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candidate, and who had been given to expect a distribution of the offices in the gift of the executive, as a reward for their services.
Nominations to tke senate. President Adams, agreeable to what had been the usage on similar occasions, called a meeting of the senate, to be held on the fourth of March.
To this body General Jackson presented a nomination of the heads of departments consisting principally of members of congress; this, compared with his address to the legislature of Tennessee, and pledge on the occasion, excited some surprise. The nomination, however, passed the senate with little opposition. The same course was pursued in relation to the diplomacy. General Harrison, who had scarcely arrived at the place of his destination, as minister to Colombia, was superseded by the appointment of Mr. Moore, member of congress from Kentucky. The public have been informed of no other reason for this change, than that the new minister had been a zealous and efficient agent in the late election. In the course of the year, the ministers to Great Britain, France, and Spain, were changed, and all taken from the halls of congress. Their outfits amounting to thirty-six thousand dollars, were taken from the treasury without a specific appropriation for the purpose. A list of about eighty other appointments, em. bracing many of the important custom-house offices, and mostly made in consequence of removals, was also pre. sented and confirmed.
Post office. The change in the head of the post office department, was the most exceptionable. Mr. M‘Lean had been postmaster general about five years, receiving his appointment from Mr. Monroe. He found the department in a very deranged state, and by a judicious and efficient management, had raised it to a high standing. Attentive to his official duties, he had taken no active part in the late canvass, but was supposed to be favorable to General Jackson's election. He had given the new administration to understand that no removals would take place in that department while under his control, but for official misconduct. This not meeting their views, Mr. M‘Lean was transferred to the supreme court, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge Trimble, and which had been kept in reservation by the senate, and Mr. Barry appointed his successor. In the course of the year a general change of assistants and clerks took place in the bureau at Washington, and four hundred and ninety-one removals in the country. Such a change
could not take place without some derangement in the affairs of the office. Of the whole number of hungry expectants who were gratified, some, as, might have been expected, were unworthy. Some peculated upon the public, and some on the private property intrusted to the mail. The expenses accumulated beyond the revenue of the office.
Appointments during the recess. The senate having acted on all the nominations presented to them, closed their extra session on the 18th of March. That body having a controlling voice in appointments, such a session is deemed expedient at the commencement of a new administration, to prevent the necessity of executive appointments during the recess. That provision in the constitution which authorizes the president to supply vacancies which might happen when the senate was not in session, by temporary commissions which should expire at the end of the succeeding term, evidently refers to cases of death, resignation, and removal from incapacity or misconduct. That the president might make vacancies where those reasons did not exist, for the purpose of filling them with his friends, was a perversion, both of the letter and spirit of the con. stitution, entirely unexpected. The changes made during the session were but the commencement of a general system of proscription. Soon after the adjournment of the senate, a great number of vacancies were made, or in the language of the constitution, happened by removal for no other cause apparent, or made known to the public, but that the incumbent preferred Mr. Adams, and the newly appointed officer General Jackson, for the presidency. In the newspapers supposed to speak the language of the cabinet, the principle was openly avowed, that offices were to be the rewards of zeal in the cause of the successful candidate. The subject was systemized, and agents designated in different sections, to certify the qualifications of applicants, among which exertions in the late canvass, were the most important. The word reform in the inaugural address, was found to be of much more portentous import than was apprehended ; its practical meaning being the removal of the friends of Mr. Adams, to make room for those of General Jackson. As a comment on the liberty of the press, two printers, who had distinguished themselves in favor of the successful candidate, were rewarded with lucrative offices at the seat of government, and about forty others in different sections. No proofs have been adduced,
and probably none exist, of a specific bargain between the candidate and the instruments of his elevation, that office should be the reward of their exertions, but the whole course of removals and appointments lead to the conclusion that such was the expectation.
The doctrine that the prerogative of appointment and removal was to be made the instrument of rewards and punishments, so novel in the American system, and so destructive of all that is valuable in it, was adopted with great caution, and with attempts to justify it in the government papers. It was introduced to the people under the fascinating terms of economy and reform. The example of Jefferson at the commencement of his administration, was referred to in its support. In his inaugural, the president informs the people," that he shall look to the examples of his illustrious predecessors, and with veneration to the lights that flow from the mind that founded, and the mind that reformed our system,” referring to Washington and Jefferson. The example of the former was unfortunate for the purpose for which it was adduced. Washington had no feelings in common with those who adopted this system of proscription. He selected his cabinet and the principal officers of government indiscriminately from the two great parties into which the United States were then divided, and took the earliest opportunity to inform applicants for office, that personal considerations would have no influence in selecting public servants.* At the accession of Mr. Jefferson, power had almost exclusively been in the hands of the party called federalists twelve years, their opponents denominated republicans, always nearly equal in numbers, had then become the majority. Mr. Jefferson announced a determination to restore an equilibrium in the distribution of office, among the two great political parties so soon as it could be done consistently with the public interest. The present was an entirely different case. Adams and Jackson were of the same party. Both had supported the administrations of Mr. Adams' predecessors, and sustained distinguished offices under them. Neither they nor their friends were divided on any important political topics. The question was a mere personal one, to wit, which of the two candidates was the most competent to discharge the duties of chief magistrate of the union ? A question on which men might honestly
* Marsball's life of Washington.
entertain different opinions, and on which it was desirable that public officers as well as all other citizens might freely act, without fear of disfranchisement, or expulsion from office.
Some instances of fraud and peculation which had escaped the vigilance of Mr. Adams' administration being found, were brought forward and placed in a prominent view. These were made use of, not only to justify removals in those cases, but in others, where there was no such imputation. From these instances, an attempt was made to impress a belief on the public that there was much corruption, and a general remissness in the management of the concerns of the nation.
Virginia convention. The constitution of Virginia, the oldest of the union, was formed in 1776, a short time before the declaration of independence. Made to suit the wants of a small population on the east of the Allegany, many of its provisions were ill adapted to the exigencies of the state in 1829, extending from the Atlantic to the Ohio. One of its most exceptionable articles confined the right of suffrage to land-holders. At the session of the legislature in 1828, a resolution passed making provision for taking the suffrages of the people, on the question of calling a convention to revise the constitution. On collecting the votes, there appeared a small majority in favor of the measure, and at the next session, provision was made for holding the convention on the first Monday in October, 1829.
The blue ridge, a branch of the Allegany mountain, divides the state into eastern and western sections, having different views and interests, each were anxious to be represented by their ablest men in the convention. The people seem to have laid aside all prejudice and party feeling, except what arose from this sectional division, and united in selecting their most talented citizens. Ex-presidents Madison and Monroe, Chief Justice Marshall, Governor Giles, two of their former governors, and most of their distinguished members of congress were elected. The convention exhibited an assemblage of character and talent rarely to be found.
The great point on which the convention were nearly equally divided, and which occasioned a protracted discussion, was the basis of apportioning the legislature. The eastern section claimed that the ratio should be fixed on the white population, and taxation combined ; the western that it should be apportioned on the white population alone. The former principle would give the slaves a great effect in
fixing the number of representatives, and preserve the ascendency in the east. The latter was calculated to give a preponderating influence to the west. In that event the east were apprehensive, that the west having the power in their own hands, would unreasonably tax the slave holding part of the state, and engage in extensive systems of internal improvement, exclusively for their benefit. An arduous discussion of nearly three months terminated in a compromise by which a given number of members were apportioned to each section, without conforming precisely to either principle. The whole number of representatives was fixed at 134, of which 78 were east, and 56 west of the blue ridge. The senate was to consist of 32 members, 19 in the eastern, and 13 in the western section, with power in the legislature to reapportion them at the end of every ten years.
Another point which occasioned much discussion was, the extension and limitation of the right of suffrage. It was finally inade to embrace all heads of families paying taxes to the state, and all persons possessing a small freehold. These subjects being disposed of, little difficulty was found in arranging the others. The governor, judges of the higher courts, and other principal officers were to be chosen by joint ballot, of both houses of assembly. The tenure of the governor's office was three years, and not eligible for the succeeding term, that of the judges during good behaviour, subject to removal on application of two thirds of both branches of the legislature. All laws were to originate in the house of representatives. The votes on the final question on the adoption of the constitution were, ayes 55, noes 40. It was then submitted to the people, and accepted by a considerable majority.
Meeting of the 21st Congress. The president's message at the opening of the first session of the twenty-first congress, December 7th, 1829, was an able state paper of great length, delineating the general policy of the administration, and containing a correct and pleasing view of the domestic and foreign concerns of the nation. It was sought with great avidity, and conveyed from Washington to the remotest parts of the union, with the unusual speed of from ten to twenty miles an hour. It reached Boston, 436 miles from the place of delivery, in 31 hours.
Measures recommended. The prominent measures recommended, were,
An amendment of the constitution, on the subject of choosing a president, in such a manner that it may be done