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regularly sent to each Whig paper of the district. And yet, with the exception of my own little speech, which was published in two only of the then five, now four, Whig papers, I do not remember having seen a single speech, or even extract from one, in any single one of those papers. With equal and full means on both sides, I will venture that "The State Register" has thrown before its readers more of Locofoco speeches in a month than all the Whig papers of the district have done of Whig speeches during the session.
If you wish a full understanding of the war, I repeat what I believe I said to you in a letter once before, that the whole, or nearly so, is to be found in the speech of Dixon of Connecticut. This I sent you in pamphlet, as well, as in "The Globe." Examine and study every sentence of that speech thoroughly, and you will understand the whole subject.
existed by the act
You have at least
You ask how Congress came to declare that war had of Mexico. Is it possible you don't understand that yet? twenty speeches in your possession that fully explain it. I will, however, try it once more. The news reached Washington of the commencement of hostilities on the Rio Grande, and of the great peril of Gen. Taylor's army. Everybody, Whigs and Democrats, was for sending them aid, in men and money. It was necessary to pass a bill for this. The Locos had a majority in both Houses, and they brought in a bill with a preamble, saying, Whereas, War exists by the act of Mexico, therefore we send Gen. Taylor money. The Whigs moved to strike out the preamble, so that they could vote to send the men and money, without saying any thing about how the war commenced; but, being in the minority, they were voted down, and the preamble was retained. Then, on the passage of the bill, the question came upon them, "Shall we vote for preamble and bill both together, or against both together?" They did not want to vote against sending help to Gen. Taylor, and therefore they voted for both together. Is there any difficulty in understanding this? Even my little speech shows how this was; and, if you will go to the library, you may get "The Journal" of 1845–46, in which you can find the whole for yourself.
We have nothing published yet with special reference to the Taylor race; but we soon will have, and then I will send them to everybody. I made an internal-improvement speech day before yesterday, which I shall send home as soon as I can get it written out and printed, nobody will read.
and which I suppose
Your friend as ever,
WASHINGTON, July 10, 1848.
DEAR WILLIAM, Your letter covering the newspaper slips was received last night. The subject of that letter is exceedingly painful to me; and I cannot but think there is some mistake in your impression of the motives of the old men. I suppose I am now one of the old men; and I declare, on
my veracity, which I think is good with you, that nothing could afford me more satisfaction than to learn that you and others of my young friends at home were doing battle in the contest, and endearing themselves to the people, and taking a stand far above any I have ever been able to reach in their admiration. I cannot conceive that other old men feel differently. Of course, I cannot demonstrate what I say; but I was young once, and I am sure I was never ungenerously thrust back. I hardly know what to The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him. Allow me to assure you that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation. There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel, to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling has not injured every person you have ever known to fall into it.
Now, in what I have said, I am sure you will suspect nothing but sincere friendship. I would save you from a fatal error. You have been a laborious, studious young man. You are far better informed on almost all subjects than I have ever been. You cannot fail in any laudable object, unless you allow your mind to be improperly directed. I have some the advantage of you in the world's experience, merely by being older; and it is this that induces me to advise.
You still seem to be a little mistaken about "The Congressional Globe and "Appendix.” They contain all of the speeches that are published in any way. My speech and Dayton's speech, which you say you got in pamphlet form, are both, word for word, in the "Appendix." I repeat again, all are there.
Your friend, as ever,
The "internal-improvement" speech to which Mr. Lincoln alludes in one of these letters was delivered on the 20th of June, and contained nothing remarkable or especially characteristic. It was in the main merely the usual Whig argument in favor of the constitutionality of Mr. Clay's "American System."
But, after the nominations at Baltimore and Philadelphia, everybody in either House of Congress who could compose any thing at all" on his legs," or in the closet, felt it incumbent upon him to contribute at least one electioneering speech to the political literature of the day. At last, on the 27th of July, Mr. Lincoln found an opportunity to make his. Few
like it have ever been heard in either of those venerable chambers. It is a common remark of those who know nothing of the subject, that Mr. Lincoln was devoid of imagination ; but the reader of this speech will entertain a different opinion. It opens to us a mind fertile in images sufficiently rare and striking, but of somewhat questionable taste. It must have been heard in amazement by those gentlemen of the House who had never known a Hanks, or seen a New Salem.
SPEECH ON THE PRESIDENCY AND GENERAL POLITICS.
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE, JULY 27, 1848.
MR. SPEAKER, Our Democratic friends seem to be in great distress because they think our candidate for the Presidency don't suit us. Most of them cannot find out that Gen. Taylor has any principles at all; some, however, have discovered that he has one, but that that one is entirely wrong. This one principle is his position on the veto power. The gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Stanton), who has just taken his seat, indeed, has said there is very little, if any, difference on this question between Gen. Taylor and all the Presidents; and he seems to think it sufficient detraction from Gen. Taylor's position on it, that it has nothing new in it. But all others whom I have heard speak assail it furiously. A new member from Kentucky (Mr. Clarke) of very considerable ability, was in particular concern about it. He thought it altogether novel and unprecedented for a President, or a Presidential candidate, to think of approving bills whose constitutionality may not be entirely clear to his own mind. He thinks the ark of our safety is gone, unless Presidents shall always veto such bills as, in their judgment, may be of doubtful constitutionality. However clear Congress may be of their authority to pass any particular act, the gentleman from Kentucky thinks the President must veto it if he has doubts about it. Now, I have neither time nor inclination to argue with the gentleman on the veto power as an original question; but I wish to show that Gen. Taylor, and not he, agrees with the earliest statesmen on this question. When the bill chartering the first Bank of the United States passed Congress, its constitutionality was questioned; Mr. Madison, then in the House of Representatives, as well as others, had opposed it on that ground. Gen. Washington, as President, was called on to approve or reject it. He sought and obtained, on the constitutional question, the separate written opinions of Jefferson, IIamilton, and Edmund Randolph; they then being respectively Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney-General. Hamilton's opinion was for the power; while Randolph's and Jefferson's were both against it. Mr. Jefferson, in his letter dated Feb. 15, 1791, after giving his opinion decid
edly against the constitutionality of that bill, closed with the paragraph which I now read:
“It must be admitted, however, that, unless the President's mind, on a view of every thing which is urged for and against this bill, is tolerably clear that it is unauthorized by the Constitution; if the pro and the con hang so even as to balance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of the Legislature would naturally decide the balance in favor of their opinion; it is chiefly for cases where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the Constitution has placed a check in the negative of the President."
Gen. Taylor's opinion, as expressed in his Allison letter, is as I now read:
"The power given by the veto is a high conservative power, but, in my opinion, should never be exercised, except in cases of clear violation of the Constitution, or manifest haste and want of consideration by Congress.
It is here seen, that, in Mr. Jefferson's opinion, if, on the constitutionality of any given bill, the President doubts, he is not to veto it, as the gentleman from Kentucky would have him to do, but is to defer to Congress, and approve it. And if we compare the opinions of Jefferson and Taylor, as expressed in these paragraphs, we shall find them more exactly alike than we can often find any two expressions having any literal difference. None but interested fault-finders can discover any substantial variation.
But gentlemen on the other side are unanimously agreed that Gen. Taylor has no other principle. They are in utter darkness as to his opinions on any of the questions of policy which occupy the public attention. But is there any doubt as to what he will do on the prominent question, if elected? Not the least. It is not possible to know what he will or would do in every imaginable case, because many questions have passed away, and others doubtless will arise, which none of us have yet thought of; but on the prominent questions of currency, tariff, internal improvements, and Wilmot Proviso, Gen. Taylor's course is at least as well defined as is Gen. Cass's. Why, in their eagerness to get at Gen. Taylor, several Democratic members here have desired to know whether, in case of his election, a bankrupt-law is to be established. Can they tell us Gen. Cass's opinion on this question? (Some member answered, "He is against it.") Ay, how do you know he is? There is nothing about it in the platform, nor elsewhere, that I have seen. If the gentleman knows any thing which I do not, he can show it. But to return: Gen. Taylor, in his Allison letter, says,
"Upon the subject of the tariff, the currency, the improvement of our great highways, rivers, lakes, and harbors, the will of the people, as expressed through their Representatives in Congress, ought to be respected and carried out by the Executive.”
Now, this is the whole matter: in substance, it is this: The people say to Gen. Taylor, "If you are elected, shall we have a national bank?" He
answers, "Your will, gentlemen, not mine.”. -"What about the tariff?" Say yourselves.” -"Shall our rivers and harbors be improved?" "Just as you please.” —“If you desire a bank, an alteration of the tariff, internal improvements, any or all, I will not hinder you: if you do not desire them, I will not attempt to force them on you. Send up your members of Congress from the various districts, with opinions according to your own, and if they are for these measures, or any of them, I shall have nothing to oppose: if they are not for them, I shall not, by any appliances whatever, attempt to dragoon them into their adoption." Now, can there be any difficulty in understanding this? To you, Democrats, it may not seem like principle ; but surely you cannot fail to perceive the position plain enough. The distinction between it and the position of your candidate is broad and obvious, and I admit you have a clear right to show it is wrong, if you can; but you have no right to pretend you cannot see it at all. We see it, and to us it appears like principle, and the best sort of principle at that, the principle
of allowing the people to do as they please with their own business. My friend from Indiana (Mr. C. B. Smith) has aptly asked, "Are you willing to trust the people?" Some of you answered substantially, "We are willing to trust the people; but the President is as much the representative of the people as Congress." In a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he is the representative of the people. He is elected by them as well as Congress is. But can he, in the nature of things, know the wants of the people as well as three hundred other men coming from all the various localities of the nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a Congress? That the Constitution gives the President a negative on legislation, all know; but that this negative should be so combined with platforms and other appliances as to enable him, and, in fact, almost compel him, to take the whole of legislation into his own hands, is what we object to, is what Gen. Taylor objects to, and is what constitutes the broad distinction between you and us. To thus transfer legislation is clearly to take it from those who understan 1 with minuteness the interests of the people, and give it to one who does not and cannot so well understand it. I understand your idea, — that if a Presidential candidate avow his opinion upon a given question, or rather upon all questions, and the people, with full knowledge of this, elect him, they thereby distinctly approve all those opinions. This, though plausible, is a most pernicious deception. By means of it, measures are adopted or rejected contrary to the wishes of the whole of one party, and often nearly half of the other. The process is this: Three, four, or half a dozen questions are prominent at a given time; the party selects its candidate, and he takes his position on each of these questions. On all but one his positions have already been indorsed at former elections, and his party fully committed to them; but that one is new, and a large portion of them are against it. But what are they to do? The whole are strung together, and they must take all or reject all. They cannot take what they like, and leave the