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and, on the other, calming and soothing the excited feelings of her too intemperate sister. Mr. Leigh was sent to bear a message of counsel and peace to South Carolina. Henry Clay, on the 12th of February, offered in the United States Senate his Compromise Bill, which was adopted; and when the Convention of South Carolina reassembled in March the ordinance of nullification was repealed.
In the spring of 1833 Mr. Gilmer was again re-elected to the House of Delegates. When the Assembly met in December the subject of the removal of the public deposits from the Bank of the United States was warmly discussed, and resolutions were adopted in the House of Delegates condemning the course of General Jackson as an arbitrary assumption of power, and instructing the Virginia Senators to vote for restoring the deposits to the United States Bank. Senator William C. Rives resigned his seat rather than obey the instructions, and Benjamin Watkins Leigh was elected in his place. In the spring of 1835 Mr. Gilmer was again elected to the House of Delegates. The session of 1835–6 was perhaps the stormiest ever held in the State. The recently amalgamated political parties of heterogeneous and diverse elements were in an embryo state, and every man distrustful of his next neighbor in polities. The discussions on the recently developed designs of the abolition party, which was rearing its hydra head, were fierce in the extreme. The question of the Presidential succession, with all the issues of the preceding administration involved, was a prolific factor of ferment. A fire-brand was thrown into the House by the Expunging Resolutions introduced by Colonel Joseph S. Watkins, of Goochland County. This measure of party servility was adopted, and Senator John Tyler, as has been narrated in a preceding sketch, refused to obey the instructions, and resigned his seat, which was filled by the election of William C. Rives.
In the Presidential election of 1836 Mr. Gilmer voted for Hugh Lawson White, of Tennessee, in opposition to Mr. Van Buren. Both Judge White and General Harrison were voted for by the Whigs of Virginia. The shattered condition of the health of Mr. Gilmer induced him to spend the latter part of the winter of 1837–8 in the South, and at the solicitation of capitalists in Virginia he extended his journey as far as Texas, as agent for them in the selection of lands. This trip made Mr. Gilmer cognizant of the resources of the infant republic of Texas, and enabled him to form a just estimate of its value to the United States, and he was henceforth an ardent and fast friend of its annexation to our Union. Whilst in Texas he was appointed by the government as joint commissioner with Mr. A. G. Burnley, to negotiate a loan of ten millions of dollars for the State. On receiving the appointment he has. tened by home, on his way to the Northern cities, to effect the loan; but his negotiations were broken off by the unfavorable turn of the
money affairs of the country, which soon resulted in the suspension of specie payments by the banks. He was compensated, however, by the government of Texas, with $5000 in the bonds of the republic, for his services. Mr. Gilmer was again elected to the House of Delegates of Virginia in 1838. Whilst engaged in legislative service Mr. Gilmer was a frequent contributor to the newspaper press, and in 1834 he published in the Richmond Whig a series of articles on the "Right of Instruction” and other subjects; and whilst in the North, endeavoring to effect a loan for Texas, he contributed to the Pennsylvanian some very interesting articles on the history of the Texan Revolution, which were extensively copied by the press. In the summer of 1835 he wrote letters weekly from the watering-places of Virginia to the Whig, in which he graphically described the scenery of the country and portrayed the characters and manners of those with whom he was thrown. February 22, 1837, he delivered an address before the Virginia Historical Society, at its annual meeting, which was published in the current number of the Southern Literary Messenger.
When the Legislature met in 1838, Mr. Gilmer was elected Speaker of the House of Delegates by acclaim, his being the only nomination. He was re-elected Speaker when the House of Delegates met again, in December, 1839. February 14, 1840, he was elected Governor of Virginia, to succeed David Campbell on the expiration of his term on the 31st of March. He entered zealously upon his duties. He was ex offficio President of the Board of Public Works, and, not being satisfied with the means of information at the command of the Board, he made a careful personal examination of nearly all the important public works of the State. This tour, in the summer of 1840, was at his own private expense. The information thus obtained enabled him to prepare a very able and valuable message to the Assembly, lucidly presenting the public and material interests of the State. He also reopened with Governor Seward, of New York, a controversy for the surrender of Peter Johnson, Edward Smith, and Isaac Gransey, charged with slavestealing in Virginia, and who were fugitives from justice. Their rendition was ably demanded. Seward, after a delay of six months, replied, refusing to surrender the fugitives. The exasperated Assemby of Virginia, on the 13th of March, 1841, enacted in retaliation a law which subjected all vessels trading from any port in New York to Virginia to a search for stolen slaves. It was, however, made prospective, to allow New York another opportunity to redress the grievance complained of; and the Governor was authorized to suspend the operation of the law when the demand of the State should be complied with, and the law of New York extending the right of trial by jury should be repealed. On the 16th of March, three days after the passage of the retaliatory law, a demand was made by Governor Seward on the Executive of Virginia for the surrender of R. F. Emry, charged with felony in New
York, and arrested in Virginia. Governor Gilmer refused to comply with the demand until the demand of Virginia for the surrender of the slave stealers, as above, should have been complied with. Thus was the issue joined between North and South, but the Legislature of Virginia receded from its bold position, and failed to sustain Governor Gilmer. Debate ensued, and modified resolutions were passed and communicated to the Governor on the 18th instant. On the same day he sent to the Assembly a message in which he ably vindicated his course, and resigned his office. The resignation of Governor Gilmer was a complete surprise to the Legislature. Much heated discussion ensued, and party spirit ran high. The passions of his opponents led them to extreme measures. It was proposed to supply his place by a new election, and the commencement of the gubernatorial term was changed by enactment to the 1st of January; but the Legislature were unable to agree to elect a successor, and adjourned, leaving the office of Governor to be filled successively by the senior Councillor of State for the yearly term of such precedence, as provided by law. He was thus succeeded until the 31st of March following by John Mercer Patton.
As soon as the resignation of Governor Gilmer became known he was solicited to declare himself a candidate for Congress from the Albemarle district. He accordingly did so, and was elected by a handsome majority, and took his seat, on the 31st of May, in the Congress which had ' been convened by the proclamation of President Harrison, dated the 17th of March.
In the meanwhile, the death of President Harrison, which occurred on the 4th of April, just one month after his inauguration, had devolved the Executive office on John Tyler, the Vice-President. There was a Whig majority in both branches of Congress. John White, of Kentucky, was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr. Gilmer entered actively on the work of reform in Congress. He proposed the entire separation of the political press from the patronage of the Government, and that the Executive should be required to report to the Senate his reasons for all removals from office.
These were capital reforms, but failed. Mr. Gilmer labored, too, through the medium of a special committee, of which he was chairman, for retrenchment. He served also as a member of the important Standing Committee of Ways and Means. On the 17th of June he offered a resolution for the appointment of a committee to examine into the number of the officers or agents of the Government, modes of transacting business, and expenditures, to report at the next session if any reduction in the expenses of the civil list, or in the number of persons employed, might be effected. The resolution was adopted, and Mr. Gilmer placed at the head of the committee.
President Harrison, in removing to Washington to assume his office, had incurred much expense, which had considerably embarrassed his
A proposition to give to his family $25,000, the Presidential salary for one year, so enlisted the feelings and sympathies of all, that few men could be found of the opposite party, much less of those who had voted for him, bold enough to oppose it. Every impulse of Mr. Gilmer led him to vote for the bill, but they were controlled by his sense of duty as a Representative. In a brief speech he insisted that Congress ought not to vote it in their representative capacity out of the public funds, but privately from their own personal resources. They had no right to be generous with the money of the people. He also ably opposed the distribution among the States of the proceeds of the sales of the public lands. He voted against the United States Bank in every form in which it was presented. The extra session of Congress adjourned on the 13th of September, after a session of about one hundred days. At the regular session, which began on the first Monday of December, 1841, Mr. Gilmer was transferred from the Committee of Ways and Means to that of Foreign Relations, of which John Quincy Adams was chairman. The action of Mr. Adams in presenting, January 24, 1842, a petition from Haverhill, Massachusetts, for an immediate dissolution of the Union, the debate which resulted from a resolution to censure him therefor, and the singular conduct of Mr. Adams in the committee, so disgusted Mr. Gilmer and four other members of it that they refused to serve any longer on it with Mr. Adams, and they were excused by the House. In the debate on the general appropriation bill, Mr. Gilmer, in a speech of great ability, advocated striking out all the contingent expenses. He zealously supported President Tyler in the independent course which the latter pursued. Mr. Gilmer was re-elected to Congress, in 1843, over William L. Goggin, after a warm canvass. When Congress assembled December 2, 1843, the majority in the House of Representatives was changed, and was now largely Democratic. John Winston Jones, of Virginia, was elected Speaker. The Cabinet of President Tyler having resigned, as detailed in the preceding sketch of his career, on the 15th of February, 1844, he nominated Mr. Gilmer to the Senate to be Secretary of the Navy. The nomination was at once unanimously confirmed. Mr. Gilmer immediately entered upon the discharge of the duties of his post with the avowed determination to carry into execution the reforms which he had advocated in Congress, but an All-wise Providence intervened, and by a most afflicting dispensation removed him from his sphere of human usefulness. He was, as has been narrated, one of the victims of the awful catastrophe on the steamer “Princeton” on the 28th of February, 1844. Thus died Thomas Walker Gilmer, in the forty-second year of his age, stricken down on the very harvest-field of his faithful labors, and with the sheaves of gathered honors standing thick around him. He left issue four sons and two daughters: i. John, died unmarried ; ii. Elizabeth, married Colonel St. George Tucker, Confed