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The prophecy was fulfilled long before the undaunted general had completed his earthly career.
These heroic deeds attracted the attention of the general government; and when that crisis came, that was to exhibit to an impartial world that our ancient enemy, jealous of our rapid progress to glory and empire, trampled upon the rights and prerogatives of freemen, Jackson was honoured by the executive with the appointment of major-general in the regular army.
This was in May, 1814. After treating with the enemy he had subdued, he marched in the autumn of that year to the south, to counteract the operations of the British and Indians who had made a hostile demonstration in that quarter. As Spain, a neutral nation, harboured them, while they were harassing our border, he exercised the right of a belligerent, acting upon the principles of self-preservation, and reduced her forts, and planted the American eagle on the walls of Pensacola.
A lowering cloud hung over Louisiana. Threatened with the arrival of a well-appointed and disciplined army, unprepared with men or the munitions of war, fear and despondency shook the faith and paralyzed the arm of her motley population. Dread and dismay was depicted in every countenance, until the invincible general, with stern aspect and indomitable resolution, declared in tones of thunder that the enemy should never reach the city.
He gathered his limited means of defence. He fortified every vulnerable point. Sleepless, active, vigilant himself, he animated the people by his bold and courageous deportment. He told them they were contending for all that could render life desirable, “ For your property and lives; for that which is dearer than all, your wives and your children, for liberty ; without which, country, life, and property are not worth possessing. Even thé embraces of wives and children are a reproach to the wretch who would deprive them by his cowardice of those inestimable blessings.
“ Natives of the United States! the enemy you have to contend with, are the oppressors of your youthful political existence--they are the oppressors your fathers fought and conquered—descendants of Frenchmen! natives of France! they are English, the hereditary and eternal enemies of your ancient country, the invaders of that you have adopted! Spaniards! remember the conduct of your allies 'at St. Sebastian, and recently Pensacola, and rejoice that you have an opportunity of avenging the brutal injuries of men who dishonour the human race. Louisianians! your general rejoices to witness the spirit that animates you, not only for your honour, but your safety. Your enemy is near, his sail already covers the lakes; but the brave are united, and if he finds us contending among ourselves, it will be for the prize of valour, and fame, its noblest reward.”
Such was the eloquent appeal of this illustrious patriot, to the raw and undisciplined army under his control. The deepest solicitude filled his heart, panic and peril surrounded him. The unredressed rights and wrongs of the American people were concentrated upon him; a nation's hope and a nation's glory rested upon his lone arm. Peace, happiness, and contentment, the unsullied honour of our flag, and the brilliant or mortifying termination of a disastrous war, depended upon bravery and discretion, and nobly did he redeem his pledge for the public security.
But in his midst were traitors and miscreants, who would have sold New Orleans for an equivalent-men who, like the fox, “barked not until they could steal the lamb.”
To stifle in embryo this infidelity to the country, and under the solemn conviction that the forms of the constitution should be suispended to protect the rights of the citizens, he declared martial law, and superseded the functions of civil authority.
News arrived at meridian on the 23d December, that the main body of the enemy had landed. Electric as was the shock to those who surrounded him, to the general it was the signal for immediate action. He was aware of the necessity of a repulse, to stimulate the despondent, and prepare for the great contest that was to bring disgrace or glory on our arms. His decision was prompt. He resolved to meet them that night. When the sun had gone down -when his parting rays shed a faint glimmering in the west, and all nature sought repose amid the shadows of the evening, Jackson was preparing for conflict with an ardour and an energy premonitory of eminent success.
At midnight, with scarcely a solitary star to illumine his path, but directed by a ray of light such as guided the shepherds “on the plains of Babylon,” he approached the enemy, drove him from his position of fancied security, and like Gideon in pursuit of Zebah and Zalmunna, princes of Midian, he returned from battle “ before the sun was up.”
The events of that night were pregnant with the most important results. New life was infused into the army. No longer appalled and disheartened by the reputation and numbers of their transatlantic foe, and proud of their general and his staff, they reached the city flushed with the confident expectation that once more to the breach and the struggle would be ended.
That struggle came, and their anticipations were realized.
The memorable 8th of January, 1815, dawned amid the din and preparation of the contending armies. Great as was the disparity in numbers, the presiding genius roused the valour of his troops and prepared them for battle—they fought, fought with the energy of veterans, and fell like the bravest of the brave-amid bombs, and balls, and congreve rockets, they poured a deadly fire on the advancing columns, and illuminated the heavens with the unremitting flash of their artillery.
But I am inadequate to the office of description, and shall not detain you with the details of that gallant strife. They are as familiar as household words, and must be impressed indelibly upon the memory of American citizens.
The triumphant decision of that day you know. It came upon the country like a clap of thunder in the clear azure vault of the firmament, and travelled with electro-magnetic velocity, throughout the confines of the land.
To the victor was awarded a nation's blessing, to his men a nation's gratitude—and anthems, and prayers, and praises were of fered up in sincerity and truth, in the temples of the living God, for His gracious protection to our political institutions, through the instrumentality of his illustrious servant.
The measure of Jackson's glory was not full. He had vanquished tribes of cruel and barbarous Indians. He had conquered a haughty and insolent foe. He had established the second independence of his country, but to the constitution of that country he rendered a tribute, that will stamp him with an undying name.
Idolized by the people whose city he had saved; cheered by the huzzas of the multitude wherever he went; surrounded by a victorious soldiery, and armed with all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, he was arraigned for contempt before the judicial authority of the government.
Did he resist? No! A thousand sabres would have leaped from their scabbards for his security, if he had indicated such a wish. He forebore-he submitted, however unjust the decree, to the legally constituted tribunal, and paid his fine like an enlightened citizen of a free republic.
The acts of his presidency are so recent, they have been the theme of so much approbation and disapprobation by the people of both hemispheres-so great has been the diversity of sentiment as to their policy and wisdom, and coinciding as I do in their justice and political efficacy, it does not become me to speak of them, on the occasion of this solemn and interesting ceremony.
One merit you will all accord to him—a stern honesty of purpose, and inexorable virtue in performing what he believed to be his promise and duty, and for the public good.
The UNION never had a warmer or more attached friend. In this his bitterest enemy could not accuse him of the semblance of hypocrisy. He never clothed his words in colours differing from his thoughts; and his breast, like the crystal, revealed the truth of what emanated from his heart.
To the perpetuity of that Union he devoted his most active
energy, and for its preservation he would have sacrificed his best friend, or died beneath the columns of the Capitol.
And now, my countrymen, let us follow him to the Hermitage, around which he had garnered his hope, for a Christian and peaceful termination of his days.
Disrobed of official dignity; destitute of power and place; an eminent private citizen, the acclamations of the people followed him there, and filled him with gladness and joy.
His ambition was satisfied. His country had conferred upon him her gratitude and her distinguished honours. He saw her at peace with all the world, and her proud domain smiling in beauty, as on the morning of the Creation.
With an humble and contrite heart, he prepared to meet his God. He died !—died in the full confidence of mingling with the spirits of the just made perfect, and in singing hallelujahs in thanksgiving to his Maker.
The fallen brave is enshrined in the bosom of his mother earth. His tranquil grave could not be dignified by sarcophagus or pyramids, fit for the ephemeral greatness of kings and emperors.
He rests in sepulchral communion with his “true and honourable wife,” who was as dear to him
-“ as the ruddy drops,
That visited his sad heart," at the period of their earthly separation.
DELIVERED AT SAVANNAH, JULY 8, 1845,
Hon. MATTHEW HALL MCALLISTER.
THERE is a strong desire inherent in our nature to link the past with the present, and thus perpetuate the relics of time. This feeling, which impels us to rescue from oblivion the events and personages of by-gone days, has manifested itself in ways as various as the genius of man. " It was a custom,” we are told, “among the primitive Romans to preserve in their houses the images of all the illustrious men whom their families had produced.” In the infancy of art, these were of the rudest materials and form. But at each successive funeral they were borne in procession, and served, rude as they were, to gratify this feeling, and to incite the survivors to emulate the deeds of the departed great. When the pencil and the chisel had imparted life to the canvass, and form to the marble, art was made subservient to the craving of man to redeem the memories of the past. “ The storied urn, the animated bust,” the lofty column, the magnificent mausoleum, became the mute interpreters of the dead. Åt a later period that puny instrument, the pen, more potent than the engines of Archimedes, traced the events of fleeting time, fixed them on the glowing page, and man's desire was gratified to an extent beyond what had been achieved by the canvass, the marble, or any mere physical symbol. How much stronger is this feeling when stimulated by the impulses of gratitude ? It is in obedience to this universal dictate of our nature, strengthened by the most powerful motive which can operate upon generous hearts, that we are this day assembled. Another link which bound us to the past is broken. The last great relic of the Revolution is no more. The sage of the Hermitage—the venerated chief magistrate—the victorious general—the boy-hero of the Revolution, dwells no longer among men. Ours is the pleasing though melancholy task to brighten the chain which memory