The History of New York State
Book XII, Chapter 6, Part 1

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

POLITICS IN NEW YORK STATE
The Decade from 1820 to 1830

The Albany Regency--With this near-defeat of DeWitt Clinton in 1829, New York politics entered a new state. Clinton stood isolated. Ordinarily this would not embarrass him. He had always been independent--had always wished to be marching on, with the party trailing along in his rear. But now he found that the party was independent even of him. The Bucktails were, indeed, the Republican party--or at least the dominating section of that party--in 1820, and Clinton was not of that party.

He was beside himself. He worked himself into a righteous frenzy, or perhaps it would be more correct to say a political frenzy, for he was firmly convinced that religion had no place in politics. "The meekness of Quakerism will do in religion, but not in politics," he said. His frenzy could not, with profit, be turned against the New York government, so he searched for cause against the National Government. He soon had a storming point. Federal offices in New York had been using the patronage of the government against him in the recent campaign, he found. This was an outrage, he protested. He was alarmed. State sovereignty was challenged. With vehemence he called upon the people "to resist these alarming attempts upon the purity and independence of their local governments." When the Bucktail State Senate refused to get excited but instead, called upon him for proofs of his charges against the general government, he urged Clintonians to pursue their investigations with greater vigor. Meanwhile, the Bucktail Senate lost patience, and actually reprimanded the Governor. The Senators thought it "highly improper that the Chief Magistrate of the State should incriminate the administration of the general government, without ample testimony in his possession."

Thus prodded, Clinton proceeded to prod further his collectors of evidence. "Go on with your collections of proofs," he wrote to Post, "I think with a little industry this matter will stand well."

By January, 1821, they had collect a bagful. It was brought into the Legislature, and Clinton's message came to be known as "the Green Bag message." There was little in it, or in the bag, that was important. The most sensational passage had to do with a letter, dated April 4, 1820, from Van Buren to Congressman miens, advising the removal of two or three postmasters, as a warning to Clintonian postal servants who were hindering the free circulation of Bucktail newspapers. "Unless we can alarm them by two or three removals." Van Buren had written, "there is no limiting the injurious consequences that may result from it." Tampering with the mails (at election time) was not so serious an offense then as now. Coming, as the suggestion did, from Van Buren, it appeared in Clinton's mind to be an exposure of almost criminal gravity. He recognized Van Buren as the underlying cause of most of his shrinkage of popularity. "It is very important to destroy this prince of villains," is a sentence of one of Clinton's letters of this period to Post.

The fact that Van Buren was no longer in the state Senate did not set the Governor's mind at rest. There was much ferment, indeed, that was beginning to work actively. The Bucktails replied to Clinton's production of the "postmaster" letter by nominating Van Buren to succeed Nathan Sanford as United States Senator, in march, 1821. The Governor tried to outwit them by encouraging the twenty-four Sanford delegates to "bolt" the legislative caucus, instead of bowing to the Van Buren majority. The Bucktails now had a strong party organization--including control of the Council of appointment--so Clinton's intrigue had little power, and Van Buren received the full party vote.

The Bucktail Council of Appointment proceeded almost as ruthlessly as Clinton and Spencer had in 1801. The only difference was that the dispossessed officials were Clintonian Republicans. True, there were several Federalists, but they were removed only because they were Clintonian. Attorney-General Oakley, Recorder Jay and Mayor Colden of New York, School superintendent Hawley, Adjutant-General Solomon Van Rensselaer, comptroller McIntyre--who had manifested such excessive party zeal against ex-Governor Tompkins in the matter of the unsettled accounts--and all the lesser Clintonian office-holders, county clerks, sheriffs, district attorneys, surrogates, were thought of and soon became men without visible public means of support. The only Clintonian who was permitted to remain in office was Simon DeWitt, the surveyor-general. He, however, had weathered all the patronage storms of forty years, so his removal would have been almost a crime.

It must be conceded that the new Council were either very discerning or very lucky in their selections. Many of the leading officials of the Bucktail regime were especially able men. Among the appointees were three young lawyers, Talcott, Marcy and Butler, who were destined to exercise great influence incoming years. Samuel A. Talcott, who at the age of thirty-two now became attorney-general, as one of Van Buren's choices. He had already shown outstanding merit at the bar, had a remarkable gift of speech and had been very effective both in court and on the public platform. One admirer described Talcott as "overpowering in the weight of his intellect," producing in the minds of his audience "all the sympathy and emotion of which the mind is capable." In many respects, he and Butler were much alike; at least, both were of studious inclination; and both were drawn together by a fondness of the classics as well as by a distaste for politics. Benjamin F. Butler was, of course, now drawn into close professional association with Talcott in his office of district attorney of Albany county. Butler was another of Van Buren's nominees. It would indeed have been strange had Van Buren forgotten him, for Butler had been his legal partner at Albany since 1817. Earlier he had been a law student under Van Buren. The third young lawyer, William L. Marcy, was the new adjutant-general. He was of a different type. He "seemed born for a politician." He had been a "bad boy" in school, restless and inclined more to mischief than to study; and, although he did eventually graduate from Brown University, and open law office in Troy, his time was given more to violent tirades against DeWitt Clinton than to legal practice. Under Tompkins he had been recorder of troy, but had had to pass the office to another when Clinton came back. Then, Marcy tried to practice law, and concurrently edit a Bucktail newspaper in Troy. He was not of prepossessing appearance having been of the abandon of a newspaperman than the conventionality of a gentleman of the bar. Careless of his dress, untidy, though never uncouth, Marcy, seated in his tilted-back chair with his unpolished boots on the table, would hardly impress callers at his law office or editorial sanctum. He was really much better fitted for newspaper work then legal duties. He did nothing particularly striking as a lawyer, but penned such forceful political editorials that Van Buren soon began to take notice of the untidy young man. Marcy was found to have a creditable military record, though not so good as to justify Van Buren in taking the adjutant-generalship from a general so as to bestow it upon a lieutenant. Nevertheless, the Bucktail leader had marked Marcy as such good political material that he must be retained. So the erstwhile lieutenant was given direction of the military forces of the State.

Marcy, Talcott, and Butler constituted what came to be known as the Albany Regency, apolitical group which--by conscientious, honorable work--established such a confidence among local politicians that their power was State-wide for many years. so powerful were they that they were able to take patronage entirely out of the control or interference of the local "boss," and let merit govern almost all the appointments. Other men came into the Regency in later years and in some instances its actions did not always hold to the high standard set by the trop of young lawyers who originated it, but these three undoubtedly carved worthy places for themselves in the political history of New York. #1 Roger Skinner, who was member of the Council of Appointment in 1821, became one of the Regency. Edwin Croswell and Benjamin Knower were identified with it. later came John A. Dix, Azariah C. Flagg, Silas Wright and Charles E. Dudley. Thurlow Weed, who wrote of the name "Albany Regency," said of it that he "had never known a body of men who possessed so much power and used it so well." #2

The Power Behind the Regency--DeWitt Clinton's second term was notable for the holding of a convention which resulted in drastic amendment of the original constitution of the State. The Council of Appointment, so powerful a weapon and so shamelessly used by politicians, was abolished; the County of Revision, which gave control of legislation to a handful of judges, passed away; the Governor was robbed of his former power to prorogue the legislature at his will; the white voters were given extended franchise, property qualification were removed; and Negroes were given limited suffrage. Many offices were made elective; a canal board was to take the place of canal commissioners; many changes were effected in the judiciary department; State officers formerly appointive by the Council were made elective by the joint ballot of Senate and Assembly; the power of veto formerly held by the Council of Revision was to be vested in the Governor, whose veto, however, could be overcome by a two-thirds vote of the legislature. Most of these constitutional changes are reviewed in the Bench and Bar narrative that follows this, therefore it will only be necessary here to take notice of some of the personal aspects of the political changes as they affected the political leaders of that period.

It had long been recognized that the constitution of 177 was now adequate to meet the governmental needs of the people. The sixteen counties of 1790 had become fifty-five in 1820. There had been considerable change in the class of inhabitants. With the steady increase of population had come an ever-increasing percentage of poorer people. The landowners of 1777 were outnumbered many many times by the poorer New England families which had settled, mainly in the western and northern counties, and by the much poorer immigrant families. The State was, however, still largely made up of Native Americans, and while the number of freeholders who were qualified to vote for Governor and Senators was not relatively larger, there was a vast increases of intelligent Americans who rebelled against the restrictive franchise. The scramble for office year after year had made the Council of Appointment odious; the nullifying of legislation by the Council of Revision had seemed a harmful hindrance to the progress of the State; and there were other reasons by the people clamored for reform that would being the government nearer to the principles of Democracy.

This was not an agitation stirred by disgruntled politicians. Men of Clinton's type would ever cling dearly to the old order, which gave them such power. Van Buren was no better. He was making very good use of the Council of Appointment, which to party leaders was as a strong right arm. The State was marching onto Democracy, and if those of the old order did not care to fall into line, there was only one alternative--they would be left behind. Tammany was in the forefront of the advancing Democrats and was bent on exposing the falsity of Clinton's Democracy. They raised disturbing commotion during the election campaign of 1820; and, in the face of the resultant legislative supremacy of the Bucktails, Clinton could not afford to ignore the commotion. He strove to forestall, perhaps to stave off, the inevitable. Tammany demanded unlimited powers to amend the constitution, but the Governor was very decidedly averse to the granting of such a radical demand. Still, he went so far as to address the Legislature in November, 1820, recommending that the question be put to the people. He would like the people to think that he was taking the initiative in their interests, but few politicians were deceived. Most of then saw as clearly as Clinton that such a formality as he recommended might result in confusion and no change. At the very least, it would delay the change. In any case, Bucktails were not then disposed to support the administration. Whatever Clinton suggested would naturally arouse their suspicion; and in this case the Governor's message could only spur the Bucktail Legislature to quicker contrary action. Their reply to Clinton took the shape of a bill which authorized--instead of asked the people for permission to authorize--the holding of a convention with unlimited powers. They did not ignore the people, for, according to the bill, all constitutional amendments decided upon in convention were to be put to the people, for ratification or rejection.

Clinton was thus denied the role of reformer. He retaliated by trying to checkmate the reformers. But before the bill authorizing the convention could become law, it must of course be approved by the Council of Revision. The Governor hoped that this board would veto it. He would prefer that they should do so without him. He would rather stand aloof, for such an attitude would strengthen his position with the people. This council of judges did not hold a Clintonian majority, even with himself, so he had to proceed cautiously. He watched for a favorable opportunity. It came while two members of the council, Judges Van Ness and Platt were holding court. Then, with only one Bucktail member, Joseph C. Yates, available, the Governor hurriedly called the Council of Revision into session. The other members were Chancellor Kent, Chief-Justice Ambrose Spencer, and Associate-Justice Woodworth. Kent was an unbending Federalist of the old order; Spencer and Woodworth were Clintonians. What better chance could Clinton have of putting the onus or odium of action upon the council. They would reject it, of course, and his hands would be clean. Kent was true to prediction; he thought that the Legislature had no constitutional power to create a convention to tamper with the constitution, until the people had directly authorized them to do so. Spencer concurred, of course. Yates took an opposite view, as a stalwart Bucktail naturally would, and, much to the amazement and chagrin of Clinton, Judge Woodworth sided with Yates. Thus the vote was tied, making is necessary after all for the Governor to register his casting vote. He gave it, killing the measure, the odium of the veto coming, of course, directly upon him.

To be forced so unfavorably into public view annoyed Clinton. That he should be placed in such a predicament by the defection of one who had formerly been his "creature" exasperated him even more, as a letter written by Clinton to Post soon afterwards shows. The Governor write: "Yates and Woodworth were both frightened and have damned themselves. The latter supposed also that he would distinguish himself by his independence. I intend the first convenient opportunity to cut him to the quick. Y. . . . is a miserable fellow--the dupe of his own vanity, and the tool of bad principles." #3

The Legislature, though dominantly Bucktail, did not possess the necessary two-thirds majority and so could not override the veto; therefore the veto held. But, during the regular session which began in January, 1821, an amendment was accepted, putting the simple question of a convention, or no convention, to the people. The popular vote was registered in April, the people demanding a convention. Election of delegates followed in due course, and on august of the same year the convention, which included in its membership some of the most distinguished men of the State, began its labors. The ened did not come until November to, 1821, and at election held in February of 1822 their work of tearing out of the constitution its most obnoxious parts, was endorsed. The people voted on the amendments, which were submitted as a whole, as follows: For, 74,732; against, 41,402.

Among the delegates who did not approve of the amendments, and who would not sign the new constitution, were many of the great men of the old order. They included Chancellor James Kent, Chief Justice Ambrose Spencer, Vice-President Daniel D. Tompkins, Justice William W. Van Ness, Jacob R. Van Rensselaer, Stephen Van Rensselaer, James Tallmadge, Jr., Jonas Platt and Peter A. Jay. Van Buren's name is noticeable among the signers. Other notable signers were Rufus King, Erastus Root, Samuel Nelson, Nathan Sanford, Samuel Young, and Ogden Edwards. As the voting for the convention president showed, it was a Bucktail gathering to all intents. Daniel D. Tompkins was chosen to preside, by a vote of ninety-four against sixteen. Of the ten committee chairmen, all save two--Rufus King and James Tallmadge--were Bucktails. Party fealty was much in evidence, notwithstanding that Elisha Williams--who by the way was of the minority--warned the convention against action "dictated by the tyrant of party." "Party, sir, is the gourd of a day," he pointed out; "it flourishes in the night of deception, but withers when the full rays of investigation are brought to beam upon it." Still, there were some quite prominent Bucktails who did not sign the new constitution.

Chancellor James Kent typified the conservatives, and Erastus Root the liberals. Van Buren was of the new order, but level-headed, though in one instance--as to the Negrofranchise--he was more radical than Root. The latter would give almost universal suffrage to white people but he barred Negroes. Van Buren and a bare majority voted to eliminate the word "white" They would even have admitted Negroes to the freeholder class. They did not succeed, but the aristocratic Federalists were horrified at the very thought. All the prejudices of the landowning class, all the apprehensions of the so-called aristocrats, were voiced in Chancellor Kent's objections to the enlargement of the electoral franchise. He would not, under any consideration, admit the blacks and was opposed to a lowering of the property qualification of freeholders of white race. "By the report before us," he said, " we propose to annihilate, at one stroke, all property distinctions, and to bow before the idol of universal suffrage. That extreme democratic principle had been regarded with terror by the wise men of every age, because in every European republic, ancient and modern in which it has been tried, it was terminated disastrously, and been productive of corruption, injustice, violence, and tyranny. And dare we flatter ourselves that we are a peculiar people, who can run the career of history exempted from the passions which have disturbed and corrupted the rest of mankind? If we are like other races of men, with similar follies and vices, then I Greatly fear that our posterity will have reason to deplore in sackcloth and ashes the delusion of the day." #4 The chancellor's speech had little effect; it became merely an utterance after Van Buren had spoken. While the straight-thinking man from Kinderhook deprecated "a precipitated and unexpected prostration of all qualifications, and looked with dread upon the great increase of voters in New York City," where the irresponsible, propertyless majority might render elections a curse instead of a blessing. Yet he could not shut his eyes to the fact that "property had been as safe in those American communities which had given universal suffrage as in the few which retained a freehold qualification." In any case, he realized that violence rarely kept within the law. Directly addressing the Chancellor, Van Buren, with great earnestness, declared "that whenever the principles of order and good government should yield to anarchy and violence, all constitutional provisions would be idle and unavailing." The Bucktail leader, as usual, had the irrefutable facts and the cold logic; but Chancellor Kent merely expressed the repugnance of the cultured having to "rub shoulders" with the uncouth.

Erastus root would have abolished all the courts, and transferred equity from chancery to the new common-law courts. Root, particularly, wished to unseat the existing judges. This might have pleased Van Buren also had he been vindictive, but he had great respect for the department of justice. He would not willingly sprag the wheels of justice and he would not disturb the courts, merely to unseat one whom he recognized as his most relentless enemy. Van Buren referred to Justice William W. Van Ness, who had assailed him wit unyielding hostility--political, professional, and personal--throughout his whole life. "But, sir," said Van Buren, "am I on that account to indulge my individual resentment in the prostration of my private and political adversary? If I could be capable of such conduct, I should forever despise myself." #5 he went so far as to suggest that, no matter what changes were made in the judicial system, the justices of the Supreme Court then in the office be not removed until their number had been reduced to three--by death, resignation, or age limitation.

Van Buren was chairman of the most vital committee- that on State patronage. Here, he saw that the must exercise caution. Radical theories make excellent platforms but poor governments. Van Buren favored the abolishment of the Council of Appointment, but, with convenient inconsistency, strove to transfer some of its most vital political power to his own little group of party managers--the Albany Regency. He did not object to the election of the whole of the 8,287 military officers by the rank and file--at least all except 78 generals; and of the 6,663 civil servants he would retain only 453 under the appointive system. But these were the "king pins." This reserved class would, by his plan, be appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the Senate. The Albany Regency would, if course, have some chance of controlling this central appointing body, whereas patronage power would pass from them altogether if all offices were made elective--at least if the people were to be the electors; he did not object to election by the representatives of the people, e. g., by the legislators. Of the local officials, the only classes that Van Buren would reserve for appointment were the judges and the justices of the peace. These dignitaries might be expected to have, and usually did have, considerable political influence in their home districts. Through them, the shrewd Van Buren hoped to control the State.

The full intent of Van Buren's scheme was observed by many. It stirred some to expostulations. Rufus King thought that the election of justices "was the very essence of home rule." Ogden Edwards, speaking for Tammany, said: "The unanimous vote of this convention had shown that the Council of appointment was an evil. A unanimous sentence of condemnation had been passed upon it, and I had not expected so soon to find a proposition for its revival." Not all of the Bucktail delegates voted for Van Burens' plan. Nevertheless, in the end, it was substantially adopted.

Thus Van Buren comes into the record as the most effective of the constitution-makers of 1821; and for a long time after he was the power behind the Regency.

DeWitt Clinton suffered a little by the constitutional changes. Governors thereafter were to be elected for only two years instead of three, and elections were to take place in November, instead of April. The Bucktail convention had even nibbled part of his own term off, for he would have to g out of office on January 1, 1823, instead of six months later.

Clinton's Enemies Active--Chance of re-election did not look bright in 1822. Clinton was, indeed, "much in the condition of a pastor without a congregation," said Thurlow Weed, who was destined to take come part in this election. Clinton's friends--or to be more correct, his political advisers, for he had very few friends--saw that the Bucktails were in such firm control of the situation that Clinton's chance of re-election was well-nigh nil. They did not hesitate to tell him so. For a time he did not believe them; he would not believe it. "Like a caged tiger, he bit at the bars that seemed to limit his ambition." Finally, he had to content himself with the confident assurance that two years hence he would return and that then Van Buren and his kind would "go down like the stick of a rocket."

The question of what Clinton would or would not do in 1822 did not trouble Bucktails. The party caucus had had no thought of considering him for nomination. Their minds had been quite made up--by Van Buren and the Albany Regency--that the nomination was to be between Joseph C. Yates and Samuel Young. The latter was the more capable, but Yates was more amenable to control. He was a kindlier nature, less masterful and had always pleased where Young had invariably irritated. So Yates was nominated, much tot h e chagrin of Young, who lost no opportunity during the next two years of venting his spleen upon the inoffensive nominee. Clintonians nominated nobody, and neither did the Federalists, for they saw that they had no chance. It seemed as though Yates would be unopposed, until the thriftless, unstable dreamer, Solomon Southwick, suddenly made up his mind that they had a chance and announced that he would himself stand as an independent candidate.

He had about as much justification for standing as he had for promising to return borrowed money upon a certain date with lottery winnings. Southwick, with about as much logic, thought that agriculturists would cast aside party allegiance and vote for him because he edited "The Ploughboy," and that Christians throughout the State would forget the Bucktail candidate and give him their votes because he published the "Christian Visitant." Southwick was a good writer, and he was at times especially forceful with his pen on political subjects. Consequently he was treated with some degree of deference by tactful political leaders; but only such an illogical visionary mind as his would have failed to realize that such acquaintanceship with the great did not necessarily make his illustrious. Southwick, like many others of the world's brilliant failures, could never see the clear black line that lay between hope and reality, between theory and practice. He was as blind as a bat to everything that stood between him and his desires. In his own estimation, he was one of Dame Fortune's especial favorites. He always imagined, nay, was sure, that the next lottery held a great fortune for him. As a consequence, he was always poor. Possibly, Clinton, in his fanciful hopes, was at that moment "tarred with the same brush" as Southwick. He probably did not put such implicit trust in lotteries, but certainly Clinton let his desires run away wit his reason when, in August, he thought he saw victory for Southwick. "Yates is unpopular," he declared, " and Southwick will beat him in this city and in Schenectady." Southwick had been reckless enough to give Thurlow Weed, a young journeyman-printer, a horse and wagon and a roving canvassing commission to search for something that he was sure was there--in fact, everywhere throughout the State. The young man, like Don Quixote, search diligently, though with better sense. Weed, however, could not find that popular sentiment was running to meet Southwick with open arms. "I soon discovered," he states in his autobiography, "that my friend's hopes and chances were not worth even the services of a horse that was dragging me through the mud." #6

Judge Yates was to al intents unopposed. Out of a total of 131,403 votes cast, Southwick only received 2,910. Obviously, the farmers and the Christian did not value Southwick's editorial services very highly. Still, it is doubtful whether even a strong candidate would have drawn very many votes from the Bucktail candidate at that time. Maybe, Clinton himself would have fared as badly. The issue was the constitution. The people wished to register their thankfulness for the governmental changes. So the new Legislature was to all intents a Bucktail Parliament. The party possessed every seat in the Senate, while in the Assembly the Clintonian and Federalist members were so few as to constitute only negligible factors.

Thus, the administration of Governor Yates seemed likely to prove smooth. It cannot be said that he found the road rough. He was of that type which avoids rough roads, but traveling was not always as pleasant as one might suppose. The Governor was helpless I many respects, and it soon became clear to him that what little authority he had ever possessed had been left behind when he stepped from the Supreme Court bench tot he Governor's chair. He now had no need for authority, nor for originality, or initiative. The Albany Regency guided his hands so faithfully that he had not the least need to use his brain. For along time the governor followed meekly, and on the two occasions that the did raise his hand in protest against the edicts of the Regency he proved to be the greater sufferer in the end. So, after two years of executive emptiness, he was glad to step down--if only to escape from the power behind the throne.

Some exciting happenings must be recorded of the Yates period, but they were not of his making. His administration was colorless. In the matter of appointments, Governor Yates had no voice at all. Of course, by the new constitution, the power of appointment was vested in him, but he found that unless his opinions coincided wit those of the Regency, unless those whom he named for appointment were the same as those of whom the Regency approved--or shall we say recommended, his appointees might wait until doomsday for final action by the Senate, and then find the Senate still disinclined to confirm. Yates abhorred dissension. He had not been blessed with as much grit as some of his predecessors--as John Jay, for instance, who when faced by the resistance of the impertinent young giant, DeWitt Clinton, in 1801, had met it by refusing to appoint anyone. Yates would not go to such extremes. He would rather yield. So, perhaps, the most we can say of Yates is that he furnished Thurlow Weed with the reason for the name he found for the small capital group of governing lawyers who were coming into the story as the Albany Regency. Undoubtedly, a regency existed, Governor Yates having abdicated. Fortunately, the regents did not abuse their power--at least not for some time. The Regency was strong in wisdom, cautions, through the political experience of the statesman who guided the Regency. After the body had grown familiar with power, it committed some costly errors, but at the beginning its actions were as cautious as they were regular. Soon after the opening of the first legislative session under the new constitution, the Regency recommended that the Legislature meet in caucus, to decide upon those officers whom the Legislature must consider for office, and, under the new order, must elect. It was a regular action by the party as a whole; nevertheless, it was to all intents action by the Regency. The governor was no doubt pleased that his nephew, John Van Ness Yates should be chosen for the secretaryship of state. He had no objection to the advancement of William L. Marcy to the comptrollership, though this preferment brought keen disappointment to James Tallmadge, Jr. The selection of Nathan Sanford to succeed James Kent, as chancellor, could not be interpreted as the removal of the latter, for, as a matter of fact the Great Commentator had reached the constitutional age-limit. The Governor got into trouble in connection with the other judicial changes. Eighteen months before, at the convention, Chief Justice Ambrose Spencer had declared, or had let it be inferred, that as soon as the constitution went into effect he would resign. He had not resigned, but the Bucktails had no doubt that he would. So on January 29, 1823, John Savage was appointed chief justice. The appointment was hastily made, and Spencer never forgave Governor Yates. He charged the latter with "playing politics," and the Governor had to bear it with as good grace as possible. As a matter of fact, Yates was at that time only striving to cooperate readily with the Legislature--to oil the wheels of government, as it were. The judicial changes were many. The Supreme Court very soon became quite different from the old court which had exercised such political influence. William W. Van Ness, the relentless adversary of Van Buren, had apparently not expected the latter to long hold to the noble unselfishness he had professed in the convention. He resigned from the bench, and went south--for his health. He was destined never to return, death closing his brilliant career on February 27, 1823. His physical strength had spent itself long before his intellectual brilliance ha ever been dulled. But this relentless reviler of Van Buren was now silenced forever.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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