« ZurückWeiter »
ture of Tennessee, in October, 1825. A resolution passed both houses, almost unanimously, proffering him to their fellow-citizens for the chief magistracy, and expatiating at large on his many distinguished qualifications for the office. This resolution was responded to by General Jackson, not doubting the right of a state legislature to nominate a president, by a resignation of his seat in the senate of the United States. In his address accompanying the resignation, he suggested an amendment of the constitution, which embracing an important principle supposed to be the guide of his conduct in the event of a successful issue of the contest, ought to be recorded in his own words. “I would im. pose a provision rendering any member of congress ineligible to office under the general government, during the term for which he was elected and for two years thereafter." The reasons assigned are," that congress would thereby in a considerable degree be free from that connection with the executive department which at present gives strong ground for apprehension and jealousy on the part of the people. That if this change in the constitution should not be obtained, and important appointments continue to devolve on the representatives in congress, corruption will become the order of the day, and through this channel the people may expect to be attacked in their constitutional so
sovereignty; and tyranny may well be apprehended to spring up on some favorable emergency. In conclusion,” he says, is it is due to myself to practice upon the maxims recommended to others.”
This public declaration of an important principle, calculated to secure the liberties of the people and the indepen. dence of the national legislature, accompanied with a solemn pledge that it should govern his conduct, was received with applause, and contributed much to the result of the canvass. The example of Tennessee was followed by several other states; and numerous conventions and meetings of the people, in different sections, and at various times, announced him as their candidate.
Thus early before the people, and unequivocally pledged as they supposed, to support an important constitutional principle, General Jackson's standard formed a rallying point, under which were collected all who had been opposed to the election of Mr. Adams, and all who had been disappointed in their expectations of office under him, constituting a majority of the nation. Of the thousand editors of newspapers throwing their daily and weekly lucubrations into the hands of almost every elector in the United States, an important object was to engage as many as possible in the cause.
In addition to the usual reward of the emoluments of the public printing, several of the most influential editors were made to expect lucrative appointments in case of success. A general belief that the offices and emoluments of the government would be distributed among the agents by whom the change should be brought about, in proportion to their zeal and talents in the cause, universally prevailed, and contributed much to its accomplishment.
Thus organized, the material point was to render the existing administration unpopular. The charge of a corrupt bargain between the president and sccretary of state was reiterated, and pertinaciously adhered to through the whole canvass; and this although a bargain of the same nature existed between the candidate, and those engaged in promoting his election throughout the union. The conduct of the executive was narrowly watched in order to find materials for censure. The Panama mission was represented as a weak and injudicious measure, occasioning a great expenditure to no valuable purpose.
The failure to obtain a participation in the British West India trade was imputed to the errors of the administration.
The general charge of a wasteful, extravagant, and unconstitutional expenditure of the public money was constantly kept up, and endeavored to be supported by the researches of the retrenchment committee of 1827-8.
The motto, retrenchment and reform, surmounted the standard of General Jackson, and the people were made to believe that, under him, economy would be the order of the day.
The omission of the president, in his message of December, 1827, to recommend the subjects of internal improvement, and protection to domestic industry, was noticed as a weak attempt to conciliate, or at least to avoid giving offense, to the party opposed to those measures, and without gaining an individual from the ranks of his competitor, greatly weakened the attachment of his friends. Mr. Adams, personally, had few zealous supporters. Many who were in favor of the principles of his administration, and of his re-election, and who did not believe General Jackson qualified for the office, would have been glad to have seen the presidency in other hands. From the commencement of his political life, until the year 1807, he had been of the party denominated federalists, a term in 1828, denoting a
disqualification for office. His conversion was sudden, and being attended soon afterwards by an appointment of minister to Russia, it was supposed that he had obtained executive favor, by representing that the party from whom he had seceded, entertained treasonable designs against the government. This suspicion prevailed in a considerable de. gree during the canvass, and was confirmed by subseqnent disclosures.
The charges against the administration, were promptly met and denied. Mr. Adams’long’experience, distinguished talents, and high character as a statesman, were placed in a prominent view, and contrasted with the opposite qualities of his rival. General Jackson's merits as a soldier, were admitted ; at the same time it was claimed, that they furnished no evidence of his capacity to perform the duties of the high office to which he aspired. On the other hand it was contended, that the frequent examples of arbitrary conduct, and repeated violations of the constitution, during his military career, which were brought forward and placed in bold relief, furnished strong grounds of apprehension that the liberties of the people would be unsafe in his hands. His conduct, from the commencement of his political life, was severely scanned, and every error placed in a conspicuous view. Towards the close of the contest, the private lives and characters of the* aspirants were scrutinized, and every fault and foible exposed.
The administration called to their aid a principle which had been adopted, and adhered to with a single exception, since the commencement of the government, that of reelecting the incumbent for a second term. This, it was claimed, was productive of much good ; giving consistency and stability to the executive, affording an opportunity for a fair experiment of its measures, and preventing the fre. quent returns of the cabals and intrigues, incident to a contest for the presidency.
A minute detail of the events of this election would form a dark page in the history of the republic. The contest ended in the choice of electors in November, 1828; and the result was a triumphant majority in the electoral col. leges for General Jackson; 178 for him, and 83 for Mr. Adams. The latter had the votes of New Jersey and Delaware, allthe New England votes, except one from Maine, sixteen from New York, and five from Maryland. All the other votes were for General Jackson.
Close of Mr. Adams' administration. Few important subjects of general concern engaged the attention of the twentieth congress at their second session. It was ascertained at its commencement, that the government was about to pass into the hands of other administrators. The present had little else to do but to close up their affairs, and deliver over the concerns of the nation into the hands of their successors. This they were desirous of doing at least with as much honor to themselves, as was compatible with the real state of the nation. The message and accompanying documents, communicated at the commencement of the session, were calculated to show that the business of the government had been well conducted for the last four years, and would pass into the hands of the succeeding administration, in a more prosperous condition, and less incumbered with debt, than when received by the present. The close of a presidential term, especially when attended with a change of administration, is a proper period to review the past, and place upon record the present condition of the nation, thereby to afford a ground to compare it with what it may be at the end of the succeeding term.
Treasury report. The treasury report gave a detailed view of the finances under Mr. Adams' administration, compared with that of the preceding four years, the mateal results of which were, that the absolute increase of revenue exceeded eighteen millions :
That the tariff of 1824, had considerably increased the receipts at the treasury:
That the consumption of foreign goods, had, on an average, been eighteen per cent a year more, than the preceding four years :
That all the accruing interest, and upwards of thirty millions of the principal of the public debt had been paid, leaving its amount on the 1st of January, 1830, $51,362,135, exclusive of seven millions due the bank of the United States, for which they own an equal amount of stock:
And that fourteen millions had been applied to objects of defense, and internal improvements of a permanent nature, furnishing a kind of national capital, for the benefit, not only of the present, but of succeeding generations.
From this view, the secretary infers that the nation, in its financial and commercial concerns, is in a prosperous and rapidly improving condition; claiming, however, no other merit for the administration, than an economical use, and a faithful collection and disbursement of the public moneys, for the objects for which they are appropriated by law.
The secretaries of war and the navy, also gave a detailed view, showing the prosperous condition of their respective charges. The secretary at war entered into a particular consideration of that branch of his department which related to Indian affairs. In his view, the practice of instructing and civilizing them by one set of agents, and thereby creating an attachment to their possessions; and sending them another, to deprive them of their lands, by every means short of the bayonet, was the most inconsistent and destructive policy that could be adopted. He recommends to provide a country, north and west of the Arkansas territory, sufficiently large for their comfortable subsistence ; to induce them, by liberal offers, to exchange their lands within the states and organized territories, for this country; to provide for their support, while emigrating and settling ; and to afford them the means of protection and civilization. This removal, he considers, should be entirely optional ; and that those who choose to remain, should enjoy protection in their persons and possessions, and be subject to the laws of the states and territories within which they resided.
Nomination of a judge postponed. Early in the session, the president nominated to the senate, Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky, as an associate justice of the supreme court, in the place of Mr. Trimble, who died the preceding August. The judiciary committee, to whom the nomination was referred, reported that it was inexpedient to act upon it at this session. The report occasioned a debate of a party character, between the friends of the present administration, and those who were to be their successors. claimed to be the duty of the president, under the obligations of the constitution, requiring him to see that the laws were faithfully executed, to fill all important vacancies, especially those of the supreme court, without any unnecessary delay; and equally obligatory upon the senate, promptly to act upon his nominations. That no other question could properly come before them, than the fitness of the person for the office; and no other delay be justifiable, but such as was nécessary to obtain information relating to his qualifications. That the high duties appertaining to the supreme court, at their annual session, required, as well for rect decision of cases, as for the satisfaction of the public, that that body should be full. The report was accepted, and the nomination indefinitely postponed. The session of