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93. But our constitutions, by giving an equal vote to the ignorant and the intelligent, the selfish and the patriotic, the vicious and the virtuous, must ever subject our elections to the passions of the weak, the prejudices of the ignorant, and the cupidity of the selfish. These evils the enemies among us of equal rights always held up, to defeat the diffusion of political equality, which the Democratic party alone advocated, and has brought to the condition in which it exists among us.
True to its instincts, it now opposes Know-Nothingism, which seeks to circumscribe religious liberty by placing disabilities on Catholics, and to circumscribe political liberty by placing disabilities on the naturalization of foreigners. It opposes, also, Republicanism, which seeks to circumscribe civil liberty by taking from the freemen of Kansas the power over slavery. Democracy assimilates human government to the government of God, which is the highest type of Democracy : He making his sun to shine alike on rich and poor, good and bad, wise and simple ; leaving every person free to work out his own salvation, instead of withholding the means of intoxication, lest a man should become a drunk. ard,-withholding religious liberty, lest he should become an infidel or heretic,—withholding the means of acquiring slaves, lest he should become a slaveholder,—withholding political power from the foreign-born, lest they should use it ignorantly. The first constitutions of all our States were full of such limitations, together with restrictions that deemed the poor ineligible for any office, or to vote therefor at any election ; thus adding to the natural disadvantages of poverty, the artificial disadvantage of political degradation; and to the natural disadvantages of a foreign nativity, the artificial blight of perpetual alienage. To the patriots of our Revolution we are indebted for only the
means of liberty ; while for the equality of privileges which all enjoy, the people of all the States are indebted to Democracy, that, step by step, and item by item, wrenched the privileges from opponents under multitudinous names; for, as the king of Moab thought God might change his purpose if invoked from a new locality, the opponents of political equality have continually thought the Democracy could be vanquished if attacked by a new name.
§ 4. But though Democracy has thus obtained equal privileges for all men, and now alone maintains them unimpaired, it expects to see some persons of foreign birth marshalling themselves with banners, fifes and drums, to vote against the party to which they owe the right to vote at all; it expects to see some religionists voting for those who burnt their churches, destroyed their convents, and outraged their female seminaries; it expects to see some moneyless men voting against the party which alone removed from our elections all property disqualifications; it expects to see some men who prize an exemption from the Maine Law, vote against the party which alone has saved and can save them therefrom; it expects to see some clergymen voting against the party which removed from the Constitution of New York the sarcastic declaration of sixty-nine years standing, that, “ being dedicated to the service of God and the cure of souls, ministers of the gospel should not be diverted from the great duties of their functions; and, therefore, under no pretence whatever, should hold any civil or military office or place;" it expects to see some “free thinkers” vote against the party which prevented infidels from being any longer covertly punished for their infidelity, by a disqualification from being believed under oath as witnesses These adverse votes are necessary consequences of the liberty—civil, reli
gious, and political—which Democracy has secured for all; relying that at least a majority of our citizens will be wise and patriotic enough to protect the privileges after their obtainment. We expect too much of human nature when we expect for the support of liberty many more than a majority,--liberty having never been lost in any country except by the co-operation of those who were to lose it. No Maine law has ever been passed or will be, but by the co-operation of brewers, distillers, grocers, and tiplers ; no new disqualifying naturalization law will ever be passed but by the assistance of naturalized citizens, -and the men who lately were dismissed from the United States armories because Congress refused to pass the Army Bill, voted probably for the Congressmen who thus unpatriotically injured them. But if we deprive men of the power to fool away their rights and liberties, we deprive them of liberty. The case presents a curious dilemma. We sometimes wonder that slaves, when liberated by an invading foe, will desert back to their masters, and fight against their liberators; but the foregoing analogous cases, always transpiring in our midst, prove that such desertion is common to human nature, which crucified the Saviour who came to redeem it, and has ever performed much the same for all its great benefactors. Even the War of our Independence never commanded more than the support of a majority, while our second war with England was worse supported; and in our war with Mexico, while our troops captured the whole country, and it was ours by the law of nations, our Government, by means of a Congressional withholding of supplies, and by political harangues from the pulpits that now send rifles to Kansas, and, in our war with England, said that a religious people could not thank God for victories gained by blood, was literally compelled to purchase a peace at
many millions of dollars, and surrendering back all our conquests but what was deemed a barren waste; lately purchasing back, for ten millions of dollars, a small piece of the territory thus factiously and gratuitously surrendered.
$5. In equalizing religious liberty by giving to every man freedom of conscience, how perniciously soever he
ay abuse it; in equalizing political liberty, by making every man eligible to hold all offices and elect all officers ; in equalizing civil liberty by giving to every man entire control over his conduct, except that he shall not injure other men,—the Democratic party has not always seen clearly the requirement of its own principles, but has groped its way by such lights as it possessed from time to time. We owe to the progressive nature of knowledge that Democracy now sees distinctly, that the highest attainable civil liberty for all, consists in permitting every organized locality, Territorial and State, to regulate its own domestic institutions, slavery included. The doctrine originated in our own State ;* and self-complacency may well become New-Yorkers, when the election of Buchanan shall evince that the doctrine is sanctioned by our Confederacy. It constitutes the sole issue of the coming election, and no doubt will be sustained by a large electoral majority. But the election of Buchanan is not enough; he must have a Congress to support him, and State Legislatures to sustain Congress. We must show that enough thinking men exist among us to indulge weak brethren-Abolitionists, Freesoilers, Know-Nothings, Maine Lawists, political clergymen, &c.—in all the vagaries of fanatacism; to indulge foreign-born citizens in all the mistakes consequent to ignorance of our complicated governments; to indulge the most licentious press the world ever saw, in its tirades
* See “ The Wilmot Proviso," p. 9.
of disunion, illogic, and madness; to indulge even the paper self-called the head of American journalism, in its licen tious advocacy of a union of all discordant factions for the sole purpose of securing the spoils of office; and finally, to indulge in his dilemma even the smitten Senator who will not oblige his political friends by dying, or his political enemies by getting well, but keeps both results in painful suspense.
THE VETO POWER OF THE PRESIDENT. *
Every bill which shall have passed both Houses of Congress, must be presented to the President before it can become a law :-“If he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that House in which it shall have originated.” This simple mandate of the Constitution, a latitudinarian construction attempts to dwindle into a power of rejection, only when a bill shall be unconstitutional; or the two Houses of Congress shall have passed it without due deliberation. To thus relax the veto seems to diminish the powers of Government, and we become surprised at finding the relaxation among the tenets of politicians who characteristically enlarge the powers of Government; but our surprise will cease if we remember that the relaxation diminishes restraints on the Legislature, the only usurping branch of our Government; hence the means of usurpation become increased, just in proportion as the veto power becomes diminished.
A President who subordinates his will to the will of Congress, subordinates the people to their servants.
A Representative in Congress represents the two hundred
* Published February 1st, 1851.