Imagens das páginas

the private and partial interests of individuals and classes; especially if its connexion with the great moneyed interests of the countrynow so happily loosened, to a considerable extent-should be resumed. In that case the experience of the future will most assuredly confirm, again and again, that of the past, viz. that the power of the majority will constantly tend more or less to abuse, to favor the interests of a certain influential class of political leaders, who, deriving their prominence originally from the generous zeal of their Republican opinions and sentiments, in early life, become insensibly warped from the great and broad abstract principles of that faith, by the too long possession both of political power and personal influence,-so as in truth to be no longer fit and worthy leaders to a party whose animating spirit must always be a generous enthusiasm in behalf of those great principles. Democracy is bold and energetic, unresting in its perpetual striving after a better good, a higher perfection of social institutions. None can be unconscious that our whole scheme of political institutions, under both the Federal and State Constitutions, is very far from being purely democratic. Though democracy is their prevalent principle, and their original root and basis, yet in all it is more or less combined with so many checks upon its freedom of developement, and so large an infusion of elements of an opposite character, that they are far indeed from perfection; and far indeed from producing all those glorious and beneficent results, of general social well-being, towards which the imagination of the political enthusiast so earnestly aspires, and of which he is so profoundly convinced that, in their simple natural purity, the great principles of his faith do contain the germs. Democracy, then, among us must always be a restless, progressive, reforming, principle. The utmost extent to which it can ever be deemed possible by any one to carry forward the great mission of democratic amelioration in the condition of society, in any present generation, must still fall very far short of that ideal standard which must exist in the mind, and in the prophetic hope, of every democratic thinker, truly imbued with the spirit of his noble and sublimely simple faith. But it must be perpetually tending forward towards such amelioration,-perpetually engaged in some new reform, some new simplification, or the extirpation of some element in our institutions of which time has practically developed the evil character and influence. Such being the inherent character of democracy, it is impossible for such a class of men as referred to above, the old influential leaders and managers of the party organization, who gradually form themselves like a crust over its surface, always to retain that relation to the broad mass of their party, which they originally owed to the enthusiasm and devotion now chilled by the torpor and natural timidity of age, and too often corrupted by the acquisition of wealth,-favored and facilitated by the direction

which their own political influence may have given to the course of public events. We entertain the most profound respect for the venerable dignity and wisdom of gray hairs; and are conscious of the importance of the influence of the countless sound sterling old Republicans who at the present moment confer honor on our party, by the conspicuous positions they still delight to retain in the great contest incessantly waging, for the principles of which they derived their first lessons from the fountain-head of the Jeffersonian era. But we are here considering the subject on a broader scale of generalization; and desire to bring this truth to the apprehension of our readers, that—instead of there being any just cause for alarm for the integrity of the Democratic party, and for the safety of the great cause involved in the destinies of that party in this country, in the spectacle which has been seen, of its temporary disorganization, and the desertion of a portion of its prominent influential and wealthy leaders--such is, on the contrary, precisely one of the most unequivocal symptoms, that its main body is in a sound and healthy state; and that it is passing, in a natural and favorable manner, through one of those periodical crises necessary to preserve it in such a state. It is engaged in its natural and proper mission, that of Reform; and therefore must necessarily expect to encounter the hostility, not only of the main body of its old opponents, but of those among its own former leaders interested in the perpetuation of the evils against which its efforts are now directing themselves. Democracy is the vital principle of our system; and it is now engaged in an earnest struggle with a deeply seated disease, which had insensibly been suffered to overspread the body politic, till the painful developement of its morbid action has aroused all the healthful energy of the principle of life to arrest its further progress, and at least to expel it from its too close proximity to the vitals of the constitution. Such a struggle for the ascendency must necessarily be long, and, to many, seemingly doubtful-inflaming the whole system with fever, and convulsing it with suffering-but we have never permitted ourselves for a moment to doubt the ultimate triumph of nature over the disease; and we repeat that all the symptoms now disclosing themselves are clearly confirming that confidence.

In the late convulsion, it is not to be denied, nor have we ever denied, that the Democratic party was shaken to its centre. Had a Presidential election fallen upon that period, it would probably have been overthrown. No party could ever successfully, in a general election, face such a tempest as then swept, raging and howling, over the land. This admission in no respect impugns the cardinal democratic doctrine of confidence in the popular judgment, for which it is never intended to claim either an absolute infallibility, or an exemption from temporary influences of excitement and panic.

As a body it may be said to have been disorganized,-demoralized to speak in military phrase. Rarely have the leaders of a great party, in the constant struggles of parties in free states, been thrown suddenly into a more critical and arduous position. But they proved not unequal to the occasion, not untrue to their cause. THE MESSAGE OF THE EXTRA SESSION saved the cause, and saved the country. They planted themselves on a rock of impregnable principle, and unfurling a flag that "streamed like a meteor to the troubled air," sounded a most gallant rallying note, over the whole length and breadth of the land, to invite their party to gather around that rock of refuge, and recombine their broken organization under the shadow of that flag. A year has not yet elapsed, and the course of events is already rapidly justifying the bold wisdom of the high position then assumed. The process of reorganization has been steadily going forward, in spite of the herculean exertions of open foes from without, and false friends within, to impede and distract it; and though not yet entirely consummated, has reached a stage that is quite satisfactory to us, as placing its ultimate complete success beyond fear of danger. The democracy has recovered from its paralysis of panic, and is beginning to put forth again the energies of its renewed youth. In no former contest has it ever evinced a finer and nobler spirit. This is signally shewn in the primary assemblies of the people, which have of late appeared every where animated by the most generous zeal and the highest confidence,— that zeal and confidence which, springing alone from a deep sense of the righteousness of the democratic side of the great issue now joined, are both the strongest incentives to exertion, and the surest harbingers of success.

This same fine spirit breathes, in a still more striking manner, from the Democratic Press. This truth, which is indeed at the present period very remarkable, can only, perhaps, be fully appreciated by those who possess the opportunity of observation afforded by a widely extended exchange over the whole Union, with papers of all political complexions. Though in number not equalling probably the fourth part of their opponents,—and almost universally inferior in most of those elements of success which depend on the liberality with which they are supported by the public,-yet the Democratic papers, throughout the country, exhibit at the present period a contrast to the Whig press equally favorable and remarkable. They are full of energy, boldness, confidence, earnestness, argument and eloquence. The leading questions at issue present such ample materials for the most convincing addresses to the judgments of their readers, and the most stirring appeals to their patriotic and democratic sentiments, that it would be strange indeed if such were not the case. In fact, we possess an advantage in the simple, solid strength of our CAUSE, for which all the num

bers of the Whig press-all the liberality with which they are sustained by the mercantile and moneyed interests, to which they are especially devoted-all their highly flushed hopes of victory, and of reward for the hardships of their long sojourn in the desert of minority-all the fluent pens of their ready writers-all the specious sophisms they have derived from the mystification in which the advocates of that stupendous modern imposture and humbug, credit-money, have been able to involve the subjects of currency and commerce—all the advantages of attack which they have had, in assailing so extensive and complicated a system of executive administration, after so long a period of power and of redundant public revenue and all the vocabulary of popular eatch-words which has so long constituted the main bulk of their editorial stock in trade,—can afford but a poor equivalent. The contrast between the two parties in this respect is very apparent. The friends of the Administration have a distinct and specific policy to pursue and defend. It is boldly put forward, and held on high, as being itself its best recommendation, if only suffered to be fairly carried out in practice. It is simple and transparent. All can readily understand it, and it is impossible long to attempt to misrepresent and mystify it. Its friends write their principles on their foreheads; embody them in the most clear and full expositions of them; and even have recourse to unusual forms to put forth the most authentic declarations of them. They are all, moreover, of an unequivocal democratic character. They go to disconnect the Federal Government from an alliance with great moneyed interests which may readily be a fruitful source of corrupt political influence;—to place commerce and currency on a secure basis of reliance on the natural laws of trade, and of independence of the perpetual agitation of our political contests;—to guard against a danger which, having occurred, may occur again, of the Government being thrown, by a power extraneous from itself, upon a state of temporary bankruptcy in the midst of the profusion of a large surplus revenue;—to introduce a safe and stable uniformity in the fiscal operations of the Government, which can never be affected by the fluctuations to which all paper-money systems must always be, confessedly, liable;-to obviate the possibility of the future accumulation of a redundant revenue, with all the evils and abuses inseparable from such a fiscal plethora as that with which we were lately afflicted ;—to surrender a branch of Executive influence so potent and dangerous that, but a few years back, no eloquence could exhaust the language of denunciation with which it was assailed by those who are now most strenuous in opposition to its proposed reform;—to curtail and simplify the Federal action, in a very material and salutary degree, in its influence upon the institutions and legislation of the States ;to place itself in an attitude of strict neutrality between the two

parties whose opposition of views on the general subject of banks and paper-money is now only beginning to agitate the country; so as neither to extend an artificial support to those institutions by the loan of its credit and revenue, nor on the other hand to attack or injure them in the least degree,--at the same time that it places itself aloof, in safe exemption from the dangers which it has already experienced in its connection with them, and to which, from their nature, they must always continue more or less liable. These are the leading features of the system of policy on which the Administration has planted itself, to stand or fall with the popular ratification or condemnation of these principles, as involved in its great measure of the Independent Treasury.

As accessory and subordinate to this its cardinal idea, the Democratic party puts forth bold and distinct avowals of opinion on all the other important subjects naturally connected with the general politics of the Union; marking out in strong lines the limits within which it restricts its own action by its own pledges and declarations of doctrine. It is for freedom of trade, and opposed to all monopoly legislation, and unequal distribution of public burthens, whether in the form of tariffs or otherwise. It is for the strictest construction of the Constitution, and for the restriction of the action of the federal centre within the narrowest limits consistent with its plainly declared functions and objects. It is opposed to the interference of the General Government, directly or indirectly, whether with the local interests of the States, by means of internal improvements, or with their private municipal and social institutions, of whatever nature they may be,--connecting itself neither with the one side nor the other of the different questions arising, as purely domestic questions, out of them.

On the other hand, with what is it opposed? The cardinal idea of the Opposition is, undeniably, a National Bank, though even this it does not venture to avow unequivocally and manfully. It is still kept partially in the back-ground. A shadowy vagueness of noncommittalism overspreads all its expositions of its doctrines and future policy; or rather it puts forth no such expositions. They cannot be distinctly extorted, in unequivocal terms. It issues no other manifestos, than calls for conventions to select "the most available candidates" for the Presidential contest. Though it is undeniable that the great question at issue is this, National Bank or Independent Treasury, a considerable proportion of its supporters, in certain sections of the Union, profess to disavow the advocacy of a bank, while most strenuous in their efforts to overthrow the Administration which they cannot deny to be the only bulwark be. tween the country and such an institution; and to bring into power the men and the party whose first act cannot be any other than the immediate establishment of such a one, on a yet grander scale of

« AnteriorContinuar »