« 上一頁繼續 »
should, for any object, so utterly flin away the heritage of a fair fame, an almost every better trait of a once estimable public character. We felt, moreover, a species of apprehension for the future of our country, where such vast means of corruption, such manifold temptations to the corruptible, exist in the appliances of executive patronage; and where the possession of such appliances in a single hand, may, at any time, lead one—too weak to control himself, or too despotic to forbear the control of others— into grasping at unlimited power. We were filled, too, with the deepest regret, that the Whig party should ever have been the means, however inadvertently, of raising such a man to so responsible and dangerous a post;-with admiration, also, that in his total abandonment of all faith, and principle, and decent doctrine, he should have found so ready and warm a welcome in the bosom of the Democracy. Towards even the recreant himself, we began to experience a kind of relenting, as for one who had been the peculiar spoiled pet of Circumstances—always tumbling, by some hap-hazard felicitous rap from one or another of them, into some marvellous good fortune, till at last he had fallen upon a position for which he was hopelessly unfit. With such a blending of feelings, then, do we proceed with a short, unembellished narrative respecting the late Chief Executive. In a simple statement of even a few facts, at such a period, some useful lessons may be learned : certainly we have far other motives than merely to vituperate one who has once been at the head of the nation. We have no personal animosity to gratify, nor have we a feeling on this subject that is not entertained, to a greater or less degree, by nearly all men of all parties. We do not pray for any interposition of Providence, as a punishment upon the head of an unfaithful servant; on the contrary, we desire him to have “time and space for repentance;” and to refresh his memory, and aid him in this pious undertaking, we design to “set his sins in order before him.” In the month of December, 1839, there was assembled at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a National Whig Convention, composed of delegates from every Congressional District in the Union, to discharge the important duty of selectin candidates for the office of President an Vice President. There had been no mere
ly political convention for many years, to o proceedings of which the people looked with greater anxiety. They were the representatives of a constituency numbering a large majority of the American W.", The dynasties of Jackson and an Buren had been grievous and oppressive; the will of the people had been disregarded; the Constitution and the laws had been wantonly violated; all classes had suffered, and men of business looked with dismay at the prospects before them. Corruption and peculation had been suffered to grow into a system, until at length a man of reasonably honest character was looked upon with distrust. In this state of things, the people sought for a change both of men and measures; and this reformation was to be effected by a change in the executive station. The convention was a Whig convention; its political character was decided; its objects and aims were of a positive character; and no man of however mean a capacity could mistake their purposes. For the principles of this party were no secret; from Maine to Georgia they had been proclaimed on the house-tops; there was not an orator or a newspaper by whom, or through which their distinctive doctrines had not been again and again promulgated. Many of the rominent leaders of the Whig party were in attendance as delegates at that convention; many who had grown gray in the public service, and whose commanding abilities and high standing had pointed them out as fit representatives of a great party. Amongst these delegates, and by no means the least vociferous for Whig measures, was John Tyler, of Virginia. It was here that this gentleman was first brought within the distinct purview of the American people, by the accident of his nomination for Vice-President of this Convention. Prior to that time, it was known to the more intelligent that he had been, at different times, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and of Congress, Governor of the State, and Senator of the United States. The peculiar circumstances under which the more important of these stations had been conferred on him, and which had won for him a popular notoriety in Virginia as the luckiest of living men, were but imperfectly understood beyond the limits of that State. Many steadfast opponents of Jacksonism, —not remembering that he had been elected to the U. S. Senate by a combination of all the anti-Jackson force in the Virginia Legislature, with a small portion of the Jackson party, thus securing him a small majority over John Randolph, who then labored under a suspicion of insanity, and a conviction of utter unfitness for the Senatorial dignity—had a grateful recollection of his votes against some of the most exceptionable of Jackson's nominations, and his sturdy resistance, at a late period, to the removal of the deposites. From this time (1834) Mr. Tyler had been generally regarded as a . though indulging vagaries, pardonable only in a Virginian of the “ State Rights’ School. It was not known, out of the State, that he, then a Member of the State Legislature, had incurred the just displeasure and forfeited the confidence of the Whigs of Virginia, by consenting to be proposed and supported by their opponents, aided by a few nominal whig Abstractionists, known as ‘the Impracti. cables,' inst William C. Rives, the candidate for reëlection of nearly the entire Whig force in the Legislature, and who must have been elected but for the conduct of the half dozen ‘Impracticables' before mentioned. But Mr. Tyler appeared in the Harrisburg convention an uncompromising Whig, and an ardent supporter of Mr. Clay as the Whig candidate for President. We are assured, indeed, that it was for this reason he was appointed a delegate by his constituents. The majority of the convention, after some three days deliberation, decided to place General Harrison in nomination. This was a sore decision for the supporters of Mr. Clay, numbering nearly half the convention, comprising a very great preponderance of its most able and eminent’ members, and undoubtedly backed by the feelings and wishes—apart from considerations of prudence and policy —of nine-tenths of the entire majority. Nearly the whole public expected the nomination of Mr. Clay by that body. His eminent services in public life for more than a quarter of a century, his commanding abilities, his liberal and manly views on all the great questions of the day, and the warm attachment felt for him personally in every part of the land, all conduced to render him acceptable as a candidate for the Presidency. But we
do not censure the convention for selecting another in his place; its action was the result of careful and grave deliberation, and an earnestness of purpose moving straight onward to one great object —the relief of the country. Among those, however, most deeply aggrieved by the preference of General Harrison, was John Tyler, who, by vir. tue of his being an Ex-Governor, was one of the Vice Presidents for the occasion. The convention adjourned for the night (Thursday) immediately upon the annunciation that General Harrison had been nominated for President. It is understood that Mr. Tyler passed a good part of the ensuing night, in weeping over the decision just made, and in counselling with others of like faith, in the hope of discovering some means by which it might be set aside and Mr Clay still nominated. The project was at length found hopeless, and abandoned. The selection of a candidate for Vice President to be placed on the same ticket with General Harrison was now an objcct of deep solicitude. The friends of General Harrison apprehending disaffection, to some extent, among the friends of the reat statesman, whose claims to the highest place had been deferred, in obedience to a supposed necessity, insisted that the nomination to the second post should be tendered to and accepted by a known and ardent Clay man. To this end, the Kentucky delegation were asked to permit the nomination of their distinished compatriot, John J. Crittenden. hey declined, having no time to communicate with Mr. Crittenden, and feeling unauthorized to pledge his assent. The North Carolina delegation were then urged to present a fellow citizen for the Vice Presidency, and, on their declining, the names of Governor Dudley and ExGoveror Owen of their State were successively suggested to them, but to no purpose. Benjamin Watkins Leigh, a name which recalls the noblest days and the noblest men of Virginia, was likewise pressed to accept the nomination, (being Fo but peremptorily declined it. st of all, John Tyler was proposed, and, on inquiry, it appeared that no consideration of delicacy, growing out of his position as a delegate to the Convention, and a Vice President of that body, would
* Among the officers of the Convention were nine Ex-Governors of States—the President and eight Vice Presidents, of whom we cannot call to mind but one who did not
advocate the nomination of Mr. Clay.
bar his acceptance. The proposition was rapidly concurred in, those who had sugested other names withdrew them, and ohn Tyler was unanimously nominated as the Vice President of the United States. These facts are here stated to refute the utterly baseless, but incessantly reiterated falsehood, that Mr. Tyler was selected as the candidate because of his notorious hostility to a United States Bank. There exists no shadow of foundation for it. True, there was no nomination of Vice President prior to that of Mr. T-there was no formal tender of the nomination to any other person. Time was precious and events pressing on that fatal morning, when the delegates were required to select a candidate for the second office, to which hardly a thought had been given during the intensely excited canvass of the preceding three days. But had there been #. for anticipating an acceptance rom either of the other Statesmen already named, or John Bell, of Tennessee, who was also suggested, but abandoned because (in the absence of a Tennessee delegation) no one could say that he would not decline the honor, Mr. John Tyler and his anti-Bank notions, if he then entertained any, would never have been put in requisition. None of the statesmen suggested before him was known as an adversary, some of them were prominent advocates, of a Bank. But in truth their opinions on this point were not at all canvassed or considered material. Had the selection of an anti-Bank candidate for Vice President been deemed essential, he would hardly have been looked for in a devoted supporter of Mr. Clay for the Presidency. General Harrison and Mr. Tyler were chosen President and Vice President by an overwhelming majority. General Harrison died, thirty days after his inauguration, and Mr. Tyler succeeded to the Presidency. He thereupon issued an Address to the People, which was plainly and generally understood to indicate his resolution to unite in such measures with regard to the currency, as the new Whig Congress (which General Harrison had called to meet in extra session, at an early day,) should deem advisable. A variety of circumstances concur to evince that such was at that time his intention. But the tenor of his Message, on the assembling of Congress, gave indications of a change—or rather of a disposition to hold himself in reserve on this subject, and watch the chances which might turn
| in the course of the inevitable struggle. He spoke of the Sub-Treasury and an old-fashioned Bank, as having been alike condemned by the public voice, and indicated the expediency of adopting some third or intermediate plan, which was very vaguely “shadowed forth.” Plain men were puzzled to divine what was meant by this. Obviously, there were just two principles on which the fiscal affairs of the nation could be conducted— the one, that of the Sub-Treasury, making the Government its own banker, exclusively; the other, that preferred by ninety-nine in every hundred business men, who seek out the best bank within a convenient distance, collect through it, deposit with it, and buy from it. Other modes than these two we do not know; and it would puzzle the subtlety of an Abstractionist to devise another. To any but an Abstractionist it must appear evident that a bank of a large capital, chartered by the general government, but managed by the leading business men of the several States, with offices in each, and issuing a currency every where equal to specie, would be far safer, more convenient, more useful as a depository and fiscal agent of that government, than could any number or aggregation of State Banks, limited in their capital and sphere of operations, issuing notes which the would not even receive uniformly of eac other, nor of the government, and not amenable to the laws and the supervision of the government, but subject to the capricious legislation and policy of their several States. It was not surprising, therefore, that a decided majority of the new Congress, considering themselves instructed and deputed by the people to take efficient action on the subject of the currency, not merely to repeal the SubTreasury act, but to provide a practical substitute, believed that they could in no way so readily and thoroughly effect this important end as by chartering, under some form, a new United States Bank. But it was not because he differed with the mass of the Whigs on this subject, that Mr. Tyler found it expedient to abandon the party which elected him, and take refuge in the open arms of their deadly antagonists. The Bank rupture was not the cause but the consequence of that change—a plainly foregone conclusion. Had he desired to retain the confidence and fellowship of the party to which he owed his election—had he not been tempted by flatterers and time
servers to indulge a longing for that reelection, which the principles and the affections of the Whigs alike sternly forbade—there would have been no trouble with regard to a Bank. He would have called around him the leading Whigs in Congress, frankly stated to them his difficulty and his anxiety to have it obviated, and a few hours would have served to devise some compromise on which all could have united. But the case was far otherwise. Congress passed one Bank
bill, moulded on its own convictions of the wants of the country, and the duty of the government. Mr. Tyler vetoed it. Having now, as was fairly presumed, a distinct statement, in the Veto Message of the President's ground of objections Congress passed another Bank bill, expressly framed to obviate those objections, and this was in like manner vetoed, although it had been submitted beforehand to §, Tyler and amended at his own suggestion," so as (it was sup
* The conduct of Mr. Tyler on this occasion evinced such incredible weakness as well as want of integrity, that future generations will with difficulty be brought to credit the most sober record of his whiffling, faltering, self-seeking knavery. We deem it advisable, therefore, to fortify our statements by the testimony of eye and ear witnesses, who are widely known as incapable of a departure from the naked truth. We annex, therefore the
Statement of Senator Berrien.
“When the bill for the establishment of a fiscal agent, which had been reported by Mr. Clay, had been returned with the Veto of the President, I was requested to unite with Mr. Sergeant in preparing and reporting a bill to establish a Bank on the basis of the projet submitted to the Senate of Mr. Ewing, or such other bill, as we believed could become a law. The alternative authority was given expressely with a view to enable us to ascertain, with more precision than was found on the Veto Message, in what particular form the President would feel authorized to approve such a bill; and the whole power was conferred and received in a spirit of conciliation to the Executive, and from an earnest desire on the part of the majority in Congress to co-operate with the President in the adoption of some fiscal agent which should meet the wishes and the wants of the Country. Mr. Sergeant and I waited on the President, and, at my request, Mr. C. Dawson accompanied us.
“It is not proposed to detail the particulars of the conversation at this interview, unless it shall be desired by some one who has the authority of the President for asking it. It suffices to state the result. The President, referring to his Veto Message, expressed himself in favor of a fiscal agent divested of the discounting power, and limited to dealing in bills of Exchange other than those drawn by one citizen of a State, upon another citizen of the same State. He declared his determination to confer with his cabinet on the question, whether the assent of the States ought to be required in the establishment of the agencies to be employed by the Corporation, and also, as to the propriety of holding with us that informal communication, promising to inform us of the result by a note to be sent in the course of the day. In the course of the same day, Mr. Webster came to the Capitol, with instructions, as he stated, to communicate to me verbally the determination of the President, he (the President) believing that that mode of communication would be equally acceptable with the written one that had been promised. He proceeded to state, that the President would approve a bill for the establishment of a fiscal agancy limited to dealing in foreign bills of Exchange. And to the question whether he would require that the assent of the States should be obtained for the establishment of the agencies to be employed by the Corporation, he answered that he would not. He suggested the expediency of changing the name of the Corporation, which was acquiesced in : and by an arrangement then made with Mr. Webster, I received Mr. Ewing and Mr. Sergeant at my lodgings at five o'clock of the same afternoon. The details of the bill, subsequently introduced by Mr. Sergeant, were then and there agreed upon, in conformity with the views of the President, as communicated to me by Mr. Webster and repeated by Mr. Ewing, whether the President would require the assent of the States to the establishment of the agencies, he, Mr. Ewing, likewise replied in the negative. The sketch thus arranged was committed to Mr. Sergeant, who prepared from it the bill which he subsequently introduced in the House of Representatives, a copy of which was, as I understood, from Mr. Sergeant, before introducing it, sent to Mr. Webster to be by him submitted to the President. This was the same bill which subsequently passed both Houses of Congress, and which was returned by the President with his second Veto. “J. M.AcPHERson BERRIEN.”
posed) to ensure his assent. There was
virtue and disinterested patriotism of the Executive, were in due time found among the most fluent and the coarsest in their reproaches of the traitorous simpleton who had idly imagined that he could gain the confidence of his adversaries by an infamous betrayal of his supporters. So long as they were only required to give empty compliments in return for substantial service—so long as they were asked but to cavil and to toast, the Whig elevé who was vetoing Whig measures and proscribing those who had aided his elevation, to give their places to those who had opposed it to the utmost—the price of treachery was paid without stint or scruple. But when the time at length came for the substantial requital of his perfidy—when Mr. Tyler made his appeal to his new allies for their voices and their votes in aid of his re-election, a universal shout of derision gave their only answer.f Here and there a solitary
Memorandum by Mr. Sergeant.
“In compliance with a request to testify what I know of the matter embraced in the above statement by Judge Berrien, I have carefully examined the same, and concur with him in every part of it, excepting only that which details the conversation he had with Mr. Webster. The rest is personally known to me; but not having been present at the interview between Judge Berrien and Mr Webster. I cannot speak of it from any knowledge of my own. I well remember, however, that Judge Berrien told me of what had passed, very soon after he had seen Mr. Webster (I think on the same day) in substance as he had reduced it to writing: so that I never had a doubt of its correctness. This conviction is confirmed by conversations between Mr. Webster and myself, which took place after the meeting, with Mr. Ewing referred to by Judge Berrien, and before I moved the proposed bill in the House of Representatives. These conversations were brief, but they were by appointment, and not casual; were earnest and to the point, so that I do not think there was any error in my understanding of them at the time, nor in my recollection since.
“I desire farther to say, as I can do with unhesitating confidence, that my sole object in the whole proceeding, and, I believe, the object generally of those who took part in it, was, by a candid ascertainment and comparison of individual views and mutual explananations, fairly obtained in perfect good faith, to endeavor to conciliate opinion and agree upon a measure which could become a law and meet the public exigency. So far as I know or believe, there was no other purpose whatever. John SERGEANT.
“Philadelphia, Nov. 2, 1841.” s
* On this head, see the explicit testimony of Hon. John M. Botts, and the concurring history of the times. See also the Madisonian, passim.
f It is exceedingly pleasant, and instructive, withal, to contrast the expressed emotions of the kind Democracy, when that party and Mr. Tyler were engaged in mutual courtship, with those significantly uttered, after the deluded man, having squandered his gifts in fostering this new affection, found himself suddenly, as being indeed of no longer use, deserted, despised, free to go any where else:
“Lean, rent and beggared by the strumpet—WIND,”—(aura populi ()
in November, 1842, expresseth in 1845, March 1st, is not even great satisfaction in presenting its admir- able to wait until the unlucky nondescript ing readers with a daguerrotype face of the tertium quid, as it felicitously styles him,