LAZARUS W. POWELL was born in Henderson County on the sixth day of October, 1812. His father, Captain Lazarus W. Powell, only a few years previous to the birth of the subject of our memoir, had settled on a tract of land lying twelve miles south of Henderson, on the Morganfield road, and it may be said continued to reside thereon until April, 1869, when at the advance age of ninety-two years he died. His mother was the daughter of Captain James McMahon, of Henderson County, a gentleman who had served in the ranks of the Kentucky volunteers in the War of 1812. He was a man of strong native intellect, but exceedingly eccentric in manner and habits. Though both of the late Governor's parents were possessed of average natural talents, neither had ever enjoyed the benefits of intellectual culture beyond its simplest rudiments. Lazarus was their third son. Lazarus W. Powell at a very early age began to exhibit those traits of character which, in their fuller development, caused him to be loved and respected wherever he was known. When he had arrived at an age to be able to appreciate the advantages of education, he used diligently the very inadequate means that were within his reach to acquire knowledge. The school he first attended was a primary one kept by a Mr. Ewell Wilson, in the village of Henderson. Here he learned to read and write. Later he became a pupil of the late George Gayle, Esq., a gentleman of rare talents and attainments, under whose tuition he acquired a fair academical education.
Young Powell was a manly youth, ingenious and truthful, and not a little ambitious. He had scarcely reached the age of eighteen years before he had marked out for himself a pathway in life and chosen the profession by which he hoped to acquire a moderate competency and possibly the other results of a reasonable ambition. He did not say-for his aspirations were all civic-
" - The world's mine ouster,
"Which I with my sword will open;"
but with a like spirit that breathes through this immortal sentiment of the world's greatest poet, he pursued his course and allowed no obstacle to interpose between his will to do and the accomplishment of the act he so willed. Few farmers in Kentucky, at the time to which we refer (1830), were possessed of any great abundance of ready means, and thus it turned out when young Powell was preparing to carry out his design of entering upon the study of the law, that his father was only enabled to furnish him with a sum of money that was quite insufficient to cover the expenses incident to the position he expected to occupy. Early in the month of June, 1830, the young man rode over to the town of Owensboro, the county seat of the adjoining county of Daviess, for the purpose of consulting with an old legal friend of his father, the Hon. Philip Thompson. This gentleman was then engaged in a large practice in the circuit presided over by the Hon. Alney McLean. Mr. Thompson readily assented to Powell's wish to enter his office as a student. He soon discovered, however, that the insufficiency of his young friend's educational attainments would be a great drawback to his hoped for success in the undertaking upon which he had entered, and he urged upon him the necessity of suspending his legal studies until he could avail himself of the advantages of a classical education.
This was a great blow to Powell's hopes. He had the good sense, however, to see that the advice that had been given him was the result of a kindly interest in his affairs. Returning home, he set about revolving in his mind the unlooked for difficulty and the means at his disposal for overcoming it. The result of his self-communing was a determination to visit Bardstown, then the seat of one of the best literary institutions in the State. Having obtained from Mr. Thompson a letter of introduction to the Hon. John Rowan, an old friend of the writer, he set out for Bardstown, at which place he arrived in the first week of September, 1830. His entire riches consisted of the horse he rode and less than one hundred dollars in money. He took early occasion to present his friend's letter to Judge Rowan, and was by that true gentleman treated with a degree of kindness and interest which he ever afterward remembered and spoke of in terms of the deepest gratitude. Judge Rowan was perhaps the most learned man of his profession in the State. In order to test the qualifications of the young man for the profession he had chosen, he introduced into their conversation certain literary, scientific and historical questions which he deemed it important that every one should be acquainted with who had any thought of entering upon the study of the law. The result was as unsatisfactory in regard to young Powell's scholastic attainments as had been his former trial before Mr. Thompson. His natural good sense, however, and his evident candor made a most favorable impression on the erudite statesman, and again he was strongly advised to apply himself to the acquisition of a thorough collegiate education.
With becoming modesty the young man acknowledged to Judge Rowan that he had not sufficient means to defray the necessary expenses of a college course of studies. Having arrived at the details of his present means' and future prospects, Judge Rowan gave him hopes that the particular difficulty might be overcome. He told him that he was well acquainted with the Faculty and Professors of St. Joseph's College, and that, having some influence with them, he thought it highly probable that he would be able to arrange with them for his immediate matriculation and subsequent tuition.
Early the following morning Judge Rowan accompanied the young man to the college where he was formally introduced to the President, the late Rev. George A. M. Elder. Mr. Elder was a man of the kindest impulses. He was also an excellent judge of character. The manly appearance of young Powell, his candor in stating his wishes and the inadequate means he possessed toward their realization, together with his evident disinclination to accept of unusual terms or such as would compromise his own independence, all deeply interested the good ecclesiastic. Other members of the Faculty were called to the consultation, and, before they separated, the name of Lazarus W. Powell was duly entered on the college register. It is scarcely necessary to state that every obligation entered into by Mr. Powell was afterwards fully redeemed.
To say that young Powell was what is termed popular with both his Professors and his fellow-students, would inadequately express the general sentiment with which he was regarded in college. By the former he was beloved to a degree that can only be fully understood when reference is made to the bond that exists between parent and child. He was the pride of the latter, admired and lookup up to as something to be made much of and copied after. There was no waywardness in their feelings toward their idol, because there was no blot upon his escutcheon. He was listened to and his advice followed, because of their respect for his character and their confidence in his judgment. Who can measure the restraining influence of such a mind over the weaknesses and latent propensities to evil of less steadfast associates? His young companions learned to respect virtue, principle, assiduity and goodness, because of all these their friend was ever the consistent exponent.
Early in August of the year 1833, only a few days after his graduation, Mr. Powell entered the law office of the Hon. John Rowan, of Bardstown, Kentucky, for the purpose of resuming his legal studies, which had been interrupted by his college course. The studious habits, which so remarkably distinguished him while passing through college, equally characterized him in his new position. he brought all the powers of his mind to bear upon the acquirement, within the least possible period of time, of that sum of knowledge of his profession which would enable him to look forward to an honorable career in life. He was happy in having for his legal preceptor one of the master minds of his day and the country. Judge Rowan was not only a well read lawyer, but he was also a profound scholar and a man of the rarest natural intelligence. His diction was always elegant, and he spoke without seeming effort.
Mr. Powell remained in the office of Judge Rowan until in the winter of '1834, '35, when he repaired to Lexington with the view of attending a course of law lectures at Transylvania University. not only was Powell assiduous in study during his stay in Lexington, and prompt in his attendance at the University lectures, but he let no occasion pass in which it was possible for him to acquire a knowledge of the practical part of his profession by making himself familiar with the proceedings of the Courts of Law when these happened to be in session. The bar of Lexington had one advantage over that of Bardstown-the number of its prominent members was much greater. Among the resident practicing attorneys then in Lexington could be named such men as the Hon. Henry Clay, the Hon. Robert Wickliffe, Judge Thomas M. Hickey, A. K. Woolley, Esq., Charlton Hunt, Esq., James Cowan, Esq., and Madison C. Johnson, Esq., the latter being then a young man, but giving promise of the high reputation in his profession which he has since acquired.
The law session at Transylvania over, Mr. Powell returned to Henderson in the spring on 1835, where he opened a law office and sought for business in the line of his profession. His success equalled[sic] his expectations from the first, but a few months later, having formed a partnership with the leading practitioner at the Henderson bar, Archibald Dixon, Esq., he was at once placed on the high road to that eminence as a lawyer which he afterwards attained, as well as to the substantial remunerative benefits of an extended practice. His business connection with Mr. Dixon continued till the year 1839.
Governor Powell's reputation as a lawyer was not built upon any peculiar talent possessed by him for forensic display. In his addresses, to be sure, whether to the court or to the jury, he was always forcible upon the careful analysis of his cases. It was his invariable custom to come into court fully prepared to meet the objections of the opposing counsel with his authorities before hiim, whether as to the law bearing upon the case or to previous judicial decisions. Owing to this custom, he was always a formidable antagonist in the courts in which he practiced. What he lacked in readiness of suggestion, had its full compensation in the preliminary care in which he never failed to bestow upon each particular cause as it came into his hands. His wonderful success in his profession is more to be attributed to this fact than to any other.
On the eighth day of November, 1837, Lazarus W. Powell was united in marriage to Miss Harriett Ann Jennings, the orphan daughter of Captain Charles Jennings, deceased, who had been an esteemed and prosperous citizen of Henderson County. During her life, Mrs. Powell bore to her husband three sons, two of whom are still living. The death of Mrs. Powell took place on the thirtieth day of July, 1846, and, to use the expression of one of the late Governor's eulogists, "for her sake he ever afterwards devoted to the children she had left to his care, all the wealth of his manly and magnanimous heart."
When not occupied by official duties, during the progress of the civil war, Governor Powell spent most of his time at his home in Henderson and in overlooking the farming operations upon his plantations in the county. This was for him, as it was for thousands of others in the State, a period of great anxiety-suspected by the government military officials, who had, for the greater portion of the time, complete control in the river towns, on account of his well known antipathy to the bloody method that had been adopted to preserve the integrity of the Union; saddened at the sight of the utter ruin which the war had brought upon many of his neighbors, and which was threatening others; disgusted with the cruelties of the vengeful military despots who were then ruling Kentucky, and whose so-called retaliatory measure were continually involving the lives and liberties of innocent men; indignant at the shameful venality of some among these same despots and their pliant subordinates, and at their contemptuous disregard of even the forms of State laws in taking upon themselves all control over the elective franchise. Governor Powell, no doubt, felt these years of the war to be the saddest of his life.
Always circumspect in his conduct and for one of his known views, in a certain degree trusted in by the authorities at Washington, he was enabled to serve many who had become involved in the troubles of the times, not only in his own section, but throughout the South, and never was his influence asked for in vain by a worthy object. His means too were dispensed with a lavish hand to those who found themselves reduced to poverty by the military raids which were of common occurrence in his own and the neighboring counties of Southern Kentucky. Whether the sufferer happened to be attached to one cause or the other, it was all the same with him. Human misery was a plea that never failed to awaken in him active sympathy, and with this plea he never permitted consideration of party affinity nor even of policy to interfere.
When the war finally closed, Governor Powell entered upon the practice of his profession with more energy than had ever before distinguished him, save during the first years of his professional career. This was most probably done with the view of introducing his eldest son Col. J. Henry Powell, who had then become associated with him in the practice of the law, into the routine of his profession. Up to the time of his mission to Utah, in 1858, he had been a great sufferer from a rheumatic affection, and though he had since been apparently entirely relived from the disorder, his nervous system, in consequence of its ravages, as he thought himself, had remained afterwards in an exceedingly delicate condition. Seeing him immersed in business, and to all appearance as anxious in its prosecution as he had been when starting out in life thirty years before, there were those among his friends who doubted if his physical strength was equal to the labor he was imposing on himself. On Wednesday of the last week in June, 1867, he appeared for the last time in the streets of Henderson a living man.
After a day of some fatigue, induced possibly more from the shattered condition of his nerves than from any great amount of physical or mental labor, he returned to his house and immediately retired to his room. Nothing was thought of this circumstance until the following morning when he was found to be seriously ill. The family physician, Dr. Pinkney Thompson, was at once called in. The report made by this gentleman was sufficiently alarming, but neither did he nor the members of the Govornor's[sic] family at first apprehend a fatal termination of his sickness. It was at first supposed that his disease was a slight attack of congestion of the brain. A subsequent examination proved that a blood vessel at the base of the brain had become ruptured and that this had induced apoplexy, followed by a partial paralysis of the right side, and eventually of the whole body. During Thursday and Friday he was enabled to distinguish his friends as they approached his bedside. His physician called to his assistance Dr. John T. Berry, of Henderson, and Dr. M. J. Bray, of Evansville, Ind. Their consultation took place on Saturday, and the result was a sorrowful acknowledgement that the case was hopeless.
When this opinion was made known among the Governor's neighbors and fellow citizens, the effect was as if an impending calamity were threatening their own hearth-stones. Business appeared to be forgotten, and men and women gathered together in knots, brooding sadly and speaking in whispers of the one absorbing topic which filled their thoughts. In the meanwhile the Governor lay in a comatose state, from which it was difficult to arouse him at intervals, in order to administer such alleviatives[sic] as had been prescribed by his physicians. On Sunday, the last day of the month, his friend and neighbor, Grant Green Esq., made a persistent attempt to arouse him from the stupor by which he was overcome and with such success, that faint hopes were induced of his ultimate recovery. On the following morning, however, he again relapsed into unconsciousness and thus continued till death intervened about 3 o'clock in the evening of July 3d, 1867. Greater sympathy was never manifested by a community for one of its number when stricken, ill and dying, nor were ever sincerer tears shed than when it was announced among his friends and neighbors that his "spirit had gone to the God who gave it."
The funeral took place on Thursday, the fourth day of July, 1867. Among the pall-bearers were the Hon. Archibald Dixon, the Hon. John Law, of Indiana; Grant Green, Esq., and W. S. Holloway, Esq.
The body was borne to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, of which his brother-in-law, the Rev. D. H. Deacon, was Rector. Every business house and office in the town was closed and almost all were draped in emblems of mourning. The Rev. Rector of the church was too much overcome to trust himself to speak on the occasion, and his place in the pulpit was supplied by the Rev. Jahleel Woodbridge, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, of Henderson. The text of the discourse preached by the reverend gentleman, was taken from the 46th. Chapter of Psalms: "Be still and know that I am God." On the announcement of the text, a solemn silence seemed to wrap the entire auditory, and this till the close of the discourse, was only broken at intervals by the stifled sobs and smothered sighs of stricken hearts, as the eloquent divine glowingly pictured the exalted character of him whose cold remains lay coffined before them.
The Masonic body of Henderson, although Governor Powell had never belonged to the order, formed in procession and accompanied his remains to the grave. The procession of citizens on the occasion was the largest ever seen in Henderson. In it walked the rich and poor, women and men, and even little children. One division of the mourners deserves to be specially noticed. This was composed of the newly-created freedmen, his own former slave and those of his neighbors who had known him, many of them all their lives. They had come, some of them from points ten and fifteen miles distance, trudging on foot in order to pay their tribute of respect and gratitude over the grave of one who had never ceased to be their best friend and counselor. No more genuine sorrow was exhibited on that mournful day than was evinced by the blacks of whom he had once been the master, and who up to the day of his death had been in the habit of addressing him by that title.
During the latter years of his life, the Governor seldom spent his evenings away from his own home. When he had no visitors he was in the habit of retiring to his room to study, or in order to prepare the causes in which he had been retained. When wearied with these occupations, he would repair to the apartments of his daughter-in-law, and there amuse himself with the prattle of his little grand-children. His family mansion was surrounded by ornamental grounds and a large garden. To the embellishment of these grounds, he devoted many of his leisure hours, and found in such employment both health and enjoyment.
One great source of care to Governor Powell, after the Proclamation of Emancipation of President Lincoln, was a number of helpless blacks, formerly his slaves, who had no one else to look to for support and protection. Had the Government, when it deprived him of his rights of property in those of his slaves, who were capable of performing manual labor, taken upon itself, at the same time, the support of those who were incompetent to earn their own living, there would have been little hardship in his individual case, as there would have been little in thousands of other cases, still more onerous. He might, to be sure, had he been a brute, and no man, have evicted the aged and infants among his former slaves from his plantations, and have suffered them to die of hunger and exposure on the highway. Had the war bereft him of all his property, as it did hundreds of slave owners in the South, even his well known humanity could not have stood between these poor creatures and destruction. As it was, he never thought of them otherwise than as dependents on his bounty, whom it was his duty to serve and protect. Up to the day of his death they were fed and clothed at his expense, and they are still cared for at the expense of his heirs. Had the unmistakable tokens of profound sorrow that characterized that portion of the mourners at governor Powell's funeral, which was composed of his former slaves, been witnessed by those whose fanaticism brought on the late war and all its horrors, they might well have stood in astonishment at a sight so foreign to all their notions of the relations that often existed between master and slave.
Governor Powell, though he never professed any particular form of Christian faith, was unquestionably a firm believer in the truths of Diving Revelation. Many expressions are to be found in his speeches which show that he was familiar with the bible, and had for that Sacred Book the most profound reverence. There was no one in the community in which he lived that was more liberal of his means for objects connected with religion. He appeared to have no preference for one denomination over another, but gave it all with a large-hearted liberality that was at once the evidence of his regard for religion in general, and of his esteem for those whose vocation it was to preach the Gospel. His house was as free to all ministers of religion, without exception as to creed, who happened to be temporarily sojourning in the town, as it was to himself. On one occasion, which has come to our knowledge, he spoke seriously of religion and of his regret that he had not identified himself, in profession, with the followers of Christ. Conversing with a Christian neighbor, he remarked that he had long desired to make himself better acquainted than he was with the peculiar doctrines of the various Christian churches, and that it was his intention to enter upon this study with the view to the profession of that form of faith which should commend itself to his more enlightened judgment.
It is said, by some, that Governor Powell never exhibited any evidence of extraordinary genius. This may be true, though there are abundant reasons to doubt it. The placidity of his mind was such as to foil observers in their attempts to detect the riches concealed in its depths. Of the erratic ingenius[sic] he was certainly totally void. But even admitting that he gave to the world no extraordinary exhibition of genius, it must be allowed that he gave to it what are ordinarily of much more value-exhibitions of determination in the assertion and defense of principles that were directly conservative of the best interests of society and government-exhibitions of moderation and prudence in the performance of duty when called to the discharge of high functions in the State, and in the hour of defeat, or of failure, of unshaken confidence in the ultimate triumph of his own and his party's patriotic purposes for the welfare of the nation. He was no coward, and he never mistook present failure for final defeat. In the darkest hours of the Republic he never lost hope, never relinquished his right to appeal to the reason of those who were permitting their passions and their prejudices to sway their judgments and to control their policy. He gave utterance to the convictions of his mind, temperately, yet firmly, and never in language calculated to alienate the respect of his opponents. However they may have doubted, or pretended to doubt, the correctness of his views, they were convinced of his candor, and did homage to his manhood.
Governor Powell well understood what few public men have seemed to learn, that every truly beneficial measure, every wholesome reform in government, is to be secured and permanently retained only through efforts that have for their animus the general good, and not that of a section of the country, or a party among the people. He may have been said to be a partisan, in so far as he had definite notions in regard to the structure of the government, and the proper policy to be pursued in order to promote the prosperity of the country and the happiness of the people, but he was no partisan in the general acceptation of the term. He never deferred principle to party, or the good of the masses to party success. Above all, he could, and did, distinguish between the individual and his party predilections and never alienated the respect of the former by bitter denunciation of the latter.
Courtesy, whether in speaking to, or about, his political opponents, was a habit of his mind, and this habit, except under the provocation of unmistakable insult, he carried with him through life. A distinguished gentleman, occupying a high position at Washington, thus wrote:
"In Washington City, Democrats and Radicals spoke of him as a friend whose loss they deplore. No man was ever able to hate Powell long. Several undertook it, but he outlived their resentment, and at the date of his death he probably had not an enemy on earth."
What a noble eulogy is this! It tells us, by implication, that he had a just perception of what was due to others and what was due to himself. It tells us, also, that he possessed a mind that was capable of rising above those paltry passions, which are with the majority of men so difficult of restraint, in the hearing of false representations of facts and motives of coarse invectives or tantalizing inuendoes coming from one's political or personal foes. It tells us, further, that he possessed a heart that was all alive to those humane amenities that are resistless to propitiate good will and to curb dissension.
HIS PUBLIC LIFE.
In July, 1836, at the earnest solicitation of a number of his political friends, Mr. Powell announced himself as the Democratic candidate for the office of Representative of the County in the Lower House of the Kentucky Legislature. The Whig party was largely in the ascendancy in Henderson at the time, and it was more for the object of keeping up their organization, than with any expectation of success, that the party in the minority proposed to place a candidate in the field. Mr. Powell's Whig competitor for the the[sic] place was John G. Holloway, Esq., a very estimable and popular citizen of Henderson. While the former industriously canvassed every precinct and neighborhood of the county, making friends and securing votes everywhere, the latter, relying upon the party bias of his proposed constituency, made little or no exertion to win their confidence, and thus he lost his election. The result was as unlooked for, by both parties, as it was highly honorable to the industry, and address of the successful candidate.
During the session of the General Assembly, which followed his election Mr. Powell proved himself a careful legislator. He was especially attentive to his duties as a member of the various committees upon which he had been placed, and was always alive to the interests of his constituency and those of the entire State. At the next general election he was again a candidate for the office which he had so creditably filled for two years. Whether it was, that by this time, party lines had been more closely drawn, or that his old competitor had learned from his former experience to depend more for success upon his personal exertions in the canvass, than upon the party predilections of the people of the county, certain it is, that Mr. Holloway beat him in the race by a considerable majority.
In the Presidential canvass of 1844, Mr. Powell accepted from his party the position of District Elector, and canvassed his own and the neighboring districts for James K. Polk. In this canvass he was brought prominently before the people of Western Kentucky, and thus far, he laid the foundation of that personal popularity which afterwards enabled him to serve his party in more important positions. Mr. Polk was elected over his competitor, the Hon. Henry Clay; but the Democrats were defeated in Kentucky.
In the spring of 1848, the State Democratic Convention met at Frankfort for the purpose of nominating candidates for the executive offices of the commonwealth, to be voted for at the coming August election. The choice of the convention fell upon the Hon. Linn Boyd, of McCracken County, for Governor, and the Hon. John P. Martin, of Floyd County, for Lieutenant Governor. Before the dissolution of the convention, authority was given to the Democratic Central Committee of the State to fill all vacancies, if any, that should occur on the ticket proposed by declination or otherwise. Upon being informed as to the action of the Convention Mr. Boyd, in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the State Central Committee-the Hon. James Guthrie-formerly declined the candidateship which his party friends had proposed; and it thus became necessary to put forward some one in his stead. A meeting of the committee was held a few days subsequently, and the name of Lazarus W. Powell was placed at the head of the ticket. This result, it is said, was mainly due to the influence of Mr. Guthrie, whose sound, practical views of the situation, and whose clear perception of the character and qualifications of the gentlemen whose names had been mentioned in connection with the candidateship, were never more forcibly illustrated than on this occasion.
The Whig party in Kentucky had nominated as its candidate for Governor, the Hon. John J. Crittenden, who was then a member of the United States Senate from Kentucky, and undoubtedly one of the most deservedly popular men in the State. At the outset of the canvass, Mr. Powell was encountered by a feud in his own party. The Hon. Richard M. Johnson, of Scott County, had announced himself an independent Democratic candidate for the office of Governor, and had already entered upon the canvass. Perceiving that success would be out of the question with two Democratic candidates in the field, Mr. Powell hastened to the home of his old friend, with whom he sought and obtained an interview, the result of which was entirely satisfactory to both parties. Col. Johnson not only declined to prosecute the race any further, but expressed his readiness to canvass his own district in behalf of the nominee of the convention.
The energy with which the Gubernational canvass of 1848, was prosecuted in Kentucky by both Whigs and Democrats, was strongly indicative of the fears of the party in the majority, on account of the personal popularity of the opposition candidate, and of the hopes raised in the minds of the Democratic minority, by having for its standard bearer one who was known never to have addressed his fellow citizens without having made additions to the number of his friends. the beginning of the decadence of the Whig party in Kentucky may be referred to this memorable canvass. Everywhere the zeal of its advocates abated and defections from its ranks were numerous. Mr. Powell threw himself into the arena of political controversy with an energy that was resistless. Every part of the State was thoroughly canvassed, and every effort of the opposition was encountered and resisted. The canvass was a substantial triumph, though it ended in the defeat of the constitutional party. The seed had been sown which was to spring forth, richly ladened with fruit for the coming harvest.
In 1852, the claims of Mr. Powell were fully recognized by the nominating convention of the Democracy of the State. He was again put forward by that Convention as its candidate for the office of Governor of the Commonwealth. There were peculiar circumstances connected with the canvass of this year that rendered it in the highest degree extraordinary. Mr. Powell's Whig competitor in the race, was the Hon. Archibald Dixon, a resident of the same town-his life-long personal friend, and at one time his partner in the practice of law. For not one moment whether before, during, or after the canvass, were the intimate personal relations between the two interrupted. They traveled together, spoke together, put up at the same houses, and had their meals at the same table, and, except when brought into contact in the exposition of their dissimilar political antagonists, as it was pleasant to contemplate.
It was in this canvass, most likely, that Governor Powell learned that perfection of self-control by which he was afterwards so greatly distinguished in the Senate of the United States. Both candidates had an all-sufficient motive in their personal friendship-to shun displays of temper. Courtesy thus became a habit of their minds, and its influence lived long beyond the occasion that called it into activity. Mr. Powell secured his election by a small majority, while Robert N. Wickliffe, Esq., the candidate on the same ticket for the office of Lieutenant Governor, was beaten several thousand votes by his opponent, the Hon. John B. Thompson. Lazarus W. Powell was inaugurated Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky on the morning of September 5th, 1851. Accompanied by an escort, comprised of three military companies of the city, and a large number of prominent citizens, he left Louisville early on the morning of the day named, and reached Frankfort before ten o'clock. At the Frankfort depot, he was met by a large concourse of citizens and strangers, and, entering a carriage in waiting, with the Lieutenant Governor elect, the Hon. John B. Thompson, he was driven to the State House building, when he was formally welcomed to the seat of his future magisterial labors in a congratulatory address by the Hon. Judge Hewitt. The Governor-elect, having been introduced to the assembled multitude by the retiring Governor, the Hon. John L. Helm, replied briefly and appropriately to the address of Judge Hewitt and returned his thanks for the confidence reposed in him by the people. He expressed his distrust of his ability to discharge properly the duties of the office to which he had been elevated, but declared his determination to use such powers as he possessed for the maintenance of good government. He would administer the government to the best of his ability, in accordance with the constitution and laws, and in the interests of the whole people of the State. The oath of office was administered by Judge Shannon.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth met on the third day of November, 1851, and, on the following day, the first message of Governor Powell was presented to and read before that body. The local issues and interests discussed in that document need not be here referred to.
During the entire term of Governor Powell's chief magistracy, his official duties were discharged with the most commendable fidelity and exactness. For the greater part of his term of office, the General Assembly of the State had it it a majority of Whigs, yet at no time did his relations with that body assume a partisan character. The most exacting among his political opponents were obliged to acknowledge that his entire policy was conceived and carried out with due reference to his responsibility to the whole body of the people and the best interests of the State.
In the spring of 1858, through the intervention of Thomas L. Kane, Esq., of Pennsylvania, President Buchanan was induced to dispatch a commission to Utah with the hope of arresting the rebellion that had broken out in that Territory. The Commissioners named were Governor Powell, of Kentucky, and Major Ben McCullough, of Texas. On the arrival of these gentlemen at the camp of the military expedition, they immediately issued the proclamation of the President, offering pardon to all Mormons who should submit to the Federal authority. This offer was accepted by the heads of the Mormon church, and all trouble was arrested.
At the session of the General Assembly, which took place in 1859, Governor Powell was elected to the Senate of the United States for the full term of six years. Without extending this sketch to too great length, we find it impracticable to give the reader more than a general outline of Governor Powell's course while a member of the Senate. His speeches to that body would of themselves fill a large volume, and these are all to be found in the published reports of the congressional proceedings of the period. He entered the Senate at a time of great political excitement. A party had arisen in the country and was daily growing stronger, which had, for its main idea, the extinction of slavery as a national institution, or as one recognized in the fundamental law of the land. By the governments of several of the Northern States, the fugitive slave law had been openly proclaimed a measure which required from them no obedience. The Southern States, disgusted at what they conceived to be want of faith on the part of their Northern associates, and seeing, from the complexion of the Legislation of the country, that they would soon be powerless to protect their constitutional rights against the requirements of a constantly increasing majority in the National Legislature, already were contemplating secession. In both houses of Congress, fanaticism ruled one part of the people's representatives, and, with but few exceptions, passion the remainder.
Few of our public men possessed a clearer understanding of the causes that led to the late conflict than Governor Powell. In a speech on the "Bill Giving Freedom to the Families of Negro Soldiers," delivered in the Senate on the ninth day of January, 1863, Mr. Powell remarked: "Some call this a war for the negro, but, in my opinion, those who took upon African slavery as the cause of the war are greatly mistaken. This was was not designed by the large slave holders of the South; they did not want the war. It is not war of the negro; it is not a war of tariffs; it is not a war of any particular line of policy, but it is a war of politicians who were faithless to their constitutional obligations, and there the responsibility will be placed by the philosophical historian in all after time. It I were to describe it in a sentence, I should say that it was a war of the politicians, both North and South-a war of ambitious, fanatical zealots, and they existed North as well as South. I speak of a class of politicians who are faithless to their oaths of office, and who claim to be governed by a law higher than and above the Constitution."
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