1857-1859 Republican Congressional Committee.

The ruin of the Democratic party. Reports of the Covode and other committees (Volume 1) online

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Reports of the Covode and other Committees.

The Missouri compact was a parole of honor
given by the. slave States to obtain an exten-
sion of the limits of the slave institution beyond
those originally assigned to it by the ordinan ■•..
of 178? — the hpa\» arlnj-.tprl Koforo and under
the Constitution. The boundaries first and
last established were meant to confine that
fatal disease to all free institutions in a sort of
quarantine, to prevent its spread, so that the
sanitary principles, the growth of the Revolu-
tion, embodied in the Constitution of the con-
federated Republic, might gradually work out
its eradication.

The violation of that compromise was a re-
pudiation of the good faith which had marked all
previous mutual arrangements among the States
of the Confederacy. It renounced the honest
patriotism which was the cement of the Gov-
ernment, with the design of supplanting it by
those mercenary, self-arrogating principles, out
of which combinations grow, establishiug the
rule of the few over the many.

This great change in the morale of the Dem-
ocratic party was effected by Mr. Calhoun, who
contrived to make slavery its most influential
element, while he reversed its direction. Mr.
Jefferson's impulse gave a tendency towards a
gradual deliverance of the country from slavery,
as threatening the overthrow of all its free in-
stitutions — as pregnant with insurrections, civil
war, and ruin of republican government. Mr.
Calhoun controverts Jefferson's principles — de-
nounces as "folly and delusion'" his belief, once
almost universal in the South, that "slavery
was a fapral awl j'olitical evil" — and asserts,
" it *b the most safe and stable basis for free
in.it itui i ..• - {n the world."

This new doctrine Mr. Calhonn has inculca-
ted successfully on those owning both the soil
and slaves in the South. The high prices of
the staples whetting avarice, and the monop-
oly of wealth, thus created, rousing the political
ambition in a sectional oligarchy arrogant in
controlling all the slave States by combination,
has resolved all the politics of that region into
Mr. Calhoun's one absorbing idea — the enslave-
ment of tho laboring masses, as essential to

their power and the safety of the governing
class. The octroi of the National Govern-
ment for many years has opened up new pros-
pects to them in conquests abroad, as conse-
quent on the triumph ot Hi. :. j ropKot'a prinri-
ples, and, like the followers of Mahomet, they
make the propagation of slavery a part of their
morale or religion, as well as the basis of what
they call free institutions. It is politic in them
to assume that to be true democracy which
transfers the sovereignty of the nation to a
combination of slaveholders, and slaveholding
to be moral, as performing a duty to God.

Long-indulged selfishness, looking through
tho distorted eyes of intense avarice and ambi-
tion, will not bear the sight of anything repug-
nant to its enjoyments. The political rights of
citizens, as well as the natural rights of man,
have no toleration from those who hold power
and are educated as oppressors. The lash, the
torture, the domestic prison-house, the horrible
piracy of the slave trade, conjoined with fili-
bustering upon feeble neighboring Republics,
to immolate and drive one tribe of victims from
their homes, to cram them with multitudes of a
still more helpless race, must all conspire to
maintain the slavery-extension system, crown
it with conquests, and make it flourish as a
growing empire, like that of the early Sultans.

Mr. Calhoun's insane ambition has inspired
his maddened followers to look towards this
sort of glory. He was certainly a man of auda-
cious intellect. He found our great Western
Republic under tho full headway of the revo-
lutionary forces impelling our free institutions,
" on the full tide of successful experiment." The
land of the free was inscribed on its flag. He
had the hardihood, on getting command at the
helm, to reverse the machinery, and dash back-
ward on the danger from which we had es-
caped ; and he hoisted the black flag, when all
civilized nations had declared themselves its
enemy. Our country has felt a revulsion on
being thrown back in its course, but it will not
suffer from the shock more than the giant ship,
the Great Eastern, from a sudden reverse of its
engines. It will soon resume its easy forward


movement, under the direction of that power,
the popular will, which the interest and intelli-
gence of all contribute to enforce and make

No man was more highly gifted than Mr.
Calhoun to disturb the regular action of free
government. His mind was a sort of perpetual
motion, driving skilfully, and always against
the natural tendency of the masses. At one
time, his ambition addressed itself to command
the influence of the wealthy classes of the
North. It was then he employed the pen of
his friend, Mr. McDuffie, to give his high-toned
aristocratic doctrine in his essays, signed " One
of the People." Then he was for a bank and
high protective tariff. Then, through the in-
fluence and on the motion of Mr. McDuffie, the
Legislature passed its self-denying ordinance,
declaring, that although protective duties were
mischievous to the South, yet,. as they promoted
the general welfare in creating manufactures,
its patriotism would bear the local burden.
The North did not rown.nl tbia dishuerested-
ness by making Mr. Calhoun President, and
then suddenly the tariff was denounced by him
and his friends as a flagrant breach of the
Constitution, and Mr. Preston put forth the
nullification manifesto, a paper prepared by Mr.
Calhoun with the most elaborate skill. Then
followed the rally of the Southern delegations
in Congress at the Jefferson birthday dinner,
1830, to band them together for secession, when
President Jackson, who was invited to counte-
nance it, covered the conspirators with dismay
by the stern rebuke, which silenced the hilarity
of the table, " The Federal Union, it must


Next came the nullification ordinance of
South Carolina, closely followed up by the
proclamation and the force bill of Gen. Jack-
son, from which Mr. Calhoun and his chiefs
escaped, deserting their military array, and
surrendering to Mr. Clay. They submitted to
Mr. Clay's scheme of a tariff, as a salvo for the
Constitution and their pride, though more ob-
noxious to the principle they asserted than
that they proposed to resist by arms.

This terminated the war against the Union
on the pretext of the tariff; but Mr. Calhoun
kept up his war upon the Jackson administra-
tion under the banners of the Bank, while in-
sidiously preparing a more extensive combina-
tion to broach secession on the part of the
South by creating alarm for the safety of its
filave institution. No serious alarm could be
produced •, and although the irritating discus-
sions between the nullifiers and abolitionits in
Congress resulted in exciting bad feeling on !
the part of the slave towards the free States,
no apprehension of aggression from the latter
could even be dissembled sufficiently to coun-
tenance another secession attempt. Mr. Cal
houn then changed his tactics, and looked to
aggression on the part of the South, stimulated
by the ambition of extending the power of its


institution, at the risk of collision and a breach
between the States. His design was assisted
by the defeat of Mr. Van Buren, the death of
Gen. Harrison, and the accession of Mr. Tyler
to the Presidency. Tyler was (me of the ear-
liest proselytes to nullification, and was classed
by Col. Benton among " Calhoun's Mormons."
On becoming Premier in Tyler's Administra-
tion, Calhoun became, dejuctn, President, and
made conquests for slavery the main purpose
of the Administration.

To produce combinations in favor of this
policy at home, his first step was to provoke
hostility to it abroad. He hunted up from the
files of the State Department an old letter of
Lord Aberdeen, saying something deprecating
the perpetuation of slavery, and he responded
by proclaiming the purpose of annexing Texas,
to give a fresh impetus to the march of slave-
ry. He addressed another letter to our Minis-
ter to France, (Mr. King, of Alabama,) avow-
ing the same design, to extort from that Power
some expression of repugnance to what he
knew its policy condemned. He then pushed
his treaty of Texan annexation into the Son-
ate, where it was rejected. Next, he made
annexation, by a bare resolution of Congress,
the subject of violent controversy in both
Houses, threatening disruption, and carried
it, after it was on the eve of defeat, by inducing
Mr. Polk, the President elect, to practice a
fraud on Benton and his friends, who had vo-
ted down the treaty, and meant to vote down
the resolution. The trick was thus compassed.
Polk pledged himself, that if Benton's [dan of
annexing Texas on certain conditions guard-
ing against the dangers of Calhoun's scheme
were added as an alternative to the latter, in
the execution of it, by the incoming President,
Benton's would be adopted and carried out.
The annexation was voted in this alternative
form, and Polk, who on the next day was
sworn in as President, violated his solemn
pledges, without a pretence of denial, and gave
effect to Calhoun The absolute sub-

serviency of Mr. Polk to Mr. Calhoun's policy
had been secured in advance of his elec-

By broaching suddenly the extension of sla-
very as a test question iu the nominating Con-
vention of the Democracy. 1 8 1 1 ; (the delegates
to which had been almost universally instruct-
ed to vote for Mr. Van Buren.) the Southern
members were combined, to exact a pledge
from him to annex Texas with that \\orr. Mr.
Van Buren declined, iu a letter, to adopt the
course prescribed, or to annex Texas without
reachinir it through diplomacy. This answer
accomplished Mr. Calhoun's design agsinBl
him, embodied the whole Southern delegation
in opposition; and this rendering his election
impossible, the body appointed to nominate
him, v : wed. Looking to this result, Mr. Cal-
houn, u- ih • head of Tyler's Administration,
had convoked a Convention gotten up by his

office-holders in the different States, to meet at
Baltimore on the same day with the Demo-
cratic Convention. While, therefore, Mr. Pick-
ens and others of Mr. Calhoun's South Caro-
lina friends attended the latter, laying their
credentials on the table, to vote, if necessary,
the Tyler Convention nominated him for re-
election, with a view to control the nomination
of the Democracy. If it nomiuated any man
hostile to Texas and slavery extension, the
Democratic Southern delegates were ready to
declare against him, and go for Tyler, making
a Democratic defeat inevitable. In this state
of thiugs, Polk, who had declared himself for an-
nexation, supplanted Van Buren ; and Calhoun,
holding Tyler as his automaton candidate in
hand, was enabled to make his own bargain
with Polk, who was given to understand, that
Tyler, who would receive the vote of Calhoun's
party in the South, and transfer several States
to the Whigs, would decline in his favor, if he
would commit himself, secretly, to Mr. Cat
houn's whole eckemo of elavery extension.
Polk yielded ; and it was expressly but confi-
dentially stipulated by him, with Mr. Pickens,
that he (Polk) would disarm the organ estab-
lished by General Jackson to maintain his
policy, and set up one favorable to Mr. Cal-
houn's designs, which thenceforward became
common to both. The consequences began
immediately to reveal themselves. Tyler re-
signed, in i; Lvor of Polk. In advance of the
election, he furtively withdrew fifty thousand
dollars from the Treasury, and put it at the
disposal of prominent personages, who were in
the schema, to provide a new organ. Mr. Bu-
chanan, who was in the secret, wrote a letter
to Mr. Bibb, (Mr. Calhoun's accomplice for
years, and through his influence made Secre-
tary of the Treasury,] recommending the agent
who received the money. Mr. Polk's perfidy
to Colonel Benton in violating the pledge to
adopt his mode of annexing Texas, providing
preliminary conditions, was the first public
signal of revolt from the Democracy, and ad-
hesion to the iiulufiers. The next was his re-
fusal to appoint Flagg to the Treasury, (to
which he had pledged himself to General Jack-
son,) followed by the induction of Walker, to
devote its resources to the extension of slavery.
Then the withdrawal from Mr. Butler, of New
York, the overture he had made of the War
Department, as soon as he declared his willing-
ness to accept it, giving the place to Marcy,
the opponent of Van Buren and Wright, to
whose support he owed the Presidency. Soon
after this i .ime the repudiation of the Globe,
the installation of Ritchie, with Hunter, Mason,
and all the reBt of Tyler's and Calhoun's Vir-
ginia junto, drawing after them all who had
given evidence of alienation from the Democ-
racy during the Jackson and Van Buren ad-
ministrations. In the North, the same confi-
dence in malcontents prevailed. In Massa-
chusetts, ttie Greens, of the Fost, and Cushiug,

of Tyler corporal's guard, ruled the hour. In
New York, the Hunkers. In Pennsylvania,
Buchanan, as Premier in the Cabinet, stamp-
ed his sinister and oblique look on all the aims
of the party. In Missouri, Atchison, who ob-
tained his seat in the Senate from the favor of
Benton, was made his enemy and rival by the
Administration. Yet Polk was reduced to ask
Benton's aid to deliver them from the " master-
ly inactivity " into which Calhoun's policy had
brought their military operations in Mexico.

They tendered him the Lieutenant General-
ship, on the adoption of his plan of carrying on
the war, to the city of Mexico, and yet conclu-
ded by betraying him and defeating the bill for
his appointment in the Senate. Then the Ad-
ministration contrived that coalition between its
own Democratic partisans, the nullifiers, under
Atchison, and the Whigs, under Mr. Geyer,
(elected Senator,) which sacrificed him at
home. Cass and McLane, who had brooded
over the disaffection in the Jackson Cabinet on
the removal of the deposits, who had assisted
in the bank panic, and who aided the con-
spiracy to bring on the revulsion which over-
threw the Democratic successor of Jackson,
were made representative men of the new De-
mocracy installed by Calhoun, Tyler, and Polk,
after those who had rebuilt that of Jefferson,
under Jackson, were ostracised. And certain-
ly no better exemplars of the policy which was
to control north of Mason and Dixon's line
could have been found than Cass and McLane.
They were the high priests of that mysterious
influence which breeds doughfaces — a tribe
fattening on the spoils of Government, and
propagating that fear of change through which
many well-meaning men are often subjected to
the despotism of the most depraved.

The effect of the system, by which that of
Jackson, handed down by the revolutionary
stock, was superseded, is before us. The ex-
tension of slavery into. Texas only whetted the
ambition of the Southern oligarchs for the con-
quest of Mexico. The war was made, which
Mr. Calhoun's policy would have rendered term-
inable only by a military subjugation reducing
the mass of the population to the condition of
vassalage. That was the meaning of his " mas-
terly inactivity," which proposed simply a mil-
itary occupation commanding the country.
Col. Benton's plan brought the war to a close,
securing to the people of the portion of Mexico,
purchased at the cost of fifteen millions to ex-
tend our boundaries to the Pacific, the full en-
joyment of their own local laws, under which
the slave system was abrogated. This turned
the war of the nullifiers on our own Govern-
ment. They resolved, if California came in as
a free State, the slave States would go out of
the Union. General Taylor, who made the
conquests, and succeeded Polk as President,
(the latter being justly repudiated by all par-
ties,) was prepared to veto the compromise of
1850, which recognised the right of converting

any portion of the free territory acquired of Mex-
j. (into slave territory. Fillmore, the Northern
Vice President, coming iuto power on the death
of Taylor, seeking a norubiation from the South,
sarreudere*d the position taken by his princi-
pal, and open'ed the way to slavery iuto the
free Mexican territories annexed to ours. He'
sunk under his submission, and President
Pierce succeeded, solemnly pledging himself
to maintain the limitations imposed by the va-
rious compromises against the extension of
slavery. Another term in the Presidency, only
to be Loped for by sacrificing his honor to the
6lave {States, was an irresistible bribe to his
poor ambition. Affected fear of a dissolution
oi' the Union was the mask of dough under
which he covered his treachery, and he entered
the race with Douglas, and endeavored to out-
ruu him in concessions to secure the Southern
phalanx. The Missouri compromise was re-
pealed, and the whole system designed by the
fathers of the Republic to resist the progress
of slavery, and make deliverance at some time
possible, was pulled down.

The political alarmists communicated their
panic to the Supreme Court, and the venerable
incumbents, apprehending that secession might
slip their benches from under them, concluded
to make them fast by reversing all former de-
cisions, and considering all ordinances, all
laws which treated slavery as a State institu-
tion depending on local laws, as mistakes of
uuenlightened generations, and entered up a
decree to plant it on the Constitution of the
United States. Fortified in that citadel by the
judgment of the tribunal of the last resort, no
law of Congress, of State or Territory, can dis-
turb it. it goes wherever the Constitution, the
supreme law, goes. Mr. Buchanan on coming
to the Presidency took a step beyond all his
predecessors, and the Supreme Court. He at-
tempted to drag Kansas as a State into the
Union with a slave Constitution, against the
consent ot its people, employing military force,
fraud, and corruption, to accomplish it, and
having failed, has contrived to exclude the
State from the right to come into the Union,
accorded to all others under similar circum-
stances. Why are not those who wield all the
powers of the Federal Government so abso~
lately, satisfied with their triumph? Is it that
a sense of wrong is ever attended with an ap-
prehension of redress?

And what has this unsatisfactory ineffectual
effort to build up a system hostile to that es-
tablished by the fathers of the Government
cost the country in its moral and material in-
terests ?

Mr. Sherman, chairman of the Committee
of "Ways and Means, submitted to the House a
statement showing the growth of the expenses
and population at every census, and rate of
tax for each inhabitant. This, compared with
the increase during the present Administration,
shows that at the outset, 1792, our population

being in round numbers four millions, the tax
per head was fifty cents ; in 1830, (General
Jackson's term,) in a population of about
thirteen millions, the tax was $1.03 ; in 1840,
(Mr. Van Buren's term,) the population being
about seventeen millions, the tax was $1.41.
Now, (in Mr. Buchanan's time, 1858,) the in-
habitants estimated at twenty-eight millions, the
rate of tax is $3 per head. By the increase of
inhabitants, a little more than three-fold at the
Jackson period, the tax was only doubled.
At the Van Buren period, the inhabitants
being increased six-fold, the tax falls short ten
cents of being tripled. On the population,
estimated as increased seven-fold in 1858, the
increase of tax from the actual expenditure of
1857 shows an increase of tax of thirty-six-
fold for each person. Now, this enormous in-
crease in the rate of expenditure, compared
with that shown to mark its progress, with that
of the population from the beginning up to the
close of Van Buren's Administration, argues
the operation of some cause more potent than
the inclination of the head of the Government
towards extravagance and corruption. It ar-
gues that some prevailing passion or principle
influenced a powerful party in the country to
protect a responsible Executive in such an
abandonment of the economy which custom
had established, (under a succession of Ad-
ministrations and parties in the Republic,) and
which had concurred in making frugal expend-
iture a test of a faithful attention to the inter-
ests of the people. Nowhere was this test so
severely applied as in the slave States, where
taxation by the Federal Government had be-
come peculiarly obnoxious, because levied by
a tariff which, it was insisted, oppressed the
South, while it protected the North.

The extraordinary increase of taxation and
expenditure, out of proportion to the increase
of population, becomes the more extraordinary,
therefore, when it is considered that all the Ad-
ministrations under which it has grown up
were installed and controlled absolutely by the
embodied power of the parsimonious South.
This paradox, however, is easy of solution.
The negro mania, which Mr. Calhoun's inap-
peasable ambition laid hold of, as operating on
the whole nervous system of the slave States,
was excited every way to combine them as a
whole, and bring all their energies to advance
his schemes. The gigautic strides of the North
to power in wealth and population was pointed
at, to alarm ; its repugnance to slavery, to pro-
voke ; its progress in arts, literature, commerce,
and manufactures, to create envy; and all to
excite sectional ambition. To gratify it and
his own, Mr. Calbouu proposed to band all
their strength to add new empire for slavery.
War, to extend the area of slavery, became
the watchword in the South ; and the appli-
cation of the wealth of the North to such a
cause, no matter how profusely, was true econ-
omy for the South. The military service of

Van Buren's terra was raised by the Florida
war, from $'21,000,000, its test in the preceding
term, to $47,000,000. This was to capture
slaves, and drive out the Seminoles, to make a
new slave State. As this State was withiu the
then existing boundary of slavery, this expendi-
ture could not be held to be one enlarging the
area of slavery ; yet it is fair to ascribe to the
necessities of that institution the encumbering
of Mr. Van Buren's Administration with an ad-
ditional $7,000,000 annually during his term.
It was, however, on the accession of Mr. Cal-
houu to power under Tyler, that the system
was organized — devotiug the treasures of the
nation to Southern policy, and making a slave
empire to encroach on free territory, and swal-
low the Gulf and the tropics. The annexation of
Texas was the first step; the war with Mexico
to extend the boundary of Texas, the next.
The naval and military service for the four
years of Polk's term amounted to $123,048,599.
Fifteen (15) millions were then paid to Mexico
for the region acquired by the sword. Teu
(10) millions more were paid to Texas, for the
pretended claim oho asserted over New Mexi-
co, which, though assented to by Northern
men, doubtless to disentangle it from Texas
and slavery, now boasts a slave code, through
the influence of the civil and military power
of the Federal Administration over that prov-
ince. Then followed the G xdsden treaty, pro-
viding $20,000,000 for Arizona— cut down in
the Senate to $10,000,000, lest the enormity of
the amount should burst the Senate's prison-
house, and let out the corruptions divulged in
secret session which procured the arrangement,
and lead to new corruptions. The desert, or
arid zone, which was looked to in the first
treaty as a barrier to separate the nations,
was acquired to draw the contemplated Pacific

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