« AnteriorContinuar »
in morality sufficiently in the last sixteen years, without the introduction of Texas adventurers among us?
EFFORTS TO EXTEND SLAVERY.
Up to this period secession had made but little perceptible progress. But the archfiend of secession, Mr. Tyler's Secretary of State (Mr. Calhoun), took good care, as you will perceive, to see that the extension of slavery should constitute a prominent feature in the foreground of the negotiation, as a great and momentous issue, upon the result of which the safety and existence of Southern institutions was to depend. He openly proclaimed that the great object of the annexation was for the expansion of slave territory, and consequent increase and continuance of power to the Democracy of the South, and this it was, as I had it from his own lips, that first drove John Quincy Adams into the ranks of the Abolition party. I was at that time in Washington, contesting the seat of the late John W. Jones. Mr. Adams had made a speech, in which he had given utterance to sentiments on the subject of slavery which did not correspond with the views he had been supposed to entertain; for up to that time he had made himself obnoxious to the Abolition party in his district, and they had on several occasions brought forward an Abolition candidate against him.
Upon the adjournment of the House we walked down together, and I took occasion to refer to his remarks (which I do not now precisely recollect), and said I thought he did not mean to say all that his language could imply. "Yes," he replied, "I said it deliberately and purposely." "But," said I, "Mr. Adams, you are not an Abolitionist." "Yes, I am," said he; "I never have been one until now; but when I see the Constitution of my country struck down by
the South for such purposes as are openly avowed, no alternative is left me; I must oppose them with all the means within my reach; I must fight the devil with his own fire; and, to do this effectually, I am obliged to co-operate with the Abolition party, who have been hateful to me heretofore. If the South," he continued, "had consulted her true interests, and followed your counsels on the 21st rule and on this Texas question, their institutions would never have been endangered by the North; but if matters are to take the shape foreshadowed by Mr. Calhoun and others of the Democratic party, then no one can foretell what may be the consequences."
Much more conversation of a similar nature passed between us before we separated; but this is enough to show what influences operated on him, and, through him, on a large portion of the North, over which he exercised more influence than any other living man.
In this connection, and as farther proof, I attach an extract from an editorial of the Charleston Courier (at a later period), the mouth-piece and organ of the whole secession school of politicians, which of itself plainly shows that the purposes and ends of this war was to perpetuate the power of Southern Democracy: "Every battle fought in Mexico, and every dollar spent there, but insures the acquisition of territory which must widen the field of Southern enterprise and power in future. And the final result will be to re-adjust the balance of power in the confederacy so as to give us control over the operations of government in all time to come." This was the only kind of "balance of power" they ever sought-a balance all on one side.
Such a declaration Mr. Calhoun well knew would unavoidably engender an embittered sectional contest, which would necessarily, as it did, more and more unite and ce
ment the South into one common brotherhood of Democracy. He also knew full well that the annexation of Texas, whose independence had not been recognized by Mexico, would necessarily lead to a war with Mexico, provided she felt herself in a condition to resent the outrage upon her well-known right to Texas as a revolted province, and through his instruments at home he raised the cry of "Texas without the Union, rather than the Union without Texas," which soon became the rallying-cry of the Democratic party throughout the Southern States; and it was upon this issue, thus adroitly but mischievously made, that thousands of the Whig party, of easy virtue and shallow brains, were democratized, and through their instrumentality, to the infinite surprise of the nation and the world, Mr. James K. Polk beat Mr. Clay for the Presidency in 1844.
THE STRICT DISCIPLINE IN THE DEMOCRATIC RANKS.
Thus you have seen, though not exactly in chronological order, how and for what purpose Texas was annexed, and how and for what purpose the war with Mexico was made by the Democratic party through their agent and representative, Mr. Polk, and without the sanction of Congress, though then in session. This was made, not because war in itself was at all more desirable to Democracy than to any other people, but because it would lead to acquisition of territory, and to long and angry sectional disputes, and ultimately either to the security of their power under the national government or to a dissolution of the Union, all of which followed as had been anticipated; for whatever else may be said of the Democratic party, it can not be denied that it was the best-organized and the best-drilled party that the world has produced in any age or country; and it never lacked the boldness to do any thing, however mon
strous and violent, or unconstitutional, to accomplish the object of its leaders. One of the distinguishing features that has always marked the difference between the Democratic and Whig parties in this country has been, that the former was never afraid to do what they knew to be wrong to accomplish an end, while the latter was always afraid to do what they knew to be right for the same end.
No army under the lead of the great Napoleon was ever more under his control, or more obedient to his orders, than were the masses of the Democracy to the demands made upon them by the hungry and greedy set of demagogues, their leaders, after the spoils of office, the dispensation of patronage, and the exercise and perpetuation of power; and so far did this well-digested plan succeed that the safety of the Union was then greatly imperiled by the result. I repeat here what I said in my Academy of Music speech in New York in 1859:
"I do not mean to say, because I do not believe that vice and corruption pervade the entire body of Democratic politicians, although there is far too much of it in politicians of all parties, and none are too good to bear watching; but it is the nature and character of their organization, which is the most perfect, compact, and formidable that ever controlled a party, that leads to all these mischiefs; it is the system and policy they pursue, and to which few of them do not subscribe; and when they do not they are excluded from the fleshpots, which is the severest punishment known to their codes-that policy is to make all things bend to success, to sacrifice all things human and holy to the ascendency of party and the perpetuation of power; neither the lights of experience, the peace of the country, the harmony of sections, the preservation of the Constitution, the safety of the Union, the prosperity of the nation, the purity
of the bench, the sanctity of the church, neither one nor all these combined are allowed to break through the serried ranks of their political organization, which has no principle for its basis, and no manly incentive for its conduct."
THE WILMOT PROVISO.
So alarming were the threats of dissolution occasioned by the application of the Wilmot Proviso (which was nothing but the revival of the provisions of the Ordinance of 1787,and for which this same Southern Democracy had themselves just before voted-I believe unanimously or nearly so -when applied to the Territory of Oregon) to all territory acquired from Mexico, of which full notice had been given during the war, and before the territory was acquired, that Mr. Clay, who had resigned his seat in the Senate and retired to private life with a determination never again to engage in the turmoil of political strife, was induced by a lofty spirit of patriotism to leave the comforts of home, which at his advanced age had become essential to his health and repose, to return again to the Senate, once more to still the elements of an approaching political hurricane that threatened to sweep every thing of value in our institutions before it. The result you well know to have been the adoption of the Compromise Measures of 1850.
The adoption of these measures of compromise was hardly a less staggering blow struck at the wicked aims of this. reckless and disloyal party than that struck by General Jackson in 1833, even at the moment that they had indulged in the insane fancy that the time had arrived for a bold outbreak into open revolution. But discomforted and disheartened as they were, the leaders did not lose their courage, for they were always a bold, daring, and desperate set. of men, who had set their hearts on the destruction of a gov