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White, Hugh Lawsoh

WHITE, HUGH LAWSOH (1773-1840), American statesman, was born in Iredell county, North Carolina, on the joth of October 1773. In 1787 he crossed the mountains into Kast Tennessee (then a part of North Carolina) with his father James White (1737-1815), who was subsequently prominent in the early history of Tennessee. Hugh became in 1790 secretary to Governor William Blount, and in 1792-1793 served under John Sevier against the Creek and Cherokee Indians, and in the battle of Etowah (December 1793), according to the accepted tradition, killed with his own hand the Cherokee chief Kingfisher. He studied in Philadelphia and in 1796 he was admitted to the bar at Knoxville. He was a judge of the Superior Court of Tennessee in 1801-1807, a state senator in 1807-1809, and in 1809- 1815 was judge of the newly organized Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals of the state. From 1812 to 1827 he was president of the State Bank of Tennessee at Knoxville, and managed it so well that for several years during this period it was the only western bank that in the trying period during and after the War of 1812 did not suspend specie payments. In 1821-1824 he was a member of the Spanish Claims Commission, and in 1825 succeeded Andrew Jackson in the United States Senate, serving until 1840 and being president pro tern, in 1832- 1834. In the Senate he opposed internal improvements by the Federal government and the recharter of the United States Bank, favoured a protective tariff and Jackson's coercive policy in regard to nullification, and in general supported the measures of President Jackson, though his opposition to the latter's indiscriminate appointments caused a coolness between himself and Jackson, which was increased by White's refusal to vote to expunge the resolutions of a former Senate censuring the president. In 1830, as chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, he secured the passage of a bill looking to the removal of the Indians to lands west of the Mississippi. He was opposed to Van Buren, Jackson's candidate for the presidency in 1836, was himself nominated in several states as an independent candidate, and received the twenty-six electoral votes of Tennessee and Georgia, though President Jackson made strong efforts to defeat him in the former state. About 1838 he became a Whig in politics, and when the Democratic legislature of Tennessee instructed him to vote for Van Buren's sub-treasury scheme he objected and resigned (Jan. 1840). His strict principles and his conservatism won for him the sobriquet of " The Cato of the United States Senate." He died at Knoxville on the loth of April 1840.

See Nancy N. Scott (ed.), A Memoir of Hugh Lawson White (Philadelphia, 1856).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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