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Many had come from a great distance, not only to attend the convention, but also to see that GREAT MAN who had for so long a period and so prominently occupied the hearts of his countrymen. They could not leave without the long-wishedfor pleasure of seeing ANDREW Jackson. The moment the speaking had closed, the immense throng turned their steps toward the 'Hermitage. I remember well the appearance of the vast procession—the countless multitude, as it came surging down the main road leading to the home of Jackson. As the people entered the avenue leading from the high road to the plain but capacious dwelling, the old patriot, though feeble from age,
roused himself once more to receive the sincere and unbought homage of his grateful and confiding countrymen. He took a seat on a sofa in the large ball opposite to the porch and entrance. The multitude filled every standing-point in front of the mansion. Affectionate friends surrounded him; the throng asked but the privilege of seeing and taking him by the hand once more. They approached in files, shook hands with him, and then passed on through the hall. Thousands passed thus before the old hero. * *** At last our friend, Judge Douglas, of Illinois, approached. I remember well how pale he looked, and how small and plain he seemed beside the hundreds of robust and gallant specimens of Tennessee manhood. Governor Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, a senator of the United States, had been for some time acting as the medium of introduction to strangers. The scene that ensued was one never to be forgotten.”
One of the Illinois delegation who accompanied Judge Douglas was WILLIAM WALTERS, Esq., the editor of the “IlLINOIS STATE REGISTER,” the most influential as well as the ablest conducted paper in the state. Mr. Walters was with Judge Douglas at the moment of his introduction to General Jackson, and on his return to Springfield a few days thereafter he published the following description of what took place:
“Every thing that relates to Andrew Jackson, the hero of New Orleans and the friend of his country, is of deep interest to the American people; and although the incident we are about to relate is in itself of no great interest, it becomes so to us in consequence of those connected with it.
“At the Nashville Convention of August last, we visited the Hermitage, only twelve miles distant, in company with Judge Douglas, of this state, and some others of our fellow-citizens. The Hermitage was crowded with people from almost every state, who had been invited thither by the venerable patriot on the day succeeding the convention.
“Governor Clay, of Alabama, was near General Jackson, who was himself sitting on a sofa in the hall, and as each person entered, the governor introduced him to the hero and he passed along. When Judge Douglas was thus introduced, General Jackson raised his still brilliant eyes and gazed for a moment in the countenance of the judge, still retaining his hand. "Are you the Mr. Douglas, of Dlinois, who delivered a speech last session on the subject of the fine imposed on me for declaring martial law at New Orleans ?' asked General Jackson.
66"I have delivered a speech in the House of Representatives upon that subject,' was the modest reply of our friend.
6.Then stop,' said General Jackson ; sit down here beside me. I desire to return you my thanks for that speech. You are the first man that has ever relieved my mind on a subject which has rested upon it for thirty years. My enemies have always charged me with violating the Constitution of my country by declaring martial law at New Orleans, and my friends have always admitted the violation, but have contended that circumstances justified me in that violation. I never could understand how it was that the performance of a solemn duty to my country-a duty which, if I had neglected, would have made me a traitor in the sight of God and man, could properly be pronounced a violation of the Constitution. I felt convinced in my own mind that I was not guilty of such a heinous offense; but I could never make out a legal justification of my course, nor has it ever been done, sir, until you, on the floor of Congress, at the late session, established it beyond the possibility of cavil or doubt. I thank you, sir, for that speech. It has relieved my mind from the only circumstance that rested painfully upon it. Throughout my whole life I never performed an official act which I viewed as a violation of the Constitution of my country; and I can now go down to the grave in peace, with the perfect consciousness that I have not broken, at any period of my life, the Constitution or laws of my country.'
“Thus spoke the old hero, his countenance brightened by emotions which it is impossible for us to describe. We turned to look at Douglas—he was speechless. He could not reply, but convulsively shaking the aged veteran's hand, he rose and left the hall. Certainly General Jackson had paid him the highest compliment he could have bestowed on any individual."
It has been stated publicly, and we know of no reason for questioning the truth of the statement, that General Jackson, at his death, bequeathed all his papers to FRANCIS P. BLAIR, the editor of the Washington Globe, and that among them was found the pamphlet copy of Judge Douglas's speech, with an endorsement, in Jackson's own handwriting, signed by him, in these words: “This speech constitutes my defense; I lay it aside as an inheritance for my grandchildren."
It is doubtful whether, in the long and eventful public life of Mr. Douglas, there has ever been a moment when words of applause and approbation have ever sounded so pleasant in his ears as those thrilling sentences of the venerable hero, General Jackson.
On the 8th of January, 1853, the magnificent equestrian statue of Jackson, by Clark Mills, was erected in Lafayette Square, Washington City, and the committee of arrangements had previously invited Mr. Douglas to deliver the oration on the occasion. As the orator was selected because of his wellknown efforts in the cause of the patriot, and because of the high esteem in which General Jackson held him, the invitation was most appropriately directed to Mr. Douglas. On that occasion Mr. Douglas delivered a most polished and graceful address, in which he reviewed the policy of preserving the memory of the deeds of the great and good by the aid of the highest works of art. He gave, also, a graphic and eloquent sketch of General Jackson's history, personal, military, and political, and pointed with a touching power to his brilliant example as one which could never fail to deserve the approval of the American people. The following extract gives, in a few words, his rapid recapitulation of General Jackson's peculiarities as a statesman.
“The high qualities which, in a different theatre, had sustained him in every emergency, enabled him to rise superior to all resistance, never failed him in his civil administration. Calm, patient, and even deferential in counsel, when his opinion was matured and his resolution formed he threw all the fiery energy of his nature into its execution. The history of his civil career, like that of his military campaigns, consists of a rapid succession of terrific conflicts and brilliant achievements, in which he never lost a battle or failed in a skirmish. His state papers will stand forth, so long as the history of this republic shall be read, as imperishable monuments to his statesmanship.”
The candid observer of Mr. Douglas's own course as a statesman will not be at a loss to know whose example he has followed so successfully as a public man and as a statesman.
CHAPTER V. THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS AND MEXICAN WAR. MR. DOUGLAS was one of the most ardent supporters of the annexation of Texas. In 1844 the Democratic convention coupled the annexation of Texas with the Oregon question, and thenceforth Mr. Douglas, as well from his own judgment as because they formed part of the Democratic platform, strenuously supported both measures. A portion of the party sur
rendered 54° 40', much to his regret and against his earnest protest; but he still adhered to the other measure, and was one of the most able advocates it had in Congress. His speech on the annexation of Texas stands upon the record not exceeded, and rarely equaled, in point of ability, by any of the very many elaborate speeches made upon that subject.
While the joint resolution was pending, he proposed that the Missouri line of 36° 30' should be preserved as a settlement of the slavery question, and that it should be renewed and perpetuated in the resolution of annexation. Though the resolution subsequently adopted was not the one proposed by Mr. Douglas, yet his proposition applying the line of 36° 30' to the territory acquired by the annexation was incorporated into the measure, and subsequently became part of the law. His course upon this point is sufficiently elucidated in subsequent chapters, and it is unnecessary farther to refer to it here.
THE MEXICAN WAR.
Texas was annexed in 1845, and at the next session was admitted into the Union. The events following that action of the United States resulted in the invasion of American soil by Mexican troops.
On the 11th of May, 1846, President Polk informed Congress that war existed by the act of Mexico, and urged that Congress should authorize the President to call into the service of the United States a force of volunteer troops. In the House of Representatives (of which Mr. Douglas was then a member) the message was read. The reading of the most voluminous correspondence was called for. The message and correspondence were laid on the table, and, pending a motion to print, they were taken from the table and referred to the Committee of the Whole. They were also ordered to be printed. The House then went into Committee of the Whole. On the 27th of January the Committee on Military Affairs had reported a bill authorizing the President to accept the services of volunteers in case of the invasion of the soil of the United States, etc. The bill had not been prepared with any reference to a war with Mexico, but was a general bill, and had stood on the calendar from the day it was reported without any action.
This bill was taken up. The committee rose immediately, and a resolution was offered to close debate in committee on
that bill in two hours. The House adopted the resolution, refusing the yeas and nays on the question. The House again went into committee, and a large portion of the documents were read, occupying an hour and a half in the reading. The peril of General Taylor's little army was imminent, and immediate action was necessary. The bill was amended so as to authorize the raising of 50,000 volunteers, and appropriating ten millions of dollars. The difficulty was in arranging the preamble. Various propositions were made, and the preamble was eventually agreed upon in the following words:
“Whereas, by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that government and the United States."
Mr. Delano, of Ohio, offered a proviso condemning the President in taking armed occupation of the territory lying between the River Nueces and the Rio del Norte. rejected. The bill was reported to the House. The vote on adopting the preamble was, yeas 123, nays 67. The bill then passed, yeas 174, nays 14.
The subject of the war was considered and debated on an appropriation bill, and two days thereafter, on May 13th, Mr. Delano having addressed the House, Mr. Douglas, in an impromptu reply, made a most thorough vindication of the war and of President Polk's policy. That speech was never surpassed, and, as it is part of his history, and of the history of the administration he supported so ably, it is here annexed entire. It is the most concise and yet thorough presentation of the title of the United States to the Rio del Norte as the boundary of Texas ever presented in Congress. The speech was regarded then, as it will be now, as a most powerful argu
, a ment in justification of the war, and of the American title to the whole of Texas. Its effect upon the House was very great. It gave to Mr. Douglas an increased popularity, and added greatly to his rising fame as an orator and debater. His colloquies with the venerable JOHN QUINCY Adams drew from that gentleman subsequently the highest commendations for their readiness and ability.
Mr. Douglas rose to reply to the speech of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Delano), who had just taken his seat. Several members proposed that the committee rise, with a view to adjournment, that he might speak in the morning, if he preferred that course. He declined to avail himself of their courtesy, as his remarks would necessarily be desultory and without preparation, and directed principally to the points which had already been touched