« AnteriorContinuar »
The Whigs of the United States have a leavy responsibility resting on them in the ipproaching Presidential election. We told that it does not admit of a reasonable loubt that they can elect Zachart Taylor
0 the Presidency if they will. It is qually clear to us, that if he be not elected,
. will be because Whigs—some Whigs— D not possess that measure of disinterest
1 patriotism to rise above mere party and ?rsonal, or sectional views and consideraans. The trial of men's virtue never imes but when they are called on to untain their principles at some sacrifice,
under some discouragement. Many Iiigs are now in this category, and it relins to be seen how they will come out the trial. It is the tendency of party ionization to contract the horizon of ty to the country; at least, this is the •ct on many minds. Party—the sucs of party—the exaltation of party— orae the absorbing objects of thought i desire. An ideal of what the party rht to be, what it ought to have and en
and under what particular auspices its sess and glory should be achieved, ■s possession of the imagination, and (•times quite shuts out other and higher .iderations. It is forgotten, for the • that party is properly only a means
to an end, and is really valuable—nay, is only justifiable—when it is employed as an instrumentality in behalf of the country, and of the whole country. When party becomes selfish—when it becomes ambitious—when it desires to rule for the sake of ruling, or for the profit of ruling, or because it wishes to set up its own idols in the high places of political worship, it must soon lose cast and character in the estimation of all good and wise men. A combination of men to take possession of power for purposes of their own, less comprehensive and catholic than the common good of the whole nation, is something very different from a great and patriotic party. It is a conspiracy, and not a political party.
Those who have composed the Whig party of this country have professed to unite for the purpose of promoting and maintaining certain great and distinctive principles, as being essential to the preservation of our form of government, and the advancement of the real interests and the true prosperity of the nation. When an election is at hand, like that which is now approaching, the proper question for every Whig to ask himself is, whether these principles are likely to be preserved and,— vindicated by our success as a party in t*»'
election. If they will, the way of duty, as well as of party obligation, is plain. There may be many things not quite up to our expectations or desires. We may have seen many things in the management of the affairs of the party organization not at all to our liking. The wrong persons may, in our judgment, have taken the lead, to the discomfiture of wiser and honester men, and to the manifest disadvantage and discredit of the party. The candidate may not be the man of our individual choice; and we may think that those who have been chiefly instrumental in presenting him to us, and disappointing us of our preferences, have designed or hoped to promote some personal, selfish or sectional object or scheme of their own by his elevation. We may even entertain doubts whether the candidate we are to support agrees with us in all our notions about the particular means to be used—the particular measures to be adopted—for advancing the common weal. And, finally, some of us may indulge a shrewd suspicion that once in office his allegiance to country will be suffered in many things to outweigh his allegiance to party. But after all, what concerns us to know is, whether, if our candidate shall be elected, the distinctive principles which belong to us as a party will be likely to be maintained, and the affairs of government conducted with reference to them as a general basis of administration. If this is our faith and confidence upon a view of the whole ground, then we are guilty of a double desertion if we hold back from the support and effort necessary to the success of our candidate; we desert and betray at once both our party and our country.
Intelligent Whigs do not need to be informed what their principles are; but a summary statement of them cannot do the best of us any harm. The great doctrine whick gave us our party designation was that of opposition to Executive usurpations. We hold it to be essential to the success of our free form of government that the President should be kept strictly within the limits of his proper Constitutional authority. Events have shown what fatal mischiefs do and will follow if that high functionary, with the vast patronage which attaches to his office, is permitted v^ overstep the Constitutional boundary
within which his duties lie. He may make himself at once despotic and irresponsible. We have actually seen' a President, weak in everything except in the power of his office, involve the country in war, without and against its own will and judgment, for the purpose of conquest and the acquisition of foreign territory; and all this in the face of the Constitution, which expressly confides the power of declaring war to Congress. Thus, for two years and more, a nation, loving justice and loving peace, is chained to the car of a President, havings petty ambition to figure as the head of a people wise and powerful, carrying death and desolation to the heart, and over the hearths and homes, of an unhappy and imbecile neighbor, for objects of territorial plunder. This is one example to illustrate the strides which Executive arrogance will take if allowed to escape from the Constitution, and to appeal for the sanction of his acts solely to the will of an unreasoting ochlocracy. Whigs set themselves. first of all, at open war against anv and ail assumptions and encroachments of Executive power, under any and all pretence*. From the period of General Jackson's accession to the Presidential office, under the machinations of the Democratic party, encroachment has followed encroachment is this office, with the full sanction and support of that party, until the Republic i* on the point of being converted into th? very worst and most unendurable of all forms of tyranny—the government of an irresponsible and proscriptive party, tL* dominant element of which is found in tin lowest and worst classes of society, cobering by the principle of plunder, andgraag a fearful energy to their power by trating it in the hands of a chief, elective by their suffrages, sera for a limited time, and bound and pledgee to make their pleasure, and the gratiSc of their will and wantonness, the pr end and aim of his administration, such a government, Congress is: but a convenient, or inconvenient, medium interposed between the nation i the ruling chief, through which his<" are made known by a formal regist and through which also his necessary «J plies are furnished. We Whigs was* ■> such government as this. We desire I sec the Congress restored to its ortg*+
powers under the Constitution, and the President confined U> the performance of the proper executive duties of his station. We want no Presidential vetoes on the ordinary legislation of Congress—a business which the Constitution has confided exclusively to that body. We wish to see the exercise of this high conservative power reserved for extraordinary occasions, and used only to correct some manifest and undoubted error, or to arrest some certain and imminent mischief to the Constitution or the country. We do not want to see it used as if the President held a portion of the ordinary legislative power, with a negative on all legislation which is practically absolute. If Congress passes a law to do an act of long-delayed justice to some of our citizens, as in the case of the law passed two years ago to pay moneys honestly due from the Government on account of French spoliations prior to 1800, we do not want to see an Executive veto interposed without one plausible or even decent reason given for it. If Congress chooses to make appropriations for the improvement of rivers and harbors—a power exercised from the foundation of the Government—we want to see the will of Congress stand as the law of the land, in spite of any private opinion to the contrary which the President may happen to entertain. And if Congress, in providing » local government for any of our territo•ies, should insist on preserving all terri.ories now free from the intrusion of lavery, (no new or unused power in this ■overnment,) we want to see such legislaion stand without any intermeddling or ainsaying on the part of the President, ii short, we Whigs want to see the legisition of the country exactly in the hands here the Constitution has placed it. We ant that the country should come back • the habit of looking to Congress, and >t to the President, for the policy which i all prevail amongst us, under the legisre authority, on all questions touching ir internal national affairs—touching the i^ulation of commerce, internal and com3 rcial improvements, the finances, public -dit, revenue and taxation, protection to >rne industry, war, the government of r territorial possessions, and the mear«s proper "for the common defence d the general welfare." This, if we un
derstand anything about it, is a cardinal principle with the Whig party. We want so much of the government of the country, out and out, as the Constitution has confided to Congress, to be and remain in the hands of that body, free from the arbitrary interposition, and equally free from the corrupt blandishments, of the Executive. He who adopts and maintains this great and distinctive principle is a Whig, and all good Whigs will welcome him to their fellowship. It lies at the very foundation, it is of the very essence, of Whig faith, that—except in regard to our foreign relations confided to the President and Senate, in regard to nominations and appointments to office, in regard to the titular command of the army and navy, and in regard to other specified duties properly appertaining to the chief executive office of the Government—the whole policy and conduct of our public affairs have been confided by the Constitution to the control and direction of Congress. There the effective and efficient power ought to reside; there it ought to be independently exercised. The President is required, from time to time, to communicate information to Congress on the state of the nation, in order that that body may act understanding^ in its affairs and interests. Placed as he is, at the centre and head of the administrative affairs of the Government, in the control of its foreign relations, its appointing power, and its executive authority, he is required also to recommend to Congress such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. Beyond this, however, his power over the internal policy and the ordinary legislation of the country does not go. It is the express injunction of the Constitution that "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." There is no third branch— the President is vested with no legislative power. The veto is an executive, and not a legislative power, the necessity and use of which were, and are, perfectly well understood. His formal assent and signature to all laws are required as a proper act of authentication and solemnization. When a law is once passed and perfected, he is called on personally to carry it into execution. By mistake, by oversight, by inconsideration, possibly by passion, or by unreflective sympathy, the law may contemplate some action manifestly wrong and injurious to persons or to parties affected by it, or in violent conflict with the plain provisions of the Constitution. In tender regard of his conscience, and of his sense of personal dignity and propriety, and of right and wrong, it was not thought necessary or wise to compel him to put his name to such a law as if approving of it. He was, therefore, allowed to return it to Congress with his objections—to be passed, if Congress would and could do it, by a two-thirds vote, in spite of his objections. In the hands of an honest and conscientious man, one disposed to obey and abide by the Constitution, this is an innocent power; it is dangerous only when it is clutched by unprincipled men, or by the ambitious instruments of an unprincipled party. To use it as it has been used, as if the President were a third branch of the legislative department of the Government, is a sheer usurpation of power.
We say, again, that the control and direction of our whole national policy, so far as it may be affected by legislation, are, or ought to be, in the hands of Congress, and not in the hands of the Executive; and this is the doctrine of the Whig party. It is in virtue of this principle, this leading article of their political faith, that they assumed the name by which they are designated, as separating them, by a broad mark of distinction, from those who practise on the Tory doctrine and policy of governing as much as possible by the one-man or monarchical power. It is the Democratic party, so calling itself, which exalts the Executive above all other departments and powers in the Government, and supports and defends the President of their choice in every pretension and assumption of power, however monstrous. The history of the present administration is one unbroken proof of the truth of this assertion. And "Democracy" proposes to perpetuate this sort of rule and government; and perpetuated it will be with a vengeance, if Gen. Cass shall be made the successor of Mr. Polk. No two things could be more diametrically opposed to each other, than the cardinal principle of the Whigs in opposing
iSxecutive usurpation, and in insisting ^*egish"
Jative supremacy of Congress,
and the practice, the doctrines, and the policy to be pursued^under the sway of "Democracy," if successful in the coming election. Light that cannot be endured for its intenseness, and darkness that may be felt, are not more opposite.
We have dwelt at some length on this article of Whig faith, because it is both cardinal and fundamental in our creed. It lies at the bottom both of our faith and of our hopes. We are republicans, and this doctrine is the essence of republicanism. We do not want a monarchy disguised under republican forms. We do not want the name of a republic, while at the same time it is Caesar that rules. We believe both in conservatism and in progress; and we can indulge no hope, either of stability on the one hand or of advancement on the other, without this doctrine. Our system is elective and representative, and Congress was so constituted, in its two branches, *s to preserve the popular and representative principle in full vigor, and at the same time give the promise of something like stability to the Government and its policy. We think it indispensable, on all accounts, th« Congress should be maintained in the fu2 and free exercise of all its constitution.. powers; and without this, we see &.' ground of hope for that moderate and wise policy of administration, and for those just measures on which we rely to make us » prosperous and happy people. Eventhave clearly enough demonstrated that 2 the President is to override Congress aac be himself the States—L'Elal, c>*l a* —the will of the nation is of ver. account in the measures that shall be per sued. Personal or sectional views and av terests will govern everything. Anoca tion was an Executive measure, and *» carried by Executive dictation and iotng* against the better judgment of and against the will of the nation. war with Mexico was an Executive i exclusively, about which Congress \ even consulted. There were not t men in both houses of Congress vrhoi have been brought to vote for a \ time when hostilities were acti menced by the President's order; for the people themselves, a vote fo* a measure could not have been or, any one Suite, county, town, district. precinct in the whole Union—at least *•»*