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family residence, in Little Britain, Orange county. His early education was conducted at the grammar school of his native town, by the Reverend John Moffat; and he was prepared for college at the academy in Kingston, then under the care of Mr. John Addison. We believe that this gentleman was subsequently a colleague of Mr. Clinton, in the senate of the state of New York.

In 1784, at the conclusion of the war, Mr. CLINTON entered the junior class in Columbia college, and continued there until his graduation, in 1786. On this occasion he delivered the Latin salutatory oration, “the exercise always assigned to the best scholar;" and, accordingly, in the printed list of the alumni of the college, his name stands as the first in his class.

The advantages attending a full course of instruction in this venerable institution had undoubtedly their full influence in the formation of Mr. Clinton's character. It is not to be denied that thorough classical instruction (and for that no college in this country is superior to Columbia) strengthens and prepares the mind for all the active professional and political duties of a citizen. This opinion may be sneered at, or it may be attempted to confute it by referring to the examples of Washington and Franklin ; but the sciolists who offer such an argument forget that all are not Washingtons and Franklins; that great occasions develop talent of every description ;* and that the real question is, what system is best calculated to improve the intellect of the leading portion of the community, under all its variety of talent. If properly conducted-if it be made the vehicle of ideas instead of words - if it be studied with a commentary on the history of ancient republics, and a reference to the character of our own institutions, classical learning must prepare the ingenuous youth to understand his duties and to "act well his part.”

The subject of our memoir selected the law as his profession, and commenced its study under the late celebrated counsellor, Samuel Jones. He was admitted to the bar in 1789; but had scarcely commenced practice in the city of New York, before he was appointed private secretary to his uncle, Governor Clinton. He thus early entered on that political career which ended only with his death. It is understood, that during the period of his appointment, which ended, in 1795, with the resignation of the governor, he was much engaged in political discussions; and he undoubtedly thus acquired much of that facility and vigor in composition which always distinguished his writings. We are not aware of any acknowledged production during the above time, except a correspondence, in his official capacity, with several members of congress from the state of New York, relative to the mode of declaring vacancies in the national house of representatives.

* "When there is nothing great to be done, (says Cousin,) a great man is impossible."

Conjointly with the above office, he held that of secretary to the regents of the university, and to the board of fortifications of New York.

In 1797 he was chosen to the house of assembly from the city of New York, and in 1798 to the senate of the state. While in the latter office, and being a member of the council of appointment, a controversy arose between that body and the governor, (John Jay,) relative to the right of nomination to office. It was claimed by Mr. Jay as his exclusive prerogative—while Mr. Clinton and his associates asserted their co-ordinate powers. A convention of delegates was called to interpret the language of the constitution on this point, and it decided unfavorably to the opinions of Mr. Jay. Experience, however, has justified the policy of his doctrine, if not its positive conformity to the letter of the constitution. The convention which a few years since remodelled that instrument, struck from its pages every vestige of the council of appointment, and gave to the governor the sole power of nomination, and to the senate that of approval and disapproval.

In 1802 Mr. CLINTON was elected, by the legislature of the state, a senator in congress, in the room of General Armstrong, who had resigned. He continued in that office during two sessions, when he retired, upon being appointed mayor of the city of New York.

In congress he was a supporter of the administration of Mr. Jefferson. The most exciting question that arose during his senatorship, was the proposition of Mr. Ross, of Pennsylvania, to seize New Orleans, then a Spanish possession, with a military force. Spain had given the right by treaty to the citizens of the United States to deposit their goods and produce at that place. She now interdicted it. In the debate that ensued, Mr. CLINTON urged the propriety of previous negotiation, and the importance of delaying so decisive a measure, which indeed was equivalent to a declaration of war.

His speech on this subject was reported; and it may be considered a favorable specimen of the style and logic that characterized his public addresses. All farther discussion was happily concluded, by the subsequent purchase of Louisiana.

He continued in the mayoralty of the city of New York, with the exception of two years, from 1803 to 1815. It was in this situation, undoubtedly, that he developed his matured powers, and appeared before the country in the light of an eminent and enlightened citizen. In his capacity of presiding law officer in the courts of that city, his decisions were highly approved. As the first magistrate, he displayed the energy and decision of character which so strikingly distinguished his after history; while on every proper occasion he appeared as the patron of benevolent and literary enterprise. We shall, however, refer to this last subject hereafter in greater detail, and prefer at present to continue our narrative of his political life.

In conjunction with the mayoralty, he continued, during several terms, to hold a seat in the senate of New York. Although active as a politician, he forgot not his duties as a lawgiver, and originated or supported many measures of public utility. During the sessions of 1809, 1810, and 1811, in the language of one of his biographers " he introduced laws to prevent kidnapping, or the farther introduction of slaves, and to punish those who should treat them inhumanly - for the support of the quarantine establishment-for the encouragement of missionary societies-for the improvement of the public police--for the prevention and punishment of crime—for perfecting the militia system--for promoting medical science—and for endowing seminaries of education.”

In 1811 he was elected lieutenant-governor of the state. It was while holding this office, that he was nominated to the station of president of the United States, in opposition to Mr. Madison. It is sufficient in this place to state, that he was preferred by many because he was a northern candidate; by others, because the war which had now commenced had been fruitful in disasters; and from the character of Mr. Clinton it was hoped, that he would either conduct it vigorously or speedily terminate it. The crisis was an alarming one to our country and its institutions; and the men of the present day can hardly fully appreciate the conduct of parties at that period, when they read its history, embellished as it finally was, by land and naval triumphs. Mr. Clinton divided the nation with Mr. Madison. On the canvass, the latter had one hundred and twentyeight votes, and the former eighty-nine. He was unsuccessful, and this event exercised for many years a baneful influence on his public and private fortunes.

His native state did not, however, forget him. In 1817 he was

chosen governor almost without a contest - was reëlected in 1820, in opposition to Governor Tompkins, then vice president of the United States—retired at the adoption of the new constitution, but was again elected in 1824, and continued to fill the office until his death.

It is an idle fancy now to conjecture to what height he might have risen, had he lived to the present period. But the opinion may be hazarded, that he was the candidate of a plurality of the people of the United States (could the sentiments of that plurality have been concentrated) at the election which elevated Mr. Adams to the presidency. That eminent individual offered him the embassy to London, but he declined the honor; preferring, on many accounts, to continue in the situation to which he had been recently reëlected.

With many of our statesmen, a narrative like that which we have now given may frequently conclude the incidents of their lives. It forms, however, only the frame work of the moral achievements of Mr. CLINTON. It was remarked with great justice by Mr. Butler, (now attorney-general of the United States,) on the morning after his death, “ that whilst he pursued with avidity political distinction, he had the wisdom to seek enduring fame, not from the possession of power, or the triumphs of the day, but by identifying himself with the great interests of the community. It was his ambition to be distinguished as the friend of learning and morals, and as the advocate and patron of every measure calculated to promote the welfare or increase the glory of the state."

In connection with various associates, he was among the founders of several literary and scientific institutions in the city of New York. The American Academy of Fine Arts, the New York Historical Society, and the Literary and Philosophical Society, each numbered him among their earliest members; and, at different periods, he held the office of president in all of them. For the Historical Society, he assisted materially in obtaining a liberal donation from the state, and the Literary and Philosophical commenced its labors with an elaborate inaugural discourse from his pen. In the transactions of both, valuable communications were made by him on subjects of civil and natural history.

To the New York Hospital, the Lunatic Asylum connected with it, and the various other charitable institutions of the state and city, he proved an efficient friend; urging their claims on the public consideration and bounty.

Under his auspices, a board of agriculture was incorporated. Like its prototype in England, it served its day amidst reproach and

jealousy; yet its effects have been salutary, and not the less so from being slowly acknowledged.

The high rank which Mr. CLINTON held in the masonic fraternity deserves some notice, since he considered that institution worthy of his attention for more than twenty years.

He held the office of Grand Master of masons in the state of New York from 1806 to 1820, when his public engagements not permitting his personal attendance, he resigned. In September, 1825, he installed, in Albany, the Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer as Grand Master ; on which occasion he delivered an address on the history, objects, and tendencies of the society, from which we give the following extract, as a sufficient explanation of his unfaltering attachment to the fraternity, through good and evil report. “Although the origin of our fraternity is covered with darkness, and its history is to a great extent obscure, yet we can confidently say that it is the most ancient society in the world : and we are equally certain that its principles are based on pure morality; that its ethics are the ethics of Christianity; its doctrines the doctrines of patriotism and brotherly love; and its sentiments the sentiments of exalted benevolence. Upon these points there can be no doubt."

He was General Grand Master of the General Grand Encampment of the United States, from 1816 until his death: he also presided in the Grand Encampment of New York, and some other branches of the institution, for many years.

As the patron and assiduous promoter of education, and particularly the education of the poor, the name of Mr. Clinton deserves especial mention. He was sagacious enough to perceive that our institutions are frail, unless strengthened by the intelligence and morality of the people. He hailed the Lancasterian system as a mighty engine in diffusing knowledge, and was successful in procuring its introduction into this country. The whole plan of public instruction, extending from infant schools up to our colleges and university, frequently became the subject of animated notice in his messages; nor was he content without reiterating its value, or suggesting improvements in its various parts.

His most brilliant public service remains to be mentioned. political leader, he allied himself to the friends of the canal policy, became its champion, and succeeded in completing the magnificent undertaking. We have been thus specific in stating what we conceive to have been his special and peculiar honor, in order to avoid all cavil. He never claimed to have originated the idea. The

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