Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

grants, that, with their sucklings, were fleeing to us from European bondage? And which of us would not have known that Democrats were not the party to proscribe a man for his creed, and to recall from the dark ages a cry against Popery? If, also, anything disgraceful can be found in our history, you may be sure it originated while the opponents of Democracy possessed power. For instance, the treaty of 1842, by which, on a pretended claim of England, we retroceded to her a portion of Maine, to better England's military connection between New-Brunswick and Canada; bound ourselves also to keep an armed squadron on the pestilential coast of Africa, as a means to free our ships from the right of search which England otherwise insisted on; and in 1850, boun

and in 1850, bound ourselves not to colonize any part of Central America; thereby creating (and I suspect for that object) an insurmountable barrier against annexation thitherward, should the people desire annexation at some future day. I may include in the category every depredation on the Public Treasury by heads of de. partments. Poor Gardiner, who killed himself on conviction of frauds in the Mexican Indemnity Fund, left unpunished Cabinet Ministers more guilty than himself.

When some few years ago, France and England insulted us by proposing to apply to Cuba the interdict which we imposed on ourselves with regard to Central America, a Whig Secretary of State declined the alliance, and the fame of his refusal filled the country with his praise. Had a Democratic Secretary of State performed the same duty, nobody would have deemed the act deserving of special praise ; but coming from an anti-Democratic source, the act was deemed as meritorious as the winning of a foot race by a cripple. History accords thus a few acts by which anti-Democratic statesmen have earned a national

desert, but the specific acts occurred when the actors broke from their party.

910. But self-preservation was never so directly at issue as in the approaching Presidential election. England and France, after warring for ages, found lately a common danger in Russia, and this soon united them in friendship. Every man holds thus some persons as enemies; but when a common danger renders these enemies needful to each other, they become friends. The same principle has operated every four years in binding our States together. The North and South, after defying each other for years, find the need of each other when a President is to be elected, and the common need revives a common friendship. An attempt, however, is now being made to destroy this harmonizing process, and in its stead to array the North against the South in a sectional fight, wherein one is to be conqueror and the other the conquered. When a man is nominated for the Presidency, his character is deteriorated by every effort of our unrestrained press; but in a sectional contest like the present, the worse evil is beginning to exhibit itself-of a blackening at the North the character of the South, and a blackening at the South the character of the North.

$11. When a criminals offences are about to be expiated on the gallows, the catastrophe has been arrived at by approaches so gradual that he would have rejected it as impossible, had the fate been early foretold ; so when Washington warned us against parties founded on geographical distinctions, the generation of his day were inclined to say with Hazael, of old—“is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing ?” Still, after sixty years of almost imperceptible gradations, we are arrived at the worst phase of Washington's warning predictions. Indeed, no man is so

young as not to remember when he could as creditably have denounced a future life, as advocate the sectional divorce which the coming election is sought to substantiate. A man in a passion usually supposes every body sympathizes with him, while probably they are only wondering at his madness. Something like this is the condition of sectionalists. They fill our bookstores with the picture of their candidate on horseback passing over the rocky mountains, in the attitude of Napoleon on crossing the Alps, and they believe that our yeomanry are to be seduced by such a show. The candidates are nothing in the coming election. The principles they represent are the polar star to which patriotism will alone direct its eye, and I scorn to praise or dispraise either candidate. Finally, the coming contest may be summed up in a few words. Our country has long been agitated by an extreme Southern doctrine, which insists that the people of a territory cannot exclude slavery, how much soever they may desire to exclude it; and by an extreme Northern doctrine, that the people of a territory shall not admit slavery, how much soever they desire the admission. The two extremes are equally fierce, and would cleave our Confederacy asunder,--divide it in twain, like the false mother in the Bible, who would divide the living child rather than yield her pretensions; but the Democratic party, like the true mother, are willing to save the Union, on the iniddle ground of letting each locality decide for itself the slavery question. This alone is the issue of the coming election ; and hereafter the hopelessness of riding into power on the honest sympathies of the North against slavery, and the honest prejudices, therefore, of the South will become so apparent, that we inay well hope the disturbing topic, instead of being perpetuated and inveterated by the success of our opponents, will, by their defeat, be driven out of Congress for ever.


[ocr errors]

Sec. 1. We are apt to regard as a severe tax, that some men of every town are compelled, as jurors, to decide the diversified questions of life, liberty, and property, that are several times every year, discussed in the law courts of every county ; forgetting that a vast amount of legal knowledge is thus diffused into society. We are apt to regard as another evil, partisan strife, which, at every election, arrays neighbor against neighbor ; forgetting that we thereby learn the power of rulers and the rights of the people. The legal and political knowledge thus forced upon our population could not be spared without a greater damage to our practical intelligence than a destruction of our common school system, how highly soever we properly prize it.

2. While these considerations should induce us to bear patiently each other's partisan infirmities, the instructiveness of political discussions is impaired by the difficulty which each party experiences in reaching its antagoniststhe newspapers of every party being read by only its own partisans, and every public meeting being composed of those only who are predisposed to believe what the orators of the meeting are to inculcate. But a still worse consequence of the exclusiveness exists in the unfairness of statement and unsoundness of logic which characterize such newspapers and orators, and which escape detection and exposure by reason that they are read and heard by only those who exclude all other means of political information. The impunity of detection corrupts the teachers and infuriates the taught; for, while the taught are gradually

- Published September 2nd, 1856.

wrought into fanaticism by distorted truths and false conclusions, the teachers are incited to greater distortions and more illogical conclusions. The evils never developed themselves so glaringly as at the present moment; one of our parties arguing the coming election on the abstract demerits of slavery and its local extension-questions which the election, however it may eventuate, can influence no more than it can the serfdom of Russia, to say nothing of the impolicy and injustice of our interference in the domestic concerns of another and remote locality. The Free State men in Kansas are not compelled to hold slaves. They are represented as oppressed and down-trodden thereby, while their only real grief is their inability to control other men, who desire to hold slaves, till slavery shall be abolished by the Territorial Legislature. Such is the whole matter which is shaking our Union to its centre, with this addition, that the slaves in question will continue to be slaves, as they always have been, whether they are removed to Kansas or retained in Missouri. Unfortunately, only comparatively few men possess much skill in reasoning, while all possess feelings, sympathies, and passions ; hence political discussions, especially those of the present canvass, are addressed to the emotional instincts of the hearers, rather than to their intellects, and with the intent to inflame rather than to instruct. So vigorously is this bad mode now pursued, that a portion of our citizens deem their Southern brothers monsters that cannot too cruelly be hated or despoiled ; and the sad spectacle has been exhibited of Northern clergymen sending rifles into Kansas for the purpose of murder-joking, also, on the contemplated slaughter, as the Robesperians of France joked, by designating their bloody guillotine as “the little republican window for aristocrats to peep through.”

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »