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The joint committee of the senate and house of representatives appoint ed to wait on the president and vice-president elect and inform them of their election to those high offices, having accordingly waited on General Taylor, after his arrival at the seat of government, and through their chairman, Colonel Jefferson Davis of Mississippi (his son-in-law), performed that duty; "the president elect, in signifying his acceptance of the of fice to which he had been chosen by the people, evinced emotions of the profoundest gratitude, and acknowledged his distrust of his ability to fulfil the expectations upon which their confidence was based, but gave assurances of a fixed purpose to administer the government for the benefit and advantage of the whole country.
"In alluding to the fact to which his attention had been drawn, that the chairman of the committee represented a public body, a majority of whom were opposed in political opinion to the president elect, and accorded with that majority, he recognised in it the deference to the popular will constitutionally expressed, on which rests the strength and hope of the republic, and he said that it was to have been expected from the senate of the United States.
"He expressed an ardent wish that he might be able in any degree to assuage the fierceness of party, or temper with moderation the conflicts of those who are only divided as to the means of securing the public welfare.
“He said, having been reminded that he was about to occupy the chair once filled by Washington, that he could hope to emulate him only in the singleness of the aims which guided the conduct of the man who had no parallel in history, and no rival in the hearts of his countrymen.
"In conclusion, he announced his readiness to take the oath of office on the 5th of March, proximo, at such hour and place as might be designated."
The report of the committee being made to the senate on the 27th of February, that body appointed as a committee to make the necessary arrangements for the reception of the president elect on the 5th of March, Senators Reverdy Johnson, Jefferson Davis, and John Davis.
In the full tide of a well-earned popularity, and with the best wishes of all parties, General Taylor commenced his career as chief magistrate. of the republic. Immediately after his inauguration, on the 5th of March, 1849, he familiarly received at the presidential mansion all classes of his fellow-citizens, who thronged to welcome his advent at the capital, and to assure him of the public confidence in intrusting to him the affairs of state which devolved upon him. With becoming diffidence, in consequence of his want of experience as a civilian, he devoted himself with assiduity to the duties of his new station, and rapidly made himself acquainted with public men and the measures required of him as the head of the nation, and the director of its destinies.
After the first labors attendant upon the organization of his adminis
tration were over, the president made a tour, during the summer of 1819 through the middle states, as far west as Lake Erie, when, in consequence of ill health, from which he soon after recovered, he returned to Washington, passing through the interior of the state of New York, and the cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. He was everywhere received by the people with enthusiasm and favor.
Resuming his duties at the seat of government, President Taylor met with firmness the many difficulties which embarrassed his administration, and continued to enjoy the confidence of his countrymen in the midst of the agitating questions which distracted Congress during a long and arduous session.
In the height of his usefulness, and while he was generally relied on as being eminently fitted, from his position and character, to calm dissension, and restore domestic peace to the Union, General Taylor was seized with an alarming illness, which, assuming the form of a bilious fever, in five days terminated his existence, at the presidential mansion, in the city of Washington, on Tuesday, the 9th of July, 1850, in the 66th year of his age.
General Taylor was attended in his last moments by his wife and other members of his family, including Colonel Bliss and lady, Colonel Taylor and family, Jefferson Davis and family; also by Vice-President Fillmore, several senators and members of the house of representatives, gentlemen of the diplomatic corps, and a number of intimate friends. The medical having yielded to the spiritual agent, whose office it was to prepare for the approach of the king of terrors, prayers were said, after which the dying president took leave of his family. His last audible words were, "I am about to die-I expect the summons soon-I have endeavored to discharge all my official duties faithfully-I regret nothing, but am sorry that I am about to leave my friends."
The funeral of President Taylor took place at Washington, on Saturday, the 13th of July; and was attended by the members of both houses of Congress, President Fillmore, the cabinet and other officers of the general government, with a vast concourse of citizens and strangers. pageant exceeded everything of the kind in order and magnificence, that ever took place in the metropolis.
General Taylor had discharged the duties of president one year, four months, and four days; and his sudden and unexpected death overwhelmed with sorrow his countrymen throughout the Union. Public honors were paid to his memory by both houses of Congress, then in session, by the army and navy, by state, municipal, and other authorities, and by religious and other societies; and, in short, every demonstration of respect and sorrow was evinced by the people of the whole country for the great loss which the nation had sustained.
In the language of one of the journals of the day, "General Taylor VOL. II-36
had endeared himself to the American people to a degree which few public men ever obtain. The cause of this lay in the great goodness of his heart, the exceeding sincerity of his character; in his transparent common sense, so broad and strong as to amount to wisdom; in a firmness that faced every danger and shunned no responsibility; and in a patriotism and sense of honor which threw an almost chivalrous halo over the sturdy elements of his nature. Not a statesman by genius or by habit, he brought to the presidency a sound practical judgment which often proved more reliable than the opinions of those long versed in political affairs. He felt as the president of the American people, and instinctively apprehended the destiny of the republic. Not endowed with uncommon powers of reflection, he penetrated the questions brought before him as by a spontaneous faculty of insight, and having once made up his mind, did not abandon his determination. He was eminently a man of the people; he took them by the hand; he shared in their joys and their sorrows; not for any ulterior purpose, not as one descending for the moment from an eminent position, but because he felt himself foreign to no human interest or emotion. A triumphant general, elected to the presidency without effort on his part, he never forgot that admirable native modesty which forbade him to exaggerate the value of his own services and talents, or to claim any gift or capacity which he was not fully conscious of possessing. With manners of great plainness, destitute of polish, he always conveyed the impression of a true gentleman. But in every respect General Taylor was an American. He was a son of this republic; whatever he was, he was a product of his country and her institutions, and of the names of her great and good men, few will longer be preserved than his."
ADMINISTRATION OF TAYLOR.
Ar the appointed time, Monday, March 5, 1849, the inauguration of General Zachary Taylor as president of the United States, took place, in front of the great portico of the capitol. The multitude of people assembled on the occasion from every part of the Union, for the purpose of witnessing the interesting ceremony, is supposed to have been much larger than was ever before collected in Washington. The weather, although the sky was clouded, was as pleasant as usual at this season of the year. At the break of day the strains of martial music resounded along the principal avenues of the city, and hundreds of national flags were unfolded to the breeze. The bells of the city then rang a stirring peal, and long before the usual hour of breakfast, the people were wending their way in immense masses to the capitol.
At nine o'clock, one hundred citizens who officiated as marshals on horseback, proceeded in a body to Willard's hotel, for the purpose of paying their respects to General Taylor. After the ceremony of introduction, the marshals retired to attend to their official duties, and the president elect, who was dressed in a plain suit of black, and in the enjoyment of his usual good health, returned to his apartments to prepare for the procession.
At half past eleven o'clock, the procession took up its line of march from the hotel to the capitol. The military of Washington, Baltimore, &c., who formed part of the procession, presented an imposing appearance. The carriage containing the president elect was drawn by four gray horses. Ex-President Polk, Mr. Speaker Winthrop, and Mr. Seaton, mayor of Washington, accompanied General Taylor in the carriage. Pennsylvania avenue, along which the procession passed, was thronged with thousands of people; many of the roofs of the houses were also covered, and every window was occupied by spectators. The time occupied by the procession in reaching the east front of the capitol was about an hour; and after the conclusion of the inaugural ceremonies, the booming of artillery resounded through the city.
The senate being convened at eleven o'clock, after prayer by the chaplain, the Hon. David R. Atchison, of Missouri, was chosen president pro
tem. The diplomatic corps, representing various foreign nations, were next announced. The brilliancy of some of their costumes appeared in fine contrast with the dark robes of the judges of the supreme court, seated opposite to them.
The late vice-president, Mr. Dallas, then conducted to the chair the Hon. Millard Fillmore, the vice-president elect, to whom the oath of office was administered by Mr. Atchison, after which Mr. Fillmore delivered, with calmness and dignity, an appropriate address, and took his seat as president of the senate.
At twelve o'clock, the members of the late executive cabinet appeared, and occupied places on the left of the vice-president.
All things were now in readiness for the appearance of the president elect, who, after an interval, entered the senate-chamber in company with Ex-President Polk, and took a seat which had been prepared for him; Mr. Polk occupying another upon his left hand.
After a brief pause the order of procession was announced, and the company retired from the chamber of the senate in the order prescribed, to the east portico of the capitol, where an extensive staging had been erected. At about one o'clock, the president elect, in full view of at least twenty thousand people from all parts of the Union, pronounced his inaugural address. It was delivered in a remarkably distinct voice, and many parts of it were enunciated with a full and clear emphasis, and enthusiastically responded to by the cheers of the surrounding spectators As soon as the applause which marked the conclusion of the address had subsided, the oath of office was administered to the president by Chief-Justice Taney. The president then received congratulations from numerous persons present, Chief-Justice Taney and Ex-President Polk taking the lead.
The ceremonies at the capitol were terminated by salvos of artillery, and the president and the procession returned down the avenue leading from the capitol to the White-House, appropriated to the residence of the successive presidents of the United States. At this mansion the president received with his accustomed courtesy the salutes of some thousands of his fellow-citizens, and in the evening visited several balls given in honor of the occasion.
On the 6th of March, the president nominated to the senate the following gentlemen to compose his cabinet, and they were, the following day, confirmed by that body, viz.: John M. Clayton, of Delaware, secretary of state; William M. Meredith, of Pennsylvania, secretary of the treasury; George W. Crawford, of Georgia, secretary of war; William B. Preston, of Virginia, secretary of the navy; Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, secretary of the interior; Jacob Collamer, of Vermout, postmaster-general; Reverdy Johnson of Maryland, attorney-general.
These officers, with the exception of Mr. Crawford, who arrived from