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[17]

He superintended the extension of the capitol building; he cooperated with Bache in the scientific development of the coast survey; he interested himself in the Smithsonian Institute; he forwarded the scientific study of the problems of the Mississippi river; he directed surveys for a railway to the Pacific; he revised the army regulations; he introduced light infantry or the rifle system of tactics; he inaugurated the manufacture of rifles, pistols and the use of the minie ball; he induced the addition of four regiments to the army, and organized a cavalry service adapted to the wants of the country; he augmented the seacoast and frontier defenses; he had the western part of the continent explored for scientific, geographical and railroad purposes. He was universally recognized as a great secretary of war, and few have filled that high office who left behind him more enduring monuments of wise and efficient administration.

Let us now return to Mr. Davis' career as a senator.

That was the era of senatorial giants. Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Benton, Seward, Benjamin, Douglas, Toombs, and a host of other men hardly less distinguished adorned its rolls and formed a galaxy of genius such as has rarely been gathered in any deliberative body. It is not too much to say that Jefferson Davis promptly took his place amongst the foremost of them all, and won speedy and universal recognition as inferior to none in power of debate, in forensic eloquence, in indomitable courage and tact, in breadth and depth of knowledge, and in masterly equipment for all the duties of practical and philosophic statesmanship.

The times were stirring; the flames of sectional agitation and conflict which had smoldered since the Missouri compromise had been fanned into new life by the admission of Texas as a State, and were now burning fiercely about the disposition which should be made of the territories of California and New Mexico, recently acquired under the treaty with Mexico, and of the remaining territories of the Louisiana purchase. It was a renewal of that fatal sectional strife between the Northern and Southern States, which continued to rage with growing fury and intensity until it culminated in the secession of the Southern States and the consequent long and bloody war. It is important to have a just understanding of the true nature and scope of those controversies. An entirely false conception of their true nature and scope has grown up and been assiduously cultivated to the effect that it was a contest between the essential principles of liberty and slavery. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Whatever may have 2

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