The digraphs "ae" and "oe" are spelled out for clarity.
The chapter summaries in the Table of Contents are repeated in the book at the start of each chapter. At the end of each chapter is a facsimile autograph and a brief biography of the signer. The running page titles are omitted.
Vol. I, Chap. XLIII: "President's Message or" changed to "President's Message on"
Vol. II, Chap. IX: "Lamar" changed to "Lamon"
A tabulation of the 1884 Presidential vote totals has been added.
The typographical fist is represented by the right guillamet (").
LoC catalog number: E179.P8
[Frontispiece: perley.jpg] Engr. by H. B. Hall's Sons, New York
[Signed] Faithfully yours, Ben: Perley Poore
PERLEY'S REMINISCENCES OF SIXTY YEARS IN THE NATIONAL METROPOLIS
Illustrating the Wit, Humor, Genius, Eccentricities, Jealousies, Ambitions and Intrigues of the Brilliant Statesmen, Ladies, Officers, Diplomats, Lobbyists and other noted Celebrities of the World that gather at the Centre of the Nation; describing imposing Inauguration Ceremonies, Gala Day Festivities, Army Reviews, &c., &c., &c.
BY BEN: PERLEY POORE.
The Veteran Journalist, Clerk of the Senate Printing Records, Editor of the Congressional Directory, and Author of Various Works.
VOL. I. HUBBARD BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, PHILADELPHIA. Boston, Cincinnati, Kansas City; W. A. Houghton, New York; A. W. Stolp, Chicago; A. W. Mills, Tecumseh, Mich.; E. Holdoway & Co., St. Louis; L. S. Varney & Co., Minneapolis; A. L. Bancroft & Co., San Francisco.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1886, by
BEN: PERLEY POORE, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
NOTICE TO BOOKSELLERS. This book is sold exclusively by subscription, all agents being strictly enjoined by contract from selling in any other way. Any evasion of this plan of sale will be a trespass upon the copyright rights of the author. HUBBARD BROS.
The public favor with which the journalistic writings of the subscriber have been received prompted the publication of these volumes. Their object is to give personal details concerning prominent men and women in social and political life at the National Metropolis since he has known it. He has especially endeavored to portray those who "in Congress assembled" have enacted the laws, and those who have interpreted and enforced the provisions under which the United States has advanced, during the past sixty years, from comparative infancy into the vigor of mature manhood, and has successfully defended its own life against a vigorous attempt at its destruction.
In chronicling what has transpired within his personal recollection at the National Metropolis, he has gathered what "waifs" he has found floating on the sea of chat, in the whirlpools of gossip, or in the quiet havens of conversation. Some of these may be personal —piquantly personal, perhaps—but the mighty public has had an appetite for gossipings about prominent men and measures ever since the time when the old Athenians crowded to hear the plays of Aristophanes.
The subscriber is aware that some who write of prominent persons and political events indulge too much in sycophantic flattery, while others have their brains addled by brooding on some fancied wrong, or their minds have lost their even poise by dwelling on insane reforms or visionary projects. All this may have its use, but the subscriber has preferred to look at things in a more cheerful way, to pluck roses rather than nettles, and neither to throw filth nor to blow trumpets.
While the Republic has preserved with commendable pride the histories of her statesmen and her martial defenders, it is well that the memories of those of the gentler sex, who have from time to time taken prominent part in shaping the destinies of the nation, should also be remembered. This work will give, it is hoped, an idea of stirring events in both political and social life, of the great men and the fascinating women who have figured in Washington during the past six decades. Those who were too well acquainted with these personal details to think of recording them are fast passing away, and some account of them cannot but interest younger generations, while it will not fail to profit the older politicians, publicists, and journalists.
The great difficulty in the compilation of the "Reminiscences" has been the selection from the masses of material accumulated in diaries, autograph letters, and scrap-books containing published literary matter. To have given a connected political and social history of what has transpired at the National Metropolis during the past sixty years would have required a dozen volumes, so the most conspicuous features only have been here and there selected.
Confident of the exact truthfulness of the sketches here given, this work is presented, without apologies, to a generous public as the result of very extensive observation.
BEN: PERLEY POORE. INDIAN HILL FARM, Near Newburyport, Mass.
CHAPTER I. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS BECOMES PRESIDENT. The Tenth Presidential Election—A Political Bargain—Election of President—A Scene in the House—Inauguration of J. Q. Adams—The Adams Administration—The Mistress of the White House—The President's Private Secretary—Social Life at the White House—President Adams' Daily Life—Henry Clay as Secretary of State—The Rival Candidates —The Death of Two Ex-Presidents.
CHAPTER II. TRAVELING IN "YE OLDEN TIME." Travel by Stage and Steamboat—Boston to Providence—The Old Town of Providence—The Long Island Sound Steamers—New York City—New York to Philadelphia—Philadelphia to Washington—Washington Hotel Life—Expenses of Living—The Metropolis of the Union—The National Capital—Works of Art—The Rotunda—Free-Masonry—The Morgan Excitement—Theatrical—Division of the Friends' Society.
CHAPTER III. JOURNALISM IN 1828. Old Georgetown—The Union Tavern—A Natal African Salute—President George Washington—Major L'Enfant—Newspaper Organs—The National Intelligencer—The National Journal—Matthew L. Davis—James Gordon Bennett—Mordecai M. Noah—Other Washington Correspondents—A Notable Briton—Gambling-Houses—Senatorial Card Playing—Social Games of Whist.
CHAPTER IV. PROMINENT SENATORS OF 1827. The Nineteenth Congress—Vice-President John C. Calhoun—Martin Van Buren—Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina—Thomas Hart Benton —Randolph, of Roanoke—Duel between Clay and Randolph—An Offended Virginian—A Future President—Prominent Senators—Senatorial Control of Society—The Dancing Assemblies—Fashionable Attire— Belles of the Period—The Code of Honor.
CHAPTER V. PROMINENT REPRESENTATIVES OF 1827. The Representatives' Hall—Admission of Ladies—Webster, of Massachusetts—Edward Everett—McDuffie, of South Carolina—Rhode Island's Bald Eagle—A Bargain Exposed—Retrenchment and Reform— Prominent Representatives—The Supreme Court—Chief Justice Marshall —Mr. Justice Washington—The Christmas Holidays.
CHAPTER VI. THE POLITICAL MACHINE. The Tenth Presidential Campaign—Election of General Jackson—Death of Mrs. Andrew Jackson—The Inauguration of "Old Hickory"—Reception at the White House—An Editorial Phalanx—The Civil Service— Disciplining a Postmaster General—A Fortunate Mail Contractor— The Sunday Mail Crusade.
CHAPTER VII. THE KITCHEN CABINET. Jackson's First Annual Message—The Kitchen Cabinet—Blair, of the Globe—Washington Newspapers and News—The First Lady-Bird of the Press—Nathaniel P. Willis—Peter Force—Social Enjoyments—Mrs. Trollope on Washington Society—Attempt to Oust a Veteran from Office—Payment of the Claims on France.
CHAPTER VIII. BATTLE OF THE GIANTS. The Great Senatorial Debate—Attack on New England—Webster's Reply to Hayne—Nullification Nipped in the Bud—Society in Jackson's Day—Mrs. General Eaton—A Chivalrous President—Theatricals—The Great Tragedian—Minor Amusements—Executive Charity—Swartwouting —The Star Spangled Banner.
CHAPTER IX. STAMPING OUT OF NULLIFICATION. Rejection of Martin Van Buren—The War against the United States Bank—Nick Biddle, of the Bank—Re-election of General Jackson— Financial Debate in the Senate—Calhoun, of South Carolina—Secession Stamped Out—Union Proclamation—The Expunging Resolution—A Senatorial Scene—An Appeal from the Chair.
CHAPTER X. PROMINENT MEN OF JACKSON'S TIME. Harry of the West—Tilt between Clay and Benton—Rebuke of a Revolutionary Hero—Apt Oratorical Illustration—Daniel Webster's Wit—An Excited Visitor—The House of Representatives—General Houston Reprimanded—Eli Moore, of New York—Churchill C. Cambreleng —Crockett, of Tennessee—Embryo Presidents—Other Distinguished Representatives—A Jackson Democrat.
CHAPTER XI. SOCIETY IN JACKSON'S TIME. The Van Ness Mansion—A Benefactress—A Popular Citizen—A Much- Talked-of Lawsuit—A Runaway Nun—General Jackson's Diplomacy— Washington Society—Anecdotes told by Mr. Clay—Maelzel's Automata —Condemned Literature.
CHAPTER XII. JACKSON AND HIS ASSOCIATES. Democratic Rejoicing—Attempt at Assassination—The Political Guillotine—The Vicar of Bray—Daniel Webster's Memory—Bayard, of Delaware—The Claytons—Pearce, of Maryland—The Classical and the Vernacular—Boulanger's—Location of the New Treasury Building— Hackett, the Comedian—A Jealous Artist—Sumner's First Visit to Washington—The Supreme Court and its Justices.
CHAPTER XIII. JACKSON'S LAST YEAR IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Van Buren as Vice-President—Henry Clay as Champion of the Bank— Washington's Ceremonial Birthday—Removal of His Remains—The Decapitation of General Jackson—The President at the Race-Track— An Old-Time Cock Fight—Wedding at Arlington—The Public Gardener —Miss Fanny Kemble—Cheese Reception at the White House.
CHAPTER XIV. VAN BUREN'S STORMY ADMINISTRATION. Inauguration of Van Buren—His First Reception—Departure of Jackson for the Hermitage—Van Buren's Embarrassments—The Great Financial Debate—Antagonism of Clay and Calhoun—An All Night Session— Morning Excuses—The Graves and Cilley Duel—A Congressional Comedian.
CHAPTER XV. COMMENCEMENT OF THE ANTI-SLAVERY MOVEMENT. The Slavery Agitation—Early Secession Movements—Webster on Emancipation—His Idea of the Far West—Franklin Pierce's Position —The Foremost of Orators—Joseph Holt—King, of Alabama—The Buckshot War—Star Routes—Van Buren's Titles.
CHAPTER XVI. POLITICAL INTRIGUES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS. Presidential Hospitalities—Social Entertainments—A Gifted Adventuress—Espy, the Weather King—A Foreign Indorsement—Van Buren's Re-election—The Ogle Speech—Van Buren's New Year's Reception.
CHAPTER XVII. LOG-CABINS AND HARD CIDER. The Harrison Campaign—Political Songs—Whig Conventions—Great Paraders—Corwin's Reply to Crary—Crary's Complete Discomfiture— The Campaign Paper—Horace Greeley—Henry Clay on the Stump—Amos Kendall—The Fall Elections—Pipe Laying—The Whigs Triumphant.
CHAPTER XVIII. ENTER WHIGS—EXIT DEMOCRATS. The Fourteenth Presidential Election—Enter Harrison—Exit Van Buren—The Harrison Cabinet—Attack upon Mr. Webster—"The Salt Boiler of the Kanawha"—The other Cabinet Officers—Harrison's Inaugural Message—The Inauguration—The Procession—Scenes at the Capitol—The Inaugural Address—President Harrison's First Reception —Inauguration Balls.
CHAPTER XIX. HARRISON'S ONE MONTH OF POWER. Civil Service Reform—Differences of Opinion—Difficulty between Clay and King—Washington Correspondents—Verbatim Reports of Debates—A Popular British Minister—Other Foreign Diplomats— Quarrelsome Carolinians—Daniel Webster's Housekeeping—Illness of President Harrison—Death—Funeral—The Last Honors.
CHAPTER XX. THE KING IS DEAD—LONG LIVE THE KING. "Le Roi Est Mort; Vive le Roi"—Extra Session of Congress—Trouble in the Whig Camp—Edward Everett before the Senate—Thurlow Weed— Dissensions among the Whigs—Cabinet Troubles—Congressional Criticisms—Cushing and Adams, of Massachusetts—Wise, of Virginia —Bagby, of Alabama.
CHAPTER XXI. DIPLOMATIC AND SOCIAL LIFE OF WEBSTER. The Ashburton Treaty—Diplomatic Negotiations—Speech by Daniel Webster—Webster's Social Life—Mr. Clay's Nightcaps—Administration Organs—Justice to John Tyler.
CHAPTER XXII. THE CAPITOL AND THE DRAWING ROOMS. A Stormy Session—John Quincy Adams at Bay—The Code of Honor—The Supreme Court—Visit of Charles Dickens—The Secretary of State's Party—A Reception at the White House—The President's Ball for Children—Diplomatic Hospitality—Ole Bull—A Troublesome Congressman.
CHAPTER XXIII. LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. The Accidental President—Virginia Hospitality—Second-Hand Style —The Pathfinder's Marriage—Baron de Bodisco, of Russia—Mr. Fox, of Great Britain—The Author of "Sweet Home"—The Daguerreotype— The Electric Telegraph—The New York Tribune—Resignation of Mr. Webster—Reconstruction of the Cabinet—Fatal Accident on the Princeton—Marriage of President Tyler.
CHAPTER XXIV. HOW TEXAS BECAME A STATE. John C. Calhoun, Secretary of State—How Tyler was Managed—Admission of Texas—Douglas, of Illinois—An Able House of Representatives— An Exciting Campaign—President Tyler's Programme—Nomination of Henry Clay—The Democratic Ticket—Surprise of George M. Dallas— The Liberty Party—Exit John Tyler.
CHAPTER XXV. PRESIDENT POLK'S ADMINISTRATION. Inauguration of Polk—His Personal Appearance—Inauguration Balls —Mrs. Polk—Secretary Buchanan—Governor Marcy, of New York— Completion of the Cabinet—The Oregon Difficulty—The Mexican War —A Change of Organist.
CHAPTER XXVI. DEATH OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. Washington Society—An Old Whig Supper—Death of John Quincy Adams —Abraham Lincoln in the House—Jefferson Davis as a Representative —The Democratic Nomination—Lewis Cass, of Michigan—The Whig Convention—Daniel Webster and Henry Clay—Nomination of General Taylor—Letter of Acceptance—The Free-Soil Movement—Inception of the Great Conspiracy.
CHAPTER XXVII. MAKING THE MOST OF POWER. President Taylor and His Secretary—Selection of the Taylor Cabinet —The Taylor Family—Jefferson Davis—Inauguration Ceremonies— Office Seekers—Patronage and Spoils—The Galphin, Gardiner, and other Claims—The Taylor Administration—The White House.
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE GREAT COMPROMISE DEBATE. Stormy Scenes at the Capitol—Crimination and Recrimination—Taylor's Only Message—Return of Mr. Clay to the Senate—The Great Compromise Debate—Webster's Seventh of March Speech—The Last Days of Calhoun —Jefferson Davis' Leadership—John P. Hale, of New Hampshire.
CHAPTER XXIX. PROMINENT STATESMEN AND DIPLOMATS. Sam Houston, of Texas—Seward, of New York—Buchanan, of Pennsylvania —Agricultural Donations—Diplomatic Representatives—Social Enjoyments—Winthrop's Farewell Supper—Fatal Illness of General Taylor—Death of the President.
CHAPTER XXX. FILLMORE AT THE WHITE HOUSE. President Fillmore—Funeral of General Taylor—Webster again Secretary of State—The Compromise Measures—Mrs. Millard Fillmore —A Proud Father—The Capitol Extension—The Library of Congress— Washington Society—Public Amusements.
CHAPTER XXXI. ARRAIGNMENT OF DANIEL WEBSTER. Accusation Against Mr. Webster—The "Expounder of the Constitution" Sore at Heart—Belligerent Mississippians—Painting and Sculpture at the Capitol—Overland Explorations—A Washington Mob—A Washington Correspondent.
CHAPTER XXXII. FOREIGN INFLUENCE AND KNOW-NOTHINGISM. "Filibustering"—The Hulsemann Letter—Kossuth, of Hungary—The Know-Nothings—Boss Tweed, of New York—Butler, of South Carolina —Other Prominent Senators—Exit Clay—Enter Sumner—The Officers of the House.
CHAPTER XXXIII. PLOTTING FOR THE PRESIDENCY. President-Making—Political Intrigues—The Democratic Convention— Nomination of General Pierce—The Whig Candidates—Rivalry Between Webster and Fillmore—The Last Whig National Convention—Death of Henry Clay—General Scott as a Candidate—General Frank Pierce, of New Hampshire—Death of Daniel Webster—General Pierce Elected President.
CHAPTER XXXIV. PIERCE BECOMES PRESIDENT. Inauguration of President Pierce—Vice-President King—The Cabinet —Popularity of the New President—Pryor, of Virginia—Rare Old Wines—Peale's Portraits of Washington—Brady's Portraits—Visit of Thackeray—A Copyright Victim—Jullien's Concerts.
CHAPTER XXXV. CHIVALRY, AT HOME AND ABROAD. Executive Appointments—The Ostend Manifesto—Mr. Buchanan at London —The Kansas-Nebraska Debate—Spicy Words Between Breckinridge and Cutting—Diplomatic Card-Playing—Assistant-Secretary Thomas—The Amoskeag Veterans.
CHAPTER XXXVI. CRYSTALLIZATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. Formation of the Republican Party—The Election of Speaker—Mr. Banks Triumphant—Division of the Spoils—A Protracted Session— Assault on Horace Greeley—Territorial Delegates—The Senate—The Virginia Senators—"Hale," of New Hampshire.
CHAPTER XXXVII. POLITICAL STORM AND SOCIAL SUNRISE. Sumner, of Massachusetts—The Assault on Sumner—Troublous Times— Congressional Courtesies—Senatorial Wit—Convention of Old Soldiers —Social Routine at the White House—Society Gatherings.
CHAPTER XXXVIII. GROWTH OF THE METROPOLIS. The Crampton Difficulty—Unsuccessful French Mediation—The Diplomatic Corps—Information for Publication—Mr. Buchanan in England— Washington Hotels—The New Hall of the House.
CHAPTER XXXIX. THE NORTHERN CHAMPIONS. Fessenden, of Maine—The Sterling Claim—Social Festivities—Marriage of Judge Douglas—Congressional Scenes—Secretary of War Davis— Art and Literature—George W. Childs—J. R. Bartlett.
CHAPTER XL. EXCITING PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST. Democratic Candidates for the Presidency—James Buchanan—Stephen A. Douglas—Delegates to the Cincinnati Convention—The Struggle— The Disorganized Democracy United—Opposition Nominations—The Republican Convention—Election of Mr. Buchanan—Counting the Votes.
CHAPTER XLI. MISS LANE IN THE WHITE HOUSE. President-elect Buchanan—Miss Harriet Lane—The New Cabinet and the Message—The Newspaper Organs—Inauguration of President Buchanan —The Inauguration Ball—The Dred Scott Decision—The Minority Decision.
CHAPTER XLII. DIPLOMACY, SOCIETY, AND CIVIL SERVICE. Foreign Relations—Lord Napier, the British Minister—Sir William Gore Ouseley—Society in Washington—A Fashionable Pretender—Civil Service—Office Seeking—Choate's Handwriting—The Governors of Kansas.
CHAPTER XLIII. PRELUDE TO THE REBELLION. Organization of the Senate—John Slidell, of Louisiana—Senator Douglas Opposes the Administration—Ben Wade's Bon Mot—Meeting of the House—Election of Speaker—Investigation of the Wolcott Attempts at Bribery—Debates on the Admission of Kansas—Nocturnal Row in the House—The North Victorious.
CHAPTER XLIV. POLITICIANS, AUTHORS, AND HUMORISTS. Wade, of Ohio—Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi—Johnson, of Arkansas —Anthony, of Rhode Island—Trollope, of England—One of Mike Walsh's Jokes—Albert Pike's Wake—The Sons of Malta.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS [omitted]
LIST OF AUTOGRAPHS
ANDREW JACKSON JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WILLIAM HARRIS CRAWFORD EDWARD EVERETT HENRY CLAY JOHN CALDWELL CALHOUN SILAS WRIGHT, JR. DANIEL WEBSTER THOMAS HART BENTON RICHARD MENTOR JOHNSON ALEXANDER HAMILTON STEPHENS ANDREW STEVENSON WILLIAM RUFUS KING MARTIN VAN BUREN TRISTRAM BURGESS WILLIAM LEARNED MARCY THOMAS CORWIN WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON THOMAS EWING FRANKLIN PIERCE RUFUS CHOATE FELIX GRUNDY CALEB CUSHING STEPHEN ARNOLD DOUGLAS JAMES KNOX POLK HENRY STUART FOOTE ZACHARY TAYLOR ROBERT CHARLES WINTHROP WILLIAM HENRY SEWARD MILLARD FILLMORE ROBERT JAMES WALKER JEFFERSON DAVIS JOHN JORDAN CRITTENDEN THADDEUS STEVENS JOHN TYLER LEWIS CASS GEORGE WASHINGTON ABBOTT LAWRENCE NATHANIEL PRENTISS BANKS WINFIELD SCOTT JOHN BUCHANAN FLOYD PETER FORCE HOWELL COBB GEORGE BANCROFT
CHAPTER I. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS BECOMES PRESIDENT.
John Quincy Adams was elected President of the United States by the House of Representatives on February 9th, 1825. At the tenth popular election for President, during the previous autumn, there had been four candidates: Andrew Jackson, then a Senator from Tennessee, who received ninety-nine electoral votes; John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, then Secretary of State under President Monroe, who received eighty-four electoral votes; William H. Crawford, of Georgia, then Secretary of the Treasury, who received forty-one electoral votes, and Henry Clay, of Kentucky, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, who received thirty-seven electoral votes—in all two hundred and sixty-one electoral votes. As neither candidate had received the requisite majority of one hundred and thirty-one electoral votes, the election of a President devolved upon the House of Representatives, in which body each State would have one vote. As the Constitution required that the choice of the House be confined to the three highest candidates on the list of those voted for by the electors, and as Mr. Clay was not one of the three, he was excluded. Exercising, as he did, great control over his supporters, it was within his power to transfer their strength to either Adams or Jackson, thus deciding the election. The Legislature of his State, Kentucky, had to a certain degree instructed him, by passing a joint resolution declaring its preference for Jackson over Adams, and Jackson always believed that had he accepted overtures made to him, for the promise of the Department of State to Mr. Clay, that would have insured his election.
Mr. Clay decided, however, to request his friends to support Mr. Adams. To one of them he wrote: "Mr. Adams, you well know, I should never have selected if at liberty to draw from the whole mass of our citizens for a President. But there is no danger of his election now or in time to come. Not so of his competitor, of whom I cannot believe that killing two thousand five hundred Englishmen at New Orleans qualifies for the various, difficult, and complicated duties of the Chief Magistracy." Many believed, however, that a bargain was made between Adams and Clay by which the latter received, as a consideration for transferring to the former the votes of Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, the position of Secretary of State. The charge was distinctly made by Mr. George Kremer, a Representative from Pennsylvania, and as positively denied by Mr. Clay. General Jackson wrote to Major Lewis: "So, you see, the Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver. His end will be the same. Was there ever witnessed such a barefaced corruption in any country before?"
When the Senate and the House of Representatives met in joint convention to count the electoral votes it was found (as every one present had known for months) that no one had received the requisite majority. This was formally announced by Vice-President Daniel D. Tompkins, who also declared that John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, had been elected Vice-President. The Senate, headed by the Vice- President and its Secretary, Charles Cutts, then retired, and the House proceeded to ballot for President.
The election was by States. Each State delegation appointed one of their number to act as chairman, collect their votes, and report the result. Whoever in each delegation received the most votes was reported as the choice of that delegation to the tellers—one from each State—who sat in parties of twelve at two tables. Daniel Webster, the teller of Massachusetts, was appointed by the tellers at one of the tables to announce the result of the ballot, and John Randolph, the teller of Virginia, was appointed to the same service at the other table. The votes of most of the States were matters of confident calculation, but those of others were in some degree doubtful, and there was intense interest manifested as their votes were counted. At last, when the twenty-four States had voted, Mr. Webster announced, in his deep voice, that thirteen States had voted for John Quincy Adams, seven States had voted for Andrew Jackson, and four States had voted for William H. Crawford. Mr. Speaker Clay then announced, in sonorous tones: "John Quincy Adams, having received a majority of the votes cast, is duly elected President of the United States for four years, from the 4th of March next ensuing."
A shout arose from the occupants of the galleries, which Mr. McDuffie promptly asked might be cleared. The vote was carried, and a young man, who was Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, mounting to the broad stone cornice, which ran around the hall outside of the floor of the galleries, but on a level with them, exclaimed, as he walked along: "The Speaker orders the galleries to be cleared; all must retire. Clear the galleries!" The command was obeyed, to the astonishment of some of the foreign ministers present, who had been accustomed to see armed guards at such assemblages, and often to witness their unsuccessful attempts to move the populace. The House soon afterward adjourned.
That evening President Monroe gave a public reception at the White House, which had just been rebuilt after having been burned by the British army—in 1814. The two candidates, Mr. Adams, the elect, and General Jackson, the defeated, accidentally met in the East Room. General Jackson, who was escorting a lady, promptly extended his hand, saying pleasantly: "How do you do, Mr. Adams? I give you my left hand, for the right, as you see, is devoted to the fair. I hope you are very well, sir." All this was gallantly and heartily said and done. Mr. Adams took the General's hand, and said, with chilling coldness: "Very well, sir; I hope General Jackson is well!" The military hero was genial and gracious, while the unamiable diplomat was as cold as an iceberg.
The inauguration of Mr. Adams, on the 4th of March, 1825, was the most imposing demonstration ever witnessed at Washington up to that time. President Monroe called for his successor and they rode together to the Capitol, escorted by the District uniformed militia and by a cavalcade of citizens marshaled by Daniel Carroll, of Duddington, General John Mason, General Walter Smith, and General Walter Jones, four prominent residents. On reaching the Capitol the President-elect was received with military honors by a battalion of the Marine Corps. He was then escorted by a committee of Senators to the Senate Chamber, where the oath of office was administered to the Vice-President-elect, John C. Calhoun. The dignitaries present then moved in procession to the hall of the House of Representatives, on the floor of which were the Senators and Representatives, the Supreme Court, the diplomatic corps, officers of the army and navy, and many prominent officials, while the galleries were filled with handsomely dressed ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Adams read his inaugural address from the Speaker's desk, after which the oath of office was administered to him by Chief Justice Marshall. Salutes were fired from the Navy Yard and the Arsenal, and the new President was escorted to his house, on F Street, where he that evening received his friends, for whom generous supplies of punch and wines were hospitably provided.
President Adams, although at heart instigated by a Puritan intolerance of those who had failed to conform with himself, was a true patriot, and as a public man was moved by the highest moral motives. He was a great statesman in so far as the comprehension of the principles of government and a mastery of a wide field of information were concerned, but he could not practically apply his knowledge. Instead of harmonizing the personal feuds between the friends of those who had been candidates with him, he antagonized each one with his Administration at the earliest possible moment, and before the expiration of his first year in the White House he had wrecked the Republican party left by Monroe, as completely as his father had wrecked the Federal party established by Washington.
The President, when in London, had married Miss Louisa Catherine Johnson. Her father was an American by birth, but just before the Revolution he went to England, where he resided until after the independence of the Colonies had been recognized. Mrs. Adams was well educated, highly accomplished, and well qualified to preside over the domestic affairs at the White House. She had four children —three sons and one daughter—of whom one only, Mr. Charles Francis Adams, survived her. It is related, as evidence of her good sense, that on one occasion Mrs. Mason, of Analostan Island, called, accompanied by two or three other ladies belonging to the first families of Virginia, to enlist Mrs. Adams in behalf of her son-in- law, Lieutenant Cooper (afterward Adjutant-General of the United States Army, and subsequently of the Confederate forces), who wanted to be detailed as an aide-de-camp on the staff of General Macomb. Mrs. Adams heard their request and then replied: "Truly, ladies, though Madames Maintenon and Pompadour are said to have controlled the military appointments of their times, I do not think such matters appertain to women; but if they did and I had any influence with Mr. Adams, it should be given to Mrs. Scott, with whom I became acquainted while traveling last summer." &&& Mr. Adams' private secretary was his son, John Adams, who soon made himself very obnoxious to the friends of General Jackson. One evening Mr. Russell Jarvis, who then edited the Washington Telegraph, a newspaper which advocated Jackson's election, attended a "drawing room" at the White House, escorting his wife and a party of visiting relatives from Boston. Mr. Jarvis introduced them courteously, and they then passed on into the East Room. Soon afterward they found themselves standing opposite to Mr. John Adams, who was conversing with the Rev. Mr. Stetson. "Who is that lady?" asked Mr. Stetson. "That," replied Mr. John Adams, in a tone so loud that the party heard it, "is the wife of one Russell Jarvis, and if he knew how contemptibly he is viewed in this house they would not be here." The Bostonians at once paid their respects to Mrs. Adams and withdrew, Mr. Jarvis having first ascertained from Mr. Stetson that it was Mr. John Adams who had insulted them. A few days afterward Mr. Jarvis sent a note to Mr. John Adams, demanding an explanation, by a friend of his, Mr. McLean. Mr. Adams told Mr. McLean that he had no apology to make to Mr. Jarvis, and that he wished no correspondence with him.
A week later Mr. John Adams went to the Capitol to deliver messages from the President to each house of Congress. Having delivered that addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, he was going through the rotunda toward the Senate Chamber, when he was overtaken by Mr. Jarvis, who pulled his nose and slapped his face. A scuffle ensued, but they were quickly parted by Mr. Dorsey, a Representative from Maryland. President Adams notified Congress in a special message of the occurrence, and the House appointed a select committee of investigation. Witnesses were examined and elaborate reports were drawn up, but neither the majority nor the minority recommended that any punishment be inflicted upon Mr. Jarvis.
Mr. John Adams was married, while his father occupied the White House, to his mother's niece, Miss Mary Hellen, of Washington. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. Hawley, of St. John's Church, and General Ramsey, who was one of the groomsmen, is authority for the statement that the President, usually so grave and unsocial, unbent for the nonce, and danced at the wedding ball in a Virginia reel with great spirit.
The foreign diplomats were recognized as leaders in Washington society, and one of the Secretaries of Legation created a sensation by appearing on Pennsylvania Avenue mounted on a velocipede imported from London. Pennsylvania Avenue was then bordered with scraggy poplar trees, which had been planted under the direction of President Jefferson.
Mr. Adams found the furniture of the White House in a dilapidated condition. Thirty thousand dollars had been appropriated by Congress for the purchase of new furniture during the Administration of Mr. Monroe; but his friend, Colonel Lane, Commissioner of Public Buildings, to whom he had intrusted it, became insolvent, and died largely in debt to the Government, having used the money for the payment of his debts, instead of procuring furniture. When a appropriation of fourteen thousand dollars was made, to be expended under the direction of Mr. Adams, for furniture, he took charge of it himself. This was severely criticised by the Democratic press, as was the purchase of a billiard table for the White House, about which so much was said that Mr. John Adams finally paid the bill from his own pocket.
Mrs. Adams won popularity at Washington by the graceful manner in which she presided over the hospitalities of the White House. The stiff formalities of the "drawing-rooms" of Mrs. Washington and Mrs. John Adams, and the free-and-easy "receptions" of Mr. Jefferson's daughters, had been combined by Mrs. Madison into what she christened "levees", at which all ceremonious etiquette was banished. Mrs. Monroe, who had mingled in the fashionable circles of London and Paris, as well as of her native city of New York, had continued these evening "levees," and Mrs. Adams, in turn, not only kept up the custom, but improved the quality of the refreshments, which were handed around on waiters by servants.
Mr. Adams used to rise between four and six o'clock, according to the season, and either take a ride on horseback or walk to the Potomac River, where he bathed, remaining in the water for an hour or more in the summer. Returning to the White House, he read two chapters of the Bible and then glanced over the morning papers until nine, when he breakfasted. From ten until four he remained in the Executive Office, presiding over Cabinet meetings, receiving visitors, or considering questions of state. Then, after a long walk, or a short ride on horseback, he would sit down to dine at half-past five, and after dinner resume his public duties.
On one occasion Mr. Adams imperiled his life by attempting to cross the Potomac in a small boat, accompanied by his son John and by his steward, Michael Antoine Ginsta, who had entered his service at Amsterdam in 1814. Intending to swim back, they had taken off nearly all of their clothes, which were in the boat. When about half-way across, a gust of wind came sweeping down the Potomac, the boat filled with water, and they were forced to abandon it and swim for their lives to the Virginia Shore. By taking what garments each one had on, Antoine managed to clothe himself decently, and started across the bridge to Washington. During his absence, Mr. Adams and his son swam in the river, or walked to and fro on the shore. At last, after they had been about three hours undressed, Antoine made his appearance with a carriage and clothing, so they were able to return to Washington. Mr. Adams purchased that day a watch, which he gave Antoine to replace one which he had lost in the boat and alluded to the adventure in his journal that night as "a humiliating lesson and a solemn warning not to trifle with danger." A few weeks later a Revolutionary veteran named Shoemaker, went in to bathe at Mr. Adams' favorite spot, the Sycamores, was seized with cramp, and was drowned. The body was not recovered until the next morning while Mr. Adams was in the water; but the incident did not deter him from taking his solitary morning baths, which he regarded as indispensable to health. Mr. Adams took great interest in arboriculture, and was a constant reader of Evelyn. He had planted in the grounds of the White House the acorns of the cork-oak, black walnuts, peach, plum, and cherry stones, apple and pear seeds, and he watched their germination and growth with great interest. A botanic garden was established under his patronage, and naval officers were instructed to bring home for distribution the seeds of such grains and vegetables as it might seem desirable to naturalize. The seeds thus collected were carefully distributed through members of Congress, and several important varieties of vegetables were thus introduced. Down to the present day the yearly distribution of seeds to rural communities is an important item of Congressional duty.
Henry Clay was the premier and the most important member of Mr. Adams' cabinet. He evidently regarded the Department of State as a stepping-stone to the Executive Mansion, and hoped that he would be in time promoted, as Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. The foreign policy of the Administration, which encouraged the appointment of a Minister to represent the United States in the Congress of American Republics at Panama, although in accordance with the "Monroe Doctrine," was denounced as Federalism. Mr. Clay, who had never been a Federalist, did not wish to be regarded as a restorer of the old Federal party, and he accordingly began to create the Whig party, of which he naturally became the leader.
Mr. Clay made a good Secretary of State, but his place was in Congress, for he was formed by nature for a popular orator. He was tall and thin, with a rather small head, and gray eyes, which peered forth less luminously than would have been expected in one possessing such eminent control of language. His nose was straight, his upper lip long, and his under jaw light. His mouth, of generous width, straight when he was silent, and curving upward at the corners as he spoke or smiled, was singularly graceful, indicating more than any other feature the elastic play of his mind. When he enchained large audiences, his features were lighted up by a winning smile, the gestures of his long arms were graceful, and the gentle accents of his mellow voice were persuasive and winning. Yet there has never been a more imperious despot in political affairs than Mr. Clay. He regarded himself as the head-centre of his party— L'etat, c'est moi—and he wanted everything utilized for his advancement.
General Jackson was meanwhile being brought before the public, under the direction of Aaron Burr, Martin Van Buren, and Edward Livingston, as a "man of the people." They had persuaded him to resign his seat in the Senate of the United States, where he might have made political mistakes, and retire to his farm in Tennessee, while they flooded the country with accounts of his military exploits and his social good qualities. Daniel Webster told Samuel Breck, as the latter records in his diary, that he knew more than fifty members of Congress who had expended and pledged all they were worth in setting up presses and employing other means to forward Jackson's election.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of the three survivors of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, passed hence on the Fourth of July, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of their signing the Magna Charta of our Republic. Their names had been inseparably connected in the minds and upon the lips of the people, as their labors were united in bringing about the events of the Revolution and its final triumph. Mr. Jefferson was the writer, Mr. Adams the orator, of the Congress of '76. The one penned the Declaration of Independence, the other was pronounced "the pillar of its support and its ablest advocate and defender." Mr. Jefferson called Mr. Adams "the Colossus of the Congress," the most earnest, laborious member of the body, and its animating spirit. For the loss of these men, though they fell as a ripe shock of corn falleth—both having arrived at an advanced age—Mr. Adams over ninety—the whole nation clothed itself in mourning.
CHAPTER II. TRAVELING IN "YE OLDEN TIME."
The old stage route between Boston and New York, before John Quincy Adams was President, passed through Worcester, Springfield, Hartford, and Norwalk. Passengers paid ten dollars for a seat and were fifty- six hours or more on the road. This gave way about 1825 to the steamboat line via Providence, which for five dollars carried passengers from Boston to New York in twenty-four hours.
Stage books for the Providence line were kept in Boston at offices in different parts of the city, where those wishing to go the next day registered their names. These names were collected and brought to the central stage office in the Marlboro Hotel at ten o'clock each night, where they were arranged into stage-loads, each made up from those residing in the same part of the city. At four o'clock in the morning a man started from the stage office in a chaise to go about and wake up the passengers, that the stage need not be kept waiting. The large brass door knockers were vigorously plied, and sometimes quite a commotion was caused by "waking up the wrong passenger."
In due time the stage made its appearance, with its four spirited horses, and the baggage was put on. Trunks, which were diminutive in size compared with those now used, were put on the rack behind, securely strapped; valises and packages were consigned to the depths of a receptacle beneath the driver's seat, and bandboxes were put on the top. The back seat was generally given to ladies and elderly gentlemen, while young men usually sought a seat on top of the stage, by the side of the driver. When the passengers had been "picked up," the stages returned to the stage office, where they way-bills were perfected and handed to the drivers. As the Old South clock was striking five, whips were cracked, and the coaches started at the rate of ten miles an hour, stopping for breakfast at Timothy Gay's tavern in Dedham, where many of the passengers visited the bar to imbibe Holland gin and sugar-house molasses—a popular morning beverage.
Breakfast over, away the stages went over the good turnpike road at a rapid pace. Those who were fellow passengers, even if strangers to one another, gradually entered into conversation, and generally some one of them was able to impart information concerning the route. Occasionally the stage would rattle into a village, the driver giving warning blasts upon his long tin horn that he claimed the right of way, and then dash up to a wayside inn, before which would be in waiting a fresh team of horses to take the place of those which had drawn the coach from the previous stopping-place. Time was always afforded those passengers who desired to partake of libations at the tavern bar, and old travelers used to see that their luggage was safe.
Providence was in due time reached, and the procession of stages whirled along the narrow street beneath the bluff, swaying heavily with the irregularities of the road. The steamboats lay at India Point, just below the town, where immense quantities of wood were piled up, for each boat consumed between thirty and forty cords on a trip through Long Island Sound.
The stages used to reach India Point about half-past eleven o'clock, and the boat would start for New York precisely at twelve. There were no state-rooms, the passengers occupying berths, and at the dinner and supper the captain of the boat occupied the head of the table, having seated near him any distinguished passengers. Occasionally there was an opposition line with sharp rivalries, and at one time a then rising New Yorker, Cornelius Vanderbilt, carried passengers from New York to Boston for one dollar.
On arriving at New York, the passengers had to look out for their luggage, and either engage hacks or hand-cartmen, who for twenty- five cents would carry a trunk to any part of the city. The city then, be it remembered, did not reach up Manhattan Island above the vicinity of Broome or Spring Streets, although there were beyond that the villages of Greenwich, Bloomingdale, Yorkville, and Harlem. The City Hotel, on Broadway, just above Trinity Churchyard, Bunker's Hotel, lower down, and the Washington Hotel, which occupied the site of the Stewart building above the Park, were the principal public houses. The Boston stages stopped at Hall's North American Hotel, at the corner of Bayard Street and the Bowery, and there were many boarding-houses where transient guests were accommodated.
From New York, travelers southward went by steamboat to Elizabethport, where they were transferred to stages, and crossed New Jersey to Bordentown on the Delaware River, where a steamer was in waiting to transport them to Philadelphia. This was a long and fatiguing day's journey, and a majority of travelers remained over a day in Philadelphia, where the hotels were excellent and there were many objects of attraction.
Leaving Philadelphia in a steamboat, passengers went down the Delaware to New Castle, whence they crossed in stages to Frenchtown on the Elk River, and there re-embarked on steamers, which took them down and around to Baltimore, another long and fatiguing day's trip. At each change from boat to stage, or from stage to boat, passengers had to see that their luggage was transferred, and it was generally necessary to give a quarter to the porter. Baggage checks and the checking of baggage were then unknown.
Between Baltimore and Washington there were opposition lines of stages and a good turnpike road. There had been, when I first went over the road, some daring robberies by "road agents," and the mail coaches were protected by a guard, who occupied a perch on the roof over the boot and was armed with a blunderbuss. This weapon had a funnel-shaped barrel, a flint lock, took about half a pint of buckshot for a charge, and was capable of destroying a whole band of robbers at once. In due time the flat, wide dome of the Capitol, which resembled an inverted wash-bowl, was visible, and the stage was soon floundering through the broad expanse of mud or of dust known as Pennsylvania Avenue, taking passengers to the doors of the hotels or boarding-houses which they had previously indicated.
When Congress first met at Washington there was but one hotel there and one in Georgetown. Others were, however, soon erected, and fifty-eight years ago there were half a dozen. The favorite establishment was the Indian Queen Hotel, which occupied the site of the present Metropolitan Hotel and was designated by a large swinging sign upon which figured Pocahontas, painted in glaring colors. The landlord, Jesse Brown, who used to come to the curbstone to "welcome the coming guests," was a native of Havre-de-Grace and had served his apprenticeship to tavern-keeping in Hagerstown and in Alexandria. A glance at the travelers as they alighted and were ushered by him into the house would enable him mentally to assign each one to a room, the advantages of which he would describe ere sending its destined occupant there under the pilotage of a colored servant. When the next meal was ready the newly arrived guest was met at the door of the dining-room by Mr. Brown, wearing a large white apron, who escorted him to a seat and then went to the head of the table, where he carved and helped the principal dish. The excellencies of this—fish or flesh or fowl—he would announce as he would invite those seated at the table to send up their plates for what he knew to be their favorite portions; and he would also invite attention to the dishes on other parts of the table, which were carved and helped by the guests who sat nearest them. "I have a delicious quarter of mutton from the Valley of Virginia," Mr. Brown would announce in a stentorian tone, which could be heard above the clatter of crockery and the din of steel knives and forks. "Let me send you a rare slice, Mr. A." "Colonel B., will you not have a bone?" "Mrs. C., send up your plate for a piece of the kidney." "Mrs. D., there is a fat and tender mongrel goose at the other end of the table." "Joe, pass around the sweet potatoes." "Colonel E., will you help to that chicken-pie before you?"
The expense of living at the Indian Queen was not great. The price of board was one dollar and seventy-five cents per day, ten dollars per week, or thirty-five dollars per month. Transient guests were charged fifty cents for breakfast, the same for supper, and seventy- five cents for dinner. Brandy and whisky were placed on the dinner- table in decanters, to be drink by the guests without additional charge therefor. A bottle of real old Madeira imported into Alexandria was supplied for three dollars; sherry, brandy, and gin were one dollar and a half per bottle, and Jamaica rum one dollar. At the bar toddies were made with unadulterated liquor and lump sugar, and the charge was twelve and a half cents a drink.
On the Fourth of July, the 22d of February, and other holidays, landlord Brown would concoct foaming egg-nogg in a mammoth punch- bowl once owned by Washington, and the guests of the house were all invited to partake. The tavern-desk was behind the bar, with rows of large bells hanging by circular springs on the wall, each with a bullet-shaped tongue, which continued to vibrate for some minutes after being pulled, thus showing to which room it belonged. The barkeeper prepared the "drinks" called for, saw that the bells were answered, received and delivered letters and cards, and answered questions by the score. He was supposed to know everybody in Washington, where they resided, and at what hour they could be seen.
The city of Washington had then been called by an observing foreigner "the city of magnificent distances," an appellation which was well merited. There was a group of small, shabby houses around the Navy Yard, another cluster on the river bank just above the Arsenal, which was to have been the business centre of the metropolis, and Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Capitol to Georgetown, with the streets immediately adjacent, was lined with tenements—many of them with shops on the ground floor. The Executive Departments were located in four brick edifices on the corners of the square, in the centre of which was the White House. The imposing building now occupied by the Department of the Interior had not been begun nor had the General Post-Office replaced a large brick structure intended for a hotel, but which the pecuniary necessities of the projector forced him to dispose of in a lottery before it was completed. The fortunate ticket was held by minors, whose guardian could neither sell the building nor finish it, and it remained for many years in a dilapidated condition.
The Capitol was pronounced completed in 1825. The two wings, which were the only portions of the building finished when the British occupied Washington, were burned with their contents, including the Congressional Library and some works of art. When Congress was convened in special session after the invasion, the two Houses assembled in the unfinished hotel previously mentioned, but soon occupied a brick building erected for their temporary use, which was afterward known as the Old Capitol Prison.
The tympanum of the eastern pediment of the Capitol was ornamented by a historical group which Mr. John Quincy Adams designed when Secretary of State. It was executed in marble by Luigi Persico, an Italian sculptor, whose work gave such satisfaction to Mr. Adams that he secured for him an order for the two colossal statues which now flank the central doorway. War is represented by a stalwart gymnast with a profuse development of muscle and a benign expression of countenance, partially encased in ancient Roman armor, while Peace is a matronly dame, somewhat advanced in life and heavy in flesh, who carries an olive branch as if she desired to use it to keep off flies.
The then recently completed rotunda of the Capitol—Mr. Gales took pains to have it called rotundo in the National Intelligencer —was a hall of elegant proportions, ninety-six feet in diameter and ninety-six feet in height to the apex of its semicircular dome. It had been decorated with remarkable historical bas-reliefs by Cappellano, Gevelot, and Causici, three Italian artists—two of them pupils of Canova. They undoubtedly possessed artistic ability and they doubtless desired to produce works of historical value. But they failed ignominiously. Their respective productions were thus interpreted by Grizzly Bear, a Menominee chief. Turning to the eastern doorway, over which there is represented the landing of the Pilgrims, he said: "There Ingen give hungry white man corn." Then turning to the northern doorway, over which is represented William Penn making a treaty with the Indians, he said: "There Ingen give white man land." Then turning to the western doorway, over which is represented Pocahontas saving the life of Captain Smith, he said: "There Ingen save white man's life." And then turning to the Southern doorway, over which is represented Daniel Boone, the pioneer, plunging his hunting-knife into the heart of a red man while his foot rests on the dead body of another, he said: "And there white man kill Ingen. Ugh!"
When Congress was in session, the rotunda presented a busy and motley scene every morning prior to the convening of the two houses. It was a general rendezvous, and the newspaper correspondents were always in attendance to pick up the floating rumors of the day.
The visit of General Lafayette to Washington gave a great impetus to Free-Masonry there. The corner-stone of a new Masonic Temple was laid, and many of the leading citizens had taken the degrees, when the rumored abduction of William Morgan was made the basis of a political and religious anti-Masonic crusade. It was asserted that Morgan, who had written and printed a book which professed to reveal the secrets of Free-Masonry, had been kidnapped, taken to Fort Niagara, and then plunged into the river, "with all his imperfections on his head." Many well-informed persons, however, are of the opinion that Morgan was hired to go to Smyrna, where he lived some years, and then died; but his real or supposed assassination awakened a profound popular indignation. Some good men who belonged to the "mystic tie" felt it their duty to dissolve their connection with it, and the Anti-Masonic party was at once got up by a goodly number of hopeful political aspirants. As General Jackson and Mr. Clay were both "Free and Accepted Masons," Mr. Adams had at first some hopes that he might secure his own re-election as the Anti- Masonic candidate.
A small theatre at Washington was occasionally opened by a company of actors from Philadelphia, who used to journey every winter as far south as Savannah, performing in the intermediate cities as they went and returned. The Jeffersons, the Warrens, and the Burkes belonged to this company, in which their children were trained for histrionic fame, and President Adams first saw the elder Booth when that tragedian accompanied one of these dramatic expeditions as its brightest star. On another occasion he saw Edwin Forrest, then unknown to fame, and enjoyed the finished acting of Cooper, as Charles Surface, in the "School for Scandal." The popular performance at that time was "Tom and Jerry, or Life in London," and the flash sayings of Corinthian Tom and Bob Logic were quoted even in Congressional debates.
The Friends, or Quakers, as "the world's people" call them, had a society at Washington formed principally by the clerks of that persuasion who had come from Philadelphia when the seat of government was removed from there. Their harmony was, however, disturbed in 1827, when a number of the most influential among them left the "Orthodox" or old belief and followed Elias Hicks, of New York, who founded what has since been known as Hicksite Friends. The Friends believed in a free gospel ministry, and did not recognize either water-baptism or the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. At their meetings the elders and preachers occupied a platform at one end of the meeting-houses, the men sitting on unpainted benches on one side and the women on the other. The congregation would sit quietly, often for an hour, until the Spirit moved some preacher, male or female, to speak or to offer prayer. There was no singing, and often long intervals of silence. Marriages were solemnized at the monthly meetings, the ceremony consisting simply of a public acknowledgment by the man and woman, after due inquiry of their right to be united. After they had stood up in meeting and publicly taken one another to be man and wife, a certificate of the ceremony was publicly read by one of the elders, and then signed by the contracting parties and witnesses.
[Facsimile] John Quincy Adams JOHN QUINCY ADAMS—son of John Adams—was born at Braintree, Massachusetts, July 11th, 1767; Minister to the Netherlands and Prussia, 1794-1801; United States Senator, 1803-1808; Professor at Harvard College, 1808-1809; Minister to Russia, 1809-1817; negotiating the treaty of Ghent in 1815; Secretary of State, 1817-1825; President, 1825-1829; Representative in Congress, 1831, until stricken by death in the Capitol, February 23d, 1848.
CHAPTER III. JOURNALISM IN 1828.
Georgetown, now called "West Washington," was originally laid out as a town in 1751, and settled by the Scotch agents of English mercantile houses, whose vessels came annually to its wharves. They brought valuable freights of hardware, dry goods, and wines, and they carried back tobacco, raised in the surrounding country, and furs, brought down the Potomac by Indian traders. There were also lines of brigs and schooners running to New York, Boston, Salem, Newburyport, and the West Indies. Two principal articles of import were sugar and molasses, which were sold at auction on the wharves. Business in these staples has been entirely superseded by the coal and flour trade.
The main street of Georgetown was generally filled every week-day with the lumbering Conestoga six-horse wagons, in which the farmers of Maryland and Central Pennsylvania brought loads of wheat and of corn, taking back dry goods, groceries, salt, and, during the fishing season, fresh shad and herring. Another source of trade was the Potomac River, which was navigable above Georgetown as far as Cumberland in long, flat-bottomed boats, sharp at both ends, called "gondolas." These boats were poled down the Potomac to the Great Falls, twelve miles above Georgetown, where a canal with locks was constructed, running around the falls and back to the river. The same plan of avoiding the rapids was suggested by George Washington, who was once president of the company. The canal was finished in 1793, but it never yielded a sufficient revenue to pay expenses.
The "gondolas" brought down considerable quantities of flour, corn, pork, and iron, much of which was shipped at Georgetown to other ports. During the year 1812 several hundred hogsheads of Louisiana sugar were brought by way of the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Potomac Rivers to Georgetown. This was a realization of Washington's idea that the city which he founded and which bore his name would become an entrepot for the products of the Mississippi Valley destined for shipment abroad. He displayed his faith in this belief by the purchase of wharf lots, which would not to-day bring what he paid for them.
The Union Tavern at Georgetown was a well-patronized and fashionable inn during the first quarter of the present century. Among the distinguished men who were its guests were Louis Philippe, Count Volney, Baron Humboldt, Fulton (the inventor), Talleyrand, Jerome Bonaparte, Washington Irving, General St. Clair, Lorenzo Dow (the eccentric preacher), Francis S. Key (author of the "Star Spangled Banner"), with John Randolph and scores of other Congressmen, who used to ride to and from the Capitol in a large stagecoach with seats on the top and called the "Royal George."
When my mother was born in Georgetown, in 1799, the neighbors were startled by the repeated firing of a heavily charged musket beneath the window of her mother's room. It was a welcome-into-the-world salute fired by "Old Yarrah," a very aged Mahometan, who had been brought as a slave from Guinea to Georgetown, where my grandfather had shown him some kindness, which he thus acknowledged after the custom of his own people.
General Washington used to pass through Georgetown on his journeys between the North and Mount Vernon, and I have heard my grandfather describe the interest which he took when the "Federal City" was located. On one occasion he rode over to visit David Burns, who owned a farm on which the Executive Mansion and the Departments now stand. Washington agreed with the Commissioners that what is now Lafayette Square should be a reservation, but Burns disliked to donate any more building lots for the public good. Finally Washington lost his temper and left, saying, as he crossed the porch: "Had not the Federal City been laid out here, you would have died a poor tobacco planter." "Aye, mon!" retorted Burns, in broad Scotch, "an' had ye nae married the widow Custis, wi' a' her nagurs, you would hae been a land surveyor to-day, an' a mighty poor ane at that." Ultimately, however, the obstinate old fellow donated the desired square of ground.
When Major L'Enfant came to Georgetown to lay out the Federal District he brought a letter of introduction to my grandfather, who had a great deal of trouble in endeavoring to adjust the difficulties between the fiery French officer and the Commissioners appointed to govern the infant metropolis. The Major, who was very imperious, claimed supreme authority, which the Commissioners would not submit to. On one occasion, a Mr. Carroll had commenced the erection of a large brick house, which Major L'Enfant found encroached on one of the proposed streets. Summoning his chain bearers and axmen, he demolished the trespassing structure and filled up the cellar, against Mr. Carroll's earnest protests.
He was a favorite with Washington, but Jefferson disliked him on account of his connection with the Society of the Cincinnati, and availed himself of his difficulty with the Commissioners to discharge him.
The Major then became an unsuccessful petitioner before Congress for a redress of his real and fancied wrongs, and he was to be seen almost every day slowly pacing the rotunda of the Capitol. He was a tall, thin man, who wore, toward the close of his life, a blue military surtout coat, buttoned quite to the throat, with a tall, black stock, but no visible signs of linen. His hair was plastered with pomatum close to his head, and he wore a napless high beaver bell-crowned hat. Under his arm he generally carried a roll of papers relating to his claim upon the Government, and in his right hand he swung a formidable hickory cane with a large silver head. A strict Roman Catholic, he received a home in the family of Mr. Digges, near Washington, in whose garden his remains were interred when he died.
Newspaper "organs" formed an important feature of the early political machinery at Washington. Railroads, as well as the magnetic telegraph, were then unknown, and it took two days or more for the transmission of intelligence between the Federal Metropolis and New York, while it was a week or two in reaching Portland, St. Louis, New Orleans, or Savannah. This made it advisable for each successive Administration to have a newspaper published at Washington which would reliably inform the subordinate officials what was being done and keep alive a sympathy between them and the President.
The National Intelligencer was never devoted to Mr. Adams, as its proprietor had a kind regard for Mr. Clay, but it was always hostile to the election of General Jackson. Mr. Joseph Giles, its editor, wrote ponderous leaders on the political questions of the day, and occasionally reported, in short-hand, the speeches of Congressional magnates. His partner, Colonel William Winstead Seaton, was by trade a printer, and his generous hand was ever ready to aid those of his fellow-craftsmen who were in destitute circumstances—indeed, the superannuated compositors of the National Intelligencer always received "half pay." Coming here when Washington was only just "staked out," he was honorably identified with the growth of Washington City, and his administration as Mayor is favorably spoken of by the citizens of all classes and parties.
The National Intelligencer had been established as a Catholic organ, with John Agg, an Englishman of great ability, as its editor, and Richard Houghton, afterward the popular editor of the Boston Atlas, as its Congressional reporter. In 1825 the paper was purchased by Peter Force and became the "hand-organ" of all the elements of opposition to General Jackson. Such abusive articles and scurrilous remarks as the dignified National Intelligencer would not publish appeared in the National Journal. Some of these articles reflected upon Mrs. Jackson and gave great offense to her husband, who was persuaded that they were inspired by President Adams.
Matthew L. Davis, who was probably the most influential of Washington correspondents, was a New York printer. He had entered political life in 1790 and joined the Democratic party, which came into power by the election of Jefferson as President and Burr as Vice-President. Davis went to Washington shortly afterward, and was boasting that the elevation of Mr. Jefferson was brought about solely by the management of Tammany Hall. Mr. Jefferson was a philosopher, and soon after caught a very large fly, calling the attention of Mr. Davis to the remarkable fact of the great disproportion in size of one portion of the insect to its body. Mr. Davis took the hint, and left the President, in doubt as to whether Mr. Jefferson intended the comparison to apply to New York or to him (Davis) as an individual.
Mr. Davis was at one time wealthy, having cleared over one hundred thousand dollars in the South American trade; but he became poor, and for many years he was the correspondent at Washington of the Courier and Enquirer, of New York, under the signature of "The Spy in Washington." He was also the correspondent of the London Times, under the signature of "The Genevese Traveler." On one occasion Mr. Davis was presented to the British Minister at Washington (Lord Ashburton) as the author of those letters in the Times. "I am delighted to see you," said the Envoy. "They are extraordinary letters. I have read them with great pleasure. I hope, sir, that you are well paid by the Times. If not, sir, let me know it; I will take care that you are paid handsomely." Mr. Davis begged not to be misunderstood, and said that he was amply paid by the Times. He received two guineas for each letter.
James Gordon Bennett in 1828, when in his thirtieth year, became the Washington correspondent of the New York Enquirer, which was then on the topmost round of the journalistic ladder. It is related of him that during his stay in this position he came across a copy of Walpole's Letters and resolved to try the effect of a few letters written in a similar strain. The truth of this is doubtful. It is more probably that the natural talents of the man were now unfettered, and he wrote without fear of censorship and with all the ease which a sense of freedom inspires. He was naturally witty, sarcastic and sensible. These letters were lively, they abounded in personal allusions, and they described freely, not only Senators, but the wives and daughters of Senators, and they established Mr. Bennett's reputation as a light lance among the hosts of writers.
Major M. M. Noah was for many years a leading New York journalist, who occasionally visited Washington, where he was always welcome. Major Noah was born in Philadelphia, where he was apprenticed, as he grew up, to learn the carver's trade, but he soon abandoned it for political pursuits. Receiving the appointment of Consul to Tunis, he passed several years in Northern Africa, and on his return wrote a very clever book containing his souvenirs of travel. About the year 1825 he conceived the idea of collecting the scattered Jews and of rebuilding Jerusalem. Grand Island, in the Niagara River, above Niagara falls, was designated as the rendezvous, and Major Noah's proclamation, which he sent to all parts of the world, created quite a sensation among the Children of Israel. He subsequently was connected with the evening press of New York and was then appointed to a Government office by President Jackson. He was a man of fine personal appearance and great conversational powers.
Another New York journalist, just coming before the public, was Thurlow Weed, a tall man, with an altogether massive person. His large head was at that time covered with dark hair, and he had prominent features and gray eyes, which were watchful and overhung by shaggy eyebrows. He was a man of great natural strength of character, deep penetration as regards human nature, and a good sense, judgment, and cheerfulness in his own characteristics which conduced to respect and popularity. He was most happy in his intercourse with men, for he had, when a mere youth, a geniality and tact which drew all toward him, and it has been said that he never forgot a face or a fact. There has never been a better example of the good old stock of printer-editors, who seemed to have an intuitive capacity for public affairs, and never to love political success well enough to leave their newspapers in order to pursue the glittering attraction of public life.
Among the other newspaper men in Washington were William Hayden, Congressional reporter for the National Intelligencer, who afterward succeeded Mr. Houghton as editor of the Boston Atlas; Lund Washington, equally famed as a performer on the violin and writer of short-hand; Samuel L. Knapp, a graduate of Dartmouth College, who abandoned the law for journalism and corresponded with the Boston Gazette, and James Brooks, a graduate of Waterville, afterward the founder of the New York Express and a Representative in Congress, who was the correspondent of the Portland Advertiser and other papers.
Prominent as an adopted citizen of Washington and as a personal friend of President Adams was Dr. William F. Thornton, Superintendent of the Patent Office, who had by personal appeals to his conquering countrymen, in 1814, saved the models of patents from the general conflagration of the public buildings. He was also a devoted lover of horse-racing, and on one occasion, when he expected that a horse of his would win the cup, Mr. Adams walked out to the race-course to enjoy the Doctor's triumph, but witnessed his defeat. After the death of Dr. Thornton and of his accomplished wife, it became known that she was the daughter of the unfortunate Dr. Dodd, of London, who was executed for forgery in 1777. Her mother emigrated to Philadelphia soon afterward, under the name of Brodeau, and brought her infant daughter with her. In Philadelphia she opened a boarding-school, which was liberally patronized, as she had brought excellent letters of recommendation and displayed great ability as a teacher. The daughter grew up to be a lady remarkable for her beauty and accomplishments and married Dr. Thornton, who brought her to Washington in 1800.
Congress had placed on the statute-book stringent penal laws against gambling, but they were a dead letter, unless some poor dupe made a complaint of foul play, or some fleeced blackleg sought vengeance through the aid of the Grand Jury; then the matter was usually compounded by the repayment of the money. The northern sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue between the Indian Queen Hotel and the Capitol gate, was lined with faro banks, where good suppers were served and well-supplied sideboards were free to all comers. It was a tradition that in one of these rooms Senator Montford Stokes, of North Carolina, sat down one Thursday afternoon to play a game of brag with Mountjoy Bailey, then the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate. That body had adjourned over, as was then its custom, from Thursday until Monday, so the players were at liberty to keep on with their game, only stopping occasionally for refreshments. The game was continued Friday night and Saturday, through Saturday night and all day Sunday and Sunday night, the players resting for a snatch of sleep as nature became exhausted. Monday morning the game was in full blast, but at ten o'clock Bailey moved an adjournment, alleging that his official duties required his presence in the Senate Chamber. Stokes remonstrated, but the Sergeant-at-Arms persisted, and rose from the table, the Senator grumbling and declaring that he had supposed that Stokes would have thus prematurely broken up the game he would not have sat down to play with him.
Whist was regularly played at many of the "Congressional messes," and at private parties a room was always devoted to whist-playing. Once when the wife of Henry Clay was chaperoning a young lady from Boston, at a party given by one of his associates in the Cabinet, they passed through the card-room, where Mr. Clay and other gentlemen were playing whist. The young lady, in her Puritan simplicity, inquired: "Is card-playing a common practice here?" "Yes," replied Mrs. Clay, "the gentlemen always play when they get together." "Don't it distress you," said the Boston maiden, "to have Mr. Clay gamble?" "Oh! dear, no!" composedly replied the statesman's wife, "he 'most always wins."
There were only a few billiard-rooms, mostly patronized by the members of the foreign legations or visiting young men from the Northern cities. Ten-pin alleys were abundant, and some of the muscular Congressmen from the frontier would make a succession of "ten strikes" with great ease, using the heaviest balls. Some of the English residents organized a cricket club, and used to play on a level spot in "the slashes," near where the British Legation was afterward built, but the game was not popular, and no American offered to join the club.
[Facsimile] Your obedt servt. William H. Crawford William Harris Crawford was born in Virginia, February 24th, 1772; was United States Senator 1807-1813; Minister to France, 1813-1815; Secretary of War, 1815-1816; Secretary of the Treasury, 1816-1825; Judge of the Northern Circuit Court of Georgia, 1827, until he died at Elberton, Georgia, September 15th, 1834.
CHAPTER IV. PROMINENT SENATORS OF 1827.
The old Senate Chamber, now used by the Supreme Court, was admirably adapted for the deliberations of the forty-eight gentlemen who composed the upper house of the Nineteenth Congress. Modeled after the theatres of ancient Greece, it possessed excellent acoustic properties, and there was ample accommodation in the galleries for the few strangers who then visited Washington. The Senate used to meet at noon and generally conclude its day's work by three o'clock, while adjournments over from Thursday until the following Monday were frequent.
John C. Calhoun was Vice-President of the United States, and consequently President of the Senate—a position which was to him very irksome, as he was forced to sit and dumbly listen to debates in which he was eager to participate. He had been talked of by some of the best men in the country as a candidate during the then recent Presidential election, but the North had not given him any substantial support. Regarding each Senator as an Ambassador from a sovereign State, he did not believe that as Vice-President he possessed the power to call them to order for words spoken in debate. Senator John Randolph abused this license, and one day commenced one of his tirades by saying: "Mr. Speaker! I mean Mr. President of the Senate and would-be President of the United States, which God in His infinite mercy avert," and then went on in his usual strain of calumny and abuse.
Mr. Calhoun was tall, well-formed, without an ounce of superfluous flesh, with a serious expression of countenance rarely brightened by a smile, and with his black hair thrown back from his forehead, he looked like an arch-conspirator waiting for the time to come when he could strike the first blow. In his dress Mr. Calhoun affected a Spartan simplicity, yet he used to have four horses harnessed to his carriage, and his entertainments at his residence on Georgetown Heights were very elegant. His private life was irreproachable, although when Secretary of War under Mr. Monroe, he had suffered obloquy because of a profitable contract, which had been dishonestly awarded during his absence by his chief clerk to that official's brother-in-law.
The prime mover of the Senate of that day was Martin Van Buren, of New York, who was beginning to reap the reward of years of subservient intrigues. Making the friends of Calhoun and of Crawford believe that they had each been badly treated by the alliance between Adams and Clay, he united them in the support of General Jackson, and yet no one suspected him. When Mr. Van Buren had first been elected to Congress, Rufus King, of his State, had said to G. F. Mercer, also a member, "Within two weeks Van Buren will become perfectly acquainted with the views and feelings of every member, yet no man will know his."
This prediction was verified, and Mr. Van Buren soon became the directing spirit among the friends of General Jackson, although no one was ever able to quote his views. Taking Aaron Burr as his political model, but leading an irreproachable private life, he rose by his ability to plan and execute with consummate skill the most difficult political intrigues. He was rather under the medium height, with a high forehead, a quick eye, and pleasing features. He made attitude and deportment a study, and when, on his leaving the Senate, his household furniture was sold at auction it was noticed that the carpet before a large looking-glass in his study was worn and threadbare. It was there that he had rehearsed his speeches.
The "Father of the Senate" was Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina, who had served in the ranks during the Revolution, and then in the Senate of North Carolina. He was elected to the Second Congress, taking his seat in October, 1791, and after having been re-elected eleven times, generally without opposition, he was transferred to the Senate in 1815, and re-elected until he declined in 1828, making thirty-seven years of continuous Congressional service. At the very commencement of his Congressional career he energetically opposed the financial schemes of Alexander Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury, and throughout his political career he was a "strict, severe, and stringent" Democrat. Personally Mr. Macon was a genial companion. He had none of that moroseness at the fireside which often accompanies political distinction, and it was said that at his home he was the kindest and most beloved of slave- masters.
Colonel Thomas Hart Benton, who had earned the military title in the army during the war with Great Britain, was a large, heavily framed man, with black curly hair and whiskers, prominent features, and a stentorian voice. He wore the high, black-silk neck-stock and the double-breasted frock-coat of his youthful times during his thirty years' career in the Senate, varying with the seasons the materials of which his pantaloons were made, but never the fashion in which they were cut. When in debate, outraging every customary propriety of language, he would rush forward with blunt fury upon every obstacle, like the huge, wild buffaloes then ranging the prairies of his adopted State, whose paths, he used to subsequently assert, would show the way through the passes of the Rocky Mountains. He was not a popular speaker, and when he took the floor occupants of the galleries invariably began to leave, while many Senators devoted themselves to their correspondence. In private life Colonel Benton was gentleness and domestic affection personified, and a desire to have his children profit by the superior advantages for their education in the District of Columbia kept him from his constituents in Missouri, where a new generation of voters grew up who did not know him and who would not follow his political lead, while he was ignorant of their views on the question of slavery.
Senator Randolph, of Virginia, attracted the most attention on the part of strangers. He was at least six feet in height, with long limbs, an ill-proportioned body, and a small, round head. Claiming descent from Pocahontas, he wore his coarse, black hair long, parted in the middle, and combed down on either side of his sallow face. His small, black eyes were expressive in their rapid glances, especially when he was engaged in debate, and his high-toned and thin voice would ring through the Senate Chamber like the shrill scream of an angry vixen. He generally wore a full suit of heavy, drab-colored English broadcloth, the high, rolling collar of his surtout coat almost concealing his head, while the skirts hung in voluminous folds about his knee-breeches and the white leather tops of his boots. He used to enter the Senate Chamber wearing a pair of silver spurs, carrying a heavy riding-whip, and followed by a favorite hound, which crouched beneath his desk. He wrote, and occasionally spoke, in riding-gloves, and it was his favorite gesture to point the long index finger of his right hand at his opponent as he hurled forth tropes and figures of speech at him. Every ten or fifteen minutes, while he occupied the floor, he would exclaim in a low voice, "Tims, more porter!" and the assistant doorkeeper would hand him a foaming tumbler of potent malt liquor, which he would hurriedly drink, and then proceed with his remarks, often thus drinking three or four quarts in an afternoon. He was not choice in his selection of epithets, and as Mr. Calhoun took the ground that he did not have the power to call a Senator to order, the irate Virginian pronounced President Adams "a traitor," Daniel Webster "a vile slanderer," John Holmes "a dangerous fool," and Edward Livingston "the most contemptible and degraded of beings, whom no man ought to touch, unless with a pair of tongs." One day, while he was speaking with great freedom of abuse of Mr. Webster, then a member of the House, a Senator informed him in an undertone that Mrs. Webster was in the gallery. He had not the delicacy to desist, however, until he had fully emptied the vials of his wrath. Then he set upon Mr. Speaker Taylor, and after abusing him soundly he turned sarcastically to the gentleman who had informed him of Mrs. Webster's presence, and asked, "Is Mrs. Taylor present also?"
Henry Clay was frequently the object of Mr. Randolph's denunciations, which he bore patiently until the "Lord of Roanoke" spoke, one day, of the reported alliance between the President and the Secretary of State as the "coalition of Bilfil and Black George—the combination, unheard of till then, of the Puritan and the blackleg." Mr. Clay at once wrote to know whether he had intended to call him a political gambler, or to attach the infamy of such epithets to his private life. Mr. Randolph declined to give any explanation, and a duel was fought without bloodshed.
Mr. Randolph, on another occasion, deliberately insulted Mr. James Lloyd, one of "the solid men of Boston," then a Senator from Massachusetts, who had, in accordance with the custom, introduced upon the floor of the Senate one of his constituents, Major Benjamin Russell, the editor of the Columbian Sentinel. The sight of a Federal editor aroused Mr. Randolph's anger, and he at once insolently demanded that the floor of the Senate be cleared, forcing Major Russell to retire. Mr. Lloyd took the first opportunity to express his opinion of this gratuitous insult, and declared, in very forcible language, that, as he had introduced Major Russell on the floor, he was responsible therefor. Mr. Randolph indulged in a little gasconade, in which he announced that his carriage was waiting at the door to convey him to Baltimore, and at the conclusion of his remarks he left the Senate Chamber and the city. Mr. Calhoun, who had not attempted to check Mr. Randolph, lamented from the chair that anything should have happened to mar the harmony of the Senate, and again declared that he had not power to call a Senator to order, nor would he for ten thousand worlds look like a usurper.
Senator Tazewell, Mr. Randolph's colleague, was a first-class Virginia abstractionist and an avowed hater of New England. Dining one day at the White House, he provoked the President by offensively asserting that he had "never known a Unitarian who did not believe in the sea-serpent." Soon afterward Mr. Tazewell spoke of the different kinds of wines, and declared that Tokay and Rhenish wine were alike in taste. "Sir," said Mr. Adams, "I do not believe that you ever drank a drop of Tokay in your life." For this remark the President subsequently sent an apology to Mr. Tazewell, but the Virginia Senator never forgot or forgave the remark.
William Henry Harrison, a tall, spare, gray-haired gentleman, who had gone from his Virginia home into the Western wilderness as aid- de-camp to General Anthony Wayne, had been elected a Senator from the State of Ohio, but probably never dreamed that in years to come he would be elected President by an immense majority, with John Tyler on the ticket as Vice-President. Colonel Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, had, however, begun to electioneer for the Democratic nomination for the Vice-Presidency, basing his claim upon his having shot Tecumseh at the battle of the Thames, and he was finally successful. He was of medium size, with large features, and light auburn hair, and his private life was attacked without mercy by his political opponents.
John Henry Eaton, of Tennessee, was General Jackson's henchman, who had come to the Senate that he might better electioneer for his old friend and commander. William Hendricks, a Senator from Indiana, was the uncle of Thomas A. Hendricks, of a subsequent political generation. The New Hampshire Senators were Levi Woodbury and John Bell, men of decided ability and moral worth. Georgia supplied a polished and effective orator in J. McPherson Berrien. Vermont was represented by portly and good-looking Dudley Chase, who was the uncle of Chief Justice Chase, and by Horatio Seymour, of Middlebury. Maine's stalwart, blue-eyed Senator, Albion Keith Parris, was said to have filled more public offices than any other man of his age, and his colleague, John Holmes, although rude in speech and at times vulgar, was the humorous champion of the North. Ever on the watch for some unguarded expression by a Southern Senator, no sooner would one be uttered than he would pounce upon it and place the speaker in a most uncomfortable position. John Tyler one day thought that he could annoy Mr. Holmes, and asked him what had become of that political firm once mentioned in debate by John Randolph as "James Madison, Felix Grundy, John Holmes, and the Devil." Mr. Holmes rose at once. "I will tell the gentleman," said he, "what has become of the firm. The first member is dead, the second has gone into retirement, the third now addresses you, and the last has gone over to the Nullifiers, and is now electioneering among the gentleman's constituents. So the partnership is legally dissolved."
The Senators were rather exclusive, those from the South assuming the control of "good society," which was then very limited in its extent and simple in its habits. Few Senators and Representatives brought their wives to cheer their Congressional labors, and a parlor of ordinary size would contain all of those who were accustomed to attend social gatherings. The diplomats, with the officers of the army and navy stationed at headquarters, were accompanied by their wives, and there were generally a few visitors of social distinction.
The Washington assemblies were very ceremonious and exclusive. Admission was obtained only by cards of invitation, issued after long consultations among the Committeemen, and, once inside the exclusive ring, the beaux and belles bowed beneath the disciplinary rule of a master of ceremonies. No gentleman, whatever may have been his rank or calling, was permitted on the floor unless in full evening dress, with the adornment of pumps, silk stockings, and flowing cravat, unless he belonged to the army or the navy, in which case complete regimentals covered a multitude of sins. The ball, commencing with the stroke of eight precisely, opened with a rollicking country dance, and the lady selected for the honor of opening the festivities was subsequently toasted as the reigning divinity of fashion for the hour. The "minuet de la cour" and stately "quadrille," varied by the "basket dance," and, on exceptional occasions, the exhilarating "cheat," formed the staple for saltatorial performance, until the hour of eleven brought the concluding country dance, when a final squad of roysterers bobbed "up the middle and down again" to the airs of "Sir Roger de Coverly" or "Money Musk."
The music was furnished by colored performers on the violin, except on great occasions, when some of the Marine Band played an accompaniment on flutes and clarinets. The refreshments were iced lemonade, ice-cream, port wine negus, and small cakes, served in a room adjoining the dancing-hall, or brought in by the colored domestics, or by the cavalier in his own proper person, who ofttimes appeared upon the dancing-floor, elbowing his way to the lady of his adoration, in the one hand bearing well-filled glasses, and in the other sustaining a plate heaped up with cake.
The costume of the ladies was classic in its scantiness, especially at balls and parties. The fashionable ball dress was of white India crape, and five breadths, each a quarter of a yard wide, were all that was asked for to make a skirt, which only came down to the ankles, and was elaborately trimmed with a dozen or more rows of narrow flounces. Silk or cotton stockings were adorned with embroidered "clocks," and thin slippers were ornamented with silk rosettes and tiny buckles.
Those gentlemen who dressed fashionably wore "Bolivar" frock-coats of some gay-colored cloth, blue or green or claret, with large lapels and gilded buttons. Their linen was ruffled; their "Cossack" trousers were voluminous in size, and were tucked into high "Hessian" boots with gold tassels. They wore two and sometimes three waistcoats, each of different colors, and from their watch-pockets dangled a ribbon, with a bunch of large seals. When in full dress, gentlemen wore dress-coats with enormous collars and short waists, well-stuffed white cambric cravats, small-clothes, or tight-fitting pantaloons, silk stockings, and pumps.
Duels were very common, and a case of dueling pistols was a part of the outfit of the Southern and Western Congressmen, who used to spend more or less time in practicing. Imported pistols were highly prized, but the best weapons were made by a noted Philadelphia gunsmith named Derringer, who gave his name to a short pistol of his invention to be carried in the trouser's pocket for use in street fights. Some of the dueling pistols were inlaid with gold, and they all had flint-locks, as percussion caps had not been invented, nor hair triggers.
[Facsimile] Edward Everett. EDWARD EVERETT. Born in Massachusetts April 11th, 1794; was a Unitarian clergyman, and a professor at Harvard College, until elected a Representative from Massachusetts, 1825-1835; Governor of Massachusetts, 1836-1840; Minister to Great Britain, 1841-1843; President of Harvard College, 1846-1849; Secretary of State under President Fillmore, 1852-1853; United States Senator from Massachusetts, 1853-1854; died at Boston, January 15th, 1865.
CHAPTER V. PROMINENT REPRESENTATIVES OF 1827.
The Hall of the House of Representatives (now used as a National Gallery of Statuary) was a reproduction of the ancient theatre, magnificent in its effect, but so deficient in acoustic properties that it was unfit for legislative occupation. It was there that Henry Clay, then Speaker of the House, had welcomed General Lafayette as "the Nation's Guest." The contrast between the tall and graceful Kentuckian, with his sunny smile and his silver-toned voice, and the good old Marquis, with his auburn wig awry, must have been great. His reply appeared to come from a grateful heart, but it was asserted that the Speaker had written both his own words of welcome and also Lafayette's acknowledgment of them, and it became a subject of newspaper controversy, which was ended by the publication of a card signed "H. Clay," in which he positively denied the authorship, although he admitted that he had suggested the most effective sentences.
Ladies had been excluded from the galleries of the House originally, in accordance with British precedent. But one night at a party a lady expressed her regret to Hon. Fisher Ames, of Massachusetts, that she could not hear the arguments, especially his speeches. Mr. Ames gallantly replied that he knew of no reason why ladies should not hear the debates. "Then," said Mrs. Langdon, "if you will let me know when next you intend to speak, I will make up a party of ladies and we will go and hear you." The notice was given, the ladies went, and since then Congressional orators have always had fair hearers—with others perhaps not very fair.
The House was really occupied, during the administration of John Quincy Adams, in the selection of his successor. At first the political outlook was rather muddled, although keen eyes averred that they could perceive, moving restlessly to and fro, the indefinite forms of those shadows which coming events project. Different seers interpreted the phantasmal appearances in different fashions, and either endeavored to form novel combinations, or joined in raking common sewers for filth wherewith to bespatter those who were the rivals of their favorite candidates. It was then that Congressional investigating committees became a part of the political machinery of the day. The accounts of President Adams when, in former years, he was serving the country in Europe as a diplomatist; the summary execution of deserters by order of General Jackson, when he commanded the army in Florida; the bills for refurnishing the White House; the affidavits concerning the alleged bargain between the President and his Secretary of State, and the marriage of General Jackson to Mrs. Robards before she had been divorced from Mr. Robards, were, with many other scandals, paraded before the public.
Daniel Webster had been recognized in advance as the leader of the House by his appointment as chairman of the committee to inform Mr. Adams that he had been elected President. This Mr. Webster did verbally, but Mr. Adams had prepared a written reply, which had been copied by a clerk and bore his autograph signature.
Mr. Webster was at that period of his life the embodiment of health and good spirits. His stalwart frame, his massive head, crowned with a wealth of black hair, his heavy eye-brows, overhanging his great, expressive, and cavernous eyes, all distinguished him as one of the powers of the realm of the intellect—one of the few to whom Divinity has accorded a royal share of the Promethian fire of genius. His department was ceremonious, and he made a decided impression on strangers. When Jenny Lind first saw him, she was much impressed by his majestic appearance, and afterward exclaimed, "I have seen a man!"
His swarthy complexion gained him the epithet of "Black Dan." He was very proud of his complexion, which he inherited from his grandmother, Susannah Bachelder (from whom the poet Whittier also claimed descent), and he used to quote the compliment paid by General Stark, the hero of Bennington, to his father, Colonel Ebenezer Webster: "He has the black Bachelder complexion, which burnt gunpowder will not change." Although majestic in appearance, Mr. Webster was not really a very large man; in height he was only about five feet ten inches. His head looked very large, but he wore a seven and five-eighth hat, as did Mr. Clay, whose head appeared much smaller. His shoulders were very broad and his chest was very full, but his hips and lower limbs were small.
Mr. Webster had his first great sorrow then. His eldest, and at that time his only, daughter died at Washington, and the next year her mother followed her to the grave. This estimable lady, whose maiden name was Grace Fletcher, was one year older than Mr. Webster, and was the daughter of a New Hampshire clergyman. While on her way to Washington with her husband, the December after he had been re-elected United States Senator by a nearly two-thirds vote in each branch of the "General Court" of Massachusetts, she was taken fatally ill at the house of Mr. Webster's friend, Dr. Perkins, where they were guests.