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MACLAY, WILLIAM BROWN,
J.S among the youngest members of the thirtieth Congress. He was bom in 1815, in that portion of the city of New York comprised within the limits of the district which he now represents, and from which he was elected in 1842, immediately after the state became divided into Congressional Districts, in conformity with the law of Congress of that year. [See title, Howell Cobb.]
He is the son of the Reverend Archibald Maclay, a venerable clergyman of the Baptist denomination—favorably known to many of our readers—a Scotchman by birth, who emigrated to the United States in the year 1804. He preached to one congregation in the city of New York for the long period of thirtyfive years, when, to the regret of all his flock, and against their earnest desires, he retired from the Church to take upon himself the duties of another very laborious and responsible station. During the thirty-five years of his ministry, he united in the bonds of matrimony upward of ten thousand persons.
On his retirement from this ministerial station, he accepted the office of general agent of the American and Foreign Bible Society, which he still holds. He is now seventy-two years of age, in the full vigor of his mental and bodily faculties. During the last year, in the discharge of his duties, he traversed, on horseback, a distance of some four or five thousand miles. The remarkable preservation of his life, while on his business travels two years ago, is worthy of record, and is thus stated by himself:
"The steamer Bellezane, of Zanesville, Ohio, left that place for New Orleans: she ran on a snag on the 18th instant, about one o'clock in the morning, five miles below the mouth of White River, and about fifteen above the mouth of Arkansas River.
"Nearly all the passengers were asleep at the time she struck upon the snag, which went completely through her bottom. She careened first on the one side and then on the other; the boilers rolled off, which righted her a little, and the vessel then went completely over on her side and filled with water. I was asleep when she struck, but was roused by the shock and the rolling of the empty barrels on the hurricane deck into the river. I instantly sprang from my berth. The vessel gave a heavy lurch, the water rushing m at the same time up to my chest. I struggled across the cabin floor, and, aided by the handle of the door between the ladies' cabin and ours, I reached the state-room on the opposite side of the boat, and, as both doors were providentially open, I passed through them to the outside; the boat was then on her beam ends. The scene was truly awful; the night was intensely cold, and those who had escaped immediate death were clustered together on the wreck, destitute of clothing, bareheaded and barefooted. The hurricane deck separated from the cabin, and the captain and four others floated ashore on it. Three of these were frozen to death.
"The hull of the boat became detached from the cabin, and turned bottom up; fifteen of the passengers climbed upon the hull and were saved. Some of the passengers clung to the side of the cabin, and were taken off by a small boat. I floated with others on a portion of the wreck about ten miles down the river, near Napoleon, at the mouth of the Arkansas River. From some of the berths, which constituted a portion of the wreck we were on, a few quilts were obtained. I gave a mattress which I had procured to Mr. Chapman, who had the child of Captain Hins in his arms. I put the mattress over him and the child. With some difficulty I obtained another; but a planter from Kentucky, whose name, I think, was Burns, suffered excessively from the cold, and, being in danger of freezing to death, I gave \ip to him the second mattress. I remained afterward four hours on the wreck. Some of the boat's crew, who had reached the shore, obtained a small boat and came to our relief. The ladies were very properly first taken from the wreck. I was brought to the shore with Mr. Burns, the planter before mentioned, who had suffered so much from the cold. Almost the instant we had readied the shore, he gave one groan and expired. Colonel Rives, a relative of Mr. Rives, of Washington, was on board of the steamer, and was the first man that reached the shore. He possesses great energy of character, and was ex