J. Bartlett.

Speech of Mr. Bartlett, at a meeting of citizens opposed to the re-election of Andrew Jackson, holden at Portsmouth, N.H., Oct. 15, 1832 online

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Online LibraryJ. BartlettSpeech of Mr. Bartlett, at a meeting of citizens opposed to the re-election of Andrew Jackson, holden at Portsmouth, N.H., Oct. 15, 1832 → online text (page 1 of 3)
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Opposed to the Re-election of Andrew Jackson,



OCT. 15, 183*.

Printed bt Miller & BREvranit.


Mr. Chairman,—'

We have been accustomed to lookback upon the
period of our Revolution as the most eventful crisis in our country's
history. The actors in the scenes of that day cannot recur to them
without partaking of the anxiety that then filled every bosom, nor can
their descendants review the page of history, that records the struggles,
the sacrifices, the sufferings in the cause of Freedom, without sharing
in the despondency, that, at times, oppressed the stoutest hearts— the
high resolve, that the noble enterprise inspired — the excited hopes,
which followed success — and the exultation at final victory. But, sir,
in my judgment, there was no time in the darkest hour of that strug-
gle, when the cause of Liberty was in more peril— there was no mo-
ment, when the utmost energies of the friends of free institutions were
more earnestly called for, than at the approaching election of Presi-
dent. Had the power of Great Britain then subdued the rising spirit
of Freedom in the colonies, — a rebellion would have been suppressed
— and the Revolution postponed — not defeated. The onward march
of free principles would only have been retarded— not stopped, and
that, which was attempted in infancy, we would have executed in man-
hood. Fatal indeed vrould be the consequences of OUr failure, at this
time, in the experiment of a Republican form of government. In our
conflict with power, then, we triumphed gloriously. We have boasted,
that we have established a system of government free and perfect as
human nature will admit of, and have challenged the world to witness
its successful operation, and the eyes of the world are upon us. If this
experiment shall now fail — if our freedom shall be yielded to force or
fraud — the downfal of republican government here brings with it not only
the desolation of all free institutions in this hemisphere, but the ruin of
the last hope of freedom throughout the earth for ages to come, if not
forever. Shall I be asked, " Is our republican system of government
in danger ?" It is in danger ! — If Andrew Jackson is re-elected Pres-
ident — it is destroyed! To what quarter are we to look for the ap-
proach of danger to our institutions ? Not from hostile fleets or ar-
mies. Let invasion be threatened, and it is hardly figurative to say
— that

" The groves would descend

From the hill tops they shaded,

Our shores to defend."

From foreign force or foreign foes we have no fears, where in the
cause of Liberty, every citizen is a soldier, and every soldier a hero.

Our dangers are from within. They are in the midst of us. When
the accidental popularity of an individual shall place him at the head of
our government, with no one qualification for the discharge of the du-
ties of such high trust, — when such individual shall surrender himself
to the keeping of unprincipled and irresponsible demagogues, and when,
through their " malign influence," all the terrors of proscription, and all
the temptations of bribery and corruption are put in requisition to over-
awe and delude the people — when the cry o( republicanism is raised to
cover the grossest usurpation of tyranny — and the doctrine is unblush-
ingly avowed, that public offices are mere " spoils of the enemy," with
which "to reward the victors" — then, if the people acquiese — then in-
deed is the temple of our Liberties " the holy and beautiful house
where our fathers worshipped" made a desolation and a ruin.

Mr. Chairman, to avert the danger from this source which now
threatens us, I supplicate my fellow citizens to arouse, buckle on their
armor, assert and vindicate their rights. With the convictions that rest
upon my mind, I should be a traitor to the principles of patriotism, which
I have cherished from my childhood, not to express the alarm which I
feel-^an alarm which I would I could proclaim in a voice that should
reach the remotest settlement in our borders. In justification of this
feehng, permit me to advert, very hastily, as I must do, to some of the
prominent pretences and promises by which the friends of Andrew Jack-
son effected his election ; — to the manner in which those pretences and
promises have been treated by him since in office ; — to the fearful evils
realized in his administration beyond all the predictions of the opponents
to his election ; and to some of the fatal influences of the corrupt system of
his party, upon, tho ^roat interests of the country, and of this State in

Nearly eight years since, it became my duty, holding the vote of a
sixth part of this State, to choose between Andrew Jackson and the
other candidates then presented to the House of Representatives. —
That duty I endeavoured to discharge, under a sense of all the solemn
responsibility that rested upon me, — and I gave my vote for the candi-
date who succeeded against him, and that success was received with
acclamation by all parties throughout New-Hampshire. Four years
since, when his claims were again urged for the office ; when his par-
tizans multiphed charges against the then incumbent, and reiterated the
promises of reform, which Andrew Jackson would accomplish, — know-
ing the charges to be false, and having no faith in the pretences and
promises made, and believing it my duty to let the truth be known to
my fellow citizens, then, in this place, I publickly stated my reasons
for still adhering to the judgement formed on the most candid and care-
ful deliberation ; — and then it was, that such adherence to principle
and to previous opinion was denounced as " treason" — as " apostacy,"
then it was, that those journals which had denounced his election as

'* a curse to the country,'^ denounced those as traitors, who would not
help to bring that cujse upon us-

But what were the pretences and promises then urged for the election
of Andrew Jackson ? —

That it was anti-republican and dangerous to re-elect a President for
a second term — which would be avoided.

That President Adams had corruptly attempted to subsidize the press
by the government patronage, which would be corrected.

That President Adams had brought the patronage of the Federal
Government in conflict with the freedom of elections, which would be

That the expenses of the government were unnecessarily enhanced,
which should be diminished.

That the number of public officers was multiplied for useless purpo-
ses, and it should be reduced.

That Congress itself was bribed by the appointment of its own mem-
bers to public stations — and the practice should be abolished.

For proof of the first, of these pretences and promises, you rest
not alone on the solemn resolve of the royal life guard at Tammany
Hall, which with all due pomp and circumstance was published to the
world, but you have the deliberate judgment of Andrew Jackson, with
an assurance, that he " will practice on the maxims he recommends to
others," in his letter to the Tennessee Legislature, as well as in his
first- official message to Congress — and how has he practised upon his
Qwn maxim ? Less than twenty-two months in office, on the 30th cf
Dec. 1830, he puts his official frank upon a letter written by his private
Secretary, addressed to a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania,
soHciting his nomination for a second term. I forbear all comment, (t)

" Subsidizing the press" — by means of executive patronage, was an
evil to be con acted. Tlie electioneering document of the friends of
Andrew Jackson, called the retrenchment rey:>or^, holds this language. —
" The danger which assails the freedom of the press, through the insin-
" nation of this species of influence, is far more serious, than any star-
" chamber code of pains and penalties. "This pecuniary censorship
" of the press, must end in its utter prostitution to an indiscriminare sup-
" port of the acts of government, hovi^ever injurious to the rights and in-
" terests of the people." And what was then the extent of this evil ?
It was that the Secretary of State could designate the papers m which
the laws should be published, and the several officers could exercise
their judgment in relation to advertisements. And what is the correc-
tion ? All that power still remains, and has been^most unsparingly exer-
cised. Not only that, but the honors and treasures of the government have
been most profligately poured out, as mere rewards, by the appointment
of more than fifty editors and printers, to offices of trust and emolu-
ment ; — and even to high places, many have been appointed with no
better recommendation, than their reckless disregard of truth — their
vulgar abuse of the best patriots, and their fulsome adulation of their

pretended idol. Nay more, you see the President himself aiding in
the establishment of a "Government press" at the door of the Treasury,
to manufacture " public sentiment" — his officers officiating as co-editors
— and the mail coaches burthened with loads of its polluted sheets, un-
d^r official franks. — (2)

But the abuses " which brought the patronage of the government in
conflict with the freedom of elections" — were to be corrected. During
the preceding administration, who ever heard of officers of govern-
ment, as editors of partisan papers. When was a requisition made up-
on them as a body, to contribute a large per centage of their salary for
electioneering purposes. When were they members — agents — officers
of political caucusses. When were they noisy and meddling brawlers
at the polls .'' How is government patronage now exercised .'' (3)

Again, — extravagant expenditures were to be curtailed.

The pretence, that expenses under the last administration were ex-
travagant, and the manner in which the promise of retrenchment has
been kept, are best illustrated by a few extracts from Official Docu-
ments; and the subject is of sufficient interest to you, fellow-citizens, to
justify me in asking your attention to a few figures.

Let us look first at the expenditures in the Executive Department
in the last two years of the late administration.

In 1827, $509,801 33

1828, $507,136 41

1,016,937 74
Iq present Administration, 1830 $543,234 90

1831 $559,330 83*

$1,102,565 73
1,016.937 74

Excess of two last years of present adnjioistration, $85,627 99

And how stands Retrenchment in the expense of Intercourse with

Foreign JVations ?

The Ej^penditures in the two last years of the late administration

were— In 1827, $257,923 42

1828, 198,473 24

Same in two last years of present administration were,

In 1830, $294,067 27
1831, 298,599 95

592,767 22
456,396 66

Excess of two last years of present administration, 136,370 56

A comparison of the amounts of the general expenditures shows a no
more favorable result for modern retrenchment.

•This does not include expense of taking liie Census.

The last administration left it at a fraction over twelve millions. —
The second year of the present, increased it to over thirteen millions —
the third year to over fourteen millions — and the appropriations for the
present year exceed sixteen millions of dollars. •

" The numher of public officers vv^as multiplied for useless purposes
— and should be reduced." How has this pretence and promise been
treated by the administration in power ?

An additional secretary of stale has been asked for. That Depart-
ment, with one more clerk than in March, 1829, at the last session
asked for five in addition. The patent office, a branch of that depart-
ment, with one more clerk than in March, 1829, asked for twenty in
addition at the last session, having eighteen of the twenty then underpay.

The Chairman of the Committee of Finance in the Senate, the or-
gan of the administration, asked for an appropriation of ten thousand
dollars, at the last session, for additional clerks in the Departments. —
The Post Office Department asked for an additional Post Master Gen-
eral, and already has twenty additional clerks at an expense of seven-
teen thousand four hundred dollars. Congress has been asked to pro-
vide for a solicitor of the Treasury, which has been done, with a salary
of three thousand dollars a year — and the Land Office has asked for
ten additional clerks. In the Custom House branch of the Treasury
Department during the present administration three hundred and forty
two officers have been added at a cost of two hundred thousand dollars.
Such are the promised reductions !

" The bribery of Congress, too, by the appointment of its members
to public stations was to be abolished," The language of Andrew
Jackson as a candidate, was— if " important appointments continue to
" devolve upon the representatives in Congress, it requires no depth of
" thought to be convinced that cokkuption wil.l. tn^^jvaim xhk order
" on xHE DAY !" With all this depth of thought, what has been the
practical comment of President Jackson upon his own text while a can-
didate. He has long since appointed twenty partisan members of Con-
gress to the highest places and highest salaries in his gift ; — 'many of
them recommended for no other qualification than their partisan zeal.
But we will not detain you by adverting to further proofs of the falsity
of the pretences with which the friends of Andrew Jackson assailed his
predecessor — the faithlessness with which he has disregarded his own
promises. In the language of a late public meeting — " we have long
" ceased to be astonished at any contradiction however palpable be-
" tween the professions and practice of Mr. Jackson. His officiaLi


Such facts, indeed, remove the ground upon which his election was
urged — and are sufficiently disgraceful, in the exhibition of the duplici-
ty, deceit and self contradiction of the orccupant of the presidential
chair, but if such proofs stood alone, however unfit I might believe him
for the office, T still should not fear for the safety of our institutions. —
He might exhibit his inconsistency in calling for a constitutional prohi-

bltion to holding the office a second term, and might seek his own re-
election. He might talk of the dangers from a " subsidized press" —
and lavish the treasures and offices of the country upon the most aban-
doned of it| conductors to purchase their slavish subserviency to him-
self. He might complain of the intferference of he officers of the federal
government with the freedom of elections, and require his pension-
ed hirelings, from those of the palace household to the humblest village
post-master, to devote all their power and means, personal and official
to control the elections of the people. He might talk of the extrava-
gant expenditures of a previous administration, and in three years, in-
crease the appropriations for the sanie,ybw7- millions of dollars. He
might decry against the useless multitude of public officers — and add
hy hundreds to their number. He might again and again proclaim the
danger of corruption in the appointment to office of Representatives in
Congress, and in twelve months, make more such appointments than
any of his predecessors in as many years ; — still our government could
survive such shameless disregard of violated pledges — "Such disgraceful
abuse of public confidence. Our fears rest not on the fact, that he has
not corrected abuses, — for seldom has a President come to the place,
when there was less occasion to exert power for such a purpose ; but
they arise from the fatal fulfilment of the predictions of the o]oponents
of his election of the abuse by himself of the powers of his office ; — of
the assumption too of powers neither conferred upon him by the peo-
ple, or the constitution.

When Andrew Jackson was first before the country as a candidate
for the office of President, many of the purest patriots, who lacked
nothing of gratitude for the gallant achievments of General Jackson as
a military officer, expressed their convictions, that he possessed none
of the qualificntions 1 cLjuibue for the high oflice ; — that he was "too
summary m his habits of action," unfitted by his pursuits ; — too violent
in bis temper ; — too arbitrary and despotic in his feelings and princi-
ples, " for the ruler of a free people."

The truth of such convictions has been most fatally realized. To
advert to all the proofs would be to tax your patienee with a detai) of
the whole history of this administration. Time would fail me, even if
the theme were not such, that no freeman could dwell upon it, but with
emotions too painful to be voluntarily protracted. I will briefly notice
a few only ot the usurpations and outrages upon the constitution and lib-
erties of the people.

Already have the fawning sycophants, who seek to bask in a tyrant's
favor, flattered the incumbent in the office of President, agid Insulted
the people, with a statement in his own official organ, that " he was
BORN To'coMMAND," and he has, by his acts, responded, with Frederick,
King of Prussia, " I was born to comnand — and the people ivere born
to obey.'''' — (4) His champions have announced, that the public offices
established by our Constitution and laws, are not intended for the gen-
eral welfare, but that in a party contest, they are the " spoils of the en-
emy" and to be distributed as " rewards to the victors." (5)


The man who can tolerate in his presence the slaves, that can utter
such sentiments, will not long refrain from practising the usurpations and
abuses they inculcate.

Scarcely had the corps of pensioned editors echoed back to the pal-
ace their shouts of hosanna for the unparallelled constellation of integ-
rity and talent, which their chief had gathered in his cabinet, when for
a cause, which I will not name, the whole were displaced, the major-
ity banished from his presence, and the hired trumpeters were com-
manded to proclaim their incompetency ; — their treachery ; — their con-
demnation ; and they obeyed.

Even in France, the late King could not sustain himself upon the
throne, with his attempts upon the liberty of the press ; but in republi-
can America, the liberty of speech in the Hall of Legislation, se-
cured by our Constitution, has been assailed by ruffian violence, sanc-
tioned, as is proved in the admissions of his official organ, by the Pres-
ident of the United Stutes ; thus fulfilling the prediction of his leading
partizan, that under his reign you must go armed to the Halls of Con-
gress. The disclosures which led an intimate associate of the Presi-
dent's to attempt the life of a representative of the people, shew but
too clearly, that public offices alone, are not considered the only right-
ful SPOILS of the dominant party.

The founders of our government established the Judiciary as the
bulwark to protect the constitution, and preserve the liberties of the
people. — To this obstacle to usurpation and tyranny, tha President has
exhibited undisguised hostility.

Without the evidence of a late distinguished partizan of the adminis*
tration, who testifies to the President's anathemas against the Supreme
Court, and the promise, that if re-elected, he " will put it down.,'''' we
liave his own official assertion, that he has the right, and will exercise
the power, if he choose, to re-judge their judgments, and to treat their
decrees as a nullity.-— (6) — That he is supreme over the people. Con-
gress and Court, and he has proclaimed in the spirit if not in the lan-
guage of Louis 14, " I AM THE State !" Already are our fellow
citizens doomed to taste the bitter fruits of these principles of despotism.
Much of our widely extended domain has been acquired by purchase
from its original proprietors. The bureaus of government are filled
with parchment rolls of treaties negociated with diffisrent nations of In-
dians, with the formal ratifications of the Senate, and the approval of
every President from the foundation of the government. The Chero-
kee nation possess a goodly heritage on the South Western borders of
Georgia, where they are quietly and industriously pursuing the arts of
peace and civilization. The State of Georgia is desirous of driving
this nation from their own domain, that she may divide it by lottery
among her own citizens. — The Government of the Union were bound
by treaty, and its officers required by law, to protect them from intru-
sion, or molestation, and all this has been faithfully observed, until the
elevation of Gen. Jackson to the Presidency. He has withdrawn the



protection of the government ; — ^refuses to execute the law of the land ;
— denies the validity of our treaties ; — and suffers two preachers of the
gospel, guilty of no other offence than carrying the hJessings of Christi-
anity among the Indians, to he imprisoned among convicts and felons
under a pretended adjudication, which the Supreme Court has pro-
nounced an illegal usurpation, and void.

The opinion of the people expressed through their representatives, is
spurned with no less contempt, than is the judgment of the Court. —
Seven times has he refused his assent to acts passed by majorities of
both Houses of Congress; — and the official organ of the President has
threatened the Senate, that they shall he " cut down" for refusing to
confirm nominations and register decrees at his bidding ; and when
neither entreaty nor menace could bring the Senate to compliance, he
has usurped the power and appointed to an important public office,
an individual whose nomination to the san)e, the Senate had twice re-
fused to confirm !

Was it necessary for the President publicly to avow in his last " Veto
Message" doctrines abhorrent to every principle of a free government ;
—"assumptions, to be tolerated no where but under the most unqualified
despotism, to convince the people, that he practically claimed the divine
right of being Born to Command ? A Message of which an able com-
mentator has said — " It rests upon false principles, mistaken views,
and futile objections. It is presumptuously put forth against the public
sentiment and public interest — in the face of the highest authority and
most approved precedent ; it is founded in fallacies the most pernicious,
in doctrines the most detestable, in principles the most dangerous, and
must lead to consequences, both by its example and its influence, the
most disastrous. It tends to a total revolution, if not dissolution of
government ; an assumption of all power in the Executive ; a total dis-
regard of the rights of majorities, or the will of the people ; a denial of
all power in Congress, and of all authority in the Courts'; all the bal-
ances of the Constitution are destroyed, and all the connexion, depen-
dence and subordination of the parts is lost."

If treafies solemnly ratified and approved are to be set at nought at
the pleasure of the executive ; if the president is to suspend the ex-
ecution of laws approved by former presidents as well as those with his
own signature ; if the constitutional security of the confirmation of the
Senate to appointments to office is to be disregarded ; if the voice of
the people by the majorities of their representatives is to be defeated,
by the abuse of the power of the veto ; if the judgments of the Su-
preme Court are to be annulled at pleasure ; then where is there a des-
potism on earth more absolute or arbitrary ? What is your govern-
ment the better, that your executive magistrate is called a republican
president, rather than Emperor or Autocrat ? — A venerable and em-
inent jurist of another state,* after examining the violations of the con-

*Judge Sp«ncer of New- York.


stitution and usurpations of power by Andrew Jackson, concludes with
ihe solemn declaration- — ^^it is my deep and abiding conviction, . that
^'■shoidd he he re-elected, our institutions will he subverted, and our na-
^Hional glory destroyed.''^ (7)

Let the people sanction the principles avowed by the President, and
the prophetic warning of the distinguished statesman referred to in
your address, will have become history ; — "the constitution will have
perished even earlier than the moment which its enemies originally al-
lowed for tlie termination of its existence. It will Hot have survived to
its fiftieth year."

In pursuance of the suggestion which I made on rising to address

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Online LibraryJ. BartlettSpeech of Mr. Bartlett, at a meeting of citizens opposed to the re-election of Andrew Jackson, holden at Portsmouth, N.H., Oct. 15, 1832 → online text (page 1 of 3)