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Of the Giles County Van Buren Committees, to the Voters of
Fellow-Citizens: In pursuance of our appointment, and in discharge of the duties it enjoins, the undersigned beg leave to address you on the absorbing topic of the Presidential election. We are fully apprised of the great solicitude which the people of Tennessee now feel in that event. We remember well, for we participated with you in the feeling, how warmly you exulted on two former occasions, in the election of your most illustrious citizen to that high office. We reinember, too, how eagerly the citizens of Tennessee caught at the very first suggestion, that they might furnish a successor in the person of Judge White, and know well how reluctantly they will part with the expectation of being able to do so, whilst a single ray of hope is left to brighten and illumine the prospect-all this was perfectly natural, and might well be expected of a generous and confiding people, grateful for long continued and faithful public services,
Experience has, however, long since taught us, that our first impressions are not always the best ones; and that in a government like ours, it is often dangerous to follow the suggestions of local partialities. When, in 1824, the ancient Commonwealth of Virginia, with incautious attachment to her Southern favorite, cast her vote against Gen. Jackson, little did she think of the years of bitterness and sorrow she would have on her own favorite and talented citizen, when there was no rational hope of his success, little did she suspect that she was bringing shame and defeat on the great republican cause, whose principles she had always sustained with such gallant devotion ! Believing, as we do, that if Tennessee errs in the coming election, it will be on the same ground; and being solemnly convinced that such error must be followed by the same bitter consequences, we feel disposed to appeal to our fellowcitizens to review their first impressions, and to examine, with care, the various topics fairly involved in the approaching election. We propose to discuss those topics on the present occasion—temperately, but freely—to assume no fact which we do not believe to be true, and to draw no conclusions not fairly warranted by those facts. We propose to reason, not to abuse; to argue, not to apbraid. We should despise to wear the laurels of invective, when temperate and fair argument could not achieve the victory. In Tennessee, at the present moment, there is peculiar difficulty in observing the proper courtesies of debate. In our public addresses, in our newspaper communications, and even in our ordinary conversational arguments, there is evidently wanting that mutual concession and forbearance, which leave the social relations of life uninjured, however vehement the debate, or however wide the difference of opinion. This defect does not arise from any irritability of temper, so much as from the great unanimity of sentiment that has heretofore prevailed amongst us, in relation to Presidential elections. All, or nearly all, of us have been heretofore in favor of our present Chief Magistrate of the man and his measures. Until now, we have undergone no discipline in the school of controversy, where, if we prove truant to its stern and rigid rules, we can expect nothing but friendships severed, and the kindest associations of life sundered forever.
There are but two candidates who seem to occupy much of the attention of the people of Tennessee in the present election, and both claim to be members of the Republican party. The friends of Mr. Van Buren claim for him greater acceptability, and the earliest designation by that party as its candihis designation, and insist that all caucus nominations, being unauthorized by the laws of the land, or by the Constitution, are inconsistent with the freedom of elections, and dangerous to the liberties of the country. This we believe to be a fair statement of the original issue between the parties, whatever form more recent events may have given to the controversy. It will be a matter of surprise to the future historian, to find how much of this controversy was made to turn on the mode, or manner, by which their respective claims have been brought before the public by their friends. The right man ought always to be elected, however wrong his nomination. No imprudence of himself or friends, either in the time or manner of bringing him forward, ought ever to defeat the election of a candidate whose claims were superior to those of his competitor. But as to the mode of nomination, but little difference is perceivable. Both were nominated by a caucus; Judge White by a legislative caucus, Mr. Van Buren by a national one.
Both were equally self-constituted, and both therefore equally irresponsible. The members of the Alabama Legislature did not pretend to represent their constituents in their conditional nomination of Judge White; and if they had, it would have been notorious to the whole world, that they were never delegated for that purpose. They could only presume to announce their own opinions, and what they supposed the opinions of the people of Alabama to be; and, therefore, their nomination did furnish some evidence of public sentiment in Alabama, in relation to the Presidency. So would the declaration of the four or five hundred persons, whether rendered as delegates or as individuals, who assembled at Baltimore, furnish like presumption of the state of public sentiment in the United States. Neither could nor was intended to be final nor binding on the people; both were intended only to be introductory and persuqsive; neither was valid, unless ultmately confirmed by the people.
Whilst Judge White is compelled to date his designation, as a candidate, from the period of his Alabama nomination, all candid and well informed persons must admit that Mr. Van
run by the Republican party, long before the Baltimore nomination. The opposition saw it whilst he was a member of Gen. Jackson's cabinet. They saw it when they rejected his nomination as minister to England. They saw it in the overwhelming vote by which the party elected him to the second office of the government. It was so declared in the public journals of the day, and was perceivable from the debates on the floor of Congress. No one man in America was taken by surprise, for all men anticipated that he would be run by the party. On the other hand, no one can pretend that there was the slightest anticipation, either by friends or enemies, that Judge White would be brought forward.
The proceedings by Alabama were like “a clap of thunder in a clear sky," with no previous glare of the lightning to announce its approach. As to priority of designation, it is, therefore, fair to say, Mr. Van Buren has the advantage of Judge White. As to the mode of presentation, if Judge White rely on primary assemblies of the people, Mr. Van Buren, before and since his nomination at Baltimore, can outnumber him in that way. If he rely on legislative nominations, Mr. Van Buren has an equal, if not a greater number in his favor. If he rely on the caucus of the “immortal eleven,” Mr. Van Buren can cast off all the objectionable votes given in the Baltimore Convention, and still hold up that nomination, all be-ruckered, as it may be, as an hundred fold better than that of Bell, Crockett & Co. We believe the plain truth of this part of the subject is, that whilst some common enemy of the party was expected to take the field against Mr. Van Buren, the whole party, to a man, Judge White and all his friends, were resolved to stand undivided and unflinching in his favor. Then no one of the Republican party denied to Mr. Van Buren the possession of abilities of a very high order. Who, then, complained of his tergiversations and inconsistencies as a politician? Who branded him then, with the odious epithet of Abolitionist, alhougth every one knew what his course had been on the Missouri question ? Who of all his associates in politics, (Judge White amongst the rest.) did not acknowledge with gratitude, the unwavering support given by him and his friends, to Gen. Jackson's adminiscelebrated panic session, when all the elements of opposition, lashed into fury by three of the most eloquent and talented men in America, if not in the world, seemed ready to sweep away Jackson and the Republican party, of which he was the head and representative. During that session, in our opinion the most critical ever witnessed in the history of this country, all of us must remember how firm and undaunted Mr. Van Buren stood by the side of the President, "resolved to sink or swim, to live or die,” with the man who had filled the measure of his country's honor. It was during that session when Virginia, that Old Dominion, the mother of so many Presidents, deluded for a moment, turned coldly away from him—Pennsylvania, too, that key-stone of the arch-the second if not the first to bring him forward for the Presidency, terrified by the threats of the United States Bank, began to tremble and give him up. If at that critical moment, the Empire State had not stood by him and sustained him, with a constancy and firmness that astonished and delighted every republican bosom at the time, all must have been lost—Jackson and his party and his measures must all have perished in one common grave. Now, all this constancy and devotion presented Mr. Van Buren as a conspicuous and shining object before the eyes of the Jackson party, no respectable portion of which ever dreamed of not supporting him against an opposition candidate.
Such was the unanimity of the Republican party in his favor, that the distinguished leaders of the opposition, whose claims had always been looked to for the same office, stood for a long time baffled and discomfitted in their hopes of a successful competition. In this state of irresolution among the opposition, it began to be suspected by some, that probably no candidate at all would be brought out by them, and in that event, there was no necessity for all this unanimity in favor of Mr. Van Buren. Here was the starting point of all Judge White's aspirations. It was here, on the express supposition that no opposition candidate was likely to be presented, that the friends of Judge White began to suggest that he was well qualified for the office of Chief Magistrate. The suggestion