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meet. His diplomatic communications gave evi-
great domestic question of free trade.
Robert J. Walker, who was assigned to the Treasury Department, had also for many years been a distinguished Member of the Senate, where his powers were illustrated and gave indications of what might be expected from his extraordinary energy, in the responsible position to which he was
called in the Cabinet of Mr. Polk. He possessed solidity, without being brilliant, and always exhausting the subject which he was investigating, he rarely failed to produce an impression upon the Senate. It was only when he was aroused by the magnitude of the subject under discussion, that he employed all that was gorgeous, yet pointed, in the arts of oratory. At such moments his sarcasm and irony told with great effect upon his adversary. Ordinarily, however, his power consisted in argumentation, and in that field he had but few equals. It was chiefly upon his labors as Secretary of the Treasury, that he will rest his claims to an enduring fame. It was in that department that he employed all the energies of his nature, and the resources of his vast and varied acquirements, in the advocacy of free trade. We have only to look over the voluminous pages which he submitted to Congress, crowded with facts and arguments, to become satisfied that his mind was absorbed with the one idea which his pen so faithfully illustrated. The subject was greatly embarrassed by the war with Mexico, and the success with which he carried the financial credit of the country through that contest, proved him incontestably the ablest financier whom our country has produced since the days of Robert Morris. The opposition of Webster and Evans, and the denunciations of the whig party, could not arrest the success of that policy, which triumphed over the assaults of its enemies, and more than realized the warmest anticipations of its friends.
The appointment of Mr. Marcy as Secretary of War was another fortunate movement for Mr. Polk. As Governor of the State of New York, and one of her judges, he had obtained a high reputation. With a grasp of comprehension which enabled him at once to master a subject, and a force and appositeness of reasoning which demonstrated his views, a soundness of judgment, and an intimate knowledge of men, he was well fitted by nature and education to become the confidential adviser of the President, and the head of the War Department. The Mexican war served to develope the great features of his character. The adoption of the celebrated plan of the campaign, and its successful prosecution, in all its parts, required the resources of an intellect of no ordinary description. The patience with which he received and replied to the complaints which the officers of the army made to him, were generally characterized by frankness and urbanity, and it was only in his response to the charges made by General Scott against the administration and the War Department, that he indulged in a bitterness of sarcasm which added point and force to the crushing and irresistible reply.
George Bancroft, the historian, was appointed Secretary of the Navy. He occupied that position but a brief period, however, when he was appointed the successor of Mr. Everett at the Court of St. James. His selection by Mr. Polk as one of the members of his Cabinet, was not only a proper tribute to his vast and varied acquirements as a
scholar, but to his ability as a man. Deeply versed in the lore of ancient and modern times, his writings display evidences of profound thought and thorough study; and without possessing transcendent abilities, or a brilliant genius, his works bear evidence of careful preparation and logical and argumentative power. As a speaker, his manner is not prepossessing. Nature has not favored him with a rich and melodious voice, or a dignified and attractive presence.
But the gorgeous imagery and the sparkling gems which ornament his language, gild the philosophical thought and classical erudition, and display the intellectual wealth which years of research have enabled him to acquire.
Not only has he obtained great celebrity as an essayist and historian, but the policy which he advocated while at the head of the Navy Department gave him the character of an accomplished statesman. While his views were sufficiently enlarged and liberal, they received the approbation of one of the most ultra economists and reformers in the House of Representatives.*
Twice have individuals who had illustrated the pages of English literature, been called to preside over the Navy Department, and the same honor should have been conferred upon another,$ whose experience in early life and subsequent investigations, eminently qualified him for the discharge of its duties. His pen has not only adorned the annals
* James J. McKay, of North Carolina.
of our country with his splendid naval history, but has contributed to American literature its brightest gems, and which will only perish with the English language.
The Post Office Department was filled by Cave Johnson, of Tennessee, who had been for many years one of the most influential Members of the House of Representatives. He had obtained great celebrity for his inflexible honesty, laborious industry, and for the vigilance with which he guarded the public treasury. Gifted with an integrity which was above suspicion, he was a terror to all who are endeavoring to obtain the sanction of Congress to fraudulent claims; and whenever his tall and venerable form was seen to rise for the purpose of addressing the House in opposition to private claims which were not founded in justice, the agents who had been preparing them knew that their fate was sealed. Perhaps no member exercised so great an influence over the House of Representatives during his Congressional career as Mr. Johnson. His long service in that body, his standing and ability, and the argumentative and persuasive eloquence which characterized his speeches, always produced a remarkable effect upon that body. Mild and courteous in his manner, he won the respect of his political opponents, while his unshaken attachment to his friends bound them to him by the warmest ties. The constancy of his affection for men was only surpassed by his devotion to principle; and nothing less than a thorough conviction of utter worthlessness, would induce him to abandon a man whom he