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Elisha Hammond

HAMMOND, Elisha, educator, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, 10 October, 1774; died in Macon, Georgia, 27 July, 1829. He was descended from Benjamin Hammond. who came from England to Massachusetts in 1634. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1802, and became principal of the Mount Bethel academy, Newberry county, South Carolina, in 1803. In April, 1806 he wits chosen professor of languages in South Carolina college, but resigned at the end of the following year to resume his connection with the school at Mount Bethel. There he remained until 1815, when he removed to Columbia. Professor Hammond ranked high as a teacher, and from his academy were graduated many well-known citizens.--His son, James Henry, statesman, born in Newberry district, 15 November, 18{}7; died in Beech Island, Aiken County, South Carolina, 13 November, 1864, was graduated at South Carolina college in 1825, and was admitted to the bar in 1828. In 1830 he became the editor of the "Southern Times," published at Columbia, in which he advocated nullification. He was throughout his life a supporter of John C. Calhoun's views. During the nullification excitement he was on the staff of Governor Hamilton, and subsequently on that of Governor Hayne. He was elected to congress, serving from 7 December, 1835, till 16 February, 1836, when he resigned, on account of impaired health, and visited Europe, remaining abroad for nearly two years. From 1842 till 1844 he was governor of South Carolina. During his term of office he gave especial attention to the improvement of military education in the state, and established the State geological and agricultural survey. For the next thirteen years Mr. Hammond, who had given up the active practice of his profession on his marriage to a lady of large fortune, devoted his attention to the development of his estates and the reclaiming of waste land. He was then elected to the United States senate in place of Andrew P. Butler, and served from 7 December, 1857, till 11 November. l860. In March, 1858, he delivered a speech on the admission of Kansas, which gave much offence at the north, and won for him the title of "Mudsill Hammond." The following is the paragraph to which most exception was taken: "In all social systems there must be a class to do the mean duties, to perform the drudgery of life; that is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, refinement, and civilization. It constitutes the very mudsills of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air as to build either the one or the other except on the mudsills. Fortunately for the south, she found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand--a race inferior to herself, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for the purpose and call them slaves. We are old-fashioned at the south yet; it is a word discarded now by ears polite; but I will not characterize that class at the north with that term; but you have it, it is there; it is everywhere; it is eternal." In a recent letter the speaker's son, Harry, thus explains the reference to "mudsills" in the foregoing extract: "It is a very great mistake to suppose that my father could ever have made a speech against the working classes. . . . As to "mudsills," a totally perverted meaning has been fastened to the expression. My father had built a mill, and four times it had to be taken down on account of trouble with the mudsills, which had to be placed in a sort of quicksand hard to control. Thus 'mudsills,' instead of meaning something low and insignificant, were, as I well remember, a matter of paramount interest and importance to him. It was just when he had at last placed his mudsills securely that he had occasion to use this expression." in the same speech occurs the passage: "No, sir, you dare not make war on cotton. No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is king. Until lately the Bank of England was king,' but she tried to put her screws as usual, the fall before last, upon the cotton crop, and was utterly vanquished. The last power has been conquered." On the secession of South Carolina he retired from the senate, and after hostilities began returned to the superintendence of his estates, being prevented by failing health from active participation in the war. While governor he published a letter to the Free church of Glasgow, and two others in reply to an antislavery circular written by Thomas Clarkson, of England. These letters called forth severe replies from those to whom they were addressed, and, with other essays on the same subject, were issued in book-form under the title "The Pro-Slavery Argument" (Charleston, 1853). He was also the author of papers on agriculture, manufactures, banks, railroads, and literary topics, and an elaborate review of the life, character, and services of John C. Calhoun, contained in an address delivered in Charleston in November, 1850, on the invitation of the city council. This is considered by many the best effort of his life.--Another son, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, soldier, born in Newberry district, South Carolina, 12 December, 1811; died in Beech Island, Aiken County, South Carolina, 23 January, 1876, was graduated at the United States military academy in 1836, and assigned to the 4th infantry. He was made 1st lieutenant, 7 November, 1839, and resigned, 31 December, 1842, on account of severe illness. From 1842 till 1846 he was a planter in Georgia, but at the beginning of the Mexican war he was appointed additional paymaster, and served until 15 April, 1847, when he was again compelled to resign on account of impaired health. He then retired to a plantation at Hamburg, South Carolina, whence he removed to Athens, Georgia, in 1860, and to Beech Island, South Carolina, in 1863. He held various commissions in the state militia between 1849 and 1853, and was a member of the state house of representatives in 1856-'7. He is the author of various essays on agricultural, political, and military subjects published between 1843 and 1849, and of "A Critical History of the Mexican War'," which appeared in the "Southern Quarterly Review" between 1849 and 1853.--Another son, John Fox, physician, born in Columbia, South Carolina, 7 December, 1821; died in Poughkeepsie, New York, 29 September, 1886, was graduated at the University of Virginia, the Medical college at Augusta, Georgia, and in 1841 at the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. He was appointed assistant surgeon in the United States army, 16 February, 1847; major and surgeon, 26 February, 1861: brevet lieutenant-colonel, 13 March, 1865, "for faithful and meritorious service during the war;" and lieutenant-colonel, 26 June, 1876. In 1849 he had medical charge of troops infected with cholera on the western frontier, and served in Florida from November, 1852, till October, 1853, during an epidemic of yellow fever. In 1862 he was medical director of the 2d army corps of the Potomac, and was present at the siege of Yorktown and the principal battles of the peninsula. After the close of the war he served on various medical boards.

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