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I have one more proof to lay before you, and I then take leave of this part of the subject. It is the declaration of Mr. Holmes of Charleston, a man of lead and influence with his friends, and now member of Congress from that city.
After Mr. Polk had been nominated, at Baltimore, some of Mr. Holmes's political friends wrote to him, propounding certain questions relating to Mr. Polk, and calling with emphasis for
The first question was this:
The second question was this :
“Whatever may be your opinion of Mr. Polk's ability, in the event of his election, to effect a repeal of the tariff of 1842, and to break down the protective system, have you any doubt of the sincerity of his opposition to the entire system of protection, and that the influence of his high office will be in good faith exerted to subvert it?"
To these questions Mr. Holmes returned the following prompt, brief, and pithy answer:
“Gentlemen, - I have just received your letter, in which two queries are distinctly put, and as distinctly will I reply.
“ 1st. I am in favor of the election of Mr. Polk and Mr. Dallas, and am decidedly of the opinion that South Carolina ought to vote for them.
“2d. I have no doubt of Mr. Polk's sincerity when he declared his position to the entire system of protection, and that, if elected, he will endeavor to subvert it.”
Here is the opinion of Mr. Holmes, a distinguished membe of Congress, of the anti-tariff party; and let me tell you, once more, that he speaks the opinions of the whole anti-tariff party of the South.
These evidences might be accumulated, but it would be useless. Those who really desire to know the truth, and are willing to embrace it, and act upon it, surely can need nothing more on this point.
Gentlemen, I remember that Mr. Polk has said that he is against the duty on wool. Very well; so are other anti-tariff men. Let this be known, fully and fairly, to your great county
of Washington (Penn.), as well as to other wool-growing districts; and if the people of that county still say they are in favor of Mr. Polk, I must admit they have a right to be so. But, still, let them take him as he is, and for what he is, and not for something which he is not. There are some who say, that, even if Mr. Polk be an anti-tariff man, and should be elected President of the United States, yet he cannot repeal the tariff or overcome our policy. Strange doctrine! We choose him that he may not triumph over us after choosing him! We elect him that he may not destroy the policy he is opposed to! We choose him to prevent his destroying that which we think ought to be preserved! Strange argument for sensible men! If we knew that he would not be able to carry out his policy, or to exercise that power which the office would give him to abolish the tariff, would that be a reason why we should withhold our opposition ? Not at all! There is the evil of perpetual agitation, of perpetual doubt, of perpetual uncertainty; there is the evil of perpetual opposition to the duration of the protective policy. Will capital be employed to bring out the mineral wealth of this great State, if it be doubtful whether those so employing it will be protected in their enterprise or not? No! Once more I say, most assuredly, No! What the country needs is security and stability; a permanent, settled policy, that enterprising and industrious men may be enabled to give direction to their capital and means, and labor with the assurance, with the unshaken confidence, that there will be no violent fluctuation in the state of the law.
Gentlemen, the citizens of Massachusetts have no especial interest of their own in favoring the coal and iron of Pennsylvania. We are large purchasers of the articles, and free trade, or free admission, in regard to them, would be best for us. But we have other interests, and we see other interests all over the country, calling for a wise system of custom-house duties; and we embrace that policy which we think essential to the good of the whole. We desire no favoritism, no partial system. The interests of the people of these two great States, the interests of the people of all the States, are bound up in one bond. But I say, that, if Mr. Polk be elected President of the United States, with the general concurrence of the popular branch of the legislature, either the tariff will be repealed, or so much disturbed
as to dishearten its friends, and make them turn from it with disgust. This is a thing of the deepest interest. It rests with you of Pennsylvania to decide this; for without the vote of Pennsylvania, I undertake to say, he cannot be elected President of the United States. It is for you to say. Give me your assurance that he will not get the vote of Pennsylvania, and I will give you my assurance that he will not be elected President of the United States. Any man may make the canvass, any man may go over the votes from Maine to Missouri, and he will, he must, be convinced that it is absolutely certain that Mr. Polk cannot be elected without the vote of the Keystone State ! And it is equally certain, that without the vote of this State he remains at home, a private and respectable citizen of the State of Tennessee.
I wish every man in Pennsylvania to consider this, that on his vote, and the vote of his fellow-citizen, his neighbor, or his kinsman, depends the issue whether Mr. Polk be elected President or not. And I say that any man who attempts to convey the impression to another, any man of information, — whether it be done in the highways or by-ways, in parlor or kitchen, in cellar or garret, - any man, who shall be found telling another that Mr. Polk is in favor of the tariff, means to cheat an honest Pennsylvanian out of the fair use of the elective franchise! And if there be not spirit enough in Pennsylvania to repel so gross a misrepresentation, then Pennsylvania is not that Pennsylvania which I have so long respected and admired.
I am admonished, my friends, by the descent of the sun, that I must bring my remarks to a close. I was desirous of saying a few words to you about Texas. (Cries of “Go on!” “Go on!” “ Tell us about Texas.") Well, I will only say, in relation to Texas, that you will find in the archives of your own State that which is far more important than all I can say upon the subject. But I do say that the annexation of Texas would tend to prolong the duration and increase the extent of African slavery on this continent. I have long held that opinion, and I would not now suppress it for any consideration on earth! And because it does increase the evils of slavery, because it will increase the number of slaves and prolong the duration of their bondage, - because it does all this, I oppose it without condition and without qualification, at this time and all times, now and for ever.
In 1780 the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed the act abolishing slavery in this State. It was introduced by a grateful acknowledgment to God for the achievement of American liberty, for that assistance by which the people had been enabled to break the chains of a foreign power, and by the enjoyment and assumption of a duty conformable to that, to do all that they could to break all other chains and set the world free.
That preamble was the work of your fathers; they sleep in honored graves; there is not, I believe, one man living now who was engaged in that most righteous act. There are words in that preamble fit to be read by all who inherit the blood, by all who bear the name, by all who cherish the memory, of an honored and virtuous ancestry. And I ask every one of you now present, ere eight-and-forty hours pass over your heads, to turn to that act, to read that preamble, and if you are Pennsylvanians the blood will stir and prompt you to your duty. There are arguments in that document far surpassing any thing that my poor ability could advance on the subject, and there I leave it.*
In answering an invitation to address the citizens of Pennsylvania, in another place, a short time ago, I observed that I had a desire to say a few words to the people of the State. I have now said them. I have said, and I repeat, that the result of the approaching election rests much in your hands. You may decide it favorably to the interests and honor of the country. Without your concurrence, Mr. Polk cannot be chosen. I wish to state this to you, and to leave it with you, in the strongest possible manner.
We are all, in Massachusetts, interested in the manner you give your votes at the coming Presidential election, and you are as much interested in the manner in which we give ours. But there is another election to be shortly decided in this State besides the Presidential election. It would ill become me to interfere in the elections by another State of its own State officers. I will not do so farther than to say, that the manner in which this first election of yours is conducted, and shall result, will have a great effect on the hopes and prospects of the Whigs in reference to that which is so soon to come after it.
See preamble to the act of the Legislature of Pennsylvania for the gradual abolition of slavery, passed 1780, Pennsylvania Laws, Vol. I. p. 492.
I need not tell you that there is a great curiosity among the Whigs of other States, - curiosity is a term that is not strong enough for the feeling that exists, - there is a deep and strong anxiety prevailing all over the Union in relation to the way in which the Whigs shall conduct the next election in this State. Because it is perfectly plain to every one, that if the venerable man who was introduced to you this day,* — if that distinguished son of this great State, who was recently here on this platform, shall be elected Governor, there will be a brightening of the political skies, at the sight of which every true Whig in the Union will rejoice.
I have a few words to say to the people of this city, this fair and beautiful Philadelphia, this city of the Declaration of Independence, this city in which was matured and perfected the glorious Constitution of the United States, this noble city, which is connected with so much of the early history of our country and its subsequent prosperity! Can there be a doubt of the side which this city will take in the coming contest? I ask every young man to sit down and ask his conscience how he can give a vote for the subversion of all the best interests and the only correct policy of our beloved country! I ask man to remember the past, to reflect on the policy, the principles, and the men of other times, and to consider if all in that past does not prompt him to one course of action!
Fellow-citizens of Pennsylvania! There are subordinate questions, on which those may differ, without great injury, who agree in general principles. And there are questions of a temporary interest, in regard to which a wrong decision made now may be corrected hereafter. Such are not the questions now before us.
The questions now before us touch, and touch vitally, great, and deep, and permanent interests of the country.
On these questions, brethren of the same principles must not differ. In saying this, while I look round about me, and see who compose this vast assembly, I have not, I hope, transcended the bounds of propriety. You understand me. I need not press the point more explicitly.
When great principles of government are at stake, when high and lasting interests are at hazard, I repeat, that, in such a crisis,
General Markle, the Whig candidate for Governor.