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John is certainly ingenuous in part of this confession. This is unusually frank and open. We can very readily appreciate the “reasons personal to myself," why he desires the restoration of the Democratic Party (not the old line") to power. It strikes us, however, that such services as his, will render it necessary to have his life spun out beyond the years of Methuselah, in order to requite the “
obligations” he owes to that party. The old line” democracy, whom John now abuses, conferred part of these obligations, (the hereditary” part,) and sustained, as he says, for nearly half a century, “one who stands in a near relation” to him. Let us see how John and the “near relation” and friends requited this obligation. Speaking of the Presidential election of 1846,
"Important, as we all deemed it, to defeat Gen. Taylor, the defeat of his chief competitor was even more important. This result, also, may be added to the other consequences, over which the friends of freedom have a right to rejoice."
Pluming himself upon this achievement—an achievement effected—to use his own words, applied to the “ old line” democracy-by“ a corps who, at the suggestion of whigs, drew off om the democratic column into a field by themselves”—John now sings Io triumphe! and tells his " friends of freedom” in Vermont, that they have a right to rejoice! Happy, complacent, and logical conclusion !
With the "old line" democracy, or, as Mr. Van Buren invidiously styles them in his speech, the Union Hunkers,” he will have no fellowship; and the “Union Hunkers,” throughout the length and breadth of the country, will, doubtless, feel exceedingly chagrined and mortified by the information. Indeed, he prefers Mr. SEWARD to Mr. Dickinson, as for example :
“We have lost, it is true, a democratic senator in place of Mr. Dickinson, whose term expired, and who declined a re-nomination ; perhaps there may be no harm in my saying, that it does not add to the poignancy of our sorrow, that Mr. Dickinson should have been the senator whose term expired. (Laughter.)
But alas! MR. SEWARD himself does not come up to John's idea of a model “free-soiler.” His course on the slavery question is entirely too moderate and temporizing. He has become “unsound," and would never do to run for VicePresident with the “near relation,” on a future Buffalo ticket. We again quote from the text :
“ And on what supporter of the present national administration, can the opponents of slavery extension rely? Is it Mr. Seward, of our state ? The state of New York, ever since the question first arose, has spoken in tones of the most indignant remonstrance against the aggressions of the slave power. Why is she now dumb ? A bill, introduced by Mr. Coffin, intended to protect the free inhabitants of New-York against the abuses of the Fugitive Slave Law, a wise, just, constitutional bill, bas lain pon the table of the House since the first week of the session. Why does it not become a law ? The legislature of that state, in both branches, is controlled by the supporters of Mr. Seward. A word from him would reverse the retreating movement, which now dishonors her. Why is it not spoken? Why does he not denounce the action of the President on this subject? Why do the presses friendly to him teem with eulogiums upon the Secretary of State ? Why does he sit silently in his seat an entire session of Congress, without a movement to denounce or repeal the atrocious Fugitive Slave act ?”
Echo answers, why?—we certainly cannot tell, and the partisans of Mr. Seward must solve the question. He is likely, it seems to be outstripped in the race of abolitionism. The Samson, sleeping in the lap of Delilah, Mr. V. B. looks down with contempt at his puny efforts against "human slavery." The senator is but the lisping infant of free soil,
“Muling and puking in his nurse's arms, No, not in his nurse's arms, but at the maternal breast-where he lies quietly, to
use John's own choice simile, “ silently sucking the patronage of the government," and fearing " the bosom will be withdrawn," while John himself has got one or two ages beyond, and has become the lover, “sighing like furnace, and gently wooing the dark-browed, and not very coy maiden. abolitionism.
It is no longer Ego et meus rer-I and Billy Seward. The “ higher law” doctrine is but milk for babes, and is spurned by the stomach that can digest strong meat and strong drink. The senator is weighed in the balance and found wanting, because he sits still an entire session, and makes no movement to “repeal the atrocious fugitive slave act.”
“Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell,
And freedom shrieked when William Seward fell!" But hope has revived again in another champion, and freedom's tears have turned to smiles. As to the ugly question propounded to Mr. Seward's friends, Mr. Van Buren observes:
“ These are questions that should be answered by those who look 10 him as the champion of human freedom"
In other words, Mr. Seward is no longer to be regarded as the Ajax Telemon of Constitutional abolitionism. • Gentlemen of the Vermont democracy," we think we hear the speaker adding, with characteristic modesty, “ behold in me the champion of human freedom!" Two suns cannot exist in one system, nor can two Cæsars live in one Rome. That Mr. Van Buren's zeal in the cause really does glow with a fiercer flame than that of the senator, is apparent from his own language, for he elsewhere says:
“Within the limits of the constitution, hostility to human slavery is the predominant sentiment of my heart. It is as natural to me as the air I breathe, and will perish only with my life. (Tremendous cheering.)"
Now we will venture to affirm, positively, that Mr. Seward does entertain, in his heart, several sentiments, which predominate over the sentiment of " hostility to slavery." The sun of Seward is certainly eclipsed.
We had supposed that when Senator Seward propounded his “ higher law” doctrine, on the floor of the senate, he had reached a climax which it was difficult for any one professing loyalty to our institutions, to surpass. The stake thrown down on the political table was a large one, but John " raises” him. We do not know whether the senator has the pluck to " go him back.” Although it may be observed, that Mr. Seward undoubtedly has the age," inasmuch as he was a decided “champion of human freedom,” when John was laboring to elect " one who stands in a near relation” to him, on the Baltimore Resolutions of 1840, at which time, on his own construction, hostility to human slavery was not the predominant sentiment of his heart. As both these gentlemen, however, are somewhat rash and ambitious players at the political board, we leave them to make their own ventures, and take their own chances. Time will determine which one of them shuffled his cards the best.
But, badinage aside, Mr. Senator Seward's doctrine of the higher law than the Constitution," atrocious as it is, was but the expression of a speculative opinion, the enunciation of a theory. Mr. Van Buren goes beyond it, and directly counsels and advises resistance-open resistance, and by force, to the law. Speaking of what he said on a former occasion, he reiterates, after mature deliberation, the proposition :
“ And added, that as the law was unconstitutional, I should resist it with all the means I could command, if seized under it."
If seized under it, Mr. Van Buren would resist. Why? Because, he says, the law is unconstitutional. But this is a mere evasion. Suppose he admitted the law to be constitutional, does he mean to say, in that case, he
would not resist, if seized under it? Is it only upon the ground of the unconstitutionality of the law that he would resist, or does he not, in reality, place his resistance upon the assumption that the law is what he calls “an atrocious law ?" And therefore, not only he, but all others, a mob as well as an individual friends of freedom,” white and black, may set the public authorities at defiance, and resist with all the means they can command ?" A more direct appeal to the worst passions of ignorant or wicked men, a more reckless incentive to mob outrage and violence, has rarely been made by any one who professes to regard and respect our constitutional compact. That the inference we have drawn from this language is true, who can doubt ? Indeed, he reiterates - and attempts to fortify his position :
“ All writers upon law agree, that an unconstitutional act is no law; it is a nullity, and is to be treated as such, alike by citizens as by couris.
But it is said that an individual has no right to judge whether a law is constitutional or not. This I deny. He should and must judge. He judges at his risk, to be punished, if he errs.”
Therefore, mob outrage, violence, and even bloodshed, are not only to be justified, but even cheered and applauded, because this law is pronounced by Mr. Van Buren and the abolitionists, to be unconstitutional, in opposition to the expressed opinions of some of the ablest jurists on the bench of the federal courts; and mobs of blacks, and other • friends of freedom," are to be encouraged- and even, we presume, to have arms put in their hands; for they are “ to resist by all the means they can command”-urged on to trample down the authorities of the law, and to rescue fugitive slaves, even over the dead bodies of their owners! These doctrines are monstrous, and appalling; but we are happy to say, we do not believe they are tolerated among any considerable portion of the people of the North. It is only the fanatics, the demagogues and the agitators, who dare publicly to avow them.
We dismiss the subject with a single other quotation from this harangue, which clearly defines the aims, the objects, and the hopes, of these disorganizers, and proves, if any proof is needed, that they have nothing in common with the Democratic Party.
Having thus considered the present aspects of the slavery question, let us briefly consult as to the present duties of the Iriends of freedom. In my judgment, they ought to unite in uncompromising hostility to the present national administration.”
Here we have it. The “friends of freedom," the abolitionists, the freesoilers, the Buffalo-platform men, the Seward Whigs, (without Mr. Seward, whom John thinks a supernumerary,) " ought to unite," and form a great northern, or abolitionist party. The uncompromising hostility is not so much to the “present national administration,” as to the position which the present national administration is supposed to occupy on the compromise measures !
That the anti-slavery • union,” of which Mr. John Van Buren speaks, is to be composed of the elements above mentioned—the abolitionists, the higher law” disciples of Seward, and the “ friends of freedom” whom John can persuade to follow him from the democratic ranks—"black spirits and white, blue spirits and gray"—is plainly evident from his own language. The Democratic Party with us, he says, have already united—and, of course, there is no necessity of any further " union” among them. The first fruits of this union, we are further told, is the election of seventeen democratic members to Congress-and, " whilst I have no authority to speak their sentiments on any subject, (unquestionably true,) yet, I think, I may safely affirm that sixteen of them would, to-morrow, vote for a repeal of the fugitive slave act !''
Stand forth, Messrs. HART, MURRAY, SUTHERLAND, SEYMOUR, and such others, of the New-York delegation, as are known to have repudiated Mr. Van Buren's Buffalo platform, and say which of you are willing to submit to the imputation. We think we know the characters and opinions of some of these gentlemen, at least sufficiently well to inform Mr. V. B.'s " friends of freedom” in the
Vermont Convention, that he was either grossly deceived himself, or was wilfully hoaxing them. Indeed, his assertion cannot be true, unless some one or more of his own free soil friends on the delegation, whose names we might mention, have wilfully belied, not only their professions before election, but their written pledges. No. The first fruits of the union" are not the election of sixteen abolitionists to Congress. If it be, then we repudiate such an union, and, for one, we raise the cry of repeal !
But further criticism upon this incongruous harangue would be fruitless and an iille waste of words. In what we have said we have designed merely to show, (in certain quarters where, perhaps, an erroneous impression may. have been produced,) that Mr. Van Buren speaks the sentiments of no portion, not even a fraction, of the Democratic Party ; that the speech is but another of the author's vagaries, and that he alone is responsible for it.
Our object is thus accomplished. Our remarks are made in no feeling of unfriendliness to the speaker himself; we rather like John, and (bot extravagantly) admire his speeches-or, rather, his speech ; for we may remark of it, as the simple-minded layman did of the last and newest homily of his spiritual shepherd, “ I always liked that sermon." He may, therefore, set us down certain as not one of the "three Union Hunkers,” whom he thinks would kill him, if a law were passed authorizing such a summary proceeding. We would not kill him if we could, even with ink and types ; for, were 'Thersites dead, who would so potently provoke the laughter (and cheers of the camp) or tickle the fancies of the “ friends of human freedom?"
We have certainly no objection to Mr. Van Buren's making that speech "on his own hook," as Harry of the Wynde fought, wherever and whenever he may see fit so to do—and send as many Thersites-shafts at the Agamemnons and Achilles of both parties-Cass and Dickinson, and Marcy and Webster, as he pleases; but we do object to his speaking in the name of the New York democracy, without having any "authority to speak their sentiments," and we wish to be distinctly understood as entering a protest thereto. We bereby duly advertise the public against him. We desire it, therefore, once for all to be understood, that when he goes abroad, itinerating through Vermont and elsewhere, he goes without any commission of ours in his pocket. Indeed, we are sorry to say, that when he represents himself as connected with the Democratic Party, he is trading on borrowed respectability. The ingenious rogue at Washington, who borrowed money by representing himself the near relation of Silas Wright, was, as a financier, what Mr. Van Buren is in a political way,
We, of the “old line,” feel mortified at the assumption, and scandalized that an individual of so equivocal a political character, should presume to claim even a distant relationship. It is all well enough at home, where we understand the joke, but we don't like the thing to go abroad among strangers. On this point we are sensitive, for we regard John, politically, as altogether a disreputable associate. He is, if you please, a poor relation, or every-day acquaintance, out of credit, out of pocket, and out at the elbows, who is constantly bringing bis former associates into disgrace, by boasting among strangers of his intimacy with them, and their high respectability. Gentlemen of the Vermont Convention, he may be a distant connectionthough very distant—of the Democratic Party, on which his hopes rest," and for - reasons personal" to himself; but unless he patches up thai old, threadbare political coat, and gives himself altogether a more decent exterior, and reforms some of his lately acquired bad habits, a decent regard to our own standing and character will render it necessary "to cut him," and assign him, without remorse, to the very bad associates whom he has, for the past few years, found to be such congenial company.
And now a word in conclusion. The sentiments advanced by Mr. Van Buren in this speech point directly to the subversion of the Constitution, and a violation of its compromises. If entertained by any controlling portion of the people of the free states the Union could not last for a day. With such sentiments the Democratic Party have no sympathy, and will hold no fellowship
with those who utter them. The true democratic creed upon this subject has been emphatically expressed in the resolutions adopted by the late State Convention of the democracy of New Hampshire, and to which we call Mr. Van Buren's attention, and the attention of all such as are striving to abolitionize the North :
“ That the Democratic' Party is the party of the Union—that it will ever remain true to the Union, in whole and in part—that the recent adjustment of the great question of the day is the best for the peace and honor of the country—that the Convention coincides with the sentinents of the Governor's Message respecting the Compromise measures'—that unconditional obedience to the law is the constitutional duty of every good citizen, and the cause of national distinction and prosperity.”
This is the language of reason, of soberness, and of patriotism. It is directly the reverse of the doctrines of " resistance" and the “ higher law," taught by Mr. Van Buren to the Vermont abolitionists-doctrines, which the Democratic Party, North and South, repudiate, and which it will ever continue, we trust, to abhor and detest.
SENATOR R. M. T. HUNTER, OF VA. The recent slavery agitation, if it has been fraught with great evils, has not been without its advantages, inasmuch as that it has brought into prominent relief the great statesmen of the country as distinguished from the mere demagogues. It is the moment of national danger, when evils of great magnitude threaten the permanency of our institutions, jeopardize the very principle of self-government, and even threaten the liberties of the people, by precipitating that state of anarchy which gives the citizen and the Christian no choice but between military despotism on the one hand, and retrogression towards barbarism on the other, that “ tries men's souls.” In a season of quiet and peaceful progression, it is difficult to detect true merit amidst the clamorous profession of patriotism and piety which the demagogue finds a “ good hand to win on,” but which seeks only the aggrandizement of the individuals who would as readily cringe before the footstool of an autocrat as how to the majesty of the people, when the latter cause offers least personal profit. The first French revolution affords the most marked examples of those who were ranked amongst the most radical democrats, but who became the most subservient tools of the great soldier whose empire they prepared by the anarchy they had helped to create. What more unscrupulous agent had the emperor than Fouché ?-the old Jacobin, whose exertions in favor of the emancipation of the blacks of St. Domingo first gave him importance at the clubs. The zeal with which he prosecuted the awful massacre at Lyons, where he rioted in blood, gave him ascendancy with the party in power, which he betrayed when the occasion suited, only to become a spy in the service of the reactionary party, and ultimately the tool of Napoleon, whom he betrayed in his turn to Wellington. Alison describes this man thus :
“An old member of the Jacobin club, and thoroughly acquainted with all their designs; steeped in the atrocities of Lyons; a regicide and an atheist; bound