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In the Senate.

It was in that body that his rich learning, his ready information on current topics, and his shining abilities as an orator and debater were displayed to most striking advantage. The great triumvirate, Clay, Webster and Calhoun, were in the Senate then, as were also Cass, Douglas, Bright, Dickinson, King and others of renown, and when Calhoun ere long departed this life the leadership of the States'-Rights party fell upon Jefferson Davis.

The compromise measure of Mr. Clay of 1850 he opposed, and insisted on adhering to the line of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, on the ground that ‘pacification had been the fruit borne by that tree, and it should not have been ruthlessly hewn down and cast into the fire.’ Meeting Mr. Clay and Mr. Berrien, of Georgia, together in the Capitol grounds one day, Mr. Clay urged him in a friendly way to support his bill, saying he thought it would give peace to the country for thirty years, and then he added to Mr. Berrien, ‘You and I will be under ground before that time, but our young friend here may have trouble to meet.’

Mr. Davis replied: ‘I cannot consent to transfer to posterity an issue that is as much ours as theirs, when it is evident that the sectional inequality will be greater than now, and render hopeless the attainment of justice.’ [130]

This was his disposition—never to evade or shift responsibility; and that he did meet it is the reason why the issue is now settled, and that ourselves, not our children, were involved in civil war.

When Clay on one occasion bantered him to future discussion, ‘Now is the moment,’ was the prompt rejoinder. But these collisions of debate did not chill the personal relations of these two great leaders. Henry Clay was full of that generosity which recognized the foeman worthy of his steel, and frequently evinced his admiration and friendship for Jefferson Davis. Besides, there was a tie between them that breathed peace over all political antagonism. Lieutenant-Colonel Clay, the son of the Whig leader, had been slain in the battle of Buena Vista. ‘My poor boy,’ said he to Senator Davis, ‘usually occupied about one-half of his letters home in praising you.’ and his eyes filled with tears. When turning to him once in debate, he said: ‘My friend from Mississippi—and I trust that he will permit me to call him my friend, for between us there is a tie the nature of which we both understand.’

Without following, as indeed I could not in this brief hour, the bearings of questions that came before the Senate during his service, or portraying the scenes of digladiation in which they were dealt with, I but pronounce the general verdict when I say that his great parliamentary gifts ranked him easily with the foremost men of that body. He was measured by the side of the giants of his time, and in nothing found unequal.

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