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General Scott

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1079, p. 248.

March 16, 1861


We give on the preceding page a Portrait of General Winfield Scott, who, as Commander-in-Chief of the United States' forces, necessarily occupies at the present juncture a commanding position in American affairs—second only, indeed, to that of the new President. His personal character also ranks exceedingly high; and the utmost confidence appears to be reposed in the prudence as well as in the firmness of the General by his countrymen in the Northern States. A New England journal, treating of General Scott's character and exploits, bursts into the following panegyric:—

"Every American heart beats proudly at the name of General Winfield Scott—so brave in the field, so wise in council, so true a patriot, and so loyal to the Constitution and the Union. At the moment when it has become fashionable for American citizens to turn traitors to the Republic which their fathers built up with their blood—when State after State 'secedes' from the Union as if our great and majestic nationality were a mere trade partnership without law and without authority—when rebels seize the Federal forts and fire upon Federal troops, and obsequious Federal officers fire no gun to avenge the outrage—when base and sordid manufacturers here in our very midst, in the stronghold of the liberty, and intellect, and virtue of the country, traitorously send arms and ammunition for the support of the revolted States, arms designed to be used against ourselves, against all who oppose, in the name of God and the United States, their traitorous plans and ambitions—at this great moment of distraction and peril all eyes are turned to the soldier of the Commonwealth as its sure hope and stay—an unbribable, honest soldier, who is quick to see and prompt to act, and with the courage of a lion in him. We trust that his military services may never be required in defence of the Union against rebel citizens or States; for he knows too well—all too well—what civil war means, and what frightful horrors it inaugurates. But if it should ever be necessary to defend the capital of the country against an enemy, whether native or foreign, here is the man—American to the backbone of him, and true as steel to the cause of human liberty—who will do it or die.

"General Scott's history is well known, and the part he played in the great drama of 1812 and in the Mexican war was only equalled by the greatest Generals of ancient and modern times.

"Dr. Channing thus speaks of his Indian mission to the Cherokees, in 1838:—'To this distinguished man belongs the rare honour of uniting with military energy and daring the spirit of a philanthropist. His exploits in the field, which have placed him in the first rank of our soldiers, have been obscured by the purer and more lasting glory of a pacificator and of a friend of mankind. In the whole history of the intercourse of civilised with barbarous or half-civilised communities we doubt whether a brighter page can be found than that which records his agency in the removal of the Cherokees. In his recent mission to the disturbed borders of our country he has succeeded not so much by policy as by the nobleness and generosity of his character, by moral influences, by the earnest conviction with which he has enforced on all with whom he had to do the obligations of patriotism, justice, humanity, and religion. It would not be easy to find among us a man who has won a purer fame. And I am happy to offer this tribute because I would do something, no matter how little, to hasten the time when the spirit of Christian humanity shall be accounted an essential attribute and the brightest ornament of a public man.'

"In November, 1846, he sailed for Brazos San Jago, to superintend the expedition against Vera Cruz. The object of obtaining Vera Cruz was the establishment of a shorter route to the city of Mexico. His modesty and unpresuming disposition made him refuse the offer of the Secretaryship of War, after the ratification of peace in 1815. He accepted, however, a diplomatic mission to Europe, in the service of his country, and received for his admirable execution of it the thanks of the President. On his return he took the seaboard command, making his head-quarters in New York. In March, 1817, he married Miss Maria Mayo, daughter of John Mayo, Esq., of Richmond, Virginia. During the last twenty years he has lived in comparative seclusion, although as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces he has had plenty of employment. His activity at the present time, and his anxiety to prevent a war between the North and South, the firm resolve to be prepared for it, and to devote his last days as well as his early years to his country's service, to maintain its honour and dignity both at home and abroad, have met with the approval and gratitude of every American citizen who cares more for his country than for his party."

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