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of the Democratic party, but without the These creditors, becoming uneasy, wished moral effect of victory.
the federal government to assume their On March 4, 1841, was inaugurated as debts. The suggestion was made as early President, Gen'l Wm. H. Harrison, the as 1838, renewed in 1839, and in 1810 befirst Chief Magistrate elected by the Whig came a regular question mixed up with the party, and the first President who was not Presidential election of that year, and a Democrat, since the installation of Gen'l openly engaging the active exertions of Jackson, March 4, 1829. His term was a foreigners. Direct assumption was not short one. He issued a call for a special urged ; indirect by giving the public land session of Congress to convene the 31st of revenue to the States was the mode purMay following, to consider the condition sued, and the one recommended in the of the revenue and finances of the country, message of President Tyler. Mr. Calhoun but did not live to meet it. Taken ill spoke against the measure with more than with a fatal malady during the last days of usual force and clearness, claiming that it March, he died on the 4th of April follow- was unconstitutional and without warrant. ing, having been in office just one month. Mr. Benton on the same side called it a He was succeeded by the Vice-President, squandering of the public patrimony, and John Tyler. Then, for the first time in pointed out its inexpediency in the deour history as a government, the person pleted state of the treasury, apart from its elected to the Vice-Presidency of the other objectionable features. It passed by United States, by the happening of a con- a party vote. tingency provided for in the constitution, This session is remarkable for the insti. had devolved upon him the Presidential tution of the hour rule in the House of office.
Representatives--a very great limitation The twenty-seventh Congress opened in upon the freedom of debate. It was a extra session at the call of the late Presi- Whig measure, adopted to prevent delay dent, May 31, 1841. A Whig member in the enactment of pending bills. It was Vr. White of Kentucky-was elected a rigorous limitation, frequently acting as Speaker of the House of Representatives. a bar to profitable debate and checking The Whigs had a majority of forty-seven members in speeches which really impart in the House and of seven in the Senate, information valuable to the House and the and with the President and Cabinet of the country. No doubt the license of debate same political party presented a harmony has been frequently abused in Congress, as
aspect frequently wanting during the in all other deliberative assemblies, but the three previous administrations. The first incessant use of the previous question, measure of the new dominant party was which cuts off all debate, added to the the repeal of the independent treasury act hour rule which limits a speech to sixty passed at the previous session; and the minutes (constantly reduced by interrupnext in order were bills to establish a sys- tions) frequently results in the transaction tem of bankruptey, and for distribution of of business in ignorance of what they are public land revenue.
The former was about by those who are doing it. more than a bankrupt law; it was practi The rule worked so well in the House, cally an insolvent law for the abolition of for the purpose for which it was devised debts at the will of the debtor. It applied made the majority absolute master of the to all persons in debt, allowed them to body--that Mr. Clay undertook to have institute the proceedings in the district the same rule adopted in the Senate; but where the petitioner resided, allowed con- the determined opposition to it, both by structive notices to creditors in newspapers his political opponents and friends, led to declared the abolition of the debt where the abandonment of the attempt in that effects were surrendered and fraud not chamber. proved; and gave exclusive jurisdiction to Much discussion took place at this gesthe federal courts, at the will of the debtor. sion, over the bill offered in the House of It was framed upon the model of the Eng- Representatives, for the relief of the widow lish insolvent debtors' act of George the of the late President-General HarrisonFourth, and embodied most of the pro- appropriating one year's salary. It was pisions of that act, but substituting a re-strenuously opposed by the Democratic lease from the debt instead of a release members, as unconstitutional, on account frors imprisonment. The bill passed by a of its principle, as creating a private pen. close vote in both Houses,
sion list, and as a dangerous precedent. The land revenue distribution bill of Many able speeches were made against the this session had its origin in the fact that bill
, both in the Senate and House ; among the States and corporations owed about two others, the following extract from the hundred millions to creditors in Europe. speech of an able Senator contains some There debts were in stocks, much depre- interesting facts. He said: “Look at the ciated by the failure in many instances to case of Mr. Jefferson, a man than whom pay the accruing interest-in, some in- no one that ever existed on God's earth stances failure to provide for the principal. were the human family more indebted to.
His furniture and his estate were sold to A difference about a navy-on the puint satisfy his creditors. His posterity was of how much and what kind-had always driven from house and home, and his bones been a point of difference between the two now lay in soil owned by a stranger. His great political parties of the Union, which, family are scattered : some of his descend- under whatsoever names, are always the ants are married in foreign lands. Look same, each preserving its identity in prinat Monroe-the able, the patriotic Monroe, ciples and policy, but here the two parties whose services were revolutionary, whose divided upon an abuse which no one could blood was spilt in the war of Independence, deny or defend. A navy pension fund had whose life was worn out in civil service, been established under the act of 1832, and whose estate has been sold for debt, which was a just and proper law, but on his family scattered, and his daughter the 3d of March, 1837, an act was passed buried in a foreign land. Look at Madi- entitled "An act for the more equitable son, the model of every virtue, public or distribution of the Navy Pension Fund.” private, and he would only mention in That act provided: I. That Invalid naval connection with this subject, his love of pensions should commence and date back order, his economy, and his systematic to the time of receiving the inability, inregularity in all his habits of business. stead of completing the proof. II. It exHe, when his term of eight years had extended the pensions for death to all cases pired, sent a letter to a gentleman (a son of death, whether incurred in the line of of whom is now on this floor) (Mr. Pres- duty or not. III. It extended the widow's ton), enclosing a note of five thousand pensions for life, when five years had been dollars, which he requested him to en- the law both in the army and navy. IV. dorse, and raise the money in Virginia, so It adopted the English system of pensionas to enable him to leave this city, and re- ing children of deceased marines until turn to his modest retreat-his patrimonial they attained their majority. inheritance in that State. General Jack The effect of this law was to absorb and son drew upon the consignee of his cot- bankrupt the navy pension fund, a meriton crop in New Orleans for six thousand torious fund created out of the government dollars to enable him to leave the seat share of prize money, relinquished for that of government without leaving creditors purpose, and to throw the pensions, behind him. These were honored leaders arrears as well as current and future, upon of the republican party. They had all the public treasury, where it was never inbeen Presidents. They had made great tended they were to be. It was to repeal sacrifices, and left the presidency deeply this act, that an amendment was introembarrassed; and yet the republican party duced at this session on the bringing forwho had the power and the strongest dis- ward of the annual appropriation bill for position to relieve their necessities, felt navy pensions, and long and earnest were they had no right to do so by appropri- the debates upon it. The amendment was ating money from the public Treasury. lost, the Senate dividing on party lines, Democracy would not do this. It was the Whigs against and the Democrats for left for the era of federal rule and federal the amendment. The subject is instrucsupremacy-who are now rushing the tive, as then was practically ratified and recountry with steam power into all the enacted the pernicious practice authorized abuses and corruptions of a monarchy, by the act of 1837, of granting pensions to with its pensioned aristocracy—and to en- date from the time of injury and not tail upon the country a civil pension list." from the time of proof; and has grown up
There was an impatient majority in the to such proportions in recent years that House in favor of the passage of the bill. the last act of Congress appropriating The circumstances were averse to delibera- money for arrears of pensions, provided tion-a victorious party, come into power for the payment of such an enormous sum after a heated election, seeing their elected of money that it would have appalled the candidate dying on the threshold of his original projectors of the act of 1837 could administration, poor and beloved : it was a they have seen to what their system has case for feeling more than of judgment, es- led. pecially with the political friends of the Again, at this session, the object of the deceased—but few of whom could follow tariff occupied the attention of Congress. the counsels of the head against the impul. The compromise act, as it was called, of sions of the heart.
1833, which was composed of two partsThe bill passed, and was approved ; and one to last nine years, for the benefit of as predicted, it established a precedent manufactures; the other to last for ever, which has since been followed in every for the benefit of the planting and consimilar case.
suming interest—was passed, as hereinThe subject of naval pensions received before stated, in pursuance of an agreemore than usual consideration at this ses- ment between Mr. Clay and Mr. Calhoun sion. The question arose on the discussion and their respective friends, at the time of the appropriation bill for that purpose. the former was urging the necessity for a
continuance of high tariff for protection |tions very different from what they occuand revenue, and the latter was presenting pied when the compromise act was passed and justifying before Congress the nullifi -then united, now divided—then concurcation ordinance adopted by the Legisla- rent, now antagonistic, and the antagoture of South Carolina. To Mr. Clay and nism general, upon all measures, was to be Mr. Calhoun it was a political necessity, special upon this one. Their connection one to get rid of a stumbling-block (which with the subject made it their function protective tariff had become); the other to to lead off in its consideration; and their escape a personal peril which his nullify: antagonist positions promised sharp ening ordinance had brought upon him, and counters, which did not fail to come. Mr. with both, it was a piece of policy, to Clay said that he “observed that the enable them to combine against Mr. Van Senator from South Carolina based his Buren, by postponing their own conten- abstractions on the theories of books on tion; and a device on the part of its English authorities, and on the arguments author (Mr. Clayton, of Delaware) and urged in favor of free trade by a certain Mr. Clay to preserve the protective system. party in the British Parliament. Now he, It provided for a reduction of a certain per Mr. Clay,) and his friends would not adcentage each year, on the duties for the mit of these authorities being entitled to ensuing nine years, until the revenue was as much weight as the universal practice reduced to 20 per cent. ad valorem on all of nations, which it all parts of the world articles imported into the country. In was found to be in favor of protecting home consequence the revenue was so reduced manufactures to an extent sufficient to that in the last year, there was little more keep them in a flourishing condition. than half what the exigencies of the This was the whole difference. The Senagovornment required, and different modes, tor was in favor of book theory and abby loans and otherwise, were suggested to stractions: he (Mr. Clay) and his friends, meet the deficiency: The Secretary of the were in favor of the universal practice of Treasury had declared the necessity of nations, and the wholesome and necessary loans and taxes to carry on the govern- protection of domestic manufactures." ment; a loan bill for twelve millions had Mr. Calhoun in reply, referring to his been passed; a tariff bill to raise fourteen allusion to the success in the late election millions was depending; and the chairman of the tory party in England, said: “The of the Committee of Ways and Means, Mr. interests, objects, and aims of the tory Millard Fillmore, defended its necessity in party there and the whig party here, are an able speech. His bill proposed twenty identical. The identity of the two parties per cent. additional to the existing duty is remarkable. The tory party are the on certain specified articles, sufficient to patrons of corporate monopolies; and are make up the amount wanted. This en- not you? They are advocates of a high croachment on
much tariff; and ore not you? They are supportvaunted when passed, and which had been ers of a national bank; and are not you ? kept in violate while operating in favor of They are for corn-laws-laws oppressive one of the parties to it, naturally excited to the masses of the people, and favorable complaint and opposition from the other, to their own power; and are not you ? and Mr. Gilmer, of Virginia, in a speech Witness this bill.
The success against the new bill, said: “In referring of that party in England, and of the whig to the compromise act, the true character- party here, is the success of the great istics of that act which recommended it money power, which concentrates the instrongly to him, were that it contemplated terests of the two parties, and identifies that duties were to be levied for revenue their principles.” only, and in the next place to the amount The bill was passed by a large majority, only necessary to the supply of the economi- upon the general ground that the governcal wants of the government. He begged ment must have revenue. leave to call the attention of the committee The chief measure of the session, and the to the principle recognized as the lan- great object of the whig party—the one for guage of the compromise, a principle which which it had labored for ten years—was ought to be recognized in all time to come for the re-charter of a national bank. by every department of the government. Without this all other measures would be It is, that duties to be raised for revenue deemed to be incomplete, and the victoriare to be raised to such an amount only as ous election itself but little better than a is necessary for an economical administra- defeat. The President, while a member of tion of the government. Some incidental the Democratic party, had been opposed protection must necessarily be given, and to the United States Bank; and to overhe, for one, coming from an anti-tariff por- come any objections he might have the tion of the country, would not object to bill was carefuliy prepared, and studiously it."
contrived to avoid the President's objecThe bill went to the Senate where it tions, and save his consistency-a point found Mr. Clay and Mr. Calhoun in posi- I upon which he was exceedingly sensitive.
The democratic members resisted strenu- the establishment of a new party, with Mr. ously, in order to make the measure odious, Tyler as its head; earnest efforts having but successful resistance was impossible. been made in that behalf by many promiIt passed both houses by a close vote; and nent Whigs and Democrats. The entire contrary to all expectation the President cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Webster, disapproved the act, but with such expres- resigned within a few days after the second sions of readiness to approve another bill veto. It was a natural thing for them to which should be free from the objections do, and was not unexpected. Indeed Mr. which he named, as still to keep his party Webster had resolved to tender his resignatogether, and to prevent the resignation of tion also, but on reconsideration determined bis cabinet. In his veto message the to remain and publish his reasons therePresident fell back upon his early opinions for in a letter to the National Intelligencer, against the constitutionality of a national in the following words: bank, so often and so publicly expressed. “Lest any misapprehension should ex
The veto caused consternation among ist, as to the reasons which led me to differ the whig members; and Mr. Clay openly from the course pursued by my late colgave expression to his dissatisfaction, in leagues, I wish to say that I remain in my the debate on the veto message, in terms place, first, because I have seen no sufficient to assert that President Tyler had violated reasons for the dissolution of the late Cabihis faith to the whig party, and had been net, by the voluntary act of its own memled off from them by new associations. bers. I am perfectly persuaded of the abHe said: “And why should not President solute necessity of an institution, under the Tyler have suffered the bill to become a authority of Congress, to aid revenue and law without his signature ? Without financial operations, and to give the country meaning the slightest possible disrespect to the blessings of a good currency and cheap him (nothing is further from my heart than exchanges. Notwithstanding what has the exhibition of any such feeling towards passed, I have confidence that the Presithat distinguished citizen, long my per- dent will co-operate with the legislature in sonal friend), it cannot be forgotten that he overcoming all difficulties in the attaincame into his present office under peculiar ment of these objects; and it is to the circumstances. The people did not foresee union of the Whig party—by which I the contingency which has happened. mean the whole party, the Whig President, They voted for him as Vice President. the Whig Congress, and the Whig people, They did not, therefore, scrutinize his that I look for a realization of our wishes. opinions with the care which they probably I can look nowhere else. In the second ought to have done, and would have done, place if I had seen reasons to resign my if they could have looked into futurity. If office, I should not have done so, without the present state of the fact could have giving the President reasonable notice, and been anticipated—if at Harrisburg, or at affording him time to select the hands to the polls, it had been foreseen that General which he should confide the delicate and Harrison would die in one short month important affairs now pending in this deafter the commencement of his administra- partment.” tion; so that Vice President Tyler would The conduct of the President in the be elevated to the presidential chair; that matter of the vetoes of the two bank bills a bill passed by decisive majorities of the produced revolt against him in the party; first whig Congress, chartering a national and the Whigs of the two Houses of Conbank, would be presented for his sanction; gress held several formal meetings to con. and that he would veto the bill, do I sider what they should do in the new conhazard anything when I express the con- dition of affairs. An address to the people viction that he would not have received a of the United States was resolved upon. solitary vote in the nominating convention, The rejection of the bank bill gave great nor one solitary electoral vote in any State vexation to one side, and equal exultation in the Union ?
to the other. The subject was not perThe vote was taken on the bill over mitted to rest, however; a national bank again, as required by the constitution, and was the life—the vital principle-of the so far from receiving a two-thirds vote, it Whig party, without which it could not received only a bare majority, and was re- live as a party ; it was the power which turned to the House with a message stating was to give them power and the political his objections to it, where it gave rise to and financial control of the Union. A some violent speaking, more directed to second attempt was made, four days after the personal conduct of the President than the veto, to accomplish the end by amendto the objections to the bill stated in his ments to a bill relating to the currency, message. The veto was sustained ; and so which had been introduced early in the ended the second attempt to resuscitate the session. Mr. Sargeant of Pennsylvania, old United States Bank under a new name. moved to strike out all after the enacting This second movement to establish the clause, and insert his amendments, which bank has a secret history. It almost caused I were substantially the same as the vetoed
, except changing the amount of capi. On the contrary, too many proofs have been tal and prohibiting discounts on notes other forced upon our observation to leave us than bills of exchange. The bill was free from the apprehension that the Presipushed to a vote with astonishing rapidity, dent has permitted himself to be beguiled and passed by a decided majority. In the into an opinion that by this exhibition of Senate the bill went to a select committee his prerogative he might be able to divert which reported it back without alteration, the policy of his administration into a as had been foreseen, the committee consist channel which should lead to new political ing entirely of friends of the measure; and combinations, and accomplish results which there was a majority for it on final passage. must overthrow the present divisions of Concurred in by the Senate without alter- party in the country; and finally produce ation, it was returned to the House, and a state of things which those who elected thence referred to the President for his him, at least, have never contemplated. approral or disapproval. It was disapproved and it was promulgated in language In this state of things, the Whigs will intended to mean a repudiation of the naturally look with anxiety to the future, President, a permanent separation of the and inquire what are the actual relations Whig party from him, and to wash their between the President and those who hands of all accountability for his acts. brought him into power; and what, in An opening paragraph of the address set the opinion of their friends in Congress, forth that, for twelve years the Whigs had should be their course hereafter. carried on a contest for the regulation of The President by his withdrawal of confithe currency, the equalization of exchanges, dence from his real friends in Congress the economical administration of the finan- and from the members of his cabinet ; by ces, and the advancement of industry-all his bestowal of it upon others notwithu be accomplished by means of a national standing their notorious opposition to leadbank—declaring these objects to be mis- ing measures of his administrations has understood by no one and the bank itself voluntarily separated himself from those held to be secured in the Presidential elec- by whose exertions and suffrage he was tion, and its establishment the main object elevated to that office through which he of the extra session. The address then has reached his present exalted station. proceeds to state how these plans were
* The consequence is, that those
who brought the President into power can “It is with profound and poignant regret be no longer, in any manner or degree, that we find ourselves called upon to in- justly held responsible or blamed for the Foke your attention to this point. Upon administration of the executive branch of the great and leading measure touching the government; and the President and this question, our anxious endeavors to his advisers should be exclusively hererespond to the earnest prayers of the after deemed accountable.
The nation have been frustrated by an act as conduct of the President has occasioned unlooked for as it is to be lamented. We bitter mortification and deep regret. Shal. grieve to say to you that by the exercise of the party, therefore, yielding to sentiments that power in the constitution which has of despair, abandon its duty, and submit ever been regarded with suspicion, and to defeat and disgrace? Far from sufferoften with odium, by the people-a power ing such dishonorable consequences, the which we had hoped was never to be ex- very disappointment which it has unforhibited on this subject, by a Whig Presi- tunately experienced should serve only to den“We have been defeated in two at- redouble its exertions, and to inspire it tempts to create a fiscal agent, which the with fresh courage to persevere with a wants of the country had demonstrated to spirit unsubdued and a resolution unshakus, in the most absolute form of proof to en, until the prosperity of the country is be eminently necessary and proper in the fully re-established, and its liberties firmly present emergency. Twice have we with secured against all danger from the abuses, the utmost diligence and deliberation encroachments or usurpations of the exmatured a plan for the collection, safe- ecutive department of the government.” keeping and disbursing of the public This was the manifesto, so far as it conmoneys through the agency of a corpora- cerns the repudiation of President Tyler, tion adapted to that end, and twice has it which whig members of Congress put been our fate to encounter the opposition forth: it was answered (under the name of of the President, through the application an address to his constituents) by Mr.
* We are con- Cushing, in a counter special plea-coun. strained to say that we find no ground to ter to it on all points--especially on the justify us in the conviction that the veto main question of which party the Presiof the President has been interposed on dent was to belong to; the manifesto this question solely upon conscientious and of the Whigs assigning him to the dewell-considered opinions of constitutional mocracy-the address of Mr. Cushing, Scruple as to his duty in the case presented. I claiming him for the Whigs. It was es
of the veto power.