Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

66

3

a

power and capital than either of the two former. All shades of political complexion are united in their ranks. The professing State-Rights representative of Southern and Western Republicanism is foremost in the orgies of a Faneuil Hall. A great deal is said about “Whig principles;” but what they are, save a general purpose to “heal the wounds of the bleeding Constitution," or some such beautiful figurative design or other,--to “drive out the Philistines,” and enter themselves upon the enjoyment of the milk and honey of the Promised Land,- it is impossible to ascertain, and difficult to guess. During the late Administration there was a sufficient degree of plausibility in the cry of “Executive usurpation," appealing to our natural jealousy.of its tendency to excess, to afford a tolerable common rallying ground to the scattered and heterogeneous elements of which the Opposition was composed. But this pretension can no longer be maintained with any show of decency; and is now scarcely in fact attempted, except occasionally by a few faint and feeble voices, from the mere force of habit, though no longer cheered on by the reverberation of a thousand echoes. The stream of the Executive action, swollen for a time, by the agitation of the political elements, up to the full level of its banks, has now so manifestly subsided back to its narrowest limits, as to make any affectation of alarm at its rushing torrent too ridiculous to be any longer even pretended. The general tendency of the principles and policy of the Administration itself is, undeniably, at all points, to reduce the central action of our Federal system,—and with it necessarily the Executive activity in similar proportion. In all the subordinate practices of administration, the fiery ordeal of opposition that has been maintained so long against it has brought it to a point of purity, and strict propriety of even the humblest details, entirely unexampled in so extensive and complicated a system. The unfortunate Indian wars which have consumed so much blood and treasure, are in vain sought to be turned to account as an "available" ground of party attack, the whole subject being purely of a military and not a political character; and the only possible error that can be charged upon the Administration being one that leans to virtue's side, in such a case, namely, that of placing too lavishly the amplest means of action at the disposal of the responsible commanders in the field. Nothing in fact remains to the Whigs but the two stereotyped phrases, the Credit System," and the Infamous Sub-Treasury," with some delusive charges of extravagance, during the course of the late Administration-which, with all the specious arrays of figures, and contrasts of round numbers, in truth vanish utterly into thin air on a critical scrutiny. These in fact now constitute their whole provision of material,low has the course of events reduced the stock once so overflowing! Instead of the embarras de richesses once so troublesome to

[ocr errors]

a

the Whig editor, he is now compelled, by way of slight variety to his beggarly array of empty paragraphs, or the sounding verbiage of his air-inflated columns, to strain every nerve to lash up a patriotic indignation against the Administration, because, forsooth, a writer in a prominent Democratic journal, in his desire to reform some abuses which, according to universal consent, have grown up in the Navy, happens to be less courtly and delicate in style than a similar article which appeared simultaneously in the very journal especially devoted to the interests and honor of that gallant profession!

The panic of the year of suspension, so invaluable so long as it lasted, has unfortunately exhausted itself, and is one of those ephemera which revive not with to-morrow's sun, after running their brief cycle of existence of to-day. The waves of the political excitement which accompanied it, which at one time threatened to overwhelm the Administration beyond recovery, are fast sinking back to their accustomed peaceful bed. Unfortunately, too, in their refluence they have done very serious damage to the Whig cause itself, leaving it high and dry upon the naked shore, not only shorn of all its bravery, but in truth in very sorry and unseaworthy plight. What has become of the charge that it was the Administration that caused the suspension,-after the testimony of the New York banks, and the universal acquiescence in the truth of the enormous selfexpansion of the paper currency and of speculation, with the morbid overaction of the whole commercial system at first so resolutely denied by the Whig press, under the cue of the prompting of Mr. Biddle? And since it has become manifest that the reaction was unavoidable, what has become of the abuse of the Specie Circular; which it is now evident to all afforded a check, so far as its limited operation went, upon that expansion and overaction, and was indispensable to preserve the public domain from the rapid evaporation which it was undergoing on so vast a scale--that public domain about which eminent Whig statesmen are now anxious, that they are unwilling to allow the slight and morally equitable privilege of a pre-emption, to the poor man who is willing to reclaim his quarter-section from the wilderness, on condition of being suffered to dig from it an honest livelihood by the sweat of his own brow? What has become of that high position of the Bank of the United States, that it suspended, late and reluctant, only for its country's good, holding itself ready at any moment to coöperate in restoring the currency, and to take the lead in resumption? What has become of the argument so strongly urged and supported by the authority of former experience, that a National Bank could afford the only means of compelling a resumptionwhen the resumption has been carried into effect in a single year, by the banks of a single city, against all the gigantic power wield

[merged small][ocr errors]

a

a

[ocr errors]

ed against them by that institution, and the enormous influence which it controlled; so as even to force the “Great Regulated" itself back to the path of honesty and duty, against the most determined resistance, which, in the famous “cotton-bag" letter, did not even restrain itself within the limits of decency? What has become of the argument that such an institution was necessary to manage the exchanges of the country,—when our foreign exchanges so speedily righted themselves as soon as relieved from the incubus of artificial “management;" and the internal exchanges are so steadily and certainly undergoing the same process, and so clearly demonstrating that the irregularities apparent on the surface are owing solely to the different degrees of credit and solvency of the different paper currencies of respective portions of the Union? What has become of the argument that banks, and especially a National Bank, were indispensable as fiscal agents of the Government,--when, through all the severely trying circumstances of the year of suspension, it was able to dispense with both; and that, too, without the provision of a new legally organized scheme of independent management, such as it has twice applied to Congress to grant? What has become of the charge that the attitude assumed by the Administration, on the suspension, was ruinous and destructive to all the interests of the country, in its stern determination not to acquiesce in an indefinite continuance of it, by bending the knee to the Baal of paper-money, and consenting to receive a depreciated irredeemable currency-what has become to the “ten cent revolution” of the merchants and gentlemen of Boston against Mr. Kendall when it is now too manifest to admit of serious denial, that a different course, on the part of the Administration, would have prolonged the suspension for several years; and that to the moral force of the public sentiment which it alone kept alive and stimulated, to the rallying influence of the specie flag which it alone kept flying, has been mainly, if not solely, due the happy direction which events have now taken? What has become of the charge of hostility to legitimate credit, or to sound and honest banking, after the signal manner in which the Administration and its friends have lent their countenance and support to the process

of resumption ? And now that time has sifted the subject a little, what has become of all the ridiculous charges that the Independent Treasury Scheme would absorb all the specie of the country, destroy the banks, cripple commerce and industry, extend alarmingly the influence of the Executive, and endanger the public funds?

What has become of all these, and a host of similar 'arguments' and charges, which, while they lasted, afforded such rich topics of declamation to Whig fluent speakers and ready writers? Have they curled upwards into impalpable and invisible ether, like the morning mists of our mountains, before the slow but irresistible

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

power of the God of Light? Have they been laid, like unquiet
ghosts, at the bottom of the Red Sea, by the stern exorcism of the
- voice of reason and truth, never more to revisit the pale glimpses
of the moon? Have they been floated away and dispersed, by the
ebb of the tide of panic excitement, out of sight of land, on the
boundless ocean of the absurd, never more to be re-assembled, in
all the imposing array in which they were once so gallantly decked
out? Or have they betaken themselves, as congenial to their moon-
shiny natures, to that Limbo said to be the receptacle of all things
lost on the earth? Where are they? It is very certain that they are
no longer to be seen or heard of on “this dark terrestrial ball;" and
that the homes that once knew them, in the columns and paragraphs
of the Whig press, now know them no more. It is said that, what-
ever processes of transformation all creatures and substances under-
go from time to time--from a “godlike” statesman down to a silk-
worm's egg-nothing actually perishes. But confessing ourselves
utterly unable to answer so puzzling a query, as the present where-
about of all those shadowy ghosts of arguments, that used to come
trooping up from the vasty deep of the imagination at the magic
call of Whig eloquence, we can only refer the reader, desirous of
laying his finger on them, for information to our friends of the
Whig press.

Where are they, then? “Where are they all, so sweet, so many?”

Gentle shepherd, tell me where! The contrast, then, exhibited hy the press on the one side and“ on the other, in the vigor and effect with which they carry on the great party contest of argument, notwithstanding all the adventitious advantages possessed by the Whig press, cannot excite surprise. Thus must it always be in the struggle between truth and error. The one possesses within itself inexhaustible resources of an immortal energy, which are only to be fully drawn out by the opposition of falsehood; and under whatever disadvantages of circumstance it sets out, it never goes backward, but still moves onward, ever gathering strength as it goes. The other must depend for any hope of success, in a contest with the adversary “armed so strong in honesty," upon the effect of its first dashing onset.

If that can be but parried, or staunchly withstood for a time, it speedily exhausts itself, and leaves to the other the possession of the field, with that noblest and surest of triumphs,

The victory of endurance borne. Thus is it, in a most signal manner, in the present case. Up to the present period the Opposition has had the Democratic party at great disadvantage. But the ground has been gradually and insensibly slipping away from under their feet. The tests of time and truth have been successively exploding their arguments, and refuting

their charges, one after the other, until really little or nothing remains to them. The cause of the Administration rests on a basis of right and truth, on the great questions at issue, broad and firm as the everlasting hills. The glittering spray of oratory, the vexed foam of declamation, the dashing waves of personal abuse, can avail nothing against this rock. And here our cardinal democratic principle, of confidence in the eventual sober judgment of the People, stands us in good stead. We know that when we have the whole field of the argument open before us, no panics, no excitements, no delusions, can long mislead the popular judgment; and no intelligent and reflecting democrat can entertain a doubt that, before the close of this great struggle, the People, in their broad mass, will obey the deep and strong instinct of their natural democratic tendency, and rally to the support of the Administration, in its present position and policy, in numbers not less overwhelming than those which bore the late Administration in triumph through its deathstruggle with the same power now foremost in the field in opposition to the present.

Another of the signs of the times which we regard with great satisfaction is this--the manifest progress that democratie principles are making among the young men of the Whig party itself. The youth of this country must, of necessity, incline with a strong natural bias towards the generous and glorious truths of the democratic faith,—-notwithstanding the numerous powerful influences always in operation upon them, especially in our cities, our literary institutions, and the learned professions, to warp them to the opposite direction. In fact it is from this class that the democratic party is constantly recruiting the losses it has from time to time to sustain, of those of its numbers who, as they proceed in life waxing fat and proud, are gradually weaned from the attachments of their more ardent and liberal youth. Thus for the corrupt and diseased portions of the one party, which always gather over the surface till they fall off and attach themselves naturally to the other, the former is receiving a constant compensation, in the sounder portions of the latter which, from their natural bias of congeniality, pass over to fill up the desertions thus periodically dropping off. The main bulk of the Whig party itself-that is to say, of its voters, not of its políticians or leaders—is at heart democratic, though kept, from a variety of causes and in a variety of modes, in a constant state of delusion and mystification. The peculiar combination of circumstances which has lately borne so severely upon the democratic party, throwing its cause and candidates into an apparent temporary minority in so many quarters where it has been long accustomed to prevail, has been seen so far to intoxicate the Opposition' with triumph, as to cause them to reverse the true relations and names of parties,-to believe themselves to have gained over the “demo

« AnteriorContinuar »