Abbildungen der Seite

ment. In Congress the event gave opportunity for much sounding declamation, in which the Southern members participated with as much enthusiasm as those from the North. At the same time when the Abolitionists sought to turn all this philosophy to some more practical application nearer home, the attempt was bitterly denounced at Washington and by the Democratic press generally. A striking instance of this inconsistency is afforded by a speech of Senator Foote. "The age of tyrants and slavery," said he, in allusion to France, "is drawing to a close. The happy period to be signalized by the universal emancipation of man from the fetters of civil oppression, and the recognition in all countries of the great principles of popular sovereignty, equality, and brotherhood, is at this moment visibly commencing." A few days later, when Mr. Mann, the attorney for Drayton and Sayres, quoted these very words in palliation of his clients' offence, he was peremptorily checked by the judge for uttering "inflammatory" words that might "endanger our institutions."

Page 106. Candidate for the Presidency.

In the campaign of 1848 the Whigs determined to have substantially no platform or programme at all, in order to retain the Southern element in their party. Accordingly a colorless candidate was selected in the person of General Zachary Taylor, who, it was said, had never voted or made any political confession of faith. He was nominated as the "people's candidate," and men of all parties were invited to support him. He refused to pledge himself to any policy or enter into any details, unless on some such obsolete issue as that of a National Bank. After it became apparent that his followers were chiefly Whigs, he declared himself a Whig also, "although not an ultra one." He particularly avoided compromising himself on the slavery question. When, in the beginning of 1847, Mr. J. W. Taylor, of the Cincinnati Signal, questioned him on the Wilmot Proviso, he answered in such vague phrases that the confused editor interpreted them first as favoring and finally as opposing

the measure. This declaration, together with the candidate's announcement that he was a Whig, was taken in the North to mean that he was opposed to the extension of slavery. The fact that he was a Southerner and a slaveholder was sufficient to reassure the South.

Page 108. Pinto.

Pseudonym of Mr. Charles F. Briggs (1810-1877), the same who was afterwards associated with Edgar A. Poe on the Broadway Review.

Page 110.

"Thet darned Proviso."

August 8, 1846, the President addressed a message to both Houses asking for $2,000,000 to conclude a peace with Mexico and recompense her for her proposed cession of territory. On the same day McKay, of North Carolina, introduced a bill into the lower House for this purpose. David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, a Democrat and a zealous friend of annexation, moved as a proviso that slavery should forever be excluded from the new territory. The motion was suddenly and unexpectedly carried by a vote of 83 to 54. It did not come to a vote in the Senate, for John Davis, of Massachusetts, talked it to death by a long speech in its favor. Nevertheless it became at once a burning question in both North and South. The more pronounced anti-slavery men of the former section tried to make it the political test in the coming campaign. The refusal of the Whig party to take up the question caused large accessions to the old Liberty party, now known as the Free-Soil, and later to become the Republican party.

Page 128. Faneuil Hall - Colonel Wright.

Cf. notes to p.


Page 133. Ashland, etc.

It hardly need be said that Ashland was the home of Henry Clay; North Bend, of Harrison; Marshfield, of

Webster; Kinderhook, of Van Buren; and Baton Rouge, of General Taylor.

Page 138. "Pheladelphy nomernee."

The Philadelphia nominee was General Zachary Taylor.

Page 139. "A Wig, but without bein' ultry." Cf. note to p. 106.

Page 140. "Mashfiel' speech."

The speech here referred to is the one delivered by Webster at Marshfield, September 1, 1848. While he affirmed that the nomination of Taylor was "not fit to be made," he nevertheless declared that he would vote for him, and advised his friends to do the same. "The sagacious, wise, and far-seeing doctrine of availability," said he, "lay at the root of the whole matter."

Page 140. Choate.

Into none of his political addresses did Rufus Choate throw so much of his heart and soul as into those which upheld the failing policy of the Whig party from 1848 to 1852.

Page 141. Buffalo.

On August 9, 1848, the convention containing the consolidated elements of constitutional opposition to the extension of slavery met at Buffalo. The party, calling itself the FreeSoil party now, declared its platform to be "no more slave States and no more slave territory." Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams were the candidates selected. Van Buren was chosen because it was thought he might attract Democratic votes. His opposition to the extension of slavery was not very energetic. In his letter accepting the nomination he commended the convention for having taken no decisive stand against slavery in the District of Columbia.

Page 147. "To act agin the law.”

The slaveholding States early legislated to forbid education and free religious meetings to slaves and free people of color. Stroud's Sketch of the Slave Laws (Philadelphia, 1827), shows that the principal acts of this character date from the period between 1740 and 1770. This was long before the oldest anti-slavery societies were organized. Thus these laws cannot be represented as having been the result of impertinent and intemperate agitation on the part of Northern Abolitionists. They were frequently defended on this ground in the heat of the anti-slavery conflict.


Page 231. The Cotton Loan.

In 1861 a magnificent scheme was devised for bolstering up the Confederate government's credit. The planters signed agreements subscribing a certain portion of the next cotton and tobacco crop to the government. Using this as a basis for credit, the government issued bonds and placed about $15,000,000 in Europe, chiefly in England. A much greater loan might have been negotiated had it not suddenly appeared that the agreements made by the planters were almost worthless. By the end of the year the plan was quietly and completely abandoned. The English bondholders had the audacity to apply for aid to the United States after the war.

Page 233. Memminger.

Charles Gustavus Memminger, although he had opposed nullification, was one of the leaders in the secession movement which began in his own State, South Carolina. On the formation of the Confederate government he was made Secretary of the Treasury. Although not without experience in the management of his State's finances, he showed little skill in his new position.

Page 234. "Cornfiscatin' all debts."

After the failure of the Produce Loan and one or two other measures on a similarly grand scale, the Confederate government resorted to simpler means. Chief among these were the acts confiscating the property of and all debts due to alien enemies. No great number of reputable persons in the South could resolve to compound or wipe out debts involving their personal honor, so the results of the scheme were meagre.

Page 240. Mason and Slidell.

In the latter part of 1861 President Davis undertook to send agents or commissioners to England and France to represent the Southern cause. The men chosen were James M. Mason, of Virginia, and John Slidell, of Louisiana. On the 12th of October they left Charleston, eluded the blockading squadron, and landed at Havana. Thence they embarked for St. Thomas on the British mail-steamer Trent. On the way the Trent was stopped by Captain Wilkes, of the American man-of-war San Jacinto, and the Confederate agents were transferred as prisoners to the latter vessel. The British Government at once proclaimed the act "a great outrage," and sent a peremptory demand for the release of the prisoners and reparation. At the same time, without waiting for any explanation, it made extensive preparations for hostilities. It seemed and undoubtedly was expedient for the United States to receive Lord Russell's demand as an admission that impressment of British seamen found on board neutral vessels was unwarrantable. Acting on the demand as an admission of the principle so long contended for by the United States, Mr. Seward disavowed the act of Wilkes and released the commissioners. But it was held then and has since been stoutly maintained by many jurists that the true principles of international law will not justify a neutral vessel in transporting the agents of a belligerent on a hostile mission. On the analogy of despatches they should be con

« ZurückWeiter »