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since he has been a candidate for the office of President has been irreproachable. I hear no intrigue imputed to him, no contumelious treatment of rivals. I do not find him making promises or holding out hopes to any men or any party. I do not find him putting forth any pretensions of his own, and therefore I think of him very much as he seems to think of himself, that he is an honest man, of an independent mind and of upright intentions. And as for the subject of his qualifications for the Presidency, he has himself nothing to say about it.
And now, friends and fellow-townsmen, with respect to his political opinions and relations, I can say at once, that I believe him to be a Whig; I believe him to hold to the main doctrines of the Whig party. To think otherwise would be to impute to him a degree of tergiversation and fraudulent deception, of which I suppose him to be entirely incapable.
Gentlemen, it is worth our while to consider in what manner General Taylor has become a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. It would be a great mistake to suppose that he was made such merely by the nomination of the Philadelphia Convention. He had been nominated for the Presidency in a great many States, by various conventions and meetings of the people, a year before the convention at Philadelphia assembled. The whole history of the world shows, whether in the most civilized or the most barbarous ages, that the affections and admiration of mankind are at all times easily carried away towards successful military achievements. The story of all republics and of all free governments shows this. We know in the case now before us, that so soon as brilliant success had attended General Taylor's operations on the Rio Grande, at Palo Alto, and Monterey, spontaneous nominations of him sprang up.
And here let me say, that, generally, these were Whig nominations. Not universally, but generally, these nominations, made at various times before the meeting of the Philadelphia Convention, were Whig nominations. General Taylor was esteemed, from the moment that his military achievements brought him into public notice, as a Whig general. You all remember, that when we were discussing his merits in Congress, upon the question of giving thanks to the army under his coi mand, and to himself, among other objections, the friends :
supporters of Mr. Polk's administration denounced him as being, and because he was, a Whig general. My friends near me, whom I am happy to see here, belonging to the House of Representatives, will remember that a leading man of the party of the administration declared in his place in Congress, that the policy of the administration, connected with the Mexican war, would never prosper, till the President recalled those Whig generals, Scott and Taylor. The policy was a Democratic policy. The argument was, that the men to carry out this policy should be Democratic men. The officers to fight the battles should be Democratic officers, and on that ground, the ordinary vote of thanks was refused to General Taylor, on the part of the friends of the administration.
Let me remark, in the next place, that there was no particular purpose connected with the advancement of slavery entertained, generally, by those who nominated him. As I have said, they were Whig nominations, more in the Middle and Northern than in the Southern States, and by persons who never entertained the slightest desire, by his nomination, or by any other means, to extend the area of slavery of the human race, or the influence of the slaveholding States in the councils of the nation. The Quaker city of Philadelphia nominated General Taylor, the Whigs all over the Union nominated him, with no such view. A great convention was assembled in New York, of highly influential and respectable gentlemen, very many of them well known to me, and they nominated General Taylor with no such view. General Taylor's nomination was hailed, not very extensively, but by some enthusiastic and not very far-seeing people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There were, even among us, in our own State, Whigs quite early enough, certainly, in manifesting their confidence in this nomination; a little too early, it may be, in uttering notes of exultation for the anticipated triumph. It would have been better if they had waited.
Now the truth is, Gentlemen, - and no man can avoid seeing it, unless, as sometimes happens, the object is too near our eyes to be distinctly discerned, - the truth is, that in these nominations, and also in the nomination at Philadelphia, in these conventions, and also in the convention at Philadelphia, General Taylor was nominated exactly for this reason; - that, believing him to be a
Whig, they thought he could be chosen more easily than any other Whig. This is the whole of it. That sagacious, wise, farseeing doctrine of availability lies at the bottom of the whole matter. So far, then, from imputing any motive to these conventions over the country, or to the convention in Philadelphia, as operating on a majority of the members, to promote slavery by the nomination of General Taylor, I do not believe a word of it, - not one word. I see that one part of what is called the Platform of the Buffalo Convention says that the candidates before the public were nominated under the dictation of the slave power. I do not believe a word of it.
In the first place, a very great majority of the convention at Philadelphia was composed of members from the Free States. By a very great majority they might have nominated any body they chose. But the Free States did not choose to nominate a Free State man, or a Northern man. Even our neighbors, the States of New England, with the exception of New Hampshire and a part of Maine, neither proposed nor concurred in the nomination of
Vermont would hear of nothing but the nomination of a Southern and slaveholding candidate. Connecticut was of the same mind, and so was Rhode Island. The North made no demand, nor presented any request for a Northern candidate, nor attempted any union among themselves for the purpose of promoting the nomination of such a candidate. They were content to take their choice among the candidates of the South. It is preposterous, therefore, to pretend that a candidate from the Slave States has been forced upon the North by Southern dictation.
In the next place, it is true that there were persons from New England who were extremely zealous and active in procuring the nomination of General Taylor, but they were men who would cut off their right hands before they would do any thing to promote slavery in the United States. I do not admire their policy, indeed I have very little respect for it, understand that; but I acquit them of bad motives. I know the leading men in that convention. I think I understand the motives that governed them. Their reasoning was this : “ General Taylor is a Whig; not eminent in civil life, not known in civil life, but still a man of sound Whig principles. Circumstances have given him a reputation and éclat in the country. If he shall be the Whig
candidate, he will be chosen; and with him there will come into the two houses of Congress an augmentation of Whig strength. The Whig majority in the House of Representatives will be increased. The Democratic majority in the Senate will be diminished. That was the view, and such was the motive, however wise or however unwise, that governed a very large majority of those who composed the Convention at Philadelphia. In my opinion, this was a wholly unwise policy; it was short-sighted and temporizing on questions of great principles. But I acquit those who adopted it of any such motives as have been ascribed to them, and especially of what has been ascribed to them in a part of this Buffalo Platform.
Such, Gentlemen, are the circumstances connected with the nomination of General Taylor. I only repeat, that those who had the greatest agency originally in bringing him before the people were Whig conventions and Whig meetings in the several States, Free States, and that a great majority of that convention which nominated him in Philadelphia was from the Free States, and might have rejected him if they had chosen, and selected any body else on whom they could have united.
This is the case, Gentlemen, as far as I can discern it, and exercising upon it as impartial a judgment as I can form,—this is the case presented to the Whigs, so far as respects the personal fitness and personal character of General Taylor, and the cir. cumstances which have caused his nomination. If we were weighing the propriety of nominating such a person to the Presidency, it would be one thing; if we are considering the expediency, or I may say the necessity (which to some minds may seem to be the case), of well-meaning and patriotic Whigs supporting him after he is nominated, that is quite another thing.
This leads us to the consideration of what the Whigs of Mas. sachusetts are to do, or such of them as do not see fit to support General Taylor. Of course they must vote for General Cass, or they must vote for Mr. Van Buren, or they must omit to vote at all. I agree that there are cases in which, if we do not know in what direction to move, we ought to stand still till we do. I admit that there are cases in which, if one does not know what to do, he had better not do he knows not what. But on a question so important to ourselves and the country, on a question of a popular election under constitutional forms, in
which it is impossible that every man's private judgment can prevail, or every man's private choice succeed, it becomes a question of conscientious duty and patriotism, what it is best to do upon the whole.
Under the practical administration of the Constitution of the United States, there cannot be a great range of personal choice in regard to the candidate for the Presidency. In order that their votes may be effective, men must give them for some one of those who are prominently before the public. This is the necessary result of our forms of government and of the provisions of the Constitution. The people are therefore brought some. times to the necessity of choosing between candidates, neither of whom would be their original, personal choice.
Now, what is the contingency? What is the alternative presented to the Whigs of Massachusetts? In my judgment, fel. low-citizens, it is simply this; the question is between General Taylor and General Cass. And that is the only question. I am no more skilled to foresee political occurrences than others. I judge only for myself. But, in my opinion, there is not the least probability of any other result than the choice of General Taylor or General Cass. I know that the enthusiasm of a newformed party, that the popularity of a new-formed name, without communicating any new-formed idea, may lead men to think that the sky is to fall, and that larks are suddenly to be taken. I entertain no such expectations. I speak without disrespect of the Free Soil party. I have read their platform, and though I think there are some unsound places in it, I can stand on it pretty well. But I see nothing in it both new and valuable. “ What is valuable is not new, and what is new is not val. uable." If the term Free Soil party, or Free Soil men, designate those who are fixed, and unalterably fixed, in favor of the restriction of slavery, are so to-day and were so yesterday, and have been so for some time, then I hold myself to be as good a Free Soil man as any of the Buffalo Convention. I know who is to put beneath my feet a freer soil than that upon which I have stood ever since I have been in public life? I pray to know who is to make my lips freer than they always have been, or to inspire into my breast a more resolute and fixed determination to resist the advances and encroachments of the slave power, than has inhabited it since I for the first time