Abbildungen der Seite

The laws of England, which have been defiled by her monarchs with penalties for every crime, sanguinary as the code of Draco, authorize the penalty of death in unnumbered instances, where the daily practice of her Courts show that it is necessary for justice sake to preserve the life. The law of High Treason in particular; under which these hideous murders have been committed, is as old as the reign of Edward III, and ordains capital punishment for conspiring the death of the King! If the great Jefferson in the sincere respect of a philosophic lawgiver for the rights of posterity, and with a sacred deference to the progress of opinion, questioned the power and doubted the propriety of a legislature's enacting laws binding for more than one generation, what shall we think in our land and in an age subsequent to Jefferson, of the horrid criminality of these bloody executions in Canada, under a law some hundreds of years old and for an offence an American and a Republican cannot commit. No, the spirit of murder is essentially combined with the spirit of British Monarchy. The sanguinary selfishness of its fear of light, truth, justice and patriotism, has traced its long long career in the pages of British history in the best blood of its own land—and it is not to be borne that the monster appetite is now to be satiated with American and Republican victims. We say American without especial reference to the natives of the United States who perished at its bidding, but also of the more friendless Canadians, natives of the same soil, children of the same sun, and inheriting the same sympathies and associations as ourselves.

We attach no blame to the People of England for these atrocities. Their influence, wherever it has found its way into the legislation of their country, has been-like that of the people in all countries-uniformly beneficial, enlightened, and humane. The influence of her Monarchy has been, on the contrary, as uniformly bad, and its elements of evil, accelerated with all the impetus of power and energy, have, unhappily for a large portion of mankind, gone so much farther, as her history records, in the infusion of crime and guilt, and the adulteration of the good, arising from the opposing influence, that the British system-whether of politics or of legislation, has been rendered a compound monster, in which the darkness greatly predominates over the light, and whose operation has been almost uniformly maleficent on the destinies of the human race wherever it has been tried. We have not now space or heart to enumerate the holocaust of illustrious names comprising the brightest and the best of Britains' children, which has been sacrificed to appease and comfort this Moloch of her Monarchy.

What a noble army of martyrs, yet and that soon, to be honored as they deserve, would not these names compose; from the Cobhams and Balls of her early history, to the Russells and Sidneys, or Emmets and Lounts of her modern annals, whose fame will shine in brightness undiminished, when the loathing and wrath of aroused and free opinion shall have prostrated forever the system that destroyed them, because it could not exist in the same age with so much of purity and worth. The inexpressible indignation and disgust which the perpetration of these atrocities in this hemis phere has occasioned throughout the whole length and breadth of this land-where public opinion is so free and healthy, that it may be said to resemble the voice of posterity, may image forth the reaction of that tide of virtuous feeling that ere long will swell up in a strength that will at once atone and avenge the whole. Yes! let it go forth.-Never, never will the loathing which the judicial murders of these hapless Canadians has attached, in all enlightened opinion, to the British Monarchy be effaced, nor the indignant abhorrence they have excited, subside until a power thus disgustingly alien to the feelings, the interests, and the sympathies as well as the soil of freemen, shall have been utterly expelled from the broad expanse of the North American continent, whose free soil its odious and cruel policy has thus foully polluted.

[blocks in formation]

THE Twenty-Fifth Congress has come and gone. It has been a violent, embittered, and factious one; and it has exhibited many a scene which can afford very little satisfaction to the sincere lover of his country and her institutions to contemplate or to recur to. But it is gone, with its good and its evil, to take its place in history -with all its aspirations of dishonest ambition, all its little interests, all its passions, its intrigues, its treacheries, its crimes-together, too, with all the features of a brighter character which it may also have exhibited. Through all the stormy excitements of the hour, the wheel of time has still rolled swiftly and steadily on; and now, as we look back upon the history of the last two years-like a distant view of an agitated expanse of water-while the tossing froth of its waves is no longer distinguished in the broader scope of vision which the eye takes in, and the murmur of their fretful dashing can no longer reach the ear, the fixed rocks of great principles, planted firmly in the midst and towering high above, arrest the attention only the more distinctly and the more strikingly, than they could before. We propose to take a rapid review of this period. The contrast between its commencement and its close will be found pregnant with valuable political instruction.

There have been three sessions of the Twenty-Fifth Congress. Throughout the whole, the Administration has been in real minority in the lower, and in majority in the upper House-reversing the relative positions of parties during a portion of the previous Administration. Nothing has therefore been done on the great question which has now, like the rod of Aaron, swallowed up every minor one, the Divorce of Bank and State. It has been a period of transition, of preparation, of discussion, previous to the final settlement of the public opinion, which will develope itself in action, by establishing a permanent fiscal system for the country, at the next Congress

Throughout this period there has been no regular, legalized and organized system in existence. The public finances have been kept and administered almost wholly at the discretion and under the responsibility of the Executive, who has in vain repeatedly sought to be relieved from the burthen. The former system, resting upon the banking system of the States, had exploded, from the internal action of its own vicious principles, and only encumbered the country and the Government with its ruins. By the universal suspension of the banks, in May, 1837, not only did the Government find itself suddenly cut off from all the existing provision for its support and for its immense expenditure, of which it was impossible to arrest the progress, but all the existing law for the custody of its accruing revenue suddenly expired by its own limitation; and upon the Executive was thrown the vast responsibility of organizing a new system on the spur of the occasion, and of administering it, in the midst of all the clamor of faction, and the all but revolutionary agitation of panic with which the country was filled, at its own discretion and its own peril, unaided by any other checks of legal provision but its own special regulations, and its own unresting and, so far as possible under such circumstances, omnipresent vigilance.

The events of that memorable year of the suspension are already history. No Administration under our Government has ever been subjected to so severe an ordeal. It met fearlessly and firmly all the responsibility of the crisis. It never yielded or quailed an instant. It never suffered itself to be forced or tempted to recognize any other than the specie standard of value, as designed by the sagacious founders of our institutions. The Post Office Department, in despite of "mobs of gentlemen," headed by distinguished members of Congress, resolutely adhered to the determination promptly announced by it, to receive and disburse gold and silver alone in its transactions. And the Treasury Department, by the expedient of receiving in payment its own protested drafts on the deposite banks, and by making the most of the small stock of specie on hand, was enabled successfully to resist the powerful pressure that was made upon it, to compel it to admit into its operations the paper of the suspended banks; until the convocation of Congress, at the Extra Session, relieved it by the issue of Treasury notes, at the same time that it relieved the institutions and individuals indebted to the Government by liberal allowances of time.

But it is not to be denied that during that period, faithful as was the Administration to itself, to its cause and its creed, its party at large throughout the country became dreadfully confused and disorganized. The great majority of the old local leaders upon whom it had been long accustomed to rely, whether from having had the foundations of their democracy sapped by the long possession of party ascendancy and power, or corrupted by prosperity and by the

seductive blandishments of "the Credit System,' either openly fell away from the simple and pure original principles of their political faith, or by their indecision and doubting lukewarmness produced no less injurious an effect on the public sentiment of their respective spheres of local influence. Great numbers also of the incumbents of office under the Administration, misunderstanding the crisis and mistaking its probable issue, were seen to imitate the instinct of the rats that abandon the falling house; and either openly or indirectly were able by their very official positions to do it incalculable injury, in sowing dissension, distraction and panic, at the very moment when, most of all, all should have been union, firmness and courage.

The Opposition, on the other hand, were full of confidence and energy. The fate of the Administration was regarded by them as sealed the Latium of power, their promised land, flowing with milk and honey, now full in view! Here was the legitimate result of its "experiments," of its "tampering with the currency,"-here the fulfilment of every prediction of disaster,-here the practical evidence and illustration, equally of its political profligacy, and of its ignorant incompetence for the responsibilities of government! Their press surpassed itself in thundering daily against it the most vehement philippics of denunciation, mingled with the most exulting peans of triumph. Election after election brought up against it overwhelming majorities; and on the part of the Opposition the only question was, which of their leaders was to be rewarded, for their long struggle in minority, with the Presidential nomination, as their party candidate-such nomination being regarded as but the formal preliminary to the popular election which was to be carried, as matter of course, almost by default.

On the assemblage of Congress the eyes of the country were turned with intense anxiety upon the seat of government,-when the President's Message went forth, with an electric effect, through the length and breadth of the land. It cut a clean swathe as it went, fat and wide, through the midst of the parties. It was immediately recognized by the Democratic party as a sign of power, which could not fail to lead them again to victory. Bold and strong as it was, it was promptly responded to, as an appeal that touched the very inner heart of the Democracy; and though a very small proportion hesitated and wavered for a time, and hung back in the rear of the great popular movement of opinion of which it was at the same time a representative and a guide, yet as a whole the immense majority of that party accepted it immediately, as the true basis for that reorganization rendered necessary by the recent political earthquake. It effected, too, another important object. The unnatural and ill-omened union, which had grown out of peculiar causes to which it is unnecessary here to refer, between Northern Federalism,

with its National Bank, its Internal Improvements, its Tariff and its high notions of strong and splendid consolidated government, and the Southern ultra State-Rights school of politics, which could approach the former only on the principle of the meeting of extremes, that incongruous union was instantly broken by it, as by some potent spell-word which it had long been awaiting. The eminent individual who stood before the country as peculiarly representing and embodying the political creed of that school, instantly was seen to feel and recognize its power; and promptly, and in manner worthy the magnanimity of the man and of the act, gave in his adhesion to the principles of that document, and his powerful support to the policy which it recommended, in timely anticipation of that general movement of Southern opinion which the eagle eye of his intellectual vision could not but foresee as an inevitable certainty.

During the Extra Session one of the finest debates of modern parliamentary history took place in Congress, in both of its branches, but more particularly in the Senate; and the movement of the waters, begun there, extended itself in every direction, like the spreading ripple, throughout the country. The lawyers of the Opposition had a strong prima facie case against the Administration. The suspension, the distress, the panic, were in full vogue, and supplied the amplest materials of denunciation and plausible argument, against the party whose policy, it was maintained, had naturally developed itself to these consequences. Relief was the cry-regulation of the currency-a National Bank! The bank alone-with the expulsion of the party in power-could afford the panacea which was to heal all the disorders and sufferings of the times. It alone could bring back a resumption of specie payments-it alone restore order to the deranged foreign and domestic exchanges of the country-it alone reanimate its paralyzed industry and commerce! Meantime it were indeed the unpardonable sin to refuse the moral sanction of the Government to the suspension of the banks, by withdrawing from them the use of the public revenues, and the agency for the custody and disbursement of them, and by attempting to make any tyrannical distinction between their depreciated paper currency and real substantial money!

On the other hand, the position and policy of the Administration were admirably sustained in argument by its friends, sorely at disadvantage as they were placed by the circumstances of the times. We need not here retrace the grounds of the argument, which was carried on with unrelaxing vigor through both sessions of Congress. Towards the close of the latter, its influence and the effects of the firm attitude pursued by the Democratic party, began already to make themselves apparent. In spite of the most strenuous efforts to resist it on the part of the paper money interest, under the espe

« ZurückWeiter »