Page images






The deep solemnity produced by the religious fervour of the comprehensive and appropriate appeal, which has been made to the God we worship and adore, leads us to the contemplation of the character and services of our illustrious countryman, whose funeral obsequies we have met to celebrate, with proper feelings, and supplies the imperfection of the sketch I am abont to give of his merits.

It may well be remarked, with pride and satisfaction, that the great men to whom we are indebted, under Heaven, for our civil and religious rights, were generally pure. Virtue and goodness in them sustained their patriotism, heroism, and devotion to the public good; and while their public services are appreciated, their private lives are examples for imitation.

Those adventurous spirits, who founded the nation, whose actions fill the pages of history with a romance that needs not the imaginings of the past to inspire the mind with wonder and admiration—who tore themselves away from early associations—brushed from their eyes the tear of regret which arose upon casting a last look at the graves of their ancestors, and the homes of their childhood—who sought and found a new country, and founded a new nation upon which they deeply enstamped the features of their own individuality, have for ages slept in their graves; but their achievements, their valor, and their devotion to liberty-the religion, virtue and morality that adorned their lives, are cherished and revered by their descendants.

When the government of England sought to appropriate the rising greatness of this country to itself, and strip the people of essential rights, men arose in our midst, as good as they were great, in whom the public confidence centred, and by whom the freemen of the country were represented in the field and in council-men whose lives are the pride and ornament of this republic, and whose actions fill the brightest pages in the history of the world. Washington, Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson, and many others, are names distinguished for virtue, disinterestedness, and patriotism. Guided by a light from Heaven, unerring as its source, and animated by a love of liberty, as pure as it was ardent, they established our liberty and impressed upon our institutions the wisdom, the forecast, and the purity of their own great minds. They, too, are all gone to the silence of the grave, but their fame will be ever fresh, while mind and memory last.

The freedom which they secured was the first great advance that had, for ages, been made in the science of government. The light it diffused upon a subject so interesting to mankind, provoked the hostility of those whose possessions depended upon the oppression of the race—an opposition like that which ignorance wages against the lights of true philosophy—an enmity like that which pagan superstition cherishes towards the blessed influences of the Christian faith.

During the thirty years which followed the peace of 1783, the conduct of England towards these states was repugnant to the acknowledgments she had made. The time arrived when longer to follow peaceful counsels was faithlessness to the true interests of the country, and war was declared against England in 1812.

It is a cherished maxim of despotism, that the strength of government consists in its power to rule, independently of the people; and the conclusion which tyranny drew from it, was, that our system would be crumbled to pieces by the shock of war, and that our resort to arms would extinguish the light our government reflected to guide the oppressed. A great question was to be decided : the eyes of the civilized world were upon us—monarchs, and people of all nations, where the story of American liberty had been told, regarded the result with intense anxiety:

The principal lights in the war of the Revolution had been quenched by death—the knowledge of the art which that revolution had taught, was lost in the peaceful pursuits of the nation for thirty years, or was only remembered by the remnant of that gallant band, who felt that time had chilled the ardour and paralyzed the energies of youth. The crisis had arrived when a nation, proud of its origin, proud of the brilliant talents and services of the men that adorned its annals, proud of its inestimable rights and unlimited freedom, was to determine whether the organic structure of its government could be sustained in the conflict of war, and whether, among the descendants of the great and good, who

[ocr errors]


shined like stars in its firmament, men would arise to preserve and perpetuate its institutions, with hands as strong, hearts as pure, and minds as clear, as were those of the men who laid their broad foundations, and who would in their turn shine as stars in the firmament of liberty.

Here we reach the point in our history, where, for the first time, the man whose death we have assembled to commemorate, appears distinctly before the American people, to commence a career of usefulness, of heroism, and of devotion to his country, which give him a rank with the great men who founded the nation, with the great men who achieved our independence, and with the great men who laid broader and deeper the foundations of liberty during, and since, the war of 1812.

Andrew Jackson was born in the state of South Carolina, of Irish parents, on the 15th of March, 1767. He was permitted in his youth to witness some of the stormy scenes of that revolution which secured the independence of his country. He was himself engaged as a volunteer under Colonel Davie, in a battle fought with the British in South Carolina, on the 16th of August, 1780, when he was between thirteen and fourteen



The corps of Davie, in which young Jackson fought, says the historian, particularly distinguished itself, and suffered heavy loss. In 1781, he received a wound from a British officer, for refusing, while a prisoner of war, to clean the boots of the insolent ruffian. In 1788, he migrated to Tennessee, where he was soon after appointed attorney-general of the district, by Washington. In 1795, he was elected a member of the convention to form a constitution for the state. In 1796, he was elected a member of the House of Repre

a sentatives in Congress. In 1797, he was elected by the legislature of the state, a member of the Senate of the United States. In 1798, he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of law and equity of the state. In 1801, he was appointed major-general of the militia of the state. In 1814, he was appointed a majorgeneral in the army of the United States. In 1821, he was appointed governor of Florida. In 1823, he was appointed minister to Mexico, which he declined, and in the same year he was elected a me of the Senate of the United States. In 1828, he was elected president of the United States; and in 1832 he was reelected. On the 8th of June, 1845, he died, full of years, full of honour, and full of hope of immortal happiness.

Jackson's first appearance as a military chief, was as commander of the troops levied to carry on the war with the Indians of the South. These red men of the forest were organized and trained by leaders in whom were united the double influence of chiefs and of prophets, and who controlled the religious as well as military ardour of the people in a war against the United States, in which they


were encouraged and aided by British agents. They presented a formidable power,

which made its demonstrations in acts of savage cruelty, inflicted upon the border inhabitants. To reduce this power and protect our citizens, a force was organized, under the direction and control of General Jackson.

A subtle enemy had to be discovered in the recesses of his own forest, and pursued through a wilderness with which experience made him familiar, and gave him the full advantage of his peculiar mode of warfare; and this with troops hastily levied, imperfectly disciplined, and inadequately supplied. Success, to be desirable, must be decisive. It was necessary, in order that savage ferocity might be overawed, that the irresistible power of the American army should be demonstrated. All these objects were attained, by the indomitable energy and consummate skill of the American commander. The foe was discovered in his most secret retreats, pursued with unceasing activity, defeated in repeated battles, the frontier relieved from its alarm, and the enemy reduced to submission.

The quality, the greatest quality of the general, that of inspiring his men with his own enthusiasm and energy-that presence of mind which instantaneously, in the greatest emergency, makes use of all, and the most appropriate means within its reach-patience under fatigue and suffering, which he shared equally with his men—firmness in suppressing mutiny, and silencing discontent, and harmonizing discord—activity in pursuit—a happy combination of wariness and boldness in his plans—dauntless courage in action, and consummate skill in securing the great ends of the campaign with inadequate means, give Jackson a reputation in this war, to which the victory of Orleans itself could scarcely add lustre. It is not always when the numerical force of armies is the greatest, or the object in controversy of the most stupendous magnitude, that the skill of the general is put to the severest test. The victory of Orleans has resounded more throughout the world, it is more familiar to men than those of Talladega, Emuckfaw, and Tohopeka, but Jackson only displayed there the same qualities on another theatre, under different circumstances, and against a different foe; although in the one campaign the savage only was reduced to submission, and in the other, the pride of England was humbled, a city saved from pillage, and the enemy expelled from the Mississippi. The campaign of Italy has contributed more to the fame of Napoleon, than those of Austerlitz and Jena, although by the one, a few provinces of Italy only were annexed to the French empire, while in the other, two great military monarchies were stricken to the earth, and the balance of power in Europe unsettled.

The achievement which has diffused the military fame of General Jackson throughout the world, and made the 8th of January one of the great days of the republic, is the victory of Orleans.

The history of this glorious victory is too familiar to all to be dwelt upon


We all know how treason was overawed-how the murmurs of discontent were silenced-how all the resources of defence were developed and applied-how a panic-stricken population were encouraged and animated with the spirit of his own patriotism—with what noble self-devotion, responsibility was assumed—the sagacity with which the designs of the enemy were penetrated, and the boldness with which they were met, and how the enemy, baffled on the 23d of December, were immolated on the 8th of January.

We have often rejoiced, and our posterity shall rejoice, for all time to come, that an American commander has contributed to military history, a victory unparalleled in her annals. Behold a line of American troops, some not wearing even the livery of war, arrayed, animated, and directed, by the genius of one man, awaiting the assault of 9000 English veterans, and driving them back terror-stricken and disorganized; and despair not of the ability of a nation of freemen to defend their country.

Let it not be said that the voice of accusation is heard mingling with the plaudits of his countrymen—nor let this illustrious patriot be accused of trampling upon the constitution of his country, in the very hour when he perilled life and reputation to defend it. The declaration of martial law by General Jackson (an act which has been criticized if not censured), was not the exercise of capricious despotism-it was one of the indispensable means of this glorious defence. An emergency had arisen when the constitution imposed silence upon herself, and became subordinate to a paramount, imperious law of necessity. This is another proof of the adequacy of this great heart to all the exigencies of war.

When the danger had passed, and the constitution was no longer silent, amid the din of arms, he recognised her voice, submitted cheerfully to the authority of a civil magistrate, and restrained the indignation which his unjust decision excited. He lived to hear the voice of his country reverse his decree, and set the seal of approbation upon his conduct.

This victory spread the military reputation of General Jackson throughout the world. After a few years of service in the army, during which his talents and energy were again called in requisition by a war with the Seminole Indians, which he soon brought to a successful conclusion, he retired to the shades of the Hermitage, where he remained in the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, with the exception of a short period while he was governor of Florida, and senator of the United States, until he was called, by the voice of


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »