Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sures and the divisions they had occasioned identified the American name and nation had passed away.

New measures, under with his own strong and heroic character, entirely new and variant circumstances, had were not then known to the nation. His been brought forward ; yet nothing is more only claim to office was based upon the victrue, as we have already intimated, than that tory of New-Orleans; and this alone made all the leading measures of Congress were of him formidable, and gave him a decided adthe genuine Whig stamp, that they involved vantage over his three competitors. the same principles of interpretation, and

With such fearful odds against them, the required the same course of argument in friends of the other candidates sought now their defense, that Whigs have used for the to make favor with the people, by endeavorpast twenty years.

ing to prove each that their candidate was, It will readily suggest itself to every mind par excellence, the true Republican candidate. that a contest for the Presidency under such Crawford's partisans did not stop at this. circumstances would be resolved wholly into They sought to obtain a more thorough ada contest of mere personal preference among vantage by procuring for him a regular cauthe people. The original candidates were cus nomination, according to the ancient John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, usages of the party. It is to be remarked, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay. There in this connection, that Crawford numbered being no party differences between them, the in the ranks of his followers a greater prostrife became one of a peculiarly fierce and portion of the old Jeffersonian Democrats acrimonious character. It was soon exas- than either Adams or Clay, notwithstanding perated and rendered more furious by the his known liberal opinions. These, considerunexpected and unwelcome appearance of a ing themselves as the true standards of fifth competitor, in the person of an illus- genuine Republican orthodoxy, insisted on trious military chieftain, whose hot tempera- assembling a caucus, although they were ment and passionate energies were not likely seriously opposed. They would not listen, to soften the asperity of the contest. This when reminded that, Federalism having long was Andrew Jackson. His appearance on ceased an organized opposition, such a course the field was at once productive of two most was not now necessary to secure the ascendimportant events. It caused the prompt with-ency of the Republican party. They grew drawal of Calhoun, who became the candi- intolerant when told that such a resort to date for Vice-President on the Jackson ticket, party machinery, in the absence of all the and materially weakened the prospects of higher motives for combination, was the eviHenry Clay, by dividing the preferences of dence of an endeavor only to subserve the the West. Jackson had been a senator and purposes of faction, and to give an undue representative in Congress, but had not taken advantage where none was really deserved. even a respectable stand as a politician. It They persisted in their resolve, and called was quite common to ridicule his aspirations together their caucus, on the 14th of Febfor the Presidency as being mere mockery. ruary. The movement resulted in an entire His nomination was generally considered too failure. Out of two hundred and sixty-one absurd to have been made in good faith. It members of Congress, only sixty-four atwould not at first be credited that a man tended the meeting in person, and there notoriously deficient in education, so unin- were two proxies. Crawford, of course, reformed as to the duties of a civilian as to ceived the nomination. Sixty-four out of have resigned several offices with the frank the sixty-six votes were cast for his name; admission of incompetency, fonder of sport but more than half of these were from Virthan of study, and whose training had been ginia, Georgia, and New-York. mainly in the camp or on the frontier, would will contend that such a nomination was be seriously urged for the first office in the entitled to any great authority or weight. Republic, on the single merit of one fortunate It could scarcely make pretension to even battle. Those great qualities of mind, or full and fair party organization, much less rather of will, which afterwards made him to nationality. But its contrivers claimed the most popular and powerful ruler that for it all these, proclaimed it as the regular ever wore the executive mantle, which com- nomination, and invoked all true Republimanded the worship of his friends and the cans to respect and sustain it as such. The admiration of his opponents, and which responses, however, were far from equaling

No one

their expectations; and we think that it was equally popular. But in New-York the will now be readily conceded that the move- result was very different, and the caucus met ment rather injured than benefited Craw- with decided opposition, notwithstanding the ford's prospects for the Presidency. It is efforts and influence of Martin Van Buren. certain that many of his devoted and confi- Van Buren was considered one of the most dential friends inclined to such opinion, and dexterous party managers of that day and among others, one whose letters now lie be- time. His success with the people of Newfore us, written at the time of which they York caused him to be regarded with deep speak. This was Thomas W. Cobb, then interest by the various candidates for the one of the senators from Georgia. He was Presidency. He was at first understood to recognized as the most intimate and favored own some preference for Adams, but his final of Crawford's personal associates, and was decision was in favor of Crawford. There bound to him by every tie of admiration and was much and varied conjecture in connecgratitude. He was attached to Crawford's tion with this decision at the time, even party not only from principle, but from af- among the political friends of the parties. fection for its head. From the time of Crawford had a comprehensive and saga. Crawford's nomination to the day when de- cious eye, and could read men with as much feat and disease consigned him to premature accuracy as most other politicians. Being retirement, Cobb embarked in his cause with at the head of a dominant and powerful a zeal that never flagged or abated, and party in Georgia, he resolved upon a stroke pressed his claims with almost frantic fervor. of policy which, unseemly as it might and He mourned his overthrow with a grief more did appear even to his own friends, it was akin to personal devotion than political at- hoped might win to his support the great tachment; and imbibing, doubtless from State of New-York. This was none other this cause, a settled distaste for public life, than the nomination of Van Buren for the soon afterwards threw up his senatorial Vice-Presidency by the State of Georgia. commission, and retired with his friend to the project was no sooner made known the quiet of private life.

than carried out, for Crawford's wish was It is clear, from the tenor of this gentle- law to his party in that State. The nominaman's letters, that the Crawford caucus had tion was made reluctantly by the Crawford not been followed by such auspicious de party, and was received with laughter and monstrations as hope had flattered his friends ridicule by his old enemies and opponents to expect. He now writes to one of his in Georgia, the Clarkites. The act appeared friends, Dr. Meriwether, that the caucus had so ill-timed and so barefaced, in view of not been productive of very favorable mani-Van Buren's then obscure pretensions, that festations. In fact, this movement seems to the term “Vice-President Van" was jocosely have drawn down upon the Crawford party bandied at every corner, and soon became a the concentrated and increased bitterness of bye-word and slang expression. Long and both the Clay and Calhoun factions, while it cruelly did the Clarkites use it as such gained them no additional strength among against the Crawford party. As an amusthe partisans of Adams. Notwithstanding ing illustration of this, when the next Genethat Calhoun had openly declined for the ral Assembly of the State convened, the Presidency, the newspapers favorable to his Clarkites, being in a decided minority, kept election still kept his name up in connection Van Buren as their standing candidate for with that office, with the evident intention, as all the lower order of appointments, with no Cobb writes, to prevent his supporters from other design than, by thus showing their going over to Crawford ere the coalition with contempt for the nomination, to annoy their Jackson had been definitely effected. The sensitive opponents. There are many now caucus movement was received with appro- living who may remember with a smile the bation only in the States of Virginia and description of tickets that were exhibited and Georgia. North Carolina was not so de- read out on such occasions. They had Van cided, though Macon's influence in that Buren caricatured on them in every possible State was considered sufficient to secure its form. Sometimes it was a half man joined vote. There had never been, even before to a half cat, then half fox and half monkey, the caucus, any doubts as to the preference or half snake and half mink—all bearing of Georgia for Crawford. In Virginia he I some resemblance to the object of ungener

ous and indecent satire. He was designated , majority to the Senate, and a fierce contest on them as “Blue Whisky Van," "Little now ensued. The people were clamorous to Van,” “ Vice-President Van,” and many take into their own hands the election of other nicknames, far more disgraceful to the President. Consequently, a bill to that effect perpetrators than disparaging to Van Buren. passed the lower house, with only a few disIt proved to be the more disgraceful to them senting voices. The Senate promptly rejected from the fact that, in a few years subse- it, when sent up for its concurrence. Scenes quently, the caricaturists and satirists turned of the most intense and rabid excitement to be the cringing partisans of him they had followed, in the midst of which the Legislathus assaulted.

ture adjourned. Popular resentment rose But the policy (whether intended as mere to a resistless height, and the Governor repolicy or a legitimate party maneuvre) did convoked the Legislature, with a view that not succeed. The nomination of Georgia the will of the people might be expressed for the Vice-Presidency met with no response, and executed. But the same scene was reNew-York proved obdurate and refractory, enacted with the same result. The Senate and showed signs of wavering between again defeated the bill, and before any thing Adams and Clay. The Crawford party was done to meet the popular demand, grew desperate, and began bitterly to accuse another and final adjournment occurred. In and denounce Henry Člay. Macon, Cobb, the end, however, the people carried their and others laid to his charge all the injuries point. The manifestations against Crawand reverses they had sustained in New- ford had been too decided; and when the York. But Van Buren did not despair of nominations were made by the Legislature, carrying the State so soon as his party he sustained a signal and crushing overfriends. He was not one to give up without throw. first using serious and zealous efforts to effect This result abundantly foreshadowed the the object in view. “If we can get New-grand finale, so far as Crawford was conYork,” said Cobb, "we shall then be sure of cerned, especially when taken in connection Connecticut, New-Jersey, and Rhode Island. with another untoward event which occurred Without New-York, we are lost.” This opin- during the canyass, and which put a final ion was known to Van Buren, and tending, extinguisher on his chances for election. of course, to confirm him in the like view, ( This event was a sudden and violent attack he went to work to secure the desired object of paralysis, which deprived him for a time with an earnestness and adroitness that had of his speech, his sight, and the use of some seldom failed of success before. There is no of his limbs, and which so shocked his whole question but that personal attachment to nervous system as seriously to impair his Crawford, as well as the usual allowance of memory and to obscure his intellect. This political ambition, influenced Van Buren on sad news effectually depressed the spirits of this occasion. He had long admired Craw- his friends, whilst it raised the hopes of his ford, and now, in the hour of trial, when his enemies. He was forced, in consequence of enemies were about to triumph over his de- this affliction, to give up the business of his feat, the noble exertions and eminent ability office, ceased to appear in public or to receive he brought to bear in the endeavor to save any but select company, and was removed and secure the election of his favorite, must to a delightful cottage in the vicinity of ever excite a kind remembrance in the bo- Washington, in the vain but fond hope that soms of Crawford's family and friends. His the quiet of rural life and the purer

breath efforts, at one time, had come very near the of the country air might induce a speedy point of success. He had now found out convalescence. But that hope was never that Crawford was clearly not the choice of fully gratified. After a struggle of many the people of New-York. Up to this period, months, his speech, to a great extent, was the electors for President in New-York had restored; he regained the use of his limbs, been nominated by the Legislature ; and it and his vision was slightly improved. But was in the Legislature that Van Buren and the great intellect which had once controlled his party, certain of defeat before the people, the opinions of a nation, and had made his now determined to take refuge. The ma- name famous wherever that nation was jority of the House of Representatives was known, had been blighted to a degree which Drainst Crawford. His friends carried a human skill could not reach, and was never

[ocr errors]

again to return with its original strength and club-rooms, in which to plan and direct the lustre.

various schemes,ci party procedure. The The extreme illness of Crawford was not drawing-rooms were thronged alike with the generally known, and the canvass was carried votaries of fashion and the satellites of the on with unabated warmth. There being four different champions; nor were these limited candidates in the field, it was soon ascer- to the sterner sex. The theatre was monotained that there could be no election by the polized by one particular set of partisans in people. Adams and Jackson ran ahead, but regular turn, as the most proper place for for a considerable time it seemed to be un- a public demonstration; but the artificial certain whether, under the constitutional representations of the stage flagged and provision, Clay or Crawford would get to be faded before the real exhibitions of the polithe third candidate before the House of tical drama. The legislative business of Representatives. The State of Louisiana held Congress received little or no attention. the die, and the friends of Clay confidently The members thought about nothing, talked expected that it would be thrown in his favor. about nothing, and wrote home about noBut their calculations were not verified. thing but the Presidential election. CalcuJackson and New-Orleans were associated lations were tortured by each party into by a common glorious link, and the mem- results suited to their own prospects of sucory of his great victory turned fortune in his cess. A letter written by Cobb about the favor, at the very moment that the die was middle of January, to a friend in Georgia, cast. He obtained a majority of her elec- affords a striking illustration of these illutoral vote, and Clay was thus thrown out of sory calculations; and being a legitimate link the contest. This left a small balance in in the history of its time, we shall quote favor of Crawford, who now went into the from it at some length, for the reader's satisHouse of Representatives with an electoral faction :vote nearly two thirds less than that of Jackson, and not quite one half that of Adams.

"Doubtless, in common with others, you feel the

greatest anxiety about the Presidential election, In December, 1824, Congress met. Wash- Recently, few changes have been manifested on ington was the scene of an intense excite- that subject. Every thing has depended, and ment, growing out of the pending election does depend, on the course which the Western for President, and scarcely a day passed that States friendly to Mr. Clay may take. Should some new phase of the contest did not occur, is not desperate. It is impossible to decide

with

they join us, even to the number of two, the game or that a new political trump was not turned certainty whether they will do so. Their conduct up. But the excitement was of a strictly has been extremely mysterious and doubtful. At legitimate character. No threats of violence one time, they led us to believe they would unite by force of arms were resorted to, as in 1801, days ago we received the news that the Kentucky

At another, they are antipodal. Two during a similar contest between Burr and Legislature had instructed their representatives to Jefferson, when it was proclaimed, on the vote for Jackson. This information has brought authority of Jefferson himself, that, in case out five of them, who will do so; the others the House should defeat his election, “ the (seven) have not yet declared. Ohio is divided, Middle States would arm.” Such seditious,

but this morning I have the positive declaration of

one of their most honest and intelligent members, jacobinal sentiments would not have been that they have determined not to vote for Jackson. tolerated at the time in question. But there But it is not settled how they will go between was not less of anxiety or of interest. The Crawford and Adams. The objections made by friends of all three candidates were alike have their root in the state of Crawford's health ;

those friendly to us in both Kentucky and Ohio energetic, and the movements of each party and as an honest man I am bound to admit that

, were watched and sifted with sleepless jeal- although daily improving, it affords cause for obousy. Not a step could be taken, nor a pro-jection. He is very fat, but his speech and vision posal made by one, that was not immediately are imperfect, and the paralysis of his hand contraced and rebutted by the others. Nor was eye is so improved that he sees well enough to

tinues. His speech improves slowly. His right the excitement confined to the members of play whist as well as an old man without spectaCongress. Every citizen of Washington was cles. His band also gets stronger. Yet defect in an electioneerer for the one party or the all these members is but too evident. My brotherother in some shape, and every visitor within in-law, Mr. Scott, has not positively promised to its walls was an active, working partisan. to do so. So also do I think of Mr. Rankin. If,

support him, but I think he has made up his mind The hotels were only so many caucus or however, I am deceived in all these calculations,

(in which I think I am not,). General Jackson will held the power of fixing the desired unioi be elected on the first ballot, - It is true, Maryland | On him, therefore, as is well known, a and Louisiana are now.satd.to be divided, but I

It was know doubt not they will unite gif Jackson, which, with eyes were eagerly fastened. the Western States, secutes his success, inasmuch that he viewed Jackson with unfeigned di as he would have

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ma- trust, that he had held him amenable to th ryland, Southi.. Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi

, censure of Congress for lawless and uncoi Louisiana, Pannessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois

, stitutional conduct as an officer of the arm and Misspisi.. New-York is yet settled for no one. We count sixteen, certain. We want two to make that he never hesitated to pronounce hii a majority, and these we shall get, as I am told by to be unfit for civil office, and that he ha ar intelligent member, Mr. Clarke, upon whose already expressed a determination not t judgèrent I would sooner rely than on Van vote for him. Jackson never expected hir Buren's.

? Should one or two Western States withhold to do so, and with his usual frankness ha their vote from Jackson, Crawford's election is caused it to be proclaimed that such a vot probable

. The New-England States are in exces- by Clay “would be an act of duplicity sive alarm. We have told them that Mr. Adams But the Legislature of Kentucky had ir has no right to calculate on any support from us. structed him to sustain Jackson, and th This is in some measure true. Jackson's strength is such that Adams can gain nothing from him. Jackson party, therefore, built up high hope The Yankees are determined that a President But they little knew the man with whor shall be made.

they were dealing, if they ever suppose “ New-Jersey is willing to join us, if success be that such instructions would guide him an comes probable, and I am assured that five out of further than they might comport with h six of New-England will do so too, when Adams's prospects are blasted. Should Crawford be own judgment. He took, and has eve elected, it will be by a combination of Maine, New- maintained the ground that the Legislatui Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connec- had no right to instruct him, and that h ticut, New-Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Car- felt no more respect for such instruction Ohio. Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and coming from the Legislature, than fror Georgia have nailed their flag, and will sink with any other assemblage of his fellow-citizen: the ship. New-England, if they wish to prevent Under these circumstances, therefore, h the election of Jackson, (and they say they do,) was forced to make a choice between Craw must come to us, for we will not go to them. Colonel Benton is active in our cause, and is likely ford and Adams. Still, the friends of Jack to do us good. Could we hit upon a few great prin- son did not cease to importune him wit ciples, and unite their support with that of Craw- their efforts to obtain his support and influ ford, we should succeed beyond doubt. But the ence for their favorite. It has even bee fact is, we are as much divided as any other peo- shown that some of them advised and re ple. On the whole, I do not feel alarmed, though I am not confident. Here they call me croaker. commended an arrangement by which Cla I say I will not express a confidence which I do should be tempted into his support by th not feel.”

allurements of high office, in case Jacksoj

was made President. On the contrary This letter speaks for itself, and unfolds there has never been exhibited the leas much that is interesting in connection with shadow of proof that the friends of Adam the history of that memorable contest. Con- or Crawford made overtures of any characte gress had now been more than six weeks in to Clay or to any of his friends. That bot] session, and yet there had been no develop- of these were anxious to secure his coöpe ments which could point the result, even to ration by all legitimate means, there can b the most sagacious. There was, indeed, no doubt. There is some reason to thin much to cause Cobb's expression of "mys- that Clay's inclination, as well from thei terious and doubtful," because, so nicely personal as political associations, rather im balanced was the apparent strength of Adams pelled him to a preference for Crawford and Crawford, that the Clay party were But his stern temperament has never bee unable to decide which would prove the warped by private preference contrary t most available to defeat, by a united move- his sense of public duty. His disposition i ment, the election of Andrew Jackson. Thus marked rather with the severe attributes much, it would seem, the majority had re- Roman character, than with the flexile im solved to do from the beginning of the strife; pulses of the softer tempered Greek. but that majority was scattered among three We have seen already that Crawford distinct and unfriendly parties, and Clay health was extremely precarious, and tha

« AnteriorContinuar »