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than 7,000. In 1844, the nominees of the Liberty party polled upwards of 60,000 votes.
The adherents of this party, who had now nominated Messrs. Hale and King, united with the opponents of slave extension in the convention which was held at Buffalo, Aug. 9, 1848. There was organized "the Freesoil party.” The convention was large and respectable; representatives were present from all or nearly all the Free States and several Slave States. The deliberations of the convention continued for three days, and resulted in the nomination of Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams, for President and Vice-President of the United States.
The convention issued a platform of principles, wherein they affirmed their devoted attachment to freedom in the territories, and declared that Congress has no power to make a slave, to institute or establish slavery; that the government ought to free itself from slavery whereever it possesses the constitutional power,
and that no more slave States should be admitted into the Union. Resolves were also passed in favor of cheap postage, retrenchment, abolition of unnecessary offices, elections by the people, river and harbor improvements, free grants of public lands, revenue tariff, and the payment of the public debt.
The principles and nominees of the Buffalo convention were pressed with great earnestness in most of the Northern States.
As with the Democrats, so with the Whigs, it was found impossible to unite them in a hearty support of the candidates of their party. In convention, the Whigs had not laid down any platform of principles—they had refused to pass a resolution affirming the principles of the Wilmot proviso; and their candidate for the Presidency had accepted, with seeming pleasure and approbation, the
GEN. TAYLOR AND THE WHIG PARTY.
nomination of various bodies of people in diverse parts of the country. Among these were a “no party” meeting held at Baltimore, and a convention of Democrats held at Charleston, South Carolina, who distrusted Gen. Cass's reliability on the subject of slavery, which was declared to be "paramount to all questions."
A counter spirit arose at the North. The fact of an indifferent adhesion to the Whig party by Gen. Taylor, and his unqualified approbation of the slaveholding Democrats in their nomination of him, was the inspiring cause of a large meeting of Whigs held at Albany, New York, where a strong determination was manifested to repudiate the nomination of Gen. Taylor. Other counsels prevailed, and support—reluctant though it may have been—was secured to the nominee of the Whig party.
Of the Presidential electors chosen at the election in November, 163 gave their votes for Taylor and Fillmore; and 127 for Cass and Butler.
The popular vote in 1848 was, Taylor 1,360,752 ; Cass 1,219,962; Van Buren 291,342; total 2,872,056.
GOVERNMENT FOR OREGON.
The establishment of a government for the Territory of Oregon was a fruitful theme for discussion during the session of 1847–48. The treatment of this subject evolved a consideration of the power of Congress to legislate in and for the territories. Those favoring the system of slavery—at whose head was Mr. Calhoundenied to Congress all power over that interest in the territories. The opposite ground was as persistently maintained by those hostile to slave-extension.
The provisional government of Oregon had prohibited slavery therein. The Senate bill was regarded a virtual abnegation of this provision, and as opening that Territory to the importation of slaves. It passed that body, 33 to 22, and being taken up in the House, was laid upon the table, 112 to 97. The House bill, which provided for the extension of the ordinance of 1787 over the territory, and a denial of the veto power to the governors, passed that body on the 2d of August, ayes 129, nays 71. In the Senate, the restriction on the governor was removed, and the anti-slavery clause amended so as to extend the Missouri line, making it applicable to Oregon. These amendments were disagreed to by large majorities in the House, and the bill returned to the Senate-where, after a protracted debate, it passed, on the day prior to adjournment, by a vote of 29 to 25.
Protracted but ineffectual efforts were made at this, and the succeeding session, to establish governments for the newly acquired Territories of California and New Mexico.
During the last session of Mr. Polk's administration, the Department of the Interior was created; the head officer of which is appointed by the President, and is a member of the Cabinet.
ADMINISTRATION OF ZACHARY TAYLOR AND MILLARD FILL
On the 5th of March, 1849, the 4th being Sunday, Gen. Zachary Taylor was inaugurated President of the United States. The inaugural address was brief, and the points touched upon distinctly expressed. The Constitution would be constituted the rule of action. The interests of the entire country would be the objects of his care. He would approve measures to secure encouragement and protection to the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, to improve our rivers and harbors, and to provide for the speedy extinguishment of the public debt, to enforce a strict accountability on the part of all officers of the government, and the utmost economy in all public expenditures." Nor did he regard it the province of the Executive to control the legislation of Congress.
Gen. Taylor's Cabinet consisted of John M. Clayton, of Del., Secretary of State ; William M. Meredith, of Pa., Secretary of the Treasury; Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, Secretary of the Interior; G. W. Crawford, of Ga., Secretary of War; W. B. Preston, of Va., Secretary of the Navy; Jacob Collamer, of Vt., Postmaster-General; and Reverdy Johnson, of Md., Attorney-General.
The power of removal and appointment was exercised with care and deliberation ; having reference more to the
l promotion of the interests and efficiency of the government than the special advancement of adherents of a particular party.
ORGANIZATION OF THE 31ST CONGRESS.
At the opening of the thirty-first Congress, December 3, 1849, a protracted effort was had in the election of the Speaker of the House. R. C. Winthrop, Speaker of the last Congress, was the Whig candidate; Howell Cobb, that of the Democrats. Votes were diverted to other candidates during the contest, and Mr. Brown, of Indiana, Democrat, came within a few votes of an election, by centring upon himself the two sections of Democrats. The overtures made by him to the Wilmot proviso men, on the structure of certain committees, becoming public, his name was withdrawn. Neither could Mr. Cobb nor Mr. Winthrop draw the entire strength of their respective parties. The Wilmot proviso Democrats opposed Mr. Cobb on the ground of slavery. Mr. Winthrop lost the
. votes of some Northern members from apprehensions on their part of his too great predilection in favor of the slave interest; on the other hand, five Southern Whigs refused him their support, because he was not openly pledged against the Wilmot proviso.
Sixty-two ballots were had without resulting in any choice. The plurality rule was then adopted, and on the next vote Mr. Cobb was elected, receiving 102 votes to 99 for Mr. Winthrop; scattering 20; of which Mr. Wilmot received 8.
The President's Message was submitted on the 24th. It presented more at length the principal features of his inaugural address. To supply the deficit in the treasury, a resort to loans was advised for present relief, and an in