followed by most of the members of the Polk family, Samuel Polk

emigrated some two or three hundred miles farther west to the rich valley of the Duck River. Here in the midst of the wilderness, in a region which was subsequently called Maury County, they reared their log huts, and established their new home. In the hard toil of a new farm in the wilderness, James K. Polk spent the early years of his childhood and his youth. His father, adding the pursuits of a surveyor to that of a farmer, gradually increased in wealth until he became one of the leading men of the region. His mother was a superior woman, of strong common sense and earnest piety. Young James often accompanied his father on his surveying tours, and was frequently absent from home for weeks together, climbing the mountains, threading the defiles, exposed to all the vicissitudes of the weather, and not a little in peril from hostile Indians. To a boy of reflective spirit, there is much in such a life to bring out all there is noble in his nature.

Very early in life, James developed a taste for reading, and expressed the strongest desire to obtain a liberal education. His mother's training had rendered him methodical in his habits, had taught him punctuality and industry, and had inspired him with lofty principles of morality. James, in the common schools, rapidly became a proficient in all the common branches of an English education. His health was frail; and his father, fearing that he might not be able to endure a sedentary life, got a situation for him behind the counter, hoping to fit him for commercial pursuits.

This was to James a bitter disappointment. He had no taste for these duties, and his daily tasks were irksome in the extreme. He remained in this uncongenial occupation but a few weeks, when, at his earnest solicitation, his father removed him, and made arrangements for him to prosecute his studies. Soon after, he sent him to Murfreesborough Academy. This was in 1813. With ardor which could scarcely be surpassed, he pressed forward in his studies, and in less than two and a half years, in the autumn of 1815, entered the sophomore class in the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. Here he was one of the most exemplary of scholars, so punctual in every exercise, never allowing himself to be absent from a recitation or a religious service, that one of the wags of college, when he wished to aver the absolute certainty of any thing, was in the habit of saying, "It is as certain as that Polk will get up at the first call."

To every branch of a solid and an accomplished education he alike devoted his energies. He graduated in 1818 with the highest honors, being deemed the best scholar of his class, both in mathematics and the classics. He was then twenty-three years of age. Mr. Polk's health was at that time much impaired by the assiduity with which he had prosecuted his studies. After a short season of relaxation, he went to Nashville, and entered the office of Felix Grundy to study law. Mr. Grundy was a man of national fame, not only standing at the head of the bar in Nashville, but having also distinguished himself on the floor of Congress. Here Mr. Polk renewed his acquaintance with Andrew Jackson, who resided on his plantation, the Hermitage, but a few miles from Nashville. They had probably been slightly acquainted before. When Mrs. Jackson, with her two orphan boys, fled before the army of Cornwallis, she took refuge in Mecklenburg County, and for some time resided with the neighbors of Mr. Polk's father.

As soon as he had finished his legal studies, and been admitted to the bar, he returned to Columbia, the shire-town of Maury County, and opened an office. His success was rapid. Very seldom has any young man commenced the practice of the law more thoroughly prepared to meet all of its responsibilities. With rich stores of information, all his faculties well disciplined, and with habits of close and accurate reasoning, he rapidly gained business, and won fame.

Mr. Polk's father was a Jeffersonian Republican, and James K. Polk ever adhered to the same political faith. He was a popular public speaker, and was constantly called upon to address the meetings of his party friends. His skill as a speaker was such, that he was popularly called the Napoleon of the stump. He was a man of unblemished morals, genial and courteous in his bearing, and with that sympathetic nature in the joys and griefs of others which ever gave him troops of friends. There is scarcely any investment which a man can make in this world so profitable as pleasant words and friendly smiles, provided always that those words and smiles come honestly from the heart. In 1823, Mr. Polk was elected to the Legislature of Tennessee. his strong influence towards the election of his friend, Andrew Jackson, to the presidency of the United States. cured the passage of a law designed to prevent duelling.

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