scandalous, and malicious assertions.” Not long after, a meeting was held of a few members, who pledged themselves to the support of Messrs. Jefferson and Burr. This arose from the charge made upon the South that the latter had not received a sufficiently united support from that direction.

It would seem that the first regular Republican caucus was held in February, 1804. Its prime object was to select a candidate for Vice-President, for which post George Clinton was named, and Thomas Jefferson for President.

A meeting of the same party was called on the 10th of January, 1808. S. R. Bradley, senator from Vermont, issued the call, which commenced thus : “In pursuance of the powers vested in me, as President of the late convention of the Republican members of both Houses of Congress, I deem it expedient, &c." This call, thus issued, was vehemently denounced by several members, and a large proportion of them refused to attend ; " unwilling," they said,“ to countenance by their presence the midnight intrigues of any set of men who may arrogate to themselves the right (which belongs only to the people) of selecting proper persons for the important offices of President and Vice President.”

The meeting was, however, attended by ninety-four members of both Houses. Notwithstanding Mr. Monroe had been strongly urged by outside influence, Mr. Madison received an almost unanimous nomination.

The congressional caucus of 1816 was held on the 16th of March, and was attended by one hundred and nineteen out of one hundred and forty-one Republican members. Resolutions were offered by Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, and Mr. Taylor, of New York, declaring it inexpedient to proceed to a nomination; these propositions were negatived. Mr. Monroe received 65 votes to 54 for Mr. Crawford. There being no opposition to the Republican party in 1820, no caucus was held.

So odious had the caucus system become, that the nomination received by Mr. Crawford (1824) damaged his prospects; failing as it did to unite the party strength as similar nominations hitherto had done.

The contest of 1824 was an earnest one, and resulted in no choice by the people. The candidates voted for were Messrs. Jackson, J. Q. Adams, Crawford, and Clay. Of the electoral votes Mr. Jackson received 99; Mr. Adams 84; Mr. Crawford 41; and Mr. Clay 37.

After declaring the electoral vote as above, the Senate retired, and the House proceeded in accordance with the provision of the Constitution, to the election of a President from the three having the largest number of votes.

The House was called, and the votes cast by States, as its majority directed. John Q. Adams received the votes of thirteen States; Andrew Jackson received the votes of seven States, and W. H. Crawford received the votes of four States.

The Speaker declared the result, and announced that John Q. Adams was duly elected President of the United States for the four years next ensuing.

John C. Calhoun was chosen Vice-President by the electoral colleges, receiving one hundred and eighty-two votes—the remainder scattering on various persons.




John Quincy Adams was inaugurated as President of the United States, on the 4th of March, 1825. After pronouncing his inaugural address, Mr. Adams descended from the chair and took the oath of office, at the close of which the House rang with the plaudits of the immense audience.

The President elect appointed as his constitutional advisers, Henry Clay, of Kentucky, as Secretary of State; Richard Rush, of Pennsylvania, Secretary of the Treasury; James Barbour, of Virginia, Secretary of War. The nominations of Messrs. Rush and Barbour were unanimously confirmed by the Senate, while that of Mr. Clay met a strong opposition. He was, however, confirmed by a vote of twenty-seven for, to fourteen against it. William Wirt, of Virginia, Attorney-General, and John McLean, Postmaster-General, officers under Mr. Monroe, were continued as such by Mr. Adams. It is worthy of being recorded, that Mr. Crawford was offered a seat in the Cabinet by the President elect, which was, however, declined.

The Cabinet as constituted was an able one, but this did not secure the Administration against a determined and persistent opposition. At so early a day was this opposition manifested, that it was evidently directed at the Administration, not its principles of governmental policy. IIostility to the Government was undoubtedly augmented by the charge against the President, that he had obtained his election through a bargain with Mr. Clay. This charge was distinctly and emphatically denied by those against whom it was made, and proof thereon challenged. This was wanting. The cooler judgment of years quite generally regards the reports as put in circulationt to subserve political ends, and promote the prosperity of political favorites.

The 19th Congress, the first under Mr. Adams' administration, convened on the fifth of December, 1825. In the Senate, the Administration had a majority, while the House was doubtful. The Administration candidate, however, J. W. Taylor, was elected Speaker on the second ballot, by 99 votes, against 94 for all others. But it soon became apparent that the friends of Messrs. Jackson and Crawford, in both Houses, would unite to embarrass the action and defeat the measures of the President and his friends.

Many of the most important questions contained in the President's Message received no action during the session, time being given to extraordinary topics having reference for the most part to the recent election. Two propositions were introduced; one into the Senate by Mr. Benton, the other into the House, by Mr. McDuffie, to amend the Constitution respecting the election of President. Mr. McDuffie's proposition provided for the choice of electors by districts, and preventing the election from falling upon the House of Representatives. Its consideration elicited warm debate. On the resolution taking the election from Congress, the House divided, 123 in the affirmative, and 64 in the negative. The second, favoring



3. Avoid pre

[ocr errors]

the district system, was rejected, 101 to 91.

Neither received the requisite two-thirds vote.

The plan proposed by Mr. Benton provided. 1. The abolition of electors, and the direct vote of the people. 2. A second election between the two highest on each list when no one has a majority of the whole. 3. Uniformity in the mode of election. This plan was argued at length, and with ability. The following axioms were submitted. To prevent corruption. 1. Multiply the votes. 2. Keep the candidates from among the voters. existing bodies of electors. To prevent violence and avoid coalitions, separate the electors.

Pending this subject, Mr. Benton, as Chairman of a select committee appointed “ to inquire into the expe. diency of reducing the patronage of the executive government," reported, (May 4, stating it as the conclusion of the committee, that the amount of patronage now exercised by the President, might and ought to be reduced by law, and presented six bills for that purpose. 1. A bill to regulate the laws of the United States, and of public advertisement. 2. A bill to secure in office the faithful collectors and disbursers of the revenue, and to displace defaulters. 3, 4, and 5. Bills to regulate the appointment of postmasters, cadets, and midshipmen. 6. A bill to prevent military and naval officers from being dismissed the service at the pleasure of the President.

The report says, " They (the committee) have only touched in four places, the vast and pervading system of federal executive patronage; the press, the post-office, the armed force, and the appointing power. They are few compared to the whole number of points which the system presents; but they are points vital to the liberties of the country. The press is put foremost because it is the moving power of human action; the post-office is the

« ForrigeFortsett »