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FOR FEBRUARY, 1852.
LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM H. CRAWFORD,
[CONTINUED FROM THE JUNE NUMBER, 1861.]
We are glad to be able to announce the return to our pages of Colonel J. B. Cobb, of Mississippi, the author of able articles on Jefferson, Macaulay, Irving, &c. &c., which have appeared in the Review. The following paper will be read with no common interest, not only as probably the best extant narration of one of the most exciting chapters in our political history, but as throwing new light upon Whig principles and their great champions. And especially in view of the presidential struggle which this year will witness, and which may present many features analogous to the one here related, we commend it to the attention of the party. The father of our valued contributor, it will be seen, was a warm participator in the scenes described. The name, indeed, seems to be synonymous with high principle and sterling patriotism. -Ed.
PART THREE, IMMEDIATELY on his return from France, of a monarchical, or strongest form of govCrawford was appointed by President Madi- ernment, with Hamilton at their head, had son, Secretary of the War Department. His so far surrendered their original opinions as distinguished services abroad had justly in- to fall into its ranks, determined to test faircreased his popularity with the people of his ly and fully the present Constitution. The own country, and his reputation as a states- Virginia politicians, represented by Madison man rose to its zenith. He had been, for and John Marshall, and the conservatives of many years anterior to his departure for New-York, represented by John Jay, formed France, preëminently the leading member its main pillar. The ultra and radical Deof the Senate, and his opinions and influence, mocrats had not then been gathered into as we have already seen, had not only given that fierce and impracticable phalanx which tone to the politics of a large portion of the was marshaled and controled, a few years country, but had actually opened the way to afterwards, by Thomas Jefferson, though the formation of a new party organization, they had already organized upon the basis that seemed likely to absorb all the better of opposition to the Constitution. This inelements of both the Federal and Democratic strument was adjudged by them to be too parties, as also to reconstruct, in all its ori- centralizing and latitudinous in its main ginal purity, the true Republican party of features, to harmonize with their crude no1790-92, of which Washington had been tions of State sovereignty and independence. the leader. The government was then in There were many who desired to be free its chrysalis state, and this last-named party from all national government, but a large had been formed on the basis laid down by majority decided that there must be some the writers of the Federalist. The advocates permanent confederation of the States. The VOL. IX. NO. II NEW SERIES,
discussion, in convention and in the public signature of Helvidius. This controversy papers, on the powers to be given and the between the chiefs of the constitutional orpowers to be reserved, became zealous and ganization of 1789–90, effectually broke up rancorous, and divided the country into two the composition of parties which originated great parties, which were designated as Fe- at that date, and Madison continued steadderalists and Anti-Federalists. The first fastly to coöperate with the Jeffersonians favored a strong government, and the last until the era of 1816. It is not for us now insisted upon a weak government, or rather, to inquire minutely into the history of the no government at all. The general senti- rival factions which soon sprang up after this ment of the country settled upon a compro- disruption between the adherents of Jeffermise of these extreme opinions. Hamilton son and the elder Adams. The former, and Madison united in support of the pre- however, carried off with them the designasent constitution, and the Democrats of the tion of republicanism; and through the presultra school were left in a hopeless and de- tige of this name, Jeffersonian democracy served minority. This union between these acquired an influence with the nation, which two great men, with Washington as their has, for much the largest portion of the time, common head, formed the foundation on controled its destiny from that day to the which was erected the National Republican present. But the inherent, vital energies party. The high-toned governmental theo- of the government, combined with every ries of the Federalists were so attenuated natural element of greatness, as also with and modified as to harmonize with the con- the strong collateral influence exerted by a servatives of the Virginia school, although conservative national party, have saved the the latter yielded many of the ascetic and institutions of the country from a contamirefined tenets of their sect.
nation of Jacobinism, which otherwise might It was under the guidance of this party have been fatal to their health and existence. that the Constitution was framed, and that It was to this original republican party, the government went into operation. But formed at a time when patriotism could not its compactness was soon invaded.
The dark be questioned, and when the true principles and dangerous principles of the French re- and spirit of the Constitution could not be volution began to sow and scatter dissensions mistaken, that Crawford evidently looked in in the United States. Early in the year his efforts to direct the current and compo1793, war was declared to exist between sition of party organizations, during his senEngland and France, and intense sympathy. atorial career. On his return from France, was excited for the latter, who had so recent- he clearly perceived that such a party had ly been our ally and faithful benefactress in again assumed shape, and, under the lead of the war against the former, which resulted master minds, was rapidly advancing to inin American independence. The proclama- fluence and popularity. The Hartford Contion of President Washington, under date of vention had drawn down upon the factious the 18th of April, asserting neutrality to be remnant of the old Federal party a weight the settled policy of the United States, en-of infamy and obloquy from which it could countered violent opposition, and soon led not recover, and the lapse of a few years to a partial disruption and reorganization of witnessed its final extinction. The Demoparties. Under the auspices of Thomas crats had been seriously confused and disJefferson, a strong French party was formed jointed by the events of a war which, alin this country, and Philadelphia, then the though begun and carried on under their residence of the general government, was immediate auspices, had evidently demonscandalized by the organization of Jacobin strated the inefficiency and impracticability clubs, or Democratic societies, which pro- of their political theories and experiments. mulged doctrines subversive of the true prin- They had been forced to abandon their abciples of the Federal Constitution, and de- surd and silly preference for the gun-boat structive to healthy political sentiment. About system of Jefferson, and to build up and the same time Hamilton published his num- rely upon an efficient naval system, such bers of Pacificus, defending the executive as, years before, had been recommended and proclamation. Madison, now thoroughly advocated by Hamilton and John Adams. detached from his late associations by the in- They were now forced, at the close of that fluence of Jefferson, answered him under the war, to withdraw their opposition to the es
tablishment of a National Bank, and even to its healthful and invigorating influence imyield their constitutional opinions. Their parted a tone and beneficence to the adminleading champion of 1811, Henry Clay, who istrative policy of the country, which induced had then done more to defeat Crawford's unparalleled prosperity, and which placed Bank bill than any other senator, had open- the United States in the class of the world's ly changed his opinions, and was now in greatest nations. Nor was this influence enfavor of the immediate charter of such an tirely effaced even by the whirlwind of radiinstitution. Calhoun reported a bill to that cal democracy, which tore through the land effect early in the year 1816, and declared during the administration of Jackson ; althat a bank only was adapted to meet the though the lustre of a military fame, too financial exigency, although he had been dazzlingly illustrated in the achievements of raised in the strictest sect of Jeffersonism. that victorious hero, not to win popularity Madison himself surrendered a long-con- among a grateful and chivalrous people, at tinued opposition, signed the charter, and any hazard to national interests, had well made Crawford, its principal advocate, bis nigh totally obscured its milder radiance, Secretary of the Treasury. In addition to while it did for ever eclipse and mar the this, they were driven to incorporate high political fortunes of the prominent Whig protective features in the adjustment of the leaders. tariff of 1816, and that, too, not incidentally, As the Presidential term of Mr. Madison but directly, and in so many words, if the was now drawing to its close, the eye of the speeches of Calhoun, and others of its advo- nation was directed to James Monroe as his cates can be admitted as proof of the fact. successor. But the leading politicians of the The war had depressed all the industrial party to which both Monroe and Crawford pursuits of the country, and these called too belonged, did not pretend to disguise their loudly for aid and protection at its close, to preference for the latter. Crawford perempallow politicians to take shelter behind mere torily declined; but when the Congressional fastidious constitutional scruples, or selfish caucus assembled, and proceeded to ballot partisan policy. The emergency required for a nominee, Monroe obtained only a few enlarged and liberal legislation, such as was more votes than Crawford, notwithstanding adapted to the growing importance of a this prompt declination. This result was great nation, and would prove the benefi- exactly what it should have been. Crawford cence and practicability of our system of go-possessed and showed more discernment as vernment. The statesmen of that day met well as more disinterestedness than his the crisis boldly, and the crude theories of friends. The pertinacity of these was both the Jeffersonian school (ever more taught impolitic and untasteful. Monroe was much than practised, even by their founder) re- the more experienced, both as a man and a ceived a decided check and rebuke at the statesman, had served with credit in the very moment that the ancient monster of Revolutionary War, and was evidently the Federalism was finally beaten down and smo- choice, as also the favorite of the nation. It thered. It was just the time to indoctrinate may be true, as Mr. Dudley says in the public sentiment with the safer, more relia- sketch before us, that “it has often been conble, and more vigorous constitutional theories fidently asserted by a great number of exwhich had been already foreshadowed and perienced politicians of that day, that if indicated by Crawford's great speech, in Crawford had permitted his name to have 1811. It was just the time, too, to erect a been put in nomination at that time, he purer and more efficient party. There was might have been elected with perfect ease." a sufficiency of conservative material to be We even think it is probable, from all found in both the Democratic and Federal we have heard, that Crawford might have ranks, to form such party, without incorpo- been of such opinion himself
. Still, we canrating the radicalism of the first, or absorb- not agree that such hypothesis will quite ing the rancorous elements which distin- bear out Mr. Dudley's inference, when he guished the last. The fruit of these events says, that “the event showed the influence was the construction of the National Whig of such a nomination, as it resulted in the party, which, having thus taken root, gra- election of Mr. Monroe." It is our opinion dually emerged into activity and compact that the nomination would not have resulted ness; and for the twelve succeeding years, I in the election of Crawford; for the reason
that we do not believe, under the circum- | why he should have withheld such from the stances, that the people would have been public. The public have a right to know all satisfied with such nomination. There is that can be known of the political connecabundant reason to believe, in view of what tions of such men as Crawford. It is the we have stated, that electoral tickets would duty of those who do know to make all such have been formed for Monroe, despite the known, especially when, in response to a pubcaucus nomination of Crawford. Besides lic call, they essay a biographical sketch. his long experience and revolutionary claims, But there is a cogent and special reason why Monroe had lately won upon the affections we regret that Mr. Dudley should not have of the people by superadding to the arduous been more explicit. It was during the last duties of the State Department those of the term of Monroe's presidency that the policy Department of War, and through this had of the United States respecting foreign nadirected the latter operations of our arms to tions was so elaborately discussed. It was a brilliant and triumphant close. There then that the doctrine of intervention was so would have been great difficulty in resisting seriously mooted among American statessuch appeals as these, before a nation whose men, and measured by precedent and by the first impulse has always be reward with terms of the federal Constitution. The strugcivic honors those who have gained even a gle of the Greeks and of the South American moiety of military fame. The superior quali- republics elicited then deep interest in this fications of Crawford as a statesman would country. Hungary and other European nanot have weighed in the balance with Mon- tions form now the basis of much political roe's military prestige, inconsiderable as it sentiment among the people of the United was, when compared with the dignity of the States, and there is an evident tendency to award which he was about to receive from depart from the safe maxims of the early the popular voice. Nor has the "event" al- fathers of the republic, and to change the ways showed that a caucus nomination " re-policy of the government. The opinions of sulted in the election" of the nominee. Eight such men as Crawford on such questions, years later than this, Crawford did receive and in times like the present, would doubtthe caucus nomination for President, and yet less exert efficient and salutary influence on he barely obtained a sufficiency of electoral a great portion of the public mind. We votes to find his way to the House of Repre- cannot doubt that these opinions were in acsentatives with Jackson and John Quincy cordance with the policy of Washington's proAdams.
clamation in 1793, though there existed conOn the fourth day of March, 1817,James siderable differences in the Monroe Cabinet Monroe succeeded James Madison as Presi- on this subject. We know that John Quincy dent of the United States. He immediately Adams was quite latitudinous, and that Caltendered the office of Secretary of the Trea- houn was very conservative. The President sury to Crawford, and the tender was ac- himself had no settled opinion, if we may cepted. For many years afterward, we lose judge either by his language, his policy, or sight of him as an active politician. The the conflicting testimony of Adams and labors of a ministerial office are wholly in- Calhoun. Each member of his Cabinet, it compatible with party intriguings. Its in- would seem, puts a different construction on cumbent is removed from the sphere of poli- his language, and holds a different interpretical attraction, and is measurably oversha- tation of his motives and his policy; whilst dowed. Consequently, we are wholly unable Hayne, of South Carolina, did not hesitate, to trace our distinguished subject in connec- in after years, to charge the language of tion with the numerous important and start- Monroe as being non-committal, and as havling questions which arose during Monroe's ing been employed merely in the nature of administration, nor do we find such connec- a ruse de guerre. But history, of whatever tion even so much as hinted at in the sketch description, is silent as concerns the opinions of Mr. Dudley. We do not think that it is of Crawford. The only clue to these is to unreasonable to find some fault with such be vaguely gathered from the acts and moveomission. Nobody can doubt that Mr. Dud- ments of his prominent friends in Congress. ley is possessed of all such information; and, Taking, of these, Macon, Randolph, Van in view of the national character of his illus- Buren, and Cobb of Georgia, and such test trious relative, we can see no good reason I would easily unfold his sentiments and views,
Crawford served as Secretary of the Trea- | monious party strife, consequent on the exsury during the entire period of Monroe's tinction of the Federal party, and the dispresidency. We can add nothing to what memberment of the original Democratic Mr. Dudley has so well said of this period party, rendered it unnecessary to assume of his career, and shall therefore dismiss this any distinctive appellation. Still they acted branch of the subject by quoting that gen- steadily together, in opposition alike to the tleman's language :
extremes of Federalism and of Democracy,
respectively represented on the floor of Con“Much of the period during which Mr. Crawford gress by Rufus King and John Randolph ; acted as Secretary of the Treasury,” says Mr. Dud- and the great American system progressed ley, "times were very doubtful; our domestic relations embarrassed, pecuniary difficulties pressing gradually to a happy consummation. There upon the people, home and foreign commerce fuc- was a vitality and an energy then discernible tuating commercial capital deranged, a public in the legislation of Congress, which diffused debt to be managed, and, above all, a miserably life and spirit into all departments of busidepreciated and ruined currency had to be dealt
The nation looked to its government with. The political essayists of those days agreed that it required ceaseless vigilance and profound for proper encouragement and relief under ability to preserve the national estate from bank- the yet depressing influences of the war, and ruptcy. But the public credit was never better at soon the whole country smiled with prosany period of the republic than during his ad- perity, and gave token of speedy release ministration of the affairs of the Treasury. The from the thraldom of cramped legislation. national debt was faithfully discharged, and the burdens of government upon the people were light The spirit of the age
brooked no fastidious and inconsiderable. At the time of the greatest obstruction. Even when the Executive difficulty the estimated and actual receipts of the halted and wavered, the majority of ConTreasury only varied ten per cent., while the estimates of his distinguished predecessors had varied gress came off victorious from every trial of from seventeen to twenty-four per cent. But the strength between them. The black clouds best evidence of his fidelity, zeal
, and ability as a arising from the Missouri question, in 1820, Cabinet officer in this department, was the length shed a passing gloom over the bright prosof time he served; the unbounded confidence re
pect; but patriotism triumphed over fanatiposed in him by Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe, during the whole period of his service; the great cism, though not without an unwary sacriinterest manifested for his retention in that office fice. The internal health of the country by Mr. Gallatin, and Mr. J. Q. Adams' opinion of otherwise was never so great; and it is a his merit, as evinced in his tendering him that office fact worthy of notice, that this very period, during his administration. Such men are rarely when genuine Whig policy and principles deceived in their estimate of character and qualifications."
were decidedly in the ascendent, is now looked back to by all parties as the age
of An almost unnatural lull in political strife good feeling and of golden times. followed on the election of Monroe, and party But the elements of strife were not long dissensions and animosities ceased to disturb wanting. The great Presidential contest of the course of legislation for many years. 1824 afforded ample material with which to The President himself owned no distinctive reconstruct a system of party warfare, alparty creed. A majority of his Cabinet though it is remarkable that no solitary were Republicans, though not allied with political principle was involved in the conthe Jeffersonian or Democratic school, further test. There was no attempt to keep up, but than by association. The Secretary of the every effort to keep down, old party organNavy rather inclined to the Federal tenets, izations. The Federal party, as we have while Mr. Calhoun inclined to the Demo- already remarked, had been extinguished. cratic, though his course of action in Con- The Democratic party had been dismemgress had been widely variant from the as- bered. It had become rude and unfashioncetic teachings of that sect. In both houses able to couple the name of Federalist with of Congress, the Republicans of the Craw- that of any gentleman. A Democrat was ford school of politics were in a decided ma- considered no better than a Jacobin. The jority, controlled the legislation of the coun- words were never heard in political circles. try, and were under the lead of Henry Clay. It was almost impossible to draw a line of They were not then, nor for many years distinction between the aspiring politicians, afterward, known by the name or appella- or to set up any distinctive party standard tion of Whigs. The absence of all acri- by which to judge their opinions. Old mea