« AnteriorContinuar »
the instruments of some tyrannical faction whose design was to overthrow the government, and break up the Union.* With what a revulsion of feeling would he learn the fact, that this assemblage came together only to defeat their own party, from which they differed in not a single articlei of faith or practice. Unable to believe at once in so much folly, he would address himself, perhaps, at the close of the meeting, to some one of the assemblage, whose face and conduct showed intelligence, with the question, "Sir, I am a stranger in your country, but eager to understand your institutions ; will you inform me of the purpose of this vast and enthusiastic assemblage?
Citizen. These citizens are the friends of Mr. Clay. They have assembled here tonight to do him honor.
Stranger. How? By acclamation?
Cit. Yes, and by other means. They mean to defeat the election of General Taylor, the opposing candidate.
Str. Ah! I understand. The famous general, whom all the world knows, is the candidate of the opposite party, Mr. Clay of the Whigs.
Cit. No, sir, (courteously.) General Taylor is the candidate of the Whigs.
Str. And were there no other candidates of the Whigs?
Cit. There were two others—Mr. Webster of Massachusetts, and General Scott, the favorite of the West.
Str. I suppose, then, that the friends of Mr. Webster will hold a great meeting in Massachusetts, and the friends of General Scott in the West, for the same purpose, to honor their own candidate and defeat General Taylor?
Cit. By no means; that would be ridiculous.
Str. Why then is it not ridiculous in the friends of Mr. Clay? Does he occupy a position so peculiar, that what is proper for his friends is ridiculous for those of Mr. Webster or General Scott?
Cit. The case needs explanation. You have heard, perhaps, of the Philadelphia Convention?
* A factimn. pursues an interest wluch 19 not supposed to be the interest of the whole. A party pursues the interest of the nation, as they view it
Cit. The Whigs of the Unix, r a great triumph over their adrcai in Congress—a triumph, sir, of pra pie, in which the majority of the M heartily sympathized with them—b-i' that if they could select a proper cd date, they might possibly elect him t i presidency, and by that means secei Whig ascendency in the national eotaa They met accordingly at Philadelp—' delegates from all the States, ia=i? ceeded to ascertain who, of all the ad dates, was the people's choice; thaitl say, who of them would have the Esj^s of voices. For, it was agreed, ty: party, that whoever received the B»;iJ of votes in a fair convention, sbosM« come the candidate of the whok prt The majority voted for General Ttf* Their choice lay between four caaiiijB two of whom were military men sal * statesmen. Of the two statesmen-" were, indeed, the recognized lead* n representatives of the party—one. i Webster, though a man of vast «!^ could not be taken as a national ootid because it was very certain that hh «1 nation would not be popular in the S^ And it was necessary to the success«" party that the candidate shoald W a nearly equal and diffused pojaM throughout the nation—that he ^* have political friends, strong in •■ bers and in spirit, in every State of '* Union. Now, Mr. Webster's popnis* though sufficient to carry every WwJ New England, was not as power! J! the South. If you are acquainted *& modern history, the reasons of this «■ not be explained to you. The Soatt * not, perhaps, thoroughly understand » own interests ; else Mr. Webster wi'il* as popular there as in New &$**^ Southerners regard him as the repre** tive of the East; which, indeed, he '&<* by-and-by they will know that be * * the representative of the nation. ;* however, is a difficulty which timeo"^* cure. Mr. Webster, in brief, could **■' taken as the sure candidate.
The next candidate in proflu*' * General Scott. You have heard » * splendid achievements in Merico' -V* Well, this commander is held h.T **? who know him to posses! w' qualities of a great soldier and i r* ian, and he adds, moreover, an acplished skill in the management of suit negotiations, that require cour
and magnanimity, tempered by judgt and tact. General Scott is the >rite of the army: our returned ers constantly echo his praises. His ularity was very great, and his friends :>osed that he was the best candidate.
it did not prove so. Out of all the ;s given at the Convention, he received ut a fourth. The body of these votes e from the West. The choice lay between Mr. Clay and General lor—between the commander and the .esman. Both of these had pass
their lives in the service of their
ntry: one in the field, defending
frontiers against the incursions of
Indian tribes, and latterly, in carrying a war of fearful danger, and against greatest odds, in Mexico; the other i battle of opinion, equally arduous and lortant—sustaining the cause of liberty 1 nationality, as it was sustained by ferson and Madison, those grand patrons 1 founders of our institutions. In the ssages of President Jefferson you will i expressed, in great part, that protectant! beneficent policy of which Mr. jy is the distinguished advocate. Each of these great men represents a ase of the heroic character; their qual« are heroic, and yet contrasted. Each admirable, but they affect us differently cording to our predispositions, rhe generous pride and lofty pre-eminence
Mr. Clay's character; his aristocratic aring, his haughty eye, and his irresiste grace, both of manners and of speech, ow him one of nature's noblemen, a man irn to lead and to command. His instinct
character, which is perfect and instanneous, places him at once in a relation
friendship or enmity with those who >me into personal contact with him. His lemies are constant and sincere: his friends •e enthusiastic and devoted; their attenMi is drawn toward him with such intenty, because of his wonderful qualities, ley soon forget everything in the man, nd too easily lose sight in him of the tinciples and interests which he advoates. The crowd of citizens whom you saw ssembled in this room just now, are most >art ardent politicians, strongly engaged on
the Whig side, and for the support of Whig principles, and yet such is their affection for Mr. Clay, they would sooner ruin their party, (which they are now striving to do,) and even with that, ruin the vast interests of commerce and manufactures, nay, ruin themselves even and their private fortunes, than not vote for Mr. Clay. This was the object of the present meeting. These citizens, who are among the best Whigs in the Union, were assembled here to defeat themselves, for the love they bear to Mr. Clay. You may judge from that circumstance, what must be the power and personal influence of the man. He is the minority candidate of the party. It is necessary for the success of the party that the minority candidate should be given up, and that all votes should be united on the other candidate; but sooner than do this, the friends of Mr. Clay have resolved to throw their votes into the sea.
Sir. Sir, you astonish me. But is it not supposed that Mr. Clay has himself instigated this movement?
Cit. That is impossible. He has refused the use of his name to any faction. The honor of the party is his own honor.
Str. Why should he do that? If he thinks himself entitled to the Presidency as the reward of his long service
Cit. You mistake. Men are not called to the Presidency in the acceptance of a reward, but in the performance of a duty. Mr. Clay has no such contemptible opinion of his country's offices as to claim them as one would a salary. As they are honors, they must be freely given, but not demanded: as they are duties, they must be entered upon with anxiety and reluctance, not seized as a perquisite.
None know better the true spirit in which to regard these things, than the minority candidate; he has said "that he would rather be right than be President," meaning, perhaps, that as the most desirable of all things, in point of credit, is to be right, the next is, to have one's merit recognized by some great testimony, as by an appointment to the Presidency.
Str. It strikes me now that his friends' opinion of him was not commensurate with his greatness, or their honor, that they should make a movement by which he was invited to defeat his own party.
Cit. Ah! sir, he is too good a patriot for that, and too great a mind to give in to any littleness. Mr. Clay's honor, as one of the candidates of the Convention, would have been sorely compromised should he have yielded an instant to their suggestions. When the name of General Taylor was offered at the Convention, the principal objection raised against it, and which, while it remained, was insuperable, was that he did not freely commit himself into the hands of the Convention; but it was thought, that if rejected by them,vhe would allow himself to be made an independent candidate, and by that course divide the party, and defeat the election. This objection, urged with great vehemence by the friends of Mr. Clay and others, was removed by General Taylor's explicit committal to the Convention; he would be theirs wholly, to do with as they pleased. Of course, if one of the candidates for nomination was thus bound, all were bound; but our discontented enthusiasts here, seem to have forgotten that point, if indeed they ever took it into consideration. Should it be agreed by one half the Whig party, to set up Mr. Clay, he would not allow himself to be made their candidate; neither would Mr. Webster, nor General Scott. All votes given for these gentlemen are thrown into the sea, and go so far to elect the adversary.
Str. Do you mean the "adversary of souls?"
Cit. No, sir; the adversary of peace. To continue. General Taylor will drawafter him a number of democratic votes. Democratic oommittees have offered him, unconditionally, the votes of their caucuses, and lie has very properly accepted them. The vote of a Democrat is as good, or better, to elect a Whig President than the vote of a Whig. And this, too, was known to the Convention, and it had great weight in procuring the nomination of the General; for when a man is popular with both parties, and is a firm adherent of one, other things being as they should be, he is the candidate, the expediency candidate, as the new phrase has it. You cannot choose but take such a one; to do otherwise were a proof of more enthusiasm than discretion.
Str. I cannot leave meditating the indiscretion of those mistaken citizens! That they should have deliberately gone about
disgracing themselves and their vera leader, by making him the pappc: faction!
Cit. Never concern yourself. H; s bound to be keeping a hospital for '■* politicians. Let it pass. The >J of it is enough, and will last longer But we may learn some good lesso the folly, and so at least give h u a part of history. Convention* »1 just beginning to be understood. ~ are an essential part of our systec cannot dispense with them. But we: learn to organize them properly, '»'•' duct them fairly, and finally to »»,.« in their decisions. To violate dr • of a Convention should be regard ■ kind of minor treason, and such pofcfl as fail of their just and honorab* > herence should suffer a political i<" should be read out of our boots* set down as mercenaries. Why, i ■ party is established for the country'*?"1 is it not contrary to manhood uvirtue, to divide, corrupt, or dte&- 1 A great deal is urged by these discoc* about principles—about adhering it > principles. We had better never ':• power, say these astute moralist?. sacrifice a single principle. Very ;* very heroical, is that saying. Bat o* we at some time acquire power to <* out our principles, they are almost J i* letter. I know, indeed, that a rts*' minority, with right on their «k s bring the country to their mind, and ^ public opinion to aid them, may effect* obstruct and even change the policy Jj corrupt administration ; but in doia£ j| they have not done all. If the Whi?* never to be in office, they will bj-iai^ cease to exist as a party.
Nor are they to insist with a childisi ;f tinacity that their candidate shallgi^*1 all and every point of policy that «s^ entertained by a Whig. If their car.---* is sound at heart, and on difficult < tious defers to the opinion of the ny what more can they ask of him *. T> more were the height of folly—it weKi an indecency, and a kind of tempt-1"-" Providence,who will surely visit such'' ing electors with a Demagogcx » Whig will deny the name of Whig «^ elector because he does not tiuai «■! prohibitory duties, or of a national i»
b ese questions men exercise a latitude >inion; but if any man advocates a \aest policy, or acquiesces in the unreled use of the veto, or holds the docof /kisser /aire, let alone, denying rnment all power to protect or extend 2, or to engage in works of national fit, for the aid of commerce, agriculor manufactures,—why, then, we * that he is a Whig—he is a Democrat le bigot school, in a mischievous sense ercatice.
ut it is proper, perhaps, that I should vou on your guard against a very comi error, an error, too, of great magni■, and of the most injurious effect. It -owing more to be the opinion of our ens, that the success of their policy ends upon the election of such or l a person to the Presidency. Under locratic rule, the President exercises rofold legislative power. Under Whig ■ he is not supposed to exercise any b power. An ultra-democratic Presit regards the veto-power as uncononally his, to be used at his good isure, for his own or for his party's icfit. He assumes a truly legislative ition. Moreover, he thinks it politic to
as much personal influence, by giving 1 withholding of patronage, by the pro>c of aid, and by pledging himself to :h or such a line of policy; and still >re, by a means not rightly understood as L by the people, the power of destroying j political character of any weak memr of Congress, or any aspirant to office, corresponding with his constituents, or rough newspapers in the employment of B party—a vast and potent means of inience: I say he thinks it politic to emay all these means to control elections, d create a ministerial majority in Coness, to carry out any measure of governent that may seem good to himself and s friends. He will demand of his offials to be active on the eve of an election,
the support of some nameless advenirer, who has wriggled himself into favor ', Washington.
Sir. Stop a moment, if you please ; do ou mean to say that office is obtained in lis free nation by intrigue, the intervenon of women, bribing, and button-hold
C'U. To my sorrow, I do, sir. You
must know that we have a peculiar and very numerous clasi of citizens in this country, who go by the name of officeseekers. These unfortunate persons are visited for their sins with a peculiar longing—the longing for office, if it be the most miserable starveling function in tlia world,—still, if it be an office under government, they long. A more singular and uncomfortable malady than this is not to be found noted in the books. It can be compared with none but that dirt-dispepsia which afflicts the negroes of the West Indies, when they long to eat dust and earth, and will even sweep the floor in order to devour the sweepings. The officedispepsia sometimes seizes upon men at middle age in the full vigor of health, and they will even throw up a good business, sell a farm, pawn their mortgages, and hypothecate their stocks, to scrape money to spend in the hotels of Washington, soliciting the miserable boon of a clerk's place, with a salary of six hundred a-year. Such instances are not rare. Sir, I am afraid you will not believe me when I tell you, that for every one of the hundred thousand persons in the pay of government, there are probably five or six who are sick of this odious malady. Thus you have at least half a million of men, and an innumerable multitude of their sympathizing friends, reduced to a condition of moral atrophy, their free-wills extinguished in that of their monstertyrant the government. Now, on the eve of a democratic election, this vast body is converted for the most part into an electioneering army: they persuade and draw over the neutrals, and so turn the scale. As a remark, by-theby, let me suggest, then, if the Whigs, who have been long out of power, should gain the next election by a bare majority, their real numbers must be enormous and embrace two-thirds of the nation at least; seeing that their adversaries, with the aid of this electioneering army, and all other means to boot, could not outvote them. But I grow tedious.
Sir. 0 no; your account is painful but not tedious.
Cit. Now it is a part of good policy that this dreadful endemic of office-seeking, which not only corrupts our government, but creates the greatest unhappiness and discontent, should be abated—at least, that the government itself should cease to be the patron and promoter of it for the evil purposes of faction. To this end all that is necessary, is that our President should, in the first place, make all promotions in the army and navy in the regular order of the service, not allowing himself to be affected by private influence, or personal power, and that for the officers of government he should choose such men as are known to be valuable and honest; and for local offices, such as those of the Post Office and the Revenue, that he should not bestow them merely as rewards for party service, but should, as far as possible, choose such men as are acceptable to the people of the places where they are, and would be chosen by them were they to be elected by vote. And, lastly, he is not to displace a valuable officer merely because he voted against the party of the President. A busy, nois}' demagogue, who neglects his official duties, and passes his whole time in clubs and caucusses, cannot indeed expect to remain in office when there is a better man and a more useful one to fill hi.s place; there are limits beyond which endurance will not carry us—but I think the principle is by this time quite clear to you.
Sir. Yes; but il seems to me a very serious defect in your government, that the appointment to valuable local offices should be in the hands of the President. Why not make them elective?
Oil. There are arguments on both sides. The Constitution provides that Congress shall have power to make the minor offices elective if it pleases, but at present they are by appointment. Touching the question of appointments and removals, our candidate has this grand qualification, that having no party obligations, nor private enmities, he will allow good officers to retain their places, and only expel such as are notoriously intriguing, incapable or corrupt; and there is good reason to believe that he will always prefer such men as are acceptable to the people, and such as will not tamper with public opinion, or labor to corrupt the elections.
Sir. But if it is power that the Whigs want, why should they not use every jneaus to increase their power?
Cit. The power which they w the free unbiassed favor of the M not the interested love of depsdi The Whigs are fully aware that tbe^ of national feeling and opinion is a > side; the}' wish only for a free erps of that opinion. And this we belie*be allowed them if General Taylors friends come into power.
Sir. Sir, I am amazed at the es sions which you use—" allowed us Why, sir, are not the people free!
Cit. Not under the so-calkd *ft cratic rule." Under that rule ta: jority does not govern. For, unds: rule, the President is endowed n legislative as well as an executive ;: He dictates to Congress; he dictta his officials and their friends ; he dittos the party; and through all this dica he is the dictator of the nation, ail: constitutional Executive. IfthePrtaJ and his friends wish to have suppbei war, which they mean to engage is. * England, or with Mexico, or any other c« try—for the acquisition of remou _i mines, or ports of commerce—they ca influence Congress, and so influent*' elections, and so threaten, terrilv.! suppress the free opinion of the > men of their own party, as to oJs such supplies. They can put tk s chinery of the press in motion, to nw* ture public opinion over all the cent*1 and even in Europe, to carry out oj pernicious schemes. And if aJI tfiis uJ and the President and his friends 8 themselves in a minority in Cok» then steps in the veto power. n» • holding it in terror over every W55 of public benefit or private ckinH short, sir, the Executive power, rt army, navy, offices, newspapers, p*' Congress, and the purse at commas- ■■-■ do just what it likes. You see, then- 'J only hope is To Elect As Honbt Mis
It is power, sir, that we want, o* * power to govern and meddle, W- 3
power to let alone and forbear.
gin to think well of that favorise m^ of our Democratic friends, that"' world "—this country at least—"B •,' erned too much." True, indeed "* with our botched up tarirB, ruinffl; •*_ manufacturing interest, and tarns* . that means, the balance of trade ^