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but whose suggestions he was in no way bound to follow. In this “Memorandum of points,” however, we have Jackson's declaration that he desired a “genuine old-fashioned Cabinet, to act together and form a counsel consultative.” What the original theory of the Cabinet was seems to me to be difficult to say, for the reason that, under the Constitution, the Cabinet has no existence as such; but Jackson at the outset evidently regarded it as a body of advisers.
Then we have the wide-spread criticism of Jackson for his appointments and removals. The "memorandum of points" contains certain significant declarations in view of his actual policy. “No solicitors to be appointed” evidently means that none who solicit office shall be appointed; whereas we know that Jackson was hardly installed before almost anybody who solicited an office was appointed, even if someone had just previously solicited it and received it. “No members of Congress except heads of departments and foreign ministers to be appointed.” We know that Jackson was charged with appointing more members of Congress to office than any previous President. “A highminded and enlightened principle in the administration of the government as to appointments and removals.” I am unable to find that Jackson expressed any regret for any demoralization in the administrative branch of the government which resulted from the wholesale removals, or from the appointment of unfit men. So far as he expressed himself on that point at all, he seems to have felt that his course was justified.
I came upon a letter of Van Buren's in the collection, in which he states that the appointment of Swartwout as Collector of the Port of New York, was made against Van Buren's decided and earnest remonstrances; and there are other letters that go to show that representations were made to Jackson concerning the unfit character of certain office appointees.
There is also an interesting matter which Jackson several times refers to, namely, his view that a defalcation in accounts or financial irregularity of any sort must debar anyone from the public service. An interesting letter to Van Buren in September, 1829, in reference to Lewis Cass, who, it was rumored, was to be removed from office, states that Jackson had no idea of removing Cass, unless in the settlement of his accounts he should be proven a defaulter, adding, “You know the rule is, friend or foe, being a defaulter must go.” There are several other letters in which Jackson makes similar statements. An undated memorandum of March 31, 1829, in reply to a letter from Van Buren, in which Jackson holds that the late removals of comptrollers had been made in the interests of honesty, adds: “The people expect reform; they shall not be disappointed; but it must be judiciously done, and upon principle.”
I observed no particular reference to the "great debate" in the Senate between Webster and Hayne. There are, however, a number of letters between Jackson and Hayne referring to the nullification situation in South Carolina; papers which show that Jackson was watching closely the movements in that State, and that there could have been no possible excuse for anyone in South Carolina to have imagined that Jackson would sit quietly by and allow South Carolina to leave the Union without a protest. One very interesting entry is a letter written by Jackson to Joel R. Poinsett, who was the active leader of the Union party in South Carolina at that time, and who kept up a correspondence with Jackson and others at Washington. Writing on the ninth of December, 1832, the day before the great proclamation to South Carolina was issued, Jackson states that in “forty days from the date of my orders," if force should become necessary, "I will have forty thousand men in the State of South Carolina" to put down resistance and enforce law.
There are a number of entries with reference to internal improvements, though they do not make wholly clear Jackson's attitude, which indeed never became quite clear on that subject; and a very interesting entry, in a memorandum to Van Buren, at the time when the negotiations with Great Britain for the removal of duties on the West Indian trade were in progress. We have been commonly told, in accounts of that episode, that Jackson sent a representative to Great Britain to say that conditions had changed in the United States, that there had been a change in public opinion, and that he was prepared to negotiate with Great Britain if Great Britain would meet him half way; and that Great Britain took the proper stand, and the trade was opened. Jackson was willing to negotiate, but took care also to be ready for contingencies. In a communication to Van Buren, April 10, 1830, Jackson directs the latter to “let a communication be prepared for Congress recommending a non-intercourse law between United States and Canada, and a sufficient number of cutters commanded by our naval officers and our midshipmen made revenue officers, and a double set on every vessel.” In six months, he concludes, Canada and the West Indies will “sorely feel” the effects of such vigorous action.
The Jackson papers make some additions to our knowledge about the removal of the deposits. Van Buren had written to Jackson to express the hope that he would consult with the Attorney-General about the legality of transferring the deposits. Jackson replies that he has consulted the Attorney-General; and we have Taney's letter assuring Jackson that he is authorized to proceed, and adding: “I am fully prepared to go with you firmly through this business, and to meet all its consequences.” The letter is endorsed on the back in Jackson's handwriting: “To be filed with my private papers—as evidence of his virtue, energy and worth.”
I have only to add, in closing this very brief allusion to these papers, that the Jackson and Van Buren papers, taken in
connection with the Poinsett papers now in the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, and the lately published Calhoun correspondence edited by Prof. J. F. Jameson for the American Historical Association, make it possible to re-write much of the history of the Jackson and Van Buren period. I suspect that when this history is re-written, it will be found that most of the older accounts are in need of substantial correction.
A PAGE OF AMERICAN HISTORY.
BY EDWARD H. THOMPSON.
THE field whereon occurred the events which this paper chronicles is the whole Peninsula of Yucatan. The chief actors in these events are the descendants of the indomitable Maya race, that once made this peninsula the centre of a civilization, the descendants of the invading Spaniards who cut short the life of that civilization, and a band of strangers from the North. These last were the type of men that first tamed the wilds of Canada, made known the virgin richness of New England, settled Kentucky, and later drove the wedge of civilization into the unknown West.
At the time these events occurred, that called into play these three factors of humanity, the methods of communication throughout the peninsula were of a mediæval character. Native runners and vaqueros on horseback furnished the only means of rapid communication, while litters, man carried, the saddle, or the strange two-wheeled volan coche, drawn by three mules, furnished the means of rapid transit to the fortunate ones who could command such convenience. All others who travelled either went on foot or rode on the springless, brakeless, sideless carreta, drawn by six mules, that carried the heavy freight between the larger cities. In those days, many of the larger towns were not connected, even by a wagon road. A narrow, winding mulepath was the only connection with the outside world, and during the long night hours the hoarse cry of the arrieres, urging on the pack mules, was constantly heard.
There were revolutions in those days; sometimes, indeed, there were even revolutions within the revolution itself.