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a tangible issue, like that between Massachusetts and South Carolina, but one bearing a more personal character, and marked with a violence, unscrupulousness, and ferocity, at least on the part of their adherents, which surpassed anything hitherto known, even in the country which had witnessed the slaughter of Hamilton.* They had fought for the leadership of the Democratic party, which had remained in the hands of Jackson, the minority which adhered to Clay breaking off from the rest, and forming themselves into a new combination, under the name of Whigs. They had three times fought for the Presidency. The first time, Clay, hopeless of a success himself, foiled Jackson by flinging his whole weight into the scale of the younger Adams. The second time, the union of himself and Adams failed of success, and Jackson was triumphantly carried to the White House. The third time, the two great rivals met face to face. The result was as before; and Jackson enjoyed the honour of being President for two terms in succession. No President has done so since. After his second term, he was content with political greatness, and retired to pass the rest of his life in his native State, the object of a veneration which had pro
* Hamilton, like his namesake the Duke of Queen Anne's time, had been murdered in a duel in a quarrel which was really, though not ostensibly, political.
bably been the lot of no other American statesman, since Washington. Clay passed his life in fruitless struggles for the Presidency. The prize was constantly being placed almost within his grasp, and snatched away just as he stretched forth his hand to take it. On one occasion he was foiled by the decision of the caucusmongers of his own party, to put up as candidate over his head an insignificant person, whose name was at first received with shouts of derision; and I think that it is the strongest proof that could be given, of the almightiness of the said caucusmongers, that the great Whig party, though frantic with rage and shame at their illustrious chief being so cavalierly set aside, still did not venture to resist the decrees of their masters; and they were driven like sheep to the poll to vote for the said insignificant personage, whose election they succeeded in carrying, and who very soon afterwards was literally killed by the fatigue and pump-handle work imposed upon him by the office-seekers by whom he was beset. The characters of these two eminent statesmen, Clay and Jackson, might form an interesting subject for a comparison, only it would be far beside my point. Perhaps it will be a fair way to express it, at least under some of its aspects, if I were to call one the American Gladstone, and the other the American Palmerston.
I have allowed myself to be carried away from the subject in hand by the mention of these two great names; for what I have to do with now is not their rivalry, but their co-operation. Differing in all else, they were agreed in wishing to keep their country at peace within its borders. They succeeded in doing so. Clay's eloquence, his earnestness of character, the warm affection with which he inspired his followers, gave strength to the appeals which he made to the Northern majority not to force on a civil war. Jackson, perhaps gifted with less power of speech, was more generally popular, and had the power, which Clay had not, of touching the national fibre. Perhaps of the two he was the least enthusiastically loved, but most generally liked and followed. Together they saved the Union. The power of the eloquence of the one, and the weight of the influence of the other, kept the impatient South from following the ardent Palmetto State into the breach, and relaxed the bands which held together the Northern coalition. Through their united influence the ten years' compromise, proposed by Clay, was agreed to by Congress.
The question, however, was not laid at rest. Fresh Presidential elections, with all their attendant evils, came again and again to renew the old subjects of bitterness ; and when at length the decade of years
was past, and the Union was definitely to have given up Protection, and to have confined the duties which it levied on foreign merchandise solely to what was required for purposes of revenue, the influence of the North was strong enough to re-impose heavy duties, avowedly with the old object; and the wave which had threatened ten years ago to sweep the Union away, returned with the same weight and violence as before.
It seems that its force was somewhat deadened by the idea which prevailed in the South, that the Western States, which had been growing all this while in wealth and population, would see that it was for their interest to resist the pretensions of New England, and unite in cutting the tariffs down. At the time of the Convention by which the Union was established, it was one of the arguments by which the South had been induced not to press rigorously for Pinckney's proposed two-thirds vote, that the Western States were likely to be as much opposed to protective duties as she was herself, and that their united strength would be enough to keep New England in check without the need of any such safeguard. And I think it was some such notion which prevented any repetition, on the part of South Carolina, of her Nullification Act. The Western States were, it is true, induced at the moment to offer to sell their support for the offer to protect their private interests ; but it was thought that the time must come when they would see that their true welfare consisted in freedom of trade ; and that the duties which the Northerners had flung to them, like a bone to a dog, were not so much advantages as palliations of an evil, and that they had better be rid of them altogether.
Jacob of New England saw this perfectly well, and cast about for some plan to obviate it. He did not altogether like the plan of bribing the Western States, for of course a protective duty which he did not profit by himself, was, so far as it went, a loss to him ; and he had expressed this pretty distinctly when he was asked to protect indigo. At last it occurred to him that a subject could be started which might, with the North-Western States, answer nearly as well as that of protection for their industry, and would at the same time cost nothing. And if it would lose him the support of Kentucky and the States of French origin, it would have the counterbalancing advantage of dividing the North-West irrevocably from the South-West, and throwing the whole of the great region between the Ohio and the British frontier into his arms; and it would thus make a united North, bound together by sentiment as well as by interest, and able to present a compact front to the South. That subject was Negro Slavery.