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19

GENERAL LESLIE COMBS

He had kept Mr. Clay fully advised of every step taken, of every hope and fear which he entertained, up to the final con- summation of the combined efforts of Gene- ral Harrison, General Scott, and Mr. Web- ster, which finally defeated him. He be- lieved then, and has never doubted since the election, that Mr. Clay could easily have triumphed over Mr. Van Buren. The people were tired, sick to death of his heartless selfishness and evident incompe- tency, and a change was inevitable. And what a blessing it would have been to the country to have had Hezery Clay President for the succeeding four or eight years, instead of Tyler or Polk! We need not dwell upon the facts ofhistory, and the ima- ginings of such a contrast.

Although Mr. Combs’ first and only choice had been defeated in the Conven- tion, and by means which he boldly con- demned, still, as his old commander, Gene- ral Harrison, a true patriot and an hono- rable man, had been nominated, he deter- mined at once on his course. He felt that he owed a duty to the Whig party, to the country, to a gallant old soldier, under whose command he had suffered many hardships, and had shed his blood on the field of battle; and he resolved to devote himself to the coming canvass.

His first public address was in Philadel- phia, to an immense multitude, tl1e Mon- day night succeeding the nomination. All knew his devotion to Henry Clay, and were therefore anxious to hear what he had to say for General Harrison. He had nume- rous clients in the crowd, who had known him for many years as an energetic, prompt, and vigilant attorney, but never dreamed I that he had once been a soldier. “I shall never forget their evident astonishment,” says Mr. Combs, “when I took up the military life of the hero of Tippecanoe, and spoke of its leading events as familiarly as if they had been the events of yesterday. I knew that he had been assailed as the, cause of the defeat of Winchester at Raisin, and of Dudly at the Rapids; and my vindi- cation of him from these two charges was overwhelming and conclusive. I l1ad been so connected with both of these disastrous events, as to render my testimony irrefut- able.”

From that time until the succeding No- vember, he almost gave up his profession;       

and from New York to New Orleans, from Kentucky, through Tennessee and Virginia, to Delaware, was day after day addressing large multitudes, His dress was a simple hunting shirt and sash, such as General Harrison wore at the battle of Tippecanoe, and when he first saw him afterwards; such as his father had worn when he helped Daniel Boone to drive the Indians out of Kentucky, and such as the volunteers gene- rally wore when they marched to the fron- tiers during the late war.

The Whig press everywhere teemed with the highest-wrought eulogies of his speeches, and its applause might have turned the head of a man prompted by less high and holy feelings than those which influenced him. As it was, they seem only to have stimulated him to still higher efforts. He spoke on the battlements of Yorktown on the aniversary of the surrender of Corn- wallis, with Seargent, and Upshur, and Wise; at Lynchburgh, a few days after- wards, with Hives, and Leigh, and Preston ; at Richmond on three several nights, the last time to some thousand ladies. Thou- sands of living witnesses still remain to at- test the effects of his addresses; while the files of the Rickvrtoncl Whig of that day, then edited by the talented and lamented Pleasants, bear testimony to the character and effect of these appeals.

The election over, and General Harrison President, General Combs asked for no- thing, and nothing was offered to him, while hundreds, who had rendered com- paratively but little service, were clamorous tor reward, and some of them received high ofiices. The real champion of the conflict —he whose morning bugle had often roused a thousand men to arms, and who never wearied, day or night, in doing fhis duty till the victor was won—was for- gotten in the hour otytriumph, while others stepped forward and enjoyed the fruits of the victory.

If Peter the Hermit felt the inspiration of his holy cause when preaching a crusade against the infidels in possession of Jerusa- lem, so did Mr. Combs in his against the corruptions and usurpations of power in the city of Washington. All selfishness was absorbed in his burning desire to drive the Goths from the Capitol ; and he valued more highly the outpourings of public ap- probation which every where greeted his        

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