it ; and that is the reason why the federal government has never taken up
the subject. It is provided in the federal Constitution that ' Congress shall
have power to levy and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises,' to pay
the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the
United States, but it has no power to appropriate money for the jjurposes of
colonization at all ; and that, sir, has been decided over and over again. She
can pay debts and provide for the general welfare of the nation. By the
' general welfare of the nation,' is meant an implied power given to the gen-
eral government for the pur])Oses of carrying the expressed powers into
effect. That is the whole of it ; and, whenever you go beyond that, Con-
gress is omnipotent as the British Parliament, consisting of kings, lords, and
" But, sir. Congress has no power to appropriate money to send negroes
to Liberia. I again repeat, I beg, I beseech, I conjure, my colleague not to
REMARKS AGAINST BANISHMENT. r.^
press this amendment. He may have the power, and the House may agree
with him, but I do think it would be a reproach to this convention in the
eyes of posterity for hundreds of years to come. Suppose, sir, a negro gets
drunk ; you call it a crime, and seU him into servitude. Suppose he steals
a chicken ; you call it a crime, and sell him into servitude for life. Suppose
he goes fishing on the Sabbath; you call it a crime, and sell him into servi-
tude. Why, sir, you may make anything a crime if you please. Let the free
negroes take the same laws that we have. If they commit murder, let them
be hung: if they commit other crimes, let them go to jail or the penitentiary
Debar diem of any political rights-I am against that ; debar them of any
social nghts-I am against their intermixing with the white j^opulation at all
When you have done that, you have done all. Thev have no political rights
or power; and when we have the power we are bound to protect them In
the language of Ulysses, when he bowed in his rags :
"A suppliant bends, Oh ! pity human woe,
'Tis what the happy to the unhappy owe,"
MR. HARDIX'S OPINIONS ON SUNDRY SUBJECTS.
SINGLE instances of the extent of vision demonstrate the power of
sight. When Samson rent the hon's jaws his fame for strength did
not need its subsequent illustrations for support. Similarly, a man of
wit and sense may exhibit his powers in a sentence. A few opinions
of Mr. Hardin have been gathered which are characteristic, and it is
believed will enable the reader to better apprehend the man. They
are submitted without any special order, their dissimilar and fragment-
ary character not allowing any logical arrangement.
Alluding to the legal aphorism, "That it is better that ninety and
nine guilty men should escape rather than one innocent man be pun-
ished for crime," Mr. Hardin observed, 'T never saw an innocent man
convicted, while I have seen a thousand guilty men escape. I believe
that ninety-nine guilty scoundrels escape for every one that is pun-
He expressed, half a century ago, a view of the form of the British
government, novel then, but more familiar now: "There never was a
nation in the world that, except in name and a great many forms, per-
haps, was more republican than Great Britain. The crown does not
interfere with the acts of parliament at all. It is not responsible for
anything that is doneâ€” for the king, in the language of their govern-
ment, can do no wrong. The reason is, that he does nothing. His
ministers are responsible for all that is done wrong, and they get credit
for all that is done right. "
He was always perspicuous in his definitions. His distinction
between a monarchy and republic is elementary. " In a monarchy,
the power is all in the king, and the people have none except what is
ceded, and, hence, there are freqqent controversies. The people
claim power as it is conceded, which the king denies. The king claims
his power as a prerogative, for he is the fountain of power, and the
people have what he grants, and no more. In a republic, the foun-
tain of all power is in the people, and the officers have as much power
as the people grant, and no more. What would be a prerogative in
the king, is power in the people."
THE GREAT INFLUENCE OF CITIES. ; : i
He entertained an exalted opinion of the French nation and its
people. The enthusiastic sentiments of friendship among Americans
for Frenchmen dated its origin from the darkest days of the revolu-
tion. The folly that culminated in the disaster of Sedan has weak-
ened the admiration this side of the Atlantic formerly felt for France.
Mr. Hardin thus expressed the sentiments entertained by a majority
of his countrymen in 1849: "Well, God bless the French nation;
the French convention was a great thing. It was composed of a pow-
erful set of men, and it struggled and was convulsed in its effort for
liberty. Their king turned against them, and their queen and nobil-
ity did the same. All Europe declared war against them, and what
did the French convention do? They accepted battle with the whole
united crowned heads of Europe, and in the language of Dantonâ€”
'the gauge of battle was the head of a king thrown down.'"
One of his arguments against vesting the governor of the State
with an extensive appointing power, was based on the great local
influence at the seat of government. This, he urged, gave undue
advantage to those residing there. He spoke thus in the constitu-
tional convention on this subject: "We are not made of such stern
and obdurate stuff that we can not be operated upon here. We can
be softened down sometimes forty ways. There are a great man>-
ways in which a young man can be softened down. I will not enum-
erate them all. Why was it the seat of government was taken awaj-
from New Orleans? It was because the local power was too influen-
tial for the people. It was, in consequence, taken to Baton Rouge.
Why was it taken from Philadelphia? It was because the local power
was too great for the balance of the people to trust it there. Why
was it removed from the city of New York? For the same reason."
All his life he was jealous of the superior influence of towns
and cities over the agricultural districts, in affairs of government and
legislation. He evinced this feeling in his speech in Congress on the
Alexandria canal bill, referred to in former pages of this work.* The
same sentiment prompted him in the constitutional convention of 1849
to favor a restriction on the representation of cities. A warm debate
with James Guthrie (alluded to elsewhere) originated over this ques-
tion. Speaking of Louisville, he said : "It is as we know a cit\' of
great influence in the State. There was always a town that stood as
the metropolis of every State. That town is the one to which our
exports go and whence our imports come, and from this and other
causes it has an immense influence in the legislation of the country.
*See Chapter XIX.
It is the point to which all news is brought and the newspapers give it
great and undue influence."'
In a speech in the constitutional convention, replying to Hon.
William Preston, who had eulogized the city of Louisville, he said :
"The gentleman from Louisville has spoken exceedingly well and in
fine taste and style. He said that Louisville had a large portion of
wealth â€” that Louisville is wealthy and that Jefferson county is so also.
It is true. It is fortunately situated in the State of Kentucky. It is
the garden spot of America. But much of that is owing to its posi-
tion and locality. It seems to me, though, that it ought not to be
Aaron's rod and swallow up the rods of the other magicians."
To those residing out of Kentucky, a treat is in store when some
adequate pen shall write the history of the agitation in the State for
the removal of the capital from its present location. From generation
to generation this strife has progressed, with fair prospect of continu-
ing far out toward the boundless shores of eternity. The debate on
the question, however, does not seem at all amusing to the Kentucky
tax-payer, when he reflects that the drafts on the State treasury to pa\-
for those discu.ssions would aggregate a sum sufficient to erect an
edifice eclipsing in magnificence the sculptured grandeur of ancient
There were reasons disconnected with the question of capital
removalâ€” not to be mentioned hereâ€” why Mr. Hardin did not think
kindly of Frankfort. The main capital building, unchanged since the
time he spoke, he thus described: "If this miserable building,
drawn after a Grecian temple, and looking for all the world from
across the bridge (which it fronts) like the end of another bridge to
the hill back of here â€” and which is a disgrace to the State â€” if it
should take fire, in the name of God, let it burn. We have had two
Capitols burned down, and a meeting-house or two used as such, and
I don't care how soon we get rid of this mean, contemptible, bridge-
He was opposed to foreign immigration. His opposition did not
in the least rest on the apprehension of danger from the control of a
foreign spiritual powerâ€” as professed by a political party that sprung
into life a few years after his death. At the very time he was pro-
fessing this opposition, he, in common with the whole people, were
tendering enthusiastic welcome to Kossuth, the Hungarian exile, then
a visitor in America. His rea.son for opposition to foreign immigra-
tion he thus expressed: "I pity the poor Irish, the oppressec^ Eng-
FOR KENTUCKV AGAINST THE WOKLH. 553
lish, the Scotch, the French, the Itahans, the Austrians, and tlic
Hungarians, yet, is it very pohtic to invite many of them here? We
have to take care of ourselves. No one can help seeing that the pau-
pers who are coming here in such numbers (or wealthy men, if you
will have it so) will make a population to press on the means for the
support of the rest. What will we do with the sixty millions there will
be in this country in forty years, if this is not stopped in some way?"
Thirty-six years only have passed since this question was propounded,
and there is now embarrassment in answering it. The accurac}-
with which the increase of population was estimated indicated a
sagacious foresight close akin to prophecy. He favored stronger nat-
uralization laws as a means of checking immigration. He thought
that character of population undesirable, because ignorant of, and not
in sympathy with, the principles and institutions of our Government.
He preferred Americans above the people of other countries, and he
gave his affection to Kentuckians above all Americans. "1 would
not give one stout-hearted Kentuckian," said he, " for a dozen Cape
Cod or Passamaquaddy men ; nor would I give a dozen Kentuckians
for ten thousand of those who dwell east of the Rhine. I pity them,
but my feelings are for Kentucky."
He never wearied in praising his own State and his people. Per-
haps, he was â€”
"To her virtues very kind,
To her faults a little blind."
"We are a happy medium," said he, "between the North and the
South, The Southern orators go off something like the fellow in the
doggerel song â€” Jim Crow, I believe â€”
" ' There was a Hoosier came to town,
He swallowed a hogshead of molasses down,
The hoops flew offâ€” the hogshead bust,
And he went off in a thunder-gust.'
"I do think Kentucky has produced not only the best ai\d happi-
est style of oratory of any State in the Union, but (I may be mis-
taken) the best in the world. I think there is as general diffusion of
education among the people of Kentucky as in any other State. I
recollect a eentleman â€” I think his name was Smith â€” some years ago
taking notes as to the number of persons who could not read or write,
in a certain town in this State. He had reported everx' man on the
grand jury as not able to read or write his own name. They had
been quizzing him, as there was not a man of them who could not
read and write."
Mr. Hardin had the most impHcit faith in "blood." He believed
it hereditary â€” he believed that good and bad qualities passed from
parent to child, even to the third and fourth generation â€” by an inex-
orable law of descent. An honorable ancestry raised with him a pre-
sumption of honest and virtuous offspring. But if, in the ascending
line, he discovered a "black sheep," he distrusted the latest genera-
tion, however remote.
Individual merit could not dispel the ancestral cloud. The mark
of Cain, he thought, might be distinguished in his living seed, if any
there be. To his mind the poet did not exaggerate who spoke of cer-
tain noblemen, whose â€”
" ancient but iejnoble ])lood
Had crept through scoundrels since the flood."
This behef constituted all his life a rule of action with him. Not
unusually, in the court-house, he began with a hostile witness:
"What is your name, sir?"
" What was your father's name?"
"What was your mother's maiden name?"
"Who was your maternal grandfather?" etc., etc.,
Until he struck some disreputable strain, when, with a significant
"Ah!" he would dismiss the witness, leaving the jury to suspect (a
suspicion he confirmed in argument), that he had detected a hneal
descendant of the original Ananias.
Mr. Hardin's views on the powers of a constitutional convention
were at variance with those of some of his colleagues. The theory that
a State constitution is in any sense a "contract" with some one, which
the people have not the sovereign power to abrogate, was more ingen-
ious than it was substantial. He disputed it. Undoubtedly, he
announced the true rule for measuring the powers of a convention :
"We have the power to do anything that a nation can do, unless for-
bidden by the Constitution of the United States, and the laws of
Congress made in pursuance of it, and the treaties made by the
United States in pursuance of the treaty-making power. * * *
There is no restraint upon us, except so far as regards these ; and, if
it were not for the Constitution of the United States, we might
declare any gentleman of this convention king or emperor to-morrow,,
OPPOSITION TO FREE SCHOOLS. 555
and he would be kin^ or emperor until the people saw fit to dethrone
him, which I suppose they would do very quickly. Well, can we not
set the negroes free if we choose? I should think so, compensation
or no compensation, those now in existence, or those hereafter to be
The subject of rotation in office is ever recurring, and always of
interest. Excepting two offices (governor and sheriff) rotation was
not enforced by constitutional provision. Mr. Hardin especially
urged the extension of the principle to the judiciary, but in this he
was overruled. " Nothing in the world," said he, "so purifies and
clarifies the political atmosphere as rotation in office ; give no man a
life estate in office. What is the principle that fostered the growth of
the Roman republic, until from a small city it grew to a power that
overran the world? It was rotation in office â€” that no man who filled
an office the first year should be re-eligible the second. That princi-
ple was first broken upon by Caius Marius, and from that day may be
dated the downfall of the Roman republic. You purge your political
atmosphere by rotation in office."
He opposed voting by ballot. He believed it would be impossi-
ble to prevent fraud. "The difficulty was," said he, "that after the
tickets were counted and destroyed, that there would be no chance to
detect the fraud."
Referring to the legislative power to grant divorces â€” a power
existing under the constitution of 1799 â€” he said: "I am very much
in favor of prohibiting the Legislature from exercising the power of
granting divorces. It has been a growing evil for twenty years, and
last year I understand there were some three hundred cases or more.
It is time to stop this kind of legislation."
In the constitutional convention, Mr. Hardin was in the minority
in his opposition to free schools. He was mistaken as to their
impracticability, as experience has long since demonstrated, but yet,
some of the reasons against them then existing are inherent in the
system. In thirty-five years, the occupation of a teacher and of
teaching has been revolutionized in many respects, and all for the bet-
ter. The period rapidly approaches when it will justly rank with the
other learned professions.
" I have no opinion of free scliools, anyhow â€” none in the world. They
are generally under the management of a miserable set of luimbug teachers,
at best. The first teacher that n child has, when he starts with his A, B. C,
or is learning to spell /^/a, or /jairr, or absolute, should be a first-rate scholar.
556 BEN HARDIN.
He should know exactly how to spell and pronounce the English langaage ;
and should understand the art of composition and the construction of sen-
tences. In the language of Dean Swift, he should have ' proper words, and
they should be put in proper places.' The worst taught child in the world,
is he who is taught by a miserable country schoolmaster ; and I will appeal
to the experience of every man here, who ever went to those schools, to say
how hard it is to get clear of the habits of incorrect reading and pronounc-
ing they have contracted at these country schools. For myself, I will say it
cost me nearly as much labor as the study of the legal profession itself, to get
clear of this miserable mode of pronouncing, contracted before I went to a
collegiate schoolâ€” at the age of seventeen â€” your wov/d, and couA/, and
SHOU/d, and all of that.
" I knew a man in Grayson who was called to prove a settlement between
two litigants, in a case where a small amount, some thirty, forty, or fifty dollars
was involved. He gave in his testimony, and every now and tlien he would
throw in a word of four, five, or six syllables, utterly inappropriate to the
sense; like putting a magnificent, gilded saddle and splendid bridle, with
plated bit and curb, on a miserable, broken-down pony, or an ox ; there was
just about as much propriety in his application of these words ; and I saw at
once he was a country schoolmaster. He had proved the making of the set-
tlement, and said I, ' When did it take place?' ' On the 39th of October,'
said he. 'Oh! the 39th of October, you say.' 'Yes, sir.' 'Are you not
mistaken; was it not the 29th?' 'No, sir. I know the use of words as
well as you do, Mr. Hardin, and say it was the 39th.' I then asked him
how many days there were in October. He said he did not exactly recol-
lect, but somewhere between forty and fifty. ' How many months are there
in the year?' ' Oh! there you are a little ahead of me, but I know there
are over ten and under fifteen.' ' You are a schoolmaster ? ' ' Yes, ' said he,
placing his hands on his hips, and looking very self-important, ' thank God,
that is my vocation, and I am making an application for a free school up
here, and I want you to help me, if you will' ' Sir,' said I, ' I will do it with
all my heart, for you come exactly up to my notion of a free-school teacher."
Mr. Hardin thus distinguished between beautiful and effective
speakers: "The speech of the first," said he, "is like music. It
charms you while listening to it, but its effect is transient, and when
the speech ends the impression passes away with the occasion. The
effective speaker does not, or may not please so well while he speaks,
but he furnishes his hearer something to think about and carry away
Speaking of biographies, he said there were only two he knew of
worth reading: " Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson." and " Southey's
Life of Lord Nelson."
OMNIPOTENCE OF THE REPORTER. 557
Mr. Hardin was not of those who deh<rht to exalt all that is ancient
at the cost of all that is modern â€” who habitually depreciate the present
and praise the past. He enjoyed his surroundings and the virtues of
his generation, and appreciated them at their worth. "The world is
advancing," said he, " the world is improving. We appear to be
standing still, but we move as the world moves in all the arts and
sciences. We do not see our advancement, but we are advancing.
The world is improving as well in the arts and sciences generally, as
in the science of government."
That great occasions develop great men was never so often and
singularly illustrated as during the late unhappy civil war. For the
matter of that, the history of all nations and ages furnishes argument
to the same purport.
" Mankind," said Mr. Hardin, " is equal to any emergency. When our
revolution broke out, how was it ? Great Britain said, you have not a man
in America who can command a company of regulars ; you have no talents ;
but the moment we struck for independence, a thousand, aye, ten thousand,
showed themselves on the theater of action, both in the cabinet and in the
field. Do you think the Almighty creates men for particular puri)oses ?
No, but it is the natural genius of men to resist slavery and bondage, and
man in America walked abroad in his own grandeur and majesty. It was
the occasion that made Washington and all the generals, and all the states-
men of that dav. It was the occasion that made Massena, who fought four-
teen years in the royal ranks of Louis XVI., and never knew what energy
he had. So it was with Bernadotte, who fought in our ranks. It was the
occasion that made Massena, and Bernadotte, Mirabeau, and others."
Speaking of the imperfections of the new constitution in the closing
days of the convention, he said: "There is no paper in the world
that ingenious men can not find fault with ; there is no language used
that they can not pick holes in ; even the Almighty himself, when he
delivered his divine laws to the Jews, was not always understood."
The omnipotence of the reporter in 1835 was as fully established
as in this year of grace 1887. Goldsmith evidently had the power of
a reporter in mind in the lines:
" Princes and lords iiiav fiourish or iiiav fade,
A breath can make them as a breath has made."
If the "pen be mightier than the sword," how infinitely more
effective is the reporter's pencil than all implements of war? Mr.
558 BEN HARDIN.
Hardin felt all this. " It is a melancholy reflection, " said he in Congress,
* ' to see and know how much a man's fame and reputation in this House
is made to depend upon the attention or neglect of the reporters of
the debates, or upon their whims and caprices, or their good or bad
feelings toward the speaker or the cause he is advocating. The pub-
lic good, however, requires their attendance here, and we must bear
with them as a necessary evil."
These illustrations of Mr. Hardin's powers of thought and force of
expression could be indefinitely extended. Some of them are com-
mon-place, and others express principles and sentiments open to crit-
icism. Yet, so he thought and spoke â€” and from these fragments,
measure may be taken of the intellectual proportions of the man.
PERSONAL APPEARANCE. 5-Q
tSA R. HARDIN was of striking personal appearance. Stalwart is
1 \ the one word that most nearly describes him. He was full six
feet in height, of large bone and frame, but not fleshy. " He did not
appear," said one who knew him in 185 i, " to be a'tall man, but he-
was strongly made, and had evidently been a powerful man, physi-
cally, in earlier life." Prior to his fiftieth year, he was erect, but about
that period, from habits of study and inclining his head in deep reflec-
tion, he acquired a decided stoop in the shoulders. His complexion
was fair, and reddened by exposure ; hair light and reddish in hue â€”
fine in texture and worn rather short for that period, and loosely
thrown from the broad and high forehead. His head was unusually
large and well set on his shoulders â€” the latter inclining to droop, giv-
ing the neck apparently increased length. He was not only broad
shouldered, but thick and round chested. Ears and nose large, the
latter hinting at neighborship with the firm-set chin. In his profile
there was a decided suggestion of Knickerbocker caricatures. The nose
was long, slightly aquiline, and when in a speech he paused and pressed
the end to one side with his thumb â€” it seemed to share in the humor
that twinkled in the eye. Eyebrows slightly bushy and projecting
over the clearest and keenest of grayish blue eyes, which many, in
describing their penetrating power, called "goose" eyes. Thin lips