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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was then claimed by the United States. Soon
the war with Mexico was brought on, and at Palo
Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Gen. Taylor won
brilliant victories over the Mexicans. The rank
of Major-General by brevet was then conferred
upon Gen. Taylor, and his name was received
with enthusiasm almost everywhere in the na-
tion. Then came the battles of Monterey and
Buena Vista, in which he won signal victories
over forces much larger than he commanded.

The tidings of the brilliant victory of Buena
Vista spread the wildest enthusiasm over the
country. The name of Gen. Taylor was on
every one's lips. The Whig party decided to


take advantage of this wonderful popularity in
bringing forward the unpolished, unlettered, hon-
est soldier as their candidate for the Presidency.
Gen. Taylor was astonished at the announce-
ment, and for a time would not listen to it, de-
claring that he was not at all qualified for such
an office. So little interest had he taken in poli-
tics, that for forty years he had not cast a vote.
It was not without chagrin that several distin-
guished statesmen, who had been long years in
the public service, found their claims set aside in
behalf of one whose name had never been heard
of, save in connection with Palo Alto, Resaca de
la Palma, Monterey and Buena Vista. It is said
that Daniel Webster, in his haste, remarked, "It
is-a nomination not fit to be made."

Gen. Taylor was not an eloquent speaker nor a
fine writer. His friends took possession of him,
and prepared such few communications as it was
needful should be presented to the public. The
popularity of the successful warrior swept the
land. He was triumphantly elected over two
opposing candidates, — Gen. Cass and Ex-Presi-
dent Martin Van Buren. Though he selected an
excellent cabinet, the good old man found himself
in a very uncongenial position, and was at times
sorely perplexed and harassed. His mental suf- •
ferings were very severe, and probably tended to
hasten his death. The pro-slavery party was
pushing its claims with tireless energy; expedi-
tions were fitting out to capture Cuba; California
was pleading for admission to the Union, while
slavery stood at the door to bar her out. Gen.
Taylor found the political conflicts in Washington
to be far more trying to the nerves than battles
with Mexicans or Indians.

In the midst of all these troubles, Gen. Taylor,
after he had occupied the Presidential chair but
little over a year, took cold, and after a brief
sickness of but little over five days, died, on the
9th of July, 1850. His last words were, "I am
not afraid to die. I am ready. I have endeav-
ored to do my duty." He died universally re-
spected and beloved. An honest, unpretending
man, he had been steadily growing in the affec-
tions of the people, and the Nation bitterly la-
mented his death.



I II.LARD FILLMORE, thirteenth President
of the United States, was born at Summer
Hill, Cayuga County, N. Y. , on the yth of
January, 1800. His father was a farmer, and, owing
to misfortune, in humble circmnstances. Of his
mother, the daughter of Dr. Abiathar Millard, of
Pittsfield, Mass., it has been said that she pos-
sessed an intellect of a high order, united with
much personal loveliness, sweetness of disposi-
tion, graceful manners and exquisite sensibilities.
She died in 1831, having lived to see her son a
young man of distinguished promise, though she
was not permitted to witness the high dignity
which he finally attained.

In consequence of the secluded home and limited
means of his father, Millard enjoyed but slender
advantages for education in his early years. The
common schools, which he occasionally attended,
were very imperfect institutions, and books were
scarce and expensive. There was nothing then
in his character to indicate the brilhant career
upon which he was aboui to enter. He was a
plain farmer's boy — intelligent, good-looking,
kind-hearted. The sacred- influences of home
had taught liim to revere the Bible, and had laid
the foundations of an upright character. When
fourteen years of age, his father sent him some
hundred miles from home to the then wilds of
Livingston County, to learn the trade of a clothier.
Near the mill there was a small village, where
some enterprising man had commenced the col-
lection of a village librarj'. This proved an in-
estimable blessing to young Fillmore. His even-
ings were spent in reading. Soon every leisure
moment was occupied with books. His thirst for
knowledge became insatiate, and the selections
which he made were continually more elevating
and instructive. He read history, biogiaphy,
oratory, and thus gradually there was enkindled

in his heart a desire to be something more than a
mere worker with his hands.

The young clothier had now attained the age
of nineteen years, and was of fine personal appear-
ance and of gentlemanly demeanor. It so hap-
pened that there was a gentleman in the neigh-
borhood of ample pecuniary means and of benev-
olence, — ^Judge Walter Wood, — who was struck
with the prepossessing appearance of young Fill-
more. He made his acquaintance, and was so
much impressed with his ability and attainments
that he advised him to abandon his trade and de-
vote himself to the study of the law. The young
man replied that he had no means of his own,
no friends to help him, and that his previous edu-
cation had been very imperfect. But Judge Wood
had so much confidence in him that he kindly
offered to take him into his own oSice, and to
lend him such money as he needed. Most grate-
fully the generous offer was accepted.

There is in many minds a strange delusion
about a collegiate education. A young man is
supposed to be liberally educated if he has gradu-
ated at some college. But many a boy who loi-
ters through university halls and then enters a
law office is by no means as well prepared to
prosecute his legal studies as was Millard Fill-
more when he graduated at the clothing-mill at
the end of four j-ears of manual labor, during
which everj- leisure moment had been devoted to
intense mental culture.

In 1823, when twenty-three years of age, he
was admitted to the Court of Common Pleas.
He then went to the village of Aurora, and com-
menced the practice of law. In this secluded,
quiet region, his practice, of course, was limited,
and there was no opportunity for a sudden rise in
fortune or in fame. Here, in 1826, he married a
lady of great moral worth, and one capable of


adorning any station she might be called to fill, —
Miss Abigail Powers.

His elevation of character, his untiring industry,
his legal acquirements, and his skill as an advo-
cate, gradually attracted attention, and he was
invited to enter into partnership, under highly ad-
vantageous circumstances, with an elder member
of the Bar in Buffalo. Just before removing to
Buffalo, in 1829, he took his seat in the House of
Assembly of the State of New York, as a Repre-
sentative from Erie County. Though he had
never taken a very active part in politics, his vote
and sympathies were with the Whig party. The
State was then Democratic, and he found himself
in a helpless minority in the Legislature; still the
testimony comes from all parties that his courtesy,
ability and integrity won, to a very unusual de-
gree, the respect of his associates.

In the autumn of 1832, he was elected to a
seat in the United States Congress. He entered
that troubled arena in the most tumultuous hours
of our national history, when the great conflict
respecting the national bank and the removal of
the deposits was raging.

His term of two years closed, and he returned
to his profession, which he pursued with increas-
ing reputation and success. After a lapse of two
years he again became a candidate for Congress;
was re-elected, and took his seat in 1837. His
past experience as a Representative gave him
strength and confidence. The first term of service
in Congress to any man can be but little more
than an introduction. He was now prepared for
active duty. All his energies were brought to
bear upon the public good. Every measure re-
ceived his impress.

Mr. Fillmore was now a man of wide repute,
and his popularity filled the State. In the year
1847, when he had attained the age of forty-
seven years, he was elected Comptroller of the
State. His labors at the Bar, in the Legisla-
ture, in Congress and as Comptroller, had given
him very considerable fame. The Whigs were
casting about to find suitable candidates for Presi-
dent and Vice-President at the approaching elec-
tion. Far away on the waters of the Rio Grande,
there was a rough old soldier, who had fought

one or two successful battles with the Mexicans,
which had caused his name to be proclaimed in
trumpet-tones all over the land as a candidate for
the presidency. But it was necessar>' to associate
with him on the same ticket some man of repu-
tation as a statesman.

Under the influence of these considerations, the
names of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore
became the rallying-cry of the Whigs, as their
candidates for President and Vice-President. The
Whig ticket was signally triumphant. On the
4th of March, 1849, Gen. Taylor was inaugurated
President, and Millard Fillmore Vice-President,
of the United States.

On the gth of July, 1850, President Taylor,
about one year and four months after his inaugura-
tion, was suddenly taken sick and died. By the
Constitution, Vice-President Fillmore thus be-
came President. He appointed a very able cabi-
net, of which the illustrious Daniel Webster was
Secretary of State; nevertheless, he had serious
difficulties to contend with, since the opposition
had a majority in both Houses. He did all in his
power to conciliate the South; but the pro-slavery
party in the South felt the inadequacy of all
measures of transioit conciliation. The popula-
tion of the free States was so rapidly increasing
over that of the slave States, that it was inevitable
that the power of the Government should soon
pass into the hands of the free States. The fa-
mous compromise measures were adopted under
Mr. Fillmore's administration, and the Japan ex-
pedition was sent out. On the 4th of March,
1853, he, having served one term, retired.

In 1856, Mr. Fillmore was nominated for the
Presidency by the "Know-Nothing" party, but
was beaten by Mr. Buchanan. After that Mr.
Fillmore lived in retirement. During the terri-
ble conflict of civil war, he was mostly silent. It
was generally supposed that his sympathies were
rather with those who were endeavoring to over-
throw our in.stitutions. President Fillmore kept
aloof from the conflict, without any cordial words
of cheer to one party or the other. He was thus
forgotten by both. He lived to a ripe old age,
and died in Buffalo, N. Y., March 8, 1874.



r"RANKLIN PIERCE, the fourteenth Presi-
iQ dent of the United States, was born in Hills-
I ^ borough, N. H., November 23, 1804. His
father was a Revohitionary soldier, who with his
own strong arm hewed out a home in the wilder-
ness. He was a man of inflexible integrity, of
strong, though uncultivated, mind, and was an un-
compronn"sing Democrat. The mother of Frank-
lin Pierce was all that a son could desire — an in-
telligent, prudent, afFectionate, Christian woman.

Franklin, who was the sixth of eight children,
was a remarkably bright and handsome boj',
generous, warm-hearted and brave. He won
alike the love of old and young. The boys ori
the play-ground loved him. His teachers loved
him. The neighbors looked upon him with pride
and affection. He was by instinct a gentleman,
always speaking kind words, and doing kind
deeds, with a peculiar, unstudied tact which
taught him what was agreeable. Without de-
veloping any precocity of genius, or any unnatural
devotion to books, he was a good scholar, and hi
body and mind a finely developed boy.

When sixteen years of age, in the year 1820,
he entered Bowdoin College, at Brun.swick, Me.
He was one of the most popular > oung men in
the college. The purity of his moral character,
the unvarying coitrtesy of his demeanor, his rank
as a scholar, and genial nature, rendered .him a
universal favorite. There was something pe-
culiarly winning in his address, and it was evi-
dently not in the slightest degree studied — it was
the simple outgusliing of his own magnanimous
and loving nature.

Upon graduating, in the 3'ear 1.S24, Franklin
Pierce commenced the study of law in the office
of Judge Woodbury, one of the most distinguished

lawyers of the State, and a man of great private
worth. The eminent social qualities of the young
lawyer, his father's prominence as a public man,
and the brilliant political career into which Judge
Woodbury was entering, all tended to entice Mr.
Pierce into the fascinating yet perilous path of
iwhtical life. With all the ardor of his nature he
espoused the cause of Gen. Jackson for the Presi-
dency. He commenced the practice of law in
Hillsborough, and was soon elected to represent
the town in the State Legislature. Here he
served for four years. The last two years he was
chosen Speaker of the House b}- a very large

In 1833, at the age of twenty-nine, he was
elected a member of Congress. In 1837, heing
then but thirty-three years old, he was elected to
the Senate, taking his seat just as Mr. Van Buren
commenced his administration. He was the
youngest member in the Senate. In the year
1834, he married Miss Jane Means Appleton, a
lady of rare beauty and accomplishments, and one
admirably fitted to adorn every station with which
her husband was honored. Of the three sons who
were boni to them, all now sleep with their par-
ents in the grave.

In the year 1S38, Mr. Pierce, with growing
fame and increasing business as a lawyer, took up
his residence in Concord, the capital of New
Hampshire. President Polk, upon his accession
to office, appointed Mr. Pierce Attorney-General
of the United States; but the offer was declined
in consequence of numerous professional engage-
ments at home, and the precarious .state of Mrs.
Pierce's health. He also, about the .same time,
declined the nomination for Governor by the
Democratic party. The war with Mexico called



Mr. Pierce into the army. Receiving the appoint-
ment of Brigadier-General, he embarked with a
portion of his troops at Newport, R I., on the
27th of May, 1847. He took an important part
in this war, proving himself a brave and true sol-

When Gen. Pierce reached his home in his na-
tive State, he was received enthusiastically by the
advocates of the Mexican War, and coldly by his
opponents. He resumed the practice of his pro-
fession, very frequently taking an active part in
political questions, giving his cordial support to
the pro-slavery wing of the Democratic party.
The compromise measures met cordially with his
approval, and he strenuously advocated the en-
forcement of the infamous Fugitive Slave Law,
which so shocked the religious sensibilities of the
North. He thus became distinguished as a
' ' Northern man with Southern principles. ' ' The
strong partisans of slavery in the South conse-
quentlj- regarded him as a man whom they could
safely trust in office to carry out their plans.

On the 12th of June, 1852, the Democratic con-
vention met in Baltimore to nominate a candidate
for the Presidency. For four days they contin-
ued in session, and in thirty-five ballotings no one
had obtained a two-thirds vote. Not a vote thus
far had been thrown for Gen. Pierce. Then the
\''irginia delegation brought forward his name.
There were fourteen more ballotings, during which
Gen. Pierce constantly gained strength, until, at
the forty -ninth ballot, he received two hundred
and eighty-two votes,' and all other candidates
eleven. Gen. Winfield Scott was the Whig can-
didate. Gen. Pierce was chosen with great una-
nimity. Only four States— Vermont, Massachu-
setts, Kentucky and Tennessee— cast their elec-
toral votes against him. Gen. Franklin Pierce
was therefore inaugurated President of the United
States on the 4th of March, 1853.

His administratio!! proved one of the most
stormy our country had ever experienced. The
controversy between slaver>' and freedom was
then approaching its culminating point. It be-
came evident that there was to be an irrepressible
conflict between them, and that this nation
could not long exist " half slave and half free."

President Pierce, during the whole of his admin-
istration, did everything he could to conciliate the
South ; but it was all in vain. The conflict every
year grew more violent, and threats of the disso-
lution of the Union were borne to the North on
every Southern breeze.

Such was the condition of affairs when Presi-
dent Pierce approached the close of his four-
years term of office. The North had become
thoroughly alienated from him. The anti-slavery
sentiment, goaded by great outrages, had becii
rapidly increasing; all the intellectual ability and
social worth of President Pierce were forgotten in
deep reprehension of his administrative acts. The
slaveholders of the South also, unmindful of the
fidelity with which he had advocated those meas-
ures of Government which they approved, and
perhaps feeling that he had rendered himself
so unpopular as no longer to be able to accepta-
bly ser\-e them, luigratcfully dropped him, and
nominated James Buchanan to succeed him.

On the 4th of March, 1857, President Pierqe re-
turned to his home in Concord. His three chil-
dren were all dead, his last surviving child hav-
ing been killed l)efore his eyes in a railroad acci-
dent; and his wife, one of the most estimable and
accomplished of ladies, was rapidly sinking in
consumption. The hour of dreadful gloom soon
came, and he was left alone in the world without
wife or child.

When the terrible Rebellion burst forth which
divided our country into two parties, and two
only, Mr. Pierce remained steadfast in the prin-
ciples which he had always cherished, and gave
his sympathies to that pro-slaver>- party with
which he had ever been allied. He declined to
do anything, either by voice or pen, to strengthen
the hand of the National Government. He con-
tinued to reside in Concord until the time of his
death, which occurred in October, 1869. He was
one of the most genial and social of men, an hon-
ored comnumicant of the Episcopal Church, and
one of the kindest of neighbors. Generous to a
fault, he contributed liberally toward the allevia-
tion of suffering and want, and many of his
towns-people were often gladdened by his material











(Tames BUCHANAN, the fifteenth President
I of the United States, was born in a small
V2/ frontier town, at the foot of the eastern ridge
of the AUeghanies, in Franklin County, Pa., on
the 23d of April, 1791. The place where the
liumble cabin home stood was called Stony Bat-
ter. His father was a native of the north of Ire-
land, who had emigrated in 17S3, with little prop-
erty save his own strong arms. Five years after-
ward he married Elizabeth Spear, the daughter
of a respectable farmer, and, with his young bride,
plunged into the wilderness, staked his claim,
reared his log hut, opened a clearing with his
axe, and settled down there to perform his obscure
part in the drama of life. When James was eight
years of age, his father removed to the village of
Mercersburg, where his .son was placed at school,
and commenced a course of study in English,
Latin and Greek. His progress was rapid, and
at the age of fourteen he entered Dickin.son Col-
lege, at Carlisle. Here he developed remarkable
talent, and took his stand among the first scholars
in the institution.

In the year iSog, he graduated with the high-
est honors of his cla.ss. He was then eigliteen
years of age; tall and gracefiil, \igorous in liealth,
fond of athletic sports, an unerring shot, and en-
livened with an exuberant flow of animal .spirits.
lie immediately commenced the .study of law in
the city of Lancaster, and was admitted to .the
Bar in 181 2, when he was but twenty-one years
of age.

In 1820, he reluctantly consented to run as a
candidate for Congress. He was elected, and for
ten years he remained a member of the Lower
House. During the vacations of Congress, he

occasionally tried some important case. In 1831
he retired altogether from the toils of his profes-
sion, having acquired an ample fortune.

Gen. Jackson, upon his elevation to the Presi-
dency, appointed Mr. Buchanan Minister to Rus-
sia. The duties of his mission he performed
with ability, and gave satisfaction to all parties.
Upon his return, in 1833, he was elected to a seat
in the United States Senate. He there met as
his associates Webster, Clay, Wright and Cal-
houn. He advocated the measures proposed by
President Jackson, of making reprisals against
France to enforce the payment of our claims
against that country, and defended the course of
the President in his unprecedented and wholesale
remo^'al from office of those who were not the
supporters of his administration. L^pon this
question he was brought into direct collision with
Henry Clay. He also, with voice and vote, ad-
vocated expunging from the journal of the Senate
the vote of censure against Gen. Jackson for re-
moving the deposits. Earnestly he opposed the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia,

j and urged the prohibition of the circulation of
anti-sla\-er>- documents by the United States
mails. As to petitions on the subject of slavery,

[ he advocated that they should be respectfully re-
ceivedj and that the reply should be returned

I. that CoHgress had no power to legislate upon the

' subject. "Congress," said he, "might as well
undertake to interfere with slavery under a for-
eign government as in any of the States where it
now exists. ' '

Upon Mr. Polk's accession to the Presidency,
Mr. BuchanaiT Ijecanie Secretary of State, and as
such took his share of the responsibility in the



conduct of the Mexican War. Mr. Polk assumed
that crossing the Nueces by the American
troops into the disputed territory was not wrong,
but for the Mexicans to cross the Rio Grande
into Texas was a declaration of war. No candid
man can read with pleasure the account of the
course our Government pursued in that movement.

Mr. Buchanan identified himself thoroughly
with the party devoted to the perpetuation and
extension of slavery', and brought all the energies
of his mind to bear against the Wilmot Proviso.
He gave his cordial approval to the compromise
measures of 1850, which included the Fugitive
Slave L,aw. Mr. Pierce, upon his election to the
Presidency, honored Mr. Buchanan with the mis-
sion to England.

In the year 1S56, a national Democratic Con-
vention nominated Mr. Buchanan for the Presi-
dency. The political conflict was one of the most
severe in which our country has ever engaged.
All the friends of slavery were on one side; all
the advocates of its restriction and final abolition
on the other. Mr. Fremont, the candidate of the
enemies of slavery, received one hundred and
fourteen electoral votes. Mr. Buchanan received
one hundred and seventy- four, and was elected.
The popular vote stood 1,340,618 for Fremont,
1,224,750 for Buchanan. On March 4, 1857,
the latter was inaugurated.

Mr. Buchanan was far advanced in life. Only
four years were wanting to fill up his three-score
years and ten. His own friends, those with
whom he had been allied in political principles
and action for years, were seeking the destruc-
tion of the Government, that they might rear
upon the ruins of our free institutions a nation
whose corner-stone should be human slavery. In
this emergency, Mr. Buchanan was hopelessly
bewildered. He could not, with his long-avowed
principles, consistently oppose the State Rights
party in their assumptions. As President of the
United States, bound by his oath faithfully to
administer the laws, he could not, without per-
jury of the grossest kind, unite with those en-
deavoring to overthrow the Repulilic. He there-
fore (lid nothing.

The opponents of Mr. Buchanan's administra-

tion nominated Abraham Lincoln as their stand-
ard-bearer in the next Presidential canvass.
The pro-slavery party declared that if he were

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 5 of 83)