Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.

Looking merely to the public career of Calhoun, the special pleader of the Southern aristocracy, we should expect to find him born and reared among the planters of the low country.  The Calhouns, on the contrary, were up-country people,—­farmers, Whigs, Presbyterians, men of moderate means, who wielded the axe and held the plough with their own hands, until enabled to buy a few “new negroes,” cheap and savage; called new, because fresh from Africa.  A family party of them (parents, four sons, and a daughter) emigrated from the North of Ireland early in the last century, and settled first in Pennsylvania; then removed to Western Virginia; whence the defeat of Braddock, in 1755, drove them southward, and they found a permanent abode in the extreme west of South Carolina, then an unbroken wilderness.  Of those four sons, Patrick Calhoun, the father of the Nullifier, was the youngest.  He was six years old when the family left Ireland; twenty-nine, when they planted the “Calhoun Settlement” in Abbeville District, South Carolina.

Patrick Calhoun was a strong-headed, wrong-headed, very brave, honest, ignorant man.  His whole life, almost, was a battle.  When the Calhouns had been but five years in their forest home, the Cherokees attacked the settlement, destroyed it utterly, killed one half the men, and drove the rest to the lower country; whence they dared not return till the peace of 1763.  Patrick Calhoun was elected to command the mounted rangers raised to protect the frontiers, a duty heroically performed by him.  After the peace, the settlement enjoyed several years of tranquillity, during which Patrick Calhoun was married to Martha Caldwell, a native of Virginia, but the daughter of an Irish Presbyterian emigrant.  During this peaceful interval, all the family prospered with the settlement which bore its name; and Patrick, who in his childhood had only learned to read and write, availed himself of such leisure as he had to increase his knowledge.  Besides reading the books within his reach, which were few, he learned to survey land, and practised that vocation to advantage.  He was especially fond of reading history to gather new proofs of the soundness of his political opinions, which were Whig to the uttermost.  The war of the Revolution broke in upon the settlement, at length, and made deadly havoc there; for it was warred upon by three foes at once,—­the British, the Tories, and the Cherokees.  The Tories murdered in cold blood a brother of Patrick Calhoun’s wife.  Another of her brothers fell at Cowpens under thirty sabre-wounds.  Another was taken prisoner and remained for nine months in close confinement at one of the British Andersonvilles of that day.  Patrick Calhoun, in many a desperate encounter with the Indians, displayed singular coolness, courage, adroitness, and tenacity.  On one memorable occasion, thirteen of his neighbors and himself maintained a forest fight for several hours with a force of Cherokees ten times their number.  When seven of the white

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Famous Americans of Recent Times from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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