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lawyer. Some of us have seen all of these thirty, now dead, as they passed over the stage while living. All of these we have seen in life, contending in intellectual strifes with our friend HENRY L. BENNING. We have seen them in the midst of social enjoyments, in high debate, in sparkling humor and moving eloquence, as well as in the bitter repartees and passionate episodes engendered by the antagonistic interests represented by them. This procession of the dead we have witnessed. But “dust unto dust” was the decree, and the thirty died; and at last our friend died also. The attorneys, with their clients, judges and jurors, witnesses and officers of court, all have gone down to the earth together, and the poor, worldly goods about which they contended, have perished with the litigants; all, all together are but dust!
But there are thirty others of us still living; and as we have seen the procession of the dead, so are we just as surely organized, and are moving on and on to the same destination; but the orders of this procession—who first and who last in it, thank God, is hidden from our eyes. That curtain we would not raise if we could.
A monument would you erect to General BENNING? Brass is not durable enough, marble is not white enough! Let the sterling traits of his character, as stamped upon the memory of his countrymen, stand as his monument. Truth, integrity, courage, moral and physical, unimpeachable veracity, honor and honesty untarnished, all these were eminently his, and these will endure forever; and let them stand as an imperishable monument to the memory of an honest man.
The court ordered the report spread upon its minutes.
On Friday, September 15th, 1876, Messrs. N. J. HAMMOND, JOHN COLLIER, C. PEEPLES, R. H. CLARK, B. H. Hill, committee appointed by the superior court of Fulton county, to prepare a suitable memorial of Hon. JAMES M. CALHOUN, asked that the proceedings of said superior court be entered on the minutes of the supreme court, which was so ordered.
The memorial was as follows:
“ The recent death of Hon. JAMES M. CALHOUN, so long associated with us in the offices of generous friendship, and professional brotherhood, has left a vacant place in our ranks and hearts, which cannot easily be supplied.
His surviving brethren, family and friends, will long dwell with melancholy fondness upon his virtues.
His valuable life was for the greater part passed in our midst, and it would seem to be a useless labor to recall the striking characteristics, incidents and acts of his extended career, but as biography holds perhaps the best place in the philosophy of history, it cannot be otherwise than of value to the present constitution of society in our city and surrounding country, to pass in review the many points of interest connected with the life and service of this noblehearted gentleman and honest citizen.
So indispensable was each interwoven with the other, that the history of Colonel Calhoun and his cotemporaries, is for the greater part, the history of
DeKalb and Fulton counties and of the city of Atlanta. The impress of his hardy, self reliant character has had much to do with their elements of growth and progress.
He was born on the 12th day of February, 1811, in the Calhoun settlement in Abbeville District, South Carolina. The moderate circumstances of his family only enabled him, in his early years, to receive a very limited education. His mother, a lady of rare Christian virtues and great perseverance, trained her children to honor Christianity, love truth, and practice industry. Both his parents were members of the Presbyterian church. It was his misfortune when about fourteen years old to lose his father, and there being but little property left for the support of the family, he labored with unremitting industry for four years upon the plantation to sustain them. At this time his mother died and the family separated. When he had attained the age of eighteen he set forth unfriended and without a cent, to make his way in the world, and to reach the residence of his oldest brother, Dr. E. A. CALHOUN, at Decatur, DeKalb county, Georgia. A short distance on his way
procured from a relative a small sum of money, with which he reached his brother's house, who generously boarded and clothed him for two years, during which time he attended the school of Col. DAVID Kiddoo, an excellent teacher, at Decatur. In after years, when he occupied an independent position, those to whom he became indebted in youth were not forgotten.
He met his pecuniary obligations thus contracted, and to the day of his death he was pleased to acknowledge these debts of gratitude to the friends of his youth, which he felt he would never be able to repay. He acquired at school an ordinary English education, together with a tolerable knowledge of the Latin language. Having attracted the friendship and attention of the late Hon. HINES HOLT, that gentleman offered him the means to gratify his long cherished wish of coming to the bar by taking him into his office, and proposing to defray his expenses while engaged in study.
He was admitted to the bar on the 22d of February, 1832, and entered at once upon a flattering practice, in which he was constantly engaged as long as his health would justify. His reputation as a collecting lawyer filled his hands with business, of which he probably transacted as much as any lawyer in this part of Georgia. Both on the civil and criminal side of the court he occupied for many years a prominent position as counsel and advocate.
As a lawyer, he was watchful, energetic and faithful. We remember no professional man in his day who surpassed Colonel Calhoun in these honorable characteristics. Whilst never brilliant or what might be regarded a genius, Colonel CALHOUN had those better qualifications of talent, neverending perseverance, unimpeachable integrity and good faith in all of his professional and private engagements. Kind, unpretending, and social in feeling, he was always ready to give ear to the cry of distress, and manly enough to boldly assert the right.
In 1832 he was married to Miss DABNEY, daughter of ANDERSON DABNEY, of Jasper county, Georgia, an accomplished lady, with whom he lived in great confidence and affection for more than a quarter of a century. Of this marriage there were born to him seven children, for whose welfare and edu
cation the best years of his life were devoted. Losing his first wife on the 18th of February, A. D., 1860, in December of the same year he married Mrs. AMELIA HOLT, (formerly Hightower,) of Thomaston, Georgia, widow of Colonel T. P. Holt. She survives to mourn his loss and to honor his memory.
In 1836 he was elected captain of a company of mounted infantry from DeKalb county, and went to the Creek war. In this service he distinguished himself for prudence, cool and resolute courage. Left at one time in command during the absence of Major J. C. ALFORD, and learning that a hostile band of Creeks was near his camp, he mustered from the battalion about eighty men, boldly met the savages, and sustained one of the most fierce attacks of that service. His little band encountered near four hundred warriors and drove them back nearly a mile, when it became apparent that the ammunition was giving out, and despite all his efforts to rally them, his command retreated in some disorder. Having to advance toward the enemy some distance beyond his company to obtain his horse, the firing upon him became so fierce that he was unable to mount, and was compelled to lead the animal through an open space some distance before rejoining his troops, thus affording the Indians a fair opportunity to cut him down, but he escaped, losing about one-third of his force killed and wounded. The loss of the enemy was much greater.
In 1837 Colonel CALHOUN was elected to the legislature from DeKalb, by a handsome majority over a large party majority on the other side. In 1850 he was elected a member of the convention of that year by a very considerable majority.
From 1837 until the war, he took an active part in politics-was twice run for congress in a district largely against him in political sentiment, reducing the majority each time nearly one-third, though opposed by popular candidates. In these contests he was the standard-bearer of his party only, and was made a candidate against his wishes, to give strength to the general conflict on his side.
Such was the personal vigor of his character that these defeats did his popularity no harm, as he never made a race of his own seeking without success. In politics he was an old line whig, though opposing a tariff for protection. Individually, he was a man of deep political conviction. Conservative in all his private acts, he died without regrets on account of his record.
Colonel CALHOUN was a member of the celebrated legislature of 1855–6, as senator from Fulton, and was the author of many of the most important acts of that distinguished body. He participated as a member of the judiciary committee in perfecting the many beneficial changes made during that session in our statutes. He was the author of the act “To define the liability of railroad companies," the act "To simplify the method of carrying cases to the supreme court,” the act “To incorporate the Air Line Railway Company," the act “To take new bail in criminal cases,” and several others of importance.
In 1859 he was one of the vice-presidents of the convention which nomi. nated Bell and Everett for president and vice-president of the United States.
In 1862–3-4-5, he was mayor of the city of Atlanta. In 1862 he was appointed civil governor of the city by General BRAGG, but declined to act; and
in 1864, during the stormy period of the siege and occupation of the city by the federal army, when the Confederates evacuated the place, the unpleasant duty of surrendering Atlanta to General SHERMAN devolved upon him. No one can fairly feel or accurately describe the bitterness of his sorrow as he saw the aged, the feeble, and the helpless, laboring under the crushing weight of the exactions, robbery and terror to which our afflicted people had to submit during the occupancy and afterwards.
His letter remonstrating against the order of General SHERMAN expelling the women and children from the city during the hard fall of 1864, will live in history and carry his name to posterity as a man of true courage and generous sensibility. The letter of General SHERMAN, in answer, in which occurs the expression, “War is cruelty, and cannot be refined,” conveys but an imperfect idea of the feeling of indifference and revenge with which our sufferings were viewed, and of the temper with which the faggot was applied to our cherished homes and rising city.
Colonel CALHOUN, in the midst of the sea of fire around him, did what he could to support the weak and to aid the suffering. One of this committee, who was often in official conference with him during the seige, can bear testimony to the honor and feeling with which he discharged his high trust, during those days of peril and nights of horror. As the city sank amid the lurid glare of incendiary war, its mayor stood like Marius, looking in gloom and powerless despair, upon its dying embers. It is a matter of sincere congratulation to know that he was spared by Providence to see the city of his choice and his love arise from its ashes, and again put on the beautiful smiles of peace and prosperity; that from the tears and sorrow of its thousands of victims of undeserved wrong and oppression the grand proportions of opulence and refinement have returned to cheer and bless his and their descendants.
For years past his health has been feeble, and his place vacant in the court house, but his love for his brethren and his attachment to the chosen vocation of his early life remained to the end.
As a public speaker he was earnest, careful, often vehement and impassioned. The latter, however, were exceptions to his style. He argued to convince the understanding rather than to please the fancy. As models for imitation, the zealous pursuit of his purposes by honest means, and the reliant manhood of his nature, are worthy of public notice. In private life he was gentle, truthful and courteous, without the tinsel of attractive display in company, which is possessed by some; he won the confidence of those around him by his refined feelings and attention to time, place and person, so well that few forgot a first interview with him, or ceased to regard him with esteem and respect. His life, taken altogether, was an eminent success, and he left the world with friends, relatives, and a great city to mourn his loss.
RESOLUTIONS. Resolved, That in the death of the Hon. JAMES M. CALHOUN, the court and bar of Fulton county, the city of Atlanta and county of Fulton, have sustained a great and deeply felt loss.
Resolved, That the members of this bar, recurring to his life of usefulness as a lawyer, and a lengthened association with him as a brother, will cherish
with heart-warm feelings the remembrance of his social virtues and his generous example.
Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with his numerous and afflicted family in this sad bereavement, and tender them our condolence under its trying ordeal.
Resolved, That the presiding judge of this court be asked for permission to place these proceedings upon the minutes of the court; that the clerk be requested to furnish a copy to the family of our beloved deceased brother, and that the city papers be requested to publish the same.”