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vice, filled with every incident that gives dignity and lustre to human exist


The democratic party, in the spring of 1848, held a national convention for the nomination of candidates for president and vice-president. The convention met at Baltimore, on the 22d of May, and for several days labored earnestly to fix upon names which should command the confidence of the majority of the people. The "hunkers" and "barnburners" sent delegates from New York, both claiming to represent the democracy of the empire state; both were admitted; but, as this only neutralized the vote of that state, both declined to take their seats, and New York, consequently, had no share in the work of the convention. On the fourth ballot, General Lewis Cass was selected as the candidate of the party for the presidency, and General William O. Butler, of Kentucky, was subsequently chosen as its candidate for the vice-presidency.*

The national convention of the whigs assembled, on the 7th of June, at Philadelphia, and spent two or three days in making a choice out of the number of prominent candidates before them. Daniel "Webster and Henry Clay, both statesmen of high rank, were passed over—as was also General Scott; and

* That portion of the party who were dissatisfied with this result, held a convention at Utica, and nomiliated Martin Van Burcn for president Tho "frceeoil party," consisting mainly of the abolitionists, held a convention at Buffalo, in August Mr. Van Buren was adopted as their candidate for the presidency, and Charles Francis Adams as their candidate for the vicepresidency.

Vol. III.—58

General Taylor, who had acquired so great distinction by his military services in Mexico, was selected as the candidate for president, (p. 441). Millard Fillmore was placed on the same ticket as candidate for vice-president.

The election took place in November, and resulted as follows. General Taylor and Millard Fillmore received each one hundred and ninety-three votes, and were consequently elected president and vice-president. Generals Cass and Butler, received each one hundred and twenty-seven votes. The "free-soil" candidates did not receive any of the electoral votes, as they were given by the states; but the popular vote shows their relative strength, and that of the other two parties, thus:—the votes given for Taylor were, a million three hundred and sixty-two thousand and twenty-four; those for Cass, a million two hundred and twenty-two thousand four hundred and nineteen; and those for Van Buren, two hundred and ninety-one thousand six hundred and seventy-eight; and above five thousand other votes were "scattered" and lost. Hence it is quite possible, that, had the Baltimore Convention given general satisfaction to the democratic party, its candidates might have been elected to the high offices on which their aspirations were fixed. "The result of the election," as Senator Benton well says, "was not without its moral and its instruction. All the long intrigues to govern it had miscarried. None of the architects of annexation, or of war, were elected. A victorious general overshadowed them all; and those who had considered Texas their own game, and made it the staple of incessant plots for five years, saw themselves shut out from that presidency which it had been the object of so many intrigues to gain. Even the slavery agitation failed to govern the election; and a soldier was elected, unknown to political intrigue, and who had never even voted at an election."* The second session of the thirtieth Congress commenced on the 4th of December, 1848, and the next day Mr. Polk sent in his fourth and last annual message. It proved to be unua«ally long, and it entered fully into the questions of interest and importance which at that date claimed notice from the executive and the national legislature. In speaking of foreign affairs, the president made mention of "advantageous treaties of commerce" concluded with New Grenada, Peru, the Two Sicilies, Belgium, Hanover, Oldenburg, and Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He praised Great Britain for "pursuing our example," and relaxing her restrictive system; and took occasion to laud, with more than the accustomed warmth of retiring presidents, the institutions of the country. After recording the termination of the war with Mexico, Mr. Polk spoke of the military strength of the United States, and boasted of their possessing "virtually a standing army of two millions of armed citizen soldiers;" he also dilated in glowing terms, upon the navy, and the organization of those branches of the executive which had been charged with the conduct of the war.

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In reviewing the acquisitions of new regions of country, which had been made during his administration, the president declared that they amounted to more than half as much as the entire territory of the United States at the time of his entrance upon office; and, he added, it would be difficult to calculate the value of these immense additions to the area of the country. He said this, in part, because he had to announce the discovery of the incalculably rich gold mines of California ;* and in part, because it afforded so prodigious a field for the expansion of the population of the States, and gave to the Union so commanding a position upon both the ffreat Oceans that extend to both the poles. And with a full sense of the lustre which these events must shed upon his administration, he said,—"The acquisition of California and New Mexico, the settlement of the Oregon boundary, and the annexation of Texas, extending to the Rio Grande, are results which combined are of greater consequence, and will add

The first discovery of gold was made (in digging for a saw-mill) in February, 1848, on the grounds of Captain Suter. The rumors of the finding of El Dorado, about which the early adventurers to the western world had dreamed so frequently, immediately excited the attention of the whole community, and from not only the older portions of the United States, but from almost every part of the world, the "golddiggings" were sought for with an avidity and eagerness which the "auri sacra fames" of the poet can hardly adequately express; within six weeks, during December, 1848, and January, 1849, more than a hundred vessels left the ports of the United States for California; and under the spur of excitement and making haste to get rich, a population was drawn to the Pacific coast with unexampled rapidity, and more various and extraordinary than had ever before gathered together in one region of country.

Ch. VI.]

more to the strength and wealth, of the nation, than any which have preceded them since the adoption of the Constitution."

Having expressed himself in favor of the extension of the Missouri compromise line, from the western border of Texas to the Pacific Ocean, which in fact would have been decidedly to the advantage of the south and of those who favored the extension of slave territory, Mr. Polk gave an account of the finances of the government. The last year's receipts, it was stated, had fallen little short of $35,500,000; whilst the expenditure had mounted up to nearly $43,000,000. But the receipts of the next year were estimated at above $57,000,000; and the total -expenditures at nearly $3,000,000 less: and hopes were held out that the ordinary peace expenditure would not amount to so much as $29,000,000. After speaking in high terms of the new tariff, the public debt was mentioned, and the amount was stated to be $65,778,450. Other topics received attention, as the post-office, the "American system," the veto power, etc., and the message closed with an invocation of God's blessing upon the deliberations of Congress, that so they might "redound to the happiness, the honor, and the glory of our beloved country."

Notwithstanding this was the short session, considerable public business was transacted. Senator Douglas, of Illinois, at as early a day as practicable, introduced a bill for the admission of California as a state, without the preliminary passage through the different grades of territorial govern


ment. The want of harmony, however, between the Senate and the House on the subject of the "Wilmot pit> viso," the former being opposed, the latter being decidedly in favor of this proviso, prevented all effective legislation with regard to the new regions of territory belonging to the United States.* Mr. Douglas gave as his reasons for introducing his bill that the population had increased so rapidly, there was no reason to wait for the usual forms of procedure. But though both Louisiana and Texas were cited as precedents, the judiciary committee reported, on the 9th of January, against the scheme; whereupon the Illinois Senator drew a new bill, in accordance with the intimation of the committee, and by it proposed to establish both New Mexico and California as new states at once, and to leaAre the inhabitants of them to determine whether or not to allow slavery there for themselves; but this plan met with no more favor than the former, or than three other bills, all devised for the solution of the difficulty. On the 2d of February, the motion to take it from the table was negatived by a very decided vote.

There being no probability of passing a bill for the organization of the new territories, Mr. Walker, of Wis

* On the 13th of December, Senator Benton, whose views on the subject of slavery were well understood, presented a petition from the people of New Mexico, praying for a territorial government, and against the dismemberment of their territory in favor of Texas, and also against the introduction, of domestic slavery. After considerable debate, the motion to print this petition was carried by a vote of thirty-three to fourteen, Mr. Benton himself being one of the majority.


consin, on the 29th of February, introduced into the Senate an amendment to the civil and diplomatic appropriation bill, providing for the extension of the revenue laws over California and New Mexico, and also the Constitution of the United States, with all general laws applicable to the case; which having been adopted by a small majority, the House further amended the bill, by adding to it the favorite "Wilmot proviso." Fresh debate arose upon this phase of the affair, and the original measure was in imminent hazard of not being earned at all, to the jeopardy of the public service. But at length, at five o'clock on Sunday morning, March the 4th, 1849,—the Senate having been kept from breaking up by the tact and influence of Daniel Webster,—both Houses withdrew their amendments, and the bill passed; the Senate at the same time passing the bill for extending the revenue laws to California, which had already been adopted by the House. Thus everything failed in relation to the establishing a temporary government for California and New Mexico.

Among the principal acts of the session may be mentioned, the establishing a territorial government for Minnesota; the making arrangements for the seventh census; the organization of the department of the interior, and the appointment of an assistant secretary of state; the running and marking off the northern boundary of the state of Iowa; and a resolution authorizing the secretary of war to furnish emigrants to Oregon, California, and New Mexico, with suitable arms and ammunition. We may also note here, that a conven

tion or treaty between the United States and Great Britain, for the improvement of the postal coimnunications between the territories of the two parties, was signed in London on the 15th of December, 1848. The Senate confirmed the treaty on the 5th of Jan uary, 1849.

The steady perseverance of those who wished to effect the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, rather alarmed the southern members of Congress, and they determined to hold a convention in relation to this topic, so as to discuss and fix upon the course which they ought to adopt in the existing state of affairs. Accordingly, sixty-eight members of Congress assembled in the Senate chamber, on the 23d of December, 1848, and Senator Metcalfe of Kentucky, presided.

A series of resolutions, based on the Virginia resolutions of 1798, were introduced by T. H. Bayley, of Virginia, and referred to a committee; and, on the 15th of January, Mr. Calhoun, in behalf of the committee, reported an "Address of the Southern Delegates to their Constituents," which, after reciting the constitutional provisions respecting slavery, and the alleged violations of the constitutional rights of the slave states by the northern or free states, called upon the south to present a united and immovable front, and to be ready to defend their rights. Nearly ninety members attended this second meeting, ind at a third meeting, on January the 22d, a smaller number being present, Mr. Calhoun's address was adopted, in preference to one "to the People of the United States," sub

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