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vice apparently so pregnant with difficulty and hazard. - Notwithstanding the blaze of glory which now encircles our naval officers, it is no more than justice to the first class of naval commanders to say, that they share equally in the glory acquired for the Republic by our naval achievements. They were the first teachers of that admirable system—that inimitable discipline—that unequalled police which has ever . distinguished the American navy. Ask the gallant ocean-warriors of the second war between the Republic and the British Empire, where they acquired that unparalleled nautical skill which is as necessary as dauntless courage—and they will refer you to the school of TRUxton, the senior DECATUR, and his cotemporaries; and afterwards to PREBLE, and his coadjutors. The elder Decatur was first appointed to the command of the Delaware sloop of war, and continued in the same command, until the patriotic merchants of Philadelphia, presented to their country a noble frigate, named after that noble city. It may almost be said that she was built for the Decaturs, for she was first commanded by the father in the naval warfare with France, who lived to see her destroyed by the son, when in the hands of a Tripolitan Bashaw. He continued in the command of the Philadelphia, teaching his gallant crew the path to certain victory, and protecting American commerce from French depredations. At the conclusion of peace with France he resigned his command, and
retired to the bosom of his beloved family, near the city of Philadelphia. Here this veteran son of Neptune beheld from year to year the rising glory of the navy—and, what consummated his temporal feticity, the fame of his beloved sons, Stephen and James. Sitting between them at a public naval dinner, a few years before his death, he was congratulated by some of the guests upon the happiness he enjoyed in his family. Turning his animated eyes, alternately toward his two sons, and uttering forth the sentiments of his noble and patriotic heart, he exclaimed, “OUR CHILDREN-THEY ARE THE PROPERty of our country,” a sentiment that would have done honour to the Decii of Rome, and which led them to die for the Republic. The eyes of his sons beamed with the ardour of filial af. section—their hearts swelled with patriotism—the guests were electrified with joy. The noble veteran retired from a scene almost too joyous to be endured. He lived to lament the death of his son James
—ended his active and patriotic labours in the year
1808, and closed a life which rendered him lamented and honoured in death. Thus much, and thus only, can here be said of the life of the father of Stephen Decatur. He sleeps with the great and good men who have shed a lustre upon the history of the Republic. His memory will be cherished and held in fond remembrance by our countrymen, as well for his own exalted worth, as for the inestimable legacy he left his country in giving it two sons who emulated his virtues—pur. sued the path he pointed out to fame—clothed themselves with laurels of unfading splendour, and essentially advanced the glory of the American Republic.
The reader is now asked for a while to withdraw his attention from the beloved and cherished name of the Decaturs, and follow the writer while he attempts, imperfectly, to give a brief view of the origin and progress of the American Navy until that period when STEPHEN DECATUR, the leading subject of these Sketches, entered into the service of his country as a Midshipman. From that period, to the day of his death, his biography must necessarily be blended with brief notices of, the progress and achievements of our navy. His spirit seemed to be infused into every breast that was led upon the mighty deep in our conquering ships. He seemed to be the genius of Victory, hovering over our floating bulwarks, and shedding its radiance even in the hour of disaster.
Extinction of Naval Power and Naval Spirit at the close of the Revolution—A Seventy-four presented to Louis XVI.-Conjecture concerning her—Astonishing effects of NAVAL Power— Encroachments upon American Commerce and humiliation of American Seamen—Act of Congress 1794, for building six Frigates—Enthusiasm excited by it—Frigate Constitution--Achievements of Truxton, Little, &c.—Anecdotes of the elder Decatur and Tryon—Midshipman Stephen Decatur,
WHEN the war of the Revolution ended in the acknowledgment of American Independence, the civil fathers of the Republic had a duty no less arduous to perform in the Cabinet, than her gallant army had achieved and just concluded in the field. It would be but repeating, what the writer attempted to remark upon this subject in another publication”——it is, therefore, introduced in this place.
“Destitute of a government of their own making, they had before them the lights of antiquity, and the practical knowledge of modern ages. With the scrutinizing research of statesmen, and the calm deliberation of philosophers, they proceeded to establish a constitution of Civil Government, as the supreme law of the land. The establishment of this Constitution is, perhaps, without a parallel in the history of the civilized world. It was not the unresisted
* Wide Memoirs of Jackson, p. 13, 5th edition.
mandate of a successful usurper, nor was it a government imposed upon the people by a victorious army. It was digested by profound statesmen, who aimed to secure all the rights of the people who had acquired them by their toil, their courage and their patriotism. They aimed also to give to the government sufficient energy to command respect. “To the people of the American Republic, a constitution was presented for their deliberation, and for their adoption. It was adopted not with entire unanimity, but by a majority of the people, sufficiently respectable to give its operation a promising commencement. The people, having emancipated themselves from the power of a British monarch– having successfully resisted his lords and his commons, looked with jealousy upon those who were called to the exercise of the power which they had themselves delegated to their own countrymen. The excellency of the constitution was tested by the practical application of its principles; and the patriotism, and integrity, of all the early officers who derived their power from it, were acknowledged by their admiring countrymen.” These great statesmen were called upon, not to direct the resources of the country, for resources she had none: they were called upon to create them, and then apply them to the proper objects. So far as national power depends upon national wealth, the confederated states were as feeble as a reed shaken by the wind. Involved in debt without a treasury —the veteran soldiers of the revolution yet bleed