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Memoir of the Life of John Quincy Adams.
by Josiah Quincy
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The elevation of Calhoun to the Vice-Presidency, there is reason to believe, could not have been acceptable to Jackson. It appears, by the documents published by Calhoun in connection with his account of his controversy with Jackson, that William H. Crawford had, as early as December, 1827, taken direct measures to render the friendship of Calhoun suspected by Jackson. On the 14th of that month he wrote a letter to Alfred Balch, at Nashville, with the express purpose of its being shown to Jackson, containing the following statement: "My opinions upon the next presidential election" (against Adams and in favor of Jackson) "are generally known. When Mr. Van Buren and Mr. Cambreling made me a visit, last April, I authorized them, upon every proper occasion, to make these opinions known. The vote of the State of Georgia will, as certainly as that of Tennessee, be given to General Jackson, in opposition to Mr. Adams. The only difficulty that this state has upon that subject is, that, if Jackson should be elected, Calhoun will come into power. I confess I am not apprehensive of such a result. For —— —— writes to me, Jackson ought to know, and if he does not he shall know, that, at the Calhoun caucus in Columbia, the term military chieftain was bandied about even more flippantly than it had been by Henry Clay, and that the family friends of Mr. Calhoun were most active in giving it currency; and I know, personally, that Calhoun favored Mr. Adams' pretensions until Mr. Clay declared for him. He well knew that Clay would not have declared for Adams without it was well understood that he, Calhoun, was to be put down if Adams could effect it. If he was not friendly to his election, why did he suffer his paper to be purchased up by Adams' printers, without making some stipulation in favor of Jackson? If you can ascertain that Calhoun will not be benefited by Jackson's election, you will do him a service by communicating the information to me. Make what use you please of this letter, and show it to whom you please."[2]

[2] See, for Crawford's letter and Calhoun's address, Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XL., p. 12.

That these opinions of Crawford concerning Calhoun were communicated to Van Buren and Cambreling when they visited him, as he states, on their electioneering tour, in April, 1827, cannot be reasonably questioned: and that Crawford's letter to Balch was also communicated to Jackson can as little be doubted. That at this period Calhoun's want of political sympathy with Jackson was publicly known and talked about at Nashville, is apparent from Calhoun's address to the people of the United States in his controversy with Jackson, in which he bitterly complains: "I remained ignorant and unsuspicious of these secret movements against me till the spring of 1828, when vague rumors reached me that some attempts were making at Nashville to injure me."

Why statements made by such a high authority as Crawford, so well adapted to kindle the inflammatory temperament of Jackson, and at once so auspicious to the hopes of Van Buren and so ominous to those of Calhoun, were not immediately made the subject of action, can only be accounted for by the fact that Calhoun was at that time too strong in the affections of the South for them then to commence hostilities; for, in that case he would, as Crawford intimated, have "favored the pretensions of Adams," and possibly have defeated the plans of the alliance. Jackson, therefore, yielded, and allowed Calhoun to be run as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency on the same ticket with himself, and postponed any attempt to deprive him of his chance of succession until a more convenient opportunity. To this arrangement Van Buren also was compelled to submit, and, after Adams was superseded, and Jackson inaugurated President, he was appointed Secretary of State.[3]

[3] Jackson's cabinet were, Martin Van Buren, Secretary of State; Samuel D. Ingham, Secretary of the Treasury; John H. Eaton, Secretary of War; John Branch, Secretary of the Navy; John M'P. Berrien, Attorney-General; William T. Barry, Postmaster-General.

In April, 1830, when the Legislatures of New York and Pennsylvania took incipient measures to nominate Jackson for a second term of office, the favorable moment arrived to bring his artillery to bear upon Calhoun. At this time two letters of Crawford were brought to the mind of General Jackson,—the one to Alfred Balch, already referred to; the other to John Forsyth, dated the 30th of April, 1830,[4]—in which Crawford expressly stated that "Mr. Calhoun had made a proposition to the cabinet of Monroe for punishing him for his conduct in the Seminole war." Jackson, greatly excited, immediately, on the 12th of May, 1830, addressed a letter to Mr. Calhoun, declaring his great surprise at the information those letters contained, and inquiring whether he had moved or sustained any attempt seriously to affect him in Monroe's cabinet council. Calhoun replied, that he "could not recognize the right of General Jackson to call in question his conduct in the discharge of a high official duty, and under responsibility to his conscience and his country only." The anger of Jackson was not in the least assuaged by this reply, nor by the explanations which accompanied it. A correspondence ensued, which, with collateral and documentary evidence, occupied fifty-two pages of an octavo pamphlet; resulting in Jackson's declaration of his poignant mortification to see in Calhoun's letter, instead of a negative, an admission of the truth of Crawford's allegations. An irreconcilable alienation between Jackson and Calhoun was evinced in this correspondence; a state of feeling which for the time was concealed from the public, but was well known to their respective partisans, who understood that at the approaching election the influence of the former would be thrown into the scale of Van Buren. Jackson's intention of standing for the Presidency a second time was kept a profound secret until January, 1831. Under the supposition that he might decline, the partisans of Calhoun, Clay, and Van Buren, engaged in active measures to put them respectively into the field.

[4] For which see Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XL., pp. 12, 13.

From the party movements during this uncertainty it was clearly perceived that, if Jackson was not again a candidate, a contest between Van Buren and Calhoun for the Presidency was unavoidable. Calhoun's chance of success was preeminent, for he would unite in his favor all the votes and influence of the South,—Van Buren not having then had an opportunity to evince his entire subserviency to the slaveholding power. Jackson, into whose heart Van Buren had wound himself, looked with little complacency on the probable success of Calhoun. Under these circumstances, he resolved to enter the lists himself as a candidate for the Presidency, and, by taking Van Buren with him for the Vice-Presidency, put him at once in the best position to become his successor. Van Buren coincided in these views, and acquiesced in, if he did not originate, this measure. He foresaw that the popularity of Jackson would throw Calhoun out of the field, whether he was a candidate at the next ensuing election for the Presidency or Vice-Presidency. The time had now come to put an end to the hopes of Calhoun for the attainment of either of those high stations, by making public the animosity of Jackson; but this could not be done without a struggle. Branch, Ingham, and Berrien, all members of Jackson's cabinet, were known friends to Calhoun, and far from being well disposed to Van Buren. Under these circumstances, Jackson resolved to dissolve his cabinet, in which Van Buren himself held a place, and form another, better adapted to their united views. As a violent contest with the friends of Calhoun was anticipated, Van Buren, if he should continue Secretary of State, would be considered responsible for all Jackson's proceedings to frustrate Calhoun's aspirations for the Presidency, which might injuriously affect his popularity in the Southern States. Van Buren therefore retired upon a mission to England.

Such were the general views and policy of these allied aspirants to the two highest offices of state, which public documents now make apparent, when, in April, 1831, say the newspapers of the period, "an explosion took place in the cabinet at Washington, the announcement of which came upon the public like a clap of thunder in a cloudless day."[5] On the 7th of April, the Secretary of War, General Eaton, resigned, without giving any other reason than his own inclination, and that he deemed the moment favorable, as General Jackson's "course of policy had been advantageously commenced." On the 11th of April, Van Buren resigned the office of Secretary of State. So far as his motive could be discerned through the haze of ambiguous and diplomatic language, it was that his name had been connected with that distracting topic, the question of successorship, which rendered his continuance in the cabinet embarrassing, and might be injurious to the public service. The two other secretaries, Ingham and Branch, were kept in ignorance of these resignations until the 19th of April, when Jackson informed them that, to command public confidence and satisfy public opinion, he deemed it proper to select a cabinet of entirely new materials,[6] and therefore requested them to resign their respective offices. They accordingly tendered their resignations, which were accepted by the President, in a letter to each, couched in language perfectly identical, in which he admits that the dismissed officers had faithfully performed their respective official duties, but intimates that the want of harmony in the cabinet "made its entire renovation requisite."[7] Branch and Ingham both denied any want of harmony in the cabinet, and the latter declared that "it had never been interrupted for a moment, nor been divided in a single instance by difference of opinion as to the measures of the government."[8] These contradictions, thus openly made, created intense curiosity, and public clamor for a full development of facts. Branch, in a letter dated May 31st, 1831, addressed to certain citizens of Bertie County, North Carolina, declared that "discord had been introduced into the ranks of the administration by the intrigues of selfish politicians."[9]

[5] See Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XL., pp. 129-145.

[6] Ibid., pp. 152-3.

[7] Niles' Register, vol. XL., p. 201.

[8] Ibid., p. 220.

[9] Ibid., p. 253.

The Attorney-General, Mr. Berrien, did not resign until the 15th of June ensuing, nor until he also had been invited to do so by Jackson. He then declared that he resigned "simply on account of the President's will," and that he knew of no want of harmony in the cabinet which either had or ought to have impeded the operations of the administration.[10] In July, Mr. Ingham, on returning home, was received by a great cavalcade of his fellow-citizens, and was called upon for an explanation of "the extraordinary measure, the dissolution of the cabinet, which had shocked the public mind." He replied, that it was exclusively the act of the President, who alone could perfectly explain his own motives, and he deemed it improper for him to anticipate the explanation which the President must deem it his duty to make.[11] As Jackson made no explanation, Mr. Branch, after being repeatedly called upon in the public papers, authorized the publication of a letter he had addressed to Edmund B. Freeman, dated the 22d of August, 1831,[12] in which he gave a full statement of the overbearing language and conduct of Jackson, and unequivocally declared that the contemporaneous resignation of Eaton and Van Buren was a measure adopted for the purpose of getting rid of the three offensive members of the cabinet; that "their dismission had been stipulated for, and the reason was that Van Buren, having discovered that the three members of the cabinet (afterwards ejected) disdained to become tools to subserve his ambitious aspirings, had determined to leave them as little power to defeat his machinations as possible; and that he had become latterly almost the sole confidant and adviser of the President."

[10] Ibid., p. 304.

[11] Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XL., p. 331.

[12] Ibid., vol. XLI., pp. 5, 6.

The details of this controversy belong to general history, and will be found in the documents of the period. Enough has been given to indicate the great influence Van Buren had acquired, for his own political advancement, by an unscrupulous subserviency to the overbearing violence of the President.

On this subject Mr. Adams observed: "Van Buren outwits Calhoun in the favor of Jackson. He brought the administration into power, and now enjoys the reward of his intrigues. Jackson rides rough-shod over the Senate, in relation to appointments; but they dare not oppose him." It was impossible, in view of these scenes of discord and mutual crimination, for Mr. Adams not to feel self-congratulation when he recollected the uninterrupted harmony which, during four years, had prevailed in his own cabinet. From without it had been assailed with calumny and malignant passions; but within was peace, quiet, mutual assistance and support. No jealousies disturbed the tranquillity of their meetings. No ambitious spirit had shaped measures to purposes of his own aggrandizement. Though silent, he could not fail, while contemplating the comparison, to realize the triumph history was preparing for himself and his administration. The contrast presented by its principles, when compared with those of his successor, must have been also a natural source of intense self-congratulation. Notwithstanding the warning voice of Henry Clay, a military chieftain had been placed in the chair of state. He entered it with the spirit of a conqueror, and conducted in it in the spirit of the camp. The gratification of his feelings, and the reward of his partisans, were apparently his chief objects. He dismissed from office, without trial, without charge, and without fault, faithful and able men. During the whole period of Mr. Adams' administration not an officer of the government, from Maine to Louisiana, was dismissed on account of his political opinions. Many well known to him as opposed to his reelection, and actively employed in behalf of his competitor, were permitted to hold their places, though subject to his power of dismission. Not one was discharged from that cause. In the early part of his administration appointments were promiscuously made from all the parties in the previous canvass. This course was pursued until an opposition was organized which denounced all appointments from its ranks as being made for party purposes. Of eighty newspapers employed in publishing the laws during the four years of his Presidency, only twelve or fifteen were changed, some for geographical, others for local considerations. Some papers among the most influential in the opposition, but otherwise conducted with decorum, were retained. Of the entire number of changes, not more than four or five were made on account of their scurrilous character. During the same period not more than five members of Congress received official appointments to any office. Even these shocked General Jackson's patriotism, from their mischievous bearing on the purity of the national legislature, and the permanency of our republican institutions. Being then a candidate for the Presidency, in opposition to Mr. Adams, he deliberately declared to the Legislature of Tennessee his firm conviction that no member of Congress ought to be appointed to any office except a seat on the bench; and he added that he himself would conform to that rule. Notwithstanding this pledge, he appointed eight or ten members of Congress to office in the first four weeks of his Presidency. Mr. Clay publicly asserted his belief that within two months after Jackson had attained that high station more members of Congress had offices conferred on them "than were appointed by any one of his predecessors during their whole period of four or eight years." His proceedings evidenced that among this favorite class no office is too high or too low for desire and acceptance, from the head of a department to the most subordinate office under a collector. On editors of newspapers he bestowed unexampled patronage. Fifteen or twenty of those who had been most active in his favor during the preceding canvass,—the most abusive of his opponents, and the most fulsome in his own praise,—were immediately rewarded with place. Of all attempts, his were the boldest and the most successful ever made to render the press venal, and to corrupt this palladium of liberty.[13] Happily the times were not propitious to give immediate development to these principles of permanent power. But the degree of success of this first attempt of one man to constitute "himself the state" contains a solemn foreboding as to the possible future fate of our republic. For, although at this time the ambition of the individual was not fully gratified, enough was effected to encourage the reckless and aspiring. The seeds of corruption were thickly scattered. In that Presidency the doctrine was first promulgated, "To the victors belong the spoils." From that day, subserviency to the chief of the prevailing party became the condition on which station and place were given or holden. In his hands was lodged the power of reward and punishment, to be exercised ruthlessly for party support and perpetuation; resulting, in the higher departments, in tame submission to the will of the chief, and, in the lower, in the adoption of the detestable maxim that all is fair in politics. The consequences are daily seen in the servility of office-holders and office-seekers; in forced contributions, during pending elections, for the continuance of the prevailing power, and afterwards in a heartless proscription of all not acceptable to the successful dynasty; in the excluding every one from office who has not the spirit to be a slave, and filling the heart of every true lover of his country with ominous conjectures concerning the fate of our institutions.

[13] The facts above stated are chiefly derived from a speech of Henry Clay, delivered at Lexington, Kentucky, on the 16th of May, 1829, in which all the topics here touched are forcibly and eloquently illustrated. It may be found at length in Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XXXVI., pp. 399 to 405.

During the early periods of Jackson's administration, Mr. Adams, though in retirement, was neither unobserving nor silent concerning its proceedings. In January, 1830, in the course of a conversation with a senator from Louisiana on the politics and the intrigues then going on at Washington in relation to the next presidential election, he said: "There are three divisions of the administration party: one for General Jackson, whose friends wish his reelection; one for Mr. Van Buren, and one for Calhoun. Van Buren sees he cannot eight years longer discharge the duties of the Department of State; and that he must succeed at the end of four years, or not at all. His friends insist that Jackson has given a pledge that he will not serve another term. Calhoun and his friends are equally impatient, and he is much disposed to declare himself against the leading measures of the present administration. But if Mr. Clay was brought forward by his friends as a candidate, it would close all the cracks of the administration party, and rivet them together."

In the beginning of February, Mr. Adams remarked: "All the members of Congress are full of rumors concerning the volcanic state of the administration. The President has determined to remove Branch, but was told that if he did the North Carolina senators would join the opposition, and all his nominations would be rejected. The administration is split up into a blue and green faction upon a point of morals; an explosion has been deferred, but is expected."

On the 26th of March, 1830, he again remarked: "There is a controversy between the Telegraph, Calhoun's paper here, and the New York Courier, Van Buren's paper, upon the question whether Jackson is or is not a candidate for reelection as President,—the Courier insisting that he is, and the Telegraph declaring that it is premature to ask the question. Mr. Van Buren has got the start of Calhoun, in the merit of convincing General Jackson that the salvation of the country depends on his reelection. This establishes his ascendency in the cabinet, and reduces Calhoun to the alternative of joining in the shout 'Hurra for Jackson!' or of being counted in opposition."

On the 28th of March, 1830, the question being still in agitation before the public whether Jackson, if a candidate, would be successful, Mr. Adams said: "Jackson will be a candidate, and have a fair chance of success. His personal popularity, founded solely on the battle of New Orleans, will carry him through the next election, as it did through the last. The vices of his administration are not such as affect the popular feeling. He will lose none of his popularity unless he should do something to raise a blister upon public sentiment, and of that there is no prospect. If he lives, therefore, and nothing external should happen to rouse new parties, he may be reelected not only twice, but thrice."

In June, 1830, he again expressed his views on the policy and prospects of the administration. He said it was impossible to foresee what would be the fluctuations of popular opinion. Hitherto there were symptoms of changes of opinion among members of Congress, but none among the people. These could be indicated only by the elections. He had great doubts whether the majorities in the Legislatures of the free states would be changed by the approaching elections, and was far from certain that the next Legislature of Kentucky would nominate Mr. Clay in opposition to the reelection of General Jackson. The whole strength of the present administration rested on Jackson's personal popularity, founded on his military services. He had surrendered the Indians to the states within the bounds of which they are located. This would confirm and strengthen his popularity in those states, especially as he had burdened the Union with the expense of removing and indemnifying the Indians. He had taken practical ground against internal improvements and domestic industry, which would strengthen him in all the Southern States. He had, as might have been expected, thrown all his weight into the slaveholding scale; and that interest is so compact, so consolidated, and so fervent in action, that there is every prospect it will overpower the discordant and loosely constructed interest of the free states. The cause of internal improvement will sink, and that of domestic industry will fall with or after it. There is at present a great probability that Jackson's policy will be supported by a majority of the people.

After a conversation with Oliver Wolcott, the successor of Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington, who had been subsequently Governor of Connecticut, Mr. Adams remarked: "Mr. Wolcott views the prospects of the Union with great sagacity, and with hopes more sanguine than mine. He thinks the continuance of the Union will depend upon the heavy population of Pennsylvania, and that its gravitation will preserve the Union. He holds the South Carolina turbulence too much in contempt. The domineering spirit naturally springs from the institution of slavery; and when, as in South Carolina, the slaves are more numerous than their masters, the domineering spirit is wrought up to its highest pitch of intenseness. The South Carolinians are attempting to govern the Union as they govern their slaves, and there are too many indications that, abetted as they are by all the slave-driving interest of the Union, the free portion will cower before them, and truckle to their insolence. This is my apprehension."

While Jackson's nominations were pending before the Senate, a senator from New Hampshire said to Mr. Adams that he hoped the whole tribe of editors of newspapers would be rejected; for he thought it the most dangerous precedent that could be established, and, if now sanctioned by the Senate, he despaired of its being controlled hereafter; and added that he was almost discouraged concerning the permanency of our institutions. Mr. Adams replied, that his hopes were better, but that undoubtedly the giving offices to editors of newspapers was of all species of bribery the most dangerous.

From the time Mr. Adams took his seat in the House of Representatives, in December, 1831, till the period of his death, few of his contemporaries equalled and none exceeded him in punctuality of attendance. He was usually among the first members in his place in the morning, and the last to leave it. On every question of general interest he bestowed scrupulous attention, yielding to it the full strength of his mind, and his extensive knowledge of public affairs. A full history of the proceedings of Congress during this period alone can do justice to his devotion to the public service. In this memoir his views and course will no further be recorded than as they regard topics obviously nearest his heart, and in which his principles and character are developed with peculiar ability and power.

In December, 1831, on the distribution of the several parts of the President's message to committees, Mr. Adams was appointed chairman of that on manufactures. Against this position he immediately remonstrated, and solicited the Speaker to relieve him from it. He stated that the subject of manufactures was connected with details not familiar to him; that, during the long period of a life devoted to public service, his thoughts had been directed in a very different line. It was replied, that he could not be excused without a vote of the House; that the continuance of the Union might depend on the questions relative to the tariff; and that it was thought his influence would have great weight in reconciling the Eastern States to such modifications as he might sanction. He therefore yielded all personal considerations to the interests of his country, and accepted the appointment.

In the ensuing March, on being appointed on a committee to investigate the affairs of the United States Bank, Mr. Adams requested of the House to be excused from service on the Committee on Manufactures, giving the same reasons he had previously urged, and others resulting from the incompatibility of the two offices. An opposition was made by Cambreling, of New York, Barbour, of Virginia, and Drayton, of South Carolina, in speeches which were characterized by the newspapers of the times as "most extraordinary."[14] Cambreling said: "The present condition of the country and of the public mind demanded the intelligence, industry, and patriotism, for which Mr. Adams was distinguished. The authority of his name was of infinite importance." Mr. Barbour followed in a like strain. "The member from Massachusetts," said he, "with whom I have been associated in the Committee on Manufactures, has not only fulfilled all his duties with eminent ability, in the committee, but in a spirit and temper that demanded grateful acknowledgments, and excited the highest admiration." He concluded with an appeal to Mr. Adams, "as a patriot, a statesman, and philanthropist, as well as an American, feeling the full force of his duties, and touched by all their incentives to lofty action, to forbear his request." Mr. Drayton also, in a voice of eulogy, declared that, "Amidst all the rancor of political parties with which our country has been distracted, and from which, unhappily, we are not now exempt, it has always been admitted that no individual was more eminently endowed with those intellectual and moral qualities which entitle their possessor to the respect of the community, and to entire confidence in the purity of his motives, than Mr. Adams."

[14] Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XLII., pp. 86-88.

These politicians were the active and influential members of a party which had raised General Jackson to the President's chair. When laboring to displace Mr. Adams from that high station, that party had represented him as "neither a statesman nor a patriot; without talents; as a mere professor of rhetoric, capable of making a corrupt bargain for the sake of power, and of condescending to intrigue for the attainment of place and office." To hear the leaders of such a party now extolling him for integrity, diligence, and intelligence, upon whose continuance in office the hopes of the country and the continuance of the Union might depend, was a change in opinions and language which might well be attributed to the awakening of conscience to a sense of justice, and a desire for reparation of wrong, were it not that leaders of factions have never any other criterion of truth, or rule in the use of language, than adaptation to selfish and party purposes.

Equally uninfluenced by adulation and undeterred by abuse, on the 23d of May, 1832, as chairman of the Committee on Manufactures, by order of a majority, Mr. Adams reported a bill, which, in presenting it, he declared was not coincident with the views of that majority, and that for parts he alone was responsible. After lauding the anticipated extinction of the public debt, he proceeded to show, by a laborious research into its history, that such extinction had always been contemplated, and that the policy of the government, from the earliest period of its existence, had concurred in the wisdom of this application of the revenue. He proceeded to expose and deprecate that Southern policy, which seized on this occasion "to reduce the revenues of the Union to the lowest point absolutely necessary to defray the ordinary charges and indispensable expenditures of the government;" a system which, by inevitable consequence and by avowed design, "left our shores to take care of themselves, our navy to perish by dry rot upon the stocks, our manufactures to wither under the blast of foreign competition;" and he urged, in opposition to these destructive doctrines, the duty of levying revenue enough for "common defence," and also to "protect manufactures," and supported his argument by a great array of facts; severely animadverting upon those politicians who glorified themselves on the prosperous state of the country, and yet labored to break down that "system of protection for domestic manufactures by which this prosperity had been chiefly produced." The duty of "defensive preparation and internal improvements" he maintained to be unquestionable, obligations resulting from the language and spirit of the constitution. The doctrine that the interests of the planter and the manufacturer were irreconcilable, and that duties for the protection of domestic industry operate to the injury of the Southern States, he analyzed, illustrated, and showed to be fallacious, "striking directly at the heart of the Union, and leading inevitably to its dissolution;" a result to which more than one distinguished and influential statesman of the South had affirmed that "his mind was made up." The doctrine that the interest of the South is identified with the foreign competitor of the Northern manufacturer, he denounced as in conflict with the whole history of our Revolutionary War, and a satire on our institutions. If it should prove true that these interests were so irreconcilable as to cause a separation, as some Southern statesmen contended, after such separation the same state of irreconcilable interests would continue, and "with redoubled aggravation," resulting in an inextinguishable or exterminating war between the brothers of this severed continent, which nothing but a foreign umpire could settle or adjust, and this not according to the interests of either of the parties, but his own. The consequences of such a state of things he displayed with great power and eloquence, and concluded with alluding "to that great, comprehensive, but peculiar Southern interest, which is now protected by the laws of the United States, but which, in case of severance of the Union, must produce consequences from which a statesman of either portion of it cannot but avert his eyes."

Contemporaneously with this report on manufactures, Mr. Adams, as one of the committee to examine and report on the books and proceedings of the Bank of the United States, submitted to the House of Representatives a report, signed only by himself and Mr. Watmough, of Pennsylvania, in which he declared his dissent from the report of the committee on that subject. After examining their proceedings with minuteness and searching severity, he asserted that they were without authority, and in flagrant violation of the rights of the bank, and of the principles on which the freedom of this people had been founded.

In February, 1832, Mr. Adams delivered a speech on the ratio of representation—on the duty of making the constituent body small, and the representatives numerous; contending that a large representation and a small constituency was a truly republican principle, and illustrating it from history, and from its tendency to give the distinguished men of the different states opportunities to become acquainted with each other.

In July ensuing, a vote censuring a member for words spoken in debate being on its passage in the House, Mr. Adams, when the roll was called, and his name announced, rose with characteristic spirit, and delivered a paper to the clerk, which contained the following words: "I ask to be excused from voting on the resolution, believing it to be unconstitutional, inasmuch as it assumes inferences of fact from words spoken by the member, without giving the words themselves, and the fact not being warranted, in my judgment, by the words he did use." A majority of the house, being disposed to put down, and, if possible, disgrace Mr. Adams, refused to excuse him. On his name being called, he again declined voting, and stated that he did not refuse to vote from any contumacy or disrespect to the house, but because he had a right to decline from conscientious motives, and that he desired to place his reasons for declining upon the journals of the house. A member observed that, if they put those reasons on the journal, they would spread on it their own condemnation; adding that, by going out of the house, Mr. Adams might easily have avoided voting. The latter replied, "I do not choose to shrink from my duty by such an expedient. It is not my right alone, but the rights of all the members, and of the people of the United States, which are concerned in this question, and I cannot evade it. I regret the state of things, but I must abide by the consequences, whatever they may be." A motion made to reconsider the vote refusing to excuse him was lost—yeas fifty-nine, nays seventy-four. The Speaker then read the rule by which every member is required to vote, and stated that it was the duty of every member to vote on one side or the other. The question then being repeated, when the clerk called the name of Mr. Adams, he gave no response, and remained in his seat. A member then rose, said it was an unprecedented case, and moved two resolutions. By the one, the facts being first stated, the course pursued by Mr. Adams was declared "a breach of one of the rules of the house." By the other, a committee was to be appointed for inquiring and reporting "what course ought to be adopted in a case so novel and important." The house then proceeded to pass the original vote of censure on the member, without repeating the name of Mr. Adams.

The next day the vote for a committee of inquiry on the subject caused a desultory and warm debate, during which Mr. Adams took occasion to say that the whole affair was a subject of great mortification to him. The proposed resolution, after naming him personally, and affirming that he had been guilty of a breach of the rules of the house, proposed that a committee of inquiry should be raised, to consider what was to be done in a case so novel and important. On this resolution, which the mover seemed to suppose would pass of course, Mr. Adams said, that he trusted opportunity would be given him to show the reasons which had prevented him from voting. Mr. Everett, of Massachusetts, then remonstrated with the majority of the house for attempting thus to censure a man, such as they knew Mr. Adams to be, than whom he was confident the whole house would bear him witness that there was not an individual on that floor more regular, more assiduous, or more laborious, in the discharge of his public duty. A motion was then made to lay the resolution on the table, which prevailed—yeas eighty-nine, nays sixty-three.

Thus ended a debate which severely tested the firmness of the spirit of Mr. Adams. Neither seduced by the number nor quailing under the threats and violence of his assailants, he maintained the rights of his public station, and with silent dignity set at defiance their overbearing attempts to terrify, until they abandoned their purpose in despair, awed by the majestic power of principle.

In December, 1832, when the South Carolina state convention was opposing the revenue laws with great violence, accompanied with threats of disunion, President Jackson, in his message to Congress, recommended a reduction of the revenue, and a qualified abandonment of the system of protection; and also that the public lands be no longer regarded as a source of revenue, and that they be sold to actual settlers at a price merely sufficient to reimburse actual expenses and the costs arising under Indian compacts. "In this message," said Mr. Adams, "Jackson has cast away all the neutrality he heretofore maintained upon the conflicting opinions and interests of the different sections of the country, and surrenders the whole Union to the nullifiers of the South and the land speculators of the West. This I predicted nearly two years since, in a letter to Peter B. Porter."

In January, 1833, with regard to a member friendly to modifying the tariff according to the Southern policy, and who professed himself a radical, Mr. Adams remarked: "He has all the contracted prejudices of that political sect; his whole system of government is comprised in the maxim of leaving money in the pockets of the people. This is always the high road to popularity, and it is always travelled by those who have not resolution, intelligence, and energy, to attempt the exploration of any other."

On January 16th, 1833, President Jackson communicated, in a message, the ordinance of the convention of South Carolina nullifying the acts of Congress laying duties on the importation of foreign commodities, with the counteracting measures he proposed to pursue. On the 4th of February, on a bill for a modification of the tariff, Mr. Adams moved to strike out the enacting clause, thereby destroying the bill. In a speech characterized by the fearless spirit by which he was actuated, he declared his opinion that neither the bill then in discussion nor any other on the subject of the tariff ought to pass, until it was "known whether there was any measure by which a state could defeat the laws of the Union." The ordinance of South Carolina had been called a "pacific measure." It was just as much so as placing a pistol at the breast of a traveller and demanding his money was pacific. Until that weapon was removed there ought to be no modification of the tariff. Mr. Adams then entered at large into the duty of government to protect all the great interests of the citizens. But protection might be extended in different forms to different interests. The complaint was, that government took money out of the pockets of one portion of the community, to give it to another. In extending protection this must always be more or less the case. But, then, while the rights of one party were protected in this way, the rights of the other party were protected equally in another way. This he proceeded to illustrate. In the southern and southwestern parts of this Union there existed a certain interest, which he need not more particularly designate, which enjoyed, under the constitution and laws of the United States, an especial protection peculiar to itself. It was first protected by representation. There were on that floor upwards of twenty members who represented what in other states had no representation at all. It was not three days since a gentleman from Georgia said that the species of property now alluded to was "the machinery of the South." Now, that machinery had twenty odd representatives in that hall; representatives elected, not by that machinery, but by those who owned it. Was there such representation in any other portion of the Union? That machinery had ever been to the South, in fact, the ruling power of this government. Was this not protection? This very protection had taken millions and millions of money from the free laboring population of this country, and put it into the pockets of the owners of Southern machinery. He did not complain of this. He did not say that it was not all right. What he said was, that the South possessed a great interest protected by the constitution of the United States. He was for adhering to the bargain; but he did not wish to be understood as saying that he would agree to it if the bargain was now to be made over again.

This interest was protected by another provision in the constitution of the United States, by which "no person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." What was this but protection to this machinery of the South? And let it be observed that a provision like this ran counter to all the tenor of legislation in the free states. It was contrary to all the notions and feelings of the people of the North to deliver a man up to any foreign authority, unless he had been guilty of some crime; and, but for such a clause in the compact, a Southern gentleman, who had lost an article of his machinery, would never recover him back from the free states.

The constitution contained another clause guaranteeing protection to the same interest. It guaranteed to every state in the Union a republican form of government, protection against invasion, and, on the application of the Legislature or Executive of any state, furnished them with protection against domestic violence. Now, everybody knew that where this machinery existed the state was more liable to domestic violence than elsewhere, because that machinery sometimes exerted a self-moving power. The call for this protection had very recently been made, and it had been answered, and the power of the Union had been exerted to insure the owners of this machinery from domestic violence.

On the 28th of the ensuing February, Mr. Adams, on the part of the minority of the Committee on Manufactures, made a report, signed by himself and Lewis Condit, of New Jersey, which was read and ordered to be printed by the House. In this report he took occasion to express his dissent from the doctrine of the message, which he asserted to be that in all countries generally, and especially in our own, the strongest and best part of our population—the basis of society, and the friends preeminently of freedom—are the "wealthy landholders." This he controverted with a spirit at once suggestive and sarcastic, as new, incorrect, and incompatible with the foundation of our political institutions. He maintained that this assertion was not true even in that part of the Union where the cultivators of the soil are slaves; for, although there the landholders possess a large portion of the wealth of the community, they were far from constituting an equal proportion of its strength. Nor was it true in that portion of the Union where the cultivators of the soil earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, that they were the best part of society. They were as good as, but no better than, the other classes of the community. The doctrine is in opposition to the Declaration of Independence and the government of the Union, which are founded on a very different principle—the principle that all men are born equal, and with equal rights. It cannot be assumed as a foundation of national policy, and is of a most alarming and dangerous tendency, threatening the peace and directly tending to "the dissolution of the Union, by a complicated civil and servile war." He traced its consequences, present and future, in the proposition to give away the public lands, thereby withdrawing all aid from this source to objects of internal improvement; and in the destiny to which it consigns our manufacturing interests, and those of the handicraftsmen and the mechanics of our populous cities and flourishing towns, for the benefit of these wealthy landholders.

The insincerity of the message and the danger of its doctrines he elucidates with scrutinizing severity, exposing its fallacies, and showing that, by its recommendations, "a nation, consisting of ten millions of freemen, must be crippled in the exercise of their associated power, unmanned of all the energies applicable to the improvement of their own condition, by the doubts, scruples, or fanciful discontents, of a portion among themselves less in number than double the number in the single city of New York."

Its doctrine, which divides the people into the best and worst part of the population, is here denounced as "the never-failing source of tyranny and oppression, of civil strife, the shedding of brothers' blood, and the total extinction of freedom."

This report earnestly entreats the general government not to abdicate, by non user, the power vested in them of appropriating public money to great national objects of internal improvements, and declares the final result of the doctrine of abdicating powers arbitrarily designated as doubtful is but the degradation of the nation, the reducing itself to impotence, by chaining its own hands, fettering its own feet, and thus disabling itself from bettering its own condition. The impotence resulting from the inability to employ its own faculties for its own improvement, is the principle upon which the roving Tartar denies himself a permanent habitation, because to him the wandering shepherd is the best part of the population; upon which the American savage refuses to till the ground, because to him the hunter of the woods is the best part of the population. "Imperfect civilization, in all stages of human society, shackles itself with fanatical prejudices of exclusive favor to its own occupations; as the owner of a plantation with a hundred slaves believes the summit of human virtue to be attained only by independent farmers, cultivators of the soil."

Mr. Adams avers that the spirit of these recommendations indicates "a proposed revolution in the government of the Union, the avowed purpose of which is to reduce the general government to a simple machine. Simplicity," he adds, "is the essential characteristic in the condition of slavery. It is by the complication of the government alone that the freedom of mankind can be assured. If the people of these United States enjoy a greater share of liberty than any other nation upon earth, it is because, of all the governments upon earth, theirs is the most complicated." The simplicity which the message recommends is "an abdication of the power to do good; a divestment of all power in this confederate people to improve their own condition."

The recommendation of the message, that the public lands shall cease as soon as practicable to be a source of public revenue,—that they shall be sold at a reduced price to actual settlers, and the future disposition of them be surrendered to the states in which they lie,—Mr. Adams condemns as the giving away of the national domain, the property of the whole people, to individual adventurers; and as taking away the property of one portion of the citizens, and giving it to another, the plundered portion of the community being insultingly told that those on whom their lands are lavished are the best part of the population. Neither this, nor the surrender of them to the states in which they lie, can be done without prejudicing the claims of the United States, and of every particular state within which there are no public lands, and trampling under foot solemn engagements entered into before the adoption of the constitution. He reprobates thus giving away lands which were purchased by the blood and treasure of our revolutionary fathers and ourselves, which, if duly managed, might prove an inexhaustible fund for centuries to come. He maintains that the policy indicated by this message regards the manufacturing interests of the country "as a victim to be sacrificed." This view leads him into an illustrative and powerful argument on the duty of protection to domestic industry, in which are set forth its nature, limitations, and impressive obligations.

In this report the absurd doctrines of nullification and secession are canvassed, and it is shown that they never can be carried out in practice but by a dissolution of the Union. The encouragement given by the policy of the administration to the unjust claims and groundless pretensions of South Carolina is exposed. The assumed irreconcilableness of the interests of the great masses of population which geographically divide the Union, of which one part is entirely free, and the other consists of masters and slaves, which is the foundation of those doctrines, is denied, and the question declared to be only capable of being determined by experiment under the compact formed by the constitution of the United States. The nature of that compact is analyzed, as well as the effect of that representation of property which it grants to the slaveholding states, and which has secured to them "the entire control of the national policy, and, almost without exception, the possession of the highest executive office of the Union." The causes and modes of operation by which this has been attained Mr. Adams illustrates to this effect: The Northern and wholly free states conceded that, while in the popular branch of the Legislature they themselves should have a representation proportioned only to their numbers, the slaveholders of the South should, in addition to their proportional numbers, have a representation for three fifths of their living property—their machinery; while the citizens of the free states have no addition to their number of representatives on account of their property; nor have their looms and manufactories, or their owners in their behalf, a single representative. The consequent disproportion of numbers of the slaveholding representation in the House of Representatives has secured the absolute control of the general policy of the government, and especially of the fiscal system, the revenues and expenditures of the nation. Thus, while the free states are represented only according to their numbers, the slaveholders are represented also for their property. The equivalent for this privilege provided by the constitution is that the slaveholders shall bear a heavier burden of all direct taxation. But, by the ascendency which their excess of representation gives them in the enactment of laws, they have invariably in time of peace excluded all direct taxation, and thereby enjoyed their excess of representation without any equivalent whatever. This is, in substance, an evasion of the bilateral provision in the constitution. It gives an operation entirely one-sided. It is a privilege of the Southern and slaveholding section of the Union, without any equivalent whatever to the Northern and North-western freemen. Always united in the purpose of regulating the affairs of the whole Union by the standard of the slaveholding interest, the disproportionate numbers of this section in the electoral colleges have enabled them, in ten out of twelve quadriennial elections, to confer the chief magistracy on one of their own citizens. Their suffrages at every election have been almost exclusively confined to a candidate of their own caste. Availing themselves of the divisions which, from the nature of man, always prevail in communities entirely free, they have sought and found out auxiliaries in other quarters of the Union, by associating the passions of parties and the ambition of individuals with their own purposes to establish and maintain throughout the confederated nation the slaveholders' policy. The office of Vice-President—a station of high dignity, but of little other than contingent power—has been usually, by their indulgence, conceded to a citizen of the other section; but even this political courtesy was superseded at the election before the last (1829), and both the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States were, by the preponderancy of slaveholding votes, bestowed upon citizens of two adjoining slaveholding states. "At this moment (1833) the President of the United States, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of the United States, are all citizens of this favored portion of this united republic."

Mr. Adams, regarding "the ground assumed by the South Carolina convention for usurping the sovereign and limitless power of the people of that state to dictate the laws of the Union, and prostrate the legislative, executive, and judicial authority of the United States, as destitute of foundation as the forms and substance of their proceedings are arrogant, overbearing, tyrannical, and oppressive," declared his belief "that one particle of compromise with that usurped power, or of concession to its pretensions, would be a heavy calamity to the people of the whole Union, and to none more than to the people of South Carolina themselves; that such concession would be a dereliction by Congress of their highest duties to their country, and directly lead to the final and irretrievable dissolution of the Union."



CHAPTER IX.

INFLUENCE OF MILITARY SUCCESS.—POLICY OF THE ADMINISTRATION.—MR. ADAMS' SPEECH ON THE REMOVAL OF THE DEPOSITS FROM THE BANK OF THE UNITED STATES.—HIS OPINIONS ON FREEMASONRY AND TEMPERANCE SOCIETIES.—EULOGY ON WILLIAM WIRT.—ORATION ON THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF LAFAYETTE.—HIS COURSE ON ABOLITION PETITIONS.—ON INTERFERENCE WITH THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY.—ON THE POLICY RELATIVE TO THE PUBLIC LANDS.—SPEECH ON DISTRIBUTING RATIONS TO FUGITIVES FROM INDIAN HOSTILITIES.—ON WAR WITH MEXICO.—EULOGY ON JAMES MADISON.—HIS COURSE ON A PETITION PURPORTING TO BE FROM SLAVES.—FIRST REPORT ON JAMES SMITHSON'S BEQUEST.

On the 4th of March, 1833, Andrew Jackson was inaugurated President of the United States a second time. Of two hundred and eighty-eight votes, the whole number cast by the electors, he had received two hundred and nineteen, Henry Clay being the chief opposing candidate. Martin Van Buren, having been elected Vice-President by one hundred and eighty-nine votes, was inaugurated on the same day. The coalition formed in 1827 by Jackson with Van Buren had thus fulfilled its purpose. Jackson's triumph was complete; he had superseded Adams, defeated Clay, crushed Calhoun, and placed Van Buren in the most auspicious position to be his successor in the President's chair.

The infatuating influence of military success over the human mind, and the readiness with which intelligent and well-disposed men, living under a constitution of limited powers, while dazzled by its splendor, endure and encourage acts of despotic power, is at once instructive and suggestive. Violations of constitutional duty, known and voluntarily acquiesced in by a whole people, subservient to the will of a popular chieftain, may, and probably will, in time, change their constitution, and destroy their liberties.

When Mr. Adams said that "Jackson rode roughshod over the Senate of the United States," he only characterized the spirit by which he controlled every branch and department of the government. In every movement Jackson had displayed an arbitrary will, determined on success, regardless of the means, and had applied without reserve the corrupting temptation of office to members of Congress. He had rewarded subserviency by appointments, and punished the want of it by removal; had insolently called Calhoun to account for his official language in the cabinet of Monroe, and dismissed three members of his own, acknowledged to have been unexceptionable in the discharge of their official duties, because they would not submit to regulate the social intercourse of their families by his dictation. These and many other instances of his overbearing character in civil affairs had become subjects of severe public animadversion, without apparently shaking the submissive confidence of the citizens of the United States. Their votes on his second election indicated an unequivocal increase of popular favor; the admirer of arbitrary power exulted; the lover of constitutional liberty mourned. The friends of despotism in the Old World, ignorant of the real stamina of his popularity, regarded it as unquestionable evidence of the all-powerful influence of military achievement in the New. But the infatuation which had been the exciting cause of General Jackson's first election to the Presidency would soon have evaporated under the multiplied evidences of an ill-regulated will, had it not been encouraged and supported by a local interest which predominated in the councils of the nation. With no desire to establish arbitrary power in the person of the chief magistrate of the Union, the slave-holders of the South instinctively perceived the identity of Jackson's interests with their own, and gave zeal and intensity to his support. The acquisition of the province of Texas, and its introduction into the Union as a slave state, with the prospective design of forming out of its territories four or five slave states, was a project in which they knew Jackson's heart was deeply engaged, and for the advancement of which he had peculiar qualifications.

Such was the true basis of that extraordinary show of popularity which Jackson's second election as President indicated. Accordingly, his first measures were directed to the acquisition of Texas. These, as Mr. Adams said at the time, "were kept profoundly secret," but at this day they are clear and evident. The Florida treaty was accepted with approbation and joy by the government and people of the United States, under the administration of Mr. Monroe. But the extension of its boundaries to the Colorado, which had been hoped for during the negotiation of that treaty between Mr. Adams and Onis, was not attained. Afterwards, during the Presidency of Mr. Adams, when every engine in the South and West was set at work to depreciate his character, and destroy his popularity, John Floyd, of Virginia, in an address to his constituents, attributed the relinquishment of our claim to Texas to him, and said he had thus deprived the South of acquiring two or more slave states. The same charge was brought against him by Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, who afterwards, when apprized of the facts, openly acknowledged, in the Senate of the United States, that it was unjust, and an error. The calumny had the effect for which it was fabricated; for Mr. Adams, out of respect for those through whose constitutional influence he had abandoned that claim, disdained to defend himself by publishing the truth.

The facts were, that slavery not being then permitted in Mexico, and the project of introducing it, by the annexation of Texas, not being yet developed, Mr. Adams deemed the extension of the territory of the United States to the Colorado so important, that when Onis absolutely refused to accede, he declined further negotiation, declaring that he would not renew it on any other ground. He did not yield until those deeply interested in obtaining Florida had, by their urgency, persuaded him to treat on the condition of not including Texas. Although desirous, from general considerations of national interest and policy, to obtain that province, it was well known that he would not engage in any conspiracy to wrest it from Mexico. His character and firmness in that respect lessened his popularity in the Southern States, and excited an inordinate zeal for Jackson.

Accordingly, Mr. Poinsett, of South Carolina, minister of the United States in Mexico, immediately after the inauguration of President Jackson, in 1829, being apprized of his views and policy, took measures to carry them into effect. Under pretence of negotiating for the purchase of Texas, he remained in Mexico, and so mingled with the parties which at the time distracted that republic as to become obnoxious to its government. The Legislature passed a vote to expel him from their territories, and issued a remonstrance intimating apprehensions of his assassination if he continued there; charging him expressly with being concerned in establishing "some of those secret societies which will figure in the history of the misfortunes of Mexico." It might have been expected that a foreign minister would have repelled such an accusation with indignation. Poinsett, on the contrary, in a letter[1] addressed to the public, admitted that he had been instrumental in establishing five such secret societies, but asserted that they were only lodges of Freemasons,—merely philanthropic institutions, which had nothing to do with politics. For the truth of these assertions he appealed to his own personal character, and to the character of the members of the secret societies, who, he declared, had been his intimate friends for more than three years, vouching himself for their patriotism and private virtues. Even this authentication did not create implicit belief in the minds of those to whom it was addressed.

[1] See this letter in Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XXXVII., pp. 91-93.

During these proceedings of Poinsett in Mexico the newspapers in the United States announced that the American government were taking proper steps for the acquisition of Texas. Intimations were also circulated of the sum Poinsett had been authorized to offer for it; and, to make sure of its ultimate attainment, in the summer and autumn of 1829 emigrants from the United States were encouraged by the American government to settle in Texas. To the Southern States the acquisition of that province was desirable, to open a new area for slavery. In open defiance, therefore, of a formal decree about this time issued by the rulers of Mexico prohibiting slavery in Texas, the emigrants to that province took their slaves with them; for they knew that the object of the American government was not so much territory as a slave state, and that upon their effecting this result their admission into the Union would depend. Such was the policy commenced and pursued during the first term of Jackson's administration. It was the conviction of this which led Mr. Adams publicly to declare that, though "profoundly a secret as it respected the public, it was then in successful progress;" and to make it a topic of severe animadversion and warning, combined with language of prophecy, which events soon expanded into history. Every movement of Jackson was in unison with the policy and imbued with the spirit of the slaveholders. He manifested animosity to the protection of manufactures, and to internal improvement by his veto of the bill for the Maysville Turnpike, and to the Bank of the United States by his veto of the bill for extending its charter; and, after violently denouncing the spirit of nullification, he publicly succumbed to it by proposing a modification of the tariff, in obedience to its demands. But the most flagrant, act, and beyond all others characteristic of his indomitable tenacity of will, overleaping all the limitations of precedent and the constitution, was his removal, on his own responsibility, of the deposits from the Bank of the United States. After ascertaining that Duane, the Secretary of the Treasury, would not be his tool in that service, he, in the language of that officer, "concentrating in himself the power to judge and execute, to absorb the discretion given to the Secretary of the Treasury, and to nullify the law itself," proceeded at once to remove him, and to raise Roger B. Taney from the office of Attorney-General to that of Secretary of the Treasury, for the sole object of availing himself of an instrument subservient to his purposes.

In his annual message, at the opening of the session, Jackson announced to Congress that the Secretary of the Treasury had, by his orders, removed the public moneys from the Bank of the United States, and deposited them in certain state banks.

The spirit of Mr. Adams kindled at this usurpation, and he gave eloquent utterance to his indignation. Among the remonstrances to Congress against this act of President Jackson, one from the Legislature of Massachusetts was sent to him for presentation. In his attempt to fulfil this duty he was defeated three several times by the address of the Speaker of the House, and finally deprived of the opportunity by the previous question. He immediately published the speech he had intended to deliver, minutely scrutinizing the President's usurpation of power. The removal of the deposits, and the contract with the state banks to receive those deposits, he asserts were both unlawful; and the measure itself neither lawful nor just—an arbitrary act, without law and against law. He then proceeds to analyze the whole series of documents adduced by the Secretary of the Treasury, and by the Committee of Ways and Means in his aid, as precedents to justify the removal of the deposits, and concludes a lucid and laborious argument with, "I have thus proved, to the very rigor of mathematical demonstration, that the Committee of Ways and Means, to bolster up the lawless act of the Secretary of the Treasury, in transferring public moneys from their lawful places of deposit to others, in one of which, at least, the Secretary had an interest of private profit to himself, have ransacked all the records of the Treasury, from its first institution in July, 1775, to this day, in vain. From the whole mass of vouchers, to authenticate the lawful disposal of the public moneys, which that department can furnish, the committee have gathered fifty pages of documents, which they would pass off as precedents for this flagrant violation of the laws, and not one of them will answer their purpose. One of them alone bears a partial resemblance to the act of the present secretary; and that one the very document adduced by the committee themselves pronounces and proves to be unlawful."

After some remarks upon the office of Secretary of the Treasury, and the legal restraints upon it, he proceeds: "I believe both the spirit and the letter of this law to have been violated by the present Secretary of the Treasury when he transferred the public funds from the Bank of the United States to the Union Bank of Baltimore, he himself being a stockholder therein. And so thorough is my conviction of this principle, and so corrupting and pernicious do I deem the example which he has thereby set to future Committees of Ways and Means, to cite as precedents for yet ranker rottenness, that, if there were a prospect of his remaining in office longer than till the close of the present session of the Senate, I should deem it an indispensable, albeit a painful, duty of my station, to take the sense of this house on the question. And, sir, if, after this explicit declaration by me, the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means has not yet slaked his thirst for precedents, he may gratify it by offering a fifth resolution, in addition to the four reported by the committee, as thus: Resolved, that the thanks of this house be given to Roger B. Taney, Secretary of the Treasury, for his pure and DISINTERESTED patriotism in transferring the use of the public funds from the Bank of the United States, where they were profitable to the people, to the Union Bank of Baltimore, where they were profitable to himself."

He then proceeds to show, in a severe and searching examination of the proceedings of this secretary, that the transfers were utterly unwarrantable; that he tampered with the public moneys to sustain the staggering credit of selected depositaries, and "scatter it abroad among swarms of rapacious political partisans." After stating and answering all the charges brought by the Secretary of the Treasury against the Bank of the United States, and showing their falsehood or futility, he declares all the proceedings of the directors of the bank to have been within the pale of action warranted by the laws of the land; and, so long as they do this, "a charge of dishonesty or corruption against them, uttered by the President of the United States, or by the Secretary of the Treasury, is neither more nor less than slander, emitted under the protection of official station, against private citizens. This is both ungenerous and unjust. It is the abuse of the shelter of official station to circulate calumny with impunity."

Mr. Adams next examines and severely reprobates the declaration of the President of the United States, that, "if the last Congress had continued in session one week longer, the bank would, by corrupt means, have procured a re-charter by majorities of two thirds in both houses of Congress;" and declares the imputation as unjust as it was dishonorable to all the parties implicated in it. He did not believe there was one member in the last Congress, who voted against re-chartering of the bank, who could have been induced to change his vote by corrupt means, had the president and directors of the bank been base enough to attempt the use of them. "That the imputation is cruelly ungenerous towards the friends of the administration in this house, is," said Mr. Adams, "my deliberate opinion; and now, when we reflect that this defamatory and disgraceful suspicion, harbored or professed against his own friends, supporters, and adherents, was the real and efficient cause (to call it reason would be to shame the term), that it was the real motive for the removal of the deposits during the recess of Congress, and only two months before its meeting, what can we do but hide our heads with shame? Sir, one of the duties of the President of the United States—a duty as sacred as that to which he is bound by his official oath—is that of maintaining unsullied the honor of his country. But how could the President of the United States assert, in the presence of any foreigner, a claim to honorable principle or moral virtue, as attributes belonging to his countrymen, when he is the first to cast the indelible stigma upon them? 'Vale, venalis civitas, mox peritura, si emptorem invenias,' was the prophetic curse of Jugurtha upon Rome, in the days of her deep corruption. If the imputations of the President of the United States upon his own partisans and supporters were true, our country would already have found a purchaser."

"That this was the true and efficient cause," Mr. Adams proceeds, "of that removal, is evident, not only by the positive testimony of Mr. Duane, but from the utter futility of the reasons assigned by Mr. Taney. Mr. Duane states that, on the second day after he entered upon his duties as Secretary of the Treasury, the President himself declared to him his determination to cause the public deposits to be removed before the meeting of Congress. He said that the matter under consideration was of vast consequence to the country; that, unless the bank was broken down, it would break us down; that, if the last Congress had remained a week longer in session, two thirds would have been secured for the bank by corrupt means; and that the like result might be apprehended the next Congress; that such a state bank agency must be put in operation, before the meeting of Congress, as would show that the United States Bank was not necessary, and thus some members would have no excuse for voting for it. 'My suggestions,' added Mr. Duane, 'as to an inquiry by Congress, as in 1832, or a recourse to the judiciary, the President repelled, saying that it would be idle to depend upon either; referring, as to the judiciary, to the decisions already made as indications of what would be the effect of an appeal to them in future.'

"These, then," continued Mr. Adams, "were the effective reasons of the President for requiring the removal of the deposits before the meeting of Congress. The corruptibility of Congress itself, and the foregone decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, were alike despised and degraded. The executive will was substituted in the place of both. These reasons had been urged, without success, on one Secretary of the Treasury, Louis McLane. He had been promoted out of office, and they were now pressed upon the judgment and pliability of another. He, too, was found refractory, and displaced. A third, more accommodating, was found in the person of Mr. Taney. To him the reasons of the President were all-sufficient, and he adopted them without reserve. They were all summed up in one,—'Sic volo, sic jubeo, stet pro RATIONE voluntas.'

"It is to be regretted that the Secretary of the Treasury did not feel himself at liberty to assign this reason. In my humble opinion it ought to have stood in front of all the rest. There is an air of conscious shamefacedness in the suppression of that which was so glaringly notorious; and something of an appearance of trifling, if not of mockery, in presenting a long array of reasons, omitting that which lies at the foundation of them all.

"The will of the President of the United States was the reason paramount to all others for the removal, by the Secretary of the Treasury, of the deposits from the Bank of the United States. It was part of his system of simplifying the machine of government, to which it was admirably adapted. It placed the whole revenue of the Union at any time at his disposal, for any purpose to which he might see fit to apply it. In vain had the laws cautiously stationed the Register, the Comptroller, the Treasurer, as checks upon the Secretary of the Treasury, so that the most trifling sum in the treasury should never be accessible to any one or any two men. With a removal of the deposits and a transfer draft, millions on millions may be transferred, by the stroke of the pen of a supple and submissive Secretary of the Treasury, from place to place, at home and abroad, wherever any purpose, personal or political, may thereby be promoted.

"To this final object of simplifying the machine two other maxims have been proclaimed as auxiliary fundamental principles of this administration. First, that the contest for place and power, in this country, is a state of war, and all the emoluments of office are the spoils of victory. The other, that it is the invariable rule of the President to reward his friends and punish his enemies."

In the course of the years 1832 and 1833, Freemasonry having become mingled with the politics of the period, Mr. Adams openly avowed his hostility to the institution, and addressed a series of letters to William L. Stone, an editor of one of the New York papers, and another to Edward Livingston, one of its high officers, and a third to the Anti-masonic Convention of the State of New York, in which his views, opinions, and objections to that craft, are stated and developed with his usual laborious, acute, and searching pathos and power.

In October, 1833, Mr. Adams was applied to by one of his friends for minutes of the principal measures of Mr. Monroe's administration, while he was Secretary of State, and also of his own, as President of the United States, to be used in his defence in a pending election. "I cannot reconcile myself," said Mr. Adams, "to write anything for my own election, not even for the refutation of the basest calumnies. In all my election contests, therefore, my character is at the mercy of the basest slanderer; and slander is so effective a power in all our elections, that the friends of the candidates for the highest offices use it without scruple. I know by experience the power of party spirit upon the people. Party triumphs over party, and the people are all enrolled in one party or another. The people can only act by the machinery of party."

About this time there was an attempt in Norfolk County to get up a Temperance Society, and a wish was expressed to him that he would take a lead in forming it. He declined from an unwillingness to shackle himself with obligations to control his individual, family, and domestic arrangements; from an apprehension that the temperance societies, in their well-intended zeal, were already manifesting a tendency to encroach on personal freedom; and also from an opinion that the cause was so well sustained by public approbation and applause that it needed not the aid of his special exertions, beyond that of his own example.

On the 12th of December, 1833, Mr. Clay sent a message to the President of the United States, asking a copy of his written communication to his cabinet, made on the 18th of September, about the removal of the deposits from the United States Bank; to which the President replied by a flat refusal. Mr. Adams remarked: "There is a tone of insolence and insult in his intercourse with both houses of Congress, especially since his reelection, which never was witnessed between the Executive and Legislature before. The domineering tone has heretofore been usually on the side of the legislative bodies to the Executive, and Clay has not been sparing in the use of it. He is now paid in his own coin."

An intelligent foreigner, in relating a visit to Mr. Adams, in 1834, thus describes his powers of conversation: "He spoke with infinite ease, drawing upon his vast resources with the certainty of one who has his lecture before him ready written. He maintained the conversation nearly four hours, steadily, in one continuous stream of light. His subjects were the architecture of the middle ages, the stained glass of that period, sculpture, embracing monuments particularly. Milton, Shakspeare, Shenstone, Pope, Byron, and Southey, were in turn remarked upon. He gave Pope a wonderfully high character, and remarked that one of his chief beauties was the skill exhibited in varying the caesural pause, quoting from various parts of his author to illustrate his remarks. He said little on the politics of the country, but spoke at considerable length of Sheridan and Burke, both of whom he had heard, and described with graphic effect. Junius, he said, was a bad man, but maintained that as a writer he had never been equalled."[2]

[2] Niles' Weekly Register, vol. XLVII., p. 91.

In March, 1834, Mr. Polk, of Tennessee, having indulged in an idolizing glorification of General Jackson, with some coarse invectives against Mr. Adams, the latter rose and said: "I shall not reply to the gentleman from Tennessee; and I give notice, once for all, that, whenever any admirer of the President of the United States shall think fit to pay his court to him in this house, either by a flaming panegyric upon him, or by a rancorous invective on me, he shall never elicit one word of reply from me.

'No; let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp, And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee, Where THRIFT may follow fawning.'"

On the 20th of February, 1834, Mr. Adams attended the funeral of Mr. Wirt, on which event he thus uttered his feelings: "For the rest of the day I was unable to attend to anything. I could think of nothing but William Wirt,—of his fine talents, of his amiable and admirable character; the twelve years during which we had been in close official relation together;[3] the scene when he went with me to the capitol; his warm and honest sympathy with me in my trials when President of the United States; my interview with him in January, 1831, and his faithful devotion to the memory of Monroe. These recollections were oppressive to my feelings. I thought some public testimonial from me to his memory was due at this time. But Mr. Wirt was no partisan of the present administration. He had been a formal and dreaded opponent to the reelection of Andrew Jackson; and so sure is anything I say or do to meet insuperable obstruction, that I could not imagine anything I could offer with the remotest prospect of success. I finally concluded to ask of the house, tomorrow morning, to have it entered upon the journal of this day that the adjournment was that the Speaker and members might be able to attend the funeral of William Wirt. I wrote a short address, to be delivered at the meeting of the house."

[3] Mr. Wirt was Attorney-General of the United States during the four last years of Mr. Monroe's and the whole of Mr. Adams' administration.

It appears, by the journal of the house, that, on the 21st of February, 1834, Mr. Adams, of Massachusetts, addressed the chair as follows:[4]

[4] See Congressional Debates, vol. X., part 2d, p. 2758.

"MR. SPEAKER: A rule of this house directs that the Speaker shall examine and correct the journal before it is read. I therefore now rise, not to make a motion, nor to offer a resolution, but to ask the unanimous consent of the house to address to you a few words with a view to an addition which I wish to be made to the journal, of the adjournment of the house yesterday.

"The Speaker, I presume, would not feel himself authorized to make the addition in the journal which I propose, without the unanimous consent of the house; and I therefore now propose it before the reading of the journal.

"I ask that, after the statement of the adjournment of the house, there be added to the journal words importing that it was to give the Speaker and members of the house an opportunity of attending the funeral obsequies of William Wirt.

"At the adjournment of the house on Wednesday I did not know what the arrangements were, or would be, for that mournful ceremony. Had I known them, I should have moved a postponed adjournment, which would have enabled us to join in the duty of paying the last tribute of respect to the remains of a man who was an ornament of his country and of human nature.

"The customs of this and of the other house of Congress warrant the suspension of their daily labors in the public service, for the attendance upon funeral rites, only in the case of the decease of their own members. To extend the usage further might be attended with inconvenience as a precedent; nor should I have felt myself warranted in asking it upon any common occasion.

"Mr. Wirt had never been a member of either house of Congress. But if his form in marble, or his portrait upon canvas, were placed within these walls, a suitable inscription for it would be that of the statue of Moliere in the hall of the French Academy: 'Nothing was wanting to his glory; he was wanting to ours.'

"Mr. Wirt had never been a member of Congress; but, for a period of twelve years, during two successive administrations of the national government, he had been the official and confidential adviser, upon all questions of law, of the Presidents of the United States; and he had discharged the duties of that station entirely to the satisfaction of those officers and of the country. No member of this house needs to be reminded how important are the duties of the Attorney-General of the United States; nor risk I contradiction in affirming that they were never more ably or more faithfully discharged than by Mr. Wirt.

"If a mind stored with all the learning appropriate to the profession of the law, and decorated with all the elegance of classical literature; if a spirit imbued with the sensibilities of a lofty patriotism, and chastened by the meditations of a profound philosophy; if a brilliant imagination, a discerning intellect, a sound judgment, an indefatigable capacity, and vigorous energy of application, vivified with an ease and rapidity of elocution, copious without redundance, and select without affectation; if all these, united with a sportive vein of humor, an inoffensive temper, and an angelic purity of heart;—if all these, in their combination, are the qualities suitable for an Attorney-General of the United States, in him they were all eminently combined.

"But it is not my purpose to pronounce his eulogy. That pleasing task has been assigned to abler hands, and to a more suitable occasion. He will there be presented in other, though not less interesting lights. As the penetrating delineator of manners and character in the British Spy; as the biographer of Patrick Henry, dedicated to the young men of your native commonwealth; as the friend and delight of the social circle; as the husband and father in the bosom of a happy, but now most afflicted family;—in all these characters I have known, admired, and loved him; and now witnessing, from the very windows of this hall, the last act of piety and affection over his remains, I have felt as if this house could scarcely fulfil its high and honorable duties to the country which he had served, without some slight, be it but a transient, notice of his decease. The addition which I propose to the journal of yesterday's adjournment would be such a notice. It would give his name an honorable place on the recorded annals of his country, in a manner equally simple and expressive. I will only add that, while I feel it incumbent upon me to make this proposal, I am sensible that it is not a fit subject for debate; and, if objected to, I desire you to consider it as withdrawn."

Mr. Adams proceeds: "When the question of agreeing to the proposed addition was put by the Speaker, Joel K. Mann, of Pennsylvania, precisely the rankest Jackson man in the house, said 'No.' There was a general call upon him, from all quarters of the house, to withdraw his objection; but he refused. Blair, of South Carolina, rose, and asked if the manifest sense of the house could be defeated by one objection. The Speaker said I had requested that my proposal should be considered as withdrawn if an objection should be made, but the house was competent to give the instruction, upon motion made. I was then called upon by perhaps two thirds of the house,—'Move, move, move,'—and said, I had hoped the proposal would have obtained the unanimous assent of the house, and as only one objection had been made, which did not appear to be sustained by the general sense of the house, I would make the motion that the addition I had proposed should be made on the journal. The Speaker took the question, and nine tenths, at least, of the members present answered 'Ay.' There were three or four who answered 'No.' But no division of the house was asked."

In a debate in the House of Representatives, on the 30th of April, 1834, on striking out the appropriation for the salaries of certain foreign ministers, in the course of his remarks, Warren R. Davis, of South Carolina, turning with great feeling towards Mr. Adams, said: "Well do I remember the enthusiastic zeal with which we reproached the administration of that gentleman, and the ardor and vehemence with which we labored to bring in another. For the share I had in those transactions,—and it was not a small one,—I hope God will forgive me, for I never shall forgive myself."

In December, 1834, Mr. Adams, at the unanimous request of both houses of Congress, delivered an oration on the life, character, and services, of Gilbert Motier de Lafayette. The House of Representatives ordered fifty thousand copies to be published at the national expense, and the Senate ten thousand. Mr. Clay said that, in proposing the latter number, he was governed by the extraordinary vote of the house; but that, "if he were to be guided by his opinion of the great talents of the orator, and the extraordinary merit of the oration, he felt he should be unable to specify any number."

In January, 1835, Mr. Adams, on presenting a petition of one hundred and seven women of his Congressional district, praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, moved its reference to a select committee, with instructions; but stated that, if the house chose to refer it to the Committee on the District of Columbia, he should be satisfied. All he wished was that it should be referred to some committee. He begged those members who could command a majority of the house, and who, like himself, were unwilling to make the abolition question a stumbling-block, to take a course which should treat petitions with respect. He wished a report. It would be easy to show that such petitions relative to the District of Columbia ought not to be granted. He believed the true course to be to let error be tolerated; to grant freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and apply reason to put it down. On the contrary, it was contended by Southern men that Congress had a right not to receive petitions, especially if produced to create excitement, and wound the feelings of Southern members. Mr. Adams advocated the right of petition. If the language was disrespectful, that objection might be stated on the journal. He knew that it was difficult to use language on this subject which slaveholders would not deem disrespectful. Congress had declared the slave-trade, when carried on out of the United States, piracy. He was opposed to that act, because he did not think it proper that this traffic without our boundaries should be called piracy, while there was no constitutional right to interdict it within our borders. It was carried on in sight of the windows of the capitol. He deemed it a fundamental principle that Congress had no right to take away or abridge the constitutional right of petition.

The petition was received, its commitment refused by the house, and it was laid on the table.

About this time Mr. Adams remarked: "There is something extraordinary in the present condition of parties throughout the Union. Slavery and democracy—especially a democracy founded, as ours is, on the rights of man—would seem to be incompatible with each other; and yet, at this time, the democracy of the country is supported chiefly, if not entirely, by slavery. There is a small, enthusiastic party preaching the abolition of slavery upon the principles of extreme democracy. But the democratic spirit and the popular feeling are everywhere against them."

In August, 1835, Mr. Adams was invited to deliver an address before the American Institute of New York. After expressing his good wishes for the prosperity of the institution, and of their cause, he stated, in reply, that the general considerations which dictated the policy of sustaining and cherishing the manufacturing interests were obvious, and had been presented by Judge Baldwin, Mr. J. P. Kennedy, and Mr. Everett, with eloquence and ability, in addresses on three preceding years. If he should deliver the address requested, it would be expected that he would present the subject under new and different views. His own opinion was that one great difficulty under which the manufacturing interest of the country labors is a political combination of the South and the West against it. The slaveholders of the South have bought the cooeperation of the Western country by the bribe of the Western lands, abandoning to the new Western States their own proportion of this public property, and aiding them in the design of grasping all the lands in their own hands. Thomas H. Benton was the author of this system, which he brought forward as a substitute for the American system of Mr. Clay, and to supplant the latter as the leading statesman of the West. Mr. Clay, by his tariff compromise with Mr. Calhoun, abandoned his own American system. At the same time he brought forward a plan for distributing among all the states of the Union the proceeds of the sales of the public lands. His bill for that purpose passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President Jackson, who, in his annual message of December, 1832, formally recommended that all the public lands should be gratuitously given away to individual adventurers, and to the states in which the lands are situated. "Now," said Mr. Adams, "if, at this time, on the eve of a presidential election, I should, in a public address to the American Institute, disclose the state of things, and comment upon it as I should feel it my duty to do, it would probably produce a great excitement and irritation; would be charged with having a political bearing, and subject me to the imputation of tampering with the election."

On the 25th of May, 1836, Mr. Adams delivered, in the House of Representatives, a speech on certain resolutions for distributing rations from the public stores to the distressed fugitives from Indian hostilities in the States of Alabama and Georgia. "It is," said he, "I believe, the first example of a system of gratuitous donations to our own countrymen, infinitely more formidable in its consequences as a precedent, than from anything appearing on its face. I shall, nevertheless, vote for it." "It is one of a class of legislative enactments with which we are already becoming familiar, and which, I greatly fear, will ere long grow voluminous. I shall take the liberty to denominate them the scalping-knife and tomahawk laws. They are all urged through by the terror of those instruments of death, under the most affecting and pathetic appeals, from the constituents of the sufferers, to all the tender and benevolent sympathies of our nature. It is impossible for me to withhold from those appeals a responsive and yielding voice." He had voted, he said, for millions after millions, and would again and again vote for drafts from the public chest for the same purpose, should they be necessary, until the treasury itself should be drained.

In seeking for a principle to justify his vote, he could find it nowhere but in the war power and its limitation, as expressed in the constitution of the United States by the words "the common defence and general welfare." The war power was in this respect different from the peace power. The former was derived from, and regulated by, the laws and usages of nations. The latter was limited by regulations, and restricted by provisions, prescribed within the constitution itself. All the powers incident to war were, by necessary implication, conferred on the government of the United States. This was the power which authorized the house to pass this resolution. There was no other. "It is upon this principle," said Mr. Adams, "that I shall vote for this resolution, and did vote against the vote reported by the slavery committee, 'that Congress possess no constitutional authority to interfere with the institution of slavery.' I do not admit that there is, even among the peace powers of Congress, no such authority; but in many ways Congress not only have the authority, but are bound to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states." Of this he cites many instances, and asks if, in case of a servile insurrection, Congress would not have power to interfere, and to supply money from the funds of the whole Union to suppress it.

In this speech Mr. Adams exposes the effects of the slave influence in the United States, by the measures taken to bring about a war with Mexico. 1. By the proposal that she should cede to us a territory large enough to constitute nine states equal in extent to Kentucky. 2. By making this proposition at a time when swarms of land-jobbers from the United States were covering these Mexican territories with slaves, in defiance of the laws of Mexico by which slavery had been abolished throughout that republic. 3. By the authority given to General Gaines to invade the Mexican republic, and which had brought on the war then raging, which was for the reestablishment of slavery in territories where it had been abolished. It was a war, on the part of the United States, of conquest, and for the extension of slavery. Mr. Adams then foretold, what subsequent events proved, that the war then commencing would be, on the part of the United States, "a war of aggression, conquest, and for the reestablishment of slavery where it has been abolished. In that war the banners of freedom will be the banners of Mexico, and your banners—I blush to speak the word—will be the banners of slavery."

The nature of that war, its dangers, and its consequences, Mr. Adams proceeded to analyze, and to show the probability of an interference on the part of Great Britain, who "will probably ask you a perplexing question—by what authority you, with freedom, independence, and democracy, on your lips, are waging a war of extermination, to forge new manacles and fetters instead of those which are falling from the hands and feet of men? She will carry emancipation and abolition with her in every fold of her flag; while your stars, as they increase in numbers, will be overcast by the murky vapors of oppression, and the only portion of your banners visible to the eye will be the blood-stained stripes of the taskmaster."

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