Imágenes de páginas

“ Jefferson and liberty ?" It should blister the tongue that repeats it, and crimson with shame all who concur in the profanation. Sir, I have reached the point where I mean to give battle to my honorable colleague. “ War to the knife," if he may choose to have it so. He maintains that Gen. Jackson's administration, and that of Mr. Van Buren, was not, and is not, Jeffersonian in its character; or, in other words, that General Jackson and Mr. Van Buren are not “ Democrats of the Jeffersonian school,” because they have both outraged the principles of Mr. Jefferson in making appointments and removals from office : that they have proscribed men for opinion's sake, and ejected them from office against all the principles and practices of that great apostle of liberty. I not only deny these assertions, but I here undertake to disprove them altogether.

Sir, I repeat, for greater perspicuity, that I now here undertake to show that both General Jackson's and Mr. Van Buren's administrations have been far less proscriptive than Mr. Jefferson's was. That great man's principles and practices, on the subject of appointments and removals, have been extensively misunderstood, because they have been misrepresented. I now refer to his own letters for proof of his true doctrine.

He came into office on the 4th of March, 1801. All the offices of the Government were in the hands of the Federalists. That whole party, with a furious desperation, then, if not yet, unequalled in the annals of political warfare, resisted his election. The Republicans, however, taunted as they were as “ greasy Democrats," derided, then as now, with being but as the rabble of the nation, bore him onward, until they placed him in the highest office in the gift of a free people. Intsalled into office, the question instantly arose, what course he would pursue in making appointments and removals from office. The whole Federal party had denounced him: would he now denounce them? The question was soon solved. He drew a distinction between Federalists. 1. The Federalist proper. 2. Those who were called Federalists, but, in fact, were Republicans in principle, but who had been deceived and so made to act with the Federalists, while at heart, they were sound Republicans. The first class or Federalist proper, he rejected on

[ocr errors]

fore, not proper agents under him, to carry out and perpetuate our Republican institutions. The second class (the Federal sect of Republicans, as he termed them) he permitted to participate in the offices, to a certain degree. To show that I have stated Mr. Jefferson's principles with entire and perfect accuracy, I will read from his letter to Mr. Lincoln, dated July 11, 1801 :

“ DEAR Sır : Your favor of the 15th came to hand on the 25th June, and conveyed a great deal of that information which I am anxious' to receive. The consolidation of our fellow-citizens in general, is the great object we ought to keep in view ; and that being once obtained, while we associate with us in affairs to a certain degree, the Federal sect of Republicans, we must strip of all the means of influence, the Essex-Junto and their associate monarchists in every part of the Union. The former differ from us only in the shades of power to be given to the Executive, being with us attached to Republican government. The latter wish to sap the republic by fraud, if they cannot destroy it by force, and to erect an English monarchy in its place; some of them (as Mr. Adams) thinking its corrupt parts should be cleansed away, others (as Mr. Hamilton) thinking that would make it an impracticable machine. We are proceeding gradually in the regeneration of offices and introducing Republicans to some share in them. I do not know that it will be pushed farther than was settled before you went away, except as to Essex men. I must ask you to make out a list of those in office in yours, and the neighboring States, and to furnish me with it. There is a little of this spirit south of the Hudson. I understand that J****** is a very determined one, though in private life amia. ble and honorable ; but amiable monarchists are not safe subjects of Republican confidence.

Our gradual reformations seem to produce good effects everywhere except in Connecticut. Their late session of the Legislature has been more intolerant than all others. We must meet them with equal intolerance. When they will give a share in the State offices, they shall be replaced in a share of the general offices. Till then we must follow their example.

To what degree of participation in the offices, Mr. Jefferson admitted the second class of Federalist, may be seen in his letter of the 11th September, 1804, to Mr. Adams, in which he states, that they were admitted in fair proportion to their number throughout the United States. Sir, I have now spread out before you, as on a map, the opinion and practices of Jefferson. They admit of no cavil and no misunderstanding. Now

[ocr errors]

more intolerant than Mr. Jefferson? When did he say “We must meet them with equal intolerance ?” When did he say to those States who were most opposed to him, and who proscribed all his friends from oflice, “Until you will give a share in the State offices, we will follow your example ?" Never, never ! In my own State, there never was a day or an hour, during his administration, that General Jackson did not retain a greater number of his enemies in office than they would have borne to the number of anti-Jackson men in that State ; and yet, sir, we are told that General Jackson exceeded Mr. Jefferson in intolerance toward his enemies !

How does the same question now stand under the present Administration? Throughout the United States I do verily believe that a majority of the office-holders have been and still are opposed to Mr. Van Buren. The very best estimates that have been made show the fact satisfactorily to every impartial mind. Does this look like proscription for opinion's sake? In my own state the fact has never been denied. In my own district, three out of the five postmasters of the county towns which I represent, are thorough-going Whigs : active, zealous partisans. Some of them made heavy bets against the candidates of the Administration in the last elections. They attended public assemblies out of their respective neighborhoods, and exerted all the influence they possessed in the election. Sir, let me assure my honorable colleague, that if his bill had passed before the last Tennessee elections, it would have cut right and left among his Whig friends in that State. Instead of dealing a deadly blow “on the life-blood of the party there,” it would, have rebounded on the heads of his own friends.

But it is often said, while Mr. Van Buren may have retained an equal number of his enemies in office, it has only been in the inferior ones, such as postmasters. Sir, a postmaster is very far from being an inferior appointment, so far as political results are to be attained. It is, in my judgment, to precisely such officers that General Washington alluded, when he declared he would appoint no person to any office of consequence, who was opposed to the principles



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


through the postoffices that the press exerts its mighty power on the public mind. Every postmaster has it in his power, more or less, to paralize its exertion, by suppressing public documents; or, if he dare not go so far as that, by laying them away upon some dusty shelf, and not handing them out to the people, until regularly and distinctly demanded. On the contrary, a willing postmaster, favorable to the views of one party, may hail his fellow-citizens as they pass, and notify them that letters and packages have arrived at the office, addressed to them, and thus give them a wide and instantaneous circulation. If any man desires to be convinced of all this, let him but examine and inquire at the postoffices after the adjournment of the present session, and see, at some of them, what heaps of letters and documents will remain piled up and undistributed for weeks and perhaps months after their arrival. I mean to look into this practice on my return, and no instance of partiality, such as I am commenting upon, shall go unrebuked. I assure my honorable colleague that even the biography of General Harrison, and the speeches of the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Stanly) with which he has been deluging my district, shall be faithfully and impartially distributed. So far, therefore, as political results are concerned, your postmaster is an officer of the highest consequence; and it is, therefore, the best proof of liberality and toleration, that Mr. Van Buren and General Jackson could have given, to have let in their enemies into an equal if not greater participation in them. A liberality greater than Washington's, or Jefferson's, or any other President's, unless it may be that of Mr. Monroe.

Sir, I have not yet said anything in relation to the opinions of Mr. Madison. My honorable colleague was pleased to hold him up as a most perfect model of a great statesman, whose opinions should make a deep and lasting impression on his countrymen. I concur with him in his high eulogy on that illustrious patriot. Reared in Virginia, that mother of so many presidents, I was early taught, next to that of Washington, to revere the names of Madison and of Jefferson. Then, as now, I paid no homage to the opinions of one which was not paid equally to those of the other. Then, as now, I regarded them safe, at all times, for their countrymen to walk. I now invite my honorable colleague to test his bill by the lights of Mr. Madison's opinions. My honorable colleague has, no doubt, often consoled himself with the belief that he stood foremost of all others, in discovering this favorite remedy for preserving the purity, and securing the freedom, of elections ! But what will be his surprise when I inform him that this same gags remedy was discovered and proposed almost fifty years ago; actually discovered and proposed almost fifty years ago! Yes, sir, there were “ Surgeon Crittendens” then as well as now ! But they were then, as now, pronounced mere empirics; and their quack remedies, rejected and condemned, as they now are; rejected and condemned by Mr. Madison himself, that favorite authority to which the gentleman referred, and on which he so confidently relied. Dropping all figures of speech, I will now give you the recorded opinions of Mr. Madison. I read from Dunlap's Daily Advertiser of January 22, 1791:

“ HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 22, 1791.-Excise bill was under discussion ; Mr. Jackson (I think of Georgia] moved to amend the bill by inserting the following:

And be it further enacted, That if any inspector or other officer, or person concerned in the collection of the revenue to be raised by this act, shall by any message or writing, or in any other manner, persuade or endeavor to persuade, any elector to give, or dissuade, or endeavor to dissuade, any from giving his vote in the choice of any person to be a member of the House of Representatives, member of the Senate, or President of the United States, such inspector, or other person so offending, shall be for ever disabled from holding an office under this act, and shall be subject to a penalty of dollars."

The vote was taken by ayes and noes—ayes 21, noes 37 : Mr. Madison and the celebrated republican, Wm. B. Giles, voting in the negative. Sir, here was the first gay bill ever offered in America. It was confined to those officers concerned in the collection of the revenue, and prohibited an interference only in the election of oertain officers in the Federal Government, and yet it was rejected by a majority of nearly two to one, and by the votes of both Mr. Madison and Mr. Giles, two of the soundest republicans that ever lived in this country. Where now, let me ask, is the boasted authority of Mr. Madison

« AnteriorContinuar »