Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CHEVES, Langdon (cheevz), statesman, born at Rocky River, South Carolina, 17 September, 1776; died in Columbia, 25 June, 1857. His father, Alexander, was a native of Scotland; his mother, Mary Langdon, was a Virginian. At the age of ten he went to Charleston to earn a living, and at sixteen had become confidential clerk in a large mercantile house. In spite of the advice of his friends, who thought him "born to be a merchant," he began the study of law when eighteen years old. In 1797 he was admitted to the bar, and very soon became eminent in his profession. Before 1808 his yearly income from his practice exceeded $20,000, a great figure in those days. In 1806 he married Miss Mary Dallas, of Charleston. In 1810 he was elected to congress, along with William Lowndes and John C. Calhoun, and soon distinguished himself. His speech on the merchants' bonds in 1811 was especially remarkable for its learning" and eloquence. Washington Irving, who was present, said it gave him for the first time an idea of the manner in which the great Greek and Roman orators must have spoken. Mr. Cheves was a zealous supporter of the war with England; he was chairman of the naval committee in 1812, and of the committee of ways and means in 1813. On 19 January, 1814, Henry Clay, having been sent as commissioner to Ghent, Mr. Cheves was chosen to succeed him as speaker of the house, being elected by a combination of federalists with anti-restriction democrats, over Felix Grundy, the administration candidate. His most memorable act as speaker was the defeat of Dallas's scheme for the re-charter of the U. So bank. After peace had been declared in 1815, he de- clined a re-election, and returned to the Charleston bar. In the following year he was made a judge of the superior court of South Carolina. In 1816 the national bank was rechartered, but within three years had been nearly ruined by mismanagemont. In 1819 Mr. Chores was elected president of its board of directors, and during the next three years succeeded in restoring its credit. In 1822 he resigned this post, in which he was succeeded by Nicholas Biddle, and became chief commissioner of claims under the treaty of Ghent. He lived for a time in Philadelphia, and afterward in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but in 1829 returned to South Carolina, and lived in retirement on his plantation for the remaining twenty-eight years of his life. He wrote occasional essays and reviews. In the excitement of 1832 he condemned the scheme of nullification as not sufficiently thoroughgoing. He considered it folly for South Carolina to act alone; but he was strongly in favor of secession, and in 1850, as a delegate to the Nashville convention, he declared himself friendly to the scheme, then first agitated, of a separate southern confederacy.
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