Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> An Oration on the Life, Character, and Services of John Caldwell Calhoun, Delivered on the 21st November 1850, in Charleston, S.C., at the Request of the City Council >> Page 291

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Page 291

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 291
extraordinary and dangerous degree. But the enemies
of every distinguished man have said the same. He
undoubtedly desired power. But there is no evidence
to be found, either in his conduct or in his words, that
he ever stooped to any mean compliance to obtain it,
or that, when obtained, he ever used it but in the
purest manner and for the welfare of his whole coun-
try. The nature of his ambition was well tested.
Eight years Vice-President ; for as long a period a
Minister of State ; six years in the House of Repre-
sentatives, and fifteen in the Senate of the United
States, he enjoyed all the power of the highest offices
of our Government, save the very highest, and that
he would in all human probability have attained, but
that his aspirations were subordinate to his principles,
and these led him to repudiate his party, and throw
himself into opposition to its corruptions when it was
at the zenith of its power.
That he did not reach the Presidency, and that no
other statesman of the first rank has had the slightest
prospect of reaching it for the last five and twenty
years, are among the most striking proofs of the down-
ward tendency of our Federal Institutions.
In private life Mr. Calhoun was remarkably acces-
sible. Open, unsuspicious, mild in his manners and
uniformly warm, cheerful, and hopeful, he was interest-
ing, instructive and agreeable to all who had the hap-
piness to know him. While in every domestic relation
his conduct approached as near perfection as we can
suppose human nature capable of doing.
The intellect of Mr. Calhoun was cast in the Gre-
cian mould : intuitive, profound, original--descending
to the minutest details of practical affairs ; and soaring