A Brief Enquiry into the Nature and Character of our Federal Government/Introductory notice

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There is a prevailing tendency in the popular mind, at the present time, to undervalue the importance of the States in the American system of Government. This fact has suggested the republication of this Essay on their true relations to the Federal Government. A word as to the personal history of the author.

It has been the fate of Abel Parker Upshur, to be more generally known by the accidental circumstance of his melancholy end, than by his own merits. He was killed by the explosion of a great gun (the Peacemaker, as it was called,) on board the Steamer Princeton; being at the time the Secretary of State of the United States, under President Tyler. This was on the 28th of February, 1844. He had studied law under William Wirt: he practised his profession from 1810 to 1824. After an interval of retirement, he held high judicial position as Judge of the General Court of Virginia, from 1826 to 1841; at which last period, he entered Mr. Tyler's Cabinet as Secretary of the Navy. On Mr. Webster's retirement, in the Spring of 1843, Judge Upshur succeeded him as Secretary of State.