ablest and most distinguished citizens." Certain members from the
southern part of the State, arriving by the Shelbyville turnpike dur-
ing the forenoon, were not only shocked to hear of the assassination,
but surprised that it was not mentioned by Jeroboam Beauchamp, a
young lawyer of Warren county, whom they had encountered and
talked with a short distance from the capital. Hearing this. Mr.
Hardin, without a moment's hesitation and on this single fact, pro-
nounced Beauchamp the assassin. His arrest followed, and the
LAST DAYS OF THE NEW COURT. I4I
sequel verified the assertion. He was tried and convicted, and sen-
tenced to death.
Beauchamp had been instigated to the deed by his wife, with
whom, it was charged, Sharpe had maintained improper relations.
The paternity of a bastard being ascribed to him in the legislative
canvass, his friends sought to repel it by showing the child of negro
blood. This circumstance actuated the woman to revenge, and she
only married Beauchamp on his promise to kill Sharpe. After
Beauchamp's conviction, and shortly before execution, he and his
wife attempted suicide. The latter succeeded, but Beauchamp, in a
semi-conscious state, suffered the penalty of the law.
A bill was shortly introduced and passed the House repealing the
reorganization act. In the Senate the vote on the bill was a tie, and
Lieutenant-Gov^ernor McAfee voting against it, defeated it. After
this a joint resolution was adopted by the General Assembly provid-
ing that "a committee of six from each house be raised for the pur-
pose of conferring and devising such practical measures as to them
shall seem most expedient, in order to settle the difficulties in rela-
tion to the Appellate Court." From this committee, as well as from
others, came various propositions of settlement. To state them, or
any of them, would reflect no credit on the proposers. An unpleas-
ant suspicion of trickery was around them all. All were rejected,
and matters remained as they were.
The new court sat during the spring term, and part of the fall
term of 1825. In October it ceased to decide causes, although it
continued its sittings a short while longer. After the Legislature
convened that year, Blair, the clerk, closed his office and refused
either to surrender the records or permit either litigant or counsel to
have access to them. Thereupon the House passed a resolution
declaring that it was the duty of the old court, through its sergeant,
to regain possession of its records. On this Blair guarded his office
with an armed force. The Legislature adjourned after a session of
six weeks. The majority in the House published a florid address
"To the Freemen of Kentucky," in which old court woes and new
court sins were elaborately enumerated. ' ' On you, " said the address,
" hangs the fate of the Constitution. Having done all that we could,
we submit the issue to God and the people." Mr. Hardin was one of
the signers, but to George Robertson belongs the credit of authorship.
Although maintaining a precarious existence, the new court was
doomed. The year 1826 witnessed the final and complete triumph of
142 BEN HARDIN.
the Old Court party. In both branches of the Legislature its majority
was decided. That year, James Clark, the circuit judge who first
declared the replevin law unconstitutional, was elected to Congress
from the Ashland district, by nearly one thousand majority. During
the legislative session that followed an act was passed declaring to be
in full force all acts pretended to be repealed by the reorganization
acts. The bill was vetoed by Governor Desha, but passed, notwith-
standing, and became a law December 30, 1826. The force under
Blair laid down its arms, and that warlike functionary surrendered the
records of wnich he had made conquest. Thus formally and finally
ended this memorable contest.
During its existence, the new court rendered seventy-two opinions
â€” the first April 19, 1825 ; the last October 28, following. Of these
Haggin delivered twenty-seven, Trimble seventeen, Davidge fifteen,
Barry thirteen. Although preserved in 2 Monroe's Reports, they
have always been regarded as the apocrypha of Kentucky law.
Deprived of extrinsic authority, their merits have never given them
currency. It is stated by Collins that the old court sat and decided
cases simultaneously with the new. This statement is, perhaps, inad-
vertent. At all events, no opinions were published by the old court
during the period the new court sat, except for about two weeks.
The reports of old court decisions show an interval from December
15, [824, until October 15, 1825, during which no opinions were
delivered by it. The last opinion of the new court Dears date the
28th of October. The old court resumed its regular sittings Decem-
ber, 1825, although the reorganization act was not repealed for more
than a year afterward.
Judge Boyle resigned as chief-justice November 8, 1826, to become
Federal district judge for Kentucky. This position he held until his
death, January 28, 1835. "As a lawyer," said Judge Robertson, "he
was candid, conscientious, and faithful; as a statesman, honest, disin-
terested, and patriotic; as a judge, pure, impartial, and enlightened;
as a citizen, upright, just, and faultless; as a neighbor, kind, affable,
and condescending; as a man, chaste, modest, and benignant; as a
husband, most constant, affectionate, and devoted." Judge Mills
continued in office until 1828. He then resigned and resumed prac-
tice at Paris, in which his success was commensurate with his wishes.
An apoplectic stroke ended his life December 6, 1831. Although
kind to those with whom he associated, he sought public approval by
mflexible integrity rather than by popular arts. His success in the
RESULTS FOLLOWING THE CONTEST. 1 43
practice rested on his profound knowledge of the law. He was a clear
and forcible speaker, but a lack of good voice detracted from his ora-
tory. Judge Owsley resigned simultaneously with Judge Mills. His
subsequent life was in part unpleasantly interwoven with that of Mr.
Hardin, and will be referred to in future pages. In concluding the
subject, it may be observed that the influence of the old and new court
struggle did not end with the overthrow of the latter. Said Duft"
Green in a letter dated Louisville, September 6, 1826, to Governor
Edwards, of Illinois: "The old and new court question is already lost
in this State. '^- * * The new court men, with scarce one excep-
tion, are for Jackson, and the strong men of the old court party are
more than divided in his favor." Why the new court men as a body
took refuge under the banner of the "old hero," is one of those polit-
ical problems for which many reasons can be given, yet none with
entire assurance. A quarter of a century later, during the discussions
attending the proposition for the constitutional convention of 1849, it
was observed by an intelligent writer (but ardent Whig) that "the
political parties in our State took the form and organization which
they have retained with little variation ever since, in the fierce and
bitter struggle growing out of the attempt of the Legislature to inter-
fere with the contracts of individuals, and the firm resistance of the
courts to this interference." * * "Whatever names parties may
have worn since, whatever questions may have agitated or excited
them, the lines then drawn have never been obliterated, and never will
be. They are the eternal lines which distinguish the great antago-
nistic principles in society, which divide the constitutional conserva-
tive on the one side from the Jacobin and the radical on the other."*
In so far as this writer traces the organization of parties he is in the
main correct. However mistaken it was, still it is unjust to attribute
to the New Court party the principles of Jacobinism or radicalism.
Republican government was a newer institution then than now. The
principle that the majority should rule was unthinkingly accepted as
the essence of liberty. The Legislature represented the people, and
a majority in the Legislature represented a majority of the people.
Such was the argument. The division of the powers of Government
into co-ordinate departments was not practically understood. Consti-
tutional limitations on the power of a legislative majority seemed
restrictions on Republican freedom. Questions arising on the distinc-
tion between the remedy and obligation of contracts have ever been
diflficult and vexatious to the learned. That a party, respectable in
* An anonymous writer in " Old Guard."
144 ^^^ HARDIN.
numbers and intelligence, should have fallen into error as to such
questions, or as to the just limit of legislative power, at a period when
the burdens of the debtor class were ruinous, furnishes no just ground
to charge its members with lack of political integrity, or with being
intentionally unfaithful to the cause of constitutional government.
Referring to the "old and new court" controversy, Mr. Hardin, on
a memorable occasion long afterward, said : "I was in the battle
from the commencement to the end. I devoted my time in the cause
of the old judges. I spent my money and shed my blood at the cap-
itol door in its defense."
A NEW MAN IN POLITICS. I45
JACKSONIAN LIGHTS AND SHADOWS.
IT may well be believed that for a score of years immediately after
1824 the career of every prominent politician in the United States
was materially affected by the advent into political life of a single indi-
vidual â€” and it is positively asserted to be so as to those of Kentucky.
Ordinarily, nothing is more idle than to speculate as to the course of
events, had certain prime causes not transpired. But in the year
1824 nothing seemed more a matter of course than that John Quincy
Adams should succeed himself, or whether he did or not, that Henry
Clay would succeed him. The history of the twenty-five years pre-
ceding assuredly warranted the assumption. Jefferson had been sec-
retary of State under John Adams, and had succeeded him in the
presidency. Madison had been secretary under Jefferson and suc-
ceeded him. Monroe, who had been secretary under Madison, suc-
ceeded him to the presidency. '^^ John Quincy Adams had been
secretary under Monroe and he, likewise, succeeded his chief. Mr.
Parton calls it the period of the " secretary dynasty." Clay being
secretary under Adams, why should he not also attain the presi-
Clay had represented his country with great honor at the peace of
Ghent. His career in Congress had been brilliant â€” eclipsing all rivals.
He had been the friend and supporter of the preceding administrations
and enjoyed their favor. He had frequently been chosen to the
speakership of the House of Representatives, and acquitted himself
always with credit. His talents and patriotism were conceded on all
hands. The causes that helped Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and John
Quincy Adams to the presidency seemed to have lost none of their
force in his favor, but, on the contrary, pointed to him as the heir
apparent. Yet, with the precedents of a quarter of a century and all
these auspicious omens, the advent of a single man reversed all prece-
dents and turned the tide of events. That man, it is needless to
say, was Andrew Jackson. Why this was so is one of the curious
phenomena of political history.
''Mr. Hardin, in February, i8i6, in a speech in Congress, referred to Mr. Monroe as the "heir
What position, it may be asked, did General Jackson occupy at
that period in the esteem of the American pubhc ? It is remarked
at the outset that the estimate of him at that day was wonderfully
revolutionized by subsequent events, and the recollection of these
latter must be laid aside in order to see him as he appeared when his
shadow first fell across the luminous pathway of Henry Clay. West
of the AUeghenies the population was sparse and the country new.
The ability of Clay and other Kentuckians was regarded as somewhat
phenomenal by the Virginians, and altogether so by the inhabitants of
the Eastern States. The wise men came from the East, and that cir-
cumstance or some other equally occult has always created an impres-
sion to the eastward that he on whom the sun first rises has peculiar
gifts not vouchsafed to those on whom his beams fall later. Jackson
hved in a semi-civilized region called by Peter Parley the " far west,"
where it was supposed to be difficult to calculate latitude or longitude.
When later intercommunication had somewhat overcome the idea of
remoteness, another descriptive term succeeded â€” " the backwoods."
Jackson derived no advantage in the older States from his Tennes-
sean residence. In 1805 Aaron Burr described him as "once a
lawyer, after a judge, now a planter, a man of intelligence, and one of
those prompt, frank, ardent souls whom I love to meet." After this
Jackson had achieved his military renown. His service and success
at New Orleans ecHpsed all else that he had accomplished. His duels
and the lamentable affair of the executions of Arbuthnot and
Ambrister diminished his glory, yet by no means obscured it. He
was conceded by all to be brave, and the victory over Packenham was
an exceedingly gratifying event to the American people. Yet Jack-
son did not reach the standard then applied to presidential aspirants.
Thomas Jefferson had filled the measure of his countrymen's concep-
tion of a statesman. He was scholarly, wise, dignified, and experi-
enced in State craft. As a ruler he had compared favorably with the
head of any nation in modern or ancient times. Such a contrast was
unfortunate for Jackson. Yet there were those in that day as at all
times who were not content with the existing order of things. The
great army of the opposition was already in the field whose mission
was not so much to elevate some one, as to pull some other down.
The inquiry then was, as it has always been with that political con-
gregation, not who is most competent, or who is really preferred, but
rather who is most available. It was the idea of availability that
brought Jackson to the front, rather than because he was of presiden-
MR. CLAY S MISTAKE.
tial stature. He himself said in 1821, alluding to a suggestion of his
candidacy, "Do they think that I am such a d â€” d fool as to think
myself fit for the presidency of the United States?" But at the
approach of the campaign of 1828 there was opposition to Clay, oppo-
sition to New England, opposition to the Virginia junta, and opposi-
tion to Calhoun. These odds and ends sought a nucleus and found it
in Jackson. He had positive strength in the West. His soldiers
were scattered all over it. His military glory was especially brilliant
in that quarter, and there his sins of omission and commission were
looked upon indulgently.
In the older States his adherents were of the opposition, which was
for Jackson or any one else to win. Mr. Clay had resented Jackson's
candidacy in 1824 as a personal grievance. He claimed the presi-
dency for the West, and Jackson came in for a full and equal share of
all that claim amounted to. Jackson divided the West and seduced
Clay's neighbors from their allegiance. The latter regarded it a dan-
gerous precedent to elevate a military chieftain to the presidency
merely because he had won a great victory. " I can not believe,"
said he, "that killing two thousand five hundred Englishmen at New
Orleans qualifies for the various difficult and complicated duties of the
chief magistracy." But Mr. Clay underestimated the personal abil-
ity, the political sagacity and power with the people of General Jack-
son. He entertained a contempt for him. He sneeringly called him
the "hero" on all occasions. Between the two there soon arose
irreconcilable and irrepressible conflict. From the very outset this
conflict was beyond pacification. One or the other had inevitably to
go down. Jackson and Adams were the candidates in 1828, but the
defeat was Clay's.
"The election of Adams by the House of Representatives," says Mr.
Baldwin, " was turned to account, with all its incidents and surroundings,
with admirable effect by General Jackson. No one now believes the story of
bargain, intrigue, and management told upon Adams and Clay ; but General
Jackson believed it, and, what is more, made the country believe it in 1825.
Adams was an unpopular man, of an unpopular section of the country.
Crawford's friends were as little pleased as Jackson's with the course affairs
took. The warfare upon Adams Avas hailed by them with joy, and they
became parties to an opposition, of which, it was easy to see, Jackson was
to be the beneficiary.
"Clay's ambition or incaution betrayed him into the serious, and, as it
turned out, so far as concerns the presidency, the fatal, error of accepting
ofifice â€” the first office â€” under the administration whicli he called into power.
J <3 BEN HARDIN.
It was, in all politic respects, a most inexcusable blunder. The office added
nothing to his fame. It added nothing to his chances for the presidency.
He was, on the contrary, to share the odium of an administration at whose
head was a very obstinate man of impracticable temper, coming by a sort of
bastard process into office, bearing a name which was the synonym of polit-
ical heterodoxy, and whose administration was fated to run a gauntlet, from
the start to the close, through a long lane of clubs, wielded by the Forsythes,
McDuffies, Randolphs, and almost the whole talent of the South. It was
bad enough to vote for such a man. But Clay might have recovered from
that. But to vote for him and then take office under him was suicide. A
mere politician would have played the game quite differendy. The Craw-
ford vote was the vote to conciliate ; and Crawford, in all human probability,
would not live to be a candidate at the next election. One vote for him
would not have altered the result ; while had Adams or Jackson been elected
Clay would have retained his chances for the presidency and been uncom-
mitted with the advantage of the strength he had conciliated. But instead
of this he placed himself voluntarily in the minority to bear the brunt of the
assault of a majority that knew no mercy and would give no quarter. When
Adams was elected, opposition to him became the rallying cry of all the aspi-
rants ; and those who were rivals before now became confederates. Clay
was in all respects too prominent a man, as one of the actors in installing
the administration, and as a member of it, to escape assault; and it turned
out that without the powers or honors of President he had to endure the
assaults and annoyances of presidential opposition.
"Those assaults were not slow in coming. The public mind had lain fal-
low for some years, and was prepared for a bountiful crop of political agita-
tion. Jackson raised the war cry, and the hills and valleys all over the land
echoed back the shout. A lava tide of obloquy poured in a fiery flood over
Clay. It seemed to take him by surprise. The idea that his voting for
Adams, and then occupying the first office in his gift, seconded by the suj)-
ports which the hypotheses of ' bargain ' found, or were made for it, should
originate such a charge, seems never to have entered his imagination ; and
when it came he had the weakness to attempt to strangle it by personal intim-
idation or to avenge it by violence.
"The election of Adams, under such circumstances, was the making of
Jackson. It filled up his popularity. It completely nationalized it. The
State Rights party, to whom the name and lineage of Adams were enough
for opposiuon, turned at once to the man who could best defeat him, and
saw at a glance who that man was, and the popular sympathy was quickly
aroused in behalf of the honest old soldier circumvented by two cunning poli-
tician s^ '!'-
In 1832 Clay sought to retrieve the disaster of 1828, but was
defeated by Jackson. When the latter finally withdrew from public
* Party Leaders, page 300.
HARDIN AND JACKSON. I^q
life, his lieutenants succeeded to the warfare on Mr. Clay, which was
maintained until age, allied to repeated disaster, completed the con-
quest â€” indeed, until "Harry Percy's spur was cold."
Clay's defeat was the defeat of his h'iends. It closed to them the
avenues of Federal preferment. With occasional exceptions, the
Whig party maintained its ascendancy in Kentucky, but it cost an
unceasing struggle. Even this hard-bought triumph had its draw-
backs. The party was full of talent and ambition. The honors that
the State could confer were all the rewards in reach. Mr. Clay
expected to share in the highest of these. His loyal friends divided
the rest. The property was small, the distributees numerous, and
not unfrequently the Jackson men made spoil of it.
The points of difference between the characters of Mr. Clay and
Mr. Hardin were more numerous than the points of sympathy. But
the latter did exist. The characters of Hardin and Jackson were
antipodal. Hardin â€” like Clay â€” underestimated Jackson's political
strength. Instead of analyzing it and discovering why he was and
should be strong, a different course of logic was adopted. It was
unwarrantably assumed that the people distrusted, and should distrust,
a military chieftain, and that the election of such a person threatened
the stability of the Government. "The military principles have tri-
umphed," said Mr. Clay in 1828, "and triumphed in the person of
one devoid of all the graces, elegancies, and magnanimity of the
accomplished men of the profession. "* Jackson's rashness and cruelty
were exaggerated. His illiteracy, of itself, was supposed to render
his pretensions absurd. From such points of view (prior to 1828)
Hardin and the Kentucky Whigs contemplated the hero of New
But a political revolution was transpiring, and Jackson was on its
topmost wave. In 1828 Jackson's vote in Kentucky was nearly eight
thousand greater than that of Adams, notwithstanding that three
months before the Adams candidates for governor and lieutenant-gov-
ernor had been elected. Mr. Hardin's old adversaries, the New Court
party, had supported Jackson almost solidly â€” another reason why he
should not do so. When Jackson had attained the presidency, he rapidly
furnished arguments to his opponents. He proscribed his enemies
and rewarded his friends. He fell under the influence and control of
artful politicians. Obnoxious appointments were made. His self-will
and ungovernable passion betrayed him into many follies. His admin-
istration was not a little in contrast to all that had preceded. Party
- Letter of Mr. Clay to H. Niles.
spirit ran higher than ever before. The administration maintained a
newspaper organ (a practice then introduced) whose diatribes were of
unparalleled bitterness. The Whigs, or National Republicans, under
the lead of Clay, and the Democratic, or Locofoco followers of Jack-
son, were so widely separated by political feelings as to interrupt in
no small degree the social and business intercourse of communities.
The intense passion of the leaders passed down the rank and file.
Mr. Hardin, although a faithful Whig, was, however, not trans-
ported by his zeal. He, perhaps, excited party spirit in others that
he himself shared only to a limited extent. He never came to respect
General Jackson. He ridiculed and denounced him quite sincerely.
' It Won't Hold Another Drap."
He was elector for Clay in the presidential campaign of 1832. As
such, he canvassed the State, increasing his fame for oratory and con-
tributing to the triumph of his party in the State.
" I heard Mr. Hardin on Jackson, in 1832," writes Colonel Allen, "and
I then thought it the most excjuisite irony I ever listened to. He drew a
picture of Jackson's excessive vanity and how the magician of Kinderhook
(Mr. Van Buren) ministered to it, for his own purposes, and how compla-
cendy the old hero received the ministrations. He depicted the Presi-
dent occupying an easy chair in one of the private rooms of the White
THE WHIG PARTY IN KENTUCKY. 15I
House, a weak, ill-educated, vain old man, in the hands of the wily fox-
Van Burenâ€” who, being present, played on his inordinate vanity to subserve
his private ends.
''There was more truth than poetry in the picture," remarks Colonel
Allen. "The particular flattery being administered at the time was the
repetition of the number of high-sounding names his admiring followers
had bestowed upon him. 'General Jackson,' says Van Buren, 'you are