Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CLINGMAN, Thomas Lanier, senator, born in Huntsville, North Carolina, 27 July, 1812. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1832 with high honors, after which he studied law and was elected a member of the legislature. He settled in Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, in 1836, and was sent to the state senate in 1840. Later he was elected as a Whig to congress, and served continuously from 4 December, 1843, till 14 June, 1858, with the exception of the 29th congress. During his long career in the house, extending over thirteen years, he participated in nearly all of the important debates, and as chairman of the committee on foreign affairs acquitted himself with ability. His first week in congress was marked by an encounter with Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, in which he displayed great readiness and self-possession. His speech against the so-called "21st rule" was extensively published, and his reply to Duncan's "coon speech" made a decided impression. Later his speech on the causes of Henry Clay's defeat led to a duel between himself and William L. Yancey, of Alabama. He also made important speeches on the slavery question, on GeE. Scott's conduct in Mexico, the tariff, against commercial restrictions, on mediation in the eastern war, Texas debts, British policy in Cuba, and especially against the Clayton and Bulwer treaty, it is said that while a member of congress he attended every day's session of the house without a single exception. He was originally a Whig, but subsequently joined the Democratic Party. In 1858, on the appointment of Asa Biggs as United States judge for the district of North Carolina, Mr. Clingman was selected by the governor of that state to fill the vacancy in the senate, and subsequently elected for six years after 4 March, 1861; but he withdrew with the southern members on 21 January, 1861. In May of that year he was sent as a commissioner to the Confederate congress, to give assurances that North Carolina would co-operate with the Confederate states, and was invited to participate in the discussions of that body. In July he was expelled from the United States senate with those who neglected to send in their resignations. He entered the Confederate army as colonel, and on 17 May, 1862, was appointed a brigadier-general in command of the 8th, 81st, 51st, and 61st North Carolina infantry. He served through the war, surrendering with General J. E. Johnston in April, 1865. He was a delegate to the National democratic convention held in 1868. In 1855 he measured and made known through the Smithsonian institution the highest point of the Black mountain, since designated as "Clingman's peak," and in 1858 he determined the highest point of the Smoky mountain, designated on the maps of the coast survey as "Clingman's dome." He also made known the existence in North Carolina of the diamond, ruby, platinum, corundum, and many other rare minerals, and the important mica-mines in Mitchell and Yancey counties were first opened by him. Since the close of the war General Clingman has devoted his attention to mining and to scientific and literary pursuits. He has published a volume of his speeches (1878) and minor works, including "Follies of the Positive Philosophers" (Raleigh, 1878).
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