« AnteriorContinuar »
crusade against the foreign Papists, why, the foreign Papists must be induced to join a crusade against them; and every effort was made to induce the “foreign Papists” to do so. Unfortunately the Irish did not follow the same course that the Southerners had done. They were either not generous or not clear-sighted enough to do so. The American party, without one moment of compunction, or without one feeling of shame, dropped its colours at once, and hoisted those of the Free-soil party; and the efforts of its wirepullers and caucusmongers contrived to unite all the scattered elements out of which a party could be formed in the North — Puritans and Roman Catholics, Abolitionists and nigger-haters, foreigners and natives—into one compact body, united on the principle of opposition to the South. Thus originated the Great Republican Party.
Such a party had never existed in the Union before. Northern interests and Southern interests had often come into collision, but their advocacy had not been made the basis of any recognised party organisation; the great parties which had hitherto divided the Republic had extended into both sections; and though perhaps either of them might be stronger in one section than in another, yet they did not belong exclusively to either. But now, for the first time since the Union began, there was seen the new phenomenon of a distinctly-avowed Northern party. The South could not avoid seeing what would happen if this party were to get the upper hand. She had borne it all hitherto—not indeed without a murmur, but still she had borne it. She had submitted to bear far more than her share of the taxes of the Federation. She had seen the money that was forced from her against her will expended in bounties to Northern manufacturers, and in plunder for Northern office-seekers. She had seen trade carried away from her borders, her coasts neglected, her fields relapsing into wastes, her towns sinking to ruin. She had seen her rivals fattening on her spoil, and glorying in the triumph as well as the advantage of doing so. But never before had she seen a party whose war-cry was to be, the North versus the South.
Still her people clung to the Union with desperate tenacity. They had allowed themselves to be oppressed by the Protectionists, they had allowed themselves to be excluded from the Territories by the Free-soilers, and they determined not to give up yet, if they could help it. Of the two parties into which the Union was divided, the Democratic was that which was most Southern in its tendency; and it might be hoped that that tendency might be strengthened now, partly from the jealousy which the Democrats would
feel towards this new faction, partly from their dislike to the unconstitutional character of its principles. But though the intentions of the Democrats might be trusted, yet it was not safe to rely on their ability to carry them out. A slight majority, even the majority of one vote, in favour of the Republicans, if it was obtained in more than a moiety of the States of the Union, would place everything in that party's hands, for the Union has no regard for minorities. The example of England will scarcely furnish a parallel. If, in a new House of Commons, one party, say the Conservatives, obtained a majority of seats, but those seats won as the result of very close elections, the Liberal minority would probably not suffer much thereby. The chief result would be that the Conservatives would come into power, that they would pass very Whiggish measures, and that the narrow majorities by which they were returned would be an excellent subject for Opposition jokes. But it would be different if the members were mere delegates, the representatives not of their constituencies but of their party, and confident that the more violent the part they took the greater would be their chance of re-election. Still worse would it be if the questions in dispute were not political but geographical—not whether or not there should be a Reform Bill—not whether votes should be taken openly or by ballot, or church-rates be abolished, or Jews be admitted to Parliament—but whether England should pay the taxes of Scotland and Ireland, or vice versa. We hear enough of Irish grievances, such as they are, and some time ago there was an idea north of the Cheviots that Scotland did not get justice done her. Whether or not that be the case, what would be thought in those two kingdoms if a patriotic English party were to arise claiming that Scotland and Ireland were to bear all the expense and England to reap all the profits of the connection; and if, moreover, a powerful movement were got up for the purpose of confiscating on religious grounds the principal part of Scotch and Irish property ?
Bearing this in mind, and transferring ourselves to the United States, let us put this as a possibility. North and South are bitterly exasperated against one another. A powerful party is formed in the North, bearing as its watchword the sentiment, uttered by no less a person than President Jackson, that to the victors belong the spoils, and determined that those spoils shall go to their division of the Union. A strong section of that party is opposed to Southern institutions, on grounds partly religious, partly commercial, and is prepared to enforce its views at the risk of consigning the whole South to ruin. The South is, of course, unanimous in opposi
tion to this party, and she is supported by a large section of the Northerners, who have no wish to push matters to extremes. This section, which exists in both divisions of the Union, we will call Democrats or Conservatives. Their rivals we will call Republicans. At the heat of the conflict a Presidential election comes on. Each party sets up a candidate. We will say that this is the result when we come to sum up. The South has a voting population, including the three-fifths coloured vote, of a million and a half; and every single vote of the 1,500,000 goes to the Democrat. The voting power of the North is three millions and a half; and it is divided thus: 1,749,000 go to the Democrat, and 1,751,000 to his antagonist, who thus has a majority of two thousand out of the whole three millions and a half. But as this two thousand is made up of small majorities in the different States, varying from five hundred in New York to fifty in Rhode Island, but leaving a majority of some sort in each, the minority of 1,749,000 goes for nothing; and the whole mass of Presidential electors, as they are still ironically called, are the representatives of the majority. Now comes the tug of war. The electors, or rather delegates, of North and South respectively, meet for the final task of nominating the President. The Democrat has the support of the whole million and