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WILLIAM PINKNEY.

This celebrated man, a native of Annapolis, Maryland, was born on the seventeenth of March, 1764. At an early age he entered King William School, in his native town, and remained there until the completion of his thirteenth year. In this institution, and, subsequently, for a short period under the guidance of a private tutor, he acquired a thorough English education, and the rudiments of the classics. About this time his father, an adherent to the side of royalty during the war of the Revolution, was dispossessed of his property by confiscation; became reduced and dependent, and young Pinkney was obliged to relinquish his studies. From this time until he commenced the study of law with Judge Chase, in 1783, little is recorded of him except that he directed his attention to medicine, in which he soon found that he had mistaken his vocation.

He was admitted to the bar in 1786, and the same year removed to Harford county and commenced practice. “His very first efforts," says Wheaton, “seem to have given him a commanding attitude in the eye of the public. His attainments in the law of real property and the science of special pleading, then the two great foundations of legal distinction, were accurate and profound; and he had disciplined his mind by the cultivation of that species of logic, which, if it does not lead to the brilliant results of inductive philosophy, contributes essentially to invigorate the reasoning faculty, and to enable it to detect those fallacies which are apt to impose upon the understanding in the warmth and hurry of forensic discussion. His style in speaking was marked by an easy flow of natural eloquence and a happy choice of language. His voice was very melodions, and seemed a most winning accompaniment to his pure and effective diction. His elocution was calm and placid—the very contrast of that strenuous, vehement, and emphatic manner, which he subsequently adopted.”

In the Spring of 1788 he was elected to represent the county of Harford in the Maryland convention, for the ratification of the Federal Constitution. The history of his career in that assembly is unfortunately lost. Shortly after the adjournment of the convention, he was chosen a member of the House of Delegates, and remained in that station until the year 1792. His speeches there upon the subject of the voluntary emancipation of slaves, breathe “all the fire of youth and a generous enthusiasm for the rights of human nature," yet they are not an earnest of those splendid powers of rhetoric and reasoning which were so eminently displayed in his subsequent years.

Mr. Pinkney married Miss Ann Maria Rodgers, a sister of Commodore Rodgers, in 1789. The next year he was elected a member of Congress, but declined serving in that office on account of his private and professional duties. In 1792, he became a member of the Executive Council of Maryland, and continued in that office until his election to the State Legislature, when he resigned. Amidst these several public duties he continued his professional pursuits with unabated vigor and attention, and gradually attained a prominent position in the eyes of the public, as a legislator and an erudite lawyer. “His acuteness, dexterity, and zeal, in the transaction of business," says one of his cotemporaries; "his readiness, spirit, and vigor in debate; the beauty and richness of his fluent elocution, adorned with the finest imagery drawn from classical lore and a vivid fancy; the manliness of his figure and the energy of his mien, united with a sonorous and flexible voice, and a general animation and graceful delivery,” were the qualities by which he attained that elevated position.

In 1796 he was associated with Christopher Gore in the commission on the part of the United States, under the seventh article of Jay's Treaty; and in the various discussions which arose during the continuance of the negotiations, took an active and important part. His written opinions, as published in his Life by Mr. Wheaton, are spoken of by that learned man as finished models of judicial eloquence, uniting powerful and comprehensive argument with a copious, pure and energetic diction.*

Mr. Pinkney returned to the United States in the month of August, 1804, and resumed the practice of his profession. Soon after he changed his residence from Annapolis to Baltimore, and in 1805 was appointed attorney-general of Maryland. Here he continued until the year 1806, when he was again sent on a mission to England, in conjunction with Mr. Monroe. During the next year the latter gentleman returned to America, and Mr. Pinkney was left to perfect the negotiations alone. The result is too well known to require but a notice here. In February, 1811, he took leave of the British court, and soon after embarked for Annapolis, where he arrived in the following June. On his arrival he was elected to the Senate of his native State, and, in the succeeding December, Mr. Madison tendered him the Attorney-Generalship of the United States. This office he accepted, and at once entered upon its duties, in the performance of which he evinced his characteristic ability.

During the violent and protracted controversy consequent upon the declaration of war in 1812, Mr. Pinkney maintained a vigorous defence of the policy of the administration. His pamphlet on that subject, over the signature of Publius, addressed to the inhabitants of Maryland, had a powerful effect. A few paragraphs from that production will show the character of his sentiments upon the then momentous and all absorbing question :—"That the war with England is irreproachably just,” says he, “no man can doubt who exercises his understanding upon the question. It is known to the whole world, that when it was declared, the British government had not retracted or qualified any one of those maritime claims which threatened the ruin of American commerce, and disparaged American sovereignty. Every constructive blockade, by which our ordinary communication with European or other marts had been intercepted, was either perversely maintained, or made to give place only to a wider and more comprehensive impediment. The right of impressment in its most odious form, continued to be vindicated in argument and enforced in practice. The rule of the war of 1756, against which the voices of all America was lifted up in 1805, was still preserved, and'had only become inactive because the colonies of France and her allies had fallen before the naval power of England. The Orders in Council of 1807 and 1809, which in their motive, principle, and operation, were utterly incompatible with our existence as a commercial people; which retaliated with tremendous effect upon a friend the impotent irregularities of an enemy; which established upon the seas a despotic dominion, by which power and right were confounded, and a system of monopoly and plunder raised, with a daring contempt of decency, upon the wreck of neutral prosperity and public law; which even attempted to exact a tribute, under the name of an impost, from the merchants of this independent land, for permission to become the slaves and instruments of that abominable system; had been adhered to (notwithstanding the acknowledged repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees in regard to the United States) with an alarming appearance of a fixed and permanent attachment to those very qualities which fitted them for the work of oppression and filled us with dismay. Satisfaction, and even explanation, had been either steadily denied, or contemptuously evaded. Our complaints had been reiterated till we ourselves blushed to hear them, and till the insolence with which they were received recalled us to some sense of dignity. History does not furnish an example of such patience under such an accumulation of injuries and insults.

“Nothing is more to be esteemed than peace,' (I quote the wisdom of Polybius,) 'WHEN IT LEAVES US IN POSSESSION OF OUR HONOR AND RIGHTS; but when it is joined with loss of free

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* See Part Second, No. 1, of Wheaton's Life of Pinkney.

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dom, or with infamy, nothing can be more detestable and fatal.' I speak with just confidence when I say that no federalist can be found who desires with more sincerity the return of peace than the republican government by which the war was declared. But it desires such a peace as the companion and instructor of Scipio has praised—peace consistent with our rights and honor, and not the deadly tranquillity which may be purchased by disgrace, or taken in barter for the dearest and most essential claims of our trade and sovereignty. I appeal to you boldly: Are you prepared to purchase a mere cessation of arms by unqualified submission to the pretensions of England? Are you prepared to sanction them by treaty and to entail them upon your posterity, with the inglorious and timid hope of escaping the wrath of those whom your fathers discomfited and vanquished? Are you prepared, for the sake of a present profit, which the . circumstances of Europe must render paltry and precarious, to cripple the strong wing of American commerce for years to come, to take from our flag its national effect and character, and to subject our vessels on the high seas, and the brave men who navigate them, to the municipal jurisdiction of Great Britain ? I know very well that there are some amongst us (I hope they are but few) who are prepared for all this and more; who pule over every scratch occasioned by the war as if it were an overwhelming calamity, and are only sorry that it is not worse; who would skulk out of a contest for the best interests of their country to save a shilling or gain a cent; who, having inherited the wealth of their ancestors without their spirit, would receive laws from London with as much facility as woollens from Yorkshire, or hardware from Sheffield. But I write to the great body of the people, who are sound and virtuous, and worthy of the legacy which the heroes of the revolution have bequeathed them. For them, I undertake to answer, that the only peace which they can be made to endure, is that which may twine itself round the honor of the people, and with its healthy and abundant foliage give shade and shelter to the prosperity of the empire. We are at war, and the single question is, whether you will fly like cowards from the sacred ground which the government has been compelled to take, or whether you will prove by your actions that you are descended from the loins of men who reared the edifice of American liberty, in the midst of such a storm as you have never felt.

“As the war was forced upon us by a long series of unexampled aggressions, it would be absolate madness to doubt that peace will receive a cordial welcome, if she returns without ignominy in her train, and with security in her hand. The destinies of America are commercial, and her true policy is peace; but the substance of peace had, long before we were roused to a tardy resistance, been denied to us by the ministry of England; and the shadow which had been left to mock our hopes and to delude our imaginations, resembled too much the frowning spectre of war to deceive any body. Every sea had witnessed, and continued to witness, the systematic persecution of our trade and the unrelenting oppression of our people. The ocean had ceased to be the safe highway of the neutral world; and our citizens traversed it with all the fears of a benighted traveller, who trembles along a road beset with banditti, or infested by the beasts of the forest. The government, thus urged and goaded, drew the sword with a visible reluctance; and, true to the pacific policy which kept it so long in the scabbard, it will sheathe it again when Great Britain shall consult her own interest, by consenting to forbear in future the wrongs of the past."

Soon after the declaration of war Mr. Pinkney was chosen to the command of a volunteer corps which had been raised in Baltimore for the defence of that place; and in 1814 he marched with his company.to Bladensburg, where he was severely wounded in the engagement between a small body of Americans and the British, which took place on the twenty-fourth of August of that year. On the conclusion of peace he resigned his command, and devoted himself entirely to the practice of his profession, having previously retired from the office of Attorney General of the United States.

In 1815 he was associated with Mr. Dallas* in the celebrated case of the Nereide, before the

Alexander J. Dallas was born in the island of Jamaica, on the 21st of June, 1759. His father was Robert C. Dallas, a native of Scotland, and a physician of some ominence. Young Dallas studied law. In 1780, he married a lady of

Supreme Court of the United States, * in which he delivered one of his most powerful arguments. The same year he was chosen to the lower House of Congress, to represent the city of Baltimore, and a short time subsequent to taking his seat, he offered, in an elaborate and eloquent speech, the bill to carry into effect the convention between the United States and Great Britain of July 1815. In March of the following year, he was again called into the diplomatic service of his country, by Mr. Monroe. He was now appointed on the double mission, as minister plenipotentiary to Russia, and special envoy to the court of Naples. This appointment he accepted with great satisfaction. He desired to retire for a time from the intense and unremitting labors of his profession, that he might refresh himself and return to it with increased vigor. In a conversation about this time he said :—"There are those among my friends who wonder that I will go abroad, however honorable the service. They know not how I toil at the bar; they know not all my anxious days and sleepless nights; I must breathe awhile; the bow for ever bent will break :" “Besides,” he added, “I want to see Italy: the orators of Britain I have heard, but I want to visit that classic land, the study of whose poetry and eloquence is the charm of my life; I shall set my foot on its shores with feelings that I cannot describe, and return with new enthusiasın, I hope new advantages, to the habits of public speaking."

Mr. Pinkney sailed from the United States on board the Washington, ship of the line, and arrived at Naples on the twenty-sixth of July, 1816. Here he proceeded upon the business with which he was charged; which was to demand from the government of Naples indemnification for the losses which American merchants had experienced by the seizure and confiscation of their property in 1809, during the reign of Murat. After various conferences with the Neapolitan minister of Foreign Affairs, which ended in the refusal of the government of Naples to admit the justice of the demand, Mr. Pinkney repaired to St. Petersburgh. He remained at the Russian court two years, and at his own request, returned to America in 1818. His mode of life, the

Devonshire, England; and after a short residence in London with Captain George Anson Byron, (wbo had shortly before married his sister, and who was the youngest son of Admiral Byron, and the uncle of the celebrated poet Lord Byron,) he embarked for Jamaica to recover his patrimonial inheritance in that Island. In this pursuit he was unsuccessful, and left Jamaica for the United States, and arrived at New York in June 1788. Determining to remain in this country, he removed to Philadelphia, and took the oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the 17th of June, 1783. He was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in July, 1785, and to that of the Circuit Court of the United States in April, 1790.

In the political divisions of the country he attached himself to the Republican party, and was appointed in 1791 Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by Governor Mifflin. In this station he continued until the year 1801, having been successively re-appointed by Governor Mifflin and Governor M‘Kean. In 1801 he was appointed by President Jefferson the Attorney of the United States for the district of Pennsylvania. During the same year he was commissioned as Recorder of Philadelphia by the State government.

Besides the different official situations which he held, he accompanied the Governor of Pennsylvania as Aid-du-camp, and Paymaster General of the forces, in the expedition to suppress the western insurrection of 1794. On this occasion ho conducted with singular diligence and activity, and his services were highly useful to the public cause.

In the early part of his professional career, having much leisure, he occupied himself with various literary undertakings, and prepared for the press the first volume of his valuable series of law reports. In 1795 he completed with universal approbation an edition of the laws of Pennsylvania, with notes, in three volumes folio. In October, 1814, he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Madison, and acted as Secretary of War from the 22d of April, 1815, until the army was re-organized upon the peace establishment. His administration of the Treasury department gained him great credit.

While laboriously ongaged in the trial of a cause at Trenton, New Jersey, he was attacked by a complaint to which he had for a long time been subject, and had barely time to reach his family in Philadelphia, when he died on the 16th of January, 1817.

Mr. Dallas possessed a mind highly gifted by nature, and richly cultivated with a great variety of useful and elegant knowledge. An early and frequent habit of writing had given him an uncommon facility in composition. His style, both in speaking and writing, was chaste and perspicuous: seldom embellished with rhetorical ornament, but always marked by good taste. The various public stations he had filled, his habits of diligent study, and intercourse with the most intelligent persons, had enabled him to acquire an extensive knowledge of mankind and of literature; which he imparted in his colloquial intercourse with peculiar facility and grace, His manners were highly polished, and his amiable disposition endeared him to a large circle of friends, and rendered him an ornament to the elegant society in which he moved. As an advocate he was distinguished for his patient industry-his accurate learning-and his diffusive and minute investigation of the subjects he undertook to discuss. When called to a seat in the national cabinet, besides his accustomed diligence, activity, and method in business, he displayed an energy of character not generally looked for, and showed that he possessed the bold and comprehensive views of a patriotic and enlightened statesman.- Wheaton.

* The cause was argued by Mr. Emmet and Mr. Hoffman for the claimant, and by Mr. Dallas and Mr. Pinkney for the captors.

character of his pursuits while in Russia, as well as an estimate of his talents and attainments can be well understood from the subjoined extract of a letter from a gentleman who was much in his society while in St. Petersburgh :-“I arrived in St. Petersburgh in the month of June, 1817. I carried a letter of introduction to Mr. Pinkney from our friend, Mr. Justice Story. Mr. P. received me at once with the greatest kindness and hospitality. He told me almost the first time I saw him, that he should not make a single dinner for me, or receive me with ceremony; but if I would consider myself a member of his family, and take a seat at his table constantly, when not otherwise engaged, he should be gratified. As I soon found he was in earnest, I accepted his offer almost to its full extent. I passed about two months in the city, lodging at the same hotel with him, and domesticated with his family. I saw him every day, and at almost every meal; and the recollections I have of the pleasure enjoyed in his society, are amongst those I shall longest retain.

“Of his past life, he did not speak ach. I inferred, however, that he had always been a hard student, and considered himself a laborious and thorough scholar in those branches of human knowledge to which he had more particularly devoted himself. I remember that he once said to me, that he considered the late Mr. Chief Justice Parsons and himself the only men in America who had thoroughly studied and understood Coke Littleton. He appeared to estimate the legal acquirements of our professional men as of little extent, generally speaking, and to think he gave himself but little credit in thinking that he had learned more law than any other man in the country.

“He kept himself very much in private, living so, (as he said,) from motives of economy. He was in lodgings at the Hotel de l'Europe, and saw no company ceremoniously—that is, he gave no dinners, &c. He had made it known to the diplomatic circle there when he first arrived, that he should live in that style, and therefore could not reciprocate their civilities. They, however, visited him a good deal, and he accepted their invitations frequently. I understood from various quarters, and inferred from what I saw, that he stood very particularly well with the Emperor, his family, and principal ministers. His personal habits were very peculiar. His neatness, and attention to the fashionable costume of the day, were carried to an extreme, which exposed him while at home, to the charge of foppery and affectation. But it should be remembered how large a portion of his life he had spent abroad, and in the highest circles of European society. Though he undoubtedly piqued himself upon being a finished and elegant gentleman, yet his manners and habits of dress were, as it always seemed to me, acquired in Europe; and so far from being remarkable there, they were in exact accordance with the common and established usages of men of his rank and station. All who have been at any of the European courts know that their statesmen and ministers consider it a necessary part of their character to pay great attention to the elegancies and refinements of life, and after a day passed in the laborious discharge of their duties, will spend their evenings in society, and contribute quite their share of pleasant trifling. It is their maniere d'etre.

“During the summer that I passed with Mr. Pinkney, his personal habits were very regular. He breakfasted late, and heartily. Then he retired to his study, and we saw him no more until dinner at six o'clock. The evening he passed with his family, or in visiting. He took very little exercise, eat and drank freely, and I thought saffered occasionally from the usual effects of a plethoric habit, with much indulgence as to food, and no attention to exercise. Undoubtedly his extreme attention to personal cleanliness contributed much to preserve his health. His family saw little company at home or abroad; he appeared to be extremely fond of them, and satisfied with passing his evenings in their society.

“ As to his intellectual character, and his talents and attainments as a lawyer, a statesman, and an orator, I shall say nothing. I do not pretend to measure the extent of his mind, or to add any thing to the general voice which has placed him at the head of the great men of our country. As to his attainments and his tastes in minor matters—besides a competent share of classical learning, he had a general acquaintance with modern literature : but I do not believe that he was fond of light English literature; though he seemed to make it a point of keeping along with the age, and, therefore, read all the popular poems, reviews, and novels, and talked

VOL. II.-7

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