of upland rice, which enables the planter to dispense with the flowings of land, so destructive to human life. He negotiated for the introduction of our whale oil and tobacco into French ports; recommended the culture of the fig, olive, and mulberry, in the United States; communicated the art of stereotyping, then recently invented, and strove to introduce a taste for sculpture, music, and architecture. In the progress

and success of the French revolution he took a deep interest, and was often consulted by Lafayette and the other leaders in their most difficult emergencies. He one day received a note from Lafayette, informing him that the latter, with six or seven other persons, would dine with him on a certain day. Accordingly, on the day appointed, Lafayette arrived with six or seven of the principal leaders of the different parties, that were then contending for the supremacy.

After the cloth was removed, they calınly entered


the discussion of the most important principles of government, established certain points, on which they might all agree, and thus, in some degree, softened the asperity of party feeling which had before prevailed. The next day, Mr. Jefferson sent to the minister, Montmorin, a full explanation of the occurrence, with which, however, the latter was fully acquainted.

In 1789, soon after his return from Paris, he received from Washington the appointment of secretary of state. In the performance of the duties of his office, he conducted the controversy with Spain to a successful termination; in a correspondence relating to our difference with England on the subject of impressment, he drove Mr. Hammond, the English minister, from the field by the force of his argument; repressed the violation of our neutrality, committed by Genet, the French minister, and obtained his recall by the French government. In 1793, he resigned his office, and retired to Monticello, with the intention of entering no more into public life. But in 1797, he was chosen vice-president, in which capacity he served until 1801, when he became president of the United States.

On his induction into office, he sedulously avoided all

external pomp, banished the machinery designed to elicit popular applause, walked from his boarding-house to the Capitol, with six or seven members of Congress, without marshals, without the white wands emblematic of power, simply took the oath prescribed by the constitution, and entered on the performance of duty. Instead of a speech, he sent a message to the house, requesting that no answer should be returned.

He favored the acquisition of Louisiana at the cost of 15,000,000 of dollars, by which 100,000,000 of acres were added to our territory.

He recommended the building of gun-boats to take the place of the larger ships of war, believing that they would be less expensive, and more manageable; he favored the building of dry docks for the reception of our vessels of war during peace. He never ceased to regret that the tenure of office of the federal judges, during good behavior, almost entirely removes them from the wholesome restraints that would be imposed by the popular will. The veto power, which renders the president almost a despot for the term of his election, Mr. Jefferson desired to see restricted. · But so jealous was he of the rights of the people, and so desirous that the liberty of speech and of the press should be unrestrained, that he never noticed the political slanders that were aimed at himself, save by a calm and temperate denial of their truth, in his private communications with his friends. The Baron Humboldt, one day, took from a table in Jefferson's library a newspaper teeming with the most violent, attacks on Mr. Jefferson's private character, and with great indignation inquired why the power of the law was not brought upon the authors of such abominable lies. Jefferson, with a smile, replied, “What! hang the guardians of the public morals? No, rather would I protect the spirit of freedom, which dictates.even that degree of abuse. Put that paper in your pocket, my good friend, carry it with you to Europe, and when you hear any one doubt the reality of American freedom, show them that paper, and tell them where you found it. Let the actions of virtuous characters refute such libels. When a man" assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” In conform

ity with these sentiments were his actions; for he released all those who had been imprisoned for opinion's sake, under the sedition law. He not only acknowledged himself the servant of the people, but he acted as such. No man applied to him in vain for aid or advice. In one of his eq restrian excursions, he came to a ford in a river, by the side of which sat a beggar unable to cross.

He boldly asked the assistance of Mr. Jefferson, whom he did not know, who allowed him to mount behind, and conveyed him across the stream, and afterwards returned for his wallet, and restored it to him,

Mr. Jefferson was often seen returning from his excursions with some flower or shrub, with which he ornamented the garden of the Capitol ; and the beautiful rows of trees extending from the Capitol to the president's house were planted by his hands, or under his directions. He steadily refused to appoint any of his relations to office, since he always found some one else better qualified.

He retired from the presidency in 1899, and joyfully resumed his philosophical and agricultural employments at Monticello, at the age of sixty-six, the same age at which the first five presidents left the presidential chair, · His religious opinions were the subject of vehement controversy, one party reproaching him with atheism, and the other stoutly denying the truth of the allegation. His state papers, contrary to the custom of the times, did not usually contain any appeal to the Supreme Being. His mind was not of a religious cast, though hè considered “the Christian religion the most perfect system that the world ever saw.” He devoted the last years of his life to the welfare of the University of Virginia, established under his auspices, and sustained by his more than paternal care.

By the pecuniary sacrifices, and other losses which he had sustained, his affairs became embarrassed. Several state legislatures passed acts appropriating money for his relief. But before the consummation of their project, the object of their gratitude was no more.

In consequence of a too free indulgence in the hot spring bath, his health had been failing for seven or eight years, and in the spring of 1826, it became evi

dent to himself and his friends, that his frame was fast sinking with debility.

A few days before his death, a friend called to see him on business, and describes his interview in the following terms:- “ There he was extended, feeble, prostrate; but the fine and clear expression of his countenance not at all obscured. At the first glance he recognized me, and his hand and voice saluted me. He regretted that I should find bin so helpless, talked of the freshet then prevailing in James River, and said he had never known a more destructive one. He soon, however, passed to the university, expatiated on its future ability, commended the professors, and expressed satisfaction at the progress of the students. A sword was suspended at the foot of his bed, which he told me was presented to him by an Arabian chief; and that the blade was a true Damascus. At this time, he became so cheerful as to smile, even to laughing, at a remark I made. He alluded to the probability of his death as a man would to the prospect of being caught in a shower, as an event not to be desired, but not to be feared.

"Upon proposing to withdraw, I observed that I would call to see him again. He said, Well, do; but you must dine here to-day.' To this I replied, I proposed delaying that pleasure till he got better.' He waved his hand, and shook his head with some impatience, saying emphatically, ‘You must dine here to-day; my sickness makes no difference.' I consented, left him, and never saw him more.”

On the 3d of July, he expressed his desire to live for one day more, that he might breathe the air of the fiftieth anniversary of American independence, when he would joyfully sing with old Simeon, “Nunc dimittas, Domine," “ Now let me depart, O Lord.”

In the intervals of delirium, his mind reverted again to the scenes in which he had been a chief actor. Once he exclaimed, “ Warn the committees to be on their guard,” and instantly rose up in his bed, and went through the act of writing a hurried note. His last words were, “I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do, and I now resign my soul without fear to my. God, my daughter to my country.” He quietly passed away about

ten minutes before one o'clock, on the 4th of July, 1826, at the very hour in which, fifty years before, the Declaration of Independence was signed.

On the same day, about five hours later, died John Adıms, the great coadjutor of Jefferson, in passing the Declaration of Independence. As his great spirit took its fight, it left its footprint on earth in these his last words, -" Independence forever ; Jefferson survives."

JAMES MADISON. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, was born in Virginia, in 1750. Of his early life but little is known. In 1794, he was married to Mrs. Todd, widow of John Todd, Esq., a practitioner of the Pennsylvania bar. To the praise of his accomplished lady, it is known that, in her highest fortune, she did not neglect her early friends, but extended to all who approached her, those attentions which please the exalted, and inspire the humble with becoming confidence.

The first knowledge we have of Mr. Madison, is as an active member of the Continental Congress, at an early age. To bim, more than any one else, perhaps, the people of the United States are indebted for the constitution under which they live. He was a leader in the Convention that framed it, and the most influential of its supporters in the Virginia Convention that adopted it. An interesting summary of Mr. Madison's opinions on the subject of confederation, will be found in the twentyfifth volume of the North American Review. These opinions were addressed to General Washington, in a letter previous to the Convention in Philadelphia.

At the outset of the federal government, Mr. Madison proposed a tax upon imported goods and tonnage. Much opposition was excited, but finally overcome by his arguments, and the measure agreed to. His plan favored the commerce of France, rather than that of Great Britain. This proposition was in 1789. In 1794, he submitted to the house bis famous commercial resolutions. The substance of these resolutions was, that the interest of the United States would be promoted by further restrictions

« ForrigeFortsett »