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The majority in the electoral colleges was not, however, a fair test of the measure of approbation bestowed upon his administration. Many of the states were carried by small majorities, and although the electoral votes were more than three to one in his favour; the majority of the popular vote was barely ten per cent. over that cast for his opponents; and even that should be somewhat reduced, on account of the vote of South Carolina, where the electors were chosen by the legislature.
It was thus obvious, that the majority in the electoral colleges was not a fair representative of the support given by the people to the policy of the administration; and when an allowance is made for the votes of those, who were influenced by a grateful sense of the military services of the president, and of those who were governed by sectional views, it may be doubted whether there was any decision as to the merits of his policy, by a majority of the electors; and whether the question of his re-election was not in fact decided upon considerations altogether foreign to those which, by the theory of the government, are supposed to exercise a controlling influence over the popular vote.
In many states the anti-masonic excitement was used to prevent a direct decision by the electors, of the question in issue between the administration and its opponents.
Local and personal partialities, too, had their influence in
distracting the public mind, and the conduct of many of the leading men opposed to the course of the president was not such as to convince the people, that they themselves were so fully impressed with the importance of the crisis as they had professed.
An unwillingness to postpone individual advancement and private views to the good of the cause, was too often evinced in their councils, and the people were naturally led to imitate their leaders. They, too, considered that the elective franchise was not a trust to be exercised for the benefit of the community; but a personal right, or power to be exerted to gratify private feeling.
Their votes, therefore, were not so much the decision of the country upon the constitutionality or propriety of his course, as the expression of popular feeling in favour of the president.
The large majority received by General Jackson in the electoral colleges, however, was by him construed into an unqualified approval by his countrymen of all his measures.
Upon all points, where his course had been questioned by his opponents, his re-election was urged as the final decision of the people, from which there was no appeal.
His policy in relation to the Cherokee Indians,-sanctioning and aiding Georgia in violating the treaties of the federal government, it was said, had been approved of by the people, and
obligations of treaties,
and the injunctions of the constitution, were no longer to be urged in opposition to this final decision.
The rechartering of the United States bank,-a question depending upon the condition of the country, and requiring for a correct decision both financial talents and experience, was (as he declared in his manifesto read to the cabinet) decided by the people, at the presidential elec
All the doubtful measures of his administration were thus thrown upon the responsibility of the people; and instead of defending them upon general principles of expediency, policy or justice, they were to be tried by the simple test, whether they had been made subjects of discussion during the canvass and if so, they had been decided by the popular vote.
Thus summarily disposing of the objections of his opponents, and presuming upon a continuance of the popular favour, the president now determined to take a new and decisive step in consolidating the strength of the party, which had elevated him to the executive chair.
The excitement of the political contest was at an end; nullification was virtually relinquished by South Carolina; and the modification of the tariff had tranquillized the public mind, and put an end to all apprehensions of a collision between that state and the general government.
The angry feelings engendered by the election had subsided, and in a tour, which the presi
dent made through the eastern states in the early part of 1833, both parties united to do honour to the chief magistrate of the republic;-his opponents heartily approving of his course towards South Carolina, and of the principles avowed by him in his proclamation and message, and his supporters giving vent to those feelings, which had originally enlisted them as a party in his favour.
A political calm had succeeded the tempest, and it seemed as if the second term of Gen. Jackson's administration was about to prove as quiet and tranquil, asthe first had been stormy and turbulent. This expectation was not destined to be realized. The cabal that surrounded the president saw too plainly, that their power could only be maintained by political agitation. Without an animated opposition, the passions and prejudices of parties would subside, and they doubted the result of a dispassionate examination of their measures.
It was necessary to take some steps to rouse the decaying embers of party discord, and to consolidate their strength.
The party had no bond of union, and already showed signs of disbanding. A new bond was to be created. The official patronage wielded by the government, although great, and exercising extensive influence, could be conveniently used only at particular periods.
When a vacancy is filled up, the effect is often produced of converting an active and efficient partisan into an official,
awilling to hazard his station by taking too zealous a part in politics. "Ibit eo, quo vis, qui zonam perdidit," is not the prudent exclamation only of the soldier suddenly made rich by an exertion of desperate valour. The political partisan is often stimulated to extraordinary exertions by the hope of reward; and his zeal in the contest is not unfrequently equalled by the prudence, which dictates to the official incumbent, the propriety of not appearing to take too active a part in the contest, and thereby exposing the public to the hazard of losing, in case of an unfavourable result, the services of so valuable an offi
Disappointed applicants, too, could not always be appeased by promises, and too often were the exertions of a successful candidate more than counterbalanced by those, whom he had prevented from being the recipients of executive favour.
It was, therefore, necessary to acquire another species of influence, possessing a more perma nent activity.
The patronage of the government could only be relied upon in emergencies, and was not in itself sufficient to control the opinions of a community with such various interests, and occupying so extensive a country as the United States.
An opportunity was now presented to place in the hands of the executive, the influence so much desired.
By the law creating the United States bank, the public mo
neys were required to be depòsited in its vaults, and as an equivalent for that deposit, the bank assumed the responsibility of acting as the fiscal agent of the government.
In the act, however, it was provided, that the public deposits might be removed by the secretary of the treasury; but requiring him to lay his reasons for removing them immediately before congress.
If these public deposits could be removed from this institution, and be subjected to the discretion of the secretary of the treasury, to be placed in the local banks, and liable to be removed at pleasure, a new influence would be conferred upon the executive, operating upon all the monied institutions of the country, and through them upon the commercial community.
How far these motives influenced the step taken by the executive, shortly after the adjournment of congress, in relation to the public deposits, it is not our province to determine.
Other reasons were urged, as for example, the insecurity of the public moneys in the United States bank; the conduct of the bank in relation to the redemption of the three per cents.; its exaction of damages for the dishonour of the draft for the first instalment under the treaty with France; and its alleged interference with politics.
The first and only proper reason, however, was entirely without foundation, and the other reasons seemed rather the suggestions of prejudice and vindic
tive feeling, than grounds of action for statesmen acting in behalf of the country.
No injustice will, therefore, be done in assigning to the desire of obtaining political influence, a prominent place among the motives, which determined the president, shortly after the adjournment of congress, to remove the public deposits from the United States bank, and to place them in local banks, subject to be removed by the secretary of the treasury.
An attempt had been made to procure the sanction of the congress to this step, at its second
The president in his opening message, and the secretary in his annual report, intimated that there were good grounds to doubt, whether the public moneys were safe in the custody of the bank; but the house of representatives, after a deliberate examination, declared by a vote of 109, to 46, that the public deposits might be safely continued in that institution.
Congress having thus positively refused to authorize the removal, new means were adopted to effect the contemplated end.
The secretary of the treasury, (Louis M'Lane,) who had expressed his determination not to sanction their removal, was transferred to the state department, and Wm. J. Duane, of Pennsylvania, was appointed his successor. It was soon, however, found that Mr. Duane was not willing to act in that matter
without sufficient reasons to sustain him before the world.
The president had urged him, during his northern tour in the summer of 1833, to remove the public moneys from the obnoxious institution, without convincing him of the propriety of the step. He finally obtained from him his consent to appoint Amos Kendall as an agent to inquire into the terms, upon which the local banks would take the public deposits upon the basis of mutual guaranty. This basis, however, was found to be inadmissible. The banks refused to guaranty for each other, and the secretary was soon made to understand, that it was the president's determination to remove the deposits at all hazards.
To this he explicitly refused to lend himself. He even refused to fix a day after the adjournment of congress, for their removal, in case that body did not act upon the subject.
The most he would agree to, was, to remove them in case congress ordered him so to do. In this dilemma, the president convoked the cabinet on the 10th of September, 1833, and laid before its members an exposition of his views upon this important question.
The doctrines advanced in this document were, that the power of the secretary to remove the deposits was unqualified, and not limited to particular contingencies; that the speedy termination of the charter of the bank rendered it incumbent on the secretary to introduce a plan for