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saic, and attracted, to an unwonted degree, the attentive admiration of an audience which it is proverbially difficult to control.
Mr. Dayton's first speech was in vindication of the character and credit of the federal government, from the aspersions which the temporary repudiation of some of the states had brought upon it.
In the debates on the Oregon difficulties, the tariff
, the annexation of Texas, and the Mexican war, he took conservative and patriotic ground. When the treaty with Mexico was sent into the senate, Mr. Dayton was the first senator on the Whig side of that body who broke ground in favor of its ratification, and was one of the few who voted for it. He did not approve of the treaty itself, either in principle or in its several details. But like many others, he was wearied with the unrighteous war that had so long been waged, and hailed the treaty as by far the lesser evil. “I frankly admit,” said he, in his manly and eloquent address upon that occasion
“I frankly admit that the treaty is bad enough. I admit that it was no choice of mine. I admit that it was the selection of an alternative—one evil in preference only to a greater evil. We have been told here that if we did not distrust ourselves and our power, we might meet the difficulty ; that one-third of the senate can defeat the treaty now and through all time. I grant it. that if that third consist of those gentlemen who have denounced the war from the beginning as unjust and iniquitous—if they, under these circumstances, defeat such a treaty and continue such a war, they ought to feel as sure of their course as though it was written down for them by the light of a sunbeam. We have been forced from the beginning to deal with alternatives. In the beginning of the war, we granted supplies, although driven
to the alternative of admitting under protest that the war commenced by the act of Mexico. In the prosecution of the war, we have continued supplies rather than see our armies defeated; and now, at the end of the war, we are willing to vote for a peace with some territory, rather than take the chance of a continuance of the war, and more territory at its close. It has been with us a choice of
But I say
alternatives from first to last. I will not defend this treaty as a mere matter of bargain. I care not whether the senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster) be right or wrong in the view which he has taken of this as a matter of bargain. I care not whether New Mexico be near to us or far from us; I care not how isolated may be its position; I care not though her plains be barren, though her hills be desolate, though every drop of water which trickles from her mountains be lost in her sands; not any nor all of these considerations have controlled my action on this subject.”
In discussing the future government and destiny of the territory to be ceded by Mexico, as respects the right of congress to legislate, he planted himself unqualifiedly upon the same ground which the patriot Jefferson assumed in 1787—the ground which the great mass of the Whig party of that era occupied. Said he,
“ It does seem to me, Mr. President, (I say it with great respect,) that if there ever were any doubts on this question as to the power of congress to legislate with respect to slavery in the territories, those doubts must be held to be settled by the past conduct of the government.
“But I will now say again, that I trust and hope that, as regards the territory north of thirty-two degrees, which we may acquire from Mexico by virtue of this treaty, this question may be at rest. I hold it to be an act of wisdom, as well as of patriotism, to agitate it only when its agitation becomes matter of necessity, and with a view to practical results. But let the north bear it in mind-let it never be forgotten, that if the question be not settled now, it will probably be presented hereafter in all its terrible reality. The line will probably be pushed, in future, further north; it will go so far north as to incorporate territory which will clearly be slave territory-territory where slaves may be employed, not in agricultural pursuits only, but in the production of the precious metalsthe worst, the most fatal of all species of production that can curse the industry or blight the prosperity of nations.”
We have not the space for further quotations from this able and effective speech; but we cannot resist the temptation to extract the closing passage, prophetic as it is of
what Europe has been witnessing, and is yet to witness ere many years have rolled away:
“I know not how recent events in the European world may have affected the minds of other men, but for myself, I feel that at this strange juncture in the world's progress, America, the great moving cause and example, should be at rest. In peace there is at this moment to us a peculiar, a moral fitness. If one-half that we hear be true, an intense interest must soon attach itself to us and to our institutions. We are soon to become the cynosure of all eyes, “the observed of all observers. Consider well, I pray you, the spectacle that we now present, as the great model republic, preying upon, grinding to powder, a weak, helpless, and an almost sister republic.
“But, sir, it is not only fit in a moral point of view that we should be at peace, but prudential considerations counsel us to the same course. The atmosphere of the old world is portentous of change; her air is thick and murky; the clouds are lurid; nations, like men, are literally holding their breath in momentary expectancy of the burst which
may follow. I tell you, sir, that you have not yet seen even the beginning of the end. I tell you that nations and kingdoms, which are the growth of ages,
do not go out without a struggle, nor in a day. I tell you that large classes of men, concentrating vast wealth, born to power and dominion, do not abandon their supposed destiny as a thing of yesterday. What though a king be stricken down! What though the sons of a king fall away, like leaves from the oak that is blasted, still the great problem remains, can thirty millions of mercurial Frenchmen, of whom about six or seven millions only can read and write, with no knowledge of free institutions, no experience in the elective franchise, can they be made in a day, an hour, the safe depository of sovereign power? Sir, I distrust the future; it rises before my mind's eye black with anarchy, red with blood. The spirit of revolution may yet pervade Europe; and even although the nations of the continent stand aloof, yet the excited materiel in France herself may burst into flame, though chafed by nothing save the friction of its own parts. Should this be so, the old world will spring to arms in
s day. In the dreadful struggle which must low, it hver comes this republe to stand at guani. Let her gather in her resources; let her husband her strength: v hor stand calm, fixed, unmoral, as the main land when the distant swell rolls in win it."
The election of 1850, in New Jerser, resulted mrow is astrously for the Whigs; she Penroerais elevting their gorernor br a large majority, and suring a small me jority on joint ballot in the legislature. The legislature met in 1851, and after a long struggle, Conimo or stock ton was chosen senator over Wr. Dayten by a very close vote.
Since the expiration of his senatorial term, Mr. Dayton has devoted his time to his profession, and his practices which had suffered from his absence, was at onen movie and greatly extended, and he probably to-day enjoys an large a practice as any other lawyer in the state. Thomas not, however, an indifferent spectator of'the political eventa of the day. He was a delegate to the Baltimore convon tion, where he was one of the most prominent of the many eminent men who supported Goneral Seott. During the campaign he was active and untiring in his exertions in behalf of that gallant soldier. Since that time Mr. Dayton took no prominent part in politios, until the repoul of the Missouri compromise aroused overy man of the north, This unpardonable violation of good tiith Mr. Dayton has never hesitated to characterize in the terms it deservon. On taking the chair to preside over the state convention of New Jersey, held on the 4th of June, he, in an eloquent and manly manner, set forth the evils which had prung from that infamous measure, and unhesitatingly declared that Kansas should be admitted into tho Union only as a free state.
On the compromise measures--that healing balm, which was to close, without leaving a soar, the live bloeding wounds-Mr. Dayton's course has been, by the programm of events, triumphantly vindicated. Tlourged thio miminsion of California as a state, with the constitution her poople had formed, and he opposed with all his force the tacking of any other measures upon it. When the owní bus bill, as it was nicknamed, was lost, and the different measures came up separately, Mr. Dayton opposed the Texas boundary bill and the fugitive slave law; and supported the acts for the admission of California and abolishing the slave trade in the district of Columbia. The wisdom and sagacity of the men who opposed the great concessions to the spirit of slavery contained in the two first named of these bills, has been most clearly proved since, by the renewed aggressions upon the rights of the north, predicated upon this very compromise of 1850, which was to be a final settlement of the whole question. The Nebraska Kansas bill was the legitimate fruit of the bills organizing the territories of New Mexico and Utah.
Judge Dayton is in the prime of life, the vigor of manhood, and his robust frame gives promise of many years of usefulness in the future. If he should be elected to the position for which he has been so unanimously nominatedand that he will succeed, we will not permit ourselves to doubt-the senate will have for its presiding officer a gentleman of unblemished character, possessing a mind of the very highest order. And should he, in the providence of God, be called to occupy a still higher position, he would be found, as the chief executive officer of the republic, patriotic, wise, conservative, and firm for the right. He, fike Colonel Fremont, is a man fully equal to any public emergency,