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mitted to the consideration and judgment of the people? Now, Gentlemen, there would be a stop to all republican government, a dead halt made by those who desire to see the prosperity of free institutions, if we were to give up this first great principle, that electors are inquisitive enough to desire to know the opinions and sentiments of those whom they may choose to rule over them, that they have intelligence enough thoroughly to analyze those opinions and those sentiments, and discretion and candor enough to make the proper application of the knowledge thus acquired. If this great principle be given up, then the substratum of popular government falls to the ground. I believe there is intelligence enough to do this, and integrity enough to choose those whose principles are best calculated to effect the great objects which we all have in view.
There are two leading questions for our consideration in the very important contest before us. One is the protective system. This subject has been so ably and thoroughly discussed before you by men much more able to do justice to it than I am, that it is not necessary I should dwell upon it here. It is a favorite measure with you, with us at home, and with all our party. We deem it a most necessary system, one that cannot under any circumstances be dispensed with, as being necessary to the comfort, necessary to the happiness, the prosperity of all; and vitally touching the permanent, as well as the present, interests of the community.
This brings us at once to the inquiry, What are the opinions which these two candidates hold upon this protective policy? and it leads us first to ask what are Mr. Polk's sentiments thereon.
This is easily answered. It is notorious, that, when Mr. Polk was nominated, it was partly on account of his hostility to the tariff of 1842. I had supposed that there was not a man in the Union, of information or intelligence, not a man who could read a newspaper, who did not fully understand, who did not know, who was not morally certain, that Mr. Polk was put forth as a strong, uncompromising anti-tariff man, a warm friend and advocate of free trade; and that he was nominated on those very grounds to run against Mr. Clay. The thing was not disguised with us. All his adherents in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine avowed that he was a strong anti-tariff man, and declared that on that very ground they would vote for
him. But in course of time his friends found that this doctrine was not popular in some parts of the Union, and they therefore resolved that he should go to them, not in his true, but in his assumed, garb; that he, who was the steady, regular, original enemy to protection, should be dressed and undressed, and un. dressed and dressed again, and finally exhibited in his new garments as a protectionist. I do not believe that Mr. Polk, after undergoing such a change, after donning his new, and for him unaccustomed garments, - I do not think that he would have that continuity of ideas which philosophers say constitutes “ personal identity”; he would not know himself. Indeed, so far as I know any thing of Mr. Polk, I do not believe that he would submit to any such degradation. I do not believe that he would for a moment lend himself to the perpetration of such deception. I believe he would scorn it. If he were here to-day, and the question were to be put to him, to be sure he would look grave, and would not like to make any answer; but if he were forced to speak, under the penalty of forfeiting the good opinion of all men, he would say, directly and honestly, “ I am opposed to protection; I came into public life opposed to it; all my votes, speeches, and public acts have been in direct hostility to it, my sentiments have undergone no change up to this hour in regard to it, and I expect to remain an uncompromising enemy to it, till the day I die."
This is strong language, but it is not stronger than Mr. Polk used in stating his views last year, in the general discussion and controversy with Mr. Jones, in Tennessee, when they were rival candidates for the office of Governor of that State. Tennessee had been a strong anti-tariff State; she had followed closely the lead of South Carolina on this subject. But the sentiments of the people had undergone a change; several of the most eminent men in the State thought that the tariff operated beneficially, even to Tennessee, and were satisfied that it benefited the whole country immensely, and with true patriotism abandoned all local prejudices, for the general welfare. Mr. Polk remained on the old anti-tariff ground. He proposed to Mr. Jones, that they should write letters to the people explaining their respective opinions, and fully discuss this great question in their approaching contest; and it is notorious that the contest was strictly tariff and anti-tariff, and that Mr. Polk came off second best.
That Mr. Polk ever has been, and still is, regarded as thoroughly opposed to all protection, is quite clear from the occurrences at the Baltimore Convention, where Mr. Polk was nominated and Mr. Van Buren defeated. Mr. Van Buren was not much of a tariff man, nor much of an anti-tariff man; he was not much of a proslavery man, nor much of an antislavery man, nor much of a decided man in any thing or on any ques. tion. He was not much for Texas, and he was not much against Texas.
He was not against the tariff, nor pledged up to his chin for Texas. How did he fare? He had a majority of the votes in the convention, and was, therefore, put under the ban of the two-thirds rule. He could not get two thirds of the votes, and after a course of proceeding which it would not become me to characterize in appropriate terms here, he was defeated, and Mr. Polk was chosen, the thorough anti-tariff and pro-Texas man!
This is all true. It is not more true that the battles of Brandywine and Germantown were fought in 1777, and that Washington and his army were here in the winter of 1778, than that Mr. Polk was brought forward because he was anti-tariff. If it had not been for his opposition to the tariff and his advocacy of the annexation of Texas, we should never have heard any
more of Mr. James K. Polk of Tennessee! And yet I have seen ban. ners floating in the air, in this intelligent county of Chester, on which were inscribed, “ POLK AND Dallas, AND THE TARIFF OF 1842!"
Why, is there no shame in men ? Mr. Polk openly avows that he is for reducing the duties on all imported goods to the level of the Compromise Act, as that law stood on the 29th of June, 1842. That is to say, to twenty per cent on every thing. He
says, “ Down with the tariff!” And his friends here say, “ Polk and the tariff for ever!” Is there no shame in men? Or do they suppose that they will be enabled to put such a veil of blindness over men's eyes, that, if the cry be right, that is, if it come from the right quarter, they will take the leap, lead where it may? If men could be misled by such means, if they could be deceived by such a miserable juggle as this, I should despair of the practicability of popular governments. If a man can thus stifle the voice of his conscience, if he can throw aside his integ. rity and patriotism, if he can forget the duty he owes to himself,
his family, his country, and his God, for such a shallow device as this, how can he be worthy of being a citizen of this free and happy country?
It becomes our duty, then, to expose, in every way and every . where, this infamous juggle. Let us put it down, and put it down at once and for ever. Let us declare it a fraud and a cheat. I declare it a fraud and a cheat; and if my voice could be heard throughout the whole of this country, I would say that, whoever he is, if he be a man of common information and common knowledge, and comes to an elector of this or any other State, and says that Mr. Polk is in favor of the tariff, he means to cheat and defraud that elector out of the proper exercise of the elective franchise! And after he has got him to vote for Mr. Polk, he will turn his back on him and say, " What intolerable gulls the people are!”
If this were not so serious a matter, it would be supremely ridiculous. But it is so serious a thing as to excite our deepest indignation, that men should try to get the honest votes of an honest community for the support of men and of measures which they know that honest community do not desire. We owe it, therefore, as a duty to our neighbors, to go among them; to explain this whole matter to them; to read Mr. Polk's declarations to them, and to undeceive them. We owe it to them as a sacred duty. We owe it to them inasmuch as we are all embarked in the same bottom. If they go down, we shall go down with them; we cannot prosper if they are ruined. For reason, and philosophy, and experience, and common sense, all teach that one portion of the community cannot flourish at the expense of another portion. Let us by every exertion possible, by the use of calm, sober reasoning and fair argument, bring our neighbors who are of opposite opinions to ours to see things in their proper light, and to induce them to give their support to those who are their friends and the friends of that policy which they desire themselves to see perpetuated.
I shall not go at great length into a discussion of the tariff. It is well understood in this part of the country. There would not be the slightest doubt in my mind of the result of the coming election in Pennsylvania, if the people could be made to understand what the issue really is. The tariff policy is founded
We have vast resources of natural wealth ; by these, if properly protected, and, as a natural consequence, properly and fully developed, we have the means of providing other vast sources of wealth, which will contribute, not to the emolument of a few, as has been falsely asserted, but to the prosperity and lasting happiness of every class in the community. We are in a situation that does not require us all to be farmers, or all lawyers, or all mechanics. There must necessarily be another class, that of manufacturers and operatives. And a system which shall create a demand for labor, which shall amply remunerate that labor, which shall thereby create such a wholesome demand for agricultural products, as to properly compensate the tiller of the ground for his toil, - a system which would enable the farmers to raise up their families (those families which are the main pride and boast of the country) in comfort and happiness, and thus to benefit and preserve all that is dear to them in the world, — such a system ought to be pursued, and no other.
I am addressing here, I suppose, an assembly, a large majority of whom are engaged in agricultural pursuits. And I put it to the farmer to say how the tariff affects him. There are many false prophets going to and fro in the land, who declare that the tariff benefits only the manufacturer, and that it injures the farmer. This is all sheer misrepresentation.
Every farmer must see, that it is his interest to find a near purchaser for his produce, to find a ready purchaser, and a purchaser at a good price. Now, the tariff supposes, that, if there be domestic manufactures carried on successfully, there will inevitably be those engaged therein who will consume a large amount of agricultural products, because they do not raise any for themselves, - a new class of consumers of the farmer's commodities, an enlarged class of consumers. Now if that general rule be false, then our policy is false. But if that general rule be true, then our policy is true. If it be for the interest of the Chester farmer, that there should be many consumers, that the number should be largely increased of those who do not raise agricultural products, then our policy is true; and if it be not for the interest, but for the injury, of the Chester farmer, that the number of those who consume but do not raise agricultural products should be increased, then our policy is false.
To illustrate this, I will here give an estimate that has been