Edward Everett

EDWARD EVERETT, an American orator, scholar, and diplomatist, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in April 1794. His father was a respectable clergyman in Boston; and his elder brother was minister at the court of Spain. He received his early education at Boston, and entered Harvard college when little more than thirteen years old, leaving it with first honors four years later, undecided as to a pursuit for life. He turned his attention for two years to the profession of divinity; but, in 1814, he was invited to accept the new professorship of Greek literature at Cambridge, Massachusetts, with permission to visit Europe. He accepted the office; and, before entering on its duties, embarked at Boston for Liverpool. He passed more than two years at the famous university of Göttingen, engaged in the study of the German language and the branches of learning connected with his department. He passed the winter of 1817-18 at Paris. The next spring he again visited London, and passed a few weeks at Cambridge and Oxford. While in England, he acquired the friendship of some of the most eminent men of the day; among others, of Scott, Byron, Jeffrey, Campbell, Mackintosh, Romilly, and Davy. In the autumn of 1818, he returned to the continent, and divided the winter between Florence, Rome, and Naples. In the spring of 1819, he made a short tour in Greece. Mr. Everett came home in 1819, and entered at once upon the duties of his professorship. Soon after his return, he became the editor of the North American Review,' a journal, which, though supported by writers of great ability, had acquired only a limited circulation. Tinder its new editor, the demand increased so rapidly that a second and sometimes a third edition of its numbers was required. One of his first cares as editor was, to vindicate American principles and institutions against a crowd of British travelers and critics, who were endeavoring to bring them into contempt. The spirit with which he performed his task checked this system of assault; and Campbell, who had inadvertently admitted into The New Monthly Magazine' a paper of the same description, made a handsome amende. In 1824, Mr. Everett delivered the annual oration before the Phi-Beta-Kappa Society, at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The entire discourse was favorably received; but the peroration, being an apostrophe to Lafayette, who was present, touched a chord of sympathy in an immense audience, already excited by the unusual circumstances of the occasion. This was the first of a series of orations and addresses delivered by Everett on public occasions of almost every kind during a quarter of a century, and lately collected in two volumes. Tip to 1824, he had' taken no active interest in politics; but his 'articles in the review had evinced his acquaintance with the wants and spirit of the nation, and his recent oration had brought him prominently before the public. The constituency of Middlesex, Massachusetts, without any solicitation on his part, returned him to congress by a great majority over the regular candidate. For ten years he sat in congress, and proved himself a working member, never taking advantage of his superior powers to detain the house with oratorical display, but taking part in every debate of importance. In 1835, he retired from congress, and was for four successive years chosen governor of Massachusetts. In 1839, he was again a candidate for the same honor, but was defeated on local questions by a majority of one out of more than 100,000 votes. In 1841, he was appointed to represent the United States at the court of St. James, a position for which he was peculiarly qualified by his knowledge of the European tongues, and his acquaintance with the then mooted boundary question. Although the secretaryship of state at Washington was held by four different statesmen, of various politics, during Everett's mission, he enjoyed the confidence and approbation of all. His firmness, high intelligence, and assiduous habits, won him great respect in England; and his scholar ship was recognized in the bestowal of the degree of D. C. L. by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He returned to America in 1845, and was chosen president of Harvard college, which office he resigned in 1849. He now lives at Boston, employed on his promised Treatise on the Law of Nations.