Слике страница


JAMES A. BAYARD was a descendant of Pierre du Terrail Bayard, who is familiarly known as the Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche. His ancestors were Huguenots, who, fearing the fanatical tendencies of the age, abandoned their estates in France, some time prior to the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and emigrated to America. They settled in New York, and, at a subsequent period, one of them removed to Maryland, and there established his residence. From this branch of the family the subject of this sketch was descended.

He was born in Philadelphia on the twenty-eighth day of July, 1767. His father, Doctor James A. Bayard, was a practitioner of medicine of great promise and an increasing reputation at the time of his death, in 1770. His uncle, Colonel John Bayard, occupied a prominent position in the councils of Pennsylvania, during the war of the Revolution, and for many years was speaker of the Legislature of that State. After the death of his parents, young Bayard was placed in the care of this uncle, and continued as a member of his family for a long period. He prepared for college under the supervision of the Reverend Mr. Smith, a respectable clergyman of Lancaster county, and a private tutor, in his uncle's family, and in 1780, matriculated at the College of New Jersey. From this institution, he graduated in 1784, with distinguished honor, and gave a pledge of future eminence, in the reputation he carried with him into the more ex. tended scenes of life.

Having decided to pursue the profession of the law, he commenced his studies under the direction of General Joseph Reed, and on his decease, removed to the office of Jared Ingersoll, where he remained until the close of his legal course. He selected the State of Delaware as the theatre for the pursuit of his profession, and, in the year 1787, was admitted to the bar of the Court of Common Pleas for the county of New Castle. The first years of his professional life were spent in severe study, at the same time acquiring the principles of general jurisprudence, and a thorough knowledge of political science, both of which were of the greatest service to him at the bar and in the halls of legislation.

In the autumn of the year 1796, he was elected a member of the House of Representatives, and remained in public life, from that moment, through all the vicissitudes of party triumph and defeat, until the time of his death. Actively engaged in political and professional duties, he contrived to reconcile their endless varieties, and evinced a rare and happy aptitude for both. At the same moment one of the most conspicuous supporters of the Federal administration, and a leader of acknowledged ability in the House of Representatives—and the chief ornament of the forum, where he had chosen to excel. At once the profound jurist and the accomplished statesman; the acute, ingenious, and dexterous advocate, and the eloquent and dignified occupant of the parliamentary floor. The same efforts of industry, and powers of genins, that qualified and calculated him for superiority in the less magnified but intricate controversies of individuals, readily enabled him to extend his intellectual grasp to the comprehension of more enlarged topics of general interest, which involved the duties and the policy, the happiness and

rights of nations. The study and practice of the law is calculated add vigor to a mind naturally strong. In a country emphatically subject to the government of the laws alone, the remark is peculiarly obvious and perpetually illustrated; and from the multitude of the professors of that science, who have borne the weight of public councils, and successfully endeavored to ennoble by their efforts the national character, it derives irresistible weight and authority. To Mr. Bayard's early adoption and active and vigorous pursuit of this profession, are to be ascribed, in no unimportant degree, the method of his arguments, and the logical accuracy of his inferences.

In July, 1797, a short time after his appearance in Congress, Mr. Bayard was appointed one of a committee to prepare and report articles of impeachment against William Blount, a United States senator; and in the following session of that Congress he was a member of the committee to-conduct the impeachment, and finally was elected chairman of that body. In the trial, Mr. Blount pleaded to the jurisdiction of the Senate, upon the principle that a senator is not a civil officer, within the meaning of the constitution; and that the courts of common law were competent to the cognizance, prosecution, and punishment of the said crimes and misdemeanors, if „ the same have been perpetrated, as has been suggested and charged by the said articles.” The preliminary question growing out of this plea was to be discussed, and the direction of this delicate and interesting inquiry, was submitted to the chairman, and Mr. Harper, one of the managers. The subject underwent a laborious and ingenious discussion, in which the constitution was thoroughly sifted, and the doctrines of the common law cf England bearing & remote or close analogy to the point in controversy, were made tributary to the talents of the respective advocates.

The decision was adverse to the managers; a majority of fourteen to eleven senators deciding " that the matter alleged in the plea of the defendant is sufficient in law to show that this court ought not to hold jurisdiction of the said impeachment, and that the said impeachment is dismissed.” The efforts were abortive, because the cause was insupportable; but the exertion was not the less honorable, nor the display of genius and erudition the less brilliant, because success did not crown them.

John Adams, a short time previous to the expiration of his presidential term, appointed Mr. Bayard minister to the French republic, but owing to the delicate position in which he was placed, by the part he had taken in the contest which terminated in the election of Mr. Jefferson, he declined the proffered honor.* In a letter on this subject, addressed to a near relative and one of his earliest friends, he thus explained his motives for the refusal. “Under proper circumstances, the acceptance would have been complete gratification; but under the existing circumstances, I thought the resignation most honorable. To have taken eighteen thousand dollars out of the pablic treasury, with a knowledge that no service could be rendered by me, as the French Government would have waited for a man who represented the existing feelings and views of this government, would have been disgraceful. Another consideration of great weight, arose from the part I took in the presidential election. As I had given the turn to the election, it was impossible for me to accept an office, which would be held on the tenure of Mr. Jefferson's pleasure. My ambition shall never be gratified at the expense of a suspicion. I shall never lose sight of the motto of the great original of our name." +

At the first clection of President Jefferson, an extraordinary scene was displayed. The constitution prorides, that "the person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President.” In that situation stood the can. didates, and the election devolved of consequence upon the House of Representatives. No less than thirty-six times was the vote ineffectual, each party, equally zealous, and equally numerous, adhering to its candidate. The federalists of the House adopted, as they believed the less evil, the side of Mr. Burr, and persevered during so many abortive efforts to give him their votes. It was at length perceived, that a pertinacious adherence to this course of conduct might expose the country to greater embarrassment and difficulty than even the selection of a President who was considered dangerous; and some of the federalists determined to withdraw from him their opposition, without giving him direct countenance and support. They accordingly threw into the box blank votes; and the election of Mr. Jefferson was thus obtained. By a sacrifice of personal feeling and judgment, which required no ordinary firmness and magnanimity, Mr. Bayard, by this means, principally contributed to place in the Executive chair, the decided enemy of the men and measures that he personally approved; and removed to a distance, apparently insurmountable, the fulálment, if they existed, of his own polittcal aspirations. But the good of the country required it, and the sacrifice was made.--- Analectic, vol. 7, page 889.

† Appendix of Sullivan's Familiar Letters on Public Characters. This work contains an able defence of the political course of Mr. Bayard.

During the debates on the Judiciary system, in the early part of the year 1802, Mr. Bayard took an active part. “On this memorable occasion,” says his biographer, "all parties united in paying homage to his abilities. It will not be invidious to remark, that in the constellation of talents that glittered in that transaction, none were more conspicuous than his. He was alike distinguished for the depth of his knowledge, the solidity of his reasoning, and the perspicuity of his illustration. On his own side of the House his range was pronounced to be commensurate with the extent of his own mighty mind, and with the magnitude of the subject,' which was declared to be as awful as any on this side of the grave. On the part of the majority he was termed the Goliath of the adverse party, and sarcastically, but with truth, denominated the high priest of the constitution." His speech on this occasion is included in this volume.

In November, 1804, he was chosen by the legislature of Delaware, a senator of the United States, to fill a vacancy, and in February of the next year, was again elected to that dignified and honorable station, where he continued until the spring of the year 1813. During the session of Congress, he was generally at his post, the faithful supporter of the principles he brought with him into public life, and in the recess of legislative duty, he successfully pursued his professional labors, and maintained and increased the reputation he acquired at an early period of his life.

In 1813, when the intelligence of the commencement of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain reached Europe, the Emperor of Russia offered his mediation to both nations. This offer was accepted by President Madison, and Mr. Bayard, Mr. Gallatin, and Mr. Adams, were appointed commissioners, "fully charged to conclude a peace upon the terms set forth in the declaration of war, and upon no others,” and directed to proceed immediately to St. Petersburg. Early in May the negotiators sailed from Philadelphia, and on the twenty-first of July following, they arrived at the Russian court. Alexander, the emperor, under whose auspices the negotiation was undertaken, was with his armies.in Germany, and intelligence of the sentiments of the British Government on the terms proposed, was not yet received. Mr. Bayard concluding that the hopes of peace were blasted, left St. Petersburg and passed over into Holland, from thence to return to America. In the mean time Lord Cathcart had communicated to the Russian court the non-acceptance by the Prince Regent of the interposition of the emperor as to the qnestion which constituted the principal object in dispute between the two States, and his readiness, nevertheless, to nominate plenipotentiaries to treat directly with the American envoys. The Bramble was despatched to America with the view of communicating these circumstances; and proposing at the same time London or Gottenburg as the scene of operations. The proposal was accepted, and Gottenburg was selected as neutral ground. New commissions were issued, and Mr. Clay and Mr. Russel were despatched to join the other members of the mission.

Mr. Bayard was now in England, and the negotiations having been transferred from Gottenburg to Ghent, he immediately proceeded to that place, where he arrived on the twenty-seventh of June, 1814. Here he found Mr. Adams and Mr. Russel, and in a few days they were joined by Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Clay. The British commissioners did not arrive until the early part of August. During the delay occasioned by their absence, Mr. Bayard wrote thus to a friend in America : “Nothing favorable can be augured from the delay in sending their commissioners to the rendezvous agreed to at their instance as the seat of the negotiations. Our commissioners have all been here more than a month, and we have not yet heard that theirs are even preparing to quit London. We expect them daily, but so we have done for twenty days past, and so we shall till they arrive, or till we learn that they do not mean to come at all. I assure you, between ourselves, my hopes of peace are very slender. The Government of England affect to despise us, but they know we are a growing and dangerous rival. If they could crush us at the present moment, they would not fail to do it; and I am inclined to think that they will not make peace till they have tried the effect of all their force against us. An united, firm, and courageous resistance upon our part, alone, in my opinion, can furnish hopes of a safe and honorable peace to the United States. I wish I could present you with different views; but what does it avail to deceive ourselves? By shutting our eyes upon danger we may cease to see it, while in fact we are increasing it. What I doubt is, that if the olive branch be presented to us by one hand, a cup of humiliation and disgrace will be held out in the other; and although I should rejoice to carry the former to the United States, yet I never shall consent to be the bearer of the latter.” In a subsequent letter he writes: "No people are more easily elated or depressed by events than the English. We have nothing to hope but from vigorous and successful measures, so far as the war depends upon ourselves alone. The British force in America must be overcome and repelled, or the war must end in national disgrace.”

The day after the arrival of the British commissioners, the negotiations commenced, and on the twenty-fourth of December following, a treaty of peace was signed.

Mr. Bayard now visited Paris, where he remained until the ratification of the treaty. Soon after he was appointed minister to the Court of Russia. This office he declined, stating that "he had no wish to serve the administration, except when his services were necessary for the public good. In the late transactions he believed that to be the case, and therefore he had cheerfully borne his part. Peace being obtained, he was perfectly satisfied to resign the honors of diplomaey for the sweets of domestic life. Nothing could induce him to accept an appointment that would threaten to identify him with the administration party, without contributing essentially to his country's good. That was his primary and exclusive object. In all his reflections, he was principally affected by an anxious jealousy for the welfare, and an ardent affection for the people of his native land. It is difficult to conceive how an idea should have arisen, that he ever deviated in thought or action from the genuine principles of federalism. In every public display, in every private discussion, he was their warmest advocate. The whole course of his political pilgrimage, long and laborious as it was, may safely challenge a comparison with that of any statesman for undeviating consistency of conduct, and pure and enlightened patriotism.”

From Paris he intended to repair to England to assist in the formation of a commercial treaty, but he was prevented by a severe illness, which soon reduced him to a state of extreme debility and suffering. Anxious to reach his home, he sailed from England, and on the first of Angust, 1815, arrived in the Delaware. Five day3 after, he died, in the forty-ninth year of his



Mr. Bayard delivered this speech, on the , nimity which ought to have been inspired by a Judiciary Bill,t in the House of Representa- sense of the high ground he holds on the floor tives of the United States, on the nineteenth sire to conciliate, which he has so repeatedly

of this House, as from the professions of a deof February, 1802:

made during the session. We have been invi

ted to bury the hatchet, and brighten the Me. CHAIRMAN: I must be allowed to express chain of peace. We were disposed to meet on my surprise at the course pursued by the hon- middle-ground. We had assurances from the orable gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Giles, f in gentleman that he would abstain from reflecthe remarks which he has made on the subject tions on the past, and that his only wish was before us. I had expected that he would have that we might unite in future in promoting the adopted a different line of conduct. I had ex- welfare of our common country. We confided pected it as well from that sentiment of magna- in the gentleman's sincerity, and cherished the

See Biographical Sketch of Mr. Bayard, in the Analec- | It also provided, that all the acts in force before the passage tic, vol. 7, p. 333: Raleigh Star, 1815: Biographie Universelle: of the aforesaid acts, and which, by the same, were either and Mr. N. Correlissen's Oration at Ghent, on tho 18th of amended, explained, altered or repealed, should be revised. October, 1816.

The bill contained further provision for the disposition of + The bill proposed, that "the act of Congress, passed on the actions, writs, &c., then pending in any of the Courts the 13th of February, 1801, entitled an act to provide for the of the United States, which were established by the aforo. more convenient organization of the Courts of the United said act of Congress of 1801. States," and also, “an act passed on the 8d March, 1801, for See Mr. Giles's Speech on this bill in the subsequent altering the times and places of holding certain courts there- pages of this volume: also, the speech of Mr. Tracy at page in mentioned, and for other purposes," should be repealed. 442, vol. 1, of this work.

hope, that if the divisions of party were not of the people. The gentleman did not tell us banished from the House, its spirit would be in plain language, but he wished it to be underrendered less intemperate. Such were our im- stood, that he and his friends were the guardpressions, when the mask was suddenly thrown ians of the people's rights, and that we were aside, and we saw the torch of discord lighted the advocates of executive power. and blazing before our eyes. Every effort has I know that this is the distinction of party been made to revive the animosities of the which some gentlemen have been anxious to House, and inflame the passions of the nation. establish; but it is not the ground on which I am at no loss to perceive why this course has we divide. I am satisfied with the constitubeen pursued. The gentleman has been unwil- tional powers of the executive, and never wishling to rely upon the strength of his subject, ed nor attempted to increase them; and I do and has, therefore, determined to make the not believe, that gentlemen on the other side measure a party question. He has probably of the House ever had a serious apprehension secured success, but would it not have been of danger from an increase of executive authormore honorable and more commendable, to ity. No, sir, our views, as to the powers which have left the decision of a great constitutional do and ought to belong to the General and question to the understanding, and not to the State Governments, are the true sources of our prejudices of the House? It was my ardent divisions. I co-operate with the party to which wish to discuss the subject with calmness and I am attached, because I believe their true obdeliberation, and I did intend to avoid everyject and end is an honest and efficient support topic which could awaken the sensibility of of the general government, in the exercise of the party. This was my temper and design when legitimate powers of the constitution. I took my seat yesterday. It is a course at I pray to God I may be mistaken in the opinpresent we are no longer at liberty to pursue. ion I entertain as to the designs of gentlemen The gentleman has wandered far, very far, from to whom I am opposed. Those designs I bethe points of the debate, and has extended his lieve hostile to the powers of this government. animadversions to all the prominent measures State pride extinguishes a national sentiment. of the former administrations. In following Whatever power is taken from this government him through his preliminary observations, I is given to the States. necessarily lose sight of the bill upon your ta- The ruins of this government aggrandize the ble.

States. There are States which are too proud The gentleman commenced his strictures with to be controlled ; whose sense of greatness and the philosophic observation, that it was the fate resource renders them indifferent to our proof mankind to hold different opinions as to the tection, and induces a belief that if no general form of government which was preferable. government existed, their influence would be That some were attached to the monarchical, more extensive, and their importance more while others thought the republican more eli- conspicuous. There are gentlemen who make gible. This, as an abstract remark, is certainly no secret of an extreme point of depression, to true, and could have furnished no ground of which the government is to be sunk. To that offence, if it had not evidently appeared that point we are rapidly progressing. But I would an allusion was designed to be made to the beg gentlemen to remember, that human affairs parties in this country. Does the gentleman are not to be arrested in their course, at artifisuppose that we have a less lively recollection cial points. The impulse now given may be than himself, of the oath which we have taken accelerated by causes at present out of view. to support the constitution; that we are less And when those, who now design well, wish sensible of the spirit of our government, or less to stop, they may find their powers unable to devoted to the wishes of our constituents ? resist the torrent. It is not true, that we ever Whatever impression it might be the intention wished to give a dangerous strength to execuof the gentleman to make, he does not believe tive power. While the government was in our that there exists in the country an anti-repub- hands, it was our duty to maintain its constitulican party. He will not venture to assert such tional balance, by preserving the energies of an opinion on the floor of this House. That each branch. There never was an attempt to there may be a few individuals having a pre- vary the relation of its powers. The struggle ference for monarchy is not improbable; but was to maintain the constitutional powers of will the gentleman from Virginia, or any other the executive. The wild principles of French gentleman, affirm in his place, that there is a liberty were scattered through the country. party in the country who wish to establish We had our jacobins and disorganizers. They monarchy? Insinuations of this sort belong saw no difference between a king and a Presinot to the Legislature of the Union. Their dent, and as the people of France had put down place is an election-ground, or an alehouse. their king, they thonght the people of America Within these walls they are lost; abroad, they ought to put down their President. They, have had an effect, and I fear are still capable who considered the constitution as securing ali of abusing popular credulity.

the principles of rational and practicable libWe were next told of the parties which have erty, who were unwilling to embark upon the existed, divided by the opposite views of pro- tempestuous sea of revolution in pursuit of vismoting executive power and guarding the rights ionary schemes, were denounced as monarch

« ПретходнаНастави »