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CABELL, EDWARD CARRINGTON.
A HIS gentleman is one of the youngest members of the House, being only thirty-one years of age. His original " right of way" into the national councils was not undisputed, as will appear before the close of our narrative. He is a native of Richmond, Virginia. His mother is the daughter of Colonel Robert Gamble, who, when a stripling, entered into the American army during our Revolutionary struggle, and served with distinguished success from the commencement to the close of the war. He was an intimate personal friend of General Washington. He left the army after our liberties and independence had been secured.
The father of Mr. Cabell is William H. Cabell, the present President of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. Judge Cabell was elected to the House of Delegates of that state shortly after he had passed the age of twenty-one. He served in the session of 1798, and voted for the celebrated resolutions which were proposed at that session. A few years after this he was elected governor of the Commonwealth, at the early age of thirtytwo, the youngest governor who has ever been elected in that state. During his term of office the trial of the celebrated Aaron Burr took place in Richmond. Soon after his gubernatorial term had expired, he was made judge of the General Court of Virginia in the year 1808, and a vacancy occurring shortly afterward upon the bench of the Court of Appeals, he was elected, in 1811, one of the judges.
The Constitution of Virginia having been changed in the year 1830, it became necessary again for the Legislature to elect the judges of the Court of Appeals, when Judge Cabell received a most gratifying testimonial of their unabated confidence in him, both as a man and as a judge, by his re-election to the station; and in the year 1842, the Legislature elected him President of the Court of Appeals by a unanimous vote— an office which he now holds. Judge Cabell's decisions are held in the highest respect by the bar and bench, not only of Virginia, but of the whole country. He has preferred that the sphere of his exertions should be confined to his native state, neither seeking nor desiring office from the general government.
Edward Carrington Cabell graduated at the University of Virginia. About the 1st of January, 1837, at the age of twenty, he removed to Florida, and established himself in the county of Jefferson as a cotton planter.
Florida, as is well known, was the first portion of the United States settled by Europeans. Those who returned to Europe spread far and wide the fame of her salubrious climate, her beautiful skies, her noble rivers, her health-giving fountains, and her evergreen forest of live-oak and magnolia. It was the land of flowers, of poetry, and of song. Being a peninsula in the Western waters, it was likened to Italy; and, as in that country, there is poetry and romance in the very origin of this extraordinary land. History and fable seem so blended together as to render it almost as diflicult to track the plain line of truth, as it would be to pass directly through Florida's vast forest without pausing to admire the beauty of the magnolia and of the innumerable flowers that bloom in the wild luxuriance of Nature. It may be, indeed, that the calm, clear eye of truth may detect much of the coloring of a rich imagination in the first accounts of this beautiful country; but no one can read these descriptions, and recollect especially the romantic story of the expedition of Ponce de Loon, without being satisfied that a country that could call forth such eulogies and extravagance of enthusiasm from the imaginative Spaniard, must contain much to render a sojourn therein both profitable and delightfnl.
We read of towns at once springing up on the Atlantic frontier. At St. Augustine are yet to be seen the remains of one of the finest forts in the Union; and though at present neglected and only used as a prison, it is represented as capable of being put into complete repair at a moderate expense. The country around shows that it was once settled and cidtivated by the European; and, in fact, up to the time of its purchase from Spain by the United States, Florida exhibited signs of great prosperity. At one time it was not unusual to see three hundred sail in the Roads of Fernandina, a town situated on Amelia Island, within the Florida frontier. Since this purchase, however, from various causes, its advancement has not kept pace with other portions of the Union. Many of the Spaniards at onoe left the country, and the troubles among the Indians prevented the coming in of new immigrants to supply their place. After these Indian disturbances had been quieted by the strong hand of the general government, the tide of immigration began to set in this direction; but the savage foe was beaten, not conquered; confined to a narrow portion of the territory, not removed from it. The Seminole war broke out, and continued for many years, until the great body of the Indians were removed to their present home beyond the Mississippi. These causes chiefly have retarded the growth of Florida. But there is every reason to believe that she is now again advancing rapidly in wealth and population, and that the most sanguine expectations which have been formed of her future destiny will be realized.
At the time of Mr. Cabell's removal, Florida was a territory. In the year succeeding that of his arrival there, the people were called upon to hold a convention to frame a state Constitution, and he was elected a delegate from the county in which he resided. In the proceedings and debates of that convention he took an active part.
The admission of Florida into the Union was deferred for several years, owing chiefly to the continuation of the Florida war. In the mean time, Mr. Cabell, not finding sufficient occupation and interest in a planter's life, was admitted to the bar, and found, in a short space of time, that he had as much business as he could well attend to.
It is known that the people of a territory enjoy only partial political liberty, and that the emoluments of public offices constitute the chief inducement to their acceptance. Mr. Cabell continued to urge the admission of Florida into the Confederacy, but, with this exception, paid little attention to public concerns. The act of admission was passed by Congress in March, 1845, and Florida was received as an equal into the sisterhood of states. So long as she remained in a state of territorial dependence, but little interest was felt by her people in Federal politics; but, having assumed the duties and responsibilities of citizens of an independent commonwealth, her people
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suddenly awoke as from a long lethargy, and became participants at once in that strong political excitement which seems to constitute an essential part of the nutriment by which the people of the several states of the Union live, and move, and have their being. With the organization of a state government parties were formed. At the first state election, held in May, 1845, the Democratic party swept the state. David L. Yulee, the Democratic candidate for Congress, was elected by a majority nearly equal to one fourth the entire vote of the state. The Legislature having, however, elected that gentleman to the Senate of the United States, and a new election for representative having therefore become necessary, it was ordered to be held in October of the same year. So signal had been the defeat of the Whig party in the month of May previous, that many of its leading men thought it politic to have no candidate of their own to oppose Mr. William H. Brockenbrough, the chosen candidate of the Democratic party. Other portions of the Whig party, not willing thus to surrender their cause without a struggle, invited Mr. Cabell to take the field, to lead what then seemed to be "a forlorn hope." He engaged actively in the canva.ss, and addressed the people wherever he could bring them together. He was declared to be elected—a result to be attributed mainly, we believe, to his personal popularity.
He took his seat under the commission of the governor of the state. His right was immediately contested by Mr. Brockenbrough. The case was referred to the Committee on Elections, and a report was made by the majority of that committee, declaring that Mr. Cabell was not, and that Mr. Brockenbrough was, entitled to the seat. Tho minority of the committee made a counter report.
The discussion and decision of the case occupied several days. It was marked, on the part both of the sitting and contesting member, as such controversies usually are, with some bitterness. The Democratic party, then in an overwhelming majority in the House, was far from unanimous, as the votes will show, in favor of the Democratic candidate. On the second day of the debate, a proposition was introduced by Mr. Sims, of South Carolina, a Democratic member, recommitting the report to the Committee on Elections, in order that any evidences of returns not yet received might be received and reported,