THE SLAVERY QUESTION.
The extraordinary abilities of John C. Calhoun, the great influence he exerted as the representative of Southern interests in the National Legislature, and especially his connection with the Slavery Question, make it necessary to include him among the statesmen who, for evil or good, have powerfully affected the destinies of the United States. He is a great historical character,—the peer of Webster and Clay in congressional history, and more unsullied than either of them in the virtues of private life. In South Carolina he was regarded as little less than a demigod, and until the antislavery agitation began he was viewed as among the foremost statesmen of the land. His elevation to commanding influence in Congress was very rapid, and but for his identification with partisan interests and a bad institution, there was no office in the gift of the nation to which he could not reasonably have aspired.
John Caldwell Calhoun was born in 1782, of highly respectable Protestant-Irish descent, in the Abbeville District in South Carolina. He was not a patrician, according to the ideas of rich planters. He had but a slender school education in boyhood, but was prepared for college by a Presbyterian clergyman, entered the Junior Class of Yale College in 1802, and was graduated with high honors. He chose the law for his profession, studied laboriously for three years, spending eighteen months at the then famous law school at Litchfield, Connecticut, and gave great promise, in his remarkable logical powers, of becoming an eminent lawyer.
Whatever abilities Mr. Calhoun may have had for the law, it does not appear that he practised it long, or to any great extent. His taste and his genius inclined him to politics. And, having married a lady with some fortune, he had sufficient means to live without professional drudgery. After serving a short time in the State Legislature of South Carolina, he was elected a member of Congress, and took his seat in the House of Representatives in 1811, at the age of twenty-nine. From the very first his voice was heard. He made a speech in favor of raising ten thousand additional men to our army to resist the encroachments of Great Britain and prepare for hostilities should the country drift into war. It was an able speech for a young man, and its scornful