2d session United States. 61st Congress.

Anselm J. McLaurin (late a senator from Mississippi) online

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Online Library2d session United States. 61st CongressAnselm J. McLaurin (late a senator from Mississippi) → online text (page 6 of 7)
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The giant oak, the lily of the valley, the warbling songster,
the rushing stream, the expanding dome of heaven bedecked
with the evangels of other worlds, all tended to expand the
young mind of our lamented friend and forever confirm his
religious convictions. Unhappy, indeed, must be the youth
who grows to manhood imprisoned by the walls of the modern
city, where he is seldom permitted to behold the beauties of
the birth and death of day, to have his young heart thrill with
the music of the chase, or to' embrace the thousand allurements
of the field and the forest.

The life of Senator McL.M'Rix is a fitting illustration of the
possibilities of the American boy. He reached young man-
hood at a time when his native State was blackened and ruined
by the ravages of war. Those who were once rich had become
paupers, desolation and poverty reigned in every household of
the South; but adversity could not conquer the will of this
determined youth, and we find him while quite a boy driving
the iilowshare by day and reading by tlie flame of the fagot at

Address of Mr. Byrd of Mississippi 79

night. From this inauspicious beginning he traveled all the
ways and encountered all the obstacles along the pathway to

]Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have claimed Senator McL.\urin
as my friend, and if the tongue could voice the language of the
soul much would be added to this feeble tribute to his memory.
Not only was he my friend but he was the friend of all who
were wilHng and worthy. His noble heart, mellowing with
declining years, overflowed with forgiveness for his enemies and
increasing love for his friends. About his friendship there was
a magnetism that disarmed malice and dethroned envy. JIany
who in former years had hated liim loved him at his death, and
many of those whose vile tongues at one time embittered his
life forgot their wrath, received his forgiveness, and came to
mingle flowers and tears upon his grave. His friendship was
not an ephemeral passion, coquetting with its object in the
sunshine of life, but was of that divine order that beams forth
amid the shadows of adversity. Anywhere, everywhere, and
upon all occasions he heard the appeal of his friends, and their
wrongs were never so grievous as to compass his generous
charity. Often his benedictions fell like the balm of Gilead
upon some unfortunate friend and clung about him like the
tendrils of the creeping vine binding the wounds of the oak
shattered by the lightning's blast.

Mr. Speaker, the most sublime evidences of the divinity of
Christ and His teachings are to be found in the noble lives of
the good, who with abiding convictions of the immortality of the
soul and implicit confidence in the promises flashed from the
cross move among us like ministering angels, giving bread to the
hungrv and inspiring hope into the hopeless. Such lives are
like benedictions from heaven and challenge the respect of the
craven criminal and incite the admiration of the just. God
dwells in every soul broad enough to compass the woes of

8o Memorial Addresses: Senator McLaurin

humanity. The road to heaven leads by the cradle of the
orphan, the widow's hut, and the prisoner's dungeon. The
whispered words of hope are as —

Sweet as the breath of mom
To the fallen and forlorn.

Our departed friend had an unfaltering Christian faith that
intensified and brightened as he approached the grave. In the
latter years of his life it seemed as though he was gently glid-
ing over the stream of time from the bosom of his friends
to the arms of his God. Beautiful were his Christian virtues.
His charity, gentleness, and kindness were like flowers blooming
by the wayside of life, shedding their rich perfume ujjoii all
who passed that way. He believed in all the promises of the
Bible as implicitly as the tender child does in the teachings of
its mother, and neither success nor learning nor the blandish-
ments of power could make him waver in his devotion to his
Maker. There was no place in his mind or heart for skepti-
cism, believing by intuition that "the hand that made us is
divine." The silent murmuring of his soul told him of the life

to be-
As the traveler hears the billows roll
Ere he reaches the sea.

If the grave be the end of life, then why all this magnificence
of man? Why is he permitted to build governments, erect
temples, and fathom the mysteries of nature? Is not the stupid
ox brought into life by the same law of reproduction, and does
he not feast upon the bounties of nature and lie down in death
like man ? Are we to share the same fate as the miserable worm
that banquets upon our bodies for a few days and then reliuns
itself unto dust? Nay; not so. Such a thought is revolting
to conscience and abhorrent to reason.

Go, thou infidel, and feast thy per\'erted soul in the llcshi)ois
of reason; go ask the heathen mother wh\-, to appease the

Address of Mr. Byrd of Mississippi 8i

wrath of an imaginary god, she consigns her first born to the
monsters of the deep; and go explore the landscapes of the past
and ask of the ruined idols and shattered temples if man has
not since the dawn of time worshiped at the shrine of some

In the soul of every human being there is an insatiable yearn-
ing for the habiliments of immortality, and since his fall in the
tragedy of Eden man has been struggling to regain the approv-
ing smiles of his Maker. The heavens above, the earth below,
the death and resurrection of the flowers — yea, all nature pro-
claims life beyond the grave.

Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality;
Or whence this secret dread and inward horror
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heaven itself that points out a hereafter.
And intimates cteniity to man.
67675° — S. Doc. 577, 61-2 6

82 Memorial Addresses: Senator McLaurin

Address of Mr. Sisson of Mississippi

Mr. Speaker, in addressing myself to the life of Senator
McLaurin I shall do so without any idea of reviewing in
detail his remarkable career, because that has already been
done by others; but I would call attention to one principle that
always guided him through life.

Senator McLaurin was, in no partisan sense, a Democrat.
He was the most democratic man of my acquaintance. Senator
McLaurin believed as firmly as he believed in his own existence
in the right of the people to rule and to control. Senator
McLaurin did not fear to vest the people with power. He was
always afraid to take power away from them. He believed
that the best government was that which was closest to the
people and which sprung from them by and with their consent,
and not a government which was imposed upon them b\- supe-
rior power. It was this great democratic soul of his that
always found response in every audience, and whatever might
be the political stress or storm, however adverse the sentiment
of a community, when Senator McLaurin addressed the people
there was a genuine ring of democratic sincerity in every word
that he uttered, and the people felt it. It came from his soul
and shone out of his face and out of his eyes, and those who
heard him were converted and followed him, whatever might
have been their preconceived opinion of the man who came to
address them.

He never made an appeal to the people in his own cause in
his native State that they ever turned down. On one occasion,
when he was a candidate for the Senate, the first time he came
before the people of the State for that office — for he had been
elected prior to that time by the legislature — the first speech

Address of Mr. Sisson of Mississippi 83

made in that remarkable campaign was made in my little city.
There gathered there perhaps the largest throng of men of
political prominence that has ever assembled in our State at
one time and under one roof. It was understood that then and
there what was to be the beginning of the campaign might also
be the end. Senator McLaurin came from a sick bed. He
came weak and emaciated. His friends begged and besought
him, and so did his son-in-law and his brother, both of whom
were physicians, not to go. Theysaid, "Governor, you can not
afford to take the chance." But he was a Scotchman of courage
and determination, and I have heard Judge Stevens, his son-
in-law, say that while he feared for him he would not for a
moment insist that his father-in-law ought not to go.

Senator McLaurin came to Winona, Miss., where there had
gathered 10,000 people. They had come on special trains, the
anti-McLAURiN people endeavoring to create the feeling through-
out the State that his administration as governor ought not to
be indorsed. There were strong men at the time pitted against
him. One of them declined on that day to become a candidate
for the Senate. Mr. John Sharp Williams was urged by his
friends to enter the race, and he was to decide that day, and I
shall always recall Mr. Williams's last words in the speech that
he made. He said :

I will tarry yet a little while in Jericho, till my beard is a little longer
grown. I am not a candidate, my fellow-citizens, for the United States

I was sitting on the platform within a few feet of Senator
McLaurin, and I saw him at that time lean over and put his
hand on the shoulder of the presiding officer, and he whispered
to him. "That elects me to the United States Senate." From
that moment he had no doubt of his election, and although he
spoke then to an audience the majority of whom were perhaps
opposed to him, when that day's conflict was over I heard men

84 Memorial Addresses: Senator McLaurin

and merchants and farmers and lawyers of that section say,
"I came here an anti-McLAURiN man, but I shall support him
in this race for the Senate."

They had not heard him speak, because that was the first
campaign in Mississippi when the people elected a Senator, hui
when they heard him they beUeved in him, and it was this
abiding faith and trust which Senator McLaurin had in the
masses of the people that caused him to be in his own county
the idol of his people, that qiused him when onlv 23 years of
age to be elected district attorney, that sent him to the legisla-
ture, that made him an elector, that made him governor, that
made him a Senator of the United States.

Reference has been made to his service in the constitutional
convention. He did not vote for the present provisions of the
constitution of Mississippi which provides for the appoint-
ment of all judges by the governor, but voted against it. He
has sometimes been criticised for this, but no man ever criti-
cised Senator McLaurin on the stump that he did not regret
the criticism, because in that constitutional convention, believ-
ing in the right of the people to select their officers. Senator
McLaurin voted against this provision of the constitution be-
cause it denied the people of Mississippi tlie right to select
their judges. He was unwilling to vest the executive with the
enormous power of appointing the judges, although he himself
was perhaps at that very moment thinking of becoming a
candidate for gov-ernor.

Senator McLaurin has been charged in politics with reward-
ing his friends. I do not think that this is a criticism if his
friends are worthy. I heard a Senator say the other day that
the man who did not love his friends, the man who did not
always act so that his friends could rely upon him, was a man
who had no friends. Xo living man will say that Senator Mc-
Laurin was not true to his friends. No man will sav that he

Address of Mr. Sisson of Mississippi 85

was not true to the people. You may cast, if you please, what
criticism and aspersion you like against his administration as
governor, against his administration as Senator, but out of it
all there will always loom this mighty virtue of AnsE McLairin,
as he was commonly called in Mississippi. He was a friend of
the people, and he never cast a vote knowingly against their
interests. Never for one moment did he have any other thing
in his heart but a desire to advance the interests of the people
and to help the man who toils.

No poor ever begged of him that he turned away empty
handed, and the beauty about his charity was that he did not
give it as you would flip a quarter unwillingly to a beggar to
be rid of him, but he gave with a tear of sympathy in his eye.
He gave of his material substance and with it love and sympathy.
He gave with that sweet charity which rewards the giver more
than it does him who receives. It can be truly said of him that
he lived and made the world happier; he lived and made the
world a Uttle better; he lived and took from some human eye
a tear and from some human heart a pang of pain ; he made some
Uttle child happy and some poor pauper to feel that he was a
man. If that has been the course and conduct of a man through
this life, then his life has been a glorious success and not a failure.
And it was this heart in Senatpr McLaurin that made him loved
and respected by the people.

The tributes to-day to the memory of Senator McLauri.n but
faintly express the esteem for him here in Washington. It will
ever be a source of gratification to his family and friends in
Mississippi that words of sorrow and regret at his loss have
come from the hearts of those who have spoken here. Regard-
less of party affiliation or section, all the official family in
Washington deeply regret his departure. Even the bell boys
of the hotel in which he lived know that they have lost a friend
and were deeply affected at the news of his death.

86 Memorial Addresses: Senator McLaurin

He was kind to all, however humble in station.

His greetings were always hearty, his hand shake natural, his
smiles winning.

Senator McLaurin never met a stranger, nor did anyone ever
feel that Senator McL.'VURIN was a stranger.

He exemplified in his life that he* believed that "all men were
created equal."

The man of millions was no better in Senator McLaurin 's
eyes than the man who toils for bread.

The man who toils in any land appealed to him as well as
those of his own State.

He forgave his enemies when they asked forgiveness.

He faced his foes when they challenged him to combat, and
was a foeman worthy of any man's steel.

The conflict over, he bore himself a true knight in all his many

He was a man that neither success nor office ever changed or

A confederate soldier, true to the memory of the cause for
which he fought, yet not a trace of bitterness or sectional hatred
ever fell from his lips.

To every message of love and peace from those who fought for
the Union, he could reply from his heart in kind to them all.
No Union soldier could extend his hand toward the confederate
soldier that he would not be the first to grasp it. When our
friends from the North utter sentiments of love and affection
for us, the late Senator from Mississippi would be the first to
extend his thanks for the expression.

Senator McLaurin was one of those who wore the gray that
would always say that there was no feeling of hatred against
those wore the blue. This is the feeling of all that noble
band of heroes who fought for the confederacy. There is not in
their hearts one particle of pang or feeling toward those who

Address of My. Sisson of Mississippi 87

gloriously fought for the Union. Brave soldiers on both sides
respect each other, and Senator McLaurin was one of the
bravest of those who wore the gray, and when he and they sur-
rendered it was in good faith, and they all love the flag and our
common country and w'ill join in writing on the keystone of the
arch of the Union the words r.f/o perpetual

It is glorious to those of us who have inherited this common
country and whose fathers wore the gray to be able to say to
the sons of the fathers who wore the blue, "that across that
bloody chasm that used to be we have shaken hands."

It sometimes happens in the course of nature that the earth-
quake shock rends the mountain chain asunder. The great
and jagged rocks from either side of the chasm thus made
frown and glare at each other. The waters rush madly between
them. It is terrible to look upon. The changing seasons
come and go. The rocks are worn away and the chasm is gone.
The trees grow and vines cover them over and hang in festoons
from their branches. The birds come and fill the air with their
love notes, and the song of the turtle dove is heard in the land.
The stranger comes, pauses, and looks only to admire the beauty
of the scene.

So is the Union cemented together to-day, with unselfish love
for the common flag. The stranger comes, pauses, and looks
only to admire the beauty of the scene. He looks in amaze-
ment at the sacrifice on both sides. He knows not which to
most admire, they are so joined together in the bonds of peace,
glorious peace, and love for a common flag, each ready to do
or die for the honor of the Republic. All are Americans, and
feel honored in being such. Our friend that we honor to-day
was a typical American citizen. What greater thing can be said
of him ? What honor more could be given him ?

Memorial Addresses: Senator McLaurin

Address of Mr. Dickson of Mississippi

Mr. Speaker: Our State has reason for pride; even in the
strains of sorrow her name is rendered distinguished, when
to-day her sons are met by those of other States to mingle
their voices in sympathy with ours; pride is tempered with

The voice of Ohio, through her soldier statesman, is generously
mingled with that of Kansas and Indiana, Michigan, Alabama,
and Missouri, to swell the accents of sorrow above the bier
of Mississippi's departed one. In the unending silence of the
grave is the absolute democracy of equaUty. Here the dead,
each in his narrow cell, keeps the voiceless vigils of unending

Here we bring to-day the contribution of our State to the
ever-accumulating increment of the centuries, a contribution of
our greatness, the name of one which is worthy to live.

The history of a nation is the chronicles of its people. No
brighter page adorns the annals of Mississippi throughout the
ninety-three years of her statehood than that which records the
services of her sons in the Senate of the Republic. If on no
other claim to rest her right to distinction, in joint honor with
her sisters, secure would be her position in history, haloed as it
is by the signal service of these illustrious ones. If "To be a
Roman is greater than a king," by no less of logic or truth, may
it be said, he who worthily answers to the name of Mississippi
in this council o/ the nation is a prince in the realm of freedom.

With savage stroke, Mr. Speaker, does the "dread Reaper"
glean in this har\-est field. Surely he loves "a shining mark, a

Address of Mr. Dickson of Mississippi 89

signal blow." Seven times in the last twelve months have we
been called to pay this last sad tribute of affection upon the
altar of memory for a departed friend. "What phantoms we
are, what phantoms we pursue."

Sixty-two years ago in the little ^'illage of Brandon, Miss.,
the spirit of him who is the subject of these exercises, Anselm
Joseph McLaurin, was ushered into being. Descended from
that hardy stock, built by the mingling blood of Scotch and
Welsh ancestry, which has contributed with such lavish prodi-
galitv to the rearing of American civilization, young Mc-
Laurin evinced early and continuously those crowning virtues
of both strains which sealed his life with the signet of success.
The earlv impressions which were left by his Christian parents
on him in this then sparsely settled country were such as to
i<mite the spark of self-reHance and into full flame fan the fires
of his soul for his future conquests and achievements.

Man is inevitably the resultant product of lineage, environ-
ment, and culture. Scarce had the callow days of infancy
passed, when, as a lad of 16, the rude alarm of war greeted
his ears — till then accustomed only to those peaceful, pastoral
sounds of home and countryside. Carried by the wave of war
into that vortex of passion and strife which for four years
bathed a nation alike in blood and tears, he passed through
this crucible of test, the pure gold unscathed and untarnished.
And lo, from the womb of war the lad was born a man!

The confederate soldier of 16, clad in his tattered suit of
gray, surveyed the horizon of his fame, his country's future.
It were well! Though the burdens borne were grievous and
difficult to be borne, yet they developed in him at this early
age those powers without which, and without which stress and
strife, his magnificent energies probably would have lain dor-
mant, never to rise into activity.

90 Memorial Addresses: Senator McLaurin

When at last the war clouds rolled away and to the shriek

of shot and shell came again the song of —

The beautiful bird of the South,

That had built its nest in the cannon's mouth —

the soldier rose to the occasion, sedate, strong, purposeful.
With assiduity he devoted his powers to the study of the law,
bringing to it that patient perseverance that alone wins from
this jealous mistress the reward of her favors. Soon through-
out the State his fame was spread, in extent commensurate
with her geographic limits, and extending beyond her confines
he was known as one who, could a case be won by honorable
means, would achieve success for that cause. As elsewhere,
so in Mississippi, the honest, the faithful lawyer, the capable
man inevitably rises to political preferment at the instance of
his people. So it was with Senator McL.^urin.

I would not claim for him that he never sought office. That
would be false. It is the part and duty of the good citizen,
who possessing the qualifications essential, to devote these
endowments to the service of his country. Back of the self-
seeking, on the part of the distinguished Mississippian, was
the impelling force of the confidence of his people; their belief
in his powers was the source from which flowed that stream
which bore him into places of honor and trust. This confidence
and belief was never disappointed, and to the end of his splendid
career his people cheerfully, willingly, yes I may say lovingly,
committed their interests to his keeping; knowing that while
there might be others equal in ability, none could be more

He was not perfect, he was man. There was "One ]X'rfcct,"
and they slew Him.

Oft upon his licad descended the scourging anathema of
political criticism, emanating from those disappointed in the
realization of their ambitions or counter to whose intent the
purposes of Senator McL.vurin ran.

Address of Mr. Dickson of Mississippi 91

Insincerity was charged; weakness in that he was loyal to
friends, too liberal use of the "pardoning power," all were
laid against him.

Somewhere, I recall not now, I have read that in the be-
ginning the Great Designer, conceiving the making of man,
called into council those attendant ministers about the throne
of Omnipotence — Justice, Truth, and Mercy — and laying bare to
them the designs of Deitv he asked counsel; in answer. Justice
first replied, "O God of Justice, make not man, for he will
trample Thv law beneath his feet and make of Justice a
mockery on earth." Truth, next summoned, said, "]\Iake not
man, O God of Truth, for he will pervert Thine own word,
Thou God of Truth, and make of verity a mockery in the
land." But Mercv, next in turn summoned, meekly came and
said "Make him, O Thou God of Mercy, and give him into my
keeping, and I will guide his footsteps and guard his walk
on earth." And He made him and said, "Go, thou child of
Mercv, and minister to thy fellows." Obedient to that inspira-
tion, God-given and God-felt, Anselm McLaurin lived, acted,
and died. By the God of Truth, in the light of Justice, and by
the measure of Mercy, is he rewarded.

To the charge of insincerity I demur, and to the alleged
weakness in that he was faithful to friends I plead concur-
rence. To the charge of leniency in the use of the power of
pardon, I do not know, nor do I care; but if true, I answer,
"If he leaned to Mercy's side, in mercy is he forgiven."

Senator McL-^urin occupied almost all stations official in the
catalogue of the public service of Mississippi. Loyalty charac-
terized the attachment of those who followed his personal and
political fortunes. Friendship was his talisman, and the im-
varving majority attending his every political contest ser\fes
as an eloquent eulogium of his hold upon the hearts of his

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Online Library2d session United States. 61st CongressAnselm J. McLaurin (late a senator from Mississippi) → online text (page 6 of 7)