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pecially severe on Mr. Clay, as setting up menced his high career-a wide and lumia caucus dictatorship to coerce the Presi- nous horizon before him, and will and dent; and charged that the address em- talent to fill it. He said: “From the year anated from this caucus, and did not enubody 1806, the period of my entering upon this or represent the sentiments of all Whig noble theatre of my public service, with leaders; and referred to Mr. Webster's let- but short intervals, down to the present ter, and his remaining in the cabinet as time, I have been engaged in the service proof of this. But it was without avail of my country. Of the nature and value against the concurrent statements of the of those services which I may have renretiring senators, and the confirmatory dered during my long career of public life, statements of many members of Congress. it does not become me to speak. History, The Whig party recoiled from the Presi- if she deigns to notice me, and posteritydent, and instead of the unity predicted by if a recollection of any humble service Mr. Webster, there was diversity and wide- which I may have rendered, shall be spread dissension. The Whig party re-transmitted to posterity-will be the best, mained with Mr. Clay; Mr. Webster re- truest, and most impartial judges; and to tired, Mr. Cushing was sent on a foreign them I defer for a decision upon their mission, and the President, seeking to en- value. But, upon one subject, I may be ter the democratic ranks, was refused by allowed to speak. As to my public acts them, and left to seek consolation in pri- and public conduct, they are for the judgvacy, for his political errors and omissions. ment of my fellow citizens; but my private
The extra session, called by President motives of action—that which prompted Harrison, held under Mr. Tyler, domi- me to take the part which I may have nated by Mr. Clay, commenced May 31, done, upon great measures during their and ended Sept. 13, 1841--and was replete progress in the national councils, can be with disappointed calculations, and nearly known only to the Great Searcher of the barren of permanent results. The pur- human heart and myself; and I trust I poses for which it was called into being, shall be pardoned for repeating again a failed. The first annual message of Presi- declaration which I made thirty years ago: dent Tyler, at the opening of the regular that whatever error I may have committed session in December, 1841, coming in so --and doubtless I have committed many soon after the termination of the extra ses- during my public service-I may appeal sion, was brief and meagre of topics, with to the Divine Searcher of hearts for the few points of interest.
truth of the declaration which I now make, In the month of March, 1842, Mr. Henry with pride and confidence, that I have Clay resigned his place in the Senate, and been actuated by no personal motives, delivered a valedictory address to that that I have sought no personal aggrandizebody. He had intended this step upon ment—no promotion from the advocacy of the close of the previous presidential cam- those various measures on which I have paign, but had postponed it to take per- been called to act—that I have had an sonal charge of the several measures which eve, a single eye, a heart, a single heart, would be brought before Congress at the ever devoted to what appeared to be the special session--the calling of which he best interests of the country.” foresaw would be necessary. He resigned Mr. Clay led a great party, and for a not on account of age, or infirmity, or dis- long time, whether he dictated to it or not, inclination for public life; but out of dis- and kept it well bound together, without gust-profound and inextinguishable. He the usual means of forming and leading had been basely defeated for the Presi- parties. It was surprising that, without dential nomination, against the wishes of power and patronage, he was able so long the Whig party, of which he was the ac- and so undividedly to keep so great a party knowledged head-he had seen his leading together, and lead it so unresistingly. He measures vetoed by the President whom had great talents, but not equal to some his party had elected the downfall of the whom he led. He had eloquence—superior Bank for which he had so often pledged in popular effect, but not equal in high himself—and the insolent attacks of the oratory to that of some others. But his petty adherents of the administration in temperament was fervid, his will was the two Houses: all these causes acting on strong, and his courage daring; and these his proud and lofty spirit, induced this qualities, added to his talents, gave him withdrawal from public life for which he the lead and supremacy in his party, where was so well fitted.
he was always dominant. The farewell The address opened with a retrospect of address made a deep impression upon the his early entrance into the Senate, and a Senators present; and after its close, Mr. grand encomium upon its powers and dig- Preston brought the ceremony to a conclunity as he had found it, and left it. Mem- sion, by moving an adjournment, which ory went back to that early year, 1806, was agreed to. when just past thirty years of age, he en Again at this session was the subject of tered the United States Senate, and com- the tariff considered, but this time, as a
matter of absolute necessity, to provide a exhibited in its political complexion, serevenue. Never before were the coffers rious losses in the Whig following. The and the credit of the treasury at so low an Democratic candidate for Speaker of the ebb. A deficit of fourteen millions in the House of Representatives, was elected over treasury —4 total inability to borrow, the Whig candidate-the vote standing either at home or abroad, the amount of 128 to 59. Thus an adverse majority of the loan of twelve millions authorized the more than two to one was the result to the year before—the treasury notes below par, Whig party at the first election after the and the revenues from imports inadequate extra session of 1841. The President's and decreasing.
message referred to the treaty which had The compromise act of 1833 in reducing lately been concluded with Great Britain the duties gradually through nine years, relative to the northwestern territory exto a fixed low rate; the act of 1837 in dis- tending to the Columbia river, including tributing the surplus revenue; and the Oregon and settling the boundary lines; continual and continued distribution of and also to a pending treaty with Texas the land revenue, had brought about this for her annexation to the United States; condition of things. The remedy was and concluded with a recommendation sought in a bill increasing the tariff
, and for the establishment of a paper currency suspending the land revenue distribution. to be issued and controlled by the Federal Two such bills were passed in a single government. month, and both vetved by the President. For more than a year before the meeting It was now near the end of August. Con- of the Democratic Presidential Convengress had been in session for an unpre- tion in Baltimore, in May 1814, it was cedentedly long time. Adjournment could evident to leading Democrats that Martin not be deferred, and could not take place Van Buren was the choice of the party. without providing for the Treasury. "The To overcome this popular current and compromise act and the land distribution turn the tide in favor of Mr. Calhoun, who were the stumbling-blocks: it was resolved desired the nomination, resort was had to to sacrifice them together; and a bill was the pending question of the annexation introduced raising the duties above the of Texas. Mr. Van Buren was known to fixed rate of twenty per cent., and that be against it, and Mr. Calhoun for it. To breach of the mutual assurance in relation gain time, the meeting of the convention to the compromise, immediately in terms was postponed from December previous, of the assurance, suspended the land which had been the usual time for holding revenue distribution—to continue it sus- such elections, until the following May. pended while duties abore the compromise The convention met, and consisted of two limit continued to be levied. And as that hundred and sixty-six delegates, a decided has been the case ever since, the distribu- majority of whom were for Mr. Van Buren, tion of the land revenue has been sus- and cast their votes accordingly on the first pended ever since. The bill was passed, ballot. But a chairman had been selected, and approved by the President, and Con- who was adverse to his nomination; and gress thereupon adjourned.
aided by a rule adopted by the convention, The subject of the navy was also under which required a concurrence of two-thirds consideration at this session. The naval to effect a nomination, the opponents of policy of the United States was a question Mr. Van Buren were able to accomplish of party division from the origin of parties his defeat. Mr. Calhoun had, before the in the early years of the government--the meeting of the convention, made known Federal party favoring a strong and his determination, in a public address, not splendid navy, the Republican a moderate to suffer his name to go before that asestablishment, adapted to the purposes of semblage as a candidate for the presidency, defense more than of offense." And this and stated his reasons for so doing, which line of division has continued. Under the were founded mainly on the manner in Whig regime the policy for a reat navy which the convention was constituted; his developed itself. The Secretary of the objections being to the mode of choosing Navy recommended a large increase of delegates, and the manner of their giving ships, seamen and officers, involving a in their votes-he contending for district heavy expense
, though the government elections, and the delegates to vote indiwas not in a condition to warrant any such vidually. South Carolina was not repreexpenditure, and no emergency required sented in the convention. After the first an increase in that branch of the public ballot Mr. Van Buren's vote sensibly deservice
. The vote was taken upon the in- creased, until finally, Mr. James K. Polk, Crease proposed by the Secretary of the who was a candidate for the Vice PresiNary
, and recommended by the President; dency, was brought forward and nominated and it was carried, the yeas and nays being unanimously for the chief office. Mr. well defined by the party line.
Geo. M. Dallas was chosen as his colleague The first session of the twenty-eighth for the Vice Presidency. The nomination Congress
, which convened December 1843, of these gentlemen, neither of whom had
been mentioned until late in the proceed the dissolution of the Union if the rejecings of the convention, for the offices for tion of the annexation should be persewhich they were finally nominated, was a vered in. Responsive resolutions were genuine surprise to the country. No adopted in several States, and meetings voice in favor of it had been heard; and held. The opposition manifested, brought no visible sign in the political horizon had the movement to a stand, and suppressed announced it.
the disunion scheme for the time beingThe Whig convention nominated Henry only to lie in wait for future occasions. Clay, for President; and Theodore Fre- But it was not before the people only that linghuysen for Vice-President.
this scheme for a Southern convention The main issues in the election which with a view to the secession of the slave ensued, were mainly the party ones of States was a matter of discussion; it was Whig and Democrat, modified by the the subject of debate in the Senate; and tariff and Texas questions. It resulted in there it was further disclosed that the the choice of the Democratic candidates, design of the secessionists was to extend who received 170 electoral votes as against the new Southern republic to the Califor105 for their opponents; the popular nias. majority for the Democrats being 238,284, The treaty of annexation was supported in a total vote of 2,834,108. Mr. Clay re- by all the power of the administration, ceived a larger popular vote than had been but failed; and it was rejected by the given at the previous election for the Senate by a two-thirds vote against it. Whig, candidate, showing that he would Following this, a joint resolution was have been elected had he then been the early brought into the House of Reprenominee of his party; though the popular sentatives for the admission of Texas as a vote at this election was largely increased State of the Union, by legislative action ; over that of 1840. It is conceded that the it passed the House by a fair majority, 36 electoral votes of New York State gave but met with opposition in the Senate unthe election to Mr. Polk. It was carried less coupled with a proviso for negotiahy a bare majority; due entirely to the tion and treaty, as a condition precedent. Gubernatorial candidacy of Mr. Silas A bill authorizing the President and a Wright, who had been mentioned for the commissioner to be appointed to agree vice-presidential nomination in connection upon the terms and conditions of said with Mr. Van Buren, but who declined it admission, the question of slavery within after the sacrifice of his friend and col- its limits, its debts, the fixing of boundaleague; and resigning his seat in the ries, and the cession of territory, was Senate, became a candidate for Governor coupled or united with the resolution; and of New York. The election being held at in this shape it was finally agreed to, and the same time as that for president, his became a law, with the concurrence of the name and popularity brought to the presi- President, March 3, 1845. Texas was then dential ticket more than enough votes to in a state of war with Mexico, though make the majority that gave the electoral at that precise point of time an armistice vote of the State to the Democrats. had been agreed upon, looking to a treaty
President Tyler's annual and last mes of peace. The House resolution was for an sage to Congress, in December 1844, con- unqualified admission of the State; the tained, (as did that of the previous year) Senate amendment or bill was for negotiaan elaborate paragraph on the subject of tion; and the bill actually passed would Texas and Mexico; the idea being the not have been concurred in except on the annexation of the former to the Union, and understanding that the incoming Presithe assumption of her causes of grievance dent (whose term began March 4, 1845, against the latter; and a treaty was pend- and who was favorable to negotiation) ing to accomplish these objects." The would act under the bill, and appoint scheme for the annexation of Texas was commissioners accordingly. framed with a double aspect-one looking Contrary to all expectation, the outgoing to the then pending presidential election, President, on the last day of his term, at the other to the separation of the Southern the instigation of his Secretary of State, States ; and as soon as the rejection of the Mr. Calhoun, assumed the execution of treaty was foreseen, and the nominating the act providing for the admission of convention had acted, the disunion aspect Texas—adopted the legislative clausemanifested itself over many of the South- and sent out a special messenger with inern States-beginning with South Carolina. structions. The danger of this had been Before the end of May, a great meeting foreseen, and suggested in the Senate; but took place at Ashley, in that State, to close friends of Mr. Calhoun, speaking for combine the slave States in a convention the administration, and replying to the to unite the Southern States to Texas, if suggestion, indignantly denied it for them, Texas should not be received into the and declared that they would not have the Union; and to invite the President to audacity" to so violate the spirit and inconvene Congress to arrange the terms of tent of the act, or so encroach upon the
rights of the new President. These state- | latter to be slightly in excess of seventeen ments from the friends of the Secretary and millions; and a recommendation for a rePresident that the plan by negotiation vision of the tariff, with a view to revenue would be adopted, quieted the apprehen- as the object, with protection to home insion of those Senators opposed to legislative dustry as the incident. annexation or admission, and thus secured At this session of Congress, the States of their votes, without which the bill would Florida and Iowa were admitted into the have failed of a majority. Thus was Texas Union; the former permitting slavery incorporated into the Union. The legisla- within its borders, the latter denying it. tive proposition sent by Mr. Tyler was ac- Long before this, the free and the slave cepted: Texas became incorporated with States were equal in number, and the practhe United States, and in consequence the tice had grown up — from a feeling of state of war was established between the jealousy and policy to keep them evenly United States and Mexico; it only being a balanced—of admitting one State of each question of time and chance when the character at the same time. Numerically armistice should end and hostilities begin. the free and the slave States were thus Although Mr. Calhoun was not in favor of kept even: in political power a vast inwar with Mexico-he believing that a equality was going on--the increase of money payment would settle the differ- population being so much greater in the ences with that country — the admission northern than in the southern region. of Texas into the Union under the legisla The Ashburton treaty of 1842 omitted to tive annexation clause of the statute, was define the boundary line, and permitted, really his act and not that of the Presi- or rather did not prohibit, the joint occudent's; and he was, in consequence, after-pation of Oregon by British and American wards openly charged in the Senate with settlers. This had been a subject of disbeing the real author of the war which pute for many years. The country on the followed.
Columbia River had been claimed by both. The administration of President Polk Under previous treaties the American opened March 4, 1845; and on the same northern boundary extended “to the latiday, the Senate being convened for the tude of 49 degrees north of the equator, purpose, the cabinet ministers were nomi- and along that parallel indefinitely to the nated and confirmed. In December fol- west.” Attempts were made in 1842 and lowing the 29th Congress was organized. continuing since to 1846, to settle this The House of Representatives, being boundary line, by treaty with Great Britain. largely Democratic, elected the Speaker, It had been assumed that we had a dividby a vote of 120, against 70 for the Whig ing line, made by previous treaty, along candidate. At this session the “Ameri- the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes from can” party–a new political organization the sea to the Rocky mountains. The sub---first made its appearance in the Na-ject so much absorbed public attention, tional councils, having elected six mem- that the Democratic National convention bers of the House of Representatives, four of 1844 in its platform of principles defrom New York and two from Penn- clared for that boundary line, or war as sylvania. The President's first annual the consequence. It became known as the message had for its chief topic, the admis- 54-40 plank, and was a canon of political sion of Texas, then accomplished, and the faith. The negotiations between the govconsequent dissatisfaction of Mexico; and ernments were resumed in August, 1844. referring to the preparations on the part of The Secretary of State, Mr. Calhoun, prothe latter with the apparent intention of posed a line along the parallel of 49 dedeclaring war on the United States, either grees of north latitude to the summit of by an open declaration, or by invading the Rocky mountains and continuing that Texas. The message also stated causes line thence to the Pacific Ocean; and he which would justify this government in made this proposition notwithstanding the taking the initiative in declaring war- fact that the Democratic party-to which he mainly the non-compliance by Mexico belonged-were then in a high state of with the terms of the treaty of indemnity exultation for the boundary of 54 degrees of April 11, 1839. entered into between 40 minutes, and the presidential canvass, that State and this government relative to on the Democratic side, was raging upon injuries to American citizens during the that cry. previous eight years. He also referred to The British Minister declined this prothe fact of a minister having been sent to position in the part that carried the line Mexico to endeavor to bring about a settle- to the ocean, but offered to continue it ment of the differences between the na- from the summit of the mountains to the tions, without a resort to hostilities. The Columbia River, a distance of some three message concluded with a reference to the hundred miles, and then follow the river negotiations with Great Britain relative to to the ocean. This was declined by Mr. the Oregon boundary; a statement of the Calhoun The President had declared in finances and the public debt, showing the l his inaugural address in favor of the 5440
line. He was in a dilemma; to maintain The reason for these impressions was
and the Democrats were not in a position The conduct of the Whig Senators, to make slave territory of it, because it without whose votes the advice would not had just enunciated as one of its cardinal have been given nor the treaty de, was principles, that there was no power in patriotic in preferring their country to Congress to legislate upon slavery in Territotheir party-in preventing a war with ries.” Never did two political parties conGreat Britain—and saving the administra- tend more furiously about nothing. Close tion from itself and its party friends. observers, who had been watching the pro
The second session of the 29th Congress gress of the slavery agitation since its was opened in December, 1847. The inauguration in Congress in 1835, knew it President's message was chiefly in relation to be the means of keeping up an agitation to the war with Mexico, which had been for the benefit of the political parties-the declared by almost a unanimous vote in abolitionists on one side and the disunionCongress. Mr. Calhoun spoke against the ists or nullifiers on the other--to accomdeclaration in the Senate, but did not vote plish their own purposes. This was the upon it. He was sincerely opposed to the celebrated Wilmot Proviso, which for so war, although his conduct had produced it. long a time convulsed the Union; assisted Had he remained in the cabinet, to do in forcing the issue between the North and which he had not concealed his wish, he South on the slavery question, and almost would, no doubt, have labored earnestly caused a dissolution of the Union. The to have prevented it. Many members of proviso was defeated; that chance of the Congress, of the same party with the ad- nullifiers to force the issue was lost; anministration, were extremely averse to the other had to be made, which was speedily war, and had interviews with the President, done, by the introduction into the Senate to see if it was inevitable, before it was de on the 19th February, 1847, by Mr. Calclared. Members were under the impression houn of his new slavery resolutions, dethat the war could not last above three claring the Territories to be the common months,
property of the several States; denying