Home >> Major-general-arthur-st-clair-a-brief-sketch-1910 >> Financial Difficulties to The Hannastown Declaration Of >> Last Days of Poverty_P1

Last Days of Poverty and Neglect

st, life, clair, feel, revolution, house, log, presence and nation

Page: 1 2

LAST DAYS OF POVERTY AND NEGLECT.

When the General was turned out of house and home by these proceedings, he and his family moved to a tract of land, which his son Daniel owned on Chestnut Ridge, about six miles west from Ligonier. Though the house was little more than a log cabin, it was on the State Road leading to the west, and here he entertained travelers that he might thus earn board for his family. Broken with the storms of more than three score years and ten, saddened by the mem ories of the past, denied by ingratitude that which was justly due him from his state and nation, he quietly awaited the last roll call.

To a truly altruistic man like St. Clair who had really given of his abundance with a profligate hand to the weak and destitute, poverty, though gloomy in its aspect, was a bright and shining crown of glory which only added to his greatness. No one who was capable of appreciating true worth. ever came in contact with him, even in his last years, who did not recognize at once the presence of a statesman, a soldier unacquainted with fear, a scholar in the best sense of the term and a patriot pure and unswerving. Read his letter to the ladies of New York, who, hearing of his needs, sent him a present of four hundred dollars, and compare it with our best English letters. We quote but a few lines: "To soothe affliction is certainly a happy privilege and is the appropriate privilege of the fair sex, and although I feel all I can feel for the relief brought to myself, their attention to my daughters touches me most. Had I not met with dis tress, I should not perhaps, have known their worth. Though all their prospects in life, and they were once very flattering, have been blasted, not a sigh, not a murmur, has been allowed to escape them in my presence, and all their plans have been directed to rendering my reverses less affecting to me; and yet I can truly testify that it is entirely on their account that my situation ever gave me a moment's pain." The last picture we have of St. Clair refers to a period but three years before his death, when he was almost over whelmed with a mountain of sorrow, yet there are few public men of our day who would not feel proud to be thus described. It is from the pen of Elisha Whittlesly, who, with Joshua R. Giddings and James A. Garfield, represented the Ashtabula district in Congress fifty-six years. Whittlesly was after wards for many years an auditor of the United States Treas ury, and by a life of association with distinguished men, could recognize true greatness. The letter was written to Senator Richard Brodhead and is as follows : "In 1815 three persons and myself performed a journey from Ohio to Connecticut on horseback in the month of May. Having understood that General St. Clair kept a small tavern on the Ridge east of I proposed that we stop at his house and spend the night. He had no grain for our horses,

and after spending an hour with him in the most agreeable and interesting conversation respecting his early knowledge of the Northwestern Territory, we took our leave of him with deep regret." "I never was in the presence of a man that caused me to feel the same degree of veneration and esteem. He wore a citizens' dress of black, of the Revolution ; his hair was clubbed and powdered. When we entered he arose with dignity and received us most courteously. His dwelling was a common double log house of the western country, that a neighborhood would roll up in an afternoon. There lived the friend and confident of Washington, the ex-Governor of the fairest portion of creation. It was in the neighborhood, if not in view of a large estate at Ligonier, that he owned at the commencement of the Revolution, and which, I have at times understood, was sacrificed to promote the success of the Revolution. Poverty did not cause him to lose self-respect, and were he now living, his personal appearance would com mand universal admiration." St. Clair at no time in the war appeared so great as when, under adverse circumstances, he tried to save an army or prevent its destruction. So it may have been that in the poverty of his declining years, his true nobility asserted itself, and shone forth all the more brilliantly. With no complaint whatever, he readily forgot that the nation had taken the best years of his life and much of his property, and now in want, another generation of rulers refused to recompense him. One sentence from the New York letter above is the key to his whole life: "It is entirely on their account that my situation ever gave me a moment's pain." He always forgot himself when the rights of others or the interests of the state were being considered. Perhaps more than any other was he an exemplar of the motto of the Society of the Cincinnati, "Omnia relinquit servare republicam." There, on the mountains, in a rude log cabin, lived the personal friend and companion of 'Washington, Greene, Steu ben, Lafayette, Hamilton, Franklin, lArayne, Gates and Schuy ler and in no small degree did Ile share their glory. When the Revolution closed he was one of the leading men of the new nation, a gentleman, a scholar, a soldier, a statesman. Ilis manners were those, of the polished society in which his earlier days were spent and no adversity could change the unvaried courtesy which was part of his nature. His con versation was always embellished with wit and wisdom. Often was he seen wandering alone over the hills and through the wilderness with his hands behind his back and in deep thought, like Napoleon on the bleak and lonely island of St. Helena.

Page: 1 2