Графични страници
PDF файл

by Jefferson, advocated by Madison, and of more value to the religious and civil liberty of the people of Virginia, than any other law that has been passed from the adoption of their constitution to this day. In January, 1786, he was appointed a member of the 'privy council, or council of state, of the commonwealth, and on the twenty-third of that month, took his seat at the board: he continued a member of that body until the thirtieth of March, 1791. After that period he was elected by the people of Henrico, he having removed with his family to Richmond in 1786, a member of the house of delegates. In the winter session of 1793, he was again elected by the general assembly, into the executive council, and took his seat at the board on the thirty-first of May, 1794. It appears that he was an assiduous and faithful member. The last time that he sat in council, was on the sixth of October, 1797, only four days before his death.

Although Mr. Braxton did not possess the resplendent abilities which shone so conspicuously in Henry, Pendleton, Jefferson, and Lee, he was a man of cultivated mind, and of considerable talents. He frequently engaged in debate, in the conventions and in the legislature. His oratory was probably like his manners, easy, flowing, smooth, and polished. A gentleman who now fills a high station in the government of the Union, and who became acquainted with Mr. Braxton after the termination of the war, observes that "he was an agreeable, though not a remarkably forcible, public speaker. His eloquence was easy and gentlemanly; his language good; and his manner agreeable.”

It has been already stated that Mr. Braxton derived from his ancestors a splendid fortune. At the commencement of the revolution, he was still an opulent man. He had always a propensity to engage in commerce, and in the early

Vol. V.-0



part of his life was concerned in merchandising; but not on a very extensive scale. Unhappily for himself and his family, as soon as the war commenced, he entered into commerce upon an enlarged plan. All his mercantile projects and adventures proved to be disastrous. In a few years, all bis vessels were swept from the ocean: ship after ship was captured by the enemy. His debts could only be collected in the depreciated currency. His personal property was seized by the sheriff ; his lands he bad in part sold, when he first engaged in these speculations; the rest, with his slaves and furniture, he mortgaged, to satisfy various creditors. Lawsuits accumulated on him. The court of chancery groaned under the weight of the suits in which he was a party, plaintiff or defendant. He became involved in pecuniary embarrassments, from which it was impossible to extricate him. His temper was sanguine, and hence he imposed on loimself, and consequently on bis friends. He was in possession of a considerable estate, which he struggled to preserve; and, by making calculations which could never be realized, induced his friends to pledge themselves for him too deeply, and failed in performing his engagements. But the fact that two of his own sons-in-law became sureties for him to a great extent, and shared the fate of the rest, fully proves that the injury done by him to his friends, who were induced to becoine responsible for him, was not done designedly, but proceeded from his sanguine temper, and from being himself deceived. Legitimate misfortune ought to command our respect, not call forth our censure.

Mr. Braxton finally sunk under his embarrassments, and dicd heart-broken: he experienced two paralytic attacks, the last of which removed him from this earthly scene. This event occurred at Richmond, on the tenth of October, 1797. His venerable widow, by the exertions of her friends, and the operation of a beneficent law, saved from the wreck of his estate, enough to protect her declining years from absolute want. Thus this gentleman, whose early prospects were so bright and flattering, and who was so usefully en. gaged in his country's service for many years, became, in his latter days, by a succession of disastrous events, the sport of the most cruel fortune.

Mr. Braxton was a man of mild and philantlıropic disposition. He was attached to domestic life, and never so happy as when associated with his wife and children. As a husband, a father, a friend, and a neighbour, he was kind, affectionate, and obliging. His manners were entirely those of a polished gentleman, and in all his ordinary intercourse with society, he was amiable and exemplary. His los. pitality, whose character had been formed in the days of his prosperity, continued in adversity, to be liberal, and in a style peculiarly agreeable. His life was a lesson of the uncertainty of all earthly things, and he died the martyr of misfortune.


WILLIAM HOOPER, a delegate in congress from the state of North Carolina, was born at Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, on the seventeenth of June, 1742.

The family of Hooper seems to have been originally settled in the neighbourhood of Kelso, an old and considerable town in the south of Scotland; and to have been quite independent in circumstances, and highly respectable in character and connexions. At the village of Edenham, or Edenmouth, about two miles from Kelso, William Hooper, the father of the subject of this memoir, was born in the year 1702; he was graduated at the University of Edinburgh immediately on his coming of age, and soon after emigrated to this country. In Boston, where he fixed his residence, he married the daughter of Mr. John Dennie, an eminent merchant, and · by his marriage became connected with several families of high respectability.

He was afterwards elected pastor of Trinity Church in Boston, and enjoyed in a more than ordinary degree, the affection and reverence of a large and respectable congregation. He was distinguished for his manners, which, it is said, were remarkably elegant and accomplished, as well as for a bold and inpressive eloquence; and long after his death,

« ПредишнаНапред »