George Hooker Colton.

The American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 14) online

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" Such a discrimination in the Duties necessarily
laid upon Imports for the support of Government,
13



180



Unity of the }VTilr/s .



September,



as shall secure to the Industry of our countrymen
a just remuneration, and shall stimulate Mechani-
cal and Manufacturing Enterprise, and thus provide
a home consumption for the products of Agricul-
ture, which may control and counteract the un-
steady demands of foreign markets, and as shall
promote that healthy interchange among ourselves
of the fruits of our own skill and labor, which is so
well calculated to cement our Union, and main-
tain the spirit of national independence :

" That the Whigs of the State, a? a body, are
inflexibly opposed to the subjection of any terri-
tory of the United States, now free, to laws im-
posing involuntary servitude, except as a punish-
ment for crime, and they rejoice that no proposition
to that effect is now pending, or is likely to be pre-
sented ; while, at the same time, they unqualifiedly
acknowledge the right of every sovereign State
to regulate its own municipal institutions, in such
manner as its people may deem most conducive
to their safety and happiness, without interference,
directly or indirectly, by citizens of other States,
or subjects of other countries :

" That the Whigs of this State will abide by the
Constitution of the United States, in all its parts,
and that they will receive its true meaning and con-
struction from the judicial tribunals it has created
for that purpose, and will always sustain and de-
fend such decisions, as the law of the land, until
they are reversed by the same tribunals :

" That the laws of Congress and of the State
Legislatm-es, pronounced constitutional by the
judicial tribunals, must be enforced, and implicitly
obeyed ; and that while this is cheerfully recog-
nized as the duty of all, as subjects of the laws,
yet that the right of citizens, as voters, is equally
undeniable to discuss, with a full and mutual re-
gard for the rights and interests of all parts of the
confederacy, (which is as necessary now to main-
tain, as it was indispensable to acliieve the blessed
Union of these States,) the expediency of such
laws, and the propriety of any of their provisions,
and to seek, by constitutional means, their repeal
or modification :

" That all who are animated by a sincere desire
to preserve the Union unimpaired, and the free
institutions which it sustains and guarantees, by
which alone individual security and national peace
and prosperity can be perpetuated, must condemn
all attempts to resist, defeat, or render ineffectual
any laws passed by constitutional majorities of
legislative bodies, in either the Federal or State
Governments; and that the Whigs of New- York
will ever be found prompt to render a patriotic
acquiescence in all such laws :

" That the National Administration is entitled
to the confidence and support of the Whigs of New-
York, for the eminent ability and patriotism which
have characterized its measures ; for its successful
management of our foreign affairs ; the generous
sympathy it has exhibited toward an oppressed
people struggling for fi-eedom ; the force and dig-
nity with which it has maintained the right to
indulge such sympathy, and with which it has
rebuked the threats of an imperious Government
to violate the immunities of an accredited public
agent; and the determination it has evinced to
repress and defeat all movements tending to im-



pair the public foith, and all unlawful enterprises
calculated to disturb the public peace and provoke
civil war, or to sever or weaken the relations of
any State with the Union:

" That the Administration of this State has fully
justified the confidence in its capacity, intelligence
and integrity, which called it into being -. that the
public interests in the various departments of Edu-
cation, Finance, and Jurisprudence, and in the
extension of the means of intercourse and of cheap
transportation, have been vigorously and prudently
sustained and promoted ; Constitutional Govern-
ment by legal majorities has been vindicated, and
the general prosperity of the State has been sed-
ulously and successfully maintained ; and by em-
ploying the means which previous expenditures,
guided by enlightened forecast, had placed within
our reach, to consummate the great work of the
age, has presented a vivid contrast to the narrow,
unjust, and wasteful policy of those who would
scatter those means by such an impotent applica-
tion of them as would postpone to a very distant
posterity, if not indefinitely, the enjoyment of an
inestimable heritage of wealth and prosperity :

" That for the purpose of sustaining these views
and principles in the election of State officers en-
tertaining them at the ensuing general election,
the Committee above mentioned recommend that
a Convention, consisting of one delegate from each
Assembly District of the State, be held at Syra-
cuse, on the 17th day of September next, at 12
o'clock at noon."

It will be seen that reflection and patriot-
ism have combined to produce a reconcilia-
tion of the conflicting elements. There must
in all questions be some absolute principles,
which are ascertainable by reason and can-
dor combining to discover them. In this
case we believe these principles have been
ascertained and set forth. On the practical
application of them there may still differ-
ences of opinion arise ; but in the mean time
a great gain has been made, inasmuch as
the party can act together under them, and
await the issue of events for their application,
when the same reason, patriotism and can-
dor will, we have good reason to hope, pre-
vail, should occasions arise when they have
to be acted on. In this statement we con-
ceive each division has conceded to the other
the abstract principles that lay at the foun-
dation of their opinions. The right of ob-
jection and constitutional resistance has been
conceded, whilst on the other hand the policy
and necessity of acquiescence, submission to
and maintenance of existing law, has been
admitted and enforced. This is in perfect
accordance with the very genius of our po-
litical institutions, and must command the
approval of all candid minds.

There has undoubtedly been, as we Lave



1851.



Their Principles and Measures.



181



already intimated, a reaction iu the public
mind ; and it lias become generall}' appa-
rent to all, that no practical good can result
from the agitation of any of those questions
which were intended to be settled by the
compromise measures. Parties, it has at
last l>ecorae perfectly plain, can accomplish
nothing towards their ascendency as such,
by incorporating into their legitimate creeds
any thing sectional. Very properly, there-
fore, these Committees have repudiated for
the Whigs any such idea, and have promi-
nently set forth those doctrines which have
distinguished them heretofore, and which
have animated those known by this name
in every part of the Union, North and
South.

The action of the Whigs of the great
State of New- York on this subject has been
watched with great interest and anxiety by
its friends in other sections of the country,
and the proceeding on which we are com-
menting will be hailed by them as an aus-
picious omen of a return to that harmony
which will enable them, as heretofore, to
labor together for those great principles of
national beneiicence for which they have ever
contended.

Those principles are, it will be perceived,
very properly put forth prominently in tliis
call. They are such as the countrj'' cannot
do without and prosper. They are essential
to the independence and the vigor of the
nation. Its true progress is involved in them,
as is demonstrated by every page of our
history.

An essential feature in the administration
of a republican government is economy ;
an economy that has no merely technical
signification, but that also embraces the idea
of obtaining real value and service for the
money expended ; discouraging by its pos
itive requirements that bane and canker of
our political life, office-seeking, by retaining
all who have conscientiously qualified them-
selves to serve the country, and appointing
none but those who have the character and
ability to do the same. To the victors do
not belong the spoils, for there are no spoils,
unless parties confess themselves thieves and
plunderers of the public purse.

Under a republican government there
are no irresponsible public officers. The
Constitution and laws of the land confer and
limit all powers and proceedings, define all
duties and privileges ; the judiciary explains



and settles all questions. No officer, how-
ever high, can administer "rt.9 he under-
stands,''' or make his will the law, lie must
be held strictly accountable to the nation —
the people. Not their will of to-day or to-
morrow as he may conceive it is, or will be,
but their will as it has been enacted into
constitutions and laws.

Honesty and good faith (for we must di-
vide this paragraph of the " platform") are
the very soul of the Republic. Our agree-
ments and obligations with and to other na-
tions muit be preserved inviolate by the ad-
ministrators of the governnaent, if they would
not create a moral atmosphere in which the
nation will sicken and die. AVithout this
how can we assert, maintain and defend our
own rights from encroachment ? Without
this, instead of going forth to fight for them,
when the occasion may arrive, in the bright
armor of right, we shall be covered but with
the shirt of Nessus, that will ^^oison and
destroy ; happy if, like Hercules, we have but
the spirit left to make our own funeral pyre,
and become immortalized for what we have
done in our more heroic and virtuous youth.

So far these propositions may appear to
some to be undeniable abstractions, not prop-
erly belonging to the creed of any party
as such ; but whoever go considers them Inis
taken little note of the last twenty years of
our political history. During that time they
have been openly and palpably violated by
our opponents. Some of their great men
have avowedly acted in opposition to them.
They have been the apologists for State delin-
quencies to them, and they have encouraged
irresponsible combinations for the infraction
of some of the most impoi'tant b}' the des-
perate and reckless "fellows of the baser sort"
amongst them. If not openly incorporated
into their creeds, "Baltimore platforms,"
and so forth, opposition to these principles
has become part of the common or unwrit-
ten law of the party.

Among the passages of recent history
which crowd upon us in illustration of this,
there is one which covers so much ground,
and illustrates and confirms in so striking a
manner these observations, that we will forti-
fy our position by quoting it.

In Mr. Calhoun's speech against the Con-
quest of Mexico, delivered in the Senate,
January 4th, 1848,* occurs the following

* See American Review, March, 1848.



182



Unity of the Whigs :



September,



significant, we liad almost said terrible pas-
sage : —

"Sir, there is no solicitude now for liberty.
Who talks of liberty when any great question
comes up ? Here is a question of the first magni-
tude as to the conduct of this war; do you hear
any body talk about its effects upon our liberties
and our free institutions ? No, sir. That was not
the case formerly. In the early stages of our gov-
erament the great anxiety was, how to preserve
liberty. The great anxiety now is for the attain-
ment of mere military glory. In the one we are
forgetting the other. The maxim of former times
was, that power is always stealing from the many
to the few ; the price of liberty was perpetual
■vigilance. They were constantly looking out and
watching for danger. Not so now. Is it because
there has been any decay of liberty among the
people ? Not at all. I believe the love of liberty
was never more ardent, but they have forgotton
the tenure of liberty by which alone it is pre-
served.

" We think we may now indulge in every thing
with impunity, as if we held oui' charter of liberty
by 'right divine' — from Heaven itself. Under
these impressions we plunge into war, we contract
heavy debts, we increase the patronage of the
Executive, and we talk of a crusade to force our in-
stitutions of liberty upon all people. There is no
species of extravagance which our people imagine
will endanger their liberty in any degree. Sir,
the hour is approaching — the day of retribution
will come. It will come as certainly as I am now
addressing the Senate, and when it docs come,
awful will be the reckoning ; heavy the resjjonsi-
bility somewhere."

Such is the tone and purpose of that un-
scrupulous party ; as plainly exhibited at
this day as it was when this warning was
uttered by this great and experienced states-
man. It has not, it is true, made as yet a new
field of action such as it had then ; but it is
rapidly preparing to do so, and thus strike
another blow at the Union and existence of
these States, which if it is permitted to do
we have no doubt will be its death-blow.
How necessary then for the Whigs to reit-
erate and claim as belonging to the party
the doctrine of Administrative Economy;
the accountabihty and limitation of the
powers of public officers ; the faithful per-
formance in letter and spirit of our obliga-
tions to other nations ; a scrupulous regard
for their rights, and firm maintenance of our
own. What reliance can any section of the
country have, for the observance of their
constitutional rights, upon a party that
practically consider nothing as law but the
demagogue-excited fanaticism of the hour ?
What madness in the South, for instance, to
encourage in any degree this spirit so utterly



fatal to those constitutional guarantees on
which they rely for the security of their
rights against such fanaticism. If oiu- treaty
obligations with other nations, and the
laws enacted by oin-selves to carry them into
effect, are to be thus infamously trifled with,
who can tell what other laws, no less sacred,
will share the same fate ? Resistance to such
a spii'it, in any and all its forms, is the most
sacred political obligation that can rest upon
a republican citizen, be he of what party or
what section he may.

It will easily be perceived that these last
sentences have been penned in view of the
new hydra head that is just making itself
apparent in the Cuban attempt to repeat
the Texan abomination. It bids fair to be
a monster more hideous than the last — a
much more illegitimate progeny of the law-
less party of the Republic. Those despera-
does who engage in it, without the honor,
heroism, or courage to regard it as a purely
pereonal adventure, but desire to tarnish the
honor of this nation by involving it in the
scheme, wiil (there is no alternative) either
meet their own destruction, or bring destruc-
tion upon this Union. From the questions
growing out of the Texan scheme we have
barely escaped this result. This, following
so closely upon it, would inevitably effect it.

But passing these principles, let tis pro-
ceed to the measures set forth by the Com-
mittees. That the Federal Government
should undertake a judicious system of im-
provements of the rivers and harbors of the
country, is, we believe, a universally admit-
ted doctrine by Whigs of all sections.

The miserable fallacies which the other
party have opposed to this beneficent mea-
sure are utterly unworthy of refutation.
They have in fact already failed to prevent
its passage through Congress ; and the
ai-bitrary tyranny of the veto had to be re-
sorted to to destroy the bill. The internal
commerce and facility of communication be-
tween almost any two States of this Union,
is of more consequence than our whole
external relations, if we except one or two
nations. The party that opposes this mea-
sure has no objection to spending thousands
of dollars through charges and ambassadors
in obtaininof commercial arrangements with
the most insignificant nations — arrangements
many of which only benefit two or three
mercantile firms — such is the force of tra-
ditional, technical pohtics ; whilst they stren-



1851.



Their Princ'qyles and Measures.



183



uously oppose ex]3enditures by tlie Govern-
ment, which in a single year might save
from absokite destruction property beyond
the whole amount required, and through
all time facilitate the flow of that " vital cur-
rent " of prosperity — the internal trade be-
tween the various States of the Union — that
of all other things most tends to cement our
nationality, and insure prosperity and inde-
pendence.

Following this, we have a statement of
the doctrine of Protection to our native in-
dustrj^ at the present time the most pressing-
necessity of all. We write in the midst of
a threatened commercial crisis and convul-
sion, when money is commanding on the
best mercantile paper fifteen per cent, per
annum ; and that in the midst of the unex-
ampled influx of gold from our Pacific pos-
sessions. It is notorious that this alarming
feet is owing to the excessive purchases of
foreign goods, induced by a most senseless
and undiseriminating ad-valorem tariff"; a
tariff" that is throwing into the hands of
other nations all the pecuniary advantages
we expected to reap from that amazing
enterprise of our countrymen, by which
they have opened to the world the vast
riches so long hidden in the streams and
mountains of California. We are taking all
the risk and they all the profit. Whilst we
are making these excessive purchases abroad,
and thus contributing to pay the grinding
taxations of monarchical powers required for
their senseless splendors and excessive debts,
— debts contracted, in many cases, to put
down the liberties of man, — our own mills,
mines and furnaces are to an alarming ex-
tent idle and useless, the capital invested
in them utterly unproductive. Our farmers
are obliged to expend most of their labor in
cultivating the most unprofitable products,
in conse(j[uence of the limitation of the home
market, and to sell them at the most unre-
munerating rates, in order to compete, in a
market three or four thousand miles off",
with products grown on the spot, or only
brought across the British channel, or from
the sliores of the Baltic sea. Our republican
system demands and requires protection to
our republican laborers. Of what avail is it,
so far as their material well-being is con-
cerned, that these classes have the franchise
of freemen and a voice in all the affairs of
state, if they are obliged to compete with
those who, having no voice in the legislation



of their country, are bound hand and foot
and must labor for whatever the avarice of
their master pleases to pay them ? The
false political systems of the European
nations reach and enslave us, to a greater
or less degree, as long as this state of affairs
lasts. The Britisli system of "free trade"
pharisaically demands that we should con-
sider our " brethren in bonds as bound with
them ;" but we would rather invite the bond-
men to leave their shackles behind, and join
us in the establishment of a nation, that in
its political, social and economical equality
and perfection, will b}^ its peaceful progress
shame those nations into the adoption of a
like sj'stem of freedom, equality and justice.
Such are the wide, important, world-embra-
cing views with which we would advocate
protection to American industry and Ameri-
can freedom. A freedom thus secured and
thus protected appears to us to go beyond
the mere political idea usually attached to
the term, and, if thoroughly understood and
carried out, to be the solution for most of
the social enigmas that perplex and distract
the age — so far at least as that solution is
to be sought for, or expected, outside of the
individual regeneration.

Other results there are of this measure of
protection to our native industry, that reach
beyond the mere economic, (this, too, we
also claim as has so often been demonstrated
in these pages,) calculated, with that we
have referred to, to inspire the party that
maintains it with a unity of devotion and
an enthusiasm of action, before which the
theorists for a mere material national wealth,
however unequally distributed, should be
swept away as chaff before the wind.

One of these is diversity of labor and
enterprise. Looking at the gigantic and
horrible evils resulting from the competition
among laborers for the same employment,
as recently exhibited in such books as
" London Labor and the London Poor,"
"Alton Locke," &c., — undeniable representa-
tions of facts, — every thoughtful statesman
must be led to the conclusion, that here is
discovered the pit-fall of modern civilization,
the inevitable doom of unrestricted or unad-
justed competition ; and that unless this
gulf be avoided, his labor for his country or
mankind is in vain, and there can be no con-
tinuous progress for the race. Modern
civilization, like the ancient, must fall into
ruin. The human intellect must return to



184



Unity of the Whigs.



September,



barbarism and anarcliy, and again lie fallow
througli "dark ages," to renew its strength
for another contest with Fate. Now this
diversity of industrial occupations, in which it
would appear that the very safety of civiliza-
tion itself rests, can only be obtained by us
in the present condition of the world by
Protection. Besides this vital result involved
in the proper estabhshment of diversity of
occupations, there are others of the greatest
importance. Nations arc educated, retined,
and invigorated by their pursuits more than
by any other causes. Intellect is thus de-
veloped in all directions. Thus only can be
acquired that combination of scientific dis-
covery and mechanical skill, in which almost
the entire strength of modern nations con-
sists. From whence have come those in-
ventions and improvements that indicate the
existence of a Uving energy in nations^*
Where, but from the centres of diversified
industry, where minds, clashing together,
communicate to each other those various
ideas which, combined by excited genius,
produce those great results that constitute
real national glory ?

They come not from the necessarily isola-
ted condition of an exclusively rural popu-
lation. This kind of ]wpulation is undoubt-
edly the most important of all — the great
underlying foundations of the social edi-
fice ; but remaining a dead level of mere
material comfort, unless it be surrounded
and interpenetrated, by centres of more
varied industry and enterprise : places where
the genius for other pursuits, which will inev-
itably appear in almost every family among
this population, may find its legitimate field
of action, instead of chafing in uncongenial
pursuits, or rusting in inactivity. The Eng-
lish doctrines of free trade, so industriously
promulgated among our farmers, may tempt
their adlierence by some of their plausibih-
ties. But should they not consider to what
a dead level it must consign them — what a
restricted freedom they would have, if they
must be confined to the one round, no mat-
ter what desires, genius, or ambition their
sons may possess ?

Yes, this great foundation of society must
be so laid and so cemented, that from out it
and incorporated with it, may arise those
Rtructures of mechanical and manufacturing
ingenuity, those domes of science and tem-
ples of art, that not only educate, dignify,
and perpetuate the fame of a people; but



reacting upon agriculture itself, make of it
also a science and an art, infinitely more
efilcient and refined.

Such are the doctrines of internal improve-
ment and protection to our native industry in
their more enlarged aspects, and in those re-
sults of them, that appeal to the deeper prin-
ciples of our nature, demanding from us by all
the motives of patriotism and humanity an
enthusiasm and a self-sacrifice that should
induce us to bear and forbear every thing to
the last point of honor, with all who are
with us in the sacred cause, that we may
present an unbroken front to its enemies.
Contrast these beneficent principles with the
barren negations that constitute the creed of
our opponents, and say which should be con-
sidered the party of progress and action ?

Kesponding to the call of these Commit-
tees of the Whigs of the great State of
New- York, we have thus endeavored to pre-
sent in bold, though rude outlines the prin-



Online LibraryGeorge Hooker ColtonThe American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 14) → online text (page 19 of 89)