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the time passed pleasantly away until my retirement was interrupted by an invitation to take a place in the cabinet of Pierce, who had been elected to the presidency of the United States in November, 1852. Although warmly attached to Pierce personally, and entertaining the highest estimate of his character and political principles, private and personal reasons led me to decline the offer. This was followed by an invitation to attend the ceremony of his inauguration, which took place on March 4, 1853. While in Washington on this visit, I was induced by public considerations to reconsider my determination and accept the office of Secretary of War. The public records of that period will best show how the duties of that office were performed. While in the Senate, I had advocated the construction of a railway to connect the valley of the Mississippi with the Pacific coast; when an appropriation was made to determine the most eligible route for that purpose, the Secretary of War was