John G. (John Gaylord) Wells.

Wells' illustrated national campaign hand-book for 1860 online

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fourteen years — being honored with the Speakership for several
sessions. So well satisfied were his constituents with his congres-
sional course, that he was elected Governor by a large majority, but
some questions of local policy subsequently defeated his re-election.
N-In 1844 he was unexpectedly nominated for the ofiSce of President
of the United States by the Democratic Conveation at Baltimore;
and, having received sixty-five electoral votes more than his rival can-
didate, Mr. Clay, he was inaugurated on the 4th of March, 1845.

Soon after Mr. Polk assumed the reins of government, the country
became involved in a war with Mexico, which was little more than
a series of victories wherever the American banner was displayed, and
which resulted in important territorial acquisitions. The ostensible
ground for this war, on the part of Mexico, was the admission of Texas
into the Union, which was one of the first acts of Mr. Polk's adminis-
tration. The Mexicans, however, paid dearly for asserting their
frivolous claims to Texas as a revolted province, and the prompt and
energetic course pursued by Mr. Polk was sanctioned and sustained
by a large majority of the people.

But notwithstanding the advantageous issue of the war, the acquisi-
tion of Texas, and the satisfactory settlement of several vexed ques-
tions ©f long standing, Mr. Polk was not nominated for a second
term — Tarious extraneous matters leading to the selection of another
candidate. Perhapp it was fortunate for the country and for himself
that he was permitted to retire to the more congenial enjoyment of
private life ; for hio health had become Tery much impaired, and he
did not long surviv • after reaching his home in Nashville. He die^
Jane 15, 1849.



ZACllAKV TAV !,(!«.



131




ZACHARY TAYLOR,

THE ELEVENTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

"Was born in Orange county, Va., November 24, 1790, and, after *
receiving an indifferent education, passed a considerable portion of his
boyliood amid the stirring scenes which were being enacted at that
• xne on oixr western border. In 1808 he was appointed a lieutenant



132 ZACHARY TAYLOR.

in the United States infantry, and subsequently was promotftd to s
captaincy for iiis efficient services against the Indians. Soon after
the declaration of war in 1812 he was placed in command of Fort
Harrison, which he so gallantly defended with a handful of men
against the attack of a large body of savages, as to win 1 he brevet
rank of major. So familiar did he become with the Indian character,
and with the mode of warfare of that wily foe, that his services at the
West and South were deemed indispensable in the subjugation and
removal of several hostile tribes. While efifecting these desirable
objects, he was occasionally rewarded for his toils and sacrifices by
gradual promotion, and in 1840 attained the rank of brigadier-general.
At the commencement of the troubles with Mexico, in 1845, he was
ordered to occupy a position on the American side of the Rio Grande,
but not to cross that river unless attacked by the Mexicans. He was
not, however, allowed to remain long in repose : the enemy, by attack-
ing Fort Brown, which he had built on the Rio Grande, opposite
Matamoras, soon afiforded him an opportunity to display his skill and
valor, and gloriously did he improve it. The brilliant battles of Palo
Alto and Resaca de la Palma, where he contended successfully against
fearful odds, were precursors to a series of victories which have few
parallels in military annals. The attack on Matamoras, the storming
of Monterey, the sanguinary contest at Buena Yista, and the numerous
skirmishes in which he was engaged, excited universal admiration ;
and on his return home, after so signally aiding to " conquer a peace"
with Mexico, he was everywhere received with the most gratifying
demonstrations of respect and affection. In 1848 General Taylor
received the nomination of the whig party for the office of President
of the United States, and, being elected, was inaugurated the year fol-
lowing. But the cares and responsibilities of this position were
greater than his constitution could endure, hardened as it had been
both in Indian and civilized warfare. After the lapse of little more
than a year from the time he entered upon his new career, he sunk
under its complicated trials, and his noble spirit sought reftge in a
more congenial sphere, July 9, 1850.



MILLARD FILLMOBF;.



•/:{3




MILLARD FILLMORE,

THE SUCCESSOR OF GEN. TAYLOR, AS PRESIDENT,

Was born at Summei* Hill, Cayuga county, N.Y., January 7,
1800, and did not enjoy the advantages of any other education than
what he derived from the then inefficient common schools of the
county. At an early age he was sent into the wilds of Livingston
county to learn a trade, and here he soon attracted the attention of a
friend, who placed him in a lawyer's office — thus opening a new, and
what was destined to be a most honorable and distinguished career.
In 1827 he was admitted as an attorney, and two years afterwards aa
counsellor in the Supreme Court Soon attracting attention, h*



134 .iiii.LAHii j-i[.i.MiiKr,.

established himself at Butfalo, where his talents and business habits
secured him an extended practice.

His first entrance into public life was in January, 1829, when he
took his Beat as a member of the Assembly from Erie county. At
this time he distinguished himself for his untiring opposition to
imprisonment for debt, and to this are the people indebted in a great
degree for the expunging of this relic of barbarism from the statute
book. Having gained a high reputation for legislative capacity, in
1833 he was elected a member of the national House of Representa-
tives ; and on the assembling of the Twenty-seventh Congress, to
which he was re-elected by a larger majority than was ever given
to any person in his district, he was placed in the arduous position of
Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means. The measures he
brought forward and sustained with matchless ability, speedily relieved
the government from its existing pecuniary embarrassments. In 1847
he was elected Comptroller of the state of New York by a larger
majority than had been given to any state office for many years. In
1848 he was selected as candidate for Vice-President, General Taylor
heading the ticket. On his election to that high office, he resigned his
position as Comptroller, and entered upon his duties as President of
the United States Senate. The courtesy, ability, and dignity exhib-
ited by him, while presiding over the deliberations of that body,
received general commendation. Upon the sudden death of General
Taylor, he became President, and promptly selected a cabinet, distin-
guished for Hs ability, patriotism, and devotion to the Union, and
possessing in an eminent degree the confidence of the country.

After serving out the constitutional term, Mr. Fillmore returned to
Buffalo, and again resumed those pursuits which had prepared the
way to the elevated position from which he had just retired. He was
welcomed home by troops of friends, with whom he still continues to
I'DJoy an unabated popularity.

It should be borne in mind by every aspiring young man, that Mr.
Fillmore i? entirely indebted to his own exertions for his success in
life. From a very humble origin, he attained the highest office in the
world, climbing the rugged steep of fame step by step, with indefati-
gable industry and untiring perseverance, until he at length gaine«]
the summit, where he is long likely to enjoy his well-earned position.



FRANKLIN PIERCn:.



135




FRANKLIN PIERCE,

TKK TWELFTH PRESIDENT OK THE UNITED STATES

Was bora at Hillsborough, N. H., November 23, 180J, and early
received the advantage of a liberal education. After going through a
regular collegiate course at Bowdoin college, which he entered at the
age of sixteen, he became a law student in tlie office of Judge Wood-
bury at Portsmouth, whence he was transferred to the law school at



136 FRANKLIN PIERCE.

Northampton, where he remained two years, and then finished hia
studies with Judge Parlier at Amherst. Altliough his rise at the bar
was not rapid, by degrees he attained the highest rank as a lawyer
and advocate.

In 1829 he was elected to represent his native town in the state
legislature, where he served four years, during the two last of which ho
held the speakership, and discharged the duties with universal satis-
fa ^tion.

From 1833 to 1837 he represented his state in Congress, and was
then elected to the United States Senate, having barely reached
the requisite age to qualify him for a seat in that body.

In 1834 he married Miss Jane Means, daughter of the Rev. Dx
Appleton, formerly President of Bowdoin college — soon after which
he removed to Concord, where he still holds a residence. He was
re-elected at the expiration of his senatorial term, but resigned his seat
the year following, for the purpose of devoting himself exclusively
to his legal business, which had become so extensive as to require
all his attention.

In 1846 he declined the ofHce of Attorney-General, tendered to him
by President Polk ; but when the war with Mexico broke out, he wag
active in raising the New England regiment of volunteers ; and after.
wards accepted the commission of brigadier-general, with which he at
once repaired to the field of operations, where he distinguished himself
in several hard-fought battles. At Cerro-Gordo and at Chapultapec
he displayed an ardor in his country's cause which extorted praise
from his most inveterate political opponents ; and on his return home
he was everywhere received with gratifying evidences that his services
were held in grateful remembrance by the people.

At the Democratic Convention held in Baltimore in 1852, after
trying in vain to concentrate their votes on a more prominent candi-
date, that body unexpectedly nominated General Pierce for the ofiBce
of President of the United States, to which he was elected by an
unprecedented majority over his rival, General Scott — receiving 254
votes out of 296. He was duly inaugurated on the 4th of March,
1853, and his administration has been more remarkable for its futile
attempts to reconcile conflicting interests, than for the achievement of
any particular measure of great public utility. However, it will
better become his future than his present biographer to " speak of
him as he is ; nor aught extenuate, nor aught set down in malice."



JAMf.S BUCHANAN.



131




JAMES BUCHANAN,

THIRTEENTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

For the high position he has so long maintained in the politico!
c;ffairs of this country, Mr. Buchanan is not alone indebted to his early
and thorough education, but his entire devotion to -whatever he under-
tal-es, and his perseverance in surmomiling obstacles which yould



138 JAMES BUCHANAN

intimidate less determined minds, has had a large share in promoting
his advancement. He is of Irish parentage, and was born at Stony
Batter, Franklin county. Pa., April 23, 1791. At the age of seven
years he removed with his father's family to Mercersburg, and there
received an education that fitted him for entering Dickinson college in
1805, where he graduated two years afterwards with the highest
honors. He then studied law with James Hopkins, of Lancaster, and
in 1812 was admitted to the bar, at which he attained a high rank
and commanded an extensive practice.

In 1814 he commenced political life as a member of the Pennsyl-
vania state legislature, and in 1820 was sent as representative to Con-
gress, where he remained for ten years — at the expiration of which, lie
declined a re-nomination.

In 1831 he was appointed minister to Russia by President Jack-
son, of whom he was always the consistent friend and supporter, and
he negotiated a commercial treaty which proved of great advantage to
American commerce.

In December, 1834, having been elected to the United States
Senate, he took his seat in that body, and continued one of its most
efficient members until 1845, when he accepted the office of Secretary
of State under Mr. Polk. He held this responsible place until the
expiration of Mr. Polk's term of service, when he returned home
to repose awhile. But he did not by any means become an idle spec-
tator in passing events : his letters and speeches show that he was no
less vigilant as a private citizen, than as a counsellor in the Cabinet,
or a representative and senator in Congress.

On the accession of Mr. Pierce to the Presidency, in 1853, Mr
Buchanan was appointed minister to England, with which country
questions were then pending that required great prudence and dis-
crimination for their satisfactory adjustment. In his intercourse with
the British diplomatists he was not only discreet, but displayed sound
sense, courtly forbearance, a just assertion of our rights, and the true
dignity of the American character. So entirely unexceptionable waa
his whole course while abroad, that on his return to this country last
A.pril — he landed in New York on the sixty-fifth anniversary of his
birth-day — he was received with an almost universal enthusiasm,
seldom accorded to political men.

In June, 1856, Mr. Buchanan was nominated by the Democratic
Convention at Cincinnati as a candidate for the Presidency ; and
although there were powerful political elements arrayed against him
in the succeeding campaign, he was triumphantly elected to that
responsible and honorable office



.^

<



Plailojm of the Three Political Parties, 1856. K'.'J



PLATFORM OF THE AMERICAN PARTY.

I. An huaible acknowledgmenl to the Supreme 3eing wlio rnlej
^ne universe, for His [u'otecting care vouclisaCgil to our fathers in their
revolutionary struggle, and hitherto manifested to us, their desceuii-
auts, in the preservation of the liberties, the indepeudeuce and tlic
union of these states.

II. The perpetuation of the federal Union, as the palladium of our
civil and religious liberties, aud the only sure bulwark of American
independence.

III. Americans mud rule America, and to this end, native-hotxi
citizens should be selected for all state, federal or municipal ollices ot
government employment, in preference to naturalized citizens — never-
theless,

IV. Persons born of American parents residing temporarily abroad,
shall be entitled to all the rights of native-born citizens ; but

V. No person should be selected for political station (whether of
native or foreign birth), who recognises any alliance or obligation of
any description to any foreign prince, potentate or power, who refuses
to recognise the federal and state constitutions (each within its
sphere), as i^aramount to all other laws, as rules of particular action.

VI. The unqualified recognition and maintenance of the reserved
rights of the several states, and the cultivation of harmony and frater-
nal good-will between the citizens of the several states, and to this
end, non-interference by Congress with questions appertaining solely
to the individual states, and non-intervention by each state with the
affairs of any other state.

VII. The-recognition of the right of the native-born and naturalized
citizens of the United States, permanently residing in any territory
thereof, to frame their constitution and laws, and to regulate their
domestic and social affairs in their own mode, subject only to the pro-
visions of the Federal Constitution, with the right of admission into
the Union whenever they have the requisite population for one repre-
sentative in Congress. Provided always, that none but those who are
citizens of the United States, under the Constitution and laws thereof,
and who have fixed residence in any such territory, ought to partici-
pate in the formation of the constitution, or in the enactment of law«
for said territory or state.

VIII. An enibrcement of the principle that no state or territory can
admit others than native-born citizens to the right of suffrage, or of
holding political office, unless such persons shall have been naturalized
according to the laws of the United States.

IX. A change in the laws of naturalization, making a continued
residence of twenty-one years, of all not heretofore provided for, au
indispensable requisite for citizenship heieafter, and excluding all
paupers aud persons convicted of crime from lauding on our shores \
but no interference with the vested rights of foreigners.



140 PLATFORM OF THE AMERICAN PARTY.

X. Opposition to any union between Church and State; no ini.^
feronce with the religious faith or worshiiD, and no tost oaths for ofi5ce,
except tliose indicated in the 5th section of this plalform.

XI. Free and thorough investigation into any and all alleged abusea
of public functionaries, and a strict economy in public expenditures.

XII. The maintenance and enforcement of all laws until said laws
sliall be repealed, or shall be declared null and void by competent
judicial authority.

XIII. Opposition to the reckless and unwise policy of the present
administration in the general management of our national affairs, and
more especially as shown in removing '• Americans" (by designation)
and consevatives in principle, from office, and placing foreigners and
ultraists in their places ; as shown in a truckling subserviency to the
Btronger, and an insolent and cowardly bravado towards the weaker
powers ; as shown in re-opening sectional agitation, by the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise ; as shown in granting to unnaturalized
foj-eigners the right of suffrage in Kansas and Nebraska ; as shown in
its vacillating course on the Kansas and Nebraska question ; as shown
in the removal of Judge Bronson from the Collectorship of New York
upon false and untenable grounds ; as shown in the corruptions which
pervade some of the departments of the governments ; as shown in
disgracing meritorious naval officers through prejudice or caprice; as
shown in the blundering mismanagement of our foreign relations.

XIV. Therefore, to I'emedy existing evils, and prevent the disastrous
consequences otherwise resulting therefrom, we would build up the
" American party" upon the principles hereinbefore stated, eschewing
all sectional questions, and uniting upon those purely national, and
admitting into said party all American citizens (referred to in the 3d,
4th, and 5tb sections) who openly avow the principles and opinions
heretofore expressed, and who will subscribe their names to this plat-
form. — Provided, nevertheless, that a majority of thosf, members
present at any meeting of a local council where an applicant apipliea
for membership in the American party, may, for &vy reason by the.^
deemed sufficient, deny admission to such applicant.

XV. A free and open discussion of all political pfia'jipjso* <;Nit)rao6d
ir our platform.



PLATFORM OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. 141



PLATFORM OF THE DEMOCRATIC PART^,

At the Democratic Ocnvention held in Cincinnati in June last, the
Committee on Resolutions submitted the following resolutions, which
were adopted as the Democratic Platform :

Resolved, That the American Democracy place their trust in the
intelligence, the patriotism, and the discriminating justice of the
American people.

Resolved, That we regard this as a distinctive feature of our politi-
cal creed, which we are jjroud to maintain before the world, as the
great moral element in a form of government epringing from and
upheld by the popular will, and we contrast it with the creed and
practice of Federalism, under whatever name or form, which seeks to
palsy the will of the constituent, and which conceives no imposture too
monstrous for the popular credulity.

Resolved, therefore, That entertaining these views, the Democratic
party of this Union, through their delegates assembled in a general
Convention, coming together in a spirit of concord, of devotion to the
doctrines and faith of a free representative government, and appealing
to their fellow-citizens for the rectitude of their intentions, renew and
re-assert before the American people the declarations of principles
avowed by them when on former occasions, in general Convention^
they have presented their caudidat'js for popular sufiragcs.

I. That the federal government is one of limited power, derived
solely from the Constitution ; and the grants of power made therein
ought to be strictly construed by all the departments and agents of
the government ; and that it is inexpedient and dangerous to exercise
doubtful constitutional powers.

II. That the Constitution does not confer upon the general gov-
ernment the power to commence and carry on a general system of
internal improvements.

lU. That the Constitution does not confer authority upon the fed-
eral government, directly or indirectly, to assume the debts of the
several states, contracted for local and internal improvements, or other
state purposes, nor would such assumption be just or expedient.

IV. That justice and sound policy forbid the federal government to
foster one branch of industry to the detriment of any other, or to
cherish the interests of one portion to the injury of another portion of
our common country ; that every citizen and every section of the
country has a right to demand and insist upon an equality of rights
and privileges, and to complete and ample prott'ction of persons and
property from domestic violence or foreign aggression.

V. That it is the duty of every branch of the government to enforce
and practice the most rigid economy in conducting our public aifairs,
and that no more rereuue ought to be raised than is required to defray
the necessary expenses of the government, and for the gradual, but
certain extinction of the public debt.



142 PLATFORM OF THE DEilOCRATIC PARTY

VI. That the proceeds of the public lauds ought to be sacredly
applied „o the national objects specified in the Constitution ; and that
we are opposed to any law for the distribution of such proceeds among
the states, as alike inexpedient in policy and repugnant to the Consti-
tution.

VII. That Congress has no power to charter a national bank ; that
we believe such an institution one of deadly hostility to the best inter-
ests of the country, dangerous to our republican institutions and the
liberties of the people, and calculated to place the business of the
country within the control of a concentrated money power, and above
the laws and the will of the people ; and that the results of democratic
legislation in this and all other financial measures upon which issues
have been made between the two political parties of the country, have
demonstrated to candid and practical men of all parties, their sound-
ness, safety and utility, in all business pursuits.

VIII. That the separation of the monies of the government from
banking institutions is indispensable for the safety of the funds of the
government and the rights of the people.

IX. That we are decidedly opposed to taking from the President
the qualified veto power, by which he is enabled, under restrictions
and responsibilities amply sufficient to guard the public interests, to
suspend the passage of a bill whose merits cannot secure the approval
of two-thirds of the Senate and House of Eepresentatives, until the
judgment of the people can be obtained thereon, and which has saved
the American people from the corrupt and tyrannical domination of
the Bank of the United States, and from a corrupting system of gen-
eral internal improvements.

X. That the liberal principles embodied by Jefferson in the Declara-
tion of Independence, and sanctioned in the Constitution, which makes
ours the land of liberty and the asylum of the oppressed of every
nation, have ever been cardinal principles in the democratic faith, and
every attempt to abridge the privilege of becoming citizens and the
owners of soil among us, ought to be resisted with the same spirit
which swept the alien and sedition laws from our statute books.



And Whereas, Since the foregoing declaration was uniformly
adopted by our predecessore in National Conventions, an adverse
political and religious test has been secretly organized by a party
claiming to be exclusively American, it is proper that the American
Democracy should clearly define it relations thereto, and declare its
determined opposition to all secret political societies, by whatever
name they may be called.

Resolved, That the foundation of this union of states having been
laid in, and its prosperity, expansion, and pre-eminent example in free
qovernment built upon entire freedom in matters of religious concern-


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Online LibraryJohn G. (John Gaylord) WellsWells' illustrated national campaign hand-book for 1860 → online text (page 24 of 27)