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CHAP. XIII.] ON THE RELATIONS OF THE CABINET.
for the performance of them. Your standing is, likewise, such,nothing unfriendly having occurred between you--that I should think he (General Jackson) would wish to retain you.
GENERAL JACKSON ELECTED.-STATE OF PARTIES.-WIRT REMOVES TO BALTIMORE. CHARACTER OF THAT BAR.- LETTERS TO CARR AND POPECHANGES AT WASHINGTON,-IS CALLED TO BOSTON ON BUSINESS.— TRIALS OF CAUSES BEFORE THIS IN PHILADELPHIA.-PARTICULARS OF HIS BOSTON VISIT IN LETTERS TO HIS FAMILY.-HIS RECEPTION IN BOSTON. HOSPITALITY.—THE INTEREST TAKEN IN THE TRIAL.-LETTERS TO CARR AND POPE ON THE SUBJECT OF THIS VISIT.-HIS OPINION OF NEW ENGLAND CHARACTER COMPARED WITH VIRGINIA.
THE election terminated in favor of General Jackson. He was inaugurated, as President of the United States, on the 4th of March 1829. On this day the democratic party, which had been predominant in the administration of the affairs of the general government for twenty-eight years, surrendered its power into the hands of that new party which had been brought together by the popularity of the hero of New Orleans. The new party was a miscellaneous one. It embraced all that portion of the federalists who were anxious to come into power,-by no means a small host.— It absorbed a large number of the young politicians who had grown up to manhood during the period of General Jackson's military career. It attracted and embodied such portions of the masses of the people, as conceived the chief magistracy to be an appropriate reward for distinguished military exploits-always a large number of persons in every government. The leaders in this combination were eager and practised politicians, bred in the schools of both of the parties which had heretofore divided the country. Their political creed, therefore, was various, according to the school in which each had been educated; but it was accommodating and sufficiently held in the back-ground, to enable it to await events. The opinions of the chief himself were so far indefinite as to give each section of his party hopes of finding it an easy matter to comply with his taste in respect to measures. Old democrats and old federalists were united in his cabinet, without
any visible contrariety of position. It was an era of surrender and compromise of old antipathies, with an implied promise of silence, for the future, on old topics. By-gones were to be bygones. The destination of the party was to be settled hereafter. Its principles and measures were to be left to the chapter of accidents. For the present, all differences were submerged beneath the General's unbounded and unparalleled popularity. This was the condition of that new party which had just overthrown a political domination of twenty-eight years, and which was fated itself to be overthrown in twenty years more.
The democratic party, on the other hand, was, also, destined to witness some changes in its organization. It necessarily became the recipient of all those who could not fall into the ranks of the new party. The country instinctively takes sides. Those who cannot consort with a new administration, associate themselves with those who oppose it. Where every man must vote, the suffrage that cannot be given for those in power, must be given for those who are against them. When there are but two parties, this is inevitable.
Under the influence of this necessity, that portion of the federal party, which could not follow their brethren into the ranks of General Jackson, dropped into the ranks of the democrats. In this strange re-combination of old elements, the former party names were laid aside. The democratic party, with its new allies, thenceforth took the name of National Republicans. Those in power called themselves Jackson men. The course of administration, in a few years afterwards, was such as to awaken all those ancient jealousies which had roused the spirit of the whigs of the revolution. From that era the democratic party resumed its oldest and most cherished designation, and came forth once more, in full organization, as the Whig party;-in which name it has now triumphed. In which name, also, it won that short victory of a few months, sadly memorable for the first funeral and the first defection in the White House.
The Jackson party was also compelled to seek new designations. In due course of time it became the Van Buren party; and as that was of a nature even more fleeting than the last, it was accounted a rare piece of good fortune when it stumbled upon the name of "The Democracy," which lay derelict by the
way side. Neither parties nor individuals are apt to be over scrupulous in assuming titles which may turn to profit-however little they may comport with the character of the wearer. In a state of war, especially, titles are often assumed which denote the very opposite of the true character. Thus it has fallen out, at last, that they who made battle against and overthrew the democratic party, have, with the other spoils of victory, seized and worn the very name itself of the vanquished.
-But this topic better belongs to political history. I have referred to it here, in this casual way, only because it is connected, at this era, with the personal history of the subject of this Memoir, and is called up to our notice by some of the letters of this period.
Mr. Wirt looked without regret to the termination of his public employment. As he grew older the labors of his office became more irksome. He longed for the opportunity of a more exclusive devotion to his profession. In the arrangement of his plans for the future, his attention was divided by a choice between a settlement in New York or one in Baltimore. Strong inducements were offered to him, in the representations and persuasions of friends, to select the former city as the place of his future practice. Other counsels, however, outweighed those, and he determined upon Baltimore. Thither he removed his family, in the month of April, to make a permanent home.
His practice in that city was always large, and was increasing. The bench and bar were very much to his liking. He became intimately associated with them, and found amongst them many valuable friends. He had several times spoken of them, with great unction, in his letters to his friend Pope-one of these letters my readers have seen. The members of this professional brotherhood were, to an extent not usual in larger communities, social in their habits, familiar in intercourse, droll and sparkling in their convivialities, scrupulous in professional courtesies, and strongly tinctured with the exclusive and racy spirit of their clique-in all which points they presented potent attractions to the congenial temper of their new associate.
The Baltimore bar, at that date, exhibited in its composition a somewhat remarkable aspect. It had but very recently been distinguished by an extraordinary assemblage of the highest order of
talent:-men who, singly, would have shed lustre upon any professional assemblage in the country, and who, united on this theatre, composed a constellation which attracted universal notice. Luther Martin, William Pinkney, Robert Goodloe Harper, Roger B. Taney and William H. Winder, were all names of commanding eminence. William Wirt came in amongst these to add new radiance to a galaxy already of the brighest. For a season, they were all contemporaries; but for a brief season only. Nearly all these lights went out together. Of the six, Mr. Wirt and Mr. Taney were all that remained within the year of Mr. Wirt's settlement in Baltimore. A younger generation stood behind them. A long interval, we may say without depreciation of the merits of the successors, separated the present from the past. Meredith, Johnson, Glenn, McMahon, Mayer, and others kindred in character and ability, were, comparatively, young men and were now to step into the places of their file-leaders who had fallen in the battle of life. That column has since advanced to occupy an honorable ground in the van of a large array of talent and worth. Mr. Wirt and Mr. Taney stood amongst them and at their head,-instructors to guide, models to be imitated, gifted with all qualities to stimulate the ambition of generous minds striving after an honorable fame. It could not be otherwise than that such a connection, engendering love and reverence from the one side, should awaken affection and esteem, somewhat akin to that of fathers, on the other. To Mr. Wirt, now no longer a stranger, this connection was inexpressibly attractive. He loved the fellowship with which he was united, and pursued his labors, in this field, with a cheerful devotion which showed how much those labors were lightened by the pleasure that fellowship afforded. We recur now to the letters.
TO JUDGE CARR.
WASHINGTON, February 28, 1829.
MY DEAR Friend:
I never saw your kind letter of the 21st till about ten minutes ago. It must have arrived from the office during my absence from my house at the Capitol; and, amongst several other letters, was VOL. 2-23