William Garrett.

Reminiscences of public men in Alabama : for thirty years, with an appendix online

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and appointment of the business committees, Hon. T. J. Judge, Chairman of the
State Executive Committee, with a few eloquent prefatory remarks, offered the fol
lowing resolutions, which were adopted by a rising vote :

It is proper thart a tribute should be paid to the memory of those who have ren
dered signal services to their country.

That Gen. James H. Clanton was eminently entitled to this distinction is uni
versally conceded. From his youth up to the moment of his death, he responded,
with alacrity, to every appeal which was made by the country upon her citizens.
As a soldier, he was as brave as the bravest: but there were thousands like him.
It is not then to him, as a soldier, we offer this tribute. When war ceased to exist,
when the cause which he loved so well was lost, when the whole people were
clothed in the drapery of mourning, when the fair promises of victors were trans
formed to the bloody decrees of tyrants, when the very hearts of our people were
almost ground to dust by the iron heel of despotism ; and when even hope itself
had almost gone, it was then that the voice of Gen. Clanton was heard calling
upon the people to arouse from their lethargy ; to shake off the dew drops that
glittered on their garments and, to make one bold, determined effort to rescue
the State from the vandals who had taken possession of it.

Most nobly was that appeal responded to by the people. His spirit became the
spirit of the people, and the redemption of the State from the hordes of ruthless
invaders was the result of the conflict he inaugurated. This is the monument
which he has erected to his own memory, and upon it should a grateful people
heap their garlands.

Be it therefore resolved, That we, the people of Alabama, whom, living he loved
so well and served so faithfully, look back with gratitude and pride upon the bril
liant career of our late fellow-citizen, James H. Clanton, in whose untimely death
we mourn a tried and affectionate friend, while the State has lost a distinguished,
talented, and devoted son, and the whole country an upright man, a good citizen,
and an ardent patriot.

Resolved, That in all the acts of his life he exhibited the qualities which have
ever secured the esteem and admiration of mankind : a heart pulsating to every
generous prompting of duty and affection ; a mind quick to conceive the noblest
thoughts ; a hand ready and able to execute the most daring purposes ; a courage
that never faltered ; a devotion to duty into which no considerations of self entered ;
unlimited generosity in thought and act ; and a patriotism that grew with his
years and ripened with his strength.

Resolved, That we cherish his memory as a sacred legacy, and commend his ex
ample to the youth of our country.

Resolved, That the President of this Convention be requested to transmit a copy
of the foregoing preamble and resolutions to the widow of the deceased, and to
convey to her the assurance of our sympathy and grief at her irreparable loss.

THOS. J. JUDGE,
Chairman Executive Committee,



646 Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

Ekdions, 1856 Legislature, 1857 Inauguration of Gov. Moore
Candidates and Members Sketched.

During the session of the General Assembly, 1855- 6, a Con
vention of the Democratic Anti-Know-Nothing party was held at
the Capitol, for organization preparatory to the Presidential con
test of 1856. Col. Felix G. Norman was President. In the
course of its deliberations, a question arose as to what was to be
done with the appendage Anti-Know- Nothing , which the party had
recognized and used in the past year, and upon which not a few
Whigs were in the Convention as delegates, and in the Legisla
ture as members. To send delegates to the National Democratic
Convention with it tacked on, was considered out of taste, as the
National organization would recognize but one title or name
that of Democratic (or Democrats). And then the important ac
cessions to the organization from the Whig party were not on ac
count of any change of opinion in relation to old parties, but on
this one point only; and some of these gentlemen in the Conven
tion declared that they would withdraw, if the appendage was
taken off. So they determined that, in the State organization, it
should remain, and leave the National party name to be deter
mined at Cincinnati.

In the contest of 1856, the parties were known as Democratic
and American, with Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Fillmore as the rep
resentative standard-bearers. The strong men of each party were
upon the Electoral ticket, and on the stump, and there was an able
and spirited canvass. The vote of the State was larger than ever
before 75,291 of which Mr. Buchanan received 46,739, and
Mr. Fillmore 28,552.

In the month of June, 1857, was held the Convention to nom
inate a candidate for Governor, to succeed Gov. Winston. There
were several gentlemen whose claims were strongly urged by
their friends, with a strong primary effort. Judge A. B. Moore,
Col. Cochran, Judge John E. Moore, and Major Hubbard, were
the prominent men brought before the Convention for the honor.
The contest was long the ballotings continued two or three days
the friends of each devoted to the success of their man. Judge
A. B. Moore, of Perry, was at last nominated, and in August, was
elected without opposition.



JZeminiscences of Public Men in Alabama. 647

The Congressional elections resulted in favor of the Demo
cratic party, except in one District, as the following statement will
show :

First District, James A. Stallworth;
Second District, Eli S. Shorter;
Third District, James F. Dowdell;
Fourth District, William E. Smith;
Fifth District, George S. Houston;
Sixth District, Williamson R. W. Cobb;
Seventh District, Jabez L. M. Curry.

MR. CURRY was first elected to the House from Talladega in
1847, a young man but lately returned from college, and the Law
School at Cambridge. His elementary training and literary ad
vantages had been ample, and these, with a mind of no ordinary
force, caused him to be looked upon as one of the rising young
men of his day. He was again elected in 1853, and took a lead
ing part among the talented young men of the House. He was
made Chairman of the Committee on Internal Improvement, a
very important one at that time, and was thus thrown into the front
rank upon all questions of that character introduced and referred;
though Mr. Curry was prudent, and seldom occupied the floor, ex
cept in explanation, and then was brief and pointed in his remarks,
so as not to tax the patience of the House. He made but one set
speech at the session, and that was at the request, or suggestion of
his friends, and in it he displayed abilities, knowledge, and elo
quence that stamped him as one of the first men of the House.

In 1855, he was again elected, and continued in his former po
sition on Committee; and with increased age and experience, he
developed those rare powers which pointed him out in public esti
mation, for a wider field, and a more exalted position. In 1856,
he was on the Electoral ticket for Buchanan and Breckinridge.
Iii 1857, Mr. Harris, the late member, having died, Mr. Curry
was unanimously nominated, and elected his successor from the
Seventh District, and in 1859, he was reflected, without opposi
tion, for another term, and was one of the members of Congress
from Alabama when they withdrew from its Halls upon the seces
sion of the State.

In 1860, Gov. Moore appointed him Commissioner to the State
of Maryland, to "counsel and advise with the Governor and Leg
islature as to what is best to be done to protect the rights and the
honor of the slaveholding States/ 7 etc., and he proceeded at once
to Annapolis in discharge of that duty, and submitted an able
communication to the Executive, intended also for the Legislature,
to be found in Smith s Debates of the Convention of 1861.



648 Heminiscences of Public Men in Alabama.

Mr. Curry was elected one of the deputies to the Provisional
Congress, at Montgomery, which formed the Constitution, and in
augurated the Government of the Confederate States, and took an
active part in its proceedings. In 1861, he was elected by the
people to a seat in the Congress at Richmond. In 1863, he was
a candidate for reelection, but was defeated by Marcus H. Cruik-
shanks, Esq., of Talladega. At the meeting of the Legislature
in November of that year, his claims were canvassed for the Con
federate States Senate, in opposition to the Hon. C. C. Clay, Jr.,
but without success. He entered the military service, and was at
the fight and taking of Selma, in which he was said to have dis
played much heroic daring.

The result of the war opened a new field for Mr. Curry, con
genial with his tastes, and in harmony with his convictions of duty,
no doubt long entertained, and promotive of the public good.
Embracing the Christian religion when young, he lived an exem
plary and useful member of the Baptist Church, was actively con
nected with its entire organization, and, of course, occupied a lead
ing position in its councils. He is now a minister of that Church,
exercising his eminent abilities and influence, without ostentation,
for the happiness of his fellow-men. Within the last few years,
he was elected President of Mercer University, at Macon, Geor
gia, which position he declined to accept, and is now the pastor of
a Baptist Church, in Richmond, Virginia.

It were needless, after making up such a record of a gentleman
who has barely attained the meridian of life, to say much of the
great natural endowments and rare culture of Mr. Curry, as ex
hibited in the forum, and in the pulpit. Small in person, and
unpretending in his manner, he has never failed to impress his
audiences with the strength of his logic, and the* power of his elo
quence. The future display of his vast intellectual resources may
not have so much of the vim and fire of his earlier days, in public
discussion; but the loss in this respect will be compensated by the
maturity and compactness of thought and feeling, under the con
trol of a judgment improved by experience.

In early life Mr. Curry married Miss Bowie, an excellent lady,
who died about the termination of the war. She was the accom
plished daughter of the late Chancellor Bowie. His second mar
riage was with Miss Thomas, a lady of Richmand. He was born
in Lincoln county, Georgia. His father, the late Col. William
Curry, of Talladega county, a gentleman of large wealth and
solidity of character, removed to Alabama during his son s minority.

It may be proper to add, as a public recognition of the talents
and moral force of Mr. Curry soon after he entered Congress,
that his portrait, with a sketch of his life and character, appeared
in "Harper s Weekly," as among the distinguished men of the



Reminiscences of Pilblic Men in Alabama. 649

Country. Compliments from such a quarter to a Southern man
before the war, were to be prized as wholly impartial, and dictated
by a spirit of fairness and justice.

THE LEGISLATURE.

The general election in August, 1857, returned a majority of
Democrats in both branches. The General Assembly met on
the 9th November, 1857 members generally in attendance. In
the House, Gen. Crawford M. Jackson, of Autauga, was elected
Speaker; Albert Elmore, Principal Clerk; W. M. Hames, Assist
ant Clerk ; C. C. Corden, Engrossing Clerk ; and J. Gibson, Door-
Keeper.

Gen. Jackson, the Speaker, has been noticed elsewhere; but it
is only just to say that this distinction was well merited. He had
long been connected with the legislation of the State; was well
acquainted with political history, and was proficient in parlia
mentary law, and ready and prompt in its administration. His
educational advantages, reading, and knowledge of men and
things, assisted in fitting him for the place. His claims to this po
sition had been postponed with his cheerful assent, as subservient
to other claims and interests which his previous election might
have embarrassed, and he readily yielded for the sake of his
friends. His speech upon the adjournment sine die was in fine
taste, and in terse language expressed the feelings of his warm and
generous heart. It may be seen on the Journal of the House.

In the Senate, the Hon. James M. Calhoun was unanimously
elected President; Joseph Phelan, Secretary; P. H. Brittan, As
sistant Secretary; and W. J. B. Padgett, Door-Keeper.

Many gentlemen promine/it in one or the other branch at the
last session, were not members in 1857, having retired, or been
transferred to new positions. Others, however, had come forward,
and each House presented a respectable grade of talent, with much
experience and weight of character. In the Senate, there was the
accession of Messrs. Calhoun, Bullock, Crawford, and others; and
in the House, of Messrs. W. G. Jones of Mobile, Martin of
Tallaclega, Bulger of Tallapoosa, Irby and Mabry of Dallas, and
many others; constituting altogether a Legislature of moral and
intellectual worth a credit to the State.

Gov. Winston s message was delivered on Tuesday, which was
read, and 5,000 copies ordered to be printed. It fills about thir
teen pages of the Journal. Like all his other State papers, it is
brief, bold, pointed and vigorous. The last paragraph is the fol
lowing :

I know of no important measure of legislation that will be required at your
hands, which will long detain you from the enjoyment of the more pleasant rela*



850 Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama.

tions of private life. In a few days my connection with the legislation of the
State will come to a close. It has been my fortune, in much of the legislation of
the last four years, to differ with the legislative department. I endeavored to dis
charge my duty to the people of Alabama conscientiously, and have yet seen no
cause to believe my course was injurious to the general welfare. With a lasting
sense of gratitude to the people of the State, for the kindness and confidence they
have ever extended to me, I shall retire from the obligations of official position.

His administration being thus closed, it may be proper to say
that Gov. Winston, as will be seen by his vetoes, had a way of
his own; always firm, if not always courteous; which led to un
pleasant relations with the General Assembly. This remark is
especially applicable to the session of 1855, when he stood up and
battled against an overwhelming majority of both Houses upon
many important questions of public policy, of interest to the State.
That he was entirely free from error in all his vetoes, I will not
undertake to say ; but that he was adhering faithfully to his avowed
sentiments before the people, and which were well understood in
his triumphant election twice to the Chief Magistracy, there can
be no doubt; and while his vetoes were, in many instances, over
ridden by a constitutional majority in both Houses, the interposi
tion of the veto doubtles^ prevented much Fegislation that was
useless, or would have been hurtful to the State ; and his admin
istration will stand, with his messages, a monument of Executive
devotion to the interests of the people.

The Legislature was an independent, coordinate department of
the Government, and in defending the rectitude of Gov. Winston s
course, it is not my intention to condemn the others. They rep
resented interests committed to their hands, and had responsibili
ties as well as he, and they were alike answerable to their constitu
ents. But the moral heroism of the occasion and the contest is
with the Governor. He contended single-handed against a form
idable majority in both branches of the Legislature, which in
cluded much of character, experience* and mind. With many of
them he had been connected in public life, and many of them
were his friends and supporters at the polls, and, no doubt, he
would have preferred to be in accord .with them in the discharge
of his official duties. But when it became necessary to maintain
his position, he separated from them, and stood pretty much by
himself in this controversy, so far as the Legislature is concerned.

VOTE FOR GOVERNOR.

The two Houses having convened in the Representative Hall,
the vote for Governor were examined and announced :

For Andrew B. Moore 41,847

Scattering 2,447



lleminiscences of Public Men in Alabama. 651

Proclamation having been duly made that Andrew B. Moore
was elected Governor of Alabama for the term prescribed by the
Constitution, and a Joint Committee having waited on that gen
tleman with a notice of the fact, and another Committee having
made all suitable arrangements, the ceremonies of inauguration
took place at the Capitol, on the 1st of December, 1857, in pres
ence of a large concourse of his fellow-citizens, including much of
the beauty and fashion of the State in the fair sex.

TWO AND THREE PER CENT. FUNDS.

Probably no one subject has cost so much labor in the examina
tion, and so much writing by the Clerks in copying the reports
and tables, in the Legislature, as the donation by the General
Government of a certain per centum on the sale of public lands
in Alabama, as will be seen by the following extract:

The third proposition in the sixth section of the act passed by the Congress of
the United States on the 2d day of March, 1819, "To enable the people of Ala
bama Territory to form a Constitution and State Government, and for the admis
sion of such State into the Union," is as follows: "That five per cent, of the net
proceeds of the public lands lying within said territory, and which shall be sold
by Congress from and after the 1st day of September, in the year 1819, and after
deducting all expenses incident to the same, shall be reserved for making public
roads and canals, and improving the navigation of rivers, of which three-fifths
shall be applied to those objects within the State, under the direction of the Leg
islature thereof; and two-fifths in the making of a road or roads leading to said
State, under the direction of Congress."

A Joint Committee was raised to take charge of the whole sub
ject, and to ascertain what sums had been received from the Gen
eral Government, and what disposition had been made of them,
from time to time, and the present condition of the fund. The
labors of the Committee were thorough and searching, as appears
from the report made by Mr. John S. Storrs, Chairman on the
part of the Senate, and Mr. R. N. Walden, Chairman on the part
of the House. The items were given in detail, with dates and
payments, which may be condensed, as showing the aggregate of
the three per cent:

Paid to State Bank up to 1841 $353,831.99

Paid since, and up to 1857 236,353.04

Dividends in bank to 1834 104,853.30

Total $695,043.33

Since 1834, when taxation ceased, and the Banks paid the ex
penses of the Government, the dividends on this fund have been
placed to the credit of the sinking fund, and loans and expendi-



652 Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama.

tures have been made under this title. The amount of the three
per cent, fund in 1857, unappropriated, was $287,125.58. In the
meantime, advances had been made to certain railroads, to the
amount of $111,511.50, for which certificates of stock have been
issued to the State;

By act of Congress of 4th of September, 1841, the two per cent, fund was re
linquished to the State on the terms and conditions that " the whole of the said
two per cent, fund shall be faithfully applied, under the direction of the Legisla
ture of Alabama, to the connection, by some means of internal improvement, of
the navigable waters of the Bay of Mobile with the Tennessee River, and to the
construction of a continuous line of Internal improvement from a point on the
Chattahoochee River opposite West-Point, in Georgia, across the State of Alabama,
in a direction to Jackson, in the State of Mississippi."

The whole amount received, as constituting this fund,

principal and interest, to 1857, is $481,227.88

Loans and expenditures to 1857 434,870.40

Balance in the Treasury $ 46,357.48

This matter of the two and three per cent, funds had more or
less wasted the time of the Legislature for thirty years, and the
cost of delay, and printing reports and bills, and in printing the
Journals, the expenses of clerk hire to make the examinations,
and the expenses of agents in various ways, have all cost the State
probably half the entire value of the funds. It had reached such
a point of annoyance, that it was next to impossible to get a bill
through with a single appropriation of any part of it for one ob
ject, and so it became subject to combinations for mutual interest
to different localities, in bills known, in parliamentary phrase, as
Omnibus bills, and in this way, in 1859- 60, it had passed from the
control of the Legislature.

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS.

Chancellor Clark was reflected over G. L. Nabors, of Pickens
county.

MR. LABORS was a member in 1855, and was again returned
in 1857 intelligent and attentive to business. He was afterward
appointed by Mr. Buchanan a Judge of the United States Court
in one of the Western Territories, perhaps New Mexico, which,
for some cause, he declined. For a number of years, he filled
the office of Judge of Probate, and still resides in Pickens county.

GEX. CULLED A. BATTLE, of Macon county, was defeated in a
contest for Solicitor of the Ninth Circuit, by Judge Woodward,
Upon a close vote.



Reminiscences of Publia Men in Alabama. 653

Gen. Battle was a Georgian, a son of Dr. Cullen Battle, a gen
tlemen of wealth and intelligence, who settled in Barbour county
as a planter at an early day. The son had established himself at
the bar in Macon county, and when hostilities broke out in 1861,
he entered the service of the Confederate States, in which he was
promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.

SENATORS.

Among the new Senators, and those of more experience in
public life, who served at the session of 1857, and not hitherto
specially mentioned, are the following gentlemen:

NOAH ALFRED AGEE, of the town of Claiborne, was elected to
the Senate in 1857, from the district composed of Monroe, Clarke,
and Baldwin counties. He was a member of the House in 1853,
and acted his part well in the walks of legislation. He is a native
Alabamian, and graduated at the University in the class of 1845.

He was made Chairman of the Committee on Education, and
filled his place well, not only in this, but in all other respects as a
Senator. He served through the session with increased efficiency,
from the development of his faculties and enlarged experience.
His deportment was good, with fine social qualities ; and although
somewhat reserved, he was still an agreeable companion. He
continues to reside at Claiborne, in the practice of the law.

EDWARD C. BULLOCK, of Barbour, came into the Senate as a
member for the first time, in 1857. He was raised and educated
in Charleston, South Carolina, but had resided some years in Eu-
faula, where he practiced his profession as a lawyer, and edited a
newspaper. He brought into public life a great deal of character ;
and his bearing as a gentleman, and ability as a lawyer and legis
lator, soon placed him in the front rank of Senators.

He was made Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, in
which position he displayed industry, and business tact and knowl
edge. In 1859, he was again placed at the head of that Com
mittee, with the increased strength of experience and legislative
ability, which gave him a controlling influence, not only in the
Senate, but also in the House, and throughout the circle of his
acquaintance. He was affable and courteous in his deportment
and address. His speeches in the Senate were not labored efforts,
but were explanatory and in reply. Simplicity, clearness and
force seemed to be the ruling object of his remarks, in which he
was highly successful.

Mr. Bullock was closely allied, in consultation and in action,
with the events which resulted in the secession of Alabama. He



654 Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama.

was a very prominent member of the State Convention that sent
delegates to Charleston, in 1860, and was active in its proceedings,
and in passing the platform resolutions. When the State seceded,
he was appointed by Gov. Moore a Commissioner to Florida, to
consult with the authorities there on the common interest of the
cotton States. That duty he performed with his usual ability.

Soon thereafter, he entered the Confederate service at Pensa- *
cola, and was made Colonel of a regiment; but his health, feeble
at first, doubtless the result of years of close application and study,



Online LibraryWilliam GarrettReminiscences of public men in Alabama : for thirty years, with an appendix → online text (page 72 of 91)