Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the fusion of parties during the era of good | nation to vote for Mr. Adams and not for feeling," and the efforts of leading men to make General Jackson. Presuming that the publipersonal parties for themselves. It showed the cation was with your authority, I cannot deny conservative power of our government to lie in the expression of proper acknowledgments for the people, more than in its constituted authori- the sense of justice which has prompted you to ties. It showed that they were capable of ex- render this voluntary and faithful testimony." ercising the function of self-government. It This letter, of which I now have the original, assured the supremacy of the democracy for a was dated at Washington City, December 6th, long time, and until temporarily lost by causes 1827—that is to say, in the very heat and midto be shown in their proper place. Finally, it dle of the canvass in which Mr. Adams was was a caution to all public men against future beaten by General Jackson, and when the testiattempts to govern presidential elections in the mony could be of most service to him. It went House of Representatives.

the rounds of the papers, and was quoted and It is no part of the object of this “Thirty relied upon in debates in Congress, greatly to Years' View" to dwell upon the conduct of indi- the dissatisfaction of many of my own party. viduals, except as showing the causes and the There was no mistake in the date, or the fact. consequences of events; and, under this aspect, I left Washington the 15th of December, on a it becomes the gravity of history to tell that, in visit to my father-in-law, Colonel James Mcthese two struggles for the election of President, Dowell, of Rockbridge county, Virginia, where those who struggled against the democratic Mrs. Benton then was; and it was before I left principle lost their places on the political theatre, Washington that I learned from Mr. Clay him-the mere voting members being put down in self that his intention was to support Mr. their States and districts, and the eminent actors Adams. I told this at that time to Colonel Mcfor ever ostracised from the high object of their Dowell, and any friends that chanced to be preambition. A subordinate cause may have had sent, and gave it to the public in a letter which was its effect, and unjustly, in prejudicing the public copied into many newspapers, and is preserved mind against Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay. They in Niles' Register. I told it as my belief to Mr. had been political adversaries, had co-operated in Jefferson on Christmas evening of the same year, the election, and went into the administration to when returning to Washington and making a call gether. Mr. Clay received the office of Secretary on that illustrious man at his seat, Monticello; and of State from Mr. Adams, and this gave rise to believing then that Mr. Adams would be elected, the imputation of a bargain between them. and, from the necessity of the case, would have

It came within my knowledge (for I was then to make up a mixed cabinet, I expressed that intimate with Mr. Clay), long before the elec- belief to Mr. Jefferson, using the term, familiar tion, and probably before Mr. Adams knew it in English history, of "broad bottomed ;” and himself, that Mr. Clay intended to support him asked him how it would do? He answered: against General Jackson; and for the reasons Not at all-would never succeed—would ruin afterward averred in his public speeches. I made all engaged in it.” Mr. Clay told his intentions this known when occasions required me to speak to others of his friends from an early period, of it, and in the presence of the friends of the but as they remained his friends, their testimony impugned parties. It went into the newspapers was but little heeded. Even my own, in the upon the information of these friends, and Mr. violence of party, and from my relationship to Clay made me acknowledgments for it in a let- Mrs. Clay, seemed to have but little effect. The ter, of which this is the exact copy :

imputation of “bargain” stuck, and doubtless I have received a paper published on the had an influence in the election. In fact, the 20th ultimo, at Lemington, in Virginia, in circumstances of the whole affair--previous anwhich is contained an article stating that you tagonism between the parties, actual support in had to a gentleman of that place, expressed the election, and acceptance of high office, made your disbelief of a charge injurious to me. up a case against Messrs. Adams and Clay which touching the late presidential election, and it was hardly safe for public men to create and that I had communicated to you unequirocally, to brave, however strong in their own consciousbefore the 15th of December, 1824, my determi- | ness of integrity. Still, the great objection to

the election of Mr. Adams was in the violation delegates who had no constituency. Delegates of the principle demos krateo; and in the ques- attended upon equivocal appointments. Double tion which it raised of the capacity of the demos sets of delegates sometimes came from the State, to choose a safe President for themselves. A and either were admitted or repulsed, as suited letter which I wrote to the representative from the views of the majority. Proxies were inMissouri, before he gave the vote of the State to vented. Many delegates attended with the sole Mr. Adams, and which was published immedi- view of establishing a claim for office, and voted ately afterwards, placed the objection upon accordingly. The two-thirds rule was inventthis high ground; and upon it the battle was ed, to enable the minority to control the mamainly fought, and won. It was a victory of jority; and the whole proceeding became anomprinciple, and should not be disparaged by the alous and irresponsible, and subversive of the admission of an unfounded and subordinate will of the people, leaving them no more concause.

trol over the nomination than the subjects of This presidential election of 1824 is remarkable kings have over the birth of the child which under another aspect-as having put an end to is born to rule over them. King Caucus is as the practice of caucus nominations for the Presi- potent as any other king in this respect; for dency by members of Congress. This mode of whoever gets the nomination—no matter how concentrating public opinion began to be prac- effected—becomes the candidate of the party, tised as the eminent men of the Revolution, to from the necessity of union against the opposite whom public opinion awarded a preference, were party, and from the indisposition of the great passing away, and when new men, of more equal States to go into the House of Representatives to pretensions, were coming upon the stage. It be balanced by the small ones. This is the mode was tried several times with success and general of making Presidents, practised by both parties approbation, public sentiment having been fol- now. It is the virtual election! and thus the lowed, and not led, by the caucus. It was at- election of the President and Vice-President of tempted in 1824, and failed, the friends of Mr. the United States has passed—not only from the Crawford only attending—others not attending, college of electors to which the constitution connot from any repugnance to the practice, as their fided it, and from the people to whom the pracprevious conduct had shown, but because it was tice under the constitution gave it, and from the known that Mr. Crawford had the largest num- House of Representatives which the constitution ber of friends in Congress, and would assuredly provided as ultimate arbiter—but has gone to receive the nomination. All the rest, therefore, an anomalous, irresponsible body, unknown to refused to go into it: all joined in opposing the law or constitution, unknown to the early ages " caucus candidate," as Mr. Crawford was called; of our government, and of which a large proporall united in painting the intrigue and corruption of the members composing it, and a much tion of these caucus nominations, and the ano- larger proportion of interlopers attending it, maly of members of Congress joining in them. have no other view either in attending or in proBy their joint efforts they succeeded, and justly moting the nomination of any particular man, in the fact though not in the motive, in rendering than to get one elected who will enable them to these Congress caucus nominations odious to eat out of the public crib—who will give them a the people, and broke them down. They were key to the public crib. dropped, and a different mode of concentrating The evil is destructive to the rights and sorpublic opinion was adopted—that of party nomi- ereignty of the people, and to the purity of elecnations by conventions of delegates from the tions. The remedy is in the application of the States. This worked well at first, the will of democratic principle—the people to vote direct the people being strictly obeyed by the delegates, for President and Vice-President; and a second and the majority making the nomination. But election to be held immediately between the two it quickly degenerated, and became obnoxious to highest, if no one has a majority of the whole all the objections to Congress caucus nomina- number on the first trial. But this would retions, and many others besides. Members of quire an amendment of the constitution, not to Congress still attended them, either as delegates be effected but by a concurrence of two thirds or as lobby managers. Persons attended as of each house of Congress, and the sanction vf

VOL. I.-4

[ocr errors]

three fourths of the States—a consummation to policy to terminate such occupation, and hold which the strength of the people has not yet the Columbia (or Oregon) exclusively, as we had been equal, but of which there is no reason to the admitted right to do while the question of despair. The great parliamentary reform in title was depending. The British had no title, Great Britain was only carried after forty years and were simply working for a division-for the of continued, annual, persevering exertion. Our right bank of the river, and the harbor at constitutional reform, in this point of the presi- mouth—and waiting on time to ripen their joint dential election, may require but a few years ; in occupation into a claim for half. I knew this, and the meanwhile I am for the people to select, as wished to terminate a joint tenancy which could well as elect, their candidates, and for a reference only be injurious to ourselves while it lasted, to the House to choose one out of three presented and jeopard our rights when it terminated. The by the people, instead of a caucus nomination of bill which I brought in proposed an appropriawhom it pleased. The House of Representatives tion to enable the President to act efficiently, is no longer the small and dangerous electoral col- with a detatchment of the army and navy; and lege that it once was. Instead of thirteen States in the discussion of this bill the whole question we now have thirty-one; instead of sixty-five of title and of policy came up; and, in a reply representatives, we have now above two hundred. to Mr. Dickerson, of New Jersey, I found it to Responsibility in the House is now well establish- be my duty to defend both. I now give some ed, and political ruin, and personal humiliation, at- extracts from that reply, as a careful examinatend the violation of the will of the State. No tion of the British pretension, founded upon her man could be elected now, or endeavor to be own exhibition of title, and showing that she elected (after the experience of 1800 and 1824), had none south of forty-nine degrees, and that who is not at the head of the list, and the choice we were only giving her a claim, by putting her of a majority of the Union. The lesson of those possession on an equality with our own. These times would deter imitation, and the democratic extracts will show the history of the case as it principle would again crush all that were instru- then stood—as it remained invalidated in all submental in thwarting the public will. There is sequent discussion—and according to which, and no longer the former danger from the House of after twenty years, and when the question had Representatives, nor any thing in it to justify a assumed a war aspect, it was finally settled. previous resort to such assemblages as our na- The bill did not pass, but received an encouraging tional conventions have got to be. The House vote-fourteen senators voting favorably to it. is legal and responsible, which the convention is They were : not, with a better chance for integrity, as having

Messrs. Barbour, Benton, Bouligny, Cobb, been actually elected by the people ; and more Hayne, Jackson (the General), Johnson of restrained by position, by public opinion, and a Kentucky, Johnston of Louisiana, Lloyd of clause in the constitution from the acceptance of Massachusetts, Mills, Noble, Ruggles, Talbot, office from the man they elect. It is the consti

Thomas. tutional umpire; and until the constitution is

“ Mr. Benton, in reply to Mr. Dickerson, said amended, I am for acting upon it as it is. that he had not intended to speak to this bill.

Always unwilling to trespass upon the time and | patience of the Senate, he was particularly so at this moment, when the session was drawing to a close, and a hundred bills upon the table were each demanding attention. The occupa

tion of the Columbia River was a subject which CHAPTER XX.

had engaged the deliberations of Congress for

four years past, and the minds of gentlemen THE OCCUPATION OF THE COLUMBJA. might be supposed to be made up upon it. Rest

ing upon this belief, Mr. B., as reporter of the Tais subject had begun to make a lodgment bill, had limited himself to the duty of watchin the public mind, and I brought a bill into the ing its progress, and of holding himself in readiSenate to enable the President to possess and re

ness to answer any inquiries which might be put.

Inquiries he certainly expected; but a general tain the country. The joint occupation treaty assault, at this late stage of the session, upon of 1818 was drawing to a close, and it was my the principle, the policy, and the details of the

[ocr errors]

bill, had not been anticipated. Such an assault out restriction; the other, with the exception of haul, however, been made by the senator from the fifth article. It was this article which adNew Jersey (Mr. D.), and Mr. B. would be justed the boundary line between the United unfaithful to his duty if he did not repel it. In States and Great Britain, from the Lake of the discharging this duty, he would lose no time in Woods to the head of the Mississippi; and the going over the gentleman's calculations about Senate refused to ratify it, because, by possibilithe expense of getting a member of Congress ty, it might jeopard the northern boundary of from the Oregon to the Potomac; nor would he Louisiana. The treaty was sent back to London, solve his difficulties about the shortest and best the fifth article expunged; and the British Govroute—whether Cape Horn should be doubled, a ernment, acting then as upon a late occasion, new route explored under the north pole, or rejected the whole treaty, when it failed in semountains climbed, whose aspiring summits pre- curing the precise advantage of which it was sent twelve feet of defying snow to the burning in search. rays of a July sun. Mr. B. looked upon these “In the year 1807, another treaty was negoticalculations and problems as so many dashes of ated between the United States and Great Brithe gentleman's wit, and admitted that wit was tain. The negotiators on both sides were then an excellent article in debate, equally convenient possessed of the fact that Louisiana belonged to for embellishing an argument, and concealing the United States, and that her boundaries to the want of one. For which of these purposes the north and west were undefined. The settlethe senator from New Jersey had amused the ment of this boundary was a point in the negoSenate with the wit in question, it was not for tiation, and continued efforts were made by the Mr. B. to say, nor should he undertake to dis- British plenipotentiaries to overreach the Ameturb him in the quiet enjoyment of the honor ricans, with respect to the country west of the which he had won thereby, and would proceed Rocky Mountains. Without presenting any directly to speak to the merits of the bill. claim, they endeavored to 'leare a nest egg for

“ It is now, Mr. President, continued Mr. B., future pretensions in that quarter.' (Siate precisely two and twenty years since a contest Papers, 1822–3.) Finally, an article was agreed for the Columbia has been going on between the to. The forty-ninth degree of north latitude United States and Great Britain. The contest was to be followed west, as far as the territories originated with the discovery of the river itself. of the two countries extended in that direction, The moment that we discovered it she claimed with a proviso against its application to the it; and without a color of title in her hand, she country west of the Rocky Mountains. This has labored ever since to overreach us in the treaty shared the fate of that of 1803. It was arts of negotiation, or to bully us out of our dis- never ratified. For causes unconnected with the covery by menaces of war.

questions of boundary, it was rejected by Mr. " In the year 1790, a citizen of the United Jefferson without a reference to the Senate. States, Capt. Gray, of Boston, discovered the “At Ghent, in 1814, the attempts of 1803 and Columbia at its entrance into the sea ; and in 1807 were renewed. The British plenipotentia1803, Lewis and Clarke were sent by the gov- ries offered articles upon the subject of the bounernment of the United States to complete the dary, and of the northwest coast, of the same discovery of the whole river, from its source character with those previously offered; but nodownwards, and to take formal possession in thing could be agreed upon, and nothing upon the name of their government. In 1793 Sir the subject was inserted in the treaty signed at Alexander McKenzie had been sent from Canada that place. by the British Government to effect the same “At London, in 1818, the negotiations upon ohject; but he missed the sources of the river, this point were renewed; and the British Govfell upon the Tacoutche Tesse, and struck the ernment, for the first time, uncovered the ground Pacific about five hundred miles to the north of upon which its pretensions rested. Its plenipothe mouth of the Columbia.

tentiaries, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Goulbourn, "In 1803, the United States acquired Louisiana, asserted (to give them the benefit of their own and with it an open question of boundaries for words, as reported by Messrs. Gallatin and Rush) that vast province. On the side of Mexico and 'That former voyages, and principally that of Florida this question was to be settled with Captain Cook, gave to Great Britain the rights the King of Spain; on the north and north- derived from discovery; and they alluded to purwest, with the King of Great Britain. It chases from the natives south of the river Cohappened in the very time that we were signing lumbia, which they alleged to have been made a treaty in Paris for the acquisition of Louisiana, prior to the American Revolution. They did that we were signing another in London for the not make any formal proposition for a boundary, adjustment of the boundary line between the but intimated that the river itself was the most northwest possessions of the United States and convenient that could be adopted, and that they the King of Great Britain. The negotiators would not agree to any which did not give them of each were ignorant of what the others had the harbor at the mouth of the river in common done ; and on remitting the two treaties to the with the United States.'— Letter from Messrs. Senate of the United States for ratification, that Gallatin and Rush, October 20th, 1820. for the purchase of Louisiana was ratified with- To this the American plenipotentiaries an

a

6

swered, in a way better calculated to encourage Maine and Michigan. This new ground of claim than to repulse the groundless pretensions of was set up by Mr. Bagot, his Britannic Majesty's Great Britain. "We did not assert (continue minister to this republic, in 1817, and set up these gentlemen in the same letter), we did not in a way to contradict and relinquish all their assert that the United States had a perfect right other pretended titles. Mr. Bagot was remonto that country, but insisted that their claim was strating against the occupation, by the United at least good against Great Britain. We did not States, of the Columbia River, and reciting that know with precision what value our govern- it had been taken possession of, in his Majesty's ment set on the country to the westward of these name, during the late war, and had since been mountains ; but we were not authorized to enter considered as forming a part of his Majesty's into any agreement which should be tantamount dominions. The word "since,' is exclusive of to an abandonment of the claim to it. It was all previous pretension, and the Ghent Treaty, at last agreed, but, as we thought, with some re- which stipulates for the restoration of all the luctance on the part of the British plenipoten- captured posts, is a complete extinguisher to this tiaries, that the country on the northwest coast, idle pretension. Finally, the British negotiators claimed by either party, should, without preju- have been driven to take shelter under the Nootdice to the claims of either, and for a limited ka Sound Treaty of 1790. The character of time, be opened for the purposes of trade to the that treaty was well understood at the time that inhabitants of both countries.'

it was made, and its terms will speak for them“The substance of this agreement was inserted selves at the present day. It was a treaty of in the convention of October, 1818. It con- concession, and not of acquisition of rights, on stitutes the third article of that treaty, and is the part of Great Britain. It was so characterthe same upon which the senator from New ized by the opposition, and so admitted to be by Jersey (Mr. Dickerson) relies for excluding the ministry, at the time of its communication to the United States from the occupation of the the British Parliament. Columbia.

[Here Mr. B. read passages from the speeches “ In subsequent negotiations, the British agents of Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt, to prove the character further rested their claim upon the discoveries of this Treaty.] of McKenzie, in 1793, the seizure of Astoria du- “Mr. Fox said, 'What, then, was the extent ring the late war, and the Nootka Sound Treaty, of our rights before the convention-(whether of 1790.

admitted or denied by Spain was of no conse“Such an exhibition of title, said Mr. B., is quence) --and to what extent were they now ridiculous, and would be contemptible in the secured to us? We possessed and exercised the hands of any other power than that of Great free navigation of the Pacific Ocean, without reBritain. of the five grounds of claim which straint or limitation. We possessed and exershe has set up, not one of them is tenable against cised the right of carrying on fisheries in the the slightest examination. Cook never saw, South Seas equally unlimited.

This was no much less took possession of any part of the barren right, but a right of which we had availnorthwest coast of America, in the latitude of ed ourselves, as appeared by the papers on the the Columbia River. All his discoveries were table, which showed that the produce of it had far north of that point, and not one of them was increased, in five years, from twelve to ninetyfollowed up by possession, without which the seven thousand pounds sterling. This estate we fact of discovery would confer no title. The had, and were daily improving; it was not to be Indians were not even named from whom the disgraced by the name of an acquisition. The adpurchases are stated to have been made anterior mission of part of these rights by Spain, was all we to the Revolutionary War. Not a single parti- had obtained. Our right, before, was to settle in cylar is given which could identify a transaction any part of the South or Northwest Coast of of the kind. The only circumstance mentioned America, not fortified against us by previous applies to the locality of the Indians supposed occupancy; and we were now restricted to settle to have made the sale ; and that circumstance in certain places only, and under certain restricinvalidates the whole claim. They are said to tions. This was an important concession on our have resided to the south of the Columbia ; part. Our rights of fishing extended to the by consequence they did not reside upon it, and whole occan, and now it, too, was limited, and to could ve no right to sell a country of whic be carried on within certain distances of the they were not the possessors.

Spanish settlements. Our right of making setMcKenzie was sent out from Canada, in the tlements was not, as now, a right to build huts, year 1793, to discover, at its head, the river but to plant colonies, if we thought proper. which Captain Gray had discovered at its mouth, Surely these were not acquisitions, or rather three years before. But McKenzie missed the conquests, as they must be considered, if we object of his search, and struck the Pacific five were to judge by the triumphant language rehundred miles the north, as I have already specting them, but great and important concesstated. The seizure of Astoria, during the war, sions. By the third article, we are authorized was an operation of arms, conferring no more to navigate the Pacific Ocean and South Seas, title upon Great Britain to the Columbia, than unmolested, for the purpose of carrying on our the capture of Castine and Detroit gave her to fisheries, and to land on the unsettled coasts, ior

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »