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William Learned Marcy

William Learned Marcy -  A Stan Klos Website

MARCY, William Learned, statesman, born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, 12 December, 1786; died in Ballston Spa., New York, 4 July, 1857. He was graduated at Brown in 1808, and then studied law in Troy. New York, where, after being admitted to the bar, he opened an office.

 

The war with Great Britain soon began, and young Marcy, holding a lieutenancy in a light-infantry company, tendered the services of his command to the governor of New York. This offer was accepted, and the company was sent to French Mills (Now Fort Covington), on the northern frontier. On the night of 23 October, 1812, he surprised and captured the Canadian forces that were stationed at St. Regis. These were the first prisoners taken on land, and their flag was the first captured during the war. This exploit gained for him recognition from General Henry Dearborn, and his command was attached to the main army, but, after serving the time for which he had enlisted, he returned to his practice, having attained the rank of captain.

 

In 1816 he was appointed recorder of Troy, but his opposition to De Witt Clinton led to his removal from office, and remains as one of the earliest cases of political proscription in the history of New York.

 

He then became editor of the "Troy Budget," a daily newspaper, which he soon made a well-known organ of the Democratic Party. The earnest support that he gave to Martin Van Buren resulted in his affiliation with the division of the Democratic Party of which Van Buren was leader, and in 1821 he was made adjutant-general of the state militia. He was a member of the "Albany regency." (See CAGGER, PETER) His political capabilities showed themselves to advantage in the passage of the act that authorized a convention to revise the constitution.

 

He became in 1823 comptroller of the state, an important office at that time, owing to the large expenditures on the Erie and Champlain canals, and the increase of the state debt. In 1829 he was appointed one of the associate justices of the supreme court of New York, and in that capacity presided over numerous important trials, among which was that of the alleged murderers of William Morgan (q. v.).

 

He continued on the bench until 1831, when he was elected as a Democrat to the United States senate, serving from 5 December, 1831, and becoming chairman of the judiciary committee. His maiden speech was in answer to Henry Clay's aspersions on Martin Van Buren, and was followed soon afterward by his answer to Daniel Webster's speech on the apportionment.

 

His career as a senator gained for him a strong hold on the confidence of the people of his state and elsewhere. He resigned in 1833 to fill the governorship of New York, to which he had been elected, and held that office through three terms, until 1839. For a fourth time he was nominated, but he was defeated by William H. Seward.

In 1839 he was appointed by Martin Van Buren one of the commissioners to decide upon the claims against the government of Mexico, under the convention of that year, and was so occupied until 1842. He presided over the Democratic state convention at Syracuse in September, 1843 and during the subsequent canvass he used his influence in causing the state of New York to cast its votes for James K. Polk, by whom, after his election, he was invited to become secretary of war. The duties of that office were performed by him with signal ability, especially during the Mexican war.

 

The difficulties of his task were somewhat increased by the fact that the two victorious generals, Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor, were of the opposing political party, and charged Mr. Marcy with using his official power to embarrass and retard their military operations. These accusations were made so persistently and openly that it became necessary for him to defend himself against such attacks, which he did with so much force that he completely silenced all censure.

 

During his term of office he exerted his diplomatic powers to advantage in the settlement of the Oregon boundary question, also advocating the tariff of 1846, and opposing all interference on the slavery question. At the close of his term of office he retired to private life, but in 1853 he returned to Washington as Secretary of State under Franklin Pierce. While in this office he carried on a correspondence with the Austrian authorities in reference to the release of Martin Koszta by Captain Duncan N. Ingraham (q. v.). The questions that were involved were in a measure new, and affected all governments that recognized the laws of nations.

 

His state papers on Central American affairs, on the enlistment question, on the Danish sound dues, and on many other topics of national interest, still further exhibited his ability as a writer, statesman, and diplomatist. On the close of Pierce's administration, he again retired to private life, and four months afterward he was found dead one evening in his library with an open volume before him. Mr. Marcy had the reputation of being a shrewd political tactician, and probably has never been surpassed in this respect by any one in New York except Martin Van Buren. He was regarded among his countrymen of all parties as a statesman of the highest order of administrative and diplomatic ability.

 

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

 

MARCY, William Learned, statesman, born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, 12 December, 1786; died in Ballston Spa., New York, 4 July, 1857. He was graduated at Brown in 1808, and then studied law in Troy. New York, where, after being admitted to the bar, he opened an office. The war with Great Britain soon began, and young Marcy, holding a lieutenancy] in a light-infantry company, tendered the services of his command to the governor of New York. This offer was accepted, and the company was sent to French Mills, on the northern frontier. On the night of 23 October, 1812, he surprised and captured the Canadian forces that, were stationed at St. Regis. These were the first prisoners taken on land, and their flag was the first captured during the war. This exploit gained for him recognition from General Henry Dearborn, and his command was attached to the main army, but, after serving the time for which he had enlisted, he returned to his practice, having attained the rank of captain. In 1816 he was appointed recorder of Troy, but his opposition to De Witt Clinton led to his removal from office, and remains as one of the earliest cases of political proscription in the history of New York. He then became editor of the " Troy Budget," a daily newspaper, which he soon made a well-known organ of the Democratic party. The earnest support that he gave to Martin Van Buren resulted in his affiliation with the division of the Democratic party of which Van Buren was leader, and in 1821 he was made adjutant-general of the state militia. He was a member of the "Albany regency." (See CAGGER, PETER) His political capabilities showed themselves to advantage in the passage of the act that authorized a convention to revise the constitution. He became in 1823 comptroller of the state, an important office at that time, owing to the large expenditures on the Erie and Champlain canals, and the increase of the state debt. In 1829 he was appointed one of the associate justices of the supreme court of New York, and in that capacity presided over numerous important trials, among which was that of the alleged murderers of William Morgan (q. v.). He continued on the bench until 1831, when he was elected as a Democrat to the United States senate, serving from 5 December, 1831, and becoming chairman of the judiciary committee. His maiden speech was in answer to Henry Clay's aspersions on Martin Van Buren, and was followed soon afterward by his answer to Daniel Webster's speech on the apportionment. His career as a senator gained for him a strong hold on the confidence of the people of his state and elsewhere. He resigned in 1833 to fill the governorship of New York, to which he had been elected, and held that office through three terms, until 1839. For a fourth time he was nominated, but he was defeated by William H. Seward. In 1839 he was appointed by Martin Van Buren one of the commissioners to decide upon the claims against the government of Mexico, under the convention of that year, and was so occupied until 1842. He presided over the Democratic state convention at Syracuse in September, 1843. and during the subsequent canvass he used his influence in causing the state of New York to cast its votes for James K. Polk, by whom, after his election, he was invited to become secretary of war. The duties of that office were performed by him with signal ability, especially during the Mexican war. The difficulties of his task were somewhat increased by the fact that the two victorious generals, Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor, were of the opposing political party, and charged Mr. Marcy with using ms official power to embarrass and retard their military operations. These accusations were made so persistently and openly that it became necessary for him to defend himself against such attacks, which he did with so much force that he completely silenced all censure. During his term of office he exerted his diplomatic powers to advantage in the settlement of the Oregon boundary question, also advocating the tariff of 1846, and opposing all interference on the slavery question. At the close of his term of office he retired to private life, but in 1853 he returned to Washington as secretary of state under Franklin Pierce. While in this office he carried on a correspondence with the Austrian authorities in reference to the release of Martin Koszta by Captain Duncan N. Ingraham (q. v.). The questions that were involved were in a measure new, and affected all governments that recognized the laws of nations. His state papers on Central American affairs, on the enlistment question, on the Danish sound dues, and on many other topics of national interest, still further exhibited his ability as a writer, statesman, and diplomatist. On the close of Pierce's administration, he again retired to private life, and four months afterward he was found dead one evening in his library with an open volume before him. Mr. Marcy had the reputation of being a shrewd political tactician, and probably has never been surpassed in this respect by any one in New York except Martin Van Buren. He was regarded among his countrymen of all parties as a statesman of the highest order of administrative and diplomatic ability.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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