Henry James Lee.

Portrait and biographical record of Guernsey County, Ohio, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with biographies and portraits of all the p online

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dians had crept as near as possible, and just then,
with a savage yell, rushed, with all the despera-
tion which superstition and passion most highly
inflamed could give, upon the left flank of the
little army. The savages had been amply pro-
vided with guns and ammunition by the English,
and their war-whoop was accompanied by a
shower of bullets.

The camp-fires were instantly extinguished, as
the light aided the Indians in their aim, and
Gen. Harrison's troops stood as immovable as
the rocks around them until day dawned, when
they made a simultaneous charge with the bayo-
net and swept everything before them, completely
routing the foe.

Gov. Harrison now had all his energies tasked
to the utmost. The British, descending from the



Canadas, were of themselves a very formidable
force, but with their savage allies rushing like
wolves from the forest, burning, plundering, scalp-
ing, torturing, the wide frontier was plunged into
a state of consternation which even the most vivid
imagination can but faintly conceive. Gen. Hull
had made an ignominious surrender of his forces at
Detroit. Under these despairing circumstances,
Gov. Harrison was appointed by President Madi-
son Commander-in-Chief of the Northwestern
Army, with orders to retake Detroit and to protect
the frontiers. It would be difficult to place a man
in a situation demanding more energy, sagacity
and courage, but he was found equal to the
position, and nobly and triumphantly did he meet
all the responsibilities.

In 1816, Gen. Harrison was chosen a member
of the National House of Representatives, to rep-
resent the District of Ohio. In Congress he proved
an active member, and whenever he spoke it was
with a force of reason and power of eloquence
which arrested the attention of all the members.

In 18 19, Harrison was elected to the Senate of
Ohio, and in 1824, asoneof the Presidential Elec-
tors of that State, he gave his vote for Henry
Clay. The same year he was chosen to the Uni-
ted States Senate. I'n 1836 his friends brought
him forward as a candidate for the Presidency,
against Van Buren, but he was defeated. At the
close of Mr. Van Buren's term, he was re-nom-
inated by his party, and Mr. Harrison was unani-
mously nominated by the Whigs, with John Tyler
fo;r the Vice-Presidency. The contest was very
animated. Gen. Jackson gave all his influence to
prevent Harrison's election, but his triumph was
signal.

The cabinet which he formed, with Daniel Web-
ster at its head as Secretary of State, was one of
the most brilliant with which any President had
ever been surrounded. Never were the prospects
of an administration more flattering, or the hopes
of the country more sanguine. In the midst of
these bright and joyous prospects, Gen. Harrison
was seized by a pleurisy-fever, and after a few
days of violent sickness died, on the 4th of April,
just one month after his inauguration as President
of the United States.




(niyn



'7



JOHN TYLER.



30HN TYLER, the tenth President of the
United States, and was born in Charles
City County, Va., March 29, 1790. He was
the favored child of afiluence and high social po-
sition. At the early age of twelve, John entered
William and Mary College, and graduated with
much honor when but seventeen years old. After
graduating, he devoted himself with great assi-
duity to the study of law, partly with his father
and partly with Edmund Randolph, one of the
most distinguished lawyers of Virginia.

At nineteen years of age, he commenced the
practice of law. His success was rapid and as-
tonishing. It is said that three months had not
elapsed ere there was scarcely a case on the
docket of the court in which he was not retained.
When but twenty-one years of age, he was almost
unanimously elected to a seat in the State Legis-
lature. He connected himself with the Demo-
cratic party, and warmly advocated the measures
of Jefferson and Madison. For five successive
years he was elected to the Legislature, receiving
nearly the unanimous vote of his county.

When but twenty-six j^ears of age, he was
elected a Member of Congress. Here he acted ear-
nestly and ably with the Democratic party, oppos-
ing a national bank, internal improvements by
the General Government, and a protective tariff;
advocating a strict construction of the Constitu-
tion and the most careful vigilance over State
rights. His labors in Congress were so arduous I
that before the close of his second term he found
it necessary to resign and retire to his estate in
Charles City County to recruit his health. He,
however, soon after consented to take his seat in
the State Legislature, where his influence was
powerful in promoting public works of great
utility. With a reputation thus constantly in-
creasing, he was chosen by a ver>' large majority
of votes Governor of his native State. His ad-
ministration was a signally successful one, and his
popularity secured his re-election.

I



John Randolph, a brilliant, erratic, half-ciazed
man, then represented Virginia in the Senate of
the United States. A portion of the Democratic
party was displeased with Mr. Randolph's way-
ward course, and brought forward John Tyler as
his opponent, considering him the only man in
Virginia of sufficient popularity to succeed
against the renowned orator of Roanoke. Mr.
Tyler was the victor.

In accordance with his professions, upon tak-
ing his seat in the Senate he joined the ranks of
the opposition. He opposed the tariff, and spoke
against and voted against the bank as unconsti-
tutional; he strenuously opposed all restrictions
upon slavery, resisting all projects of internal im-
provements by the General Government, and
avowed his sympathy with Mr. Calhoun's view
of nullification; he declared that Gen. Jackson,
by his opposition to the nullifiers, had abandoned
the principles of the Democratic party. Such
was Mr. Tyler's record in Congress— a record in
perfect accordance with the principles which he
had always avowed.

Returning to Virginia, he resumed the practice
of his profession. There was a split in the Demo-
cratic party. His friends still regarded him as a
true JefFersonian, gave him a dinner, and show-
ered compliments upon him. He had now at-
tained the age of forty-six, and his career had been
very brilliant. In consequence of his devotion to
public business, his private affairs had fallen into
some disorder, and it was not without satisfac-
tion that he resumed the practice of law, and de-
voted himself to the cultivation of his plantation.
Soon after this he removed to Williamsburg, for
the better education of his children, and he again
took his seat in the Legislature of Virginia.

By the southern Whigs he was sent to the
national convention at Harrisburg in 1839 to nom-
inate a President. The majority of votes were
given to Gen Harrison, a genuine Whig, much
to the disappointment of the South, which wished



56



JOHN TYLER.



tor Henry Clay. To conciliate the southern
Whigs and to secure their vote, the convention
then nominated John Tyler for Vice-President. |
It was well known that he was not in sympathy I
with the Whig party in the North; but the Vice-
President has very little power in the Govern-
ment, his main and almost only duty being to
preside over the meetings of the Senate. Thus it
happened that a Whig President and, in reality,
a Democratic Vice-President were chosen.

In 1841, Mr. Tyler was inaugurated Vice-
President of the United vStates. In one short
month from that time, President Harrison died,
and Mr. Tyler thus found himself, to his own
surprise and that of the whole nation, an occu-
pant of the Presidential chair. Hastening from
Williamsburg to Washington, on the 6tli of
April he was inaugurated to the high and re-
sponsible office. He was placed in a position of
exceeding delicacy and difficulty. All his long
life he had been opposed to the main jirinciples of
the party which had brought him into power.
He had ever been a consistent, honest man, with
an unblemished record. Gen. Harrison had se-
lected a Whig cabinet. Should he retain them,
and thus surround himself with counselors whose
views were antagonistic to his own ? or, on the
other hand, should he turn against the party
which had elected him, and select a cabinet in
harmony with himself, and which would oppose
all those views which the Whigs deemed essen-
tial to the public welfare ? This was his fearful
dilemma. He invited the cabinet which Presi-
dent Harri.son had selected to retain their seats,
and recommended a day of fasting and prayer,
that God would guide and bless us.

The Whigs carried through Congress a bill for
the incorporation of a fiscal bank of the United
States. The President, after ten days' delay, re-
turned it with his veto. He suggested, however,
that he would approve of a bill drawn up upon
such a plan as he proposed. Such a bill was ac-
cordingly prepared, and privately submitted to
him. . He gave it his approval. It was passed
without alteration, and he sent it back with his
veto. Here commenced the open rupture. It is
said that Mr. Tyler was provoked to this meas-



ure by a published letter from the Hon. John M.
Bolts, a distinguished Virginia Whig, who se-
verely touched the pride of the President.

The opposition now exultingly received the
President into their arms. The party which
elected him denounced him bitterly. All the
members of his cabinet, excepting Mr. Webster,
resigned. The Whigs of Congress, both the
Senate and the House, held a meeting and issued
an address to the people of the United States,
proclaiming that all political alliance between the
Whigs and President Tyler was at an end.

Still the President attempted to conciliate. He
appointed a new cabinet of distinguished Whigs
and Conservatives, carefully leaving out all strong
party men. Mr. Webster soon found it necessary
to resign, forced out by the pressure of his Whig
friends. Thus the four years of Mr. Tyler's un-
fortunate administration passed sadly away. No
one was satisfied. The land was filled with mur-
murs and vituperation. \Vliigs and Democrats
alike assailed him. More and more, however, he
brought himself into sympathy with his old
friends, the Democrats, until at the close of his
term he gave his whole influence to the support
of Mr. Polk, the Democratic candidate for his
successor.

On the 4th of March, 1845, President Tyler re-
tired from the harassments of office, to the regret
of neither party, and probably to his own unspeak-
able relief. The remainder of his days were
passed mainly in the retirement of his beautiful
home — Sherwood Forest, Charles City County,
Va. His fir.st wife, Miss Letitia Christian, died
in Washington in 1842; and in June, 1844,
he was again married, at New York, to Miss Julia
Gardiner, a young lady of many personal and
intellectual accomplislinients.

When the great Rebellion rose, which the
State Rights and nullifying doctrines of John C.
Calhoun had inaugurated. President Tyler re-
nounced his allegiance to the United States, and
joined the Confederates. He was chosen a mem-
ber of their Congress, and while engaged in
active measures to destroy, by force of arms, the
Government over which he had once presided, he
was taken sick and soon died.




JAMES K. POLK.



JAMES K. POLK.



(Fames K. polk, the eleventh President of
I the United States, was born in Mecklenburgh
Q) County, N. C, November 2, 1795. His
parents were Samuel and Jane (Knox) Polk, the
former a son of Col. Thomas Polk, who located
at the above place, as one of the first pioneers, in
1735. In 1806, with his wife and children, and
soon after followed by most of the members of the
Polk family, Samuel Polk emigrated some two or
three hundred miles farther west, to the rich val-
ley of the Duck River. Here, in the midst of the
wilderness, in a region which was subsequently
called Maury County, tliey erected their log huts
and established their homes. In the hard toil of
a new farm in the wilderness, James K. Polk
spent the early years of his childhood and youth.
His father, adding the pursuit of a surveyor to
that of a farmer, gradually increased in wealth,
until he became one of the leading men of the
region. His mother was a superior woman, of
strong common sense and earnest piety.

Very early in life James developed a taste for
reading, and expressed the strongest desire to ob-
tain a liberal education. His mother's training
had made him methodical in his habits, had taught
him punctuality and industry, and had inspired
him with lofty principles of morality. His health
was frail, and his father, fearing that he might not
be able to endure a sedentary life, got a situation
for him behind the counter, hoping to fit him for
commercial pursuits.

This was to James a bitter disappointment. He
had no taste for these duties, and his daily tasks
were irksome in the extreme. He remained in this
uncongenial occupation but a few weeks, when,
at his earnest solicitation, his father removed
him and made arrangements for him to pros-
ecute his studies. Soon after he sent him to Mur-
freesboro Academy. With ardor which could
scarcely be surpassed, he pressed forward in his



studies, and in less than two and a-half years, in
the autumn of 18 15, entered the sophomore class
in the University of North Carolina, at Chapel
Hill. Here he was one of the most exemplary of
scholars, punctual in every exercise, never allow-
ing himself to be absent from a recitation or a
religious service.

Mr. Polk graduated in 18 18, with the highest
honors, being deemed the best scholar of his class,
both in mathematics and the classics. He was
then twenty-three years of age. His health was
at this time much impaired by the assiduity with
which he had prosecuted his studies. After a
short season of relaxation, he went to Nashville,
and entered the office of Felix Grundy, to study
law. Here Mr. Polk renewed his acquaintance
with Andrew Jackson, who resided on his planta-
tion, the "Hermitage," but a few miles from
Nashville. They had probably been slightly ac-
quainted before.

Mr. Polk's father was a Jeffersonian Republican
and James K. adhered to the same political faith.
He was a popular public speaker, and was con-
stantly called upon to address the meetings of his
party friends. His skill as a speaker was such
that he was popularly called the Napoleon of the
stump. He was a man of unblemished morals,
genial and courteous in his bearing, and with that
sympathetic nature in the joys and griefs of oth-
ers which gave him hosts of friends. In 1823,
he was elected to the Legislature of Tennessee,
and gave his .strong influence toward the election
of his friend, Mr. Jackson, to the Presidency of
the United States.

In January, 1S24, Mr. Polk married Miss Sarah
Childress, of Rutherford County, Tenn. His
bride was altogether worthy of him — a lady of
beauty and culture. In the fall of 1S25 Mr. Polk
was chosen a member of Congress, and the satis-
faction he gave his constituents may be inferred



6o



JAMES K. POLK.



from the fact, that for fourteen successive years,
or until 1839, he was continued in that office. He
then voluntarily withdrew, only that he might
accept the Gubernatorial chair of Tennessee. In
Congress he wis a laborious member, i frequent
and a popular speaker. He was always in his
seat, always courteous, and whenever he spoke
it was always to the point, without any ambitious
rhetorical display.

During five sessions of Congress Mr. Polk was
Speaker of the House. Strong passions were
roused and stormj' scenes were witnessed, but he
performed his arduous duties to a \'er>' general
satisfaction, and a unanimous vote of thanks to
him was passed by the House as he withdrew on
the 4th of March, 1839.

In accordance with Southern usage, Mr. Polk,
as a candidate for Governor, canvassed the State.
He was elected by a large majority, and on Octo-
ber 14, 1839, took the oath of ofBce at Nashville.
In 1 841 his term of office expired, and he was
again the candidate of the Democratic party, but
was defeated.

On the 4th of March, 1S45, Mr. Polk was in-
augurated President of the United States. The
verdict of the country in favor of the annexation
of Texas exerted its influence upon Congress,
and the last act of the administration of President
Tyler was to atRx his signature to a joint resolu-
tion of Congress, passed on the 3d of March, ap-
proving of the annexation of Texas to the Union.
As Mexico still claimed Texas as one of her
provinces, the Mexican Minister, Almonte, im-
mediately demanded his passports and left the
country, declaring the act of the annexation to be
an act hostile to Mexico.

In his first message. President Polk urged that
Texas should immediately, by act of Congress, be
received into the Union on the same footing with
the other States. In the mean time. Gen. Taylor
was sent with an army into Texas to hold the
country. He was first sent to Nueces, which the
Mexicans said was the western boundary of Tex-
as. Then he was sent nearly two hundred miles
further west, to the Rio Grande, where he erected
batteries which commanded the Mexican city of
Matamoras, which was situated on the western



banks. The anticipated collision soon took place,
and war was declared against Mexico by President
Polk. The war was pushed forward by his ad-
ministration with great vigor. Gen. Taylor,
whose army was first called one of " obser\-ation,"
then of "occupation," then of "invasion," was
sent forward to Monterey. The feeble Mexicans
in every encounter were hopelessly slaughtered.
The day of judgment alone can reveal the misery
which this war caused. It was by the ingenuity
of Mr. Polk's administration that the war was
brought on.

"To the victors belong the spoils." Mexico
was prostrate before us. Her capital was in our
hands. We now consented to peace upon the
condition that Mexico should surrender to us, in
addition to Texas, all of New Mexico, and all of
Upper and Lower California. This new demand
embraced, exclusive of Texas, eight hundred
thousand square miles. This was an extent of
territory equal to nine States of the size of New
York. Thus slavery was securing eighteen ma-
jestic States to be added to the Union. There
were some Americans who thought it all right;
there were others who thought it all wrong. In
the prosecution of this war we expended twenty
thousand lives and more than $100,006,000. Of
this money $15,000,000 were paid to Mexico.

On the 3d of March, 1849, Mr. Polk retired
from office, having served one term. The next
day was Sunday. On the 5th, Gen. Taylor was
inaugurated as his successor. Mr. Polk rode to
the Capitol in the same carriage with Gen. Tay-
lor, and the same evening, with Mrs. Polk, he
commenced his return to Tennessee. He was
then but fifty-four years of age. He had always
been strictly temperate in all his habits, and his
health was good. With an ample fortune, a
choice library, a cultivated mind, and domestic
ties of the dearest nature, it seemed as though
long years of tranquillity and happiness were be-
fore him. But the cholera — that fearful scourge
— was then sweeping up the Valley of the Missis-
sippi, and he contracted the disease, dying on the
15th of June, 1849, in the fifty-fourth year of his
age, greatly mourned by his countrymen.




ZACHARY TAYLOR.



ZACHARY TAYLOR.



G/ACHARY TAYLOR, twelfth President of
I, the United States, was born on the 24th of
Z2 November, '1784, in Orange County, Va.
His father, Col. Taylor, was a Virginian of
note, and a distinguished patriot and soldier of
the Revolution. When Zachary was an infant,
his father, with his wife and two children, emi-
grated to Kentucky, where he settled in the path-
less wilderness, a few miles from Louisville. In
this frontier home, away from civilization and all
its refinements, young Zachary could enjoy but
few social and educational advantages. When
six years of age he attended a common school,
and was then regarded as a bright, active boy,
rather remarkable for bluntness and decision of
character. He was strong, fearless and self-reli-
ant, and manifested a strong desire to enter the
army to fight the Indians, who were ravaging the
frontiers. There is little to be recorded of the
uneventful years of his childhood on his father's
large but lonely plantation.

In 1808, his father succeeded in obtaining for
him a commission as Lieutenant in the United
States army, and he joined the troops which were
stationed at New Orleans under Gen. Wilkinson.
Soon after this he married Miss Margaret Smith,
a young lady from one of the first families of
Maryland.

Immediately after the declaration of war with
England, in 1812, Capt. Taylor (for he had then
been promoted to that rank) was put in command
of Ft. Harrison, on the Wabash, about fifty miles
above Vincennes. This fort had been built in the
wilderness by Gen. Harrison, on his march to
Tippecanoe. It was one of the first points of at-
tack by the Indians, led by Tecumseh. Its garri-
son consisted of a broken company of infantry,
numbering fifty men, many of whom were sick.

Early in the autumn of 181 2, the Indians,
stealthily, and in large numbers, moved upon the I



fort. Their approach was first indicated by the
murder of two soldiers just outside of the stockade.
Capt. Taylor made every possible preparation to
meet the anticipated assault. On the 4th of Sep-
tember, a band of forty painted and plumed sav-
ages came to the fort, waving a white flag, and
informed Capt. Taylor that in the morning their
chief would come to have a talk with him. It
was evident that their object was merely to ascer-
tain the state of things at the fort, and Capt.
Taylor, well versed in the wiles of the savages,
kept them at a distance.

The sun went down; the savages disappeared;
the garrison slept upon their arms. One hour
before midnight the war-whoop burst from a
thousand lips in the forest around, followed by
the discharge of musketry and the rush of the
foe. Every man, sick and well, sprang to his
post. Every man knew that defeat was not
merely death, but, in the case of capture, death by
the most agonizing and prolonged torture. No
pen can describe, no imagination can conceive, the
scenes which ensued. • The savages succeeded in
setting fire to one of the block-houses. Until six
o'clock in the morning this awful conflict con-
tinued, when the savages, baffled at every point
and gnashing their teeth with rage, retired.
Capt. Taylor, for this gallant defense, was pro-
moted to the rank of Major by brevet.

Until the close of the war, Maj. Taylor was
placed in such situations that he saw but little
more of active service. He was sent far away
into the depths of the wilderness to Ft. Craw-
ford, on Fox River, which empties into Green
Bay. Here there was little to be done but to
wear away the tedious hours as one best could.
There were no books, no society, no intellectual
stimulus. Thus with him the uneventful years
rolled on. Gradually he rose to the rank of
Colonel. In the Black Hawk War, which re-



64

suited in the capture of that renowned chieftain,
Col. Taylor took a subordinate, but a brave and
efficient, part.

For twenty-four years Col. Taylor wai engaged
in the defense of the frontiers, in scenes so re-
mote, and in employments so obscure, that his
name was unknown beyond the limits of his own
immediate acquaintance. In the year 1836, he
was sent to Florida to compel the Seminole Indi-
ans to vacate that region, and retire beyond the
Mississippi, as their chiefs by treaty had prom-
ised they should do. The services rendered here
secured for Col. Taylor the high appreciation of
the Government, and as a reward he was ele-
vated to the high rank of Brigadier-General by
brevet, and soon after, in May, 1838, was ap-
pointed to the chief command of the United
States troops in Florida.

After two years of wearisome emplojment
amid.st the everglades of the Peninsula, Gen. Tay-
lor obtained, at his own request, a change of
command, and was stationed over the Department
of the Southwest. This iield embraced Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Establishing
his headquarters at Ft. Jessup, in Louisiana, he
removed his family to a plantation which he pur-
chased near Baton Rouge. Here he remained
for five years, buried, as it were, from the world,
but faithfully discharging every duty imposed
upon him.

In 1846, Gen. Taylor was sent to guard the
land between the Nueces and Rio Grande, the
latter river being the boundary of Texas, which



Online LibraryHenry James LeePortrait and biographical record of Guernsey County, Ohio, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with biographies and portraits of all the p → online text (page 4 of 83)