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THE HON. SCHUYLER COLFAX.
SCHUYLER COLFAX, the popular candidate of the National Union Republican party for the office of Vice-President, is a native of New York City. He was born in North Moore Street, March 23, 1823, his father having died but a short time previous. With but limited means, his widowed mother could afford to keep him at school but a short time, and, at the age of ten, he was placed in a mercantile establishment, where he remained for three years, contributing materially from his small salary to the support of both himself and mother. In 1836, he and his mother, in company with others, left their home in this city, and settled in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Shortly after his arrival in the West he was appointed Deputy County Auditor for St. Joseph County, and employed his leisure hours in the study of State law, in which he is said soon to have become an acknowledged expounder. He read law pretty thoroughly during these leisure hours, but not with a view to adopting it as a profession. He had but little idea of what great benefit the information he was then gaining would prove to him in after years. In 1815, he started a weekly journal at South Bend, the county seat of St. Joseph County, called the St. Joseph Valley Register, becoming its sole proprietor and editor. Mr. Lanman, in his Dictionary of Congress, says "he was bred a printer." He never was apprenticed to the printing business, and knew nothing of the practical part of the "art preservative of all arts" until after he had commenced the publication of the Register. With his ready tact and quick perception, however, and great anxiety to economize, for his means were yet very limited, he soon mastered the art sufficiently to "help out of the drag," but he never attained to any great proficiency in the business, his editorial labors, the business of the office, and other duties soon claiming his entire attention. The Register prospered, and soon became a source of profit to its proprietor. It was ably edited, and was a model of courtesy and dignity. Every paragraph, however small, seemed to have passed under the supervision of and to reflect the mind and ele vated thoughts of its editor. He continued his connection with this paper until three or four years ago, writing a regular weekly letter for its columns during his first two terms in Congress. It was during the early days of the Register that Mr. Colfax was laying the foundation for the reputation he has since attained as a debater. A debating club was formed, which held regular weekly meetings during the winter season, and it was a rare occurrence, indeed, to find Mr. Colfax absent from one of these stated gather
ings. Politics, the temperance reform, and other subjects were often as ably debated in this society as kindred questions are in many deliberate bodies of much greater pretensions of the present day. The Hon. John D. Defrees, now Superintendent of Government Printing, and for many years editor and proprietor of the Indianapolis Journal, to which Mr. Colfax was also attached as Senate reporter for some time ter he commenced the publication of the Register, was also a participant in these debates. They were both Whigs, both ardent and sincere advocates of and believers in the temperance reform, and were, consequently, seldom pitted against each other in these debates. The attachment formed at this early day between those gentlemen still continues with unabated fervor. In 1848, Mr. Colfax was chosen as a delegate, and elected as secretary of the convention which nominated General Taylor for the Presidency. In 1850, he represented St. Joseph County in the convention which framed the present Constitution of Indiana. In this convention he opposed, with all his ability, the adoption of the clause prohibiting free colored men from settling in the State. His opposition to this measure was the cause of his defeat the following year, when nominated for Congress in opposition to Dr. Fitch. But, with all the ability, tact, and shrewdness of this old political wireworker, he only dis anced his young competitor two hundred votes in a district which had been strongly democratic for years. In 1852, he was again a delegate to the Whig National Convention. He took an active part in the campaign which followed, speaking often, and writing much. In 1854, he was re-nominated, and elected to Congress, and was, consequently, more active than ever before. His experience as a debater, and familiarity with State and National politics, rendered him an overmatch for his opponents, whom he was always anxious to meet in an open and fair discussion before the people, where he was always certain a victory. In 1856, he was again nominated for Congress, and reëlected by a handsome majority. His entrance into Congress was in the midst of the great struggle over the Lecompton Constitution. A writer says of his maiden speech in the House: "His first speech in Congress went forth to repel the tide of terror which was sweeping over struggling Kansas, and clearly showed that even then he was one of the best debaters in the lower House." Over 500,000 copies of this speech were printed and circulated-a compliment, perhaps, never before received by any member of Congress. He was first chosen Speaker of the Thirty-eighth Congress, by a vote of 101 to 81. He has been thrice elected to the same position, each time by an increased majority. He was appointed chairman of the Committee on Post-offices and Post-roads, on the organization of the Thirty-seventh Congress, and did much to extend mail facilities throughout the West. He was one of the first advocates, and is still one of the warmest friends of the Pacific Railroad. Indeed, he takes a warm interest
in any movement looking to the development of the boundless resources of the great West. It was, doubtless, the interest he feels in this section of the country which induced him to take his celebrated trip "Across the Continent." His trip was a perilous one, but his welcome at "the other end of the line" was so spontaneous, truly genuine, and heart-felt that it more than repaid him for all the dangers and hardships he passed through. This trip prepared him for one of the most entertaining lectures ever delivered in this country. It has been listened to with rapt attention by the people of almost every city in the North. Pecuniarily, however, it has profited him but little, for, with that liberality which has ever been a marked trait in his character, the entire proceeds of a lecture have as often been donated to some charitable object as they have found their way into his own pocket. He has now served, in succession, fourteen years in the House. He was urged, but he declined to accept a seat in the United States Senate, preferring his presiding chair in the House. As a presiding officer, he is the most popular the House has had since Henry Clay. A writer in Putnam's Magazine truly observes that Mr. Colfax "Has no eccentricities, but great tact. His talents are administrative and executive rather than deliberative. He would make good appointments, and adopt sure policies. He would make a better President or Speaker of the House than Senator. He knows men well, estimates them correctly, treats them all fairly and candidly. No man will get through his business with you in fewer minutes, and yet none is more free from the horrid brusqueness of busy men. There are heart and kindness in Mr. Colfax's politeness. Men leave his presence with the impression that he is at once an able, honest, and kind man. Political opponents like him personally, as well as his political friends. We have never heard that he has any enemies. The breath of slander has been silent toward his fair, spotless fame. The wife of his youth, after being for a long time an invalid, sank to her final rest several years ago, leaving him childless. His mother and sister preside at his receptions, which for many years have been, not the most brilliant, but the most popular of any given at the Capital. Socially, Mr. Colfax is frank, lively, jolly. The everlasting I-hood and us-ness of great men are forgotten in his presence. His manners are not quite so familiar as those of Lincoln, but nearly so. They are gentle, natural, graceful, with a bird-like or business-like quickness of thought and motion. But they are very far from the high and mighty style of Sumner, or the judicial coldness of Fessenden, Sherman, and Trumbull. Though manly, they are genial and winning. American mothers believe. in Schuyler Colfax. There are more babies named for him than for any public man since Clay." The intimacy and confidential relations of Mr Colfax with Mr. Lincoln are well known. They labored hand in and as brothers in the cause of the Union, holding frequent and pro
tracted interviews on all subjects looking to the overthrow of the rebellion, for there were no divisions between the executive and legislative branches of the Government then as there are now. During the darkest hours of that bloody drama which shall ever remain a reproach upon the people of one section of the nation, they were ever cheerful and hopeful. Confident in the justness of the war waged for the preservation of the Union, and placing a Christian reliance in that Providence which guides and shapes the destiny of nations, great reverses, which caused others to fear and tremble, at times, almost to despair, seemed only to inspire them with greater zeal, and a firmer belief in the ultimate triumph of our cause.
Mr. Colfax is rather under the medium height, with a form firmly and compactly molded. His hair is brown, now slightly sprinkled with gray; eyes blue; forehead high and arching, indicating great perceptive faculties, and deep veneration. His face is open and frank, and as yet unmarked by age. He possesses great vitality, and can endure an extraordinary amount of labor with but little fatigue. This, coupled with his temperate habits, has caused him to wear his age so well that but few persons would place him even at forty. He is yet in the prime and vigor of manhood, with all his cares and responsibilities, as buoyant as most people at thirty.
The Democratic party, in National Convention assembled, reposing its trust in the intelligence, patriotism, and discriminating justice of the people, standing upon the Constitution as the foundation and limitation of the powers of the Government and the guarantee of the liberties of the citizen, and recognizing the questions of slavery and secession as having been settled for all time to come by the war or the voluntary action of the Southern States in Constitutional Conventions assembled, and never to be revived or re-agitated, do, with the return of peace, demand:
1. The immediate restoration of all the States to their rights in the Union under the Constitution of the civil Government and the American people.
2. Amnesty for all past political offenses; the regulation of the elective franchise in the States by their citizens.
3. Payment of the public debt of the United States as rapidly as practicable, all money drawn from the people by taxation, except so much as is requisite for the necessities of the Government economically administered being honestly applied to such payment, and where the obligations of the Government do not expressly state upon their face or the law under which they were issued does not provide that they shall be paid in coin they ought, in right and in justice, to be paid in the lawful money of the United States.
4. Equal taxation of every species of property according to the value; reducing Government bonds and other public securities.
5. One currency for the Government and the people, the laborer and the office-holder, pensioner and the soldier, the producer and the bondholder.
6. Economy in the administration of the Government; the reduction of the standing army and navy; the abolition of the Freedmen's Bureau, and all political instrumentalities designed to secure negro supremacy; simplification of the system and discontinuance of inquisitorial modes of assessing and collecting internal revenue, that the burden of taxation may be equalized and lessened, and the credit of the Government and the currency made good; the repeal of all enactments for enrolling the State militia into a national force in time of peace; and tariff for revenue upon foreign imports and such equal taxation under the internal revenue laws as will afford incidental protection to domestic manufactures as well, without impairing the revenue, impose the least