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OPENING OP BUCHANAN'S ADMINISTRATION.
Inauguration of James Buchanan — His Inaugural Address — The new cabinet — Governor Walker in Kansas— Course of affairs there— Lecompton Constitution — Vote on this question—Mormons, and troubles in Utah — Foreign difficulties — Financial distress — The Thirty-fifth Congress — Extracts from the Pres: dent's Message—Kansas question in Congress—Walker's filibustering and result — Minnesota and Oregon admitted into the Union — Troubles in the Gulf with British cruisers — Atlantic Telegraph — Success, Rejoicings, etc.
On Wednesday, March 4th, 1857, the usual ceremonies connected with the opening -)f a new administration were observed at the city of Washington. The president-elect reached the seat of government early on the 3d of March, and, soon after noon the next day, he made his appearance in the Senatechamber, where were assembled the vice-president, John C. Breckenridge (who had just taken the oath of office), the members of the Senate, the Supreme Court judges, the diplomatic corps, and others connected with the government. At one o'clock, Mr. Buchanan, accompanied by a great crowd of citizens, by the military of the District of Columbia, civic companies, etc., proceeded to the eastern portico of the capitol, and, following the time-honored custom of those who had preceded him, he delivered his Inaugural address. Its length was not great, and the sentiments and views of the new president were set forth in moderate terms, and gave assurance of his desire to carry out, during his admin
istration, the principles to which his whole political life had been devoted. Having determined not to become a candidate for re-election, he congratulated his countrymen upon the noble spectacle of the quiet submission of the minority to the majority, and expressed his conviction, that, by carrying out this principle, the question of domestic slavery in the territories might most readily be settled. "Nothing can be fairer," he remarked, "than to leave the people of a territory free from all foreign interference to decide their own destiny for themselves, subject only to the Constitution of the United States. The whole territorial question being thus settled upon the principle of popular sovereignty—a principle as ancient as free government itself— everything of a practical nature has been decided, and no other question remains for adjustment, because all agree that, under the Constitution, slavery in the states is beyond the reach of any human power, except that of the respective states themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and that the geographical parties to which it has given birth, so much dreaded by the father of his country, will speedily become extinct V "Throughout the whole progress of this agitation, which has scarcely known any intermission for more than twenty years, while it has been productive of no positive good to any human being, it has been the prolific source of great evils to the master, to the slave, and to the whole country; it has alienated and estranged the people of the sister states from each other, and has even seriously endangered the very existence of the Union." "This question of domestic slavery is of far greater importance than any mere political question, because, should the agitation continue, it may eventually endanger the personal safety of a large portion of our countrymen where the institution exists. In that event, no form of government, however productive of material benefits, can compensate for the loss of peace and domestic security around the family altar. Let every Union-loving man, therefore, exert his best influence to suppress this agitation, which, since the recent legislation of Congress, is without any. legitimate object." Let every American "reflect upon the terrific evils which would result from disunion to every portion of the confederacy—to the North not more than to the South, to the East not more than to the West."
After speaking of the unusual fact, viz.: there being a surplus in the treas
ury, and urging its appropriation to "great national objects," he advocated "a strict construction of the powers of the government," and the cultivation of "peace, commerce and friendship with all nations." He concluded his address by "humbly invoking the blessing of Divine Providence on this great people."
Having finished the reading of his Inaugural address, the fifteenth president took the oath of office, which was administered to him by Chief-justice Taney, and entered upon the high and responsible duties of his station. Being a long-tried, almost veteran statesman; an able advocate and defender of the principles of the democratic party, who had raised him to his lofty position; and intimately acquainted with the routine of executive duties, Mr. Buchanan, so far as it was permitted to form an opinion of the future, and what it might bring forth, had every reason to felicitate himself upon a peaceful, prosperous, and satisfactory administration.
The following gentlemen were select ed as members of the new cabinet: Lewis Cass, of Michigan, was appointed secretary of state; Howell Cobb, of Georgia, secretary of the treasury; John B. Floyd, of Virginia, secretary of war - Isaac Toucey, of Connecticut, secretary of the navy; Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, secretary of tht» interior; Aaron V. Brown, of Tennessee, postmaster-general; and Jeremiah S. Black, of Pennsylvania, attorney-gen
eral. The Senate confirmed these appointments without difficulty; and the session having lasted till the 14th of March, during which
several matters of public interest were discussed, particularly the treaty with Great Britain, for the settlement .of the Central American question, the Senate completed its labors and adjourned.
As we have stated (p. 523), Robert J. Walker was appointed by the new president, in the latter part of March, Governor of Kansas, and he was specially instructed to see that every loyal voter be allowed to express his free and independent opinion by his vote upon the exciting question of slavery, or no slavery, in Kansas. Gov. Walker, having reached Leavenworth at the close of May, issued a long address to the people, setting forth his views as to the existing state of affairs and his determination u to see that all constitutional laws are fully and fairly executed." The freestate men maintained their attitude of opposition to the legislative assembly and its acts; but, by the judicious activity of the governor, much of the excitement was subdued. He having given assurances that the election should not be interfered with, by outsiders from any quarter, the free-state men assembled at the polls, early in October, and by a majority of nearly 4000, succeeded in electing M J. Parrott as delegate to Congress, and the larger number of the councilmen and representatives.
Soon after the election, the constitutional convention, which had held a meeting in September, re-assembled at Lecompton, and adopted a constitution, in which it was declared, that the right of owners to their slaves was inviolable: it was also provided, that the leg
islature should never pass a law emancipating the slaves. On this provision alone the electors were to vote, and the ballots cast were to be endorsed, "Constitution with slavery;" or, " Constitution with no slavery;" so that, however objectionable the proposed constitution might be, there was no alternative; it was certainly to be adopted. There was also inserted a proviso, declaring that no amendment could be adopted previous to 1864. As might be supposed, great excitement was caused in Kansas by the action of the convention, and Gov. Walker was chagrined to find that his pledges of submitting everything to the vote of the people were wholly disregarded. Being in Washington early in December, and finding that the president approved the action of the convention, Gov. Walker resigned his office and gave his reasons in an elaborate paper addressed to the secretary of state. Mr. J. W. Denver, of California, soon after became his successor.
At the election in December, for the adoption or rejection of the
slavery clause, the vote returned was little over 6000, more than half of which came from counties along the Missouri border, where the loyal voters did not number over 1000. The legislature, at a special session, determined to submit the Lecompton constitution to the direct vote of the people, on the 4th of January, which resulted in a majority of more than 10,000 votes against it. The Kansas question occupied a large share of the attention of Congress. The Senate voted to admit the new state Avith the Lecompton conGtitution, but the House disagreed. Various plans were proposed, and finally a bill was passed which submitted the whole matter to the decision of the people of Kansas. An election was held Ausrust 3d, 1858, and the Lecompton constitution was again rejected by 10,000 majority. A little previous to this, a convention of the people of Kansas met and framed a new constitution, which was ratified by a decided majority of the inhabitants. Governor Denver resigned, and Samuel Medary, of Ohio, was appointed his successor.
In a brief note (see p. 423), we called attention to the position of the Mormon sect in the far West, and their evident determination to resist the authority of the United States government. Brigham Young, who succeeded Smith as leader of the Mormons, had established himself in Utah, and made Salt Lake City his headquarters. Considerable additions to the sect were obtained from abroad, and in 1849 an attempt was made to organize a state under the name of Deseret; a constitution was also formed and sent to Washington, but Congress refused its assent to the Mormon application. The territory of Utah having been organized by Congress, September 9th, 1850, President Fillmore appointed Brigham Young its first governor. This daring and active leader of the "Latter Day Saints," trusting probably to the great distance of Utah from the Capital, and to the despotic power which he exercised over his followers, soon after took occasion to manifest his contemj t for the laws of the United States. The
judges of the Federal Courts felt compelled to leave the territory; and Colonel Steptoe, of the Army, was appointed Governor of Utah. He arrived in the territory in August, 1854; but after spending the winter in Salt Lake City, with anything but satisfaction, he deemed it expedient to take his departure. Other United States officers met with worse treatment, and the spirit of hatred on the part of the Mormons towards the "Gentiles," was active and insulting. In February, 1856, a mob of these fanatics broke up the sittings of the United States Court, and compelled Judge Drummond to adjourn sine die. President Buchanan determined to remove Young from the governorship, and to send a military force sufficient to protect the federal officers in the discharge of their duties, and to compel obedience to the laws. In the spring: ®f 1857, Alfred Cum
ming, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, was appointed Governor of Utah, and entered at once upon his duties. Judge Eckels, of Indiana, was appointed Chief-justice, and delivered a charge to the Grand Jury against polygamy. A strong force, consisting of 2,500 men, was sent under command of Colonel Johnston, to aid in enforcing order. Brigham Young denounced the approaching army as a mob, and the Mormons, under his guidance, determined to resist the United States authority. Many and grievous complaints were made; several overt acts were committed; and, in November, Governor Cumming declared the territory in a state of rebellion. Various efforts towards promoting peace met with par
tial success; and, in the spring of 1858, hostile demonstrations vir
tually ceased. Commissioners from "Washington, with the president's proclamation, offering pardon to all who promised to submit to the laws, succeeded, in the course of the summer, in' bringing the Mormon leaders to acknowledge, in terms at least, the federal authority. The United States troops entered Salt Lake Valley, and remained there till May, 1860, when they were withdrawn from the territory.
During the summer, several matters of moment occupied the attention of
the President and his advisers.
The war in China required a large increase in our squadron, in order to protect American interests, and the Hon. W. B. Heed was sent as Minister from the United States to that country. The British Government presented various objections to the treaty referred to above (p. 535). The United States agreed to pay the apportioned sum of $380,000 to Denmark, in lieu of the Sound Duties. The New Granada Government was unwilling to settle the grave questions in dispute* on the terms proposed by our Commissioner, Mr. Morse, and it was thought best to increase the naval force in the Gulf. Many of the Indian tribes also, in the extreme west, manifested great hostility, and committed several outrages requiring punishment.
Financial difficulties and troubles also in the community, caused great excitement throughout the country.
* These questions grew out of the massacre at Panama, in April, 1856, and the guaranteeing the free and perfect right of passage across the Isthmus, VOL. IIL—68.
Stocks suddenly fell; numerous failures took place; a panic ensued in September; many of the banks failed; and specie payments were suspended. Tho result of all which was, a general feeling of insecurity as to money matters, and a very heavy blow to nearly all the branches of industry on which the people principally depended for mean's of support. Return of confidence was very slow, and the ill effects of the pressure continued far into the next year.
Under such a state of things the Thirty-fifth Congress assembled, on the 7th of December, for its first session. J. L. Orr, of South Carolina, was elected Speaker of the 1S57' House, and the Administration had a decided majority in both branches of the National Legislature. President Buchanan sent in his message the next day. In it he took occasion to discuss the financial condition of affairs in the country, the differing views of the British and American Governments as to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, and the position of Central American affairs. He entered at large into an exposition of the Kansas question in its various relations, and the serious disturbances in Utah; and having made various recommendations, the President concluded with asking to have all bills for his approval sent to him some few days at least before the adjournment of Congress. An extract or two will suffice to set forth the views contained in the message on the several topics which Mr. Buchanan thought it necessary to lay before Congress, i Having spoken of the large number