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doctrines not only contrary to his previous opinions, but entirely incompatible with the existence of the Government of which he was temporarily the head. His personal opposition to Mr Clay made him an opponent of the American System; and the decided stand he took against the Cherokees in their controversy with Georgia, finally led him to question the authority of the very tribunal, expressly created to determine all controversies arising under the constitution of the United States. Nor was this the only evil arising from the personal character, which the contest assumed. It stimulated zealous partizans to lose sight of their duty as citizens, and during the first session of the twentysecond Congress some of his indiscreet friends ventured to assail members of Congress, for the part they took on the floor of the house, in urging an inquiry into alleged abuses of the Government. Such a
high handed attempt to overawe the national Legislature in the discharge of one of its most important duties excited great indignation among the opposition, and the President was charged with seeking to arrogate to himself all the powers of the government. The frequent use of the veto was imputed to him, as an additional proof of his disposition to encroach upon the powers of the coördinate branches of the government; and the avowal of his determination to construe the constitution for himself, in questions settled both by judicial decisions and by the practice of the government, evinced more of the
decision and character of a soldier, than that regard for the permanency of our political institutions, which should have been manifested by the chief magistrate of a republic. Upon these grounds the National Republicans put in nomination as a candidate in opposition to General Jackson, Henry Clay of Kentucky, and his election was urged as the only means of saving the institutions of the country from destruction.
Mr Clay was a warm friend of domestic manufactures and of internal improvements. He was indeed considered as the father of the American System, of which those measures formed so prominent a part; and a long course of service in Congress had shewn to him the necessity of maintaining the constitutional authority of the federal judiciary. As a candidate for the Vice Presidency, the same party nominated John Sergeant of Pennsylvania, a jurist and statesman of high and deserved reputation.
On the side of the administration Martin Van Buren of New York was nominated as a candidate for the Vice Presidency. Upon retiring from the State Department he had been appointed by the President Minis er to the Court of St James, and when, according to the constitution, his nomination was submitted to the Senate for confirmation, the National Republicans in that body opposed it on the ground, that in his instructions given while Secretary of State, in relation to the Colonial trade, he had so far lost sight of the dignity of his country, as to claim as a sort of merit in the eyes of
the British government, that the party now in power had not sustained the claims urged by the government of the United States, when Mr Adams was at the head of affairs. For this reason they voted against the appointment, and being joined by a few Senators, who were dissatisfied with the conduct of Mr Van Buren while in the Department of State, the nomination was rejected by the casting vote of the Vice President. As the minister had already departed on his mission, his recall in this manner produced a strong sensation throughout the country. It was the first instance, in which the representative of the United States at a foreign court had been recalled, in consequence of the refusal of the senate to concur in the selection of the President. The partizans of the President insisted, that he was personally dishonored by the rejection of his minister; and that it was incumbent on his friends to convince the world, that he had not lost the confidence of his countrymen by electing Mr Van Buren to preside over the body, which had declared that he was unworthy to represent the country at the British Court.
This mode of reasoning prevailed, and notwithstanding the efforts of the delegates of states where Mr Van Buren was unpopular, he received the nomination of the convention appointed to nominate a candidate, to be supported by the administration party for the Vice Presidency.
This nomination entirely alienated the friends of Mr Calhoun from the administration and al
though the ultra anti-federal doctrines espoused by his adherents, prevented them from joining the opposition in their support of Mr Clay; it was soon understood, that the President had lost their confidence and would not receive their suffrages. The character of the contest however effectually precluded them from openly lending their aid to overthrow the administration. It was a contest in relation to the powers of the federal government, although from the cautious and ambiguous manner in which the opinions of the executive were promulgated, the true nature of the question at issue was not fully understood by the people in certain portions of the Union. Even where it was so understood, no deep universal conviction prevailed, that the result of this election would be decisive as to the powers of the federal government. Many hoped from the strong personal enmity manifested towards Mr Calhoun, that the President would finally be brought to oppose doctrines, of which that gentleman was now considered the chief advocate; and the experience of a few years had furnished ample proof, that he would not be deterred from taking that step by any apprehension of a charge of inconsistency. The further development of the views of the dominant party in South Carolina too, now began to excite great fears of a premeditated de. sign to dissolve the union; and it was supposed, that while on one hand the inclination towards antifederal doctrines previously shewn by the President, would prevent
the disaffection from extending ed by the refusal of its members
itself to the other southern states; on the other, that the energetic manner in which he executed his decisions would completely put down the dangerous heresy of nullification, and in the end strengthen the general government.
The apprehension that his reelection would tend to unsettle the government, consequently did not operate upon the mass of the Electors to the same extent as upon the leaders of the opposi
They were governed by the more Ouvious considerations growing out of the pressing question of nullification on the part of South Carolina; and as he had declared himself opposed to the pretensions of that State, the distant dangers to be apprehended, from the effect of the principles advocated by the President in the Georgia controversy were by many disregarded. Even among the mass of those, who professed to be governed by a desire to preserve the constitution from destruction, there was a want of that untiring energy, and self-devotion, which flow from a deep conviction of the importance of a cause. An unwillingness to postpone plans of personal advancement, or to sacrifice individual prejudices and private views to the good of the cause, too much characterised the opposition to the administration. Its members professing great independence of character were too apt to forget, that where combined effort is required, individual will must give way, and the plans of the party were constantly thwart
to unite upon a single candidate.
This intractibility, which was so often witnessed in the local divisions of the opposition, was manifested in a most striking manner at this election in placing two candidates for the chief magistracy before the nation.
The anti-masons professed an equal dislike with the National Republicans to the principles and policy of the administration, and both parties declared themselves ready to combine to defeat the election of General Jackson. Neither however were willing to yield to what they called the dictation of the other. The former declared that they could not, under any circumstances, bestow their suffrages upon a high mason, who refused to renounce the order, and they accordingly nominated William Wirt of Maryland as their candidate for the Presidency, and Amos Ellmaker of Pennsylvania, for the Vice Presidency. The latter on their part professed great confidence in the integrity and qualifications of Mr Wirt; but insisted that they could not with honor sacrifice Mr Clay to what they denominated an unreasonable prejudice, nor could they consistently with their selfrespect give up the candidate of the great majority of the opposition to quiet the scruples, whether real or affected, of a small minority of their party.
While the two divisions of the opposition were prevented from coalescing, by what they regarded as insuperable obstacles; the friends of the administration united in its support with a zeal and
earnestness, which both deserved and ensured success. Local divisions were done away; personal difficulties adjusted, and private quarrels forgotten, in the general desire to promote the triumph of the party. The people at large, witnessing on one side so much party devotion, and on the other so much of the opposite quality, were led to regard the cause of the administration with more favor, than it would have obtained upon a mere view of its principles and policy.
They could not be made to believe, that men who seriously supposed the constitution would be subverted by the re-election of General Jackson, could be prevented from combining to defeat him by such considerations as kept the national republicans and anti-masons apart. They knew, that minor interests and petty feelings are laid aside in moments of great excitement, and they justly concluded, that those who acted so much unlike men, deeply and powerfully impressed with the importance of the crisis, could not fully believe themselves, in the reality of the dangers which they had described.
Nor were the adherents of the administration deficient in topics well calculated to affect the public mind. In addition to the high personal popularity of the President, his administration had been eminently successful in the management of our foreign affairs. With the exception of the adjustment of the controversy in relation to the colonial trade, (which was effected at the expense both of the dignity and interests of the
country,) the foreign relations of the United States had been managed with ability and success. The claims of American merchants for confiscations by the imperial government of France were prosecuted with great diligence, and finally adjusted for the sum of 25,000,000 of francs to be paid by the French government for distribution among the claimants. A treaty was concluded with Denmark, by which she agreed to pay the sum of $650,000 for depredations committed by her privateers; and even the claims on Naples, which were regarded almost as hopeless, were acknowledged, and the sum of $1,720,000 stipulated to be paid as an indemnity. The prompt chastisement of the Malays for a piratical attack upon an American merchant vessel was cited as an instance of the vigor and decision of the President; and the satisfactory adjustment of the terms of a treaty with Mexico was urged as equally illustrative of his ability at negotiation.
Even the treaty formed with Turkey, although the preliminary difficulties were surmounted, and the terms arranged by his predecessor, from its being first communicated to the public in the second year of the administration of General Jackson, was deemed an additional proof of his diplomatic skill and sagacity. Nor was the nation less prosperous at home than the government fortunate abroad. Abundant harvests rewarded the labor of the farmer and imparted activity to commerce; while the rapid extension of the manufacturing in
terest gave employment to thousands, whose industry would have been unprofitably devoted to agriculture, and furnished a home market for the productions of the soil. The policy pursued by the preceding administration was now beginning to produce the effects anticipated. To that administration, impartial justice would have awarded the merit due to the wisdom which adopted the policy. But in the heat and turmoil of party dissensions, her voice is seldom heard, and those who had taken their side as partizans insisting, that our domestic prosperity was owing to the policy of the administration; the mass who seldom look beyond the most obvious causes, willingly assented to a proposition, which relieved them from the labor of investigation and reflection. Although the course of the administration was sustained in this manner, by the popular voice, those who administered the government did not find their task unattended with difficulties.
The question between the Cherokees and the State of Georgia was fast approaching to a final decision before the Supreme Court of the United States: and although no doubt could be entertained as to the judgment of that tribunal; strong doubts were felt concerning the willingness of the executive to enforce its decision: and an absolute certainty prevailed, that a refusal to enforce it, would deprive the federal government of all pretence to require South Carolina to submit her claims to annul the revenue laws, to the arbitrament of the same tribunal. Notwithstanding the ad
ministration, in its desire to subserve the views of Georgia, had weakened the constitutional authority of the federal government and exposed it to the reproaches, of the civilized world for its disregard of treaty stipulations; the state authorities did not cease to complain of the delay in the execution of the compact of 1802, and prosecuted their designs to appropriate the Cherokee lands to the use of the land speculators of Georgia without regard to the rights of the aborigines, or the requirements of humanity.
The unhappy effects of this departure in the President from the established policy of his predecessors were not confined to the aborigines of the southern section of the union. In the northwestern states difficulties began to occur which, before the end of the period of which we are treating, had involved the country in an expensive frontier war.
A treaty had been made in 1830, with the Sacs and Foxes, by which they agreed to cede their lands to the United States and to remove beyond the Mississippi. As they did not promptly comply with the treaty, and one band under the command of Black Hawk evinced a determination to maintain possession of their old village, John Renyolds, governor of the State of Illinois, chose to construe their continued residence in the ceded territory, as an invasion of the state, and under his authority to protect the state from invasion, he ordered out seven hundred militia to remove the Indians beyond the Mississippi according to the treaty