James Pickett: HISTORY
(Kindly contributed by William C. Bell)
LAST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE -- STATE CONVENTION.
The second session of the Legislature of the Territory of Alabama convened at St. Stephens, in the fall of 1818. John W. Walker was Speaker of the House, and James Titus President of the Legislative Council. Among other acts, two new counties were formed -- St. Clair, with the courts to be held at the house of Alexander Brown, and Autauga, with the courts to be held at Jackson's Mills, on Autauga Creek. The territory of the latter county was formerly attached to that of Montgomery. These new counties were added to the Middle Judicial District.
The Bank of Mobile, with a charter extending to 1st January, 1839, and with a capital stock of five hundred thousand dollars, was established. The banks at St. Stephens and Huntsville were empowered to increase their capital stock, by selling shares at auction. The profits, to the extent of ten per cent., were to be divided among the stockholders, and, if there proved to be an excess, it was to be applied to the support of Green Academy, in Madison county, and the academy at St. Stephens.
Governor Bibb was constituted sole commissioner to lay off the seat of government at the confluence of the Cahawba and Alabama. He was required to have the town surveyed, expose maps of the same at public places, and give ninety days' notice of sale, out of the proceeds of which he was to contract for the building of a temporary capitol. About the last of November the legislature adjourned, having determined to hold the next session at Huntsville.*
* State Archives.
Mar. 2 1819: The Territory of Alabama increased in population to such an extent that Congress authorized the people to form a State constitution.
The following persons were elected members of the convention: From the County of Madison -- Clement C. Clay, John Leigh Townes, Henry Chambers, Samuel Mead, Henry Minor, Gabriel Moore, John W. Walker and John M. Taylor.
MONROE -- John Murphy, John Watkins, James
Pickens and Thomas Wiggins.
BLOUNT -- Isaac Brown, John Brown and Gabriel Hanby.
LIMESTONE -- Thomas Bibb, Beverly Hughes and Nicholas Davis.
SHELBY -- George Philips and Thomas A. Rodgers.
MONTGOMERY -- John D. Bibb and James W. Armstrong.
WASHINGTON -- Israel Pickens and Henry Hitchcock.
TUSCALOOSA -- Marmaduke Williams and John L. Tindal.
LAWRENCE -- Arthur F. Hopkins and Daniel Wright.
FRANKLIN -- Richard Ellis and William Metcalf.
COTACO -- Melkijah Vaughan and Thomas D. Crabb.
CLARK -- Reuben Saffold and James McGoffin.
CAHAWBA -- Littlepage Sims.
CONECUH -- Samuel Cook.
DALLAS -- William R. King.
MARENGO -- Washington Thompson.
MARION -- John D. Terrell.
LAUDERDALE -- Hugh McVay.
ST. CLAIR -- David Conner.
AUTAUGA -- James Jackson.
BALDWIN -- Harry Toulmin.
MOBILE -- S. H. Garrow.
These members convened at Huntsville on the 5th July, 1819. John W. Walker was chosen to preside over the convention, and John Campbell was elected its secretary.
Being about to introduce biographical notices of some of these members,* we begin with the following well-written sketch, prepared by a college companion and intimate friend of the distinguished person of whom he writes.**
* I regret to have occasion to observe that my application
to the friends of many of the members of this convention, for information
in relation to their birth, early life and political career, has not been
responded to, and hence I have been unable to embody in this work any notice
** From the pen of Bichard Henry Wilde, formerly of Georgia, but afterwards of New Orleans, and now deceased.
"John W. Walker was born in Virginia, and, while yet a child, accompanied his father, the Reverend Jeremiah Walker, who emigrated to Elbert county, Georgia. His preceptor in the rudiments of education was the Reverend Moses Waddel, long accustomed, with an honest pride, to enumerate among his pupils many of the most celebrated jurists and statesmen of the South. He graduated with distinguished honor at Princeton, preserving during his collegiate course an untarnished moral character, and acquiring, along with the reputation of an excellent scholar, a high relish for polite literature, which he ever afterwards retained. On leaving college he applied himself to the study of the law, and although more than once interrupted by illness, his quick and keen perception of the right and just, and the extent and variety of his previous attainments, speedily insured him clear and comprehensive views of a science not always enjoyed by more laborious, but less sagacious, students. Seeking the temple as a worshipper in spirit and in truth, who regarded jurisprudence not as a craft or mystery, but the noblest of sciences, he thus insured his future superiority over practitioners who treat their profession as an art and its principles as a mere collection of rules and codes.
"In 1810 Mr. Walker, then a resident of Petersburg, Georgia, married Matilda, the daughter of LeRoy Pope, Esq., of the same village, and removed with his father-in-law and several of his neighbors to Alabama, then a territory, where they became the first settlers of Madison county, and founded the now fiourishing town of Huntsville. Here he began the practice of his profession, soon rose to eminence, and was repeatedly chosen a member of the Territorial legislature. In 1819 he declined the office of district judge, tendered him by President Monroe, and in the same year was chosen to preside over the convention which formed the constitution of the State, an instrument indebted to him for many of its best provisions.
"Immediately after its adoption and the admission of Alabama into the Union, he was elected a United States Senator, an office which he held until 1823, when ill-health compelled him to retire; and on the 23d of April of that year he passed away from life, leaving behind him the memory of no fault and the enmity of no human being.
"In person Mr. Walker was tall, his figure slender but well formed, and his manners and address mild, graceful and prepossessing. He had blue eyes, brown hair, a fine complexion, handsome features, and a countenance whose expression, habitually pensive, kindled into animation with every lofty thought and generous feeling. Even to a stranger his appearance was highly engaging and attractive, while those who enjoyed his familiar conversation were charmed with the sweet, low tones of his colloquial eloquence, the intellectual music of a pure heart, a sound mind, a rich memory and brilliant imagination. Surrounded by friends who loved and honored, or in the bosom of a family who idolized him, how often hours vanished unconsciously in conversation, grave and gay, in the inexhaustible topics of art, science, literature, government and morals, to all of which his perfect urbanity, extensive reading, the t all the modest worth and unalloyed patriotism of Lowndes, with much of the easy and graceful manner of Forsyth, and, to his career as a statesman, only a longer life was wanting. But time, as it has been beautifully observed, is the indispensable ally of genius in its struggle for immortality, and, though death may have shut the gate on other aspirants as highly gifted, it has never closed on one more fondly loved or more deeply mourned. "
Arthur Frances Hopkins was born near Danville, in the State of Virginia. He was a descendent of Arthur Hopkins, an Englishman, and a physician of very high standing, who settled in the early part of the eighteenth century in the colony of Virginia. His grandmother was a Miss Jefferson, a relative of the President of that name. His father, James Hopkins, was in the severe battle of Guilford Court House, a volunteer soldier of the United States at the age of fifteen, and died at his residence in Pittsylvania county, Virginia, in 1844.
In the pursuit of an education, Arthur Frances Hopkins studied in an academy at New London, in Virginia, in another at Caswell Court House, North Carolina, and at the University at Chapel Hill. He received his law education in the office of the Honorable William Leigh, of Halifax county, Virginia, who was a distinguished jurist, and the brother of the celebrated Benjamin Watkins Leigh. In December, 1816, Mr. Hopkins, at the age of twenty-two, settled in the town of Huntsville, Alabama. Owning a plantation near Huntsville, and the price of cotton then being very high, and the practice of law in the valley of the Tennessee river worth but little, he relinquished his business at the bar in the spring of 1818. In January, 1819, he moved to the county of Lawrence, was elected a member of the convention in May of that year, and took his seat in that body, as we have seen. The people of Lawrence elected him to the State Senate in August, 1822. He immediately ranked with the most talented and influential men, and endeavored, with all his ability and ingenuity, to dissuade the Legislature from enacting a measure which, it is believed by many, has inflicted much evil. We allude to the establishment of the State Bank. His speeches upon that occasion were powerful efforts against the system of connecting bank and State, and the evils which he predicted have been, as many believe, most sensibly realized. His views were overruled by the Legislature, only thirteen of the entire body, among whom were the Honorable Joshua L. Martin, afterwards Governor of Alabama, James Jackson, of Lauderdale, and Nicholas Davis, of Limestone, concurring with him. The opposition of Mr. Hopkins to the State Bank, which was called the People's Bank, diminished materially his popularity, which was shortly afterwards impaired still more by his opposition to the election of General Jackson to the office of President of the United States. He preferred Henry Clay to all other men, and supported him whenever he was a candidate for the Presidency. He voted for Judge White in 1836, and for General Harrison in 1840, again for Henry Clay, and lastly for General Taylor; but, as he emphatically said to us one day, "never for General Jackson."
In March, 1825, Mr. Hopkins returned to Huntsville, and applied himself successfully to the profession of the law, without any interruption, until the summer of 1833, when he was returned a member of the Legislature from Madison county. The most exciting measure before the Legislature was the "Creek Controversy," then waging between the national administration and Governor John Gayle. Although personally friendly to the Governor and opposed to General Jackson, the conviction of his judgment led Mr. Hopkins to take the side of the administration, and in support of his views he delivered in the house a speech of power and research, which was published and widely distributed, giving him great reputation as a constitutional lawyer and statesman. Since the close of the session of 1833 and 1834, he has not been a representative of the people of this State. In January, 1836, he was elected by the Legislature one of the Judges of the Supreme Court without opposition, and at the solicitation of both political parties; and in 1837 he was appointed by his associates on the bench Chief Justice of Alabama. In December, 1836, the whig members of the Legislature did him the honor to vote for him, as a Senator in Congress, against the Honorable John McKinley. They conferred upon him the same unsolicited honor in January, 1844, when Mr. Lewis was elected a Senator of the United States. In June, 1837, Judge Hopkins resigned his seat upon the bench, returned to Huntsville, engaged in the practice of the law, and was soon tendered by Mr. Van Buren the office of commissioner, with others, under a late treaty with the Cherokees, which he declined. During the Presidential canvass of 1840, Judge Hopkins was one of the whig electors, and addressed many public meetings in North Alabama. At the Baltimore whig convention in May, 1844, he presided as chairman, until the convention was fully organized, and during that summer, he often addressed the people of Alabama, to induce them to vote for Mr. Clay, for the Presidency. Judge Hopkins appears to have always been a great favorite with the whig party, for they ran him upon a two day's ballot, when William R. King and Dixon H. Lewis were candidates for the United States Senate, during the first session of the legislature held at Montgomery, and again, in the winter of 1849 and 1850, he was balloted for against Colonel King, to fill the vacancy which occurred in the Senate, and, when the latter succeeded over him, the whig party immediately ran him for the other vacancy in the Senate, against our excellent and much-admired friend, Governor Fitzpatrick. But the whigs, being in a minority, have never been able to place him in the United States Senate.
Judge Hopkins lives in Mobile, where he is regarded as a lawyer of ability, and as a gentleman of honor, benevolence and refinement. In person, he is compactly made, and rather large. He has an agreeable countenance, and is pleasant and affable in his manners.
William Rufus King is a native of North Carolina. He was born on the 7th April, 1786. His father, William R:ing, was a planter, in independent circumstances, whose ancestors came from the north of Ireland, and were among the early settlers on James river, in the colony of Virginia. He was highly esteemed for his many virtues, and was elected a member of the State convention which adopted the Federal constitution. The mother of Mr. King was descended from a Huguenot family, which had been driven from France by the revocation of the edict of Nantz.
William Rufus King received his education at the University of North Carolina, to which he was sent at the early age of twelve years. On leaving that institution, where his attention to his studies, and uniformly correct and gentlemanly deportment, had commanded the respect and regard of his fellows, and the approbation of the professors, he entered the law office of William Dufey, a distinguished lawyer, residing in the town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and in the autumn of 1805, obtained a license to practice in the superior courts of the State. In 1806, he was elected a member of the legislature of the State, from the county of Sampson, in which he was born. He was again elected, the year following, but on the meeting of the legislature, he was chosen solicitor by that body, and resigned his seat. Colonel King continued in the practice of his profession until he was elected a member of Congress from the Wilmington district, which took place in August, 1810, when he was but little more than twenty-four years of age; but, as his predecessor's term did not expire before the 4th March, 1811, Colonel King did not take his seat in the Congress of the United States until the autumn of that year, being the first session of the twelfth Congress. This was a most important period in the history of the country. The governments of England and France had for years rivalled each other in acts destructive of the neutral rights and ruinous to the commerce of the United States. Every effort had been made, but in vain, to procure an abandonment of orders in councils on the one hand and decrees on the other, which had nearly cut up the commerce of the country by the roots, and a large majority of the people felt that to submit longer to such gross violations of their rights as a neutral nation would be degrading, and they called upon their government to protect those rights, even at the hazard of a war. In this state of things, Colonel King took his seat in the House of Representatives, and unhesitatingly ranged himself on the side of the bold and patriotic spirits in that body, who had determined to repel aggression, come from what quarter it might, and to maintain the rights and the honor of the country. The withdrawal of the Berlin and Milan decrees by France, while England refused to abandon her orders in council, put an end to all hesitation as to which of those powers should be met in deadly strife. In June, 1812, war was declared against England, Mr. King advocating and voting for the declaration. He continued to represent his district in Congress during the continuance of the war, sustaining, with all his power, every measure deemed necessary to enable the government to prosecute it to a successful termination; and not until the rights of the country were vindicated and secured, and peace restored to the land, did he feel at liberty to relinquish the highly responsible position in which his confiding constituents had placed him. In the spring of 1816 Colonel King resigned his seat in the House of Representatives, and accompanied William Pinckney, of Maryland, as Secretary of Legation, first to Naples and then to St. Petersburg, to which Courts Mr. Pinckney had been appointed Minister Plenipotentiary. Colonel King remained abroad not quite two years, having, in that time, visited the greater portion of Europe, making himself acquainted with the institutions of the various d arrived before him.
Alabama was admitted as a State, and her Senators, after taking the oath to support the constitution of the United States, were required to draw for their term of service, when Major Walker drew six years and Colonel King four. At the time that Alabama became a State of the Union, the indebtedness of her citizens for lands, sold by the United States under what was known as the credit system, was nearly twelve millions of dollars. It was perfectly apparent that this enormous sum could not be paid, and that an attempt to enforce the payment could only result in ruin to her people. Congress became satisfied that the mode heretofore adopted for the disposal of the public domain was wrong, and a law was passed reducing the minimum price from two to one dollar and twenty-five cents the acre, with cash payments. This change was warmly advocated by our Senators, Walker and King.
At the next session a law was passed authorizing the purchasers of public lands, under the credit system, to relinquish to the government a portion of their purchase, and to transfer the amount paid on the part relinquished so as to make complete payment on the part retained. At a subsequent session another law was passed, authorizing the original purchasers of the lands so relinquished to enter them at a fixed rate, much below the price at which they had been originally sold. To the exertions of Senators King and Walker, Alabama is mainly indebted for the passage of these laws, which freed her citizens from the heavy debt which threatened to overwhelm them with ruin, and also enabled them to secure their possessions upon reasonable terms.
Colonel King was elected a Senator in 1823, in 1828, in 1834, and in 1840. His firm but conciliatory course insured for him the respect and confidence of the Senate, and he was repeatedly chosen to preside over that body as president pro tem, the duties of which position he discharged in a manner so satisfactory, that, at the close of each session, a resolution was adopted, without a dissenting voice, tendering him the thanks of the body for the ability and impartiality with which he had discharged those duties. In the spring of 1844, Colonel King was offered the situation of Minister to France, which he declined, as he had, on previous occasions, refused to accept other diplomatic situations, which had been tendered to him, preferring, as he declared, to be a Senator from Alabama to any office which could be conferred on him by the General Government. At this time. the proposition for the annexation of Texas was pending, and there was but too much reason to believe that the British government was urging that of France to unite with her in a protest against such annexation. It was, therefore, of the highest importance to prevent, if possible, such joint protest, as, should it be made, must have inevitably resulted in producing hostilities with one or both of these powers; for no one, for a moment, believed that the government of the United States would be deterred from carrying out a measure which she considered essential to her interests, from any apprehension of consequences which might result from any combination of the powers of Europe. Colonel King was a decided advocate of the annexation of Texas, and when urged by the President and many of his friends in Congress to accept the mission, he consented, under these circumstances, to give up his seat in the Senate. Colonel King, feeling the importance of prompt action, did not even return to his home to arrange his private affairs, but repaired at once to New York, and took passage to Havre. Arriving in Paris he obtained an audience of the King, presented his credentials, and at once entered upon the object of his mission. After frequent conferences with the King of the French, who had kindly consented that he might discuss the subject with him, without going through the usual routine of communicating through the foreign office, Colonel King succeeded in convincing his majesty that the contemplated protest, while it would not arrest the proposed annexation, would engender on the minds of the American people a feeling of hostility towards France, which would operate most injuriously to the interests of both countries, now united by the closest bonds of friendship; and his majesty ultimately declared that "he would do nothing hostile to the United States, or which could give to her just cause of offence." The desired object was accomplished. England was not in a condition to act alone, and all idea of a protest was abandoned. Colonel King remained in France until the autumn of 1846, dispensing a liberal hospitality to his countrymen and others, and receiving from those connected with the government, and a large circle of the most distinguished individuals in Paris, the kindest attention. He returned to the United States in November, 1846, having requested and obtained the permission of the President to resign his office.
In 1848, the Hon. Arthur P. Bagby was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia, and resigned his seat in the Senate of the United States. Colonel King was appointed, by the Governor of Alabama, to fill the vacancy thus created, and in 1849, the term for which he was appointed having expired, he was elected by the legislature for a full term of six years. In 1850, on the death of General Taylor, the President of the United States, Mr. Filmore, the Vice-President, succeeded to that high office, and Colonel King was chosen, by the unanimous vote of the Senate, President of that body, which places him in the second highest office in the government. Colonel King has ever been a decided republican of the Jeffersonian school. He has during his whole political life opposed the exercise of implied powers on the part of the General Government, unless palpably and plainly necessary to carry into effect an expressly granted power, firmly impressed with the belief, as he has often declared, that the security and harmony, if not the very existence of the Federal Government, was involved in adhering to a strict soldier in one of the companies of that battalion. This battalion never joined the army of General Jackson in the Creek nation, but, under his orders, was kept on the frontier, south of Tennessee river, to watch the enemy, and repel any advance which might be made. In the spring of 1817 the friends of Mr. Clay announced him as a candidate for the Territorial council, and he was elected by more than two hundred votes above the next highest candidate who was returned. He went to St. Stephens, and discharged his duties during the two sessions held at that place in a manner creditable to himself and useful to his constituents and the Territory. His absence, however, seriously interrupted a lucrative practice at the bar, and deprived him of the favorable opportunity of purchasing a valuable tract of land near Huntsville as a permanent home. When the convention was organized at Huntsville, Mr. Clay appeared as one of the delegates from the county of Madison. An active and assiduous member to its close, he was appointed chairman of the committee of fifteen to prepare and report a plan of government, and in that capacity brought forward a paper containing the main features of the constitution as it was originally adopted. When the convention terminated he resolved to devote himself exclusively to the practice of his profession and to planting; but in December, 1819, before he had completed his thirtieth year, he was elected, without opposition, one of the judges of the circuit court. When the judges assembled at Cahawba, in May, 1820, although he was several years younger than any other one on the bench, he was elected by his associates the first chief justice of the State of Alabama. As judge he served more than four years, when he resigned, in December, 1823, to resume the practice of his profession.
On his return to the bar Judge Clay re-entered upon the practice of his profession with his accustomed assiduity, energy and talents, and immediately obtained a highly lucrative business. But in 1828 he was elected to the legislature by the people of Madison, to advance their interests in the grant of four hundred thousand acres of land made by Congress for the improvement of the navigation of the Tennessee river. On his arrival at Tuscaloosa, then the seat of government, he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives without opposition. He performed the high.and responsible duties of that post during the unusually long and exciting session of 1828-9 in a manner very satisfactory to the house. He participated in the debates upon the most important questions, and earned a reputation as an able legislator. Upon his return to Huntsville his friends placed him in nomination for Congress. Captain Nicholas Davis, who had been a member of the Senate, and its president, was his opponent. The canvass was a most exciting one. Each candidate had numerous active and influential friends. The district then consisted of the counties of Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Lauderdale and Lawrence. In Jackson and the eastern part of Madison the public lands had never been offered for sale, and the great question was whether the right of pre-emption should be given to the pioneers. The government of the United States had sold all the lands in the other counties of the district in 1818-19-20 under the credit system, which then prevailed, at such enormous prices as, under the change brought about by the reduced price of cotton, rendered many unable, and nearly all the original purchasers, unwilling, to pay for them. Consequently, nearly all the lands in those counties had been relinquished and forfeited, including, in many instances, the dwelling-houses, gin-houses and other improvements, and the question was whether adequate relief should be obtained for the former purchasers, and those holding under them. Judge Clay and Captain Davis were both advocates of pre-emption rights to the settlers on public lands, and relief to the unfortunate purchasers, who had relinquished or forfeited. Judge Clay, the successful candidate, took his seat in Congress in December, 1829, and devoted his best energies to the accomplishment of those great measures. He succeeded to his entire satisfaction, and the journals of Congress show the labor and talent which he employed in aiding in the passage of the "relief laws." On his return home, he was everywhere greeted with expressions of praise and gratitude.
The tariff was one of the exciting questions then agitating the national councils. Judge Clay took the ground he has ever occupied, in favor of a revenue tariff and ad valorem duties, and delivered in Congress a creditable speech upon that subject. In another speech, he sustained General Jackson's policy and measures in opposition to the Bank of the United States and the removal of the deposits. He agreed with the administration, in the main, in regard to the tariff, and disapproved of the course taken by South Carolina to nullify the tariff laws, yet he could not be induced to vote for the "force bill," as it was familiarly called. His regard for the sovereignty and rights of the States was such that he would not consent to give the Federal Executive additional power against any member of the confederacy, however much he condemned her action. Judge Clay's course in Congress was such that he never incurred opposition to his several re-elections, and in 1835 he was nominated as the democratic candidate for governor. At that time Judge White was placed in nomination by his friends as a candidate for the presidency, in opposition to Van Buren. Although Judge Clay's personal preferences were in favor of the claims of the former, and he would have preferred him as the nominee, he would not consent to divide the democratic party, to which he belonged, and, therefore, he gave his support to Van Buren. This brought out opposition to him, in the person of General Enoch Parsons, but Judge Clay was elected Governor in August, 1835, by the largest majority ever given any candidate for that office in the State, being upwards of thirteen thousand votes. He was inaugurated as governor in November, 1835.
Governor Clay has been charged with inactivity and neglect of duty during the Creek war, in the spring of 1836. If we were writing a history of those times, we could vindicate him in a most successful manner, for we were then attached to the executive staff, and well remember what transpired. We cannot, however refrain from remarking, that no man ever labored more assiduously to bring into the field a force sufficient to subdue the hostile Indians, and no one ever evinced more willingness to afford relief to his fellow citizens in the Creek nation, or felt for them more anxiety. As soon as he learned, at Tuscaloosa, the alarming condition of the settlers in the Creek nation, he addressed an order to Major General Benjamin Patteson, directing him to bring down a force from North Alabama, to hasten to the seat of war, and to assume the immediate command of all the Alabama troops intended to be employed against the hostiles. At the same time, he addressed a letter to the commandant of the United States arsenal at Mount Vernon, making a requisition upon him for arms, munitions and tent equipage, directing them to be shipped forthwith to Montgomery. At the same time, he also issued an order to Brigadier-General Moore, of the Mobile division, ordering him to send troops to Eufaula, upon the Chattahoochie. He then took a seat in the stage-coach, arrived at Montgomery, and temporarily established his headquarters at that place. It was during a period when provisions of all kinds were scarce and exorbitantly high,-- when the whole country had run mad with speculations -- and when even the elements were in commotion -- tornadoes prostrating trees across the highways, and heavy rains swelling every stream and sweeping off every bridge. Yet, in spite of these things, he assembled a large force from North Alabama, from West Alabama, and from South Alabama. He caused a great quantity of arms, tent equipage and ammunition to be brought up the river from the arsenal at Mount Vernon. He made the most judicious arrangements with highly responsible contractors, who sent forward from New Orleans and Mobile an abundance of subsistence for the army. To meet some pressing necessities, he sold his own bill of exchange to the Bank of Montgomery for the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars. He exerted himself, in gaining over to our side many of the prominent Chiefs. Opothleoholo and eleven principal Chiefs came down to Montgomery by his invitation, to whom he made an ingenious appeal in the ball-room of the Montgomery Hall in the presence of Colonel James E. Belser, Colonel John A. Campbell, Colonel George W. Gayle and the author--who were his aids--and General Patteson, with his staff, among whom were Major J. J. Donegan, Major Withers, and others, who, at this moment, are not recollected. Opothleoholo responded in a "talk" of an hour's length. He concluded, by tendering to Governor Clay his services and those of his people.
In short, an army of near three thousand men was organized, who reached the Creek nation by the time that General Jessup, who had been sent by the Federal Government to assume the command, arrived there.
In June, 1837, Governor Clay was elected to the United States Senate, without opposition, and shortly afterwards resigned the gubernatorial office. He took his seat in the Senate in September, 1837, (an extra session) and served the four succeeding regular sessions, and the extra session of 1841. The journals of the Senate contain evidences of his talent and industry. In consequence of the ill-health of his family, he resigned his seat in the Senate.
Governor Clay is of medium size. He is erect in figure, and walks with elasticity, presenting but few of the marks of age. His eyes are of a dark brown color, expressive and penetrating, and are ever in motion. Nothing escapes his observation; and while conversing with you, even upon a topic highly interesting to him, it is his custom frequently to cast his eyes upon some one who has entered the room, or who is passing the streets, and then upon you. He tells an anecdote well, and is an agreeable companion. He is a brave man, and is exceedingly punctual and honorable in all the relations of life.
Nicholas Davis, a member of the convention from the county of Limestone, will next be noticed. He was born on the 23d of April, 1781, in Hanover county, Virginia, in a region of country familiarly called the "Slashes," where, also, the great orator of Kentucky first saw the light. He descended from the Davis and Ragland families, whose names are preserved in the archives of Virginia, as among the earliest settlers of Yorktown. He was educated in the same county, and partly in the same school, with Henry Clay.
Captain Davis never studied any profession, but has been all his life a farmer. He removed to Alabama in March, 1817, and established himself at "Walnut Grove," in the county of Limestone, where he has resided ever since. After the termination of the convention, he was elected a member of the first legislature of Alabama, which sat at Huntsville in the fall of 1819. In 1820 he was again a member, at Cahawba, where the legislature was permanently established. The people of Limestone placed him in the Senate in 1821, and when he arrived at Cahawba, in the beginning of the winter, he was selected to preside over that body. His impartiality, honesty, firmness, talents and efficiency caused him to be continued in the office of President of the Senate for the period of ten years.
In the preceding memoir, we have alluded to the Congressional canvass in which Captain Davis was engaged in the summer of 1829. It was exceedingly spirited. Governor Clay found him to be a truly honorable and liberal competitor, but a very formidable one. Everywhere Captain Davis met him upon the stump, and exhibited decided evidences of a first-rate popular speaker. At that period, Captain Davis was a man in the prime of life, of commanding person, vigorous constitution, and an honest and generous heart. Possessing a handsome and expressive markable for his physical strength and industrious habits. He has ever been a patron of the turf. His horses have run at New Orleans, Nashville, Mobile, and through the South generally. He was present at the celebrated contest between the horses of Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and James Jackson, of North Alabama, at Huntsville.
Captain Davis still lives at "Walnut Grove," esteemed and respected by all classes and parties. Many refined and intelligent gentlemen in Huntsville and its vicinity, and other portions of North Alabama, deem it their imperative, but most pleasing duty, to pay him two long visits every year. Often his large old loghouse, which he erected when he first came to Alabama, and which he venerates so much that he would not exchange it for a palace, contains forty or fifty visitors at one time, who, for days together, are entertained by his agreeable conversation, fed from his abundant table, and delighted with the survey of his extensive groves, rich fields, happy negroes, fine blooded horses, and sleek and well formed cattle.
Reuben Saffold was born in Wilkes county, Georgia, on the 4th September, 1788. He received such an education as was usually imparted at a common academy, where he made some proficiency in the Latin language. He studied law with --- Paine, of Watkinsville, Clarke county, Georgia, and in that place he entered upon the practice of his profession. In the spring of 1811, he married Mary Phillips, daughter of Colonel Joseph Phillips, then of Morgan county, Georgia, who soon after removed to the southern part of Alabama.
Mr. Saffold, in the spring of 1813, established himself at the town of Jackson, situated upon the Tombigby river, then in the Mississippi Territory. Soon, thereafter, the Indian war broke out, and he at once became actively engaged in the protection of a suffering people and an exposed frontier. Holding at the time the rank of colonel in the militia, he nevertheless raised a company of sixty volunteers, and, as their captain, scoured the thickets from the mouth to the head of the Perdido river, upon which occasion several Indians were killed, while others were driven to the more remote parts of Florida. But before he made this tour he had been a participant, as a private, in the battle of Burnt Corn, and was one of those who fought bravely and retreated among the last. During these early times he was also a member of the legislature of the Mississippi Territory at several sessions. When peace was restored he entered upon the practice of his profession, but in 1819 he was chosen a member of the convention. At the session of the legislature of the State of Alabama, held at Huntsville in the fall of 1819, he was elected, without opposition, one of the circuit judges, and in December of that year he removed to the residence at which he died, in the county of Dallas.
Judge Saffold held the office of circuit judge, under various re-elections, with distinguished ability and honor until January, 1832, when the legislature authorized the organization of a separate Supreme Court. Then he was elected one of the three who were to constitute that court. Upon this new theatre of judicial labor he lost none of the high and deserved reputation which he had acquired in the "court below." At the January term of 1835 Judge Lipscomb resigned the office of chief justice, and Judge Saffold was selected in his place. He occupied this dignified position until the spring of 1836, when he resigned it and bid a final adieu to the bench, having held the office of judge for more than sixteen years. The reports of the Supreme Court of Alabama are enduring memorials of his strength of mind, patient investigation, deep research and profound learning. Before the separate organization, the people of the whole State had it in their power to scan his acts as a circuit judge. They remember him to have been firm and dignified, but not austere. Wherever he presided entire order and decorum prevailed, and he was respected and admired by both clients and attorneys. Such, indeed, was his reputation throughout the State, and such was the confidence reposed in him, that his retirement from the bench was a source of public regret. When Judge Henry Gloldthwaite resigned his seat upon the bench of the Supreme Court, Governor Fitzpatrick tendered the vacancy to Judge Saffold, who declined it.
Judge Saffold, a few years after his resignation, resumed the practice of the law, and pursued it with distinguished success until his death. His political opinions, although he never sought political preferment, and engaged but little in the exciting contests of the times, were well known. He was a democrat. He was warmly devoted to the interests of the South. The firm friend of Texan independence, he rejoiced in her annexation to the United States. A devoted husband and father, it was his fortune to raise a large family, and most nobly did he discharge his duty to them. As a master, he was kind, merciful and just. He never attached himself to any church, yet he was a firm believer in the atonement, and was accustomed to express the confident hope that he had nothing to fear beyond the grave. He died of apoplexy on the 15th February, 1847. He was a large man, with an excellent face, and an exceedingly fine forehead. No man of distinction has ever died in Alabama leaving behind more reputation for legal ability, and for honor, justice and probity.
Israel Pickens was born on the 30th January, 1780, in the county of Mecklenburg, State of North Carolina. He was the second son of Captain Samuel Pickens, a gentleman of French descent, who served his country in the revolutionary war against the British and tories in the two Carolinas. Israel Pickens received his academic education partly in South Carolina, but principally at a school in Iredell county, North Carolina, and finished his studies at Washington College, Pennsylvania, where he also completed his law education. He returned to his native State, established himself at Morganton in the practice of the law, lived there many years, and occasionally represented Burke county in the legislature. In 1811, he was elected to Congress from that district, and continued to represent it till the year 1817. He gave his vote for the war of 1812, and continued a firm supporter of all the prominent measures of President Madison's administration. Mr. Pickens removed to Alabama in 1817, and settled at St. Stephens, where he practiced law, and held the post of Register of the Land Office.
After the death of Governor Bibb, Mr. Pickens was elected as his successor in 1821, and again in 1823, filling up the period allotted to him by the constitution. Very soon after the expiration of his last term as governor, a vacancy occurred in the Senate of the United States by the death of Dr. Chambers, and Governor Pickens was appointed by the executive to fill it. A few days after his departure to Washington city, a letter was received at Greensboro conveying a commission for him as District Judge of the United States for Alabama, which he declined to accept. In the fall of 1826 he resigned his seat in the Senate and returned home, in consequence of a serious affection of the lungs. He died in the Island of Cuba on the 24th April, 1827, at the early age of forty-seven years.
Governor Pickens was six feet high, very slender and erect, with a fair complexion and blue eyes. In all the attributes of a moral nature he was, indeed, a remarkable man. His manners were easy, affable and kind--his temper mild, amiable and always the same. Benevolence was a predominant trait in his character. He had a finished education and talents of a high order-- more solid than brilliant. As a public man, he was very popular, and, although mild and gentle in his deportment, no one was firmer in the discharge of his public duties. He possessed extraordinary mechanical ingenuity, and a great fondness for mathematics, natural philosophy and astronomy. While a student under Dr. Hale, of North Carolina, he invented the lunar dial, by which the time of night could be ascertained by the moon. While a member of Congress, the celebrated Reidheifer pretended to have discovered the perpetual motion, and exhibited a model in Washington city, to the inspection of which he invited the members of Congress. Mr. Pickens, with many others, attended and witnessed its performance; and being satisfied that there was deception in the matter, he returned the next day and gave it a more thorough examination. finding the doors open, he entered, but there was no one within. During this second visit, he detected the fraud and exposed it, by inserting a card in the National Intelligencer, signed "A Member of Congress." This brought forth a bitter reply from the impostor, and a rejoinder from the "Member of Congress," but, in a few days, Reidheifer, model and all, left the city never again to return.*
* A notice of James Jackson, A member of the convention from Autauga, will be found near the close of this volume.