John N. (John Norris) McClintock.

Colony, province, state, 1623-1888. History of New Hampshire (Volume 1) online

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Upham. During the year the Americans lost the city of Wash-
ington, drove the British forces from Lake Champlain, and re-
pulsed them at New Orleans early the following year.

A treaty of peace had been concluded at Ghent in December,
1814, and was announced by special messenger, while the people
were rejoicing over the victory at New Orleans ; and the news
•was nowhere more welcome than to the inhabitants of New

' The Federalists carried all branches of the State governmen*
in 1814 except the Council, in which were three Republicans.
They re-elected Governor Gilman by a majority of little over •-
hundred votes out of nearly forty thousand thrown. The pres
sure of war brought about this result, many Republicans fearinj.
that if Mr. Plumer was elected he would call out the militia
The Congregational clergy of New England took an active part in
politics as they had done from the first, preaching political sermons
on Fast and Thanksgiving days, and often on other days. They
had been zealous Whigs during the Revolution, and had been as
zealous Federalists during the early days of the Republic, their
assistance being relied upon by the leaders of that party. They
had given great offence to the Republicans, many of whom for
this reason withdrew from their societies and joined the Baptists,
Methodists, and other sects. Mr. Plumer issued a pamphlet
entitled " An Address to the clergy of New England on their

■William Plumer, Jr.


opposition to the Rulers of the United States, by a Layman."
The work received a very wide circulation in the newspapers,
aside from three thousand copies of the pamphlet, and attracted
much attention. Governor Strong's letter inviting New Hamp-
shire to join with Massachusetts in sending delegates to the Hait-
ford convention reached Governor Gilman after the adjournment
of the legislature, and the governor could not convene the legis-
lature without the advice of his Council, the majority of whom
were Republicans and opposed to the measure.^ The Hartford
convention,which met in December, 1814, consisted of delegates
appointed by the legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and
Rhode Island, and members appointed by two county conven-
tions in New Hampshire, and one in Vermont, and conducted
their proceedings with closed doors and a mutual pledge of invi-
olate secrecy as to all propositions, debates, and proceedings, ex-
cept the final report. The character of this, as well as the boldly
announced views of the promoters of the convention, left little
doubt that a revolution was contemplated unless their demands
were acceded to. Among their claims they wanted : " no natur-
alized citizen to hold any civil office ; no president to be elected
a second time ; no State to furnish two presidents in succession.''
They provided for a new convention to meet in Boston in June
following, in case the war should continue.


STR UGGLE FOR TOLERA TION, 1 8 1 5 - 1 8 19.

The Federalists Disband as a Party — Dartmouth College — Sep-
tember Storm — Middlesex Canal — Dartmouth University — Si ate
House — Chief Justice Richardson — Daniel Webster — Baptist
Denomination — President Monroe's Visit — Governor Samueu
Bell — Bristol — The Town House — The Toleration Act — Colo-
nial Laws for the Support of the Ministry and Public Schools.

pEACEi ended nearly all causes of party differences in the
State and country. Impressment ceased with the European
wars, as did French decrees and British Orders in Council, non-in-
tercourse, embargo, and the war in America. During the war the
Republicans were said to have been under French influence,
the Federalists under British influence. One party sympathized
with England, the other party admired Napoleon. It was not
until after the 18 12 war that a truly American feeling obtained
the entire ascendency in this country.

The Federal party died with the war. It had gone out of
power in the country in 1801, and its northern and southern
members had become estranged. It was never a popular party.
The Hartford convention brought such odium upon it that men
became ashamed of the name. At the same time the Republi-
can party lost its identity, having "eliminated some of its worst
errors, both of theory and practice " and " absorbed into itself much
of what was best " of the principles of the Federalists. " The era
of good feeling, which commenced with Mr. Monroe's adminis-
tration, led to a speedy oblivion of old feuds ; " and for the eight
years which followed party lines were obliterated. When once
more parties were formed under the leadership of Adams and

< William Plumer, Jr.


Jackson, " many old Federal leaders were found to be Demo-
crats, and as many old Republicans took rank as Whigs." The
old questions had been settled, and the new ones of tariff, in-
ternal improvement, and the extension or restriction of slavery
arose. The old party feeling in New Hampshire did not subside
until after the March elections of 1815, and Governor Oilman
■was re-elected by a majority of thirty-five votes, so close and
<loubtful was the contest. During the summer, the trouble long
brewing in the affairs of Dartmouth College resulted in an open
rupture between the president, John Wheelock, and the trustees.
He applied to the legislature for an investigating committee ;
they, without waiting for the report of the legislative committee,
removed Dr. Wheelock from his office of president and trustee,
and inaugurated his successor. Rev. Francis Brown ; and the
affairs of the college entered into the politics of the State in
the next election.^

"A destructive tempest took place on Saturday, September 23, 1815, and sur-
passed, in extent and violence, any wind that has blown over New England
<luring the present centurv.

The day was rainy, and the wind came from an easterly quarter, we think
the south-east. In Concord, although, from its situation in the valley of the
Merrimack, the damage was less than in more exposed places, yet here build-
ings were unroofed, growing crops damaged, and wood and timber-trees torn
up by the roots, which, at their present valuation, would be worth many
thousands of dollars. The rotten trunks of trees blown down in that memo-
rable gale have hardly yet disappeared from forests in this city; a circum-
stance to be accounted for in this wise : sixty 3'ears ago wood was of so little
value that people neglected to remove these fallen trees until they fell into
such decay as to be worthless.

' The wind commenced in the morning at north-east. At about noon it
■changed to south-east, and for two hours seemed to threaten everything with
ruin. The sturdy oak, the stately elm, and the pliant poplar were alike vic-
tims to its fury. The destruction of orchards and buildings has been great.
There is scarcely an apple left on the standing trees. Many cattle have been
killed bv falling trees. Had this violent wind occurred in the season of vege-
tation there is no calculating its effects. It might have produced a famine.

■" Sheds, trees, fences, etc., were blown down, buildings unroofed, and limbs
and fragments of trees strewed in every direction. It continued with una-
bated fury nearly two hours.

• John M. Shirley. " Asa McFarland.

3 Xrw Hampshire Patriot. * Amherst Cabinet,




'In 1814 the obstructions in the Merrimack had been sur-
mounted, so that canal boats, lociiing into the river at Chelmsford,
had been poled up stream as far as Concord.

Firewood and lumber always formed a very considerable item


in the business of the canal. The navy yard at Charlestown
and the ship yards on the Mystic for many years relied upon the

canal for the greater part of the timber used in shipbuilding ;


and worlf was sometimes seriously retarded by low water in the
Merrimack, which interfered with transportation. The supply of
oak and pine about Lake Winni[)iseogee, and along the Merri-
mack and its tributaries, was thought to be practically inexhaus-

* General George Stark.


tible. In the opinion of Daniel Webster, the value of this tim-
ber had been increased $5,000,000 by the canal. Granite from
Tyngsboroiigh, and agricultural products from a great extent of
fertile country, found their way along this channel to Boston ;
while the return boats supplied taverns and country stores with
their annual stock of goods. The receipts from tolls, rents, etc.,
were steadily increasing, amounting in 18 12 to $12,600, and in
1816 to $32,600.

Yet, valuable, useful, and productive as the canal had proved
itself, it had lost the confidence of the public, and, with a few
exceptions, of the proprietors themselves. The reason for this
state of sentiment can easily be shown. The general depression
of business on account of the embargo and the war of 18 12 had
its effect upon the canal. In the deaths of Governor Sullivan
and Colonel Baldwin, in the same year, 1808, the enterprise waj
deprived of the wise and energetic counsellors to whom it owed
its existence.

The aqueducts and most of the locks, being built of wood,
required large sums for annual repairs ; the expenses arising
from imperfections in the banks, and from the erection of toll-
houses and public-houses for the accommodation of the boatmen,
were considerable ; but the heaviest expenses were incurred in
opening the Merrimack for navigation. From Concord to
the head of the canal the river has a fall of one hundred and
twenty-three feet, necessitating various locks and canals. The
Middlesex Canal Corporation contributed to the building of the
Wiccasee locks and canals, $12,000; Union locks and canals,
$49,932 ; Hookset canal, $6,750; Bow canal and locks, $14,115.

^Before 1816 the quarrel in the management of Dartmouth
College had been between Federalists and Congregationalists,
although Dr. Wheelock leaned towards the Presbyterians in his
sympathies. In the spring elections of 1816 Mr. Plumer received
not only the support of the Republicans, but of the Federalists
who were friends of Dr. Wheelock, and was elected governor,
receiving over twenty thousand votes, while his opponent, James
Sheafe of Portsmouth, received more than two thousand less.

* John M. Shirley.


Sheafe had been a Tory, and was imprisoned during the Revohi-
tion, but had come into popular favor again, and at this time was
the richest man in the State. He had been elected a United
States senator in 1802 ; Mr. Plumcr having been elected to fill
out his unexpired term. The interest felt in politics then is
known from the fact that the votes numbered one in six of the

Mr. Webster favored the design of creating a " University of
New Hampshire," to be located at Concord, to settle the college
quarrel. Governor Plumer proposed in his message a reorganiza-
tion of the college, thus placing it under legislative control — a
proposition which met with favor with the great Republican lead-
ers of the country and was favorably acted upon by the legislature.
His recommendation to remit ta.xes on manufacturing establish-
ments, on being adopted, led to a large increase of business in the
State. His idea of establishing Congressional districts was after-
wards put in force. The legislature complied with his wishes and
freely granted charters to all religious denominations ; and re-
duced official salaries.

^The most important measure undertaken was the reorganiza-
tion of the Courts. The Judiciary Acts of 18 13, being con-
sidered unconstitutional by the Republican majority of the Gen-
eral Court, were promptly repealed, and the new judges, de facto
if not dejiire, were addressed out of office, and the same course was
taken as to the old judges, leaving the Commonwealth without a
judiciary. A similar course in regard to the federal sheriffs was
proposed, but not acted upon. The appointment of seventeen
new judges after the adjournment of the legislature was a diffi-
cult task, as the governor did not wish the court to be wholly
partisan, but only one of his appointments offered to Federalists
was accepted. William M. Richardson was appointed chief jus-
tice, although the office was offered to Jeremiah Mason, the lead-
ing lawyer in the State, and a firm Federalist. Levi Woodbury,
who was then secretary of state and boarding with the governor
at the house of Isaac Hill, was appointed a judge in place of
George B. Upham, who refused the office from political motives.

> William Plumer, Jr.


Samuel Boll was the other judge of the Supreme Court ap-
pointed by the governor.

A little entry in Governor Plumer's private diary under date
July 4, 1816, " Fixed the site for the State House," is thought to
be the only record of that important event. In his address
to the legislature at an adjourned meeting in November he ad-
verted to it and aroused opposition to himself in his own party.

"The location of the new State House, whether north or south
of a given line, on the main street in Concord, was a question
in which it might have been thought few would take much in-
terest, except the dwellers on that street. Yet it excited a
furious contest, not only in the town, but among the members
of the legislature and through the State. As the spot selected
by the governor and Council was at a considerable distance
south of the old State House, the people at the North End,
with whom nearly all the members of the legislature had
hitherto boarded, were likely, by the new location, to lose
thenceforth this monopoly. The clamor which they raised was
in proportion to their supposed interest in the question ; and it
was soon found that many of the members were deeply infected
with the feelings and the prejudices of their landlords on this
subject. 'Representatives of their respective boarding-houses
rather than of the State,' as a member expressed it. The spot
selected was denounced as a quagmire and a frog pond." ^ The
governor and Council were sustained by the legislature, how-
ever, and it was afterwards admitted that no better spot could
have been selected.

By Act of the legislature Dartmouth College was changed to
Dartmouth University, the number of trustees was increased
from twelve to twenty-one, and a board of twenty-five overseers
was created. Both political parties and all prominent religious
sects were represented on these boards. The Act provided for
perfect freedom of religious opinions among the officers and
students of the university, and was part of the plan to bring
the institution under the fostering care of the State.^ The old
board of trustees resisted this Act, and, appeal being made to

" William Plumer, Jr.




the courts, it was decided that the trustees must yield. The
matter, however, was finally carried before the Supreme Court
of the United States, where the old board of trustees were sus-


tained, and where it was practically ruled that a legislature
could not overturn the charter granted by the king — a tri-
umph for the trustees, but, in the minds of many, a serious blow

514 HISTOKV ()!■■ NEW II AM I'SHIKE. [1816

to Dartmouth College, which inissed its op])ortunity to become
a great university under the auspices of the Commonwealtli.
Timothy Farrar, and afterwards John M. Shirley, published vol-
umes on this controversy easily accessible, whik- numberless
pamphlets were issued on the same subject.

At the September term of the court, 1817, the case of Dart-
mouth College was tried before Chief Justice Richardson and
Judge Bell at Exeter. Mason, Smith, and Webster argued the
cause for the trustees, Sullivan and Bartlett for the State. " These
were all members of the Rockingham bar, when it was literally
' an arena of giants.' Of this bar Judge Story said that it had
' vast law learning and prodigious intellectual power.' " ' Mason,
at this time fifty years old, was from Connecticut, but read law
and commenced practice in \'crmont. " He was six feet seven
inches in height, and proportionately large in other respects.
His intellectual exxeeded his physical stature. Webster, with a
thorough knowledge of the man, deliberately wrote down that as
a lawyer, as a jurist, no man in the Union equalled Mason, and
but one approached him." ^ Mason loved his family and the law :
for the sake of the former he resigned his position as United
States senator. He was denied the gifts and graces of the ora-
tor, but this great man "on his feet in the court room was seem-
ingly an inspired Euclid." '

Smith, then fifty-eight years old, was " possessed of great and
accurate learning, and of great natural abilities, but, like Mason,
he was no orator." •

Webster, at thirty-five, the " Great IMack Giant of the East,"
was in full possession of his great powers.

Sullivan,forty-threeyearsof age, was from a race of soldiers, ora-
tors, and lawyers. He was for many years attorney-general, as
his father was before him and his son after him. He was a classi-
cal scholar, " well read in the law ; an excellent special pleader ;
swift to perceive, prompt to act, and full of resources. He
relied too little on his preparation, and too much upon his ora-
tory, his power of illustration and argument. But neither the
court, the jury, nor the people ever grew weary of listening to

' John .M. Shirley.


his silver tones or liis arguments, that fell like music on the
ear." '

Bartlett was from a family " eminent for its physicians,
preachers, and jurists." He was at thirty-one "indefatigable in
preparation, eloquent in the highest sense, ready, witty, and a
popular idol." ^

Webster, who had the closing argument, so wrought upon the
court that it adjourned in tears, and tradition affirms that it was
the greatest effort of his life. The counsel for the State were
overmatched, but they won their case.

" Chief Justice Richardson was a graduate of Harvard, a mem-
ber of Congress from Massachusetts in iSi2, and was subse-
quently re-elected ; but, being averse to political life, resigned
and removed to Portsmouth, in his native State, in 1814. From
his appointment, in 18 16, till his death, in 1838, he was chief
justice of the highest court. Physically he was as imposing as
he was great intellectually. Like Marshall's, his eyes were black,
piercing, and brilliant ; " his hair was black as a raven's wing.
He had refined and simple tastes ; he had a full, high, and broad
forehead. " In learning and industry he ranked with Chief
Justice Parsons. He was a great and honest judge." He did
not owe his eminence to subtility in judicial fence. "His reas-
oning and his heart alike were as open and ingenuous as the light
of day. He was reverenced by the people of the State as no
other judge ever was." '

Judge Bell, father of the late Chief Justice Bell, belonged to
i family famous for their talent. He was a graduate of Dart-
mouth College, and had been a trustee. He was judge until he
was elected governor in 18 19, and afterwards for twelve years a
United States senator. " He was a man of immense erudition
and great business capacity, a thorough lawyer, and possessed
of great moral courage." ^

Judge Woodbury was some years less than thirty at the time
of his appointment. He succeeded Governor Bell as chief mag-
istrate. He was afterwards United States senator, secretary of
the navy, secretary of the treasury, and one of the justices of the

' John M. Shirley.


Supreme Court of the United States from 1S45 until his death
in 185 1. He was a possible and very probable candidate for the

According to Jeremiah Mason, "three more men so well qual-
ified as the present judges, and who would accept the office,
could not be found in the State." ^

The trustees of the college had for a considerable time pur-
sued a course calculated to render them unpopular with a ma-
jority of the people. Possessing, under their charter from the
King, the power of removing members of their board and ap-
pointing their own successors, " they had confided the exclusive
control of an institution designed for the common benefit to
members of a single religious sect and a single religious party.
Funds bequeathed to the college for the establishment of a pro-
fessorship had been applied to purposes partaking of a sectarian
character. John Wheelock, himself a liberal benefactor of the
college, and the son of its illustrious founder, had' been removed
by a summary exercise of the powers of the trustees."^

" Mr. Mason felt the deepest interest in the Dartmouth
College case, and argued it with all the energy of conviction.
In his view it was not simply a controversy between two corpo-
rations as to which was entitled to certain rights and property,
but the question went deeper than this. It went deeper than
the relations between the States and the general government,
even to the foundations of civil society itself. He believed the
Act of the legislature of New Hampshire to be a piece of legis-
lative usurpation, and that the State had no more right to trans-
fer the property of Dartmouth College to another corporation
than they would have to take his house from him without paying
for it, and give it to another man."

^ Dartmouth College had, in its earlier years, a somewhat re-
markable and romantic history. Its founder, Eleazer Wheelock,
was no ordinary man. He was an eminent preacher, a man of
broad plans, of high enthusiasm, of indefatigable toil, and of
great executive ability. Everyone of these qualities was put to

* John M. Shirley. ' Barstow's History of New Hampshire.

> Rev. S. C. Bartletl, D. D., I.L. D.


the severest test in his arduous enterprise. His original concep-
tion of an Indian school exhibited well the wisdom of his judg-
ment, which anticipated the results of the latest experience.
For his plan was to train Indian youth of both sexes, so sepa-
rated from all their savage environments as to mould them fully
into the habits of Christian civilization, and send them back ttv
their own country, in company with English young men alsck
educated by him as missionaries, that their united efforts might
raise the savage tribes "to the same habits of life." There has
been little advance upon the wisdom of the plan.

When the Indian school expanded into a college, and caused
its transfer to another locality, the labor and care thrown upon
him were enormous : an extended and incessant correspondence at
home and abroad, the necessity of devising ways and means for"
every separate part of the enterprise, material and literary, an
exhausting attention to all the minutia; of business, the struggle
of a settlement in an unbroken -forest, remote from supplies, and,
at times, the oppression of debt.

From Lebanon, Conn., in August, 1770, he pushed his way ta
Hanover, to make ready. In a short time he was followed by
a part of his family, who with difficulty made their way over the
wretched roads in "a coach," the gift of a London friend, and by
two pupils who came on foot. This company entered a dense
pine forest, containing " two or three log huts," and no house on
that side of the river within two miles. They felled six acres
of forest, and the fallen trees "in all directions covered the
ground to about the height of five feet." One of those trees,,
says Dr. David McClure, who avers that he measured it, reached
the almost incredible length of " two hundred and seventy feet,
from the butt to the top ;" and "the sun was invisible by reason
of the trees till it had risen many degrees above the horizon."
Many of the company at first "slept on the ground vv'ith boughs
of trees for beds, sheltered by a few boards raised over them on
poles." Here at once began the labor of clearing the ground,
of erecting buildings, of digging wells (the first attempt unsuc-
cessful), and even of erecting a saw-mill and a grist-mil). These
mills failed to serve any valuable purpose, and "he was obliged

5l8 mSTOKV Ol'" NEW IIAMl'slIlKE. [1816

to send a great distance into Massachusetts and Connecticut
for necessary provisions." Tlie process was often attended with
unavoidable delays, " the supplies were scanty, and they sub-
mitted to coarse fare." Dr. Wheelock sometimes conducted

Online LibraryJohn N. (John Norris) McClintockColony, province, state, 1623-1888. History of New Hampshire (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 58)