The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        XV. Lecture establishing the authenticity of the Mecklenburg, North Carolina, Declaration of Independence of May 20th, 1775.

        At the time of his death he was preparing a work "on the Ancient Monuments of Central and Western America," and a Physical Geography.

        George Edmund Badger, born 1795, died 1866, was a native of New Berne. His father, a devoted patriot, was a native of Connecticut. His mother was a daughter of Richard Cogdell; who was one of the council of safety in 1775. He was educated at Yale College, graduated in 1815, and studied law with John Stanly, who was his relative.

        He was elected a member of the legislature 1816; and in 1820, at the early age of 25, elected one of the judges of the superior courts, which he resigned in 1825. He then settled in Raleigh and pursued with great success his profession. He was appointed Secretary of the Navy in 1841, but resigned on Tyler's vetoing the re-charter of the United States Bank.*

        * It is singular that North Carolina has rarely been honored by having one of her citizens made a cabinet officer; but when so honored this portfolio seems to be assigned her.

        I. John Branch, 1829; II. George E Badger, 1841; III. William A. Graham, 1850; IV. James C. Dobbin, 1853.

        From 1846 to 1855 he was United States Senator.

        In 1851, he was nominated one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, but was not confirmed by the senate.

        In 1861, he was a member of the convention and signed the ordinance of secession. His admirable letter to Mr. Ely, already presented, (see Beaurfort) gives the "form and pressure" of those unhappy times. The attendant calamities doubtless shortened his days.

        As an advocate he had few equals, and no superior in the highest tribunals of the country. As an orator he was eloquent, learned and able; abounding in wit and humor, which sometimes appearance, of great geniality of temper he was a favorite with all his associates.

        But his transcendent powers as an advocate did not detract from his usefulness; not unlike Erskine, the giant lawyer, they did not dwarf the able statesman. It was his custom when entering the senate, to linger in the morning and have a pleasant word with nearly every member, before he took his seat. This he would not retain long, for he was less frequent in his own seat than in that of other members. Yet, with this apparent carelessness, he would catch and remember every word, whether trivial or important, uttered in debate, and ready to answer any question. He had a certain kind of humor to ridicule, in a pleasant way, even the most dignified of that distinguished body about any little mistake or blunder, either in their speeches or conversation.

        On one occasion, when a senator was concluding a long and labored speech, (J. P. Hale) he remarked: "I guess I have said enough;" Mr. Badger who was just behind him said "I know you have." This descent from the sublime to the ridiculous created a pleasant smile.

        On another occasion, when he had moved that the senate adjourn over next day, being Good Friday, the motion was lost. "Well," he said, "I submit, but this is the only judicial body that has ever sat on Good Friday, since the days of Pontius Pilate, who tried and condemned our Saviour." Mr. Webster was present and remarked: "That Badger is the greatest trifler I ever knew; we are all afraid of him; he can make more out of a trifling occurrence than any man I ever knew."

        But there was pith and point in all he said and did. He had no superior or equal in his matchless ability for winnowing chaff from wheat, or the most brilliant flowers of eloquence from the dry detail of sophistry; and while he indulged in the humorous or ludicrous, he wielded his arguments with the force of
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