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- JAMES BUCHANAN
A RAPID SUMMARY OF HIS LIFE.
JAMES BUCHANAN, the candidate of the Democratic party, was born at Stony Batter, Franklin county, Pa., on the 23d of April, 1791. He is consequently at present in the 66th year of his age. His father, a native of Donegal, Ireland, emigrated to this country in 1783, and intermarried with Elizabeth Speer, daughter of a respectable farmer in Adams county, Pa. In 1798, Mr. Buchanan's father removed to Mercersburgh for the sake of educating his son, who made such progress, that, in his fourteenth year, he was admitted into Dickinson College, Cumberland county, then under the presidency of Dr. Davidson, a justly celebrated scholar. In 1809, he graduated, having been presented by unanimous vote to the Faculty for the highest collegiate honors; but Mr. Buchanan was also a backwoodsman of considerable renown; and it might have been questioned at this period, whether he would eventually become more distinguished for his mental attainments, or for the unerring precision of his aim with the rifle. On the 17th of Nov., 1812, being then just come of age, he was admitted to the bar; and at the legal profession soon obtained a position which made him the rival and honored antagonist of the Baldwins, Gibsons, Duncans, Breckinridges, and Dallasses, whose names stand out as beacons in the forensic history of that law-loving State. In his 26th year, he was entrusted and successfully with the sole defence of a judge arraigned upon articles of impeachment before the State Senate; and at thirty he commanded the largest and most extensive practice of any lawyer in Pennsylvania. About this time he was elected to Congress, and served for ten years, after which he declined a reëlection. In 1831, he retired from his profession, having accumulated a sufficiency; and never afterwards appeared, except in the case of a poor widow, whose whole property was at stake, and for the vindication of whose title he refused all recompense. But we anticipate our story. In 1814, he volunteered as a private soldier in the war then raging with Great Britain—and was elected to the State Legislature in the same year. In 1815, he was reëlected, and took part against the United States Bank. In 1820, he first entered Congress, and then took his stand against the Missouri Compromise, passed in the preceding session, and also was among the first, if not the very first, to call attention to the importance of Cuba, as a hereditament in which the United States had a residuary interest. Shortly after Mr. Buchanan's voluntary retirement from Congress, he was again called to the public service by Gen. Jackson, who appointed him Minister to Russia, with which country, at the time, our diplomatic relations were in an extremely embarrassed and delicate condition. In this mission he negotiated the first commercial treaty ever made between the United States and the Czar. On his return, in 1833, he was elected to the United States Senate, and did important service in sustaining the policy and measures of his old friend Andrew Jackson, then most violently assailed. In 1836, he supported the “expunging resolutions,” which Mr. Benton introduced to vindicate the name and honor of “Old Hickory.” In 1844, he was made Secretary of State under the administration of James K. Polk; and when he left that post, an empire had been added to the national domain as the result of the war with Mexico, and the threatened rupture with England had been averted in a manner highly honorable and satisfactory to this government. On the accession of Mr. Pierce, in 1852, Mr. Buchanan was induced to accept the post of Minister to England; and while discharging his duties there, took part in the celebrated Ostend Conference, which was a meeting of our foreign ministers for the arrangement of a plan of definite and harmonious action. Shortly after his resignation and return, he received, on the 2d of June, 1856, the nomination of the Democratic Convention assembled at Cincinnati, an honor which he cordially and gratefully accepted. In his private life, he is distinguished for the method and integrity of his habits; his manners are dignified without coldness, and grave without any affectation of superiority. His charities have been judicious and extensive, and, whether elected or not to the highest office in the gift of a free people, his memory will long survive in the grateful recollection of the many widows and orphans who stand indebted to his bounty.
DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM PUT FORTH AT CINCIN. NATI, MAY 22, 1856.
JResolved, That the American Democracy place their trust in the Intelligence, the patriotism, and the discriminating justice of the American people. Resolved, That we regard this as a distinctive feature of our political creed, which we are proud to maintain before the world as a great moral element in a form of government springing from and upheld by the popular will; and we contrast it with the creed and practice of Federalism, under whatever name or form, which seeks to palsy the will of the constituent, and which conceives no imposture too monstrous for the popular credulity. Resolved, therefore, That, entertaining these views, the Democratic party of this Union, through their delegates assembled in general Convention, coming together in a spirit of concord, of devotion to the doctrines and faith of a free representative government, and appealing to their fellow-citizens for the rectitude of their intentions, renew and reassert before the American people, the declarations of principles avowed by them, when, on former occasions, in general Convention, they have presented their candidates for the popular suffrage. 1. That the Federal Government is one of limited power, derived solely from the Constitution, and the grants of power made therein ought to be strictly construed by all the departments and agents of the Government that it is inexpedient and dangerous to exercise doubtful constitutional powers. 2. That the Constitution does not confer upon the General Government the power to commence and carry on a general system of internal improvements. 3. That the Constitution does not confer authority upon the Federal Government, directly or indirectly, to assume the debts of the several States, contracted for local and internal improvements, § other State purposes, nor would such assumption be just or expeient. 4. That justice and sound policy forbid the Federal Government to foster one branch of industry to the detriment of another, or to cherish the interests of one portion of our common country; that every citizen and every section of the country has a right to demand and insist upon an equality of rights and privileges, and a complete and ample protection of persons and property from domestic violence and foreign aggression. 5. That it is the duty of every branch of the Government to enforce and practice the most rigid economy in conducting our public affairs, and that no more revenue ought to be raised than is required to defray the necessary expenses of the Government, and gradual but certain extinction of the public debt.
6. That the proceeds of the public lands ought to be sacredly applied to the national objects specified in the Constitution, and that we are opposed to any law for the distribution of such proceeds among the States, as alike inexpedient in policy and repugnant to the Constitution. 7. That Congress has no power to charter a National Bank; that we believe such an institution one of deadly hostility to the best interests of this country, dangerous to our Republican institutions and the liberties of the people, and calculated to place the business of the country within the control of a consecrated money power and above the laws and will of the people; and the results of the Democratic legislation in this and all other financial measures, upon which issues have been made between the two political parties of the country, have demonstrated to candid and practical men of all parties their soundness, safety and utility in all business pursuits. 8. That the separation of the moneys of the Government from banking institutions is indispensable to the safety of the funds of the Government and the rights of the people. 9. That we are decidedly opposed to taking from the President the qualified Veto power, by which he is enabled, under restrictions and responsibilities amply sufficient to guard the public interests, to suspend the passage of a bill whose merits can not secure the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, and House of Representa tives, until the judgment of the people can be obtained thereon; and which has saved the American people from the corrupt and tyrannical dominion of the Bank of the United States, and from a corrupting system of general internal improvements. 10. That the liberal principles embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, and sanctioned in the Constitution, which makes ours the land of liberty and the asylum of the oppressed of every nation, have ever been cardinal principles in the Democratic faith; and every attempt to abridge the privilege of becoming citizens and the owners of soil among us ought to be resisted with the same spirit which swept the alien and sedition laws from our statute books. And whereas, Since the foregoing declaration was uniformly adopted by our predecessors in National Conventions, an adverse political and religious test has been secretly organized by a party claiming to be exclusively Americans, and it is proper that the American Democracy should clearly define its relations thereto; and declares its determined opposition to all secret political societies, by whatever name they may be called. Resolved, That the foundation of this Union of States having been laid in, and its prosperity, expansion, and pre-eminent example in free government, built upon entire freedom of matters of religious concernment, and no respect of persons in regard to rank, or place of birth, no party can justly be deemed national, constitutional, or in accordance with American principles, which bases its exclusive organization upon religious opinions and accidental birthplace. And hence a political crusade in the nineteenth century,