Imágenes de páginas

indignation of the virtuous yeomanry of the Old North State. But, sir, I shall pursue this illustration no further. I wished simply to call your attention to the nature of the bond which connects this so-called Democratic party. To show the extent to which its organization has been carried, I refer you to the secret "Circular from the Executive Committee of the Democratic Association of Washington city," issued last September. I would read the whole of it, if I did not know that its contents were well understood by most, if not all on this floor. Its first four sections as you know, provide for the organization of a Democratic Association, by whatever name they choose to call it, in every "county, city, ward, town, and village throughout the Union;" the appointment of executive committees, captains, lieutenants, and Democratic minutemen-that is, "men who are willing to serve the Democracy at a minute's warning." Their first class of duties is prescribed in sections five and six, in the following words

5. That the captain and lieutenants, with such minute-men as may be detailed for the service, proceed forthwith to make out two lists-one of all voters in the company bounds, designating the Democrats, Whigs and the Abolitionists, putting into a separate column, headed "doubtful," the names of all whose opinions are unknown, and all of every party who are easily managed in their opinion or conduct; the other list to embrace all minors approaching maturity, and all men not entitled to vote."

"6. That a copy of these lists be furnished to the Executive Committee of each Democratic Association within the election precinct."

Section seven directs these officers and minute-men to circulate all papers that may influence the doubtful men. Section eight makes it the duty of the minute men to get all the doubtful men to their meetings. Sections nine, ten, eleven and twelve, are as follows:

"9. That the captain of the Democratic minute-men appoint a time and place of rendezvous, early on the first morning of election, and detail minutemen to wait upon, and if possible bring with them every doubtful voter within the company bounds."

"10. That, if practicable, some suitable refreshments be provided for the company at the place of rendezvous, and their ardor kindled by patriotic conversation; that each man be furnished with a ticket with the names of the Democratic electors; that it be impressed upon them that the first great business of the day is to give their votes; that they are expected and required to march to the polls in a body, and in perfect silence; to avail themselves of the first opportunity to vote, and never separate until every member of the company has voted.

"11. That if any Democrat be absent from the rendezvous, the captain despatch a minute-man forthwith to bring him to the polls.

"12. That the captains and lieutenants provide beforehand means for conveyance for such Democrats as cannot otherwise get to the polls."

Without going further with this matter, Mr. Chairman, I have read enough to afford an accurate idea of this system of organization. That it would be most effective in practice is obvious, when it is remembered that there are in every country some who, from indecision of character, may be persuaded-some who, from honest credulity and

want of political knowledge, can be imposed upon by artfully-framed documents or verbal misrepresentation; while others may be overcome by the influence of what are called "refreshments or other means. This or some similar plan of organization was adopted in many parts of the country. In the State of Tennessee, as I have been informed, by what I regard as first-rate democratic authority, the following was the mode relied on: There are about fifteen hundred civil districts in that State, in each of which there is a precinct for voting. In each one of these districts the Democratic party selected five individuals, who were, by their combined exertions prior to and on the election day, to endeavor to change two voters in each district, which in the whole State would amount to three thousand, and, taken from the Whig to the Democratic side, would make a difference of six thousand in the result. By this means they hoped to overcome the majority of four thousand which had been cast against Mr. Polk the year previous. That this scheme failed is solely owing to the fact that in that State the Whigs were more zealous, more active, and better organized than they were in the other States. Nothing gives such confidence and spirit to an individual, as the knowledge that his efforts will be seconded and sustained by all of the members of his party. It is a similar thought which gives courage to a soldier going into battle in the ranks of veterans, whom he knows and confides in, that he would not feel in the midst of a body of raw militia.

The leading members of the Democratic party, being in the late canvass well aware that the system of Whig policy was approved by a majority of the people of the Union, and that their nominee had also a vast personal superiority in the estimation of every body over Mr. Polk, felt that the issue, if determined with respect either to measures or men, would be decided against them. They therefore called into exercise to the fullest extent their system of party organization, to obtain as many votes as possible for their candidate, and showed themselves devoid of all scruples as to the mode in which these votes were to be procured.

But, Mr. Chairman, our opponents did not content themselves with merely obtaining the votes of individuals. They also courted and won over all the various smaller factions of the Union. It is the natural tendency of these in every country to array themselves against the strongest party. The Whig party was, as all will concede, the stronger, and it stood firmly on well known and fixed principles. With these principles none of the factions of the country harmonized. But the Democratic party avowedly stood on no general system of principles with respect to the administration of the government. It contained in its body men who professed opposite opinions on every political question. Its broad and catholic spirit could receive in its bosom the members of every faction without obliging them to sacrifice or modify any of their professed opinions. In short, it was a fit receptacle for the fragments of all factions, and it wooed them in the manner best calculated to win.

The Abolition party had nominated as its candidate for the Presidency James G. Birney; but the Democratic party likewise afterwards

nominated him for the Legislature of Michigan. He accepted this nomination, and by that means, or perhaps by more solid appliances, he was induced to use his influence with his party in behalf of Mr. Polk. In his published letters before the election, I allude not to his spurious, but the genuine ones, he declared that, though opposed both to Mr. Clay and Mr. Polk, yet he much more deprecated the election of Mr. Clay, because, being a man of greatly superior abilities, he was always able to lead his party, and would do much more to retard and overthrow abolition principles than Mr. Polk, whom he spoke of as a man of no talent, incapable of controlling his party, and powerless as against abolition. Mr. Speaker, when I first read these letters, I saw that they were so ingeniously framed that they would have the desired effect with the Abolition party. Nay, sir; they take the precise view of the matter which a sagacious, sincere Abolitionist would. Nothing surely could be more fatal to the progress, and even existence of that faction, than the administration of a man of the lofty patriotism, splendid abilities, vast personal popularity, moderation and firmness of Henry Clay; giving, as such an administration would do, that confidence, repose, and prosperity which the country so much needs. On the contrary, all little factions vegetate and thrive under the weak, vacillating administration of a feeble man. Rightfully or wrongfully, however, as it may be deemed, it is certain that these views of Birney, and like efforts on the part of the Democratic party, had the desired effect on the mass of the Abolition party. The States of New York, Pennsylvania, and perhaps others, were carried for Mr. Polk, and, as our candid political adversaries admit, the Abolitionists have made the President.

So strong, however, sir, was the Whig party in the country that even this manoeuvre would not have defeated us had it not been for other similar artifices. Nearly one hundred thousand foreigners are estimated to arrive annually in the United States; of this number a very large proportion are Roman Catholics. By means, which time. does not permit me to recount, but the most insidious and unjustifiable, the Democratic party succeeded in inducing them to band themselves together and rally to the support of Mr. Polk. Some of them avowed their preference for him because his free trade policy was more favorable to the interest of the mother countries from which they came than was Mr. Clay's. Others openly proclaimed on their banners that they would not be ruled by Americans. As evidence of the sort of feeling which has been inculcated into the minds of the most ignorant of them, I may be pardoned for mentioning a little incident that occurred in the room of a friend to whom I chanced to be making a visit. While making his fire, the Irish porter inquired when Mr. Polk would come on to the city. "I am told," he added, "that he is a great friend to us poor foreigners; we elected him, and we can do most anything when we all try." Sir, had the foreign Catholics been divided in the late election, as other sects and classes generally were, Mr. Clay would have carried by a large majority the State of New York, as also the States of Pennsylvania and Louisiana, and probably some others in the Northwest. Not only did we have to contend against the influence

of foreigners here, but British gold was openly and profusely used to promote Mr. Polk's election, professedly with a view of breaking down the tariff and promoting the sale of their manufactures in this country. All the world may interfere in our domestic matters. With one hand Great Britain stimulates the abolitionism of the North, with a view of desolating the South, or forcing a dissolution of the Union; and with the other, under the influence of motives equally selfish, she seeks to array the planting and farming interest of the country against the tariff, and thereby break down the manufacturing establishments of the North. And we, as a nation, sit stupidly quiet while she foments for her own advantage our domestic dissensions.

Our political opponents, likewise, derived accidentally great advantage from the official patronage of the present administration. Usually the opponents of the acting President have, as a counterpoise to his direct influence, the advantage of holding his administration responsible before the country for its errors or crimes. But in the present instance the acts of the executive, though in heart and soul completely identified with the Democratic party, because he had not been elected by them, were, whenever it suited their purpose, disavowed. He thus occupied a position of seeming neutrality between the two parties, and was able to turn to account the power in his hands. He accordingly exerted to the utmost the power which he possessed over them, going even to the odious extent practiced in Mr. Van Buren's time, of compelling them, on pain of dismissal from office, to contribute a part of their salaries to create a fund to be used in favor of Mr. Polk's election. At three several assessments of one per cent. each of salary in the custom house, $15,000 is said to have been raised. One of the officers there, John Orser, is said to have presented to the Empire Club several hundred hickory clubs, to enable them to beat away from the polls the Whig voters, for which laudable act he seems to have received a vote of thanks from said Empire Club.

To ascertain the extent of this influence on the whole country is not easy, but the number of office-holders in the State of New York alone is such as to account for a greater number of votes than Mr. Polk's actual majority there.

From Mr. Clay's character, political experience, and associations, it was known that his selections for office would be made from the best men in the country. All of the old defaulters, therefore, all mere needy adventurers, without character to support their claims for office, having nothing to hope from him, naturally arrayed themselves on the other side.

Without doubt, too, they are right, to some extent, who attach weight to another influence, not properly political, to-wit: that the gambling portion of the community finding, at the beginning of the canvass, that they could not get persons to bet against Mr. Clay, did so themselves, with large odds in their favor, and afterwards devoted a portion of the many millions staked to effect the result desired by them.

Yet, with all the acquisitions and advantages which I have been recounting, our adversaries were too prudent to rest secure. They knew that the constitution had provided no mode by which the fair

ness of a presidential election could be contested; no means of purging the polls of illegal votes. If a vote were received by the inspectors of the election at each precinct, and by them returned, it mattered not whether the person professing to give it were qualified to vote or not at that place. They, therefore, by means of the system of organization already described, deliberately formed a widely extended plan for the purpose of procuring a sufficient number of illegal votes to carry States enough to secure the election of Mr. Polk. Their first demonstration seems to have been made in the city of Baltimore in the October elec tion. There it was that they gave a vote so much larger than was ever polled at any preceding election, as to satisfy all persons that fraud had been practiced. Investigations since then have made it manifest that the increased vote was owing, not only to the fact that many persons voted not authorized at all to vote there, but that likewise those qualified had, in some instances, voted two, three, or more times. at different precincts in the city. About fifty persons have already been convicted and sentenced to punishment for this offence by the courts, not one of whom is a Whig, though they have been pardoned from time to time by the Democratic Governor there. The fraud here was but the precursor of what followed.

The great State of New York claims the first notice. During the past year there were naturalized there not less than seven thousand foreigners. This was effected entirely by the Democratic party, the Whigs having no office provided for that purpose, because as I learn, there is not one of these foreigners out of fifty who will vote the Whig ticket. Of this large number a great proportion, not having been five years in the country, could not be legally naturalized, and their votes, therefore, when given, were illegal.

Men who had not been one month in the country from the penitentiaries of Europe, unacquainted even with the language in which they were sworn, voted for what they knew not.

But the principal frauds were practised by what is called double voting. The city of New York was the great theatre where this was consummated. As the Empire Club bore such a prominent part in these transactions, I must devote a remark or two to it. It was organized in July last, and it consisted of gamblers, pick pockets, droppers, thimble-riggers, burners, and the like, and its association seems to have been then mainly for the purpose of carrying on successfully these and similar trades. Most of its members had been repeatedly indicted for crimes. Its general character, however, may be sufficiently inferred from that of some of its officers. Its president was Isaiah Rynders, often arrested for thimble-rigging and similar offences. He and Joseph Jewell, being indicted for murder fled from New York to New Orleans. By the by, I may here mention that this Jewell, who has indictments for murder in two different cases hanging up against him, was the standard-bearer of the Club, and figured as the bearer of the Texas banner in the processions. These worthies had not been long in New Orleans before they found it convenient to leave, being charged with stealing Treasury notes. They came to this city, and were arrested and sent back in irons by

« AnteriorContinuar »