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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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Hon. Trusten Polk.

TRUSTEN POLK was born May 29, 1811, in Sussex county, state of Delaware. His parents were placed in a respectable position in life, and, being designed from a boy to pursue a profession, his education, from the very commencement, was conducted in accordance with his future position in life. He was sent to the schools in his neighborhood, and then to an academy at Cambridge on the eastern shore of Maryland, that he might have every advantage of a proper preparatory education previous to entering college. He was then sent to Yale College at New Haven, and after graduating, he was still continued amid the classic associations of that celebrated institution, and in the Law School began the study of his future profession.

After going through a finished course at Yale, Mr. Polk returned home, and was for a short time engaged in learning the practical duties of his profession in the office of an eminent attorney, before he was admitted to practise. He soon found that the business of his little state was monopolized by a few old lawyers of long practice and extensive acquaintance; and that a young lawyer, no matter what were his abilities, would have to spend the first years of his life in comparative idleness, before he could hope for any thing like a proper remuneration for his services. These prospects were not favorable enough, for one of Mr. Polk's aspiring disposition; so he cast his eyes toward the West, where the states were new, and all entered the field on an equality. There talent would at once meet its reward, and the country being peopled with strangers, a young lawyer's merit would at once be tested, and he would not be doomed to spend the first golden days of youth in indolent obscurity, as he would be compelled to do in states that have been long settled, and where there is no immigration. Influenced by these considerations, Mr. Polk started in 1835 for the state of Missouri, and located himself in St. Louis.

It is often asserted, but without a shadow of reasonable support, that if a man have genius and talent he will become eminent in the sphere he moves in, even if he has not the advantages of proper previous training. Examples are often given of men, who, by the mere force of intellect, without its being strengthened by proper training and preparation, become lights in the various professions and avocations of life. These incidents are as rare as "angel visits;" and if youth were not prepared by fitting instruction for the different professions, the bar, the pulpit, and the laboratory would soon present a sorry figure, and would receive the ridicule of any intelligent order of citizens. Fortunately for Mr. Polk, he had received all the adventitious assistance of thorough training in mental exercise, previous to commencing the study of the law, and when he had mastered his profession, he possessed an untold advantage over those who had

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been deprived of a suitable preparatory education. His polished eloquence, the fund of knowledge which he could draw from a thousand sources to strengthen and adorn it, and his suavity of manner, soon won him hosts of friends, and made him eminent as a lawyer.

Two years after his arrival in St. Louis, Mr. Polk united in marriage, December 26, 1837, with Miss Elizabeth W. Skinner, the second daughter of Curtis and Anne Skinner, who had been long residents in Missouri, and had emigrated from New Windsor, Connecticut. For several years afterward, he pursued an extensive and lucrative practice, until the labors incident to a successful career in the legal profession, began to tell upon his constitution, and threaten a premature decline. He was compelled to retire from his pursuits, that his health might be recruited. During this interval of relaxation, which was a portion of 1844 and '45, he spent one winter in Louisiana and the Isle of Cuba, and the ensuing summer, he travelled in the New England states and Canada. During his absence as a valetudinarian, he was selected by the citizens of St. Louis county as a member of the convention which met in 1845 for the purpose of remodelling the constitution of the state, and did good service in the honorable capacity in which he served.

It was not to be supposed that a man of Mr. Polk's ability and popularity should not receive from the public, some demonstration of its confidence, by an appointment to some high official position. In 1856 he was appointed by the Democratic party as candidate for governor. It was at a time of much political excitement; for the "Know Nothing" party and the "Free Soil" party had their strongest champions in the field, and each were exerting themselves to the utmost to obtain a supremacy. In this warm contest, Mr. Polk was elected to the chief magistracy of the state, and in due time was invested with all the honors of his new appointment. He had exercised his prerogatives but a few weeks before he received still further evidence of the estimation in which he was held by the public, by receiving from the legislature of the state the appointment of United States Senator. In possession, at one time, of the two highest political gifts which it was in the power of his state to bestow, it was incumbent that he should resign one of his official stations, and he gave up the gubernatorial chair, that he might represent his state in the Senate of the national Congress. This honorable position he still enjoys, and is an efficient member of the august body to which he belongs.

In his profession, Mr. Polk deservedly occupies a place in the first rank. He is characterized by his honorable bearing, his urbanity of manner, and perfect freedom from vituperation in debate. His eloquence is of the Chesterfield style, impressive, conciliatory, but always free from the gusty excitement of passion. In politics he belongs to the Democratic party, is firm in his political faith, and warmly attached to its principles. He was a warm advocate of the common-school system, when in its incipiency, and has been for many years a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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