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appropriations in aid of works which might be regarded as of a national character—difficulties which arose as well from the danger of considering mere usage the foundation of the right, as from the extreme uncertainty and consequent insecurity of the best rule that had ever been adopted, or that could, in the absence of positive constitutional provision, be establish
The reasons on which these objections were founded, are so fully stated in the document referred to, and have been so extensively promul. gated, that it is unnecessary for me to repeat them here. Subsequent reflection and experience have confirmed my apprehension of the injurious consequences which would probably flow from the continuation of appropriations for internal improvements, with no better rule for the government of Congress than that of which I have spoken; and I do not hesitate to express it as my opinion, that the general and true interests of the country would be best consulted by withholding them, with the exceptions which I have already referred to, until some constitutional regulation upon the subject has been made.
• In this avowal I am certainly not influenced by feelings of indifference, much less of hostility to internal improvements. As such, they can have no enemies. I have never omitted to give them all the proper aid in my power, for which, by the way, I claim no particular merit, as I do not be lieve there is an honest and sane man in the country who does not wish to see them prosper ; but their construction, and the manner in which, and the means by which they are to be effected, are quite different questions. Rather than again expose our legislation to all the corrupting influences of those scrambles and combinations in Congress which have been heretofore witnessed, and the other affairs of the country to the injurious effects unavoidably resulting from them, it would, in my opinion, be infinitely preferable to leave works of the character spoken of, and not embraced in the exception which has been pointed out, for the present, to the supports upon which they have reposed with so much success for the last two years, viz: State efforts and private enterprise. If the great body of the people become convinced that the progress of these works should be accelerated by the Federal arm, they will not refuse to come to some proper constitu. tional arrangement upon the subject. The supposition that an equitable rule, which pays a proper respect to the interests and condition of the different States, could fail to receive ultimately the constitutional sanction, would be doing injustice to the intelligence of the country. By such a settlement of the question, our political system, in addition to the other advantages derived from it, would, in relation to this subject at least, be relieved from those dangerous shocks which spring from diversities of opin. ion upon constitutional points of deep interest; and, in the mean time, the resources of the country would be best husbanded by being left in the hands of those by whose labor they are produced.'
“To this exposition of my opinions upon the general subject, were added some additional observations, in my letter to Mr. Williams, already refer. red to. They were chiefly applicable to the improvements of our harbors, and the removal of partial and temporary obstructions in our navigable rivers, for the facility of our foreign commerce, and the best means of checking the tendency to abuses which such appropriations often produced.
To the principles laid down in the two publications referred to, I still adhere; and it has been my endeavor to carry them into full and fair effect in the administration of the Government, since I have been at its head. If they have been departed from, in respect to any works commenced under my administration, I am not advised of it."
General Harrison succeeded Mr. Van Buren on the 4th of March, 1841. The Ex-President soon after left the seat of the General Government for his fine estate at Kinderhook, on the Hudson, where he now resides, in the enjoyment of wealth, of ease, and of the confidence of a large and powerful party of his countrymen.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, ninth President of the United States, was a native of Virginia, a son of the incorruptible old patriot whose name is attached to the Declaration of Independence, and a lineal descendant of that General Harrison, who bore a distinguished part during the English civil wars, in the armies of the Commonwealth. The family of Harrison were among the earliest settlers of the colony of Virginia, and the name appears among the most prominent mentioned in the annals of that province.
Benjamin Harrison, the father of the President, was one of the most distinguished patriots of our country. Before he was twenty-one years of age, he was elected a member of the House of Burgesses in Virginia, in which he represented his native district for many years. Here he early displayed his love of freedom, and united with that patriotic band of mem. bers who resolved on resisting the oppressions of the mother country. In November, 1764, he was placed on a committee to prepare an address to the King, a memorial to the House of Lords, and a remonstrance to the Commons, in opposition to the odious stamp act. In August, 1774, he was elected a delegate from Virginia to the first Continental Congress, which assembled at Philadelphia, on the first of September following; and on that day, he had the gratification of seeing his colleague and brother-inlaw, Peyton Randolph, placed in the presidential chair, by the unanimous voice of the Convention.
After the death of Mr. Randolph, Congress, on assembling, in 1775, were called upon to choose a new president. The southern members al. most unanimously agreed upon the selection of Mr. Harrison for the chair vacated by the death of his relative. But as the name of John Hancock had also been proposed, Mr. Harrison, justly considering the importance of conciliating the northern feeling, at so momentous a crisis, with a generous self-denial, waived his claims, and urged with great zeal the appointment of Hancock, who was consequently unanimously chosen to that high station.
Waln, in his Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, says of Mr. Hancock :
“With a modesty not unnatural for his years, and a consciousness of the difficulty he might experience in filling a station of such high impor. tance and responsibility, he hesitated to take the seat. Mr. Harrison was standing beside him, and with the ready good humor that loved a joke, even in the Senate-House, he seized the modest candidate in his athletic arms, and placed him in the presidential chair; then turning to some of the members around, he exclaimed, “We will show mother Britain how little we care for her, by making a Massachusetts man our president, whom she has excluded from pardon by public proclamation.'
Mr. Harrison continued to be an active and influential member of the Continental Congress, to which he was returned four times as a delegate. On the tenth of June, 1776, as chairman of the committee of the whole House, he introduced the resolution which declared the independence of the colonies; and on the following ever-memorable fourth of July, he reported the more formal Declaration of Independence, to which celebrated document his signature is annexed.
On the expiration of his last term of service in Congress, Mr. Harrison was elected to the House of Burgesses from his own county, and was at once chosen speaker of that body; an office which he held uninterruptedly until the year 1782, when he was elected Governor of Virginia, and be. came one of the most popular officers that ever filled the executive chair. This eminent patriot died in the year 1791.
William HENRY HARRISON was born on the ninth of February, 1773, at Berkeley, on the James river, in Charles-City county. He was the third and younger son ; and although the father was not wealthy, the son inherited a rich legacy in a name rendered honorable as connected with the first struggles of the country for freedom. On the death of his father, William Henry Harrison was placed under the guardianship of his intimate friend, Robert Morris, the great financier of the revolution. He was educated at Hampden Sidney College, and afterwards applied himself to the study of medicine as a profession. But before he had completed his course of studies, the barbarities of the Indians in their incursions upon our thin and scattered settlements upon the north-western frontiers, kindled a feeling of indignation throughout the country. The service was at that time neither popular nor inviting ; but our young student resolved to give up his profession, and join the army destined to the defence of the Ohio frontier. His guardian, Mr. Morris, attempted to dissuade him from this purpose, but his resolution had been deliberately taken; and on communi. cating it to General WASHINGTON, that great man, beholding in the young son of his friend the germs of future greatness, cordially approved his patriotic determination. The Indian war was at that time assuming a very alarming aspect. Few of the Indians continued in peaceful relations with the United States, while the powerful tribes of the Miamies, the Hurons, or Wyandots, the Delawares, the Shawnees, the Kickapoos, the Potowatomies, the Ottawas, and the Winnebagoes, who occupied all the borders of our northern lakes, and were scattered through the whole immense extent of our north-western territory, were engaged in active hostility against the United States.
Encouraged by the British authorities in Canada, who, in violation of the treaty of peace, still held forcible possession of Detroit, Mackinaw, Niagara, and other points in our acknowledged territory, the Indians persisted in their savage incursions; and scarce a day passed without some new tale of violence and bloodshed. From 1783 to 1791, it has been estimated that more than fifteen hundred of our hardy pioneers of the west had fallen victims to the rifle and scalping-knife of their savage foes. Our north. Western frontier presented an appalling scene of rapine, conflagration, and wanton destruction of life and property. Many of our border settlements had been crushed in their infancy, and all had been retarded in their