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Accession No 





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. 


The Veteran Journalist, Clerk of the Senate Printing Records , Editor of the Congressional 

Directory , and Author of various Works. 


Vo i.. I. 


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 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



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. 


T HE public favor with which the journalistic writings of 
the subscriber have been received prompted the publica¬ 
tion 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 assem¬ 
bled ” 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 recol¬ 
lection 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 flat¬ 
tery, while others have their brains addled by brooding on some 
fancied wrong, or their minds have lost their even poise by dwell¬ 
ing 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 

Confident of the exact truthfulness of the sketches here edven, 

o y 

this work is presented, without apologies, to a generous public as 
the result of very extensive observation. 


Indian Hill Farm, 

Near Newburyport, Mass. 





The Tenth Presidential Election -A Political 

A Scene in the House-Inauguration of J. Q- Ada p rivate gec _ 

istration—The “s of ‘he ‘^Tpresident Adam5 - Daily Life- 

S^e-The Rival Candidates-The Death of Two 






Travel by Stage and Steamboat-Boston to York 

Providence-The Long Island Sound ^e^-NewJoA ' Cny _ 

to Philadelphia— Philndelphia^ha Washington—Was^ng ^ 

Works of ^Art—The Rotunda-Free-Masonry-The Morgan Esc.teuient- 
Theatrical—Division of the Friends’ Society,. 



The Union Tavern—A Natal African Salute—President 
Old Georgetown—The Union isjp W c D aner Organs—The National 

George Washington—Major L En an P P Dayis T ames Gordon 

Intelligencer—The National Joj“^Washington Co^spondents-A Notable 

Briton— Garnbl'mg-Ho^cs—Senatorial Card Playing-Socia. Games of Whist, 5 o 



The Nineteenth Congress-Vice President John 

^ “T^l^-Belles of the Period-The Code of 
Honor,. iii 



Contents . 



The Representatives Hall—Admission of Ladies—Webster, of Massachusetts 
—Edward Everett—McDuffie, of South Carolina—Rhode Island’s Bajd 
Eagle—A Bargain Exposed—Retrenchment and Reform—Prominent Rep- 
resentatives—The Supreme Court—Chief Justice Marshall—Mr. Justice Wash¬ 
ington—The Christmas Holidays,. 



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 Cru¬ 
sade, ... 



Jackson’s First Annual Message—The Kitchen Cabinet—Blair, of the Globe— 
Washington Newspapers and News—The First Lady-Bird of the Press—Na¬ 
thaniel P. Willis—Peter Force—Social Enjoyments—Mrs. Trollope on Wash¬ 
ington Society—Attempt to Oust a Veteran from Office—Payment of the 
Claims on France, 



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 Span¬ 
gled Banner,. 



Rejection of Martin VanBuren—The War against the United States Bank_Nick 

Biddle, of the Bank—Re-election of General Jackson—Financial Debates 
in the Senate—Calhoun, of South Carolina—Secession Stamped Out—Union 
Proclamation—The Expunging Resolution—A Senatorial Scene—An Appeal 
from the Chair,. 



Harry of the West—Tilt between Clay and Benton—Rebuke of a Revolu¬ 
tionary Hero—Apt Oratorical Illustration—Daniel Webster’s Wit—An Ex- 



cited Visitor—The House of Representatives—General Houston Reprimanded 
—Eli Moore, of New York—Churchill C. Cambreleng—Crockett, of Ten¬ 
nessee—Embryo Presidents—Other Distinguished Representatives—A Jackson 



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 Lit¬ 
erature, .157 



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—Bou¬ 
langer’s—Location of the New Treasury Building—Hackett, the Comdeian— 

A Jealous Artist—Sumner’s First Visit to Washington—The Supreme Court 
and its Justices,...170 



Van Buren as Vice-President—Henry Clay as Champion of the Bank—Wash¬ 
ington’s Centennial 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,.184 



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 Ex¬ 
cuses—The Graves and Cilley Duel—A Congressional Comedian,.198 



The Slavery Agitation—Early Secession Movements—Webster on Emancipa¬ 
tion—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,.210 





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,.220 



The Harrison Campaign—Political Songs—Whig Conventions—Great Parades 
—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,.232 



The Fourteenth Presidential Election—Enter Harrison—Exit Van Buren—The 
Harrison Cabinet—Attack upon Mr. Webster—“ The Salt Boiler of the Kan¬ 
awha”—The other Cabinet Officers—Harrison’s Inaugural Message—The 
Inauguration—The Procession—Scenes at the Capitol—The Inaugural Ad¬ 
dress—President Harrison’s First Reception—Inauguration Balls,.243 



Civil Service Reform—Differences of Opinion—Difficulty between Clay and 
King—Washington Correspondents—Verbatim Reports of Debates—A Popu¬ 
lar British Minister—Other Foreign Diplomats—Quarrelsome Carolinians— 
Daniel Webster’s Housekeeping—Illness of President Harrison—Death— 
Funeral—The Last Honors,.256 



“ Le Roi Est Mort; Vive le Roi”—Extra Session of Congress—Trouble in 
the Whig Camp—Edward Everett before the Senate—Thurlow Weed—Dis¬ 
sensions among the Whigs—Cabinet Troubles—Congressional Criticisms— 
Cushing and Adams, of Massachusetts—Wise, of Virginia—Bagby, of Ala¬ 
bama, .269 



The Ashburton Treaty—Diplomatic Negotiations—Speech by Daniel Webster— 
Webster’s Social Life—Mr. Clay’s Nightcaps—Administration Organs— 
Justice to John Tyler,...282 





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—Diplo¬ 
matic Hospitality—Ole Bull—A Troublesome Congressman.. 



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 Elec¬ 
tric Telegraph—The New York Tribune—Resignation of Mr. Webster Re¬ 
construction of the Cabinet—Fatal Accident on the Princeton Marriage of 
President Tyler,.. 



John C. Calhoun, Secretary of State—How Tyler was Managed—Admission 
of Texas—Douglas, of Illinois—An Able House of Representatives—An Ex¬ 
citing Campaign—President Tyler’s Programme—Nomination of Henry 
Cl ay—The Democratic Ticket—Surprise of George M. Dallas—The Liberty 
Party—Exit John Tyler,... 3 H 



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,. 3 2 ^ 



Washington Society—An Old Whig Supper—Death of John Quincy Adams— 
Abraham Lincoln in the House—Jefferson Davis a Representative The 
Democratic Nomination—Lewis Cass, of Michigan —1 he Whig Convention 

_Daniel Webster and Henry Clay—Nomination of General Taylor—Letter 

of Acceptance—The Free-Soil Movement—Inception of the Great Con¬ 
spiracy, .. 



President Taylor and His Secretary—Selection of the Taylor Cabinet—The 
Taylor Family—Jefferson Davis—Inauguration Ceremonies—Office-Seekers— 


Contents . 

Patronage and Spoils—The Galphin, Gardiner, and other Claims—The Tay¬ 
lor Administration—The White House, . 



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—Jeffer¬ 
son Davis’ Leadership—John P. Hale, of New Hampshire,. 



Sam Houston, of Texas—Seward, of New York—Buchanan, of Pennsylvania- 

Agricultural Donations—Diplomatic Representatives—Social Enjoyments_ 

Withrop’s Farewell Supper—Fatal Illness of General Taylor—Death of the 
President, .... 



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,. 



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 Correspond- 



“ 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, 401 



President-Making—Political Intrigues—The Democratic Convention—Nomi¬ 
nation of General Pierce—The Whig Candidates—Rivalry Between Webster 
and Fillmore The Last Whig National Convention—Death of Henry Clay_ 

Contents . 


General Scott as a Candidate—General Frank Pierce, of New Hampshire— 
Death of Daniel Webster—General Pierce Elected President,.412 



Inauguration of President Pierce—Vice-President King—The Cabinet—Popu¬ 
larity of the New President—Pryor, of Virginia—Rare Old Wines—Peale’s 
Portraits of Washington—Brady’s Portraits—Visit of Thackeray—A Copy¬ 
right Victim—Jullien’s Concerts,.424 



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,... 435 



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,.. . 447 



Sumner, of Massachusetts—The Assault on Sumner—Troublous Times—Con¬ 
gressional Courtesies—Senatorial Wit—Convention of Old Soldiers—Social 
Routine at the White House—Society Gatherings,.460 



The Crampton Difficulty—Unsuccessful French Mediation—The Diplomatic 
Corps—Information for Publication—Mr. Buchanan in England—Washing¬ 
ton Hotels—The New Hall of the House,.474 



Fessenden, of Maine—The Stirling Claim—Social Festivities—Marriage of 
Judge Douglas—Congressional Scenes—Secretary of War Davis—Art and 
Literature—George W. Childs— J. R. Bartlett.487 





Democratic Candidates for the Presidency—Janies Buchanan—Stephen A. 
Douglas—Delegates to the Cincinnati Convention—The Struggle—The Dis¬ 
organized Democracy United—Opposition Nominations—The Republican 
Convention—Election of Mr. Buchanan—Counting the Votes,.497 



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, 507 



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.519 



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 Attempt at Bribery—De¬ 
bates on the Admission of Kansas—Nocturnal Row in the House—The 
North Victorious,.528 



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.538 


Ben : Perley Poore (Steel),. Frontispiece. 


John Quincy Adams,. 22 

South Front of White House. (1825),. 24 

General Jackson. (1827),. 25 

Velocipede of 1827. (From an old Engraving),. 30 

John Adams,. 34 

Thomas Jefferson,. 35 

Stage Arrival at Dedham,. 38 

Down the Delaware,. 4 1 

To Baltimore by Steamboat,. 4 2 

East Front of Capitol. (1825),. 45 

Elias Hicks,. 47 

George Washington,. 51 

David Burns’ House,. 53 

Joseph Gales,. 55 

Colonel W. W. Seaton,. 56 

James Gordon Bennett. (From an old Engraving),. 58 

John H. Eaton,. 65 

Thomas H. Benton. (From an old Pen Sketch),. 67 

John Randolph. (From an old Caricature),. 68 

Dancing Party of the Ancient Elite,. 73 

Lafayette. (From an old Engraving),. 77 

Edward Everett,. 80 

Judge Story in his Official Robe,. 84 

Completely Floored,”. 86 

Andrew Jackson, . 89 

Old War Department,. 9 1 

John C. Calhoun,.* ' • • 95 

First Railroad Car. (From an old Engraving),. 99 

First Locomotive Engine. (From an old Engraving),.100 

Roger B. Taney. (From an old Portrait),.105 

Nathaniel P. Willis,.*. io 7 

East Room of the White House,. 1 . 112 

Daniel Webster,. XI 5 

General Robert Y. Hayne,. 1J 6 

Webster’s Reply to Hayne. (After Healy’s Picture),. 11 7 

Lieutenant Randolph’s Attack on Jackson,. 121 


List of Illustrations , 


Mrs. Eaton at Sixty-four,. 

Junius Brutus Booth,.. 

James Monroe,. 

Jackson Receiving the Delegates,. 

United States Bank at Philadelphia. (1830), . . . 

Senator John Davis,. 

The Expunged Resolution,. 

Brown’s Bust of Henry Clay,. 

Henry Clay Addressing the Senate,. 

David Crockett. (From an old Portrait),. 

General Findlay’s Land Sale,. 

Mrs. Marcia Van Ness. (From an old Portrait), . . . 

The Van Ness Mausoleum,. 

Old State Department Building,. 

General James Miller. (From an old Portrait), . . . . 

Alexander Hamilton,. 

Attempted Shooting of General Jackson,. 

The Congressional Library, .. 

Treasury Department, . 

Charles Sumner in 1834, .. 

Mount Vernon,. 

Commodore J. D. Elliott. (From an old Portrait), . . 

The Head Restored,. 

Captain Dewey’s Card, .. 

The Hermitage Birds, . •. 


Lieutenant Robert E. Lee. (From an old Portrait), . . 

Miss Fanny Kemble,. 

The Great Cheese Levee,. 

Martin Van Buren,. 

Main Floor of Capitol in 1837,. 

Camping in a Barber-Shop,. 

The Hermitage,. 

Thomas Corwin,. 

Original District of Columbia,... 

William Lloyd Garrison,. 

Joseph Holt,. 

William R. King,. 

Thaddeus Stevens,. 

Mrs. Ex-President Madison. (From an old Engraving) , 

America Vespucci,. 

After the Ladies Have Gone, .. 

Signal Service and Weather Bureau,. 

Amos Kendall,. 

Blue Room of the White House,. 

Tippecanoe Log Cabin. (From a Campaign Engraving), . 





































List of Illustrations . xiii 


A Tippecanoe Procession,.234 

General Crary Marshaling his Hosts,.236 

Hard Cider Triumphant,.237 

Horace Greeley,.238 

William H. Seward,.240 

William Henry Harrison,.244 

City Hall, Washington,.245 


Rock Creek,.• •.248 

College of Georgetown,.252 

John J. Crittenden,.257 

Decatur Mansion, The British Legation. (1841),.261 

Marshfield, the Home of Webster,.264 

The Nation in Mourning,.267 

John Tyler,.. 

Funeral of the Sub-Treasury, .271 

Rufus Choate,.274 

Caleb Cushing,.277 

Henry A. Wise,. 279 

Original Seat of the Government,.283 

The Swann House, .284 

Abbott Lawrence,.286 

Webster’s African Cook,.287 

Levi Woodbury. (From an old Portrait),.292 

> Edward Stanly. (From an old Engraving),.293 

Charles Dickens,.296 

Washington Irving,.297 

Party for Children at the White House,.299 

Ole Bull,.301 

Beau Hickman,.304 

John C. Fremont,.. 

John Howard Payne’s Monument,.398 

Samuel F. B. Morse, .... - .309 

Bursting of the Gun on the Princeton, ..312 

Stephen A. Douglas, .3x3 

Robert C. Winthrop, .3x6 

Hamilton Fish,.317 

Theodore Frelinghuysen. (From an old Portrait),.320 

Dallas Notified of his Nomination,.322 

Ex-P resident Tyler Left,.324 

James K. Polk,.327 

First Presbyterian Church, Washington, .329 

A Scramble for Supper,.330 

William L. Marcy,. 333 

Robert J. Walker,.334 

Felix Grundy,. 333 


List of Illustrations , 


Commodore Robert F. Stockton,. 339 

The Last of Earth,. 34 ° 

Black Hawk,. 34 2 

Meeting Charge of the Mexican Lancers, Buena Vista,. 343 

Alexander H. Stevens,. 344 

Thurlow Weed,. 347 

Zachary Taylor,.350 

Thomas Ewing,...351 

Reverdy Johnson,.352 

New College at Georgetown,.354 

President Taylor on the Street,.357 

Howell Cobb,.360 

Calhoun’s Last Appearance in the Senate,.366 

Salmon P. Chase,.367 

Sam Houston in the Senate,..371 

Agricultural Department,.373 

Tea-Party in Taylor’s Time,.375 

Mrs. Jessie Fremont,.376 

“Old Zach.” on “Old Whitey,”.377 

Millard Fillmore,.380 

Great Falls of the Potomac,.383 

Webster’s Response,.385 

Senate Extension of the Capitol,.387 

George Ashmun,.391 

A Row in Congress, . ..395 

The Brass Rocking-Horse, ....397 

The Famous Filibuster, General Walker,.402 

Louis Kossuth,.404 

Tweed Introducing Big Six’s Boys,.408 

Lewis Cass,.-..•• .. 4 X 3 

Chapultepec, Stormed by General Scott,.416 

Scott Entering the City of Mexico, . . ..417 

The Soldiers’ Home,.420 

Webster’s Grave at Marshfield,.4 22 

Franklin Pierce,. 4 2 5 

Eastern Portico of the Capitol,.426 

Thackeray and Major Lane,. 43 1 

Rembrandt Peale’s Washington,. 433 

Pierre Soule,.436 

John C. Breckinridge,. 439 

Mrs. Daniel L. Sickles,. 444 

Amoskeag Veterans,. 445 

Completely Eaten Out,. 449 

The Speaker’s Mace,. 45 1 

Speaker Nathaniel P. Banks,. 45 2 

Fugitive Slave Law in Operation,. 454 

List of Illustrations 



John M. Mason, .. 457 

John P. Hale, .. 458 

Preston S. Brooks, ..462 

Anson Burlingame,.463 

Lieutenant-General Scott,.465 

Old-Fashioned Rough-and-Tumble,.467 

State Dining-Room of the White House,.469 

Green Drawing-Room of the White House,.471 

Jefferson Davis,.476 

One of the Legation,.478 

Suter’s Tavern,.481 

Ebbitt House,.482 

Willard’s Hotel,.483 

New Hall of Representatives,.485 

William Pitt Fessenden,.488 

New Senate Chamber,. 491 

Derby’s Hook and Plate Attachment,.494 

James A. Bayard, ..499 

Washington's Church and Pew, Alexandria,.503 

William L. Dayton,.504 

Corcoran Gallery of Art,.508 

Patent Office and Interior Department Building,.509 

Bureau of Engraving and Printing Building,.510 

General Quitman,.512 

James Buchanan, . -. 514 

Main Entrance to White House. (1857),.515 

Miss Harriet Lane,.522 

Secretary J. Thompson,.523 

An Assembly in Buchanan’s Time,.526 

A Surprising Discovery, ..525 

General Thomas J. Rusk,.529 

John Slidell,.530 

Henry Wilson,.532 

A Fight by Night,.533 

An Old-Time Mammy in her Old-Time Home,.539 

The Wake at Coyle’s,.543 

Initiation Services of Knights of Malta,.546 



Andrew Jackson, . 36 

John Quincy Adams, . 49 

William Harris Crawford.. 62 

Edward Everett,. 75 

Henry Clay, . 87 

John Caldwell Calhoun,.101 

Silas Wright, Jr.,.113 

Daniel Webster, .128 

Thomas Hart Benton,.142 

Richard Mentor Johnson, .156 

Alexander Hamilton Stephens, 169 

Andrew Stevenson, .183 

William Rufus King, . 197 

Martin Van Buren,.209 

Tristam Burgess,.219 

William Learned Marcy, .231 

Thomas Corwin,. 242 

William Henry Harrison,.255 

Thomas Ewing, ..268 

Franklin Pierce,.281 

Rufus Choate, .290 

Felix Grundy,. 3 ° 2 

Caleb Cushing,. 3 X 3 

Stephen Arnold Douglas,. 3 2 5 

James Knox Polk, . 337 



List of Autographs. 

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, . 


• 348 

• 358 
. 368 

• 378 

• 389 
. 400 
. 41 I 

• 423 

• 434 
. 446 

• 459 

• 473 
. 486 
. 496 
. 506 
. 518 

• 527 

• 537 

• 547 

Perley’s Reminiscences 

VOL. I. 


; / 


■ 5(p1& 9 f j5 ft 



J OHN QUINCY ADAMS was elected President of 
the United States by the House of Representa¬ 
tives on Febrnary 9th, 1825. At the tenth popu¬ 
lar 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 Massachu¬ 
setts, 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 Repre¬ 
sentatives, who received thirty-seven electoral votes—■ 
in all two hundred and sixty-one electoral votes. As 
neither candidate had received the requisite maj ority of 
one hundred and thirty-one electoral votes, the election 
of a President devolved upon the House of Represen¬ 
tatives, in which body each State would have one vote. 
As the Constitution required that the choice of the 

21 - 

22 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

House be confined to tbe 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. Ex¬ 
ercising, 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 cer¬ 
tain degree instructed him, by passing a joint resolu¬ 
tion declaring its preference for Jackson over Adams, 
and Jackson always believed that had he accepted over- 

Barefaced Corruption. 


tures made to him, for the promise of the Department 
of State to Mr. Clay, that would have insured his 

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 Representa¬ 
tive from Pennsylvania, and as positively denied by 
Mr. Clay. General Jackson wrote to Major Lewis : 
“So, yon 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 ma¬ 
jority. This was formally announced by Vice-Presi¬ 
dent 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. 


Perlef s Reminiscences 

The election was by States. Bach 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. 


1 * 



ft II 

l,:jf 1 f 

K V 

1 Pill oii'V 

1 IrhI ■ n j j! 

i|lip m 



Daniel Webster, the teller of Massachusetts, was ap¬ 
pointed 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 

John Quincy Adams Elected. 


were in some degree doubtful, and there was intense 
interest manifested as their votes were announced. 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 Jack- 
son, and four States had 
voted for William H. 

Crawford. Mr. Speaker 
Clay then announced, in 
sonorous tones: “John 
Quincy Adams, having 
received a maj ority of the 
votes cast, is duly elected 
President of the United 
States for four years, from 
the 4th of March next 

A shout arose from the 
occupants of the galle¬ 
ries, which Mr. McDuffie 
promptly asked might be 
cleared. The vote was 
carried, and a young man, 
who was Deputy Ser- 
geant-at-Arms, mounting 

to the broad stone coi- general jackson. 

nice, 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 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

obeyed, to tbe astonishment of some of the foreign 
ministers present, who had been accustomed to see 
armed guards at such assemblages, and often to wit¬ 
ness their unsuccessful attempts to move the populace. 
The House soon afterward adjourned. 

That evening President Monroe gave a public recep¬ 
tion 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 yon see, is devoted to the fair. I hope yon 
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 : u Very well, sir 5 I 
hope General Jackson is well! ” The military hero was 
genial and gracious, while the nnamiable 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 Dnddington, 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 pres- 

Inauguration of Adams. 


ent 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 promi¬ 
nent officials, while the galleries were filled with hand¬ 
somely 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 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 princi¬ 
ples 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 quali- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

fied 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 Analos- 
tan 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, Lieu¬ 
tenant 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 Mes- 
dames Maintenon and Pompadour are said to have con¬ 
trolled 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 those who were with him to Mrs. 
Adams, who received 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 


A Scuffle in the Rotunda. 

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 correspond¬ 
ence 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. Wit¬ 
nesses were examined and elaborate reports were drawn 
up, but neither the majority nor the minority recom¬ 
mended that any punishment be inflicted upon Mr. 

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 Ramsay, 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 Vir¬ 
ginia reel with great spirit. 


Perley's Reminiscences 

The foreign diplomats were recognized as leaders in 
Washington society, and one of the Secretaries of 
Legation created a sensation by appearing on Pennsyl¬ 
vania 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 

Furniture for the White House. 3 1 

in a dilapidated condition. Thirty thousand dollars 
had been appropriated by Congress for the purchase of 
new furniture during the Administration of Mr. Mon¬ 
roe; 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 an appropria¬ 
tion of fourteen thousand dollars was made, to be 
expended under the direction of Mr. Adams, for furni¬ 
ture, 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 hospi¬ 
talities of the White House. The stiff formality 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 horse¬ 
back 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 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

chapters of the Bible and then glanced over the morn¬ 
ing papers until nine, when he breakfasted. From ten 
until four he remained in the Executive Office, presid¬ 
ing over Cabinet meetings, receiving visitors, or con¬ 
sidering 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 


On one occasion Mr. Adams imperiled his life by 
attempting to cross the Potomac in a small boat, ac¬ 
companied by his son John and by his steward, Michael 
Antoine Ginsta, who had entered his service at Amster¬ 
dam 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, An¬ 
toine 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 Revolution¬ 
ary 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 

Presidential Gardening. 


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 distri¬ 
bution of seeds to rural constituents 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 th£ 
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 appoint¬ 
ment 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 accord¬ 
ingly began to create the Whig party, of which he 
naturally became the leader. 

Mr. Clay made a good Secretary of State, but his 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

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 pos¬ 
sessing 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 fea¬ 
tures were lighted up by a winning smile, the gestures 
of his long arms were graceful, and the gentle accents 


A Man of the People . 

of his mellow voice were persuasive and winning. Yet 
there has never been a more imperious despot in politi¬ 
cal affairs than Mr. Clay. He regarded himself as the 
head-centre of his party —Me tat , 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 



Perley s Reminiscences. 


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 Inde¬ 
pendence, passed hence on the Fourth of July, 1826, 
the fiftieth anniversary of their signing the Magna 
Charta of our Republic. Their names had been insep¬ 
arably 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 In¬ 
dependence, the other was pronounced “ the pillar of its 
support and its ablest advocate and defender.” Mr. 
Jefferson called Mr. Adams u the Colossus of the Con¬ 
gress,” 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. 

Andrew Jackson, born in North Carolina, March 15th, 1767; Representative in Congress and 
Senator from Tennessee ; Judge of the State Supreme Court of Tennessee; Major-General; Gover¬ 
nor of Florida; President of the United States, 1829-1837; died near Nashville, Tennessee, January 
8th, 1845. 




T HE old stage route between Boston and New 
, York, before John Quincy Adams was Presi¬ 
dent, 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 t° 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 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

waiting. The large brass door knockers were vigor¬ 
ously 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 


Old Time Traveling. 

been “picked up,” the stages returned to the stage 
office, where the 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 trav¬ 
elers used to see that their luggage was safe. 

Providence was in due time reached, and the proces¬ 
sion 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 


Per ley’s Reminiscences. 

table, having seated near him any distinguished pas¬ 
sengers. 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 remem¬ 
bered, did not reach up Manhattan Island above the 
vicinity of Broome or Spring Streets, although there 
were beyond that the villages of Greenwich, Blooming- 
dale, 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 steam¬ 
boat 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 attrac¬ 

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 

Perilous Places. 


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 baggage 
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 oppo¬ 
sition 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 a 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 old 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 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

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 at 
Hagerstown and in Alexandria. A glance at the trav¬ 
elers as they alighted and were ushered by him into 

Jesse Brown's Hospitality . 


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 excellences 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. u 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 
drunk by the guests without additional charge therefor. 
A bottle of real old Madeira imported into Alexandria 


Perleys Reminiscences. 

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 unadul¬ 
terated liquor and lump sugar, and the charge was 
twelve and a half cents a drink. 

On the Fourth of July, the 2 2d 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 De¬ 
partments 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 

Completion of the Old Capitol. 


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 build¬ 
ing finished when the British occupied Washington, 
were burned, with their contents, including the Con¬ 
gressional 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 Capi¬ 
tol 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. 


Perley's Reminiscences, 

War is represented by a stalwart gymnast with a pro¬ 
fuse development of muscle and a benign expression 
of countenance, partially encased in ancient Roman 
armor, while Peace is a matronly dame, somewhat ad¬ 
vanced 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 propor¬ 
tions, 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 Caus- 
ici, 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 pro¬ 
ductions were thus interpreted by Grizzly Bear, a Men¬ 
ominee 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, plung¬ 
ing 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 pre¬ 
sented a busy and motley scene every morning prior to 

Free-Masonry in Washington. 


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 cru¬ 
sade. It was asserted 
that Morgan, who 
had written and print¬ 
ed a book which pro¬ 
fessed to reveal the 


secrets of Free-Ma¬ 
sonry, had been kid¬ 
napped, 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 



Perleys Reminiscences . 

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 chil¬ 
dren 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 princi¬ 
pally 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 influen¬ 
tial 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 meet¬ 
ing-houses, the men sitting on nnpainted benches on 
one side and the women on the other. The con- 

Old Time Quakers. 


gregation 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. 

o3 effort iaA* 

John Quincy Adams —son of John Adams—was born at Braintree, Massachusetts, July nth, 
1767; Minister to the Netherlands and Prussia, 1794-1801; United States Senator, 1803-1808; Pro- 
fessor 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. 






G EORGETOWN, now called u West Washing¬ 
ton,” was originally laid out as a town in 
1751, and settled by the Scotch agents of En¬ 
glish 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 

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. 

Navigating the Potomac. 51 

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 

george Washington. 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

The “ gondolas ” brought down considerable quanti¬ 
ties 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 the 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-patron¬ 
ized 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 stage¬ 
coach with seats on the top and called the “Royal 

When my mother was born at 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 George¬ 
town, 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 George- 

David Burns' Donations. 


town 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. Washing¬ 

ton agreed with the Commissioners that what is now 
Eafayette 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 


Perleyis Reminiscences . 

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.” Ulti¬ 
mately, 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 introduc¬ 
tion 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. Un¬ 
der his arm he generally carried a roll of papers rela- 

Newspaper Organs. 


ting 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 re¬ 
ceived a home in the family of Mr. Digges, near Wash¬ 
ington, in whose garden his remains were interred 
when he died. 

Newspaper “ organs ” formed an important feature 
of the early political machinery at Washington. Rail¬ 
roads, as well as the 
magnetic telegraph, 
were then unknown, 
and it took two days 
or more for the trans¬ 
mission of intelligence 
between the Federal 
Metropolis and New 
York, while it was a 
week or two in reach¬ 
ing Portland,St. Louis, 

New Orleans, or Sa¬ 
vannah. This made 
it advisable for each 
successive Adminis¬ 
tration to have a news- Joseph gales. 

paper published at 

Washington which would reliably inform the subordi¬ 
nate 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 Gen¬ 
eral Jackson. Mr. Joseph Gales, its editor, wrote pon¬ 
derous leaders on the political questions of the day, 
and occasionally reported, in short-hand, the speeches 


Parley's Reminiscences. 

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 Jour¬ 
nal had been estab¬ 
lished as a Calhoun 
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 re¬ 
porter. In 1825 the 
paper was purchased 
by Peter Force and 
became the “ hand- 
organ ” of all the ele¬ 
ments of opposition to 
General Jackson. Such abusive articles and scurrilous 
remarks as the dignified Natiojial 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 influ- 


Correspondents in Washington. 


ential 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 after¬ 
ward, and was boasting that the elevation of Mr. 
Jefferson was brought about solely by the manage¬ 
ment of Tammany Hall. Mr. Jefferson was a philos¬ 
opher, 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 Presi¬ 
dent, 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 Ameri¬ 
can 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 corres¬ 
pondent 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 yon 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 

James Gordon Bennett in 1828, when in his thirtieth 


Per ley s Reminiscences. 

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 probable 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 
james Gordon bennett. wives and daugh¬ 

ters 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 Wash¬ 
ington, 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 ap- 

Prominent Newspaper Men. 


pointment of Consul to Tunis, lie 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 scat¬ 
tered Jews and of rebuilding Jerusalem. Grand Island, 
in the Niagara River, above Niagara Falls, was desig¬ 
nated as the rendezvous, and Major Noah’s proclama¬ 
tion, 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 over¬ 
hung 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 intu¬ 
itive 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 


Among the other newspaper men in Washington 
were William Hayden, Congressional reporter for the 

6 o 

Per ley' s Rem in iscences. 

National Intelligencer , who afterward succeeded Mr. 
Houghton as editor of the Boston Atlas; Lund Wash¬ 
ington, equally famed as a performer on the violin and a 
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 Represen¬ 
tative 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. Wil¬ 
liam F. Thornton, Superintendent of the Patent Office, 
who had by personal appeals to his conquering country¬ 
men, 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, ]Vlr. 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 accom¬ 
plished wife, it became known that she was the daughter 
of the unfortunate Dr. Dodd, of London, who was 
executed for forgery in 1 777 * 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 

Gamblers and Gambling. 


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 sidewalk 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 Mont- 
joy 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 oc¬ 
casionally 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 offi¬ 
cial duties required his presence in the Senate Cham¬ 
ber. Stokes remonstrated, but the Sergeant-at-Arms 
persisted, and rose from the table, the Senator grum¬ 
bling and declaring that had he 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 “ Con¬ 
gressional 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 


Perleys Reminiscences. 

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 patron¬ 
ized by the members of the foreign legations or visit¬ 
ing young men from the Northern cities. Ten-pin 
alleys were abundant, and some of the muscular Con¬ 
gressmen 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. 

William Harris Crawford was born in Virginia, February 24^,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. 





T HE 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 ac¬ 
commodation 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 to him was 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. Re- 


64 Perlefs Reminiscences. 

garding each Senator as an Ambassador from a sove¬ 
reign 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 avertf 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 coun¬ 
tenance rarely brightened by a smile, and with his long, 
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 he 
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 be¬ 
lieve 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 sus¬ 
pected 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 

Van BureVs Intrigues. 


views and feelings of every member, yet no man will 
know bis.” 

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 to execute with consummate 
skill the most difficult political intrigues. He was 
rather under the 
medium height, 
with a high fore¬ 
head, a quick eye, 
and pleasing fea¬ 
tures. He made 
attitude and de¬ 
portment a study, 
and when, on his 
leaving the Senate, 
his household fur¬ 
niture was sold at 
auction it was no¬ 
ticed that the car¬ 
pet before a large 
looking - glass in 
his study was worn 

threadbare. It was there that he had rehearsed his 

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 Caro¬ 
lina. 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 




Per ley s Reminiscences. 

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 ener¬ 
getically opposed the financial schemes of Alexander 
Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury, and through¬ 
out 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 distinc¬ 
tion, and it was said that at his home he was the kind¬ 
est and most beloved of slave-masters. 

Colonel Thomas Hart Benton, who had earned his 
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 sten¬ 
torian 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 pro¬ 
priety of language, he would rush forward with blind 
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 corres¬ 
pondence. In private life Colonel Benton was gentle¬ 
ness 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 

Benton and His Constituents. 67 


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, 

68 Perley's Reminiscences. 

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 

Randolph's Eccentricities. 


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 tone, “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 Ed¬ 
ward 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 sar¬ 
castically to the gentleman who had informed him of 
Mrs. Webster’s presence, and asked, u Is Mrs. Taylor 
present also ?” 

Henry Clay was frequently the object of Mr. Ran- 

7 ° 

Per leys Reminiscences. 

dolph’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 Blifil and Black George—the 
combination, unheard of till then, of the Puritan and 
the blackleg.” Mr. Clay at once wrote to know whether 
he 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 in¬ 
sulted 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. Ran¬ 
dolph, lamented from the chair that anything should 
have happened to mar the harmony of the Senate, and 
again declared that he had no 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 

A Shot that Paid. 

7 1 

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 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 re- 


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-Piesi- 
dent. Colonel Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, had, 
however, begun to electioneer for the Democratic nomi¬ 
nation 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 pri¬ 
vate life was attacked without mercy by his political 


John Henry Eaton, of Tennessee, was General Jack¬ 
son’s henchman, who had come to the Senate that he 
might the better electioneer for his old friend and com¬ 
mander. William Hendricks, a Senator from Indiana, 
was the uncle of Thomas A. Hendricks, of a subse¬ 
quent political generation. The New Hampshire Sen¬ 
ators were Eevi Woodbury and John Bell, men of de 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

cided 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 South¬ 
ern 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 that 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 Nulli- 
fiers, 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 or 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. 

Ceremonious Assemblages. 


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 ling, 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 com¬ 
plete regimentals covered a multitude of sins. The 


Per leys Reminiscences. 

ball, commencing upon 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 ex¬ 
ceptional 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 
u 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 scanti¬ 
ness, 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 stock¬ 
ings were adorned with embroidered “ clocks,” and thin 
slippers were ornamented with silk rosettes and tiny 

Those gentlemen who dressed fashionably 


Dandyism and Duelling . 


■« 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 “ Hes¬ 
sian ” 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 pis 
tols 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 Philadel¬ 
phia 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. 






T HB Hall of the House of Representatives (now 
used as a National Gallery of Statuary) was 
a reproduction of the ancient theatre, magni¬ 
ficent in its effect, but so deficient in acoustic proper¬ 
ties 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,” 1 
in which he positively denied the authorship, although 
he admitted that he had suggested the most effective 


Ladies Excluded . 


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 to 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 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

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 adminis¬ 
tration 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 Gen¬ 
eral Jackson, when he commanded the army in Florida ; 
the bills for refurnishing the White House ; the affida¬ 
vits concerning the alleged bargain between the Presi¬ 
dent 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 chair¬ 
man 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 auto¬ 
graph signature. 

“ Black Dan.” 


Mr. Webster was at that period of his life the em¬ 
bodiment 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 cavernons eyes, all distinguished him 
as one of the powers of the realm of intellect one of 
the few to whom Divinity has accorded a royal share of 
the Promethian fire of genius. His deportment 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 after¬ 
ward 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, Col¬ 
onel Ebenezer Webster: u 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 Washing¬ 
ton, 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, 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

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. 

Mr. Webster had begun at that time to be disturbed 
about his money matters, although he should have 
been in a prosperous pecuniary condition. His profes¬ 
sional income 
could not have 
been less than 
twenty thousand 
dollars a year, and 
he had just receiv¬ 
ed seventy thou¬ 
sand, dollars as his 
five per cent, fee as 
counsel for the 
claimants before 
the Commissioners 
on Spanish Claims, 
but he had begun 
to purchase land 
and was almost al- 
edward everett. ways harassed for 

ready money. 

Edward Everett, who was a member of the Massa¬ 
chusetts delegation in the House, had won early fame 
as a popular preacher of the gospel, as a professor at 
Harvard College, and as the editor of the North Ameri¬ 
can Review. Placed by his marriage above want, he 
became noted for his profound learning and persuasive 
eloquence. At times he was almost electrical in his 
utterances; his reasoning was logical and luminous, 

Giants of the House. 


and his remarks always gave evidence of careful study. 
As a politician Mr. Everett was not successful. The 
personification of self-discipline and dignity, he was too 
much like an intellectual icicle to find favor with the 
masses,* and he was deficient in courage when any bold 
step was to be taken. 

George McDuffie, who represented the Edgefield Dis¬ 
trict of South Carolina, had been taken from labor 
in a blacksmith’s shop by Mr. Calhoun and became 
the grateful champion of his patron in the House. He 
was a spare, grim-looking man, who was an admirer of 
Milton, and who was never known to jest or to smile. 
As a debater he had few equals in the House, but he 
failed when, during the discussion of the Panama Mis¬ 
sion question, he opened his batteries upon Mr. Web¬ 
ster. The a expounder of the Constitution ” retorted 
with great force, reminding the gentleman from South 
Carolina that noisy declamation was not logic, and that 
he should not apply coarse epithets to the President, 
who could not reply to them. Mr. Webster then went 
on to say that he would furnish the gentleman from 
South Carolina with high authority on the point to 
which he had objected, and quoted from a speech by Mr. 
Calhoun which effectually extinguished Mr. McDuffie. 

Tristam Burgess, of Rhode Island, who had a snowy 
head and a Roman nose, was called “ the bald eagle of 
the House.” Although under fifty years of age, his 
white hair and bent form gave him a patriarchal look 
and added to the effect of his fervid eloquence and his 
withering sarcasm. A man of iron heart, he was ever 
anxious to meet his antagonists, haughty in his rude 
self-confidence, and exhaustive in the use of every 
expletive of abuse permitted by parliamentary usage. 
In debate he resembled one of the old soldiers who 


Per ley s Reminiscences. 

fought on foot or on horseback, with heavy or light 
arms, a battle-axe or a spear. The champion of the 
North, he divided the South and thrashed and slashed 
as did old Horatius, when with his good sword he stood 
upon the bridge and with his single arm defended 

George Kremer, of Pennsylvania, was probably the 
most unpopular man in the House. An anonymous 
letter had appeared just before the election of President 
by the Representatives denouncing an “ unholy coali¬ 
tion ” between Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay, by which the 
support of the friends of the. latter had been transferred 
to the former, “ as the planter does his negroes, or the 
farmer his team and horses.” Mr. Clay at once pub¬ 
lished a card, over his signature, in which he called the 
writer “ a base and infamous calumniator, a dastard, 
and a liar.” Mr. Kremer replied, admitting that he 
had written the letter, but in such a manner that his 
political friends were ashamed of his cowardice, while 
the admirers of Mr. Clay were very indignant—the 
more so as they suspected that Mr. James Buchanan 
had instigated the letter. 

Mr. Henry W. Dwight, of Massachusetts, a good 
specimen of u a sound mind in a sound body,” gave 
great attention to the appropriation bills, and secured 
liberal sums for carrying on the various departments of 
the Government. His most formidable antagonist was 
a self-styled reformer and physical giant, Mr. Thomas 
Chilton, of Kentucky, who had been at one period of 
his life a Baptist preacher. He declared on the floor in 
debate that he was pledged to his constituents to en¬ 
deavor to retrench the expenses of the General Govern¬ 
ment, to diminish the army and navy, to abridge the 
number of civil and diplomatic offlcials, and, above all, 

Some Smaller Men. 


to cut down the pay of Congressmen. He made speeches 
in support of all these “reforms,” but did not succeed in 
securing the discharge of a soldier, a sailor, a diplo¬ 
matist, or a clerk, neither did he reduce the appropria¬ 
tions one single cent. The erratic Mr. David Crockett 
was then a member of the House, but had not attracted 
public attention, although the Jackson men were angry 
because he, one of Old Hickory’s officers in the Creek 
War, was a devoted adherent of Henry Clay for the 
Presidency. One of his colleagues in the Tennessee 
delegation was Mr. James K. Polk, a rigid and uncom¬ 
promising Presbyterian, a political disciple of Macon, 
and a man of incorruptible honesty. 

Prominent among the Representatives from the State 
of New York were Messrs. Gillian C. Verplanck and 
Thomas J. Oakley, members of the legal profession, 
who were statesmen rather than politicians. Mr. George 
C. Washington, of Maryland, was the great-nephew of 
“the Father of his country,” and had inherited a por¬ 
tion of the library at Mount Vernon, which he subse¬ 
quently sold to the Boston Athenaeum. Messrs. Elisha 
Whittlesey and Samuel Vinton, Representatives from 
Ohio, were afterward for many years officers of the 
Federal Government and residents at Washington. Mr. 
Jonathan Hunt, of Vermont, a lawyer of ability, and 
one of the companions chosen by Mr. Webster, was the 
father of that gifted artist, William Morris Hunt, whose 
recent death was so generally regretted. Mr. Silas 
Wright, of New York, was then attracting attention in 
the Democratic party, of which he became a great 
leader, and which would have elected him President 
had he not shortened his life by intemperance. He 
was a solid, square-built man, with an impassive, ruddy 
face. He claimed to be a good farmer, but no orator, 

Dress in the Supreme Court. 


yet lie was noted for the compactness of his logic, 
which was unenlivened by a figure of speech or a flight 
of fancy. 

The Supreme Court then sat in the room in the base¬ 
ment of the Capitol, now occupied as a law library. It 
has an arched ceiling supported by massive pillars that 
obstruct the view, and is very badly ventilated. Bui it 
is rich in traditions of hair-powder, queues, ruffled 
shirts, knee-breeches, and buckles. Up to that time no 
Justice had ever sat upon the bench in trousers, nor 
had any lawyer ventured to plead in boots or wearing 
whiskers. Their Honors, the Chief Justice and the 
Associate Justices, wearing silk judicial robes, were 
treated with the most profound respect. When Mr. 
Clay stopped, one day, in an argument, and advancing 
to the bench, took a pinch of snuff from Judge Wash¬ 
ington’s box, saying, “ I perceive that your Honor 
sticks to the Scotch,” and then proceeded with his case, 
it excited astonishment and admiration. “ Sir,” said 
Mr. Justice Story, in relating the circumstance to a 
friend, “ I do not believe there is a man in the United 
States who could have done that but Mr. Clay. 

Chief Justice John Marshall, who had then presided 
in the Supreme Court for more than a quarter of a cen¬ 
tury, was one of the last survivors of those officers of 
the Revolutionary Army who had entered into civil 
service. He was a tall, gaunt man, with a small head 
and bright black eyes. He used to wear an unbrushed 
long-skirted black coat, a badly fitting waistcoat, and 
knee-breeches, a voluminous white cambric cravat, gen¬ 
erally soiled, and black worsted stockings, with low 
shoes and silver buckles. When upward of seventy 
years of age he still relished the pleasures of the quoit 
club or the whist table, and to the last his right hand 
never forgot its cunning with the billiard cue. 


Per ley''s Reminiscences. 

Nor did the Chief Justice ever lose his relish for a 
joke, even at his own expense. In the Law Library 
one day he fell from a step-ladder, bruising himself 
severely and scattering an armful of books in all 
directions. An attendant, full of alarm, ran to assist 
him, but his Honor drily remarked, “ That time I was 
completely floored.” 


Bushrod Washington, who had been appointed to the 
Supreme Court by President John Adams, was by in¬ 
heritance the owner of Mount Vernon, where his re¬ 
mains now lie, near those of his illustrious uncle, 
George Washington. He was a small, insignificant- 
looking man, deprived of the sight of one eye by ex¬ 
cessive study, negligent of dress, and an immoderate 

Christmas Festivities. 


snuff-taker. He was a rigid disciplinarian and a gieat 
stickler for etiquette, and on one occasion he sat for six¬ 
teen hours without leaving the bench. He was also a 
man of rare humor. 

Christmas was the popular holiday season at Was 1 
ington sixty years ago, the descendants of the Mary 
land Catholics joining the descendants of the Virginia 
Episcopalians in celebrating the advent of their Loid. 
The colored people enjoyed the festive season, and 
there was scarcely a house in W ashington in which 
there was not a well-filled punch bowl. In some 
antique silver bowls was “Daniel Webster punch, 
made of Medford rum, brandy, champagne, arrack, 
menschino, strong green tea, lemon juice, and sugar ; 
in other less expensive bowls was found a cheaper con¬ 
coction. But punch abounded everywhere, and the 
bibulous found Washington a rosy place, where jocund 
mirth and j oyful recklessness went arm in arm to flout 
vile melancholy, and kick, with ardent fervor, dull 
care out of the window. Christmas carols were sung 
in the streets by the young colored people, and yule 
logs were burned in the old houses where the fire¬ 
places had not been bricked up. 





A S the time for another Presidential election ap¬ 
proached, the friends of General Jackson com¬ 
menced active operations in his behalf. The 
prime mover in the campaign was. General John Henry 
Eaton, then a Senator from Tennessee. He had pub¬ 
lished in 1818 a brief life of the hero of New Orleans, 
which he enlarged in 1824 and published with the title,' 
“The Life of Andrew Jackson, Major-General in the 
Service of the United States, comprising a History of 
the War in the South from the Commencement of the 
Creek Campaign to the Termination of Hostilities Be¬ 
fore New Orleans.” The facts in it were obtained from 
General Jackson and his wife, but every incident of his 
life calculated to injure him in the public estimation 
was carefully suppressed. It was, however, the recog¬ 
nized text-book for Democratic editors and stump speak¬ 
ers, and although entirely unreliable, it has formed 
the basis for the lives of General Jackson since pub¬ 
lished. P 

President Adams enjoined neutrality upon his friends 


Bitter Oppositions , 


but some of them, acting with Democrats who were 
opposed to the election of General Jackson, had pub¬ 
lished and circulated, as an offset to General Eaton’s 
book, a thick pamphlet entitled, “ Reminiscences ; or, 
an Extract from the Catalogue of General Jackson’s 
Youthful Indiscretions, between the Age of Twenty- 


three and Sixty,” which contained an account of Jack¬ 
son’s fights, brawls, affrays, and duels, numbered from 
one to fourteen. Broadsides, bordered with wood-cuts 
of coffins, and known as u coffin hand-bills,” narrated 
the summary and unjust execution as deserters of a 
number of militiamen in the Elorida campaign whose 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

legal term of service had expired. Another handbill 
gave the account of General Jackson’s marriage to 
Mrs. Robards before she had been legally divorced from 
her husband. 

General Jackson’s friends also had printed and circu¬ 
lated large editions of campaign songs, the favorite 
being u The Hunters of Kentucky,” which commenced: 

“ You’ve heard, I s’pose, of New Orleans, 

’Tis famed for youth and beauty, 

There’re girls of every hue, it seems, 

From snowy white to sooty. 

Now Packenham had made his brags. 

If he that day was lucky, 

He’d have those girls and cotton-bags 
In spite of old Kentucky. 

But Jackson, he was wide awake, 

And was not scared at trifles, 

For well he knew Kentucky’s boys, 

With their death-dealing rifles. 

He led them down to cypress swamp, 

The ground was low and mucky, 

There stood John Bull in martial pomp, 

And here stood old Kentucky. 

“ Oh ! Kentucky, the hunters of Kentucky !” 

After a political campaign of unprecedented bitter¬ 
ness, General Jackson was elected, receiving one hun¬ 
dred and seventy-eight electoral votes against eighty- 
three cast for John Quincy Adams, and so a new 
chapter was commenced in the social as well as the 
political chronicles of the National Capital. Those 
who had known the Presidential successors of Wash- 
ington as educated and cultivated gentlemen, well 
versed in the courtesies of private life and of ceremo¬ 
nious statesmanship, saw them succeeded by a military 
chieftain, whose life had been u a battle and a march,” 
thickly studded with personal difficulties and duels; 

Knavery Triumphant. 9 1 

who had given repeated evidences of his disregard of 
the laws when they stood in the way of his imperious 
will ] and who, when a United States Senator, had dis¬ 
played no ability as a legislator. His election was 
notoriously the work of Martin Van Buren, inspired 
by Aaron Burr, and with his inauguration was initiated 
a sordidly selfish political system entirely at variance 
with the broad views of Washington and of Hamilton.. 

' til th 


It was assumed that every 
citizen had his price ; that 
neither virtue nor genius 
was proof against clever 

although selfish corruption ; that political honesty was 
a farce; and that the only way of governing those 
knaves who elbowed their way up through the masses 
was to rule them by cunning more acute than their 
own and by knavery more subtle and calculating than 

theirs. . 1 

Before leaving his rural home in Tennessee, General 

Jackson had been afflicted by the sudden death of his 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

wife. “ Aunt Rachel,” as Mrs. Jackson was called by 
her husband’s personal friends, had accompanied him 
to Washington when he was there as a Senator from 
Tennessee. She was a short, stout, unattractive, and 
uneducated woman, though greatly endeared to Gen¬ 
eral Jackson. While he had been in the army she had 
carefully managed his plantation, his slaves, and his 
money matters, and her devotion to him knew no 
bounds. Her happiness was centered in his, and it 
was her chief desire to smoke her corn-cob pipe in 
peace at his side. When told that he had been elected 
President of the United States, she replied, “ Well, for 
Mr. Jackson’s sake I am glad of it, but for myself I 
am not.” A few weeks later she was arrayed for the 
grave in a white satin costume which she had provided 
herself with to wear at the White House. After her 
funeral her sorrow-stricken husband came to Washing¬ 
ton with a stern determination to punish those who 
had maligned her during the preceding campaign. 
Having been told that President Adams had sanctioned 
the publication of the slanders, he did not call at the 
White House, in accordance with usage, but paid daily 
visits to his old friends in the War Department. Mr. 
Adams, stung by this neglect, determined not to play 
the part of the conquered leader of the inauguration, 
and quietly removed to the house of Commodore 
Porter, in the suburbs, on the morning of the M of 

The weather on the 4th of March, 1829, was serene 
and mild, and at an early hour Pennsylvania Avenue, 
then unpaved, with a double row of poplar trees along 
its centre, was filled with crowds of people, many of 
whom had journeyed immense distances on foot. The 
officials at Washington, who were friends of Mr. Adams, 

“Hurrah for Jackson .” 


had agreed not to participate in the inaugural ceremo¬ 
nies, and the only uniformed company of light infantry, 
commanded by Colonel Seaton, of the National Intelli¬ 
gencer , had declined to offer its services as an escort. 
A number of old Revolutionary officers, however, had 
hastily organized themselves, and waited on General 
Tackson to solicit the honor of forming his escort to 
the Capitol, an offer which was cordially accepted. The 
General rode in an open carriage which had been 
placed at his disposal, and was surrounded by these 
gallant veterans. The assembled thousands cheered 
lustily as their favorite passed along, every face radiant 
with defiant joy, and every voice shouting “ Hurrah 
for Jackson!” 

After the installation of John C. Calhoun as Vice- 
President in the Senate Chamber, the assembled digni¬ 
taries moved in procession through the rotunda to the 
east front of the Capitol. As the tall figure of the 
President-elect came out upon the portico and ascended 
the platform, uplifted hats and handkerchiefs waved a 
welcome, and shouts of Hurrah for Jackson ! rent 
the air. Rooking around for a moment into ten thou¬ 
sand upturned and exultant human faces, the Presi¬ 
dent-elect removed his hat, took the manuscript of his 
address from his pocket, and read it with great dignity. 
When he had finished, Chief Justice Marshall admin¬ 
istered the oath, and as the President, bending over the 
sacred Book, touched it with his lips, there arose such 
a shout as was never before heard in Washington, fol¬ 
lowed by the thunder of cannons, from two light bat¬ 
teries near by, echoed by the cannon at the Navy 
Yard and at the Arsenal. The crowd surged toward 
the platform, and had it not been that a ship s cable 
had been stretched across the portico steps would have 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

captured their beloved leader. As it was, he shook 
hands with hundreds, and it was with some difficulty 
that he could be escorted back to his carriage and along 
Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Mean¬ 
while Mr. Adams, who had refused to participate in the 
pageant, was taking his usual constitutional horseback 
exercise when the thunders of the cannon reached his 
ears and notified him that he was again a private citi¬ 

The broad sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue were 
again packed as the procession returned from the Capi¬ 
tol. “ I never saw such a crowd,” wrote Daniel Web¬ 
ster to a friend. u Persons have come five hundred 
miles to see General Jackson, and they really seem to 
think that the country is rescued from some dreadful 
danger.” Hunters of Kentucky and Indian fighters 
of Tennessee, with sturdy frontiersmen from the 
Northwest, were mingled in the throng with the more 
cultured dwellers on the Atlantic slope. 

On their arrival at the White House, the motley 
crowd clamored for refreshments and soon drained the 
barrels of punch, which had been prepared, in drink¬ 
ing to the health of the new Chief Magistrate. A 
great deal of china and glassware was broken, and the 
East Room was filled with a noisy mob. At one time 
General Jackson, who had retreated until he stood with 
his back against the wall, was protected by a number 
of his friends, who formed a living barrier about him. 
Such a scene had never before been witnessed at the 
White House, and the aristocratic old Federalists saw, 
to their disgust, men whose boots were covered with the 
red mud of the unpaved streets standing on the dam¬ 
ask satin-covered chairs to get a sight at the President 
of their choice. 

An Inauguration Dinner. 95 

Late in tlie afternoon President Jackson sat down to 
dinner with Vice-President Calhoun and a party of his 
personal friends, the central dish on the table being a 
sirloin from a prize ox, sent to him by John Merkle, a 
butcher of Franklin Market, New York. Before retir¬ 
ing that night, the President wrote to the donor : “ Per¬ 
mit me, sir, to assure you of the gratification which I 
felt in being enabled to place on my table so fine a speci¬ 
men of your mar¬ 
ket, and to offer you 
niy sincere thanks 
for so acceptable a 
token of your regard 
for my character.” 

This was the com¬ 
mencement of a se¬ 
ries of presents 
which poured in on 
President Jackson 
during the eight 
years of his admin¬ 

The Democratic 
journalists of the country were also well represented at 
the inauguration, attracted by this semi-official declara¬ 
tion in the Telegraph: “We know not what line of 
policy General Jackson will adopt. We take it for 
granted, however, that he will reward his friends. and 

punish his enemies.” 

The leader of this editorial phalanx was Amos Ken- 
dall, a native of Dunstable, Massachusetts, who had by 
pluck and industry acquired an education and migrated 
westward in search of fame and fortune. Accident 
made him an inmate of Henry Clay’s house and the 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

tutor of his children; but many months had not 
elapsed before the two became political foes, and Ken¬ 
dall, who had become the conductor of a Democratic 
newspaper, triumphed, bringing to Washington the 
official vote of Kentucky for Andrew Jackson, He 
found at the National metropolis other Democratic 
editors, who, like himself, had labored to bring about 
the political revolution, and they used to meet daily at 
the house of a preacher-politician, Rev. Obadiah B. 
Brown, who had strongly advocated Jackson’s election. 
Mr. Brown, who was a stout, robust man, with a great 
fund of anecdotes, was a clerk in the Post Office De¬ 
partment during the week, while on Sundays he per¬ 
formed his ministerial duties in the Baptist Church. 

. Organizing under the lead of Amos Kendall, whose 
lieutenants were the brilliant but vindicative Isaac Hill, 
of New Hampshire ; the scholarly Nathaniel Greene, of 
Massachusetts; the conservative Gideon Welles, of 
Connecticut; the jovial Major Mordecai M. Noah, of 
New York, and the energetic Dabney S. Carr, of Mary¬ 
land, the allied editors claimed their rewards. They 
were not to be appeased by sops of Government adver¬ 
tising, or by the appointment of publisher of the laws 
of the United States in the respective States, but they 
demanded some of the most lucrative public offices as 
their share of the spoils. No sooner did General Jack- 
son reach Washington then they made a systematic 
attack upon him, introducing and praising one another, 
and reciprocally magnifying their faithful services 
during the canvass so successfully ended. The result 
was that soon after the inauguration nearly fifty of 
those editors who had advocated his election were ap¬ 
pointed to official Federal positions as rewards for politi¬ 
cal services rendered. 


Official Decapitations. 

Up to that time the national elections in the United 
States had not been mere contests for the possession of 
Federal offices—there was victory and there was defeat; 
but the quadrennial encounters affected only the heads 
of departments, and the results were matters of com¬ 
parative indifference to the subordinate official drudges 
whose families depended on their pay foi meat and 
bread. A few of these department clerks were Revolu¬ 
tionary worthies*, others had followed the Federal 
Government from New York or Philadelphia, all had 
expected to hold their positions for life. Some of these 
desk-slaves had originally been Federalists, others 
Democrats \ and while there was always an Alexaudei 
Hamilton in every family of the one set, there was as 
invariably a Tkomas Jefferson in every family of the 
other set. But no subordinate clerk had ever been 
troubled on account of his political faith by a change 
of the Administration, and the sons generally succeeded 
their fathers when they died or resigned. Ordinarily, 
these clerks were good penmen and skillful accountants, 
toiling industriously eight hours every week day with¬ 
out dreaming of demanding a month s vacation in tne 
summer, or insisting upon their right to go to their 
homes to vote in the fall. National politics was to 
them a matter of profound indifference until, aftei the 
inauguration of General Jackson, hundreds of them 
found themselves decapitated by the Democratic guillo¬ 
tine, without qualifications for any other employment 
had the limited trade of Washington afforded any. 
Many of them were left in a pitiable condition, but 
when the Telegraph was asked what these uien could 
do to ward off starvation, the insolent reply was, Root, 
hog, or die!” Some of the new political brooms swept 
clean, and made a great show of reform, notably Amos 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

Kendall, who was appointed Fourth Auditor of the 
Treasury, and who soon alter exulted over the discovery 
of a defalcation of a few hundred dollars in the accounts 
of his predecessor, Dr. Tobias Watkins. 

Postmaster-General McKean, of Ohio, who had been 
avowedly a Jackson man while he was a member of 
Mr. Adams’ Administration, rebelled against the re¬ 
moval of several of his most efficient subordinates 
because of their political action during the preceding 
Presidential campaign. At last he flatly told General 
Jackson that if he must remove those postmasters 
who had taken an active part in politics, he should 
impartially turn out those who had worked to secure 
the election of General Jackson, as well as those who 
had labored to re-elect Mr. Adams. To this General 
Jackson at first made no reply, but rose from his seat, 
puffing away at his pipe; and after walking up and 
down the floor two or three times, he stopped in front 
of his rebellious Postmaster-General, and said, “ Mr. 
McLean, will you accept a seat upon the bench of the 
Supreme Court ?” The judicial position thus tendered 
was accepted with thanks, and the Post-Office Depart¬ 
ment was placed under the direction of Major Barry, 
who was invited to take a seat in the Cabinet (never 
occupied by his predecessors), and who not only made 
the desired removals and appointments, but soon 
plunged the finances of the Department into a chaotic 
state of disorder. 

Prominent among those “Jackson men” who re¬ 
ceived lucrative mail contracts from Postmaster-General 
Barry, was u Land Admiral ” Reeside, an appellation 
he owed to the executive ability which he had displayed 
in organizing mail routes between distant cities. He 
was a very tall man, well formed, with florid complex- 


An Accommodating Official. 

ion red hair, and side whiskers. Very obligingly, he 
once had a horse belonging to a Senator taken from 
Pittsburg to Washington tied behind a stage, because 
the owner had affixed hi$ “frank” to the animal s 
halter. He was the first mail contractor who ran his 
stages between Philadelphia and the West, by night as 
well as by day, and Mr. Joseph R. Chandler, of the 
United States Gazette, said that “ the Admiral could 


leave Philadelphia on a six-horse coach with a hot 
johnny-cake in his pocket and reach Pittsburg before 
it could grow cold.” He used to ridicule the locomo¬ 
tives when they were first introduced, and offer to bet a 
thousand dollars that no man could build a machine 
that would drag a stage from Washington to Baltimore 
quicker than his favorite team of iron-grays. 

Mail robberies were not uncommon in those days, 
although the crime was punishable with imprisonment 
or death. One day one of Reeside’s coaches was 
stopped near Philadelphia by three armed men, who 


Perley's Reminiscences 

ordered the nine passengers to alight and stand in a 
line. One of the robbers then mounted guard, while 
the other two made the terrified passengers deliver up 
their money and watches, aAd then rifled the mail bags. 
They were soon afterward arrested, tried, convicted, and 
one was sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary, 
while the other two were condemned to be hung. For¬ 
tunately for one of the culprits, named Wilson, he had 


some years previously, at a horse-race near Nashville, 
Tennessee, privately advised General Jackson to with¬ 
draw his bets on a horse which he was backing, as the 
jockey had been ordered to lose the race. The General 
was very thankful for this information, which enabled 
him to escape a heavy loss, and he promised his infor¬ 
mant that he would befriend him whenever an oppor¬ 
tunity should offer. When reminded of this promise, 

Opposition to Sunday Mails. 


after Wilson had been sentenced to be hanged, Jackson 
promptly commuted the sentence to ten years imprison¬ 
ment in the penitentiary. 

When Admiral Reeside was carrying the mails be¬ 
tween New York and Washington, there arose a formid¬ 
able organization in opposition to the Sunday mail 
service. The members of several religions denomina¬ 
tions were prominent in their demonstrations, and 
in Philadelphia, chains, secured by padlocks, were 
stretched across the streets on Sundays to prevent the 
passage of the mail-coaches. The subject was taken up 
by politicians, and finally came before the House of 
Representatives, where it was referred to the Committee 
on Post-Roads, of which Richard M. Johnson, of Ken¬ 
tucky, was then the chairman. The Rev. Obadiah B. 
Brown, who had meanwhile been promoted in the Post- 
office Department, wrote a report on the subject for 
Colonel Johnson, which gave “ the killer of Tecumseh ” 
an extended reputation, and was the first step toward 
his election as Vice-President, a few years later. 

John Caldwell Calhoun was born in South Carolina, March 18th, 1782 : was a Representative 
in Congress, 1811-1817; Secretary of War, 1817-1825; Vice-President, 1825-1832; United States 
Senator, 1833-1843 ; Secretary of State, 1844-1845 ; United States Senator from 1845 until his death 
at Washington City, March 31st, 1850. 




W HEN the Twenty-first Congress assembled, 
on the 7th of December, 1829, General 
Jackson sent in his first annual message, 
which naturally attracted some attention. Meeting his 
old and intimate friend, General Armstrong, the next 
day, the President said, “ Well, Bob, what do the 
people say of my message ?” “ They say,” replied 

General Armstrong, “ that it is first-rate, but nobody 
believes that you wrote it.” “Well,” good-naturedly 
replied Old Hickory, “ don’t I deserve just as 
much credit for picking out the man who could 
write it ?” Although the words of this and of the sub¬ 
sequent messages were not General Jackson’s, the 
ideas were, and he always insisted on having them 
clearly expressed. It was in his first message, by the 
way, that he invited the attention of Congress to the 
fact that the charter of the United States Bank would 
expire in 1836, and asserted that it had “ failed in the 
great end of establishing a uniform and sound cur¬ 
rency.” This was the beginning of that fierce political 

“ Old Hickory ” at Home. 


contest which resulted in the triumph of General Jack- 
son and the overthrow of the United States Bank. 

General Jackson rarely left the White House, where 
he passed the greater portion of his time in his office in 
the second story, smoking a corn-cob pipe with a long 
reed stem. He was at the commencement of his Presi¬ 
dential term sixty-two years of age, tall, spare, with a 
high forehead, from which his gray hair was brushed 
back, a decisive nose, searching, keen eyes, and, when 
good-natured, an almost childlike expression about his 
mouth. A self-reliant, prejudiced, and often very iras¬ 
cible old man, it was a very difficult task to manage 
him. Some of his Cabinet advisers made it a point to 
be always with him, to prevent others from ingratiating 
themselves into his good will, and they were thus 
chronicled in n bcillnd of the time . 

“ King Andrew had five trusty ’squires, 

Whom he held his bid to do ; 

He also had three pilot-fish, 

To give the sharks their cue. 

There was Mat and Kou and Jack and Tlv, 

And Roger, of Taney hue, 

And Blair, the book, 

And Kendall, chief cook, 

And Isaac, surnamed the true.” 

Mat. Van Buren was Secretary of State, Lou. McLane 
Secretary of the Treasury, John Branch was Secretary 
of the Navy, Lev. Woodbury was his successor, and 
Roger B. Taney was Attorney-General. Blair, Ken¬ 
dall, and Isaac Hill were also known as “ the kitchen 

The confidential advisers of General Jackson lost no 
time in establishing a daily newspaper which would 
speak his sentiments and sound a key-note for the 
guidance of his followers. The Washington Globe was 


Perkys Reminiscences. 

accordingly started on an immediate paying basis, as it 
had the name of every Federal office-holder whose 
salary exceeded one thousand dollars on its subscription 
list. The paper was sent them, and in due time the 
bill for a year. If a remittance was made, well and 
good; if payment was refused, the delinquent was told 
informally that he could pay his subscription to the 
Globe , or be replaced by some one else who would pay 
it. It was owned and edited by Blair & Rives, Rives 
attending to the business department of the establish¬ 
ment. Mr. Blair had been the partner of Amos Ken¬ 
dall in the publication of the Frankfort Argus , and 
they had both deserted Henry Clay when they enlisted 
in the movement which gave the electoral vote of Ken¬ 
tucky to General Jackson, and joined in the cry of 
“ bargain and corruption ” raised against their former 
friend. It is related that the first interview between 
Clay and Blair after this desertion was a very 
awkward one for the latter, who felt that he had 
behaved shabbily. Clay had ridden over on horseback 
from Lexington to Frankfort, in the winter season, on 
legal business, and on alighting from his horse at the 
tavern door found himself confronting Blair, who was 
just leaving the house. “ How do yon do, Mr. Blair ?” 
inquired the great commoner, in his silvery tones and 
blandest manner, at the same time extending his hand. 
Blair mechanically took the tendered hand, but was 
evidently nonplussed, and at length said, with an evi¬ 
dent effort, “ Pretty well, I thank yon, sir. How did 
you find the roads from Lexington here ?” ‘‘ The 

roads are very bad, Mr. Blair,” graciously replied Clay, 
a very bad; and I wish, sir, that you would mend your 

Mr. Blair made it a rule to defend in the columns of 

Slow Moving Mails . 


the Globe the acts of Jackson’s Administration, right or 
wrong, and he waged merciless warfare against those 
who opposed them. When Colonel William R. King, 
of Alabama, once begged him to soften an attack upon 
an erring Democrat, Mr. Blair replied, “ No! let it tear 
his heart out.” With all his political insolence, how¬ 
ever, he possessed remarkable kindness, and a more in¬ 
dulgent father was 
never known in 

The Washington 
papers, up to this 
time, contained very 
little of what has 
since been known 
as local news. A 
parade, an inaugu¬ 
ration, or the fune¬ 
ral of a distin¬ 
guished person 
would receive brief 
mention, but the 
pleasant gossip of 
the day was entirely 
ignored. It was roger b. taney. 

then necessary for 

the correspondent of a paper in a northern city to 
mail his letter at the post-office before twelve o’clock 

at night to insure its departure by the early morning’s 
mail northward. Letters written to New York did not, 
consequently, appear until the second day after they 
were written, while those sent to Boston rarely ap¬ 
peared before the fourth day. The people then were 
better posted as to what transpired at the Nation’s 

io6 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Capital than they are now, when dispatches can be 
sent in a few moments at any time of day or night. 

Mrs. Anne Royall began an enterprise in personal 
literature. She managed to secure an old Ramage 
printing-press and a font of battered long-primer type, 
with which, aided by runaway apprentices and tramp¬ 
ing journeymen printers, she published, on Capitol 
Hill, for several years, a small weekly sheet called the 
Huntress. Every person of any distinction who visited 
Washington received a call from Mrs. Royall, and if 
they subscribed for the Huntress they were described 
in the next number in a complimentary manner, but if 
they declined she abused them without mercy. When 
young she was a short, plump, and not bad-looking 
woman, but as she advanced in years her flesh disap¬ 
peared, and her nose seemed to increase in size; but 
her piercing black eyes lost none of their fire, while 
her tongue wagged more abusively when her temper 
was roused. John Quincy Adams • described her as 
going about “ like a virago-errant in enchanted armor, 
redeeming herself from the cramps of indigence by 
the notoriety of her eccentricities and the forced cur¬ 
rency they gave to her publications.” 

Mrs. Royall’s tongue at last became so unendurable 
that she was formally indicted by the Grand Jury as a 
common scold, and was tried in the Circuit Court be¬ 
fore Judge Cranch. His Honor charged the jury at 
length, reviewing the testimony and showing that, if 
found guilty, she must be ducked, in accordance with 
the English law in force in the District of Columbia. 
The jury found her guilty, but her counsel begged his 
Honor, the Judge, to weigh the matter and not be the 
first to introduce a ducking-stool. The plea prevailed 
and she was let off with a fine. 

Early u Society Letters 


The first “ Society Letters,” as they are called, writ- 
ten from Washington, were by Nathaniel P. Willis, to 
the New York Mirror. Willis was at that time a fop¬ 
pish, slender young man, with a profusion of curly, light 
hair’ and was always dressed in the height of fashion. 
He had, while traveling in Europe, mingled with the 
aristocratic classes, and he affected to look down upon 
the masses; but with all his snobbishness he had a 

wonderful faculty for 
endowing trifling oc¬ 
currences with inter¬ 
est, and his letters 
have never been sur¬ 
passed. He possess¬ 
ed a sunny nature, 
full of poetry, enthu¬ 
siasm, and cheerful¬ 
ness, and was always 
willing to say a plea¬ 
sant word for those 
who treated him 
kindly, and never 

sought to retaliate Nathaniel p. willis. 

on his enemies. 1 . 

Willis first introduced steel pens at Washing on, 

having brought over from England some of those 
made by Joseph Gillott, at Birmingham. Before tins 
goose-quill pens had been exclusively used, and ere 
was in each House of Congress and m each Depart¬ 
ment a penmaker, who knew what degree of flexibility 
and breadth of point each writer desired. Every gen¬ 
tleman had to carry a penknife, and to have in .s 
desk a hone to sharpen it on, giving the finishing 
touches on one of his boots. Another new invention 

Perley's Reminiscences. 

of that epoch was the lucifer match-box, which super¬ 
seded the large tin tinder-box with its flint and steel. 
The matches were in the upper portion of a pasteboard 
case about an inch in diameter and six inches in length 
and in a compartment beneath them was a bottle 
containing a chemical preparation, into which the 
brimstone-coated end of the match was dipped and thus 

The Mayor of Washington, during a portion of 
the Jackson Administration, was Peter Force, a noble 
specimen of those who, before the existence of trades 
unions, used to serve an apprenticeship to the “ art 
preservative of arts,” and graduate from the printing- 
office qualified to fill any political position. Fond of 
American history, Mr. Force, while printing the Bien¬ 
nial Register , better known as the Blue Book from the 
color of its binding, began to collect manuscripts, 
books,. and pamphlets, many of which had been thrown 
away in the executive departments as rubbish, and 
were purchased by him from the dealers in waste paper. 
In 1833 he originated the idea of compiling and pub¬ 
lishing a documentary history of the country, under 
the title of the American Archives , and issued a num- 
ber of large folio volumes, the profits going to the 
politicians who secured the necessary appropriations 

from Congress. He was emphatically a gentleman_ 

tall, stalwart, with bushy black hair, and large, expres¬ 
sive eyes, which would beam with joy whenever a 
friend brought him a rare autograph or pamphlet. 

Assemblies were held once a week between Christ¬ 
mas Day and Ash Wednesday, to which all of the 
respectable ladies of the city who danced were invited. 
It was also customary for those of the Cabinet officers 
and other high officials who kept house to give at least 

Customs at Parties . 


one evening party during each session of Congress, 
invitations for which were issued. The guests at these 
parties used to assemble at about eight o cloch, and 
after taking off their wraps in an upper room they 
descended to the parlor, where the host and hostess 
received them. The older men then went to the punch¬ 
bowl to criticise the “brew” which it contained, while 
the young people found their way to the dining-room, 
almost invariably devoted to dancing. The music was 
a piano and two violins, and one of the musicians 
called the figures for the cotillions and contra-dances. 
Those who did not dance elbowed their way through 
the crowd, conversing with acquaintances, the men 
frequently taking another glass of punch. At ten the 
guests were invited to the supper-table, which was often 
on the wide back porch which every Washington house 
had in those days. The table was always loaded with 
evidences of the culinary skill of the lady of the house. 
There was a roast ham at one end, a saddle of venison 
or mutton at the'other end, and some roasted poultry or 
wild ducks midway; a great variety of home-baked 
cake was a source of pride, and there was never an}/ 
lack of punch, with decanters of Madeira. The diplo¬ 
mats gave champagne, but it was seldom seen except 
at the legations. At eleven there was a general 
exodus, and after the usual scramble for hats, cloaks, 
and over-shoes the guests entered their carriages. 
Sometimes a few intimate friends of the hostess lin¬ 
gered to enjoy a contra-dance or to take a paiting 
drink of punch, but by midnight the last guest de¬ 
parted, and the servants began to blow out the candles 
with which the house had been illuminated. 

In Jackson’s first Administration the country was 
shocked by the appearance of a book entitled, The 


Perlefs Reminiscences. 

Domestic Manners of Americans , by Mrs. Frances 
Trollope. She was a bright little Englishwoman, who 
had come to this country and established a bazaar at 
Cincinnati, which proved a failure. So she sought 
revenge and wealth by a caricature sketch of our pio¬ 
neer life, founded on fact, but very unpalatable. Ex¬ 
pectoration was her pet abomination, and she was in¬ 
clined to think that this u most vile and universal habit 
of chewing tobacco ” was the cause of a remarkable 
peculiarity in the male physiognomy of Americans, the 
almost uniform thinness and compression of their lips. 
So often did Mrs. Trollope recur to this habit that she 
managed to give one the impression that this country 
was in those days a sort of huge spittoon. 

Mrs. Trollope first called attention to the fact that 
the American women did not consult the season in 
either the colors or style of their costumes, never 
wore boots, and walked in the middle of winter with 
their pretty little feet pinched into miniature slippers 
incapable of excluding as much moisture as might 
bedew a primrose. 

Removals from office that places might be provided 
for Jackson men were the order of the day, but Presi¬ 
dent Jackson was not disposed to displace any veteran 
soldier. Among other victims designated for removal 
by the politicians was General Solomon Van Rensselaer, 
whose gallant services against Great Britain in the War 
of 1812 had been rewarded by an election to the House 
of Representatives, followed by his appointment as 
Postmaster of Albany. He was a decided Federalist, 
and the petition for his removal was headed by Martin 
Van Buren and Silas Wright. 

Visiting Washington, General Van Rensselaer re¬ 
ceived a cordial greeting from General Jackson at a 

Wounds Win the Day. 


public reception, and then, taking a seat in a corner, he 
waited until the room was cleared, when he again 
approached the President, saying: “ General Jackson, 

I have come here to talk to you about my office. The 
politicians want to take it from me, and they know I 
have nothing else to live upon.” The President made 
no reply, till the aged Postmaster began to take off his 
coat in the most excited manner, when Old Hickory 
broke out with the inquiry : “ What in Heaven’s name 
are you going to do ? Why do you take off your coat 
here?” “Well, sir, I am going to show you my 
wounds, which I received in fighting for my country 
against the English !” “ Put it on at once, sir !” was 

the reply; “ I am surprised that a man of your age 
should make such an exhibition of himself,” and the 
eyes of the iron President were suffused with tears, as, 
without another word, he bade his ancient foe good 

evening. A 

The next day Messrs. Van Buren and Wright called 

at the White House and were shown up into the Presi¬ 
dent’s room, where they found him smoking a clay 
pipe. Mr. Wright soon commenced to solicit the re¬ 
moval of General Van Rensselaer, asserting that he 
had been known as a very active advocate of John 
Quincy Adams; that he had literally forfeited his 
place by his earnest opposition to the Jackson men, 
and that if he were not removed the new Administration 
would be seriously injured. He had hardly finished 
the last sentence, when Jackson sprang to his feet, 
flung his pipe into the fire, and exclaimed with great 
vehemence, “ I take the consequences, sir ; I take the 
consequences. By the Eternal! I will not remove the 
old man—I cannot remove him. Why, Mr. Wng 1 , 
do you not know that he carries more than a pound of 


Perleyis Reminiscences. 

British lead in his body ?” That settled the question, 
and General Van Rensselaer remained undisturbed as 
Postmaster at Albany through the Jackson Adminis¬ 
tration, although Martin Van Bnren, when he came 
into power, promptly “ bounced ” him. 

General Jackson’s defiant disposition was manifested 
when, in a message to Congress, he recommended that 
a law be passed authorizing reprisals upon French 


property in case provision should not be made for the 
payment of the long-standing claims against France 
at the approaching session of the French Chambers. 
Some of his Cabinet, having deemed this language too 
strong, had prevailed upon the President’s private sec¬ 
retary, Major Donelson, to modify it, and to make it 
less irritating and menacing. No sooner was it dis¬ 
covered by General Jackson than he flew into a 
great excitement, and when Mr. Rives entered his 


French Spoliation Claims. 

TI 3 

private office to obtain it for printing, he found the old 
General busily engaged in re-writmg it according to 
the original copy. “ I know them French, said he. 

“ Thev won’t pay unless they’re made to.” 

The French people were indignant when this mes¬ 
sage reached Paris, and when the Chamber of Deputies 
finally provided for the payment of the claims a pro¬ 
viso was inserted ordering the money to be withheld 
until the President of the United States had apologized 
for the language used. This General Jackson flatly 

rf.S to do, La the “ Ancient Allies " of the Revo- 

lution were on the verge of hostilities, when both 
nations agreed to submit their differences to Great 
Britain. The affair was speedily arranged and France 
paid five millions of dollars for French spoliations into 
the Treasury of the United States, where it has since 



S,tnsW MCBT Jn.,was Wn at Anthcrst, 

r, TSX Go~f ^‘voL. 1844-*846; reiitad ,0 hi, iactn a Canton, Mow York, and 
died there, August 27th, 1847. 







A N unimportant resolution concerning the public 
lands, introduced into the Senate early in 1830 
. b y Senator Foote, of Connecticut (the father 
of Admiral Foote), led to a general .debate, which has 
been since known as “ the battle of the giants.” The 
discussion embraced all the partisan issues of the time, 
especially those of a sectional nature, including the 
alleged rights of a State to set the Federal Government 
at defiance. The State Rights men in South Carolina, 
instigated by Mr. Calhoun, had been active during the 
preceding summer in collecting material for this dis¬ 
cussion, and they had taken especial pains to request a 
search for evidence that Mr. Webster had shown a will¬ 
ingness to have New England secede from the Union 
during the second war with Great Britain. The vicinity 
of Portsmouth, where he had resided when he entered 
public life, was, to use his own words, “searched as with 
a candle. New Hampshire was explored from the mouth 
of the Merrimack to the White Hills.” 

Nor had Mr. Webster been idle. He was not an ex- 
TI 4 



Webster and Hayne 

IX 5 

temporaneous speaker, and lie passed tlie summer in 
carefully studying, in his intervals of professional 
duties, the great constitutional question which he after¬ 
ward so brilliantly discussed. A story is told at Provi¬ 
dence about a distinguished lawyer of that place Mr. 
John Whipple—who was at Washington when Webster 
replied to Hayne, but who did not hear the speech, as 
he was engaged in a case before the Supreme Court 

when it was delivered. 

When a report of 
what Mr. Webster had 
said appeared in print, 

Mr. Whipple read it, 
and was haunted by 
the idea that he had 
heard or read it be¬ 
fore. Meeting Mr. 

Webster soon after¬ 
ward, he mentioned 
this idea to him and 
inquired whether it 
could possibly have 
any foundation in fact. 

“ Certainly it has,” re- daniel webster. 

plied Mr. Webster. # 

“ Don’t you remember our conversations during the 

long walks we took together last summer at Newport 
while in attendance on Story’s court?” It flashed 
across Mr. Whipple’s mind that Mr. Webster had 
rehearsed the legal argument of his speech and ha 

invited criticism. # 

As the debate on the Foote resolution progressed, it 

revealed an evident intention to attack New England, 

and especially Massachusetts. This brought Mr. Web- 

Perley's Reminiscences. 

ter into tlie arena, and lie concluded a brief speech by 
declaring that, as a true representative of the State 
which had sent him into the Senate, it was his duty, 
and a duty which he should fulfill, to place her history 
and her conduct, her honor and her character, in their 
just and proper light. A few days later, Mr. Webster 
heard his State and himself mercilessly attacked by 
General Hayne, of South Carolina, no mean antago¬ 

nist. The son of a 
Revolutionary hero 
who had fallen a vic¬ 
tim to British cruelty, 
highly educated, with 
a slender, graceful 
form, fascinating de¬ 
portment, and a well- 
trained, mellifluous 
voice, the haughty 
South Carolinian en¬ 
tered the lists of the 
political tournament 
like Saladin to oppose 
the Yankee Coeur de 


When Mr. Webster 

went to the Senate Chamber to reply to General Hayne, 
on Tuesday, January 20th, 1830, he felt himself 
master of the situation. Always careful about his 
personal appearance when he was to address an audi¬ 
ence, he wore on that day the Whig uniform, which 
had been copied by the Revolutionary heroes—a blue 
dress-coat with bright buttons, a buff waistcoat, and 
a high, white cravat. Neither was he insensible to 
the benefits to be derived from publicity, and he had 



Perley s Reminiscences. 

sent a request to Mr. Gales to report what he was to 
say himself, rather than to send one of his stenog¬ 
raphers. The most graphic account of the scene in 
the Senate Chamber during the delivery of the speech 
was subsequently written virtually from Mr Webster’s 
dictation. Perhaps, like Mr. Healy’s picture of the 
scene, it is rather high-colored. 

Sheridan, after his forty days’ preparation, did not 
commence his scathing impeachment of Warren Hast¬ 
ings with more confidence than was displayed by Mr 
Webster when he stood up, in the pride of his man¬ 
hood, and began to address the interested mass of 
talent, intelligence, and beauty around him. A man 
of commanding presence, with a well-knit, sturdy 
frame, swarthy features, a broad, thoughtful forehead 
courageous eyes gleaming from beneath shaggy eye¬ 
brows, a quadrangular breadth of jawbone, and a mouth 
which bespoke strong will, he stood like a sturdy 
Roundhead sentinel on guard before the gates of the 
Constitution. Holding in profound contempt what is 
termed spread-eagle oratory, his only gesticulations 
were up-and-down motions of his arm, as if he was 
beating out with sledge-hammers his forcible ideas 
His peroration was sublime, and every loyal American 
eart has since echoed the last words, “ Liberty and 
union now and forever—one and inseparable!” 

Mr. Webster’s speech, carefully revised by himself 
was not published until the 23d of February, and large 
editions of it were circulated throughout the Northern 

r™ S ' , The debate was continued, and it was the 21st 
of May before Colonel Benton, who had been the first 
defamer of New England, brought it to a close The 
Northern men claimed for Mr. Webster the superiority 
but General Jackson praised the speech of Mr. Hayne’ 

Jackson on State Rights. IT 9 

and deemed his picture worthy to occupy a place in the 
White House, thus giving expression to the genera 
sentiment among the Southerners. This alarmed Mr. 
Van Buren, who was quietly yet shrewdly at work to 
defeat the further advancement of Mr. Calhoun, an 
he lost no time in demonstrating to the imperious old 
soldier who occupied the Presidential chair that the 
South Carolina doctrine of nullification could but 

prove destructive to the Union. ... , . 

Mr Calhoun was not aware of this intrigue, and, m 
order to strengthen his State Rights policy, he organized 
a public dinner on the anniversary of Jefferson’s birth¬ 
day, April 13th, 1830. When the toasts which were to 
be proposed were made public in advance, according to 
the custom, it was discovered that several of them were 
strongly anti-tariff and State Rights in sentiment—so 
much so that a number of Pennsylvania tariff Demo¬ 
crats declined to attend, and got up a dinner of tlieir 
own. General Jackson attended the dinner, but he 
went late and retired early, leaving a volunteer toast, 
which he had carefully prepared at the White House, 
and which fell like a damper upon those at the dinner, 
while it electrified the North, “ The Federal Union— 
it must and shall be maintained!” This toast which 
could not be misunderstood, showed that General Jac - 
son would not permit himself to be placed m the atti¬ 
tude of a patron of doctrines which could lead only to 
a dissolution of the Federal Government. But t e 
Committee on Arrangements toned it down, so that 1 
appeared in the official report of the dinner, Our 

Federal Union—it must be preserved !” 

This was a severe blow to Mr. Calhoun, who ha 
labored earnestly to break down Mr. Adams’ Adminis¬ 
tration, without respect to its measures, that a Demo- 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

cratic party might be built up which would first elect 
General Jackson, and then recognize Calhonn as legiti¬ 
mate successor to the Presidential chair. His discom¬ 
fiture was soon completed by the publication of a letter 
from Mr. Crawford, which informed the President that 
Calhoun, when in the Cabinet of Monroe, proposed that 
“ General Jackson should be punished in some form ” 
for his high-handed military rule in Florida. Van 
Buren secretly fanned the flames of General Jackson’s 
indignation, and adroitly availed himself of a “ tempest 
in a tea-pot ” to complete the downfall of his rival. 

The woman used as a tool by Mr. Van Buren for the 
overthrow of Mr. Calhoun’s political hopes was a pic¬ 
turesque and prominent figure in Washington society 
then and during the next fifty years. The National 
Metiopolis in those days resembled, as has been well 
said, in recklessness and extravagance, the spirit of the 
English seventeenth century, so graphically portrayed 
in Thackeray's Humorist , rather than the dignified caste 
of the nineteenth cycle of Christianity. Laxity of 
morals and the coolest disregard possible characterized 
that period of our existence. 

Mrs. General Eaton ruled Andrew Jackson as com¬ 
pletely as he ruled the Democratic party. She was the 
daughter of William O’Neill, a rollicking Irishman, 
who was in his day the landlord of what was then the 
leading public house in Washington City. Among 
other Congressmen who were guests there was Andrew 
Jackson, then a Senator from Tennessee. It was here 
he became interested in the landlord’s brilliant 
daughter Margaret, called by her friends u Peg ” 
O Neill. Before she was sixteen years of age she 
man led a handsome naval officer, John Bowie Timber- 
lake. He died some say that he committed suicide_ 

Attack on Jackson 

12 I 

at Port Mahon, in 1828, leaving his accounts as purser 
in a very mixed condition. After the death of Timber- 
lake Commodore Patterson ordered Lieutenant Ran¬ 
dolph to take the purser’s books and perform the duties 


of nurser On the return home of the Constitution it 
was discovered that Timberlalce or Rudolpht a 

defaulter to the Government to a very iarge amo ^ 

A court of inquiry was held on Randolph and he was 

122 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

acquitted, but Amos Kendall, the Fourth Auditor of 
the Treasury Department, charged the defalcation to 
Randolph. President Jackson, notwithstanding the 
decision of the court, dismissed Lieutenant Randolph 
rom the Navy, and refused to give him a hearing. 

he Lieutenant, infuriated by disgrace and pecuniary 
rum, in a state of excitement pulled the President’s 
nose in the cabin of a steamboat at the Alexandria 
w larf. He was immediately seized and thrust on shore 
the President declaring that he was able to punish him.’ 
He charged that Jackson dismissed him and sustained 
KendalPs decision in order to save General Eaton, who 
was Timberlake’s bondsman, from having to make 
good the defalcation. 

General Eaton, who had boarded with his friend 
General Jackson, at O’Neill’s tavern, soon afterward 
married the Widow Timberlake, who was then one of 
those examples of that Irish beauty, which, marked by 
good blood, so suggests both the Greek and the Span¬ 
iard, and yet at times presents a combination which 
transcends both. Her form, of medium heiHit 
straight and delicate, was of perfect proportions. Her 
s m was of that delicate white, tinged with red, which 
one often sees among even the poorer inhabitants of 

t e reen Isle. Her dark hair, very abundant, clustered 

m curls about her broad, expressive forehead. Her 
perfect nose, of almost Grecian proportions, and finely 
curved mouth, with a firm, round chin, completed a 
profile of faultless outlines. She was in Washington 
City what Aspasia was in Athens—the cynosure by 
whose reflected radiance J 

“ Beauty lent her smile to wit, 

And learning by her star was lit.” 

General Jackson had come to Washington with a sad 

Mrs. General Eaton. 


heart, breathing vengeance against those who had de¬ 
famed his wife during the Presidential canvass, thereby, 
as he thought, hastening her death. This made him 
the sworn and unyielding foe of all slanderers of 
women, and when some of the female tabbies of the 
Capital began to drag the name of his old friend 
“ Peg,” then the wife of General Eaton, through 
the mire, he was naturally indignant, and showed his 

respect for her by hav¬ 
ing her a frequent 
guest at the White 
House. Enchanting, 
ambitious, and un¬ 
scrupulous, she soon 
held the old hero com¬ 
pletely under her in¬ 
fluence, and carried 
her griefs to him. Mr. 

Van Buren adroitly 
seconded her, and the 
gallant old soldier 
swore “ by the Eter¬ 
nal” that the scandal¬ 
mongers who had em- mrs. eaton at sixty-four. 

bittered the last years 

of his beloved wife, Rachel, should not triumph over 
his “little friend Peg.” 

This was Van Buren’s opportunity. He was a wid¬ 
ower, keeping house at Washington, and as Secretary 
of State he was able to form an alliance with the bach¬ 
elor Ministers of Great Britain and Russia, each of 
whom had spacious residences. A series of dinners, 
balls, and suppers was inaugurated at these three 
houses, and at each successive entertainment Mrs. 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

Eaton was the honored guest, who led the contra- 
dance, and occupied the seat at table on the right of the 
host. Some respectable ladies were so shocked by her 
audacity that they would leave a room when she 
entered it. She was openly denounced by clergymen, 
and she found herself in positions which would have 
covered almost any other woman in Washington with 
shame. Mrs. Eaton, who apparently did not possess a 
scruple as to the propriety of her course, evidently 
enjoyed the situation, and used to visit General Jackson 
every day with a fresh story of the insults paid her. 
Yet she gave no evidences of diplomacy nor of political 
sagacity, but was a mere beautiful, passionate, impul¬ 
sive puppet, held up by General Jackson, while Mr. 
Van Buren adroitly pulled the strings that directed her 

Mr. Calhoun, whose wife was foremost among those 
ladies who positively refused to associate with Mrs. 
Eaton, said to a friend of General Jackson’s, who 
endeavored to effect a reconciliation, that “ the quarrels 
of women, like those of the Medes and Persians, 
admitted of neither inquiry nor explanation.” He 
knew well, however, that it was no women’s quarrel, 
but a political game of chess played by men who were 
using women as their pawns, and he lost the game. 
Van Buren and Eaton next tendered their resignations 
as Cabinet officers, which General Jackson refused to 
accept; whereupon the Cabinet officers whose wives 
declined to call on Mrs. Eaton resigned, and their res¬ 
ignations were promptly accepted. The whole city 
was in a turmoil. Angry men walked about with 
bludgeons, seeking “ satisfaction duels were talked 
of; old friendships were severed; and every fresh 
indignity offered his “ little friend Peg ” endeared her 

The Great Tragedian. 


the more to General Jackson, who was duly grateful to 
Van Buren for having espoused her cause. u It is odd 
enough,” wrote Daniel Webster to a personal friend, 
“ that the consequences of this dispute in the social 
and fashionable world are producing great political 
effects, and may very probably determine who shall be 
successor to the present Chief Magistrate.” 

Junius Brutus Booth was the delight of the Wash¬ 

ington playgoers in 
the Jackson Adminis¬ 
tration. His wonder¬ 
ful impersonations of 
Richard III. Iago, 

King Lear, Othello, 

Shylock, and Sir 
Giles Overreach were 
as grand as his private 
life was intemperate 
and eccentric. He was 
a short, dumpy man, 
with features resem¬ 
bling those of the 
Roman Emperors, be¬ 
fore his nose was 

broken in a quarrel, 
and his deportment on the stage was imperially grand. 
He had a farm in Maryland, and at one time he under¬ 
took to supply a Washington hotel with eggs, milk, 
and chickens, but he soon gave it up.. His instant and 
tremendous concentration of passion in his delineations 
overwhelmed his audience and wrought it into such en¬ 
thusiasm that it partook of the fever of inspiration 
surging through his own veins. He was not lacking 
in the power to comprehend and portray with marvelous 




Perkys Reminiscences. 

and exquisite delicacy the subtle shades of character 
that Shakespeare loved to paint, and his impersonations 
were a delight to the refined scholar as well as the 
uncultivated backwoodsmen who crowded to his per¬ 

The Washington Theatre was not well patronized, 
but the . strolling proprietors of minor amusements 
reaped rich harvests of small silver coin. The circus 
paid its annual visit, to the joy of the rural Congress¬ 
men and the negroes, who congregated around its saw¬ 
dust ring, applauding each successive act of horseman¬ 
ship and laughing at the repetition of the clown’s old 
jokes; a daring rope-dancer, named Herr Cline, per¬ 
formed his wonderful feats on the tight rope and on the 
slack wire; Finn gave annual exhibitions of fancy 
glass-blowing; and every one went to see “ the living 
skeleton, a tall, emaciated young fellow- named Calvin 

Bdson, compared with whom Shakespeare’s starved 
apothecary was fleshy. 

General Jackson turned a deaf ear to the numerous 
applications made to him for charity. At one time 
when he was President a large number of Irish immi¬ 
grants were at work on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal 
in Georgetown, and, the weather being very hot, many 
of them were prostrated by sunstroke and bilious 
diseases. They were without medical aid, the necessi¬ 
ties of life, or any shelter except the shanties in which 
they were crowded. Their deplorable condition led to 
the formation of a society of Irish-Americans, with the 
venerable Mr. McLeod, a noted instructor, as president. 

A committee from this Society waited on the President 
for aid, and Mr. McLeod made known the object of 
their visit. General Jackson interrupted him by say¬ 
ing that he “ entirely disapproved of the Society ; that 


Who Owns the Spoils? 

the fact of its existence would induce these fellows to 
come one hundred miles to get the benefit of it ; that 
if the treasury of the United States were at his dis¬ 
posal it could not meet the demands that were daily 
made upon him, and he would not be driven from the 
White House a beggar-man, like old Jim Monroe.” 


Colonel Samuel Swartwout, of Hoboken, was an old 
personal friend of General Jackson, and when “ the 
Hickory Broom” began to sweep out the old office¬ 
holders, in obedience to the maxim, “To the victors be¬ 
long the spoils,” the Colonel was an applicant for 
the then lucrative position of Collector of the Port of 
New York. Van Buren was against him, and used 
many arguments with Jackson to prevent the appoint- 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

ment, but, after a patient bearing', Old Hickory closed 
the case by bringing his fist down upon the table 
and exclaiming: “ By the Eternal! Sam. Swartwout 
shall be Collector of the Port of New York!” He was 
appointed and became the prey of political swindlers, 
spending the public moneys right regally until his 
accounts were overhauled, and he u Swartwouted” (to 
use a word coined at the time) to avoid a criminal 
piosecution. He remained abroad for many years, and 
I think died in Europe. 

_ Francis S. Key was United States Attorney for the 
district of Washington during the Jackson Administra¬ 
tion. He was a small, active man, having an earnest 
and even anxious expression of countenance, as if care 
sat heavily upon him. In composing the heroic song 
of the Star-Spangled Banner,” after he had witnessed 
the unsuccessful night attack of the British on Fort 
McHenry, he, in a measure, associated himself with 
the glory of his country. He was a man of very 
ardent religious character, and some of the most poetic 

and popular of the hymns used in religious worship 
were from his pen. 





T HE rejection by the Senate of the nomination of 
Martin Van Buren as Minister Plenipotentiary 
to Great Britain, was an act of retributive 
justice, carried out on the very spot where, five 
years before, he had formed the combination which 
overthrew the Administration of John Quincy Adams. 
John C. Calhoun, who was the organizer of the re¬ 
jection of Mr. Van Buren, thought that he had ob¬ 
tained pledges of a sufficient number of votes , but 
just before the ayes and noes were called Mr. Webster 
left the Senate Chamber, and going down into the . 
Supreme Court room remained there until the vote had 
been taken. Mr. Calhoun consequently found himself 
one vote short, and had to give the casting vote,, as 
President of the Senate, which rejected the nomination 
of his rival, who was already in England, where he 
pgtl been received with marked attention. 

Returning to the United States, Mr. Van Buren was 
warmly welcomed at the White House as a victim of 
Mr. Calhoun’s opposition to the President, and he was 


Per ley's Remhiiscences. 

soon recognized by the Democratic party as their heir- 
apparent to the Presidency. His appearance at that 
time was impressive. He was short, solidly built, with 
a bald head, and with bushy side-whiskers, which 
framed his florid features. He added the grace and 
polish of aristocratic English society to his natural 
courtesy, and it was his evident aim never to provoke 
a controversy, while he used every exertion to win new 
friends and to retain old ones. After he had been 
elected Vice-President, he sat day after day in the chair 
of the Senate, apparently indifferent alike to the keen 
thrusts of Calhoun, the savage blows of Webster, and 
the gibes of Clay. He well knew that General Jack- 
son would regard every assault on him as aimed at the 
Administration, and that his chances for the succession 
would thereby be strengthened. Charges of political 
chicanery were brought against him in shapes more 
varied than those of Proteus and thick as the leaves 
that strew the vale of Vallambrosa; but he inva¬ 
riably extricated himself by artifice and choice man¬ 
agement, earning the sobriquet of “ the Little Magi¬ 
cian. He could not be provoked into a loss of temper, 
and he would not say a word while in the chair except 
as connected with his duties as presiding officer, when 
he spoke in gentle but persuasive tones, singularly 
effective from the clearness of his enunciation and his 
well-chosen emphasis. 

Air. \ an Buren, who was then a widower, kept house 
on Pennsylvania Avenue, about half way between the 
A\ hite House and Georgetown, where he not only gave 
dinner parties to his political friends, but entertained 
their wives and daughters at evening whist parties. 
Gentlemen and ladies were alike used for the advance¬ 
ment of his schemes for the succession and for retain- 

Van Buren's Diplomacy . 

ing his position in the estimation of General Jackson. 
On one occasion he said to Mrs. Eaton that he had 
been reading much and thinking deeply on the char¬ 
acters of great men, and had come to the conclusion 
that General Jackson was the greatest man that had 
ever lived—the only man among them all who was 
without a fault. “But,” he added, “ don’t tell General 
Jackson what I have said. I would not have him know 
it for the world.” Of course, it was not long before 
Mrs. Eaton repeated the conversation to General Jack- 
son. “ Ah, madam!” said Old Hickory, the tears start¬ 
ing in his eyes, “ that man loves me ; he tries to conceal 
it, but there is always some way fixed by which I can 
tell my friends from my enemies.” 

Mr. Van Bnren was noted for his willingness to sign 
applications for office, and he used to tell a good story 
illustrating his readiness to oblige those who solicited 
his aid. When Governor of the State of New York, a 
lawyer called on him to get a convict pardoned from 
the penitentiary, and stated the case, which was a clear 
one. “ Have you the papers ?” he asked. u If so, I will 
sign them.” “ Here they are,” said the lawyer, pro¬ 
ducing a bulky document, and the Governor indorsed 
them : “ Let pardon be granted. M. Van Buren.” He 
then left for the office of the Secretary of State, but 
soon returned. u Governor,” said he, a I made a mis¬ 
take, and you indorsed the wrong paper.” He had 
presented for the official indorsement the marriage set¬ 
tlement of an Albany belle about to marry a spend¬ 

To ingratiate himself further with General Jackson, 
and to strengthen the Democratic party, whose votes 
he relied upon to elevate him to the Presidency, Mr. 
Van Bnren organized the war against the United States 


Per ley's Reminiscences 

Bank. General Jackson was opposed to this institution 
before he became President, and it was not a difficult 
task to impress upon his mind that the Bank was an 

The United States Bank. 

T 33 

unconstitutional monopoly, which, defied the legislative 
acts of sovereign States, which was suborning the 
leading newspapers and public men of the country, and 
which was using every means that wealth, political chi¬ 
canery, and legal cunning could devise to perpetuate its 
existence. All this the honest old soldier in time be¬ 
lieved, and it was then not difficult to impress him with a 
desire to combat this “ monster,” as he called the Bank, 
and to act as the champion of the people in killing the 
dragon which was endeavoring to consume their for¬ 
tunes. When a committee of wealthy business men 
from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia waited on 
him with a remonstrance against his financial policy, 
he gave them such a reception that they felt very un¬ 
comfortable and were glad to get away. 

The Democratic politicians and presses heartily sec¬ 
onded their chieftain in this war, promising the people 
u Benton mint-drops instead of rag-money.” Jackson 
clubs were everywhere organized, having opposite to 
the tavern or hall used as their headquarters a 
hickory-tree, trimmed of all its.foliage except a tuft at 
the top. Torch-light processions, then organized for 
the first time, used to march through the streets of the 
city or village where they belonged, halting in front of 
the houses of prominent Jackson men to cheer, while 
before the residences of leading Whigs they would 
often tarry long enough to give six or nine groans. 
Editors of newspapers which supported the Adminis¬ 
tration were forced to advocate its most ultra measures 
and to denounce its opponents, or they were arraigned 
as traitors, and if satisfactory excuses could not be 
made, they were read out of the party. Among those 
thus excommunicated was Mr. James Gordon Bennett, 
who had edited the Philadelphia Pennsylvanian. 



Jackson's Re-election . 

Nicholas Biddle, its president, managed the affairs of 
the Bank of the United States with consummate ability. 
His trials in the bitter contest waged against him and 
the institution which he represented were almost as 
manifold as those that tested the patience of Job ; and 
he bore them with equal meekness so far as temper \\ as 
concerned, but when duty required he never failed to 
meet his opponents with decision and effect. The 
Bank had to discount the worthless notes of a number 
of Congressmen and editors, whose support, thus pur¬ 
chased,'did more harm than good. Mr. Biddle had also 
incurred the hostility of Isaac Hill and other mfluen 
tial Jackson men because he would not remove the 
non-partisan presidents and cashiers of the branches of 
the Bank in their respective localities, and appoint in 
their places zealous henchmen of the Administration. 

General Jackson was triumphantly re-elected in 
November, 1832, receiving two hundred and nineteen of 
the two hundred and eighty-eight electoral votes cast, 
while Martin Van Buren received one hundred and 
eighty-nine electoral votes for Vice-President. Massachu 
setts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, 
and Kentucky cast forty-nine electoral votes for Henry 
Clay and John Sergeant. Vermont gave her seven 
electoral votes for the anti-Masonic candidates, William 
Wirt and William Ellmaker, while South Carolina be¬ 
stowed her eleven electoral votes on John Floyd, of 
Virginia, and Henry Lee, of Massachusetts, neither of 
whom were nullifiers. Some of the Jackson news¬ 
papers, while rejoicing over his re-election, nominated 
him for a third term, and William Wirt wrote : “ My 
opinion is that he may be President for life if he 


The ordeal of re-election having been passed, Presi- 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

dent Jackson and his supporters carried out the pro¬ 
gramme which had before been decided upon. The re¬ 
moval of the Government deposits from the United 
States Bank gave rise to stormy debates in Congress, 
and the questionable exercise of Executive authority 
met with a fierce, unrelenting opposition from the 

The debates in the Senate on the Bank and attend¬ 
ant financial questions were very interesting, but the 
audiences were necessarily small. The circumscribed 
accommodations of the Senate Chamber were insuffi¬ 
cient, and while the ladies generally managed to secure 
seats, either in the galleries or on the floor, the gentle¬ 
men had to content themselves with uncomfortable 
positions, leaning against pillars or peeping through 
doorways. Mr. Van Buren, as Vice-President, presided 
with great dignity, and endeavored to conciliate those 
Senators who were his rivals for the succession, but he 
had often to hear his political course mercilessly criti¬ 
cised by them. 

John C. Calhoun, who resigned the position of Vice- 
President that he might be elected a Senator from 
South Carolina, differed from his great contemporaries 
in the possession of a private character above reproach. 
Whether this arose from the preponderance of the in¬ 
tellectual over the animal in his nature, or the subjec¬ 
tion of his passions by discipline, was never determined 
by those who knew the gifted South Carolinian best; 
but such was the fact. His enemies could find no 
opprobrious appellation for him but “ Catiline,” in¬ 
stead of “ Caldwell,” which was his middle name—no 
crime but ambition. He disregarded the unwritten 
laws of the Senate, which required Senators to appear 
in dress suits of black broadcloth, and asserted his 

Calhoun's Eccentricities. I 37 

State pride and his State independence by wearing, 
when the weather was warm, a suit of nankeen, made 
from nankeen cotton grown in South Carolina. Mr. 
Calhoun had a pale and attenuated look, as if in bad 
health; his long black hair was combed up from his 
forehead and fell over the back of his head, and his 
thin lips increased the effect of the acute look with 
which he always regarded those around him. His 
personal intercourse with friends was characterized by 
great gentleness of manner; he was an affectionate 
and a devoted husband and father, and W ebster truly 
remarked of him that “ he had no recreations, and 
never seemed to feel the necessity of amusement. 

Disappointed in his aspirations for the Presidency 
of the United States, Mr. Calhoun conceived the idea 
of dissolving the Union and establishing a Southern 
Confederacy, of which he would be the Chief Execu¬ 
tive. One of his projects, fearing that the success of 
the main plot would be too long delayed for any benefit 
to inure to him, was a proposed amendment to the Con¬ 
stitution, to make two Presidents exist at the same 
time—one from the South and the other from the other 
sections—and no act in regard to the interests of the 
South was to be passed without the consent of the 
President for that section. Of course, his plan was 
looked upon as puerile, if not mischievous, and failed 
to attract much attention. His whole soul was then 
bent on his main scheme, and he enlisted warm, ardent, 
and talented followers in behalf of it; still, but little 
headway was made in it outside of South Carolina. 

President Jackson knew well what was going on, and 
was determined that the law should be put into execu¬ 
tion not against misguided followers, but against Ca - 
houn, the chief conspirator. Calhoun, hearing that 


Perleyis Reminiscences. 

Jackson had resolved on his prosecution and trial, and, 
if convicted, his execution for treason, sent Letcher, 
of Kentucky, to confer with him and to learn his real 
intentions. The President received Letcher with his 
usual courtesy; but that mild blue eye, which at times 
would fill with tears like that of a woman, was kindled 
up that night with unwonted fire. He explained the 
situation to Letcher, and concluded by telling him that, 
if another step was taken, “by the Eternal!” he would 
try Calhoun for treason, and, if convicted, he would 
hang him on a gallows as high as Haman. 

Letcher saw that Jackson was terribly in earnest, 
and hastened to the lodgings of Calhoun, who had 
retired, but received him sitting up in bed with his 
cloak around him. Letcher detailed all that had oc¬ 
curred, giving entire the conversation with Jackson, 
and described the old hero as he took that oath. 

There sat Calhoun, drinking in eagerly every word, 
and, as Letcher proceeded, he turned pale as death, 
and, great as he was in intellect, trembled like an 
aspen leaf, not from fear or cowardice, but from the 
consciousness of guilt. He was the arch traitor, who, 
like Satan in Paradise, “ brought death into the world 
and all our woe.” Within one week he came into the 
Senate and voted—voted for every section of Mr. 
Clay’s bill—and President Jackson was prevailed upon 
not to prosecute him for his crime. 

During the last days of General Jackson at the 
Hermitage, while slowly sinking under the ravages of 
consumption, he was one day speaking of his Adminis¬ 
tration, and with glowing interest he inquired of his 

“ What act in my Administration, in your opinion, 
will posterity condemn with the greatest severity ?” . 

Nullification . 


The physician replied that he was unable to answer, 
that it might be the removal of the deposits. 
u Oh! no,” said the General. 

“ Then it may be the specie circular?” 
u Not at all!” 

“ What is it, then ?” 

“ I can tell you,” said Jackson, rising in his bed, his 
eyes kindling up—“ I can tell you ; posterity will con¬ 
demn me more be¬ 
cause I was per¬ 
suaded not to hang 
John C. Calhoun as a 
traitor than for any 
other act in my life.” 

Daniel Webster’s re¬ 
ply to Hayne was 
made the key-note of 
the resistance by the 
Administration to Jef¬ 
ferson’s assertion 
adopted by Calhoun, 

“ Where powers have 
been assumed which 
have not been dele¬ 
gated, nullification is 
the rightful remedy.” 
tion against this doctrine of nullification—the germ 
iof secession—was written by Edward Livingston, his 
Secretary of State, and it has been said that it fol¬ 
lowed, throughout, the doctrine maintained by Mr. 
Webster in his reply to Hayne, in 1830. So remark¬ 
able was this adoption of Mr. Webster’s argument, 
that popular opinion at that time regarded it as a 
manifest, but of course a very excusable, plagiarism. 


President Jackson’s proclama- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Mr. Webster, when the proclamation was issued, was 
on his way to Washington, ignorant of what had oc¬ 
curred. At an inn in New Jersey he met a traveler 
just from Washington. Neither of them was known 
to the other. Mr. Webster inquired the news. “ Sir,” 
said the gentleman, u the President has issued a proc¬ 
lamation against the nullifiers, taken entirely from Mr. 
Webster’s reply to Hayne.” In the course of the 
ensuing session, and not long after Mr. Webster 
reached the capital it became necessary for the Admin¬ 
istration to act. Mr. Webster was in the opposition, 
and, excepting in regard to the integrity of the Union 
and the just power of the Government, there was a 
wide gulf between the Administration and him. He 
was absent from his seat for several days when the 
Force bill was about to be introduced as an Adminis¬ 
tration measure. A portion of General Jackson’s 
original supporters hung back from that issue. At 
this juncture there was much inquiry among the 
President’s friends in the House as to where Mr. 
Webster was. At length a member of General Jack- 
son’s Cabinet went to Mr. Webster’s rooms, told him 
the nature of the bill about to be introduced, and 
asked him, as a public duty, to go into the Senate and 
defend the bill and the President. It is well known to 
the whole country that Mr. Webster did so ; and it is 
known to me that General Jackson personally thanked 
him for his powerful aid, that many of the President’s 
best friends afterward sought to make a union between 
him and Mr. Webster, and that nothing continued tO' 
separate them but an irreconcilable difference of opinion 
about the questions relating to the currency. 

While Mr. Calhoun was undoubtedly the leading 
Democrat in the Senate, after his return to that body,. 

The Expunged Resolution . 


Mr. Benton was the recognized leader of President Jack- 
son’s adherents in that body. His fierce opposition 
to “Biddle and the Bank,” with his prediction that the 
time would come when there would be no paper money, 
but when every laboring man 
would have a knit silk purse, 
through the meshes of which 
the gold coin within could be 
seen, obtained for him the so¬ 
briquet of “ Old Bullion.” His 
greatest triumph was the pas¬ 
sage of a resolution by the 
Senate “ expunging ” from its 
journal a resolution censuring 
General Jackson for the re¬ 
moval of the deposits from the 
Bank of the United States. 

This expunging resolution 
was kept before the Senate for 
nearly three years, and was 
then passed by only five ma- 
j ority. The closing debate was 
able and exhaustive, Henry 
Clay, John J. Crittenden, 

Thomas Ewing, William C. 

Rives, William Hendricks, 

John M. Niles, Richard H. 

Bayard, and others participa¬ 
ting, while Daniel Webster 
read a protest signed by himself 
and his sturdy colleague, John Davis. The Democrats 
had provided a bountiful supply of refreshments in the 
room of the Committee on Finance, and several Sena¬ 
tors showed by their actions that they were not mem- 



Per ley s Reminiscences . 

bers of the then newly organized Congressional Tem¬ 
perance Society, before which Mr. Webster had 
delivered a brief address. After the final vote—twenty- 
four yeas and nineteen nays—had been taken, Mr. 
Benton moved that the Secretary carry into effect the 
order of the Senate. Then the Secretary, Mr. Asbury 
Dickens, opening the manuscript journal of 1834, 
drew broad black lines around’the obnoxious resolution 
and wrote across its face : “ Expunged by order of the 
Senate, this 16th day of January, in the year of our 
Lord 1837.” 

No sooner had he concluded than hisses were heard, 
and Mr. King, of Alabama, who occupied the chair, 
ordered the galleries to be cleared, while Mr. Benton, in 
a towering rage, denounced the offenders and demanded 
their arrest. “ Here is one,” said he, “just above me, 
that may easily be identified—the bank ruffian.” Mr. 
King revoked his order to clear the galleries, but 
directed the arre'st of the person pointed out by Mr. 
Benton, who was soon brought before the bar of the 
Senate. It was Mr. Lloyd, a practicing lawyer at 
Cleveland, Ohio, who was not permitted to say a word 
in his own defense, but was soon discharged, after 
which the Senate adjourned. 

Thomas Hart Benton was born near Hillsborough, North Carolina, March i 4 th, 1782; was 
United States Senator from Missouri, 1821-1851; a Representative in Congress from Missouri, 1853- 
lS 55 ; was defeated as a candidate for re-election to Congress in 1854, and as candidate for Governor 
of Missouri in 1856, and died at Washington City, April 10th, 1858. 




H ENRY CLAY, after his return to the Senate, 
was the recognized leader of the Whig Sena¬ 
tors, for he would recognize no leader. His 
oratory was persuasive and spirit-stirring. The fire of 
his bright eyes and the sunny smile which lighted up 
his countenance added to the attractions of his un¬ 
equaled voice, which was equally distinct and clear, 
whether at its highest key or lowest whisper—rich, 
musical, captivating. His action was the spontaneous 
offspring of the passing thought. He gesticulated all 
over. The nodding of his head, hung on a long neck, 
his arms, hands, fingers, feet, and even his spectacles, 
his snuff-box, and his pocket-handkerchief, aided him in 
debate. He stepped forward and backward, and from 
the right to the left, with effect. Every thought spoke; 
the whole body had its story to tell, and added to the 
attractions of his able arguments. But he was not a 
good listener, and he wonld often sit, while other Sena¬ 
tors were speaking, eating sticks of striped peppermint 

I 43 

I 44 Per ley s Reminiscences. 

candy, and occasionally taking - a pinch of snuff from a 
silver box that he carried, or from one that graced the 
table of the Senate. 

Occasionally, Mr. Clay was very imperious and dis- 
played bad temper in debate. Once he endeavored to 
browbeat Colonel Benton, bringing up “ Old Bullion’s” 
personal lencontre with General Jackson, and charging 
the former with having said that, should the latter be 
elected President, Congress must guard itself with 

pistols and dirks. This 
Colonel Benton pro¬ 
nounced “ an atrocious 
calumny.” “ What,” 
retorted Mr. Clay, “can 
you look me in the face, 
sir, and say that you 
never used that lan¬ 
guage?” “I look,” said 
Colonel Benton, “ and 
repeat that it is an 
atrocious calumny, and 
I will pin it to him who 
repeats it here.” Mr. 
Clay’s face flushed with 
rage as he replied: “ Then I declare before the Senate 
that you said to me the very words !” “ False ! false ! 

false!” shouted Colonel Benton, and the Senators inter¬ 
fered, Mr. Tazewell, who was in the chair, calling the 
belligerents to order. After some discussion of the 
questions of order, Colonel Benton said : “I apologize 
to the Senate for the manner in which I have spoken 
—but not to the Senator from Kentucky.” Mr. Clay 
promptly added: “To the Senate I also offer an 
apology—to the Senator from Missouri, none !” Half 


Mr. Clay in Debate. 145 

an hour afterward they shook hands, as lawyers often 
do who have just before abused each other in court. 

On another occasion, General Smith, of Baltimore, a 
Revolutionary hero upward of eighty years of age, who 
had been a member of Congress almost forty years, 
was one day the object of Henry Clay’s wrath. The 
old General, who had fought gallantly in the Revolu¬ 
tionary struggle and taken up arms again in the War 
of 1812, was offensively bullied by Mr. Clay, who said: 
“ The honorable gentleman was in favor of manufac¬ 
tures in 1822, but he has turned—I need not use the 
word—he has abandoned manufactures. Thus 

“ ‘ Old politicians chew on wisdom past 
And totter on, in blunders, to the last.’ ” 

The old General sprang to his feet. u The last 
allusion,” said he, “ is unworthy of a gentleman. 
Totter, sir, I totter! Though some twenty years 
older than the gentleman, I can yet stand firm, and am 
yet able to correct his errors. I could take a view of 
the gentleman’s course, which would show how consist¬ 
ent he has been.” Mr. Clay exclaimed, angrily : u Take 
it, sir, take it—I dare you !” Cries of “ Order.” “ No, 
sir,” said Mr. Smith, “ I will not take it. I will not 
so far disregard what is due to the dignity of the Sen¬ 

While Mr. Clay was generally imperious in debate, 
and not overcautious in his choice of phrases and 
epithets, he was fond of a joke, and often indulged, in 
an undertone, in humorous comments on the remarks 
by other Senators. Sometimes he would be very 
happy in his illustrations, and make the most of some 
passing incident. One afternoon, when he was reply¬ 
ing to a somewhat heated opponent, a sudden squall 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

came up and rattled the window curtains so as to pro¬ 
duce a considerable noise. The orator stopped short in 
the midst of his remarks and inquired aloud, what was 
the matter; and then, as if divining the cause of the 
disturbance, he said: “ Storms seem to be coming in 
upon us from all sides.” The observation, though 
trivial as related, was highly amusing under the cir¬ 
cumstances which gave rise to it and from the manner 
in which it was uttered. 

When Henry Clay returned to the Senate, Daniel 
Webster yielded to him the leadership of the Whigs in 
that body, but in no way sacrificed his own indepen¬ 
dence. “ The Great Expounder of the Constitution,” 
as he was called, was then in the prime of life, and had 
not began those indulgences which afterward exercised 
such injurious effects upon him. He would also occa¬ 
sionally indulge in a grim witticism. On one occasion, 
when a Senator who was jeering another for some 
pedantry said, “The honorable gentleman may pro¬ 
ceed to quote from Crabbe’s Synonyms, from Walker 
and Webster “ Not from Walker and Webster,” 
exclaimed the Senator from Massachusetts, “for the 
authorities may disagree!” At another time, when he 
was speaking on the New York Fire bill, the Senate 
clock suddenly began to strike, and after it had struck 
continuously for about fourteen or fifteen times, Mr. 
Webster stopped, and said to the presiding officer, 
“The clock is out of order, sir—I have the floor.” 
The occupant of the chair looked rebukingly at the 
refractory time-piece, but, in defiance of the officers and 
rules of the House, it struck about forty before the 
Sergeant-at-Arms could stop it, Mr. Webster standing 
silent, while every one else was laughing. 

On another occasion, while Mr. Webster was address- 



If •:::*><! 





148 Per ley's Reminiscences . 

ing the Senate in presenting a memorial, a clerical¬ 
looking person in one of the galleries arose and 
shouted: “ My friends, the country is on the brink of 
destruction! Be sure that you act on correct princi¬ 
ples. I warn you to act as your consciences may 
approve. God is looking down upon you, and if you 
act on correct principles you will get safely through.” 
He then deliberately stepped back, and retired from 
the gallery before the officers of the Senate could reach 
him. Mr. Webster was, of course, surprised at this 
extraordinary interruption; but when the shrill voice 
of the enthusiast had ceased, he coolly resumed his 
remarks, saying, “ As the gentleman in the gallery has 
concluded, I will proceed.” 

Mr. Cuthbert, of Georgia, was much provoked, one 
day, by a scathing denunciation of his State by Mr. 
Clay for the manner in which she had treated the 
Cherokee Indians. As the eloquent Kentuckian dwelt 
more in sorrow than in anger upon the wrongs and 
outrages perpetrated in Georgia upon the unoffending 
aborigines within her borders, many of his hearers 
were affected to tears, and he himself was obviously 
deeply moved. No sooner did Mr. Clay resume his 
seat than Mr. Cuthbert sprang to his feet, and in an 
insolent tone alluded to what he called the theatrical 
manner of the speaker. ‘‘What new part will Roscius 
next enact?” said the Senator from Georgia, coming 
forward from his desk and standing in the area of the 
hall. He was a man of about the ordinary height, 
with a round face pitted with the smallpox, small, dark 
eyes, and a full forehead. As he spoke he twirled his 
watch-key incessantly with his right hand, while his 
left was flung about in the most unmeaning and awk¬ 
ward gestures. He twisted his body right and left, for- 

Brilliant Debaters. 


ward and backward, as if he were a Chinese mandarin 
going through a stated number of evolutions before his 
emperor; in fact, he had “ all the contortions of the 
sybil, without her inspiration.” To this display Mr. 
Clay seemed entirely oblivious, but after Judge White, 
of Tennessee, had discussed the pending question, Mr. 
Clay rose, saying, that he would reply to this gentle¬ 
man’s remarks as “they alone were worthy of notice.” 

In the House of Representatives, during the Jack- 
son Administration, sectional topics were rife, sectional 
jealousies were high, and partisan warfare was unre¬ 
lenting. Andrew Stevenson, of Virginia, who was tri¬ 
umphantly re-elected as Speaker for four successive 
terms, understood well how to keep down the boil¬ 
ing caldron, and to exercise stern authority, tem¬ 
pered with dignity and courtesy, over heated passions 
of the fiercest conflicting character. When he was 
transferred from the Speaker’s chair to the Court of St. 
James, John Bell, of Tennessee, an old supporter of 
General Jackson, became his successor for the remain¬ 
der of that session, but at the commencement of the 
next Congress Mr. Van Buren secured the election of 
James K. Polk. Mr. Bell, on his next visit to Nash¬ 
ville, threw down the gauntlet, in an able speech, and 
nominated Judge White. This was the foundation of 
the White party, which had, as its editorial henchman, 
the Rev. Mr. Brownlow, known as “the fighting 
Parson,” who soon acquired a national reputation by 
his defiant personalities in debate and by his trenchant 
editorial articles in the newspapers of East Tennessee. 
Mr. Brownlow was at that time a tall, spare man, with 
long, black hair, black eyes, and a sallow complexion. 
He was devoted to the Methodist Church and to the 
White—afterward, the Whig—party, and the denomi- 

I 5° Perley’s Reminiscences. 

national doctrine of immersion and tlie political dogma 
of emancipation from slavery were objects of bis 
intense hatred. 

While Mr. Stevenson was Speaker, General Samuel 
Houston, who had been residing among the Indians 
on the Southwestern frontier for several years, came to 
Washington. Taking offense at some remarks made 
in debate by Mr. Vance, a representative from Ohio, 
Houston assaulted and severely pounded him. The 
House voted that Houston should be brought before its 
bar and reprimanded by the Speaker, which was done, 
although Mr. Stevenson’s reprimand was really com¬ 
plimentary. That night a friend of General Houston, 
with a bludgeon and a pistol, attacked Mr. Arnold, 
of Tennessee, who had been active in securing the 
reprimand, but the latter soon got the best of the 

The first man elected to Congress as a representative 
of the rights of the laboring classes was Eli Moore, a 
New York journeyman printer, who had organized 
trades unions and successfully engineered several 
strikes by mechanics against their employers. He 
was a thin, nervous man, with keen, dark hazel eyes, 
long black hair brushed back behind his ears, and a 
strong, clear voice which rang through the hall like 
the sound of a trumpet. He especially distinguished 
himself in a reply to General Waddy Thompson, of 
South Carolina, who had denounced the mechanics 
of the North as willing tools of the Abolitionists. 
With impetuous force and in tones tremulous with 
emotion, he denounced aristocracy and advocated the 
equality of all men. The House listened with attention, 
and a Southern politician exclaimed to one of his col¬ 
leagues, “ Why, this is the high-priest of revolution 

A Thorough Worker. I 5 I 

singing his war song.” What added to the effect of this 
remarkable speech was its dramatic termination. Just 
as he had entered upon his peroration he grew deathly 
pale, his eyes closed, his outstretched hands clutched at 
vacancy, he reeled forward, and fell insensible. His 
friends rushed to his support, and his wife, who was in 
the gallery, screamed with terror. His physician posi¬ 
tively prohibited his speaking again, and in subsequent 
years, when the Democratic party was in power, he 
enjoyed the positions of Indian Agent under Polk, and 

of Land Agent under Pierce. 

Ransom H. Gillet, of the Ogdensburgh district, was 

one of the old “Jackson Democratic War-Horses.” 
He was a man of commanding presence, a ready 
speaker, and a famous manipulator of opinion at Con- 


By birth a North Carolinian, Churchill C. Cambre- 
ling was by adoption a New Yorker, and by strict at¬ 
tention to business he had become one of the merchant 
princes of the commercial metropolis. Thirty years of 
age, with a commanding presence, a good voice, a ready 
command of language, and a practical knowledge of 
financial matters, he made an excellent Chairman ot 
the Committee on Ways and Means and leader of the 

Jackson men in the House. 

He carried business habits into Congress, and passed 
much of his time at his desk, laboriously answering 
every letter addressed to him by his constituents or 
others, or carefully examining papers referred to his 
Committee. But he was always on the alert, and if in 
debate any political opponent let slip a word derogatory 
to the Administration, Mr. Cambreling was at once on 
his feet with a pertinent retort or a skillful explanation. 
He was noted for his liberality, and neither the district 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

charities or his needy constituents ever appealed to him 
in vain. 

The • Whigs, during the Jackson Administration, 
made much of David Crockett, of Tennessee, who was 
a thorn in the sides of the Democrats, and they suc¬ 
ceeded in having him defeated for one Congress, but he 
was successful at the next election. He was a true 

frontiersman, with 
a small dash of 
civilization and a 
great deal of 
shrewdness trans- 
plated in political 
life. He was 
neither grammati¬ 
cal nor graceful, 
but no rudeness 
of language can 
disguise strong 
sense and shrewd¬ 
ness, and a “ dem¬ 
onstration,” a s 
Bulwer says, “will 
force its way 
through all per¬ 
versions of gram¬ 
mar." Some one undertook to publish his life, but he 
promptly denied the authenticity of the work, and had a 
true memoir of himself written and published. This 
was a successful literary venture, and he next published 
a burlesque life of Van Buren, “heir apparent to the Gov¬ 
ernment, and appointed successor of Andrew Jackson,” 
which, in the mixture of truth, error, wit, sense, and 
nonsense in about equal parts, has certainly the merit 



Embryo Presidents . 153 

even at this day of being entertaining. Crockett’s 
favorite expression was, “ Be sure you’re right, then go 
ahead.” When Texas commenced its struggle for inde¬ 
pendence he went there, and was killed while gallantly 
fighting at San Antonio. His son, John W. Crockett, 
served two terms in Congress, was Attorney-General of 
Tennessee, edited a paper at New Orleans, and died at 
Memphis in 1852. 

Among the other members of the House of Repre¬ 
sentatives in Jackson’s time were several who afterward 
occupied high positions in the Federal Government. 
Franklin Pierce, a courteous gentleman, the son of a 
brave Revolutionary soldier, had been sent from New 
Hampshire by a large majority, and laid the founda¬ 
tion of personal friendships upon which he afterward 
entered the White House as President. Millard Fill¬ 
more, hale and hearty in personal appearance, repre¬ 
sented his home at Buffalo. He soon acquired a repu¬ 
tation for performing his committee work with scrupu¬ 
lous fidelity, and winning the confidence of his col¬ 
leagues, while advancing on all proper occasions the 
interests of his constituents, who rejoiced when he be¬ 
came President, after the death of Taylor. James 
Knox Polk, of Tennessee, a rigid Presbyterian, an 
uncompromising Democrat, and a zealous Freemason, 
was another Representative who subsequently became 

There were several other prominent men in the 
House : Richard Mentor Johnson, a burly and slightly 
educated Kentucky Indian-fighter, who enjoyed the 
reputation of having killed Tecumseh at the battle of 
the Thames, was elected a few years later on the Van 
Buren ticket Vice-President of the United States, but 
was defeated in the Harrison campaign four years 

I 54 

Per ley's Reminiscences . 

later ; and John Bell, a Whig of commanding presence 
and great practical sagacity, who was afterward Senator 
and Secretary of War, and who was defeated when he 
ran on the Presidential ticket of the Constitutional 
Union party, in i860. Elisha Whittlesey, of Ohio, who 
after sixteen years of Congressional service became an 
auditor, and was known as “ the Watch Dog of the 
Treasury.” Tom Corwin, of the same State, with a 

portly figure swarthy 
complexion, and won¬ 
derful facial expres¬ 
sion, and an inex¬ 
haustible flow of wit, 
who was not a buffoon, 
but a gentleman whose 
humor was natural, 
racy, and chaste. Gu- 
lian C. Verplanck and 
Thomas J. Oakley, 
two members of the 
New York bar, who 
represented that city, 
were statesmen rather 
than politicians. John 
Chambers, of Ken¬ 
tucky, a gigantic economist, was ever ready to reform 
small expenditures and willing to overlook large ones. 
And then there was the ponderous Dixon Id. Eewis, 
of Alabama, the largest man who ever occupied a seat 
in Congress—so large that chairs had to be made ex¬ 
pressly for his use. 

gen. findlay’s land sale. 

General James Findlay, who had served creditably in' 
the War of 1812, was a Jackson Democratic Representa- 
0 in the days of the contest between Old ddickory” 

A Model Land Agent. 


and “ Biddle’s Bank.” He was a type of a gentleman 
of the old school, and he recalled Washington Irving’s 
picture of the master of Bracebridge Hall. The bluff 
and hearty manner, the corpulent person, and the open 
countenance of the General, his dress of the aristo¬ 
cratic blue and buff, and his gold-headed cane, all 
tallied with the descriptions of the English country 
gentleman of the olden time. He was greatly beloved 
in Ohio, and several anecdotes are told of his kindness 
in enforcing the claims of the United States, when he 
was Receiver of the District Land Office, for lands sold 
on credit, as was the custom in those days. Upon one 
occasion there had been a time of general tightness in 
money matters, and many farms in the region north¬ 
east of Cincinnati but partly paid for were forfeited to 
the Government. In the discharge of his official duty 
General Findlay attended at the place of sale. He 
learned, soon after his arrival there, that many specu¬ 
lators were present prepared to purchase these lands. 
Mounting a stump, he opened the sale. He designated 
the lands forfeited, and said that he was there to offer 
them to the highest bidder. He said that the original 
purchasers were honest men, but that in consequence 
of the hard times they had failed to meet their engage¬ 
ments. It was hard, thus to be forced from their 
homes already partly paid for. But the law was im¬ 
perative, and the lands must be offered. “And now,” 
continued he, “ I trust that there is no gentleman—no, 
I will not say that, I hope there is no rascal here so 
mean as to buy his neighbor’s home over his head. 
Gentlemen, I offer this lot for sale. Who bids ?” 
There was no forfeited land sold that day. 

A spirited bronze statue of Jefferson, by his admirer, 
the French sculptor, David d’Angers, was presented to 

j 56 

Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Congress by Lieutenant Uriah P. Levy, but Congress 
declined to accept it, and denied it a position in the 
Capitol. It was then reverentially taken in charge by 
two naturalized Irish citizens, stanch Democrats, and 
placed on a small pedestal in front of the White House. 
One of these worshipers of Jefferson was the public 
gardener, Jemmy Maher, the other was John Foy, 
keeper of the restaurant in the basement of the Capi¬ 
tol, and famous for his witty sayings. Prominent 
among his bon mots was an encomium on Represent¬ 
ative Dawson, of Louisiana, who was noted for his 
intemperate habits, the elaborate ruffles of his shirts, 
and his pompous strut. “ He came into me place,” 
said Foy, “ and after ateing a few oysters he flung down 
a Spanish dollar, saying, ‘ Niver mind the change, Mr. 
Foy ; kape it for yourself.’ Ah ! there’s a pay cock of 
a gintleman for you.” 

Richard Mentor Johnson was born at Bryant’s Station, Kentucky, October 17th, 1781; distin¬ 
guished himself in the second war with Great Britain, and in the Indian wars ; was a Representative 
in Congress from Kentucky, 1807-1813 ; was a United States Senator, 1820-1829 ; was again a Rep¬ 
resentative, 1829-1837; was Vice-President, 1837-1841; died at Frankfort, November 19th, 1850. 




T HE most elegant estate in Washington in Jack- 
son’s time was the Van Ness mansion, built on 
the bank of the Potomac, at the foot of Seven¬ 
teenth Street. Mr. John Van Ness, when a member of 
the House from the State of New York, had married 
Marcia, the only child of David Burns, one of the orig¬ 
inal proprietors of the land on which the Eederal City 
was located. At that time every able-bodied man 
between eighteen and forty-five (with a few exceptions) 
had to perform militia duty, and the District Volunteers, 
organizing themselves in a battalion, complimented Mr. 
Van Ness by electing him Major. The President com 
missioned him, but so strict were the Congressmen of 
those days that the House investigated his case, and 
declared that he had forfeited his seat as a Representa¬ 
tive by accepting a commission from the General Gov¬ 
ernment. For the empty honor of wearing a militia 
uniform three or four times a year, and paying a large 
share of the music assessments, Major Van Ness lost 

his seat in Congress. 


1 5 8 P'erley b Rem in iscences . 

David Burns died soon after his daughter’s marriage, 
and she dutifully conveyed to her husband, through 
the inteivention of a trustee, her paternal inheritance. 
With a portion of -the fortune thus acquired, Major 
Van Ness built near the old Burns cottage a villa which 
cost thirty thousand dollars, and was a palace fit for a 
king. Entertainments the most costly were inaugu¬ 
rated and maintained in it 5 wit and song were heard 
within it, and elegance and distinction assembled under 
its hospitable shelter. 

Prom its door-step 
one could see ships 
from Europe moored 
to the docks of Alex¬ 
andria, while gliding 
by daily on the river 
beside it were mer¬ 
chantmen from the 
West Indies, laden for 
the port of George¬ 

Major Van Ness and 
Marcia Burns lived 
very happily together 
and had one child, a 


daughter, who grew 

into womanhood, married, and died a year after her 
marriage, ere the flowers in her bridal wreath had faded. 
Mrs. Van Ness loved her daughter with a love that was 
idolatry, and with her death she received a blow from 
which she never recovered She abandoned all the 
gayeties of the world, and laid aside her sceptre and 
crown as queen of society. In the charity school and 
orphan-asylum, by the bedside of the sick and dying, 

An Elegant Mausoleum. 


and in the homes of poverty, relieving its wants, she 
was found to the day of her death. Her last words to 
her grief-stricken husband and friends assembled about 
her bedside were: “ Heaven bless and protect you; 
never mind me.” The Mayor and City Government 
passed appropriate resolutions, and attended her funeral 
Major Van Ness erected a mausoleum after the pat- 


tern of the Temple of Vesta, at a cost of thirty-four thou¬ 
sand dollars, and placed within it his wife’s remains 
and those of her father and mother. The stately pile 
stood in a large inclosnre for years on H Street, beside 
the orphan asylum which Mrs. Van Ness richly endowed. 
Finally the march of improvement, needing all the 
space available within the city limits, necessitated the 
removal of the mausoleum to Oak Hill Cemetery, in 

*6o Per ley s Reminiscences . 

Georgetown, where the remains of John Howard Payne 
were subsequently re-interred. 

Major Van Ness himself enjoyed everything that 
worldly preferment could bestow. By turns he was 
president of a bank and Mayor of Washington, yet 
with his ample fortune he was always short of ready 
money. He was never pressed by suit, however, for 
his good nature was as irresistible as the man was fas¬ 
cinating ; the dun who came with a bill and a frown 
went away with a smile and—his bill. He lived to be 
seventy-six years of age, when—like the patriarchs of 
old—he died, full of honor and greatness, and, leaving 
no direct issue, his property passed into the hands of 
collateral heirs. They were sensible heirs, who did 
not seek the intervention of courts and lawyers for a 
distribution of their interests, but wisely and amicably 
distributed them themselves. The law, however, was 
determined not to be entirely shunned. If the heirs 
would not go to law, the law was accommodating—it 
would come to them, and it came with a romance. 

One day, soon after the death of Major Van Ness, a 
buxom, matronly looking dame, in heavy mourning and 
with tear-dimmed eyes, came upon the scene and claimed 
a share of the estate. They naturally inquired her name 
and address, and she modestly, but firmly, told them she 
was the widow of the deceased by virtue of a clandestine 
marriage which had occurred in Philadelphia. The 
heirs mistook her modesty for an attempt at blackmail, 
and acted as defendants in the suit which she instituted. 
The trial is one of the celebrated cases of the District 
of Columbia. It lasted upward of a month. Eminent 
counsel were in it, and many witnesses came to prove 
the truth of opposite facts. There was no doubt that 
Van Ness had known the widow and had visited her, 

A Runaway Nun . 


for love letters were read in court from Him to her; 
there was no doubt that some ceremony, sanctioned by 
a minister’s presence, had been performed and assisted 
at by both together, but the requisite formalities to 
constitute a valid marriage were not fully proven, and 
the jury disagreed. The matronly dame in heavy 
mourning did not murmur: luck was against her, and 
she accepted her luck. She left Washington and never 
pressed her suit to a second trial, nor further harassed 
the heirs. 

Miss Ann G. Wright, a cousin of Mrs. Van Ness, 
created a great sensation in Washington by coming to 
her house for a home. She was a runaway nun from 
the Convent of the Visitation in Georgetown, and had 
been known in the community as Sister Gertrude. 
No one ever knew rightly the cause of her sudden 
departure from the convent. Some said it was dis¬ 
appointed ambition in not being appointed superioress; 
others, that it was a case of love ; but she never told, 
and the ladies of the convent were just as reticent. 
She became an inmate of the elegant Van Ness man¬ 
sion and was a noted and brilliant woman in society . 
It was said that she had written a book, exposing the 
inner life of the convent, to be published after her 
death, but I have never heard of its appearance. A 
few years after .she left the convent she accompanied 
the family of the American Minister to Spain, and 
resided for some time at Madrid, where she was a great 
favorite in Court circles. 

General Jackson was not cultured or accomplished, 
but he had a strong, well-balanced mind, and he would 
go through forests of sophistry and masses of legal 
opinions straight to the point. Governor Wise, who 
admired him greatly, used to tell a story illustrative 

1 62, 

Perley's Reminiscences 

of the rough bark of Old Hickory’s character. During 
the Administration of President Monroe, General Jack- 
son, in command of some troops, invaded Florida and 
captured Arbuthnot and Ambrister, two Englishmen, 
who, it was charged, incited the Indians to depreda¬ 
tions. He at once ordered a court-martial and had them 
hanged, with but little time to prepare for their future 
place of abode. He was arraigned for the offense before 



the Cabinet of Mr. Monroe, and Mr. Adams, the Secre¬ 
tary of State, defended him on the high ground of inter¬ 
national law as expounded by Grotius, Vattel, and Puff- 
endorf. Jackson, who had quarreled with Mr. Monroe, 
was disposed to regard the matter as entirely personal. 
u Confound Grotius ! confound Vattel! confound Puff- 
endorf!” said he; “ this is a mere matter between Jim 
Monroe and me.” 

Balls and Parties. 

Having received a complimentary letter from Presi¬ 
dent Bustamente, of Mexico, General Jackson sent it to 
the Department of State with this indorsement: “ Mr. 
Van Buren will reply to this letter of General Busta¬ 
mente with the frankness of a soldier.” When this 

reached Mr. Van 
Buren he laughed 
heartily, as he was 
neither a soldier 
nor remarkable for 
frankness, and the 
clerks could not 
keep a secret. 

Although many 
old citizens, whose 
relatives and near 
friends had been 
turned out of their 
pleasant offices by 
the Jackson Ad¬ 
ministration, kept 
quite aloof from 
the White House, 
there was no lack 
of social enj oy- 
ments at Wash¬ 
ington. Mr. For¬ 
syth, the Secretary 
of State, gave a series of balls, and there were large par¬ 
ties at the residences of Mr. Dickerson, Secretary of the 
Navy, Major-General Macomb, General Miller, and 
other prominent men, each one in numbers and guests 


almost a repetition of the other. Mr. Van Buren was 
at all of them, shaking hands with everybody, glad to 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

see everybody, asking about everybody’s friends, and 
trusting that everybody was well. Colonel Rickard M. 
Johnson was also to be seen at all public gatherings, 
looking, in his scarlet waistcoat and ill-fitting coat, not 
as the killer of Tecumseh, but as the veritable Tecum- 
seh himself. Mr. Webster was seldom seen at public 
parties, but Messrs. Clay and Calhoun were generally 
present, with the foreign Ministers and their suites, 
who were the only wearers of mustaches in those 
days. There were the magnates of the Senate and 
the House, each one great in his own estimation, with 
the chevaliers aiindustrie , who lived as by their wits, 
upon long credits and new debts, and there were 
strangers congregated from all sections of the country, 
some having business before Congress, and others 
having come to see how the country was governed. 
Every one, on his arrival, would take a carriage and 
leave cards for the heads of departments, foreign Min¬ 
isters, leading army and navy officers, and prominent 
members of Congress. This would bring in return 
the cards of these magnates and invitations to their 
next party. 

Mr. Clay was a good raconteur , and always had a 
story to illustrate his opinions advanced in conversa¬ 
tion. One day, when he had been complimented on 
his neat, precise handwriting, always free from blots, 
interlineations, and erasures, he spoke about the im¬ 
portance of writing legibly, and told an amusing story 
about a Cincinnati grocery-man, who, finding the 
market short of cranberries, and under the impression 
that the fruit could be purchased cheaply at a little 
town in Kentucky, wrote to a customer there acquaint¬ 
ing him with the fact and requesting him to send “ one 
hundred bushels per Simmons ” (the wagoner usually 

Henry Clay's Stories. 165 

sent). The correspondent, a plain, uneducated man, had 
considerable difficulty in deciphering the fashionable 
scrawl common with merchants’ clerks of late years, 
and the most important word, u cranberries,” he failed 
to make out, but he did plainly and clearly read—one 
hundred bushels persimmons. As the article was 
growing all around him, all the boys in the neighbor¬ 
hood were set to gathering it, and the wagoner made 
his appearance in due time in Cincinnati with eighty 
bushels, all that the wagon body would hold, and a 
line from the country merchant that the remainder 
would follow the next trip. An explanation soon 
ensued, but the customer insisted that the Cincinnati 
house should have written by Simmons and not per 
Simmons. Who paid the loss history doth not 

One more of Mr. Clay’s stories which he used to tell 
with dramatic effect: As he was coming here one 
November the stage stopped for the passengers to get 
supper at a little town on the mountain side, where 
there had been a militia muster that afternoon. When 
the stage was ready to start, the Colonel, in full regi¬ 
mentals, but somewhat inebriated, insisted on riding 
with the driver, thinking, doubtless, that the fresh air 
would restore him. It was not long, though, before 
he fell off m the mud. The coach stopped, of course, 
for the Colonel to regain his seat. He soon gathered 
up, when the following colloquy ensued : “ Well, driver 
(hie), we’ve had quite a turn (hie) over, haint we?” 
“ No, we have not turned over at all.” “ I say (hie) 
we have.” “ No, you are mistaken, you only fell off.” 
U I say we (hie) have; I’ll leave it (hie) to the com- 
(hic) pany. Haven’t we (hie) had a turn (hie) over, 
gentlemen ?” Being assured they had not, “ Well, 

Per ley's Reminiscences . 


driver (Hie),” said He, “if I’d known that (hie) I 
wouldn’t a got out.” 

The automaton chess-player and other pieces of 
mechanism exhibited by Monsieur Maelzel were very 
popular at Washington. The chess-player was the 
figure of a Turk of the natural size, sitting behind a 
chest three feet and a-half in height, to which was 
attached the wooden seat on which the figure sat. On 
the top of the chest was an immovable chess-board, 
upon which the eyes of the figure were fixed. Its 
right hand and arm were extended on the chest, and 
its left, somewhat raised, held a pipe. Several doors 
in the chest and in the body of the figure having been 
opened, and a candle held within the cavities thus dis¬ 
played, the doors were closed, the exhibitor wound up 
the works, placed a cushion under the arm of the 
figure, and challenged any individual of the company 
present to play. 

In playing, the automaton always made choice of 
the first move and the white pieces. It also played 
with the left arm—the inventor, as it was said, not 
having perceived the mistake till his work was too far 
advanced to alter it. The hand and fingers opened on 
touching the piece, which it grasped and conveyed to 
the proper square. After a move made by its antago¬ 
nist, the automaton paused for a few moments, as if 
contemplating the game. On giving check to the king 
it made a signal with its head. If a false move was 
made by its antagonist it tapped on the chest impa¬ 
tiently, replaced the piece, and claimed the move for 
itself as an advantage. If the antagonist delayed any 
considerable time the automaton tapped smartly on the 
chest with the right hand. At the close of the game 
the automaton moved the knight, with its proper 

MaelzePs Marvels. 


motion, over each of the sixty-three squares of the 
board in turn, without missing one, and without a 
single return to the same square. 

Although positive proof was wanting, it was gener¬ 
ally believed that the movements of the figure were 
directed by a slender person adroitly concealed behind 
what was apparently a mass of machinery. This ma¬ 
chinery was always exhibited when in a fixed state, 
but carefully excluded from view when in motion. It 
was noticed by anxious observers that no variation ever 
took place in the precise order in which the doors were 
opened, thus giving the concealed player an opportu¬ 
nity to change his position. I11 what was apparently 
the winding up of the machine the key always ap¬ 
peared limited to a certain number of revolutions, how¬ 
ever different the number of moves in the preceding 
game might have been. On one occasion sixty-three 
moves were executed without winding up, and once it 
was observed that it was wound up without the inter¬ 
vention of a single move. 

Monsieur Maelzel also exhibited an automaton trum¬ 
peter, life size, attired in a full British uniform. It 
was rolled out before the audience and performed sev¬ 
eral marches and patriotic airs. A miniature rope- 
dancer performed some curious feats, and small figures, 
when their hands were shaken, ejaculated the words, 
“Papa!” and “ Mamma!” in a life-like manner. But 
the crowning glory of Monsieur MaelzePs exhibition 
was a panorama, scenic and mechanical, of the “ Burn¬ 
ing of Moscow.” The view of the Russian capital, 
with its domes and minarets, was a real work of art. 
Then the great bell of the Kremlin began to toll, and 
the flames could be seen making their way from build¬ 
ing to building. A bridge in the foreground was cov- 

Perkys Reminiscences . 


ered with figures, representing the flying citizens 
escaping with their household treasures. They were 
followed by a regiment of French infantry, headed by 
its band, and inarching with the precision of veterans. 
Meanwhile the flames had begun to ascend the spires 
and domes, and the deep tolling of the bells was 
echoed by the inspiring strains of martial music. At 
last, as the last platoon of Frenchmen crossed the 
bridge, the Kremlin 
was blown up with a 
loud explosion, and 
the curtain fell. 

Mrs. Alexander 
Hamilton, the widow 
of the founder of our 
financial system, pass¬ 
ed a good portion of 
the latter part of her 
life at Washington, 
and finally died there. 

She was the first to 
introduce ice-cream at 
the national metropo¬ 
lis, and she used to 


relate with rare hu¬ 
mor the delight displayed by President Jackson when 
he first tasted it. He liked it much, and swore, 

“ By the Eternal!” that he would have ices at the 
White House. The guests at the next reception were 
agreeably surprised with this delicacy, especially those 
from the rural districts, who, after approaching it sus¬ 
piciously, melting each spoonful with their breath 
before consuming it, expressed their satisfaction by eat¬ 
ing all that could be provided. Mrs. Hamilton was 

High-Priced Pamphlets. 


very much troubled the pamphlet which her hus¬ 
band had published when Secretary of the Treasury, 
in which he avowed an intrigue with the wife of one of 
his clerks, to exculpate himself from a charge that he 
had permitted this clerk to speculate on the action of 
the Treasury Department. Mrs. Hamilton for some 
years paid dealers in second-hand books five dollars a 
copy for every copy of this pamphlet which they 
brought her. One year the number presented was un¬ 
usually large, and she accidentally ascertained that a 
cunning dealer in old books in New York had had the 
pamphlet reprinted, and was selling her copies at five 
dollars each which had cost him but about ten cents 
each. She possessed a good many souvenirs of her 
illustrious husband, one of which, now in the writer’s 
possession, was the copper camp-kettle which General 
Hamilton had while serving on the staff of the illus¬ 
trious Washington. 

Alexander Hamilton Stephens was born in Wilkes County, Georgia, February nth, 1812 ; 
was a member of the House of Representatives, December 4th, 1843, to March 3d, 1859 ; was Vice- 
President of the Southern Confederacy; was again a member of the United States Congress, 
October 15th, 1877,10 January 1st, 1882; was Governor of Georgia, and died at Crawfordville, Georgia, 
March 4th, 1883. 




P RESIDENT JACKSON’S friends celebrated the 
8th of January, 1835, by giving a grand ban¬ 
quet. It was not only the anniversary of the 
battle of New Orleans, but on that day the last install¬ 
ment of the national debt had been paid. Colonel 
Benton presided, and when the cloth was removed he 
delivered an exulting speech. “ The national debt,” 
he exclaimed, “is paid! This month of January, 1835, 
in the fifty-eighth year of the Republic, Andrew Jack- 
son being President, the national debt is paid! and the 
apparition, so long unseen on earth—a great nation 
without a national debt!—stands revealed to the aston¬ 
ished vision of a wondering world! Gentlemen,” he 
concluded, “ my heart is in this double celebration, 
and I offer you a sentiment which, coming direct from 
my own bosom, will find its response in yours : ( Presi¬ 
dent Jackson : May the evening of his days be as 
tranquil and as happy for himself as their meridian 

Shooting at Jackson . 


has been resplendent, glorious, and beneficent for his 
country.’ ” 

A few weeks later, as President Jackson was leaving 
the Capitol, where he had been to attend the funeral 
of Representative Davis, of South Carolina, a man 
advanced toward him from the crowd, leveled a pistol, 


and fired it. The percussion-cap exploded without dis¬ 
charging the pistol, and the man, dropping it, raised a 
second one, which also missed fire. General Jackson’s 
rage was roused by the explosion of the cap, and, lift¬ 
ing his cane, he rushed toward his assailant, who was 
knocked down by Lieutenant Gedney,of the Navy, before 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

Jackson could reach him. The man was an English 
house-painter named Eawrence, who had been for some 
months out of work, and who, having heard that the 
opposition of General Jackson to the United States 
Bank had paralyzed the industries of the country, had 
conceived the project of assassinating him. The Presi¬ 
dent himself was not disposed to believe that the plot 
originated in the crazy brain of Lawrence, whom he 
regarded as the tool of political opponents. A pro¬ 
tracted examination, however, failed to afford the slight¬ 
est proof of this theory, although General Jackson never 
doubted it for a moment. He was fortified in this opin¬ 
ion by the receipt of anonymous letters, threatening 
assassination, all of which he briefly indorsed and sent 
to Mr. Blair for publication in the Globe. 

The heads of the executive departments, believing 
that “ to the victors belong the spoils,” did not leave an 
acknowledged anti-Jackson Democrat in office, either in 
Washington City or elsewhere, with a very few excep¬ 
tions. One of these was General Miller, Collector of 
the Port of Salem, Massachusetts. The leading Jack- 
son Democrats in Massachusetts petitioned the Presi¬ 
dent for his removal as incompetent and a political oppo¬ 
nent, and they presented the name of a stanch Jackson 
Democrat for the position. The appointment was 
made, and the name of the new Collector was sent to 
the Senate for confirmation. Colonel Benton, who had 
been made acquainted with the facts, requested that no 
action be taken until he could converse with the Presi¬ 
dent. Going to the White House the next morning, 
he said to General Jackson, “ Do you know who is 
the Collector of Customs at Salem, Mr. President, 
whom you are about to remove ?” “ No, sir,” replied 

General Jackson; “ I can’t think of his name, but Nat. 

True to a Brave Soldier. 

1 73 

Green and Ben. Hallett have told me that he is an in¬ 
competent old New England Hartford Convention 
Federalist.” “ Mr. President,” said Colonel Benton, 
“ the man yon propose to turn out is General Miller, 
who fought so bravely at the battle of Bridgewater.” 
“ What!” exclaimed General Jackson, “ not the brave 
Miller who, when asked if he could take the British 
battery, exclaimed, ‘I’ll try.’” “It is the same man, 
Mr. President,” responded Benton. General Jackson 
rang his bell, and when a servant appeared, said, “ Tell 
Colonel Donelson I want him, quick!” When the 
private secretary entered, the President said, “ Donelson, 
I want the name of the fellow I nominated for Collector 
of Salem withdrawn instantly. Then write a letter to 
General Miller and tell him that he shall be Collector 
of Salem so long as Andrew Jackson is President.” 

Learning that some of the Pension Agents had been 
witholding portions of the pensions due to Revolu¬ 
tionary veterans, General Jackson had the charges 
thoroughly investigated, and a list of the pensioners 
printed, showing what each one was entitled to receive. 
This disclosed the fact that some of the Pension Agents 
had been continuing to draw the pensions of deceased 
soldiers for years after their death, besides retaining 
portions of the pensions of others. Robert Temple, 
Pension Agent in Vermont, on hearing of the proposed 
investigation, hastened to Washington, where he en¬ 
deavored to bribe a clerk to falsify the list made out for 
the printer. The clerk obtained from him a list of sixty 
names of deceased soldiers whose pensions he had con¬ 
tinued to draw, and gave it to the Secretary of War. 
Temple, on learning this, committed suicide. 

There were a few veteran office-holders at Washing¬ 
ton, whose ancestors had been appointed under Fed- 

174 Perley's Rem in iscences. 

eral rule, but who had managed to veer around into 
Jackson Democracy. Mr. Webster, in speaking one 
day of a Philadelphia family which had thus kept in 
place, said that they reminded him of Simeon Alleyn, 
Vicar of Bray, in Old England, who steered his bark 
safely through four conflicting successive reigns. A 
bland gentleman, he was first a Papist, then a Protest¬ 
ant, next a Papist, and lastly a Protestant again. “ He 
must have been at times,” said Mr. Webster, u terribly 
confused between gowns and robes, and,” continued the 
Senator, U I can fancy him listening at his window to 
the ballad written on him, as trolled forth by some 
graceless varlets : 

“ ‘ To teach my flock I never missed ; 

Kings were by God appointed, 

And they are damned who dare resist 
Or touch the Lord's anointed ; 

And this in law I will maintain 
Until my dying day, sir, 

That whosoever king shall reign, 

I’ll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.’ ” 

Mr. Webster was not only fond of repeating quota¬ 
tions from the old English poets, but also verses from 
the old Sternhold and Hopkins hymn-book, which he 
had studied in the Salisbury meeting-house when a boy, 
and sometimes when alone he would sing, or rather 
chant, them in his deep voice, without a particle of 
melody. His favorite verses were the following trans¬ 
lation of the xviiith Psalm : 

“ The Lord descended from above, 

And bow’d the heavens high ; 

And underneath His feet He cast 
The darkness of the sky. 

“ On cherubs and on cherubims 
Full royally He rode, 

And on the wings of all the winds 
Came flying all abroad.” 

Delaware Senators . 


Late in the Jackson Administration, Richard H. 
Bayard came to Washington as a Senator from Dela¬ 
ware, to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Ar¬ 
nold Naudain. He was the son of James Asheton 
Bayard, originally a stanch Federalist, who had fol¬ 
lowed his father-in-law, Richard Bassett, as a Senator 
from Delaware, and whose vote had made Thomas Jef¬ 
ferson President of the United States instead of Aaron 
Burr. He had afterward been one of the Commission 
which negotiated the treaty of Ghent, and he educated 
his sons to succeed him in the Senate, and in turn to 
qualify a grandson to represent his State in the upper 
branch of the National Council. No one family has 
furnished so many United States Senators, and they 
have all been inspired by the knightly courtesy of the 

Bayard of the olden time, who was “ without fear and 
without reproach.” 

The Democratic Bayards were antagonized in Jack- 
son s time by the Whig Claytons, the other Delaware 
chair in the United States Senate having been occupied 
since 1829 by John Middleton Clayton. He was an 
accomplished lawyer, and one of the leaders of the 
Whig party. Under his direction Delaware was a 
Whig State, and had it been a larger one, Mr. Clayton 
would doubtless have been nominated to the Vice- 
Presidency, if not to the Presidency. He was zealously 
devoted to his party, and when, later in life, a delega¬ 
tion waited on him to question some of his acts as not 
in accordance with Whig principles, he rose, and draw¬ 
ing himself up to his full height, exclaimed : “ What! 
unwhig me? Me, who was a Whig when you gentlemen 
were riding cornstalk horses in your fathers’ barn¬ 
yards ?” The delegation asked his pardon for having 
doubted his party loyalty, and at once withdrew. 


Per ley’s Reminiscences. 

James Alfred Pearce, of Maryland, entered the 
House of Representatives during the Jackson Admin¬ 
istration, and was successively re-elected (with the 
exception of a single term) until he was transferred to 
the Senate in 1843, and served in that body until his 
death in 1862. He was another “ wheel horse” of the 
Whig party, although he shrank from political contro¬ 
versy. His home friends, who were very proud of his 
reputation, brought him forward at one time as a can¬ 
didate for the Presidency. But he refused to permit 
his name to be used, on the ground that the burdens 
of the White House were too costly a price to pay for 
its honors. 

Mr. Pearce was a devoted friend of the Congressional 
Library, and during his long service on the Committee 
having it in charge he selected the books purchased. 
In doing this he excluded all works calculated in his 
opinion to engender sectional differences, and when 
the Atlantic Monthly was established he refused to 
order it for the Library. He was the founder of the 
Botanic Garden, and the Coast Survey was another 
object of his especial attention and favor. 

Mr. Pearce’s care in the choice of books was by no 
means a notion of his own. From the founding of the 
Library it was the policy of many of its warmest friends 
to exclude every publication which would engender and 
foster sectional differences. They went on the prin¬ 
ciple of concealing difficulties, rather than of facing 
them squarely. Very different is the broader policy 
now maintained in this great library, on whose shelves 
every copyrighted book of the United States now finds 
a place. 

Mr. Pearce was a type of the gentleman of the old 
school. Tall, with a commanding figure, expressive 

Oratory and Anecdote. 177 

• features, blue eyes, and light hair, be was a brilliant 
conversationalist and a welcome guest at dinner. 

Senator William C. Preston, of South Carolina, was 
not only one of the foremost orators in the Senate, but 


a delightful conversationalist, with an inexhaustible 
fund of reminiscence and anecdote. One of his col¬ 
leagues in the House of Representatives, Mr. Warren 
R. Davis, of the Pendleton district, was equally famed as 


Perlefs Reminiscences . 

a story-teller, and when they met at a social board they 
monopolized the conversation, to the delight of the other 
guests, who listened with attention and with admiration. 

One evening—as the story is told—at a dinner-party, 
over the Madeira and walnuts, which formed the invaria¬ 
ble last course in those days, Mr. Preston launched forth 
in a eulogium on the extraordinary power of condensa¬ 
tion, in both thought and expression, which characterized 
the ancient Greek and Latin languages, beyond anything 
of the kind in modern tongues. On it he literally “dis¬ 
coursed eloquent music,” adorning it with frequent and 
apt illustration, and among other examples citing the 
celebrated admonition of the Spartan mother to her 
warrior son on the eve of battle—“With your shield or 
upon it!” The whole party were delighted with the 
rich tones and classic teachings of the gifted colloquist, 
except his equally gifted competitor for conversational 
laurels, who, notwithstanding his enforced admiration, 
sat uneasily under the prolonged disquisition, anxiously 
waiting for an opportunity to take his place in the pic¬ 
ture. At length a titillation seizing the olfactory nerve 
of Mr. Preston, he paused to take a pinch of snuff, and 
Mr. Davis immediately filled up the vacuum , taking up 
the line of speech in this wise: 

“ I have listened,” said he, “with equal edification and 
pleasure to the classic discourse of our friend, sparkling 
with gems alike of intellect and fancy, but I differ from 
him toto ccelo . He may say what he will as to the superior 
vigor and condensation of thought and speech charac¬ 
teristic of classic Greece and Rome; but, for my part, 
I think there is nothing equal to our own vernacular in 
these particulars, and I am fortunately able, although 
from a humble source, to give you a striking and con¬ 
clusive example and illustration of the fact. 

The Vernacular. 


“As I was returning home from Congress, some 
years since, I approached a river in North Carolina 
which had been swollen by a recent freshet, and ob¬ 
served a country girl fording it in a merry mood, and 
carrying a piggin of butter on her head. As I arrived 
at the river’s edge the rustic Naiad emerged from the 
watery element. ‘ My girl,’ said I, ‘ how deep’s the 
water and what’s the price of butter?’ ‘Up to your 
waist and nine pence,’ was the prompt and significant 
response! Let my learned friend beat that if he can, 
in brevity and force of expression, by anght to be found 
in all his treasury of classic lore ?” 

A roar of laughter followed this humorous explosion, 
and a unanimous vote in favor of the vernacular 
awarded the palm to the distinguished and successful 
wag over his classical but crest-fallen competitor. 

The first restaurant established in Washington was 
by a Frenchman named Boulanger, who was a pupil 
of the famous Chevet, of the Palais Royal at Paris. 
His cozy establishment was on G Street, just west of 
the War Department, where he used to serve good 
cheer to General Jackson, Van Buren, Clay, Sir Charles 
Vaughan, and other notables. His soups were gastro¬ 
nomic triumphs, and he was an adept in serving oysters, 
terrapin, reed-birds, quails, ortolan, and other delicacies 
in the first style of culinary perfection. His brandies, 
of his own importation, were of the choicest “bead and 
brand,” and he obtained from Alexandria some of the 
choice old Madeira which had been imported before the 
Revolution in return for cargoes of oak staves. Boul¬ 
anger did not cherish flattering recollections of General 
Jackson’s taste, but Mr. Van Buren used to compliment 
his savory repasts and enjoy artistic cheer. 

The Treasury Department, which had been destroyed 

i So 

Perley's Reminiscences, 

by fire, was rebuilt on a plan approved by President 
Jackson. The eastern front, of Virginia sandstone, 
was a colonnade copied from the Temple of Minerva 
Pallas, at Athens, three hundred and thirty-six feet 
long, with thirty Ionic columns. The artist was Robert 

Mills, and he wish¬ 
ed to set the build¬ 
ing back some fifty 
feet from the line 
of the street, to 


give more effect to the architecture, but General Jack- 
son directed him to bring it forward to the building line 
of the street, and stuck his cane in the ground to show 
where this was. Of course, he was obeyed. 

John Quincy Adams used to occasionally attend the 
theatre, and he was especially pleased with Hackett as 
Falstaff. Hackett looked the fat knight well, and his 
face interpreted many of his remarks and situations 

Hackett and Crockett. 


explicitly. He delivered the soliloquy upon honor 
with fine effect, and the scenes at Gadd’s Hill with 
Bardolph and his nose, with Mrs. Quickly, and with 
the Prince when detected in his exaggeration, were very 
humorous and well pointed. 

When Mr. Hackett took his benefit it was announced 
that at the particular request of Colonel David Crockett, 
of Tennessee, the comedian would appear on the 
boards in his favorite character of “ Nimrod Wildfire,” 
in the play called “ The Kentuckian; or, a Trip to 
New York.” This brought out a house full to over¬ 
flowing. At seven o’clock the Colonel was escorted by 
the manager through the crowd to a front seat reserved 
for him. As soon as he was recognized by the audi¬ 
ence they made the very house shake with hurrahs for 
Colonel Crockett, “ Go ahead!” “I wish I may be 
shot!” “ Music ! let us have Crockett’s March !” After 
some time the curtain rose, and Hackett appeared in 
hunting costume, bowed to the audience, and then to 
Colonel Crockett. The compliment was reciprocated 
by the Colonel, to the no small amusement and gratifi¬ 
cation of the spectators, and the play then went on. 

When Hiram Powers came to Washington, on his 
way to Italy, he was rather mortified by the remark of 
a jealous Italian artist, who saw in him a rival: 
“When you have been ten years in Italy, you may, 
perhaps, be able to chisel a littlebefore, however, a 
fourth of that time had elapsed, Powers had finished, 
from the rough marble block, the admirable bust of 
Chief Justice Marshall which now graces the hall of 
the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Among the visitors at Washington early in 1834 
was Charles Sumner, then a tall, slim, ungainly young 
man, twenty-three years of age, who was a student at 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

law in Boston, but not admitted to practice. He was 
introduced by his friend, Mr. Justice Story, to Chief 
Justice Marshall and Justices Thompson, Duval, and 
McLean, and was invited to dine with them.. It is not 
known whether Justice Story told him—as he told 


Edmund Quincy—that the Court was so aesthetic that 
they denied themselves wine, except in wet weather. 
“ But,” added the commentator on the Constitution, 
“ what I say about wine, sir, gives you our rule, but it 
does sometimes happen that the Chief Justice will say 
to me, when the cloth is removed, ‘ Brother Story, step 

Sumner's First Visit. 183 

to the window and see if it does not look like rain.’ 
If I tell him that the sun is shining, Judge Marshall 
will reply: ‘All the better, for our jurisdiction extends 
over so large a territory that the doctrine of chances 
makes it certain that it must be raining somewhere, 
and it will be safe to take something.’ ” 

Mr. Sumner used to attend the sittings of the Su¬ 
preme Court, which were commenced at eleven and 
generally lasted until half-past three. The Senate and 
House of Representatives met at noon and continued 
in session until four and sometimes five o’clock. The 
Senate generally adjourned over from Thursday until 
Monday, and the House rarely sat on Saturday. 

Among those with whom young Sumner became 
acquainted at Washington was Dr. Francis Lieber, a 
well-educated German, who had fought at Waterloo. 
He was for more than twenty years a professor in the 
University of South Carolina, vouched for as “ sound 
on the slavery question,” but he afterward became a 
bitter opponent of the South and of its “ peculiar insti¬ 
tution.” He was a prolific contributor to the press, 
and he never hesitated about enlisting the services of 
friends and acquaintances when they could procure 
materials for his use. 

Andrew Stevenson was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, in 1784 ; was a Representative from 
Virginia in Congress, 1823-1834 ; was Minister to Great Britain, 1836-1841; died in Albemarle County, 
Virginia, January 25th, 1857. 




Jackson’s last year in the white house. 


M R. VAN BUREN, like his predecessor, Mr. 

Calhoun, suffered mental martyrdom while 
presiding over the Senate as Vice-President. 
His manner was bland, as he thumped with his mallet 
when the galleries were out of order, or declared that 
The ayes have it,” or, “ The memorial is referred.” 
He received his fusillade of snubs and sneers as the 
ghost of Creusa received the embraces of Tineas—he 
heeded them not. He leaned back his head, threw one 
leg upon the other, and sat as if he were a pleasant 
sculptured image, destined for that niche of his life. 

Henry Clay, then in his prime, was the champion of 
the United States Bank in the Senate. One day in 
debate he broke out in the most violent appeal to Mar- 
tm Van Buren, then presiding in the Senate, to go to 
the President and represent to him the actual condition 
of the country. “ Tell him,” said Clay, “ that in a 
single city more than sixty bankruptcies, involving a 

loss of upward of fifteen millions of dollars have 

Washington''s Centennial Birthday. 185 

occurred. Tell him of the alarming decline in the 
value of all property. Tell him of the tears of help¬ 
less widows, no longer able to earn their bread, and of 
unclad and unfed orphans who have been driven by his 
policy out of the busy pursuits in which but yesterday 
they were gaining an honest livelihood.” 

The centennial birthday of George Washington was 
duly honored in the city which he had founded and 


which bore his name. Divine services were performed 
at the Capitol, and there was a dinner at Brown’s 
Hotel, at which Daniel Webster prefaced the first toast 
in honor of the Bather of his Country by an eloquent 
speech of an hour in length. In the evening there 
were two public balls — u one for the gentry at Carusi’s 
saloon, and the other for mechanics and tradesmen at 
the Masonic Temple.” 

Congress had proposed to pay signal homage to the 

Per ley's Reminiscences . 


memory of Washington on the centennial anniversary 
of his birth by removing his remains to the crypt 
beneath the dome of the Capitol. Mr. Custis, the 
grandson of Mrs. Washington, had given his assent; 
but John A. Washington, then the owner of Mount 
Vernon, declined to permit the removal of the remains. 

Congress purchased Rembrandt Peak’s portrait of 
Washington, and the House ordered a full length 
picture of him from Vanderlyn, a celebrated New York 
artist. A commission was also given to Horatio 
Greenough for a colossal statue of Washington in a 
sitting posture, to be placed on a high pedestal in the 
centre of the rotunda of the Capitol. The Washing¬ 
ton National Monument Association, after consultation 
with men of acknowledged artistic taste, selected from 
among the numerous designs submitted a simple 
obelisk, five hundred feet in height, for the erection of 
which the American people began at once to contribute. 

When “ the solid men of Boston” ascertained that 
General Jackson had actually signed the order for the 
removal of the deposits from the Bank of the United 
States while enjoying their hospitalities they were 
very angry. Not long afterward they learned that 
the United States frigate Constitution, a Boston-built 
vessel, which was being repaired at the Charlestown 
Navy Yard, was to be ornamented with a full-length 
figure of General Jackson as a figure-head. This was 
regarded as an insult, and the carver who was at work 
on the figure was requested to stop working on it. 
This he declined to do, and had his half-carved block 
of wood taken to the Navy Yard, where he completed 
his task under the protection of a guard of marines. 
When the figure-head was completed it was securely 
bolted to the cutwater of the Constitution, which was 

The Graven Image . 

then hauled out to her anchorage, and a vessel was 
stationed on either side of her. 

The Bostonians grew more and more indignant, and 
finally a daring young mariner from Cape Cod, Captain 
Samuel Dewey, determined that he would decapitate 
the obnoxious image. The night which he selected 
was eminently propitious, as a severe rain storm raged, 
accompanied by 
heavy thunder 
and sharp light¬ 
ning. Dewey 
sculled his boat 
with a muffied 
oar to the bow 
of the frigate, 
where he made it 
fast, and climbed 
up, protected by 
the head boards, 
only placed on 
the vessel the 
previous day. 

Then, with a 
finely tempered 
saw, he cut off 
the head, and 
returned with it 
to Boston, where a party of his friends were anxiously 
waiting for him at Gallagher’s Hotel. He was at once 
made a lion of by the Whigs, and Commodore Elliott 
was almost frantic with rage over the insult thus 
offered to his chief. 

Dewey soon afterward went to Washington, where 
he exhibited the grim features of the head to several 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

leading Whigs, and finally carried it, tied up in a 
bandana handkerchief, to the Navy Department. Send¬ 
ing in his card to Mr. Mahlon Dickerson, then the 
Secretary of the Navy, he obtained an audience. He 
was a short, chunky sailor-man, with resolute blue- 
gray eyes, which twinkled as he said, “ Have I the 
honor of addressing the Secretary of the Navy?” 

“ You have,” replied Mr. Dickerson, “ and, as I am 

very busy, I will thank 
you to be brief.” 

“ Mr. Dickerson,” 
said the Captain, “ I 
am the man who re¬ 
moved the figure-head 
from the Constitution, 
and I have brought it 
here to restore it.” 

Secretary Dickerson 
threw himself back in 
his chair and looked 
with astonishment at 
the man who had cast 
such an indignity on 
the Administration. 
“Well, sir,” said he, 
in an angry tone, “you are the man who had the 
audacity to disfigure Old Ironsides?” 

Yes, sir, I took the responsibility.” 

Well, sir, I will have you arrested immediately,” 
and the Secretary reached toward his bell to summon 
his messenger. 

Stop, Mr. Secretary,” said Captain Dewey; “ you, 
as a lawyer, know that there is no statute against de¬ 
facing a ship-of-war, and all you can do is to sue me 



The Conqueror's Saw. 

for trespass, and that in the county where the offense 
was committed. If you desire it, I will go back to 
Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and stand my 

Mr. Dickerson reflected a moment and said: “ You 
are right; and now tell me how you took away the 

Dewey told his story, and the story goes that Secre¬ 
tary Dickerson asked him to wait while he stepped 
over to the White House, followed by a messenger car¬ 
rying the head. When General Jackson saw it, and 


heard the Secretary’s story, he burst into a fit of un¬ 
controllable laughter. “ Why, that,” he cried at length 
—“ why, that is the most infernal graven image I ever 
saw. The fellow did perfectly right. You’ve got him, 
you say; well, give him a kick and my compliments, 
and tell him to saw it off again.” Dewey was after 
this frequently at Washington, and he finally obtained 
the appointment of Postmaster in a small Virginia 
town. He used to have on his visiting cards the rep¬ 
resentation of a handsaw, under which was inscribed, 
“ I came, I saw, I conquered.” 

19° Per ley's Reminiscences . 

General Jackson always liked the physical excite¬ 
ment of a horse-race, where a large assemblage thrills 
with but one thought from the word “ Go!” until the 
winning horse reaches the goal, and he was always to 
be seen at the races over the National Course, just 
north of Washington City. Delegations of sporting 
men from the Atlantic cities crowded into the metropo¬ 
lis during the race weeks; there were jockey-club din¬ 
ners and jockey-club balls; and the course resounded 
to the footfalls of noted horses, especially Boston, Sir 
Charles, Emily, and Blue Dick. In 1836 General 
Jackson had a filly of his own raising brought from 
the Hermitage and entered for a race by Major Donel- 
son, his private secretary. Nor did he conceal his 
chagrin when the filly was beaten by an imported Irish 
colt named Langford, owned by Captain Stockton, of 
the navy, and he had to pay lost wagers amounting to 
nearly a thousand dollars, while Mr. Van Buren and 
other devoted adherents who had bet on the filly were 
also losers. 

Baillie Peyton, of Tennessee, used to narrate an 
amusing account of a visit which he made to the Na¬ 
tional Race Course with General Jackson and a few 
others to witness the training of some horses for an 
approaching race. They went on horseback, General 
Jackson riding his favorite gray horse, and wearing 
his high white fur hat with a broad band of black 
crape, which towered above the whole group. The 
General greatly enjoyed the trials of speed, until a 
horse named Busiris began to rear and plunge. This 
stirred Old Hickory’s mettle, and he rode forward to 
give some energetic advice to the jockey, but just then 
he saw that the Vice-President was ambling along at his 
side on an easy-going nag. “ Mr. Van Buren,” he ex- 

Jackson's Amusements. 19 1 

claimed, “ get behind me, sir! They will run over you, 
sir!” and the Little Magician, with his characteristic 
diplomacy, which never gave offense, gracefully retired 
to the rear of his chief, which, Mr. Peyton used to 
say, was his place. 

President Jackson used to visit his stable every morn¬ 
ing, until he became feeble, and he paid especial atten¬ 
tion to the manner in which his horses were shod. He 
never, after he became President, played cards or bil¬ 
liards, nor did he read anything except the Daily Globe 
and his private correspondence. When he received a 
letter that he desired one 
of his Cabinet to read, he 
would indorse on the 
back “ Sec. of —, A. J.” 

He used to smoke a great 
deal, using either a new 
clay pipe with a long 
stem, or a pipe made from 
a piece of a corn-cob, with 
a reed stem. 

Cock-fighting had been 
one of General Jackson’s 
favorite home amuse¬ 
ments, and he had become the possessor of a breed 
of fowl that was invincible in Tennessee. He had 
some of these pugnacious birds brought to Wash¬ 
ington, and one spring morning he rode out toward 
Bladensbnrg, with a select party of friends, to see 
“a main” fought between the Hermitage and the 
Annapolis cocks. The birds were not only trained 
to fight, but were equipped for their bloody work. 
Their heads and necks were plucked, their tail feath¬ 
ers were closely trimmed, and their natural spurs 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

were cut off and replaced by “ gaffs,” or sharp blades 
of finely tempered steel. Each bird had his trainer, 
ready to administer stimulants and to sponge the blood 
from the wounds inflicted by the gaffs. General Jack- 
son was very confident that his favorites would again 
be victorious, but there was no fight, to the great dis- 
appointment of all present, who doubtless possessed 
what has been called “ the devil’s nerve,” which thrills 


with base enjoyment in the visible pain of man, beast, 
or bird. The long confinement in coops on the stages, 
or some other unknown cause, appeared to have de¬ 
prived the Hermitage birds of their wonted pluck, and 
the Annapolis cocks crowed in triumph. 

There was a grand wedding at Arlington in Jack¬ 
son’s time, when Lieutenant Robert Edward Lee, fresh 
from West Point, came up from Fortress Monroe to 
marry the heiress of the estate, Mary Custis. Old 

Lieutenant R. E. Lee . 


Mr. Custis was delighted with his soldier son-in-law, 
whose father had said of Washington that he was 
“ First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of 
his countrymen.” The Marshalls, the Carters, the 
Fitzhughs, the Tayloes, and other “ first families of 
Virginia ” were represented at the wedding, and the 
happy young cou¬ 
ple went, after the 
ceremony, to old 
Fortress Monroe, 
where they resided 
for a while in a case¬ 
mate fitted up as 
officers’ quarters. 

The next year Lieu¬ 
tenant Lee brought 
his bride back to 
Arlington, which 
was their happy 
home until he was 
persuaded to enlist 
under the‘ ‘stars and 

bars” of the South¬ 
ern Confederacy. lieutenant Robert e. lee. 

One of General Jackson’s favorites was Jemmy 
Maher, an Irishman, whom he had appointed public 
gardener, a position of some responsibility in those 
days, when its holder had to look after the gardens at 
the White House, the Capitol, and the Departments. 
Jemmy’s father had been forced to flee to this country 
to avoid punishment for participation in the Irish re¬ 
bellion of ’98, and the son regarded all Englishmen as 
his foes. General Jackson, who had “whipped the 
British ” at New Orleans, was the object of his especial 


Perlefs Reminiscences. 

adoration, especially as lie used to forgive him when 
the Superintendent of Public Buildings occasionally 
complained that he drank whisky rather too freely. 
u Shure, Mr. President,” he would say, “ I niver drink 
unless I am dry, and it would be mane in me not to 
invite me frinds to jine and take a drap with me.” 

General Jackson 
was not fond of the 
theatre, but he went 
to see the widely her¬ 
alded performance of 
Miss Fanny Kemble. 
The niece of Mrs. Sid- 
dons and John Kem¬ 
ble, and the daughter 
of Charles Kemble, 
she had been trained 
from early childhood 
to sustain the reputa¬ 
tion of her distinguish¬ 
ed theatrical family. 
A good-looking young 
woman, with large, 
dark eyes, a profusion 
of dark hair, a low 
forehead, and healthy strawberry-and-cream complexion, 
she was personally attractive, and wonderfully effective. 
Every movement, gesture, and inflection of voice had 
been carefully studied, and when making an ordinary 
remark in conversation she would deliver her words 
with a deliberate attempt at stage effect. Her Juliet, 
with her father’s Romeo, was her best character, but 
they failed signally as Lady Teazle and Charles Sur¬ 
face in the School for Scandal. 


In the Cheese Business. 


Miss Kemble did not remain long on the American 
stage, as she became the wife of Mr. Pierce Butler, a 
wealthy slave-owner, in 1834. The next year her 
Journal appeared, in which she criticised what she had 
seen and heard with a free hand, but “ ’twas pretty 
Fanny’s way,” and no one got angry over her silly 
twaddle. One of the fair author’s predictions concern¬ 
ing the fate of our polity yet awaits fulfillment. u It 
is my. conviction,” said she, “ that America will be a 
monarchy before I am a skeleton.” Fifty years have 
passed since these words were written, and the proph¬ 
etess has developed into a portly matron, anything but 
a skeleton, and very unlike the slender Miss of Jack¬ 
son’s time. 

When Jefferson was President, the agricultural town 
of Cheshire, in Western Massachusetts, which had 
been drilled by its Democratic pastor, named Lei and, 
into the unanimous support of the Sage of Monticel'lo, 
determined to present him with the biggest cheese that 
had ever been seen. So on a given day every cow-owner 
brought his quota of freshly made curd to a large cider- 
press, which had been converted into a cheese-press, 
and in which a cheese was pressed that weighed one 
thousand six'hundred pounds. It was brought to 
Washington in the following winter on a sled, under 
the charge of Parson Leland, and in the name of the 
people of Cheshire, was formally presented to President 
Jefferson in the then unfinished East Room. Jeffer¬ 
son, of course, returned thanks, and after having a 
great wedge cut from the cheese, to send back to the 
donors, he invited all present to help themselves. The 
cheese was variegated in appearance, owing to so many 
dairies having contributed the curd, but the flavor was 
pronounced the best ever tasted in Washington. 

Perley's Reminiscences 


Jackson’s admirers thought that every honor which 
Jefferson had ever received should be paid him, so some 
of them, residing in a rural district of New York, got 
up, under the superintendence of a Mr. Meacham, a 
mammoth cheese for “ Old Hickory.” After having 
been exhibited at New York, Philadelphia, and Balti¬ 
more, it was kept for some time in the vestibule at the 


White House, and was finally cut at an afternoon re¬ 
ception on the 22d of February, 1837. For hours did 
a crowd of men, women, and boys hack at the cheese, 
many taking large hunks of it away with them. When 
they commenced, the cheese weighed one thousand four 
hundred pounds, and only a small piece was saved for 
the President’s use. The air was redolent with cheese, 
the carpet was slippery with cheese, and nothing else 

I 97 

Jackson's Last Reception . 

was talked about at Washington that day. Even the 
scandal about the wife of the President’s Secretary of 
War was forgotten in the tumultuous jubilation of that 
great occasion. 

General Jackson received that day for the last time at 
the White House, and was so feeble that he had to re¬ 
main seated. Mrs. Donelson stood on one side, and on 
the other was Van Buren, who was inaugurated as 
President a fortnight later. 

William Rufus King was born in North Carolina, April ist,i786 ; was a Representative in 
Congress from Alabama from November 4th, 1811, until he resigned to accompany William Pinkney 
to Russia as Secretary of Legation, April 23d, 1816; was United States Senator from Alabama from 
March 4th, 1819, until he resigned to go as Minister to France, April 9th, 1844; was again United 
States Senator from December 7th, 1846, to March 4th, 1853; was elected Vice-President on the 
Pierce ticket in 1852, as a Democrat, receiving two hundred and fifty-four electoral votes, against 
forty-two electoral votes for W. R. Graham, a Whig ; having gone to Europe for his health, he 
took the oath of office near Havana, March 4th, 1853 ; returning to his home at Catawba, Alabama, 
where he died, April 18th, 1853, the da y following his arrival. 




W HILE the electoral votes for the eighth Presi¬ 
dent of the United States were being 
counted, in the presence of the two Houses 
of Congress, Senator Clay remarked to Vice-President 
Van Buren, with courteous significance, “ It is a cloudy 
day, sir!” 

“ The sun will shine on the 4th of March, sir!” was 
the Little Magician’s confident reply. 

The prediction was fulfilled, for on Van Buren’s in¬ 
augural morning, March 4th, 1837, the sun shone 
brightly, and there was not a cloud to be seen. Wash¬ 
ington was crowded with strangers from all parts of 
the country, and in anticipation of the time set for the 
ceremony great numbers began to direct their way at 
an early hour to the Capitol. Congregating before 
the eastern portico of the Capitol, the dense mass of 
humanity reminded those who had traveled abroad of 
the assembled multitude in front of St. Peter’s on 
Easter Sunday waiting to receive the Papal blessing. 

President Jackson and President-elect Van Buren 
were escorted from the White House to the Capitol by 

Van Buren's Inauguration . 199 

a volunteer brigade of cavalry and infantry and by 
several Democratic political organizations. General 
Jackson and his successor rode in an elegant phaeton, 
constructed of oak from the original timber of the 
frigate Constitution. It had been made at Amherst, 
Massachusetts, and was presented by sixty admirers. 


It had one seat, holding two persons, and a high box 
for the driver in front, bordered with a deep hammer- 
cloth. The unpainted wood was highly polished, and 
its fine grain was brought out by a coat of varnish, 
while on a panel on either side was a representation of 
“ Old Ironsides” under full sail. The phaeton was 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

drawn by General Jackson’s four iron-gray carriage- 
horses, with elaborate brass-mounted harness. 

Arriving at the Capitol, General Jackson and Mr. 
Van Buren went to the Senate Chamber, where they 
witnessed Colonel Johnson take his oath of office as 
Vice-President. They then repaired to a platform 
erected over the steps of the eastern portico, followed 
by the Diplomatic Corps, the Senators, and the prin- 


cipal executive officials. A cheer greeted the old hero, 
who had risen from a sick-bed, against the protest of 
his physician, that he might grace the scene, and a 
smile of satisfaction lit up his wan, stern features as 
he stood leaning on his cane with one hand and hold¬ 
ing with the other his crape-bound white fur hat, while 
, he acknowledged the compliment paid him by a suc¬ 
cession of bows. Mr. Van Buren then advanced to the 

Reception at the White House. 201 

front of the platform, and with impressive dignity 
read in a clear, distinct voice his inaugural address. 
His manner and emphasis were excellent, yet the effect 
upon the multitude was not what might have been ex¬ 
pected from so great a collection of men devoted to his 
support. When he had concluded Chief Justice Taney 
administered the oath of office, and no sooner had Van 
Buren kissed the Bible, as a pledge of his assent, than 
General Jackson advanced and shook him cordially by 
the hand. The other dignitaries on the platform fol¬ 
lowed with their congratulations, the populace cheered, 
and the bands played u Hail to the Chief!” 

President Van Buren and ex-President Jackson were 
then escorted back to the White House, where for three 
hours a surging tide of humanity swept past the new 
Chief Magistrate, congratulating him on his inaugura¬ 
tion. The assemblage was a promiscuous one, and the 
reception was as disorderly an affair as could well be 
imagined. At four o’clock in the afternoon the mem¬ 
bers of the Diplomatic Corps called in a body, wearing 
their court dresses, and Don Calderon de la Barca, who 
was their Dean, presented a congratulatory address. In 
his reply, Mr. Van Buren made his only known lapsus 
lingua by addressing them as the “ Democratic corps.” 
It was not until after his attention had been called to 
the mistake that he corrected himself, and stated that 
he had intended to say “ Diplomatic Corps.” In the 
evening two inauguration balls were given. 

Many strangers had been unable to find conveyances 
to take them away and could not obtain lodging places. 
It was interesting, toward nightfall, to witness the 
gathering anxiety in many a good citizen’s counte¬ 
nance as he went from boarding-house to hotel, and 
from hotel to private residence, seeking lodgings in 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

vain. Money could indeed procure the most luxurious 
dishes and the rarest beverages ; but while the palate 
could be gratified there was no rest for weary limbs. 
“ Beds ! beds ! beds !” was the general cry. Hundreds 
slept in the market-house on bundles of hay, and a 
party of distinguished Bostonians passed the night in 
the shaving-chairs of a barber’s shop. 


General Jackson soon left for Tennessee, relieved 
from the cares of the Presidential station, and exhibit¬ 
ing an unwonted gayety of spirit. During the previous 
winter he had not expected to live until the conclusion 
of his term, and he could but feel buoyant and happy 
in finding himself sufficiently recovered to undertake 
the journey, with the prospect of enjoying some years 

Van Bareli's Manner . 


at the Hermitage, in the midst of the agricultural occu¬ 
pations of which he was so fond. 

President Van Buren was the first President who had 
not been born a British subject, yet he was at heart a 
monarchist, opposed to universal suffrage, and in favor 
of a strong central government, although he had 
reached his exalted position by loud professions of de¬ 
mocracy. He endeavored to establish a personal inti- 


macy with every one presented to him, and he ostensibly 
opened his heart for inspection. The tone of his voice 
was that of thorough frankness, accompanied by a 
pleasant smile, but a fixed expression at the corners of 
his mouth and the searching look of his keen eyes 
showed that he believed, with Talleyrand, that language 
was given to conceal thought. He found himself sad¬ 
dled at the commencement of his Administration with 

204 Perleyis Reminiscences. 

national financial embarrassments, bequeathed as a 
legacy by his “ illustrious predecessor,” as he desig¬ 
nated General Jackson in one of his messages. The 
destruction of the United States Bank had forced the 
transfer of the national funds, which it had held on 
deposit, to the State banks. They had loaned these 
funds on securities, often of doubtful value or worth¬ 
less, and when the day of reckoning came general 
bankruptcy ensued. Manufacturers were obliged to 
discharge their workmen; provisions were scarce and 
dear in the Atlantic States, because funds could not be 
obtained for the removal eastward of the Western 
crops; and there was much actual distress in the large 
cities on the sea coast. 

To quiet the popular clamor, President Van Buren 
convened Congress in an extra session, and in his mes¬ 
sage to that body on its assembling he proposed the es¬ 
tablishment of an independent Treasury, with sub- 
Treasuries in different cities, for the safe keeping of the 
public money, entirely separate from the banks. The 
Whigs opposed this independent Treasury scheme, but, 
to the surprise of those with whom he had of late been 
politically affiliated, it received the cordial support of 
Mr. Calhoun. When Congress began to discuss this 
measure, he became its champion in the Senate, and 
soon u locked horns ” with Mr. Clay, who led its oppo¬ 
nents. The debate was continued session after session, 
and in time Messrs. Clay and Calhoun passed from 
their discussion of national finances into an acrimoni¬ 
ous reciprocal review of the acts, votes, and motions of 
each other during the preceding thirty years. 

During the debate in the House on the bill authoriz¬ 
ing the issue of Treasury notes there was an all-night 
session. The Democrats had determined in caucus to 


A Night Session . 

“ sit out the bill,” and whenever a Whig moved to 
adjourn his motion was promptly negatived. As dark¬ 
ness came on the lamps were lighted and trimmed, 
candles were brought into the hall, and the older and 
feebler members, “ pairing off,” took their cloaks and 
hats and left. The House being in Committee of the 
Whole, whenever they found no quorum voting, were 
obliged by the parliamentary usage to rise and report 
that fact to the House. When this was done, and the 
House was again in session as a House, behold, a quo¬ 
rum instantly appeared ; and then, by the same law, 
they were obliged to return into Committee again. 
This happened so often that at length gentlemen of the 
Administration side became irritated, remonstrated, 
demanded that members should be counted in their 
seats, whether they had voted or no, and at length 
came to insist that individuals, by name, be compelled 
to vote. Such a motion having been made in one case, 
a voice cried out in the confusion which filled the 
chamber: u How are you going to do it ?” and the 
query was succeeded by shouts of laughter, mingled 
with sounds of vexation. 

As midnight approached it was curious to watch the 
various effects produced by the scene on different tem¬ 
peraments. Some yawned fearfully 5 others cuised and 
swore ; others shook their sides with merriment; others 
reasoned and remonstrated with their neighbors , some 
very composedly stretched themselves upon the sofas, 
having first borrowed chair-cushions enough to support 
their somnolent heads 5 others bivouacked on three 
chairs, while some, not finding other convenient couch, 
stretched themselves flat on the floor of the House, 
with, perhaps, a volume of the Laws of the United 
States as their pillow. 

20 6 

Perleyis Reminiscences . 

At half-past one a call of the House was ordered, the 
doors were closed, and one hundred and forty-nine 
members were found to be present. This House went 
into Committee of the Whole to come out of it again, 
and the yeas and nays were called until the clerk grew 
hoarse. Thus rolled the hours away. Candles burned 
down to their sockets, forming picturesque grottoes of 
spermaceti as they declined ; lamps went out in suffo¬ 
cating fumes. Some insisted on having a window up; 
others on having it down. 

When the morning light began to dawn through the 
large south windows of the Representatives’ Hall, it con¬ 
trasted strongly with the glare of lights, the smoke of 
the lamps, and all the crowded tumult within. At four 
o’clock the Sergeant-at-Arms arrived with Corwin, Gid- 
dings, and a dozen other captured absentees, who were, 
one by one, required to account for their absence by 
the Speaker, who would say: “ Mr. A B, you have 
absented yourself from the House during its sittings, 
contrary to law, and without leave of the House ; what 
excuse have you to offer ?” And then the unfortunate 
men made out the best story they could. Some had 
been sick; others had had a sick wife; others had got 
a bad headache from the late session ; some had wit¬ 
nessed such night scenes on former occasions, and did 
not wish to see the like again ; one had told the Ser¬ 
geant he would come if he would send a hack for him, 
and no hack had been sent; while one very cavalierly 
informed the House that the reason why he had been 
absent was that he had not been there. Many were 
excused altogether ; others discharged from custody on 
paying their fines (about two dollars each to the Ser¬ 
geant for his fee of arrest). One batch having thus 
been disposed of, the officer was dispatched to make 

Another Duel. 


another haul, and in the meantime the old game was 
continued ; and, as neither party would yield, the un¬ 
profitable contest was prolonged, not till broad daylight 
merely, but down to eleven o’clock, when, all proposi 
tions of compromise having been rejected, the debate 
was regularly renewed. Finally, at a quarter before 
five o’clock, the House adjourned, quite fagged out. 

Among other evidences of the bitter and ferocious 
spirit which characterized political contests in those 
days was the duel between Representative Cilley, of 
Maine, and Representative Graves, of Kentucky, in 
which the former fell. Mr. Cilley, in a speech deliv¬ 
ered in the House of Representatives, criticised a 
charge of corruption brought against some unnamed 
Congressman in a letter published in the New York. 
Courier and Enquirer , over the signature of A Spy 
in Washington,” and indorsed in the editorial columns 
of that paper. Mr. James Watson Webb, the editor of 
the Courier and Enquirer, immediately visited Washing¬ 
ton and sent a challenge to Mr. Cilley by Air. Gra\es, 
with whom he had but a slight acquaintance. Mr. 
Cilley declined to receive the hostile communication 
from Mr. Graves, without making any reflection on the 
personal character of Mr. Webb. Mr. Graves then 
felt himself bound by the unwritten code of honor to 
espouse the cause of Air. Webb, and challenged Air. 
Cilley himself. This challenge was accepted, and the 
preliminaries were arranged between Mr. Henry A. 
Wise, as the second of Mr. Graves, and Mr. George 
W. Jones, as the second of Mr. Cilley. Rifles were 
selected as the weapons, and Mr. Graves found diffi¬ 
culty in obtaining one, but was finally supplied by his 
friend, Mr. Rives, of the Globe. The parties met, the 
ground was measured, and the combatants were placed, 

20 8 

Perley's Reminiscences . 

on the fourth fire Mr. Cilley fell, shot through the 
body, and died almost instantly. Mr. Graves, on see¬ 
ing his antagonist fall, expressed a desire to render 
him some assistance, but was told by Mr. Jones, “ My 
friend is dead, sir !” Mr. Cilley, who left a wife and 
three young children, was a popular favorite, and his 
tragic end caused a great excitement all over the 
country. Mr. Wise was generally blamed for having 

instigated the fatal 
encounter; certainly, 
he did not endeavor to 
prevent it. 

The Capitol had its 
comedies as well as its 
tragedies, and the lead¬ 
ing comedian was 
Thomas Corwin, a 
Representative from 
Ohio, who was a type 
of early Western cul¬ 
ture and a born hu¬ 
morist. He was a 
middle-sized, some¬ 
what stout man, with 
pleasing manners, a 
fine head, sparkling hazel eyes, and a complexion so 
dark that on several occasions—as he used to narrate 
with great glee—he was supposed to be of African 
descent. u There is no need of my working,” said he, 

“ f° r whenever I cannot support myself in Ohio, all I 
should have to do would be to cross the river, give my¬ 
self up to a Kentucky negro-trader, be taken South, 
and sold for a field hand.” He always had a story 
ready to illustrate a subject of conversation, and the 

A Keen Retort. 


dry manner in which lie enlivened his speeches by 
pungent witticism, without a smile on his own stolid 
countenance, was irresistible. 

He was once addressing a Whig mass meeting at 
Marietta, Ohio, and was taking especial pains not to 
say anything that could offend the Abolitionists, who 
were beginning to throw a large vote. A sharp witted 
opponent, to draw him out asked: u Shouldn’t niggers 
be permitted to sit at the table with white folks, on 
steamboats and at hotels ?” u Fellow-citizens,” ex¬ 
claimed Corwin, his swarthy features beaming with 
suppressed fun, u I ask you whether it is proper to ask 
such a question of a gentleman of my color?” The 
crowd cheered and the questioner was silenced. 

Martin Van Buren was born at Kinderhook, New York, December 5th, 1782; was a United 
States Senator from New York from December 3d, 1821, to December 20th, 1828, when he resigned 
to accept the office of Governor of New York ; this position he resigned on the 12th of March, 1829, 
having been appointed by President Jackson Secretary of State of the United States; this position 
he resigned August 1st, 1831, having been appointed by President Jackson Minister to Great Britain, 
but the Senate rejected his nomination; was elected Vice-President on the Jackson ticket in 1832; 
was elected President in 1836; was defeated as the Democratic candidate for President in 1840; was 
the candidate of the Anti-Slavery party for President in 1848, and died at Kinderhook, New York, 
July 24th, 1862. 




I T was during the Administration of Mr. Van 
Buren that the English Abolitionists first began 
to propagate their doctrines in the Northern 
States, where the nucleus of an anti-slavery party was 
soon formed. This alarmed the Southerners, who, 
under the lead of Mr. Calhoun, threatened disunion if 
their u peculiar institution ” was not let alone. The 
gifted South Carolinian having in January, 1838, paid 
a high compliment in debate to John Randolph for his 
uncompromising hostility to the Missouri Compromise, 
Mr. Clay said : “ I well remember the Compromise Act 
and the part taken in that discussion by the distin¬ 
guished member from Virginia, whose name has been 
mentioned, and whose death I most sincerely lament. 
At that time we were members of the other House. 
Upon one occasion, during a night session, another 
member from Virginia, through fatigue and the offen¬ 
sive exhalations from one of the surrounding lamps, 
fainted in his seat and was borne to the rear of the 
Representatives’ Hall. Calling some one to the 
Speaker’s chair, I left my place to learn the character 

Agitation on Slavery . 211 

and extent of his illness. Returning to the desk, I 
was met in one of the aisles by Mr. Randolph, to 
whom I had not spoken for several weeks. ‘ Ah, Mr. 
Speaker,’ said he, ‘ I wish yon would leave Congress 
and go to Kentucky. I will follow you there or any¬ 
where else.’ I well understood what he meant, for at 
that time a proposition had been made to the Southern 
members, and the matter partly discussed by them, of 
leaving Congress in the possession of the Northern 
members and returning home, each to his respective 
constituents. I told Mr. Randolph that I could not 
then speak to him about the matter, and requested him 
to meet me in the Speaker’s room early the next morn¬ 
ing. With his usual punctuality he came. We talked 
over the Compromise Act, he defending his favorite 
position and I defending mine. We were together an 
hour, but to no purpose. Through the whole he was 
unyielding and uncompromising to the last. W e 
parted, shook hands, and promised to be good friends, 
and I never met him again during the session. Such,” 
continued Mr. Clay, “ was the part Mr. Randolph took 
in that discussion, and such were his uncompromising 
feelings of hostility toward the North and all who did 
not believe with him. His acts came near shaking this 
Union to the centre and desolating this fair land. The 
measures before us now, and the unyielding and uncom¬ 
promising spirit are like then, and tend to the same 
sad and dangerous end—dissolution and desolation, 
disunion and ruin.” 

On the same day, in 1838, Mr. Webster gave in his 
opinion that Congress had power to abolish slavery in 
the District of Columbia. That power, he said, was 
granted in the most express, explicit, and undoubted 
terms. It declared that Congress should have “ exclu- 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

sive jurisdiction over all subjects whatsoever in the 
District of Columbia.” Mr. Webster said that he had 
searched and listened for some argument or some law 
to controvert this position. He had read and studied 
carefully the act of cession of the ten miles square 


from Maryland and Virginia, and he conld find nothing 
there, and nowhere else, to gainsay the plain and 
express letter of the Constitution. This inspired the 
Abolitionists with the hope that Mr. Webster would 
become the leader of the crusade against slavery that 

Webster and the West. 


they had decided to inaugurate. At that time he un¬ 
questionably leaned toward emancipation, not only in 
the District of Columbia, but everywhere in the United 
States. This was noticed by the Southern leaders, 
who began to tempt him with promises of support for 
the Presidency—promises which were subsequently 
broken again and again that a more subservient and 
available tool might be placed in power. 

Before allying himself with the South, Mr. Webster 
endeavored to identify himself with the West by invest 
ing largely in a city laid out on paper in a township in 
Rock Island County, Illinois. It was at the mouth 
of Rock River, and it was to have borne the name of 
Rock Island City. Fletcher Webster went out there 
and remained for a time, I think, accompanied by his 
friend, George Curson. Caleb Cushing was also inter¬ 
ested in the embryo city, but somehow it w r as not a 

Mr. Webster had, however, a very vague idea of the 
“ Great West ” of his day. On one occasion when he 
was in the Senate a proposition was before it to estab¬ 
lish a mail-route from Independence, Mo., to the 
mouth of the Columbia River, some three thousand 
miles, across plains and mountains, about the extent of 
which the public then knew no more than they did of 
the interior of Thibet. Mr. Webster, after denouncing 
the measure generally, closed with a few remarks con¬ 
cerning the country at large. “ What do we want ?” 
he exclaimed, u with this vast, worthless area? This 
region of savages and wild beasts, of deserts of shift¬ 
ing sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie 
dogs ? To what use could we ever hope to put these 
great deserts, or those endless mountain ranges, im¬ 
penetrable and covered to their very base with eternal 

214 Perlefs Reminiscences. 

snow ? What can we ever hope to do with the western 
coast, a coast of three thousand miles, rock-bound, 
cheerless, uninviting, and not a harbor on it? What 
use have we for this country ?” 

Franklin Pierce, who had served two terms in the 
House of Representatives^ was then elected to the Sen¬ 
ate. He proved a valuable recruit for the Southern 
ranks, as when in the House he had risen one day to a 

question of privilege, 
and warmly resented 
the reading by Mr. 
Calhoun in the Senate 
of an article from the 
Concord Herald of 
Freedom, which de¬ 
clared that the Aboli¬ 
tionists in New Hamp¬ 
shire were as one to 
thirty. This journal, 
Mr. Pierce said, “ was 
too insignificant and 
too odious, in the eyes 
of his constituents, to 
be cited as authority. 
No age or country had 
ever been free from fanatics, and with equal justice 
might the whole people of New York be charged with 
being followers of Matthias as the people of New 
Hampshire for favoring the designs of the Knapps 
and Garrisons and Thompsons.” 

Sergeant Smith Prentiss, who came to Washington 
during the Van Buren Administration to claim a seat 
in Congress as a Representative from Mississippi, was 
the most eloquent speaker that I have ever heard. The 


Prominent Orators . 


lame and lisping boy from Blaine liad ripened, nnder 
the Southern sun, into a master orator. The original, 
ever-varying, and beautiful imagery with which he 
illustrated and enforced his arguments impressed 
Webster, Clay, Everett, and even John Quincy Adams. 
But his forte lay in arraigning his political opponents, 
when his oratory was u terrible as an army with ban¬ 
ners nothing could stand against the energy of his 
look, gesture, and im¬ 
passioned logic, when 
once he was fairly un¬ 
der way, in denounc¬ 
ing the tricks and sel¬ 
fish cunning of mere 
party management. 

The printed reports of 
his speeches are mere 
skeletons, which give 
but a faint idea of 
them. Even the few 
rhetorical passages 
that are retained have 
lost much of their 
original form and 
beauty. The profes¬ 
sional stenographers confessed themselves utterly baf¬ 
fled in the attempt to report him, and he was quite as 
unfitted to report himself. Indeed, he complained that 
he never could reproduce the best thoughts, still less 

the exact language, of his speeches. 

The principal antagonist of Mr. Prentiss, in the 
courts of Mississippi, was Joseph Holt, a young Ken¬ 
tucky lawyer, who had acquired a national reputation 
for oratory by a speech which he made in the National 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

Democratic Convention of 1836, when he advocated 
the nomination of Colonel Richard M. Johnson in a 
speech of great beauty and power. His arguments 
were persuasive, the tones of his voice were melodious, 
and he insinuated himself and his cause into the hearts 
of his audience, rather than carried them by storm. 
Devoted to the South and its peculiar institution, he 
was welcomed in the State of Mississippi, and soon 

k took a prominent po¬ 
sition at the bar of her 
higher courts. 

William Rufus 
King, of Alabama, who 
was elected President 
pro tempore of the Sen¬ 
ate while Colonel 
Johnson was Vice- 
President, was a prim, 
spare bachelor, known 
among his friends as 
u Miss Nancy King.” 
When a young man 
he had accompanied 
the Minister to Russia, 
William Pinkney, to 
St. Petersburg, as Secretary of the Legation of the 
United States. Residing there for two years, he ac¬ 
quired the formal manners of the Court of the Em¬ 
peror Alexander, with a diplomatic craftiness which he 
always retained. He was a courteous presiding officer, 
as was thus oddly exemplified while he occupied the 
chair. The two Senators from the State of Arkansas 
pronounced the name of their State differently. Mr. 
King punctiliously observed the difference, invariably 


Van Suren's Troubles. 


recognizing one as u the gentleman from Ar-kan-sas,” 
and the other as “ the gentleman from Ark-an-sas.” 

Mr. Van Buren was much exercised by a difficulty 
in the Pennsylvania Legislature, which the State 
militia was called out to quell, and which it was thought 
might result in a derfrand for the intervention of United 
States troops. Thaddeus Stevens, then an ardent 
Whig, was a leader in the attempt to force eleven ille¬ 

gally elected members 
into the House at the 
point of the bayonet, 
the troops having 
their muskets loaded 
with buckshot. When 
the enterprise collaps¬ 
ed, Stevens jumped 
from a back window 
of the Capitol and ran 
off to Gettysburg, 
where he remained 
without claiming his 
seat for about a month, 
when he came in and 
offered to take the 
oath, but the House 
resolved, with great solemnity, that the seat was vacant, 
although others who had been out nearly as long were 

admitted without hesitation. 

A prominent young Virginia lawyer, named William 
Smith, who practiced at Culpepper Court-House, be¬ 
came interested in a mail-route between Washington 
City and Milledgeville, Georgia, and he grew to be an 
extensive contractor. Many of his mail-routes were 
but little more than bridle-paths, over which the mails 


2 i8 

Perlef s Reininiscences. 

were carried on horseback. With ail eye to the main 
chance, and with a laudable desire to extend the mail 
facilities of Virginia, Mr. Smith managed to secure a 
large number of “ expeditions ” through Parson Oba- 
diah Bruin Brown, commonly called “ Parson Obadiah 
Bruin Beeswax Brown,” the Si^perintendent of the 
contract office of the Post-office Department. In place 
of the horseback system stage lines would be substitu¬ 
ted, and this service would be frequently “ expedited ” 
without much of a view to ‘‘productiveness,” from one 
trip to three or six trips per week. All of these “ ex¬ 
peditions ” were noted by stars (* *) at the bottom of 
Smith’s vouchers, which, interpreted, meant “ extra 
allowance.” So frequently did these stars appear in 
the Virginia contractor’s accounts that he soon came 
to be known in the Post-office Department as “ Extra 
Billy ” Smith, and it adhered to him in after life, when 
he became a member of the House of Representatives 
and afterward Governor of Virginia. He still lives 
at Warrenton, a hale and hearty old man. 

Mr. Van Buren had an abundance of political nick¬ 
names. He was “ the sweet little fellow ” of Mr. 
Ritchie of the Richmond hiquirer , and “ the Northern 
man with Southern principles ” of the Charleston 
Courier; Mr. Clinton baptized him “the Political 
Grimalkin;” Mr. Calhoun, “the Weazelwhile he’ 
helped himself to the still less flattering name of “ the 
follower in the footsteps ”—that is, the successor of his 
predecessor, a sort of masculine Madame Blaize , 

‘ ‘ Who strove the neighborhood to please, 

With manners wondrous winning, 

And never followed wicked ways, 

Except when she was sinning,” 

who clad all the hungry and naked office-holders “ that 

The Dead Arise . 


left a pledge behind’’ of supporting him; and, like 
that good dame, led the way to all those who came be¬ 
hind her. 

The Southern nullifiers, who had been u squelched ” 
by General Jackson, began to revive under the more 
genial rule of Mr. Van Buren, and they established an 
u organ ” called the Washington Chronicle. It was 
edited by Richard K. Cralle, who came fiom Teesbuig, 
Virginia. He was a well-educated gentleman, ultra in 
his opinions on free trade and Southern rights , but 
those who were enthusiastic in their praises of his edi¬ 
torials did not subscribe to the Chronicle , or if they 
did, never condescended to pay their subscriptions. So 
the paper ruined its printers and then gave up the 
ghost, Mr. Calhoun securing a department clerkship 

for Mr. Cralle. 

Tristam Burgess was born at Rochester, Massachusetts, February 26th, 1770; was a Represen¬ 
tative in Congress from Rhode Island from December 1st, 1825, until March 3 d, 1835 ; was defeated 
as the Whig candidate for Congress, and afterward as the Whig candidate for Governor, and dmd at 
Providence, Rhode Island, October 13th, 1853- 




ren’s new year’s reception. 

P RESIDENT VAN BUREN’S wife (by birth 
Miss Hannah Hoes, of Columbia County, 
New York) had been dead nineteen years 
when he took possession of the White House, accom¬ 
panied by his four sons, and presided over the official 
receptions and dinner parties with his well-known tact 
and politeness. In the November following 1 his inaug¬ 
uration, his eldest son and private secretary, Colonel 
Abraham Van Buren (who was a graduate of the Mili¬ 
tary Academy at West Point, and who had served on 
the staff of General Worth), was married to Miss 
Angelica Singleton, a wealthy South Carolina lady, 
who had been educated at Philadelphia, and who had 
passed the preceding winter at Washington in the 
family of her relative, Senator Preston. On the New 
Year’s day succeeding the wedding Mrs. Van Bnren, 
assisted by the wives of the Cabinet officers, received 
with her father-in-law, the President. Her rare accom - 
plishments, superior education, beauty of face and 
figure, grace of manner, and vivacity in conversation 
insured social success. The Wffiite House was refur- 
nished in the most expensive manner, and a code of 


Healing the Breaches. 

etiquette was established which rivaled that of a Ger¬ 
man principality. 

The President endeavored to restore the good feeling 
between the Administration and Washington “ society,” 
which had been ruptured during the political rule of 
General Jackson. He gave numerous entertainments 
at the White House, and used to attend those given by 
his Cabinet, which was regarded as an innovation, as 
his predecessors had never accepted social invitations. 
Ex-President Adams, the widow of President Madison, 
and the widow of Alexander Hamilton each formed the 
centre of a pleasant coterie, and the President was open 
in the expression of his desire that the members of his 
Cabinet and their principal subordinates should each 
give a series of dinner-parties and evening receptions 
during the successive sessions of Congress. 

The dinner-parties were very much alike, and those 
who were in succession guests at different houses often 
saw the same table ornaments, and were served by the 
same waiters, while the fare was prepared by the same 
cook. The guests used to assemble in the parlor, which 
was almost invariably connected with the dining-room 
by large folding doors. When the dinner was ready 
the doors were thrown open, and the table was revealed, 
laden with china and cut-glass ware. A watery com¬ 
pound called vegetable soup was invariably served, fol¬ 
lowed by boiled fish, overdone roast beef or mutton, 
roast fowl or game in season, and a great variety of 
puddings, pies, cakes, and ice-creams. The fish, meat, 
and fowl were carved and helped by the host, while the 
lady of the house distributed the vegetables, the 
pickles, and the dessert. Champagne, without ice, was 
sparingly supplied in long, slender glasses, but there was 
no lack of sound claret, and with the dessert several 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

bottles of old Madeira were generally produced by the 
host, who succinctly gave the age and history of each. 
The best Madeira was that labeled “ The Supreme 
Court,” as their Honors, the Justices, used to make a 
direct importation every year, and sip it as they con¬ 
sulted over the cases before them every day after din¬ 
ner, when the cloth had been removed. Some rare old 

specimens of this wine 
can still be found in 
Washington wine-cel¬ 

At the evening par¬ 
ties the carpet was 
lifted from the room 
set apart for dancing, 
and to protect the dan¬ 
cers from slipping the 
floor was chalked, 
usually in colors. The 
music was almost in¬ 
variably a first and sec¬ 
ond violin, with flute 
and harp accompani¬ 
ments. Light refresh¬ 
ments, such as water-ices, lemonade, negus, and small 

cakes were handed about on waiters between every 
two or three dances. The crowning glory of the 
entertainment, however, was the supper, prepared un¬ 
der the supervision of the hostess, aided by some of 
her intimate friends, who also loaned their china and 
silverware. The table was covered with a la mode 
beef, cold roast turkey, duck, and chicken, fried and 
stewed oysters, blanc-mange, jellies, whips, floating 
islands, candied oranges, .and numerous varieties of 


A New Sensation. 


tarts and cakes. Very often the older men would 
linger after the ladies had departed, and even reassem¬ 
ble with the host, and discuss the wines ad libitum , if 
not ad nauseam , while the young men, after having 
escorted the ladies to their respective homes, would 
meet again at some oyster-house to go out on a lark, 
in imitation of the young English bloods in the favorite 
play of Tom and Jerry. 

Singing, or rather 
shouting, popular 
songs, they would 
break windows, wrench 
off knockers, call up 
doctors, and transpose 
sign-boards; nor was 
there a night watch¬ 
man to interfere with 
their roistering. 

A decided sensation 
was created at Wash¬ 
ington during the Van 
Buren Administration 
by the appearance 
there of a handsome 
and well-educated Italian lady, who called herself 
America Vespucci, and claimed descent from the navi¬ 
gator who gave his name to this continent. Ex- 
President Adams and Daniel Webster became her 
especial friends, and she was soon a welcome guest 
in the best society. In a few weeks after her arrival, 
she presented a petition to Congress asking, first, to 
be admitted to the rights of citizenship*, and, secondly, 
to be given u a corner of land ” out of the public 
domain of the country which bore the name of her 




Madame Vespucci's Fall. 

ancestor. An adverse report, which was soon made, 
is one of the curiosities of Congressional literature. 
It eulogized the petitioner as “ a young, dignified, 
and graceful lady, with a mind of the highest intel¬ 
lectual culture, and a heart beating with all our own 
enthusiasm in the cause of America and human 
liberty.” The reasons why the prayer of the peti¬ 
tioner could not be granted were given, but she was 
commended to the generosity of the American people. 

“ The name of America—our country’s name—should 
be honored, respected, and cherished in the person of 
the interesting exile from whose ancestor we derive the 
great and glorious title.” 

A subscription was immediately opened by Mr. Haight, 
the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, and Judges, 
Congressmen, and citizens vied with one another in 
their contributions. Just then it was whispered that 
Madame Vespucci had borne an unenviable reputation 
at Florence and at Paris, and had been induced by a 
pecuniary consideration to break off an intimacy with 
the Duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe’s oldest son, and 
come to Washington. Soon afterward the Duke s 
younger brother, the Prince de Joinville, came to this 
country, and refused to recognize her, which virtually 
excluded her from reputable society. For some years 
subsequently she resided in luxurious seclusion with a 
wealthy citizen of New York, in the interior of that 
State, and after his death she returned to Paris. 

During the Van Buren Administration James P. 
Espy came to Washington to initiate what has grown 
into the Weather Signal Service. He was a Pennsyl¬ 
vanian by birth, and so poor in early life that when 
seventeen years of age he had not been able to 
learn to read. He subsequently mastered the English 



Perleys Reminiscences. 

language and the classics, and long before he knew 
why began to study the mystery of the moving clouds 
and to form his storm theories. At last he asked 
of Congress an appropriation of five thousand dollars 
a year for five years, but he was met with jibes and 
ridicule. Senator Preston, of South Carolina, said 


Espy was a madman, too dangerous to be at large, and 
the Senator would vote a special appropriation for a 
prison in which to confine him. Espy was in the 
Senate gallery at the time. Wounded to the quick, 
he left the Capital and went to New York, where he 
delivered a course of lectures with great success. They 
were repeated in Boston, and he made money enough 
to enable him to visit Europe. 


A Weather Prophet. 

Not long after reaching Liverpool, January 6th, 1S39, 
a great storm occurred. He went to Lloyds’, consulted 
the newspapers as they arrived, noted the direction of 
the wind as given at different places, and from these 

data constructed the first great storm map ever pre¬ 
pared, with the hour points marked. Every line and 
curve and point exemplified his theory. He was at no 
loss now for audiences. He appeared before the Brit , 
ish Association of Sci¬ 
entists at London, at 
which Sir John Her- 
schel was present, an 
interested auditor. He 
crossed the channel to 
Paris, and the Acad¬ 
emy of Sciences ap¬ 
pointed a committee, 
composed of the illus¬ 
trious Arago, u to re¬ 
port upon his observa¬ 
tions and theory.” The 
effect of this report, 
when it reached Wash- 

ington, was not much amos kendall. 

different from that 

which followed, afterward, the announcement of Morse’s 
first transmitted message over the wire from Washing¬ 
ton to Baltimore. 

Aided by General Jackson and the “ machinery” of 
the Democratic party, engineered by Amos Kendall, 
Mr. Van Buren secured for himself the re-nomination 
for the Presidency. But he had great obstacles to con¬ 
tend with. The financial condition of the country, 
deranged by the absence of' the controlling power of 


Perleyi s Reminiscences . 

the United States Bank, grew worse and worse. There 
was a total stagnation of business throughout the 
Union, and from every section came tidings of embar¬ 
rassment, bankruptcy, and ruin. There were no avail¬ 
able funds for the purchase of Western produce and its 
transportation to the Atlantic markets, so it remained 
in the hands of the farmers, who could not dispose of it 
except at a great sacrifice. In Ohio, for example, pork 
was sold at three dollars a hundred pounds, and wheat 
at fifty cents per bushel, while the price of agricultural 
labor was but thirty-seven and a-half cents a day. 

The campaign was carried on with great bitterness 
in Congress, where the leading Whigs cordially united 
in a decisive warfare on the Democrats. General Har¬ 
rison was eulogized as a second Cincinnatus—plowman, 
citizen, and general—and the sneering remark that he 
resided in a log-cabin was adopted as a partisan watch¬ 
word. The most notable speech was by Mr. Ogle, of 
Pennsylvania, who elaborately reviewed the expensive 
furniture, china, and glassware which had been im¬ 
ported for the White House by order of President Van 
Buren. He dwelt on the gorgeous splendor of the 
damask window curtains, the dazzling magnificence of 
the large mirrors, chandeliers, and candelabra; the 
centre-tables, with their tops of Italian marble ; the 
satin-covered chairs, tabourets, and divans ; the impe¬ 
rial carpets and rugs, and, above all, the service of 
silver, including a set of what he called gold spoons, 
although they were of silver-gilt. These costly deco¬ 
rations of the White House were described in detail, 
with many humorous comments, and then contrasted 
with the log-cabins of the West, where the only orna¬ 
mentation, generally speaking, was a string of speckled 
birds’-eggs festooned about a looking-glass measuring 


Ogle versus Van Buren . 

eight by ten inches, and a fringed window curtain of 
white cotton cloth. 

Having described the furniture and the table service 
of the White House, as purchased by direction of the 
President, Mr. Ogle proceeded to sketch Van Buren s 
New Year’s receptions. “Instead,” said he, “of weekly 
receptions, when all the people were at liberty to par¬ 
take of the good cheer of the President’s house, there 
had been substituted one cold, stiff, formal, and cere¬ 
monious assembly on the first day of every year. At 
this annual levee, notwithstanding its pomp and pa¬ 
geantry, no expense whatever is incurred by the Presi¬ 
dent personally. No fruits, cake, wine, coffee, hard 
cider, or other refreshments of any kind are tendered 
to his guests. Indeed, it would militate against all the 
rules of court etiquette, now established at the palace, 
to permit vulgar eating and drinking on this grand 
gala day. The Marine Band, however, is always 
ordered from the Navy Yard and stationed in the 
spacious front hall, from whence they swell the rich 
saloons of the palace with k Hail to the Chief!’ ‘ Wha’ll 
be King but Charley?’ and other humdrum airs, which 
ravish with delight the ears of warriors who have never 
smelt powder. As the people’s cash, and not his own, 
pays for all the services of the Marine Band, its em¬ 
ployment at the palace does not conflict with the pecu¬ 
liar views of the President in regard to the obvious 
difference between public and private economy. 

“ At these ‘ annual State levees,’ the great doors of 
the ‘ East Room,’ ‘ Blue Elliptical Saloon,’ ‘ Green 
Drawing Room,’ and ‘ Yellow Drawing Room ’ are 
thrown open at twelve o’clock ‘ precisely ’ to the 
anxious feet of gayly appareled noblemen, honorable 
men, gentlemen, and ladies of all the nations and king- 


Perley's Re7niniscences. 

doms of the earth, many of whom appear ambitiously 
intent upon securing an early recognition from the 
head of the mansion. The President, at the ‘ same in¬ 
stant of time,’ assumes his station about four feet 
within the ‘ Blue Elliptical Saloon,’ and facing the door 
which looks out upon the spacious front hall, but is 
separated from it, as before remarked, by a screen of 
Ionic columns. He is supported on the right and left 


by the Marshal of the District of Columbia and by one 
of the high officers of the Government. The Marine 
Band having been assigned their position at the eastern 
end of the hall, with -all their fine instruments in full 
tune, ‘ at the same identical moment ’ strike up one of 
our most admired ‘ national airs and forthwith a cur¬ 
rent of life flows in at the wide-spread outer door of the 
palace, and glides with the smoothness of music 
through the spacious hall by the Ionic screen into the 
royal presence. Here (to drop for a moment my liquid 

That Smile Eternal. 


figure) eacli and every individual is presented and re¬ 
ceived witli a gentle shake of the hand, and is greeted 
with that ‘ smile eternal ’ which plays over the soft fea¬ 
tures of Mr. Van Buren, save when he calls to mind 
how confoundedly 1 Old Tip ^ chased, caught, and licked 
Proctor and Tecumseh. Immediately after the intro¬ 
duction or recognition the current sets toward the 
‘ East Room,’ and thus this stream of living men and 
women continues to flow and flow and flow, for about 
the space of three hours—the ‘ Democratic President ’ 
being the only orb around which all this pomp, pride, 
and parade revolve. To him all these lesser planets 
turn, ‘ as the sunflower turns ’ to the sun, and feel their 
colors brightened when a ray of favor or a ‘ royal smile ’ 
falls upon them.” 

William Learned Marcy was born at Sturbridge, Massachusetts, December 12th, 1786; was 
United States Senator from New York from December 5th, 1831, to July, 1832, when he resigned; 
was Governor of the State of New York, 1833-1839 ; was Secretary of War under President Polk, 
March 5^,1845, to March 3 d, 1849; was Secretary of State under President Pierce, March 7th, 
1853, to March 4th, 1857, and died at Ballston Spa, New York, July 4th, 1857. 





T HE Presidential campaign of 1840 surpassed in 
excitement and intensity of feeling all which 
had preceded it, and in these respects it has 
not since been equaled. It having been sneeringly re¬ 
marked by a Democratic writer that General Harrison 
lived in a log cabin and had better remain there, the 
Whigs adopted the log cabin as one of their emblems. 
Log cabins were raised everywhere for Whig headquar¬ 
ters, some of them of large size, and almost every 
voting precinct had its Tippecanoe Club with its chor¬ 

Eor the first time in our land the power of song was 
invoked to aid a Presidential candidate, and immense 
editions of log cabin song-books were sold. Many of 
these songs were parodies on familiar ballads. One of 
the best compositions, the authorship of which was as¬ 
cribed to George P. Morris, the editor of the New York 
Mirror , was a parody on the Old Oaken Bucket. The 
first verse ran : 


Electioneering Extraordinary , 


“ Oh ! dear to my soul are the days of our glory, 

The time-honored days of our national pride ; 

When heroes and statesmen ennobled our story, 

And boldly the foes of our country defied : 

When victory hung o’er our flag, proudly waving, 

And the battle was fought by the valiant and true 
For our homes and our loved ones, the enemies braving. 

Oh ! then stood the soldier of Tippecanoe— 

The iron-armed soldier, the true-hearted soldier 
The gallant old soldier of Tippecanoe.” 

Mass conventions were held by the Whigs in the 

larger cities and in the central towns at the great West. 
They were attended by thousands, who came from the 
plow, the forge, the counter, and the desk, at a sacrifice 
of personal convenience and often at considerable ex¬ 
pense, to give a hearty utterance to their deep-felt 
opposition to the party in power. Delegations to these 
conventions would often ride in carriages or on horse¬ 
back twenty-five or thirty miles, camping out during 
the excursion. They carried banners, and often had a 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

small log cabin mounted on wheels, in which was a 
barrel of hard cider, the beverage of the campaign. 
On the day of the convention, and before the speaking, 
there was always a procession, in which the delegations 
sang and cheered as they marched along, sometimes 
rolling balls on which were the names of the States, 
while the music of numerous bands aided in imparting 

The speaking was from a platform, over which floated 
the national flag, and on which were seated the invited 
guests, the local political magnates, the clergymen of 


the place, and generally a few Revolutionary soldiers, 
who were greeted with loud applause. The principal 
orators during the campaign were Henry Clay, Daniel 
Webster, William C. Preston, Henry A. Wise, Thomas 
Corwin, Thomas Ewing, Richard W. Thompson, and 
scores of less noted names. General Harrison took 
the stump himself at several of the Western gather¬ 
ings, and spoke for over an hour on each occasion. 
His demeanor was that of a well-bred, well-educated, 
venerable Virginia gentleman, destitute of humor and 
fond of quoting from classic authors. 

The favorite campaign document, of which hundreds 

Corwin versus Crary . 


of thousands were circulated through the mails under 
the franks of the Whig Congressmen, was the reply in 
the House of Representatives by Thomas Corwin, of 
Ohio, to an attack upon Harrison’s military record 
made by Mr. Isaac E. Crary. A native of Connecticut, 
Mr. Crary had migrated to Michigan, and was the first 
and the only Representative from that recently admit¬ 
ted State. Anxious to distinguish himself, he under¬ 
took to criticise the military career of General Harri¬ 
son with great unfairness and partisan vigor. Mr. 
Corwin replied the next day in one of the most wonder¬ 
ful speeches ever delivered at Washington. For vigor¬ 
ous argument and genuine wit the speech has rarely 
been equaled. Those who heard it agree that his de¬ 
fense of Harrison was overwhelming and the annihila¬ 
tion of Crary complete. The House was convulsed 
with laughter at the richness and originality of the 
humor, and at times almost awed by the great dignity 
and profound arguments of the orator. The pages of 
history were ransacked for illustrations to sustain the 
speaker, and all were poured in rapid profusion upon 
the head of poor Crary, who sat amazed and stupefied 
at the storm he had provoked. As Corwin proceeded 
the members left their seats and clustered thickly 
about him, the reporters laid down their pens, the pre¬ 
siding officer his gavel, and everybody gave themselves 
up to the enjoyment of the hour. As Mr. Corwin 
painted in mock heroic style the knowledge of mili¬ 
tary affairs which the lawyer member from Michigan 
had acquired from reading Tidd's Practice and Espin - 
assess Nisi Prius , studies so happily adapted to the art 
of war, the House fairly roared with delight. 

He drew a mirth-provoking picture of Crary in his 
capacity of a militia brigadier at the head of his legion 


Perlef s Reminiscences , 

on parade day, with his “ crop-eared, bushy-tailed mare 
and sickle hams—the steed that laughs at the shaking 
of the spear, and whose neck was clothed with thunder,” 
and likened Crary to Alexander the Great with his 
war-horse, Bucephalus, at the head of his Macedonian 

He traced all the characteristic exploits of the as¬ 
sembled throng on those old-time mustering occasions. 
The wretched diversity in height and build of the 


marshaled hosts ; the wild assortment of accoutrements, 
from the ancient battle-ax to the modern broom-stick ; 
the trooping boys, the slovenly girls, the mock enthu¬ 
siasm of the spectators, all were painted with a master’s 
hand. Finally, after reciting Crary’s deeds of valor 
and labor during the training day, Corwin left him 
and his exhausted troop at a corner grocery assuaging 
the fires of their souls with copious draughts of whisky 
drank from the shells of slaughtered watermelons. 
When Mr. Corwin came to give the history of General 

Greeley's Venture. 


Harrison and defend his military record, he rose to the 
height of pure eloquence, and spoke with convincing 
force and unanswerable logic. The fate of Crary was 
sealed. Probably no such personal discomfiture was 
ever known from the effect of a single speech. He 
never recovered from the blow, and was known at 
home and abroad as “ the late General Crary.” Even at 
home the farmers and the boys, in watermelon season, 
would always offer 
him the fruit with sly 
jests and jeers and a 
j oke at his military ca¬ 
reer ; but his public 
life and usefulness 
were at an end. 

In May, 1840, there 
was received at Wash¬ 
ington the initial num¬ 
ber of the The Log 
Cabin , a campaign 
paper published at 
New York by Horace 
Greeley. It was print¬ 
ed at the office of the 


New Yorker , then ed¬ 
ited by Mr. Greeley, on a thin super-royal sheet, and the 
price for twenty-eight weekly issues was fifty cents for 
a single copy—larger numbers much less. It contained 
a few illustrations bearing on the election, plans of 
General Harrison’s battle-grounds, and campaign songs 
set to music. 

Mr. Greeley’s paper was recommended to leading 
Whigs at Washington by Thurlow Weed, and he ob¬ 
tained eighty thousand subscribers, the Whig Con- 


Perleys Reminiscences. 

gressmen recommending the paper to their constituents. 
The Log Cabin was the foundation of the Tribune , and 
thenceforth until his death Mr. Greeley was well 
known at the National Capital. He was a man of 
intense convictions and indomitable industry, and he 
wielded an incisive, ready pen, which went straight to 
the point without circumlocution or needless use of 
words. Although he was a somewhat erratic champion 

of Fourierism, vegeta¬ 
rianism, temperance, 
anti-hanging, and abo¬ 
lition, there was a 
“ method in his mad¬ 
ness,” and his hereti¬ 
cal views were evi¬ 
dently the honest con¬ 
victions of his heart. 
Often egotistical, dog¬ 
matic, and personal, 
no one could question 
his uprightness and 
thorough devotion to 
the noblest principles 
of progressive civiliza¬ 
tion. Inspired by that 
true philanthropy that loves all mankind equally and 
every one of his neighbors better than himself, he was 
often victimized by those wdiose stories he believed 
and to whom he loaned his hard-earned savings. The 
breath of slander did not sully his reputation, and 
he never engaged in lobbying at Washington for 
money, although friendship several times prompted 
him to advocate appropriations for questional jobs 
—the renewal of patents which were monopolies, and 


Hot Work. 


the election of Public Printers who were notoriously 

Mr. Clay “ sulked in his tent ” until August, when 
he went to Nashville and addressed a Whig Conven¬ 
tion. “ Cook,” said he, in conclusion, “ at the position 
of Tennessee and Kentucky. They stood side by side, 
their sons fought side by side, at New Orleans. Ken¬ 
tuckians and Tennesseeans now fight another and a 
different kind of battle. But they are fighting now, 
as then, a band of mercenaries, the cohorts of power. 
They are fighting a band of office-holders, who call 
General Harrison a coward, an imbecile, an old 

“Yes, General Harrison is called a coward, but he 
fought more battles than any other General during the 
last war and never sustained a defeat. He is no states¬ 
man, and yet he has filled more civil offices of trust and 
importance than almost any other man in the Union.” 

A man in the crowd here cried out, “Tell us of Van 
Buren’s battles!” 

“ Ah !” said Mr. Clay, “ I will have to use my col¬ 
league’s language and tell you of Mr. Van Buren’s 
‘ three great battles !’ He says, that he fought General 
Commerce and conquered him; that he fought General 
Currency and conquered him, and that, with his Cuban 
allies, he fought the Seminoles and got conquered!” 

Mr. Kendall came to the aid of President Van Buren, 
and resigned the office of Postmaster-General that he 
might sustain the Administration with his powerful pen. 
He thus brought upon himself much malignant abuse, 
but in the many newspaper controversies in which he 
was engaged he never failed to vindicate himself and 
overwhelm his assailant with a clearness and vigor of 
argument and a power of style with which few pens 

240 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

could cope. He was not only assailed with the rudest 
violence of newspaper denunciation, but he was alluded 
to by Whig speakers in scornful terms, while carica¬ 
turists represented him as the Mephistopheles of the 
Van Buren Administration, and Log Cabin Clubs roared 
offensive campaign songs at midnight before his house, 
terrifying his children by the discharges of a small can- 

the face, but he never 
quailed, but faced the 
storm of attack in every 
direction, and zealously 
defended the Democratic 

The Whigs of Maine 
led off by electing Ed¬ 
ward Kent Governor, and 
five of her eight Con¬ 
gressmen, including Wil¬ 
liam Pitt Fessenden and 
Elisha H. Allen, who af¬ 
terward, when Minister 
from the Sandwich Is¬ 
lands to the United 
States, fell dead at a New 
Year’s reception at the White House. Delaware, Mary¬ 
land, and Georgia soon afterward followed suit, electing 
Whig Congressmen and State officers. In October 
the Ohio Whigs elected Thomas Corwin Governor, by 
a majority of nearly twenty thousand over Wilson 
Shannon, and it was evident that the triumphant elec¬ 
tion of Harrison and Tyler was inevitable. In New 
York William H. Seward was re-elected Governor, but 
he ran over seven thousand votes behind General Har¬ 
rison, owing to certain local issues. 

non. Defeat stared him in 


Pipe-Laying . 


For some months before the election the Democrats 
mysteriously intimated that at the last moment some 
powerful engine was to be put into operation against 
the Whig cause. Mr. Van Buren himself was reported 
as having assured an intimate friend, who condoled 
with him on his gloomy prospects, that he “ had a card 
to play yet which neither party dreamed of.” The 
Attorney-General and the District Attorneys of New 
York and Philadelphia were as mysterious as Delphic 
oracles, while other Federal officers in those cities were 
profound and significant in their head-shakings and 
winks in reference to disclosures which were to be made 
just before the Presidential election, and which were to 
blow the Whigs “ sky-high.” 

At last the magazine was exploded with due regard 
to dramatic effect. Carefully prepared statements, sup¬ 
ported by affidavits, were simultaneously published in 
different parts of the country, showing that a man 
named Glentworth had been employed by some leading 
New York Whigs in 1838 to procure illegal votes from 
Philadelphia. The men were ostensibly engaged in 
laying pipe for the introduction of Croton water. 

Messrs. Grinnell, Blatchford, Wetmore, Draper, and 
other leading New York Whigs implicated promptly 
published affidavits denying that they had ever 
employed Glentworth to supply New York with Whig 
voters from Philadelphia. It was proven, however, that 
he had received money and had taken some thirty 
Philadelphians to New York the day before the election. 
There was no evidence, however, that more than one of 
them had voted, and the only effect of the disclosure 
was to add the word “ pipe-laying ” to the political 

The Whigs fought the battle to the end with confi- 

242 Pej'ley's Reminiscences . 


dence of success, and displayed an enthusiasm and har¬ 
mony never witnessed in this country before or since. 
Commencing with the harmonious selection of General 
Harrison as their candidate, they enlisted Clay and 
Webster, his defeated rivals, in his support, and, having 
taken the lead, they kept it right through, really defeat¬ 
ing the Democrats in advance of the campaign. The 
South were not satisfied with Mr. Van Buren’s attitude 
on the admission of Texas, which stood knocking for 
admission at the door of the Union, and “ the Northern 
man with Southern principles ” was not the recipient of 
many Southern votes : 

“ Then hurrah for the field where the bald eagle flew, 

In pride, o’er the hero of Tippecanoe !” 

Thomas Corwin was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, July 29th, 1794; was a Representative 
in Congress from Ohio from December 5th, 1831,10 1840, when he resigned and was elected Governor 
of Ohio; was defeated for Governor of Ohio in 1842 ; was a Senator from Ohio from December 1st, 
1845, to July 22d, 1850, when he resigned, having been appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Pres¬ 
ident Taylor, and served until March 3d, 1833; was again a Representative in Congress from Ohio, 
December 5th, 1859, to March 3 d, 1861 ; was Minister to Mexico, March 22d, 1861, to September 1st, 
1864 ; died suddenly at Washington City, December 18th, 1865. 




I N 1840 many of the States voted for Presidential 
electors on • different days, which rendered the 
contest more exciting as it approached its close. 
There was no telegraphic communication, and there 
were but few lines of railroad, so that it was some time 
after a large State had voted before its complete and 
correct returns could be received. At last all the back 
townships had been heard from and the exultant Whigs 
were certain that they had elected their candidates by a 
popular majority of over one hundred thousand! 
Twenty States had given Harrison and Tyler two 
hundred and thirty-four electoral votes, while Van 
Buren and Johnson had received but sixty electoral 
votes in six States. The log cabins were the scenes of 
great rejoicing over this unparalleled political victory, 
and the jubilant Whigs sang louder than before : 

“ Van, Van, Van is a used-up man.” 

General William Henry Harrison was by birth and 
education a Virginian. His father, Benjamin Harri- 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

son, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was 
the largest man in the old Congress of the Confedera¬ 
tion, and when John Hancock was elected President of 
that body Harrison seized him and bore him in his 


arms to the chair. On reaching manhood William 
Henry Harrison migrated to Ohio, then the far West, 
and for forty years was prominently identified with the 
interests, the perils, and the hopes of that region. 
Universally beloved in the walks of peace, and some- 

Harrison's Arrival at Washington. 245 

what distinguished by the ability with which he had 
discharged the duties of a succession of offices which he 
had filled, yet he won his greatest renown in military 
service. But he had never abjured the political doc¬ 
trines of the Old Dominion, and his published letters 
and speeches during the Presidential campaign which 
resulted in his election showed that he was a believer 
in what the Virginians called a strict construction of 
financial questions, internal improvements, the veto 
power, and the protection of negro slavery. His intel- 


lect was enriched with classical reminiscences, which 
he was fond of quoting in writing or in conversation. 
When he left his residence on the bank of the Ohio 
for the seat of Government he compared his progress 
to the return of Cicero to Rome, congratulated and 
cheered as he passed on by the victorious Cato and his 
admiring countrymen. 

O11 General Harrison’s arrival at Washington, on a 
stormy afternoon in February, 1841, he walked from 
the railroad station (then on Pennsylvania Avenue) 
to the City Hall. He was a tall, thin, careworn old 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

gentleman, with a martial bearing, carrying his hat in 
his hand, and bowing his acknowledgments for the 
cheers with which he was greeted by the citizens who 
lined the sidewalks. On reaching the City Hall the 
President-elect was formally addressed by the Mayor, 
Colonel W. W. Seaton, of the National Intelligencer , 
who supplemented his panegyric by a complimentary 
editorial article in his newspaper of the next morning. 


Before coming East General Harrison visited Henry 
Clay, at Ashland, and tendered him the position of 
Secretary of State, which Mr. Clay promptly de¬ 
clined, saying that he had fully determined not to hold 
office under the new Administration, although he in¬ 
tended cordially to support it. General Harrison 
thanked Mr. Clay for his frankness, expressing deep 
regret that he could not accept the portfolio of the De¬ 
partment of State. He further said that if Mr. Clay 

Forming a Cabinet. 247 

had accepted this position it was his intention to offer 
the portfolio of the Treasury Department to Mr. Web¬ 
ster j but since IVIr. Clay had declined a seat in the 
Cabinet, he should not offer one to Mr. Webster. 

Mr. Clay objected to this conclusion, and remarked 
that while M^r. Webster was not peculiarly fitted for 
the control of the national finances, he was eminently 
qualified for the management of the foreign relations. 
Besides, the appointment of Mr. Webster as Secretary 
of State would inspire confidence in the Administration 
abroad, which would be highly important, considering 
the existing critical relations with Great Britain. Gen¬ 
eral Harrison accepted the suggestion, and on his return 
to North Bend wrote to Mr. Webster, offering him the 
Department of State and asking his advice concerning 
the other members of the Cabinet. The “ solid men of 
Boston,” who had begun to entertain grave apprehen 
sions of hostilities with Great Britain, urged Mr. Web¬ 
ster to accept, and pledged themselves to contribute 

liberally to his support. 

No sooner was it intimated that Mr. Webster was to 
be the Premier of the incoming Administration than the 
Calhoun wing of the Democratic party denounced him 
as having countenanced the abolition of slavery, and 
when his letter resigning his seat in the Senate was 
read in that body, Senator Cuthbert, of Georgia, 
attacked him. The Georgian’s declamation was deliv¬ 
ered with clenched fist 5 he pounded his desk, gritted 
his teeth, and used profane language. Messrs. Clay, 
Preston, and other Senators defended Mr. Webster from 
the attack of the irate Georgian, and his friends had 
printed at Washington a large edition of a speech 
which he had made a few months before on the portico 
of the Capitol at Richmond before a vast assemblage. 


Per ley's Reminiscences, 

^ Beneath the light of an October sun, I say,” he then 
declared, u there is no power, directly or indirectly,, in 
Congress or the General Government, to interfere in 
the slightest degree with the institutions of the South.” 

General Harrison, to quiet the cry of “ Abolitionist,” 
which had been raised against him as well as Mr„ 
Webster, made a visit to Richmond prior to his inaugu¬ 
ration, during which he availed himself of every pos¬ 

sible occasion to assert his devotion to the rights, 
privileges, and prejudices of the South concerning the 
existence of slavery. On his return he took a daily 
ride on the picturesque banks of Rock Creek, rehears- 
ing portions of his inaugural address. 

The portfolio of the Treasury Department was given 
to Thomas Ewing, of Ohio (familiarly known from his 
early avocation as the Salt Boiler of the Kanawha ”), 
who was physically and intellectually a great man. He 

The New Secretaries. 


was of medium height, very portly, his ruddy complex¬ 
ion setting off his bright, laughing eyes to the best 
advantage. O11 “ the stump ” he had but few equals, 
as in simple language and without apparent oratorical 
effort he breathed his own spirit into vast audiences, 
and swayed them with resistless power. He resided in 
a house built by Count de Menou, one of the French 
Legation, and his daughter Ellen, now the wife of Gen¬ 
eral Sherman, attended school at the academy attached 
to the Convent of the Sisters of the Visitation, in 

The coming Secretary of War was John Bell, of Ten¬ 
nessee, a courtly Jackson Democrat in years past, who 
had preferred to support Hugh L. White rather than 
Martin Van Buren, and had thus drifted into the Whig 
ranks. He had served as a Representative in Con¬ 
gress since 1827, officiating during one term as 
Speaker, and he was personally very popular. 

For Secretary of the Navy George E. Badger, of 
North Carolina, was selected. He had been graduated 
from Yale College, but had never held other than local 
offices. His sailor-like figure and facetious physiog¬ 
nomy were very appropriate for the position, and he 
soon became a decided favorite at the Washington 
“ messes,” where he was always ready to contribute 
freely from his fund of anecdotes. 

Francis Granger, of New York, who was to be Post¬ 
master-General, was also a graduate of Yale College. 
He had been a member of the New York State Legis¬ 
lature and of Congress, and the unsuccessful Whig 
candidate for Vice-President in 1836. He was a genial, 
rosy-faced gentleman, whose “ silver gray ” hair after¬ 
ward gave its name to the party in New York which 
recognized him as its leader. 

25 ° Perley's Reminiscences . 

The Attorney-General was J. J. Crittenden, a Ken¬ 
tuckian, whose intellectual vigor, integrity of character, 
and legal ability had secured for him a nomination to 
the bench of the Supreme Court by President Adams, 
which, however, the Democratic Senate failed to confirm. 
Kept in the shade by Henry Clay, he became somewhat 
crabbed, but his was one of the noblest intellects of his 
generation. His persuasive eloquence, his sound judg¬ 
ment, his knowledge of the law, his lucid manner of 
stating facts, and his complete grasp of every case 
which he examined had made him a power in the 
Senate and in the Supreme Court, as he was destined 
to be in the Cabinet. 

The inaugural message had been prepared by Gen¬ 
eral Harrison in Ohio, and he brought it with him to 
Washington, written in his large hand on one side of 
sheets of foolscap paper. When it was submitted to 
Mr. Webster, he respectfully suggested the propriety of 
abridging it, and of sti iking from it some of the many 
classical allusions and quotations with which it 
abounded. He found, however, that General Harrison 
was not disposed to receive advice, and that he was re¬ 
luctant to part with any evidence of his classic scholar¬ 
ship. Colonel Seaton used to relate with great gusto 
how Mr. Webster once came late to a dinner party at 
his house, and said, as he entered the dining-room, 
when the soup was being served u Excuse my tardi¬ 
ness, but I have been able to dispose of two Roman 

Emperors and a pro-Consul, which should be a suffi¬ 
cient excuse.” 

General Harrison was inaugurated on Thursday, 
March 4th, 1841. The city had filled up during the 
pieceding night, and the roar of the morning salutes 
was echoed by the bands of the military as they 

To the Inauguration . 251 

marched to take their designated places. The sun was 
obscured, but the weather was mild, and the streets 
were perfectly dry. At ten o’clock a procession was 
formed, which escorted the President-elect from his tem¬ 
porary residence, by way of Pennsylvania Avenue, to 
the Capitol. No regular troops were on parade, but the 
uniformed militia of the District of Columbia, rein¬ 
forced by others from Philadelphia and Baltimore, per¬ 
formed escort duty in a very creditable manner. A 
carriage presented by the Whigs of Baltimore, and 
drawn by four horses, had been provided for the Presi¬ 
dent-elect, but he preferred to ride on horseback, as the 
Roman Emperors were wont to pass along the Appian 
Way. The old hero made a fine appearance, mounted, 
as he was, on a spirited white charger. At his right, 
slightly in the rear, rode Major Hurst, who had been 
his aid-de-camp at the Battle of the Thames ; at his left, 
in a similar position, rode Colonel Todd, another aid- 
de-camp at the same battle. An escort of assistant 
marshals, finely mounted, followed. Although the 
weather was chilly, the General refused to wear an 
overcoat, and he rode with his hat in his hand, grace¬ 
fully bowing acknowledgments of cheers from the mul¬ 
titudes on the sidewalks, and of the waving of white 
handkerchiefs by ladies at the windows on either side. 

Behind the President-elect came Tippecanoe Clubs 
and other political associations, with music, banners, 
and badges. The Club from Prince George County, 
Maryland, had in its ranks a large platform on wheels, 
drawn by six white horses, on which was a power-loom 
from the Laurel Factory, with operatives at work. Sev¬ 
eral of the clubs drew large log cabins on wheels, 
decked with suitable inscriptions, cider-barrels, ’coon- 
skins, and other frontier articles. A feature of the 


Per ley s Reminiscences 

procession was the students of the Jesuits’ College at 
Georgetown, who appeared in uniform, headed by their 
faculty, and carrying a beautiful banner. 

An immense crowd had gathered at the Capitol, and 
at ten o’clock ladies who had tickets were admitted into 
the gallery of the Senate Chamber, and were provided 

with comfortable seats. The east door leading to the 
Senate gallery was soon opened, when at least five 
thousand persons rushed to that point. Less than a 
thousand were enabled to reach the seats provided. 
Soon after the galleries were filled, the foreign Ambas¬ 
sadors, wearing the court dresses and insignia, were in¬ 
troduced on the floor. The members of the Senate 

Harrison's Inaugural Address. 


took their seats, after which the Senate was called to 
order by the Clerk, and Senator King was chosen Presi¬ 
dent pro tern. The newly elected Senators were sworn. 
Vice-President Tyler, of Virginia, entered arm-in-arm 
with ex-Vice-President Johnson, and after the oath of 
office had been administered to him he took the chair 
and called the Senate to order. 

The President-elect was then ushered into the Senate 
Chamber by the Committee, of which Mr. Preston was 
chairman. The Judges of the Supreme Court, wearing 
their black silk robes, had taken their seats in front, 
below the Speaker’s chair. The President-elect shook 
hands cordially with a number of the Senators and 
Judges, and appeared much younger than many who 
were his juniors in years. 

At half-past twelve o’clock the signal was given, and 
the officers in the Senate Chamber formed in procession 
and proceeded to the eastern front of the Capitol, where 
there was a platform some fifteen feet high and large 
enough to accommodate an immense crowd. The Presi¬ 
dent-elect took his seat in front, Chief Justice Taney 
and his associates by his side, the Senators and Ambas¬ 
sadors on the left, and the ladies at the sides. The 
large area below was filled with an immense multtiude 
of probably not less than from forty to fifty thousand 
persons. General Harrison, as “the observed of all 
observers,” was greeted with prolonged cheers when 
he rose to deliver his address. When the uproar had 
subsided he advanced to the front of the platform, and 
there was profound stillness as he read, in a loud and 
clear voice, his inaugural address. He stood bare¬ 
headed, without overcoat or gloves, facing the cold 
northeast wind, while those seated on the platform 
around him, although warmly wrapped, suffered from 

2 54 Per ley s Reminiscences. 

tlie piercing blasts. All were astonished at the power 
and compass of his voice. He spoke until two p. m.— 
one and a half hours—with a clearness that was truly 
surprising. So distinctly were his words heard that he 
was cheered at the closing of every sentiment, particu¬ 
larly where he said that he would carry out the pledge 
that he had made, that under no circumstances would 
he run for another term. Just before the close of the 
inaugural he turned to Chief Justice Taney, who held 
the Bible, and in a clear and distinct voice repeated the 
oath required. It was a singular fact that when the 
President took the oath this multitude of spectators 
before him spontaneously uncovered their heads, while 
the pealing cannon announced to the country that it 
had a new Chief Magistrate. As soon as the ceremony 
was over the immense concourse turned their faces 
from the Capitol, and filed down the various walks to 
Pennsylvania Avenue. The procession formed anew 
and marched to the White House, cheered as it passed 
by the waiting crowds. 

b Entering the White House, President Harrison took 
his station in the reception-room, and the multitude 
entered the front portal, passed through the vestibule 
into the reception-room, where they had an opportunity 
to shake hands with the President, then passed down 
the rear steps and out through the garden. At 
night there were three inauguration balls, the prices of 
admission suiting different pockets. At one, where the 
tickets were ten dollars for gentlemen, the ladies being 
invited guests, there was a representation from almost 
every State in the Union. President Harrison, not¬ 
withstanding the fatigues of the day, remained over an 
hour, and was attended by several members of his 
Cabinet. Mr. Webster was in excellent spirits, and 

A New Administration. 


chatted familiarly with Mr. Clay at the punch-bowl, 
where libations were drank to the success of the new 

Thus the new Administration was inaugurated. The 
Democrats surrendered the power which they had so 
despotically wielded for twelve years, and their oppo¬ 
nents, consolidated under the Whig banner, took the 
reins of government. Passing over Webster and Clay, 
their recognized leaders, they had elected Harrison as 
a more available candidate, he having been a gallant 
soldier and having but few enemies. For Vice-Presi¬ 
dent they had elected John Tyler, for the sole reason 
that his Democratic affiliations would secure the elec¬ 
toral vote of Virginia. 

William Henry Harrison was born in Charles County, Virginia, February 9th. 1773 ; was Dele¬ 
gate in Congress from the Northwest Territory, December 2d, 1790, to March, 1800; was Governor 
of Indiana, 1801-1813 ; was a Representative in Congress from Ohio, December 2d, 1816, to March 
3d, 1819; was United States Senator, December 5th, 1S25, to May 20th, 1828; was Minister to Col¬ 
ombia, May 24th, 1828, to September 26th, 1829; became President of the United States, March 
4th, 1841, and died at Washington City, April 4th, 1841. 

harrison’s onr month of power. 


G OVERNMENT officials at Washington, nearly 
all of whom had received their positions as 
rewards for political services, and many of 
whom had displaced worthy men whose only fault was 
that they belonged to a different party, were somewhat 
encouraged by the declarations of President Harrison 
touching the position of office-holders. It was known 
from a speech of his at Baltimore, prior to his inaugu¬ 
ration, that he intended to protect the right of indi¬ 
vidual opinion from official interference, and in a few 
days after he became President his celebrated civil- 
service circular was issued by Daniel Webster, as 
Secretary of State. It was addressed to the heads of 
the Executive Departments, and it commenced thus: 

“ Sir: —The President is of opinion that it is a great 
abuse to bring the patronage of the General Govern¬ 
ment into conflict with the freedom of elections ; and 
that this abuse ought to be corrected wherever it may 
have been permitted to exist, and to be prevented for 
the future.” 


Union for the Spoils. 


It would have been fortunate for the country if these 
views of President Harrison, so clearly stated by 
Daniel Webster in this circular, could have been hon¬ 
estly carried out; but the horde of hungry politicians 
that had congregated at Washington, with racoon-tails 
in their hats and packages of recommendations in their 
pockets, clamored for the wholesale action of the politi¬ 
cal guillotine, that 
they might fill the 
vacancies thereby 
created. Whigs 
and Federalists, 

National Repub¬ 
licans and strict 
bank and anti¬ 
bank men had 
coalesced under 
the motto of 
“ Union of the 
Whigs for the 
sake of the 
Union,” but they 
had really united 
“for the sake of 
office.” The Ad¬ 
ministration found itself forced to make removals that 
places might be found for this hungry horde, and to 
disregard its high position on civil service. Virginia 
was especially clamorous for places, and Vice-President 
Tyler became the champion of hundreds who belonged 
to the first families, but who were impecunious. 

Direct conflict soon arose between the President and 
his Cabinet, he asserting his right to make appoint- 



Perley ' 1 s Reminiscences. 

ments and removals, while they took the ground that it 
was simply his duty to take such action as they chose 
to dictate. The Cabinet were sustained by the opinion 
of Attorney General John C. Crittenden, and they also 
under his advice claimed the right to review the Presi¬ 
dent’s nominations before they were sent to the Senate. 
To the President, who had as Governor and as General 
been in the habit of exercising autocratic command, 
these attempts to hamper his action were very annoy¬ 
ing, and at times he “ kicked over the traces.” 

One day, after a rather stormy Cabinet meeting, Mr. 
Webster asked the President to appoint one of his 
political supporters, General James Wilson, of New 
Hampshire, Governor of the Territory of Iowa. Presi¬ 
dent Harrison replied that it would give him pleasure 
to do so had he not promised the place to Colonel John 
Chambers, of Kentucky, his former aid-de-camp, who 
had been acting as his private secretary. The next day 
Colonel Chambers had occasion to visit the Department 
of State, and Mr. Webster asked him if the President 
had offered to appoint him Governor of Iowa. “ Yes, 
sir,” was the reply. “ Well, sir,” said Mr. Webster, 
with sour sternness, a cloud gathering on his massive 
brow, while his unfathomable eyes glowed with anger, 
u you must not take that position, for I have promised 
it to my friend, General Wilson.” Colonel Chambers, 
who had been a member of Congress, and was older 
than Mr. Webster, was not intimidated, but replied, 
u Mr. Webster, I shall accept the place, and I tell you, 
sir, not to undertake to dragoon me!” He then left 
the room, and not long afterward Mr. Webster received 
from the President a peremptory order to commission 
John Chambers, of Kentucky, as Governor of the Ter¬ 
ritory of Iowa, which was complied with. 

Challenges and Apologies . 


Mr. Clay undertook to insist upon some removals, 
that personal friends of liis might be appointed to the 
offices thus vacated, and he used such dictatorial lan¬ 
guage that after he had left the White House President 
Harrison wrote him a formal note, requesting that he 
would make any further suggestions he might desire to 
submit in writing. Mr. Clay was very much annoyed, 
and Mr. King, of Alabama, making some remarks in 
the Senate soon afterward which might be construed as 
personally offensive, the great Commoner opened his 
batteries upon him, saying in conclusion that the asser¬ 
tions of the Senator from Alabama were u false, untrue, 
and cowardly.” 

Mr. King immediately rose And left the Senate 
Chamber. Mr. Kevin, of Missouri, was called out, and 
soon returned, bringing a note, which he handed to Mr. 
Clay, who read it, and then handed it to Mr. Archer. 
Messrs. Levin and Archer immediately engaged in an 
earnest conversation, and it was soon known that a 
challenge had passed, and they as seconds were endeav¬ 
oring amicably to arrange the affair. After four days 
of negotiation, Mr. Preston, of South Carolina, and 
other Senators, acting as mediators, the affair was hon¬ 
orably adjusted. Mr. King withdrew his challenge, 
Mr. Clay declared every epithet derogatory to the honor 
of the Senator from Alabama to be withdrawn, and Mr. 
Preston expressed his satisfaction at the happy termi¬ 
nation of the misunderstanding between the Senators. 
While Mr. Preston was speaking Mr. Clay rose, walked 
to the opposite side of the Senate Chamber, and stop¬ 
ping in front of the desk of the Senator from Alabama, 
said, in a pleasant tone, “ King, give us a pinch of your 
snuff?” Mr. King, springing to his feet, held out his 
hand, which was grasped by Mr. Clay and cordially 

26 o 

Perley's Reminiscences . 

shaken, the Senators and spectators applauding this 
pacific demonstration. 

The leading Washington correspondent at that time 
was Dr. Francis Bacon, brother of the Rev. Dr. Leon¬ 
ard Bacon, of New Haven, Connecticut. He wrote for 
the New York American , then edited by Charles King, 
signing his articles R. M. T. H.—Regular Member 
Third House. Dr. Bacon wielded a powerful pen, and 
when he chose so to do could condense a column of de¬ 
nunciation, satire, and sarcasm into a single paragraph. 
He was a fine scholar, fearless censor, and terse writer, 
giving his many readers a clear idea of what was trans¬ 
piring at the Federal metropolis. 

A new-comer among the correspondents during the 
Harrison Administration was Mr. Nathan Sargent, 
whose correspondence to the Philadelphia United States 
Gazette , over the signature of “ Oliver Oldschool,” 
soon became noted. His carefully written letters gave 
a continuous narrative of important events as they oc¬ 
curred, and he was one who aided in making the Whig 
party, like the Federal party, which had preceded it, 
eminently respectable. 

Washington correspondents, up to this time, had 
been the mediums through which a large portion of the 
citizens of the United States obtained their information 
concerning national affairs. The only reports of the 
debates in Congress appeared in the Washington news¬ 
papers often several weeks after their delivery. James 
Gordon Bennett, who had then become proprietor of the 
New York Herald , after publishing President Har¬ 
rison’s call for an extra session of Congress in advance 
of his contemporaries, determined to have the proceed¬ 
ings and debates reported for and promptly published 
in his own columns. To superintend the reporting, he 

Polishing up Reports 


engaged Robert Sutton, who organized a corps of pho- 
nographers, which was the nucleus of the present able 
body of official reporters of the debates. Sutton was a 


short, stout, pragmatical Englishman, whose desire to 
obtain extra allowances prompted him to revise, correct, 
and polish up reports which should have been verbatim, 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

and thus to take the initiative in depriving official re¬ 
ports of debates of a large share of their value. Since 
then, Senators and Representatives address their con¬ 
stituents through the reports, instead of debating ques¬ 
tions among themselves. 

The diplomatic representative of Great Britain, 
during the greater part of the Jackson Administration 
was the Right Honorable Charles Richard Vaughan, 
who was a great favorite among Congressmen and citi¬ 
zens at Washington, many of whom were his guests at 
the Decatur Mansion, then the British Legation. He 
was a well-educated and well-informed gentleman, with 
the courteous manners of the old school. When re¬ 
called after ten years’ service at Washington, he was a 

jo\ ial bachelor of fifty, fond of old Madeira wine and a 
quiet rubber of whist. 

A good story is told of General Roger Weightman, 
when Mayor of the city, who sent by mistake an invi¬ 
tation to Sir Charles Vaughan to attend a Fourth-of- 
July dinner, at which speeches were invariably made 
abusive of the British and their Vandalism in the recent 
.war. Sir Charles, who was a finished diplomat, might 
have construed the invitation into an insult, but he 
wrote a very polite response, saying that he thought he 
should be “ indisposed ” on the Fourth of July. 

Russia was then represented by the Baron de Krude- 
ner, who resided in a large house built by Thomas 
Swann, a wealthy Baltimorean. Amicable relations with 
“ our ancient ally,” France, had been interrupted by 
the brusque demand of General Jackson for the pay¬ 
ment of the indemnity. Monsieur Serruvier was re¬ 
called, leaving the Legation in charge of Alphonso 
Pageot, the Secretary. He also was recalled, but after 
the Jackson Administration was sent back as Charge. 


Nursery Rhymes in Congress . 

It was expected that the session of the Twenty-sixth 
Congress, which terminated on the day of the inaugu¬ 
ration of General Harrison, would have been followed 
by a duel between Mr. Edward Stanley, of North Caro¬ 
lina, and Mr. Francis W. Pickens, of South Carolina. 
Mr. Stanley had been criticised in debate by Mr. 
Pickens, and he retorted mercilessly. “ The gentle¬ 
man,” said he, “ compares my speech to the attempt of 
a ‘ savage shooting at the sun.’ It may be so, sir. 
But the Committee will remember that in the remarks 
I made I did not address myself to the gentleman who 
has so unnecessarily interposed in this debate. And 
why did I not, sir? Not because I thought I should 
be as powerless as he describes me, but because I had 
seen him so often so unmercifully kicked and cuffed 
and knocked about, so often run over on this floor, 
that I thought he was beneath my notice, and utterly 
insignificant. Sir, the gentleman says he is reminded 
by my speech of the ‘ nursery rhyme,’ 

‘ Who shot Cock Robin ? 

“ I,” said the Sparrow, 

“ With my bow and arrow, 

I shot Cock Robin.” ’ 

Well, sir, I am willing to be the sparrow for this cock 
robin, this chivalrous gentleman ; and let me tell the 
gentleman, if he will not deem me vain, I feel fully 
able, with my bow and arrow, to run through a ‘ cow- 
pen full’ of such cock robins as he is. I11 conclusion, 
I have only to say, sir, to the gentleman from South 
Carolina, that though my arm may be ‘ pigmy,’ though 
I may be but a sparrow in the estimation of one 1 born 
insensible to fear,’ I am able, sir, anywhere, as a spar¬ 
row from North Carolina, to put down a dozen such 
cock robins as he is. ‘ Come one, come all,’ ye South 


Per ley's Reminiscences , 

Carolina cock robins, if you dare j I am ready for you.” 
Mr. Pickens wrote a challenge, but friends interposed, 
and the difficulty was honorably arranged. 

When Mr. Webster became Secretary of State, un¬ 
der President Harrison, his friends in Boston and New 
York raised a purse to enable him to purchase the 
Swann House, facing Lafayette Square. Mr. Webster 


preferred, however, to purchase land at Marshfield, and 
after he had occupied the house during the negotiation 
of the Ashburton Treaty, the property passed into the 

hands of Mr. W. W. Corcoran, who has since resided 

Mr. Webster was his own purveyor, and was a regu¬ 
lar attendant at the Marsh Market on market morn¬ 
ings. He almost invariably wore a large, broad- 

Webster's Hospitality 


brimmed, soft felt bat, witb bis favorite blue coat and 
bright buttons, a buff cassimere waistcoat, and black 
trousers. Going from stall to stall, followed by a servant 
bearing a large basket in which purchases were carried 
home,he would joke with the butchers, fish-mongers, and 
green-grocers with a grave drollery of which his biog¬ 
raphers, in their anxiety to deify him, have made no 
mention. He always liked to have a friend or two at 
his dinner-table, and in inviting them, sans ceremonie , 
he would say, in his deep, cheery voice, “ Come and 
dine with me to-morrow. I purchased a noble saddle 
of Valley of Virginia mutton in market last week, and 
I think you will enjoy it.” Or, “ I received some fine 
cod-fish from Boston to-day, sir; will you dine with me 
at five o’clock and taste them ?” Or, “ I found a fa¬ 
mous possum in market this morning, sir, and left 
orders with Monica, my cook, to have it baked in the 
real old Virginia style, with stuffing of chestnuts and 
surrounded by baked sweet potatoes. It will be a dish 
fit for the gods. Come and taste it.” 

President Harrison, who was an early riser, used to 
go to market, and he invariably refused to wear an 
overcoat, although the spring was cold and stormy. 
One morning, having gone to the market thus thinly 
attired, he was overtaken by a slight shower and got 
wet, but refused to change his clothes. The following 
day he felt symptoms of indisposition, which were fol¬ 
lowed by pneumonia. At his Ohio home he had lived 
plainly and enjoyed sleep, but at Washington he had, 
while rising early, rarely retired before one o’clock in 
the morning, and his physical powers, enfeebled by age, 
had been overtaxed. At the same time, the President’s 
mental powers had undergone a severe strain, as was 
evident when he became somewhat delirious. Some- 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

times he would say, “ My dear madam, I did not direct 
that your husband should be turned out. I did not 
know it. I tried to prevent it.” On other occasions 
he would say, in broken sentences, “It is wrong—I 
won’t consent—’tis unjust.” “ These applications— 
will they never cease !” The last time that he spoke 
was about three hours before his death, when his phy¬ 
sicians and attendants were standing over him. Clear¬ 
ing his throat, as if desiring to speak audibly, and as 
though he fancied himself addressing his successor, or 
some official associate in the Government, he said: “Sir, 
I wish you to understand the true principles of the 
Government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing 

u One little month ” after President Harrison’s in¬ 
auguration multitudes again assembled to attend his 
funeral. Minute-guns were fired during the day, flags 
were displayed at half staff, and Washington was 
crowded with strangers at an early hour. The build¬ 
ings on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue, with 
scarcely an exception, and many houses on the contig¬ 
uous streets, were hung with festoons and streamers of 
black. Almost every private dwelling had crape upon 
its door, and many of the very humblest abodes dis¬ 
played some spontaneous signal of the general sorrow. 
The stores and places of business, even such as were 
too frequently seen open on the Sabbath, were all 

Funeral services were performed in the Executive 
Mansion, which, for the first time, was shrouded in 
mourning. The coffin rested on a temporary catafalque 
in the centre of the East Room. It was covered with 
black velvet, trimmed with gold lace, and over it was 
thrown a velvet pall with a deep golden fringe. On 

The Dead President. 


this lay the sword of Justice and the sword of State, 
surmounted by the scroll of the Constitution, bound 
together by a funeral wreath, formed of the yew and 
the cypress. Around the coffin stood in a circle the 
new President, John Tyler, the venerable ex-President, 
John Quincy Adams, Secretary Webster, and the other 
members of the Cabinet. The next circle contained 


the Diplomatic Corps, in their richly decorated court- 
suits, with a number of members of both houses of 
Congress, and the relatives of the deceased President. 
Beyond this circle a vast assemblage of ladies and 
gentlemen filled up the room. Silence, deep and undis¬ 
turbed, even by a whisper, prevailed. When, at the 
appointed hour, the officiating clergyman said, “I am 
the resurrection and the life,” the entire audience rose, 

268 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

and joined in the burial service of the Episcopal 

After the services the coffin was carried to a large 
funeral car drawn by six white horses, each having at 
its head a black groom dressed in white, with white 
turban and sash. Outside of the grooms walked the 
pall-bearers, dressed in black, with black scarves. The 
contrast made by this slowly moving body of white and 
black, so opposite to the strong colors of the military 
around it, struck the eye even from the greatest dis¬ 

The funeral procession, with its military escort, was 
two miles in length, and eclipsed the inauguration 
pageant which had so recently preceded it. The re¬ 
mains were escorted to the Congressional Burying- 
Ground, where they were temporarily deposited in the 
receiving-vault, to be taken subsequently to the banks 
of the Ohio, and there placed in an unmarked and 
neglected grave. The troops present all fired three 
volleys in such a ludicrously straggling manner as to 
recall the dying request of Robert Burns that the 
awkward squad might not fire over his grave. Then 
the drums and fifes struck up merry strains, the mili¬ 
tary marched away, and only the scene of the public 
bereavement remained. 

Thomas Ewing was born near West Liberty, Virginia, December 28th, 1789 ; was United States 
Senator from Ohio, December 5th, 1831, to March 3d, 1837; was Secretary of the Treasury under 
President Harrison, March 5th, 1841, to September 13th, 1841; was Secretary of the Interior under 
PresidentTaylor, March 7th, 1849, to July 25th, 1850; was again Senator from Ohio, July 27th, 1850, 
to March 3d, 1851, and died at Lancaster, Ohio, October 26th, 1S71. 




J OHN TYLER, having found that his position as 
Vice-President gave him no voice in the distribu¬ 
tion of patronage, had retired in disgust to his 
estate in Prince William County, Virginia, when Mr. 
Fletcher Webster brought him a notification, from the 
Secretary of State, to hasten to Washington to assume 
the duties of President. Mr. Webster reached Rich¬ 
mond on Sunday—the day following General Harrison’s 
death—chartered a steamboat, and arrived at Mr. 
Tyler’s residence on Monday at daybreak. Soon after¬ 
ward, Mr. Tyler, accompanied by his two sons, left with 
Mr. Webster, and arrived at Washington early Tuesday 

The Cabinet had arrived at the conclusion that Mr. 
Tyler should be officially styled, u Vice-President of 
the United States, acting President,” but he very 
promptly determined that he would enjoy all of the 
dignities and honors of the office which he had inher¬ 
ited under the Constitution. Chief Justice Taney was 
then absent, so Mr. Tyler summoned Chief Justice 
Cranch, of the Supreme Court of the District of Col- 



Per ley's Reminiscences. 

umbia, to bis parlor at Brown’s Indian Queen Hotel, 
and took the oath of office administered to preceding 
Presidents. ^Pbe Cabinet officers were §0011 made to 
understand that he was Chief Magistrate of the Repub- 


lie, and the Whig magnates began to fear that their 
lease of power would soon terminate. In conversation 
with Mr. Nathan Sargent, a prominent Whig corres¬ 
pondent, soon after his arrival, Mr. Tyler significantly 
remarked: “ If the Democrats and myself ever come 

A Jolly Funeral. 


together, they must come to me; I shall never go to 
them.” This showed that he regarded his connection 
with the Whigs as precarious. 

The extra session of Congress, which had been con¬ 
vened by General Harrison before his death, was not 
acceptable to his successor, who saw that its legislation 
would be inspired and controlled by Henry Clay. 

When the two houses were organized, he sent them a 
brief message, in which the national bank question 
was dexterously handled, “ with the caution and ambig¬ 
uity of a Talleyrand.” Mr. Clay lost no time in pre¬ 
senting his programme for Congressional action ; and 
in a few days its first feature, the repeal of the sub- 
Treasury Act, was enacted. That night a thousand or 
more of the jubilant Washington Whigs marched in 

Per ley's Reminiscences . 


procession from Capitol Hill to the White House, with 
torches, music, transparencies, and fireworks, escorting 
a catafalque on which was a coffin labeled, “ The sub- 
Treasury.” As the procession moved slowly along 
Pennsylvania Avenue, bonfires were kindled at the in¬ 
tersecting streets, many houses were illuminated, and 
there was general rejoicing. On the arrival of the 
procession at the Executive Mansion, President Tyler 
came out and made a few remarks, while Mr. Webster 
and the other members of the Cabinet bowed their 
thanks for the cheers given them. The hilarious crowd 
of mock-mourners then repaired to the house of Mrs. 
Brown, at the corner of Seventh and D Streets, where 
Mr. Clay boarded, and received his grateful acknowledg¬ 
ments for the demonstration. The next measure on 
Mr. Clay’s programme, the bill for the distribution of 
the proceeds of the sales of the public lands among the 
States, was also promptly enacted and as promptly ap¬ 
proved by the President. Next came the National 
Bankrupt Act, which was stoutly opposed by the Dem¬ 
ocrats, but it finally passed, and was approved by Mr. 

When Congress enacted a bill creating a National 
Bank, however, and sent it to the President for his 
approval, he returned it with his veto. This created 
much discontent among the Whigs, while the Demo¬ 
crats were so rejoiced that a considerable number of 
their Congressmen called at the Executive Mansion. 
The President received them cordially, and treated 
them to champagne, in which toasts were drunk not 
very complimentary to the Whig party, or to its leader, 
Mr. Clay. The Kentucky Senator soon saw that it 
was of no use to temporize with his vacillating chief¬ 
tain, who evidently desired to become his own sue- 

Clay's Strategy. 


cessor, so lie determined to force the Administration 
into a hostile attitude toward the Whigs, while he 
himself should step to the front as their recognized 
leader. Haughty and imperious, Mr. Clay was never¬ 
theless so fascinating in his manner when he chose to 
be that he held unlimited control over nearly every 
member of the party. He remembered, too, that Tyler 
had been nominated for Vice-President in pursuance 
of a bargain made by Clay’s own friends in the Legis¬ 
lature of Virginia, where they had joined the Van 
Buren members in electing Mr. Rives to the Senate. 
This bargain Mr. Clay had hoped would secure for 
him the support of the State of Virginia in the nomi¬ 
nating convention, and although Harrison received 
the nomination for President, Clay’s friends were none 
the less responsible for the nomination of Tyler as 
Vice-President. He was consequently very angry 
when he learned what had taken place at the White 
House, and he availed himself of the first opportunity 
to speak of the scene in the Senate, portraying the 
principal personages present with adroit sarcasm. 

Some of his descriptions were life-like, especially 
that of Mr. Calhoun, “ tall, careworn, with fevered 
brow, haggard cheek, and eye intensely gazing, look¬ 
ing as if he were dissecting the last and newest ab¬ 
straction which sprung from some metaphysician’s 
brain, and muttering to himself, in half uttered words, 
‘ This is indeed a crisis !’ ” The best word-portrait, 
however, was that of Senator Buchanan, whose manner 
and voice were humorously imitated while he was de¬ 
scribed as presenting his Democratic associates to the 
President. Mr. Buchanan pleasantly retorted, describ¬ 
ing in turn a caucus of disappointed Whig Congress¬ 
men, who discussed whether it would be best to make 

274 Per ley s Reminiscences. 

open war upon “ Captain Tyler,” or to resort to strate- 
gem, and, in the elegant language of Mr. Botts, u head 
him, or die.” 

The mission to Great Britain had been tendered by 
President Harrison to John Sargent, a distinguished 
Philadelphia lawyer, who had been the candidate for 
Vice-President on the unsuccessful Whig ticket headed 
by Henry Clay in 1836. Mr. Sargent having declined, 

President Harrison 
had appointed Edward 
Everett, of Massachu¬ 
setts, who accepted, 
and his name came 
before the Senate for 
confirmation. Mr. Ev¬ 
erett was among the 
most conservative of 
New England politi¬ 
cians, but he had once, 
in reply to inquiries 
from Abolitionists, ex¬ 
pressed the opinion 
that Congress had 
power to abolish sla¬ 
very in the District of 
Columbia. When the nomination came before the Sen¬ 
ate, it was opposed by Mr. Buchanan and Mr. King, of 
Alabama, and advocated by Mr. Choate and Henry Clay. 
Mr. King, who would have received the appointment 
had Mr. Everett’s rejection created a vacancy, concluded 
a bitter speech by saying that if Mr. Everett, holding 
views in opposition to the South, was confirmed, the 
Union would be dissolved! Mr. Clay sprang to his 
feet, and, pointing his long arm and index finger at 

Edward Everett Indorsed. 


Mr. King, said: “ And I tell you, Mr. President, that 
if a gentleman so pre-eminently qualified for the posi¬ 
tion of Minister should be rejected by this Senate, and 
for the reason given by the Senator from Alabama, 
this Union is dissolved already.” 

The nomination of Mr. Everett was confirmed by a 
vote of twenty-three to nineteen. Every Democrat 
who voted, and two Southern Whigs, voted against 
him, and several Northern Democrats dodged, among 
them Pierce, of New Hampshire, Williams, of Maine, 
and Wright, of New York. The Southern Whigs who 
stood their ground for Mr. Everett were Clay, More- 
head, Berrien, Clayton, Mangum, Merrick, Graham, 
and Rives. 

A second fiscal agent bill was prepared in accordance 
with the President’s expressed views, and he said to 
Mr. A. H. H. Stuart, then a Representative from Vir¬ 
ginia, holding him by the hand: “ Stuart, if you can 
be instrumental in getting this bill through Congress, 
I shall esteem you as the best friend I have on earth.” 
An attempt was made in the Senate to amend it, which 
Mr. Choate, who was regarded as the mouth-piece of 
Daniel Webster, opposed. Mr. Clay endeavored to 
make him admit that some member of the Administra¬ 
tion had inspired him to assert that if the bill was 
amended it would be vetoed, but Mr. Choate had ex¬ 
amined too many witnesses to be forced into any ad¬ 
mission that he did not choose to make. Persisting in 
his demand, Mr. Clay’s manner and language became 
offensive. “ Sir,” said Mr. Choate, “ I insist on my 
right to explain what I did say in my own words.” 

“ But I want a direct answer,” exclaimed Mr. Clay. 
“ Mr. President,” said Mr. Choate, “ the gentleman will 
have to take my answer as I choose to give it to him.” 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Here the two Senators were called to order, and both 
of them were requested to take their seats. The next 
day Mr. Clay made an explanation, which was satis¬ 
factory to Mr. Choate. 

This second bank or fiscal agent bill was passed by 
Congress without the change of a word or a letter, yet 
the President vetoed it. When the veto message was 
received in the Senate there were some hisses in the 
gallery, which brought Mr. Benton to his feet. Ex¬ 
pressing his indignation, he asked that the “ ruffians ” 
be taken into custody, and one of those who had hissed 
was arrested, but, on penitently expressing his regret, 
he was discharged. Tyler’s Cabinet first learned that 
he intended to veto this bank bill through the columns 
of a New York paper, and such was their indignation 
that all, with the exception of Mr. Webster, resigned. 
Mr. Ewing, who had been appointed Secretary of the 
Treasury by President Harrison, and who had been 
continued in office by Mr. Tyler, published his letter 
of resignation, which gave all the facts in the case. 
The Whig Senators and Representatives immediately 
met in caucus and adopted an address to the people. 
It was written by Mr. John P. Kennedy, of Maryland, 
and it set forth in temperate language the differences 
between them and the President, his equivocations and 
tergiversations, and in conclusion they repudiated the 

Caleb Cushing, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, then 
serving his fourth term in the House, espoused the 
cause of President Tyler, and boldly opposed the in¬ 
tolerant action of his Whig associates. Years after¬ 
ward Franklin Pierce told his most intimate friend, 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, that Caleb Cushing had such 
mental variety and activity that he could not, if left 

Cushing's Characteristics . 


to Himself, keep Hold of one view of things, but needed 
tHe influence of a more stable judgment to keep him 
from divergency. His fickleness was intellectual, not 
moral. Mr. Cushing was at that time forty-one years 
of age, of medium height, with intellectual features, 
quick-glancing dark eyes, and an unmusical voice. 
He spoke with ease and fluency, but his speeches read 
better than they sounded. His knowledge was vast 
and various, and his style, 
tempered by foreign trav¬ 
el, was classical. He had 
mastered history, politics, 
law, jurisprudence, moral 
science, and almost every 
other branch of knowl¬ 
edge, which enabled him 
to display an erudition as 
marvelous in amount as 
as it was varied in kind. 

The Southern Repre¬ 
sentatives, who had re¬ 
garded Mr. Cushing with 
some apprehension as a 
possible leader of the com- 


mg struggle for the aboli¬ 
tion of slavery, were well pleased when they saw him 
breaking away from his Northern friends. When an at¬ 
tempt was made to depose John Quincy Adams from 
the Chairmanship of the House Committee 011 Foreign 
Affairs, because he had stood up manfully for the right 
of petition, the irate ex-President asserted in the House 
that the position had been offered to Mr. Cushing, who 
was also a member. This Mr. Cushing denied, but 
Mr. Adams, his bald head turning scarlet, exclaimed : 

2jS Per Icys Reminiscences. 

“ I had the information from the gentleman him¬ 

In this debate, Mr. Adams went at some length into 
the history of his past life, his intercourse and friend¬ 
ship with Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Mon¬ 
roe, during their successive Presidential terms. He 
spoke of their confidence in himself, as manifested by 
the various important offices conferred upon him, allud¬ 
ing to important historical facts in this connection. 
He knew that they all abhorred slavery, and he could 
prove it, if it were desired, from the testimony of Jef¬ 
ferson, Madison, and Washington themselves. There 
was not an Abolitionist of the wildest character, the ex- 
President affirmed, but might find in the writings of Jef¬ 
ferson, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, 
and during his whole life, down to its very last year, a 
j ustification for everything their party says on the sub- 
ject of slavery, and a description of the horrors of 
slavery greater than they had power to express. 

Henry A. Wise had been Mr. Clay’s instrument in 
securing the nomination of Mr. Tyler as Vice-Presi¬ 
dent, and was the most influential adviser at the White 
House. He was then in the prime of his early man¬ 
hood, tall, spare, and upright, with large, lustreless, 
gray-blue eyes, high cheek bones, a large mouth, a 
complexion saffron-hued, from his inordinate use of 
tobacco, and coarse, long hair, brushed back from his 
low forehead. He was brilliant in conversation, and 
when he addressed an audience he was the incarnation 
of effective eloquence. No one has ever poured forth 
in the Capitol of the United States such torrents of 
words, such erratic flights of fancy, such blasting in¬ 
sinuations, such solemn prayers, such blasphemous 
imprecations. Like Jeremiah of old, he felt the dark 

Wise at Work. 


shadow of coming events ; and he regarded the Yan¬ 
kees as the inevitable foes of the old Commonwealth of 
Virginia. He had hoped that the caucus of Whig 
Representatives, at the commencement of the session, 
would have nominated him for Speaker. But John 
White, of Kentucky, had received the nomination, Mr. 
Clay having urged his friends to vote for him, and Mr. 
Wise, goaded on by disappointed ambition, sought re¬ 
venge by endeavoring 
to destroy the Whig 
party. He hoped to 
build on its ruins a 
new political organi¬ 
zation composed of 
Whigs and of such 
Democrats as might 
be induced to enlist 
under the Tyler ban¬ 
ner by a lavish distri¬ 
bution of the u loaves 
and fishes.” Presi¬ 
dent Tyler’s vanity 
made it easy to secure 
him as a figure-head, 
and it was an easy task 
to array him in direct opposition to the Clay Whigs, 
when John M. Botts wrote an insulting letter, in which 
he recommended his political associates to head Cap¬ 
tain Tyler, or die.” 

As the close of the extra session approached, the 
breach between President Tyler and the Whig party 
was widened, and those who had elected him saw their 
hopes blasted, and the labors of the campaign lost, by 
his ambitious perfidy. Nearly all of his nominations 


28 o 

Perley's Reminiscences . 

for office were promptly rejected, and those who for 
place had espoused his cause found themselves disap¬ 
pointed. A few days before the final adjournment, it 
was announced that Senator Bagby, of Alabama, would 
the next afternoon expose the shortcomings of the 
Whig party. He was a type of the old-school Virginia 
lawyers, who had removed to the Gulf States, and there 
acquired political position and fortune. He was a large 
man, with a bald head, a strong voice, and a watch-seal 
dangling from his waistband. 

The Corporal s Guard ” who sustained Mr. Tyler 
were all on hand and prominently seated to hear him 
abuse the Whigs, and they evidently had great expec¬ 
tations that he might eulogize the President. Upshur, 
Cushing, Wise, Gilmer, with the President’s sons, 
Robert and John, were on the floor of the Senate, and 
they were evidently delighted as the eloquent Alabam¬ 
ian handled the Whig party without gloves. He under¬ 
took to show that they were for and against a National 
Bank, in favor of and opposed to a tariff, pro-slaverv 
and anti-slavery, according to their location, but all 
united by a desire to secure the Federal offices. 

Proceeding in a strain of fervid eloquence, he all at 
once turned toward Senator Smith, of Indiana, who 
was sitting in front of him, and asked, in stentorian 
tones. Why don’t yon Wkigs keep your promises to 
the American people? I pause for an answer?” Mr. 
Smith promptly replied: “ Because your President 
won’t let ns.” Mr. Bagby stood still for a moment, 
and then contemptuously exclaimed : “ Our President ! 
Our President! Do yon think we would go to the most 
corrupt party that was ever formed in the United States, 
and then take for our President the meanest renegade 
that ever left that party ?” He then went on to casti - 

Tyler's Enjoyments. 


gate Mr. Tyler, wliile the “ Corporal’s Guard,” sadly 
disappointed, one by one, “ silently stole away,” and had 
no more faith in Mr. Bagby. 

Jnnins Brutus Booth still continued to be the leading 
star at the Washington Theatre, and President Tyler 
used often to enjoy his marvelous renderings, especially 
his “ Sir Giles Overreach,” “ King Lear,” “ Shylock,” 
“ Othello,” and u Richard the Third.” Booth, at this 
time, was more than ever a slave to intoxicating drink, 
so much so that he would often disappoint his audi¬ 
ences, sometimes wholly failing to appear, yet his popu¬ 
larity remained unabated. 

Franklin Pierce was born at Hillsborough, New Hampshire, November 23d, 1804 ; was a Rep¬ 
resentative from New Hampshire, December 2d, 1833, to March 3d, 1837; was United States Sena¬ 
tor from New Hampshire, September 4th, 1837-1842, when he resigned; declined the position of 
Attorney-General, offered him by President Polk in 1846; served in the Mexican War as brigadier- 
general ; was President of the United States, March 4th, 1853, to March 3d, 1857, and died at Con¬ 
cord, New Hampshire, October 8th, i860. 




R. WEBSTER’S great work as Secretary of 
State—indeed, he regarded it as the greatest 
achievement of his life—was the negotiation 
of a treaty with Great Britain adjusting all existing 
controversies. To secure this had prompted Mr. 
Webster to enter the Cabinet of General Harrison, 
and when Mr. Tyler became President Mr. Webster 
pledged himself to his wealthy friends in Boston and 
New York not to resign until the troubles with the 
mother country had been amicably adjusted. His 
position soon became very unpleasant. On the one 
hand President Tyler, whose great desire was the 
annexation of Texas, wanted him to resign; on the 
other hand, many influential Whigs began to regard 
him with distrust for remaining in the enemy’s camp. 
But Mr. Webster kept on, regardless of what was said 
by friend or foe. 

The appointment of Lord Ashburton to represent 
the British Government was especially gratifying to 
Mr. Webster, who had become personally acquainted 
with him when he visited England in 1839. Lord 
Ashburton’s family name was Alex. Baring. He had 

Twice Married. 


visited Philadelphia when it was the seat of the 
Federal Government as the representative of his 
father’s banking house. Among those to whom he 
had letters of introduction was Mr. John A. Bingham, 
a wealthy merchant and United States Senator, who 
lived in great style. Miss Maria Matilda Bingham, 
the Senator’s only daughter, who was but sixteen 
years of age, had just been persuaded by the Count 
de Tilly, a profligate 
French nobleman, to 
elope with him. They 
were married, but the 
Count soon intimated 
that he did not care 
for the girl if he could 
obtain some of her 
prospective fortune. 

He finally accepted 
five thousand pounds 
in cash and an annuity 
of six hundred pounds, 
and left for France. 

A divorce was obtained, 
and Senator Bingham 
was well pleased soon 
afterward when young Mr. Baring wooed and won 
his daughter. With the fortune her father gave her 
he was enabled on his return to London to enter 
the House of Baring Brothers as a partner, and on 
retiring from business in 1835 he was created a Baron, 
with the title of Lord Ashburton. When appointed on 
a special mission to Washington Lord Ashburton wrote 
to Mr. Webster, asking him to rent a suitable house 
for the accommodation of himself and suite. Mr. 

'original seat of the government. 

(Old State-House, Philadelphia.) 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

Webster accordingly rented the spacious and thor¬ 
oughly equipped mansion erected by Matthew St. Clair 
Clarke, Clerk of the House, in his prosperous days. 
The price paid was twelve thousand dollars rent for 
ten months, and an additional thousand dollars for 

Mr. Webster, who had received full powers from Presi¬ 
dent Tyler to conduct the negotiations on the part of 

the United States, oc¬ 
cupied the Swann 
House, near that oc¬ 
cupied by Lord Ash¬ 
burton. Much of the 
preliminary negotia¬ 
tion was carried on at 
the dinner-tables of 
the contracting par¬ 
ties, and Congres¬ 
sional guests were 
alike charmed by the 
hospitable attentions 
of the “ fine old Eng¬ 
lish gentleman ” and 
the Yankee Secretary 
of State. Lord Ash¬ 
burton offered his guests the cream of culinary perfec¬ 
tion and the gastronomic art, with the rarest wines, 
while at Mr. Webster’s table American delicacies were 
served in American style. Maine salmon, Massachu¬ 
setts mackerel, New Jersey oysters, Florida shad, 
Kentucky beef, West Virginia mutton, Illinois prairie 
chickens, Virginia terrapin, Maryland crabs, Delaware 
canvas-back ducks, and South Carolina rice-birds were 
cooked by Monica, and served in a style that made the 


The Ashburton Treaty. 


banker diplomat admit their superiority to the potages, 
sauces, entremets, ragouts, and desserts of his Parisian 
white-capped manipulator of casse-roles. 

Lord Ashburton was about five feet ten inches in 
height, and was heavily built, as Mr. Webster was. He 
had a large head, a high forehead, dark eyes, with 
heavy eyebrows, and a clear red and white complexion. 
His principal secretary and adviser was Mr. Frederick 
William Adolphus Bruce, then in the Foreign Office, 
who, after a brilliant diplomatic career, was appointed 
a Knight Commander of the Bath, and came again to 
Washington in 1865 as the British Minister. Another 
secretary was Mr. Stepping, a fair-complexioned little 
gentleman, who was a great wit, and who made a deal 
of sport for the Congressional guests. 

The treaty, as finally agreed upon, settled a vexatious 
quarrel over our Northeastern boundary, it overthrew 
the British claim to exercise the right of search, and it 
established the right of property in slaves on an Ameri¬ 
can vessel driven by stress of weather into a British 
port. But the treaty did not settle the exasperating 
controversy over the fisheries on the North Atlantic 
coast or the disputed Northwestern boundary. When 
the treaty finally reached the Senate, it was debated for 
several weeks in executive session, Mr. Benton leading 
a strong opposition to it. Near the close of the debate 
Mr. Calhoun made a strong speech in favor of ratifica¬ 
tion, in which he praised both Lord Ashburton and 
Mr. Webster. This speech secured the ratification of 
the treaty. 

Having concluded the Ashburton Treaty, Mr. Web¬ 
ster started for New England to enjoy the rural life so 
dear to him on his farm at Franklin, New Hampshire, 
and at Marshfield, Massachusetts. He announced, be- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

fore lie left Washington, that on his arrival at Boston 
he should address his friends in Faneuil Hall, and 
there was an intense desire to hear what he might have 
to say on public affairs. The leaders of the Whig 
party hoped that he would announce a resignation of 
his office as Secretary of State, denounce the duplicity 
of President Tyler, and come gracefully to the sup¬ 
port of Henry Clay, who had imperiously demanded 

the Presidential nomi¬ 
nation. But Mr. Web¬ 
ster declined to accept 
the advice given him, 
and spoke his mind 
very freely and frankly. 
There was—said one 
who heard the speech— 
no sly insinuation or in¬ 
nuendo, but a straight¬ 
forward, independent 
expression of truth, a 
copious outpouring of 
keen reproof, solemn 
admonition, and earnest 

abbott lawrence. entreaty. 

Among those former 
home-friends whose behavior was very annoying to 
Mr. Webster at this time was Mr. Abbott Lawrence, 
a Boston merchant, who, having amassed a large for¬ 
tune, coveted political honors, and was a liberal con¬ 
tributor to the campaign fund of his party. Astute 
and observing, he imagined himself a representative 
of the merchant-princes of Venice under the Doges 
and England under the Plantagenets, and he spoke 
in a measured, stately tone, advancing his ideas with 

Webster at Marshfield. 


a positiveness that would not brook contradiction. O11 
several occasions he had been one of “ the solid men 
of Boston ” who had contributed considerable sums for 
the pecuniary relief of Mr. Webster, and this embol¬ 
dened him to assume a dictatorial tone in advising the 
Secretary of State to resign after the Ashburton Treaty 
had been negotiated. The command was treated with 
sovereign contempt, and thenceforth Mr. Lawrence 
looked upon Mr. Web- 
ster as ungrateful, and 
as standing in the 
way of his own politi¬ 
cal advancement. But 
Mr. Webster defied the 
would-be cotton-lord, 
saying: “I am a 

Whig—aFaneuil Hall 
Whig—and if any one 
undertakes to turn me 
out of that commun¬ 
ion, let him see to it 
who gets out first.” 

While Mr. Webster 
had been negotiating 
the Ashburton Treaty, 
and after he had found rest at Marshfield, he dis¬ 
played the same sprightly humor and tender sweet¬ 
ness which so endeared him to those who were per¬ 
mitted to enjoy intimate social relations with him. 
He always rose with the sun, visiting his farm-yards at 
Marshfield, and going to market at Washington, before 
breakfast, with a visit at either place to the kitchen, 
where he would gravely discuss the culinary pro¬ 
gramme of the day with Monica, a cook of African de- 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

scent, whose freedom lie had purchased. After break¬ 
fast, he would study or write or fish all day, dressing’ 
for a late dinner, after which he gave himself up to re¬ 
creation ; sometimes, as Colonel Seaton’s daughter has 
pleasantly told ns, singing hymns or songs, generally 
impartially to the same tune; or gravely essaying the 
steps of a minuet de la cour , which he had seen danced 
in the courtly Madisonian era ; or joining in the jests 
of the gay circle, his magnificent teeth gleaming, his 
great, living coals of eyes—“ sleeping furnaces,” Car¬ 
lyle called them—soft as a woman’s ; or his rare, ten¬ 
der smile lighting up the dusky grandeur of his face. 
Mr. Webster was not, at that period of his life, an in¬ 
temperate drinker, although, like many other gentle¬ 
men of that day, he often imbibed too freely at the 

An amusing account has been given of an after-din¬ 
ner speech by Mr. Webster at a gathering of his politi¬ 
cal friends, when he had to be prompted by a friend 
who sat just behind him, and gave him successively 
phrases and topics. The speech proceeded somewhat 
after this fashion: Prompter: “Tariff.” Webster: 
U tariff, gentlemen, is a subject requiring the pro¬ 
found attention of the statesman. American industry, 
gentlemen, must be—” (nods a little). Prompter: 

National Debt. Webster: “And, gentlemen, there’s 
the national debt it should be paid (loud cheers, 
which rouse the speaker) ; yes, gentlemen, it should be 
paid (cheers), and I’ll be hanged if it sha’n’t be—(tak¬ 
ing out his pocket-book)—I’ll pay it myself! How 
much is it ?” This last question was asked of a gentle¬ 
man near him with drunken seriousness, and, coupled 
with the recollection of the well-known impecuniosity 
of Webster’s pocket-book it excited roars of laughter, 


Wit Among the Whigs. 

amidst which the orator sank into his seat and was 
soon asleep. 

Prominent among the Whig Senators was Nathan F. 
Dixon, of Westerly, Rhode Island. He was one of the 
old school of political gentlemen. His snow-white hair 
was tied in a long queue, he had a high forehead, 
aquiline nose, wide mouth, and dark eyes, which 
gleamed through his glasses. Respecting the body of 
which he was a member, he used to appear in a black 
coat and knee-breeches, with a ruffled shirt, white waist¬ 
coat, and white silk stockings. He was the Chairman 
of the Whig Senatorial caucus, and on the last night 
of the extra session Mr. Clay had complimented him, 
in rather equivocal language, on the ability with which 
he had presided. When the laughter had subsided, 
Senator Dixon rose, and with inimitable humor thanked 
the Senator from Kentucky. “ I am aware,” said he, 
“ that I never had but one equal as a presiding officer, 
and that was the Senator from Kentucky. Some of 
you may have thought that he was not in earnest, but 
did you know him as well as I do, you would credit any 
remark he may make before ten o’clock at night—after 
that, owing to the strength of his night-caps, there may 
be doubts.” Roars of laughter followed, and the Sen¬ 
ate caucus adjourned, as the Senate had done, sine die. 

President Tyler had great faith in the power of the 
newspaper press, and he secured, at an early period of 
his Administration, by a lavish distribution of the 
advertising patronage of the Executive Departments, 
an “ organ ” in nearly every State. The journals thus 
recompensed for their support of the Administration 
were generally without political influence, but Mr. 
Tyler prized their support, and personally looked after 
their interests. Alluding to them in a letter to a 




Perkys Reminiscences. 

friend, lie said : u Their motives may be selfish, but if I 
reject them for that, who among the great mass of office¬ 
holders can be trusted ? They give one all the aid in 
their power, and I do not stop to inquire into motives.” 
I11 another letter he complains of an official at New 
Orleans, saying: U I have felt no little surprise at the 
fact that he should have thrown into the Bee [a most 
abusive paper] advertisements of great value, and re¬ 
fused to give them to the Republican , a paper zealous 
and able in the cause of the Administration.” The 
central “ organ,” from which the others were to take 
their cues, was the Madisonian, originally established 
by Thomas Allen. He disposed of it after he married 
the handsome and wealthy Miss Russell, of Missouri, 
whose tiara and necklace of diamonds had been the 
envy of all the ladies at Washington. John B. Johnson, 
the author of Wild Western Scenes , then became the 
editor, and wrote ponderous editorials advocating 
“Justice to John Tyler,” which the minor organs all 
over the country were expected to copy. 

Rufus Choate was born at Ipswich, Massachusetts, October 1st, 18x9 ; was a Representative iiv 
Congress from Massachusetts, 1831-1834 ; was United States Senator, 1841-1845, and died at Halifax,. 
Nova Scotia, July 13th, 1859. 




W HEN the Twenty-seventh Congress met in 
December, 1841, it was evident that there 
could be no harmonious action between 
that body and the President, but he was not disposed 
to succumb. Writing to a friend, he said the coming 
session was “ likely to prove as turbulent and fractious 
as any since the days of Adam. But [he added] I 
have a firm grip on the reins.” In this he was mis¬ 
taken, or, rather, he had been deceived by the syco¬ 
phants around him. Neither House paid any attention 
to the recommendations which he made in his mes¬ 
sages, and only a few of his nominations were con¬ 
firmed. The Whigs, who had elected the President, 
repudiated all responsibility for his acts and treated 
him as a traitor, and the Democrats, while they ac¬ 
cepted offices from him, generally spoke of him with 

The Senate contained at that time many able men. 
Henry Clay was in the pride of his political power, 
but uneasy and restive as a caged lion. John C. Cal¬ 
houn was in the full glory of his intellectual magnifi- 



Perkys Reminiscences . 

cence and purity of personal character. Preston’s 
flexible voice and graceful gestures invested his elo¬ 
quence with resistless effect over those whom it was 
intended to persuade, to encourage, or to control. Bar- 
row, of Louisiana, the handsomest man in the Senate, 
spoke with great effect. Phelps, of Vermont, was a 
somewhat eccentric yet forcible debater. Silas Wright, 

Levi Woodbury, 
and Robert J. 
Walker were la¬ 
boring for the res¬ 
toration of the 
Democrats to 
power. Benton 
stood sturdily, 
like a gnarled oak 
tree, defying all 
who offered to op¬ 
pose him. Allen, 
whose loud voice 
had gained for 
him the appella¬ 
tion of u the Ohio 
gong, ’ ’ spoke with 
his usual vehe¬ 
mence. Franklin 
Pierce was demonstrating his devotion to the slave- 
power, while Rufus Choate poured forth his wealth of 
words in debate, his dark complexion corrugated by 
swollen veins, and his great, sorrowful eyes gazing 
earnestly at his listeners. 

In the House of Representatives there were unusu¬ 
ally brilliant and able men. John Quincy Adams, 
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, was 


A Brilliant Congress. 


the recognized leader. Mr. Fillmore, of New York, a 
stalwart, pleasant-featured man, with a remarkably 
clear-toned voice, was Chairman of the Committee on 
Ways and Means. Henry A. Wise, Chairman of the 
Committee 011 Naval Affairs, was able to secure a large 
share of patronage for the Norfolk Navy Yard. George 
N. Briggs (afterward Governor of Massachusetts), who 
was an earnest advocate of temperance, was Chairman 
of the Postal Commit¬ 
tee. Joshua R. Gid- 
dings, who was a 
sturdy opponent of 
slavery at that early 
day, was Chairman of 
the Committee on 
Claims. John P. Ken¬ 
nedy, of Maryland, an 
accomplished scholar 
and popular author, 
was Chairman of the 
Committee on Com¬ 
merce ; Edward Stan¬ 
ly, of North Carolina, 
was Chairman of the 


Committee on Military 

Affairs; Leverett Saltonstall, of the Committee on 
Manufactures; indeed, there was not a Committee of 
the House that did not have a first-class man as its 

But the session soon became a scene of sectional 
strife. Mr. Adams, in offering his customary daily 
budget of petitions, presented one from several anti¬ 
slavery citizens of Haverhill, Massachusetts, praying 
for a dissolution of the Union, which raised a tempest. 


Perley ’ s Rem in iscences. 

The Southern Representatives met that night in 
caucus, and the next morning Mr. Marshall, of Ken¬ 
tucky, offered a series of resolutions deploring the 
presentation of the obnoxious petition and censuring 
Mr. Adams for having presented it. An excited and 
acrimonious debate, extending over several days, fol¬ 
lowed. The principal feature of this exciting scene 
was the venerable object of censure, then nearly four¬ 
score years of age, his limbs trembling with palsy, his 
bald head crimson with excitement, and tears dropping 
from his eyes, as he for four days stood defying the 
storm and hurling back defiantly the opprobrium with 
which his adversaries sought to stigmatize him. He 
was animated by the recollection that the slave-power 
had prevented the re-election of his father and of him¬ 
self to the Presidential chair, and he poured forth the 
hoarded wrath of half a century. Lord Morpeth, who 
was then in Washington, and who occupied a seat on 
the floor of the House near Mr. Adams during the 
entire debate, said that u he put one in mind of a fine 
old game-cock, and occasionally showed great energy 
and power of sarcasm.” 

Mr. Wise became the prosecutor of Mr. Adams, and 
asserted that both he and his father were in alliance 
with Great Britain against the South. Mr. Adams 
replied with great severity, his shrill voice ringing 
through the hall. u Four or five years ago,” said he, 

1 there came to this House a man with his hands and 
face dripping with the blood of murder, the blotches 
of which are yet hanging upon him, and when it was 
proposed that he should be tried by this House for that 
crime I opposed it.” After this allusion to the killing 
of Mr. Cilley in a duel, Mr. Adams proceeded to casti¬ 
gate Mr. Wise without mercy. 

An Affair of Honor. 


At the spring races, in 1842, over the Washington 
Course, Mr. Stanly, of North Carolina, accidentally 
rode so close to the horse of Mr. Wise as to jostle that 
gentleman, who gave him several blows with a cane. 
Mr. Stanly at once sent a friend to Mr. Wise with an 
invitation to meet him at Baltimore, that they might 
settle their difficulty, and then left for that city. Mr. 
Wise remained in Washington, where he was arrested 
the next day, under the anti-dueling law, and placed 
under bonds to keep the peace. Mr. Stanly remained at 
Baltimore for several days, expecting Mr. Wise. He 
was the guest of Mr. Reverdy Johnson, under whose 
instruction he practiced with dueling-pistols, firing at 
a mark. One morning Mr. Johnson took a pistol him¬ 
self and fired it, but the ball rebounded and struck him 
in the left eye, completely destroying it. Mr. Stanly 
returned the next day to Washington, where mutual 
friends adjusted the difficulty between Mr. Wise and 

The vaulted arches of the old Supreme Court room 
in the basement of the Capitol (now the Law Library) 
used to echo in those days with the eloquence of Clay, 
Webster, Choate, Sargent, Binney, Atherton, Kennedy, 
Berrien, Crittenden, Phelps, and other able lawyers. 
Their Honors, the Justices, were rather a jovial set, 
especially Judge Story, who used to assert that every 
man should laugh at least an hour during each day, 
and who had himself a great fund of humorous anec¬ 
dotes. One of them, that he loved to tell, was of 
Jonathan Mason, of whom he always spoke in high 
praise. It set forth that at the trial of a Methodist 
preacher for the alleged murder of a young girl, the 
evidence was entirely circumstantial, and there was a 
wide difference of opinion concerning his guilt. One 

296 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

morning, just before the opening of the court, a brother 
preacher stepped up to Mason and said: “ Sir, I had a 
dream last night, in which the angel Gabriel appeared 
and told me that the prisoner was not guilty.” “ Ah !” 
replied Mason, u have him subpoenaed immediately.” 

Charles Dickens first visited Washington in 1842. He 
was then a young man. The attentions showered upon 
the great progenitor of Dick Swiveller turned his head. 
The most prominent men in the country told him how 
they had ridden with him in the Markis of Granby , 



Webster's Party. 

with old Weller on the box and Samivel on the dickey; 
how they had played cribbage with the Marchioness 
and quaffed the rosy with Dick Swiveller; how they 
had known honest Tim Linkwater and angelic Little 
Nell, ending with the welcome words of Sir John 
Falstaff, “ D’ye think we didn’t know ye ? We knew 
ye as well as Him that made ye.” 

Mr. Webster gave a party on the night of January 
26th, 1842, which was 
the crowning enter¬ 
tainment of theseason. 

Eight rooms of his 
commodious • house 
were thrown open to 
the guests, and were 
most dazzlingly light¬ 
ed. There had not 
been in Washington 
for two Administra¬ 
tions so large and bril¬ 
liant an assemblage of 
female beauty and po¬ 
litical rank. Among 
the more distinguished 


guests were the Presi¬ 
dent, Lord Morpeth, Mr. Fox, the British Minister, M.. 
Bacourt, the French Minister, Mr. Bodisco, the Russian 
'Minister, and most of the Diplomatic Corps attached to 
the several legations, besides several Judges of the Su¬ 
preme Court and many members of Congress. The 
honorable Secretary received his numerous guests with 
that dignity and courtesy which was characteristic of 
him, and seemed to be in excellent spirits. There was 
no dancing, nor even music. There was, however,, 

Per leys Reminiscences. 


plenty of lively conversation, promenades, eating of 
ices, and sipping of rich wines, with the usual spice of 

President Tyler’s last reception of the season of 1842, 
on the night of the 15th of March, gathered one of the 
greatest crowds ever assembled in the White House. 
There was every variety of the American citizen et 
citoyenne present—those of every form, shape, length, 
breadth, complexion, and dress. There were old ladies 
decked in the finery of their youthful days, and chil¬ 
dren in their nurses’ arms. “ Boz ” was the lion of the 
evening, and he stood like Patience on a monument. 
He totally eclipsed Washington Irving, who was then 
at Washington to receive his instructions as Minister 
to Spain. The President’s Cabinet, Foreign Ministers, 
some of the Judges of the Supreme Court, a sprinkling 
of Senators, two or three scores of Representatives, and 
fifteen hundred men, women, and children, in every 
costume, and from every nook and corner of the coun¬ 
try, made up the remainder of the medley. 

A children’s fancy ball was given at the White 
House by President Tyler, in honor of the birthday of 
his eldest granddaughter. Dressed as a fairy, with 
gossamer wings, a diamond star on her forehead, and a 
silver wand, she received her guests. Prominent among 
the young people was the daughter of General Almonte, 
the Mexican Minister, arrayed as an Aztec Princess. 
Master Schermerhorn, of New York, was beautifully 
dressed as an Albanian boy, and Ada Cutts, as a flower- 
girl, gave promise of the intelligence and beauty which 
in later years led captive the “ Little Giant ” of the 
West. The boys and girls of Henry A. Wise were 
present, the youngest in the arms of its mother, and 
every State in the Union was represented. 

Baron Bo disco's Entertainment , 


After old Baron Bodisco’s marriage to the young and 
beautiful Miss Williams, the Russian Legation at 
Georgetown became the scene of brilliant weekly enter¬ 
tainments, given, it was asserted, by especial direction 

of the Emperor Nicholas, who had a special allowance 
made for table-money. At these entertainments there 
was dancing, an excellent supper, and a room devoted 
to whist. Mr. Webster, Mr. Clay, General Scott, and 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

several of the Diplomatic Corps were invariably to be 
seen handling “ fifty-two pieces of printed pasteboard,” 
while the old Baron, though not a good player, as the 
host of the evening, was accustomed to take a hand. 
One night he sat down to play with those better 
acquainted with the game, and he lost over a thousand 
dollars. At the supper-table he made the following an¬ 
nouncement, in a sad tone : u Ladies and gentlemens ! 
It is my disagreeable duty to make the announce that 
these receptions must have an end, and to declare them 
at an end for the present, because why ? The fund for 
their expend, ladies and gentlemens, is exhaust, and 
they must discontinue.” 

Ole Bull, the renowned violinist, then gave a con¬ 
cert at Washington, which was largely and fashionably 
attended. In the midst of one of his most exquisite 
performances, while every breath was suspended, and 
every ear attentive to catch the sounds of his magical 
instrument, the silence was suddenly broken and the 
harmony harshly interrupted by the well-known voice 
of General Felix Grundy McConnell, a Representa¬ 
tive from the Talladega district of Alabama, shouting, 

“ None of your high-falutin, but give us Hail Colum¬ 
bia, and bear hard on the treble !” “ Turn him out!” 

was shouted from every part of the house, and the 
police force in attendance undertook to remove him 
from the hall. u Mac,” as he was called, was not only 
one of the handsomest men in Congress, but one of 
the most athletic, and it was a difficult task for the 
policemen to overpower him, although they used 
their clubs. After he was carried from the hall, some 
of his Congressional friends interfered, and secured his 

The publication of verbatim reports of the proceed- 



Per ley's Reminiscences. 

ings of Congress was systematically begun during 
Polk’s Administration by John C. Rives, in the Con¬ 
gressional Globe , established a few years previously as 
an offshoot from the old Democratic organ. This un¬ 
questionably had a disastrous effect upon the eloquence 
of Congress, which no longer hung upon the accents 
of its leading members, and rarely read what appeared 
in the report of its debates. Imitating Demosthenes 
and Cicero, Chatham and Burke, Mirabeau and Tamar- 
tine, the Congressmen of the first fifty years of the 
Republic poured forth their breathing thoughts and 
burning words in polished and elegant language, and 
were listened to by their colleagues and by spectators 
so alive to the beauties of eloquence that they were 
entitled to the appellation of assemblages of trained 
critics. The publication of verbatim reports of the 
debates put an end to this, for Senators and Represen¬ 
tatives addressed their respective constituents through 
the Congressional Globe. 

unuer Jrresiaent Van liuren, 1838-184. 
at Nashville, December 19th of the same year. 

nia (now West Virginia), September nth, 1777 ; 
■as United States Senator, 1829-1838 ; was At- 
10 ; was again elected Senator in 1840, and died 




J OHN TYLER, who was fifty-one years of age 
when he took possession of the Executive Man¬ 
sion, was somewhat above the medium height, 
and of slender figure, with long limbs and great 
activity of movement. His thin auburn hair turned 
white during his term of office, his nose was large and 
prominent, his eyes were of a bluish-gray, his lips were 
thin, and his cheeks sunken. His manners were those 
of the old school of Virginia gentlemen, and he was 
very courteous to strangers. The ceremonious eti¬ 
quette established at the White House by Van Buren 
vanished, and the President lived precisely as he had 
on his plantation, attended by his old family slaves. 
He invariably invited visitors with whom he was 
acquainted, or strangers who were introduced to him, 
to visit the family dining-room and “ take something ” 
from a sideboard well garnished with decanters of 
ardent spirits and wines, with a bowl of juleps in the 
summer and of egg-nog in the winter. He thus 


3°4 Perley's Reminiscences . 

expended nearly all of his salary, and used to regret 
that it was not larger, that he might entertain his guests 
more liberally. 

One day President Tyler joked Mr. Wise about his 
little one-horse carriage, which the President styled “ a 
candle-box on wheels,” to which the Representative 
from the Accomac district, retorted by telling Mr. Tyler 
that he had been riding for a month in a second-hand 
carriage purchased at the sale of the effects of Mr. 

Paulding, the Secretary of the 
Navy under Mr. Van Buren, 
and having the Paulding coat- 
of-arms emblazoned on the door 
panels. The President laughed 
at the sally, and gave orders at 
once to have the armorial bear¬ 
ings of the Pauldings painted 
over. Economy also prompted 
the purchase of some partly 
worn suits of livery at the sale 
of the effects of a foreign Minis¬ 
ter, and these were afterward 
worn by the colored waiters at 
state dinners. 

“Beau” Hickman, as he called 
himself, made his appearance at Washington toward the 
close of the Tyler Administration. He was of middle 
size, with long hair, and an inoffensive, cadaverous coun¬ 
tenance. It was his boast that he was born among the 
slashes of Hanover County, Virginia, and he was to be 
seen lounging about the hotels, fashionably, yet shab¬ 
bily, dressed, generally wearing soiled white kid gloves 
and a white cravat. It was considered the proper thing 
to introduce strangers to the Beau, who thereupon un- 

Colonel Benton's Home. 


blushingly demanded his initiation fee, and his impu¬ 
dence sometimes secured him a generous sum. He 
was always ready to pilot his victims to gambling- 
houses and other questionable resorts, and for a quarter 
of a century he lived on the blackmail thus levied upon 

One of the most agreeable homes in Washington 
was that of Colonel Benton, the veteran Senator from 
Missouri, whose ac¬ 
complished and grace¬ 
ful daughters had been 
thoroughly educated 
under his own super¬ 
vision. He was not 
willing, however, that 
one of them, Miss Jes¬ 
sie, should receive the 
attentions of a young 
second lieutenant in 
the corps of Topo¬ 
graphical Engineers, 

Mr. Fremont, and the 
young couple, there¬ 
fore, eloped and were 
married clandestinely. 

The Colonel, although terribly angry at first, accepted 
the situation, and his powerful support in Congress 
afterward enabled Mr. Fremont to explore, under the 
patronage of the General Government, the vast central 
regions beyond the Rocky Mountains, and to plant the 
national flag on Wind River Peak, upward of thirteen 
thousand feet above the Gulf of Mexico. 

A very different wedding was that of the Baron Alex¬ 
ander de Bodisco, the Russian Minister Plenipotentiary, 




Per lev's Reminiscences. 

and Miss Harriet Williams, a daughter of the chief 
clerk in the office of the Adjutant-General. The 
Baron was nearly fifty years of age, with dyed hair, 
whiskers, and moustache, and she a blonde schoolgirl 
of “ sweet sixteen,” celebrated for her clear complexion 
and robust beauty. The ceremony was performed at 
her father’s house on Georgetown Heights, and was a 
regular May and December affair throughout. There 
were eight groomsmen, six of whom were well advanced 
in life, and as many bridesmaids, all of them young 
girls from fourteen to sixteen years of age, wearing 
long dresses of white satin damask, donated by the 
bridegroom. The question of precedence gave the 
Baron much trouble, as he could not determine whether 
Mr. Fox, then the British Minister and Dean of the 
Diplomatic Corps, or Senator Buchanan, who had been 
Minister to Russia, should be the first groomsman. 
This important question was settled by having the 
groomsmen and bridesmaids stand in couples, four on 
either side of the bridegroom and bride. The ceremony 
was witnessed at the bride’s residence by a distin¬ 
guished company, and the bridal party then went in 
carriages to the Russian Legation, where an elegant 
entertainment awaited them, and where some of the 
many guests got gloriously drunk in drinking the 
health of the happy couple. 

Queen Victoria’s diplomatic representative at Wash¬ 
ington at that time, the Honorable Henry Stephen 
Fox, was a son of General Fox, of the British Army, 
who fought at the battle of Lexington in 1775, and 
a nephew of the eminent statesman, Charles James 
Fox. He had served in the British Diplomatic Corps 
for several years, and was thoroughly acquainted with 
his duties, but he held the least possible intercourse 

John Howard Payne. 307 

with the Department of State and rarely entered a 
private house. He used to rise about three o’clock in. 
the afternoon, and take his morning walk on Pennsyl¬ 
vania Avenue an hour or two later. Miss Seaton says 
that a gentleman on one occasion, meeting him at dusk 
in the Capitol grounds, urged him to return with him to 
dinner, to which Mr. Fox replied that “ he would wil¬ 
lingly do so, but his people were waiting breakfast for 
him.” On the occasion of the funeral of a member of 
the Diplomatic Corps, turning to the wife of the Span¬ 
ish Minister, he said : “ How very odd we all look by 
daylight!” it being the first time he had seen his col¬ 
leagues except by candle-light. He went to bed at 
daylight, after watering his plants, of which he was 
passionately fond. 

John Howard Payne visited Washington to solicit 
from President Tyler a foreign consulate. He was 
then in the prime of life, slightly built, and rather 
under the medium height. His finely developed head 
was bald on the top, but the sides were covered with 
light brown hair. His nose was large, his eyes were 
light blue, and he wore a full beard, consisting of side- 
whiskers and a moustache, which were always well- 
trimmed. He was scrupulously neat in his dress, and 
usually wore a dark brown frock coat and a black vest, 
while his neck was covered with a black satin scarf, 
which was arranged in graceful folds across his breast. 
Despite his unpretending manner and his plain attire, 
there was something about his appearance which never 
failed to attract attention. His voice was low and 
musical, and when conversing on any subject in which 
he was deeply interested he spoke with a degree of 
earnestness that enchained the attention and touched 
the hearts of his listeners. After much solicitation by 


Per ley's Rem in iscences. 

himself and his friends, he obtained the appointment 
of United States Consul at Tunis, and left for his post, 


where he died, his remains being finally brought to the 
Capital and buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. 

Among the curiosities of Washington about this 
time was the studio of Messrs. Moore & Ward, in one 
of the committee-rooms at the Capitol, where like- 

Daguerreotypes and Telegraphs. 309 

nesses were taken—as the advertisement read—“ with 
the Daguerreotype, or Pencil of Nature.” The u like¬ 
nesses, by diffused light, could be taken by them in 
any kind of weather during the daytime, and sitters 
were not subjected to the slightest inconvenience or 
unpleasant sensation.” The new discovery gradually 
supplanted the painting of miniatures on ivory in 
water-colors, and the cutting of silhouettes from white 
paper, which were 

shown on a black 
ground. Another novel 
invention was the elec¬ 
tric, or, as it was then 
called, the magnetic, 
telegraph. Mr. Morse 
had a model on exhibi¬ 
tion at the Capitol, and 
the beaux and belles 
used to hold brief con¬ 
versations over the mys¬ 
terious wire. At last 
the House considered a 
bill appropriating twen¬ 
ty-five thousand dol¬ 
lars, to be expended in 
a series of experiments samuel f. b. morse. 

with the new invention. 

In the brief debate on the bill, Mr. Cave Johnson 
undertook to ridicule the discovery by proposing that 
one-half of the proposed appropriation be devoted to 
experiments with mesmerism, while Mr. Houghton 
thought that Millerism (a religious craze then preva¬ 
lent) should be included in the benefits of the appro¬ 
priation. To those who thus ridiculed the telegraph it 

3 IQ 

Per ley's Rem in iscences. 

was a chimera, a visionary dream like mesmerism, 
rather to be a matter of merriment than seriously 
entertained. Men of character, men of erudition, men 
who, in ordinary affairs, had foresight, were wholly 
unable to forecast the future of the telegraph. Other 
motions disparaging to the invention were made, such 
as propositions to appropriate part of the sum to a 
telegraph to the moon. The majority of Congress did 
not concur in this attempt to defeat the measure by 
ridicule, and the bill was passed by the close vote of 
eighty-nine to eighty-three. A change of three votes, 
however, would have consigned the invention to obliv¬ 
ion. Another year witnessed the triumphant success 
of the test of its practicability. The invention vindi¬ 
cated its character as a substantial reality ; it was no 
longer a chimera, a visionary scheme to extort money 
from the public coffers. Mr. Morse was no more sub¬ 
jected to the suspicion of lunacy, nor ridiculed in the 
Halls of Congress, but he had to give large shares of 
its profits to Amos Kendall and F. O. J. Smith before 
he could make his discovery of practical value. 

The New York Tribune was first published during 
the Tyler Administration by Horace Greeley, who had 
very successfully edited the Log Cabin , a political 
newspaper, during the preceding Presidential cam¬ 
paign. The Tribune , like the New York Herald and 
Sun , was then sold at one cent a copy, and was neces¬ 
sarily little more than a brief summary of the news 
of the day. But it was the germ of what its editor 
lived to see it become—a great newspaper. It soon 
had a good circulation at Washington, where the emi¬ 
nently respectable National Intelligencer and the pon¬ 
derous Globe failed to satisfy the reading community. 

Mr. Webster remained in the Cabinet until the 

Honors for Webster. 3 11 

spring of 1843, when the evident determination of 
President Tyler to secure the annexation of Texas 
made it very desirable that Webster should leave, so 
he was “ frozen out” by studied reserve and coldness. 
By remaining in the Cabinet he had estranged many 
of his old political associates, and Colonel Seaton, 
anxious to bring about a reconciliation, gave one of 
his famous “ stag ” supper-parties, to which he invited 
a large number of Senators and members of the House 
of Representatives. The convivialities had just com¬ 
menced when the dignified form of Webster was seen 
entering the parlor, and as he advanced his big eyes 
surveyed the company, recognizing, doubtless, some of 
those who had become partially alienated from him. 
On the instant, up sprang a distinguished Senator 
from one of the large Southern States, who exclaimed. 
“Gentlemen, X have a sentiment to piopose the health 
of our eminent citizen, the negotiator of the Ashbur¬ 
ton Treaty.” The company enthusiastically responded. 
Webster instantly replied: u I have also a sentiment 
for you —The Senate of the United States, without 
which the Ashburton Treaty would have been nothing, 
and the negotiator of that treaty less than nothing.” 
The quickness and fitness of this at once banished 
every doubtful or unfriendly feeling. The company 
clustered around the magnate, whose sprightly and edi¬ 
fying conversation never failed to excite admiration, 
and the remainder of the evening was spent in a 

manner most agreeable to all. 

Immediately after the resignation of Mr. W ebstei 
the Cabinet was reconstructed, but a few months latei 
the bursting of a cannon on the war-steamer Princeton, 
while returning from a pleasure excursion down the 
Potomac, killed Mr. Upshur, the newly appointed Sec- 


Per ley's Rem iniscences 

retary of State, Mr. Gilmer, Secretary of the Navy, 
with six others, while Colonel Benton narrowly escaped 
death, and nine seamen were injured. The President 
had intended to witness the discharge of the gun, but 
was casually detained in the cabin, and so escaped 
harm. This shocking catastrophe cast a gloom over 
Washington, and there was a general attendance, irre- 


spective of party, at the funeral of the two Cabinet 
officers, who were buried from the White House. 

One of those killed by the explosion on the Prince¬ 
ton was Mr. Gardiner, a New York gentleman, whose 
ancestors were the owners of Gardiner’s Island, in Long 
Island Sound. His daughter Julia, a young lady of 
fine presence, rare beauty, and varied accomplishments, 
had for some time been the object of marked attentions 

A Helpful Wife. 313 

from President Tyler, although he was in his fifty-fifth 
year and she but about twenty. Soon after she was 
deprived of her father they were quietly married in 
church at New York, and President Tyler brought his 
young bride to the White House. 

Mrs. Lydia Dickinson, wife of Daniel F. Dickinson, 
a Senator from New York, was the recognized leader 
of Washington society during the Administration of 
President Tyler. She was the daughter of Dr. Knapp, 
and, when a school girl, fell in love with Dickinson, 
then a smart young wool-dresser, and discerning his 
talents, urged him to study law and to fit himself for 
a high political position in life. She was gratified by 
his unexampled advancement, and when he came here 
a United States Senator, she soon took a prominent 
part in the social life of the metropolis. 

Caleb Cushing was born at Salisbury, Massachusetts, January 7th, 1800 ; was a Representative 
in Congress from Massachusetts, 1835-1843 ; was Commissioner to China, 1843-1845 ; served in the 
Mexican War as Colonel and Brigadier-General, 1847-1848; was Attorney-General of the United 
States under President Pierce, 1853—1857 ; was counsel for the United States before the Geneva tri¬ 
bunal of arbitration on the Alabama claims, 1871 ; was Minister to Spain, 1874-1877, and died at 
Newburyport, Massachusetts, January 2d, 1879. 




P RESIDENT TYEER was encouraged in his 
desire to have Texas admitted as a State of the 
Union by Henry A. Wise, his favorite adviser, 
and by numerous holders of Texan war scrip and 
bonds. Before the victims of the Princeton explosion 
were shrouded, Mr. Wise called upon Mr. McDuffie, a 
member of the Senate, who represented Mr. Calhoun’s 
interests at Washington, and informed him that the 
distinguished South Carolinian would be appointed 
Secretary of State. Mr. Wise urged the Senator to 
write to Mr. Calhoun at once, begging him not to de¬ 
cline the position should he be nominated and con¬ 
firmed. Mr. McDuffie did not ask Mr. Wise if he 
spoke by Mr. Tyler’s authority, but evidently believed 
that he was so authorized, and promised to write to 
Mr. Calhoun by that afternoon’s mail. 

Mr. Wise then went to the Executive Mansion, 
where he found Mr. Tyler in the breakfast room, much 
affected by the account of the awful catastrophe of the 
previous day. Mr. Wise told him rather abruptly that 

3 I 4 

Calhoun in the Cabinet . 


it was no time for grief, as there were vacancies in the 
Cabinet to be filled, in order that urgent matters then 
under his control might be disposed of. “ What is to 
be done ?” asked President Tyler. Mr. Wise had an 
answer ready: “Your most important work is the 
annexation of Texas, and the man for that work is 
John C. Calhoun, as Secretary of State. Send for him 
at once.” 

“ No, sir !” replied 
* l The annexation of 
Texas is important, 
but Mr. Calhoun is not 
the man of my choice.” 

This was rather a dam¬ 
per on Mr. Wise, but 
he resolutely insisted 
on Mr. Calhoun’s ap¬ 
pointment, and finally 
the President yielded. 

The nomination was 
sent to the Senate and 
confirmed without op¬ 
position. Mr. Calhoun 
came to Washington, 
and was soon installed 
as Secretary of State. 

It took him only from February 28th to April 12th 
to conclude the negotiation which placed the “Lone 
Star ” in the azure field of the ensign of the Re¬ 
public. The treaty of annexation was signed and sent 
to the Senate for ratification, but after a protracted 
discussion it was rejected by a vote of sixteen yeas to 
thirty-five nays. Stephen A. Douglas, who had just 
entered Congress as one of the seven Representatives 

the President, rather coldly. 



Per ley's Reminiscences . 

from Illinois, came to the front at that time as the 
principal advocate for the remission of a fine which 
had been imposed upon General Jackson by Judge 
Hall at New Orleans twenty-five years before. 

This was the first move made by Mr. Douglas in his 
canvass for the Presidency, but he was soon prominent 
in that class of candidates of whom Senator William 
Allen, of Ohio, said, “ Sir ! they are going about the 

country like dry-goods 
drummers, exhibiting 
samples of their 
wares.” Always on 
the alert to make new 
friends and to retain 
old ones, he was not 
only a vigorous hand¬ 
shaker, but he would 
throw his arms fondly 
around a man, as if 
that man held the first 
place in his heart. 
No statement was too 
chary of truth in its 

ROBERT C. WINTHROP. Composition, HO parti- 

san manoeuvre was too 
openly dishonest, no political pathway was too danger¬ 
ous, if it afforded an opportunity for making a point for 
Douglas. He was industrious and sagacious, clothing 
his brilliant ideas in energetic and emphatic language, 
and standing like a lion at bay when opposed. He had 
a herculean frame, with the exception of his lower 
limbs, which were short and small, dwarfing what 
otherwise would have been a conspicuous figure, and he 
was popularly known as “ the Little Giant.” His 


Giants in the House. 


large, round lrend surmounted a massive neck, and his 
features were symmetrical, although his small nose 
deprived them of dignity. His dark eyes, peering 
from beneath projecting brows, gleamed with energy, 
mixed with an expression of slyness and sagacity, and 
his full lips were generally stained at the corners of 
his month with tobacco juice. His voice was neither 
musical nor soft, and his gestures were not graceful. 
But he would speak 
for hours in clear, well 
enunciated tones, and 
the sharp Illinois at¬ 
torney soon developed 
into the statesman at 

The House of Rep¬ 
resentatives, at that 
period, could boast of 
more ability than the 
Senate. Among the 
most prominent mem¬ 
bers were the accom¬ 
plished Robert C. W in- 
throp, who so well 


sustained the reputa¬ 
tion of his distinguished ancestors; Hamilton Fish, 
the representative Knickerbocker from the State of 
New York; Alexander Ramsey, a worthy descendant 
of the Pennsylvania Dutchmen; the loquacious Gar¬ 
rett Davis, of Kentucky ; the emaciated Alexander H. 
Stephens, of Georgia, who apparently had not a month 
to live, yet who rivaled Talleyrand in political intrigue ; 
John Wentworth, a tall son of New Hampshire, trans¬ 
planted to the prairies of Illinois ; Andrew Johnson, 

3 l8 Per ley s Reminiscences. 

of Tennessee, a born demagogue and self-constituted 
champion of the people ; John Slidell, of New Orleans ; 
Robert Dale Owen, the visionary communist from 
Indiana; Howell Cobb, of Georgia, and Jacob Thomp¬ 
son, of Mississippi, who were busily laying the foun¬ 
dations for the Southern Confederacy, “ with slavery 
as its corner-stonethe brilliant Robert C. Schenck, 
of Ohio, and the genial Isaac E. Holmes, of South 
Carolina, who softened the asperities of debate by 
many kindly comments made in an undertone. 

One of General Schenck’s stories was told by him 
to illustrate the “change of base” by those Whigs 
who had enlisted in the Tyler guard, yet declared that 
they had not shifted their position. “ Many years pre¬ 
vious,” he said, “ when silk goods were scarce and dear, 
an old lady in Ohio purchased a pair of black silk 
stockings. Being very proud of this addition to her 
dress, she wore them frequently until they became 
quite worn out; as often, however, as a hole appeared 
in these choice articles, she very carefully darned it 
up; but for this purpose, having no silk, she was 
obliged to use white yarn. She usually appropriated 
Saturday evenings to this exercise. Finally, she had 
darned them so much that not a single particle of the 
original material or color remained. Yet such was the 
force of habit with her that as often as Saturday even¬ 
ing came she would say to her granddaughter, ‘Anny, 
bring me my black silk stockings.’ ” 

The Presidential campaign of 1844 was very exciting. 
Mr. Van Buren’s friends did not entertain a shadow 
of doubt that he would be nominated, and his oppo-' 
nents in the Democratic ranks had almost lost hope of 
defeating him in the nominating convention, when, at 
the suggestion of Mr. Calhoun, he was adroitly ques- 

3 X 9 

Tyler and Texas. 

tioued on the annexation of Texas in a letter written 
to him by Mr. Harnett, a Representative from Missis¬ 
sippi. Mr. Van Buren was too sagacious a politician 
not to discover the pit thus dug for him, and he replied 
with great caution, avowing himself in favor of the 
annexation of Texas when it could be brought about 
peacefully and honorably, but against it at that time, 
when it would certainly be followed by war with 
Mexico. This was what the Southern conspirators 
wanted, and their subsequent action was thus narrated 
in a letter written a few years afterward by John Tyler, 
which is here published for the first time: 

“ Texas,” wrote Mr. Tyler, “ was the great theme 
that occupied me. The delegates to the Democratic 
Convention, or a very large majority of them, had 
been elected under implied pledges to sustain Van 
Buren. After his letter repudiating annexation, a 
revulsion had become obvious, but how far it was to 
operate it was not possible to say. A majority of the 
delegates at least were believed still to remain in his 
favor. If he was nominated the game to be played for 

Texas was all over. What was to be done ? 

“ My friends,” Mr. Tyler went on to say, “ advised 
me to remain at rest, and take my chances in the 
Democratic Convention. It was impossible to do so. 
If I suffered my name to be used in that Convention, 
then I became bound to sustain the nomination, even 
if Mr. Van Buren was the nominee. This could 
not be. I chose to run no hazard, but to raise the 
banner of Texas, and convoke my friends to sustain 
it. This was but a few weeks before the meeting of 
the Convention. To my surprise, the notice which 
was thus issued brought together a thousand delegates, 
and from every State in the Union. Many called on 


Perlej/^s Remmiscences. 


me on their way to Baltimore to receive my views. 
My instructions were, ‘ Go to Baltimore, make yonr 
nomination, then go home, and leave the thing to 
work its own results.’ I said no more, and was 
obeyed. The Democratic Convention felt the move. 
A Texan man or defeat was the choice left, and they 
took a Texan man. My withdrawal at a suitable time 
took place, and the result was soon before the world. 

I acted to insure the 
success of a great mea¬ 
sure, and I acted not 
altogether without ef¬ 
fect. In so doing I 
kept my own secrets ; 
to have divulged my 
purposes would have 
been to have defeated 

The National Whig 
Convention assembled 
at Baltimore, and 
Henry Clay was nomi¬ 
nated with great en¬ 
thusiasm, ex-Senator 
Theodore Frelinghuy- 
sen, of New Jersey, being nominated as Vice-President. 
The next day a hundred thousand Whigs, from every 
section of the Republic, met in mass convention at Bal¬ 
timore, with music, banners, and badges, to ratify the 
ticket. Mr. Webster, with true magnanimity, was one 
of the speakers, and advocated the election of Clay and 
Frelinghuy sen with all the strength of his eloquence. 
The Whigs were jubilant when their chosen leader 
again took the field, and the truants flocked back to the 


Notified at Midnight. 


standard which they had deserted to support John 
Tyler. Harmony once more prevailed among the 
leaders and in the ranks, and the Whig party was 
again in good working order. 

Three weeks later the National Democratic Conven¬ 
tion met at Baltimore and remained in session three 
days. A majority of the delegates advocated the nom¬ 
ination of ex-President Van Buren, but he was defeated 
by permitting his opponents to pass the two-thirds rule, 
and on the third day James K. Polk was nominated. 
Silas Wright was nominated as Vice-President, but he 
positively declined, saying to his friends that he did 
not propose to ride behind on the black pony [slavery] 
at the funeral of his slaughtered friend, Mr. Van Buren. 
Mr. George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, was then 

Governor Fairfield, of Maine, on his return from 
Philadelphia on the first of June, 1844, whither he had 
gone as Chairman of a Committee of the Democratic 
Convention to inform Mr. Dallas of his nomination as 
Vice-President, gave an amusing account of the scene. 
The Committee reached Philadelphia about three 
o’clock in the morning, and were piloted to Mr. Dallas’ 
house by his friend, Senator Robert J. Walker. Loud 
knocks at the door brought Mr. Dallas to his chamber 
window. Recognizing Mr. Walker, and fearing that 
his daughter, who was in Washington, was ill, he has¬ 
tened down-stairs, half dressed and in slippers, when, 
to his utter amazement, in walked sixty or more gen¬ 
tlemen, two by two, with the tread of soldiers, passing 
him by and entering his front parlor, all maintaining 
the most absolute silence. Mr. Dallas, not having the 
slightest conception of their object, stood thunder¬ 
struck at the scene. Mr. Walker then led him into the 

2 T 


Perkys Reminiscences. 

back parlor. “ My dear Walker,” said he, in amaze¬ 
ment, “ what is the matter?” “ Wait one moment, if 
you please, Dallas, wait one moment, if you please.” 
In a few moments the folding-doors connecting the 
parlors were thrown back, and in the front parlor 
(which had meanwhile been lighted up) Mr. Dallas saw 


a semi-circle of gentlemen, who greeted him with ap¬ 
plause. Governor Fairfield then stepped forward, and 
briefly informed Mr. Dallas what the action of the Con¬ 
vention had been. The candidate for Vice-President, 
who had recovered from his momentary surprise, elo¬ 
quently acknowledged the compliment paid him, and 
promised to more formally reply by letter. He then 

Two Notable Balls. 


opened his sideboard, and all joined in pledging "‘suc¬ 
cess to the ticket,” 

Mr. Clay unfortunately wrote a Texas letter, which 
fell like a wet blanket upon the Whigs, and enabled 
the Democratic managers to deprive him of the vote of 
New York by organizing the Liberty party, which 
nominated James G. Birney, of Michigan, as President, 
and Thomas Morris, of Ohio, as Vice-President. This 
nomination received the support of the anti-slavery 
men, of many disappointed adherents of Mr. Van 
Buren, and of the anti-Masonic and anti-rent factions 
of the Whig party of New York. The consequence 
was that over sixty thousand votes were thrown away 
on Birney, nine-tenths of them being drawn from the 
Whig ranks, thus securing a complete triumph for the 

At the “ birthniglit ball,” on the 22d of February, 
1845, President Tyler was accompanied by President¬ 
elect Polk. Mrs. Madison also was present with Mrs. 
Alexander Hamilton, and the members of the Diplo¬ 
matic Corps wore their court uniforms. A few nights 
afterward President Tyler gave a “ parting ball ” at the 
White House, his young and handsome wife receiving 
the guests with distinguished grace. Mr. Polk was 
prevented from attending by the indisposition of his 
wife, but the Vice-President-elect, Mr. Dallas, with his 
splendid crown of white hair, towered above all other 
guests except General Scott and “ Long John ” Went¬ 
worth. There was dancing in the East Room, Mrs. 
Tyler leading off in the first set of quadrilles with 
Mr. Wilkins, the Secretary of War, as her partner. 
This entertainment concluded the “ Cavalier ” reign 
within the White House, which was soon ruled with 
Puritan austerity by Mrs. Polk. 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Near the close of the session of Congress with which 
the Administration of John Tyler terminated, a joint 
resolution legislating Texas into the Union was intro- 

reached the Presi¬ 
dent on the 2d of March, received his immediate ap¬ 
proval, and the next day a messenger was started for 
Texas, to have it accepted, and thus secure annexation. 
On the morning of the 4th of March, 1845, Mr. 

The Ex-President Left. 


Tyler left the White House, not caring to assist in the 
inauguration of his successor. As the Potomac steamer 
was about to swing away from the wharf, which was 
crowded with people who were glad to see the ex-Presi- 
dent depart, he came along with his family, a squad¬ 
ron of colored servants, and a great lot of luggage. 
As they alighted from their carriages at the head of 
the wharf the whistle sounded, the boat’s bell rang, 
and she began slowly to move away. Some one in the 
crowd sang out, “ Hello ! hello ! Captain, hold on there, 
ex-President Tyler is coming. Hold on !” The cap¬ 
tain, an old Clay Whig, standing near the stern of 
the boat on the upper deck, looked over the rail, saw 
the Presidential crowd coming, but pulled his engine 
bell violently and shouted, “ Ex-President Tyler be 
dashed! let him stay.” This scene was lithographed 
and copies hung for years in many of the saloons and 
public houses of Washington. 

Stephen Arnold Douglas was born at Brandon, Vermont, April 23d, 1813 ; was a Representa¬ 
tive in Congress from Illinois, 1843-1847 ; was United States Senator from 1847 until his death at 
Chicago, June 3d, 1861. 




J AMES KNOX POLK was inaugurated as the 
eleventh President of the United States on the 
4th of March, 1845, a rainy, unpleasant day. 
Had any method of contesting a Presidential election 
been provided by the Constitution or the laws, the 
fraudulent means by which his election was secured 
would have been brought forward to prevent his taking 
his seat. But the Constitution had made no such pro¬ 
vision, and Congress had not been disposed to inter¬ 
fere ; so Mr. Polk was duly inaugurated with great 
pomp, under the direction of the dominant party. A 
prominent place was assigned in the inaugural proces¬ 
sion for the Democratic associations of Washington 
and other cities. The pugilistic Empire Club from 
New York, led by Captain Isaiah Rynders, had with it 
a small cannon, which was fired at short intervals as 
the procession advanced. 

The Chief Marshal of the procession having issued 
orders that no carriages should enter the Capitol 
grounds, the diplomats were forced to alight at a side 
gate in the rain, and to walk through the mud to the 

Polk's Inauguration. 


Senate entrance, damaging their feathered chapeaux 
and their embroidered uniforms, to their great dis¬ 
pleasure. Conspicuous in the group aiound the Piesi- 
dent was Vice-President Dallas, tall, erect, and digni¬ 
fied, with long, snow-white hair falling over his slioul- 


ders. The President-elect read his inaugural, which 
few heard, and when he had concluded Chief Justice 
Taney administered the oath of office. As Mr. Polk 
reverentially kissed the Bible, the customary salutes 
boomed forth at the Navy Yard and at the Arsenal. 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

The new President was then escorted to the White 
House, the rain having made Pennsylvania Avenue so 
slippery with mud that not a few of the soldiers fell 
ingloriously on the march. 

The cry, “ Who is James K. Polk?” raised by the 
Whigs when he was nominated, was unwarranted, for 
he was not an unknown man. He had been a member 
of the House from 1825 to I ^39> Speaker from 1835 
to 1837, an d chairman of the Committee of Ways and 
Means during a portion of his membership. He had 
been a Jackson leader in the House, and as such he 
had manifested not only zeal and skill as a party 
manager, but also substantial qualities of a respect¬ 
able order. It seems certain that Polk was selected by 
the Southern Democracy some time before the Conven¬ 
tion met in 1844, and that he was heartily in sympathy 
with the movement for conquering a portion of Mexico, 
to be made into slave States. Polk entered heartily 
into this business, and worked harmoniously with the 
instigators of conquest, except that he became self- 
willed when his vanity was touched. 

President Polk was a spare man, of unpretending 
appearance and middle stature, with a rather small 
head, a full, angular brow, penetrating dark gray eyes, 
and a firm mouth. His hair, which he wore long and 
brushed back behind his ears, was touched with silver 
when he entered the White House and was gray when 
he left it. He was a worthy and well-qualified member 
of the fraternity of Freemasons, and a believer in the 
creed of the Methodists, although, out of deference to 
the religions opinions of his wife, he attended worship 
with her at the First Presbyterian Church. Calm, cold, 
and intrepid in his moral character, he was ignorant of 
the beauty of moral uprightness in the conduct of public 

A Presidential Worker. 329 

affairs, but was ambitious of power and successful in 
the pursuit of it. He was very methodical and re¬ 
markably industrious, always finding time to listen 
patiently to the stories of those who came to him as 


petitioners for patronage and place. But his ardu¬ 
ous labors impaired his health and doubtless shortened 
his life. Before his term of office had half expired 
his friends were pained to witness his shortened and 


Per ley s Reminiscences. 

enfeebled step, and the air of languor and exhaustion 
which sat upon him. 

There were two inauguration balls in honor of the 
new President’s accession to power—one at ten dol¬ 
lars a ticket, and the other at two dollars. The ten- 
dollar ball was at Carusi’s saloon, and was attended by 
the leaders of Washington society, the Diplomatic 
Corps, and many officers of the Army and Navy. 

Madame de Bodisco, wife of the Russian Minister, in 
a superb court dress, which she had worn while on her 
bridal visit to St. Petersburg, attracted much attention, 
and contrasted strongly with Mrs. Polk, whose attire 
was very plain. The ball at the National Theatre was 
more democratic, and was attended by an immense 
crowd, whose fight for the supper was emblematical of 
the rush and scramble about to be made for the loaves 
and fishes of office. When the guests began to depart, 

Mrs. Polk. 

33 1 

it was found that the best hats, cloaks, and canes had 
been taken early in the evening, and there was great 
grumbling. Commodore Elliot had his pocket picked 
at the White House on inauguration day, the thief de¬ 
priving him of his wallet, which contained several val¬ 
ued relics. One was a letter from General Jackson, 
congratulating him on his restoration to his position in 
the service, and containing a lock of “ Old Hickory’s ” 
hair; another was a letter from Mrs. Madison, inclos¬ 
ing a lock of Mr. Madison’s hair. 

Mrs. Polk was a strict Presbyterian, and she shunned 
what she regarded as “ the vanities of the world ” 
whenever it was possible for her to do so. She did not 
possess the queenly grace of Mrs. Madison or the 
warm-hearted hospitality of Mrs. Tyler, but she pre¬ 
sided over the White House with great dignity. She 
was of medium height and size, with very black hair, 
dark eyes and complexion, and formal yet graceful de¬ 
portment. At the inauguration of her husband she 
wore a black silk dress, a long black velvet cloak with 
a deep cape, trimmed with fringe and tassels, and a 
purple velvet bonnet, trimmed with satin ribbon. Her 
usual style of dress was rich, but not showy. 

Mrs. Polk would not permit dancing at the White 
House, but she did all in her power to render the Ad¬ 
ministration popular. One morning a lady found her 
reading. “ I have many books presented to me by their 
writers,” said she, “ and I try to read them all ; at 
present this .is not possible; but this evening the 
author of this book dines with the President, and I 
could not be so unkind as to appear wholly ignorant 
and unmindful of his gift.” At one of her evening re¬ 
ceptions a gentleman remarked, “ Madame, you have a 
very genteel assemblage to-night.” “ Sir,” replied Mrs. 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

Polk, with perfect good humor, but very significantly, 
“ I have never seen it otherwise.” 

Mr. James Buchanan, the newly appointed Secretary 
of State, was at this time in the prime of life, and 
his stalwart frame, fair complexion, light blue eyes, 
courtly manners, and scrupulously neat attire prompted 
an English visitor, Mrs. Maury, to say that he re¬ 
sembled a British nobleman of the past generation, 
when the grave and dignified bearing of men in 
power was regarded as an essential attribute of their 
office. Although a bachelor, he kept house on F Street, 
next to the abode of John Quincy Adams, where his 
accomplished niece presided at his hospitable board. 
He faithfully carried out the foreign policy of President 
Polk, but never let pass an opportunity for advancing, 
with refreshing humility, his own claims to the succes¬ 
sion. In a letter written to a friend he alluded to a 
prediction that he would be the next President, and 
went on to say: “ I or any other man may disappear 
from the political arena without producing a ripple 
upon the surface of the deep and strong current which, 
is sweeping the country to its destiny. Nothing has 
prevented me from removing myself from the list 
of future candidates for the Presidency, except 
the injury this might do to the Democratic cause in. 
Pennsylvania. On this subject I am resolved, and 
whenever it may be proper I shall make known my 
resolution. Nothing on earth could induce me again 
to accept a Cabinet appointment.” Yet never did a 
wily politician more industriously plot and plan to 
secure a nomination than Mr. Buchanan did, in his 
still-hunt for the Presidency. 

William Learned Marcy, the Secretary of War, was 
the “ wheel-horse ” of President Polk’s Cabinet. 

The Cabinet's “ Wheel Horse .” 


Heavily built, rather sluggish in his movements, and 
always absorbed with some subject, he was not what is 
generally termed “ companionable,” and neither bores 
nor office-seekers regarded him as an amiable man. 
He used to write his most important dispatches in the 
library of his own house. When thus engaged he 
would at once, after breakfast, begin his work and 
write till nearly noon, when he would go to the Depart¬ 
ment, receive calls, and 
attend to the regular 
routine duties of his 
position. During 
hours of composition 
he was so completely 
engrossed with the 
subject that persons 
might enter, go out, 
or talk in the same 
room without in the 
least obtaining his no¬ 
tice. He usually sat 
in his dressing-gown, 
with an old red hand¬ 
kerchief on the table william learned marcy. 

before him, and one 

could judge of the relative activity of his mind by the 
frequency of his application to the snuff-box. In truth, 
he was an inveterate snuff-taker, and his immoderate 
consumption of that article appeared to have injuriously 
affected his voice. 

President Polk, anxious to placate his defeated rival, 
Mr. Van Buren, tendered the appointment of Secretary 
of the Treasury to Silas Wright. He declined it, hav¬ 
ing been elected Governor of the State of New York, 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

but recommended for the position Mr. A. C. Flagg. 
Governor Marcy objected to the appointment of Mr. 
Flagg, then to the appointment of Mr. George Ban¬ 
croft, the historian, and finally accepted himself the 
place of Secretary of War. Mr. Robert J. Walker, a 
Pennsylvanian by birth and a Mississippian by adop¬ 
tion, who had in the United States Senate advocated 
the admission of Texas and opposed the protection of 

American industries 
by a high tariff, was 
made Secretary of the 
Treasury. Mr. George 
Bancroft was appoint¬ 
ed Secretary of the 
Navy, and Cave John¬ 
son, of Tennessee, 

Mr. John Y. Mason, 
who had been the Sec¬ 
retary of the Navy in 
Tyler’s Cabinet, was 
retained by Polk as 
his Attorney-General, 
having made earnest 
appeals that he might 
not be disturbed. He wrote to an influential friend 
at Washington that he desired to remain in office 
on account of his financial wants. “ Imprudence 
amounting to infatuation,” he went on to say, “ while 
in Congress, embarrassed me, and I am barely re¬ 
covering from it. The place is congenial to my feel¬ 
ings, and the salary will assist Virginia land and 
negroes in educating six daughters. Although I still 
own a large estate, and am perfectly temperate in my 


Marcy versus Mason. 


habits, I have felt that the folly of my conduct in 
another respect may have led to the report that I was 
a sot—an unfounded rumor, which originated with a 
Richmond paper.” Governor Marcy used to joke Mr. 
Mason a good deal on the forwardness of the Old 
Dominion, the mother of Presidents, in urging the 
claims of her children for Federal office—a propensity 
which was amusingly illustrated at a private dinner 
where they were both 
in attendance. “How 
strange it is, Mason,” 
said he, “ that out of 
the thousands of fat 
appointments we have 
had to make, there is 
not one that Virginia 
does not furnish a can¬ 
didate for, and that 
every candidate is 
backed up by the 
strongest testimonials 
that he was expressly 
educated for that par¬ 
ticular post! ’ ’ Mason 


bore the joke very 

well, contenting himself with the observation that the 
people of the United States seemed to know where to 

look for great men. 

Mr. Polk had been elected President on the platform 
of “ the whole of Oregon or none,” and “ 54 0 40', or 
fight.” But Mr. McLean, who was sent to England, 
negotiated a treaty fixing the boundary at 49 0 , and “ 54 0 
40' ” was abandoned without the promised fight. 
Another troublesome legacy inherited by John Tylei 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

was not so easily arranged, and the Mexican War was 
inaugurated. To the more intelligent portion of the 
Northern Whigs the contest was repulsive, and the 
manner in which it was used for the advancement of 
Democratic politicians was revolting. But few forgot 
their allegiance to this country in the face of the 
enemy. Congress, repeatedly appealed to by the Presi¬ 
dent, voted men and money without stint to secure 
the national success and to maintain the national 
honor. Whig States, which, like Massachusetts, had 
no sympathy for the war, contributed the bravest of 
their sons, many of whom, like a son of Daniel 
Webster, fell victims to Mexican malaria or Mexican 

While President Polk endeavored to gratify each of 
the component factions of the Democratic party in the 
composition of his Cabinet, he ruthlessly deposed the 
veteran Francis P. Blair from the editorship of the 
Globe to gratify the chivalry of South Carolina, who 
made it the condition upon which he could receive the 
electoral vote of their State, then in the hands of 
the General Assembly, and controlled by the politi¬ 
cians. Blair & Rives had loaned ten thousand dol¬ 
lars to General Jackson, who was very indignant 
when he learned that his old friends were to be shelved, 
but the Nullifiers were inexorable. The Globe ceased 
to be the editorial organ of the Administration, and 
“ Father Ritchie,” who had for many years edited the 
Richmond Inquirer , was invited to Washington, where 
he established the Union , which became the mouth¬ 
piece of President Polk. “ The Globe” says Colonel 
Benton, “was sold and was paid for; it was paid for 
out of public money—the same fifty thousand dollars 
which were removed to the village bank at Middletown, 

A n Em barrassmen t. 


in the interior of Pennsylvania. Three annual install¬ 
ments made the payment, and the Treasury did not 
reclaim the money for three years.” 

The first congressional assembly attended by Presi¬ 
dent Polk was graced by the presence of General 
Felix Grundy McConnell, of Alabama, who appeared 
arrayed in a blue swallow-tailed coat, light cassimere 
pantaloons, and a scarlet waistcoat. His female ac¬ 
quaintances at Washington not being very numerous, 
he had invited to accompany him two good-looking 
French milliner girls from a shop in the lower story 
of the house in which he boarded. The young women 
were dressed as near to the Parisian style of ball dress 
as their means would permit, and the trio attracted 
much attention as they promenaded the hall. When 
the President arrived, the General marched directly to 
him, and exclaimed in his stentorian voice: “Mr. 
Polk, allow me the honor of introducing to you my 
beautiful young friend, Mamselle—Mamselle—Mam- 
selle —parley vous Francais —whose name I have for¬ 
gotten !” Then, turning to the other lady, he asked, 
“Will you introduce your friend?” The President, 
seeing General Mac’s embarrassment, relieved him by 
shaking hands cordially with each of the young ladies. 

James Knox Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, November 2d, 1795 ; was 
a Representative in Congress from Tennessee, 1825-1839 ; was Governor of Tennessee, 1839 ; was 
President of the United States, 1845-1849, and died at Nashville, Tennessee, June 15th, 1849. 





T HE metropolis was not very gay during the 
latter portion of Mr. Polk’s Administration. 
There were the usual receptions at the White 
House, and at several of the foreign legations the 
allowance of “ table money” was judiciously ex¬ 
pended, but there were not many large evening parties 
or balls. One notable social event was the marriage 
of Colonel Benton’s daughter Sarah to Mr. Jacob, of 
Louisville. The bridegroom’s family was related to 
the Taylors and the Clays, so Henry Clay, who had 
been re-elected to the Senate, was present, and escorted 
the bride to the supper-table. There was a large 
attendance of Congressmen, diplomats, and officials, 
but the absence of officers of the army and navy, gen¬ 
erally so prominent at a Washington entertainment, 
was noticeable. They were in Mexico. 

Another interesting entertainment was given by 
Colonel Seaton, at his mansion on E Street, to the 
Whig members of Congress and the journalists. The 

Reunion at Colonel Seaton's. 


first homage of nearly all, as they entered, was paid to 
John Quincy Adams, who sat upon a sofa, his form 
slightly bowed by time, his eyes weeping, and a calm 
seriousness in his expression. Daniel Webster was 
not present, having that day received intelligence of 
the death of his son Edward, who was major of a 
Massachusetts regiment, and died in Mexico of camp- 
fever. Henry Clay, however, was there, with kind 
words and pleasant 
smiles for all his 
friends. Crittenden, 

Corwin, and other 
Whig Senatorial pala¬ 
dins were present, and 
Mr. Speaker Win- 
throp,that perfect gen¬ 
tleman and able pre¬ 
siding officer, headed 
a host of talented Rep¬ 
resentatives. Commo¬ 
dore Stockton and 
General. Jones repre¬ 
sented the Army and 
Navy, while Erastus 
Brooks and Charles 
Lanman appeared for the press. There was a sumptuous 
collation, with much drinking of healths and many 
pledges to the success of the Whig cause. 

The reunion at Colonel Seaton’s was on Friday 
night, February 18th, 1848. The following Sunday 
John Quincy Adams attended public worship at the 
Capitol, and on Monday, the 21st, he was, as usual, in 
his seat when the House was called to order. During 
the preliminary business he was engaged in copying a 



Perley's Remmiscences 

poetical invocation to the muse of history for one of 
the officials, and he appeared to be in ordinarily good 
health. A resolve of thanks to the generals of the 
Mexican War came up, and the clerk had read, “ Re¬ 
solved by the House that ”—when he was arrested by 
the cry of u Look to Mr. Adams !” Mr. David Fisher, 


of Ohio, who occupied the desk on Mr. Adams’ right, 
saw him rise as if he intended to speak ; then clutch 
his desk with a convulsive effort, and sink back into 
his chair. Mr. Fisher caught him in his arms, and in 
an instant Dr. Fries and Dr. Nes, both members, were 
at his side. 

It was a solemn moment, for a cry went from more 

“ The Last of Earth T 


than one, “ Mr. Adams is dying!” It was thought 
that, like Pitt, he would give up the ghost, “with 
harness on,” on the spot which his eloquence had 
hallowed. “Stand back!” “Give him air!” “Re¬ 
move him!” Every one seemed panic-struck except 
Mr. Speaker Winthrop, who quietly adjourned the 
House, and had his insensible colleague removed on a 
so f a —£ rs t into the rotunda, and then into the Speaker’s 
room. Cupping, mustard poultices, and friction were 
resorted to, and about an hour after his attack Mr. 
Adams said, “ This is the last of earth, but I am con¬ 
tent.” He then fell into a deep slumber, from which 
he never awoke. Mrs. Adams and other relatives were 
with him, and among the visitors was Henry Clay, 
who stood for some time with the old patriarch’s hand 
clasped in his, and gazed intently on the calm but 
vacant countenance, his own eyes filled with tears. 
Mr. Adams lingered until the evening of the 23d of 
February, when he breathed his last. The funeral 
services were very imposing, and a committee of one 
from each State accompanied the remains to Boston, 
where they lay in state at Faneuil Hall, and were 
then taken to Quincy for interment. The Committee 
returned to Washington enthusiastic over the hospi¬ 
talities extended to them while they were in Massa¬ 

Abraham Lincoln was a member of the last Congress 
during the Polk Administration. He made no mark 
as a legislator, but he established his reputation as a 
story-teller, and he was to be found every morning in 
the post-office of the House charming a small audience 
with his quaint anecdotes. Among other incidents of 
his own life which he used to narrate was his military 
service in the Black Hawk War, when he was a cap- 

342 Per ley's Reminiscences. 

tain of volunteers. He was mustered into service by 
Jefferson Davis, then a lieutenant of dragoons, sta¬ 
tioned at Fort Dixon, which was near the present town 
of Dixon, Illinois, and was under the command of 
Colonel Zachary Taylor. Mr. Lincoln served only one 
term, and before its expiration he began to take steps 
for appointment as Commissioner of the General Land- 
office, two years afterward, should the Whigs then 

come into power. A 
number of prominent 
Whig Senators and 
Representatives in¬ 
dorsed his application, 
but he was not suc¬ 

Jefferson Davis was 
a Representative from 
Mississippi until he 
resigned to accept the 
command of a regi¬ 
ment of riflemen, with 
which he rendered gal¬ 
lant services at Buena 
Vista, under his father- 
in-law, General Tay¬ 
lor, with whom he was not at that time on speaking 
terms. In appearance his erect bearing recalled his 
service as an officer of dragoons, while his square 
shoulders and muscular frame gave proof of a train¬ 
ing at West Point. His high forehead was shaded 
by masses of dark hair, in which the silvery threads 
began to show; his eyes were a bluish-gray, his cheek¬ 
bones prominent, his nose aquiline, and he had a large, 
expressive mouth. He was an ardent supporter of 




Per ley's Reminiscences . 

State sovereignty and of Southern rights, and he was 
very severe on those Congressmen from the slave¬ 
holding States who were advocates of the Union, 
especially Mr. A. H. Stephens, whom he denounced as 
“ the little pale star from Georgia.” 

The Democratic National Convention met at Balti¬ 
more on the 22d of May, 1848. There was a pro¬ 
longed contest over the rival claims of delegates from 

New York, terminated 
by the admission of 
the 1 ‘ hards. ’ ’ General 
James M. Commander, 
the solitary delegate 
from South Carolina, 
was authorized to cast 
the nine votes of that 
State. The two-thirds 
rule was adopted, and 
on the fourth day of 
the convention, Lewis 
Cass, of Michigan, was 
nominated on the 
fourth ballot, defeating 
James Buchanan and 
Levi Woodbury. Hav¬ 
ing nominated a Northern candidate, a Southern plat¬ 
form was adopted, which covered the entire ground of 
non-interference with the rights of slave-holders, either 
in the States or Territories. 

General Cass was then in the sixty-sixth year of 
his age, and had passed forty years in the public 
service. His knowledge was ample but not profound. 
He was ignorant on no subject, and was deeply versed 
on none. The world to him was but a playhouse, 


Clay Rejected. 345 

and that drama with him was best which was best per¬ 

When the Whig National Convention met at Phila¬ 
delphia, on the 7th of June, there was a bitter feeling 
between the respective friends of Webster and Clay, 
but they were all doomed to disappointment. The 
Northern delegates to the Whig National Convention 
might have nominated either Webster, Clay, Scott, or 
Corwin, as they had a majority of fifty-six over the 
delegates from the Southern States, and cast twenty- 
nine votes more than was necessary to choose a candi¬ 
date. But they refused to unite on any one, and on 
the fourth ballot sixty-nine of them voted with the 
Southern Whigs and secured the nomination of Zach¬ 
ary Taylor. While the friends of Mr. Clay made a 
desperate rally in his behalf, knowing that it was his 
last chance, some of those who had smarted under the 
lash which he wielded so unsparingly in the Senate re¬ 
joiced over his defeat. “ Thank Providence!” exclaimed 
ex-Senator Archer, of Virginia, “we have got rid of the 
old tyrant at last.” 

As the Whig National Convention had adjourned 
without passing a single declaration of the party’s 
principles, General Taylor’s letter of acceptance was 
awaited with intense interest. It was believed 
that he would outline some policy which would be 
accepted and which would unite the Whig party. A 
month elapsed, and no letter of acceptance was received 
by Governor Morehead, who had presided over the 
Convention, but the Postmaster at Baton Rouge, where 
General Taylor lived, addressed the Postmaster-General 
a letter, saying that with the report for the current 
quarter from that office, two bundles of letters were 
forwarded for the Dead-Letter Office, they having been 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

declined on account of the non-payment of the postage 
by the senders. It was in the ten-cent and non-prepay¬ 
ment time. Of the forty-eight letters thus forwarded 
to the Dead-Letter Office, the Baton Rouge Postmaster 
said a majority were addressed to General Taylor, who 
had declined to pay the postage on them and take them 
out of the office, because his mail expenses had become 
burdensome. The General had since become aware 
that some of the letters were of importance, and asked 
for their return. In due course, the letters were sent 
back to Baton Rouge, and among them was Governor 
Morehead’s letter notifying the General of the action of 
the Philadelphia Convention. 

General Taylor’s letter of acceptance was thus dated 
a month and five days after the letter of notification 
had been written. It was “ short and sweet.” He ex¬ 
pressed his thanks for the nomination, said he did not 
seek it,, and that if he were elected President, for which 
position he did not think he possessed the requisite 
qualifications, he would do his best. He discussed 
nothing, laid down no principles, and gave no indica¬ 
tions of the course he would pursue. Thnrlow Weed, 
who had assumed the direction of the Whig campaign, 
was not satisfied with this letter, and sent the draft of 
another one, more explicit, and indorsed by Mr. Fill¬ 
more. This General Taylor had copied, and signed 
it as a letter addressed to his kinsman, Captain Alli¬ 
son. In it he pledged himself fully to Whig princi¬ 
ples, and it was made the basis of an effective cam¬ 

Mr. Webster, who at first denounced the nomination 
as one not fit to be made,” was induced, by the pay¬ 
ment of a considerable sum of money, to make a 
speech in favor of the ticket. Nathaniel P. Willis 


Van Buren and Adams. 

wrote a stirring campaign song, and at the request of 
Thurlow Weed, the writer of these reminiscences wrote 
a campaign life of the General, large editions of which 
were published at Boston and at Albany for gratuitous 
distribution. It ignored the General’s views on the 
anti-slavery question. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts 

Abolitionists and ultra-Webster men, with the Barn¬ 
burner wing of the Democratic party in New York, 
and several other dis¬ 
affected factions, met 
in convention at Buf¬ 
falo. They there nom¬ 
inated Martin Van Bu¬ 
ren for President and 
Mr. Charles Francis 
Adams for Vice-Presi¬ 
dent, and adopted as a 
motto, “ Free Speech, 

Free Soil, Free Labor, 
and Free Men.” This 
party attracted enough 
votes from the Demo¬ 
cratic ticket in the 

State of New York to thurlow weed. 

secure the triumph of 

the Whigs, and Martin Van Buren, who had been de¬ 
feated by the Southern Democrats, had in return the 

satisfaction of effecting their defeat. 

Mr. Calhoun, soured by his successive failures, but 
not instructed by them, sought revenge. “ The last 
days of Mr. Polk’s Administration,” says Colonel Ben¬ 
ton, u were witness to an ominous movement, nothing 
less than nightly meetings of large numbers of mem¬ 
bers ‘from the slave States to consider the state of 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

things between the North and the South, to show the 
aggressions and encroachments (as they were called) 
of the former upon the latter, to show the incompati¬ 
bility of their union, and to devise measures for the 
defense and protection of the South.” 

Henry Stuart Foote was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, September 20th, 1800 ; commenced 
the practice of law at Tuscumbia, Alabama, and removed to Mississippi; was United States Senator, 
1847-1852 ; was Governor of Mississippi, 1852-1854, and died May 19th, 1880. 




G eneral zachary taylor was, of aii 

who have filled the Presidential chair by the 
choice of the people, the man least competent 
to perform its duties. He had been placed before his 
countrymen as a candidate in spite of his repeated 
avowals of incapacity, inexperience, and repugnance 
to all civil duties. Although sixty-four years of age, 
he had never exercised the right of suffrage, and he 
was well aware that he was elected solely because of 
his military prowess. But no sooner did he learn that 
he had been chosen President than he displayed the 
same invincible courage, practical sense, and indomi¬ 
table energy in the discharge of his new and arduous 
civil duties which had characterized his military career. 

The President-elect was fortunate in having as a 
companion, counselor, and friend Colonel William 
Wallace Bliss, who had served as his chief of staff in 
the Mexican campaign, and who became the husband 
of his favorite daughter, Miss Betty. Colonel Bliss 
was the son of Captain Bliss, of the regular army, and 
after having been reared in the State of New York he 



Perleyis Reminiscences. 


was graduated at West Point, where he served after¬ 
ward as acting professor of mathematics. 

On his way to Washington from his Louisiana plan¬ 
tation, General Taylor visited Frankfort, and person¬ 
ally invited Mr. John J. Crittenden, then Governor of 


Kentucky, to become his Secretary of State. Governor 
Crittenden declined, and General Taylor then tele¬ 
graphed to Mr. John M. Clayton, of Delaware, tender¬ 
ing him the position, which that gentleman promptly 

Mr. Abbott Lawrence, of Boston, solicited the ap- 

More Cabinet Making . 

35 1 

pointment of Secretary of the Treasury, and was offered 
the Navy Department, which he declined. Mr. Robert 
Toombs, supported by Representative Stephens and 
Senator Dawson, succeeded in having Mr. George W. 
Crawford, of Georgia, appointed Secretary of War. 

Mr. William M. Meredith, of Pennsylvania, was rather 
forced upon General Taylor as Secretary of the Treas¬ 
ury by Mr. Clayton and other Whigs, partly on ac¬ 
count of his acknowl¬ 
edged talents, but 
chiefly to exclude ob¬ 
jectionable Pennsyl¬ 
vanians, among them 
Mr. Josiah Randall, 
who, more than any 
other, had contributed 
to the nomination and 
election of the Gene¬ 
ral. A contest between 
Messrs. Corwin and 
Vinton, of Ohio, for a 
seat in the Cabinet 
was settled by the 
appointment of Mr. 

Thomas Ewing, of that 
State, as Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Jacob Collamer, 
of Vermont, who had been an unsuccessful competitor 
with Mr. Upham for a seat in the Senate, and had been 
recommended by the Legislature of his State as Attor¬ 
ney-General, was made Postmaster-General. 

General Taylor came to Washington impressed with 
the idea that he was politically indebted to George 
Lunt, of Massachusetts, and William Ballard Preston, 
of Virginia. He appointed Mr. Lunt District Attor- 



Perlefs Reminiscences . 

ney for the district of Massachusetts, and it was soon 
understood that he proposed to invite Mr. Preston to a 
seat in his Cabinet as Attorney-General. The Whig 
Senators remonstrated, urging Preston’s lack of great 
legal ability and learning, but all to no purpose. 
Finally Senator Archer, of Virginia, called and asked 
if there was any foundation for the report that his 
friend Preston was to be made Attorney-General. 

“ Yes! ” answered Gen¬ 
eral Taylor, “ I have 
determined on that ap¬ 
pointment.” “Are you 
aware, General,” said 
the Senator, “thatthe 
Attorney- Genera 1 
must represent the 
Government in the Su¬ 
preme Court ?” “ Of 

course! ’ ’ responded the 
General. “ But do 
you know that he must 
there meet Daniel 
Webster, Reverdy 
Johnson, and other 
leading lawyers ?” 
“ Nothing, General, 
except that they will make a blank fool of your Attor¬ 
ney-General.” The Virginia Senator then took his 
leave, and the next morning’s papers contained the an¬ 
nouncement that the President had decided to appoint 
Mr. Preston Secretary of the Navy, and Mr. Reverdy 
Johnson Attorney-General. 

Mrs. Taylor regretted the election of her husband, 
and came to Washington with a heavy heart. She 


“Certainly. What of that?” 

Taylor's Inauguration. 


was a native of Calvert County, Maryland, and was 
born on the estate where the father of Mrs. John 
Quincy Adams had formerly resided. Her father, Mr. 
Walter Smith, was a highly respectable farmer, and 
her brother, Major Richard Smith, of the Marine Corps, 
was well remembered at Washington for his gallant 
bearing and his social qualities. The eldest daughter 
of General Taylor had married Mr. Jefferson Davis. A 
second daughter was the wife of Dr. Wood, of the 
army, who was at that time stationed at Baltimore, as 
was General Taylor’s brother, Colonel Taylor. Mrs. 
Taylor, with her younger daughter, Mrs. Bliss, went 
directly from Louisiana to Baltimore some weeks prior 
to the inauguration. They broke up housekeeping at 
Baton Rouge, and took with them William Oldham, a 
faithful colored man, who had been the body-servant of 
General Taylor for many years, the parade horse, 
“ Old Whitey,” which he had ridden in the Mexican 
campaign, and a favorite dog. 

General Taylor was inaugurated on Monday, March 
5th. He was escorted from Willard’s Hotel by an 
imposing procession, headed by twelve volunteer com¬ 
panies. The President-elect rode in an open carriage 
drawn by four gray horses, and he was joined at the 
Irving House by President Polk, who sat at his right 
hand. One hundred young gentlemen, residents of 
the District of Columbia, mounted on spirited horses, 
formed a body-guard, and kept the crowd from pressing 
around the President’s carriage. Then came the 
“ Rough-and-Ready ” clubs of Washington, George¬ 
town, Alexandria, and Baltimore, with banners, badges, 
and music, while the students of the Georgetown Col¬ 
lege brought up the rear. 

The personal appearance of General Taylor as he 


Perky's Reminiscences. 

read his inaugural address from a platform erected in 
front of the eastern portico of the Capitol was not 
imposing. His figure was somewhat portly, and his 
legs were short; his thin, gray hair was nnbrnshed; 
his whiskers were of the military cut then prescribed; 
his features were weather-bronzed and care-furrowed, 
and he read almost inaudibly. It was evident, how¬ 
ever, that he was a popular favorite; and when he had 
concluded the vociferous cheering of the assembled 


thousands was answered by the firing of cannon and 
the music of the bands. His praises were on all lips, 
and his soubriquets of u Rough and Ready ” and “ Old 
Zach.” were sounded with all honor. 

The inaugural message showed that General Taylor 
regarded the Union as in danger, and that he intended 
to use every possible exertion for its preservation. Mr. 
Calhoun had requested, through Mr. Clayton, that 
nothing should be said in the inaugural on this subject, 
which had prompted the addition of a paragraph, in 
which the incoming President declared that a dissolu¬ 
tion of the Union would be the greatest of calamities, 

What one Bone Does . 


and went on to say : “ Whatever dangers may threaten 
it, I shall stand by it, and maintain it in its integrity, 
to the full extent of the obligations imposed and the 
power conferred upon me by the Constitution.” 

In December, 1849, when Congress assembled, the 
President aroused the violent opposition of Southern 
members by recommending, in his message, that Cali¬ 
fornia be admitted as a free State, and that the remain¬ 
ing Territories be allowed to form Constitutions to suit 
themselves. So indignant were some of the Southern¬ 
ers that the dissolution of the Union was openly 
threatened. To allay this agitation Clay’s comprom¬ 
ise measures were proposed, but Taylor did not live to 
see the bill passed. 

The horde of office-seekers which invaded Washing¬ 
ton after the inauguration of President Taylor recalled 
the saying of John Randolph, when it was asserted 
that the patronage of the Federal Government was 
overrated; “I know,” said the sarcastic Virginian, 
“ that it may be overrated; I know that we cannot 
give to those who apply offices equal to their expec¬ 
tations ; and I also know that with one bone I can call 
five hundred dogs.” The Democratic motto, that “ To 
the victors belong the spoils,” was adopted by the 
Taylor Administration. Unexceptionable men were re¬ 
moved from office, that their places might be filled 
with officers of Rough and Ready clubs or partisan 
orators. Veterans like General Armstrong, and even 
the gifted Hawthorne, were “ rotated ” without mercy 
from the offices which they held. In the Post-Office 
Department alone, where Mr. Fitz Henry Warren, as 
Assistant Postmaster-General, worked the political guil¬ 
lotine, there were three thousand four hundred and six 
removals during the first year of the Taylor Adminis- 

356 Per leys Reminiscences. 

tration, besides many hundred clerks and employees in 
the post-offices of the larger cities. 

In the dispensation of “ patronage ” there was a dis¬ 
play of shameless nepotism. A brother-in-law of Sen¬ 
ator Webster was made Navy Agent at New York. 
Sons of Senators Crittenden, Clay, and Davis received 
important appointments abroad, and the son-in-law of 
Senator Calhoun was retained in the diplomatic service. 
Two sons-in-law of Senator Benton were offered high 
places. A nephew of Senator Truman Smith was 
made one of the United States Judges in Minnesota, 
and a nephew of Secretary Clayton was made purser 
at the Washington Navy Yard. The assurance of the 
President that he had “ no friends to reward ” was 
apparently forgotten, and he was hedged in by a little 
circle of executive councilors, who ruled all things. 

While the Administration was profligate in its abuse 
of patronage, the conduct of several of the Secretaries 
was such as to give the President great uneasiness as 
he became acquainted with what was going on. Old 
claims were revived, approved by the Secretaries, and 
paid. Prominent among them was the Galphin claim, 
the Chickasaw claim, the De la Francia claim, the Gardi¬ 
ner claim, and many others. From the Galphin claim 
Mr. Crawford, Secretary of War, received as his share 
one hundred and fifteen thousand dollars. The law¬ 
yers in Congress declared that the Secretary acted 
professionally, but others censured him severely. 
Judge Cartter, then a Representative from Ohio, was 
severe in his comments on the monstrous corruption of 
the allowance of interest, the payment of which he 
said that he disliked “ both as an exaction on the part 
of the capitalists, and on account of its origin with the 
Jews, who killed the Saviour.” 

Old Zach's Appearance . 


President Taylor, although a Southerner by birth 
and a slave-owner, took prompt steps to thwart the 
schemes of Mr. Calhoun and his fellow-conspira¬ 
tors. Military officers 
were ordered to California, 

Utah, and New Mexico, 
which had no govern¬ 
ments but lynch law; and 
the people of the last- 
named province, which 
had been settled two hun¬ 
dred years before Texas 
asserted her indepen¬ 
dence, were assured that J 
her domain would be 
guaranteed by the United 
States against the claim 
of the Lone Star State. 

Socially, President Tay¬ 
lor enjoyed himself, and 
he used to take morning 
walks through the streets 
of Washington, wearing 
a high black silk hat 
perched on the back of 
his head, and a suit of 
black broadcloth, much 
too large for him, but 
made in obedience to his 
orders, that he might be 
comfortable. Mrs. Taylor 
used to sit patiently all day in her room, plying her 
knitting-needles, and occasionally, it was said, smok¬ 
ing her pipe. Mrs. Bliss was an excellent housekeeper, 


35 S 

Per ley s Reminiscences. 

and the introduction of gas into the Executive Man¬ 
sion, with new furniture and carpets, enabled her to 
give it a more creditable appearance. It was said that 
she did the honors of the establishment “ with the art¬ 
lessness of a rustic belle and the grace of a duchess.” 

General Taylor found it difficult to accustom himself 
to the etiquette and the restraint of his new position. 
One day when the bachelor ex-Secretary of State called 
with a number of fair Pennsylvania friends to present 
them to the President, General Taylor remarked, “ Ah! 
Mr. Buchanan, you always pick out the prettiest 
ladies !” “ Why, Mr. President,” was the courtly 

reply, u I know that your taste and mine agree in that 
respect.” “ Yes,” said General Taylor, “ but I have 
been so long among Indians and Mexicans that I 
hardly know how to behave myself, surrounded by so 
many lovely women.” 

Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County, Virginia, November 24th, 1784 ; never cast a vote 
or held a civil office until he was inaugurated as President, March 5th, 1849 ; died at the White 
House, after a few days’ illness, July 9th, 1850. 




T HE Thirty-first Congress, which met on the first 
Monday in the December following the inaug¬ 
uration of President Taylor, contained many 
able statesmen of national prominence. The organiza¬ 
tion of the House was a difficult task, nine “ free-soil ” 
or anti-slavery Whigs from the North, and six “ State- 
rights ” or pro-slavery Whigs from the South, refusing 
to vote for that accomplished gentleman, Mr. Robert 
C. Winthrop, who was the Whig candidate for Speaker. 
On the first ballot, Howell Cobb, of Georgia, had one 
hundred and three votes, against ninety-six votes for 
Robert C. Winthrop, eight votes for David Wilmot, 
six votes for Meredith P. Gentry, two votes for Horace 
Mann, and a number of scattering votes. The tellers 
announced that there was no choice, and the balloting 
was continued day after day, amid great and increasing 
excitement. After the thirty-ninth ballot, Mr. Win¬ 
throp withdrew from the contest, expressing his belief 
that the peace and safety of the Union demanded that 
an organization of some sort should be effected without 


3 6 ° 

Per ley's Reminiscences. 

The Southern Whigs who had opposed Mr. Win- 
throp were vehement and passionate in their denunciation 
of the North. “ The time has come,” said Mr. Toombs, 
his black, uncombed hair standing out from his mas¬ 
sive head, as if charged with electricity, his eyes glow¬ 
ing like coals of fire, and his sentences rattling forth 
like volleys of musketry—“ the time has come,” said 
he, “ when I shall not only utter my opinions, but 

make them the basis 
of my political action 
here. I do not, then, 
hesitate to avow before 
this House and the 
country, and in the 
presence of the living 
God, that if, by your 
legislation, you seek 
to drive us from the 
Territories of Califor¬ 
nia and New Mexico, 
and to abolish slavery 
in the District of Co¬ 
lumbia, I am for dis¬ 
union; and if my phys¬ 
ical courage be equal 
to the maintenance of my convictions of right and duty, 
I will devote all I am and all I have on earth to its con¬ 

Such inflammatory remarks provoked replies, and 
after a heated debate Mr. Duer, of New York, remarked 
that he “ would never, under any circumstances, vote 
to put a man in the Speaker’s chair who would, in any 
event, advocate or sanction a dissolution of the Union.” 
This brought a dozen Southerners to their feet with 


Bad Blood in the House. 


angry exclamations, and Mr. Bayly, of Virginia, who 
was near Mr. Duer, said, “There are no disunionists.” 
“ There are !” exclaimed Mr. Duer. “ Name one !” 
shouted Mr. Bayly. At that moment Mr. Meade, of 
Virginia, rose and passed directly before Mr. Duer, 
who pointed to him and shouted, “ There’s one !” “ It 

is false !” replied Mr. Meade, angrily. “ You lie, sir!” 
responded Mr. Duer, in tones which rang through the 
hall; and, drawing himself up, he stood unmoved, 
while his political friends and foes clustered angrily 
about him, every man of them talking and gesticula¬ 
ting most furiously. 

Fortunately, Mr. Nathan Sergeant (known as a 
newspaper correspondent over the signature of Oliver 
Oldschool), who was the Sergeant-at-Arms of the 
House, was in his seat at the Speaker’s right hand. 
Seizing the “mace,” which represents the Roman 
fasces, or bundle of rods, bound by silver bands and 
surmounted by an eagle with outstretched wings, 
which is the symbol of the authority of the House, he 
hastened to Mr. Duer and stood at his side, as if to pro¬ 
tect him. His official interposition was immediately 
respected by all concerned in the disorder, and even the 
most tumultuous began at once to subside, so that no 
forcible measures were needed to prevent further violence. 

Quiet was restored, and the excited Representatives, 
one by one, obeyed the sharp raps of the Speaker’s 
gavel, accompanied by the peremptory order, “ Gentle¬ 
men will take their seats.” Mr. Duer, who had recov¬ 
ered his usual composure, then addressed the Chair, 
and having been recognized, apologized to the House 
for having been provoked into the use of the unparlia¬ 
mentary expression, but justified himself by referring 
to a speech which Mr. Meade had j ust made and printed, 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

which contained disunion sentiments. Mr. Meade 
promptly challenged Mr. Duer, who showed no indis¬ 
position to fight, but with some difficulty friends se¬ 
cured an amicable settlement of the quarrel. 

Finally, after three weeks of angry recrimination, it 
was voted that a plurality should elect, and on the 
sixty-second ballot Mr. Howell Cobb, of Georgia, hav¬ 
ing received one hundred and two votes against one 
hundred votes for Mr. Winthrop, was declared the 
Speaker of the House. He did not have that sense of 
personal dignity and importance which belonged to Sir 
John Falstaff by reason of his knighthood, but he dis¬ 
played the same rich exuberance of animal enjoyment, 
the same roguish twinkle of the eye, and the same in¬ 
dolence which characterized the fat Knight. 

President Taylor’s first and only message to Con¬ 
gress was transmitted on the Monday following the or¬ 
ganization of the House, December 24th, and the 
printed copies first distributed contained the sentence, 
“We are at peace with all the nations of the world 
and the rest of mankind.” A revised edition was soon 
printed, in which the corrected sentence read, “We are 
at peace with all the nations of the world, and seek to 
maintain our cherished relations of amity with them.” 
The blunder caused much diversion among the Demo¬ 
crats, and greatly annoyed Colonel Bliss, who, as the 
President’s private secretary, had superintended the 
publication of the message. The message contained 
no allusion to the slavery question, but the President 
had declared himself in favor of the nntrameled admis¬ 
sion of California into the Union, while, on the other 
hand, he did not approve the “ higher law ” doctrines 
which Mr. Seward was advocating as a nucleus for a 
new political party at the North. 


Clay at Seventy-three. 

Meanwhile, Henry Clay had reappeared at Washing¬ 
ton as a Senator from Kentucky, and occupied his old 
quarters at the National Hotel, a large stockholder in 
which, Mr. Calvert, of Maryland, was one of Clay’s 
many friends. Although in his seventy-third year, 
Mr. Clay was apparently hale and hearty, but showed 
his age. His head, bald on the top, was fringed with 
long, iron-gray hair, his cheeks were somewhat sunken, 
kis nose had a pinched look, but his wide mouth was, 
as in years past, wreathed in genial smiles. He always 
was dressed in black, and from a high black satin 
istock, which enveloped his long neck, emerged a huge 
white shirt collar, which reached to his ears. He 
mingled in society, generally kissed the prettiest girls 
wherever he went, and enjoyed a quiet game of cards 
in his own room, with a glass of toddy made from 
Bourbon County whisky. 

At the commencement of the session Mr. Clay re¬ 
quested that he might be excused from service on any 
•of the standing committees of the Senate, and his 
wish was granted. It was not long, however, before 
he evinced a desire to re-enter the arena of debate as a 
leader of the Whig party, but not as a follower of 
President Taylor. Presenting a series of resolutions 
which would consolidate the settlement of the eight 
•different questions involving slavery, then before Con¬ 
gress, into what he expected would prove a lasting 
compromise, he moved their reference to a select com¬ 
mittee of thirteen, with instructions to report them in 
one bill. The Committee was authorized, but not 
without opposition, and Mr. Webster’s vote secured 
for Mr. Clay the chairmanship. A general compro¬ 
mise bill was speedily prepared, and the “ battle of the 
giants ” was recommenced, Clay, Webster, and Cal- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

houn engaging for the last time in a gladiatorial strife, 
which exhibited the off-hand, genial eloquence of the 
Kentuckian, the ponderous strength of the Massachu¬ 
setts Senator, and the concentrated energies of South 
Carolina’s favorite son. Mr. Clay was the leader in 
the debate, which extended over seven months, and 
during that time he was ever on the alert, sometimes 
delivering a long argument, sometimes eloquently 
replying to other Senators, and sometimes suggesting 
points to some one who was to speak on his side. Indig¬ 
nant at the treatment which he had received from the 
Whig party he stood unsubdued, and so far from re¬ 
treating from those who had deserted him, he intended 
to make the Taylor Administration recall its pledges, 
break its promises, and become national, or pro-slavery, 

Mr. Webster was equally grieved and saddened by 
the faithlessness of Massachusetts men who had in 
years past professed friendship for him, but of whose 
machinations against him he had obtained proof dur¬ 
ing the preceding autumn. He also ascertained that, 
to use the words of Mr. Choate, “ the attention of the 
public mind began to be drawn a little more directly 
to the great question of human freedom and human 
slavery.” If he responded to the beatings of the New 
England heart, and resisted the aggressions and usur¬ 
pations of the slave power, he would have to follow 
the lead of the Abolitionists, for whom he had always 
expressed a profound contempt. Dejected and de¬ 
pressed, Mr. Webster would at that time have been 
glad to take the mission to England, and thus termi¬ 
nate his career of public service; but he was defeated 
by the claims of Mr. Abbott Lawrence, who, having 
been recently disappointed in not receiving the appoint- 

Webster's Forebodings. 


ment of Secretary of the Treasury, refused to be com¬ 
forted unless he could be the successor of George 
Bancroft at the Court of St. James. 

Thaddeus Stevens and Joshua R. Giddings asserted, 
after the decease of Mr. Webster, that he prepared a 
speech, the manuscript of which they had read, which 
was a powerful exposition and vindication of Northern 
sentiment upon the compromise measures, especially 
the fugitive-slave bill. If this was true, he was doubt¬ 
less induced to “ change front ” by pledges of Southern 
support for the Presidency ; but he is reported by 
Theodore Parker as having said to a fellow Senator, on 
the morning of the 7th of March, “ I have my doubts 
that the speech I am going to make will ruin me.” He 
should have remembered that he had himself said of 
the Emperor Napoleon, “ His victories and his triumphs 
crumbled to atoms, and moldered to dry ashes in his 
grasp, because he violated the general sense of justice 
of mankind.” 

At this time Webster’s far-seeing mind was doubt¬ 
less troubled by the prospects of a bloody civil war, with 
the breaking up of the Union he loved so well. He 
stood by the old compromises rather than bring on a 
sectional conflict, and in his opinion there was no sac¬ 
rifice too great to avert a fratricidal contest. “ I speak 
to-day,” said he, “ for the preservation of the Union!” 
His words were in after years the key-notes of many 
appeals for the protection and the preservation of the 
United States. 

Mr. Calhoun’s health had gradually failed, and at 
last he was supported into the Senate Chamber 
wrapped in flannels, like the great Chatham, and 
requested that his friend, Senator Mason, might read 
some remarks which he had prepared. The request 

3 66 

Per ley's Reminiscences . 

was, of course, granted, and while Mr. Mason read the 
defiant pronunciamiento its author sat wrapped in his 
cloak, his eyes glowing with meteor-like brilliancy as 
he glanced at Senators upon whom he desired to have 
certain passages make an impression. When Mr. 
Mason had concluded, Mr. Calhoun was supported 
from the Senate and went back to his lodgings at Mr. 


Hill’s boarding-house, afterward known as the Old 
Capitol, to die. 

Mr. Jefferson Davis aspired to the leadership of the 
South after the death of Mr. Calhoun, and talked 
openly of disunion. “ Let the sections,” said he, in ' 
the Senate Chamber, “ part, like the patriarchs of old, 
and let peace and good-will subsist among their de¬ 
scendants. Let no wound be inflicted which time 

An Impenetrable Target . 


cannot heal. Let the flag of onr Union be folded up 
entire, the thirteen stripes recording the original size 
of our family, untorn by the unholy struggles of civil 
war, its constellation to remain undimmed, and speak¬ 
ing to those who come after us of the growth and 
prosperity of the family whilst it remained united. 
Unmutilated, let it lie among the archives of the 
Republic, until some future day, when wiser counsels 
shall prevail, when 
men shall have been 
sobered in the school 
of adversity, again to 
be unfurled over the 
continent-wide Repub 

Senator Hale, who, 
with Mr. Salmon P. 

Chase, was not named 
011 any of the commit¬ 
tees of the Senate, was 
a constant target for 
the attacks of the 
Southerners, but the 
keenest shafts of satire 
made no more im¬ 
pression upon him than musket-balls do upon the 
hide of a rhinoceros. One day when Senator Clemens 
had asserted that the Union was virtually dissolved, 
Mr. Hale said, “ If this is not a matter too serious for 
pleasant illustration, let me give you one. Once in 
my life, in the capacity of Justice of the Peace—for I 
held that office before I was Senator—I was called on to 
officiate in uniting a couple in the bonds of matrimony. 
They came up, and I made short work of it. I asked 


3 68 

Perleys Reminiscences. 

the man if he would take the woman whom he held by 
the hand to be his wedded wife; and he replied, ‘ To 
be sure I will. I came here to do that very thing.’ 
I then put the question to the lady whether she would 
have the man for her husband. And when she an¬ 
swered in the affirmative, I told them they were man 
and wife then. She looked up with apparent aston¬ 
ishment and inquired, ‘Is that all?’ ‘Yes,’ said I, 
‘ that is all.’ ‘ Well,’ said she, ‘ it is not such a mighty 
affair as I expected it to be, after all!’ If this Union 
is already dissolved, it has produced less commotion in 
the act than I expected.” 

Robert Charles Winthrop was born at Boston, Massachusetts, May 12th, 1809; was a Repre¬ 
sentative in Congress from Massachusetts from December 5th, 1842, to July 30th, 1850, when, having 
been appointed a United States Senator from Massachusetts, he took his seat in the Senate, serving 
until February 7tn, 1851; was Speaker of the House during the Thirtieth Congress, and a part of 
the Thirty-first Congress. 




A PROMINENT figure at Washington during 
the Taylor Administration was General Sam 
Houston, a large, imposing-looking man, who 
generally wore a waistcoat made from the skin of a 
panther, dressed with the hair on, and who generally 
occupied himself during the sessions of the Senate in 
whittling small sticks of soft pine wood, which the 
Sergeant-at-Arms provided for him. His life had been 
one of romantic adventure. After having served with 
distinction under General Jackson in the Creek War, 
he had become a lawyer, and then Governor of the 
State of Tennessee. Soon after his inauguration he 
had married an accomplished young lady, to whom he 
one day intimated, in jest, that she apparently cared 
more for a former lover than she did for him. “ You 
are correct,” said she, earnestly. “ I love Mr. Nicker¬ 
son’s little finger better than I do your whole body.” 
Words ensued, and the next day Houston resigned his 
Governorship, went into the Cherokee country, west of 
the Arkansas River, adopted the Indian costume, and 
became an Indian trader. He was the best customer 
supplied from his own whisk}" barrel, until one day, 
24 369 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

after a prolonged debauch, he heard from a Texan 
Indian that the Mexicans had taken up arms against 
their revolted province. A friend agreeing to accom¬ 
pany him, he cast off his Indian attire, again dressed 
like a white man, and never drank a drop of any intoxi¬ 
cating beverage afterward. Arriving in Texas at a 
critical moment, his gallantry was soon conspicuous, 
and in due time he was sent to Washington as United 
States Senator. His strong points, however, were 
more conspicuous on the field than in the Senate. 

William H. Seward entered the Senate when General 
Taylor was inaugurated as President, and soon became 
the directing spirit of the Administration, although 
Colonel Bnllit, who had been brought from Louisiana 
to edit the Republic , President Taylor’s recognized 
organ, spoke of him only with supercilious contempt. 
Senator Foote sought reputation by insulting him 
in public, and was himself taunted by Mr. Calhoun with 
the inconsistent fact of intimacy with him in private. 
The newly elected Senator from New York persisted in 
maintaining amicable relations with his revilers, and 
quietly controlled the immense patronage of his State, 
none of which was shared by the friends of Vice-Presi¬ 
dent Fillmore. He was not at heart a reformer; he 
probably cared but little whether the negro was a slave 
or a freeman ; but he sought his own political advance¬ 
ment by advocating in turn anti-Masonry and abolition¬ 
ism, and by politically coquetting with Archbishop 
Hughes, of the Roman Catholic Church, and Henry 
Wilson, a leading Know-Nothing. Personally he was 
honest, but he was always surrounded by intriguers 
and tricksters, some of whose nests he would aid in 
feathering. The most unscrupulous lobbyists that 
have ever haunted the Capitol were well known as de- 

Seward and Buchanan. 371 

voted adherents of William H. Seward, and he swayed 
them as a sovereign. 

Mr. James Buchanan had not shed many tears over 
the defeat of his rival, General Cass, and when the 
Whigs came into power he retired from the Depart¬ 
ment of State to his rural home, called Wheatland, 





near Lancaster, Pa. He used to visit Washington fre¬ 
quently, and was always welcomed in society, where he 
made an imposing appearance, although he had the 
awkward habit of carrying his head slightly to one 


Perley s Rem in iscences. 

side, like a poll-parrot. He always attempted to be 
facetious, especially when conversing with young 
ladies, but when any political question was discussed 
in his presence, he was either silent, or expressed him¬ 
self with great circumspection. From his first entry 
into the House of Representatives, in 1821, he had 
entertained Presidential aspirations, and had sought to 
cultivate friendships that would be of service to him in 
obtaining the object of his ambition, protesting all the 
while that he was indifferent on the subject. After his 
retreat to Wheatland he began to secure strength for 
the coming National Democratic Convention of 1851, 
industriously corresponding with politicians in different 
sections of the country, and he was especially attentive 
to Mr. Henry A. Wise, with whose aid he hoped to 
secure the votes of the delegates from Virginia in the 
next National Democratic Convention. 

Mr. Wise, recalling the time when he was a power 
behind the throne of John Tyler, encouraged Mr. 
Buchanan to bid for Southern support, and intimated a 
readiness to “ coach ” him so as to make him a favorite 
in the slave States. His counsels were kindly taken, 
and in return Mr. Buchanan wrote to the fiery “ Lord 
of Accomac,” in his most precise handwriting: “Ac¬ 
quire more character for prudence and moderation, and 
under the blessing of Heaven you may be almost any¬ 
thing in this country which yon desire. There is no 
man living whose success in public and in private life 
would afford me more sincere pleasure than your own. 
You have every advantage. All yon have to do is to 
go straight ahead, without unnecessarily treading upon 
other people’s toes. I know you will think, if you 
don’t say, ‘ What impudence it is for this childless ,old 
bachelor of sixty years of age to undertake to give ., me 

Tickling the Constituents. 

3 73 

advice ! Why don’t he mind his own business?’ Gen¬ 
eral Jackson once told me that he knew a man in Ten¬ 
nessee who had got rich by minding his own business ; 
but still I urged him, and at last with success, which 
he never regretted.” 

The free distribution of plants and seeds to Con¬ 
gressmen for their favored constituents has made it an 
equally easy matter for the Commissioner of Agricul¬ 
ture to obtain liberal appropriations for his Depart- 


J . i 

ment and the publication of enormous editions of his 
Reports. Indeed, the Bureau of Agriculture has grown 
under these fostering influences to one of immense 
magnitude, and its beautiful building, erected in Lin¬ 
coln’s time, is one of the ornaments of the city. 

The first of the Agricultural Reports was issued by 
Edmund Burke, while he was commissioner of Patents 
during the Polk Administration. On the incoming of 
the Taylor Administration Mr. Burke was succeeded 


Perley's Reminiscences. 


by Thomas Ewbank, of New York City, and Congress 
made an appropriation of three thousand five hundred 
dollars for the collection of agricultural statistics. 
When Mr. Ewbank’s report appeared the Southern 
Congressmen were (to quote the words used by Senator 
Jefferson Davis, in debate) amazed to find that it was 
preceded by what he termed “ an introduction by 
Horace Greeley, a philosopher and philanthropist of 
the strong Abolition type.” “ The simple fact,” he 
continued, “ that Mr. Greeley was employed to write 
the introduction is sufficient to damn the work with 
me, and render it worthless in my estimation.” This 
view was held by many other Southerners. 

Notwithstanding this fierce denunciation, however, 
the public appreciated just such work as had been 
undertaken, and so rapid was the growth of interest in 
this direction that the Department of Agriculture was 
fully organized in 1862. It has continued to issue 
immense numbers of Reports, which are standing 
objects of jest and complaint, but the fact still remains 
that they contain splendid stores of valuable informa¬ 

Queen Victoria accredited as her Minister Plenipo¬ 
tentiary to President Taylor the Right Honorable 
Sir Henry Eytton Bulwer, an accomplished diplo¬ 
mat, slender, and apparently in ill health. He was 
afterward, for many years, the British Minister at Con¬ 
stantinople, where he defeated the machinations of 
Russia, and held in cunning hand the tangled thread 
of that delicate puzzle, the Eastern Question. His 
private secretary while he was at Washington was his 
nephew, Mr. Robert Bulwer (a son of the novelist), 
who has since won renown as Lord Lytton, Viceroy 
of India, and as the author—Owen Meredith. 

Tea-Parties Triumphant. 


The bitter political discussions at the Capitol dur¬ 
ing the first six months of 1850 prevented much social 
enjoyment. There were the customary receptions at 
the White House, and “ hops ” at the hotels, but few 
large parties were given. Tea-parties were numerous, 
at which a succession of colored waiters carried trays 
heaped with different varieties of home-made cakes 


and tarts, from which the beaux supplied the belles, 
and at the same time ministered to their own wants, 
balancing a well-loaded plate on one knee, while they 
held a cup and saucer, replete with fragrant decoctions 
from the Chinese plant “ whicli cheers, but not ine¬ 

The reigning belles were the queen-like widow 
Ashley, of Missouri, who afterward married Senator 

3 7 6 

Perkys Reminiscences. 

Crittenden, and her beautiful daughter, who became 
the wife of Mr. Cabell, of Florida. Mrs. Fremont and 
her sisters made the home of their father, Colonel 
Benton, very attractive; General Cass’s daughter, who 
afterward married the Dutch Minister, had returned 
from Paris with many rare works of art, and the pro¬ 
scribed Free-soilers met' with a hearty welcome at the 

house of Dr. Bailey, 
editor of the New Era , 
where Miss Dodge 
(Gail Hamilton), 
passed her first winter 
in Washington. 

On the evening of 
the 4th of July, 1850, 
a large reception was 
given by ex-Speaker 
Winthrop to his gen¬ 
tlemen friends, with¬ 
out distinction of par¬ 
ty or locality. At the 
supper-table Mr. Win¬ 
throp had at his right 
hand Vice-President 
Fillmore, and at his 
left hand Mr. Speaker Cobb. Webster and Foote, Ben¬ 
ton and Horace Mann, the members elect from Cali¬ 
fornia, with Clingman and Venable, who were trying to 
keep them out, were seen in genial companionship. 
Most of the Cabinet and the President’s private secre¬ 
tary, Colonel Bliss, were there, side by side with those 
who proposed to impeach them. The only drawback to 
the general enjoyment of the occasion was the under¬ 
standing that it was the farewell entertainment of Mr. 


Taylor's Last Battle . 

3 77 

Bliss apologized for his non-attendance, saying that he 
was somewhat indisposed. 

The old hero had that day sat in the sun at the 
Washington Monument during a long spread-eagle 
address by Senator Foote, with a tedious supplemen¬ 
tary harangue by George Washington Parke Custis. 

Winthrop, who had given so many evidences of his 
unselfish patriotism and eminent ability, and whose 
large experience in public affairs should have entitled 
him to the continued confidence of the people of Mas¬ 
sachusetts. President Taylor was absent, and Colonel 



Per ley's Reminiscences. 

While thus exposed to the midsummer heat for nearly 
three hours, he had drank freely of ice-water, and on 
his return to the White House he had found a basket 
of cherries, of which he partook heartily, drinking at 
the same time several goblets of iced milk. After din¬ 
ner he still further feasted on cherries and iced milk, 
against the protestations of Dr. Witherspoon, who was 
his guest. When it was time to go to Mr. Wintlirop’s 
he felt ill, and soon afterward he was seized with a 
violent attack of cholera morbus. This was on Thurs¬ 
day, but he did not consider himself dangerously ill 
until Sunday, when he said to his physician, “ In two 
days I shall be a dead man.” Eminent physicians 
were called in, but they could not arrest the bilious 
fever which supervened. His mind was clear, and on 
Tuesday morning he said to one of the physicians at 
his bedside, “ Yon have fought a good fight, but you 
cannot make a stand.” Soon afterward he murmured, 
“ I have endeavored to do my duty,” and peacefully 
breathed his last. His sudden death was immediately 
announced by the tolling of the bell in the Department 
of State, and in a few moments the funereal knell was 
echoed from every church steeple in the district. 

William H. Seward was born at Florida, New York, May 16th, 1801; was Governor of New 
York, 1838-1842; was United States Senator from New York from March 4th, 1849, until he entered 
the Cabinet of President Lincoln as Secretary of State, March 5th, 1861; remained Secretary of 
State under President Johnson until March 3d, 1869; traveled around the world in 1870-1871, and 
died at Auburn, New York, October 10th, 1872. 




O N the tenth of July, 1850, the day after the 
death of General Taylor, Mr. Fillmore ap¬ 
peared in the Representatives’ Hall at the 
Capitol, where both houses of Congress had met in 
joint session, took the oath of office, and immediately 
left. The new President was then fifty years of age, 
of average height, stalwart and rotund of form, with 
broad, heavy, florid features, white hair, shrewd, gray 
eyes, and dignified yet courteous manners. He had 
risen from the humble walks of life, by incessant toil, 
to the highest position in the Republic. Always ani¬ 
mated by an indomitable spirit and by that industry 
and perseverance which are the sure guarantees of suc¬ 
cess, he was undoubtedly a man of ability, but his 
intellect seemed, like that of Lord Bacon, to lack the 
complement of heart. A blank in his nature, where 
loyalty to the public sentiment of the North should 
have been, made him a willing instrument to crush out 
the growing determination north of Mason and Dixon’s 
line that freedom should be national, slavery sectional. 
Mr. Fillmore had given satisfaction to the Senators 


3 So 

PerIcy s Rem in i see nees 

by the impartial manner in which he had presided as 
Vice-President over their deliberations. They had, by 
a unanimous vote, approved of his ruling, which re¬ 
versed the decision of Mr. Calhoun, twenty-three years 
before, that the Vice-President had no right to call a 


Senator to order for words spoken in debate, and they 
had ordered his explanatory remarks to be entered 
upon the journal. By Mr. Seward and Mr. Weed, 
however, he was treated with marked contempt, and 
under their direction the Taylor Administration had 

General Taylor's Funeral. 


given Him the cold shoulder. Even his requests that 
two of his personal friends should be appointed Collec¬ 
tor of the Port and Postmaster at Buffalo had been 
formally refused, and the places had been given to par¬ 
tisans of Mr. Seward. The unexpected death of Gen¬ 
eral Taylor was an element which even Mr. Seward 
had never taken into account, and the first consequence 
was undisguised confusion among the supporters of 
the Administration. The members of the Cabinet 
promptly tendered their resignations, and it was plainly 
visible that the sudden removal of the President had 
checkmated the plans so carefully made, and forced the 
chief player to feel the bitterness of political death. 
Mr. Fillmore was known to be amiable in private life, 
but it was evident that he would show little regard for 
those who had snubbed and slighted him in his less 
powerful position. 

The remains of the deceased President lay in state 
for several days in the East Room at the White House, 
and were then interred with great pomp. Religious 
services were held at the White House, where the dis¬ 
tinguished men of the nation were grouped around the 
coffin. At the funeral there was a large military escort 
of regulars and volunteers, commanded by General 
Scott, who was mounted on a spirited horse and wore 
a richly embroidered uniform, with a high chapeau 
crowned with yellow plumes. The ponderous funeral 
ear was drawn by eight white horses. Behind the car 
was led u Old Whitey,” the charger ridden by General 
Taylor in Mexico. He was a well-made horse, in good 
condition, and with head erect, as if inspired by the 
clang of martial music, he followed to the grave the 
remains of him whom he had so often borne to victory. 
When the artillery and infantry fired the parting 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

salute at the cemetery, the old war-horse pricked up his 
ears and looked around for his rider. 

Mr. Fillmore tendered the Secretary of State’s port¬ 
folio to Mr. Webster, who promptly accepted it. He 
had been assured that if he would advocate the com¬ 
promises he would create a wave of popular sentiment 
that would float him into the White House in 1856, 
against all opposition, and that no Democratic aspirant 
would stand in his way. Believing all this, Mr. Web¬ 
ster had committed himself in his 7th of March speech, 
and had found that many of his life-long friends and 
constituents refused to follow his lead. Faneuil Hall 
had been closed to him, and he was glad to escape from 
the Senate Chamber into the Department of State. Jef¬ 
ferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and 
Martin Van Buren had found that Department a con¬ 
venient stepping-stone to the Presidential chair, and 
why should not he ? 

Mr. Webster was a great favorite in the Department 
of State, for he made no removals, and his generous 
and considerate treatment of the clerks won their 
affection. His especial favorite was Mr. George J. 
Abbott, a native of New Hampshire, who had been 
graduated at Exeter and Cambridge, and had then 
come to Washington to take charge of a boys’ school. 
He was an accomplished classical scholar, and he used 
to hunt up Latin quotations applicable to the questions 
of the day, which Mr. Webster would commit to mem¬ 
ory and use with effect. His private secretary was 
Mr. Charles Lanman, a young gentleman of literary 
and artistic tastes, who was a devoted disciple of Isaak 
Walton. Mr. Webster and he would often leave the 
Department of State for a day of piscatorial enjoyment 
at the Great Falls of the Potomac, when the Secretary 

Webster as a Fisherman 


would throw off public cares and personal pecuniary 
troubles to cast his lines with boyish glee, and to 
exult loudly when he succeeded iu hooking a fish. 
Another clerk in the Department who enjoyed Mr. 
Webster’s esteem was IVli. Zantzmger, the son of a 
purser in the Navy, who possessed rare accomplish¬ 

ments. Whenever Mr. Webster visited his estates in 
New Hampshire or in Massachusetts, he was accom¬ 
panied by one of these gentlemen, who had the charge 
of his correspondence, and who, while enjoying his 
fullest confidence, contributed largely to his personal 

Mr. Webster’s Washington home was a two-story 
brick house on Louisiana Avenue, next to the Unita¬ 
rian Church. His dining-room was in the basement 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

story, and it was seldom that he had not friends at his 
hospitable table. Monica, the old colored woman, con¬ 
tinued to be his favorite cook, and her soft-shell crabs, 
terrapin, fried oysters, and roasted canvas-back ducks 
have never been surpassed at Washington, while she 
could make a regal Cape Cod chowder, or roast a 
Rhode Island turkey, or prepare the old-fashioned New 
Hampshire “ boiled dinner,” which the “ expounder of 
the Constitution ” loved so well. Whenever he had to 
work at night, she used to make him a cup of tea in an 
old britannia metal teapot, which had been his mother’s, 
and he used to call this beverage his “ Ethiopian nec¬ 
tar.” The teapot was purchased of Monica after Mr. 
Webster’s death by Henry A. Willard, Esq., of Wash¬ 
ington, who presented it to the Continental Museum at 
Indian Hill Farm, the author’s residence. 

Under the influence of the new Administration, 
Congress passed the several compromise measures in 
Mr. Clay’s bill as separate acts. The debate on each 
one was marked by acrimony and strong sectional 
excitement, and each one was signed by President Fill¬ 
more amid energetic protests from the Northern Abo¬ 
litionists and the Southern Secessionists. The most 
important one, which provided for the rendition of fugi¬ 
tive slaves, he referred to Attorney-General Crittenden 
before signing it, and received his opinion that it was 
constitutional. When it was placed on the statute 
book, the Union members of the House of Representa¬ 
tives organized a serenade to President Fillmore and his 
Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. The President 
bowed his acknowledgments from a window of the 
Executive Mansion, but Mr. Webster came out on the 
broad doorstep of his home, with a friend on either side 
of him holding a candle, and, attired in a dressing 

President Fillmore's Family. 


gown, he commenced a brief speech by saying, u Now 
is the summer—no ! Now is the winter of our discon¬ 
tent made glorious summer by this son of York.” 
This ended the speech also. 

The wife of President Fillmore was the daughter of 


the Rev. 
Lemuel Pow¬ 
ers, a Baptist 
clergyman. She was 
tall, spare, and graceful, 
with auburn hair, light blue 
eyes, and a fair complexion. 
Before her marriage she had 
taught school, and she was 
remarkably well-informed, but somewhat reserved in 
her intercourse with strangers. She did not come to 
Washington until after her husband became President, 
and her delicate health prevented her mingling in so¬ 
ciety, though she presided with queenly grace at the 
official dinner-parties. 

The President’s father, “ Squire Fillmore,” as he 
was called, visited his son at the White House. He 

• 7 


3 86 

Per ley's Reminiscences. 

was a venerable-looking man, tall, and not much bowed 
by his eighty years, his full gray hair and intelligent 
face attracting much attention. When he was about 
to leave, a gentleman asked him why he would not re¬ 
main a few days longer. u No, no !” said the old gen¬ 
tleman, u I will go. I don’t like it here ; it isn’t a 
good place to live ; it isn’t a good place for Millard ; I 
wish he was at home in Buffalo.” 

The corner-stone of one of the u extensions ” of the 
Capitol was laid on the seventy-sixth anniversary of 
our national independence, July 4th, 1851, by the fra¬ 
ternity of Free Masons in “ due and ample form.” 
President Fillmore, the Cabinet, the Diplomatic Corps, 
several Governors of States, and other distinguished 
personages occupied seats on a temporary platform, 
which overlooked the place where the corner-stone was 
laid, Major B. B. French, Grand Master of Masons of 
the District of Columbia, officiating. Mr. Webster 
was the orator of the day, and delivered an eloquent, 
thoughtful, and patriotic address, although he was evi¬ 
dently somewhat feeble, and was forced to take sips of 
strong brandy and water to sustain him as he proceeded. 
Among the vast audience were three gentlemen who 
had, fifty-eight years previously, seen General Wash¬ 
ington aid his brother Free Masons in laying the corner¬ 
stone of the original Capitol. 

Later in that year, the large hall which contained 
the library of Congress, occupying the entire western 
side of the centre of the Capitol, was destroyed by fire, 
with almost all of its valuable contents. The weather 
was intensely cold, and, had not the firemen and citi¬ 
zens (including President Fillmore) worked hard, the 
entire Capitol would have been destroyed. Congress 
soon afterward made liberal appropriations, not only 





Perkys Reminiscences . 

for reconstructing the library of cast-iron, but for the 
purchase of books, so that the library soon rose, phoe¬ 
nix-like, from its ashes. But the purchases were made 
on the old plan, under the direction of the Congres¬ 
sional Joint Committee on the Library, the Chairman 
of which then, and for several previous and subsequent 
sessions, was Senator Pearce, of Maryland, a graduate 
of Princeton College. There was not in the Library of 
Congress a modern encyclopaedia, or a file of a New 
York daily newspaper, or of any newspaper except the 
venerable daily, National Intelligencer , while DeBow's 
Review was the only American magazine taken, al¬ 
though the London Court Journal was regularly 
received, and bound at the close of each successive 

Jenny Lind created a great sensation at Washington, 
and at her first concert Mr. Webster, who had been 
dining out, rose majestically at the end of her first 
song and made an imposing bow, which was the signal 
for enthusiastic applause. Lola Montez danced in her 
peculiar style to an audience equally large, but con¬ 
taining no ladies. Charlotte Cushman appeared as 
Meg Merrilies , Parodi and Dempster sang in concerts, 
Burton and Brougham convulsed their hearers with 
laughter, Booth gave evidence of the undiminished glow 
of his fiery genius by his masterly delineation of the 
. “ wayward and techy ” Gloster , and Forrest ranted in 
Metamora , to the delight of his admirers. Colonel 
John W. Forney told a good story about a visit which 
he paid with Forrest to Henry Clay soon after the 
passage of the compromise measure. The Colonel 
unguardedly complimented a speech made by Senator 
Soule, which made Mr. Clay’s eyes flash, and he pro¬ 
ceeded to criticise him very severely, ending by say- 


Clay and Forrest. 

ing : “ He is nothing but an actor, sir—a mere actor !” 
Then, suddenly recollecting the presence of the trage¬ 
dian, he dropped his tone, and turning toward Mr. 
Forrest, said, with a graceful gesture, u I mean, my 
dear sir, a mere French actor!” The visitors soon 
afterward took their leave, and as they descended 
the stairs, Forrest turned toward Forney and said, 
“ Mr. Clay has proved by the skill with which he can 
change his manner, and the grace with which he 
can make an apology, that he is a better actor than 

Millard Fillmore was born at Summer Hill, New \ork, January 71b, 1800 ; was a Represent¬ 
ative in Congress from New York, 1837-1843 ; was defeated as a Whig candidate for Governor of 
New York, 1844 ; was elected State Comptroller, 1847; was elected Vice-President on the Whig 
ticket headed by Z. Taylor in 1848, receiving one hundred and thirty-six electoral votes, against 
one hundred and twenty-seven electoral votes for W. O. Butler; served as President of the United 
States from July 9 th, 1850, to March 3 d, 1S53 ; was defeated as the National American candidate 
for President in 18565 and died at Buffalo, New York, March 8th, 1874. 




M R. CLAYTON, when Secretary of State, had 
received a proposition from August Belmont, 
as the agent of the Rothschilds, to pay the 
Mexican indemnity in drafts, for which four per cent, 
premium would be allowed. Then Mr. Webster be¬ 
came Secretary of State, and he entered into an agree¬ 
ment with an association of bankers, composed of the 
Barings, Corcoran & Riggs, and Howland & Aspin- 
wall, for the negotiation of the drafts by them at a pre¬ 
mium of three and a-half per cent. The difference to 
the Government was about forty thousand dollars, but 
the rival sets of bankers had large interests at stake, 
based on their respective purchases of Mexican obliga¬ 
tions at depreciated values, and a war of pamphlets 
and newspaper articles ensued. The dispute was car¬ 
ried into Congress, and during a debate on it in the 
House, Representative Cartter, of Ohio, afterward 
Chief Justice of the Courts in the District of Columbia, 
was very emphatic in his condemnation of all the 
bankers interested. u I want the House to under¬ 
stand,” said he, with a slight impediment in his speech, 
“ that I take no part with the house of Rothschild, or 

Assailed and Defended. 

39 * 

of Baring, or of Corcoran & Riggs. I look upon their 
scramble for money precisely as I would upon the con¬ 
test of a set of blacklegs around a gaming-table over 
the last stake. They have all of them grown so large 
in gormandizing upon money that they have left the 
work of fleecing individuals, and taken to the enter¬ 

prise of fleecing nations.” 

Mr. Charles Allen, of the Worcester district of Massa¬ 
chusetts, availed him¬ 
self of the opportunity 
offered by this debate 
on the payment of the 
Mexican indemnity to 
make a long-threaten¬ 
ed malignant attack on 
Daniel Webster. He 
asserted that he would 
not intrust Mr. Web¬ 
ster with the making 
of arrangements to pay 
the three millions of 
Mexican indemnity. 

He stated that it was 
notorious that when 
he was called to take 
the office of Secretary of State he entered into a 
negotiation by which twenty-five thousand dollars was 
raised for him in State Street, Boston, and twenty-five 
thousand dollars in Wall Street, New York. Mr. 
Allen trusted that the Democratic party had yet honor 


enough left to inquire into the matter, and that the 
Whigs even, would not palliate it, if satisfied of the 

Mr. George Ashmun, Representative from the 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Springfield district, retorted that Mr. Allen Had eaten 
salt with Mr. Webster and received benefits from him, 
and that he was the only one who dared thus malig¬ 
nantly to assail him. Mr. Ashmun alluded to a letter 
from Washington, some time previously published in 
the Boston Atlas , stating that a member of the House 
had facts in his possession upon which to found a reso¬ 
lution charging a high officer with “ corruption and 
treason,” and he traced a connection between that 
letter and Mr. Allen’s insinuations. 

Mr. Henry W. Hilliard, of Alabama, followed Mr. 
Ashmun with a glowing eulogy of Mr. Webster, in 
which he declared that, although Massachusetts might 
repudiate him, the country would take him up, for he 
stood before the eyes of mankind in a far more glorious 
position than he could have occupied but for the stand 
which he had taken in resisting the legions which were 
bearing down against the rights of the South. This 
elicited a bitter rejoinder from Mr. Allen, who alluded 
to the fact that Mr. Hilliard was a clergyman, and said 
that he had found out how to serve two masters. Mr. 
Ashmun, asking Mr. Allen if he had not published 
confidential letters addressed to him by Mr. Charles 
Hudson, received as a reply, “ No, sir! no, sir! You 
are a scoundrel if you say that I did!” The debate 
between Messrs. Ashmun and Allen finally became so 
bitter that Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, and other Repre¬ 
sentatives objected to its continuance, and refused to 
hear another word from either of them. The next day 
Mr. Lewis, of Philadelphia, improved an opportunity 
for eulogizing Mr. Webster, provoking a scathing reply 
from Mr. Joshua Giddings. 

Immediately after this debate, Mr. Ashmun wrote to 
Mr. Hudson to inquire whether the statement was true 

Webster''s Consolations. 


or false, and received the following telegraphic dis- 

“ Boston, March 3d, 1851. 

“Hon. George Ashmun: I wrote a confidential letter to Hon. 

Charles Allen just before the Philadelphia Convention in 1848. He 

read the letter in a public meeting at Worcester, and published it in 

the Worcester Spy. _ 

(Signed) “ Charles Hudson.” 

Mr. Ashmun declared on the floor of the House, by 
the authority of Mr. Webster, that the statement of 
Mr. Allen was “ false in all its length and breadth, and 
in all its details,” but there was doubtless a foundation 
for the statement. The friends of Mr. Webster admit¬ 
ted that a voluntary contribution had been tendered 
him as a compensation for the sacrifices he had made in 
abandoning his profession to accept the office of Secre¬ 
tary of State, and they justified his acceptance of the 
money on the ground that after having devoted the 
labors of a long life to his profession, and attained in it 
a high rank, which brought large fees, he should not be 
asked to relinquish those professional emoluments 
without, in justice to his obligations to his family, ac¬ 
cepting an equivalent. Without indorsing this State- 
Street view of the case, it is to be regretted that the 
charges were made, to trouble Mr. Webster’s spirit and 
sour his heart. 

Mr. Webster often sought consolation in his troubles 
from the grand old poetry of the Hebrew Bible, which 
awakened peaceful echoes in his own poetic soul. His 
chosen u crony ” in his latter years, though much 
younger than himself, was Charles Marsh, a New 
Hampshire man. Well educated, polished by travel, 
and free from pecuniary hamper, Marsh was a most de¬ 
lightful companion, and his wit, keen as Saladin’s cim- 
eter, never wounded. Fletcher Webster was also a 


Perleys Reminiscences. 

great favorite with his father, for he possessed what 
Charles Lever called u the lost art of conversation.” 
Sometimes, when Mr. Webster’s path had been crossed, 
and he was as black as night, Marsh and Fletcher 
would, by humorous repartees and witticisms, drive the 
clouds away, and gradually force him into a conversa¬ 
tion, which would soon become enlivened by the “ inex¬ 
tinguishable laughter of the gods.” 

That Mr. Webster felt keenly the attacks upon him 
was undeniable, and atonement could not afterward be 
made by eulogizing him. It has been well said, that if 
charity is to be the veil to cover a multitude of sins in 
the dead as well as in the living, cant should not lift 
that veil to swear that those sins were virtues. Mr. 
Webster was sorely troubled by the attitude taken by 
many Massachusetts men at a time when he needed 
their aid to secure the Presidency, which he undoubt¬ 
edly believed would be tendered him by the Southern 
Whigs, seconded by many Southern Democrats. He 
lost flesh, the color faded from his cheeks, the lids of 
his dark eyes were livid, and he was evidently debili¬ 
tated and infirm. At times he would be apparently 
unconscious of those around him, then he would rally, 
and would display his wonderful conversational quali¬ 
ties. Yet it was evident to those who knew him best 
that he was “ stumbling down,” as Carlyle said of 
Mirabeau, “ like a mighty heathen and Titan to his 

One pleasant afternoon in March, Mr. Brown, of 
Mississippi, delivered a long speech in the House upon 
the politics of that State, in which he defended the State 
Rights party and ridiculed the Union movement as un¬ 
necessary, no one then being in favor of either disunion 
or secession. This, one of his colleagues, Mr. Wilcox, 

Violence in Congress 

39 5 

denied. “ Do you mean,” said Mr. Brown, “ to assert 
that what I have said is false ?” u If you say,” bravely 
responded Mr. Wilcox, “ that there was no party in 
Mississippi at the recent election in favor of secession 
or disunion, you say what is false!” The last word 
was echoed by a ringing slap from Brown’s open hand 


on the right cheek of Wilcox, who promptly returned 
the blow, and then the two men clinched each other in 
a fierce struggle. Many of the members, leaving their 
seats, crowded around the combatants, while Mr. Sey- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

mour, of Connecticut, who temporarily occupied the 
chair, pounded with his mallet, shouting at the top of 
his voice, “ Order! order!” The Sergeant-at-Arms was 
loudly called for, but he was absent, and before he 
could be found the parties had been separated. The 
Speaker resumed the chair, and in a few moments the 
contestants, still flushed, apologized to the House—not 
to each other. A duel was regarded as inevitable, but 
mutual friends intervened, and the next day it was 
formally announced in the House that the difficulty 
“had been adjusted in a manner highly creditable to 
both parties, who again occupied the same position of 
friendship which had existed between them previous to 
the npleasant affair of the day before.” Thus easily 
blew over the terrific tempests of honorable members. 

Mr. Teutze, a talented artist, petitioned Congress to 
commission him to paint for the Capitol copies of his 
works, “ Washington Crossing the Delaware,” and 
“Washington Rallying his Troops at Monmouth,” 
but without success. Mr. Healy was equally unsuc¬ 
cessful with his proposition to paint two large historical 
paintings for the stairways of the extension of the 
Capitol, one representing the “Destruction of the Tea 
in Boston Harbor,” and the other the “Battle of Bunker 
Hill;” but subsequently he received an order to paint 
the portraits of the Presidents which now grace the 
White House. Mr. Martin, a marine artist of recog¬ 
nized ability, also proposed in vain to paint two large 
pictures, one representing the famous action between 
the Constitution and the Guerriere, and the other the 
night combat between the Bon Homme Richard and the 
Serapis. Indeed, there have been scores of meritorious 
works of art offered to and declined by Committees of 
Congress, which have expended large sums in the pur- 

Art at the Capitol. 


chase of daubs disgraceful to the Capitol of the nation. 
The recognition refused these painters at Washing¬ 
ton was freely accorded elsewhere, however. Leutze’s 
“ Columbus Before the Council at Salamanca ” is justly 
deemed one of the gems of the Old World, and has 
given him an imperishable name. Among the really 
great works of our own country is Healy’s painting, 
“ Webster’s Reply to Hayne,” now in Faneuil Hall. 


So with sculpture. Hiram Powers endeavored, with¬ 
out success, to obtain an order for his colossal statue 
of America, which was highly commended by compe¬ 
tent judges, while Mr. Mills was liberally remunerated 
for his effigy of General Jackson balancing himself on 
a brass rocking-horse. Powers wrote: u I do not com¬ 
plain of anything, for I know how the world goes, as 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

the saying is, and I try to take it calmly and patiently,, 
holding out my net, like a fisherman, to catch salmon, 
shad, or pilchards, as they may come. If salmon, why, 
then, we can eat salmon ; if shad, why, then, the shad 
are good ; but if pilchards, why, then, we can eat them, 
and bless God that we have a dinner at all.” 

The honors secured for Colonel Fremont by his 
father-in-law, Mr. Benton, for his path-findings across 
the Rocky Mountains, inspired other young officers of 
the army, and some civilians, with a desire to follow 
his example. Returning to Washington, each one had 
wonderful tales of adventure to relate. Even the old 
travelers, who saw the phoenix expire in her odorifer¬ 
ous nest, whence the chick soon flew forth regenerated, 
or who found dead lions slain by the quills of some 

fretful porcupine,” or who knew that the stare of the 
basilisk was death—even those who saw unicorns graze 
and who heard mermaids sing—were veracious when 
compared with the explorers of railroad routes across 
the continent. Senator Jefferson Davis did much to 
encourage them by having their reports published in 
quarto form, with expensive illustrations, and Corne¬ 
lius Wendell laid the foundation of his fortune by 
printing them as “ Pub. Docs.” 

The National Era , edited by Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, 
was a source of great annoyance to the pro-slavery 
men, and on one occasion they excited an attack on his 
house by a drunken mob. Dr. Bailey was a small, 
slender man, with a noble head, and a countenance on 
which the beautiful attributes of his character were 
written. Taking his life in his hands, he went to his 
door-way, attended by his wife, and bravely faced the 
infuriated crowd. He denied that he had any agency 
in a recent attempt to secure the escape of a party of 

A Mob Cooled Off . 


slaves to the North, and then called the attention of 
his hearers to the fact that at a public meeting of the 
citizens of Washington, not very long before that 
night, resolutions had been passed denouncing the 
French Government for having fettered the press, yet 
they were proposing to do in his case what their fellow- 
citizens had condemned when done by others. His 
remarks produced an effect, but the leaders of the mob 
raised the cry, “Burn the Era office!” and a movement 
was made toward that building, when Dan Radcliffe, a 
well-known Washington lawyer with Southern sympa¬ 
thies, sprang upon Dr. Bailey’s doorstep and made an 
eloquent appeal in behalf of a free press, concluding 
with a proposition that the assemblage go to the house 
of the Mayor of Washington and give him three cheers. 
This was done, Radcliffe’s good nature prevailing, and 
the mob dispersed peaceably. 

Dr. Bailey was, however, no novice in dealing with 
mobs. Ten years before he came to Washington he 
resided in Cincinnati, where, in conjunction with James 
G. Birney, he published The Philanthropist , a red-hot 
anti-slavery sheet. During his first year in this enter- 
prize his office was twice attacked by a mob, and in one 
of their raids the office was gutted and the press thrown 
into the river. These lively scenes induced a change 
of base and settled the good Doctor in the national 

The ablest newspaper correspondent at Washington 
during the Fillmore Administration was Mr. Erastus 
S. Brooks, one of the editors and proprietors of the 
New York Express . He was then in the prime of life, 
rather under the average height, with a large, well- 
balanced head, bright black eyes, and a swarthy com¬ 
plexion. What he did not know about what was going 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

on in political circles, before and behind the scenes, 
was not worth knowing. His industry was proverbial, 
and he was one of the first metropolitan correspond¬ 
ents to discard the didactic and pompous style which 
had been copied from the British essayists, and to write 
with a vigorous, graphic, and forcible pen. Washing¬ 
ton correspondents in those days were neither eaves¬ 
droppers nor interviewers, but gentlemen, who had a 
recognized position in society, which they never 

Robekt J. Walker was born at Northumberland, Pennsylvania, July 19th, 1801; removed to 
Mississippi in 1826, and commenced the practice of law ; was United States Senator from Mississippi, 
1836-1845; was Secretary of the Treasury under President Polk, 1845-1849; was appointed, by 
President Buchanan, Governor of Kansas in 1857, but soon resigned, and died at Washington City, 
November 11th, 1860. 




T HE forcible acquisition of territory was the 
means by which the pro-slavery leaders at 
the South hoped to increase their territory, 
and they defended this scheme in the halls of Congress, 
in their pulpits, and at their public gatherings. Going 
back into sacred and profane history, they would 
attempt to prove that Moses, Joshua, Saul, and David 
were “ filibusters,” and so were William the Con¬ 
queror, Charlemagne, Gustavus Adolphus, and Napo¬ 
leon. Walker simply followed their example, except 
that they wore crowns on their heads, while he, a new 
man, only carried a sword in his hand. Was it right, 
they asked, when a brave American adventurer, in¬ 
vited by the despairing victims of tyranny in Cuba or 
of anarchy in Central America, threw himself boldly, 
with a handful of comrades, into their midst to sow the 
seeds of civilization and to reconstruct society—was it 
right for the citizens of the United States, themselves 
the degenerate sons of filibustering sires, to hurl at 
him as a reproach what was their ancestors’ highest 
merit and glory ? 

General Walker, the “ gray-eyed man of destiny,” 
26 401 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

was the leading native filibuster, but foremost among 
the foreign adventurers—the Dugald Dalgettys of 
that epoch—who came here from unsuccessful revo¬ 
lutions abroad to seek employment for their swords, 

was General Heningen. He had served with Zumala- 
Carreguy, in Spain, with Schamyl, in the Caucasus, 
and with Kossuth, in Hungary, chronicling his exploits 
in works which won him the friendship of Wellington 

An Unavailing Protest. 403 

and other notables. Going to Central America, he 
fought gallantly, but unsuccessfully, at Grenada, and 
he then came to Washington, where he was soon 
known as an envoy of “ Cuba Libre.” He married a 
niece of Senator Berrien, of Georgia, a devoted and 
cultivated woman, and his tall, soldier-like figure was 
to be seen striding along on the sunny sidewalk of 
Pennsylvania Avenue every pleasant morning, until in 
later years he went South to “ live or die in Dixie.” 

President Taylor having sent Mr. Dudley Mann as 
a confidential agent to Hungary to obtain reliable in¬ 
formation concerning the true condition of affairs 
there, the Austrian Government instructed its diplo¬ 
matic representative at Washington, the Chevalier 
Hulsemann, to protest against this interference in its 
internal affairs, as offensive to the laws of propriety. 
This protest was communicated to Mr. Webster after 
he became Secretary of State, and in due time the 
Chevalier received an answer which completely extin¬ 
guished him. It carefully reviewed the case, and in 
conclusion told the protesting Chevalier in plain Anglo- 
Saxon that nothing would u deter either the Govern¬ 
ment or the people of the United States from exercis¬ 
ing, at their own discretion, the rights belonging to 
them as an independent nation, and of forming and 
expressing their own opinion freely and at all times 
upon the great political events which might transpire 
among the civilized nations of the earth.” The pater¬ 
nity of this memorable letter was afterward ascribed 
to Edward Everett. It was not, however, written 
either by Mr. Webster or Mr. Everett, but by Mr. Wil¬ 
liam Hunter, then the Chief Clerk of the Department 
of State. 

Meanwhile, Kossuth had been released from his im- 

404 Per ley's Reminiscences . 

prisonment within the dominion of the Sublime Porte, 
by request of the Government of the United States, 
and taken to England in the war steamer Mississippi. 
In due time the great Behemoth of the Magyar race 
arrived at Washington, where he created a marked 
sensation. The distinguished revolutionist wore a 
military uniform, and the steel scabbard of his sword 
trailed on the ground as he walked. He was about five 

feet eight inches in 
height, with a slight 
and apparently not 
strongly built frame, 
and was a little round- 
shouldered. His face 
was rather oval; a pair 
of bluish-gray eyes 
gave an animated and 
intelligent look to his 
countenance. His fore¬ 
head, high and broad, 
was deeply wrinkled, 
and time had just be¬ 
gun to grizzle a head 
of dark, straight hair, 
a heavy moustache, 
and whiskers which formed a beard beneath his chin. 
Whether from his recent captivity or from constitu¬ 
tional causes, there was an air of lassitude in his look 
to which the fatigues of his voyage not improbably 
contributed. Altogether, he gave one the idea of a 
visionary or theoretical enthusiast rather than of a 
great leader or a soldier. 

Kossuth was the guest of Congress at Brown’s 
Hotel, but those Senators and Representatives who 


A Gigantic Humbug . 405 

called to pay their respects found members of his 
retinue on guard before the door of his apartments, 
armed with muskets and bayonets, while his ante¬ 
room was crowded with the members of his staff. 
They had evidently been reared in camps, as they 
caroused all day and then tumbled into their beds 
booted and spurred, furnishing items of liquors, wines, 
cigars, and damaged furniture for the long and large 
hotel bill which Congress had to pay. Mr. Seward 
entertained the Hungarian party at an evening recep¬ 
tion, and a number of Congressmen gave Kossuth a 
subscription dinner at the National Hotel, at which 
several of the known aspirants for the Presidency 
spoke. Mr. Webster was, as became the Secretary of 
State, carefully guarded in his remarks, and later 
in the evening, when the champagne had flowed freely, 
he indulged in what appeared to be his impromptu 
individual opinions, but he unluckily dropped at his 
seat a slip of paper on which his gushing sentences 
had been carefully written out. General Houston 
managed to leave the table in time to avoid being 
called upon to speak, and General Scott, who regarded 
Kossuth as a gigantic humbug, had escaped to Rich¬ 
mond. Kossuth was invited to dine at the White 
House, and on New Year’s day he held a reception, 
but he failed in his attempt to secure Congressional 
recognition or material aid. 

A number of the leading public men at Washington 
were so disgusted by the assumption and arrogance 
displayed by Kossuth, and by the toadyism manifested 
by many of those who humbled themselves before him, 
that they organized a banquet, at which Senator Crit¬ 
tenden was the principal speaker. u Beware,” said 
the eloquent Kentuckian, in the words of Washington, 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

“ of the introduction or exercise of a foreign influence 
among you ! We are Americans ! The Father of our 
Country has taught ns, and we have learned, to gov¬ 
ern ourselves. If the rest of the world have not 
learned that lesson, how shall they teach ns ? We 
are the teachers, and yet they appear here with a new 
exposition of Washington’s Farewell Address. For 
one, I do not want this new doctrine. I want to stand 
super antiquas mas —upon the old road that Washing¬ 
ton traveled, and that every President from Washing¬ 
ton to Fillmore has traveled.” 

The main effect of Kossuth’s visit to the United 
States was an extraordinary impetus given to “ The 
Order of United Americans,” from which was evolved 
that political phenomenon, the American, or Know- 
Nothing, party. The mysterious movements of this 
organization attracted the curiosity of the people, and 
members of the old political organizations eagerly de¬ 
sired to learn what was carefully concealed. Secretly- 
held lodges, with their paraphernalia, pass-words, and 
degrees, grips and signs, tickled the popular fancy, and 
the new organization became formidable. Men of all 
religions and political creeds fraternized beneath the 
“ stars and stripes,” and solemnly pledged themselves 
to the support of “ our country, our whole country, 
and nothing but our country.” 

The leaders of this Know-Nothing movement, who 
in the delirium of the hour were intrusted with dicta¬ 
torial authority, were in no way calculated to exercise 
a permanent, healthful control. They were generally 
without education, without statesmanship, without 
knowledge of public affairs, and, to speak plainly, 
without the abilities or genius which might enable 
them to dispense with experience. Losing sight of the 

Boss Tiveed and his Boys. 4°7 

cardinal principle of the American Order, that only 
those identified with the Republic by birth or perma¬ 
nent residence should manage its political affairs, these 
leaders fell back upon a bigoted hostility to the Church 
of Rome, to which many of their original members in 
Louisiana and elsewhere belonged. The result was 
that the mighty organization had begun to decay be¬ 
fore it attained its growth, and that the old political 
leaders became members that they might elbow the im¬ 
provised chieftains from power when the effervescence 
of the movement should subside. A number of Abo¬ 
litionists, headed by Henry Wilson and Anson Bur¬ 
lingame, of Massachusetts, sought admission into the 
lodges, knelt at the altars, pledged themselves by 
solemn oaths to support the “ Order,” and then used it 
with great success for the destruction of the Whig 


Another noted person who visited Washington early 
in the Administration of Mr. Fillmore was William M. 
Tweed, of New York, who came as foreman of the 
Americus Fngine Company, Number Six, a volunteer 
fire organization. Visiting the White House, the com¬ 
pany was ushered into the East Room, where President 
Fillmore soon appeared, and Tweed, stepping out in 
front of his command, said: “ These are Big Six’s 
boys, Mr. President!” He then walked along the line 
with Mr. Fillmore, and introduced each member indi¬ 
vidually. As they were leaving the room, a newspaper 
reporter asked Tweed why he had not made a longer 
speech. “ There was no necessity,” replied the future 
pillager of the city treasury of New York, “ for the 
Company is as much grander than any other fire com¬ 
pany in the world as Niagara Falls is grander than 
Croton dam.” Two years afterward, Tweed, profiting 


Parley's Reminiscences, 

by a division in the Whig ranks in the Fifth District of 
New York, returned to Washington as a Representa¬ 
tive in Congress. He was a regular attendant, never 
participating in the debates, and always voting with the 
Democrats. Twice he read speeches which were writ¬ 
ten for him, and he obtained for a relative the contract 


for supplying the House with chairs for summer use, 
which were worthless and soon disappeared. 

Senator Andrew Pickens Butler was a prominent 
figure at the Capitol and in Washington society. He 
was a trifle larger round at the waistband than any¬ 
where else, his long white hair stood out as if he were 
charged with electric fluid, and South Carolina was 

Sumner enters the Senate . 


legibly written on his rubicund countenance. The 
genial old patriarch would occasionally take too much 
wine in the “ Hole in the Wall” or in some committee- 
room, and then go into the Senate and attempt to bully 
Chase or Hale; but every one liked him, nevertheless. 

Then there was Senator Slidell, of Louisiana, a New 
Yorker by birth, with a florid face, long gray hair, and 
prominent eyes, forming a striking contrast in personal 
appearance with his dapper little colleague, Senator 
Benjamin, whose features disclosed his Jewish extrac¬ 
tion. General Taylor had wished to have Mr. Benja¬ 
min in his Cabinet, but scandalous reports concerning 
Mrs. Benjamin had reached Washington, and the Gen¬ 
eral was informed that she would not be received in 
society. Mr. Benjamin then rented a house at Wash¬ 
ington, furnished it handsomely, and entertained with 
lavish hospitality. His gentlemen friends would eat 
his dinners, but they would not bring their wives or 
daughters to Mrs. Benjamin’s evening parties, and she, 
deeply mortified, went to Paris. 

On the first day of December, 1851, Henry Clay 
spoke in the Senate for the last time, and General 
Cass presented the credentials of Charles Sumner, 
who had been elected by one of the coalitions between 
the anti-slavery Know-Nothings and the Democrats, 
which gave the latter the local offices in New York, 
Ohio, and Massachusetts, and elected Seward, Chase, 
and Sumner to the United States Senate. Soon after 
Mr. Sumner took his seat in the arena which had been 
made famous by the political champions of the North, 
the South, and the West, Mr. Benton said to him, with 
a patronizing air, “ You have come upon the stage too 
late, sir. Not only have our great men passed away, 
but the great issues have been settled also. The last 

410 Per ley s Reminiscences . 

of these was the National Bank, and that has been 
overthrown forever. Nothing is left yon, sir, but pnny 
sectional questions and petty strifes about slavery and 
fugitive slave-laws, involving no national interests.” 

Mr. Sumner had but two coadjutors in opposing 
slavery and in advocating freedom when he entered the 
Senate, but before he died he was the recognized leader 
of more than two-thirds of that body. He was de¬ 
nounced by a leading Whig newspaper of Boston when 
he left that city to take his seat as “ an agitator,” and 
he was refused a place on any committee of the Senate, 
as being “ outside of any healthy political organiza¬ 
tion,” but he lived to exercise a controlling influence in 
Massachusetts politics and to be the Chairman of the 
Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. He had learned 
from Judge Story the value of systematic industry, and 
while preparing long speeches on the questions before 
the Senate he also applied himself sedulously to the 
practical duties of a Senator, taking especial pains to 
answer every letter addressed to him. 

Mr. Speaker Linn Boyd used to preside with great 
dignity, sitting on an elevated platform beneath a can¬ 
opy of scarlet curtains. Seated at his right hand, at 
the base of the platform beside the “ mace,” was An¬ 
drew Jackson Glossbrenner, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and 
on the opposite side was Mr. McKnew, the Doorkeeper. 
Mr. John W. Forney officiated at the Clerk’s table, hav¬ 
ing been elected by a decided majority. His defeat 
two years previous had been very annoying to his 
Democratic friends at the North, who were expected to 
aid the Southern wing of the party with their votes, 
and yet were often deserted when they desired offices. 
“It is,” said one of them, “ paying ns a great compli¬ 
ment for our principles, or great contempt for our 

Forney's Fidelity. 411 

pliancy.” Mr. Buchanan wrote to a Virginia Demo¬ 
cratic leader, u Poor Forney deserves a better fate than 
to be wounded ‘ in the house of his friends,’ and to vote 
for a Whig in preference to him was the unkindest cut 
of all. It will, I am confident, produce no change in 
his editorial course, but I dread its effect.” Mr. Forney 
did not permit his desertion to influence his pen, and 
his loyalty to his party was rewarded by his election, 
two years after this defeat, as Clerk of the House. 

Jefferson Davis was born in Christian County, Kentucky, June 3d, 1808; graduated at West 
Point in 1828; was an officer in the United States Army, 1828-1835; was a Representative from 
Mississippi, December 1st, 1845, to June, 1846, when he resigned to command the First Regiment of 
Mississippi Riflemen in the war with Mexico; was United States Senator, December 6th, 1847, to 
November, 1851; was defeated as the Secession candidate for Governor of Mississippi in 1851 by 
H. S. Foote, Union candidate; was Secretary of War under President Pierce, March 7th, 1853, to 
March 3d, 1857; was again United States Senator, March 4th, 1857, until he withdrew, January 
21st, 1861; was President of the Confederate States; was captured by the United States troops. 
May 10th, 1865, imprisoned two years at Fortress Monroe, and then released on bail. 




T HE first session of the Thirty-second Congress, 
which began on the ist of August, 1852, was 
characterized by sectional strife, and was de¬ 
voted to President-making. President Fillmore, who 
had traveled in the Northern States during the preced¬ 
ing summer, felt confident that he would receive the 
Whig nomination, and so did Mr. Webster, who 
“ weighed him down ”—so Charles Francis Adams 
wrote Henry Wilson—“ as the Old Man of the Sea 
did Sinbad.” Meanwhile Mr. Seward and his hench¬ 
man, Mr. Weed, were very active, and the latter after¬ 
ward acknowledged that he had himself intrigued with 
the Democratic leaders for the nomination of Governor 
Marcy, who would be sure to carry the State of New 
York, and thus secure the defeat of the Whig candi¬ 
date. “ Holding President Fillmore and his Secretary 
of State, Mr. Webster, responsible for a temporary 
overthrow of the Whig party,” says Mr. Weed, “I 
desired to see those gentlemen left to reap what they 
had sown. In other words, I wanted either Mr. Fill- 

Pierce for President. 


more or Mr. Webster to be nominated for President 
upon their own issues. I devoted several weeks to the 
removal of obstacles in the way of Governor Marcy’s 
nomination for President by the Democratic National 

General Cass, Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Buchanan were 
equally active in the Democratic ranks, and their re¬ 
spective friends became so angry with each other that 

it was an easy matter 
to win the nomination 
with what the politi¬ 
cians call “ a dark 

The sessions of the 
National Democratic 
Convention were pro¬ 
tracted and stormy, 
and on the thirty-fifth 
ballot tdie name of Gen¬ 
eral Franklin Pierce 
was brought forward, 
for the first time, by 
the Virginia delega¬ 
tion. Several other 
States voted for the 
New Hampshire Brigadier, but it did not seem possible 

that he could be nominated, and the next day, on the 
forty-eighth ballot, Virginia gave her vote for Daniel S. 
Dickinson, of New York. It was received with great 
applause, but Mr. Dickinson, who was a delegate pledged 
to the support of Cass, was too honorable a man to 
accept what he thought belonged to his friend. Re¬ 
ceiving permission to address the Convention, he elo¬ 
quently withdrew his own name and pleaded so earnestly 



Per ley's Reminiscences. 

for the nomination of General Cass, that he awakened 
the enthusiasm of the audience, and received a shower 
of bouquets from the ladies in the galleries, to which 
he gracefully alluded “as a rose-bud in the wreath of 
his political destiny.” 

The Convention at last, on the forty-ninth ballot, 
nominated General Pierce (Purse, his friends called 
him), a gentleman of courteous temper, highly agree¬ 
able manners, and convivial nature. He had served in 
the recent war with Mexico; he had never given a vote 
or written a sentence that the straightest Southern 
Democrat could wish to blot; and he was identified 
with the slave-power, having denounced its enemies as 
the enemies of the Constitution. William R. King, 
at the time president pro tempore of the Senate, was 
nominated for Vice-President, receiving every vote 
except the eleven given by the delegation from Illinois, 
which were for Jefferson Davis. Cass and Douglas 
were at first much provoked by the action of the Con¬ 
vention, but Buchanan gracefully accepted the situa¬ 

Daniel Webster felt and asserted that he was entitled 
to receive the Whig nomination. More than thirty 
years of public service had made him the ablest and 
the most conspicuous member of his party then on the 
stage, and neither Fillmore nor Scott could compare with 
him in the amount and value of public services rendered. 
He had worked long, assiduously, and faithfully to de¬ 
serve the honors of his party and to qualify himself 
for the highest distinction that party could bestow upon 
him. He must receive its nomination now or never, 
as he was then upward of sixty years of age, and his 
vigorous constitution had shown signs of decay. He 
• engaged in the campaign, however, with the hope and 


Skirmishing for the Presidency . 415 

the vigor of youth, writing letters to his friends, circu¬ 
lating large pamphlet editions of his life and of his 
speeches, and entertaining at his table those through 
whose influence he hoped to receive the Southern sup¬ 
port necessary to secure his success. No statesman 
ever understood the value of printer’s ink better than 
did Mr. Webster, and he always took care to have a 
record of what he did and said placed before the 
country. .Unfortunately for his printers, much of his 
last campaign work was done on credit, and never was 
paid for. 

President Fillmore, meanwhile, was quietly but 
steadily using the patronage of the Federal Govern¬ 
ment to secure the election of delegates to the Whig 
National Convention friendly to his own nomination. 
Mr. Webster counted on the support of the President’s 
friends, but he never received from Mr. Fillmore any 
pledges that it would be given. On the contrary, the 
leading office-holders asserted, weeks prior to the 
assembling of the Convention, that the contest had 
already been narrowed down to a question between 
Fillmore and Scott. Mr. Seward’s friends were of the 
same opinion, and urged the support of Scott as the 
only way to defeat the nomination of Fillmoie. ffoiace 
Greeley wrote from Washington to Thurlow Weed: 
“ If Fillmore and Webster will only use each other up, 
we may possibly recover—but our chance is slim. 
There is a powerful interest working hard against 
Douglas; Buchanan will have to fight hard for his 
own State ; if he gets it he may be nominated; Cass 
is nowhere.” 

The Whig National Convention, the last one held 
by that party, met in Baltimore on Wednesday, the 
16th of June, 1852. Two days were spent in effecting 


Perley's Reminiscences , 

an organization and in preparing a “ platform,” after 
which, on proceeding to ballot for a Presidential candi¬ 
date, General Scott had one hundred and thirty-four 
votes, Mr. Fillmore one hundred and thirty-three, and 
Mr. Webster twenty-nine, every one of which was cast 


by a Northern delegate. Not a Southern vote was 
given to him, despite all the promises made, but Mr. 
Fillmore received the entire Southern strength. The 
balloting was continued until Saturday afternoon with¬ 
out any change, and even the eloquence of Rufus 
Choate failed to secure the vote of a single Southern 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

delegate for his cherished friend. After the adjourn¬ 
ment of the Convention from Saturday until Monday, 
Mr. Choate visited Washington, hoping to move Mr. 
Fillmore; but the President “ made no sign,” and Mr. 
Webster saw that the Presidency, to which he had so 
long aspired, was to pass beyond his reach. He was 
saddened by the disappointment, and especially 
wounded when he was informed that Mr. Clay had 
advised the Southern delegates to support Mr. Fill¬ 

A nomination was finally made on the fifty-third 
ballot, when twenty-eight delegates from Pennsylvania 
changed their votes from Fillmore to General Scott. 
That evening a party of enthusiastic Whigs at Wash¬ 
ington, after serenading President Fillmore, marched 
to the residence of Mr. Webster. The band performed 
several patriotic airs, but some time elapsed before Mr. 
Webster appeared, wearing a long dressing-gown, and 
looking sad and weary. He said but a few words, 
making no allusion to General Scott, and when, in 
conclusion, he said that, for one, he should sleep well 
and rise with the lark the next morning, and bade 
them good-night, the serenaders retired as if they had 
had a funeral sermon preached to them. Thenceforth 
Mr. Webster was a disappointed, heart-stricken man, 
and he retired to Marshfield profoundly disgusted with 
the insincerity of politicians. 

The noisy rejoicings by the Whigs at Washington 
over the nomination of General Scott disturbed Henry 
Clay, who lay on his death-bed at the National Hotel, 
attended only by one of his sons, Thomas Hart Clay, 
and a negro servant. The “Great Commoner” was 
very feeble, and a few days later he breathed his last, 
as a Christian philosopher should die. His hope con- 

Last Hours of Clay . 


tinned to the end, though true and real, to be tremu¬ 
lous with humility rather than rapturous with assur¬ 
ance. On the evening previous to his departure, sit¬ 
ting an hour in silence by his side, the Rev. Dr. But¬ 
ler heard him, in the slight wanderings of his mind to 
other days and other scenes, murmuring the words, 
u My mother! mother! mother!” and saying “ My 
dear wife,” as if she were present. 

“ Broken with the storms of life,” Henry Clay gave 
np the ghost, and his remains were escorted with high 
funeral honors to his own beloved Commonwealth of 
Kentucky, where they rest beneath an imposing monu¬ 
ment. Twice a candidate for the Presidency, and 
twice defeated, his death was mourned by an immense 
number of attached personal friends, and generally 
regretted by the people of the United States. 

The Whigs were greatly embarrassed by General 
Scott, who persisted in making campaign speeches, 
some of which did him great harm. Their mass meet¬ 
ings proved failures, notably one on the battle-ground 
of Niagara, but they endeavored to atone for these dis¬ 
couraging events by a profuse distribution of popular 
literature. They circulated large editions of a tract 
by Horace Greeley, entitled, “ Why am la Whig?” 
and of campaign lives of “ Old Chapultepec,” pub¬ 
lished in English, French, and German. Mr. Bu¬ 
chanan was unusually active in his opposition to the 
Whig ticket. “ I should regard Scott’s election,” he 
wrote to a friend, “ as one of the greatest calamities 
which could befall the country. I know him well, and 
do not doubt either his patriotism or his integrity ; but 
he is vain beyond any man I have ever known, and, 
what is remarkable in a vain man, he is obstinate and 
self-willed and unyielding. His judgment, except in 


Perleyis Reminiscences. 

conducting a campaign in the field, is perverse and un¬ 
sound ; and when, added to all this, we consider that, 
if elected at all, it will be under the auspices of Sew¬ 
ard and his Abolition associates, I fear for the fate of 
this Union.” General Scott was mercilessly abused by 
the Democratic orators and writers also, who even ridi¬ 
culed the establishment of the Soldiers’ Home at 
Washington, with the contribution levied on the City 


of Mexico when captured by him, as the creation of an 
aristocratic body of military paupers. 

The Democratic party, forgetting all previous differ¬ 
ences, rallied to the support of their candidate. A cam¬ 
paign life of him was written by his old college friend, 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, and eloquent speakers extolled 
his statesmanship, his military services, and his devo¬ 
tion to the compromise measures which were to avert 
the threatened civil war. A good estimate of his char¬ 
acter was told by the Whig speakers, as having been 
given to an itinerant lecturer by the landlord of a New 

Last How's of Webster. 


Hampshire village inn. “ What sort of a man is Gen¬ 
eral Pierce ?” asked the traveler. “Waal, up here, 
where everybody knows Frank Pierce,” was the reply, 
“ and where Frank Pierce knows everybody, he’s a 
pretty considerable fellow, I tell you. But come to 
spread him out over this whole country, I’m afraid that 
he’ll be dreadful thin in some places.” 

The death of Mr. Webster aided the Democratic can¬ 
didate. The broken-down and disappointed statesman 
died at his loved rural home on the sea-shore, where, by 
his request, his cattle were driven beneath his window 
so that he could gaze on them once more before he left 
them forever. He wrestled with the grim Destroyer, 
showing a reluctance to abandon life, and looking into 
the future with apprehension rather than with hope. 
When Dr. Jeffries repeated to him the soothing 
words of Sacred Writ, “ Thy rod and Thy staff they 
comfort me,” the dying statesman exclaimed, “ Yes ; 
that is what I want, Thy rod; Thy staff!” He was no 
hypocrite, and although he prayed often and earnestly, 
he did not pretend that he felt that peace “which passeth 
all understanding,” but he did exhibit a devoted sub¬ 
mission and a true reliance on Almighty God. Craving 
stimulants, he had heard Dr. Jeffries tell an attendant, 
“ Give him a spoonful of brandy in fifteen minutes, 
another in half an hour, and another in three quarters 
of an hour, if he still lives.” These directions were 
followed with exactness until the arrival of the time 
last mentioned, when the attendants were undecided 
about administering another dose. It was in the midst 
of their doubts that the dying statesman, who had been 
watching a clock in the room, partly raised his head 
and feebly remarked : “ I still live.” The brandy was 
given to him, and he sank into a state of tranquil un¬ 
consciousness, from which he never rallied. 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Those who attended the funeral at Marshfield saw 
Mr. Webster’s remains lying in an open iron coffin, be¬ 
neath the shade of a large elm tree before the house. 
The body was dressed in a blue coat with gilt buttons, 
white vest, cravat, pantaloons, gloves, and shoes with 
dark cloth gaiters. His hand rested upon his breast, 
and his features wore a sad smile familiar to those who 
had known him in his later years. The village pastor 
conducted the services, after which the upper half of 
the coffin was put on, and on a low platform car, drawn 

by two black horses, it was taken to the burial-ground 
on the estate. On either side of the remains walked 
the pall-bearers selected by the deceased—six sturdy, 
Weather-bronzed farmer-fishermen, who lived in the 
vicinity—while General Pierce, the Mayor of Boston, 
Edward Everett, Rufus Choate, and other distinguished 
personages followed as they best could. There were 
many evidences of grief among the thousands of Mr. 
Webster’s friends present, and yet death was for him a 
happy escape from trouble. He was painfully aware 

Everett Succeeds Webster. 


that he had forfeited the political confidence of the 
people of Massachusetts and gained nothing by so 
doing; he had found that he could not receive a nomi¬ 
nation for the Presidency, even from the party which 
he had so long served, and his pecuniary embarrass¬ 
ments were very annoying. Neither could he, under 
the circumstances, have continued to hold office under 
Mr. Fillmore, who, after Webster’s funeral, appointed 
Edward Everett as his successor in the Department of 

When the nineteenth Presidential election was held, 
General Scott received only the electoral votes of 
Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee; 
Pierce and King received two hundred and fifty-four 
votes against forty-two votes for Scott and Graham. 

John Jordan Crittenden was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, September 10th, 1786; was 
United States Senator from Kentucky, December 1st, 1817, to March 3d, 1819, and again December 
7th, 1835, to March 3d, 1841; was Attorney-General under President Harrison, March 5th, 1841, to 
September 13th, 1841; was again United States Senator, March 3151,1842-1848; was Governor of 
Kentucky, 1848-1850; was Attorney-General under President Fillmore, July 20th, 1850, to March 3d, 
1853; was again United States Senator, December 3d, 1855, to March 3d, 1861; was a Representa¬ 
tive in Congress, July 4th, 1861, to March 3d, 1863, and died at Frankfort, Kentucky, July 26th, 1863. 





jueeien’s concerts. 

G ENERAL PIERCE received a severe blow 
after his election, a railroad accident in Mas¬ 
sachusetts depriving him of his only child, a 
promising boy, to whom he was devotedly attached. A 
week before the inauguration he escorted his sorrow- 
stricken wife to Baltimore, where he left her, and then 
went to Washington, accompanied by his private secre¬ 
tary, Mr. Sidney Webster. President Fillmore invited 
them to dine socially at the White House, and in the 
evening they were present at a numerously attended 
public reception in the East Room. 

The inauguration of General Pierce attracted crowds 
from the cities on the Atlantic coast, with some from 
the western slope of the Alleghanies. It was a cold, 
raw day, and the President-elect rode in a carriage with 
President Fillmore, surrounded by a body-guard of 
young gentlemen, mounted on fine horses, and serving 
for that day as Deputy United States Marshals. There 
was a military escort, composed of the Marine Corps, 
the uniformed militia of the District, and visiting com¬ 
panies from Baltimore and Alexandria. Behind the 


Pierce's Inauguration . 


President’s carriage marched several political associa¬ 
tions and the mechanics at the Navy Yard, with a full- 
rigged miniature vessel. 

As William R. King, the Vice-President-elect, was in 
Cuba, hoping to benefit his health, the Senate elected 


David J. Atchison, of Missouri, President pro tempore. 
The Senate, accompanied by the Diplomatic Corps and 
officers of the army and of the navy, all in full uni¬ 
form, then moved in procession to the east front of the 
Capitol. When the cheers with which the President¬ 
-elect was received had subsided, he advanced to the 


Perley 1 s Reminiscences. 

front of the platform and delivered his inaugural ad¬ 
dress, which he had committed to memory, although he 
held the manuscript in his hands. 

The personal appearance of General Pierce was dig¬ 
nified and winning, if not im- 


complexion was pale and his features were thin and care¬ 
worn, but his deportment was graceful and authoritative. 
It was evident that he belonged to that active, wiry class 
of men capable of great endurance and physical fatigue. 
The inaugural was a plain, straightforward document, 

The Vice-President's Death, 427 

intensely national in tone, and it stirred the hearts of 
the vast audience which heard it like the clarion notes 
of a trumpet. The new President had an abiding con¬ 
fidence in the stability of our institutions. Snow be¬ 
gan to fall before he had concluded his address and 
taken the oath of office, which was administered by 
Chief Justice Taney. 

William Rufus King took the oath of office as Vice- 
President on the 4th of March, 1853, at a plantation on 
the highest of the hills that surround Matanzas, with 
the luxuriant vegetation of Cuba all around, the clear, 
blue sky of the tropics overhead, and a delicious sea 
breeze cooling the pure atmosphere. The oath was ad¬ 
ministered by United States Consul Rodney, and at 
the conclusion of the ceremonies the assembled creoles 
shouted, u Vaya vol con Dios /” (God will be with you), 
while the veteran politician appeared calm, as one who 
had fought the good fight and would soon lay hold of 
eternal life. Reaching his home at Cahaba, Ala., on 
the 17th of April, he died the following day, and his 
remains were buried on his plantation, known as the 
“ Pine Hills.” 

President Pierce formed a Cabinet of remarkable 
ability. He had wanted Caleb Cushing as his Secre¬ 
tary of State, but the old anti-slavery utterances of the 
Massachusetts Brigadier had not been forgotten, and 
Pierce could make him only his Attorney-General. 
Governor Marcy was placed at the head of the Depart¬ 
ment of State, and he invited Mr. George Sumner, a 
brother of the Senator, to become Assistant Secretary 
of State, but the invitation was declined. James Guth¬ 
rie, a stalwart, clear-headed Kentuckian, was made 
Secretary of the Treasury, with Peter G. Washington, 
a veteran District politician, as Assistant Secretary. 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Jefferson Davis solicited and received the position of 
Secretary of War, James C. Dobbin, of North Carolina, 
was made Secretary of the Navy ; Robert McClelland, 
of Michigan, was designated by General Cass for Sec¬ 
retary of the Interior, and James Campbell, of Penn¬ 
sylvania, was appointed Postmaster-General, with thirty 
thousand subordinate places to be filled, its progressive 
improvements to be looked after, and a general desire on 
the part of the public for a reduction of postage. An 
abler Cabinet never gathered around the council-table 
at the White House. 

Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War, entertained 
more than any of his associates. His dinner-parties, 
at which six guests sat down with the host and hostess, 
were very enjoyable, and his evening receptions, which 
were attended by the leading Southerners and their 
Northern allies, were brilliant affairs with one excep¬ 
tion. On that occasion, owing, it was said, to a 
defect in the gas meter, every light in the house sud¬ 
denly ceased to burn. It was late, and with great diffi¬ 
culty lamps and candles were obtained to enable the 
guests to secure their wraps and make their depar¬ 

No other President ever won the affections of the 
people of Washington so completely as did Gen¬ 
eral Pierce. Such was the respect entertained for 
him by citizens of all political creeds, that when he 
took his customary u constitutional ” walk down Penn¬ 
sylvania Avenue to the Capitol and back one could 
mark his progress by the uplifting of hats as he passed 
along. He and Mrs. Pierce, disregarding the etiquette 
of the White House, used to pay social visits to the 
families of New Hampshire friends holding clerkships, 
and to have them as guests at their family dinner- 

Journalistic War. 4 2 9 

table. The President’s fascinating courtesy and kind¬ 
ness were irresistible. 

Roger A. Pryor first figured at Washington in the 
spring of 1853. He was an editorial contributor to 
the Washington Union, the Democratic organ, and he 
wrote a scathing review of The War of Ormuzd and 
Ahriman, by Henry Winter Davis, of Baltimore, 
which set forth the United States and Russia as the 
respective champions of the piiuciples of liberty and 
of despotism, and claimed to foresee in the distant 
future a mighty and decisive conflict between these 
persistent combatants. This Mr. Pryor pronounced 
impossible, asserting that in every element of na¬ 
tional strength and happiness Russia is great and 
prosperous beyond any other country in Europe,” and 
that the United States and Russia, instead of becoming 
enemies, “will consolidate and perpetuate their friendly 
relations by the same just and pacific policy which has 
regulated their intercourse in times past.” This 
article was very distasteful to the Democratic readeis 
of the Union , and the editor denounced it. Mr. Pryor 
came back at him in the Intelligencer , declaring that he 
was not the eulogist of the Russian Empire, but setting 
forth at great length the good-will of Russia toward 
the United States, and especially announcing that “ 111 
Russia the maudlin, mock philanthropy of Uncle 
Tom's Cabin is an unknown disease.” It was the 
general belief at Washington that Mr. Pryor had been 
inspired by some one connected with the Russian 


Old Madeira wine has always been very popular m 
Washington, especially on the tables of their Honors the 
Justices of the Supreme Court. For many years sup¬ 
plies were obtained from the old mercantile houses in 


Per leys Reminiscences . 

Alexandria, which had made direct importations prior 
to the Revolution. During the Fillmore Administra¬ 
tion many Washington cellars were replenished at the 
sale of the private stock of wines and liquors of the 
late Josiah Lee, of Baltimore. Fifty demijohns of 
various brands of Madeira were sold at prices ranging 
from twenty-four dollars to forty-nine dollars per gal¬ 
lon ; and one lot of twenty-two bottles commanded the 
extreme price of fifteen dollars and fifty cents per 
bottle, which at five bottles to the gallon is at the rate 
of seventy-seven dollars and fifty cents per gallon. 

Mr. Brady came from New York and opened a 
“ daguerrean saloon ” at Washington, and the dim por¬ 
traits produced on burnished metal were regarded with 
silent astonishment. Up to that time the metropolis 
had been visited every winter by portrait and min¬ 
iature painters, but their work required long sittings 
and was expensive. The daguerreotypes, which could 
be produced in a few moments and at a comparatively 
small cost, became very popular, and Brady’s gallery 
was thronged every morning with distinguished visi¬ 
tors. Mr. Brady was a man of slight figure, well pro¬ 
portioned, with features somewhat resembling the 
portraits of Vandyke. He possessed wonderful pa¬ 
tience, artistic skill, and a thorough acquaintance with 
the mechanical and chemical features of sun-painting. 
For the next thirty years he took portraits of almost 
all the -prominent persons who visited Washington 
City, and in time his reminiscences of them became 
very interesting. 

The citizens of Washington enjoyed a rare treat 
when Thackeray came to deliver his lectures on the 
English essayists, wits, and humorists of the eigh¬ 
teenth century. Accustomed to the spread-eagle style 

Thackeray's Lectures . 

43 1 

of oratory too prevalent at the Capitol, they were de¬ 
lighted with the pleasing voice and easy manner of 
the burly, gray-haired, rosy-cheeked Briton, who made 
no gestures, but stood most of the time with his hands 
in his pockets, as if he were talking with friends at a 
cozy fireside. He did not deal, like Cervantes, with 
the ridiculous extravagance of a fantastic order, nor, 


like Washington Irving, with the faults and foibles of 
men, but he struck at the very heart of the social life 
of his countrymen’s ancestors with caustic and relent¬ 
less satire. Some of the more puritanical objected to 
the moral tendencies of Thackeray’s lectures, and 
argued that the naughty scapegraces of the British 
court should not have been thus exhumed for the edi¬ 
fication of an American audience. 

43 2 

Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Thackeray made himself at home among the work¬ 
ing journalists at Washington, and was always asking 
questions. He was especially interested in the trial of 
Herbert, a California Congressman, who had shot dead 
at a hotel table a waiter who had not promptly served 
him, and he appeared to study old Major Lane, a 
“ hunter from Kentucky,” “ half horse and half alliga¬ 
tor,” but gentlemanly in his manners, and partial to 
rye-whisky, ruffled shirts, gold-headed canes, and draw- 
poker. The Major had fought—so he said—under 
Jackson at New Orleans, under Houston at San 
Jacinto, and under Zach. Taylor at Buena Vista, and 
he was then prosecuting a claim before Congress for 
his services as an agent among the Yazoo Indians. 
It was better than a play to hear him talk, and to 
observe Thackeray as he listened. 

Rembrandt Peale visited Washington during the 
Pierce Administration, and greatly interested those 
who met him with his reminiscences. His birth took 
place while his father, Charles Wilson Peale, was in 
camp at Valley Forge. After the War of the Revolu¬ 
tion, and while Washington was a resident of Phila¬ 
delphia, Charles Wilson Peale painted several portraits 
of him. Young Rembrandt used to pass much of his 
time in the studio, and in 1786, when the best of the 
portraits was painted, he stood at the back of his father’s 
chair watching the operation. In 1795, when he was 
but seventeen years of age, he had himself become a 
good painter, and Washington then honored him with 
three sittings of three hours each. The young artist, 
who was naturally timid and nervous in such a pres¬ 
ence and at such a work, got his father to begin a por¬ 
trait at the same time, and to keep the General in 
conversation while the work went on. The study of 

Rembrandt Peale. 


Washington’s head then painted by Rembrandt Peale 
served as the basis of the famous portrait of him which 
he afterward painted, and which was pronounced by 
contemporaries of Washington his best likeness. It 
was exhibited to admiring crowds in Europe and the 
United States, and in 1832 was purchased for two 


thousand dollars by the Federal Government, to be 
hung in the Capitol. 

Rev. Charles W. Upham, who represented the Essex 
district of Massachusetts in Congress, was at one time 
a victim to our copyright laws. He had compiled with 
care a life of General Washington, from his own let¬ 
ters, which was, therefore, in some sense, an autobiog- 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

raphy. The holders of copyright in Washington’s 
letters, including, if I am not mistaken, Judge Wash¬ 
ington and Dr. Sparks, considered the publication of 
this book by Marsh, Capen & Lyons, of Boston, who 
had no permission from them, as an infringement of 
their copyright. The curious question thus presented 
was tried before Judge Story, who held that it was an 
infringement, and granted an injunction against the 
sale of the book. The plates, thus becoming worthless 
here, were sold to an English house, which printed 

Jullien, the great musician, gave two concerts at the 
National Theatre, Washington, in the fall of 1853, 
with his large orchestra and a galaxy of glorious stars. 
The effect of many of their performances was over¬ 
powering, and the enraptured multitude often for a 
moment appeared to forget their accustomed restraints, 
and arose to wave their scarfs or hats in triumph, or 
blended their shouts of applause with the concluding 
strains of the “ Quadrille Nationale,” and other en¬ 
trancing pieces. The solos were all magnificent and 
the entire performance was a triumphant success. 

Thaddeus Stevens was born at Peacham, Vermont, April 4th, 1792 ; was a Representative from 
Pennsylvania, December 3d, 1849, to March 1st, 1853, and again December 5^1 I ^ 59 > August 
nth, 1868, when he died at Washington City. 




RESIDENT PIERCE, seconded by Secretary 

Marcy, made his foreign appointments with 

A great care. Mr. Buchanan was sent as Minis¬ 
ter to the Court of St. James, a position for which he 
was well qualified, and John Y. Mason, of Virginia, 
was accredited to France. The support given to the 
Democratic party by the adopted citizens of the Re¬ 
public was acknowledged by the appointment of Mr. 
Soule, a Frenchman, who had been expelled from his 
native land as a revolutionist, as Minister to Spain ; 
Robert Dale Owen, an Englishman, noted for his agra¬ 
rian opinions, as Minister to Naples, and Auguste 
Belmont, Austrian born, Minister to the Netherlands. 

The civil appointments, of every official grade, large 
in their number and extended in their influence upon 
various localities and interests, were made with distin¬ 
guished ability and sagacity, and were received with 
general and widespread satisfaction. The President’s 
thorough knowledge of men, his intimate acquaintance 
with the relations of sections heretofore temporarily 
separated from the great mass of the Democracy, and 
his quick perception of the ability and character essen- 



43 6 

Perlefs Reminiscences. 

tial to the faithful performance of duty were active 
throughout, and he kept constantly in sight his avowed 
determination to unite the Democratic party upon the 
principles by which he won his election. Where so 
many distinguished names were presented for his con¬ 
sideration, and where disappointment was the inevit¬ 
able fate of large numbers, a degree of complaint was 
unavoidable. But no sooner was the fund of Execu¬ 
tive patronage well- 
nigh exhausted than 
might be heard “ cur¬ 
ses, not loud but deep.” 
Presently, as the num¬ 
ber of disappointed 
place-hunters increas¬ 
ed, the tide of indig¬ 
nation began to swell, 
and the chorus of dis¬ 
content grew louder 
and louder, until the 
whole land was filled 
with the clamors of 
W a multitudinous army 
of martyrs. For the 
first three months af¬ 
ter the inauguration the Democratic party was a model 
of decorum,harmony, and contentment. All was delight 
and enthusiasm. Frank Pierce was the man of the 
time; his Cabinet was an aggregation of the wisdom of 
the country ; his policy the very perfection of states¬ 
manship. Even the Whigs did not utter one word of 
discontent. Frank Pierce was still President, his Cabi¬ 
net unchanged, his policy the same, but all else, how 
changed ! But it was no fault of his. He had but fifty 


Growing Dissatisfactions . 


thousand offices to dispense, which, in the nature of 
things, could go hut a short way to appease the hunger 
of two hundred thousand applicants. For every ap¬ 
pointment there were two disappointments, for every 
friend secured he made two enemies. A state of uni¬ 
versal satisfaction was succeeded by a state of violent 
discontent, and the Administration, without any fault 
of its own, encountered the opposition of those who 
but a few weeks previously were loudest in its praise. 

In order to re-enlist public favor and to reunite the 
Democratic party, Messrs. Buchanan, Mason, and 
Soule, United States Ministers respectively to England, 
France, and Spain, were ordered by the President, 
through Mr. Marcy, to meet at Ostend. There, after 
mature deliberations, and in obedience to instructions 
from Washington, they prepared, signed, and issued a 
brief manifesto, declaring that the United States ought 
to purchase Cuba with as little delay as possible. 
Political, commercial, and geographical reasons there¬ 
for were given, and it was asserted in conclusion that 
“ the Union can never enjoy repose, nor possess re¬ 
liable security, so long as Cuba is not embraced within 
its boundaries.” This was carrying out the views of 
Mr. Buchanan, who, when Secretary of State, in June, 
1848, had, under the instructions of President Polk, 
offered Spain one hundred million of dollars for the 

Mr. Buchanan had accepted the mission to England, 
that he might from a distance pull every available 
wire to secure the nomination in 1856, coyly denying 
all the time that he wanted to be President. In a 
heretofore unpublished letter of his, dated September 
5th, 1853, which is in my collection of autographs, he 
says : “You propounded a question to me before I 


Per ley s Reminiscences. 

left the United States which I have not answered. I 
shall now give it an answer in perfect sincerity, with¬ 
out the slightest mental reservation. I have neither 
the desire nor the intention again to become a candi¬ 
date for the Presidency. On the contrary, this mission 
is tolerable to me alone because it will enable me 
gracefully and gradually to retire from an active par¬ 
ticipation in party politics. Should it please Provi¬ 
dence to prolong my days and restore me to my native 
land, I hope to pass the remnant of my life at Wheat- 
land, in comparative peace and tranquillity. This will 
be most suitable both to my age (now past sixty-two) 
and my inclinations. But whilst these are the genu¬ 
ine sentiments of my heart, I do not think I ought to 
say that in no imaginable state of circumstances would 
I consent to be nominated as a candidate.” 

Mr. Buchanan was greatly exercised over the court 
costume which he was to wear, and finally compromised 
by adopting a black evening dress suit, with the 
addition of a small sword, which distinguished him 
from the servants at the royal palace. He had always 
been jealous of Governor Marcy, then Secretary of 
State, and instead of addressing his despatches to the 
Department of State, as is customary for foreign Min¬ 
isters, he used to send them directly to the President. 
It is said that General Pierce rather enjoyed seeing his 
chief Cabinet officer thus snubbed, and that he used to 
answer Mr. Buchanan’s communications himself. 

The proposition to repeal,the Missouri Compromise 
of 1820, and to admit Kansas and Nebraska as States, 
with or without slavery, as their citizens might respect¬ 
ively elect, gave rise to exciting debates. The North 
was antagonistic to the South, and the champions of 
freedom looked defiantly at the defenders of slavery. 

An Exciting Scene. 


One of the most exciting scenes in the House of Rep¬ 
resentatives was between Mr. John C. Breckinridge, of 
Kentucky, and Mr. Francis B. Cutting, a New York 
lawyer, who had defeated Mr. James Brooks, who then 
was editor of the Express. 


Mr. Cutting was advocating the passage of the Sen¬ 
ate bill, and complaining that the friends of the Ad¬ 
ministration not only wanted to consign it to the Com¬ 
mittee of the Whole—that tomb of the Capulets—but 
they had encouraged attacks in their organs upon him 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

and those who stood with him. Mr. Breckinridge inter¬ 
rupted him while he was speaking, to ask if a remark 
made was personal to himself, but Mr. Cutting said 
that it was not. Mr. Breckinridge, interrupting Mr. 
Cutting a second time, said that while he did not 
want to charge the gentleman from New York with 
having intentionally played the part of an assassin, 
he had said, and he could not now take it back, that the 
act, to all intents, was like throwing one arm around it 
in friendship, and stabbing it with the other—to kill 
the bill. As to a statement by the gentleman that in 
the hour of his greatest need the “ Hards ” of New 
York had come to his assistance, he could not under¬ 
stand it, and asked for an explanation. 

“ I will give it,” replied Mr. Cutting. “ When, dur¬ 
ing the last Congressional canvass in Kentucky, it was 
intimated that the friends of the honorable Representa¬ 
tive from the Lexington district needed assistance to 
accomplish his election, my friends in New York made 
up a subscription of some fifteen hundred dollars and 
transmitted it to Kentucky, to be employed for the 
benefit of the gentleman, who is now the peer of 
Presidents and Cabinets.” 

“ Yes, sir !” exclaimed Mr. Breckinridge, springing 
to his feet, “ and not only the peer of Presidents and 
Cabinets, but the peer of the gentleman from New 
York, fully and in every respect.” 

A round of applause followed this assertion, and ere 
it had subsided the indomitable Mike Walsh availed 
himself of the opportunity to give his colleague a rap. 
u When [he said] we came here we protested against 
the Administration interfering in the local affairs of 
the State of New York, and now my colleague states 
that a portion of his constituents have been guilty of 

The Combat Deepens . 


the same interference in the affairs of the people of 
Kentucky.” “ Is that all,” said Mr. Cutting, in a 
sneering tone, “ that the gentleman from New York 
rose for?” “That’s all,” replied Mr. Walsh, “but I 
will be on hand by and by, though.” 

Mr. Breckinridge, his eyes flashing fire, remarked 
in measured tones that the gentleman from New York 
-should have known the truth of what he uttered before 
he pronounced it on this floor. He (Mr. B.) was not 
aware that any intimations were sent from Kentucky 
that funds were needed to aid in his election, nor was 
lie aware that they were received. He did not under¬ 
take to say what the fact might be in regard to what 
the gentleman had said, but he had no information 
whatever of that fact. He (Mr. B.) came to Congress 
not by the aid of money, but against the use of money. 
The gentleman could not escape by any subtlety or by 
any ingenuity a thorough and complete exposure of 
any ingenious device to which he might resort for the 
purpose of putting gentlemen in a false position, and 
the sooner he stopped that game the better. 

Mr. Cutting, who was also very much excited, made 
an angry reply, in which he stated “ that he had given 
the gentleman an opportunity of indulging in one of 
the most violent, inflammatory, and personal assaults 
that had ever been known upon this floor ; and he would 
ask how could the gentleman disclaim any attack 
upon him. The whole tenor and scope of the speech 
of the gentleman from Kentucky was an attack upon 
his motives in moving to commit the bill. It was 
in vain for the gentleman to attempt to escape by 
disclaiming it; the fact was before the Committee. 
But he would say to the gentleman that he scorned his 
imputation. How dare the gentleman undertake to 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

assert that lie had professed friendship for the measure 
with a view to kill it, to assassinate it by sending it to 
the bottom of the calendar ? And then, when he said 
that the Committee of the Whole had under its control 
the House bill upon this identical subject, which the 
Committee intended to take up, discuss, amend, and 
report to the House, the gentleman skulked behind the 
Senate bill, which had been sent to the foot of the 

“ Skulked!” hissed Mr. Breckinridge. “ I ask the 
gentleman to withdraw that word!” 

“ I withdraw nothing!” replied Mr. Cutting. “ I have 
uttered what I have said in answer to one of the most 
violent and most personal attacks that has ever been 
witnessed upon this floor.” 

“Then,” said Mr. Breckinridge, “when the gentle¬ 
man says I skulked, he says what is false!” The 
Southern members began to gather around the excited 
Kentuckian, and the Speaker, pounding with his gavel, 
pronounced the offensive remark out of order. 

“ Mr. Chairman,” quietly remarked Mr. Cutting, “ I 
do not intend upon this floor to answer the remark 
which the gentleman from Kentucky has thought 
proper to employ. It belongs to a different region. 
It is not here that I will desecrate my lips with under¬ 
taking to retort in that manner.” 

This settled the question, and a duel appeared to be 
inevitable. The usual correspondence followed, but 
President Pierce and other potent friends of the would- 
be belligerents interfered, and the difficulty was ami¬ 
cably adjusted, under “the code of honor,” without 
recourse to weapons. 

Governor Marcy, President Pierce’s Secretary of 
State, was a great card-player, and Mr. Labouchere 

Whist as a Tonic . 


tells a good story which happened when he was Secre¬ 
tary of the British Legation at Washington. “ I 
went,” said he, “ with the British Minister, to a pleas¬ 
ant watering-place in Virginia, where we were to meet 
Mr. Marcy, the then United States Secretary of State, 
and a reciprocity treaty between Canada and the United 
States was to be quietly discussed. Mr. Marcy, the 
most genial of men, was as cross as a bear. He would 
agree to nothing. ‘ What on earth is the matter with 
your chief?’ I said to a secretary who accompanied 
him. ‘ He does not have his rubber of whist,’ an¬ 
swered the secretary. After this every night the Min¬ 
ister and I played at whist with Mr. Marcy and his 
secretary, and every night we lost. The stakes were 
very trifling, but Mr. Marcy felt flattered by beating 
the Britishers at what he called their own game. His 
good humor returned, and every morning when the 
details of the treaty were being discussed we had 
our revenge, and scored a few points for Canada.” A 
true account of the money designedly lost at Washington 
by diplomats, heads of departments, and Congressmen 
would give a deep insight into the secret history of 
. legislation. What Representative could vote against 
the claim of a man whose money he had been winning, 
in small sums, it is true, all winter ? 

General John A. Thomas, of New York, who was 
Assistant Secretary of State during a part of President 
Pierce’s Administration, was a fine, soldierly looking 
man, very gentlemanly in his deportment. He was a 
native of Tennessee, and was for several years an 
officer in the United States Army, commanding at one 
time the corps of cadets. He married a Miss Ronalds, 
who belonged to an old New York family, and he took 
her with him when he went abroad as Solicitor to the 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Board of Commissioners appointed by the President to 
adjust the claims of American citizens upon the 
British Government. Mr. Buchanan was the Ameri¬ 
can Minister at the Court of St. James, and Mr. Sickles 
Secretary of Legation. Mrs. Thomas having ex¬ 
pressed a wish to be presented at court, Mr. Buchanan 
assented, and, when the day for presentation arrived, 
requested Mrs. Thomas to place herself under the 

charge of Mrs. Sickles, 
who would accompany 
her to the palace of St. 
James. This arrange¬ 
ment Mrs. Thomas de¬ 
cidedly declined, and 
by so doing gave so 
much offense to Mr. 
Buchanan that she was 
never presented at 
court at all. Nor did 
the matter end here. 
When Mr. Buchanan 
came to the Presiden¬ 
cy he found General 


fice of Assistant Sec¬ 
retary of State. From this office he immediately 
ejected him, for the old grudge he bore Mrs. Thomas 
for refusing to go to court with Mrs. Sickles, as 
General Thomas declared to his friends. Mr. Buch¬ 
anan was always very fond of Mr. Sickles and his 
wife, and it was said that he narrowly escaped being 
in the Sickles’ house when Barton Key was shot down 
after coming from it. 

The Amoskeag Veterans, of Manchester, New 

filling the of- 



Perkys Reminiscences. 

Hampshire, a volunteer corps which wore the Conti¬ 
nental uniform and marched to the music of drums 
and fifes, came to Washington to pay their respects to 
the President, who received them with lavish hospital¬ 
ity. They visited Mount Vernon under escort of a 
detachment of volunteer officers, and were escorted by 
the venerable G. W. P. Custis around the old home 
of his illustrious relative. At a ball given in the 
evening the “old man eloquent” wore the epanlettes 
originally fastened on his shoulders by him who was 
u first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of 
his countrymen.” The sword given him by General 
Washington Mr. Custis had presented to his son-in- 
law, Captain Robert E. Lee, of the Engineer Corps, 
during the Mexican campaign. 

John Tyler was born in Charles City County, Virginia March 29th, 1790; was a Representative 
in Congress from Virginia, December 17th, 1816, to March 3d, 1821; was United States Senator 
from Virginia, December 3d, 1827, to February 28th, 1836; was elected Vice-President on the 
Harrison ticket in 1840; became President, after the death of President Harrison, April 4th, 1841; 
was a delegate to the Peace Convention of 1861, and its President; was a delegate to the Pro¬ 
visional Congress of the Confederate States, which assembled at Richmond in July, 1861; was 
elected a Representative from Virginia in the first Confederate Congress, but died at Richmond, 
Virginia, before taking his seat, January 17th, 1862. 




T HE repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the 
enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law re¬ 
opened the flood-gates of sectional contro¬ 
versy. The Native American organization was used 
at the North by the leading Abolitionists for the dis¬ 
integration of the Whigs, and they founded a new 
political party, with freedom inscribed upon its banners. 
The Free-Soil Democrats who had rebelled against 
Southern rule, with the Liberty Whigs, and those who 
were more openly arrayed against slavery, united, and 
were victorious at the Congressional elections in the 
Northern States in the autumn of 1854. “ The moral 

idea became a practical force,” and the “ Irrepressible 
Conflict ” was commenced. “ As Republicans,” said 
Charles Sumner, u we go forth to encounter the oli¬ 
garchs of slavery.” 

The great contest was opened by a struggle in the 
House of Representatives over the Speakership. Na¬ 
thaniel Prentiss Banks, a Democrat, who had joined 
the Know-Nothings, was the Northern candidate, 
although Horace Greeley, with Thurlow Weed and 


44 8 

Perley's Reminiscences. 

William Schouler as his aides-de-camp, endeavored to • 
elect Lewis D. Campbell, an Ohio American. The 
Southern Know-Nothings voted at one time for Henry 
M. Fuller, of Pennsylvania, but they dropped him 
like a hot potato when they learned that he had ac¬ 
cepted a place on the Republican Committee of his 
State. William Aiken, a large slaveholder in South 
Carolina, was the favorite Southern candidate, although 
the vote of the solid South was successively given to 
several others. Meanwhile, as day after day passed, 
the President’s message was withheld, and all legisla¬ 
tion was at a dead-lock. The Sergeant-at-Arms, Colo¬ 
nel Glossbrenner, an ex-member of the House, ob¬ 
tained a loan of twenty thousand dollars from a bank 
in Pennsylvania, which enabled him to make advances 
to impecunious members of both parties, and thus to 
insure his re-election. 

Early in January an attempt was made to “ sit it 
out,” and all night the excited House seethed like a 
boiling caldron; verdant novices were laughed down 
as they endeavored to make some telling point, while 
sly old stagers lay in ambush to spring out armed with 
“ points of order.” Emasculate conservatives were 
snubbed by followers of new prophets; belligerent 
Southrons glared fiercely at phlegmatic Yankees; one 
or two intoxicated Solons gabbled sillily upon every 
question, and sober clergymen gaped, as if sleepy and 
disgusted with political life. Banks, unequaled in his 
deportment, was as cool as a summer cucumber; Aiken, 
his principal opponent, was courteous and gentleman¬ 
like to all; Giddings wore a broad-brimmed hat to 
shield his eyes from the rays of the gas chandelier; 
Stephens, of Georgia, piped forth his shrill response, 
and Senator Wilson went busily about u whipping-in.” 


An All-night Session. 

Soon after midnight the South Americans began to 
relate their individual experience in true camp-meeting 
style, the old-line Democrats were rampant, the few 
Whigs were jubilant, and the bone of Catholicism was 
pretty well picked by those who had been peeping 
at politics through dark-lanterns, and who were “know- 
nothings ” about what they had done. In short, every 


imaginable topic of discussion, in order or out of order, 
was lugged in to kill time. 

Meanwhile the supply of ham at the eating-counter 
below-stairs was exhausted, the oysters were soon after 
minus, and those who had brought no lunch had to 
mumble ginger-cakes. It was remarked by good 
judges that as the morning advanced the coffee grew 
weaker, suggesting a possibility that the caterer could 
not distinguish between cocoa and cold water, and only 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

replenished his boiler with the latter. There were 
more questions of order, more backing people up to 
vote, and an increase of confusion. Men declared 
that they would “ stick,” while they entreated others 
to shift, and as daylight streamed in upon the scene, 
the political gamesters had haggard and careworn 
countenances. The result of the night’s work was no 

At last, after nine long, tedious weeks, the agony 
was over, and Massachusetts furnished the Thirty- 
fourth Congress with its Speaker. Although what 
was termed “ Americanism ” played an important 
though concealed part in the struggle, the real battle 
was between the North and the South—the stake was 
the extension of slavery. When the decisive vote was 
reached the galleries were packed with ladies, who, 
like the gentle dames in the era of chivalry, sat inter¬ 
ested lookers-on as the combating parties entered the 
arena. On the one side was Mr. Aiken, a Representa¬ 
tive * from the chivalric, headstrong State of South 
Carolina, the son of an Irishman, the inheritor of an 
immense wealth, and the owner of eleven hundred 
slaves. Opposed to him was Mr. Banks, of Massachu¬ 
setts, a State which was the very antipodes of South 
Carolina in politics, who, by his own exertions, un¬ 
aided by a lineage or wealth or anything save his own 
indomitable will, had conquered a position among an 
eminently conservative people. Voting was com¬ 
menced, and each minute seemed an age, as some 
members had to explain their votes, but at length the 
tellers began to “ foot up.” It had been agreed that 
the result should be announced by the teller belonging 
to the party of the successful candidate, and when the 
sheet was handed to Mr. Benson, of Maine, the “ be- 

Banks Elected Speaker. 

45 1 

ginning of the end ” was known. Radiant with joy, 
he announced that Nathaniel 
P. Banks, Jr., had received one 
hundred and three votes; Wil¬ 
liam Aiken, one hundred ; H. 

M. Fuller, six; L. D. Camp¬ 
bell, four, and Daniel Wells, 

Jr., of Wisconsin, one. The 
election was what a French¬ 
man would call an “ accom¬ 
plished fact,” and hearty 
cheers were heard on all sides. 

Magnanimity is not a prom¬ 
inent ingredient in political 
character, and some factious 
objections were made, but Mr. 

Aiken soon put a stop to 
them. Rising with that dig¬ 
nity peculiar to wealthy and 
portly gentlemen of ripe 
years, he requested permis¬ 
sion to conduct the Speaker- 
elect to the chair. This dis¬ 
armed opposition, and after 
some formalities, he was au¬ 
thorized, by a large majority 
resolve, to perform the duty, 
accompanied by Messrs. Ful¬ 
ler and Campbell. Cheer after 
cheer, with waving of hats 
and ladies’ handkerchiefs, an¬ 
nounced that on the one hun¬ 
dred and thirty-third vote the 
Speaker’s chair was occupied. The mace, emblem of the 



Perley's Reminiscences , 

Speaker’s authority, was brought from its resting-place 
and elevated at his side. The House was organized. 

The address of Mr. Banks, free from all cant, and 
delicately alluding to those American principles to 


which he owed his office, was happily conceived and ad¬ 
mirably delivered. Then old Father Giddings, stand¬ 
ing beneath the large chandelier, with his silvery locks 
flowing picturesquely around his head, held up his 

Dividing the Spoils . 


hand and administered the oath of office. The authori¬ 
tative gavel was handed up by Colonel Forney, who 
was thanked by a resolution complimenting him for 
the ability with which he had presided during the pro¬ 
tracted contest, and then the House adjourned. 

It then became necessary to divide the spoils, and 
after an exciting contest, Cornelius Wendell, a Demo¬ 
cratic nominee, was elected Printer to the House by 
Republican votes, in consideration of certain percent¬ 
ages of his profits paid to designated parties. The 
House binding was given to Mr. Williams, editor of the 
Toledo Blade , a lawyer by profession, who had never 
bound a book in his life. Mr. Robert Farnham paid 
him a considerable sum for his contract, and the work 
was done by Mr. Tretler, a practical bookbinder. Mr. 
Simon Hanscomb, who had been efficient in bringing 
about the nomination of Mr. Banks, received a twelve- 
hundred dollar sinecure clerkship, and others who had 
aided in bringing about the result were cared for. 
One Massachusetts Representative had his young son 
appointed a page by the doorkeeper, but when Speaker 
Banks learned of it, he ordered the appointment to be 
canceled. Luckily for the lad, the father was enabled 
to secure for him an appointment as a cadet at West 
Point, and he became a gallant officer. 

The first session of the Thirty-fourth Congress was 
protracted until the 18th of August, 1856, and it was 
distinguished by acrimonious debate. The most re¬ 
markable speaker was Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, of 
whom it might be said, as of St. Paul, “ his bodily 
presence is weak,” while his thin, shrill voice, issuing 
as it were by jerks from his narrow chest, recalled John 
Randolph. Contrasting widely in size was the burly 
Humphrey Marshall, of Kentucky, who had won 

Kelly, who had defeated the candidates brought out by 
u Sam ” and “ Sambo ” to oppose him. The venerable 
Joshua R. Giddings, of Ohio, who led the abolition 
forces, was as austerely bitter as Cato was in ancient 
Utica when he denounced, the Fugitive Slave Law, 
under the operations of which many runaway slaves 
were captured at the North and returned to their 
Southern masters. 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

laurels in the Mexican War, as had the gallant Gen¬ 
eral Quitman, a Representative from Mississippi. 
Henry Winter Davis, of Baltimore, and Anson Burlin¬ 
game, of Boston, were the most eloquent and enthusi¬ 
astic of those who had been washed into Congress by 
the Know-Nothing wave, and with them had come 
some ignorant and bigoted fellows. Equally promi¬ 
nent, but better qualified, on the other side was John 

Greeley Assaulted. 


The eloquence of Mr. Clingman, who represented 
North Carolina, was alternately enlivened by epigram¬ 
matic wit or envenomed by scorching reply. Mr. Jus¬ 
tin S'. Morrill, of Vermont, was commencing a long and 
useful Congressional career. Mr. Schuyler Colfax, an 
editor-politician, represented an Indiana district. The 
veteran Mr. Charles J. Faulkner, with his choleric son- 
in-law, Mr. Thomas S. Bocock, and the erratic and 
chivalrous Judge Caskie, represented Virginia districts. 
Mr. Elihu B. Washburne, of Illinois, sat near his 
brother, Israel D. Washburne, of Maine. Mr. Lyman 
Trumbull, of Illinois, was then an ardent Republican, 
and so was Mr. Francis E. Spinner, of New York, whose 
wonderful autograph afterward graced public securities. 

Mr. Albert Rust, one of the Representatives from 
Arkansas, won some notoriety by attacking Horace 
Greeley at his hotel. The next day he was brought 
before Justice Morsell, and gave bonds to appear at the 
next session of the Criminal Court. He appeared to 
glory in what he had done. Mr. Greeley was evidently 
somewhat alarmed, and during the remainder of his 
sojourn at Washington his more stalwart friends took 
care that he should not be unaccompanied by a 
defender when he appeared in public. 

The Territory of Utah was represented in the House 
by Mr. John N. Burnhisel, a small, dapper gentleman, 
who in deportment and tone of voice resembled Robert 
J. Walker. It was very rarely that he participated in 
debate, and his forte was evidently taciturnity. In 
private conversation he was fluent and agreeable, de¬ 
fending the peculiar domestic institutions of his people. 
The delegate from Oregon was Mr. Joseph Lane, who 
had served bravely in the Mexican War, gone to 
Oregon as its first Governor, and been returned as its 


Per leys Reminiscences. 

first Territorial Delegate. He was a keen-eyed, trimly 
built man, of limited education, but the possessor of 
great common sense. Henry M. Rice, the first Dele¬ 
gate from the Territory of Minnesota, had been for 
years an Indian trader in connection with the Ameri¬ 
can Fur Company, and was thoroughly acquainted 
with the people he represented, and whose interests he 
faithfully served. New Mexico, then a terra incognita , 
was represented by Don Jose Manuel Gallegos, a 
native of the Territory, who had been educated in the 
Catholic schools of Mexico, and who was devoted to 
the Democratic party. He had as a rival Don Miguel 
A. Otero, also a native of New Mexico, who had been 
educated at St. Louis, and whose Democracy was of 
the more liberal school. He successfully contested the 
seat of Mr. Gallegos in the Thirty-fourth Congress, 
and secured his re-election in the two ensuing ones. 

The Senate was behind the House in entering into 
the “ irrepressible conflict.” The death of Vice-Presi¬ 
dent King having left the chair of the presiding officer 
vacant, it was filled pro tempore by Mr. Jesse D. 
Bright, of Indiana. He was a man of fine presence, 
fair abilities, and a fluent speaker, thoroughly devoted 
to the Democratic party as then controlled by the 
South. He regarded the anti-slavery movement as the 
offspring of a wanton desire to meddle with the affairs 
of other people, and to grasp political power, or—to 
use the words of one who became an ardent Republican 
—as the product of hypocritical selfishness, assuming 
the mask and cant of philanthropy merely to rob the 
South and to enrich New England. The rulings of 
the Chair, while it was occupied by Senator Bright, 
were all in favor of the South and of the compromises 
which had been entered into. The Secretary of the 

Southern Senators . 


Senate, its Sergeant-at-Arms, its door-keepers, messen¬ 
gers, and even its little pages, were subservient to the 

Mr. James Murray Mason, a type of the old patrician 
families of Virginia, was one of the few remaining 
polished links between the statesmen of those days and 
of the past. His first ancestor in Virginia, George 
Mason, commanded a regiment of cavalry in the Cava¬ 
lier army of Charles 
Stuart (afterward 
Charles II) in the cam¬ 
paign against the 
Roundhead troops of 
Oliver Cromwell. Af¬ 
ter the defeat of the 
royal forces at the battle 
of Worcester, Colonel 
Mason escaped to Vir¬ 
ginia, and soon after¬ 
ward established a plan¬ 
tation on the Potomac, 
where his lineal de¬ 
scendants resided gene¬ 
ration after generation. 

The future Senator was 
educated at Georgetown, in the then infant days of the 
Federal city, and the society of such statesmen as then 
sat in the councils of the republic was in itself an 
education. He possessed a stalwart figure, a fine, im¬ 
posing head covered with long gray hair, a pleasing 
countenance, and a keen eye. No Senator had a 
greater reverence for the peculiar institutions of the 
South, or a more thorough contempt for the Abolition¬ 
ists of the North. His colleague, Mr. Robert M. T. 


45 8 

Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Hunter, was of less aristocratic lineage, but bad re¬ 
ceived a more thorough education. He had served in 
the Twenty-sixth Congress as Speaker of the House, 
and he was thoroughly acquainted with parliamentary 
law and usages. He had also paid great attention to 
finance and to the tariff questions. Solidly built, with 
a massive head and a determined manner, he was very 
impressive in debate, and his speeches on financial 

questions were listened 
to with great attention. 

John P. Hale was a 
prominent figure in 
the Senate, and never 
failed to command at¬ 
tention. The keen 
shafts of the South¬ 
erners, aimed at him, 
fell harmlessly at his 
feet, and his wonder¬ 
ful good nature dis¬ 
armed malicious oppo¬ 
sition. Those who felt 
that he had gone far 
astray in his political 
opinions did not ac¬ 
cuse him of selfish motives, sordid purposes, or de¬ 
graded intrigues. His was the “chasseur” style of 
oratory—now skirmishing on the outskirts of an oppo¬ 
nent’s position, then rallying on some strange point, 
pouring in a rattling fire, standing firm against a 
charge, and ever displaying a perfect independence of 
action and a disregard of partisan drill. 

President Pierce felt very unkindly toward Mr. Hale. 
At an evening reception, when the Senator from New 


An Insult in High Society. 


Hampshire approached, escorting his wife and daugh¬ 
ter, the President spoke to the ladies, but deliberately 
turned his back upon Mr. Hale. This action by one 
so courteous as was General Pierce created much com¬ 
ment, and was the subject of earnest discussion in 
drawing-rooms as well as at the Capitol. 

Lewis Cass was born at Exeter, New Hampshire, October 9th, 1782; crossed the Allegany 
Mountains on foot when seventeen years of age to Ohio, where he commenced the practice of law ; 
was colonel of the Third Ohio Volunteers, which was a part of General Hull’s army, surrendered 
at Detroit, August 16th, 1812; was Governor of Michigan Territory, 1813-1831; was Secretary of 
War under President Jackson, 1831-1836; was Minister to France, October 4th, 1836, to November 
12th, 1842; was United States Senator from Michigan, December 1st, 1845, to May 29th, 1848; was 
defeated as the Democratic candidate for President in the fall of 1848; was elected to fill the vacancy 
in the Senate, occasioned by his own resignation, December 3d, 1849, to March 3d, 1857; was Sec¬ 
retary of State under President Buchanan, March 4th, 1857, to December 17th, i860, when he re¬ 
signed; retired to Detroit, Michigan, where he died, June 17th, 1866. 




C HARLES SUMNER had not spoken on the 
slavery question immediately on taking his 
seat in the Senate, and some of his abolition 
friends in Boston had began to fear that he, too, had 
been enchanted by the Circe of the South. Theodore 
Parker said, in a public speech : “I wish he had spoken 
long ago, but it is for him to decide, not us. ‘ A 
fool’s bolt is soon shot,’ while a wise man often reserves 
his fire.” But Senator Seward, who had been taught 
by experience how far a Northern man could go in op¬ 
position to the slave-power, advised him that “ retorted 
scorn ” would be impolitic and perhaps unsafe. 

Mr. Sumner, however, soon began to occupy the 
floor of the Senate Chamber when he could get an op¬ 
portunity. His speeches were able and exhaustive dis¬ 
quisitions, polished and repolished before their delivery, 
and arraigning the South in stately and measured sen¬ 
tences which contained stinging rebukes. The bold¬ 
ness of his language soon attracted public attention 
and secured his recognition as the chosen champion of 
Freedom. One afternoon, while he was speaking, Sen¬ 
ator Douglas, walking up and down behind the Presi- 

Sumner's Personal Appearance . 461 

dent’s chair in the old Senate Chamber and listening 
to him, remarked to a friend : “ Do you hear that man ? 
He may be a fool, but I tell you that man has pluck. 
I wonder whether he knows himself what he is doing ? 
I am not sure whether I should have the courage to say 
those things to the men who are scowling around him.” 

Mr. Sumner was at that time strikingly prepossess¬ 
ing in his appearance : 

“ Not that his dress attracted vulgar eyes, 

With Fashion’s gewgaws flauntingly display’d ; 

He had the bearing of the gentleman ; 

And nobleness of mind illumined his mien, 

Winning at once attention and respect.” 

He was over six feet in stature, with a broad chest and 
graceful manners. His features, though not perhaps 
strictly regular, were classical, and naturally of an ani¬ 
mated cast; his hazel eyes were somewhat inflamed by 
night-work; he wore no beard, except a small pair of 
side-whiskers, and his black hair lay in masses over 
his high forehead. I do not remember to have ever 
. seen two finer-looking men in Washington than 
Charles Sumner and Salmon P. Chase, as they came 
together to a dinner-party at the British Legation, each 
wearing a blue broadcloth dress-coat with gilt buttons, 
a white waistcoat, and black trowsers. 

The conservative Senators soon treated Mr. Sumner 
as a fanatic unfit to associate with them, and they re¬ 
fused him a place on any committee, as “ outside of 
any political organization.” This stimulated him in 
the preparation of a remarkable arraignment of the 
slave-power, which he called the “ crime against 
Kansas.” It was confidentially printed before its 
delivery that advance copies might be sent to distant 
cities, and nearly every one permitted to read it, includ- 

462 Perley's Reminiscences. 

ing Mr. William H. Seward, advised Mr. Sumner 
to tone down its offensive features. But he refused. 
He was not, as his friend Carl Schurz afterward re¬ 
marked, u conscious of the stinging force of the lan¬ 
guage he frequently employed,” “ and he was not unfre- 
qnently surprised, greatly surprised, when others found 
his language offensive.” He delivered the speech as it 
had been written and printed, occupying two days, and 

he provoked the South¬ 
ern Senators and their 
friends beyond mea¬ 

Preston S. Brooks, a 
tall, fine-looking Rep¬ 
resentative from South 
Carolina, who had 
served gallantly in the 
Mexican War, was in¬ 
cited to revenge cer¬ 
tain phrases used by 
Mr. Sumner, which he . 
was told reflected upon 
his uncle, Senator But¬ 
ler. Entering the Sen¬ 
ate Chamber one day 
after the adjournment, he went up to Mr. Sumner, who 
sat writing at his desk, with his head down, and dealt 
him several severe blows on the back of his head with 
a stout gutta-percha cane as he would have cut at him 
right and left with a dragoon’s broadsword. 

Mr. Sumner’s long legs were stretched beneath his 
desk, so that he was pinioned when he tried to rise, 
and the blood from the wound on his head blinded him. 
I11 his struggle he wrenched his desk from the floor, 


Sumner's Sufferings. 


to which it had been screwed, but before he could gain 
his feet his assailant had gratified his desire to punish 
him. Several persons had witnessed this murderous 
assault without interfering, and when Mr. Sumner, 
stunned and bleeding, was led to a sofa in the ante¬ 
room, Mr. Brooks was congratulated on what he had 

For two years Mr. Sumner was a great sufferer, but 
the people of Massa¬ 
chusetts, recognizing 
him as their champion, 
kept his empty chair 
in the Senate ready for 
him to occupy again 
when he became con¬ 
valescent. A chival¬ 
rous sympathy for him 
as he endured the 
cruel treatment pre¬ 
scribed by modern 
science contributed to 
his fame, and he be¬ 
came the leading 
champion of liberty in 
the impending conflict 
for freedom. Mr. Seward regarded the situation with a 
complacent optimism, Mr. Hale good-naturedly joked 
with the Southern Senators, and Mr. Chase drifted along 
with the current, all of them adorning but not in any 
way shaping the tide of events. With Mr. Sumner it 
was different, for he possessed that root of statesmanship 
•—the power of forethought. Although incapacitated 
for Senatorial duties, his earnest words, like the blast 
of a trumpet, echoed through the North, and he was 



Per ley's Reminiscences. 

recognized as the martyr-leader of the Republican 
party. The injury to his nervous system was great, 
but the effect of Brooks’ blows upon the slave-holding 
system was still more injurious. Before Mr. Sumner 
had resumed his seat both Senator Butler and Repre¬ 
sentative Brooks had passed away. 

The debate in the House of Representatives on a 
resolution censuring Mr. Brooks for his murderous 
attack (followed by his resignation and unanimous 
re-election) was marked by acrimonious altercations, 
with threats of personal violence by the excited South¬ 
erners, who found themselves on the defensive. Henry 
Wilson and other Northern Congressmen went about 
armed with revolvers, and gave notice that while they 
would not fight duels, they would defend themselves 
if attacked. Mr. Anson Burlingame, who had come 
from Michigan to complete his studies at Harvard 
College, married the daughter of a wealthy Boston 
merchant, and been elected to Congress by the Know- 
Nothings and Abolitionists, accepted a challenge from 
Mr. Brooks. He selected the Clifton House, on the 
Canadian shore of Niagara Falls, as the place of meet¬ 
ing, which the friends of Mr. Brooks declared was 
done that the duel could not take place, as Mr. Brooks 
could not pass through the Northern States, where he 
was so universally hated. Mr. Lewis D. Campbell, 
who was Mr. Burlingame’s second, repelled this insinu¬ 
ation, and was confident that his principal “ meant 

During the administration of President Pierce, Con¬ 
gress created the rank of Lieutenant-General, and 
General Scott received the appointment. He estab¬ 
lished his head-quarters at Washington, and ap¬ 
peared on several occasions in full uniform riding a 

Lieutenant-General Scott . 

availed himself of the opportunity to alienate General 
Scott from his Southern friends. 

While the Northern and Southern politicians u bit 
their thumbs” at each other, the followers and the 
opponents of Senator Douglas in the Democratic 


spirited charger. Colonel Jefferson Davis, then Secre¬ 
tary of War, and “Old; Chapultepec,” as Scott was 
familiarly called by army officers, did not get along 
harmoniously, and the President invariably sided with 
his Secretary of War. Mr. Seward, meanwhile, busily 

466 Perkys Reminiscences . 

ranks became equally hostile, and in some instances 
belligerent. 1 was then the associate editor of the 
Evening Stcu'i a lively local sheet owned and edited by 
Mr. Douglas Wallach. Walking along Pennsylvania 
Avenue one afternoon, I saw just before me Mr. 
Wallach engaged in an excited controversy with an 
elderly gentleman, who I afterward learned was Mr. 

“ Extra Billy ” Smith, an ex-Representative in Con¬ 
gress, who had grown rich by the extra allowances 
made to him as a mail contractor. Each was calling 
the other hard names in a loud tone of voice, and just 
as I reached them they clinched, wrestled for a moment, 
and then Smith threw Wallach heavily to the sidewalk. 
Sitting on his prostrate foe, Smith began to pummel 
him, but at the first blow Wallach got one of his 
antagonist’s thumbs into his mouth, where he held it 
as if it were in a vise. Smith roared, “ Let go my 
thumb! you are eating it to the bone!” Just then up 
came Mr. Keitt, of South Carolina, and Mr. Bocock, of 
Virginia, who went to the rescue of Smith, Keitt say¬ 
ing: “This is no way for gentlemen to settle their 
disputes,” as he forced Wallach s jaws apart, to re¬ 
lease the “ chawed-up ” thumb. Wallach was unin¬ 
jured, but for several weeks he went heavily armed, 
expecting that Smith would attack him. 

One day Mr. McMullen, of Virginia, in advocating 
the passage of a bill, alluded to some previous remarks 
of the gentleman from Ohio, not the one (Mr. Gid- 
dings) “ who bellowed so loudly,” he said, but to 
his sleek-headed colleague ” (Mr. Taylor). Mr Tay¬ 
lor, who was entering the hall just as this allusion was 
made to him, replied that he would rather have a sleek 
head than a blockhead. 

Mr. McMullen then said: “ I intended nothing per- 

None too much Sense . 


sonally offensive, wliicli no one ought to have known 
better than the gentleman himself. I made use of 
the remark at which the gentleman exhibited an undue 
degree of excitement to produce a little levity; neither 
of ns ought to complain of our heads. If united, there 
would not be more brains than enough for one common 


Senator Jones, of Tennessee, generally called “Lean 
Jimmy Jones,” was the only Democrat who ever tried 
to meet Mr. John P. Hale with his own weapons—ridi¬ 
cule and sarcasm. One day, after having been worsted 
in a verbal tilt, Mr. Jones sought revenge by telling a 
story as illustrating his opponent’s adroitness. There 
was a Kentuckian, he said, whose name was Sam Wil¬ 
son, who settled on the margin of the Mississippi 
River. He had to settle upon high lands, near swamps 

468 Perlejy^s Reminiscences . 

from ten to twenty miles wide. The swamps were 
filled with wild hogs, which were considered a species 
of public property that every man had a right to shoot, 
but they did not have a right thereby to shoot tame 

Sam had a very large family, and was known to en¬ 
tertain a mortal aversion to work. Yet he always lived 
well and had plenty of meat. It was inquired how 
Sam had always so much to eat ? Nobody saw him 
work. He used to hunt and walk about, and he had 
plenty of bacon constantly on hand. People began to 
suspect that Sam was not only shooting wild hogs, but 
sometimes tame ones; so they watched him a good 
deal to see whether they could not patch him. Sam, 
however, was too smart for them, and always evaded, 
just (said Mr. Jones) as the honorable Senator from 
New Hampshire does. Finally, old man Bailey was 
walking out one day looking after his hogs at the 
edge of the swamp, and he saw Sam going along 
quietly with his gun on his shoulder. Presently Sam’s 
rifle was fired. Bailey walked on to the cane-brake, as 
he knew he had a very fine hog there, and looking 
over he found Sam in the act of drawing out his knife 
to butcher it. Old man Bailey, slapping Sam on the 
shoulder, said, “ I have caught you at last.” “ Caught 
thunder!” said Sam; “ I will shoot all your blasted hogs 
that come biting at me in this way.” “That is the 
way,” Senator Jones went on to say, “ that the Senator 
from New Hampshire gets out of his scrapes.” 

Mrs. Pierce came to the White House sorrow-stricken 
by the sad death of her only child, but she bravely de¬ 
termined not to let her private griefs prevent the cus¬ 
tomary entertainments. During the sessions of Con¬ 
gress there was a state dinner once a week, to which 

Social Sensations . 


thirty-six guests were invited, and on other week-days 
half-a-dozen guests partook of the family dinner, at 
which no wine was served. There was also a morning 
and an evening reception every week in the season, at 
which Mrs. Pierce, dressed in deep mourning, received 
with the President. 

The evening receptions, which were equivalent to the 


drawing-rooms of foreign courts, were looked forward 
to with great interest by strangers and the young 
people, taxing the busy fingers of mantua-makers, 
while anxious fathers reluctantly loosened their purse¬ 
strings. Carriages and camelias were thenceforth in 
demand ; white kid gloves were kept on the store coun¬ 
ters ; and hair-dressers wished that, like the fabulous 
monster, they could each have a hundred hands capable 


Perlefs Reminiscences . 

of wielding the curling-tongs. When the evening 
arrived, hundreds of carriages might be seen hastening 
toward the spacious portico of the White House, under 
which they drove and sat down their freights. In 
Europe, it would have required at least a battalion of 
cavalry to have preserved order, but in Washington the 
coaches quietly fell into the file, and patiently awaited 
their turn. At the door, the ladies turned into the pri¬ 
vate dining-room, used as a dressing-room, from whence 
they soon emerged, nearly all of them in the full glory 
of evening toilet and radiant with smiles. Ealling 
into line, the visitors passed into the parlors, where 
they were received by President Pierce and his wife. 
Between the President and the door stood District Mar¬ 
shal Hoover and one of his deputies, who inquired the 
name of each unknown person, and introduced each 
one successively to the President. The names of 
strangers were generally misunderstood, and they were 
re-baptized, to their annoyance, but President Pierce, 
with winning cordiality, shook hands with each one, 
and put them directly at ease, chatting pleasantly until 
some one else came along, when he introduced them to 

his wife. 

Leaving the Presidential group and traversing the 
beautiful Green Drawing-room, the guests entered the 
famed East Room, which was filled with the talent, 
beauty, and fashion of the metropolis. Hundreds of 
either sex occupied the middle of the room or congre¬ 
gated around its walls, which enshrined a maelstrom of 
beauty, circling and ever changing, like the figures in 
a kaleidoscope. A prominent figure in these scenes 
was Edward Everett, cold-blooded and impassible, bright 
and lonely as the gilt weather-cock over the church in 
which he officiated ere he became a politician. John 

Van Suren's Receptions. 471 

Van Buren—“ Prince John,” he was called—was 
another notable, his conversation having the double 
charm of seeming to be thoroughly enjoyed by the 
speaker and at the same time to delight the listener. 
General Scott, in full uniform, was the beau ideal of a 
military hero, and with him were other brave officers of 
the army and of the navy, each one having his history 
ashore or afloat. 


The members of the Diplomatic Corps were marked 
by the crosses and ribbons which they wore at their 
buttonholes. Mr. Crampton, who represented Queen 
Victoria, was a noble specimen of the fine old English 
gentleman, personally popular, although he did not get 
along well with Secretary Marcy. The Count de 
Sartiges, who had recently married Miss Thorndike, of 
Boston, was an embodiment of French character, as 
Baron Von Gerolt was of the Prussian, and the little 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

Kingdom of Belgium had its diplomatist in the august 
person of Monsieur Henri Bosch Spencer. Senor don 
Calderon de la Barca, the Spanish Minister, was very 
popular, as was his gifted wife, so favorably known to 
American literature. As for the South American Re¬ 
publics, their representatives were generally well dressed 
and able to put a partner through a polka in a manner 
gratifying to her and to her anxious mamma. 

Then there were the office-seekers, restless, anxious, 
yet confident of obtaining some place of profit; the 
office-holders, many of whom saw in passing events the 
handwriting on the wall which announced their dis¬ 
missal ; the verdant visitors who had come to Washing¬ 
ton to see how the country was governed; and gener¬ 
ally a score of Indians with gay leggings, scarlet 
blankets, pouches worked with porcupine quills, and 
the full glory of war paint. The Marine Band dis¬ 
coursed sweet music, but no refreshments were offered, 
so, many of the gentlemen, after having escorted the 
ladies to their homes, repaired to the restaurants, where 
canvas-back ducks, wild turkeys, and venison steaks 
were discussed, with a running fire of champagne 
corks and comments on the evening. 

Secretary McClelland’^ series of evening receptions 
were thronged with the elite of the South, and at Sec¬ 
retary Guthrie’s one could see the majestic belles of 
Kentucky. The finest diplomatic entertainment was 
given by the Brazilian Minister, in honor of the birth¬ 
day of his imperial master, and the evenings when 
Madame Calderon de la Barca was “ at home ” always 
found her attractive drawing-rooms crowded. General 
Almonte, the Mexican Minister, was noted for his break¬ 
fast-parties, as was Senor Marcoleta, of Nicaragua, 
who was trying hard to have an interoceanic canal cut 

A Costly Frying Pan. 


through his country. Among the Congressmen, Gov¬ 
ernor Aiken, of South Carolina, gave the most elegant 
entertainments, at which the supper-table was orna¬ 
mented with a silver service, “ looted ” in after years by 
soldiers, with the exception of a large solid silver 
waiter, which was found in a swamp, propped up on 
four stones, and with a fire under it, some deserters 
having used it to fry bacon in. A gloom was cast over 
this gay society, however, by the sad fate of the wife of 
Mr. Justice Daniels, of the Supreme Court, whose 
clothes accidentally took fire, and burned her so terribly 
that she survived but a few hours. 

George Washington was born February 22d, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Va.; was public 
Surveyor when sixteen years of age; when nineteen was Military Inspector of one of the districts 
of Virginia; participated in the French and Indian war, 1753; Commander-in-Chief of the Colonial 
forces in 1755 ; married Mrs. Martha Custis, 1759 ; member of the Continental Congress, 1774 ; Com¬ 
mander-in-Chief of the Continental forces, 1775; resigned command, December 23d, 1783; Presi¬ 
dent of the United States, April 30th, 1789, to March 4th, 1797; died at Mount Vernon, December 
14th, 1799. 




M R. CUSHING conceived the idea of getting 
np a difficulty with Great Britain, as likely 
to advance the prospects of President Pierce 
for re-election, and to divert the attention of the people 
from the anti-slavery question. The pretext was the 
recruiting in the United States, under the direction of 
the British diplomatic and consular representatives 
of the Crown, of men for the regiments engaged in the 
Crimean War. 

Mr. Crampton, the British Minister, was a large, 
well-built man, with white hair and side whiskers, 
courtly manners and great conversational powers. His 
father had been a celebrated surgeon in Ireland, from 
whom he afterward inherited considerable property. 
He lived at Carolina Place, on Georgetown Heights, in 
good style, entertained liberally, rather cultivated the 
acquaintance of American artists and journalists, and 
was often seen going on an angling expedition to the 
Great Falls of the Potomac. He undoubtedly directed 
the objectionable recruiting without the slightest dip¬ 
lomatic skill. He seemed to go to work in the rough- 


Ministerial Misunderstandings . 475 

est and rudest manner to violate onr laws, as if he did 
not care a copper whether he was discovered or not, 
and to comment in coarse terms upon our institutions. 

Mr. Marcy, as Secretary of State, sent all the facts to 
Great Britain, his despatch closing with a peremptory 
demand for the recall of Mr. Crampton and the British 
Consuls at New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. 
Accompanying the despatch was an elaborate opinion 
by Attorney-General Cushing, who cited numerous 
precedents, and declared that the demand for the recall 
of those who had been accomplices in the violation of 
municipal and international laws should not be taken 
as a cause of offense by Great Britain. 

Monsieur de Sartiges, the French Minister, under¬ 
took to mediate between Mr. Crampton and Secretary 
Marcy. Calling at the Department of State, he repre¬ 
sented that the continuance of peaceful relations be¬ 
tween England and the United States was the earnest 
wish of his master, the Emperor, who, after his acces¬ 
sion to the throne of France, had personally, and 
through his representatives, evinced on every possible 
occasion a friendship to the Union. Mr. Marcy ex¬ 
pressed satisfaction at the assurance given, and re¬ 
marked that it did not correspond with other official 
statements which the United States had received from 
parties of reputable standing in their own country. 

The Minister promptly interposed and denied in the 
firmest manner the truth of any report adverse to the 
one which he had just made. The scene at this mo¬ 
ment, according to representation, must have been one 
of interest, for Mr. Marcy, rising from his seat, ex¬ 
cused his absence for a moment. He returned in a 
short time from an adjoining room with an original 
despatch in his hand, addressed to the Secretary of 

47 6 

Per ley's Reminiscences . 

War, Mr. Davis, which he opened, and by permission 
of M. Sartiges, commenced reading extracts. 

“ Now,” said Mr. Marcy, closing the document, 
a what I have just read to you is from a report of an 
army commission which was sent out by this Govern¬ 
ment for the benefit of science, and am I to understand 
from the free assurance that you have given, that his 
Majesty, the Emperor, was ignorant of the language 

used by his War 
Secretary to the 
officers of this 
mission,to whom 
he not only de¬ 
clined extending 
the courtesies so¬ 
licited, but added 
to the refusal 
an expression 
hoping ‘ that 
when they met 
it might be at 
the cannon’s 
month ’?” Mr. 
Marcy contin¬ 
ued: “This lan¬ 
guage is further 
corroborated by a despatch to this department from our 
Minister at Paris.” 

De Sartiges took a hurried leave, but sought revenge 
by making himself generally disagreeable. He had a 
row with Mr. Barney, a venerable ex-member of the 
House and a gentleman of the old school. At evening 
parties before leaving he would enter the drawing-room 
where ladies and gentlemen were assembled, with his 


“ Out of Thine Own Mouth .” 477 

hat on and a cigar in his mouth, which he would light 
by the chandelier. He also persisted in firing at cats 
and rats from the back windows of his house, thus en¬ 
dangering the lives of persons in the adjacent back 

Mr. Crampton was recalled and received a diplomatic 
promotion, going to St. Petersburg as Sir John Cramp- 
ton. While there, in 1861, he married a young daugh¬ 
ter of Balfe, who afterward procured a divorce, after a 
curious suit at law, tried before “ a jury of matrons.” 

England was forced to admit that Mr. Crampton’s 
conduct was u notoriously at war with the rights of 
neutrality and national honor.” This was not alto¬ 
gether pleasant to some of the old Nestors of the Sen¬ 
ate, who wanted once more to sound the war tocsin. 
General Cass, who had had a bad fall on the outside 
steps of the Department of the Interior, was “ eager for 
the fray;” the valiant Clayton, of Delaware, saw an 
opportunity to wipe out the stigma cast upon his treaty; 
and although the patriarchal Butler (owner of men- 
servants and maid-servants, flocks and herds) displayed 
the lily flag of peace in the Senatorial debate, it was 
as eccentric as were his wierd-like white locks. Lord 
Clarendon had then his hands full, but his successors 
took their revenge in 1862, when attempts were made 
to obtain recruits in Ireland for the Union Army. Mr. 
Cushing’s elaborate arguments against enlistments for 
a foreign power were copied and sent back to the De¬ 
partment of State at Washington. 

The diplomatic representatives of Queen and Czar, 
Emperor and Kaiser, were greatly troubled during the 
Crimean and other European wars, and it would not 
answer for them to be seen in friendly relations with 
each other. These foreign diplomats delude themselves 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

with, the belief that they play an important political 
part at Washington. So they do in the opinion of the 
marriageable damsels, who are flattered with their flir¬ 
tations, and in the estimation of snobbish sojourners, 
who glory in writing home that they have shaken 

hands with a lord, had a baron 
to dine with them, or loaned an 
attache a hundred dollars. But, 
in reality, they are the veriest 
supernumeraries in the political 
drama now being performed on 
the Washington stage. Should 
any difficulty arise with the for¬ 
eign powers they represent, spe¬ 
cial Ministers would be appointed 
to arrange it, and meanwhile the 
Corps Diplomatique “ give tone 
to society,” and is a potent 
power—in its own estimation. 

The various legations all ex¬ 
hibit their national characteris¬ 
tics. The British attaches rep¬ 
resent the Belgravian of the 
London magazines; their hair 
parted just a line off the exact 
centre, their soft eyes only one 
degree firmer than those of their 
sisters’, while their beautiful, 
long side-whiskers are wonderful to behold. The 
Spanish gentlemen one recognizes by their close- 
shorn black heads and smooth faces, all courtesy, in¬ 
evitable pride and secretiveness, eyes that, like those 
of their women, betray a hundred intrigues, because 
they seek to conceal so much. The exquisite polite- 


Courtesy to the Press. 


ness of the South Americans make you wonder if you 
really can be dust and ashes after this perfect deference, 
and their manners are marked by more vivacity than 
those of the Spanish people. The Russian diplomats 
have generally been on the most friendly terms with 
Congressmen and citizens generally, while the Prus¬ 
sians and the Frenchmen have had several little diffi¬ 
culties with the Department of State and with the 
residents of Washington. 

Although Mr. Marcy was unwilling to cater for the 
favor of the press to the extent which characterized 
the conduct of many other public men, he generally 
had a good word for the reporters and correspondents 

whom he met. “Well, Mr.-,” he would say, as he 

walked up the steps of his office in the morning, to 
some member of the press, who affected or had a great 
acquaintance with the secrets of State—“ Well, what is 
the news in the State Department ? You know I have 
always to go to the newspaper men to find out what is 
going on here.” At another time he would suggest a 
paragraph which, he would quizzically intimate, might 
produce an alarm in political circles, improvising, for 
example, at a party of Senator Seward’s, some story 
in the ordinary letter-writer style about Seward and 
Marcy being seen talking together, and ending with 
ominous speculations as to an approaching coalition, 
etc., in doing which he would happily hit off the 
writers for the press. 

Mr. Cushing was more accommodating. He would 
converse freely with those correspondents in whom he 
had confidence, and permit them to copy his opinions 
in advance of their delivery upon their pledges that 
they should not be printed before they were officially 
made public. He wrote a great many editorials, some- 


Perleyis Reminiscences . 

what ponderous and verbose, for the Washington 
Union , and the elaborate statements on executive mat¬ 
ters made by correspondents who enjoyed his favor 
were often dictated by him. 

Mr. Buchanan, removed from the intrigues of home 
politics, kept up an active correspondence with his 
friends. “ I expected,” he wrote to Mr. Henry A. 
Wise, u ere this to have heard from you. You ought 
to remember that I am now a stranger in a strange 
land, and that the letters of so valued a friend as your¬ 
self would be to me a source of peculiar pleasure. I 
never had any heart for this mission, and I know that 
I shall never enjoy it. Still, I am an optimist in my 
philosophy, and shall endeavor to make my sojourn 
here as useful to my country and as agreeable to 
myself as possible. 

u I have been in London,” Mr. Buchanan went on to 
say, u long enough to form an opinion that the English 
people generally are not friendly to the United States. 
They look upon us with jealous eyes, and the public 
journals generally, and especially the Leviathan Times , 
speak of us in terms of hostility. The Times is par¬ 
ticularly malignant, and as it notoriously desires to be 
the echo of public opinion, its language is the more 
significant. From all I can learn, almost every per¬ 
son denounces what they are pleased to call the crime 
of American slavery, and ridicules the idea that we 
can be considered a free people whilst it shall exist. 
They know nothing of the nature and character of 
slavery in the United States, and have no desire to 
learn. Should any public opportunity offer, I am fully 
prepared to say my say upon this subject, as I have 
already done privately in high quarters.” 

The first hotel in the District of Columbia was 

The Oldest Hotel . 


Suter’s Tavern, a long, low wooden building in 
Georgetown, kept by John Suter. Next came the 
Union Hotel there, kept by Crawford. The National 
Hotel in Washington was for some years under the 
management of Mr. Gadsby, who had previously been 


a noted landlord in Alexandria, and what was after¬ 
ward the Metropolitan Hotel was the Indian Queen, 
kept by the Browns, father and sons. Another hotel 
was built nearer the White House by Colonel John 
Tayloe, and was inherited by his son, Mr. B. Ogle 
3 * 

482 Perley's Reminiscences. 

Tayloe. It was not, however, pecuniarily successful, 
as it was thought to be too far up-town. Mrs. Tayloe, 
who was born at the North, used to visit her child¬ 
hood’s home every summer, and in traveling on one of 
those floating palaces, the day-boats on the Hudson 
River, she was struck with the business energy and 
desire to please everybody manifested by the steward. 
On her return Colonel Tayloe mentioned the want of 
success which had attended his hotel, and she remarked 
that if he could get Mr. Willard, the steward of the 


Albany steamer, as its landlord, there would be no fear 
as to its success. Mr. Tayloe wrote to Mr. Willard, a 
native of Westminster, Vermont, who came to Wash¬ 
ington, and was soon, in connection with his brother, E. 
D. Willard, in charge of Mr. Tayloe’s hotel, then 
called the City Hotel. The Willards gave to this es¬ 
tablishment the same attention which had character¬ 
ized their labors on board of the steamboat. They met 
their guests as they alighted from the stages in which 
they came to Washington. They stood at the head of 

Hotel Development , 


their dinner-tables, wearing white linen aprons, and 
carved the joints of meat, the turkeys, and the game. 
They were ever ready to courteously answer questions, 
and to do all in their power to make a sojourn at the 
City Hotel homelike and agreeable. 

Success crowned these efforts to please the public, 
and the City Hotel soon took the first rank among the 
caravanserais of the national metropolis. Mr. E. D. 
Willard retired, and Mr. Henry A. Willard took into 
partnership with him Mr. Joseph C. Willard, while 


another brother, Mr. Caleb C. Willard, became the land¬ 
lord of the popular Ebbitt House. In time it was de¬ 
termined to rebuild the hotel, which was done under 
the superintendence of Mr. Henry Willard, who 
was designed by nature for an architect. When the 
house was completed it was decided that it should be 
called thenceforth Willard’s Hotel, and about one hun¬ 
dred gentlemen were invited to a banquet given at its 
opening. After the cloth was removed, the health of 
the Messrs. Willard was proposed as the first toast, and 


Perkys Reminiscences. 

then Mr. Edward Everett was requested to make a 
reply. He spoke with his accustomed ease, saying 
that there are occasions when deeds speak louder than 
words, and this was one of them. Instead of Mr. Wil¬ 
lard returning thanks to the company present, it was 
the company that was under obligations to him. In 
fact, he thought that in paying their respects to Mr. 
Willard, they were but doing a duty, though certainly 
a duty most easily performed. “ There are few duties 
in life,” said Mr. Everett, “ that require less nerve than 
to come together and eat a good dinner. There is very 
little self-denial in that. Indeed, self-denial is not the 
principle which generally carries ns to a hotel, although 
it sometimes happens that we have to practice it while 
there.” Mr. Everett went on to say that under the 
roof which sheltered them he had passed a winter with 
John Quincy Adams, Chief Justice Marshall, Judge 
Story, Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Clay, and Mr. Webster. 
These were all gone, but with them he could name 
another then living, and not unworthy to be associated 
with them, Washington Irving. “ Think of men like 
these gathered together at the same time around the 
festive board under this roof! That was, indeed, the 
feast of reason, not merely the flash of merriment, 
which set the table in a roar, but that gushing out of 
convivial eloquence; that cheerful interchange of 
friendly feeling in which the politician and the parti¬ 
san are forgotten. Yes, gentlemen,” Mr. Everett went 
on to say, “ there were giants in those days ; giants in 
intellect, but in character and spirit they were gentle¬ 
men, and in their familiar intercourse with each other 
they had all the tenderness of brethren.’ 

The new hall of the House of Representatives 
was finished about this time. It was throughout 


486 Perkys Reminiscences . 

gayly decorated, and its ceiling glittered with gilding, 
but it was walled in from all direct communication 
with fresh air and sunlight. Captain Meigs, of the 
Engineer Corps, who had been intrusted by Secretary 
Davis with the erection of the wings, had added to the 
architect’s plans an encircling row of committee-rooms 
and clerical offices. Instead of ventilating the hall by 
windows, a system was adopted patterned after that 
tried in the English House of Commons, of pumping 
in air heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, 
and Captain Meigs had thermometers made, each one 
bearing his name and rank, in which the mercury 
could only ascend to ninety degrees and only fall to 
twenty-four degrees above zero. He thought that by 
his system of artificial ventilation it would never be 
hotter or colder than their limits ; but he was wofully 
mistaken, and immense sums have since been expended 
in endeavoring to remedy the deficient ventilation. 
The acoustic properties of the new hall were superior 
to those of the classic and grand old hall, but with that 
exception, the gaudily embellished new hall was less 
convenient, not so well lighted and ventilated, and far 
inferior in dignified appearance to the old one. 

Abbott Lawrence was born at Groton, Massachusetts, December 16th, 1792 ; was a Representa¬ 
tive in Congress from Massachusetts, 1835-1837, and 1839-1840 ; was Minister to Great Britain, 1849. 




T HE entrance of William Pitt Fessenden into 
the Senate Chamber was graphically sketched 
years afterward by Charles Sumner. “ He 
came,” said the Senator from Massachusetts, “ in the 
midst of that terrible debate on the Kansas and Ne¬ 
braska bill, by which the country was convulsed to its 
centre, and his arrival had the effect of a reinforcement 
on a field of battle. Those who stood for freedom then 
were few in numbers—not more than fourteen—while 
thirty-seven Senators in solid column voted to break 
the faith originally plighted to freedom, and to over¬ 
turn a time-honored landmark, opening that vast 
Mesopotamian region to the curse of slavery. Those 
anxious days are with difficulty comprehended by a 
Senate where freedom rules. One more in our small 
number was a sensible addition. We were no longer 
fourteen, but fifteen. His reputation at the bar, and 
his fame in the other House, gave assurance which 
was promptly sustained. He did not wait, but at once 
entered into the debate with all those resources which 
afterward became so famous. The scene that ensued 
exhibited his readiness and courage. While saying 



Perley's Reminiscences. 

that the people of the North were fatigued with the 
threat of disunion, that they considered it as ‘ mere 
noise and nothing else,’ he was interrupted by Mr. 
Butler, of South Carolina, always ready to speak for 
slavery, exclaiming, ‘ If such sentiments as yours pre¬ 
vail I want a dissolution right away ’—a characteristic 
intrusion doubly out of order. To which the new¬ 
comer rejoined, ‘Do not delay it on my account; do 

not delay it on account 
of anybody at the 
North.’ The effect was 
electric ; but this inci¬ 
dent was not alone. 
Douglas, Cass, and 
Butler interrupted on¬ 
ly to be worsted by 
one who had just rid¬ 
den into the lists. The 
feelings on the other 
side were expressed by 
the Senator from South 
Carolina, who, after 
one of the flashes of 
debate which he had 
provoked, exclaimed: 

‘ Very well, go on ; I have no hope of you !’ All 
this will be found in the Globe precisely as I give it, 
but the Globe could not picture the exciting scene— 
the Senator from Maine, erect, firm, immovable as a jut¬ 
ting promontory, against which the waves of ocean 
tossed and broke in dissolving spray. There he stood. 
Not a Senator, loving freedom, who did not feel on that 
day that a champion had come.” 

A most extraordinary claim was presented at Wash- 


An Immense Claim . 


ington during the Pierce Administration by Mr. 
Francis B. Hayes, a respectable attorney, who had 
Reverdy Johnson as his legal adviser. It was from the 
heirs of Sir William Alexander, the Earl of Stirling, 
who was regarded as the most brilliant man in the 
courts of James VI. and of Charles I. He received from 
these monarchs grants of an immense domain in North 
America, including, in addition to Nova Scotia, New 
Brunswick, Prince Edward’s Island, and Canada, a con¬ 
siderable portion of Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin, 
together with a strip of land reaching from the head¬ 
waters of Lake Superior to the Gulf of California, and 
“ the lands and bounds adjacent to the said Gulf on 
the west and south, whether they be found a part of 
the continent or mainland, or an island,” as it was 
thought they were, which was commonly called and 
distinguished by the name of California. 

The immensity of this land-claim was sufficient to 
defeat it, and it was asserted that the claimant, whose 
father had established his title to the Earldom of Stir¬ 
ling in the Scotch courts, was a pretender, and that the 
most important papers substantiating the claim were 
forgeries. Just then there appeared in Blackwood's 
Magazine an elaborate article of more than sixty pages, 
showing up the worthlessness of the claim, and the 
North American Review published a reply, in which it 
said: “If the present claimant is indeed (as we believe 
him to be) the legal representative of the first Earl, 
there can be no doubt that he is, morally speaking, en¬ 
titled to the principal and interest of the debt secured 
by royal bond to his ancestor, and that it would not be 
unworthy the magnanimity of both the British Govern¬ 
ment and our own to tender him some honorable con¬ 
sideration for the entire loss to his family, through the 


Per ley's Reminiscences . 

fortunes of war, of revenue and benefit from the bona 
fide and, for the times, immense outlay of his ancestor 
in the colonization of the Western wilderness.” No 
capitalists were found, however, who were willing to 
advance the funds for the prosecution of the claim, and 
Lord Stirling finally accepted a department clerkship, 
which he creditably filled. 

The last winter of President Pierce’s Administration 
was a very gay one at Washington. In addition to the 
official and public entertainments at the White House, 
Secretaries McClelland and Davis, and several of the 
foreign Ministers, gave elegant evening parties, the 
Southern element predominating in them. Senator 
Seward and Speaker Banks also gave evening recep¬ 
tions, and the leading Republicans generally congre¬ 
gated at the pleasant evening tea-parties at the resi¬ 
dence of Mr. Bailey, the editor of the Era , where Miss 
Dodge, afterward known in literature as u Gail Ham¬ 
ilton,” enlivened the cozy parlors with her sparkling 

The wedding of Judge Douglas was a social event. 
His first wife had been Miss Martin, a North Carolina 
lady, who was the mother of his two young sons, who 
inherited from her a plantation which had belonged to 
her father in Lawrence Connty, Mississippi, on which 
there were upward of a hundred slaves. The u Little 
Giant’s ” second wife was Miss Ada Cntts, a Washing¬ 
ton belle, the daughter of Richard Cutts, who was for 
twelve years a Representative from Maine when it was 
a district of Massachusetts, and afterward Comptroller 
of the Treasury. Miss Cutts was tall, very beautiful, 
and well qualified by education and deportment to ad¬ 
vance her husband’s political interests. She was a 
devout Roman Catholic, and they were married in a 



Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Roman Catholic Church, where the bridegroom did not 
seem at home. She had no children, and after having 
been for some years a widow, she was married a second 
time to Colonel Williams, of the Adjutant General’s 
Department of the Army. 

The last session under the Pierce Administration 
was a stormy one. Vice-President Breckinridge deliv¬ 
ered an eloquent address when the Senate removed into 
its new chamber, which was followed by angry debates 
on the tariff, the Pacific Railroad, the fish bounties, 
the admission of Minnesota, and the submarine tele- 
graph to England. 

In the House Mr. Banks won laurels as Speaker, 
displaying a thorough acquaintance with the intrica¬ 
cies of parliamentary rules and prompt action in those 
cases when excited Representatives sought to set pre¬ 
cedence at defiance. There was an investigation into a 
charge of bribery and corruption, made by Mr. Simon- 
ton, the correspondent of the New York Times , and he 
was kept in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms for 
not giving the facts upon which he had based his 
charges. It was evident to all, however, that Mr. 
Simonton was correct when he stated that “ a corrupt 
organization of Congressmen and certain lobby-agents 

With the exception of a few favored ones, the officers 
of the army were glad when the termination of the 
term of service of Colonel Jefferson Davis as Secretary 
of War approached. He had acted as though he was 
Commander-in-Chief, treating the heads of bureaus as 
if they were his orderlies, and directing everything, 
from a review down to the purchase of shoe-blacking. 
He also changed the patterns of uniforms, arms, and 
equipments several times, and it was after one of these 

New Regimentals. 


changes that he received a communication from Lieu¬ 
tenant Derby, well known in literary circles as John 
Phoenix, suggesting that each private have a stout iron 
hook projecting from a round plate, to be strongly 
sewed on the rear of his trousers. Illustrations showed 
the uses to which this hook could be put. In one, a 
soldier was shown on the march, carrying his effects 
suspended from this hook ; in another, a row of men 
were hung by their hooks on a fence, fast asleep ; in a 
third, a company was shown advancing in line of battle, 
each man having a rope attached to his hook, the other 
end of which was held by an officer in the rear, who 
could restrain him if he advanced too rapidly, or haul 
him back if he was wounded. When Secretary Davis 
received this he was in a towering rage, and he an¬ 
nounced that day at a Cabinet meeting that he intended 
to have Lieutenant Derby tried before a court-martial 
“ organized to convict ” and summarily dismissed. But 
the other Secretaries, who enjoyed the joke, convinced 
him that if the affair became public he would be 
laughed at, and he abandoned the prosecution of the 
daring artist-author. 

Mr. Healy came to Washington in the last winter of 
the Pierce Administration, and painted several capital 
portraits. Mr. Ames, of Boston, who exhibited a life¬ 
like portrait of Daniel Webster, and Mr. Powell also 
set up their easels, to execute orders. Captain East¬ 
man, of the army, was at work on the sketches for the 
illustrations of Schoolcraft’s great work on the Indians, 
and Mr. Charles Lanman, the author-artist, added to 
his already well-filled portfolios of landscapes. Mr. 
George West, known to fame as a painter of Chinese 
life, was engaged by Captain Meigs to paint prominent 
naval events in spaces in the elaborate frescoing on the 


A Virginia Barbecue. 


walls of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, but 
after he had completed two he refused to submit to the 
military rule of Meigs, and stopped work. What he 
had done was then painted out. An Italian fresco- 
painter, Mr. Brimidi, was more obedient to orders and 
willing to answer the roll-calls, so he was permitted to 
cover the interior walls of the new Capitol with his 
work—allegorical, historical, diabolical, and mytho¬ 

President Pierce was the most popular man person¬ 
ally that ever occupied the Presidential chair. When, 
in 1855, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad was com¬ 
pleted to Culpepper Court-House, Virginia, John S. 
Barbour, president of the road, invited a number of 
gentlemen to inspect it and partake of a barbecue. 
President Pierce, Mr. Bodisco, the Russian Minister, 
and other distinguished officials were of the invited 
guests. The party went to Alexandria by steamer, 
and on landing there found a train awaiting them, with 
a baggage-car fitted up as a lunch room. The Presi¬ 
dent was in excellent spirits, and when the excursion¬ 
ists reached the place where the barbecue was held, he 
enjoyed a succession of anecdotes told by the best story 
tellers of the party. The feast of barbecued meats 
was afterward enjoyed, and early in the afternoon the 
party again took the cars to return. On the return trip 
a gentleman with an enormous beard, having imbibed 
very freely, leaned his head on the back of the seat and 
went to sleep. A blind boy got in at one of the sta¬ 
tions, and moving along the aisle of the car, his hand 
came in contact with the man’s beard, which he mis¬ 
took for a lap-dog, and began to pat, saying, “ Pretty 
puppy, pretty puppy.” This attention disturbed the 
sleeper, who gave a loud snort, when the boy jumped 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

back, and said, “ You wouldn’t bite a blind boy, would 
you ?” President Pierce was much amused with this 
occurrence, and often spoke of it when he met those 
who had witnessed it with him. 

Mr. George W. Childs, then a courteous and genial 
book publisher in Philadelphia, endeavored to obtain 
from Congress an order for an edition of Dr. Kane’s 
work on the Arctic regions. The House passed the 
requisite resolution, but the Senate refused to concur, 
although it had ordered the publication of several ex¬ 
pensive accounts of explorations at the far West. The 
Congressional imprimatur was also refused to the re¬ 
port of the Hon. J. R. Bartlett, who was the civilian 
member of the Joint Commission which had established 
the new boundary between the United States and Mex¬ 
ico. He had refused to bow down and worship the 
“ brass coats and blue buttons ” of his military asso¬ 
ciates, so his valuable labors were ignored, while an 
enormous sum was expended in illustrating and pub¬ 
lishing the work of Major Emory, the ranking army 
officer on the Commission. 

Nathaniel Prentiss Banks was born at Waltham, Massachusetts, January 30th, 1816; was a 
Representative in Congress, December 5th, 1853, to December 4th, 1857, when he resigned, having 
served as Speaker in the Thirty-fourth Congress; was Governor of Massachusetts, January, 1858, 
to January, 1861; served throughout the war as major-general of volunteers ; was a Representative 
in Congress, December 4th, 1865, to March 3d, 1873, and again December 6th, 1875, to March 3d,, 
1877; was appointed United States Marshal for the district of Massachusetts. 




A S the time for the Presidential election of 1856 
approached, the Democrats, thoroughly alarmed 
by the situation, determined to make a last 
struggle for Southern supremacy, and Washington was 
agitated by the friends of the prominent candidates for 
the Democratic nomination for months before the 
National Convention at Cincinnati. 

President Pierce earnestly desired a renomination, 
and had distributed u executive patronage ” over the 
country in a way which he hoped would secure him a 
majority of the delegates. He had done all in his 
power to promote the interests of the South, but suc¬ 
cess had not crowned his efforts, and he was ungrate¬ 
fully dropped, as Daniel Webster had been before him. 

James Buchanan, then in the sixty-fifth year of 
his age, had started in public life as a Federalist, and 
in 1819 had united in a call for a public meeting to 
protest against the admission of Missouri as a slave 
State. But he had become converted to pro-slavery 
Democracy, and although he had been defeated three 
times in Democratic Conventions as a candidate for the 

32 497 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

Presidential nomination, he was regarded as the most 
“ available ” candidate by those who had been in past 
years identified with the Whigs. His political views 
are summed up in the following extract from one of 
his speeches in Congress: u If I know myself, I am a 
politician neither of the West nor the East, of the 
North nor of the South. I therefore shall forever 
avoid any expressions the direct tendency of which 
must be to create sectional jealousies, and at length 
disunion—that worst of all political calamities.” That 
he endeavored in his future career to act in accord¬ 
ance with this uncertain policy no candid mind can 

Stephen A. Douglas’ doctrine of “ squatter sover¬ 
eignty ” was repudiated by the Southern Democrats 
with but few exceptions. Bold, dashing, and energetic 
in all that he undertook, with almost superhuman 
powers of physical endurance, he even forced the ad¬ 
miration of men who did not agree with his opinions. 
No man ever lived in this country who could go before 
the masses “ on the stump,” and produce such a marked 
effect, and his personal magnetism won him many 
friends. One day the u Little Giant,” going up to Bev¬ 
erly Tucker, a prominent Virginia politician, threw 
his arm upon his shoulder, and said, in his impulsive 
way, “Bev., old boy, I love you.” “Douglas,” says 
Tucker, “will you always love me?” “Yes,” says 
Douglas, “ I will.” “ But,” persisted Tucker, “ will 
you love me when you get to be President ?” “ If I 

don’t, may I be blanked !” says Douglas. “ What do 
you want me to do for you?” “ Well,” says Tucker, 
“ when you get to be President, all I want you to do 
for me is to pick some public place, and put your arm 
around my neck, just as you are doing now, and call 

Leading Democrats . 


me BevJ” Douglas was much amused, and used to 
relate the circumstance with great glee. 

General Cass had a few faithful friends, and Henry 
A. Wise, of Virginia, who was a blatant Buchanan 
man, was not without hope that he himself might re¬ 
ceive the nomination. 

Many of the delegates to the Cincinnati Convention 
passed some time in Washington City. Massachusetts 
sent Charles Gordon 
Greene, the veteran 
editor of the Boston 
Post; Benjamin F. 

Butler, then known as 
a smart Lowell lawyer, 
and the old anti-Ma¬ 
son, Ben. F. Hallet, 
then United States Dis¬ 
trict Attorney. Among 
the Kentuckians were 
the gallant John C. 

Brekinridge, the pug¬ 
nacious Charles A. 

Wickliffe, J. W. Ste¬ 
venson, and T. C. 

McCreery, afterward 
Governors and Senators, and the courteous William C. 
Preston, afterward Minister to Spain. From Loui¬ 
siana were Senators Slidell and Benjamin, prominently 
connected with the Rebellion a few years later, and 
Pierre Soule. Florida was to be represented by Senator 
Yulee, of Israelitish extraction, who in early life spelled 
his name L-e-v-i. Then there were Vallandigham, of 
Ohio ; Captain Isaiah Rynders, of New York ; James 
S. Green, of Missouri; James A. Bayard, of Delaware, 


5 °° 

Per ley's Reminiscences. 

and other party magnates, who all expressed their 
desire to sink all personal grievances to secure victory. 

The Democrats met in Convention at Cincinnati, 
where the friends of each candidate had their headquar¬ 
ters, that of Mr. Douglas being graced by Dan Sickles, 
Tom Hyer, Isaiah Rynders, and other New York poli¬ 
ticians, while at a private house leased by Mr. S. M. 
Barlow, the claims of Buchanan were urged by Sena¬ 
tors Bayard, Benjamin, Bright, and Slidell. General 
Pierce had few friends beyond the holders of Federal 
offices, and General Cass received a cold support from 
a half-dozen old friends. 

The first two days were occupied in settling the 
claims of contestants to seats. The anti-Benton delegates 
from Missouri were admitted, and the New York 
wrangle was finally settled by adopting the minority 
report of the Committee on Credentials, which admit¬ 
ted both the “ Hards” and the “ Softs,” giving each 
half a vote. On the first ballot, Buchanan had one 
hundred and thirty-five votes, Pierce one hundred and 
twenty-three, Douglas thirty-three, and Cass five. The 
balloting was continued during four days, when, on the 
sixteenth ballot (the name of Pierce having been with¬ 
drawn), Buchanan received one hundred and sixty- 
eight votes, Douglas one hundred and twenty-one, and 
Cass four and a half. Mr. Richardson, of Illinois, then 
withdrew the name of Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Buchanan 
was unanimously nominated. The Convention then 
balloted for a candidate for Vice-President, and on the 
second ballot John C. Breckinridge was nominated. 

The Native Americans and the Republicans flattered 
themselves that the Democratic party had been reduced 
to a mere association of men, whose only aim was the 
spoils of victory. Indeed, Mr. Lewis D. Campbell, of 

“Non Comeatibus .” 501 

Ohio, asserted in a public speech that “were President 
Pierce to send out all his force of marshals and deputy 
marshals to find such a party, each one provided with a 
national search-warrant, they would fail to discover the 
fugitive ! It, too, has departed ! His marshals would 
have to make returns upon their writs similar to that 
of the Kentucky constable. A Kentucky fight once oc¬ 
curred at a tavern on 1 Bar Grass !’ One of the com¬ 
batants broke a whisky bottle over the head of his an¬ 
tagonist. The result was a State’s warrant. The de¬ 
fendant fled through a corn-field, over the creek, into a 
swamp, and there climbed a stump. Seating himself 
in the fork, he drew his ‘ bowie,’ and as the constable 
approached in pursuit, he addressed him : 

“ 1 Now, Mr. Constable, you want to take me, and I 
give you fair warning that if you attempt to climb this 
stump, by the Eternal! I’ll take you !’ The constable, 
who had been about the court-house enough to learn 
some of the technical terms used in returning writs, 
went back to the ’Squire’s office, and indorsed upon the 
warrant: 4 Non est inventus ! through fieldibus, across 
creekum, in swampum, up stumpum, non comeatibus !’ 
So it is with the old Jackson Democratic party—‘ non 
comeatibus!’ ” 

The Democratic party, however, was in a better con¬ 
dition than its opponents imagined. President Pierce 
entered heartily into the campaign, Jefferson Davis 
and Stephen A. Douglas worked shoulder to shoulder, 
and Mr. Buchanan proved to be a model candidate. 
When his old friend, Mr. Nahum Capen, of Boston, 
sent to him a campaign life for his indorsement he 
declined, saying: “After reflection and consultation, 
I stated in my letter of acceptance substantially that I 
would make no issues beyond the platform, and have, 


Perleyis Reminiscences . 

therefore, avoided giving my sanction to any publication 
containing opinions with which I might be identi¬ 
fied, and prove unsatisfactory to some portions of the 
Union. I must continue to stand on this ground.” 

The Governors of the Southern States were satisfied 
with the nomination of Mr. Buchanan, although the 
leading secessionists avowed their intention to avail 
themselves of the opportunity for organizing a rebellion 
which they hoped would prove a revolution. Officers 
of the army and navy, born at the South, or who had 
married Southern wives, were appealed to to stand by 
the States to which they first owed allegiance, and ac¬ 
cessions to those willing to desert the Union when their 
States called for their services were announced. Promi¬ 
nent among those officers who intimated their intention 
to serve Virginia rather than the Federal Government 
was Colonel Robert E. Lee. A Virginian by birth, he 
had married the only child of George Washington 
Parke Custis, and when not on duty away from Wash¬ 
ington he resided at “ Arlington.” On Sundays he 
worshiped in Christ Church, at Alexandria, occupying 
the family pew in which George Washington used to 

The National American Convention had met at 
Philadelphia on the 19th of February, and (after an 
exciting discussion of the slavery question, followed 
by the withdrawal of the Abolitionists) nominated Fill¬ 
more and Donelson. This ticket was adopted at an 
eminently respectable convention of the Whig leaders, 
then without followers, held at Baltimore on the 17th of 

Some of Mr. Seward’s friends desired to have him 
nominated by the Republicans at their National Con¬ 
vention, to be held at Philadelphia on the 17th of June, 

Washington's Church 


but Thurlow Weed saw that he could not receive as 
many votes as were cast for Scott in 1852, and advo¬ 
cated the nomination of John C. Fremont, the u Path- 


finder/’ whose young and pretty daughter might be 
seen every pleasant afternoon riding on horseback on 
Pennsylvania Avenue with her old grandfather, Colo¬ 
nel Thomas H. Benton. “Old Blair, of the Globe” 


Perleyis Reminiscences. 

and his two sons, Preston King, of New York, John 
Van Buren, and David Wilmot, with other distin¬ 
guished and disgruntled Democrats, with several clever 
young journalists, created a great enthusiasm for Colo¬ 
nel Fremont. Mr. Bailey, of the Washington Era , 
with a few old Whigs, advocated the nomination of 
Judge McLean, while Burlingame, at the head of the 
u Young America,” or Know Nothing branch of the 

party, endeavored to 
get up enthusiasm for 
Mr. Speaker Banks, 
“ the bobbin-boy.” 

When the Republi¬ 
can Convention met 
there were self-styled 
delegates from Dela¬ 
ware,Kentucky, Mary¬ 
land, and Virginia, but 
it was, in fact, a con¬ 
vention of nearly a 
thousand delegates 
from the free States. 
An informal ballot 
showed that Fremont 
had a large majority 
and he was unanimously nominated. Mr. Dayton, of 
New Jersey, was nominated as Vice-President, defeating 
Nathaniel P. Banks, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Sum¬ 
ner, and David Wilmot. 

The Republicans endeavored to revive the excite¬ 
ments of the Log Cabin campaign, and a considerable 
zeal was manifested by the Americans, the Democrats, 
and the Whigs, but Mr. Buchanan received the elec¬ 
toral votes of five large free States, and of every South- 


“Buck and Break" Chosen . 


era. State with the exception of Maryland, which gave 
its vote for Mr. Fillmore. Colonel Fremont received 
the vote of every Northern State with the exception of 
California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsyl¬ 
vania. Mr. Buchanan was astonished at the large 
vote which he had received, and he regarded this as a 
proof that what he called “ Abolition fanaticism ” had 
at last been checked. 

The electoral votes for President and Vice-President 
were counted, in accordance with the established cus¬ 
tom, in the Hall of the House of Representatives. 
The Senators went there in procession, advanced up 
the middle aisle, and took seats provided for them in 
the area in front of the Speaker’s chair, the Represen¬ 
tatives receiving them “ standing and in silence.” Mr. 
Speaker Banks handed his “gavel” to Judge Mason, 
President of the Senate pro tempore , and the venerable 
old fogies took arm-chairs in the area before the table. 
Senator Bigler, of Pennsylvania, with Messrs. Jones, 
of Tennessee, and Howard, of Ohio, duly appointed 
tellers, then took possession of the clerk’s desk, and 
the proceedings commenced. State by State, the Chair¬ 
man took the packages, broke the seals, and handed 
the documents to the tellers, by one of whom they 
were read. Maine led off with “ Fremont and Day- 
ton,” and for awhile it was all that way. But the 
Pathfinder stuck in the sands of New Jersey, and then 
“ Old Buck ” began to make a showing, varied by the 
Maryland vote for Millard Fillmore. Everything went 
along u beautiful,” and the vote had been announced by 
the tellers, when objection was made to the vote of Wis¬ 
consin, which was one day late, owing to a snow storm. 

A regular scene of confusion ensued, in which their 
high mightinesses, the Senators, became intensely 


Per ley's Reminiscences. 

aroused. The great Michigander growled like an angry 
bear, and old Judge Butler became terribly excited, his 
long hair standing out in every direction, like that of a 
doll charged with electric fluid. At last he led the van, 
and the Senators withdrew in great dudgeon, to cool off 
as they passed through the Rotunda. In due time 
they returned, however, and after a little talk the vote 
was officially announced. The Senate then retired, the 
House adjourned, and the country turned its expectant 
eyes toward the coming Administration. 

Winfield Scott was born at Petersburg, Virginia, June 13th, 1786; received a liberal educa¬ 
tion ; was admitted to the bar and practiced a few years; entered the army in 1808 as a captain 
of light artillery; commanded on the northern frontier and won the battle of Chippewa and Lundy s 
Lane in 1814; defeated Black Hawk in 1812 ; commanded in the Mexican campaign, which resulted 
in the capture of the City of Mexico in September, 1847; was defeated as the Whig candidate for 
President in 1852; was commissioned as Lieutenant-General in 1855, and died at New York, May 
29th, 1866. 




A FTER the election of Mr. Buchanan, his home 
at Lancaster, “ Wheatland,” was a political 
Mecca, to which leading Democrats from all 
sections made pilgrimages. Mr. Buchanan, who was 
experienced in public affairs, appointed his nephew, 
Mr. J. Buchanan Henry, a well-informed young gentle¬ 
man, recently admitted to the Philadelphia bar, as his 
private secretary, and made him indorse brief state¬ 
ments of their contents on each of the numerous letters 
of recommendation for office which he received. 

A few weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Buchanan 
visited Washington, that he might confer with his 
leading political friends. He entertained a large party 
of them at dinner at the National Hotel, after which 
nearly all of those present suffered from the effects of 
poison taken into their systems from an impure water 
supply, and some of them never recovered. 

Mr. Buchanan was accompanied, when he left his 
home to be inaugurated, by Miss Harriet Lane, his 
niece, a graceful blonde with auburn hair and violet 
eyes, who had passed a season in London when her 
uncle was the American Minister there, and who was 



Perley's Reminiscences, 

as discreet as she was handsome, amiable, and agree¬ 
able. With her, to aid in keeping house in the 
Executive Mansion, was “ Miss Hetty ” Parker, who 
had for years presided over Mr. Buchanan’s bach- 
elor’s-hall, and his private secretary, Mr. J. Buchanan 

On his arrival at Washington, Mr. Buchanan was 
taken to a suite of rooms prepared for him at the 
National Hotel, but he soon after went to the house 


of Mr. W. W. Corcoran, the generous founder of the 
Corcoran Gallery of Art, where he remained until his 
inauguration. On the morning after his arrival, the 
National Intelligencer gave the following as the proba¬ 
ble composition of his Cabinet: Secretary of State, 
Lewis Cass, of Michigan ; Secretary of the Treasury, 
Howell Cobb, of Georgia; Secretary of War, John B. 
Floyd, of Virginia ; Secretary of the Navy, Aaron V. 
Brown, of Tennessee; Secretary of the Interior, J. 
Thompson, of Mississippi; Postmaster-General, J. 

Starting the Administration. 509 

Glancy Jones, of Pennsylvania; Attorney-General, 
Isaac Toucey, of Connecticut. It was also said that 
Mr. Jones had declined, and that the position of Post¬ 
master-General had been tendered to W. C. Alexander, 
of New Jersey. This programme, arranged by Mr. 
Buchanan before he had left his home, was but slightly 
changed. Mr. Toucey was made Secretary of the 
Navy, Aaron V. Brown, Postmaster-General, and Jere 
Black was brought in as Attorney-General. But these 


carefully made arrangements failed to beget confidence. 
Republicans were defiant, as were men of the domi¬ 
nant party, and everywhere were apprehensions. 

The inaugural message had been written at Wheat- 
land, where Mr. J. Buchanan Henry had copied Mr. 
Buchanan’s drafts and re-copied them with alterations 
and amendments, until the document was satisfactory. 
It met the approval of the selected Cabinet when read 
to them at Washington, the only change being the in- 

Perley's Reminiscences. 


sertion of a clause shadowing the forthcoming Dred 
Scott decision by the Supreme Court as one that would 
dispose of a vexed and troublesome topic by the high¬ 
est authority. 

It was also arranged that Mr. Buchanan’s friend, 
Mr. John Appleton, who had represented the Portland 
district in Congress, and had served as Minister to Bo¬ 
livia and as Secretary of Legation at Paris, should edit 
the Washington Union , which was to be the “ organ ” 


of the new Administration. Mr. Appleton’s salary, 
with the other expenses of the paper above its receipts, 
were to be paid by Mr. Cornelius Wendell, as a consid¬ 
eration for the printing and binding for the Executive 

Major Heiss, who had made sixty thousand dollars 
on the public printing, and then lost forty thousand 
dollars in publishing the New Orleans Delta , estab¬ 
lished a paper called The States , which was to be the 
organ of the filibusters and the secessionists. He was 

The Gathering Guests. 

5 11 

aided by Major Harris, a son-in-law of General Arm¬ 
strong, who had made his fortune while Senate Printer, 
other parties doing the work for about half of what 
was paid for it. Mr. Henri Watterson, who had been 
born at Washington, while his father represented a 
Tennessee district in the House, commenced his bril¬ 
liant editorial career as a reporter on The States. 

At midnight on the third of March, the fine band of 
P. S. Gilmore, which had accompanied the Charles¬ 
town City Guard to Washington, formed in front of 
Mr. Corcoran’s house, beneath the windows of the 
chamber occupied by Mr. Buchanan, and played “ Hail 
to the Chief,” followed by the “ Star Spangled Ban¬ 
ner ” and “ Hail Columbia.” The city was filled that 
night with strangers, many of whom could not find 
sleeping-places. Bvery hotel was crammed, every 
boarding-house was crowded, private houses were full, 
and even the circus tent was turned into a dormitory 
at fifty cents a head. 

Congress was in session all night, and the Capitol 
was crowded. Just prior to the final adjournment of 
the House, the newspaper correspondents, who had re¬ 
ceived many courtesies from Mr. Speaker Banks, united 
in writing him a letter of thanks. In his reply he 
said: “ The industry and early intelligence which 
gave value to your labors are often the subject of com¬ 
mendation, and to this I am happy to add that, so far 
as I am able to judge, you have been guided as much by 
a desire to do justice to individuals as to promote the 
public weal.” 

The sun rose in a fog and was greeted by a salute 
from the Navy Yard and the Arsenal, while the rattling 
notes of the u reveille ” were heard on all sides, and 
hundreds of large American flags were displayed from 

5 12 

Perley's Reminiscences , 


The departments were closed, and the clerks were 
anxiously discussing the probability of a rotation in 
office which would force them to seek other employ¬ 

As noon approached, carriages conveyed the privi- 

public and private buildings. The streets were filled 
with soldiers, firemen, badge-bedecked politicians, and 
delighted negroes. Well-mounted staff officers and 
marshals galloped to and fro, directing military and 
civic organizations to their positions in the procession. 

The Inaugural Procession. 


leged few to the Capitol, where, at “ high twelve,” the 
gallant and gifted John C. Breckinridge solemnly 
swore to protect and defend the Constitution. He then 
administered the same oath to Jefferson Davis and 
other new Senators. 

Meanwhile that gallant Mexican War veteran, Gen¬ 
eral Quitman, who commanded the military, had been 
formally received, and had given the word “March!” 
Colonel W. W. Selden, the Chief Marshal, had at least 
thirty gentlemen as aides, all finely mounted and 
handsomely attired, with uniform sashes and saddle¬ 
cloths, forming a gallant troop. At the head of the 
column was the Light Battery K, of the First Regular 
Artillery, commanded by Major William H. French. 
Next came a battalion of marines, headed by the full 
Marine Band, in their showy scarlet uniforms. Twenty- 
four companies of volunteer militia followed, promi¬ 
nent among them the Albany Burgess Corps, with 
Dodworth’s Band; the Charlestown City Guard, with 
Gilmore’s Band ; the Lancaster Fencibles ; the Willard 
Guard, from Auburn, New York; the Law Grays, and 
a German Rifle Company, from Baltimore. 

Following the escort, in an open carriage drawn by 
two fine gray horses, sat President Pierce and Presi¬ 
dent-elect Buchanan. Flowers were thrown into the 
carriage as it passed along, and cheers drowned the 
music of the bands. The carriage was followed by 
political clubs from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, 
and Lancaster, each having its band and banners. The 
Washington Democratic Association had a decorated 
car, drawn by six horses, from which rose a liberty 
pole seventy feet high, carrying a large American flag. 
This and a full-rigged miniature ship-of-war were 
gotten up at the Washington Navy Yard. 


^ ^ Per ley's Rem in iscences. 

On reaching the Capitol, Mr. Buchanan was escorted 
to the Senate Chamber. Mr. Breckinridge had been 
sworn in as Vice-President, and a procession was soon 
formed with him at its head, which moved to the plat¬ 

form erected in the usual place over the steps of the 
eastern portico. As he came out, dressed with his 
habitual precision in a suit of black, and towering 
above the surrounding throng, the thoughtful gravity 
of his features hushed the impatient crowd. There 

The Bachelor President. 

was a second of intense quiet, then cheer after cheer 
rent the air. Soon he was surrounded by the mag¬ 
nates of the land, civil, military, and naval, with the 
Diplomatic Corps and a number of elegantly dressed 
ladies. Advancing to the front of the platform, he 
read his inaugural address from manuscript in a clear, 
distinct tone, and when he had concluded, reverentially 
took the oath of office, which, as with several of his 
predecessors, was administered by the venerable Chief 
Justice Taney. The cheers of the multitude were 


echoed by a President’s salute, fired by the Light 
Artillery near by, and repeated at the Navy Yard and 
at the Arsenal. The procession was then re-formed 
and escorted the President to the White House, where 
he held an impromptu reception. 

As there was no hall in Washington large enough 
to contain more than six hundred people, a temporary 
annex to the City Hall was erected by the managers 
of the Inauguration Ball. The interior was decorated 
with the flags of all nations, and the ceiling was of 

Perley's Reminiscences. 


white cloth, studded with golden stars, which twinkled 
as they were moved in unison with the measure of the 
dancers below, and reflected the blaze of light from 
large gas chandeliers. 

Mr. Buchanan arrived about eleven o’clock, accom¬ 
panied by Miss Lane, and was received by Major Ma- 
gruder, who very discreetly spared him the infliction 
of a speech. Miss Lane wore a white dress trimmed 
with artificial flowers, similar to those which orna¬ 
mented her hair, and clasping her throat was a neck¬ 
lace of many strands of sea pearls. She was escorted 
by Senator Jones and the venerable General Jessup, in 
full uniform. 

The most Deautifui among the many ladies present 
was the wife of Senator Douglas, who was dressed in 
bridal white, with a cluster of orange-blossoms on her 
classically formed head. Senators Cameron and Dixon, 
with their wives, were the only Republican members of 
the upper house present, but there was no lack of 
those from sunnier climes, with their ladies, among 
whom Mrs. Slidell, who was something of an oracle in 
political circles, was conspicuous. Mrs. Senator Thomp¬ 
son, of New Jersey, dressed in white, with silver orna¬ 
ments, was much admired. The ladies of the Diplo¬ 
matic Corps were elegantly attired, especially Madame 
de Sartiges, the wife of the French Minister. Presi¬ 
dent Buchanan and suite were first admitted, with the 
Committee, to the supper-table. Dancing was kept up 
until daylight, and although the consumption* of 
punch, wines, and liquors was great, there were no 
signs of intoxication. 

Two days after Mr. Buchanan was inaugurated 
Chief Justice Taney, of the Supreme Court, gave a de¬ 
cision in the Dred Scott case, in which he virtually de- 

Dred Scott. 


dared that “ negroes have no rights which white men 
are bound to respect.” Dred Scott had been a slave in 
Missouri, belonging to Dr. Emerson, a surgeon in the 
United States Army, who had taken him, in the per¬ 
formance of his official duties, to Illinois, and thence 
to Minnesota. Returning with him to Missouri, Dred 
Scott was whipped, and claiming that he had secured 
his freedom by a residence in a free State and a free 
Territory, he brought suit for assault and battery. 
Meanwhile Dr. Emerson died, leaving to his widow 
and to his only daughter a considerable slave property, 
among them Dred Scott. Mrs. Emerson afterward 
married Dr. Calvin C. Chaffee, who came into Con¬ 
gress on the Know-Nothing wave and afterward be¬ 
came a Republican. The suit brought by Dred Scott 
was defended by the administrator of the Emerson 
estate, on behalf and with the consent of the wife of 
Dr. Chaffee and her daughter, who were the heirs-at- 
law. The final decision of the Supreme Court that 
Dred Scott was not a citizen of the United States and 
could not sue in the United States Court remanded 
him and his family to the chattelhood of Mrs. Chaffee. 
This decision was a great victory for the South, as it 
not only reduced all persons of African descent to a 
level with inanimate property, but asserted that a 
slave-holder could go to any part of the country, tak¬ 
ing his slaves and preserving his ownership in them. 

Mr. Justice B. R. Curtis, who had been appointed by 
President Fillmore on the recommendation of Daniel 
Webster, dissented. He furnished a copy of his dis¬ 
senting opinion for publication in the newspapers, but 
the majority opinion was not forthcoming, and the 
clerk of the court said that the Chief Justice had for¬ 
bidden its delivery. Shortly afterward, Judge Curtis, 

518 Perley's Reminiscences. 

having heard that extensive alterations had been made 
in the majority opinion, sent from Boston to Washing¬ 
ton, being himself then in Massachusetts, for a copy. 
He was refused. A long and bitter correspondence 
ensued between him and Judge Taney. He claimed 
the right, which he undoubtedly possessed, to consult 
the record for the further discharge of his official 
duties. Judge Taney denied the right, and obtained 
an order of court forbidding anybody to see the opin¬ 
ion before its official publication in the Reports. The 
clerk of the court finally offered to supply manuscript 
copies of the decision at seven hundred and fifty dol¬ 
lars each, but the indefatigable Cornelius Wendell suc¬ 
ceeded in obtaining a copy and printed a large edition 
in pamphlet form for gratuitous distribution. 

John Buchanan Floyd was born in Montgomery County, Va., in 1805; was Governor of Vir¬ 
ginia, 1850-1853; was Secretary of War under President Buchanan, 1857-1860 * was a Confederate 
brigadier-general, 1861-1863 ; died at Abingdon, Va., August 26th, 1863. 




P RESIDENT BUCHANAN was virtually his 
own Secretary of State, although he had cour¬ 
teously placed his defeated rival, General Cass, 
at the head of the State Department. Nearly all of 
the important diplomatic correspondence, however, was 
dictated by Mr. Buchanan, who had, like Jefferson and 
John Quincy Adams, served as Secretary of State, and 
who was thoroughly versed in foreign relations. Gen¬ 
eral Thomas, the Assistant Secretary of State, was 
soon dismissed, and Mr. John Appleton was persuaded 
to leave the editorial chair of the Washington Union 
and take his place. 

The British Government, which had pleasant per¬ 
sonal recollections of Mr. Buchanan, promptly sent 
Lord Napier as Minister Plenipotentiary, no successor 
to the dismissed Sir John Crampton having been 


accredited during the Administration of President 
Pierce. The new Minister was a Scotchman by birth, 
slender in figure, with light hair and blue eyes, and 
thoroughly trained in British diplomacy. He was an 
especial protege of Lord Palmerston, and Lord Claren- 



Per ley's Reminiscences . 

don had placed the olive-branch in his hand with his 
instructions. The press of England proclaimed that 
he had instructions to render himself acceptable to the 
Government and the people of the United States, and 
to do all in his power to promote kind feelings between 
the two countries. Soon after he landed at New York 
he made a speech at the annual dinner of the St. 
George’s Society, in which he repudiated the previous 
distrustful and vexatious policy of the British Foreign 
Office toward the United States, and declared that the 
interests of the two countries were so completely iden¬ 
tified that their policy should never be at variance. 

The claim by Great Britain of the right to search 
vessels belonging to the United States which her naval 
officers might suspect to be slave-traders, and the es¬ 
tablishment of a British protectorate over the Mosquito 
coast, in defiance of the Monroe Doctrine, were knotty 
questions. Lord Napier, evidently, was not capable of 
conducting the negotiations on them in a manner sat¬ 
isfactory to Lord Palmerston, who sent to Washington 
as his adviser Sir William Gore Ouseley, a veteran dip¬ 
lomat. He was not in any way accredited to the 
United States Government, but was named Special 
Minister to Central America, and stopped at Washing¬ 
ton on his way there, renting the Madison House, on 
Lafayette Square, and entertaining with great liber¬ 

Sir William Gore Ouseley, who was a Knight Com¬ 
mander of the Bath, had resided at Washington as an 
attache to the British Legation forty years previously, 
while Mr. (Vaughan was Minister, and had then en¬ 
tered personally into a treaty of permanent peace and 
amity with the United States by marrying the daugh¬ 
ter of Governor Van Ness, of Vermont. Miss Van 

Leading Society . 


Ness was a young lady of great beauty, residing at the 
metropolis with her uncle, General Van Ness, at one 
time the Mayor of Washington. Sir William after¬ 
ward visited Persia as the historian of the embassy of 
his uncle, Sir Gore Ouseley, and his published work 
contained much new information in relation to that 
then almost unknown portion of the world. He had 
afterward been connected with the British Legations in 
Spain, Brazil, and Buenos Ayres, and his acquaintance 
with the Spanish race, language, and literature was 
probably equal, if not superior, to that of any other 
Englishman. He was the author of a valuable work 
on the United States, and also of an expensive and 
illustrated volume on the scenery of Brazil. 

It was doubtless due to considerations such as these, 
the special acquaintanceship of this veteran diplomat 
with the character, circumstances, and views of the 
several nationalities involved in the difficulties to be 
arranged, which had prevailed over mere political affin¬ 
ities and induced his selection by Lord Palmerston for 
the errand on which he came to Washington. His 
personal relations with Lord Napier were very friendly, 
and Mr. Buchanan was the friend of both, having 
known Lady Ouseley before her marriage. For some 
months the Ouseleys were prominent in Washington 
society. Lady Ouseley frequently had the honor of 
being escorted by the President in her afternoon walks, 
sometimes attended by her daughter, who wore the first 
crimson balmoral petticoat seen in Washington. When 
President Buchanan and Miss Lane took their summer 
bight for Bedford Springs, the Ouseleys were their 
traveling companions, sharing their private table, and 
their entertainments at Washington were numerous 
and expensive. 

522 Per leys Reminiscences . 

At one of these, Lady Ouseley wore a rich, blue bro¬ 
cade trimmed with Honiton lace, with a wreath of blue 
flowers upon her hair, fastened at each side by a dia¬ 
mond brooch; Miss Lane, the President’s niece, wore a * 
dress of black tulle, ornamented with bunches of gold, 
leaves, and a head-dress of gold grapes ; Miss Cass, the 
stately daughter of the Premier of the Administration,, 
was magnificently attired in pearl-colored silk, with 

point-lace flounces, but 
wore no j ewelry of any 
kind; Mrs. Brown, the 
wife of the Postmaster- 
General, wore a rich 
pink silk dress, with 
pink roses in her hair; 
Mrs. Thompson, the 
wife of the 
of the Interior, wore a 
pink silk dress with 
lace flounces, and a 
head-dress of pink 
flowers; Madame Sar- 
tiges, the wife of the 
French Minister, wore 
a rich chene silk, and 
was accompanied with her niece, dressed in pink tarla¬ 
tan ; Madame Stoeckl, the wife of the Russian Minister, 
looked as stately as a queen and beautiful as a Hebe 
in a dress of white silk, with black lace flounces, cherry- 
colored flowers, and gold beads; Miss Schambangh, of 
Philadelphia, who was called the handsomest woman in 
the United States, wore a white-flounced tarlatan dress 
trimmed with festoons of dark chenille, with a head¬ 
dress of red japonicas ; Mrs. Pendleton, the wife of the 



How they Dressed. 


Representative from the Cincinnati District, wore a 
white silk skirt with a blue tunic trimmed with bright 
colors; Mrs. McQueen, the wife of a South Carolina 
Representative, wore a rich black velvet, and Mrs. 
Boyce, from the same State, wore a lilac silk dress 
trimmed with black illusion; Mrs. Sickles, wife of the 
Representative from New York, wore a blue silk dress, 
with rich point lace flowers, and was accompanied by 
her mother, who wore 
a lavender brocade 
dress, woven with gold 
and silver flowers, and 
Miss Woodbury, a 
daughter of the late 
J udge W oodbury, wore 
a black tarlatan dress 
over black silk, with 
a head-dress of gilt 

Among the gentle¬ 
men present were Lord 
Napier, Edward Eve¬ 
rett, Secretary Thomp¬ 
son, Senator Mason, 

Representatives Keitt, 

Miles, Boyce, McQueen, Clingman, and Ward; Cap¬ 
tains Ringgold and Goldsborough, of the navy; Gen¬ 
eral Harney and Colonel Hardee, of the army, and a 
number of others. 

The commencement of Mr. Buchanan’s Administra¬ 
tion was distinguished by the number of social enter¬ 
tainments given in Washington. It was then as in 
Paris just before the Revolution of 1830, when Talley¬ 
rand said to the crafty Louis Philippe, at one of his 



Perleyis Reminiscences. 

Palais Royal balls : “We are dancing on a volcano.” 
The hidden fires of coming revolution were smoldering 
at the Capitol; but in the drawing-rooms of the me¬ 
tropolis the Topeka Gnelphs cordially fraternized with 
the Lecompton Ghibellines night after night, very much 
as the lawyers of Western circuits who, after having 
abused each other all day in bad English, met at night 
in the judge’s room to indulge in libations of bad liquor. 
Even when Lent came, instead of going to church, in 
obedience to the chimes of consecrated bells, society 
kept on with its entertainments. 

Among the most prominent houses were those of the 
Postmaster-General, Mr. Aaron V. Brown, whose wife 
was assisted by the daughter of her first marriage, Miss 
Narcissa Sanders. At Secretary Thompson’s a full- 
length portrait of “ Old Hickory,” by Sully, kept watch 
and ward of the refreshment table. The connected 
houses occupied by Secretary CasSj afterward the Ar¬ 
lington Hotel, were adorned with many rare works of 
art, brought by him from the Old World. Senators 
Gwinn, of California, Thompson, of New Jersey, and 
Clay, of Alabama, with Governor Aiken, of South 
Carolina, also entertained frequently and generously. 
At the supper-tables wild turkeys, prairie-hens, par¬ 
tridges, quails, reed birds, chicken and lobster salads, 
terrapin, oysters, ice-creams and confectionery were 
furnished in profusion, while champagne, sherry, and 
punch were always abundant. 

Among choice bits of scandal then afloat was one 
at the expense of a lady who prided herself on the 
exclusiveness of the society which graced her salons. 
A doMble-distilled-F.-F.-V ., no one could obtain invi¬ 
tations to her parties whose ecusson did not bear the 
quartering of some old family, and thus these enter- 

A Gallant Cook. 


tainments were accused of resembling the tournaments 
of ancient times, to which the guests were led, not from 
any prospect of amusement, but merely to prove their 
right to ennuyer themselves en bonne compagnie. For¬ 

eigners, however, were always welcome, and one of the 
“ pets,” a romantic looking young Frenchman, who 
was quite handsome and made a great sensation in 
fashionable society, avoided the Legation as represen¬ 
ting a usurper, and 
therefore quite un¬ 
worthy the atten¬ 
tion of one like 
himself, of the 
“vieille roche.” 

The young man, 
somewhat in mys¬ 
tery, assumed the 
dignity of Louis 
Quatorze in his 
earlier days, and 
his decisions on all 
fashionable mat¬ 
ters were law. 

Where he lived no 


one exactly knew, 

as his letters were left in Willard’s card-basket, but 

his aristocratic protector persuaded Gautier to let her 
look at the furnaces of his restaurant-kitchen, and 
there—must it be said?—she found M. le Compte, in 
white apron and paper cap, constructing a mayonnaise. 
“ This young man is my best cook,” said Gautier, but 
the lady did not wait to receive his salutations. 

The wild hunt after office was kept up during the 


Bad Penmanship . 


■summer and fall after Mr. Buchanan’s inauguration, 
fortunate men occasionally drawing place-prizes in the 
Government lottery, One of the best jokes about 
applicants for office was told at the expense of a Bos¬ 
tonian, who presented, among other papers, a copy of 
a letter to Mr. Buchanan from Rufus Choate, with a 
note stating that he sent a copy because he knew that 
the President could never decipher the original, and he 
had left blanks for some words which he could not him¬ 
self transcribe. 

Governor Geary had returned from Kansas, dis¬ 
gusted with the condition of things there, and had 
been replaced as Governor by Robert J. Walker, who 
was expected to play the part of u wrong’s redresser,” 
as the Prince did in Verona when called to settle the 
difficulties between the Montagues and the Capulets. 

Peter Force was born at Passaic Falls, N. J., November 26th, 1790; became a printer and jour¬ 
nalist at Washington; collfected and published many volumes of American documentary history; 
was Mayor of Washington, 1836-1840; died at Washington, D. C., January 23d, 1868 



—MEETING OF the house—election of speaker—investigation 


G eneral thomas j. rusk, united states 

Senator from Texas, who had fought bravely 
at the battle of San Jacinto, had committed 
suicide during the summer. He had been elected 
President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Senate 
elected as his successor Senator Fitzpatrick, of Ala¬ 
bama, a tall, fine-looking man, whose wife was a great 
favorite in Washington society. He received twenty- 
eight votes, Mr. Hamlin receiving nineteen votes, and 
voting himself for Mr. Seward, which showed the Re¬ 
publican strength in the Senate to be twenty. 

The leader of the Southern forces in the Senate was 
Mr. John Slidell, who was born in New York, but found 
his way, when young, to New Orleans, where he soon 
identified himself with the Creole population and be¬ 
came noted as a political manager. His organization 
of the colonization of the Plaquemine Parish, by a 
steamboat load of roughs from New Orleans, secured 
the defeat of Henry Clay in Louisiana and virtually 
prevented his election as President. Wealthy, and 
without conscientious scruples on political matters he 

Oration by the Little Giant . 


was well-fitted for the leading position in the formation 
of the Southern Confederacy, which he obtained; but 
President Davis took good care to send him abroad, 
knowing that if he could not rule the Confederacy he 
would take the first occasion to ruin it. What he 
lacked in positive intellect he more than made up • in 
prudence, industry, and energy. 

On the third day of the session Mr. Douglas gave 
notice that he would 
the next afternoon de¬ 
fine his position on the 
Kansas question. The 
announcement brought 
crowds to the Senate 
Chamber. Every Sena¬ 
tor was in his seat; 
every past or present 
dignitary who could 
claim a right to u the 
floor ” was there, and 
the galleries were pack¬ 
ed with spectators, Mrs. 

Douglas prominent 
among the fairer por¬ 
tion of them. The 
“Little Giant” was neatly dressed in a full suit of 
black, and rose to speak at his seat, which was about in 
the middle of the desks on the right of the President’s 
chair, where the Democrats sat. He spoke boldly and 
decidedly, though with a studied courtesy toward the 
President. There was a great difference between the 
question of popular sovereignty as advocated by Mr. 
Douglas, and the great question of human freedom for 
which Mr. Sumner and other Representatives of North- 




Perleyis Reminiscences. 

ern sentiments were stoutly battling. After Mr. Doug¬ 
las had concluded, Mr. Brown, of Mississippi, congratu¬ 
lated Mr. Henry Wilson on the “ new Republican 
ally,” and many other bitter things were said about 
him by the Southrons, but the bon mot of the day was 
by Senator Wade: “ Never,” said he, “ have I seen a 
slave insurrection before.” 

There was a large attendance at the organization of 

the House, when the roll- 
call showed that two hun¬ 
dred and twenty-five were 
present. Then Mr. Phelps 
gracefully moved that the 
House proceed to the elec¬ 
tion of a Speaker, there¬ 
by showing that he was 
not a candidate. Mr. Jones 
nominated James L. Orr, 
f of South Carolina ; Gov¬ 
ernor Banks nominated 
Galusha A. Grow; and 
H. W. Davis was nomi¬ 
nated but withdrawn. The 
election was then com¬ 
menced vive voce , the clerk 
calling the roll. Colonel Orr had one hundred and 
twenty-eight votes, and was declared elected. 

Governor Banks and A. H. Stephens were appointed 
a committee to conduct the Speaker-elect to the chair. 
He then delivered a brief, sensible address, after which 
he was approached by the patriarchal Giddings, who 
handed him a small Bible and administered the oath of 
office, which duty devolves on the oldest Representative. 
The Sergeant-at-Arms elevated his mace—that “bauble” 


A Cheerful Prison. 


of authority so distasteful to the Puritans—and the 
Speaker began to swear in the members State by State. 

Among investigations ordered was one into an alleged 
attempt at bribery by Lawrence, Stone & Co., when 
the tariff bill was under consideration, which disclosed 
the fact that they had paid fifty-eight thousand dollars 
to Colonel Wolcott, who came to Washington as a rep¬ 
resentative of the Massachusetts manufacturers. Col¬ 
onel Wolcott, when brought before the House, declined 
to make the desired revelations, and he was locked up 
in the Washington Jail—a miserable old building. 
Those Representatives who were believed to have re¬ 
ceived some of this money were naturally uneasy, and 
undertook to intimate that the Colonel had pocketed 
the whole of it. He philosophically submitted to the 
decree of the House, occupying the jailer’s sitting-room 
—a cheerful apartment, with a good fire, bright sun¬ 
shine coming in at the windows. He had numerous 
visitors, his meals were sent him from a restaurant, and 
he certainly did not appear to suffer seriously from his 

In the exciting debates on the admission 01 Kansas, 
Senators Sumner, Wilson, Fessenden, and Seward were 
positive in their denunciation of the use of Federal 
troops for the enforcement of the laws, which encour¬ 
aged the Southern Senators in their belief that the se¬ 
cession of a State would not be forcibly opposed. 
“ The Senate,” said Henry Wilson, “ insists that the 
President shall uphold this usurpation—these enact¬ 
ments—with the bayonet. Let us examine the acts of 
these usurpers which Senators will not repeal; which 
they insist shall be upheld and enforced by the sabres 
of the dragoons.” Said William H. Seward : “ When 
you hear me justify the despotism of the Czar of Rus- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

sia over the oppressed Poles, or the treachery by which 
Louis Napoleon rose to a throne over the ruins of the 
Republic in France, on the ground that he preserves 
domestic peace among his subjects, then you may ex¬ 
pect me to vote supplies of men and money to the 
President that he may keep the army in Kansas.” 
Ben Wade was equally severe on the use of the army, 
declaring “ that the honorable business of a soldier had 

been perverted to act 
as a petty bailiff and 
constable to arrest and 
tyrannize over mend’ 
The racket in the 
House of Representa¬ 
tives commenced with 
a struggle as to wheth¬ 
er the President’s Mes¬ 
sage or the Lecomp- 
ton Constitution of 
Kansas should be re¬ 
ferred to the Demo¬ 
cratic Committee on 
Territories or to a se¬ 
lect committee of fif¬ 
teen. The session was 
protracted into the night, and after midnight but few 
spectators remained in the galleries. Those Repre¬ 
sentatives who could secure sofas enjoyed naps be¬ 
tween the roll-calls, while others visited committee- 
rooms, in which were private supplies of refresh¬ 
ments. About half-past one, Mr.. Grow, of Pennsyl¬ 
vania, then standing on the Democratic side of the 
House, objected to General Quitman’s making any re¬ 
marks. “If you are going to object,” shouted Mr. 




Per ley's Reminiscences. 

Keitt, of South Carolina, “ return to your own side of 
the hall.” Mr. Grow responded: “This is a free hall, 
and every man has a right to be where he pleases.” 
Mr. Keitt then came up to Mr. Grow and said: “I 
want to know what you mean by such an answer as 
that.” Mr. Grow replied: “I mean just what I say; 
this is a free hall, and a man has the right to be where 
he pleases.” “Sir,” said Mr. Keitt, “I will let you 
know that you are a black Republican puppy.” “ Never 
mind,” retorted Mr. Grow, “I shall occupy such place 
in this hall as I please, and no negro-driver shall crack 
his whip over me.” The two then rushed at each other 
with clinched fists. A dozen Southerners at once has¬ 
tened to the affray, while as many anti-Lecompton men 
came to the rescue, and Keitt received—not from Grow, 
however—a blow that knocked him down. Mr. Potter, 
of Wisconsin, a very athletic, compactly built man, 
bounded into the centre of the excited group, striking 
right and left with vigor. Washburne, of Illinois, and 
his brother, of Wisconsin, also were prominent, and for 
a minute or two it seemed as though we were to have 
a Kilkenny fight on a magnificent scale. Barksdale 
had hold of Grow, when Potter struck him a severe 
blow, supposing that he was hurting that gentleman. 
Barksdale, turning around and supposing it was Elihu 
Washburne who struck him, dropped Grow, and struck 
out at the gentleman from Illinois. Cadwallader Wash¬ 
burne, perceiving the attack upon his brother, also made 
a dash at Mr. Barksdale, and seized him by the hair, 
apparently for the purpose of drawing him “ into chan¬ 
cery ” and pommeling him to greater satisfaction. 
Horrible to relate, Mr. Barksdale’s wig came off in 
Cadwallader’s left hand, and his right fist expended it¬ 
self with tremendous force against the unresisting air. 


A Free Fight. 

This ludicrous incident unquestionably did much 
toward restoring good nature subsequently, and its 
effect was heightened not a little by the fact that in the 
excitement of the occasion Barksdale restored his wig 
wrong-side foremost. 

The Speaker shouted and rapped for order without 
effect. The Sergeant-at-Arms stalked to the scene of 
battle, mace in hand, but his u American eagle had 
no more effect than the Speaker’s gavel. Owen Love- 
joy and Lamar, of Mississippi, were pawing each other 
at one point, each probably trying to persuade the 
other to be still. Mr. Mott, the gray-haired Quaker 
Representative from Ohio, was seen going here and 
there in the crowd. Reuben Davis, of Mississippi, got 
a severe but accidental blow from Mr. Grow, and 
various gentlemen sustained slight bruises and 
scratches. A Virginia Representative, who thought 
Montgomery, of Pennsylvania, was about to pitch in, 
laid his hand upon his arm to restrain him, and was 
peremptorily ordered to desist or be knocked down. 
Mr. Covode, of Pennsylvania, caught up a heavy stone¬ 
ware spittoon, with which to u brain whoever might 
seem to deserve it, but fortunately did not get far 
enough into the excited crowd to find an appropriate 
subject for his vengeance; and all over the hall every¬ 
body was excited for the time. 

Fortunately, it did not last long, and no weapons 
were openly displayed. When order was restored 
several gentlemen were found to present an excessively 
tumbled and disordered appearance, but there remained 
little else to recall the excitement. Gentlemen of 
opposite parties crossed over to each other to explain 
their pacific dispositions, and that they got into a fight 
when their only purpose was to prevent a fight. Mu- 


Perley's Reminiscences. 

tual explanations and a hearty laugh at the ludicrous 
points of the drama were followed by quiet and a 
return to business. It was finally agreed, about half¬ 
past six o’clock on Sunday morning, that the Demo¬ 
crats would permit a vote to be taken on Monday with¬ 
out further debate, delay, or dilatory motion. 

When Mr. Orr’s mallet rapped the House to order 
at noon on Monday, only six of the two hundred and 
thirty-four Representatives were absent, and the gal¬ 
leries were packed like boxes of Smyrna figs. Rev. 
Dr. Sampson made a conciliatory prayer, the journal 
was read, two enrolled bills were presented, and then 
the Speaker, in an unusually earnest tone, stated the 
question. Tellers had been ordered, and he appointed 
Messrs. Buifinton, of Massachusetts, and Craige, of 
North Carolina. “ Is the demand for the previous 
question seconded?” 

The imposing form of Buifinton was soon seen 
making his way down to the area before the Speaker’s 
table, where Craige met him. The two shook hands, 
and there was then a quick obedience to the Speaker’s 
request that gentlemen in favor of the motion would 
pass between the tellers. Father Giddings, crowned 
with silvery locks, led the Republican- host down to be 
counted. Burlingame followed, and among others who 
filed along were Henry Winter Davis, General Spinner, 
John Sherman, General Bingham, Frank Blair, the 
trio of Washburnes, Gooch, Schuyler Colfax, John 
Covode, Governor Fenton, Senator Cragin, and burly 
Humphrey Marshall. When all had passed between 
the tellers Buifinton wheeled about and reported to the 
Speaker, who announced the result rather hesitatingly: 
u One hundred and ten in the affirmative. Those 
opposed will now pass between the tellers.” 

Polling the House . 


Then the Southern Democrats, with their Northern 
allies, came trooping down, headed by the attenuated 
Stephens. Dan Sickles and John Cochrane, who were 
afterward generals in the Union armies, were then 
allied with Zollicoffer, Keitt, and others, who fell in 
the Confederate ranks, and there were so many of 
them that the result appeared doubtful. At last it was 
Mr. Craige’s turn to report, and then all was silent as 
the. grave. 

The Speaker’s usually loud, clear voice hesitated as 
he at last announced: u One hundred and four in the 
negative. The ayes have it, and the demand for the 
previous question is seconded. Shall the main ques¬ 
tion be now put ?” The main question was next put, 
and the vote by ayes and nays on a reference of the 
Kansas question to the Committee on Territories, was 
ayes, 113; nays, 114. Then came the vote on the 
reference to a select committee of fifteen, and Speaker 
Orr had to announce the result, ayes, 114; nays, m. 
The North was at last victorious. 

Howell Cobb was born at Cherry Hill, Ga., September 7th, 1815 ; graduated at Franklin College, 
1834; was Representative from Georgia, 1843-1851 and 1855-1860; was chosen Speaker, 1849; was 
Governor of Georgia, 1851; was President of the Confederate Congress, 1861; died in New York 
city, October 9th, 1868. 


politicians, authors and humorists. 


B LUFF BEN WADE, a Senator from Ohio, was 
the champion of the North in the upper house 
during the prolonged debates on the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill. Dueling had long been regarded as a 
lost art in the Northern States, but Mr. Wade deter¬ 
mined that he would accept a challenge should one be 
sent him, or defend himself should he be attacked. 
But no one either assaulted or challenged him, al¬ 
though he gave his tongue free license. 

One day Senator Badger spoke plaintively of slavery 
from a Southern point of view. In his childhood, he 
said, he was nursed by an old negro woman, and he 
grew to manhood under her care. He loved his u old 
black mammy,” and she loved him. But if the oppo¬ 
nents of the Kansas-Nebraska bill were triumphant, 
and he wished to go to either of those Territories, he 
could not take his “ old black mammy ” with him. 
Turning to Mr. Wade, he exclaimed : “ Surely, you 

will not prevent me from taking my old black mammy 
with me ?” “It is not,” remarked the Senator from 
Ohio, dryly, “ that he cannot take his old black 

A Future Leader . 


mammy with him that troubles the mind of the Sena¬ 
tor, but that if we make the Territories free, he cannot 
sell the old black mammy when he gets her there.” 

The future leader of the Great Rebellion, Senator 
Jefferson Davis, had then assumed the leadership of the 
Southern Senators and their Northern allies. His best 
friends were forced to admit that his bearing, even 

toward them, had become haughty, and his manners 
imperious. His thin, spare figure, his almost sorrow¬ 
ful cast of countenance, composed, however, in an in¬ 
variable expression of dignity, gave the idea of a body 
worn by the action of the mind, an intellect supporting 
in its prison of flesh the pains of constitutional dis¬ 
ease, and triumphing over physical confinement and 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

affliction. His carriage was erect—there was a soldierly 
affectation, of which, indeed, the hero of Buena Vista 
gave evidence through his life, having the singular con¬ 
ceit that his genius was military and fitter for arms 
than for the council. He had a precise manner, and 
an austerity that was at first forbidding ; but his voice 
was always clear and firm. Although not a scholar in 
the pedantic sense of the term, and making no pre¬ 
tensions to the doubtful reputation of the sciolist, his 
reading was classical and varied, his fund of illustra¬ 
tion large, and his resources of imagery plentiful and 
alwa}^s apposite. 

Senator Robert W. Johnson—“ Bob Johnson,” every 
one called him—had made many friends while a mem¬ 
ber of the House, and was one of the most popular 
Senators. He was a man of generous feeling, honor¬ 
able impulses, and a cheerful humor, which had en¬ 
deared him to the homely backwoodsmen of his State. 
He was a fine speaker, pouring forth fact and argument 
with an earnestness that riveted attention, and lighting 
up the dull path of logic with the glow of his captivat¬ 
ing fancy, while he spiced his remarks with the idio¬ 
syncrasies of frontier oratory, familiar and quaint illus¬ 
trations, and blunt truths. At heart he loved the 
Union, but he could not stand up against the public 
sentiment of his State. 

Henry Bowen Anthony was the first Republican 
Senator who had not been identified with the Abolition¬ 
ists. Before he had been a week in the Senate, he was 
graciously informed that the Southern Senators recog¬ 
nized him as a gentleman, and proposed to invite him 
to their houses. “ I can enter no door,” sturdily re¬ 
plied the man of Quaker ancestry, u which is closed 
against an}^ Northern Senator.” Mr. Anthony was at 

Starting a Joke. 


that time a very handsome man, with jet black hair, 
blue eyes, and a singularly sweet expression of coun¬ 
tenance. His editorial labors on the Providence Jour¬ 
nal had given him a rare insight into men and politics, 
which qualified him for Senatorial life. He was soon a 
favorite in Washington society, wit and general infor¬ 
mation embellishing his brilliant conversation, while 
his social virtues gave to his life a daily beauty. 

Ostensibly to negotiate a postal treaty, but really to 
see what could be done about an international copy¬ 
right between Great Britain and the United States, 
came Anthony Trollope, Esq. He was a short, stout 
old gentleman, with a round, rosy face and snow-white 
hair, who loved to talk, and who talked well. His 
mother, Mrs. Frances Trollope, had written a cruelly 
sarcastic book on the manners and customs of Ameri¬ 
cans in 1830, and he was somewhat dogmatic in his 
criticisms of what he saw and heard. He shone es¬ 
pecially at gentlemen’s evening parties, at which he 
narrated anecdotes about Macaulay, Dickens, and 
Thackeray, and of his own exploits in “ ’unting,” 
which he regarded as the noblest of all pastimes. 

Mike Walsh was not only a demagogue, but an in¬ 
corrigible joker. He used frequently to visit Wash¬ 
ington after the expiration of his Congressional term, 
and was in the city after the close of the summer session 
of the Thirty-fifth Congress. Judge Douglas was also 
there, busily engaged in advancing his Presidential 
prospects. One evening, as Walsh was sitting in front 
of the Kirkwood House, he remarked that the weather 
looked threatening, but that he hoped it would prove 
good on account of the serenade that was to be given 
to Judge Douglas that night. The thing took at once, 
and he visited all the hotels, and in casual con versa- 


Perley's Reminiscences . 

tions broached the serenade, and the fact that the 
Marine Band had been engaged for the occasion. 
When ten o’clock p. m. came there were not less than 
six or seven hundred people in front of Judge Douglas’s 
new residence; and as the streets had been newly 
opened and were still unpaved, the mud was ankle- 
deep. There were also some thirty or forty hacks and 
a number of private carriages; and as the Judge and 
his beautiful and accomplished wife had heard of the 
intended ovation, they had prepared for the emergency 
by taking up the parlor carpets and setting out a col¬ 
lation for the sovereigns. But, alas ! no Marine Band 
appeared; and as eleven o’clock came and no music, 
the crowd began slowly to thin out, until at last it got 
whispered around that Mike Walsh had something to 
do with the getting up of the serenade, when, amid 
curses and loud guffaws, there was a general stampede 
of the crowd. 

In the midst of the stormy debates at the Capitol, 
there was an entertainment where men of both sections 
fraternized. It was a “wake” at the house of Mr. 
John Coyle, the cashier of the National Intelligencer , 
whose Milesian blood had prompted him to pay Hi¬ 
bernian honors to the memory of one who had often 
been his guest. The funereal banquet had been post¬ 
poned, however, in true Irish style, when it had been 
ascertained that the deceased was not dead, and in due 
time the guests were again invited, to honor him whom 
they had mourned—Albert Pike, of Arkansas. There 
he was, with stalwart form, noble features, waving hair, 
and a patriarchal beard—at once the Kit North and the 
Korner of America. 

After a neat welcome by the host, uprose the erudite 
dignitary of the State Department, and he read, in 

A Jolly Wake. 


Jack Savage then sang a song (to the tune of “ Benny 
Havens, 0 !”), describing a forced visit of “the fine 
Arkansas gentleman” to the Stygian shore, where he 
craved permission of Pluto to return to earth for one 
night at Coyle’s : 

“ * Are you not dead ? ’ the King then said. ‘ Well, what of that ?’ said 

‘ If I am dead, I’ve not been waked, and buried dacently.’ 

deep, full tones, an obituary sketch of the supposed de¬ 
ceased, which he had prepared upon the receipt of the 
sad news. Pike’s remarks, in reply, were touchingly 
beautiful, especially when he expressed his delight at 
having read kind notices of himself from those whom 
he had feared were his enemies, and his hopes that all 
enmity between him and his fellow-men might remain 
buried in that tomb to which he had been consigned. 



Per ley s Reminiscences. 

‘ And why,’ the monarch cried, ‘ desire again to share life’s toils?’ 

‘ For the sake of one good frolic more, even at Johnny Coyle’s.’ 

One spree at Johnny Coyle’s ; one spree at Johnny Coyle’s ; 

And who would not be glad to join a spree at Johnny Coyle’s?” 

Pluto then enumerated the good cheer and good com¬ 
pany, and “ Horace and Anacreon in vain would have 
him stay.” But the gentleman from Arkansas demon¬ 
strated that they were all surpassed at Johnny Coyle’s. 
The recital of the genial qualities of various gentlemen 
named enlisted Prosperine, who urged Pluto to let him 
go, that he might return, bringing his friends with him. 

“ And so the Queen at last prevailed, as women always do, 

And thus it comes that once again this gentleman’s with you ; 
He’s under promise to return, but that he means to break, 

And many another spree to have besides the present wake. 

One spree at Johnny Coyle’s, etc.” 

This song was followed by a story, and tnat story by 
a song, and it was nearly daylight in the morning be¬ 
fore the guests separated. 

The Sons of Malta, a secret order which sprang into 
existence during Mr. Buchanan’s Administration, was 
a remarkable institution. The original object of the 
organization was the capture of Cuba, and many 
prominent military men of the South were the lead¬ 
ing spirits in the movement; but the filibustering was 
soon abandoned, and a newspaper man, who had been 
initiated, conceived the idea of making “ some fun for 
the boys.” The whole business of initiation, etc., was 
transformed into a series of the most stupendous prac¬ 
tical jokes and outrageously comical proceedings ever 
dreamed of. The Order spread rapidly all over the 
Union. At Washington the lodge fitted up Marini’s 
Hall in luxurious style, with carpets, cushioned seats, 
and an expensive paraphernalia. Many Senators and 

Sons of Malta. 


Representatives who had been initiated at their respect¬ 
ive homes were regular attendants, and there was no 
lack of candidates, until a sedate citizen, enraged by 
the disclosure of his domestic infidelity, denounced the 
whole affair as a gigantic “ sell.” 

While the Order was on the high tide oi prosperity 
Mr. Buchanan was asked if he would receive a delega¬ 
tion of the Sons of Malta, representing twenty differ- 
erent States. Mr. Buchanan was a zealous Freemason 

having gone up into the Royal Arch degree—and 
thinking that this institution resembled Freemasonry, 
he named an hour for the visit. The members of the 
delegation were promptly on hand, and after they had 
taken their position along one side of the East Room, 
Mr. Buchanan entered. The spokesman addressed 
him in a short speech, in which he eulogized the Order 
as composed of Union-loving citizens, associated for 
charitable purposes. 

Mr. Buchanan listened attentively, and said in reply: 
u Gentlemen of the Sons of Malta, I feel grateful for 
the honor you have done me in making this visit. I 
do not know much about the Order, but I have no doubt 
of its charitable objects and its patriotism. In your 
praiseworthy object of charity I would say, God speed 
you in so noble an enterprise. We are told that Faith, 
Hope, and Charity are the links that bind us together 
in social Union. Faith and Hope may pass away, but 
Charity endures forever. I do not feel that there is 
any danger of the dissolution of the Union by the 
oppression of one portion of our country upon another; 
for should that period unhappily arrive, the people, 
who made it, will preserve it. Again, allow me cordi¬ 
ally to thank you for this visit, and I would be most 
happy to take each one of you by the hand as repre- 



The Union Safe. 


sentatives of the Sons of Malta from all parts of the 
Union.” So solemn was the scene that several portly 
delegates were evidently convulsed with emotion (or 
secret laughter), and the Union was regarded as safe. 
Owners of ships stocks, States, and the Order took 

George Bancroft was born at Worcester, Mass., October 3d, 1800; graduated at Harvard 
College, 1817; was Secretary of the Navy under President Polk, 1845-1846; was Minister to Great 
Britain, 1846^1849; to Prussia, 1867-1871; to Germany, 1871-1874. 




867 00065 0825 

975.3 P79 v.1 

Poore, Benjamin Perley, 1820 

Perley’s remi niscences of 
sixty years in the national