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Proceedings in Congress upon the acceptance of the statues of Thomas H. Benton and Francis P. Blair, presented by the state of Missouri online

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Washington. Mr. Wilson was a lawyer of extensive practice
and of good talent, a man of violent prejudices and temper,
who was ever in open opposition to the course of Colonel
Benton. It was notorious in St. Louis that when Colonel
Benton went on the stump John Wilson would be there to
meet him and to abuse him in the strongest terms; Mr. Benton
would return the fire.

Mr. Webster had not seen Mr. Wilson for many years, but
he came to him now prematurely old, with fortune wrecked,
and told him of his desire to emigrate to California for his
family's sake. As far as he was concerned, poverty mattered
not, but on account of those dear to him he wished to try and
mend his fortunes. He therefore desired a letter to some one
in California which would say that Webster knew him to be a
respectable person worthy of confidence. Webster said he
knew no one in California.

Mr. Wilson insisted that this would make no difference, as
everybody would know him and that therefore a certificate
from him would be the most valuable testimonial he could
have. Webster said he would write one with pleasure, but
suggested that Colonel Benton, who almost owns California,
could give a letter to Fremont and others that would be of
great benefit to him. Wilson looked at Webster in astonish-
ment and said he would not speak to Benton, "No, not if it
were to save the life of every member of my family; " that the



Statues of Thomas H. Ihnitoii ai/d Francis P. Blair. 67

thought of it made him shudder; that he feh iiuhgnant at its

mention, since Webster knew that they were unfriendly. Mr.

Webster repHed that he understood the situation, and, turning

to his desk, wrote the following note to Mr. Benton:

Dear Sir: I am well aware of the disputes, personal and political,
which have taken place between yourself and the bearer of this note,
Mr. John Wilson. Rut he is now old, and is going to California and
needs a letter of reconiniendation. You know everybody, and a letter
from you would do him good. I have assured Mr. Wil.son that it would
give you more pleasure to forget what has passed between j-ou and him
and to give him a letter that will do him good than it will him to receive
it. I am going to persuade him to carry you this note.

Webster then read the note to Wilson, who promptly refused
to carry it. After long and determined persistence on Webster's
part, Wilson softened down and agreed to leave the letter at the
door. He told Webster afterwards that he took the note and
delivered it, with his card, to Benton's servant at the door,
and rushed to his apartments. To his great astonishment, in
a very few moments a note arrived from Colonel Benton
acknowledging the receipt of the card and note, and stating
that Mrs. Benton and he would have much pleasure in receiv-
ing Mr. Wilson at breakfast at 9 o'clock next morning. They
would wait breakfast for him and no answer was expected.
Wilson told Webster afterwards that it so worried him that
he lay awake that night thinking of it, and in the morning
felt as a man with a sentence of death passed upon him, who
had been called by the turnkey to his last breakfast.

Making his toilet, with great hesitation he went to Colonel
Benton's house. He rang the doorbell, but instead of the
servant the Colonel himself, came to the door. Taking Wil-
son cordially by both hands, he said: "Wilson, I am delighted
to see you; this is the happiest meeting I have had for twenty
}'ears. Webster has done the kindest thing he ever did in his



68 Address of Mr. Lloyd on the Acceptance of the

life." Proceeding at once to the dining room, he was pre-
sented to Mrs. Benton, and after a few kind words, Benton
remarked: "You and I, Wilson, have been quarreling on the
stump for twenty-five years. We have been calling each
other hard names, but really with no want of mutual respect
and confidence. It has been a foolish political fight, and let's
wipe it out of mind. Everything that I have said about yoii
I ask pardon for." Wilson said they both cried, he asked
Benton'.s pardon, and they were good friends. Colonel Ben-
ton had meantime prepared a number of letters to persons
whom he knew in California, in which he commanded them to
show Mr. Wilson every favor within their power.

It is not my purpose to refer to acts which the friends of
Colonel Benton would blot from memory, nor to deeds which
could bring the tinge of remorse. I would cover his imper-
fections with the mantle of charit3% but would imprint in
burning letters, if I could, his patrioti.sm, energy, industry,
honesty, and devotion to the right as qualities worthy of
emulation. Nor would my remarks be complete did I not
refer to that greatest of his virtues, which showed itself in
the devotion and affection he exhibited toward his family.

In 1844 his wife suffered a stroke of paralysis, from which
she never fully recovered. From that time Colonel Benton
was never known to go to any place of festivity or amuse-
ment, but devoted his leisure hours to trying to make com-
fortable, pleasant, and happy the loved one so sorely afflicted.
No man, it is said, ever regarded his family with more tender
solicitude than did he. In this are evinced, perhaps, the true
qualities of the man as much as in anything occurring in the
days of his eventful history. Mrs. Benton, in the language
of another, "was the pride and glory of his young ambition,
the sweet ornament of his mature fame, and the best love of



Statues of TJwmas H. Benton and Francis P. Blair. 69

his ripened age." These are the completing qnahties which
enable us to know him who was —

Lofty anil sour to them that lovc-d him not,

But to those men that sought him sweet as summer.

Colonel Benton died April 10, 1858, leaving as his last

audible words "I am comfortable and content." On the day

of his burial all business in St. Louis was suspended, every

court adjourned, and it is said that 40,000 people were present

and sought to pay their last tribute of respect. Before the

adjournment of the United States circuit court for the district

of Missouri on that day, at the announcement of the burial of

Colonel Benton, Judge Wells, of that court, said:

I have heard with great sensibility of the death of Colonel Benton, one
of the oldest members of this bar. He was a man who devoted nearly all
his life to the service of this State. Colonel Benton and myself became
acquainted about forty years ago, and through all that time there was an
undeviating friendship between us. It is a great mistake to suppose that
a difference of opinion would disturb the friendship entered into by Colonel
Benton. It was only when he supposed that he received a personal affront,
or that such was intended, that he ever deviated from it.

He was a man of great talents, great energy, and indomitable will. He
devoted all those great qualities not to his own interest, but to the interest
of the Union and to this State. I have it from the highest authority that,
to remain in this State and to devote his services to her interests, he refused
the highest gifts in the power of the United States Government to bestow.
He refused the office of Chief Justice of the United States; he refused being
put in nomination for Vice-President and other high offices, all through a
desire to serve this State. As a father, as a husband, and in all the domes-
tic relations, he was a model. This I know personally, as I was intimate
in his family for several months. His private and domestic ties were only
second to his public duties. He was devoted to the prosperity of this State
and to the glory and perpetuity of our Union.

The following eloquent tribute to Colonel Benton is taken

from the issue of one of the St. Louis papers on the day of

the interment :

Greatness is ended.
An unsubstantial pageant all;
Droop o'er the scene the funeral pall.

Weave the cypress for the bier of the departed; gather the burial cor-
tege to lay his body within its final home; summon fitting words of



JO Address of Mr. Lloyd on the Acceptance of the

eulogy to voice the sorrow of those who knew him in life and mourn
him in death.

For this day, amid the drooping of banners, the low wail of martial
music, and the multitudinous concourse of our citizens the solemn words
"dust to dust, and ashes to ashes" will be spoken over the remains of
Thomas H. Benton, a statesman without peer, a patriot without price.
Let us deal gently with his errors, remember his labor, and embalm his
virtues. In his public services and in his private attachments, in his
arduous labor and in his majestic death, he had earned an abiding
place in the memory of the American people, whilst his name will be
emblazoned more in the future than in the present as one of the most
illustrious of those who gave so much of renown to the deliberations of
our National Council.

Missouri is proud of her honored dead. She rejoices in the
achievements of her sons. Many of her names are written
high on the mount of fame. These two are not alone the
object of her admiration. In statesmanship many others are
registered near the top of the scroll of honor; in legal attain-
ment she ranks well in the sisterhood of States; in educational
advantages she is seldom surpassed, and in natural resources is
without a peer.

Aside from these advantages, the chief glory of the Mis-
sourian is in the honor and integrity of his citizenship
Charged with being border ruffian by those who do not unde
stand the character of her people, with being outlaws by those,
who have no knowledge of their morality, with being uncouth
and illiterate by those who have not learned of the education
and refinement of her sons and daughters, she stands without
a superior in the galaxy of States in the rectitude of her
intentions. This great State brings to you to-day all that she
has the power to do in honoring the dead and humbly asks
that these chiseled emblems, representing her sons, shall find
suitable place in that apartment fixed by law for that purpose,
that, as the years roll on, it will be observed that she is not



Stafites of TJionias H. Ben ton and Francis P. Blair. 71

forgetful in cherishing the memory of those who have wrought
so nobly for her welfare.

Mr. Bland. Mr. vSpeaker, I ask for the adoption of the reso-
lution.

The Speaker pro tempore (Mr. Connolly). The question is
on agreeing to the resolution offered by the gentleman from
Missouri [Mr. Bland].

The resolution was agreed to.



ACCEPTANCE OF THE STATUES OF THOMAS
H. BENTON AND FRANCIS P. BLAIR.



PROCEEDINGS IN THE SENATE.



MAY ig, igoo.

Mr. CoCKRELL. Mr. President, in pursuance of the notice
heretofore given, I present a letter from the governor of the
State of Missouri, which I ask may be read by the Secretary'.

The President pro tempore. The Secretary will read as
requested.

The Secretar}' read as follows:

To the Senate and House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.

Genti,emen : In the year 1895 the general assembly of the State of
Missoiiri passed an act making an appropriation to have statues made
of Thomas H. Benton and Francis P. Blair, to be placed in Statuary
Hall, in the Capitol at Washington. In the act referred to, William J.
Stone, Odin Guitar, Peter L. Foy, B. B. Cahoon, O. H. S; encer, and James
H. Birch were constituted a commission to have the statues made and
properly placed. I am now informed bj- the commissioners that the stat-
ues are completed and read}- to be presented to Congress.

I have the honor, therefore, as governor of Missouri, to present- to the
Government of the United States, through the Congress, the statues of
the distinguished statesmen named, and to ask that they may be assigned
a place in the hall dedicated to such uses at the Capitol.
Verv respectfuUv,

LON V. STEPHENS, Governor.

Mr. CocKRELL. I ask that the concurrent resolution of the
House of Representatives may be laid before the Senate.

73



74 Proceedings in the Senate.

The President pro tempore. The Chair lays before the
Senate a concurrent resolution of the House of Representatives,
which will be read.

The Secretary read as follows:

In the House of Representatives,

February 4, i8gg.

Resolved by the House of Representatives {the Seriate concurring). That
the thanks of Congress be presented to the State of Missouri for providing
and furnishing statues of Thomas Hart Benton, a deceased person, who
has been a citizen thereof and illustrious for his historic renown and for
distinguished civic services, and of Francis Preston Bi^air, a deceased
person, who has been a citizen thereof and illustrious for his historic
renown and for distinguished civic and military services.

Resolved, That the statues be accepted and placed in the National Stat-
uary Hall in the Capitol, and that a copy of these resolutions duly authen-
ticated be transmitted to the governor of the State of Missouri.



S/afitcs of Tlto))i(ts Jl. Boitoii and Francis P. lilair. 75

Address of Mr. Vest, of Missouri.

TIIO.MAS H. BENTON.

Mr. President, nothing could more clearly show how rapidly
the bitter memories of the civil war are passing away than the
fact that Missouri sends to the National Capitol the .statues
of ThOxMAS H. Benton and Frank P. Blair, Jr.

The first great conflict over African slavery in the United
States occurred when Missouri was admitted into the Union
as a slave State, accompanied by the enactment of what was
known as the Missouri compromise, which provided that north
of 36° 30' latitude slavery and involuntary servitude, except as
a punishment for crime, should never exist. The next contest
ov^er slavery came with the passage of the Kansas- Nebraska
bill in 1854, the repeal of the Missouri compromise, and the
birth of the Republican party upon the distinct issue of free
soil and opposition to the extension of slavery.

This was followed by that terrible border war upon the
frontiers of Missouri and Kansas, which depopulated whole
counties, destroyed towns and villages, and reddened the mid-
night sky with the lurid glare of burning homes. Old John
Brown declared upon the scaffold at Charlestown, W. Va. ,
that he had invaded Missouri three years before he attacked
Virginia, and had carried off seven slaves from Bates County
to Canada without firing a gun. Literally he fired no guns,
but he murdered in cold blood, with knives, one of the best
men in Bates County, who attempted to prevent forcibh^ the
outrage on his property.

No State in the Union suffered more from internecine strife
and neighborhood war than Missouri. The wounds inflicted



76 Address of Mr. Vest on the Acceptance of the

were deep and cruel, no man being willing to prophesy when
their memory would pass away. But to-day Missouri sends to
the National Capitol and to Statuar}' Hall the marble images of
two men whose whole public lives were given to the cause of
free soil and against the further extension of African slavery.

Immediately after the Revolutionary war, and even before it
had closed, emigrants commenced passing over the Appalachian
Range into the gloomj' forests of Kentucky and Tennessee to
contest supremacy over the soil with the Indians and wild
beasts. This emigration was composed largely of Scotch- Irish
blood, that most remarkable of all the races which have existed
upon this continent, independent, self-willed, impatient of re-
straint, yet not given to disorder; every man a soldier and his
own leader; every woman fit to be the mother of heroes. This
Scotch-Irish blood has given to the Western States, into which
they went, blazing the paths of civilization with the ax in one
hand and the rifle in the other, men who have impressed them-
selves in war and peace upon these great communities.

Nearly all the leading families of Tennessee, Kentucky, and
Missouri came from this Scotch- Irish lineage, which po.ssessed
so much of individual and racial antipathies; always deter-
mined in their own opinions, and with strong passions and
high prejudices, but at the same time deeply religious, their
religion being militant, like that of the old Jews, who for forty
years went through the wilderness praying by night and fight-
ing by day, but always carrying with them the Ark of the
Covenant. This Scotch- Irish blood has given to these Western
States men who molded their institutions and impressed them-
selves indelibly upon their destiny — the Jacksons, Hardins,
Clarks, McCullochs, McClernands, McKees, Estills, and Gen-
try s. Both their ancestors and their descendants have been
leaders in every community where they became citizens.



Statues of Tlwmas II. h'niton ami Francis P. Blair. 77

With this remarkable pioneer migration across the Appa-
lachian Range of vScotch-Irish lineage there went also a small
contingent of \'irginians, another most remarkable race. The.\-
were the cavaliers of luigland, who, after the>- lost the cansc
of the vStuarts, and before the restoration of Charles II, came
from England to Virginia. They were the men who charged
with Prince Rnpert again.st the ironsides of Cromwell and
knew no fear. Among these families, descendants of whom
can be found to-day in the Old Dominion, and in the two
Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, were the Lees,
known in England as the Loyal Lees, who gave to \'irginia
Light-Horse Harry in the Revolution, William Henry Lee in
the councils of Congress, and Robert E. Lee, the peerless
leader of his countrymen in our civil war. Side by side with
the Lees who charged under Prince Rupert were the Bentons.
Thomas H. Benton was descended from this familv, and
passed across the Appalachian Range from North Carolina,
where his father had settled, to cast his destinies with the
frontiersmen of Tennessee.

Benton's father, unHke the fathers of the Scotch-Irish
immigrants, was not an extremeh' poor man. The Benton
famil}' was entirely different in its circumstances from that of
Andrew Jackson. Jackson's mother was a widow in ver\-
indigent circumstances, unable at times to procure the neces-
saries of life, and one of the most pathetic pictures of all our
early history is that of Jackson's mother walking more than
40 miles to see her two boys, prisoners to the British, begging
her way as she went, without even an animal to ride. Ben-
ton's father was a lawyer in good practice, and he gave his
son a collegiate education at Chapel Hill, in North Carolina.
His mother was a Virginian. His father came directly from
English lineage and his mother indirectly through one of the



78 Address of Mr. Vest on the Acceptance of the

splendid families of old Virginia, that furnished warriors and
statesmen, the State which is known as the mother of States
and statesmen. These people are described by Theodore
Roosevelt, now governor of the State of New York, in his Life
of Thomas H. Benton — one of the American series — in a few
lines, and I ask the Secretary to read them.

The President pro tempore. The Secretary will read as
requested.

The Secretary read as follows:

The world has never seen better soldiers than those who followed
Lee, and their leader will undoubtedly rank as without any exception
the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking
peoples have brought forth; and this, although the last and chief of his
antagonists, may himself claim to stand as the full equal of Marlborough
and Wellington.

Mr. Vest. Mr. President, I make no apology for having this
quotation read, because it is worth}' of this era of fraternization
and of the gallant soldier who penned those lines. No man
knows better the descendants of the old Virginians and the
Scotch- Irish, the people of the great Commonwealths of the
West, than Theodore Roosevelt. He led them up that historic
hill at Santiago when closed the Cuban war, and he knows that
the Rough Riders whom he led were the legitimate descendants
of those ancestors of whom I have spoken, having simply laid
aside the ax and rifle for the pistol and lariat of the plains.

Colonel Benton, as I have stated, was born in North Caro-
lina, and his father, dying in middle age, left to the family a
large tract of land near Nashville, Tenn., to which the widow
removed, Thomas H. Benton being the second son. Young
Benton grew up on this tract of land, on which is located the
town bearing the family name of Benton, and his life was like
that of the average young frontiersman. He indulged in all
the rough and exciting amusements and pursuits of that early



Sfn flics of Tliouias If. Boitoii and Frai/ns /'. h'/air. 79

era. He fought chickens and fought the IncHans. He ran
horses and ran for the legislature. He indulged in street
brawls and affrays, not entirely creditable, in


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress (56th : 1899-1900)Proceedings in Congress upon the acceptance of the statues of Thomas H. Benton and Francis P. Blair, presented by the state of Missouri → online text (page 6 of 11)