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Biography of Thomas L. Clingman

The sketch of General Clingman which his niece, Mrs. Kerr, contributed to The Archive for March, 1899, deals with the personal side of her distinguished uncle. It has, therefore, seemed to me that a further sketch which should deal with his political career would not be without value to North Carolinians. There have been many sons of our State who are ranked by their admirers as the equals of General Clingman in political ability; but there are few who can be thought to have equaled him in party prominence. His tireless activity kept him thoroughly up in any line of business in which Congress might be interested. In the exciting debates that preceded the Civil War he made it a custom not to retire before two o’clock. He soon was able to learn who were the men who were up latest and by talking to the others early in the evening and to these later on he was able to exchange views with a large number of men, so that when he went into the House in the morning his information as to the latest changes in public opinion was remarkably accurate. His impetuosity, fearlessness, and honesty made him an effective debater. He was ambitious. He determined early in life that he would be President, and but for the sectional issues that stood in his way, it is possible he would have reached that goal. He had the good sense to be a practical politician in the better nature of the term. He knew the people, without pandering to their prejudices; he knew the point beyond which it would...

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