« ZurückWeiter »
FRANKLIN PIERCE, THE TWELFTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
Was born at Hillsborough, N. H., November 23, 1804, and early received the advantage of a liberal education. After going through a regular collegiate course at Bowdoin college, which he entered at the age of sixteen, he became a law student in the office of Judge Woodbury at Portsmouth, whence he was transferred to the law school at
Northampton, where he remained two years, and then finished his studies with Judge Parker at Amherst. Although his rise at the bar was not rapid, by degrees he attained the highest rank as a lawyer and advocate.
In 1829 he was elected to represent his native town in the state legislature, where he served four years, during the two last of which he held the speakership, and discharged the duties with universal satisfaction.
From 1833 to 1837 he represented his state in Congress, and was then elected to the United States Senate, having barely reached the requisite age to qualify him for a seat in that body.
In 1834 he married Miss Jane Means, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Appleton, formerly President of Bowdoin college—soon after which, he removed to Concord, where he still holds a residence. He was re-elected at the expiration of his senatorial term, but resigned his seat the year following, for the purpose of devoting himself exclusively to his legal business, which had become so extensive as to require all his attention.
In 1846 he declined the office of Attorney-General, tendered to him by President Polk; but when the war with Mexico broke out, he was active in raising the New England regiment of volunteers; and after. wards accepted the commission of brigadier-general, with which he at once repaired to the field of operations, where he distinguished himself in several hard-fought battles. At Cerro-Gordo and at Chapultapec he displayed an ardor in his country's cause which extorted praise from his most inveterate political opponents; and on his return home he was everywhere received with gratifying evidences that his services were held in grateful remembrance by the people.
At the Democratic Convention held in Baltimore in 1852, after trying in vain to concentrate their votes on a more prominent candidate, that body unexpectedly nominated General Pierce for the office of President of the United States, to which he was elected by an unprecedented majority over his rival, General Scott-receiving 254 votes out of 296. He was duly inaugurated on the 4th of March, 1853, and his administration has been more remarkable for its futile attempts to reconcile conflicting interests, than for the achievement of any particular measure of great public utility. However, it will beiter become his future than his present biographer to “speak of him as he is; nor aught extenuate, nor aught set down in malice.”
ì THE AMERICAN NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT Having already given, on page 117, a biographical sketch of this gentleman, embracing the prominent events of his career until he retired from the office for which he has again been nominated, it now only remains to add a few incidents of more recent occurrence.
In 1855 Mr. Fillmore visited Europe, partly as a matter of relaxation, and partly for the purpose of making himself better acquainted
by personal observation with its diversified countries and institutions. During his absence abroad, the American National Convention met at Philadelphia, and nominated bim as their candidate for President, which nomination he promptly accepted, although not strictly a member of that political organization.
On returning to this country, the enthusiasm with which he was everywhere greeted, while it must have been particularly grateful to his feelings, at the same time evinced his popularity with a largo portion of the people. He landed in New York on the 25th of June, and was warmly welcomed by a committee on the part of the city authorities, by a delegation from Philadelphia, by committees représenting various popular organizations, and by thousands of the most respectable private citizens. In reply to the speech of Mayor Wood, tendering him the hospitalities of the city, and complimenting him on his “national ” and “conservative” character as a public man, Mr. Fillmore thus happily alluded to the intimate connection which existed between the prosperity of New York and the American Constitution:
“ The Constitution of the United States has brought New York into greatness by concentrating here the commerce and exchanges of all our confederated states. To preserve that concentration, and that greatness, there must be absence of all internal strife, there must be peace, and friendship for, and confidence in New York, from all the parts of these confederated states. But deprive your great and growing city of them, and of the protection the Constitution gives its trade and commerce, and its fate soon would be that of Venice, whose deserted streets and canals I have but so recently surveyed. England has now the control of the commerce of the world, through London, her great commercial city. I venture to prophecy that ere many years elapse, those who are now within the sound of my voice will, under the protection of the Constitution, see that New York will be to the world what London is."
The numerous towns and cities through which Mr. Fillmore passed, on his way to Buffalo, vied with each other rendering homage to his worth ; and for all these courtesies he not only tendered his grateful acknowledgments, but also foreshadowed the course he should pursue if elected to the Presidency. In a speech at Rochester, he said :
“ I can give no pledge for the future that is not found in my past conduct. If you wish a chief magistrate to administer the Constitution and laws impartially and in every part of the Union, giving to every state and every territory and every citizen his just due, without fear or favor, then you may cast your votes for me. I repeat here, what I have said elsewhere, that if there be those at the North who want a President to rule the South-if there be those at the South who want a President who will rule the North–I do not want their votes. I can never represent them. I stand upon the broad platform of the Constitution and the laws. If I should be called upon to administer the government, the Constitution and laws of the country shall be executed, at every hazard and at every cost.”
This gentleman is no stranger in political circles, having been in public life more or less for the last thirty years. He was born at Nashville, Tenn., August 25, 1800, and was received into the family of General Jackson at the tender age of five years, having had the misfortune to lose his father (who was a brother-in-law of the General's) about that time. He was prepared at the Nashville college for enter