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George Washington
Until the Father of His Country had finished his life, it was not known that human nature could produce political careers so unselfish. Poets and dramatists had not even planned them, so truly is the human imagination harnessed to the low-rolling car of Reality. It was thought that sane and powerful men, when they could, would grasp and hold power and found dynasties.
Benjamin Franklin
'He wrested the lightning from heaven, and scepters from tyrants.' This panegyric was composed in Latin by Turgot, the French Minister, to the honor of Dr. Franklin. It was adapted from a slightly-similar line in a Latin poem by the Duke of Polignac, whose wife was the confidential friend of Marie Antoinette.
Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams stands alone among the great Revolutionary Fathers. He was the man of one town-Boston. He sat in the legislature of that town, because all sat there. He at first took little note of other towns, because, sooner or later, he knew they would follow the doings of his town. Of other colonies and peoples, other settlements and regions, he only felt that they were better satisfied...
John Adams
It was John Adams, of Massachusetts Bay, who rose superior to home influences and advocated the election of Colonel Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Without this firm and unselfish action, it may be that John Hancock would have secured the place; General Washington might then have seen fit to defend Virginia rather than the Hudson and Schuylkill, and there would have been...
Patrick Henry
The war-cry of America, when it leaped from the lips of Patrick Henry, sounded out beyond the confines of his province, beyond the limits of a nation, and echoed far into the reaches of succeeding centuries. In addition to his unapproachable gift of speech, he was as forceful as Samuel Adams.
Thomas Jefferson
Simultaneously with the adoption of the Constitution of the United States there sprang into existence a political organization known as the Democratic party, which is to-day one of two leading factors in the government of the Nation, and now possibly ranks as the oldest association of its kind in the world.
James Madison
The essential part of the life-work of James Madison, although he was for two terms President of the United States, lay in the broad studies of organic government which he made when a young man, and the happy use to which he put his valuable knowledge when it came time to bind thirteen jealous and independent States together in a firmer Union than had been secured by the original articles...
Alexander Hamilton
As Madison and Monroe are best considered when viewed as protegés of Jefferson, so Alexander Hamilton should be grouped with Washington. In Hamilton's well-cut and intelligent features General Washington saw a lieutenant whom he loved and trusted, on whom he could lean with confidence.
James Monroe
In the useful, liberty-loving and amiable career of James Monroe, we have the history of the third in the succession of Presidents from Jefferson, the founder, teacher, mentor, friend. For a parallel in the lives of these three statesmen, we must seek another race and religion.
Andrew Jackson
The remarkable man whom we shall next consider was welcomed by overwhelming masses of the people as the true representative of democratic institutions. He issued from the wilderness a hero; he returned to his Hermitage with a magnified fame. There was long a class of white-haired Americans, perhaps not all of them yet gathered to honored graves, who believed that political virtue left the earth...
John Quincy Adams
'Must I go down to the grave and leave posterity to do justice to my father and to me?' Such was the despairing cry of a President of the United States, the son of a President of the United States. This was the son of John and Abigail Adams, doubtless the most intellectual pair and best-mated couple of the Revolutionary days. Their son was a great man, but he led a most stormy life.
Henry Clay
Few readers can follow the long career of Henry Clay without enthusiasm. 'If any one desires to know the leading and paramount object of my public life, the preservation of this Union will furnish the key.' These words, which are his, contain the essence of his biography. He was a man of ready adjustments, not easily led to extremes, who elected John Quincy Adams...
Daniel Webster
A man of herculean frame, rotund delivery of speech, and long life; a large institution by himself, so that when small shopkeepers heard that Daniel Webster was in Boston, they naturally postponed business and went out on the sidewalk to see him come down the street; a man whose fifty principal orations, gathered in a heavy volume, with introductory eulogy by some great scholar...
John C. Calhoun
The attention of the reader is here invited to the consideration of a career in which the personality of the statesman entirely vanishes, and by that fact alone we may see that we enter a field of undiminishing intellectual interest. The life of John C. Calhoun was itself the Koran of Slavery; it was a chapter on logic. What is logic? It is a working theory of the truth.
Abraham Lincoln
The pages immediately preceding in this volume have shown the heights to which, in 1850, the dogma of Slavery had been exalted. 'The peculiar institution' had become doctrinally essential to the pride, welfare, religion, and existence of the Southern people. On that point, all white men who owned slaves were of one mind.
William H. Seward
A year before the Civil War William H. Seward was the most distinguished American Statesman who opposed the extension of Slavery and lamented the authorization of 'the peculiar institution' in our organic law. Of all the living public men, he had longest been the most radical. For many years, as the representative of but a comparatively small group of thinkers, and in the presence of Clay, Webster...
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase, Father of the American Greenback, and first Anti-Slavery Chief Justice of the United States, was born in Cornish, N. H., January 13, 1808. His name, Salmon Portland, was given to him to commemorate the death of his uncle Salmon at Port-land. He was wont to say that he was his uncle's monument.
Charles Summer
Charles Sumner was reared in comfort, if not in affluence, studied law and literature until he was 40 years old, and was then elected to the United States Senate, in which he served to his death, twenty-three years later. He was brutally assaulted by the slaveholders, whom he had angered, and the effects of this assault upon him shortened his life.
Sir John Alexander Macdonald, G. C. B.
Now that old-world 'imperialism' has found a doubtful footing in our common speech, half reproach, half fascination, a witch-word repudiated as a watchword, it is interesting to study its influence on the ambition and political fortunes of the man who will stand in history as the pioneer of Imperial Federation between the Colonies and Great Britain.
Conclusion
A singular charm pervades the great national portrait galleries of Europe. In the faces that peer out from the gloom of faded paintings we read in new and vivid light the stories of their lives, and seem to discern the secret of their and their country's power. In the graphic studies which make this volume we possess a gallery of American immortals, men of varying degrees of greatness and goodness...
Alexander The Great
That the true history of a man so remarkable and a career so brilliant as that of Alexander the Great should have become surrounded and obscured by a confusing mass of tradition and legend, which, even to the present day leaves in doubt and uncertainty, much of importance regarding his real character and the motives which dominated him, is but natural when contemporary conditions are taken into...
Hannibal
Hannibal, son of Hamilcar, and hero of the second Punic War, was unquestionably one of the ablest military organizers and greatest tacticians of ancient times, and one of the foremost in the world's history. For fifteen years he menaced the Roman Empire, and ravaged Italy from its most northern provinces to the southern extremities, during which his progress was marked by a series of victories in...
Julius Caesar
Caius Julius Caesar, whom Shakespeare called 'the foremost man of all the world,' was born in the year 100 B. C., on the twelfth day of the month Sextilis, the month afterward named in honor of his birthday, July. By Mommsen and one or two other historians, it is claimed that the year of his birth was 102 B. C., but this claim is now generally conceded to be erroneous.
Charlemagne
Charlemagne, or Karl the Great, King of the Franks and, during the final fourteen years of his life and reign, Emperor of the Romans, was born in the year 742. He was the elder son of King Pepin, known in history as Pepin the Short. That worthy ruler died in the year 768, leaving as heritage to his sons, Charles and Carloman, not only a kingdom which extended from the Rhine to the Pyrenees...
William The Conqueror
Chroniclers of the life of William the Conqueror do not agree in regard to the date of his birth. The generally reported and most common acceptation is that this interesting event took place in the year 1027, though the addition is usually made that it may have been 1028. Thomas Roscoe, who in 1846 published a life of William the Conqueror, after immense research and being the first to have taken...
Richard The Lion-Hearted
Richard I, King of England, called 'the Lion' or 'Coeur de Lion,' was the third of the five sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. As a doughty warrior-King, principal figure in the Third Crusade, and personal director of extended campaigns against the French, Richard won in his forty-two years of life credit for being a typical representative of the brave and generous, but often barbarously...
Robert The Bruce
Robert I, King of Scotland, or, as he is more commonly known, Robert the Bruce, was born on the eleventh day of July, 1274. His father was the seventh Lord of Annandale and Earl of Carrick, and Robert, on the death of his father, succeeded to the title and a number of great estates which had come down from the first Robert de Bruce, who received them as a reward for his services while a follower...
Wallenstein
Schiller, who made Wallenstein the central figure in three of his dramas, and in his history of the Thirty Years' War devotes much attention to the important part taken in it by Wallenstein, says : 'His character has been so obscured by the hatred and applause of factions, as still to float unfixed and stationless in history.'
Oliver Cromwell
Many able and far-sighted historians, such as Lingard, Bossuet, Hume, and Voltaire, in painting the portrait of Oliver Cromwell, saw in him nothing of a laudable character, though they were forced to recognize his magnificent military genius. By these and others Cromwell has been stamped as an ambitious, crafty usurper, a ferocious tyrant, a hypocritical and cunning traitor.
Frederick The Great
Frederick II, King of Prussia, and universally styled, Frederick the Great, concluded his last will and testament with the following words : 'My most fervent aspirations, when breathing my last, shall be for the prosperity of my Kingdom. May its government be ever conducted with justice, wisdom, and decision. May the mildness of its laws render it the happiest, and the due administration of its...
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