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familiar with the practical difficulties encountered in the administration of government during the Revolution, and under the régime of the Confederation.
Although the decision rendered by Jay in Chisholm vs. Georgia was reversed by the Constitutional amendment adopted in 1798, yet the tone of the decision, and the logical deduction from its principles, were significant of the change in the structure of the Government erected by the Constitution. The country was startled by the claim that the people of the United States, as the sovereign people of a nation, had established a Constitution by which it was their wish that the States should be bound, and to which the State Constitutions should be made to conform; that the sovereignty of the nation is in the people of the nation, and the residuary sovereignty of each State in the people of each State. This was really the only important case decided by the Court while Jay was Chief Justice.
He sat on the bench robed in the traditionary gown of the English judges, but he discarded the wig to wear the hair off the forehead, tied behind into a cue.
He was a little less than six feet in height, well-formed but thin, his complexion without color, his eyes blue and penetrating, his nose aquiline, and his chin pointed. His dress was black; his manner gentle and unassuming, but somewhat chilled by the dignity of the statesman. His style of speaking was quiet and limpid without gesture. He was philanthropic, and desired the extinction of slavery in accordance with a sentiment then prevalent even in the South, whose leading men at that time, especially those of Virginia, as Mr. Webster tells us, “ felt and acknowledged that it was a moral and political evil; that it weakened the arm of the free man and kept back the progress and success of free labor."
Jay married in 1774 Miss Livingston who, it is said, was very beautiful. She was the life of fashionable society in Philadelphia while he was Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Confederacy. Several children were the fruit of this marriage. His wife having suffered from delicate health for several years, died shortly after his retirement from public life.
Jay was by nature of a quick temper, but he kept it under control; he was straightforward and sincere; he
had strong family and local attachments; he had an elevated sense of justice; was tenacious in his friendships and in his enmities; his mind was vigorous, exact, and logical; penetration was its characteristic; but he was not a full or learned man, nor did imagination enlarge the compass of his thought or impart grace and flexibility to his mind. The Bible was his constant study and his religion was a part of his being and displayed itself in the uniform tenor of his life. But the religion which descended to him from his ancestors came tinctured with the spirit of intolerance, which Buckle tells us characterized the Huguenots wherever they had power in France, the result, as he says, of that odium theologicum which is one of the characteristics of civil government when controlled by ecclesiastical influences. Mr. Jay proposed in the New York Convention to exclude Roman Catholics from the privileges of citizenship, but fortunately the proposition was defeated by the spirit of the Revolution, which was stronger than the expiring fanaticism of the age.
When Jay resigned in 1795, Washington at once appointed John Rutledge, of South Carolina, to succeed him. He held the office but six months, having been rejected by the Senate on account of his violent opposition to Jay's treaty with Great Britain, and also, it is believed, on account of mental infirmity, caused by exposure in the swamps of South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. He was a very interesting and remarkable man. His intellectual abilities were great, and his character earnest and resolute. His father was an Irish physician who settled in Charleston in 1734. He soon married a young lady of fortune who was a mother at fifteen and a widow at twenty-six. John was born in 1739 and was the oldest of seven children. Having been fairly educated in the classics, he commenced the study of law at seventeen. After two years he went to London and entered as a student in the Temple. Mansfield was presiding then in the King's Bench; Henley, afterward Lord Northington, was Lord Keeper; Pratt, afterward Lord Chancellor and Earl of Camden, was Attorney-General; and Burke was just rising to fame, and Thurlow was just emerging from obscurity. He remained three years in the Temple, and having been called to the bar, returned to Charleston in
1761. He commenced practice at the Charleston bar when he was twenty-two. His success was immediate. Instead of rising by degrees, he burst forth at once an able lawyer and an accomplished orator. His ideas were clear and strong; his utterance rapid, but distinct; his active and energetic manner of speaking forcibly impressed his sentiments on the mind and heart; he successfully used both argument and wit.
When the news of the passage of the Stamp Act reached Charleston he was chosen, by an assembly of the people, one of the delegates to the first Congress held in New York. Afterward, in 1774, he was sent with his brother, Edward Rutledge, to the Continental Congress. At the meeting to appoint delegates, question arose as to the power which should be conferred on them. Rutledge insisted that they should have plenary discretion, with power to pledge the people of South Carolina to abide by whatever the delegates would agree to; some one asked what must be done in case the delegates made a bad use of their power? His laconic answer was, “ Hang them."
The Province of South Carolina on March 26, 1776, adopted a State Constitution and established a State government; Rutledge was chosen President, or Governor. When the British fleet of forty vessels approached Charleston, early in June, 1776, the decision and energy of the Governor caused the superiority of his genius to be acknowledged by all. In the course of a few days five or six thousand men were assembled for the defence of Charleston. General Charles Lee, who had been appointed by Congress to take command in the Southern Department, said that Fort Moultrie was a slaughter pen, and advised Governor Rutledge to order its abandonment. Rutledge declined to give the order, and wrote thus to Moultrie: “General Lee wishes you to evacuate the fort, you will not do so without an order from me. I would sooner cut off my right hand than write one."
In 1780 Charleston fell, and no one could say when the Legislature might again he able to meet. That body, before its adjournment, clothed “ the Governor and such of his council as he could conveniently consult with power to do everything necessary for the public good, except take away the life of a citizen without a legal trial.”
Hence he was called “Dictator John.” The British overran South Carolina, drove Rutledge from the State and defeated Gates. But Rutledge did not despair; he applied all his energies to the task of reorganizing the army; he commissioned Sumter as a Brigadier-General, he conferred elevated rank on Pickens and Marion, procured from Congress a commission for Morgan, so that when Greene arrived he found Morgan at the head of his riflemen in Gates's army. Greene, in a letter written after the battle of Cowpens, describes the wretched condition of affairs, and then says: “We are obliged to subsist ourselves by our industry, aided by the influence of Governor Rutledge, who is one of the first characters I ever met." In January, 1782, he called the Legislature together and surrendered his powers, because he thought them too great to be vested in any man in a free country, except to meet a pressing emergency temporarily.
No complaint was ever preferred against him for his administration while Dictator. He was an active and prominent member of the Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States; he overcame the opposition which the Constitution met with in South Carolina, when it was submitted for ratification to the State Convention. He filled the office of Chancellor of the Equity Courts of his State and in 1791 was appointed Chief Justice of its law court. He was appointed by Washington and confirmed by the Senate as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States immediately on its organization in September, 1789, his commission being first in date. Having been appointed Chief Justice of South Carolina in February, 1791, he resigned the office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1792 he lost his wife, an event that touched the deepest feelings of his heart, for he was both gentle and tender by nature. He died July 18, 1800, leaving eight children, six sons and two daughters.
He was tall, well-framed and robust; his forehead broad, his eyes dark and piercing; his mouth indicated firmness and decision; his hair, combed back according to the fashion of the day, was powdered and tied behind. His aspect was resolute, and wore an expression of thought and determination. His feelings were warm and ardent, and he
had an impulsive energy which, however, was controlled by a vigorous common sense. Earnestness was the secret of his power; the supreme element of his character was “ force.”
Ellsworth was appointed March 4, 1796, and he too, like Jay, while holding the office of Chief Justice, was sent on a foreign mission. He was selected by President Adams as one of the envoys to France on February 2, 1799, and left for Paris in the fall of that year. He attained eminence at the bar very early in life, but he cut no figure in the Revolution until he took his seat in Congress in the fall of 1778; from that period till 1782 he was an active member of the Committee of Appeals and aided Robert Morris in his financial scheines. After the Revolutionary war he was a conspicuous member of the Convention of 1787. He was jealous of the dominance of the larger States, and to his unyielding pertinacity the country is indebted for the final compromise of the Constitution, which gave to each State equality of representation in the Senate. He always urged the necessity of preserving the existence and agency of the State governments; the only chance, said he, of maintaining a general Government lies in creating it on those of the individual States. To the sarcasm of Wilson, “that we are forming a government for men and not for imaginary beings called States," and to the invective of King against the phantom of State sovereignty,” he replied “ that his happiness depended on the States as much as a new born infant on its mother for nourishment.” In the Convention of his State called to ratify the Constitution he made an admirable speech, urging union as the only mode of saving Connecticut from the rapacity of New York on one side and of Massachusetts on the other. He said: “If we do not unite shall we not be like Issachar of old, a strong ass crouching down between two burdens?”
Elected to the Senate under the new Constitution, he framed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which alone is a monument to his skill and intellectual vigor. While he presided in the Court but little business came before it, and no case of great importance was decided.
Ellsworth was tall, erect, with firm and penetrating blue eyes, and of dignified demeanor. His manners were