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One after another of the remarkable men of our country has gone down to the tomb, until the number of the distinguished dead far exceeds that of the living who have become illustrious.
The history and fame of the former constitute the glory and greatness of the country, and the promise of the latter is its hope and admiration. To portray the character of the one is to excite the emulation of the other; and to depict the virtues of a single individual, may be to scatter the seeds that will germinate, and bud, and blossom, and bring forth similar fruit, in due season.
For more than thirty-five years, Mr. Calhoun has been one of the most prominent statesmen in the American Union, and during that long period their history is woven together. No important question has been agitated since he first entered Congress, in which he has not participated, or with which he
has not in some way or other been connected. His biography, therefore, if executed as it ought, should be full of interest to the American reader.
I have been aware, from the first, of the difficulties and embarrassments in the way of preparing a memoir that would be acceptable to both of the parties occupying extreme grounds on the sectional questions with which Mr. Calhoun was identified. It has been my aim, however, to present all things truly; and, having done this, to rely upon the generous kindness of the public. It cannot be that passion and prejudice will follow the dead, to disturb the quiet slumbers of the grave; and if these are forgotten, there can be no doubt that justice will be done to the memory of Mr. Calhoun. He was emphatically a great man,-a model statesman,-one of those who visit us, like angels, “ few and far between."
He lived in eventful times, and his history is full of important incidents. A minute account, therefore, of the details of his life would require a much larger volume than the present. But it is the design of this work to exhibit his character with sufficient distinctness to satisfy the general reader, and faithfully to represent his course and position with reference to the important questions that arose during his
public career. In order to accomplish this object, I have found it necessary to insert a number of his speeches, that he might be allowed to speak for himself far more ably and eloquently than I could hope to do.
In making the selections of the speeches, I have preferred to take those delivered on subjects of great temporary importance, or which are likely to possess a permanent value from their connection with the federal constitution and its proper interpretation.
No apology need be offered for occupying so large a space with the history of Nullification. the great episode in the life of Mr. Calhoun, and the principle of state interposition, or state veto, was very dear to him. “If you should ask me the word,” said he, “that I would wish engraven on my tombstone, it is NullIFICATION.”