Reminiscences of Washington


I CANNOT begin my reminiscences by saying, as did the author of Waverley, “ ’T is sixty years since ” I first became a sojourner in the District of Columbia, but more than half a century has elapsed since I first saw the federal capital, during the administration of John Quincy Adams. In those days it was no easy task to reach Washington from distant parts of the country, and the members of Congress from those localities used often to leave their homes three or four weeks before the opening of a session. A few performed the journey in their own carriages, and others rode saddle-horses, which they retained for their use during the session, and then sold. But a large majority of the senators, representatives, correspondents, and claimants who came to Wash ington traveled in the stage-coaches, and there was always a great demand for seats, just before the commencement of a session, on all the lines which centred at the metropolis.

Traveling by stage-coach, although tedious, especially when the roads were bad, was not without its attractions. Those who were fellow passengers, even if strangers to one another, gradually entered into conversation, and there was generally some one of them who was acquainted with the route, and was able to impart interesting information concerning the localities through which it passed. There was a sense of freedom, an abundant enjoyment of the surroundings, and commonly a disposition to be obliging and considerate by giving up the best seats to ladies, by consenting to the admission or the exclusion of fresh air, or by the convenient arrangement of the feet. Of course, the least amiable qualities of human nature would sometimes assert themselves, and selfish persons would improve the opportunity for making all of the passengers uncomfortable ; but the air of the mail-coaches was generally surcharged with patient good humor.

Occasionally the coach would rattle into a village, the driver giving warning blasts upon his horn that the right of way must be given to the United States mail, and then dash up to the stage tavern, before which would be in waiting a fresh team of horses, to take the place of those which had drawn the coach from the previous stopping place. Time was always afforded those passengers who desired to partake of libations at the tavern bar, and a good half hour was allowed for dinner, — a substantial meal, for which the charge was never over seventy-five cents. Travelers had to keep a sharp lookout for their haircovered trunks, or their sole-leather portmanteaus, and see that they were safely strapped on the rack behind the coach, or deposited in the boot beneath the driver’s seat. Smaller articles were taken inside, including the large pasteboard bandboxes in which the ladies carried the Leghorn straw bonnets then the rage.

The stage lines which ended at Washington always had line teams of horses to run in and out of the city, and passengers arriving used to be taken at full speed up to the door of the hotel which they had previously indicated to their driver. There were half a dozen from which to choose, but the favorite establishment was the Indian Queen Hotel, which occupied the site of the present Metropolitan Hotel, and was designated by a large swinging sign, upon which figured Pocahontas, painted in glaring colors. The landlord, Jesse Brown, who used to come to the curb-stone to “welcome the coming guest,” was a native of Havre de Grace, who had served his apprenticeship to tavern-keeping at Hagerstown and in Alexandria. A glance at the travelers, as they alighted and were ushered by him into the house, would enable him mentally to assign each one to a room, the advantages of which he would describe ere sending its destined occupant there under the pilotage of a colored servant. When the next meal was ready, the newly arrived guest was met at the door of the diningroom by Mr. Brown, wearing a large white apron, who escorted him to a seat, and then went to the head of the table, where he carved and helped the principal dish. The excellences of this — fish, or flesh, or fowl — he would announce, as he would invite those seated at the table to send up their plates for what he knew to be their favorite portions ; and he would also invite attention to the dishes on other parts of the table, which were carved and helped by the guests who sat nearest to them. “ I have a delicious quarter of mutton from the valley of Virgina,” Mr. Brown would announce, in a stentorian tone, which could be heard above the clatter of crockery and the din of steel knives and forks. “ Let me send a rare slice, Mr. A.” “Colonel B, will you not have a bone?” “Mrs. C, send up your plate for a piece of the kidney.” “ Mrs. D, there is a fat and tender mongrel goose at the other end of the table.” “ Joe, pass around the sweet-potatoes.” “ Colonel E, will you help to that chicken pie before you ? ” Those at the table thus knew what was before them without rending elaborately printed bills of fare, often containing the names of a dozen dishes that have no existence except in the imagination of the caterer.

The expense of living at the Indian Queen was not great. The price of board was $1.75 per day, $10 per week, or $35 per month. Transient guests were charged fifty cents for breakfast and for supper, and seventy-five cents for dinner. Brandy and whisky were placed on the dinner table in decanters, to be drunk by the guests without additional charge therefor. A bottle of real old madeira, imported into Alexandria, was supplied for $3 ; sherry, brandy, and gin were $1.50 a bottle, and Jamaica rum $1. At the bar, toddies were made with unadulterated liquor and lump sugar; the XX ale came from the brewery on the bank of Rock Creek; fresh mint for juleps was brought from the country every day, and yet the charge was but twelve and a half cents a drink. On high days and holydays Brown would concoct foaming egg-nog in a mammoth punch-bowl once owned by Washington, and the guests of the house were all invited t o partake. The tavern desk was behind the bar, with rows of large bells hanging by circular springs on the wall, each with a bullet-shaped tongue, which continued to vibrate for some minutes after having been rung, showing to which room it belonged. The bar-keeper prepared the “ drinks ” called for, saw that the bells were answered, received and delivered letters and cards, and answered questions by the score. He was supposed to know everybody in Washington, where they resided, and at what hours they could be seen.

Washington had then been called by an observing foreigner “ the city of magnificent distances,” an appellation which was well merited. There was a group of small, shabby houses around the navy yard and the marine barracks; another cluster on the river bank, just above the arsenal, which was to have been the business centre of the metropolis ; and Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to Georgetown, with the streets immediately adjacent, was lined with houses, many of them with shops on the ground - floor. The executive departments were located in four brick edifices on the corners of the square in the centre of which was the White House. The imposing building now occupied by the department of the interior had not been commenced, nor had the general postoffice replaced a large brick structure, intended for a hotel, but which the pecuniary necessities of the projector forced him to dispose of in a lottery before it was completed. The fortunate ticket was held by minors, whose guardian could neither sell the building nor finish it, and it remained forty years in a dilapidated condition.

Georgetown, situated at the head of the tide-water of the Potomac, was a port of commercial consequence. The lumbering six-horse wagons of the planters of Maryland and the farmers of Pennsylvania brought loads of wheat and of corn, taking back dry goods, groceries, and salt. Tobacco had been raised in large quantities in the surrounding region during the preceding century, but it had so exhausted the soil that its cultivation had been abandoned as no longer profitable, and the large inspection warehouse at Georgetown was generally empty. The Potomac River above Georgetown was navigated as far as Cumberland by flat-bottomed long boats called “gondolas.” These brought down considerable quantities of flour, corn, pork, and iron, much of which was shipped at Georgetown to other ports; but as they could not be taken back against the stream, they were broken up when their cargoes had been delivered, and the materials were sold to the dealers in lumber. During the year 1812, several hundred hogsheads of Louisiana sugar were brought by the way of the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Potomac rivers to Georgetown. This was a realization of Washington’s idea that the city which he founded and which bore his name would become an entrepôt for the products of the Mississippi Valley destined for shipment abroad. He displayed his faith in this belief by the purchase of wharf lots, which would not today bring what he paid for them.

Pennsylvania Avenue — the Appian Way of our republic — was graded while Jefferson was president, at a cost of $14,000; he personally superintended the planting of four rows of Lombardy poplars along that portion of it between the Capitol and the White House, — a row along each curb-stone, and two equidistant rows in the road-way, which was thus divided into three parts, like Unter der Linden at Berlin. In the winter and spring the driveway would often be full of mud-holes, some of them axle-deep, and some of the cross-streets would be almost impassable beds of red clay, worked by passing horses and wheels into a thick mortar. On one occasion, when Mr. Webster and a friend undertook to go to Georgetown in a hackney-coach to attend a dinner party, the vehicle got stuck in a mud-hole, and the driver had to carry his passengers, one at a time, to the sidewalk, where they stood until the empty carriage could be pulled out. Mr. Webster, in narrating this incident years afterwards, used to laugh over his fears that his bearer would fall beneath his weight and ruin his dress-suit. John Randolph used to call Pennsylvania Avenue “ the great Serbonian bog,” and descant on the dangers of a trip over it, to or from the Union Hotel at Georgetown, in the large stage with seats on the top called the “ Royal George.”

The principal market, known as the “ Marsh Market,” occupied the site of the present imposing structure at the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The butchers were supplied with meats from the excellent pastures of the valley of Virginia ; wild ducks, terrapin, fish, lobsters, and oysters were brought in boats from the lower Potomac ; and the neighboring farmers had begun to raise vegetables, following the examples set by the European gardeners at Analostan Island, at Arlington, and at the garden in the southern part of the city kept up to supply the Indian Queen tavern with vegetables. The market prices, as collated from a number of account-books, averaged as follows : beef from three to ten cents per pound, mutton from five to seven, veal from five to nine, pork from six to eight, chickens from twenty-five to sixty-two and one half cents per pair, ducks the same, butter from twenty to twenty-five cents per pound; black fish from six to eight cents per pound, sea-bass from five to seven, lobsters from five to eight; potatoes from thirty to forty cents per bushel, turnips from three to five cents per bunch, carrots from three to five, beets from four to six, cabbages from three to four cents each, cucumbers two cents each, water-melons four to sixteen cents each, musk-melons three to five cents each. Wood was generally burned as fuel, although some of the diplomats used “ sea-coal ” imported from England for their especial use. In 1825 Lehigh coal was first introduced, but it was scarce and high priced.

A much-frequented place of resort for congressmen and others of literary tastes was a book-seller’s shop on Pennsylvania Avenue, about half-way between the Capitol and the White House, kept by an Englishman named Pishey Thompson. He was a native of Boston in the Lincolnshire fens, a historical account of which he published before he came to America; and after having acquired a competency at Washington, he returned to his quaint old birth-place to publish a new and handsomely got-up edition of his history. He was a short, stout gentleman, of very courteous manners, with small, black eyes, always neatly dressed in black with snow-white shirtruffles. It was his delight to chat with any one acquainted with the early history of Boston in New England, and to tell how many of its pioneer settlers, including the Leveretts, the Wheelwrights, the Coddingtons, the Cottons, the Hutchinsons, the Bellinghams, the Bradstreets, and the Johnsons, were from old Boston or its immediate neighborhood.

The barbers’shops which dotted Pennsylvania Avenue, with others on Capitol Hill and at Georgetown, were also much frequented. Elderly gentlemen then wore powdered wigs, or had their hair combed hack and tied en queue, while all men who had any pretensions to gentility were shaved every day. Mustaches were unknown, and only military and naval officers sported whiskers, which never came more than two inches below the ears. Barbers and hair-dressers had consequently abundant employment, and their shops were generally a morning rendezvous for persons entertaining congenial political views. The walls were generally adorned with English caricatures, in which Napoleon and the French were presented in ridiculous aspect. In large cupboards with glass doors there were freshly-dressed wigs, in readiness for the daily visit of their owners, who would exchange them for others which needed the comb and hairpowder. When every high-backed chair was occupied by some one in the hands of a barber, and the seats around the shop were filled with patient waiters, new-comers were greeted with cordial assurances that their turns would soon come, while the freshest bits of gossip were narrated to secure good humor.

Washington had not at that time any organized and uniformed police force, and the peace was preserved by a few constables. The whites were not molested when they indulged in private shooting matches in the streets, or resorted to the cudgel or the cowhide to secure “satisfaction ” for some fancied or real insult. The blacks were necessarily subjected to severe police regulations, framed to prevent runaways and to guard against insurrection. Any person of color found abroad after nine o’clock at night without a pass was fined or whipped, and they were not allowed to enter the Capitol inclosure, except when performing menial duties.

There were so few hackney-coaches that on great occasions additional ones were brought from Alexandria and even from Baltimore ; but the fares were very low, twenty-five cents being all that was charged for conveying a passenger from the Capitol to the departments or hotels. There was but one letter-carrier, whose route extended from the navy yard to Georgetown, a distance of four miles, and who tramped about with great rapidity. Postage was then rarely paid in advance, but he was always willing to deliver a letter on an assurance that the requisite sum —generally twenty-five cents — would be forthcoming when he next passed that way.

The Capitol was pronounced completed in 1825. The two wings, which were the only portions of the building finished when the British occupied Washington, were burned with their contents, including the congressional library and some works of art. When Congress was convened in special session after the invasion, the two houses assembled in the unfinished hotel previously mentioned, but soon occupied a brick building erected for their temporary use, which was afterwards known as the Old Capitol Prison, and has more recently been reconstructed into dwelling-houses. The Capitol was completed under the direction of Mr. C. Bulfinch, a Boston architect. The free-stone columns for the central porticoes of the building were quarried on Higginson’s Island in Acquia Creek, near where it empties into the Potomac, brought to Washington on a large, flat-bottomed boat, and dragged to the Capitol by men, many of the senators and representatives pulling at the drag-ropes.

The tympanum of the eastern pediment was ornamented by a historical group, which Mr. John Quincy Adams designed when secretary of state, after having rejected a number of designs made by artists in competition for an offered premium of $500. It was executed in marble by Luigi Persico, an Italian sculptor, whose work gave such satisfaction to Mr. Adams that he secured for him an order for the two colossal statues which now flank the central door-way. War is represented by a stalwart gymnast with a profuse development of muscle and a benign expression of countenance, partially encased in ancient Roman armor, while Peace is a matronly dame, somewhat advanced in life and heavy in flesh, who carries an olive-branch as if she desired to use it to keep off flies.

The then recently completed rotunda of the Capitol — Mr. Gales took pains to have it called rotundo in the National Intelligencer — was a hall of elegant proportions, ninety-six feet in diameter, and ninety-six feet in height to the apex of its semicircular dome. It had been decorated with remarkable historical bas-reliefs, by Cappellano, Gevelot, and Causici, three Italian artists, two of them pupils of Canova. They undoubtedly possessed artistic ability, and they doubtless desired to produce works of historical value, but they failed ignominiously. Their respective productions were thus interpreted by Grizzly Bear, a Menominee chief. Turning to the eastern door-way, over which there is represented The Landing of the Pilgrims, he said, “ There Ingen give hungry white man corn.” Then turning to the northern door-way, over which is represented William Penn making a treaty with the Indians, he said, “ There Ingen give white man land.” Then turning to the western door-way, over which is represented Pocahontas saving the life of Captain Smith, he said, “ There Ingen save white man’s life.” And then turning to the southern door-way, over which is represented Daniel Boone, the pioneer, plunging his hunting-knife into the heart of a red man. while his foot rests on the dead body of another, he said, And there white man kill Ingen. Ugh ! ”

The rotunda was then also ornamented by the four historical paintings which now adorn it, by Colonel Trumbull, who was employed by President Adams to clean and varnish them. They are not works of high artistic merit, but in all of them the portraits are accurate, while the costumes and accessories are well made out, and executed with a fidelity that will make future historical painters rejoice. Pecuniarily speaking, Colonel Trumbull’s paintings and the copperplate engravings of some of them did not pay. How often the artist must have remembered in his old age the reply of his father, when he solicited permission to go to London and study under West, instancing as an argument the glory and reward of the Athenian artists in the days of Pericles. “My son,” replied Governor Trumbull, “ America is not Greece.”

In 1826, the sons of Benjamin West offered to Congress for a nominal sum one hundred and thirty-nine pictures by their distinguished father, as a nucleus for a national gallery of art; but the offer was not entertained. The following year more consideration was paid to a proposition that Washington Allston be engaged to paint the battle of New Orleans for one of the vacant panels in the rotunda. A protracted debate ensued, and attempts were made by the antiJackson men to take away the exclusive character of the resolution by adding other battles as subjects to be painted ; but all of these failed, and a square vote was taken on the original proposition, which was defeated by a vote of ninetyeight yeas against one hundred and three nays. It was during this debate that John Randolph, who had in years past eulogized Colonel Trumbull’s paintings, unmercifully ridiculed them. In closing his scathing criticism, he said, “ As all other great subjects had their nom de guerre, the Declaration of Independence should be called the shin-piece ; for such a collection of legs never came together in any one picture.”

When Congress was in session, the rotunda presented a busy and motley scene every morning prior to the convening of the two houses. It was a general rendezvous, and the newspaper correspondents were always in attendance to pick up the floating rumors of the day. Office-seekers were rare at Washington in those days ; but there were always a few impecunious, moribund politicians to be found in the rotunda.

The library, on the western side of the rotunda, was the morning rendezvous of the ladies who were acquainted with the congressmen. The original library having been carefully burned by the British, ex-President Jefferson had improved the opportunity to relieve his pecuniary needs by the sale of a portion of his library for $23,950, which was a high price for the seven thousand five hundred volumes. The classification of Mr. Jefferson was retained, and the books were arranged on shelves in twelve alcoves, each one devoted to a particular topic.

The seriate chamber, now occupied by the supreme court, was admirably adapted for the deliberations of the fortyeight gentlemen who then composed the upper house. Modeled after the theatres of ancient Greece, it possessed excellent acoustic properties, and there was ample accommodation in the galleries for the few strangers who then visited Washington. The senate used to meet at noon, and generally conclude its day’s work by three o’clock, while adjournments over from Thursday until the following Monday were frequent. Occasionally set speeches would be made on some important question ; but the debates were generally colloquial, and as there were no verbatim reports of the proceedings, senators would change or modify their views during the consideration of a bill without being placed on the record as inconsistent and changeable.

John C. Calhoun was vice-president of the United States, and consequently president of the senate, — a position which to him was very irksome, as he was forced to sit and dumbly listen to debates in which he was eager to participate. He had been talked of by some of the best men in the country as a candidate during the recent presidential election, but the North had not given him any substantial support. He was, by instinct and by education, a parliamentary leader, but he was too nervous and too strong a partisan to preside with impartiality over a deliberative body. Tall, well formed, without an ounce of superfluous flesh, with a serious expression of countenance rarely brightened by a smile, and with his long, black hair thrown back from his forehead, he looked like an arch-conspirator waiting for the time to come when he could strike the first blow. In his dress he affected a Spartan simplicity, although he used to have four horses harnessed to his carriage, and his entertainments at his residence on Georgetown Heights were very elegant. His private life was irreproachable, although, when secretary of war under Mr. Monroe, he had suffered obloquy because of a profitable building contract which had been dishonestly awarded, during his absence, by his chief clerk to that official’s brother-in-law. The two divided a large sum which they obtained from the public treasury without having given any equivalent therefor, and Mr. Calhoun was made to bear the blame.

The prime mover of the senate was Martin Van Buren, of New York, who was beginning to reap the reward of years of subservient intrigues. Making the friends of Calhoun and of Crawford believe that they had each been badly treated by the alliance between Adams and Clay, he united them in the support of General Jackson, and yet no one suspected him. When Mr. Van Buren had first been elected to Congress, Rufus King, of his State, had said to G. F. Mercer, also a member, “ Within two weeks Van Buren will become perfectly acquainted with the views and feelings of every member ; yet no man will know his.”

This prediction was verified, and Mr. Van Buren soon became the directing spirit among the friends of General Jackson, although no one was ever able to quote his views. Taking Aaron Burr as his political model, but leading an irreproachable private life, he rose by his ability to plan and to conduct an intrigue, and by his untiring industry. He was rather under the medium height, with a high forehead, a quick eye, and pleasing features. He made attitude and deportment a study, and when, on his leaving the senate, his household furniture was sold at auction it was noticed that the carpet before a large lookingglass in his study was worn threadbare. It was there that he had rehearsed his speeches.

Thomas Hart Benton, who had just commenced that thirty years' service in the senate which he so ably recorded after its conclusion, was one of the most orominent members of the body. His figure was massive, and he affected a martial carriage and manners, as he moved about, towering above the other senators. An imperious hauteur, combined with bombastic superciliousness, was his prevailing characteristic; and he evidently believed that the louder and longer he spoke the more impressive were his words. In private life he was gentleness and domestic affection personified, and a desire to have his children profit by the superior advantages for their education in the District of Columbia kept him from his constituents in Missouri, where a new generation of voters grew up, who did not know him, and who would not follow his political lead, while he was ignorant of their views on the question of slavery. In early life Colonel Benton was engaged in a bloody street fight, in which General Jackson headed the opposing party, and the general carried to the grave, imbedded in the flesh of his left arm, a bullet from the pistol of Colonel Benton’s brother Jesse, Years afterwards, when General Jackson and Colonel Benton were accidentally seated next to each other in the senate chamber, and were members of the same committee, the hatchet was buried. “ Old Bullion,” as Mr. Benton was familiarly called, became the devoted friend and champion of “ Old Hickory,” and whenever a measure upon which the democratic party was not united had to be dragooned through the senate it was placed in the hands of the senator from Missouri.

John Randolph attracted the most attention on the part of strangers. He was at least six feet in height, with long limbs and an ill-proportioned body and a small, round head. Claiming descent from Pocahontas, he wore his coarse, black hair long, parted in the middle, and combed down on either side of his sallow face. His small, black eyes were expressive in their rapid glances, especially when he was engaged in debate, and his high-toned and thin voice would ring through the senate chamber like the shrill scream of an angry vixen. He wore a full suit of heavy, drab-colored English broadcloth, the high, rolling collar of his surtout coat almost concealing his head, while the skirts hung in voluminous folds about his kneebreeches and the white leather tops of his boots. He used to enter the senate chamber wearing a pair of silver spurs, carrying a heavy riding-whip, and followed by a favorite hound, which crouched beneath his desk. He wrote, and occasionally spoke, in riding-gloves, and it was his favorite gesture to point the long, index finger of his right hand at his opponent, as he hurled forth tropes and figures of speech at him. Every ten or fifteen minutes while he occupied the floor, he would exclaim in a low tone, “ Tims, more porter! ” and the assistant door-keeper would hand him a foaming tumbler of Whitebread’s potent malt liquor, which he would hurriedly drink, and then proceed with his remarks, often thus drinking three or four quarts in an afternoon. He was not choice in his selection of epithets, and as Mr. Calhoun took the ground that he did not have the power to call a senator to order, the irate Virginian pronounced President Adams “ a traitor,” Daniel Webster “ a vile slanderer,” John Holmes “a dangerous fool,” and Edward Livingston “ the most contemptible and degraded of beings, whom no man ought to touch, unless with a pair of tongs.” One day, while he was speaking with great freedom of abuse of Mr. Webster, then a member of the house, a senator informed him in an under-tone that Mrs. Webster was in the gallery. He had not the delicacy to desist, however, until he had fully emptied the vials of his wrath. Then he set upon Mr. Speaker Taylor, and after abusing him soundly he turned sarcastically to the gentleman who had informed him of Mrs. Webster’s presence, and asked, “ Is Mrs. Taylor present, also?”

Henry Clay was the repeated object of Mr. Randolph’s denunciations, which he bore patiently until the “ Lord of Roanoke ” spoke, one day, of the reported alliance between the president and the secretary of state as the “coalition of Blifil and Black George, — the combination, unheard of till then, of the Puritan and the blackleg.” Mr. Clay at once wrote to know whether he intended to call him a political gambler, or to attach the infamy of such epithets to his private life. Mr. Randolph declined to give any explanation, and a duel was fought, without bloodshed.

Mr. Randolph, on another occasion, just prior to the close of a session, deliberately insulted Mr. James Lloyd, then a senator from Massachusetts, who had, in accordance with the custom, introduced upon the floor of the senate one of his constituents, Major Benjamin Russell, the editor of the Columbian Sentinel. The sight of a federal editor aroused Mr. Randolph’s anger, and he at once insolently demanded that the floor of the senate be cleared, forcing Major Russell to retire. Mr. Lloyd took the first opportunity to express his opinion of this gratuitous insult, and declared, in very forcible language, that, as he had introduced Major Russell on the floor, he was responsible therefor to the senate, or to Mr. Randolph personally. Although no one had ever attempted to check Mr. Randolph’s torrents of personal abuse, Mr. Lloyd’s plucky rejoinder was promptly noticed by Mr. King, of Alabama, who at that early stage of his congressional career was called “Miss Nancy,” because of the fastidious neatness of his attire. “ I call the senator from Massachusetts to order!” said Mr. King. Mr. Randolph indulged in a little gasconade, in which he announced that his carriage was waiting at the door to convey him to Baltimore, and at the conclusion of his remarks he left the senate chamber and the city. Mr. Calhoun, who had not attempted to check Mr. Randolph, lamented from the chair that anything should have happened to mar the harmony of the senate, and again declared that he had no power to call a senator to order, nor would he for ten thousand worlds look like a usurper.

Littleton W. Tazewell, Mr. Randolph’s colleague, was a first-class Virginia abstractionist, and an avowed hater of New England. Dining one day at the White House, he provoked the president by offensively asserting that he had “never known a Unitarian who did not believe in the sea-serpent.” Soon afterwards, Mr. Tazewell spoke of the different kinds of wines, and declared that Tokay and Rhenish wine were alike in taste. “ Sir,” said Mr. Adams, “ I do not believe that you ever drank a drop of Tokay in your life.” For this remark the president subsequently sent an apology to Mr. Tazewell, but the Virginia senator never forgot or forgave the remark, and became one of the most implacable foes of the administration.

The “ watch-dog of the treasury ” in the senate was Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina. He had served as a private in the Revolutionary War; he had opposed the formation and the adoption of the federal constitution; when he was first elected to Congress he had arrayed himself against the administration of Washington; and he was allied with Jefferson in an energetic hostility to the financial schemes of Alexander Hamilton, then secretary of the treasury. A firm believer in the sovereignty of the States, he was opposed to all schemes of internal improvement, and to all financial measures undertaken by the general government; and he was the enemy of duties for the protection of manufactures, because they put money into the national coffers which it pained him to vote away. Simple in his manners, he won the confidence of friends and the respect of opponents.

William Henry Harrison, a tall, spare, gray-haired gentleman, who had gone from his Virginia home into the Western wilderness as aid-de-camp to General Anthony Wayne, had been effected a senator from the State of Ohio, and probably never dreamed that in years to come he would be elected president by an immense majority, with John Tyler on the ticket as vice-president. Colonel Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, had, however, begun to electioneer for the democratic nomination for the vice-presidency, basing his claim upon his having shot Tecumseh at the battle of the Thames, and he was finally successful. He was of medium size, with large features and light auburn hair, and his private life was attacked without mercy by his political opponents.

The New Hampshire senators were Levi Woodbury and John Bell, men of decided ability and moral worth. Georgia supplied a polished and effective orator in J. McPherson Berrien. Vermont was represented by portly and good-looking Dudley Chase, who was the uncle of Chief-Justice Chase, and by Horatio Seymour, of Middlebury. Maine’s stalwart, blue-eyed senator, Albion Keith Parris, was said to have filled more public offices than any other man of his age, and his colleague, John Holmes, although rude in speech, and at times vulgar, was the humorous champion of the North. Ever on the watch for some unguarded expression by a Southern senator, no sooner would one be uttered than he would pounce upon it. and place the speaker in a most uncomfortable position. John Tyler, one day, thought that he could annoy Mr. Holmes, and asked him what had become of that political firm once mentioned in debate by John Randolph as “ James Madison, Felix Grundy, John Holmes, and the Devil.” Mr. Holmes rose at once. “ I will tell the gentleman,” said he, “what has become of that firm. The first member is dead ; the second has gone into retirement ; the third now addresses you ; and the last has gone over to the nullifiers, and is now electioneering among the gentleman’s constituents. So the partnership is legally dissolved.” Mr. Tyler never again attempted to be witty at the expense of John Holmes.

The hall of the house of representatives (now used as a national gallery of statuary) was a reproduction of the ancient theatre, magnificent in its effect, but so deficient in acoustic properties that it was unfit for legislative occupation. It was in the centre of that noble hall that Henry Clay, then speaker of the house, had welcomed General Lafayette as “ the nation’s guest.” The contrast between the tall and graceful Kentuckian, with his sunny smile and his silver-toned voice, and the good old marquis, with his auburn wig awry, must have been great. His reply appeared to come from a grateful heart, but it was asserted that the speaker had written both his own words of welcome and also Lafayette’s acknowledgment of them, and it became a subject of newspaper controversy, which was ended by the publication of a card signed H. Clay, in which he positively denied the authorship, although he admitted that he had suggested the most effective sentences.

The representatives, following the example of the British House of Commons, used to sit with their hats on, and in 1828 a motion that no member should remain covered within the bar of the house was discussed, and at first defeated by ten majority. An order by the speaker that visitors in the gallery should not wear their hats while the house was in session gave great offense to some of the representatives, and was enforced with difficulty.

The ladies had been originally excluded from the galleries of the house, in accordance with the British precedent. But when the famous Jay Treaty was brought home for ratification, the house came near refusing to make the necessary appropriations for carrying it into effect, and heated debates ensued. One night, at a party, Mrs. Langdon, of New Hampshire, whose husband was a member, expressed her regret to Hon. Fisher Ames, of Massachusetts, that she could not hear the arguments, especially his speeches. Mr. Ames gallantly replied that he knew of no reason why ladies should not be permitted to hear the debates. “ Then,” said Mrs. Langdon, “if you will let me know when you next intend to speak, I will make up a party of ladies, and we will go and hear you.” The notice was given, the ladies went, and since then congressional orators have always had fair hearers, — with others perhaps not very fair.

The house was really occupied, during the administration of John Quincy Adams, in the selection of his successor. At first the political outlook was rather muddled, although keen eyes averred that they could perceive, moving restlessly to and fro, the indefinite forms of those shadows which coming events project. Different seers interpreted the phantasmal appearances in different fashions, and either endeavored to form novel combinations, or joined in raking common sewers for filth wherewith to bespatter those who were the rivals of their favorite candidates. It was then that congressional investigating committees became a part of the political machinery of the day. The accounts of President Adams in former years, when he was serving the country in Europe as a diplomatist; the summary execution of deserters by order of General Jackson, when he commanded the army in Florida; the bills for refurnishing the White House ; the affidavits concerning the alleged bargain between the president and his secretary of state; and the marriage of General Jackson to Mrs. Robards before she had been divorced from Mr. Robards, were, with many other scandals, paraded before the public.

Daniel Webster had been recognized in advance as the leader of the house, by his appointment as chairman of the committee to inform Mr. Adams that he had been elected president. This Mr. Webster did verbally, but Mr. Adams had prepared a written reply, which had been copied by a clerk, and bore his autograph signature. Mr. Webster never, however, received the confidence of Mr. Adams, but he defended the policy of the administration in the house, and subsequently in the senate. He was then in the prime of life, unshackled by pecuniary obligations to those who afterwards forced loans upon him, that they might use him for their own aggrandizement, and never drowning his disappointments in strong drinks. The Southern congressmen had then begun to express their belief in the constitutional heresies first promulgated by Jefferson, which, had they prevailed, would have turned our admirably adjusted political system into an ill-compacted league of petty sovereignties. Mr. Webster was one of the first to see that this theory of state rights was destructive to the vital powers of the constitution bequeathed by the founders of the republic, and that the union of the States should be stoutly asserted. Discarding the rhetorical flourishes and declamatory parade then cultivated by congressional orators, especially those from the South, Mr. Webster expressed his vigorous thoughts in simple, sterling words, using those which hit the hardest and made the least show. He liked to measure propositions by the constitutional standards which he had so laboriously prepared, and to dispose of them as they came up to his mark, or fell short of it.

Mr. Webster was at that period of his life the embodiment of health and good spirits. His stalwart frame, his massive head crowned with a wealth of black hair, his heavy eyebrows overhanging cavernous eyes, all distinguished him from other men, while his swarthy complexion gained him the epithet of “ Black Dan.” He had his first great sorrow then. His eldest, and at that time his only, daughter died at Washington, and the next year her mother followed her to the grave. The maiden name of his first wife was Grace Fletcher. She was one year older than he was, the daughter of a New Hampshire country clergyman ; not beautiful, but accomplished, and the mother of his four children.

Edward Everett, who was also a member of the Massachusetts delegation in the house, had won early fame as a popular preacher of the gospel, as a professor at Harvard College, and as the editor of the North American Review. Placed by his marriage above want, he became noted for his profound learning and for his persuasive eloquence. At times he was almost electrical in his utterances ; his reasoning was logical and luminous, and his remarks always gave evidence of careful study. As a politician, Mr. Everett was not successful. The personification of self-discipline and dignity, he was too much like an intellectual icicle to find favor with the masses, and he was deficient in courage when any bold step was to be taken.

George McDuffie, who represented the Edgefield district of South Carolina, had been taken from labor in a blacksmith’s shop by Mr. Calhoun, and was the grateful champion of his patron in the house. He was a spare, grim-looking man, who was an admirer of Milton, and who was never known to jest or to smile. As a debater he had few equals in the house, but he failed when, during the discussion of the Panama Mission question, he opened his batteries upon Mr. Webster. The “ expounder of the constitution ” retorted with great force, reminding the gentleman from South Carolina that noisy declamation was not logic, and that he should not apply coarse epithets to the president, who could not reply to them. Mr. Webster then went on to say that he would furnish the gentleman from South Carolina with high authority on the point to which he had objected, and quoted from a speech by Mr. Calhoun which sustained his position. Mr. McDuffie had not a word to offer, and he never undertook to call Mr. Webster to account again. This debate was the beginning of the oratorical tournament between Massachusetts and South Carolina which was ended by Webster’s reply to Hayne, at the other end of the Capitol.

Tristam Burgess, of Rhode Island, was a stalwart champion of the North, and his sallies of wit and sarcasm were very effective. Although under fifty years of age, his white hair and bent form gave him a patriarchal look, and added to the effect of his fervid eloquence and his withering sarcasm. A man of iron heart, he was ever anxious to meet his antagonists, haughty in his rude self-confidence, and exhausting every expletive of abuse permitted by parliamentary usage. He was the especial friend of the Revolutionary soldiers, urging their claims for pensions with great force.

George Kreiner, of Pennsylvania, was probably the most unpopular man in the house. An anonymous letter had appeared just before the election of president by the representatives, announcing an “ unholy coalition ” between Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay, by which the support of the friends of the latter had been transferred to the former, “ as the planter does his negroes or the farmer his team and horses.” Mr. Clay at once published a card, over his signature, in which he called the writer “ a base and infamous calumniator, a dastard, and a liar.” Mr. Kremer replied, admitting that he had written the letter, but in such a manner that his political friends were ashamed of his cowardice, while the admirers of Mr. Clay were very indignant, - the more so as they suspected that Mr. James Buchanan had instigated the letter. Mr. Kremer was of vulgar presence, with repulsive features and a shock of light yellow hair. Fancying himself a wit, he was always endeavoring to make some humorous remark, but was rarely rewarded with a laugh.

The erratic Mr. David Crockett was then a member of the house, but had not attracted public attention, although the Jackson men were angry because he, one of old Hickory’s officers in the Creek war, was a devoted adherent of Henry Clay for the presidency. One of his colleagues in the Tennessee delegation was Mr. James K. Polk, a rigid and uncompromising Presbyterian, a political disciple of Macon, and a man of incorruptible honesty. He no sooner entered the house than he became a leading man in the councils of his party.

Prominent among the representatives from the State of New York were Messrs. Gulian C. Verplanck and Thomas J. Oakley, members of the legal profession, who were statesmen rather than politicians. Mr. George C. Washington, of Maryland, was the great-nephew of the father of his country, and he had inherited a portion of the library at Mount Vernon, which he subsequently sold to the Boston Athenæum. Messrs. Elisha Whittlesey and Samuel Vinton, representatives from Ohio, were afterwards for many years officers of the federal government and residents at Washington. Mr. Jonathan Hunt, of Vermont, a lawyer of ability and one of the companions chosen by Mr. Webster, was the father of that gifted artist whose recent untimely death is so generally regretted.

Mr. Silas Wright, of New York, was then attracting attention in the democratic party, of which he became a great leader, and which would have elected him president had he not shortened his life by intemperance. He was a solid, square-built man, with an impassive, ruddy face, who claimed to be a good farmer, but no orator, yet who was noted for the compactness of his logic, unenlived by a figure of speech or flight of fancy. Very different was Mr. Richard Henry Wilde, of Georgia, who has left a monument of his poetic and picturesque imagination in his exquisite poem, My Life is like the Summer Rose.

Mr. Henry W. Dwight, of Massachusetts, a noble specimen of “ a sound mind in a sound body,” gave great attention to the appropriation bills, and secured liberal sums for carrying on the various departments of the government. His most formidable antagonist was a self-styled reformer and physical giant, Mr. Thomas Chilton, of Kentucky, who had been atone period of his life a Baptist preacher. He declared on the floor in debate that he was pledged to his constituents to endeavor to retrench the expenses of the general government, to diminish the army and the navy, to abridge the number of civil and diplomatic officials, and, above all, to cut down the pay of congressmen. He made speeches in support of all these “ reforms,” but did not succeed in securing the discharge of a soldier, a sailor, a diplomatist, or a clerk, neither did he reduce the appropriations one single cent.

Congress remained, so far as legislation was concerned, in a state of “ masterly inactivity ” throughout Mr. John Quincy Adams’s administration. The absence of any great political questions and the evident indisposition to enact any of the measures proposed by the president gave wide scope to the personal intrigues for the succession. As has been well remarked by the biographer of Webster, “ it would be impossisible to unfold the griefs, the interests, the projects, the jealousies, and the mutual struggles of the leaders and the factions who, with no community of political principle, entered into this warfare.” The most adroit managers were Senator Van Buren and Representative Livingston, and Andrew Jackson, whose cause they engineered, was successful.