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He was especially fond of reading history to gather new proofs of the soundness of his political opinions, which were Whig to the uttermost. The war of the Revolution broke in upon the settlement, at length, and made deadly havoc there; for it was warred upon by three foes at once, — the British, the Tories, and the Cherokees. The Tories murdered in cold blood a brother of Patrick Calhoun's wife. Another of her brothers fell at Cowpens under thirty sabre-wounds. Another was taken prisoner, and remained for nine months in close confinement at one of tho British Andersonvilles of that day. Patrick Calhoun, in many a desperate encounter with the Indians, displayed singular coolness, courage, adroitness, and tenacity. On one memorable occasion, thirteen of his neighbors and himself maintained a forest fight for several hours with a force of Cherokees ten times their number. When seven of the white men had fallen, the rest made their es. cape. Returning thfee days after to bury their dead, they found upon the field the bodies of twenty-three Indian warriors. At another time, as his son used to relate, he had a very long combat with a chief noted for the certainty of his aim, — the Indian behind a tree, the white man behind a fallen log. Four times the wily Calhoun drew the Indian's fire by elevating his bat upon his ramrod. The chief, at last, could not refrain from looking to see the effect of his shot; when one of his shoulders was slightly exposed. On the instant, the white man's rifle sent a ball through it; the chief fed into the forest, and Patrick Calhoun bore off as a trophy of the fight his own hat pierced with four bullets.
This Patrick Calhoun illustrates well the North-of-Ireland character; one peculiarity of which is the possession of will disproportioned to intellect. Hence a man of this race frequently appears to striking advantage in scenes which demand chiefly an exercise of will; while in other spheres, which make larger demand, upon the understanding, the same man may be simply mischievous. We see this in the case of Andrew Jackson, who at New Orleans was glorious; at Washington almost wholly perni. cious; and in the case of Andrew Johnson, who was eminently useful to his country in 1861, but obstructive and perilous to it in
1866. For these Scotch-Irishmen, though they are usually very honest men, and often right in their opinions, are an uninstructable race, who stick to a prejudice as tenaciously as to a principle, and really suppose they are battling for right and truth, when they are only wreaking a private vengeance or aiming at a personal advantage. Patrick Calhoun was the most radical of Democrats ; one of your despisers of conventionality; an enemy of lawyers, thinking the common sense of mankind competent to decide what is right without their aid; a particular opponent of the arrogant pretensions of the low-country aristocrats. When the up-country people began to claim a voice in the government, long since due to their numbers, the planters, of course, opposed their demand. To establish their right to vote, Patrick Calhoun and a party of his neighbors, armed with rifles, marched across the State to within twenty-three miles of Charleston, and there voted in defiance of the plantation lords. Events like this led to the admission of members from the up-country; and Patrick Calhoun was the first to represent that section in the Legislature. It was entirely characteristic of him to vote against the adoption of the Federal Constitution, on the ground that it authorized other people to tax Carolinians; which he said was taxation without representation. That was just like a narrow, cranky, opinionative, unmanageable Calhoun.
Devoid of imagination and of humor, a hard-headed, eager politician, he brought up his boy upon politics. This was sorry nourishment for a child's mind, but he had little else to give him. Gambling, hunting, whiskey, and politics were all there was to relieve the monotony of life in a Southern back settlement; and the best men naturally threw themselves upon politics. Calhoun told Miss Martineau that he could remember standing between his father's knees, when he was only five years old, and listening to political conversation. He told Duff Green that he had a distinct recollection of hearing his father say, when he was only nine, that that government is best which allows to each individual the largest liberty compatible with order and tranquillity, and that improvements in political science consist in throwing off needless restraints. It was a strange child that could remember such a
remark. As Patrick Calhoun died in 1795, when his son was thirteen years old, the boy must have been very young when he heard it, even if he were mistaken as to the time. Whether Patrick Calhoun ever touched upon the subject of slavery in his conversations with his children, is not reported. We only know that, late in the career of Mr. Calhoun, he used to be taunted by his opponents in South Carolina with having once held that slavery was good and justifiable only so far as it was preparatory to freedom. He was accused of having committed the crime of saying, in a public speech, that slavery was like the “ scaffolding” of an edifice, which, after having served its temporary purpose, would be taken down, of course. We presume he said this ; because everything in his later speeches is flatly contradicted in those of his earlier public life. Patrick Calhoun was a man to give a reason for everything. He was an habitual theorizer and generalizer, without possessing the knowledge requisite for safe generalization. It is very probable that this apology for slavery was part of his son's slender inheritance.
John Caldwell Calhoun — born in 1782, the youngest but one in a family of five children — was eighteen years old before he had a thought of being anything but a farmer. His father had been dead five years. His only sister was married to that famous Mr. Waddell, clergyman and schoolmaster, whose academy in North Carolina was for so many years a great light in a dark place. One of his brothers was a clerk in a mercantile house at Charleston; another was settled on a farm near by; another was still a boy. His mother lived upon the paternal farm; and with her lived her son John, who ploughed, hunted, fished, and rode, in the manner of the farmers' sons in that country. At eighteen he could read, write, and cipher; he had read Rollin, Robertson, Voltaire's Charles XII., Brown's Essays, Captain Cook, and parts of I.ccke. This, according to his own account, was the sum of his knowledge, except that he had fully imbibed his father's decided republican opinions. He shared to some degree his father's prejudice, and the general prejudice of the upper country against lawyers ; although a cousin, John Ewing Calhoun, had risen high in that profession, had long served in the Legislature of South Carolina and was about to be elected United States Senator on the Jeffersonian side. As late as May 1800, when he was past eighteen, preference and necessity appeared to fix him in the vocation of farmer. The family had never been rich. Indeed, the great Nullifier himself was a comparatively poor man all his life, the number of his slaves never much exceeding thirty; which is equivalent to a working force of fifteen hands or less.
In May, 1800, Calhoun's elder brother came home from Charleston to spend the summer, bringing with him his city notions. He awoke the dormant ambition of the youth, urged him to go to school and become a professional man. But how could he leave his mother alone on the farm ? and how could the money be raised to pay for a seven years' education ? His mother and his brother conferred upon these points, and satisfied him upon both; and in June, 1800, he made his way to the academy of bis brother-in-law, Waddell, which was then in Columbia County, Georgia, fifty miles from the home of the Calhouns. In two years and a quarter from the day he first opened a Latin grammar, he entered the Junior Class of Yale College. This was quick work. Teachers, however, are aware that late beginners, who have spent their boyhood in growing, often stride past students who have passed theirs in stunting the growth of mind and body at school. Calhoun, late in life, often spoke of the immense advantage which Southern boys had over Northern in not going so early to school, and being so much on horseback and out of doors. He said one day, about the year 1845 : “ At the North you overvalue intellect; at the South we rely upon character; anc if ever there should be a collision that shall test the strength of jhe two sections, you will find that character is stronger than intellect, and will carry the day.” The prophecy has been fulfilled.
Timothy Dwight, Calvinist and Federalist, was President of Yale College during Calhoun's residence there, and Thomas Jefferson, Democrat and freethinker, was President of the United States. Yale was a stronghold of Federalism. A brother of the President of the College, in his Fourth-of-July oration delivered at New Haven four months after the inauguration of Jefferson and Burr, announced to the students and citizens, that “the great object” of those gentlemen and their adherents was to destroy every trace of civilization in the world, and to force mankind back into a savage state.” He also used the following language: “ We have now reached the consummation of democratic blessed. ness. We have a country governed by blockheads and knaves, the ties of marriage, with all its felicities, are severed and dem stroyed; our wives and daughters are thrown into the stews; our children are cast into the world from the breast forgotten; filial piety is extinguished; and our surnames, the only mark of distinction among families, are abolished. Can the imagination paint anything more dreadful this side hell ?” These remarkable statements, so far from surprising the virtuous people of New Haven, were accepted by them, it appears, as facts, and published with general approval. From what we know of President Dwight, we may conclude that he would regard his brother's oration as a pardonable flight of hyperbole, based on truth. He was a Federalist of the deepest dye.
Transferred to a scene where such opinions prevailed, it cost the young republican no great exertion either of his intellect or his firmness or his family pride to hold his ground. Of all known men, he had the most complete confidence in the infallibility of his own mind. He used to relate, that in the Senior year, when he was one of very few in a class of seventy who maintained republican opinions, President Dwight asked him, “ What is the legitimate source of power?” “ The people," answered the student. Dr. Dwight combated this opinion ; Calhoun replied ; and the whole hour of recitation was consumed in the debate. Dr. Dwight was so much struck with the ability displayed by the student, that he remarked to a friend that Calhoun had talent enough to be President of the United States, and that we should see him President in due time. In those in. nocent days, an observation of that nature was made of every young fellow who showed a little spirit and a turn for debate. Fathers did not then say to their promising offspring, Beware, my son, of self-seeking and shallow speaking, lest you should be con