Reminiscences of Washington

XI.

THE FILLMORE ADMINISTRATION, 1850-1853.

GENERAL TAYLOR’S sudden death was immediately announced by the tolling of the bell of the department of state, and in a few moments the solemn peal was echoed from every church steeple in the metropolis. The next day Mr. Fillmore appeared in the representatives’ hall at the Capitol, where both houses of Congress had met in joint session, took the oath of office, and immediately left. The senators then returned to their chamber, and eloquent eulogies on the deceased president were delivered in each house. The remains of General Taylor lay in state in the East Room of the White House, and were escorted from there to their temporary resting-place in the congressional burial-ground with great pomp. A considerable force of regulars and volunteers was commanded by General Scott, who was mounted on a spirited horse, and who wore a richly embroidered uniform, with a high chapeau crowned with yellow plumes. The ponderous funeral car was surmounted by a high canopy of black silk, above which was a large gilt eagle shrouded in crape. It was drawn by eight white horses, each one led by a negro groom in a white costume of Oriental character. Behind the funeral car was led “ Old Whitey,” the charger ridden by General Taylor in Mexico. He was a well-made horse, in good condition, and he showed no sign of fright when the cannon thundered a farewell salute at the conclusion of the ceremonies.

The unexpected death of General Taylor was an element which even Mr. Seward had never taken into account, and the first consequence was undisguised confusion among the supporters of the administration. The members of the cabinet promptly tendered their resignations, and it was evident that the sudden removal of the president had checkmated the plans so carefully made, and forced the chief player to feel the bitterness of political death. Mr. Fillmore had been shabbily treated by the Taylor administration on several occasions, especially when his request that personal friends should be appointed collector and postmaster at Buffalo had been formally refused, and partisans of Mr. Seward had received the places. The new president was amiable in private life, but it was evident that he would show little regard for those who had snubbed and slighted him in his less powerful position.

Mr. Fillmore was fifty years of age when he became president. He was of average height, stalwart and rotund of form, with broad, heavy, florid features, white hair, shrewd gray eyes, and dignified, yet courteous manners. He had risen from the humble walks of life, by incessant toil, to the highest position in the republic, always animated by an indomitable spirit, and by that industry and perseverance which are the surest guarantees of success. He was undoubtedly a man of ability, but bis intellect seemed, like that of Lord Bacon, to lack the complement of heart. A blank in his nature, where loyalty to the public sentiment of the North should have been, made him a willing instrument to crush out the growing determination north of Mason and Dixon’s line that freedom should be national, slavery sectional. One of the coldest of the cold-hearted. his official action was a firebrand which a few years later set the republic in flames ; “ frost performed the effect of fire.”

Mrs. Fillmore was the daughter of the Rev. Lemuel Powers, a Baptist clergyman, who claimed descent from Henry Leland, an emigrant from England, who was one of the first settlers in Sherburne, Massachusetts. She was tall, spare, and graceful, with auburn hair, light blue eyes, and a fair complexion. Before her marriage she had taught school, and she was remarkably well informed, but somewhat reserved in her intercourse with strangers. She did not come to Washington until after her husband became president, and her delicate health prevented her mingling in society, but she presided at the official dinner-parties, and was highly esteemed in Washington. She was very fond of music, and her daughter used to play on the piano for her every evening, while her son sang.

Mr. Fillmore’s friends in New York, soon after he became president, gave Mrs. Fillmore a splendid carriage and pair of horses, which were used by the inmates of the White House until the expiration of their sojourn there. Then, not wishing such an elegant establishment, Mr. Fillmore had it sold, and invested the proceeds in a set of plate, which he wished to descend as an heirloom in his family, an imperishable record of his gratitude.

Congress remained in session until the 30th of September, and the three hundred and two days were marked by acrimony of debate and strong sectional excitement. The compromise bills were successively passed, and each one was signed by President Fillmore, amid energetic protests from the Southern secessionists and Northern abolitionists. When the bill which provided for the rendition of fugitive slaves was signed, the Union members of the house of representatives organized a serenade to President Fillmore and his secretary of state, Daniel Webster. The president bowed his acknowledgments from a window of the Executive Mansion, but Mr. Webster came out on the broad doorstep of his house, with a friend on either side of him holding a candle, and he commenced a brief speech by saying, “ Now is the summer — no ! Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York.”

Mr. Fillmore had selected Mr. Robert C. Winthrop to be his secretary of state, but was persuaded by Senators Clay and Mangum to offer the position to Mr. Webster, who promptly accepted it. At the commencement of the debate on the compromise measures he had decided to speak in opposition to the encroachments of the slave power, and a carefully prepared brief of what he proposed to say, in his own handwriting, was shown by his friend, Mr. George Ashmun, to Mr. Joshua R. Giddings, who found it all that he could ask or desire. Before the 7th of March arrived, however, Mr. Webster had been tempted, by promises of presidential support from the South, to change front, and to turn his back not only upon himself, but upon Massachusetts. He had been assured that if he would advocate the compromises he would create a wave of popular sentiment that would float him into the White House in 1856, against all opposition, and that no democratic aspirant would stand in his way. Believing all this, Mr. Webster misrepresented Massachusetts, and betrayed his constituents.

Faneuil Hall was closed to him, and he was glad to escape from the senatechamber into the department of state. Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Martin Van Buren had found that department a convenient stepping-stone to the presidential chair.

Mr. Webster was a great favorite in the department of state, for he made no removals, and his generous and considerate treatment of the clerks won their affection. Hia especial favorite was Mr. George J. Abbott, a native of New Hampshire, who had been graduated at Exeter and Cambridge, and had then come to Washington to take charge of a boys’ school. He was an accomplished classical scholar, and he used to hunt up Latin quotations applicable to the questions of the day, which Mr. Webster would commit to memory and use with effect. His private secretary was Mr, Charles Lanman, a young gentleman of literary and artistic tastes, who was a devoted disciple of Izaak Walton. The two would often leave the department of state for a day of piscatorial enjoyment at the Great Falls of the Potomac, when Mr. Webster would throw off public cares and personal pecuniary troubles, to cast his lines with boyish glee, and to exult loudly when he succeeded in hooking a fish. Another clerk in the department who enjoyed Mr. Webster’s esteem was Mr. Zantzinger, the son of a purser in the navy, who possessed rare accomplishments. Whenever Mr. Webster visited his estates in New Hampshire or in Massachusetts, he was always accompanied by one of these gentlemen, who had the charge of his correspondence.

The corner-stone of one of the “ extensions ” of the Capitol was laid on the seventy-sixth anniversary of our national independence,—July 4, 1851, — by the fraternity of freemasons, in “ due and ample form.” President Fillmore, the cabinet, the diplomatic corps, several governors of States, and other distinguished personages occupied seats on a temporary platform, which overlooked the place where the corner-stone was laid, Major B. B. French, grand master of masons of the District of Columbia, officiating. Mr. Webster was the orator of the day, and delivered an eloquent, thoughtful, and patriotic address, although he was evidently somewhat fee ble, and was forced to take sips of strong brandy and water to sustain him as he proceeded. Among the vast audience were three gentlemen who had, fiftyeight years previously, seen General “Washington aid his brother freemasons in laying the corner-stone of the original Capitol.

Later in that year, the large hall which contained the library of Congress, occupying the entire western side of the centre of the Capitol, was destroyed by fire, with almost all of its valuable contents. Nearly forty thousand volumes of books, many historical manuscripts, and a collection of statuary, paintings, medals, coins, and other curious specimens in various departments of art and science, were consumed in the flames. The weather was intensely cold, and, had not the firemen and citizens worked hard, the entire Capitol would have been destroyed.

“Filibustering” was at that time the means by which the pro-slavery leaders at the South hoped to increase their territory, and they defended it in the halls of Congress, in their pulpits, and at their public gatherings. Going back into sacred and profane history, they would attempt to prove that Moses, Joshua, Saul, and David were “ filibusters,” and so were William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Gustavus Adolphus, and Napoleon. Walker simply followed their example, except that they wore crowns on their heads, while he, a new man, only carried a sword in his hand. Was it right, they asked, when a brave American adventurer, invited by the despairing victims of tyranny in Cuba, or of anarchy in Central America, threw himself boldly, with a handful of comrades, into their midst to sow the seeds of civilization and to reconstruct society, — was it right for the citizens of the United States, themselves the degenerate sons of filibustering sires, to hurl at him as a reproach what was their ancestors’ highest merit and glory ?

General Walker, the “ gray-eyed man of destiny,” was the leading native filibuster, but foremost among the foreign adventurers, — the Dugald Dalgettys of that epoch, — who came here from unsuccessful revolutions abroad to seek employment for their swords, was General Heningen. He had served with Zumala-Carreguy in Spain, with Schamyl in the Caucasus, and with Kossuth in Hungary, chronicling his exploits in works which won him the friendship of Wellington and other notables. Going to Central America, he fought gallantly, but unsuccessfully, at Grenada, and he then came to Washington, where he was soon known as an envoy of “ Cuba Libre.” He married a niece of Senator Berrien, of Georgia, a devoted and cultivated woman, and his tall, soldier-like figure was to be seen striding along on the sunny sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue every pleasant morning, until in later years he went South “ to live or die in Dixie.”

President Taylor having sent Mr. Dudley Mann as a confidential agent to Hungary, to obtain reliable information concerning the true condition of affairs there, the Austrian government instructed its representative at Washington, the Chevalier Hulseman, to protest against this interference in its internal affairs, as offensive to the laws of propriety. this protest the chevalier communicated to Mr. Webster after he became secretary of state, and in due time he received an answer which completely extinguished him. It carefully reviewed the case, and in conclusion told the protesting chevalier, in plain Anglo-Saxon, that nothing would “ deter either the government or the people of the United States from exercising, at their own discretion, the rights belonging to them as an independent nation, and of forming and expressing their own opinion freely and at all times upon the great political events which might transpire among the civilized nations of the earth.”

Meanwhile Kossuth had been released from his imprisonment within the dominion of the Sublime Porte, by request of the government of the United States, and taken to England in the war steamer Mississippi. In due time he arrived at Washington, where he created a marked sensation. The distinguished Magyar wore a military uniform, and the steel scabbard of his sword trailed on the ground as he walked. He was the guest of Congress at Brown’s Hotel, but those senators and representatives who called to pay their respects found members of his retinue on guard before the door of his apartments, armed with muskets and bayonets, while his anteroom was crowded with the members of his staff. They had evidently been reared in camps, as they caroused all day, and then tumbled into their beds booted and spurred, furnishing items of liquors, wines, cigars, and damaged furniture for the long and large hotel bill which Congress had to pay. Mr. Seward entertained the Hungarian party at an evening reception, and a number of congressmen gave Kossuth a subscription dinner at the National Hotel, at which several of the known aspirants for the presidency spoke. Mr. Webster was, as became the secretary of state, carefully guarded in his remarks, and later in the evening, when the champagne had flowed freely, he indulged in what appeared to be his impromptu individual opinions, but unluckily dropped at his seat a slip of paper on which his gushing sentences had been carefully written out. General Houston managed to leave the table in time to avoid being called upon to speak, and General Scott — who regarded Kossuth as a gigantic humbug — had escaped to Richmond. Kossuth was invited to dine at the White House, and on New Year’s day he held a reception ; but he failed in his attempt to secure congressional recognition or material aid.

A number of the leading public men at. Washington were so disgusted by the assumption and arrogance displayed by Kossuth, and by the toadyism manifested by many of those who humbled themselves before him, that they organized a banquet, at which Senator Crittenden was the principal speaker. “ Beware,” said the eloquent Kentuckian, in the words of Washington, “ of the introduction or exercise of a foreign influence among you ! We are Americans ! The Father of our Country has taught us, and we have learned, to govern ourselves. If the rest of the world have not learned that lesson, how shall they teach us ? We are the teachers, and yet they appear here with a new exposition of Washington’s Farewell Address. For oue, I do not want this new doctrine. I want to stand super antiquas vicis, — upon the old road that Washington traveled, and that every president, from Washington to Fillmore, has traveled.”

The only effect of Kossuth’s visit to the United States was an extraordinary impetus given to “The Order of United Americans,” from which was evolved that political phenomenon, the American or know-nothing party. The mysterious movements of this organization attracted the curiosity of the people, and members of the old political organizations eagerly desired to learn what was carefully concealed. Secretly-held lodges, with their paraphernalia, passwords and degrees, grips and signs, tickled the popular fancy, and the new organization became formidable. Men of all religions and political creeds fraternized beneath the “ stars and stripes,” and solemnly pledged themselves to the support of “ our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country.”

The leaders of this “ know-nothing ” movement, who in the delirium of the hour were intrusted with dictatorial authority, were in no way calculated to exercise a permanent, healthful control. They were generally without education, without statesmanship, without knowledge of public affairs, and, to speak plainly, without the abilities or genius which might enable them to dispense with experience. Losing sight of the cardinal principle of the American order, that only those identified with the republic by birth or permanent residence should manage its political affairs, the leaders fell back upon a bigoted hostility to the Church of Rome, to which many of their original members in Louisiana and elsewhere belonged. The result was that the mighty organization had begun to decay before it attained its growth, and that the old political leaders became members that they might elbow the improvised chieftains from power when the effervescence of the movement should subside.

Another noted person who visited Washington early in the administration of Mr. Fillmore was William M. Tweed, of New York, who came as foreman of the Americas Engine Company, Number Six, which was composed of young volunteer firemen. Visiting the White House, the company was ushered into the East Room, where President Fillmore soon appeared, and Tweed, stepping out in front of his command, said, “ These are Big Six’s boys, Mr. President! ” He then walked along the line with Mr. Fillmore, and introduced each member individually. As they were leaving the room a newspaper reporter asked Tweed why he had not made a longer speech ? “ There was no necessity,” replied the future pillager of the city treasury of New York, “ for the company is as much grander than any other fire company in this world as Niagara Falls is grander than Croton dam.” Two years afterwards, Tweed, profiting by a division in the whig ranks in the fifth district of Netv York, returned to Washington as a representative in Congress. He was a regular attendant, never participating in the debates, and always voting with the democrats. Twice he read speeches which were written for him, and he obtained for a relative the contract for supplying the house with chairs for summer use, which were worthless and soon disappeared.

When the members of the thirty-first Congress commenced their second session. the conservatives found themselves much stronger than when they had left Washington for the recess. The business interests of the North had decreed that antislavery doctrines should be banished from the pulpit, ignored on the political stump, excluded from newspapers, and not tolerated in lecture halls. But the “ incendiary ideas ” could not be extinguished, and the republic was slowly drifting towards the impending crisis, though the Missouri compromise had not been blotted out, and “bleeding Kansas ” was unknown. Even Mr. Seward became somewhat conservative, and he showed no devotion to antislavery measures. “ I am with you entirely,” he declared to the Rev. Mr. May, a pronounced abolitionist, “ but prudence places me under restraint.”

Senator Douglas, seeing that the people of the Northwest were fast becoming opponents of slavery, or rather of its extension, endeavored to establish a new ground upon which the democratic party could maintain itself at. the North, without offending its powerful Southern wing. He spoke with remarkable energy and vigor, but gave little evidence of intellectual cultivation or historical research. His literary deficiencies, however, were made up by his mental strength, intuitive sagacity, and good common —or, as he would have termed it, “ horse ” — sense. He never indulged in wit, but he excelled in sarcasm and burning denunciation, and he understood well how to appeal to the passions and the prejudices of the working-classes. His language, always energetic and vigorous, sometimes became eloquent, and in a controversial debate he possessed great power.

Mr. Andrew Pickens Butlev was a prominent figure in the senate-chamber. He was a trifle larger round at the waistband than anywhere else, his long white hair stood out as if he were charged with electric fluid, and South Carolina was legibly written on his rubicund countenance. The genial old patriarch would occasionally take too much wine in the “ Hole in the Wall,” or in some committee-room, and then go into the senate and attempt to bully Chase or Hale; but every one liked him, nevertheless. Then there was Senator Slidell, of Louisiana, with a florid face, long gray hair, and prominent eyes, forming a striking contrast in personal appearance with his dapper little colleague, Senator Benjamin, whose features disclosed his Jewish extraction. One of the most popular senators was Jesse D. Bright, of Indiana, equally unscrupulous as a political manager and agreeable at a dinner-table, while his colleague, Judge Pettit, a short, stout, bald-headed man, made no friends.

Mr. Robert C. Winthrop, during his brief term of service in the senate as the successor of Daniel Webster, presented an interesting petition from the widow of Captain Robert Gray, the discoverer of the Columbia River, asking relief. Captain Gray was in the naval service of his country during the war of the Revolution, and afterwards, while in command of the sloop Washington, he was the first to carry the flag of the Union around the world. In a subsequent voyage in the year 1792, he discovered and entered the Columbia River, to which he gave the name of the ship which he then commanded, and thus furnished the corner-stone to the American title. Mrs. Gray’s petition was accompanied by the original sea-passport, signed by George Washington and attested by Thomas Jefferson, under which the Columbia had sailed from Boston in 1790. A similar document bore the signature of John Hancock as governor of Massachusetts, and a clearance certificate from the Boston custom-house was signed by Benjamin Lincoln, collector of the port, whose name was honorably identified with several of the great battle-fields of the Revolution. Captain Gray had died in 1806, leaving a widow and four children with very little property, and she now asked Congress to cheer her old age by making such a grant to herself and her daughter as would testify its appreciation of a citizen whose nautical skill and bold enterprise had been instrumental in rendering so distinguished a benefit to his country.

The Rev. Henry Clay Dean, a stalwart defender of slavery on biblical grounds, was the chaplain of the senate. Many stories were related about him, among them one of his preaching one Sunday at a rural church in Virginia, when he was disturbed by the fact that his hearers turned their heads to look at every person who came in He finally told them to keep their eyes upon him, and he would announce the new arrivals. Sure enough, the tardy brethren and friends who subsequently entered were amazed at hearing Mr. Dean pause in his discourse, and call out, “That’s brother Eli Satterfield ! ” “ That’s

brother Paul Haun !” “That’s brother Merrifield ! ” “ That’s Job Hawkins.”

And then he exclaimed, “ A little old man in a white coat and black cap, — I don’t know who he is ! Look for yourselves.”

On the first day of December, 1851, Henry Clay spoke in the senate for the last time, and General Cass presented the credentials of Charles Sumner, who had been elected by one of the coalitions between the antislavery men and the democrats, which gave the latter the local offices in New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts, and elected Seward, Chase, and Sumner to the United States senate. Soon after Mr. Sumner took his seat in the arena which had been made famous by the political champions of the North, the South, and the West, Mr. Benton said to him, with a patronizing air, “ You have come upon the stage too late, sir. Not only have our great men passed away, but the great issues have been settled, also. The last of these was the National Bank, and that has been overthrown forever. Nothing is left you, sir, but puny sectional questions and petty strifes about slavery and fugitive-slave laws, involving no national interests.”

Mr. Sumner had but two coadjutors in opposing slavery and in advocating freedom when he entered the senate, but before he died he was the recognized leader of more than two thirds of that body. He was denounced by a leading whig newspaper of Boston when he left that city to take his seat as “ an agitator,” and he was refused a place on any committee of the senate, as being “outside of any healthy political organization; ” but he lived to exercise a controlling influence in Massachusetts politics and to be the chairman of the senate committee on foreign affairs. He had learned from Judge Story the value of systematic industry, and while preparing long speeches on the questions before the senate he also applied himself sedulously to the practical duties of a senator, taking especial pains to answer every letter addressed to him.

The most popular house in “Washington was that of Mr. Daniel S. Dickinson, a senator from New York, whose accomplished wife was acknowledged by all as the leader in social life. Tall and slender, with dark blue eyes, brown hair, and gentle manners, she was a notable figure in the society of New York and Washington, and had troops of friends. Her husband was devoted to her; and when, while he was a senator, he visited the little town of Oxford, where she had been educated, he said to the directors of the academy “ that, though he had never studied at their institution, he had carried off its greatest prize.”

When the thirty - second Congress met, Mr. Linn Boyd, a stalwart Kentuckian, was elected speaker of the house of representatives, and used to preside with great dignity, sitting on an elevated platform, beneath a canopy of scarlet curtains. Seated at his right hand, at the base of the platform, beside the “ mace,” was Andrew Jackson Glossbrenner, the sergeant-at-arms, and on the opposite side was Mr. McKnew, the door-keeper. Mr. John W. Forney officiated at the clerk’s table, having been elected by a decided majority. His defeat two years previous had been very annoying to his democratic friends at the North, who were expected to aid the Southern wing of the party with their votes, and yet were often deserted when they desired offices. “ It is,” said one of them, “ paying us a great compliment for our principles, or great contempt for our pliancy.” Mr. Buchanan wrote to a Virginia democratic leader, “ Poor Forney deserved a better fate than to be wounded ' in the house of his friends,’and to vote for a whig in preference to him was the unkindest cut of all. It will, I am confident, produce no change in his editorial course, but I dread its effect.” Mr. Forney did not permit his desertion to influence his pen, and his loyalty to his party was rewarded by his election, two years after his defeat, as clerk of the house.

The democratic representatives, then as now, occupied the right of the house, looking from the speaker’s chair, and the most noticeable figure was that of the burly Humphry Marshall, of Kentucky. Near him sat his colleague, the accomplished Breckinridge, and not far distant were Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, Harry Hibbard, of New Hampshire, Albert G. Brown, of Mississippi, John Appleton, of Maine, Thomas A. Hendricks, of Indiana, Robert Toombs, of Georgia, and other democratic magnates.

Thaddeus Stevens, of the Lancaster district of Pennsylvania, was the recognized leader of the small band of antislavery men in the house, and as the republican strength there increased he continued his despotic rule. No republican was permitted by “ Old Thad ” to oppose his imperious will without receiving a tongue-lashing that terrified others, if it did not bring the refractory representative back into party harness. Rising by degrees, as a telescope is pulled out, until he stood in a most ungraceful attitude, his heavy black hair falling down over his cavernous brows, and his cold little eyes twinkling with anger, he would make some ludicrous remark, and then, reaching to bis full height, he would lecture the offender against party discipline, sweeping at him with his large, bony right hand, in uncouth gestures, as if he would clutch him and then shake him. He would often use invectives, which he took care should never appear printed in the official reports, and John Randolph, in his braggart prime, was never so imperiously insulting as was Mr. Stevens towards those whose political action he controlled.

Mr. Stevens was a firm believer in the old maxim ascribed to the Jesuits, “ The end justifies the means,” and, while he set morality at defiance, he was an early and a zealous champion of the equality of the black and the white races. He was a good debater, and there was an undercurrent of dry humor about him that often disarmed his polit ical opponents. When, on one occasion, a South Carolina representative undertook to lecture him for his antislavery views, and talked about a slave on his own rice plantation who was a pious deacon, Mr. Stevens gruffly asked what the price of deacons was in that vicinity, and whether a negro would command a higher price because he was a deacon.

Robert Rantoul, after a ten days’ term of service in the senate, was elected to represent the Essex district of Massachusetts in the house, and had begun to make his mark there when he was suddenly removed by death. After long service in the democratic party, he had become a fervent antislavery man, and he was one of the pioneers in that great political revolution which made “all men free and equal.” He never spoke without careful preparation, and then poured forth brilliant sentences with wonderful rapidity, and accompanied them by earnest gestures. In debate, few could stand against him. Fluent, logical, and incisive, he was defiant and triumphant.

It was a curious fact that there were in the house two sons of Rufus King, — Jolm A., representing a New York district, and his brother, James G., a New Jersey district. Two brothers Stanton, originally from Alexandria, represented districts in Kentucky and in Tennessee, while two brothers-in-law, Messrs. Millson and Parker, represented two districts in Virginia. In the senate, a father and a son sat side by side, — Mr. Dodge, of Iowa, and Mr. Dodge, of Wisconsin, formerly called Ouisconsin.

The Southern Hisunionists had begun, even at that early day, to urge extraordinary appropriations for the navy-yards at Norfolk and at Pensacola, and to encourage the preparation of munitions of war in the slave-holding States. A company in Virginia commenced the manufacture of woolen cloth for army clothing, and obtained a contract at Washington to supply one hundred thousand yards of it, but was able to furnish only one half of that quantity. When payment was made for the cloth delivered, the officer of the quartermaster’s department who received it withheld six thousand dollars, in accordance with the terms of the contract, as the forfeit for having failed to deliver the other fifty thousand yards. The Southern congressmen at once pushed through, a bill repaying this forfeit money to the contractor.

Mr. Clayton, when secretary of state, had received a proposition from August Belmont, as the agent of the Rothschilds, to pay the Mexican indemnity in drafts, for which four per cent. premium would be allowed. Then Mr. Webster became secretary of state, and he entered into an agreement with an association of bankers, composed of the Barings, Corcoran & Riggs, and Howland & Aspinwall, for the negotiation of the drafts by them at a premium of three and a half per cent. The difference to the government was about forty thousand dollars, but the rival sets of bankers had large interests at stake, based on their respective purchases of Mexican obligations at depreciated values, and a war of pamphlets and newspaper articles ensued. The dispute was carried into Congress, and during a debate on it in the house, Representative Cartter, of Ohio, now chief-justice of the courts in the District of Columbia, was very emphatic in his condemnation of all the bankers interested. “ I want the house to understand,’ said he, with a slight impediment in his speech, “ that I take no part with the house of Rothschild, or of Baring, or of Corcoran & Riggs. I look upon their scramble for money precisely as I would upon the contest of a set of blacklegs around a gaming-table over the last stake. They have all of them grown so large in gormandizing upon money that they have left the work of fleecing individuals, and taken to the enterprise of fleecing nations.”

Mr. Charles Allen, of the Worcester district of Massachusetts, availed himself of the opportunity afforded by this debate on the payment of the Mexican indemnity to make a long-threatened attack on Daniel Webster. He asserted that when Mr. Webster was tendered the position of secretary of state a purse of twenty-five thousand dollars was raised in New York, and another of twenty thousand dollars was raised in Boston, and paid him to secure his acceptance of the position. Mr. George Ashmun, of the Springfield district of Massachusetts, a devoted friend of Mr. Webster, replied with great indignation, and declared, in concluding his remarks, that Mr. Allen had sat at Mr. Webster’s board and eaten his bread and partaken of his salt while he was preparing this libelous attack on “ one of the greatest men of the nation, — nay, the greatest man of the world.”

Mr. Henry W. Hilliard, of Alabama, followed Mr. Ashmun, with a glowing eulogy of Mr. Webster, in which he declared that, although Massachusetts might repudiate him, the country would take him up, for he stood before the eyes of mankind in a far more glorious position than he could have occupied but for the stand which he had taken in resisting the legions which were bearing down against the rights of the South. This elicited a bitter rejoinder from Mr. Allen, who alluded to the fact that Mr. Hilliard was a clergyman, and said that he had found out how to serve two masters. Mr. Ashmun, asking Mr. Allen if he had not published confidential letters addressed to him by Mr. Charles Hudson, received as a reply, “ No, sir! no sir ! You are a scoundrel if you say that I did! ” The debate between Messrs. Ashmun and Allen finally became so bitter that Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, and other representatives objected to its continuance, and refused to hear another word from either of them. The next day Mr. Lewis, of Philadelphia, improved an opportunity for eulogizing Mr. Webster, provoking a scathing reply from Mr. Joshua Giddings.