State." His oratory possessed a magnetic and impassioned quality
that caught the popular ear. Of him it was said that in the convcn-
*This allusion is to a supposed attempt on the life of Hon. David Merriwether by an "open
clause " partisan.
tion he was better at elaborating than breaking the route on any
question. He was a leading Democrat, but it has been intimated that
he had a quick ear for the suggestions of the younger and Whig del-
egate from Louisville.
Garrett Davis, of Bourbon, sacrificed his usefulness by becoming
the leader of the Native American element, and he did not retrieve
himself by taking ground that the right of the master to his slave was
above constitutional sanction. He was impetuous and impractical.
Lucius Desha, also of Bourbon, was of limited vocabulary and a
prosy speaker, but a good parliamentarian, and had the faculty of
drawino-, with few words but wonderful vividness, lines of character
that he seemed to apprehend with remarkable insight.
Archibald Dixon, of Henderson, was, par excellence, the leader of
the Whig party in the convention. He was a man of fine and impres-
sive presence. His knightly bearing and air of high breeding indi-
cated one of nature's nobility. He was a fiery, fluent, and persuasive
Seleucius Garfield, of Fleming, a Yermonter by birth, was a man
of decided talent. In the canvass for delegate, his colleague, Martin
P. Marshall, had referred to him on one occasion as the Yankee ped-
agojrue, whereat Garfield retorted with such vigor that Marshall
was afterward content to let him alone, and it was even suspected a
treaty was entered into to secure their joint election, which, indeed,
Richard D. Gholson, of Ballard, to Whig perception was a dema-
gogue. One says, " he was potential in the ' Purchase' and faithfully
followed Hardin." Another: "He was a man of hard, common
sense, a good member, though radical on the subject of extending the
James Guthrie, of Louisville, possessed sterling sense, and was
more conservative than his party, to which, however, as one of its
leaders he was subservient. He was not an orator, but a forcible
speaker. He was full of ideas and an earnest thinker. Aside from
his official position, his influence in the convention was very consid-
Mark E. Huston, of Spencer, stood high in the legal profession.
Thomas James, a farmer of Hickman, did credit to himself and the
then new " west end," he represented.
George W. Kavanaugh, of Anderson, a good lawyer, was exceed-
ingly clear in his perceptions as to the true principles of government.
Thomas N. Lindsay, of Franklin, fell below the expectation which
his known talents had justified.
Dr. Alexander K. Marshall, of Jessamine, was of that talented fam-
ily of which Thomas F. Marshall is best known. Dr. Marshall was
a radical Democrat, and though not equal to his brother in culture and
genius, possessed strong intelligence.
Martin P. Marshall, of Fleming, was a man of integrity and polit-
ical sagacity, proved an excellent member, and has been pronounced
one of the brainiest in the convention.
Richard L. Mayes, of Graves, was a
very strong man intellectually.
John H. McHenry, of Ohio, a kins-
man of Mr. Hardin, was of ripe judg-
ment, well-balanced faculties, a clear
and vigorous thinker.
Thomas P. Moore, of Mercer, nick-
named "Free Tom," had had consid-
erable legislative and congressional ex-
perience, was influential with the Dem-
ocracy, to which he belonged, but for
reasons somewhat conjectural eschewed
debate. John W. Stevenson
Elijah F. Nuttall, of Henry, was a singular genius, a warm Demo-
crat, and very whimsical in his opinions. He was ardent in debate,
had decided views on all questions, but influenced no one on an\ -
Ignatius A. Spalding, of Union (kinsman of the distinguished
lawyer and politician of Morganfield, who bears his name), was a
typical Kentucky farmer â€” vigorous, hearty, frank, intelligent, and
honest. When Garrett Davis precipitated the Native American issue
upon the convention, Mr. Spalding led the opposition.
John W. Stevenson, of Kenton, had not at that time attained his
full intellectual maturity, but proved a useful, hard-working member.
He was conceded a leading place in the convention, not only for his
legal acquirements, but for his well-poised temper and sound and
intelligent statesmanship. As a Democrat, he had some difficulty in
restraining the impetuosity of his co-partisans within his own con-
servative views of propriety. When the Green river Democrac)-.
and that of the ''Purchase," were inclined to stampede under the
incitation of Hardin or Gholson, Stevenson would encounter them
532 BEN HARDIN.
with some scrap of a letter from Washington, Jefferson, Madison, or
Monroe with such urbanity that if he did not control them, he gave
no offense. It was charged that he could aptly quote from the writ-
ings of Mr. Madison, no matter what the question â€” whether the com-
position of a custard or the construction of a constitution.
Philip Triplett. of Daviess, was a useful member of the conven-
tion, and in harmony with its more conservative aims.
Squire Turner, from Madison â€” on the line between the bluegrass
and the mountains â€” was very potential, on account of locality, as
well as of his marked talents and consummate lawyership.
Silas Woodson, of Knox, was a bright man. and has since abund-
antly redeemed, by a brilliant career in a sister State, the promise of
his early manhood.
Twenty-four members (so far as the report shows) took no part
whatever in the debates, and possibly in so doing, acted more wisely
than some who w^ere heard "for their much speaking."
"The debates of the convention were taken verbatim," says Col-
onel John W. Finnell (who had charge of reporting), "but they were
very much cut down in the published debates. A full report would
have made them intolerably voluminous."
On December 21st, the constitution was completed and the conven-
tion adjourned until the first Monday in June, following. Mean-
time, the product of its labor was assailed with vigor, and as vigor-
ously defended. The most notable debate of that period occurred
in the hall of the House of Representatives in January, 1850, betw^een
Mr. Hardin and the famous Thomas F. Marshall. They not only
dwelt on the merits of the questions involved, but enforced their
respective views with a degree of sarcasm, wit invective, and ridicule
never before witnessed in the State. This tournament lasted several
days. Marshall established a campaign paper at Frankfort, styled the
Old Guard. The Old 6^;/Â«;y/ fiercely attacked the new constitution.
of which The Champion of Reform was the advocate. Throughout
the State, speakers were on the stump, exerting their logic and elo-
quence for and against the new form of government. No one was
more untiring and enthusiastic than Mr. Hardin, and an Ajax he
proved himself. As he had predicted, the new constitution was
approved by the vote of the people in May, by a decisive majority.
To him the result was doubly gratifying. Not only were the prin-
ciples triumphant, which he had long cherished, but at the close of
his career he had crowned the labors of his life with a master-piece.
ORIGIN OF CLERICAL DISABILITY. 533
A PLEA FOR THE CLERGY.
VHEN Virginia formed its first constitution, that instrument con-
tained a provision prohibiting clergymen from seats in its legis-
lative body. The cause of this discrimination may be readily traced to
jealousy of the church establishment of colonial times. The Estab-
lished or Episcopal church had been supported by an annual stipend,
levied by authority of the colonial government. Naturally, this levy
generated discontent and bad feelihg on the part of other religious
sects. This burden, and the infliction of legal penalties against dis-
senters, had produced and intensified the opposition to the union
of church and State. The first fruit of these, under Republican rule,
was the constitutional inhibition in question. Rev. John L. Waller,
in the constitutional convention of 1849, S^^e the following account
of its origin :
"There was some show of an excuse for it, but not the shadow of reason
in its justification, when it was first introduced into an American constitu-
tion, in that of Virginia, adopted in 1776. That State was then influenced
by peculiar circumstances. Previous to that time, under colonial regula-
tions, the Episcopal church was established there by law. To support the
clergy of that church, certain lands, called glebe lands, were appropriated ;
besides a large stipend in tobacco was annually paid them. This became
oppressive. Other denominations of religionists sprang up, who felt unwill-
ing to support a church to which they did not belong, and to whose
doctrines they did not subscribe. The law was appealed to by the friends
of the establishment. Persecution ensued. My own ancestors suffered
severely â€” were whipped and cast into prison. This odious and persecuting
establishment was put down the year that the first Virginia constitution was
ordained. The ministers of all other denominations submitted to it quietly,
because it debarred their persecutors from ofiice.
" But there was another and more controlling reason for this restriction.
The great statesman who drafted that constitution was no friend to religion.*
He had tasted and felt the influence of the French philosophy, which just
then began to lower upon the brow of the moral firmament, and soon after
shrouded in darkest gloom the mora! heavens of the civilized world. The
great men of the earth, and many of our own statesmen, wore enveloped in its
â– -â– = Thomas Jefferson.
darkness. This philosophy subsequently led its disciples to declare that
there was no God, and that death was an eternal sleep. It was, I say, the
promptings in part of this philosophy, which first gave birth to this proscrip-
tion of gospel ministers, "t
When in 1792, Kentucky â€” Virginia's eldest daughter â€” started on
her own account, the disabling clause referred to was dutifully, though
without any special rhyme or reason, incorporated into her funda-
mental law. " No minister of a religious society =1^ =i^ * shall be
a member of either house (of the General Assembly) during his con-
tinuance to act as a minister." So the provision ran. Again in 1799,
when a second constitution was constructed, still more emphatic lan-
guage was adopted : " No person while he continues to exercise the
functions of a clergyman, priest, or teacher of any religious society or
sect" * * * shall be eligible as a member of the Legislature.
It is not known what discussion, if any, occurred at the adoption of
either of these provisions. If any, doubtless the calamity of uniting
church and State was a controlling consideration.
When the constitutional convention of 1849 assembled, it was the
preponderating sentiment of that body, as well as of the constituency
it represented, that Church and State should still be kept separate, and,
as an indispensable precaution to effect this vital object, that clergymen
should be debarred from taking active part in the conduct of political
affairs. The reasons for this sentiment at that day were certainly more
imaginary than real. The political sagacity of the priestly Ximenes,
Richelieu, and Mazarin has possibly received some adornment from
partial historians, and undoubted exaggeration from the facile roman-
cist. Anyway, the clerical profession of modern times is exceedingly
barren of types resembling those famous cardinals. A political preacher
â€” with due reverence be it said â€” is most usually a political maladroit.
fThe provision in question was perpetuated by the Virginia convention of 1829â€” in some respects
the most notable body of this century. It received brief consideration, as appears from the report :
"The question being then put on the second paragraph, Mr. Henderson moved to strike out the
provisor (which inhibits the election of priests and ministers of the Gospel to the Legislature!. Mr.
Henderson put his motion on the ground of principle. It was a conviction of his mind which he could
not yield even to the views of his constituents. He considered such exclusion directly at war with the
principles laid down in the previous part of the resolution.
" Mr. Clopton demanded the ayes and nays, which were ordered.
" Mr. Giles, in a short speech, pressed these two points â€” that ministers were taken from among the
people by two important privileges. First, the license to preach, and second, the exemption from mili-
tary duty. This made them a peculiar and privileged order. If those privileges were taken away, it
might be more fair to admit them to political privileges, though on that point, he gave no opinion.
"Mr. Campbell, of Brooke, suggested that these objections applied with equal force to justices of
the peace, and nobody contended for e.xcluding them."
The vote being taken, ex-President Madison was of the fourteen who voted to strike out, while
Philip P. Barbour, Chief-Justice Marshall, ex-President Tyler, and John Randolph were of the eighty-
One who voted against the mouon. â€”DeiaUs 0/ Virginia Convention 0/ 1829-30, page 707.
JOHN L. WALLER. 535
If the clergy exhibit but httle genius for politics, still less is anything
discoverable in American tendencies that points churchward, or threat-
ens alliance with any religion.
But in 1849, it was urged that ambitious religionists would corrupt
the church for political ends. The argument for perpetuating the
poHtical disability of the clergy also found fresh force from a prevailing
idea of that particular period. The agitation of the slavery question
had produced great feverishness in the public mind. Popular senti-
ment was overwhelmingly in favor of that peculiar institution. Not
only those who were openly unfriendly to it, but those even suspected
of being so, were under popular ban. The opponents of slavery were
classed as emancipationists. To be an emancipationist was the unpar-
donable political sin, and worked for the culprit political damnation.
It so happened that in the mere handful constituting this party in
Kentucky, were ranged certain distinguished clergymen, who, in talent
and attainments, were the peers of the brightest intellects of the coun-
try. They assumed to speak for their estate, and did so with such
boldness and force that the undiscriminating public suspected all cler-
gymen of emancipation tendencies. Unreasonable and unjust as was
the suspicion so originating, yet it was none the less potential.
John L. Waller, member of the convention from Woodford
county, led what opposition there was in the constitutional convention
to the further continuance of clerical disability. He was a minister of
the Baptist church, and had received the degree of doctor of divinity.
He had long been editor of the Banner newspaper, of Louisville, the
organ of his denomination in the West. He was justly distinguished,
in and out of the State, for great learning, and as a graceful writer and
a forcible and eloquent speaker â€” ripe both in years and fame. He
had become a candidate for delegate to the convention under some-
what remarkable circumstances. The celebrated orator and politician,
Thomas F. Marshall, had for some time been a candidate for delegate
from Woodford county, and was making public addresses to forward
his election. Dr. Waller happened to be present on one occasion
when Marshall delivered a public speech, and dissenting from certain
views relating to Bible teaching on the subject of slavery, asked per-
mission to reply. This was denied by that haughty child of genius
unless Waller would become a competing candidate. This condition
Marshall supposed would silence his dissatisfied auditor. Somewhat
to his surprise, the latter arose, announced himself a candidate for
delegate, and delivered a vigorous response. The debate thus begun
536 BEN HAKOIN.
continued from day to day, and soon became tlie most exciting the
State had ever witnessed. As a poHtical speaker Mr. Marshall had
no equal in Kentucky, save Henry Clay, while his opponent was
equally unrivaled in the pulpit. Dr. Waller, having become a candi-
date merely to obtain the privilege of answering some of the points
urged by Marshall, intended to have withdrawn before the election.
This, however, his friends would not allow. He was, consequently,
voted for, and defeated his opponent by a majority of two hundred
and nineteen votes.
His speech in the convention on the subject was a consummate refu-
tation of all the reasons urged in support of the political dLsability ot
the clergy. He argued that the creation of this constitutional disabil-
ity was nothing less than proscription ; that it violated the great repub-
lican adage of " equal rights to all and exclusive privileges to none."
He argued, that if seeking political office was a breach of the minis-
ter's duty to the church, the State could not punish it without usurping
the functions of the church. Said he :
"The exclusion applies, you perceive, to any preacher, teacher, or priest
of religion. A man may preach anything else â€” deism or atheism â€” and the
restriction does not apply. He may teach the grossest immorality â€” he may
inculcate robbery under the specious name of gambling â€” or murder, bap-
tized as dueling, * ^' * he may teach the doctrines of devils, and sdll
be eminently qualified for office. It is only the man that teaches that life
and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel â€” who seeks to diffuse the
divine influences of Christianity, that is to be proscribed from all direct par-
ticipation in the affairs of legislation."
Garrett Davis, member from Bourbon county, presented to the con-
vention a written memorial signed by two clergymen whose names
have long been familiar in Kentucky â€” Stuart Robinson and George
W. Brush â€” the first of the Presbyterian, the latter of the Methodist
church. In this memorial, the arguments against the disabling provis-
ion were succinctly and forcibly set forth. Assuming that one of the
reasons for disability was the real or supposed spiritual power and con-
trol exercised by the clergy over the laity, it was urged that this objec-
tion did not apply to Protestant ministers, who disavowed any such
power or control â€” and it was insisted that the Protestant preacher
should not suffer for the alleged objectionable principles and practices
of the Roman Catholic priest.
Several delegates spoke in favor of continuing the disabilities of the
clergy, but they signally failed to refute the trenchant arguments of
REMARKS ON CLERICAL DISABILITY. 537
Waller. The efforts of the latter were seconded only by the speeches
of Seleucius Garfield and Mr. Hardin.
The latter spoke as follows :
" I expect I will have to give a vote against a majority of the conven-
tion, and I shall make only a few remarks before doing so. I have, for the
last forty years, from time to time, noted the exclusion from the legislative
halls of Kentucky, of the ministers of the Gospel, and I could never see any
good reason for it. I recollect when there were efforts made to force the
president of the United States into a recognition of the independence of
Spanish America. In some remarks I made in Congress on that subject, I
said I did not believe they could establish a republic there. I'hey were all
of one religious denomination. And it turned out to be true. Our gov-
ernment is very happily balanced. All our foreign relations, all our matters
and things belonging to the nation, and the army and navy, are managed by
the government of the United States ; and that government is divided into
three departmentsâ€” the legislative, executive, and judicial. They check and
balance each other. But it would soon become a consolidated government
and a despotism, were it not that the municipal regulations of the country
belong to the State government, and they are divided into three departments
â€” the legislative, executive, and judicial. They check and balance each
other. The State governments balance the general government, and the
general government balances the State governments. And the State gov-
ernments check and balance each other. But the great check is this : We
have in the United States, and in all the States and Territories, no established
religion, and so a great many religious denominations have sprung up. They
are all worshiping God and their Saviour in the manner their conscience
points out to them. And it is fortunate for the United States that no one
sect has, perhaps, one-twentieth part of the people.
"I have some statistics of the different religious denominations in Keji-
tucky, which I think correct, which were taken about three years ago. Of
Methodists, there are about one hundred and fifty ministers, thirty thousand
white members ; United Baptists, about fifty thousand ; Reformers, from
forty to fifty thousand, white and black ; Old-School Presbyterians, ninety
ministers, and ten thousand members; New-School Presbyterians, twenty-
one ministers and twelve hundred members ; Episcopals, twenty-seven min-
isters and about twelve hundred members; and of Roman Catholics, fifty to
sixty ministers and a white membership of forty thousand. The winkle
together of the religious denominations will not amount to more than thirty
thousand voters. We have now about one hundred and fifty thousand vot-
ers in the State. What danger then is there of a unity of church and State.
There is a gentleman over the way. I do not know whether he is a minis-
ter of the Gospel or not. Well, if he says he belongs to the church, and he
538 BEN HARDIN.
has two hundred and fifty voters ; here is my worthy friend before us (Mr.
Waller) who has eight thousand two hundred and fifty voters. Will
there be any combination of the Methodists and Baptists ? No ; you might
as well expect oil and water to mix. There can be no collusion, and will be no
conspiracy, especially when out of one hundred and fifty-two thousand there
are only thirty thousand members of the church. I do not vouch for my infor-
mation being correct, but a gentleman connected with the church has fur-
nished me with the statistics I have read. What class of men are the clergy ?
They are moral, virtuous, and intelligent men, and, as a body, are the most
learned men in Kentucky, and I say this without fear of contradiction.
Some, to be sure, start out on the ground that they have a calling that way.
They say Christ made preachers out of fishermen, and that learning is cal-
culated to spoil the preachers. The Catholic clergy are learned men, wt-
know. The father of the gentleman who prayed this morning, sent him
four years to Rome that he might be educated. All denominations are try-
ing to give their clergy an education.
"We know that the Presbyterians are doing everything to instruct their
clergy. So are the Methodists, so are the Baptists, and so is every religious
denomination. And it must be confessed that they are a learned body of
men â€” much more learned and intelligent, generally, than the doctors and
lawyers. I will not say that there is more virtue, but I say there is as much.
I will not say they possess more natural gifts. Well, what harm have they
done ? Here is my friend near me (Mr. Waller), one of the best informed
men in the house ; he has been here nine weeks, and he has troubled the
house but once, and that was to-day. There is the gentleman from Mason,
who has not spoken much, but when he does speak, speaks well. We all
expect to die in a few days, he goes off so much like â€”
"Hark ! from the tombs, a doleful sound,
Miue ears attend the cry ;
Ye living men come view the ground,
Where you must shortly lie."
** I am in favor of the admission of the clergy. There is no exclusion in
Congress. I have never seen less than from ten to twenty there, and they
are as praiseworthy a body of men, and as good members as you can find
anywhere. I see nothing in any of these men to exclude them, whether they
are Presbyterians, or Baptists ; and there is not a man whom I would more
willingly meet than my worthy Catholic friend, the priest, who prays for us
every few days. These men have a right to go to the Legislature. They
pay their taxes as we do â€” they submit to the laws, and they help to sustain
the government. And if there is a war, do you not see them at the head of
your regiments, volunteering to pray to the Almighty for the success of our