[Frontispiece: v1.jpg] SENATOR GEORGE F. HOAR From a photograph taken in 1897 Copyright, 1897, by H. Schervee, Worcester, Mass.
[Title page] AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SEVENTY YEARS
BY GEORGE F. HOAR
NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1903
[Dedication] TO MY WIFE AND CHILDREN THIS RECORD OF A LIFE WHICH THEY HAVE MADE HAPPY IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
[Table of Contents] CONTENTS
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY
CHAPTER II ROGER SHERMAN AND HIS FAMILY
CHAPTER III SAMUEL HOAR
CHAPTER IV BOYHOOD IN CONCORD
CHAPTER V FAMOUS CONCORD MEN
CHAPTER VI FARM AND SCHOOL
CHAPTER VII HARVARD SIXTY YEARS AGO
CHAPTER VIII 1849 TO 1850—FOUNDATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY— DANIEL WEBSTER
CHAPTER IX LIFE IN WORCESTER
CHAPTER X POLITICAL HISTORY OF MASSACHUSETTS FROM 1848 TO 1869
CHAPTER XI THE KNOW NOTHING PARTY AND ITS OVERTHROW
CHAPTER XII ELECTION TO CONGRESS
CHAPTER XIII SUMNER AND WILSON
CHAPTER XIV PERSONALITIES IN DEBATE
CHAPTER XV THE NATIONAL HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN 1869
CHAPTER XVI POLITICAL CONDITION IN 1869
CHAPTER XVII RECONSTRUCTION
CHAPTER XVIII COMMITTEE SERVICE IN THE HOUSE
CHAPTER XIX SALMON P. CHASE
CHAPTER XX ADIN THAYER
CHAPTER XXI POLITICAL CORRUPTION
CHAPTER XXII CREDIT MOBILIER
CHAPTER XXIII THE SANBORN CONTRACTS
CHAPTER XXIV BENJAMIN F. BUTLER
CHAPTER XXV BELKNAP IMPEACHMENT
CHAPTER XXVI ELECTORAL COMMISSION
CHAPTER XXVII FOUR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS, 1876
CHAPTER XXVIII FOUR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS, 1880
CHAPTER XXIX FOUR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS, 1884
CHAPTER XXX FOUR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS, 1888
CHAPTER XXXI SATURDAY CLUB
CHAPTER XXXII THE WORCESTER FIRE SOCIETY
[Text] AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SEVENTY YEARS
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY
Everybody who reads this book through will wonder that a man who ought to be able to tell so much has really told so little.
I have known personally and quite intimately, or have known intelligent and trustworthy persons who have known personally and quite intimately, many men who have had a great share in the history of this country and in its literature for a hundred and thirty years.
In my younger days there were among my kindred and near friends persons who knew the great actors of the Revolutionary time and the time which followed till I came to manhood myself. But I did not know enough to ask questions. If I had, and had recorded the answers, I could write a very large part of the political and literary history of the United States. I never kept a diary, except for a few and brief periods. So for what I have to say, I must trust to my memory. I have no doubt that after these volumes are published, there will come up in my mind matter enough to make a dozen better ones.
I invoke for this book that kindly judgment of my countrymen which has attended everything I have done in my life so far. I have tried to guard against the dangers and the besetting infirmities of men who write their own biography. An autobiography, as the word implies, will be egotistical. An old man's autobiography is pretty certain to be garrulous. If the writer set forth therein his own ideals, he is likely to be judged by them, even when he may fall far short of them. Men are likely to think that he claims or pretends to have lived up to them, however painfully conscious he may be that they are only dreams which even if he have done his best have had little reality for him.
There is another danger for a man who tells the story of great transactions, in which he has taken part, whether legislative, executive, military, or political, or any other, in which the combined action of many persons was required for the result. He is apt to claim, consciously or unconsciously, that he himself brought the whole thing about.
"Papa," said the little boy to the veteran of the Civil War, "Did anybody help you to put down the Rebellion?"
This peril specially besets narrators in their old age. I am afraid I can hardly escape it.
I once heard General George H. Thomas relate to a brilliant company at a supper party, among whom were Chief Justice Chase, General Eaton, Commissary General in two wars, Senator Trumbull, William M. Evarts, Joseph Henry, John Sherman, his brother the General, and several other gentlemen of equal distinction, the story of the battles of Nashville and Franklin. The story was full of dramatic interest. Yet no one who heard it would have known that the speaker himself had taken part in the great achievement, until, just at the end, he said of the Battle of Nashville that he thought of sending a detachment to cut off Hood's army at a ford by which he escaped after they were defeated, but he concluded that it was not safe to spare that force from immediate use in the battle. "If I had done it," he added, with great simplicity, "I should have captured his whole army. There is where I made my mistake."
The recollections of the actors in important political transactions are doubtless of great historic value. But I ought to say frankly that my experience has taught me that the memory of men, even of good and true men, as to matters in which they have been personal actors, is frequently most dangerous and misleading. I could recount many curious stories which have been told me by friends who have been writers of history and biography, of the contradictory statements they have received from the best men in regard to scenes in which they have been present.
If any critic think this book lacking in dignity, or wisdom, or modesty, it is hoped that it may, by way of offset, make up for it in sincerity. I have so far lived in the world without secrets. If my countrymen, or the people of Massachusetts, have trusted me, they have fully known what they were doing. "They had eyes and chose me."
I have never lifted any finger or spoken a word to any man to secure or to promote my own election to any office. I do not mean to criticise other men who advance their honorable ambition for public service or exert themselves to get office for which they think themselves fit. It was the "high Roman fashion." It has been the fashion in England always. English gentlemen do not disdain a personal solicitation for political support, and think no harm in it, to which no American gentleman would for a moment stoop.
It has been the custom in other parts of the country almost from the beginning of the Government. But what I think a better custom has prevailed in Massachusetts. I arrogate to myself no virtue in this respect. I only say that it has been my supreme good fortune to be the son of a Commonwealth among whose noble and high-minded people a better and more fastidious habit has prevailed.
The lesson which I have learned in life, which is impressed on me daily, and more deeply as I grow old, is the lesson of Good Will and Good Hope. I believe that to-day is better than yesterday, and that to-morrow will be better than to- day. I believe that in spite of so many errors and wrongs and even crimes, my countrymen of all classes desire what is good, and not what is evil. I repeat what I said to the State Convention of Massachusetts after the death of President McKinley:
"When I first came to manhood and began to take part in public affairs, that greatest of crimes, human slavery, was entrenched everywhere in power in this Republic. Congress and Supreme Court, Commerce and Trade and Social Life alike submitted to its imperious and arrogant sway. Mr. Webster declared that there was no North, and that the South went clear up to the Canada line. The hope of many wise and conservative and, as I now believe, patriotic men, of saving this country from being rent into fragments was in leaving to slavery forever the great territory between the Mississippi and the Pacific, in the Fugitive Slave Law, a law under which freemen were taken from the soil of Massachusetts to be delivered into perpetual bondage, and in the judgment of the Supreme Court which declared it as the lesson of our history that the Negro had no rights that a white man was bound to respect.
"Last week at Dartmouth, at the great celebration in honor of Daniel Webster, that famous college gave the highest honor in its power to a Negro, amid the applause of the brilliant assembly. And there was no applause more earnest or hearty than that of the successor of Taney, the Democratic Chief Justice of the United States. I know that the people of that race are still the victims of outrages which all good men deplore. But I also believe that the rising sense of justice and of manhood in the South is already finding expression in indignant remonstrance from the lips of governors and preachers, and that the justice and manhood of the South will surely make their way.
"Ah, Fellow Citizens, amid the sorrow and the mourning and the tears, amid the horror and the disappointment and the baffled hope, there comes to us from the open grave of William McKinley a voice of good omen! What pride and love must we feel for the republic that calls such men to her high places? What hope and confidence in the future of a people, where all men and all women of all parties and sections, of all faiths and creeds, of all classes and conditions, are ready to respond as ours have responded to the emotion of a mighty love.
"You and I are Republicans. You and I are men of the North. Most of us are Protestants in religion. We are men of native birth. Yet if every Republican were to-day to fall in his place, as William McKinley has fallen, I believe our countrymen of the other party, in spite of what we deem their errors, would take the Republic and bear on the flag to liberty and glory. I believe if every Protestant were to be stricken down by a lightning-stroke, that our brethren of the Catholic faith would still carry on the Republic in the spirit of a true and liberal freedom. I believe if every man of native birth within our borders were to die this day, the men of foreign birth, who have come here to seek homes and liberty under the shadow of the Republic, would carry it on in God's appointed way. I believe if every man of the North were to die, the new and chastened South, with the virtues it has cherished from the beginning, with its courage and its constancy, would take the country and bear it on to the achievement of its lofty destiny. The Anarchist must slay 75,000,000 Americans before he can slay the Republic.
"Of course there would be mistakes. Of course there would be disappointments and grievous errors. Of course there would be many things for which the lovers of liberty would mourn. But America would survive them all, and the nation our fathers planted would endure in perennial life.
"William McKinley has fallen in high place. The spirit of Anarchy, always the servant of the spirit of Despotism, aimed its shaft at him, and his life for this world is over. But there comes from his fresh grave a voice of lofty triumph: 'Be of good cheer. It is God's way.'"
I account it my supreme good fortune that my public life has been spent in the service of Massachusetts. No man can know better than I do how unworthy I have been of a place in the great line of public men who have adorned her history for nearly three hundred years. What a succession it has been. What royal house, what empire or monarchy, can show a catalogue like that of the men whom in every generation she has called to high places—Bradford, and Winthrop, and Sir Henry Vane, Leverett, and Sam Adams and John Adams and his illustrious son, and Cabot and Dexter, Webster and Everett and Sumner and Andrew. Nothing better can be said in praise of either than that they have been worthy of her, and she has been worthy of them. They have given her always brave and honest service, brave and honest counsel. She has never asked of them obsequiousness, or flattery, or even obedience to her will, unless it had the approval of their own judgment and conscience. That relation has been alike most honorable and most advantageous to both sides. They have never been afraid to trust the people and they have never been afraid to withstand the people. They knew well the great secret of all statesmanship, that he that withstands the people on fit occasions is commonly the man who trusts them most and always in the end the man they trust most.
CHAPTER II ROGER SHERMAN AND HIS FAMILY
My mother, who died in 1866, at the age of eighty-three, was the daughter of Roger Sherman of Connecticut. Her father died when she was ten years old. She lived in her mother's house, opposite the College in New Haven, until her marriage in 1812. New Haven was one of the capital cities of New England. Its society had the special attraction which belonged to the seat of a famous college. Her mother's house was visited by the survivors of the great period of the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution, whom her father had known during an eminent public service of nearly forty years.
My mother was the most perfect democrat, in the best sense of the word, that I ever knew. It was a democracy which was the logical result of the doctrines of the Old Testament and of the New. It recognized the dignity of the individual soul, without regard to the accident of birth or wealth or power or color of the skin. If she were in the company of a Queen, it would never have occurred to her that they did not meet as equals. And if the Queen were a woman of sense, and knew her, it would never occur to the Queen. The poorest people in the town, the paupers in the poorhouse, thought of her as a personal friend to whom they could turn for sympathy and help. No long before her death, an old black woman died in the poorhouse. She died in the night. An old man who had been a town pauper a good part of his life sat up with her and ministered to her wants as well as he could. Just before she died, the old woman thanked him for his kindness. She told him she should like to give him something to show her gratitude, but that she had nothing in the world; but she thought that if he would go to Mrs. Hoar and ask her to give him a dollar, as a favor to her she would do it. The draft on the bank of kindness was duly honored. And I think the legacy was valued as highly by her who paid it as if it had been a costly gem or a work of art from an emperor's gallery.
Mr. Calhoun was very intimate in my grandmother's household when he was in college, and always inquired with great interest after the young ladies of the family when he met anybody who knew them. He had a special liking for my mother, who was about his own age, and always inquired for her.
William M. Evarts visited Washington in his youth and called upon Mr. Calhoun, who received him with great consideration, went with him in person to see the President and what was worth seeing in Washington. Mr. Calhoun spoke in the highest terms of Roger Sherman to Mr. Evarts, said that he regarded him as one of the greatest of our statesmen, and that he had seen the true interests of the South when Southern statesmen were blind to them. This Mr. Calhoun afterward said in a speech in the Senate, including, however, Mr. Paterson of New Jersey and Oliver Ellsworth in his eulogy.
The story of Roger Sherman's life has never been told at length. There is an excellent memoir of him in Sanderson's "Lives of the Signers," written by Jeremiah Evarts, with the assistance of the late Governor and Senator Roger S. Baldwin of Connecticut. But when that was written the correspondence of the great actors of his time, and indeed the journals of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention and the Madison Papers, were none of them accessible to the public.
An excellent though brief memoir of Mr. Sherman was published a few years ago by L. H. Boutell, Esq., of Chicago. Mr. Sherman was a man who seemed to care nothing for fame. He was content to cause great things to be done for his country, and cared nothing for the pride and glory of having done them. The personal pronoun I is seldom found in any speech or writing of his. He had a large share in the public events that led to the Revolution, in the conduct of the War, in the proceedings of the Continental Congress, in the framing of the Constitution, in securing its adoption by Connecticut, and in the action of the House and Senate in Washington's first Administration. He was also for many years Judge of the highest court of his State. He was a man of indefatigable industry. An accomplished lady employed to make investigations in the public archives of the Department of State, reported that she did not see how he could ever have gone to bed.
He had a most affectionate and tender heart. He was very fond of his family and friends. Although reserved and silent in ordinary company, he was very agreeable in conversation, and had a delightful wit. Some of the very greatest men of his time have left on record their estimate of his greatness.
Thomas Jefferson said of him: "There is old Roger Sherman, who never said a foolish thing in his life."
Theodore Sedgwick said: "He was a man of the selectest wisdom. His influence was such that no measure, or part of a measure which he advocated, ever failed to pass."
Fisher Ames said that if he were absent through a debate and came in before the vote was taken he always voted with Roger Sherman, as he always voted right.
Patrick Henry said that the first men in the Continental Congress were Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and Roger Sherman, and, later in life, that Roger Sherman and George Mason were the greatest statesmen he ever knew. This statement, published in the life of Mason, was carefully verified for me by my friend, the late William Wirt Henry, grandson and biographer of Patrick Henry, as appears by a letter from him in my possession.*
[Footnote] *I attach a passage from Mr. William Wirt Henry's letter, dated December 28, 1892.
"I am glad to be able to say that you may rely on the correctness of the passage at page 221 of Howe's Historical Collections of Va. giving Patrick Henry's estimate of Roger Sherman. It was furnished the author by my father and though a youth I well remember Mr. Howe's visit to Red Hill, my father's residence. My father, John Henry, was about three years of age when his father died, but his mother long survived Patrick Henry, as did several of his older children. From his mother, brothers and sisters my father learned many personal reminiscences of his father and his exceptionally retentive memory enabled him to relate them accurately. I have often heard him relate the reminiscences given on that page by Mr. Howe." [End of Footnote]
John Adams, in a letter to his wife, speaks of Sherman as "That old Puritan, as honest as an angel, and as firm in the cause of Independence as Mt. Atlas."
But perhaps the most remarkable testimony to his character, one almost unexampled in the history of public men, is that paid to him by Oliver Ellsworth, himself one of the greatest men of his time,—Chief Justice of the United States, Envoy to France, leader in the Senate for the first twelve years of the Constitution, and author of the Judiciary Act. He had been on the Bench of the Superior Court of Connecticut, with Mr. Sherman, for many years. They served together in the Continental Congress, and in the Senate of the United States. They were together members of the Convention that framed the Constitution, and of the State Convention in Connecticut that adopted it. Chief Justice Ellsworth told John Adams that he had made Mr. Sherman his model in his youth. Mr. Adams adds: "Indeed I never knew two men more alike, except that the Chief Justice had the advantage of a liberal education, and somewhat more extensive reading. Mr. Sherman was born in the State of Massachusetts, and was one of the strongest and soundest pillars of the Revolution." It would be hard to find another case of life-long and intimate companionship between two public men where such a declaration by either of the other would not seem ludicrous.
He was the only person who signed all four of the great State Papers, to which the signatures of the delegates of the different Colonies were attached:
The Association of 1774; The Articles of Confederation; The Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution of the United States.
Robert Morris signed three of them.
His tenacity, the independence of his judgment, and his influence over the great men with whom he was associated, is shown by four striking instances among many others where he succeeded in impressing his opinion on his associates.
First: It is well known that the dispute between the large States, who desired to have their votes in the National Legislature counted in proportion to numbers, and the small States, who desired to vote by States as equals, a dispute which nearly wrecked the attempt to frame a Constitution of the United States, arose in the Continental Congress, and gave rise to great controversy there when the Articles of Confederation were framed. Mr. Sherman was one of the Committee that framed those Articles, as he was afterward one of the Committee who reported the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams writes in his diary, that Mr. Sherman, in Committee of the Whole, moved August 1, 1776, that the vote be taken both ways, once according to numbers, and a second time, when the States should vote as equals.
This was, in substance, so far as the arrangement of political power was concerned, the plan of the Constitution. In the Constitutional Convention, Mr. Sherman first moved this plan, known as the Connecticut Compromise, and made the first argument in its support, to which his colleague, Oliver Ellsworth, afterward gave the weight of his powerful influence. The Convention afterward, almost in despair of any settlement of this vexed question, referred the matter to a grand committee, on which Mr. Ellsworth was originally named. But he withdrew from the committee, and Mr. Sherman took his place. Mr. Sherman had the parliamentary charge of the matter from the beginning, and at the close of the Convention, moved the provision that no State should be deprived of its equal vote without its consent.
When Mr. Sherman's known tenacity, and his influence over the great men with whom he was associated, testified to by so many of them, is borne in mind, it seems there can be no doubt that he is entitled to the chief credit of carrying out the scheme which he himself devised, and which, years before the Convention met, he himself first moved in the Continental Congress for which he made the first argument, and which was reported from the committee of which he was a member, representing the State which gave the name to the Compromise. His motion, which was adopted, that no State should be deprived of its equal vote in the Senate without its consent, made the equality secure.*
[Footnote] * See Boutell's "Life of Roger Sherman," Lodge's "Flying Frigate, —Address on Ellsworth," Proceedings Am. Ant. Soc., October, 1902. [End of Footnote]
Second: In 1774, when Mr. Adams was on his way to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, he records in his diary that he met Roger Sherman at New Haven, who, he says, "is a solid and sensible man." Mr. Sherman said to him that he thought the Massachusetts patriots, especially Mr. Otis, in his argument for the Writs of Assistance, had given up the whole case when they admitted that Parliament had the power to legislate for the Colonies under any circumstances whatever. He lived to join in the report from the committee, and to sign the Declaration of Independence, which put the case on his ground. The Declaration of Independence does not recognize Parliament at all, except indirectly, when it says the King "has combined with others" to do the wrongs which are complained of.
Third: In 1752 the whole country was overrun with paper money. Mr. Sherman published in that year a little pamphlet, entitled, "A Caveat Against Injustice, or An Inquiry Into the Evil Consequences of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange." He stated with great clearness and force the arguments which, unhappily, we have been compelled to repeat more than once in later generations. He denounced paper money as "a cheat, vexation, and snare, a medium whereby we are continually cheating and wronging one another in our dealings and commerce." He adds, "So long as we import so much more foreign goods than are necessary, and keep so many merchants and traders employed to procure and deal them out to us: a great part of which we might as well make among ourselves; and another great part of which we had much better be without, especially the spiritous liquors, of which vast quantities are consumed in the colony every year, unnecessarily, to the great destruction of estates, morals, healths and even the lives of many of the inhabitants,— I say, so long as these things are so, we shall spend a great part of our labor and substance for that which will not profit us. Whereas, if these things were reformed, the provisions and other commodities which we might have to export yearly, and which other governments are dependent upon us for, would procure us gold and silver abundantly sufficient for a medium of trade. And we might be as independent, flourishing and happy a colony as any in the British Dominions."
He lived to move in the Convention, and to procure its insertion in the Constitution, the clause that no State should make anything but gold and silver legal tender.
Fourth: Mr. Sherman took his seat in the Federal Convention May 30, 1787. Mr. Randolph's resolution, submitted on the 29th day of May, being before the Convention the next day, included the proposition that the National Legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative rights vested in Congress by the confederation, "and moreover to legislate in all cases in which the separate States are incompetent," —the question being whether the clause authorizing Congress to legislate in all cases in which the separate States are incompetent should be retained, every State in the Convention voted Aye, except Connecticut. Connecticut was divided. Ellsworth voted Aye, and Sherman, No.
Mr. Sherman lived, not only to sign a Constitution of limited powers, but himself to support the Tenth Article of Amendment thereto, which is as follows:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The words "or to the people" were moved by Mr. Sherman after the original article was reported. So he saw clearly in the beginning, what no other member saw, the two great American principles, first that the National Government should be a Government of limited and delegated powers, and next, that there is a domain of legislation which the people have not delegated either to the National Government or to the States, and upon which no legislative power may rightfully enter.
I surely am not mistaken in thinking that even without the other services of a life devoted to the public, these four contributions to the Constitutional history of the country entitle Mr. Sherman to an honorable place in the grateful memory of his countrymen, and vindicate the tributes which I have cited from his illustrious contemporaries.
My grandmother, the daughter of Benjamin Prescott of Salem, was a woman of great intelligence and a great beauty in her time. She was once taken out to dinner by General Washington when he was President. Madam Hancock, whose husband had been President of the Continental Congress and Governor of Massachusetts, complained to General Washington's Secretary, Mr. Lear, that that honor belonged to her. The Secretary told General Washington, the next day, what she said. The General answered that it was his privilege to give his arm to the handsomest woman in the room. Whether the reply was communicated to Mrs. Hancock, or whether she was comforted by it, does not appear. General Washington had been a guest at my grandfather's house in my mother's childhood, and she had sat on his knee. She was then six years old. But she always remembered the occasion very vividly.
My grandfather was a friend of Lafayette, who mentions him in one of his letters, the original of which is in my possession. One of my mother's brothers, Lt. Colonel Isaac Sherman, led the advance at Princeton, and was himself intimate with Washington and Lafayette. He was a very brave officer and commanded a Connecticut regiment at the storming of Stony Point. He is honorably mentioned in Gen. Wayne's report of the action. Washington alludes to him in one of his letters to Lafayette, as one of his friends whom Lafayette will be glad to see if he will visit this country once more. There is, in the State Department, an amusing correspondence between Col. Sherman and Gen. Wayne, in which he complains that Mad Anthony does great injustice in his report to the soldiers from other States than Pennsylvania. Mad Anthony was mad at the letter. But after a rather significant request from Gen. Washington, he repaired the wrong.
Another of her brothers who died at the age of eighty-eight, when I was thirty years old, and at whose house I was often a visitor, spent three weeks as Washington's guest at Mount Vernon. Old Deacon Beers of New Haven, whom I knew in his old age, was one of the guard who had Andre in custody. During his captivity, Andre made a pen-and-ink likeness of himself, which he gave to Deacon Beers. It is now in the possession of Yale College.
I had from my mother the story of General Washington taking Chief Justice Ellsworth's twin children, one on each knee, and reciting to them the ballad of the Derbyshire Ram. This tradition has remained in the Ellsworth family. I have confirmed it by inquiry of the Rev. Mr. Wood, a grandson of Oliver Ellsworth, who died in Washington a few years ago.
Besides the uncle to whom I allude, who died in 1856, Judge Simeon Baldwin, who married two of my aunts, died in 1851, aged ninety. He was a Member of Congress in 1803-5, and was an intimate friend of Chancellor Kent, who was his classmate and chum in Yale, and was intimate with the Federalist leaders of the Hamilton party. I several times made visits in his household before his death. President Jeremiah Day, another uncle by marriage, was at the head of Yale for thirty years. He died in 1867, at the age of 94.
My mother's sister, Mrs. Jeremiah Evarts, was born January 28, 1774, and died in 1851, at the age of seventy-seven. She knew intimately many famous men and women of the Revolutionary period. Her husband was an intimate friend of John Jay. She had a great deal of the sprightly wit for which her son, William, was so famous. She was at home at the time of Washington's visit, then a child eleven years old, and opened the door for him when he took his leave. The General, who was very fond of children, put his hand on her head and said, "My little lady, I wish you a better office." She dropped a courtesy and answered, quick as lightning, "Yes, sir; to let you in."
Mrs. Evarts was a woman not only of sprightly wit, but of great beauty. She liked to tell in her old age of a dinner which John Hancock gave for her father and her, in Boston, when she was a girl. She described her dress with great minuteness, and added naively, "Didn't I look pretty?"
My mother, who was married in 1812, knew very intimately many of her father's and mother's old friends who had been distinguished in the public service in the Revolutionary period and the Administration of Washington and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. She knew very well the family of John Jay. He and his wife were visitors at my grandmother's after their return from Spain. My mother was intimate in the household of Oliver Ellsworth as in a second home. His children were her playmates. She was also very intimate indeed with the family of Senator Hillhouse, whose daughter Mary was one of her dearest friends.
Senator Hillhouse held a very high place in the public life of Connecticut in his day. He was one of the friends of Hamilton, and one of the group of Federal statesmen of whom Hamilton was the leader. He was United States Senator for Connecticut from 1796 to 1810.
After she became a young lady, my mother, with Fanny Ellsworth, afterward Mrs. Wood, and Mary Hillhouse, daughter of the Senator, established a school to teach young colored children to read and sew. The colored people in New Haven were in a sad condition in those days. The law of the State made it a penal offence to teach a colored child to read. These girls violated the law. The public authorities interfered and threatened them with prosecution. But the young women were resolute. They insisted that they were performing a religious duty, and declared that they should disobey the law and take the consequences. A good deal of sympathy was aroused in their behalf. The New Haven authorities had to face the question whether they would imprison the daughter of a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, who had affixed his signature to the great affirmation that all men are created equal, the daughters of two Framers of the Constitution, and the daughter of James Hillhouse, then the foremost citizen of Connecticut, for teaching little children to read the Bible. They gave up the attempt. The school kept on and flourished. President Dwight raised a considerable fund for it by a course of lectures, and it continued down to within my own recollection. What became of the fund which was raised for its support I cannot tell.
Jeremiah Evarts was born February 13, 1781. He died May 10, 1831. He was the founder and Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was one of the thirteen men who met in Samuel Dexter's office in 1812, to inaugurate the Temperance Reformation. The habit of excessive drinking was then almost universal in this country. Liquors and wines were freely used on social occasions, at weddings and at funerals. The clergyman staggered home from his round of pastoral calls, and the bearers partook of brandy or gin or rum in the room adjoining that where the coffin was placed ready for the funeral. A gentleman present said it was utterly impracticable to try and wean the American people from the habit of drinking. Jeremiah Evarts answered, "It is right, therefore practicable."
He was a Puritan of the old school. He made a vigorous but ineffectual attempt in Connecticut to enforce the Sunday laws. His death was caused by his exertions in resisting the removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia, a removal accomplished in violation of the Constitution and of public faith. The Supreme Court of the United States declared the law of Georgia unconstitutional. But Georgia defied the mandate of the Court, and it was never executed. The missionary agent was imprisoned and died of his confinement. Mr. Evarts said, "There is a court that has power to execute its judgments."
I told this story to Horace Maynard, an eminent member of Congress and a member of the Cabinet. Mr. Maynard said, "There was never a prophecy more terribly accomplished. The territory from which those Indians were unlawfully removed was the scene of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, which is not far from the grave of Worcester, the missionary who died in prison. That land was fairly drenched with blood and honeycombed with graves."
Mr. Evarts edited the Panoplist, a very able magazine which powerfully defended the old theology against the Unitarian movement, then at its height.
A well-known writer, Rev. Leonard W. Bacon, published a short time ago a sketch entitled, "The Greater Evarts," in which he contrasted the career of Jeremiah Evarts with that of his brilliant and delightful son. Whether that judgment shall stand we may know when the question is settled, which is to be answered in every generation, whether martyrdom be a failure.
Among the inmates of my grandfather's household in my mother's childhood and youth was Roger Minott Sherman. He was the son of the Reverend Josiah Sherman, my grandfather's brother, a clergyman of Woburn, Massachusetts, where Roger Minott was born. His father died in 1789. My grandfather took the boy into his household and educated him and treated him as a son, and just before his death gave him his watch, which is now in the possession of a son of General Sherman.
Roger Minott Sherman was unquestionably the ablest lawyer in New England who never obtained distinction in political life, and, with the exception of Daniel Webster and Jeremiah Mason and Rufus Choate, the ablest New England ever produced.*
[Footnote] * See Appendix. [End of Footnote]
Roger Minott Sherman's father died in 1789. The widow wrote to some of her friends to see what assistance could be obtained to enable her son to continue his studies at Yale. It was apparently in response to this appeal that Mr. Sherman wrote the following letter to his nephew.
NEW YORK, April 28, 1790.
Dear Nephew,—I would have you continue your studies and remain at my house as you have done hitherto. I hope you will be provided for so as to complete your education at College, and lay a foundation for future usefulness. When I return home I shall take such further order respecting it as may be proper. I shall afford you as much assistance as under my circumstances may be prudent.
I am your affectionate uncle, ROGER SHERMAN.
Mr. Sherman died a year after his nephew graduated; but before he died he doubtless saw the promise of that distinguished career which added new lustre to the Sherman name.
It is a rather remarkable fact that my mother had such close relations to so many eminent lawyers. Her father, though his public duties prevented him from practising law very long, was a very great lawyer and judge. Her brother-in-law, Judge Baldwin, was an eminent Judge of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Her cousin, Roger Minott Sherman, as has just been said, was an inmate of her father's household in her childhood, and was to her as a brother. She had, after his mother's death, the care of Senator Roger Sherman Baldwin, her nephew, who was for many years at the head of the Connecticut Bar. To her nephew, William M. Evarts, my father's house was as another home in his boyhood. He was the leading advocate of his time. Her son, E. R. Hoar, was Attorney General of the United States. And her husband was in his day one of the foremost advocates of Massachusetts. So, with a little alteration, the Greek epitaph of the woman who was the daughter, wife, sister and mother of princes, might apply to her, if, as I like to think, a first-rate American lawyer is entitled to as much respect as a petty Greek prince.
CHAPTER III SAMUEL HOAR
I was born in Concord August 29, 1826. My grandfather, two great-grandfathers, and three of my father's uncles were at Concord Bridge in the Lincoln Company, of which my grandfather, Samuel Hoar, whom I well remember, was lieutenant, on the 19th of April, 1775. The deposition of my great-grandfather, John Hoar, with a few others, relating to the events of that day, was taken by the patriots and sent to England by a fast- sailing ship, which reached London before the official news of the battle at Concord came from the British commander. John had previously been a soldier in the old French War and was a prisoner among the Indians for three months. His life was not a very conspicuous one. He had been a Selectman of Lexington, dwelling in the part of the town afterward incorporated with Lincoln. There is in existence a document manumitting his slave, which, I am happy to say, is the only existing evidence that any ancestor of mine ever owned one.
My father's grandfather, on the mother's side, was Colonel Abijah Peirce, of Lincoln. He was prominent in Middlesex County from a time preceding the Revolutionary War down to his death. He was one of the Committee of the Town who had charge of corresponding with other towns and with the Committee of Safety in Boston. The day before the battle at Concord Bridge, he had been chosen Colonel of a regiment of Minute Men. But he had not got his commission, taken the oath, or got his equipments. So he went into the battle as a private in the company in which his son-in-law was lieutenant, armed with nothing but a cane. After the first volley was exchanged he crossed the bridge and took the cartridge-box and musket of one of the two British soldiers who were killed, which he used during the day. The gun was preserved for a long time in his family, and came to my grandfather, after his death. It was the first trophy of the Revolutionary War taken in battle. Such things, however, were not prized in those days as they are now. One of my uncles lent the musket to one of his neighbors for the celebration of the taking of Cornwallis, and it never was brought back. We would give its weight in gold to get it back.
I will put on record two stories about Colonel Peirce, which have something of a superstitious quality in them. I have no doubt of their truth, as they come from persons absolutely truthful and not superstitious or credulous themselves.
When Colonel Peirce was seventy years old, he told his wife and my aunt, her granddaughter, from whom I heard the story, who was then a grown-up young woman, that he was going out to the barn and going up to the high beams. In those days the farmers' barns had the hay in bays on each side, and over the floor in the middle rails were laid across from one side to the other, on which corn-stalks, for bedding the cattle, and other light things were put. They urged him not to go, and said an old man like him should not take such risks; to which he replied by dancing a hornpipe in the room in their presence, showing something of that exhilaration of spirit which the Scotch called being "fey" and which they regard as a presage of approaching misfortune. He went out, and within a few minutes fell from the high beams down to the floor and was instantly killed.
The other story is that a little while before this happened he said that he thought he saw the dim and misty figure of a ship pass slowly from one side of the barn to the other, under the roof.
A like story is told of Abraham Lincoln; that he used to see a vision of a ship before any great event, and that it came to him the night before he died.
I asked Mr. Secretary Hay about the Lincoln anecdote and give his reply.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, April 18, 1903.
Dear Senator Hoar:
You will find on page 281 of Volume 10 of "The Life of Lincoln," by Nicolay and Hay, all I know about the story.
General Grant, in an interview with the President, on the 14th of April—the day he was shot—expressed some anxiety as to the news from Sherman. "The President answered him in that singular vein of poetic mysticism, which, though constantly held in check by his strong common sense, formed a remarkable element in his character. He assured Grant that the news would come soon and come favorable, for he had last night had his usual dream which preceded great events. He seemed to be, he said, in a singular and indescribable vessel, but always the same, moving with great rapidity towards a dark and indefinite shore. He had had this dream before Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg and Vicksburg."
The story is also found in George Eliot's Life (Vol. 3, 113), as related by Charles Dickens on the authority of Stanton, with characteristic amplifications.
Yours faithfully, JOHN HAY. The Honorable George F. Hoar United States Senate
My father, Samuel Hoar of Concord, was born in 1778 and died in 1856. He was one of the most eminent lawyers at the Massachusetts Bar. To this statement I can give better testimony than my own, in the following letter from the Honorable Eben F. Stone, late member of Congress from the Essex District.
WASHINGTON 9 March, '84.
My dear Mr. Hoar:
When I was a law student, I dined at Ipswich in our county, with the Judges of the Supreme Court and the members of the Essex Bar, who then had a room and a table by themselves. The conversation took a professional turn, and a good deal was said about Mr. Choate's great skill and success as an advocate. Judge Shaw then remarked that, sitting at nisi prius in different parts of the State, he had had an opportunity to compare the different lawyers who were distinguished for their success with juries, and that there was no man in the State, in his opinion, who had so much influence with a jury as Sam Hoar of Concord. This he ascribed not simply to his legal ability, but largely to the confidence the people had in his integrity and moral character.
Yours truly, E. F. STONE.
Mr. Hoar was associated with Mr. Webster in the defence of Judge Prescott when he was impeached before the Senate of Massachusetts. He encountered Webster, and Choate, and Jeremiah Mason, and John Davis, and the elder Marcus Morton, and other giants of the Bar, in many a hard battle. Mr. Webster makes affectionate reference to him in a letter to my brother, now in existence. He was a member of the Harrisburg Convention which nominated General Harrison for the Presidency in 1839. He represented Concord in the Massachusetts Convention to Revise the Constitution, in 1820, in which convention his father, Samuel Hoar, represented Lincoln. When he first rose to speak in that body, John Adams said, "That young man reminds me of my old friend, Roger Sherman." He was a Federalist, afterward a Whig, and in the last years of his life a Republican.
Mr. Hoar succeeded Edward Everett as Representative in Congress from the Middlesex District in 1835. He served there but a single term. He made one speech, a Constitutional argument in support of the power of Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. He also took rather a prominent part in a discussion in which the Whig members complained of one of the rulings of the Democratic speaker.
His service was not long enough to gain for him any considerable national distinction. But that he made a good impression on the House appears from an extract of a letter I lately received from my classmate, Rev. Walter Mitchell, the author of the spirited and famous poem, "Tacking Ship off Fire Island." He says: "I heard your uncle, Mr. Eliot, say that when your father went to Congress the Southern members said, 'Where has this man been all his life, and why have we never heard of him? With us a man of his ability would be known all over the South.'"
My father retired from active practice at the Bar shortly after his return from Congress in 1837. In 1844 an event occurred which contributed largely to the bitter feeling between the two sections of the country, which brought on the Civil War.
As is well known, under the laws of South Carolina, colored seamen on ships that went into the port of Charleston were imprisoned during the stay of the ship, and sold to pay their jail fees if the ship went off and left them, or if the fees were not paid.
The Legislature of Massachusetts directed the Governor to employ counsel to test the constitutionality of these laws. No Southern lawyer of sufficient ability and distinction could be found who would undertake the duty. The Governor found it difficult to procure counsel who were in active practice. Mr. Hoar was led by a strong sense of duty to leave his retirement in his old age and undertake the delicate and dangerous mission. When he arrived in South Carolina and made known his errand, the people of the State, especially of the city of Charleston, were deeply excited. The Legislature passed angry resolutions, directing the Governor to expel from the State, "the Northern emissary" whose presence was deemed an insult. The mob of Charleston threatened to destroy the hotel where Mr. Hoar was staying. He was urged to leave the city, which he firmly and steadfastly refused to do. The mob were quieted by the assurances of leading gentlemen that Mr. Hoar would be removed. A deputation of seventy principal citizens waited upon him at his hotel and requested him to consent to depart. He had already declined the urgent request of Dr. Whittredge, an eminent physician, to withdraw and take refuge at his plantation, saying he was too old to run and could not go back to Massachusetts if he had returned without an attempt to discharge his duty. The committee told him that they had assured the people that he should be removed, and that he must choose between stepping voluntarily into a carriage and being taken to the boat, or being dragged by force. He then, and not until then, said he would go. He was taken by the committee to the boat, which sailed for Wilmington.
It has generally been said that Mr. Hoar was driven from Charleston by a mob. This I suppose to be technically true. But it is not true in the popular sense of the words. The committee of seventy, although they had no purpose of personal violence, other than to place one old gentleman in a carriage and take him to a boat, were, of course, in every legal sense a mob. But when that committee waited upon him the personal danger was over.
A solitary negative vote against the resolve of the Legislature directing Mr. Hoar to be expelled was cast by C. S. Memmenger, afterward Secretary of the Treasury of the Southern Confederacy. He is said to have been a Union man in 1832.
I was told by General Hurlburt of Illinois, a distinguished officer in the Civil War, and member of the national House of Representatives, that at the time of my father's mission to South Carolina, he was a law student in the office of James L. Petigru. Mr. Petigru, as is well known, was a Union man during the Civil War. Such, however, was the respect for his great ability and character that he was permitted to live in Charleston throughout the War. It is said that on one occasion while this strife was going on, a stranger in Charleston met Mr. Petigru in the street and asked him the way to the Insane Hospital. To this the old man answered by pointing north, south, east and west, and said, "You will find the Insane Hospital in every direction here."
According to General Hurlburt, Mr. Petigru had quietly organized a company of young men whom he could trust, who were ready, under his lead, to rescue Mr. Hoar and insure his personal safety if he were attacked by the mob.
John Quincy Adams says in his diary, speaking of the transaction: "I approved the whole of his conduct." Governor Briggs, in communicating the facts to the Legislature, says in a special message: "The conduct of Mr. Hoar under the circumstances seems to have been marked by that prudence, firmness and wisdom which have distinguished his character through his life." Mr. Emerson says, in a letter dated December 17, 1844:
"Mr. Hoar has just come home from Carolina, and gave me this morning a narrative of his visit. He had behaved admirably well, I judge, and there were fine heroic points in his story. One expression struck me, which, he said, he regretted a little afterward, as it might sound a little vapouring. A gentleman who was very much his friend called him into a private room to say that the danger from the populace had increased to such a degree that he must now insist on Mr. Hoar's leaving the city at once, and he showed him where he might procure a carriage and where he might safely stop on the way to his plantation, which he would reach the next morning. Mr. Hoar thanked him but told him again that he could not and would not go, and that he had rather his broken skull should be carried to Massachusetts by somebody else, than to carry it home safe himself whilst his duty required him to remain. The newspapers say, following the Charleston papers, that he consented to depart: this he did not, but in every instance refused,—to the Sheriff, and acting Mayor, to his friends, and to the committee of the S. C. Association, and only went when they came in crowds with carriages to conduct him to the boat, and go he must,—then he got into the coach himself, not thinking it proper to be dragged."
I add this letter from Dr. Edward Everett Hale.
39 HIGHLAND ST., ROXBURY, MASS., Mar. 13, 1884.
Thank you very much for your memoir of your father. I was in Washington the day he and your sister came home from Charleston. I remember that Grinnell told me the news—and my first real feeling in life that there must be a war, was when Grinnell said on the Avenue: "I do not know but we may as well head the thing off now—and fight it out." The first public intelligence the North had of the matter was in my letter to the Daily Advertiser, which was reprinted in New York, their own correspondents not knowing of the expulsion.
Always yours, EDW. E. HALE.
I have Dr. Vedder's permission to publish the accompanying correspondence, which so happily turns into a means of delightful reconciliation what has been so long, but can be no longer, a painful memory. I was received in Charleston with the delightful hospitality of which no other people in the world so fully understand the secret.
CHARLESTON, S. C., Oct. 20, 1898. THE HONORABLE GEORGE F. HOAR.
We have a New England Society in Charleston which is now seventy- six years old. It has had a notable history, Daniel Webster having been among its annual orators. Its Forefathers' Anniversary is the social and literary event of our year. I write to extend the warm greeting of the Society to yourself, and the earnest request that you will be our guest at the banquet on Forefathers' Day Dec. 22, and speak to the sentiment— "The Day we Celebrate," or any other that you would prefer. Of course, it will be our privilege to make your coming wholly without cost to yourself. May I venture to urge that your presence with us will have a beautiful significance in its relation to the good feeling which so happily obtains in all our land, and a past event which associates your honored Father's name so memorably and sadly with our City? Charleston would fain give the honored Son a welcome which shall obliterate the past.
Hoping for a favorable and early reply, I remain, Yours with great respect, CHARLES S. VEDDER, President.
WORCESTER, MASS., October 26, 1898.
My Dear Sir:
I am sure you will not doubt that I feel myself highly honored by your invitation in behalf of the New England Society of Charleston, as I am deeply touched and gratified by what you say in the letter which conveys it. I thank God that I have lived to behold this day, and that my eyes have been spared to see the people of the whole country united again in affection as in the early time.
I hope and expect to be able to attend your banquet next Forefathers' Day. I will do so if the condition of the public business shall permit. I have the charge of the business of the Committee on the Judiciary, two of whose important members are now absent in Paris, and it is of course possible that some of the great questions which are before us may require constant attendance in their places of all the Senators during the next session without the possibility of interruption for a Christmas holiday. Subject to that possibility, I will accept your invitation, and am, with high regard,
Faithfully yours, GEO. F. HOAR.
In 1850, after he had withdrawn from professional and public life, being then seventy-two years old, Mr. Hoar was sent to the House of Representatives, by the town of Concord, to oppose the removal of the courts from Concord. He was successful in the opposition. He had, during the winter, an opportunity to render a very important service to Harvard College. There was a vigorous and dangerous attempt to abolish the existing Corporation, and transfer the property and control of the College to a board of fifteen persons, to be chosen by the Legislature by joint ballot, one third to go out of office every second year. This measure was recommended in an elaborate report by Mr. Boutwell, an influential member of the House, chosen Governor at the next election, and advocated by Henry Wilson, afterward Senator and Vice-President, and by other gentlemen of great influence. All the members of the Corporation were Whigs in politics and Unitarians, a sect containing a very small proportion of the people of the State. The project to take the College from their control was very popular. The House listened willingly to the able arguments with which the measure was introduced, and before Mr. Hoar spoke its opinion was unmistakable for the bill. He argued that the measure was in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, and defended the College with great earnestness from the charge that it had "failed to answer the just expectations of the public." The Boston Daily Atlas, edited by General Schouler, then a member of the House, said the next day of this speech: "The argument of Mr. Hoar was of transcendent excellence, and had a most overpowering effect upon the House. We regret that no report was made of it. It is a pity that so much learning, argument and eloquence should be lost."
This speech caused a revolution in the opinion of the body. The measure was referred to the next General Court. Mr. Hoar was employed by the Corporation as counsel to appear before the Legislature the next winter in its behalf. But the measure was never heard of afterward. Dr. Walker said of this occurrence, after his sententious fashion: "Other men have served the College; Samuel Hoar saved it."
The Board of Overseers, who have visitorial powers over the College, and whose concurrence is necessary to the election or appointment of officers, Professors and members of the Corporation, and who included for a long time the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and members of the Senate, had always been held to be the representative of the Commonwealth, although the members of the body who were not members ex-officio were elected by the Board itself.
A bill passed in 1851, to which no objection was made, vested the election of this body in the Legislature. But after a few years' trial, that was abandoned, and the members of the Overseers are now chosen by the Alumni of the College.
I shall speak in a later chapter of the foundation of the Free Soil Party. The call for the Convention held at Worcester on the 28th of June, 1848, addressed to all persons opposed to the election of Cass and Taylor, written by his son, E. R. Hoar, was headed by Mr. Hoar. He presided over the meeting, and delegates were elected to a National Convention to be held at Buffalo, which nominated Van Buren and Adams for President and Vice-President. This was the origin of the Republican party.
After 1848, Mr. Hoar did not relax his efforts to bring about a union of all parties in the North, in opposition to further encroachments of the slave power. In accomplishing this end, his age, the regard in which he was held by all classes of people, his known disinterestedness and independence, fitted him to exert a large influence. The Free Soil movement had led to the formation of a party in Massachusetts, small in numbers, but zealous, active, in earnest, containing many able leaders, eloquent orators, and vigorous writers. They had sent Charles Allen to the lower House of Congress, and Sumner and Rantoul to the Senate. But they had apparently made little impression on the national strength of either of the old parties.
In 1854, the passage of the measure known as the Kansas- Nebraska Bill afforded a new opportunity. A meeting of citizens of Concord appointed a committee, of which Mr. Hoar was Chairman, and A. G. Fay, Secretary, who called a meeting of prominent persons from different parts of the State to meet at the American House in Boston, to take measures for forming a new party and calling a State Convention. This Convention was held at Worcester on the 7th of September, and formed a party under the name of Republican, and nominated candidates for State offices. Its meeting has been claimed to be the foundation of the Republican party of Massachusetts, and its twenty- fifth anniversary was celebrated accordingly in 1879. But it effected little more than to change the name of the Free Soil party. Few Whigs or Democrats united to the movement. A secret organization called Americans, or Know-Nothings, swept the Commonwealth like a wave, electing all the State officers, and, with scarcely an exception, the entire Legislature.
The candidate for Governor nominated by the Republicans at Worcester, himself joined the Know-Nothings, and labored to defeat his own election.
The next year the attempt was more successful. On the 10th of August, 1855, a meeting without distinction of party was held at Chapman Hall, in Boston, which was addressed by Mr. Hoar, George Bliss, Franklin Dexter, William Brigham, Lyman Beecher, Richard H. Dana, Jr., Charles F. Adams, Henry Wilson, Stephen C. Phillips, and others. On the 30th of the same month, a meeting of conference committees was held, representing the American or Know-Nothing party, the Know-Somethings, an antislavery organization which had held a National Convention at Cleveland in June, and the Chapman Hall Convention. This conference appointed a committee of twenty-six to call a State Convention, at the head of which they placed Mr. Hoar. This State Convention was held at Worcester, nominated Julius Rockwell for Governor, and the organization which it created has constituted the Republican party of Massachusetts to the present day.
The part taken in calling this Convention, and in promoting the union which gave it birth, was Mr. Hoar's last important public service. His failing health prevented his taking an active share in the Presidential campaign of 1856.
I prefer, in putting on record this brief estimate of a character which has been to me the principal object of reverence and honor in my life, to use the language of others, and not my own. From many tributes to my father's character, from persons more impartial than I can be, I have selected two or three.
I cannot quote at length Ralph Waldo Emerson's sketches of Mr. Hoar, who was his near neighbor and intimate personal friend for many years. They are noble and faithful as portraits of Van Dyke or Titian. One of them is a speech made in Concord town-meeting on the third day of November, 1856, the day after Mr. Hoar's death. The other was contributed to the Unitarian Monthly Religious Magazine, then edited by Rev. Dr. Huntington, afterward Bishop of New York. Mr. Emerson says in one of them: "His head, with singular grace in its lines, had a resemblance to the bust of Dante. He retained to the last the erectness of his tall but slender form, and not less the full strength of his mind. Such was, in old age, the beauty of his person and carriage, as if his mind radiated, and made the same impression of probity on all beholders."
He ends with this quatrain:
With beams December planets dart, His cold eye truth and conduct scanned; July was in his sunny heart, October in his liberal hand.
The following is from a letter of Sherman Day, a man whose reputation for wisdom and integrity is among the treasures of California:
"BERKELEY, 23d May, 1884. HON. GEO. FRISBIE HOAR, U. S. Senate, Washington, D. C.
My Dear Sir:
"I was very much gratified to receive, some weeks since, a copy of your biographical sketch of your venerable father. It was the more precious to me because it awakened memories of my own early life; while it recalls the tall, the gentle and dignified figure and courteous demeanor of your father in his prime of life. I can remember being at your father's wedding at my grandmother's house when I was about 6-1/2 years old. Several years before you were born, I was at the Phillips Academy at Andover, and used occasionally to spend a vacation with my beloved aunt, who was a sort of mother to me in my earliest childhood. It was at her home that I first read Washington Irving's Sketch Book, then just appearing in separate numbers. I believe the book belonged to a law student of your father's, as your father had not yet taken to the reading of romances.
"My memory extends back to the organization of the Constitutional Convention of 1820. I well remember the venerable figure of John Adams, as he took the seat of honor at the right hand of the president, and I remember the sonorous voice of Josiah Quincy, the Secretary. I was staying at the house of Mr. Evarts, and remember your father's dining there, and discussing the deportment and characteristics of several of the more prominent members. Among them was the tall member from Worcester, Levi Lincoln, conspicuous by his drab overcoat, by his frequent speaking, and by his constantly moving about among the members. The member who made the most lasting impression on my memory was Daniel Webster. He was not yet forty years old, stalwart, black haired and black eyed, with a somewhat swarthy complexion; his manly beauty and his eloquence being alike objects of admiration. He had not attained that stoutness which his form assumed in later years. I could illustrate his appearance better to your brother, Edward, by asking him to recall Don Pablo de la Guerra of Santa Barbara, whom I deemed a very good type, in appearance, of Webster in the Convention of 1820."
George William Curtis came to know Mr. Hoar very well during his own life in Concord. He and his brother, Burrill, were almost daily visitors at our house:
WEST NEW BRIGHTON, STATEN ISLAND, N. Y., March 19, 1884.
My dear Mr. Hoar:
I thank you very much for a copy of your sketch of your father which vividly recalls him to me as I remember him in my Concord days long ago. I recollect that when I saw in Paris Couture's famous picture of the Decadence of the Romans, it was your father that I thought of as I saw the figures of the older Romans gazing reproachfully upon the revels. So he may have felt of his country as he died.
With great regard, very truly yours, GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.
The following is from J. Evarts Greene, formerly editor of the Worcester Spy, and one of the ablest members of his profession in New England:
WORCESTER, Mar. 10, 1884.
My dear Mr. Hoar:
I want to thank you especially for the copy of the Memoir of your father, which I received to-day. I am exceedingly glad to have it on your account and his. He is the most venerable figure in my memory. He was always spoken of in our family with the highest respect, and few things have ever gratified me so much as his kindness to me on the occasion of my last visit to Concord during his lifetime. It was in 1850, I think, while I was in college and about fifteen years old. I had always held him in awe as the greatest and wisest man within my knowledge, and should have no more have thought of familiar conversation with him than with the Pope. But his grave and kindly courtesy, as he sat down with me after supper, though it did not quite put me at my ease, gave me courage to talk more freely than I had ever thought possible; and while my veneration for him was not diminished, I felt that there was no one now on earth that I need be afraid of.
Faithfully yours, J. EVARTS GREENE. The Hon. Geo. F. Hoar.
The following letter is from Professor Thatcher, the eminent Latin Professor of Yale:
NEW HAVEN, 14th March, 1884. HONORABLE GEORGE F. HOAR.
My dear Senator:
I write simply but cordially to thank you for the copy of your venerated Father's Memoir which you have been so kind as to send to your cousin, Elizabeth. I have read it with the delight which must be common to all who read it. A life so qualified with the selectest traits of a great and gentle soul, so substantial with continual but full and unembarrassed labor, and so constantly influential for elevated and beneficent ends, with nothing discoverable in it to check its great drift and power,—such a life is an almost unequalled gift of God to such a community as his. There is a rare charm in the narrative, and one cannot help rejoicing that you have been able to gather together the recorded judgments of so many men whose judgments are worthy to be recorded,
I am, ever, Very truly yours, THOMAS A. THATCHER.
SENATE, WASHINGTON, March 9, 1884.
My dear Mr. Hoar:
I thank you very much for a copy of the Memoir of your father. It is a tribute to his worth and fame worthy of him and of yourself. I hardly know which most to admire, the character it portrays, or the filial piety it evinces.
It brings back very vividly the venerable form and the lovely character I met and revered in the Massachusetts Legislature when I was a young man, and have ever since held among the safest and best of the land. Permit me to count it my own best fortune that I can subscribe myself the colleague and friend of the son and biographer of Samuel Hoar.
Truly yours, H. L. DAWES. The Honorable Geo. F. Hoar, Senate.
HONORABLE GEO. F. HOAR
Thanks for the "Memoir of Samuel Hoar, by his Son, George F. Hoar."
For years the character of this true man, as a noble, courageous, self-sacrificing and independent American citizen has commanded my profound admiration and respect, and I am greatly pleased to become more familiar with his life. Fortunately the facts of it need no ornamentation or partial painting by the Son, for the modesty of the latter would never have responded to any such necessity.
I am, Very truly, Yours, etc. WM. P. FRYE.
LEICESTER, March 13/84.
Dear Mr. Hoar:
I cannot too much thank you for sending me the memoir—tho' so brief and exceedingly temperate—of your father.
He was one of the few men who kept Massachusetts and New England from rushing down the steep place and perishing in the waters, as the herd of swine was doing,—a son worthy of the Fathers of New England. I think of him as a kind of tall pillar, on a foundation of such granite solidity as to quiet all fears of possible moving therefrom. He was an example—and became by his S. Carolina mission a conspicuous one; by his attitude and demeanor, opposing the whole moral power of the North to the despotic and insolent assumptions of Slavery.
Yours very truly, SAML MAY.
My father, in everything that related to his own conduct, was controlled by a more than Puritan austerity. He seemed to live for nothing but duty. Yet he was a man of strong affections, unlike what is generally deemed to be the character of the Puritan. He was gentle, tolerant, kindly and affectionate. He had all his life a large professional income. But he never seemed to care for money. In that respect he was like one who dwelt by the side of a pond, ready to dip up and to give its waters to any man who might thirst. He never wasted money, or spent it for any self-indulgence. But he was ready to share it with any deserving object. Starr King said of him that "he lived all the beatitudes daily."
Mr. Hoar was, I suppose, beyond all question, the highest authority in New England, indeed in the whole country, on the difficult and abstruse questions belonging to the law of water privileges and running streams. He was declared to be such by the late Judge Benjamin R. Curtis. The great Locks and Canals Company was organized and all the arrangements for the ownership, management and control of the water-power of Lowell were made under his advice and direction. The same methods have been followed in substance at Lawrence and Woonsocket and other manufacturing places.
He preserved his vigor of body until he entered his seventy- seventh year, taking walks of five or six miles without fatigue. About that time he took a severe cold at a neighbor's funeral. An illness followed which seriously impaired his strength. He died, November 2, 1856, two days before the Presidential election.
He was six feet three inches in height, erect, with fine gray hair, blue eyes, of graceful and dignified deportment, and of great courtesy, especially to women and children.
He held a few simple beliefs with undoubting faith. He submitted himself to the rule of life which followed from these, and rigorously exacted obedience to it from all for whom he was responsible. He accepted the exposition of Christian doctrine given by Dr. Channing. The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 seemed to him a nearly perfect system of government. He earnestly resisted, in the Convention of 1820, the abolition of the property qualification for voters, and of the obligation of all citizens to be taxed for the support of religious worship. He took early and deep interest in the temperance reform, and gave much time, labor, and money to promote it. "The strength and beauty of the man," says Mr. Emerson, "lay in the natural goodness and justice of his mind, which in manhood and in old age, after dealing all his life with weighty private and public interests, left an infantile innocence of which we have no second or third example,—the strength of a chief united to the modesty of a child. He returned from the courts and Congresses to sit down with unaltered humility, in the church, or in the town-house, on the plain wooden bench, where Honor came and sat down beside him. He was a man in whom so rare a spirit of justice visibly dwelt, that, if one had met him in a cabin or in a court, he must still seem a public man answering as a sovereign state to sovereign state; and might easily suggest Milton's picture of John Bradshaw, —'that he was a consul from whom the fasces did not depart with the year, but in private seemed ever sitting in judgment on kings.'"
But he would have liked better than anything else what was said of him in his official report by the President of the College he loved with that deep affection which her children felt for her in his time. President Walker closes his annual report of December 31, 1856, as follows: "The undersigned could not conclude his report without allusion to the recent lamented death of the Honorable Samuel Hoar, a distinguished and justly influential member of this board,—venerable alike for his age and his virtues,—a devoted friend of the College which he has been able to serve in a thousand ways by the wisdom of his counsels and the weight of his character."
Mr. Hoar was naturally conservative, as would be expected as an old Federalist who was educated at Harvard in the beginning of the nineteenth century. His rules of public and private conduct were strict and austere. He applied them more strictly to himself than to others. His classmates in college used to call him Cato. He favored the suppression of the sale and use of intoxicating liquors, and desired that the whole force of the State should be brought to bear to accomplish that end. He was the inveterate foe of oppression, and in his later years, opposed every compromise with slavery. But he had no sympathy with reforms which seemed to him to be devised merely as political instruments to advance the fortunes of persons or parties.
He had a huge respect for John Quincy Adams, a respect which I have good reason to know was reciprocated. But he was by no means Mr. Adams's blind follower. The ex-President, I think about the year 1832, published a pamphlet in which he savagely attacked the Masonic Order. He met Mr. Hoar in Boston and asked him what he thought of it. Mr. Hoar answered: "It seems to me, Mr. Adams, there is but one thing in the world sillier than Masonry. That is Anti-Masonry."
Mr. Hoar used to relate with some amusement a dialogue he had with a shrewd and witty old lawyer named Josiah Adams, who shared the old Federalist dislike of his namesake, John Quincy Adams. My father was talking quite earnestly in a gathering of Middlesex lawyers and said: "I believe John Quincy Adams means to be a Christian." "When?" inquired Josiah.
But I cannot draw the portraiture of this noble and stately figure. George Herbert did it perfectly, long ago, in his poem, "Constancy."
Old Dr. Lyman Beecher, the foremost champion in his day of the old Orthodoxy, spent his life in combating what he deemed the pestilent Unitarian heresy. He was the most famous preacher in the country. Mr. Hoar was a pillar of Unitarianism. Yet the Doctor came to know and honor his old antagonist. He read in the Boston papers, late Saturday evening, that Mr. Hoar was dying at Concord. Early Sunday morning before daybreak he started, with his son-in-law, Professor Stowe, and drove twenty miles to Concord. He got there just after Mr. Hoar's death. He asked to go into the chamber where his old friend lay. My sister said: "Father would have been glad to see you, if he were alive." The Doctor gazed a moment, and then said: "He's passed safe over, I haven't a doubt of it. He was an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile."
CHAPTER IV BOYHOOD IN CONCORD
I have never got over being a boy. It does not seem likely that I ever shall. I have to-day, at the age of three score and sixteen, less sense of my own dignity than I had when at sixteen I walked for the first time into the College Chapel at Harvard, clad as the statute required, in a "black or black- mixed coat, with buttons of the same color," and the admiring world, with its eyes on the venerable freshman, seemed to me to be saying to itself, "Ecce caudam!" Behold the tail!
Most men are apt to exaggerate the merits of their birthplace. But I think everybody who knew the town will agree with me that there never was in the world a better example of a pure and beautiful democracy, in the highest sense of the term, than the town of Concord from 1826 to the close of the war. If there were any aristocracy, it was an aristocracy of personal worth. There was little wealth and little poverty. There were no costly dwellings and no hovels. There was no pride of wealth or of family. The richest man in town took an interest in the affairs of the poorest as in those of a kinsman. It never occurred to the poorest that he must, for that reason, doff his hat to any man.
The population was permanent, I suppose, as could have been found in any spot in Europe. Ninety-three of the inhabitants of the town, in 1654, signed a paper pledging their persons and estates to support the General Court in the contest with King Charles II. for the preservation of the Charter. Fourteen of their descendants, bearing the same names, were present at the Centennial Celebration in 1885, dwelling on the land which their ancestors occupied nearly 230 years before. There were 23 others whose descendants of the same name were dwelling at the time of the Centennial within the original limits of the town. A good many others were represented by female descendants. So that at least 50 of the 93 signers of the paper were represented in the assembly. A list of the names of the principal inhabitants of the town to-day would contain the names of a large number of the principal inhabitants of any generation since its foundation.
They were of good English stock. Many of them were of gentle blood and entitled to bear coat armor at home. It is interesting to observe how little the character of the gentleman and gentlewoman in our New England people is affected by the pursuit, for generations, of humble occupations, which in other countries are deemed degrading. Our ancestors, during nearly two centuries of poverty which followed the first settlement, turned their hands to the humblest ways of getting a livelihood, became shoemakers, or blacksmiths or tailors, or did the hardest and most menial and rudest work of the farm, shoveled gravel or chopped wood, without any of the effect on their character which would be likely to be felt from the permanent pursuit of such an occupation in England or Germany. It was like a fishing party or a hunting party in the woods. When the necessity was over, and the man or the boy in any generation got a college education, or was called to take part in public affairs, he rose at once and easily to the demands of an exalted station. What is true of New England people in this respect is, I suppose, true of the whole country.
I wrote, a few years ago, an account of so much of my boyhood as elapsed before I went to college. Through the kindness of the proprietors of The Youth's Companion, I am permitted to print it here. I think, on the whole, that is better than to undertake to tell the story in other phraseology adapted to maturer readers. Indeed, I am not sure that the best examples of good English are not to be found in books written for children. When we have to tell a story to a small boy or girl, we avoid little pomposities, and seek for the plainest, clearest and most direct phrase.
I believe that boys nowadays are more manly and mature than they were in my time. Perhaps this is partly because the boys show more gravity in my presence, now I am an old man, than they did when I was a boy myself. But in giving an account of the life of a boy sixty years ago, I must describe it as I saw it, even if it appear altogether childish and undignified.
The life and character of a country are determined in a large degree by the sports of its boys. The Duke of Wellington used to say that the victory at Waterloo was won on the playing- fields at Eton. That is the best people where the boys are manly and where the men have a good deal of the boy in them.
Perhaps all my younger readers do not know how much that makes up, not only the luxury, but the comfort of life, has first come in within the memory of persons now living. The household life of my childhood was not much better in those respects than that of a well-to-do Roman or Greek. It had not improved a great deal for two thousand years. There were no house- warming furnaces, and stoves were almost unknown. There were no double windows, and the houses were warmed by open fires. There were no matches.
There were no water-pipes in the houses, and no provision was made for discharging sewage. There were no railroads, telegraphs or telephones. Letter postage to New York from Boston was twenty-five cents. None of the modern agricultural machinery then existed, not even good modern plows. Crops were planted by hand and cultivated with the hoe and spade. Vegetables were dug with the hoe, and hay and grain cut with the sickle or scythe. There were no ice-houses. The use of ice for keeping provisions or cooling water was unknown.
My father was well-to-do, and his household lived certainly as well as any family in the town of Concord, where I was born. I have no doubt a Roman boy two hundred years before Christ, or an Athenian boy four hundred years before Christ, lived quite as well as I did, if not better.
The boy got up in the morning and dressed himself in a room into which the cold air came through the cracks in the window. If the temperature were twenty degrees below zero outside, it was very little higher inside. If he were big enough to make the fires, he made his way down-stairs in the dark of a winter morning and found, if the fire had been properly raked up the night before, a few coals in the ashes in the kitchen fireplace. The last person who went to bed the night before had done exactly what Homer describes as the practice in Ulysses's time, when he tells us that Ulysses covered himself with leaves after he was washed ashore in Phaiakia:
"He lay down in the midst, heaping the fallen leaves above, as a man hides a brand in a dark bed of ashes, at some outlying farm where neighbors are not near, hoarding a seed of fire to save his seeking elsewhere."
But first he must get a light. Matches are not yet invented. So he takes from the shelf over the mantelpiece an old tin or brass candlestick with a piece of tallow candle in it, and with the tongs takes a coal from the ashes, and holds the candle wick against the coal and gives a few puffs with his breath. If he have good luck, he lights the wick, probably after many failures.
My mother had a very entertaining story connected with the old-fashioned way of getting a light. Old Jeremiah Mason, who was probably the greatest lawyer we ever had in New England, unless we except Daniel Webster, studied law in my uncle's office and shared a room in his house with another law student. One April Fool's day the two young gentlemen went out late in the afternoon, and my aunt, a young unmarried girl who lived with her sister, and another girl, went into the room and took the old half-burnt candle out of the candlestick, cut a piece of turnip to resemble it, cut out a little piece like a wick at the end, blackened it with ink, and put it in the candlestick.
When Mr. Mason came in in the dark, he took a coal up with the tongs and put it against the wick, and puffed and puffed, until after a long and vexatious trial he discovered what was the matter. He said nothing but waited for his chum to come in, who went through the same trial. When they discovered the hoax they framed an elaborate complaint in legal jargon against the two roguish girls, and brought them to trial before a young lawyer of their acquaintance. The young ladies were found guilty and sentenced to pay as a fine a bowl of eggnog.
After getting his candle lighted, the boy takes dry kindling, which has been gathered the night before, and starts a fire. The next thing is to get some water. He is lucky if the water in the old cast-iron kettle which hangs on the crane in the fireplace be not frozen. As soon as the fire is started he goes outdoors to thaw out the pump, if they have a wooden pump. But that is all frozen up, and he has to get some hot water from this kettle to pour down over the piston till he can thaw it out. Sometimes he would have an old-fashioned well, sunk too low in the ground for the frost to reach it, and could get water with the old oaken bucket.
He brings in from out-of-doors a pail or two of water. If there has been a snow-storm the night before he has to shovel a path to the wood-shed, where he can get the day's supply of wood from outside, and then from the doors of the house out to the street. Meantime the woman whose duty it is to get breakfast makes her appearance.
The wooden pump, which took the place of the old well in many dooryards, was considered a great invention. We all looked with huge respect upon Sanford Adams of Concord, who invented it, and was known all over the country.
He was quite original in his way. The story used to be told of him that he called at my father's house one day to get some advice as to a matter of law. Father was at dinner and went to the door himself. Mr. Adams stated his case in a word or two as he stood on the door-step, to which father gave him his answer, the whole conversation not lasting more than two minutes.