Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

CONTEST BETWEEN ADAMS AND JACKSON.

119

echoed, and rendered the staple of many an electioneering speech. Many were undoubtedly sincere in believing these charges then; such belief at this day evinces a sad want of information respecting the history of our national politics.

General Jackson's early life was disclosed, and its defects exaggerated by comment and undue aspersion. Acts which he had long since condemned were held up to public view, with an ungenerous disposition to make exposure of that which noble natures would have covered with the mantle of charity.

The friends of Gen. Jackson drew strength from the fact, that, at the recent election, the votes for Messrs. Jackson and Crawford exceeded those cast for Messrs. Adams and Clay; those for the former being 140, to 121 for the last-named gentlemen. The friends of Messrs. Jackson and Crawford now being united, they counted on a sure triumph. The result showed the truthfulness of these calculations. Of the electoral votes Gen. Jackson recieved 178; and Mr. Adams, 83. Mr. Calhoun was reelected Vice-President by 171 votes (William Smith of South Carolina receiving the 7 Georgia electoral votes). For the same office Richard Rush received 83 votes. It is a circumstance worthy of notice, that the candidates of the adverse parties were locally such as in our times are denominated sectional. Messrs. Adams and Rush were both from non-slaveholding States—Messrs. Jackson and Calhoun both from slave States, and large slave owners themselves. Their election was secured by a large vote from the free States.

The 20th Congress commenced its second session on the 1st of December, 1828, and terminated with the constitutional term of Mr. Adams' administration, on the 3d of March, 1829.

a

Strong protests against the tariff of the last session were presented to the Senate from the Legislatures of South Carolina and Georgia. These set forth the injurious bearing of the tariff upon those States, and demanded its repeal. The senators from those States indorsed these protests. They were ordered to be printed.

In the month of December, 1826, Mr. Dickerson, of New Jersey, introduced a bill,“ to provide for the distribution of a part of the revenues of the United States among the several States.” This bill was brought before the Senate again during the present session, and thereon was had a general discussion touching our financial policy.

An especial committee appointed by the House to inquire into the propriety of distributing annually, amongst the States, all moneys arising from the sale of public lands, reported a history of the public lands, stating the condition of title, and amount owned by the General Government. These lands are thus classified :

“1. Those which were ceded by several of the old States to the Confederate Government, and the present Government of the United States.

“ 2. Those which were acquired by purchase from France by the treaty of Paris of the 30th of April, 1803 (Louisiana).

“ 3. Those purchased of Spain by the treaty of Wash ington, of the 22d of February, 1819 (Florida, and the territory west of the Mississipi).”

The suggestion to divide the lands amongst the several States met with little favor. To avoid the evils which would arise from this plan, the committee recommended the policy of distributing the net proceeds of all sales of public lands among the several States in the ratio of their population. This it was thought would secure a correc

RETRENCHMENT AND REFORM.

121

tion of such errors as had crept into the land-offices, and promote justice in the administration of claims.

The subject of retrenchment and reform, introduced during the previous session, was again brought up in a report from the select committee, which asked the House, prior to its final adjournment, to express an opinion on the following cardinal subjects of public economy:

“1. Be it therefore resolved, That as no free people should be burdened with unnecessary taxation, it is expedient to pay the public debt with all convenient dispatch.

“ 2. That this House has a right to expect that the Executive will submit to Congress at its next session, a comprehensive scheme of retrenchment, which shall extend to the lopping off of all useless officers, and to secure a more effective accountability in those which are retained.

“ 3. That a retrenchment of the fixed, as well as contingent expenditures of Congress, is indispensably necessary, more especially the last, which are essentially liable to abuse."

The existence of this Congress terminated by limitation, prior to reaching the above report.

Mr. Adams bore himself with dignity and propriety during his four years' administration of the highest office in the gift of the people. During his Presidency new and increased power was imparted to those interests which promote the growth and prosperity of the country. The duties devolving upon the Executive were discharged by Mr. Adams with promptness and without partiality. And now he laid aside the robes of office with the ease and dignity that characterize the patriot and the sage.

CHAPTER IX.

ADMINISTRATION OF ANDREW JACKSON, 1829–1837.

The inaugural ceremonies of General Jackson, the President elect, transpired on the 4th of March, 1829. The customary address was delivered, after which the oath to support the Constitution was administered by Chief Justice Marshall.

President Jackson nominated to the Senate, an extra session of which had been called by Mr. Adams, as his cabinet officers, Martin Van Buren, of New York, as Secretary of State; S. D. Ingham, of Pennsylvania, Secretary of the Treasury; John H. Eaton, of Tennessee, Secretary of War; John Branch, of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy; J. McPherson Berrien, of Georgia, AttorneyGeneral. It was now determined to introduce the Postmaster-General into the Cabinet. John McLean, the incumbent of that office, was transferred to the bench of the Supreme Court, and W. T. Barry, of Kentucky, was placed at the head of the Post-Office Department. These nominations were ratified by the Senate.

The President's inaugural address contained a general exposition of his policy respecting the power of the Executive, the rights of the States, reserved and delegated, of economy in the national finances, respecting the interests of agriculture, commerce and manufactures, of internal improvements, and the general diffusion of knowledge sc

DENUNCIATION OF THE PRESIDENT.

123

far as the restrictions of the Constitution permitted. Again, he should feel constrained to inaugurate that reform so loudly demanded, “ which will require, particularly, the correction of those abuses that have brought the patronage of the Federal Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and the counteraction of those causes which have disturbed the rightful course of appointments, and have placed, or continued, power in unfaithful or incompetent hands."

OFFICIAL REMOVALS AND APPOINTMENTS.

The appointments soon developed a new rule respecting the removing and appointing power. The system hitherto pursued was set aside, and a substitute made which many were disposed to denominate that reform referred to in the inaugural, as inscribed on the list of executive duties. Where vacancies did not exist, they were made by removals. Subsequent to the adjournment of the Senate, a large number of appointments were made in all the various departments of Government. Nowhere was the exercise of executive power more sweeping than in the postal department.

Bitter complaints necessarily arose from the proscribed party, and there were not wanting those of the same po litical faith as the President who were emphatic in their denunciation of his course. The question of constitutional power was revived, and freely discussed. Admitting its constitutionality, it was held an unjustifiable exercise of power. Proscription for an honest difference of sentiment and opinion, in no way affecting faithfulness in the discharge of official duties, was inimical to freedom of opinion and political integrity. It was an emphatic denial of all former practice and antecedents.

« ForrigeFortsett »