« FöregåendeFortsätt »
was one delegate in Congress, there are now sixteen Senators, thirtyfive Members of Congress and five delegates. There will be quite an increase of the number of Members of Congress under the new apportionment.
Edward Hempstead was born in New London, Conn., on the 3d of Jun, 1780, and in the very throes of the revolutionary war. He was the second son of Stephen Hempstead, who was just entering on the stage of manhood when the war of independence broke out. The family belonged to the earliest settlers of the Connecticut colony. No sooner had the intelligence of the battle of Lexington, April 18, 1775, reached New London, than young Hempstead, then 22 years old, volunteered as a private soldier in the service of his country. He went with the first troops who assembled at Boston after the battle of Lexington, participated in the battle of Bunker Hill and saw the British evacuate Boston. He was with Washington, and arrived at New York in July, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read to the troops. He witnessed the pulling down of the royal insignia, and heard the words "Free, Sovereign and Independent States” repeated and acclaimed. In the same year he was one of the forlorn hope sent on a most perilous expedition in the "fire ships" to burn the British man-ofwar Asia, of eighty-four guns, then on the Hudson river above New York. He was a sergeant in the company of Capt. Nathan Hale, the * martyr'spy.” The steadfast and devoted friend of that brave generous and accomplished young officer, he accompanied him on his fatal mission. In 1811 he removed to St. Louis, where his son had preceded him, and settled on a farm a few miles from the present city. He was a man of much intelligence, of the strictest probity, and was possessed of all the elements of the best type of the New England character. He was universally respected, and died lamented by all who had known him. He and all his family were the firm friends of Col. Benton, and their friendship was fully reciprocated by that distinguished man down to the last day of his life. It was my fortune to serve in the House of Representatives of the thirty-fourth Congress with Col. Benton, and knowing the connection which I held by marriage to many of the earlier settlers of St. Louis, who were equally his friends, he was always very cordial to me.
I recollect that I made a call upon him on the evening of New Year's day, in 1856. I found him quite alone and in excellent spirits. He commenced at once to speak of the Hempsteads and the Gratiots, and of the olden times in St. Louis. Of Mr. Hempstead, the father, he spoke in the most expressive and beautiful language. He said: “Mr. Hempstead was a true and brave man, a man pure and without reproach, fearing God and discharging every public and private duty
with scrupulous exactness; he united benevolence with true piety, and in him patriotism was sublimated to the highest degree. In the words of the scripture, he has been blessed in all his generation.' Missouri met with an irreparable loss when his son, Edward Hempstead, died, No man could have stood higher in public or private estimation, and had he lived he would have received every honor that the State could bestow, and would certainly have been the first United States Senator, He lost his life in serving a friend, Mr. Scott. I was with him the night of his death.” Here he paused a moment, as if in thought, and then continued abruptly:
“Sir, how we did things in those days! After being up with my dead friend all night, I went to my office in the morning to refresh my. self a little before going out to bury him five miles from the town. While sitting at my table writing, a man brought me a challenge to fight a duel. I told the bearer instanter: 'I accept, but I must now go and bury a dead friend; that is my first duty. After that is discharged I will fight to-night, if possible, if not, to-morrow morning at daybreak. I accept your challenge, sir, and Col. Lawless will write the acceptance and fix the terms for me.” I was outraged, sir, that the challenge should have been sent when I was burying a friend. I thought it might have been kept a few days, but when it came I was ready for it." This conversation so impressed me that I wrote it out immediately after my return to my lodgings.
This was the first duel which Col. Benton had with Capt. Charles Lucas, fought on Bloody Island, in August, 1817. The result of the second and fatal duel between the same parties, fought on the 27th of the succeeding month, is known to you all.
Mr. Edward Hempstead received a classical education under the tuition of the Rev. Amos Bassett, a gentleman of piety and learning, in the town of Hebron, Conn. He early began the study of law in his native State, first under Sylvester Gilbert, Esq., and finished under Enoch Huntington, Esq. He was licensed in 1801, and commenced practice in Connecticut. From there he removed to Newport, R. I., where he became a partner of the Hon. Asher Robbins, afterwards a distinguished member of the National Senate from that State. After remaining two years at Newport, though he gained a good reputation at the bar, and the avenue to a complete success seemed open to him, he determined to seek a home west of the Mississippi. Louisiana had then been purchased from France, and with prophetic vision he saw that
“Westward the star of empire takes its way."
For a young man with no resources but his own character and abil. ities to leave staid New England to settle in a country half-way across the continent, and just acquired from a foreign nation, was the conception of a stout heart and inpsired by a great ambition.
He left Newport, R. I., in June, 1804, and traveled on horseback (at that day almost the only conveyance west of the Alleghany mountains) to Vincennes, in the Territory of Indiana, where he arrived in due time. Finding that the civil laws of our government had not yet been extended over Upper Louisiana, he remained at Vincennes until the fall of that year (1804), when he accompanied the Governor of Indiana Territory, General William H. Harrison, to St. Louis, who visited that district or portion of Upper Louisiana to organize the civil government, courts, etc. This province had just before that time been attached by act of Congress to the Territory of Indiana for governmental and judicial purposes. Mr. Hempstead's arrival at St. Louis was but a few months after the formal transfer of the sovereignty of Upper Louisiana from France to the United States had taken place.
At this time, in the fall of 1804, the town could not have contained a population of more than one thousand souls, and there were but very few English speaking families. There was not a brick house, or even a brick chimney in the place. The town was then almost as thorroughly French as any provincial town in France to-day, with French language, French usages, habits and manners. There is nothing in history more touching than the devotion and affection which the French residents of St. Louis at that time had for the mother country. Though many of them had been driven out of their country by the storms of the revolution, yet the love of La Belle France was with them a supreme and ruling passion. They bore with them through all their relations, and all the vicissitudes of their frontier life, all the habits, the customs and usages of their own beloved France. For long years, when under French political and social domination, St. Louis was a center of commerce and of fashion. Many of these early French settlers were men of enterprise, intelligence and energy, and, though far removed from civilization, they preserved much of the polish and grace characteristic of their nationality. It was on the 10th day of March, 1804 that the transfer of sovereignty was made. It was with feelings of sadness and regret that the great mass of French residents of St. Louis found their allegiance severed from France. This transfer of the sovereignty sank deep in their hearts. On the 10th of March, 1804, tenderly and reverently the proud ensign of France was lowered in the presence of a great multitude and amidst tears and sighs, and then was flung to the breeze of heaven the starry banner of our own republic on the balcony of the residence of Charles Gratiot, who saluted with respect and affection this emblem of his adopted country. Adapting themselves
with wonderful facility to the new order of things, the population soon became reconciled to the change. A new impetus was given to trade and business, and immigration began to flow in. An era of prosperity was opened up to them, of which they had little dreamed and soon realized how beneficial was the change of sovereignty to every interest; they became loyal, true and devoted American citizens. If a disgression could be pardoned, I might speak of some of these early French residents of St. Louis, whom it was my pleasure and happiness to know, but my time will only permit me to mention the one whom I knew the best. This man was Pierre Chouteau, Jr., who, as a merchant and a man of business for nearly half a century had no equal in the Mississippi valley. He had the genius of commerce, a bold spirit, and an unerring sagacity. So long the successful manager of the American Fur Company, he acquired a reputation through all the vast northwest which made his name everywhere the synonym of commercial honor and personal integrity. In his personal appearance he was remarkable, and no one who had ever seen him could forget him. Tall of stature, erect, and of splendid proportions, his coal-black hair, tinged with gray in his late years, his keen, penetrating black eye, his pleasant and sunny countenance, his French vivacity, his voice strong, vibrating, accentuated, his courtly but frank manners, made an impression at once lasting and agreeable.
Mr. Hempstead first settled at St. Charles, on the Missouri river, where he opened an office and practiced his profession for about one year. Here he devoted himself to the acquisition of the French language, and to the study of the French and Spanish laws.
Though his residence at St. Charles was only a brief one, yet, during that time, he was appointed to and held several offices of high trust and importance connected with the courts. In the fall of 1805 he removed to and established himself at St. Louis, the seat of Government of Upper Louisiana. There he at once entered into a most extensive, laborious and successful practice of his profession, not only in the courts of law, but before the tribunal established for the purpose of adjusting land claims and titles derived from the Spanish and French Governments in Upper Louisiana. Thoroughly studied in this branch of his profession, he was rewarded with corresponding success. He not only practiced in the courts of St. Louis, but in the adjacent districts on the west side, and those in the “Illinois country,” as it was then called, on the east side of the Mississippi river. In 1806 he was appointed deputy Attorney-General for the districts of St. Louis and St. Charles, to the Territory of Upper Louisiana. In March, 1809, he received from Governor Merriwether Lewis the appointment of Attorney-General for that Territory, which he accepted and held until 1812, and the duties of which highly important office he performed with eminent ability, firmness and efficiency.
I quote from a memoir of Mr. Hempstead, written by his friend Col. Benton, in 1818: “Soon after his settlement in St. Louis, Mr. Hempstead married into one of the most respectable families of the place, but left no surviving issue. His private life was an example of all that is desirable in the character of husband, father, and neighbor. In that of son and brother he has had but few parallels. No sooner did he find himself established in his new residence in Missouri than his filial affections went in search of his parents and relatives, whom he had left in Connecticut when setting out to lay the foundation of his own fortunes in a country so remote and so little known. He brought them to Missouri, established his aged parents in a comfortable home, and extended the assistance of a father to his brothers and sisters. Traits of this kind display the heart; they show the material of which it is made, and speak a higher eulogy than the tongue or pen of friendship can confer."
In this connection, and particularly in reference to the interest taken by Mr. Hempstead in his family, I can not forbear to quote a letter written by him to his brother, the father of the donor of this portrait, and just as he was entering upon the practice of his profession at Ste. Genevieve. It shows the elevated character of the man, and is as an “apple of gold in a picture of silver:”
"St. Louis, January 13, 1815. “You are leaving me and beginning for yourself much sooner and at a much earlier age of life than is common. It behooves you, therefore, to be most cautious and prudent. As it respects your conduct as a man, remember that you are going to a place more dissipated than this, and where many of the first men in society are addicted to cardplaying. As you have never begun, continue the resolution never to gamble, be the inducement what it may. Fall not into the habit many have of drinking. Be free and sociable with your equals in age and standing, but be circumspect with those older than yourself. Be careful in avoiding a misunderstanding with any man; if, however, it can not be prevented, when you are right stick to it to the end.
“ Touching your profession, close and constant study and reflection are now very necessary, more especially as you will have to contend with gentlemen of long standing and of high reputation at the bar. Trust more to books for forms, and to memory for principles. Let all your declarations and pleadings be taken from established precedents. Encourage no one to commence a suit when he is wrong, nor where he can not succeed. Always make a bargain for the price you are to re