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200 General Humphreys delivering the Flags
is rare, in these latter days of the our political leaders are men of doubtful republic, to find a man of pure moral character ; some of them are notorious for ity in public life. It has come to be almost immorality, and even for profligacy. The a settled maxim that it is impossible to be high places of honor and profit are too often at once a politician and a Christian. The the rewards, not of public service, not of truth must be told ; religious men, gen- virtuous life, not even of intellectual capacierally, refuse to enter the arena of political ty and industry, but of labors for the behoof strife, from fear of its unholy and poison of a political party, or of intrigues for the ous atmosphere. Many, if not most, of benefit of some sordid clique. The Amer
ican Republic of this day honors the dem- obstacles in the beginning of life. In the agogue oftener than the statesman. West, especially, life is a battle with naYet there is nothing in the proper bus- ture and with circumstances.
The careiness of the politician to prevent the purest ful culture of European civilization would and the best from entering upon its duties. unfit men for this fierce strife. The Taken in its largest sense—the Aristotelian plant, nurtured in the green-house by the Tohitela - politics affords, in theory, the careful tending of the gardener, having its noblest study, next to theology, to which roots constantly watered, and its growth the mind of man can turn itself; and it watched by the eye of anxious expectafurnishes, in practice, one of the grandest tion, may reach an earlier maturity, and and worthiest occupations of human life. gain a more delicate beauty; but the sapTo study the laws of social order, which ling which knows no other tending than are the laws of God, and to apply them in the soil of nature, no other nursing than the government of the state, is a function that of the careless winds, and the free for which the most comprehensive talents showers, and the warm sunshine from and the loftiest virtue are nly too inade heaven, will strike a firmer root, and put quate. It is a sad omen for the state that forth a stronger and more enduring life. these great truths are lost sight of; and By eighteen years of age young M'Lean, that the administration of the government in spite of all difficulties, had gained a of this nation, and of the several states substantial English education, and a tolthat compose it, instead of being in the erable acquaintance with the ancient lanhands of the best men, is too often handed guages. Having determined to prepare over to the worst. On the other hand, himself for the law, he obtained a situation the history of the republic affords bright as writer in the county clerk's office at examples of virtue in high places, in suf- Cincinnati. By working at this clerkship ficient number to vindicate our doctrine part of each day he earned a support, and that the Christian life may be maintained pursued his legal studies in the remaining even by American politicians. Among hours, under the direction of Arthur St. the noblest of these examples is that af- Clair, Esq., an eminent counselor of forded by the life and character of the Cincinnati. subject of this sketch.
In 1807 he was admitted to the bar, and JOHN M'Lean was born in Morris entered upon the practice of the law at County, New Jersey, on the eleventh of Lebanon, Ohio. In the same year he was March, 1785. In 1789 his father determ- | married to Miss Rebecca Edwards, of ined to remove to the Western country, South Carolina, a lady whose excellent and, after short residences in Virginia and qualities both of heart and head secured Kentucky, he finally settled in that part her the esteem of all who knew her, and of the Northwestern Territory now con who guided the affairs of Mr. M'Lean's stituting the State of Ohio.
household with discretion and wisdom for still occupies the farm first taken up by thirty-three years. She died in 1840. Mr his father.
M’Lean's talents and industry soon gained In that new country the means of edu- him a lucrative practice; and had he been cation were limited, nor was Mr. M'Lean, content to remain in private life he would who was rich in children, able to send doubtless have amassed great wealth in them from home to be taught. The young the regular pursuit of his profession. His John aided his father in the duties of the character for integrity was well estabfarm, and to these years of active labor lished, even before his conversion; and he owes, in great part, the stalwart frame although he was inclined, for a few years and robust health which make him now, after entering the bar, to skeptical views at seventy-two, a model of manly vigor in with regard to religion, he maintained an old age. But his mind was too active, unstained reputation in the community. A even in boyhood, to allow him to go un new law, however, was given to his life by cultivated. His was one of those ener the grace of God, under the ministry of the getic natures which are not only prompt to venerable John Collins, whose memory is take opportunities, but to make them. It fragrant throughout the West as one of the is, perhaps, not surprising, that many of most eloquent and faithful of the pioneer the men who have reached the highest preachers of Methodism. The following aceminence in this country have conquered I count of his conversion is from the “Recol
lections of the Rev. G. W. Walker. Mr. years of great public agitation. The elCollins made an appointment to preach in a ements were gathering, for the storm of private house in Lebanon. At the time war which burst forth in 1812; and the fixed the rooms were crowded, and many great questions of the time penetrated the persons had to stand about the doors. remotest nooks and corners of the counAmong these was young M'Lean, who try. Every man had to take sides upon stood where he could hear distinctly, the issue of “ war with England,” for or though, as he thought, unobserved by the against. Mr. M'Lean identified himself, minister. During the discourse, how in the flush of his youth, with the Demoever, he fell wunder the notice of Mr. cratic party, and was an ardent supporter Collins's keen eye; and his prepossessing of Mr. Madison's war policy. and intelligent appearance attracted, at the In 1812 he was called upon to stand as first glance, the notice of the preacher. the Democratic candidate for the repre
He paused a moment, and offered up a sentation of his district in the Congress of short prayer, mentally, for the immediate the United States, and was elected by a conversion of the young man. After Mr. very large majority. An extra session Collins resumed, the first word he uttered was summoned after the declaration of was “eternity.” That word was spoken war, and Mr. M'Lean then made his first with a voice so solemn and impressive appearance in Congress. Before the sesthat its full import was felt by Mr. sion was over he had made his mark. His M'Lean. All things besides seemed to first motion was for a bill to indemnify indibe nothing in comparison to it. He viduals for property lost or taken for the sought an acquaintance with Mr. Collins, public service during the war, and the bill and a short time after this accompanied afterward became a law. In the next seshim to one of his appointments in the sion he introduced a pension law for the country, and, at the close of the sermon, benefit of the widows and orphans of solhe remained in class to inquire “what he diers falling in the service during the pendmust do to be saved.” On their return ing war. These measures of justice and behome, Mr. Collins told his young friend nevolence were characteristic of the man, that he had a request to make of him, and the vigor with which he pursued them which was reasonable, and he hoped added largely to his reputation; as did a would not be rejected. The request was, speech in defense of the conduct of the that he would read the New Testament war, delivered at the same session. at least fifteen minutes every day till his Young as he was, he served on the two next visit. The promise was made and chief committees of Congress, Foreign strictly performed. At first, the young Affairs and the Public Lands. In 1814 man laid his watch on the table so as to he was re-elected to Congress by a unanbe exact as to the time, but the interest imous vote, a thing then, as now, of rare in the Scriptures increased so that the
In 1815 he was solicited to time of reading was increased dayly. stand for the United States Senatorship After this a covenant was made by the from Ohio, but declined. In 1816 he parties to meet each other at the throne was unanimously elected, by the Legislaof grace at the setting of the sun.
ture of Ohio, to the post of Justice of the not long before Mr. M'Lean was happily Supreme Court of that state. He brought converted to God and united with the to the discharge of the judicial duty the Methodist Episcopal Church.
very highest and aptest qualities, incorFrom that day to this Mr. M'Lean's ruptible integrity, a gentle and patient life and conversation have “ adorned the temper, and large professional attaindoctrine of God our Saviour." His ments. During the six years in which he growth in the Christian graces has ap- held the office his reputation for virtue parently kept pace with his political ad- and talent was not only spread throughvancement. Amid the temptations of out every part of his own state, but very nearly half a century of public life he has widely beyond it. At the end of that never stained his garments ; not one word time he was called into the wider sphere has ever been breathed, even in the stern- of national service, in which, in one ca. est strife of political warfare, against his pacity or another, he has been ever since moral or religious character.
employed. The years from 1807 to 1812 were In 1822 he was appointed Commissioner
of the General Land Office at Washington During the whole of President Adams's by President Monroe; and in 1823 he administration, Judge M'Lean was well was made Postmaster General. There is known to be in favor of General Jackson, no more arduous or thankless post in the for whom, indeed, he had labored in 1824. government service than this; and before | The contest for the presidency in 1828 M'Lean's time the incumbents of the of. was one of great bitterness and violence fice, almost without exception, had failed of feeling ; and then, for the first time, to secure the confidence of the public. was the doctrine openly avowed, that “to On these grounds his friends dissuaded the victors belong the spoils," and that him from accepting it; but, after due con men should be appointed to public office sideration, he decided to undertake the on purely political grounds. Mr. M'Lean work, and, in accordance with the habit had always made the subordinate appointof his life,“ do his best in it.” The re ments in the post-office in view of the casult showed that he had not miscalculated pacity and integrity of the candidates ; his powers for administrative duty. Ev. and, indeed, it was not then even fornierything in the office was out of order; ally a recommendation for such posts that the contracts were, to a large extent, in a man had distinguished himself as a vioinefficient and incompetent hands; the lent partisan; the only qualification which mail service was so irregular that no one now-a-days seems potent in securing place could trust it; in fact, the whole system and power.
On General Jackson's acceswas in a state of disorganization. Judge sion in 1829 he requested Judge M'Lean M'Lean soon changed all this ; incompe- to retain the office which he had filled tent functionaries were discharged; the with so much honor to himself and to the punctual fulfillment of contracts was de government. But it was clear that a new manded and enforced ; the service of the view of political duty was to be the prevmails became, as far as the circumstances alent one, and that he could not longer of the country would allow, regular and retain the independence of character and trustworthy. The Postmaster General action that, from long habit, as well as was himself the soul of the organization ; from his moral constitution, had become and his habits of punctuality, order, and part of his nature. Mr. M'Lean had been, promptitude were soon infused into the and continued to be, a Democrat; but he subordinate functionaries. It is too long had never sacrificed his principles to his ago for the younger men of the present party. Here is the great danger of party generation to remember all this; but the spirit in this country; not in the combinasexagenarians will tell you, to this day, tion of men together, for that is essential that the post-office, under M'Lean's guid- to the accomplishment of great ends in a ance, was, for the times, all that could be free government; but in the despotic use demanded, even by an exacting public of the power which combination gives, to opinion. So strong was M'Lean's posi- control the very members of the party tion that President Adams, on his acces itself, and that, too, in matters beyond the sion in 1825, did not dream of removing proper sphere of party activity. No man him; and, during the four years of that of self-respect and of religious character president's tenure, the Postmaster Gen can submit to such a despotism as this. eral, though of opposite politics, com A true man will not swear obedience to manded his entire confidence and esteem. the words or to the thoughts of any master The strongest possible proof of the repu or of any party; he knows that he is tation of the judge at the time was af- bound, by every obligation of the law of forded by the debates in Congress on a God, by every noble attribute of his own proposition, made in 1827, to increase the moral nature, to exercise for himself the salary of the Postmaster General from high powers of thought, decision, and selffour thousand to six thousand dollars. determination with which God has in. The bill passed both houses almost unan vested him. No man capable of reflecimously ; and in the Senate the eccentric tion at all can, without peril to his own Randolph, of Roanoke, declared " that moral nature, evade the obligation to the salary was intended for the officer, and think for himself; our individual responnot for the office ;" and that he would sibility cannot be shifted upon other men's “ vote for the bill if the salary was limited shoulders upon any plea of ecclesiastical or to M'Lean's tenure."
political necessity whatsoever. We may,