Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

where the subject of this memoir was born, the 21st of May, 1755.

At an early period, young Moore was sent to Boston for his education, and on the arrival of the British troops there in 1768, he attracted the notice of a Captain Fordyce, a man of fine taste and acquirements, who became much attached to the youth, and offered to procure him an ensigncy in the army. This he declined, but under the instructions of his friend, he learnt the elements of military science, and furnished himself with a variety of knowledge, which highly qualified him for the stormy period in which he was destined to live.

At the beginning of the revolution, he was appointed a CAPTAIN in the first North Carolina regiment of the line; marched to the southward, where he served with reputation; and was on duty in Charleston, when the memorable attack was made on fort Moultrie. Possessing the ardour of patriotism, from a deep conviction of the justice of the cause in which he had engaged, and endowed with an active and intelligent mind sustained by a fearless heart, there is every reason to believe that he would have attained a high rank in the line of life which he had chosen. But the peculiar misfortunes of his family, forced him

to retrace his steps, and hasten back to the protection of the females and children of his connexions, whom death had bereaved of their defenders. Within a very short period, his brother Maurice was killed at Brunswick, and his brother-in-law, General Nash, at Germantown; his father, and also his uncle, General Moore, died—the latter while on his march to join the army of Washington. The families of all these citizens were left in the utmost danger; exposed to the fury of a disaffected populace, and in the continual dread of an insurrection of the slaves.

When the British landed at Wilmington, Captain Moore left his family, consisting of a wife and two small children, and put himself in the ranks of the militia. He harassed the enemy by his persevering activity, and made the raw troops by whom he was accompanied, so formidable, that he became the peculiar object of Major Craig's* resentment and rage. A party sent to his plantation, took away all that was moveable of his property, and despoiled what they could not plunder. Thus reduced to poverty, and singled out for the direst vengeance which his enemy could inflict, -bis fortitude remained unshaken, his virtue triumphed over every difficulty; and accident soon presented him with an opportunity of displaying towards that enemy, an example of magnanimity, which it is refreshing to the mind to remember and to record.

After the battle of Guilford, Captain Moore with other officers, was detached to obstruct the march of Lord Cornwallis; and for

* Sir James H. Craig-subsequently, Governor general of Canada, VOL. I.

4

this purpose, five hundred men of the Brunswick militia were directed to be put under his command; but he could muster only three men! With the aid of these, he had destroyed several bridge es, and was in the act of setting fire to that on Hood's Creek, when suddenly the enemy under Craig, made their appearance. A thick swamp through which the creek ran, furnished the small party with a place of retreat --whence they observed the enemy, who halted about two hundred yards from the bridge, for the purpose of cooking. The officer advanced towards the bridge to reconnoitre, and when within gun shot, one of Captain Moore's men (by whom the officer was recognised to be Major Craig) presented his rifle, and would inevitably have destroyed him, but for the prompt interference of his captain. “I cannot,” said he, “consent to kill the wretch from behind a tree-it so much resembles assassination. Gladly would I meet him in the field with half his number, but it would degrade us to the level of himself, thus to imitate his savage mode of warfare."

Great exertions were made by Major Craig, to capture or kill the captain; and when at length all his efforts had been unavailing, he conveyed an offer to Captain Moore, for the restoration of his property, if he would return home and remain inactive.

The answer which he promptly returned, was, “ Tell your commander that I cannot be corrupted into indifference for my country; that I will struggle in her defence as long as I can get five men to march with me."

His sufferings during the whole of that gloomy period, while the British were in possession of Wilmington, may be better conceived than described. Without any pecuniary resources, sometimes without food, and almost destitute of covering; torn from a beloved family, with whom he could not even communicate--yet not a complaint of personal hardship was heard to escape him; every subordinate feeling was lost and absorbed in a sentiment of exalted patriotism.

The return of peace, restored him to his family, but his affluent fortune was irrevocably gone; nor had he more than the means of present subsistence. In this situation the general assembly of North Carolina, by whom his merits and misfortunes had been well known, conferred on him the office of ATTORNEY GENERAL. This was done with a view to alleviate, in an honourable way,

his immediate wants, and before he had even studied the law. His coun: try would have been munificent, had it been rich; but there was no money in circulation-the taxes were paid in produce, and the first two years' salary of the attorney general was discharged in homespun and provisions. Ten pounds, indeed, were levied upon a whole county, to enable him to ride the circuit.

He devoted himself to the profession of the law with a real and success which rendered him in a few years, its most distinguished ornament. He possessed a mind of uncommon force, and a quickness of intellectual digestion, which enabled him to make large strides in any science he strove to acquire. His speeches at the bar, possessed a captivating simplicity, a graceful energy, and a lucid style which threw a glare of light over the most abstruse subjects. There was a methodical accuracy in his arguments, without the appearance of art, and such a natural and regular progression from the premises to the conclusion, that those not acquainted with the extent of his business, might suspect that his speeches had been prepared with the utmost attention. He methodized the arguments of his opponents, with wonderful rapidity, and arranged his replies with such order, that he never failed to refute or to answer every adverse proposition in a regular train of seasoning.–A small but graceful person, a dark piercing eye, a fine toned voice, with a distinct articulation, completed the rare gifts which nature had bestowed on him, to form the Orator.

With a few years of practice, he amply repaired his fortune; but the almost incessant toil to which he subjected himself, had greatly exhausted his frame, and he was compelled to relinquish the emoluments of his profession, though he continued to give advice and impart occasional assistance to his friends.

In 1798, he was called to the bench of the Supreme Court of the State; in which station, the acuteness of his intellect, and his experience in business, enabled him to decide very complicated cases, with great promptitude and general satisfaction. His character as attorney general, and as a judge, is alluded to in a judicial opinion lately delivered from the bench of that court. – The very question, however, before us, has been decided in the

case of the State vs. Hall, in 1799, by a judge whose opinions on every subject, but particularly on this, merit the highest respect. Judge • Moore was appointed attorney general, a very short time after this act of assembly was passed, and discharged for a series of years, the arduous duties of that office, in a manner which commanded "the admiration and gratitude of his contemporaries. His profound

knowledge of the criminal law, was kept in continual exercise, by * a most varied and extensive practice, at a period when the pas

sions of men had not yet subsided from the ferment of a civil war's • and every grade of crime incident to an unsettled society, made

continual demands upon bis acuteness. No one ever doubted his learning and penetration; or that--while he enforced the law with an enlightened vigilance and untiringzeal—his energy was seasoned with humanity, leaving the innocent nothing to fear, and the guilty, but little to hope. The opinion of such a man, delivered on an occasion the most solemn on which a judge could act—when doubt in him would have been life to the prisoner--assumes the 6 authority of a cotemporary exposition of the statute, and cannot .but confirm me in the sentiments I have expressed.'

In 1799, he was appointed an associate justice of the supreme court of the United States; which office he held for six years, and resigned it when he found that the state of his health no longer allowed him to give full attention to its important duties. Šis strength gradually wasted away, until October the 15th, 1810, when, with a clear conviction of his approaching end, calm, resigned, and comforted by the retrospect of a well spent life, he expired in the arms of his children.

In private life, Mr.Justice Moore was a warm and sincere friend, a man of spotless integrity, of a generous and benevolent disposition, of high and honourable sentiments, and charitably indulgent towards the infirmities of others. Though fond of social enjoyments, and highly qualified to increase the pleasures of conversation, by the fertility of his imagination and the extent of his knowledge, yet the delica'cy of his health compelled him to lead a retired life; and his last years, brought not many accessions of friends :-so that but few of those are now living, who held an intimacy with him during the meridian lustre of his life. It is by such, alone, that the truth of this portrait can be recognised; but his public virtues are interwoven with the history of his country, and his memory will be embalmed in the hearts of posterity; who, as they cherish the blessings they possess, will look back with reverential gratitude, to the founders of the Republic-amongst whose names will eyer stand conspicuous, that of ALFRED MOORE.

ARTICLE III.

TWO LETTERS,-UPON THE LANDS, SETTLEMENTS, &c. OF THE

WESTERN STATES AND TERRITORIES. (Though not written for publication, the information they convey is not the less valuable.)

St. Louis, October, 1819. My route to this place, lay through Pittsburgh, Zanesville, Chillicothe, Cincinnati, Vevay, Madison, Jeffersonville, Paoli, Vincennes, Harmony, Shawnee town, the Saline and Kaskaskia. From several of these places, I made excursions, and examined the neighbouring country. Leaving Cincinnati, I proceeded to Connelsville, passing through Brookville, and thence followed the course of the White Water to Lawrenceburg, on my way hither. Since my arrival in St. Louis, I have visited the Missouri, and St. Charles; and passing through the Neck, crossed over to the state of Mlinois, and through or by a parcel of “towns," as they are called, to Edwardsville; examined some of the best prairie land on my way there, and returned. I have since been looking at the environs of this place.

The richness of the hilly district, and the fertility and beautifully diversified surface of the south-western part of the state of Ohio, exceeded my expectations; while the bottoms of the Ohio river, did not equal them ;-and the tracts of poor third-rate land between the principal streams of Indiana and Illinois, south of a line drawn from this place to Fort Harrison on the Wabash, and thence along the late Indian boundary to Brownstown, on the Driftwood Fork, were far more extensive than I had anticipated. The Mississippi and Missouri bottoms, merit the high character which has been given to them. I cannot say, however, that I have been either surprised or much disappointed at what I have seen; except when led away by the desire of being astonished. (Generally speaking, I have found the principal features of the country, from the Alleghany mountain to the Missouri river, nearly such as I had supposed them, or had reason to suppose them. Where most deceived, it was in those circumstances of locality and detail, of which we almost always form but confused, and often very erroneous ideas, from the best descriptions.) The amount of what I have been able to observe or learn, has satisfied me, that this place and its neighbourhoodthe lands of the Wabash, from Vincennes to its source and the N. W. corner of the state of Ohio-are by far the most important sections of country north of the Ohio river, and offer the greatest and most immediate prospects of advantage, to the industrious labouring man, as well as to the capitalist. I have not entered any Congress lands : You may perhaps divine one of the reasons; but if I possessed the means of making entries, I would prefer waiting until the late purchases are brought into the market. Nearly all that is in any way valuable from position, in the old distriets, has either been settled, or laid hold on by the speculators; and, such tracts as may form an exception to this remark, it would cost as much to find out, as in all probability would procure selections from among a great number of the first locations. There are, indeed, lands of first-rate quality which are still vacant, in all the districts through which I have travelled; but they are either at a distance from roads, or navigable waters, or liable to some local inconvenience, which render them disadvantageous for present settlement.

The Missouri, or Franklin District, is probably the only one where vacant first-rate soil, which does not overflow, can yet be found on the main stream, or its navigable tributaries. But all the advantages of soil, and even of health, which it is said to possess in a pre-eminent degree, cannot in my opinion counterbalance the

« ForrigeFortsæt »