Reminiscences of Washington



GENERAL WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON was by birth and education a Virginian. His father, Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the largest man in the old Congress of the Confederation, and when John Hancock was elected president of that body he seized him and bore him to the chair in his arms. William Henry Harrison, on reaching manhood, had migrated to Ohio, then the far West, and had for forty years been prominently identified with the interests, the perils, and the hopes of that region. Universally beloved in the walks of peace, and somewhat distinguished by the ability with which he had discharged the duties of a succession of offices which he had filled, he had won his greatest renown in military service. But he had never abjured the political doctrines of the Old Dominion, and his published letters and speeches during the presidential campaign which resulted in his election showed that he was a believer in what the Virginians called a strict construction of the federal constitution on financial questions, internal improvements, the veto power, and the protection of negro slavery. His intellect was enriched with classical reminiscences, which he was fond of quoting in writing or in conversation. When he left his residence on the bank of the Ohio for the seat of government, he compared his progress to the return of Cicero to Rome, congratulated and cheered as he passed on by the victorious Cato and his admiring countrymen.

On General Harrison’s arrival at Washington, a stormy afternoon in February, 1841, he walked from the railroad station (then on Pennsylvania Avenue) to the City Hall, carrying his hat in his hand, and bowing his acknowledgments for the cheers with which he was greeted by the citizens who lined the sidewalks. On reaching the City Hall, the president elect was formally addressed by the mayor, Colonel W. W. Seaton, one of the editors of the National Intelligencer, who supplemented his panegyric by a complimentary editorial article in his newspaper of the next morning. These complimentary remarks — official and editorial — excited the ire of Senator William R. King, of Alabama, a prim, spare, formal old bachelor, familiarly known as Miss Nancy King, who alluded to them in debate soon afterwards. Colonel Seaton, on reading the report of Senator King’s remarks, lost no time in requesting his friend Senator Mangum to wait on him, bearing a demand for either the retraction of the offensive language or “ the satisfaction usual with gentlemen.” Mr. King referred Mr. Mangum to Senator Preston, of South Carolina, and the two mutual friends succeeded in averting a visit to the dueling-grounds at Bladensburg, Mr. King manfully avowing that he was in the wrong.

A few weeks after this, as the expiration of President Van Buren’s official term approached, the aldermen and common council of Washington obsequiously passed a vote of thanks to the outgoing chief magistrate for the liberality, courtesy, and personal interest displayed by him towards the national metropolis during his four years’ administration. This was not acceptable to Mayor Seaton, as Mr. Van Buren had notoriously excluded those citizens of Washington who were whigs from the hospitalities of the Executive Mansion while he had controlled them. So the editor-mayor formally vetoed the complimentary resolution, and transmitted a veto message to the city government, giving his reasons for this marked slight.

Soon after his arrival at Washington, General Harrison announced who were to compose his cabinet. Before coming East, he had visited Henry Clay at Ashland, and had tendered him the position of secretary of state, which Mr. Clay had promptly declined, saying that he had fully determined not to hold office under the new administration, although he intended cordially to support it. “ There will be those,” said Mr. Clay to the president elect, who will endeavor to sow tares between you and myself, — who have, indeed, already attempted to do so, — to create distrust and jealousies and ill feeling between us. I beg you, therefore, to listen to no reports in regard to my opinion or intended course in regard to this or that measure or act of yours ; whatever my opinions or course may be, you shall be the first to hear of them from me.”

General Harrison thanked Mr. Clay for his frankness and candor, denying that any attempt had been made to create ill feeling on his part between them, and expressing deep regret that he could not accept the portfolio of the department of state. He further said that if Mr. Clay had accepted the position of secretary of state, it had been his intention to offer the portfolio of the treasury department to Mr. Webster; but since Mr. Clay had declined a seat in the cabinet, he should not offer one to Mr. Webster.

Mr. Clay objected to this conclusion, and remarked that, while Mr. Webster was not peculiarly fitted for the control of the national finances, he was eminently qualified for the management of the foreign relations of the republic. Besides, the appointment of Mr. Webster as secretary of state would inspire confidence in the administration abroad, which would be highly important, considering the existing critical relations with Great Britain. The northeastern boundary, the right to search American vessels on the coast of Africa, and the affair of the Cardine, followed by the arrest of McLeod, required a master mind for their adjustment, and Mr. Clay urged the appointment of Mr. Webster as preeminently qualified to direct the negotiations. General Harrison accepted the suggestion, and on his return to North Bend he wrote to Mr. Webster, offering him the department of state, and asking his advice concerning the other members of the cabinet. The “ solid men of Boston,” who had begun to entertain grave apprehensions of hostilities with Great Britain, urged Mr. Webster to accept, and pledged themselves to contribute liberally to his support.

No sooner was it intimated that Mr. Webster was to be the premier of the incoming administration than the Calhoun wing of the democratic party denounced him as having countenanced the abolition of slavery, and when his letter resigning his seat in the senate was read in that body, Senator Cuthbert, of Georgia, attacked him. The Georgian’s declamation was delivered with clenched fist; he pounded his desk, gritted his teeth, and used profane language.

Messrs. Clay, Preston, and other senators defended Mr. Webster from the attack of the irate Georgian. “ With Mr. Webster,” said Mr. Rives, “I have differed, and still differ on some important questions of public policy. But these differences have never prevented me from feeling that his presence here was one of the proudest ornaments of this hall, and that his withdrawal from it will leave an intellectual void which generations must pass away, in the ordinary course of Providence to men, before we shall see filled with his like again. His talents and his reputation are the common property of his country, and for one I have ever looked upon them with pride as an American citizen.”

To disarm the Southern opposition to Mr. Webster’s appointment, his friends had printed at Washington a large edition of a speech which he had made a few months before on the portico of the capitol of Virginia at Richmond, before an assemblage of ten thousand of her freemen, “ beneath the light of an October sun.” “ I say,” he had then emphatically declared, “ there is no power, directly or indirectly, in congress or the general government, to interfere in the slightest degree with the institutions of the South.”

With some of the Southern political leaders Mr. Webster was a favorite, especially the erratic Henry A. Wise, who resided in Accomac County, on the eastern shore of Virginia. “ What do you shoot?” Mr. Webster asked Mr. Wise on their first interview. “ Curlews and willets ? ” Receiving an affirmative response, he went on to say that at the proper season his custom was to shoot these birds on the coast of Massachusetts, and that, according to his calculation of climate and of distance, they migrated in about a fortnight to the eastern shore of Virginia. “ Now,” he added, “ remember ! If you see any crippled birds down your way about that time, they will be my birds ! ”

General Harrison, to quiet the cry of “abolitionist,” which had been raised against him as well as Mr. Webster, made a visit to Richmond prior to his inauguration, during which he availed himself of every possible occasion to assert his devotion to the rights, privileges, and prejudices of the South concerning the existence of slavery.

The portfolio of the treasury department was given by General Harrison to Thomas Ewing, of Ohio (familiarly known, from his early avocation, as “ the Salt Boiler of the Kanawha”), who was physically and intellectually a great man. He was of medium height, very portly, and his ruddy complexion set off his bright, laughing eyes to the best advantage. On “ the stump ” he had but few equals, as in simple language and without any apparent oratorical effort he breathed his own spirit into vast audiences, and swayed them with resistless power. He resided in a house built by Count de Menon, one of the French legation, and his daughter Ellen, now the wife of General Sherman, attended school at the academy attached to the convent of the Sisters of the Visitation, in Georgetown.

The other members of the cabinet elect were favorably known to the public. The coming secretary of war was John Bell, of Tennessee, a courtly Jackson democrat in years past, who had preferred to support Hugh L. White rather than Martin Van Buren, and had thus drifted into the whig ranks. For secretary of the navy, General Harrison had selected George E. Badger, of North Carolina, whose facetious physiognomy and sailor-like figure were very appropriate for the position. Francis Granger, of New York, a genial, rosy-faced gentleman of the old school, who had been the unsuccessful whig candidate for vice-president in 1836, was to be postmaster-general, and the attorney-general was to be John J. Crittenden, a Kentuckian whose intellectual vigor, integrity of character, and legal ability had secured for him a nomination to the bench of the supreme court by President Adams, which the democratic senate had failed to confirm. Kept in the shade by Henry Clay, of his party and State, he became somewhat crabbed and sardonic, but his was one of the noblest intellects of his generation. His persuasive eloquence, his clear judgment, his knowledge of the law, his lucid manner of stating facts, and his complete grasp of any case which he examined had made him a power in the senate and in the supreme court, as he was destined to be in the cabinet.

The inaugural message had been prepared by General Harrison in Ohio, and he brought it with him to Washington, written in his large hand on one side of sheets of foolscap paper. When it was submitted to Mr. Webster, he respectfully suggested the propriety of abridging it, and of striking from it some of the many classical allusions and quotations with which it abounded. He found, however, that General Harrison was not disposed to receive advice, and that he was reluctant to part with any evidence of his classical scholarship.

The inauguration of General Harrison as president, on Thursday, the 4th of March, 1841, was attended by an immense concourse of citizens from all parts of the country. The morning broke somewhat cloudily, and the horizon seemed to betoken snow or rain. A salute of twenty-six guns (the number of States then in the Union) was fired at sunrise, and the avenues and streets soon presented an animated appearance. Mounted marshals galloped to and fro, political clubs were hastening to the positions assigned them, bands performed patriotic airs, and nearly every one wore a Tippecanoe badge.

At ten o’clock a procession was formed, which escorted the president elect from his temporary residence to the treasury department, and thence along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. There were no regular troops on parade, but the uniformed militia companies of the District of Columbia performed escort duty in a very creditable manner. A carriage presented by the whigs of Baltimore, and drawn by four horses, had been provided for General Harrison, but he preferred to ride on horseback, as the Roman emperors passed along the Appian Way, and the old hero made a fine appearance, mounted on a spirited white charger, attended by a staff of mounted marshals. Although the weather was chilly, the general refused to wear an overcoat, and rode with his hat in his hand, bowing acknowledgments of the cheers of the multitudes on the sidewalks. Behind the president elect came Tippecanoe clubs and other political associations, with music, banners, and badges. The club from Prince George County, Maryland, had in its ranks a large platform on wheels, drawn by six white horses, on which was a power-loom from the Laurel factory, with operatives at work under the direction of their superintendent, General Horace Capron. Several of the clubs escorted large log-cabins on wheels, decked with suitable inscriptions, cider barrels, ’coon-skins, and various frontier articles. A feature of the procession was the students of the Jesuits’ College at Georgetown, who appeared in uniform, headed by their faculty, and carrying a beautiful banner.

The senate-chamber at the Capitol was meanwhile filled to overflowing, and nearly all of the prominent dignitaries of the country were present. On one side, Scott, Gaines, Macomb, and Wool were the leaders of a brilliant group of officers in full uniform, calling up associations connected with our proud days of triumph, whilst on the opposite side of the hall were the nominated members of the cabinet, inspiring auguries not less cheering of future prosperity and glory. The diplomatic corps made a striking appearance, half covered with the richest embroidery in gold and silver and the insignia of their various orders, while near them, and in strong contrast with them, were the justices of the supreme court of the United States, wearing black silk robes.

At twelve o ’clock John Tyler, vicepresident elect, took his oath of office, and was escorted to the chair, where he delivered his brief inaugural address with great dignity. Soon after he had concluded General Harrison entered the senate-chamber, and took the seat assigned for him. His bodily health appeared to be perfect, and there was an alertness in his movements which was quite astonishing, considering his advanced age, the multiplied hardships through which he had passed, and the fatigues he had lately undergone.

A procession was then formed in the senate-chamber, which moved on through the rotunda, out on the temporary platform erected over the steps of the eastern entrance to the Capitol. On this platform seats had been provided for the military and civic dignitaries, with many distinguished citizens, intermingled with a great company of ladies. In the space before the Capitol was a solid mass of humanity, variously estimated to contain from thirty to forty thousand. Happy was he who could climb upon an iron railing, or a stone post, to obtain a better sight of the expected pageant! All such places were filled with clinging occupants, while others ascended the trees on the square, whose denuded branches afforded an unobstructed prospect. On the verge of the crowd were drawn up carriages filled with ladies, while here and there peered up a staff bearing the pacific banner of a Tippecanoe club. At last a deafening shout announced the arrival of General Harrison, who became “ the observed of all observers.”

When the uproar had subsided, General Harrison advanced to the front of the platform, and there was a profound stillness as he proceeded to read, in a loud and clear voice, his inaugural address. He read from his manuscript, standing bareheaded, without an overcoat or gloves, facing the cold northeast wind, while those seated on the platform around him, although warmly wrapped up, suffered from the piercing blasts.

As he touched on successive topics lying near the heart of the people, the sympathy of his audience with his sentiments was manifested by shouts which broke forth from time to time. When he had nearly concluded, the oath of office was administered to him by Chief Justice Taney, and the pealing cannon announced to the country that it had a new chief magistrate.

Again declining to ride in his carriage, President Harrison remounted his horse, and was escorted by the military to the White House, cheered by the immense crowds which lined Pennsylvania Avenue, while the ladies at the windows waved their handkerchiefs. On reaching the White House, the president held a reception for three hours, during which time he was constantly shaking hands with the multitude which surged past him. At night there were three inauguration balls, each one receiving a visit from the new president, who was greeted with the warmest demonstrations of respect.

The whig editors and correspondents assembled at the inauguration of General Harrison met around a festive board on the succeeding evening. There were over forty in attendance, some of whom had been more than twoscore years in the service, and others had labored with pen or type for upwards of a quarter of a century. Others there were who had grown old and grown poor in the ranks, and yet others who, having done good service and lost their little all in a profession which they had adorned, had retired to some occupation where the laborer was better rewarded for his toil. Others yet again, the youngest of those present, were fresh and ardent in the pursuit of a profession the very labor and excitement of which are among its greatest attractions. Colonel Seaton, of the National Intelligencer, presided, and Colonel Stone, of the New York Commercial Advertiser, sat at the foot of the table. There were no studied toasts and no prepared responses, but there were displays of eloquence, expressions of thought, and promptness of repartee that could not have been surpassed at the Capitol. It was long past “ the witching time of night, when churchyards yawn,” when the journalistic company separated.

The leading Washington correspondent at that time was Dr. Francis Bacon, a brother of the Rev. Dr. Bacon, of New Haven, Connecticut, who wrote for the New York American, then edited by Charles King, a son of Rufus King, over the initials R. M. T. H., — Regular Member Third House. Dr. Bacon wielded a powerful pen, and when he chose to do so could condense a column of denunciation, satire, and sarcasm into a single paragraph. He was a fine scholar, a fearless censor, and a terse writer, giving his many readers a clearer idea of what was transpiring at the federal metropolis than can be obtained by those who wade through the masses of verbiage now wired from there, — many newspaper proprietors evidently priding themselves upon the amount of their telegraph bills rather than on the accuracy or interest of the information transmitted.

A new-comer among the correspondents during the Harrison administration was Mr. Nathan Sargent, whose correspondence to the Philadelphia United States Gazette, over the signature of “Oliver Oldschool,” soon became noted. His carefully written letters gave a continuous narrative of all important events as they occurred at the national metropolis, and he was one of those who aided in making the whig party, like the federal party which had preceded it, eminently respectable.

Washington correspondents, up to this time, had been the mediums through which a large portion of the citizens of the United States obtained their information concerning what transpired at the seat of national government, while the only reports of the debates in Congress were those which appeared in the Washington newspapers, often several weeks after their delivery. Mr. James Gordon Bennett, the enterprising proprietor of the New York Herald, after publishing President Harrison’s call for an extra session of Congress in advance of his contemporaries, determined to have the proceedings and debates reported for and promptly published in his own columns. To superintend the reporting, he engaged Robert Sutton, who organized a corps of phonographers which was the nucleus of the present organization of official reporters of the debates. Sutton was a short, stout, pragmatical Englishman, whose desire to obtain extra allowances prompted him to revise, correct, and polish up reports which should have been verbatim, and thus to take the initiative in depriving the official reports of debates of a large share of their value. Since then, senators and representatives address their constituents through the reports, instead of debating questions among themselves.

Amos Kendall had resigned his position as postmaster-general during the presidential campaign, to edit a political periodical called Kendall’s Expositor. His articles in this publication were written with his usual simplicity and vigor, but they only increased the fierceness of the opposition. After the election of Harrison, he purchased a small estate just outside of the northern boundary of Washington, which he named Kendall Green, and where he began to collect materials for the life of his patron, Andrew Jackson.

The government officials at Washington, nearly all of whom had received their positions as rewards for political services, and many of whom had displaced worthy men whose only fault was that they belonged to a different party, were somewhat encouraged by the declarations of President Harrison touching the position of office-holders. It was known, from a speech of his at Baltimore, prior to his inauguration, that he intended to protect the sacred right of individual opinion from official interference, and in a few days after he became president his celebrated civilservice circular was issued by Daniel Webster, as secretary of state. It was addressed to the heads of the executive departments, and it commenced thus : —

“ SIR, — The president is of opinion that it is a great abuse to bring the patronage of the general government into conflict with the freedom of elections; and that this abuse ought to be corrected wherever it may have been permitted to exist, and to be prevented for the future.

“ He therefore directs that information be given to all officers and agents in your department of the public service that partisan interference in popular elections, whether of state officers or officers of this government, and for whomsoever or against whomsoever it may be exercised, or the payment of any contribution or assessment on salaries or official compensation for party or election purposes, will be regarded by him as cause of removal.

“It is not intended that any officer shall be restrained in the free and proper expression and maintenance of his opinions respecting public men or public measures, or in the exercise, to the fullest degree, of the constitutional right of suffrage. But persons employed under the government, and paid for their services out of the public treasury, are not expected to take an active or officious part in attempts to influence the minds or votes of others, such conduct being deemed inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution and the duties of public agents acting under it; and the president is resolved, so far as depends upon him, that, while the exercise of the elective franchise by the people shall be free from undue influences of official station and authority, opinion shall also be free among the officers and agents of the government.”

It would have been fortunate for the country if these views of President Harrison, so clearly stated by Daniel Webster, could have been honestly carried out; but the horde of hungry politicians that had congregated at Washington, with raccoon-tails in their hats and packages of recommendations in their pockets, clamored for the wholesale action of the political guillotine, that they might fill the vacancies thus created. Whigs, federalists, national republicans, strict constructionists, bank and anti-bank men, had coalesced under the motto of “ Union of the whigs for the sake of the Union,” but they had really united “for the sake of office.” The administration found itself forced to make removals, that places might be found for this hungry horde, and to disregard its high position on civil service. Virginia was especially clamorous for places, and VicePresident Tyler became the champion of hundreds who belonged to the first families, but who were in impecunious circumstances.

A direct conflict soon arose between the president and his cabinet: he asserting his right to make appointments and removals, while they took the ground that it was simply his duty to take such action as they chose to dictate. One day, after a cabinet meeting, Mr. Webster asked the president to appoint one of his political henchmen, General James Wilson, of New Hampshire, governor of the Territory of Iowa. President Harrison replied that it would give him pleasure to do so, had he not promised the place to Colonel John Chambers, of Kentucky, his former aide-de-camp, who had been acting as his private secretary. The next day, Colonel Chambers had occasion to visit the department of state, and Mr. Webster asked him if the president had offered to appoint him governor of Iowa. “ Yes, sir,” was the reply. “Well, sir,” said Mr. Webster, with sour sternness, a cloud gathering on his massive brow, while his unfathomable eyes glowered with anger, “ you must not take that position, for I have promised it to my friend General Wilson.” Colonel Chambers, who had been a member of Congress, and who was older than Mr. Webster, was not intimidated, but replied, “ Mr. Webster, I shall accept the place, and I tell you, sir, not to undertake to dragoon me, sir ! ” He then left the room, and not long afterwards Mr. Webster received from the president a peremptory order to commission John Chambers, of Kentucky, as governor of the Territory of Iowa, which was complied with.

Mr. Clay undertook to insist upon some removals, that personal friends of his might be appointed to the offices thus vacated, and he used such dictatorial language that after he had left the White House President Harrison wrote him a formal note, requesting that he would make any further suggestions he might desire to submit in writing. Mr. Clay was very much annoyed, and Mr. King, of Alabama, making some remarks in the senate soon afterwards which might be construed as personally offensive, the great commoner opened his batteries upon him, saying in conclusion that the assertions of the senator from Alabama were “ false, untrue, and cowardly.”

Mr. King immediately rose and left the senate-chamber. Mr. Levin, of Missouri, was called out, and soon returned bringing a note, which he handed to Mr. Clay, who read it, and then handed it to Mr. Archer. Messrs. Levin and Archer immediately engaged in earnest conversation, and it was soon known that a challenge had passed, and they as seconds were endeavoring amicably to arrange the affair. After four days of negotiation, Mr. Preston, of South Carolina, and other senators acting as mediators, the affair was honorably adjusted. Mr. King withdrew his challenge, Mr. Clay declared every epithet derogatory to the honor of the senator from Alabama to be withdrawn, and Mr. Preston expressed his satisfaction at the happy termination of the misunderstanding between the senators. While Mr. Preston was speaking Mr. Clay rose, walked to the opposite side of the senate-chamber, and stopping in front of the desk of the senator from Alabama said in a pleasant tone, “ King, give us a pinch of your snuff?” Mr. King, springing to his feet, held out his hand, which was grasped by Mr. Clay and cordially shaken, the senators and spectators applauding this pacific demonstration.

Many of the unsuccessful office-seekers sought consolation and wealth in the gambling houses, which were plentiful in those days on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue. They were well patronized, and their suppers were the most tempting repasts in Washington. A few years since, when one of these gambling houses of Harrison’s time, known as the Rockendorff House, was pulled down, the machinery which had been used by the gamblers was exposed. The gambling rooms were in the second story of the building, and the principal tables were in the centre of each room. Overhead, in the garret rooms, trapdoors, each about six feet in length and three feet in width, had been cut in the floors. By raising one of these and lying down in the opening, a confederate could look down through one of several apertures in the ceiling, and see the cards held by the victim seated at the table below. At his side was a wire, which was ingeniously made to act on a point which rose from the floor under the feet of the gambler, who would make some excuse for removing one of his boots or shoes, and who was thus informed, by a system of signals, what cards the victim held in his hand. This system of telegraphy was older than that patented by Morse, but virtually the same, and the machinery was so made that it worked with silence and precision. The punctures in the ceiling which gave a view of the cards to the confederate overhead were screened from view by an ornamental centre-piece of green wall-paper pasted on the ceiling, and the small aperture in the floor through which the point rose was concealed by the carpet. It was not to be wondered at, after an examination of this machinery, that several successive proprietors of this gambling den had grown rich, or that many had beggared themselves by playing there. One foreign minister lost his outfit, and could not have gone to the scene of his diplomatic labors had not the proprietor of the Rockendorff House loaned him enough money to defray his expenses.

Lottery offices were also abundant on Pennsylvania Avenue in those days, the establishments of Gregory, Maury, France, and Phalen rivaling one another in the number of tickets which each sold. Lottery tickets were also sold at what were known as exchange offices, where bills of state banks were bought and sold. Some of the largest fortunes in Washington city at the present time had their origin in the profits attendant on the disposal of the chances of Fortune’s wheel.

The first signs of an attempt to dissolve the Union were visible during the brief administration of President Harrison in the Methodist Episcopal church. That body had been bound together by a perfect system of discipline and organization ; its missionaries had always been found on our frontiers on the verge of civilization, in advance of the mailcarrier and of the school-master ; and it had contributed much to evangelize the country. But a dark cloud arose, which resulted in a division of the church North and South, and, as Mr. Calhoun observed, “ one of the strong cords which bound together the Union was snapped.”

The smaller Quaker congregation of Washington was also hopelessly divided, owing to the effective preaching of Elias Hicks, an old man, whose age and peculiar eloquence gave him a higher rank in the scale of polemic divines than his power of reasoning could have done without such aids. This single man, with the purest purposes, had filled the meeting-house of brotherly love with discord ; had arrayed son against father, and daughter against mother, —and all without the slightest intention of doing any harm.

The police force of Washington, which was first organized during the brief administration of Harrison, was known as the auxiliary guard. It consisted of nine men, including Mr. John H. Goddard, who was the captain. They wore no uniform, and were distinguished only by a silver star worn on the left breast and the " spontoons ” which they carried. The guard-house was a portion of the Marsh Market buildings, which had been erected in a swamp bordering on Pennsylvania Avenue. A guard-room and a number of cells were built, but the latter were seldom occupied, except by slaves who were caught out at night, without passes, after the ringing of the nine o’clock bell. Word was sent to their owners or employers in the morning, and they generally came and paid the fine, thus relieving the prisoner from receiving “ ten lashes, well laid on.”

After Mr. Webster became secretary of state, he installed himself in the Swann house, facing the northwest corner of Lafayette Square, which had been rented for some years previously by Baron Krudener, the Russian minister. It is said that a purse was raised in Boston to enable Mr. Webster to purchase this house, but that he expended too much of it at Marshfield before he left for Washington, and the property passed into the hands of Mr. W. W. Corcoran, who now occupies it. Mr. Webster lived there in princely style during the negotiation of the Ashburton Treaty, the British legation occupying the spacious mansion on the eastern side of St. John’s Church, which had been erected by Matthew St. Clair Clarke, the whig clerk of the house of representatives.

Mr. Webster was his own purveyor, and was a regular attendant at the Marsh Market on market mornings. He almost invariably wore a large, broadbrimmed, soft felt hat, with his favorite blue coat and bright buttons, a buff cassimere waistcoat, and black trousers. Going from stall to stall, followed by a servant bearing a large basket in which purchases were carried home, he would joke with the butchers, the fishmongers, and the green-grocers with a grave drollery of which his biographers, in their anxiety to deify him, have made no mention. He always liked to have a friend or two at his dinner-table, and in inviting them, sans cérémonie, he would say, in his deep, cheery voice, “ Come and dine with me to-morrow. I purchased a noble saddle of Valley of Virginia mutton in market last week, and I think you will enjoy it.” Or, “ I received some fine cod-fish from Boston today, sir; will you dine with me at five o’clock, and taste them ? ” Or, “ I found a famous ’possum in market this morning, sir, and left orders with Monica, my cook, to have it baked in the real old Virginia style, with a stuffing of chestnuts and surrounded by baked sweetpotatoes. It will be a dish fit for the gods. Come and taste it.”

The prices at the Marsh Market in March, 1841, were very reasonable, namely : beef, six to twelve and one half cents per pound; mutton, five to ten cents per pound ; lamb, fifty to seventyfive cents per quarter; wild turkeys, seventy-five cents each; tame turkeys, $1.25 to $1.50 each; geese,seventy-five cents each ; shad, sixty cents a pair; perch, twenty-five cents a bunch ; butter, twenty to twenty-five cents a pound; eggs, eighteen cents a dozen ; potatoes, seventy-five cents a bushel; corn, fiftyfive cents a bushel; meal, sixty-five cents a bushel; and apples, thirty-seven cents a peck.

President Harrison, who was an early riser, used to go to market, and he invariably refused to wear an overcoat, although the spring was cold and stormy. One morning, having gone to the market thus thinly attired, he was overtaken by a slight shower and got wet, but refused to change his clothes. The following day he felt symptoms of indisposition, which were followed by pneumonia. At his Ohio home he had lived plainly and enjoyed sleep, but at Washington he had, while rising early, rarely retired before one o’clock in the morning, and his physical powers, enfeebled by age, had been overtaxed.

At the same time, the president’s mental powers had undergone a severe strain, as was evident when he became somewhat delirious. Sometimes he would say, “ My dear madam, I did not direct that your husband should be turned out. I did not know it. I tried to prevent it.” On other occasions he would say in broken sentences, “ It is wrong — I won’t consent — ’t is unjust,” “ These applications, —will they never cease ! ” The last time that he spoke was about three hours before his death, when his physicians and attendants were standing over him, having just administered to his comfort. Clearing his throat, as if desiring to speak audibly, and as though he fancied himself addressing his successor, or some official associate in the government, he said, “ Sir ! I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

General Harrison was removed from the conflict which had already become inevitable, before the storm had time to gather, — before envy and detraction and sectional fury had begun to muster their stores of vengeance to pour without mercy upon his head. The opposition of the leaders of his own party had scarcely begun to make itself manifest before that venerable head, silvered with the frosts of age and of long and arduous devotion to his country’s service, was gently laid on the pillow of death.

“ One little month ” after President Harrison’s inauguration multitudes again assembled to attend his funeral. Minute-guns were fired during the day, flags were displayed at half staff, and Washington was crowded with strangers at an early hour. The buildings on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue, with scarcely an exception, and many houses on the contiguous streets, were hung with festoons and streamers of black. Almost every private dwelling had crape upon its door, and many of the very humblest abodes displayed some spontaneous signal of the general sorrow. The stores and places of business, even such as were too frequently seen open on the Sabbath, were all closed.

The funeral services were performed in the Executive Mansion, which, for the first time, was shrouded in mourning, without and within. The coffin rested on a temporary catafalque in the centre of the East Room, which had before been the scene of joyous ceremonials. It was covered with black velvet trimmed with gold lace, and over it was thrown a velvet pall with a deep golden fringe. On this lay the sword of justice and the sword of state, surmounted by the scroll of the constitution, bound together by a funeral wreath formed of the yew and the cypress. Around the coffin stood in a circle the new president, John Tyler, the venerable ex-president, John Quincy Adams, Secretary Webster, and the other members of the cabinet. The next circle contained the diplomatic corps, in their richly decorated court suits, with a number of members of both houses of Congress, and the relatives of the deceased president. Beyond this circle a vast assemblage of ladies and gentlemen filled up the room. Silence, deep and undisturbed even by a whisper, prevailed. When, at the appointed hour, the officiating clergyman said, “ I am the resurrection and the life,” the entire audience rose, and joined in the burial service of the Episcopal church.

After the services, the coffin was carried to a large funeral car drawn by six white horses, each having at its head a black groom dressed in white, with white turban and sash. Outside of the grooms walked the pall-bearers, dressed in black, with black scarves. The contrast made by this slowly moving body of white and black, so opposite to the strong colors of the military around it, struck the eye even from the greatest distance.

The funeral procession, with its military escort, was two miles in length, and eclipsed the inauguration pageant which had so recently preceded it. The remains were escorted to the Congressional Burying-Ground, where they were temporarily deposited in the receiving-vault, to be taken subsequently to the banks of the Ohio, and there placed in an unmarked and neglected grave. The troops present all fired three volleys in such a ludicrously straggling manner as to recall the dying request of Robert Burns that the awkward squad might not fire over his grave. Then the drums and fifes struck up merry strains, the military marched away, and only the sense of the public bereavement remained.

Vice-President John Tyler, unexpectedly summoned from his rural home in Virginia to assume the reins of government, issued an address to the citizens of the United States indicative of that firmness of purpose and uncompromising integrity of principle for which he had been conspicuous throughout his public life. For the first time since the federal government had existed under the constitution, the vice-president, wittily styled “ his unpopular excellency,” had been promoted to the highest position in the nation. It was soon evident that his prominent nasal organ was no “ nose of wax.”