The same year he was appointed a judge of the general court of Virginia and in 1829 was made a member of the convention which (framed the celebrated constitution of 1830. Under it ho sat upon the supreme bench until 1841, when he entered the cabinet of President Harrison as secretary of the navy. In 1843 John Tyler who had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of Harrison, transferred him to the department of date, and in his need, in the navy department, placed Thomas W. Gilmer, of Virginia
Mr. Upshur was an able writer, a contributor to the periodical press, the author of a work entitled "An Inquiry into the Nature and Character of the Federal Government," and also a number of essays, reviews, addresses, etc. Almost every one is familiar with the story of his tragic death
It was on the 28th day of February, 1844, that an excursion from Washington to Mount Vernon took place. The steamer was the Princeton, one of the finest vessels in the American navy. She had just arrived home from an extended cruise in foreign waters, and was armed with the celebrated paixhan guns, the largest then used in naval warfare. About noon, having on board the president his cabinet, many members of congress, and others, to the number of five hundred' she steamed down the Potomac to the place of destination, where, after a few hours sojourn emit the beautiful scenery, the party re- embarked. The big gun on the forecastle we. heavily loaded to give a parting salute to the shades of the illustrious dead reposing there. A passing steamer fired a salute, and the secretary of the navy gave the order to discharge the gun, the match was applied and the gun burst into a thousand fragment", The report died away in long echoes along the shores of the Potomac, the smoke was wafted along by the breeze and Abel P. Upshur, secretary of state, Thomas W. Gilmer, secretary of the navy, Virgil Maxey, late United States minister to Belgium, Colonel Gardner, member of congress from New York, Commander Kennon, and several others, were still in death. Thomas H. Benton, United States senator from Missouri, and Captain Stockton were severely wounded. The terrible disaster cast a deep gloom over the entire nation.
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