Imágenes de páginas

tent with the necessary self-defence of society against the aggressions of the lawless and abandoned. At the session of 1831–32, by the order of the judiciary committee, he prepared an elaborate and able report, which he submitted to the house, on the subject of capital punishments, which attracted great attention throughout the Union.

Gov. Brown first became a candidate for Congress in 1839. At two former elections the whigs had carried his district by majorities ranging from eleven to twelve hundred votes. His competitor, the Hon. E. J. Shields, had served in the two preceding Congresses. He was a gentleman of fine talents, and one of the most plausible and handsome debaters of his party. When the election came off, however, Gov. Brown was found not only to have overcome the large party majority against him, but to have overcome it by the immense majority of sixteen hundred and one votes. He was re-elected for the called session of Congress in 1841, without having any opposition. In 1843, the congressional district was altered so as greatly to diminish the democratic majority by which Gov. Brown had been usually elected in the old district. This induced hopes that he might possibly be beaten in the new one, and all the regular steps were taken to present a competitor in the person of the Hon. N. S Brown, now minister to Russia. The result, however, demonstrated that the. democracy of the new district, although not in so large a majority as in the old one, was nevertheless equally invincible.

During the period of his congressional service, beginning in 1839 and ending in 1845, Gov. Brown seems to have been an active member, taking a part in nearly all the great questions which came up during that eventful portion of our political history.

In May, 1840, he delivered a speech in reply to Mr. Bell, on the bill introduced by that gentleman," to secure the freedom of elections." He also made a speech on the celebrated New-Jersey case, having been a member of the committee which reported on the same. His speech on the burning of the Caroline, to be found in the Congressional Globe and appendix of 1841, was listened to by the house with profound attention and emotion, and is regarded by his friends as one of his ablest efforts in Congress. He was a member of the committee which framed the tariff of 1842, and united with the minority in presenting a report against the principles and details of that measure. When the bill came up for discussion, Gov. Brown made a clear and powerful argument against it, opening the debate on the democratic side of the house. On the 4th of August, 1841, he delivered a speech against the fiscal bank bill, which occupied so large a portion of public solicitude at that time. He made speeches in 1844 on the remission of the fine imposed on Gen. Jackson at New-Orleans, and against receiving and reporting on abolition petitions; also, on the right of members elected by general ticket to their seats.

It was in December, 1844, that Gov. Brown found it necessary to reply to sundry speeches of Mr. Adams, made in Massachusetts, in relation to the negotiation of the Florida treaty. That reply having a direct reference to inthe Daily Globe of December 14, 1044. A reply to Mr. Adams, on the pregon bill, may be seen in the “ Constitution" of January 29, 1845, and also a reply to another speech of Mr. Adams may be seen in the National Intelligencer of February 3, 1845.

On the 12th March, 1844, Gov. Brown, as chairman of the committee on territories, reported a bill to extend the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the several courts of the territory of Iowa over the territory of Oregon, and for other purposes. At the next session he reported another bill, organizing a territorial government for Oregon, which passed the house by a large majority, but was lost in the senate.

Governor Brown's service in Congress ended with the commencement of President Polk's administration. He declined any office under the administration, and determined to return home and devote himself to the education of his children and the management of his own private affairs. Before he reached home, however, he was nominated by the democratic party as its candidate for governor. He met the news of this nomination at Pittsburg, and hesitated many days whether he would accept it or not. It conflicted with all his pure poses to retire to private life to accept it, and opened a wide field of labor with but little prospect of success.

Mr. Polk had failed twice for the same office, and could not carry the state in his presidential race, under all the zeal and excitement which it created. Besides this, Mr. Polk, in organizing his administration, and selecting his friends for different offices, had withdrawn from the state some of the most influential and powerful members of the party. He himself, was gone, Hon. Cave Johnson was gone, General Robert Armstrong was gone, and several others whose weight had been always felt in state elections. Discouraging, however, as were the prospects, he finally determined to take the field against Col. Foster, a late senator, and one of the most popular and able men of the whig party. The discussion of the canvass turned chiefly on the tariff, the Texas and Oregon questions.

In this canvass Gov. Brown was elected by a majority of one thousand five hundred or one thousand six hundred ; but in that of 1847, he was defeated by about half that number. For the last twelve years parties have been so nearly balanced in Tennessee that they have carried the state alternately against each other. The one last defeated brings to the polls at the next election a little more zeal and determination to retrieve their last misfortune, and are therefore very apt to prove triumphant.

In the next year, 1848, Gov. Brown was a candidate for elector for the state at large, and canvassed it with great vigor, sustaining and even surpassing the reputation which he had previously acquired.

In 1850, he was a member of the Southern Convention held at Nashville. lle concurred fully in the resolutions passed at the first session of that body, but dissented from and protested against the address. At the second session of that body in November following, Gov. Brown dissented altogether from the report submitted by the committee on resolutions; and, to exhibit his own views and those of the democracy of the state, prepared what was called and known as the Tennessee Platform, which, after being submitted to the delega

[ocr errors]

tion, would he hear or think of a dissolution of the Union. He considered secession or a dissolution of the Union as no remedy for alleged grievances.His favorite remedy against the whole series of aggressions was retaliation, as set forth in the Tennessee Platform. This he believed would soon exhibit to the North a greater power to injure them than they have had to injure the South; and that, upon the simple principle of self-interest, both sections would presently cease the profitless controversy.

The last public station which Gov. Brown has occupied was that of a delegate from the state at large in the late Baltimore convention. He introduced a very important resolution into that body, raising a committee of one from each state, to be appointed by the delegates from each state, to whom all resolutions relative to the principles or platform of the democratic party should be referred without debate. The importance of such a reference, without debate, was instantly perceived, and the resolution was adopted. He was unanimously appointed the chairman, and subsequently reported the platform, which has given such general satisfaction to his party in every portion of the United States. Gov. Brown has reason to be proud of the concurrence of his party in the platforms which, at different times, he has prepared for them. He was the author of the Tennessee platform in the Southern Convention. He prepared and presented the platform which was unanimously sanctioned in the convention at Nashville, on which the last gubernatorial battle was fought in Tennessee; and that he had the honor assigned to him of reporting the national platform of democratic principles at the late convention was bighly gratifying to his numerous friends.



« AnteriorContinuar »