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ROBERT Y. HAYNE,
Robert Y. HAYNE, distinguished as an orator, lawyer, and civilian, was a native of the parish of St. Paul, in South Carolina, where he was born on the tenth day of November, 1791. He was descended from a family celebrated for its patriotism, and its sacrifices during the war of the Revolution.” His father was a respectable planter. Unable to afford his children the benefits of a liberal education, his son Robert obtained his classical and English instruction in a grammar school in the city of Charleston. At seventeen he commenced a course of legal study under the guidance of Langdon Cheves, and soon after was admitted to practice. In 1812 previous to entering upon the duties of his profession, he volunteered his services to the United States, was appointed a lieutenant in the militia of South Carolina, and served with gallantry at Fort Moultrie, under the command of Col. William Drayton. While in this situation his powers of oratory first became conspicuous. In an address delivered on the anniversary of the independence of the United States, in 1812, before the officers and soldiers of the fort, he evinced such patriotism of sentiment, purity of style, and depth of pathos; as won the applause of his hearers, and widely extended his reputation.
Relinquishing military service, Mr. Hayne returned to Charleston, and commenced the practice of his profession, in which he was successful and soon became eminent. In the autumn of 1814 he was elected to the State Legislature, and, in his representative capacity, distinguished himself by his determined, energetic and disinterested exertions for the welfare of his constituents. He was a firm supporter of President Madison and the war, and upon all occasions during that exciting period, openly avowed his opinions and advocated the principles he had espoused. He continued in the Legislature until 1818, and during the last year, occupied the position of Speaker. At the end of his term, he was elected Attorney General of the State, the important and responsible duties of which station he discharged until his election to the Senate of the United States, in 1822. Here he remained ten years, near the expiration of which he resigned, to accept the governorship of South Carolina.
Mr. Hayne's career in the Senate, distinguished, fearless, and honorable as it is known to have been, requires but a passing notice here. His entrance to that body, then numbering among its members many of the ablest American statesmen, was considered by them as an accession to the talent and character of the chamber. “I know the estimate they put upon him,” says his friend and associate, “the consideration they had for him, and the future they pictured for him; for they were men to look around, and consider who were to carry on the government after they were gone. But the proceedings of the Senate soon gave the highest evidence of the degree of consideration in which he was held. In the second year of his service, he was appointed to a high duty—such as would belong to age and long service, as well as to talent and elevated character. He was made Chairman of the Select Committee, which brought in the bill for the grants to Lafayette; and as such became the organ of the expositions, as delicate as they were responsible, which reconciled such grants to the words and spirit of our constitution, and adjusted them to the merit and modesty of the receiver: a high function, and which he fulfilled to the satisfaction of the chamber and the country.* Among the first oratorical efforts of Mr. Hayne, that made during the debate on the exciting question of the tariff, in 1824, won him an exalted reputation, especially at home. He opposed the measure, as he considered it injurious to the country. He thought it was the true interest of the States to have no such restrictive policy, and that its adoption would be attended with ruin. Of the other speeches he made while a senator, among which is that on the Bankrupt Bill, of which he was the originator and zealous advocate, the most celebrated are those delivered in the “great debate” on Mr. Foot's resolution. The second and last one, which will be found in the subsequent pages of this work, is considered, by many, equal, as a constitutional argument, to any one delivered in the Senate. “It exhibits,” says an able writer, “a profound knowledge of the true principles of our constitution, and of the relative rights and duties of the Federal and State governments. As an effort of intellect, it will rank among the highest in the annals of American eloquence; and as a faithful exposition of the true structure and objects of the American confederacy, it will be regarded as a text-book by the supporters of the sovereignty of the States in every section of the Union.t Previous to resigning his seat in the Senate, Mr. Hayne was a member of the convention of South Carolina, which assembled for the purpose of taking “into consideration the several acts of the Congress of the United States, imposing duties on foreign imports, for the protection of domestic manufactures, or for other unauthorized objects, to determine on the character thereof, and to devise the means of redress, &c.” The result of the deliberations of the convention was the adoption of the notorious nullification ordinance, which was reported to that body by Mr. Hayne, as chairman of the committee to which the subject had been referred. Of this policy, Mr. Hayne was a strenuous supporter, and, as Governor of the State, he was soon after its adoption called on to carry out its principles. The ordinance of nullification was adopted by the convention on the twenty-fourth of November, 1832. On the tenth of the following month, President Jackson issued a proclamation denouncing it and expressing his determination to compel a due observance of the laws of the United States. This instrument was met by a counter-proclamation from Governor Hayne, in which was exhibited a fixed resolution to resist the General Government, even at the point of the bayonet; and preparations for the defence of the State were every where made. The passage of the Compromise Act, however, in March, 1833, put an end to the symptoms of rebellion; and another convention in South Carolina, of which Governor Hayne was president, soon after repealed the obnoxious measure. In December, 1834, Governor Hayne retired from office and from public life. Three years after, he was elected president of the Charleston, Louisville and Cincinnati Railroad, which office he held until his death. That event occurred on the twenty-fourth of September, 1839. The distinguishing features of Mr. Hayne's character and appearance are thus given by Mr. Benton, in the work before quoted:—“Nature had lavished upon him all the gifts which lead to eminence in public, and to happiness in private life. Beginning with the person and manners —he was entirely fortunate in these accessorial advantages. His person was of middle size, slightly above it in height, well proportioned, flexible and graceful. His face was fine—the features manly, well formed, expressive and quite handsome : a countenance ordinarily thoughtful and serious, but readily lighting up, when accosted, with an expression of kindness, intelligence, cheerfulness and inviting amiability. His manners were easy, cordial, unaffected, affable; and his address so winning, that the fascinated stranger was taken captive at the first salutation. These personal qualities were backed by those of the mind—all solid, brilliant, practical and utilitarian: and always employed on useful objects, pursued from high motives, and by fair and open means. His judgment was good, and he exercised it in the serious consideration of whatever business he was engaged upon, with an honest desire to do what was right, and a laudable ambition to achieve an honorable fame. He had a copious and ready elocution, flowing at will in
* Colonel Isaac Hayne, the “martyr of South Carolina," was the grand-uncle of Robert Y. Hayne: an account of his sufferings is given by General Lee in his interesting memoirs of the Southern Campaign.
a strong and steady current, and rich in the material which constitutes argument. His talents were various, and shone in different walks of life, not often united: eminent as a lawyer, distinguished as a senator: a writer as well as a speaker: and good at the council table. All these advantages were enforced by exemplary morals; and improved by habits of study, moderation, temperance, self-control, and addiction to business. There was nothing holiday or empty about him—no lying-in to be delivered of a speech of phrases. Practical was the turn of his mind: industry an attribute of his nature: labor an inherent impulsion, and a habit: and during his ten years of senatorial service, his name was incessantly connected with the business of the Senate. He was ready for all work—speaking, writing, consulting—in the committee-room as well as in the chamber—drawing bills and reports in private as well as shining in the public debate, and ready for the social intercourse of the evening when the labors of the day were over. A desire to do service to the country, and to earn just fame for himself, by working at useful objects, brought all these high qualities into constant, active and brilliant requisition. To do good by fair means was the labor of his senatorial life; and I can truly say that, in ten years of close association with him, I never saw him actuated by a sinister motive, a selfish calculation,
or an unbecoming aspiration.”
Ardent and steadfast in his own peculiar principles, he never
spoke harshly of those who differed from him in opinion: pure, affectionate, and amiable in all the relations of domestic life, he was universally beloved and respected.
The following speech, in answer to Mr. Webster's first speech on Mr. Foot's resolution,” was delivered by Mr. Hayne, in the Senate of the United States, on the twenty-first of January, 1830.t
Mr. PRESIDENT: When I took occasion, two days ago, to throw out some ideas with respect to the policy of the government, in relation to the public lands, nothing certainly could have been further from my thoughts, than that I should have been compelled again to throw myself upon the indulgence of the Senate. Little did I expect to be called upon to meet such an argument as was yesterday urged by the gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Webster.) Sir, I questioned no man's opinions; I impeached no man's motives; I charged no party, or State, or section of country, with hostility to any other, but ventured, as I thought in a becoming spirit, to put forth my own sentiments
* The following is the resolution of Mr. Foot:—“Resolved, That the Committee on Public Lands be instructed to inquire and report the quantity of the public lands remaining unsold within each State and Territory, and whether it be expedient to limit, for a certain period, the sales of the public lands to such lands only as have heretofore been offered for sale, and are now subject to entry at the minimum price. And, also, whether the office of Surveyor General, and some of the Land Offices, may not be abolished without detriment to the public interest; or whether it be expedient to adopt measures to hasten the sales, and extend more rapidly the surveys of the public lands."
t See Mr. Webster's answer to this speech at page 870 ante.
in relation to a great national question of public policy. Such was ''}; course. The gentleman from Missouri, (Mr. Benton,) it is true, had charged upon the Eastern States an early and continued hostility towards the west, and referred to a number of historical facts and documents in support of that charge. Now, sir, how have these different arguments been met? The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, after deliberating a whole night upon his course, comes into this chamber to vindicate New England; and instead of making up his issue with the gentleman from Missouri, on the charges which he had preferred, chooses to consider me as the author of those charges, and losing sight entirely of that gentleman, selects me as his adversary, and pours out all the vials of his mighty wrath upon my devoted head. Nor is he willing to stop there. He goes on to assail the institutions and policy of the south, and calls in question the principles and conduct of the State which I have the honor to represent. When I find a gentleman of mature age and experience—of acknowledged talents, and profound sagacity, pursuing a course like this, declining the contest offered from the west, and making war upon the unoffending south, I must believe, I am bound to believe, he has some object in view which he has not ventured to disclose. Mr. President, why is this? Has the gentleman discovered in former controversies with the gentleman from Missouri, that he is over-matched by that senator? And does he hope for an easy victory over a more feeble adversary? Has the gentleman's distempered fancy been disturbed by gloomy forebodings of