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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Abolition Incites The Murder Of Lovejoy

By Horace Greeley.

GREELEY'S account of the mobbing and shooting of the abolitionist editor, Elijah P. Lovejoy, at Alton, Illinois, in 1837, appears in his "American Conflict," a remarkable Civil War history showing "the inevitable sequence whereby ideas proved the germ of events." This article reveals the characteristics of its author as "a champion in the arena of public affairs, laying about him with pen and speech like an ancient Bayard with his sword." The battles he fought for humanity have made him an epic figure in American journalism.

Lovejoy, who at first refrained from taking any part in the antislavery agitation, was virtually goaded into becoming an Abolitionist. His violent death, following a series of persecutions, caused great excitement throughout the country. Henry Tanner, one of the defenders of the warehouse-scene of the tragedy here reviewed, has described it at length as "The Martyrdom of Lovejoy."

ELIJAH P. LOVEJOY, son of Rev. Daniel Lovejoy, and the eldest of seven children, was born at Albion, Maine, November 9, 1802. His ancestors, partly English and partly Scotch, all of the industrious middle class, had been citizens of New Hampshire and of Maine for several generations. He was distinguished, from early youth, alike for diligence in labor and for zeal and success in the acquisition of knowledge. He graduated with high honors at Waterville College, Maine, in September, 1826. In May following, he turned his face westward, and in the autumn of that year found employment as a teacher in St. Louis. In 1828, he became editor of a political journal, of the "National Republican" faith, and was thence actively engaged in politics of the Clay and Webster school, until January, 1832, when he was brought under deep religious impressions, and the next month united with the Presbyterian Church. Relinquishing his political pursuits and prospects, he engaged in a course of study preparatory for the ministry, entering the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, on the 24th of March.

He received, next spring, a license to preach from the second Presbytery of Philadelphia, and spent the summer as an evangelist in Newport, R. I., and in New York. He left the last-named city in the autumn of that year, and returned to St. Louis, at the urgent invitation of a circle of fellow-Christians, who desired him to establish and edit a religious newspaper in that city furnishing a capital of twelve hundred dollars for the purpose, and guaranteeing him, in writing, the entire control of the concern.

The "St. Louis Observer," weekly, was accordingly first issued on the 22d of November. It was of the "Evangelical" or Orthodox Protestant school; but had no controversy, save with wickedness, and no purpose but to quicken the zeal and enlarge the usefulness of professing Christians, while adding, if possible, to their number. There is no evidence that it was commenced with any intent to war on slavery, or with any expectation of exciting the special hostility of any interest but that of Satan. Its first exhibition of a combative or belligerent tendency had for its object the Roman Catholics and their dogmas; but this, though it naturally provoked some resentment in a city so largely Catholic as St. Louis, excited no tumult or violence. Its first articles concerning slavery were exceedingly moderate in their tone, and favorable rather to colonization than to immediate Abolition. Even when the editor first took decided ground against slavery, he still affirmed his hostility to immediate, unconditional emancipation.

On the request of its proprietors, Mr. Lovejoy gave up the establishment to them, intending to leave St. Louis; but they handed it over in payment of a debt of five hundred dollars, and the new owner immediately presented it to Mr. Lovejoy, telling him to go on with the paper as before. Meantime, his press was taken from St. Louis, by steamboat, to Alton, and landed on the bank about daylight on Sunday morning. It lay there in safety through the Sabbath; but, before the next morning, it had been destroyed by some five or six individuals. On Monday, a meeting of citizens was held, and a pledge voluntarily given to make good to Mr. Lovejoy his loss. The meeting passed some resolutions condemnatory of abolitionism, and Mr. Lovejoy assured them that he had not come to Alton to establish an Abolition, but a religious, journal; that he was not an Abolitionist, as they understood the term, but was an uncompromising enemy of slavery, and so expected to live and die.

The "Observer" was issued regularly at Alton until the 17th of August, 1837 discussing slavery among other topics, but occasionally, and in a spirit of decided moderation. But no moderation could satisfy those who had determined that the subject should not be discussed at all.

Two unsuccessful attempts having already been made the office of "The Observer" was entered between the hours of ten and eleven P.M., by a band of fifteen or twenty persons, and the press, type, etc., utterly destroyed. The mob commenced, as usual, by throwing stones at the building, whereby one man was hit on the head and severely wounded; whereupon the office was deserted, and the destroyers finished their work without opposition, while a large concourse were "looking on and consenting." The authorities did nothing most rigorously. Mr. Lovejoy was absent at the time, but was met in the street by the mob, who stopped him, threatened him, and assailed him with vile language, but did him no serious harm.

Meantime, while he was absent, attending a meeting of the Presbytery, his new press the third which he had brought to Alton within a little more than a year arrived on the 21st of September, was landed about sunset, and immediately conveyed by his friends to the warehouse of Geary & Weller. As it passed along the streets "There goes the Abolition press! stop it! stop it!" was cried, but no violence was attempted. The Mayor, apprised of its arrival and also of its peril, gave assurance that it should be protected, and asked its friends to leave the matter entirely in his hands, which they did. A constable was posted by the Mayor at the door of the warehouse, with orders to remain until a certain hour. He left at that hour; and immediately ten or twenty ruffians, with handkerchiefs tied over their faces, broke open the store, rolled the press across the street to the riverbank, broke it into pieces, and threw it in. Before they had finished the job, the Mayor was on hand, and ordered them to disperse. They replied, that they would, so soon as they got through, and were as good as their word. The Mayor declared that he had never witnessed a more quiet and gentlemanly mob!

Mr. Lovejoy preached at St. Charles, Missouri, the home of his wife's relatives, a few days after October 1st and was mobbed at the house of his mother-in-law, directly after his return from evening church. The mob attempted, with oaths and blows, to drag him from the house, but were defeated, mainly through the courageous efforts of his wife and one or two friends. Three times the house was broken into and a rush made up-stairs; and, finally, Mr. Lovejoy was induced, through the entreaties of his wife, to leave it clandestinely and take refuge with a friends, a mile distant, whence he and his wife made their way back to Alton next day.

It was known in Alton that a new press was now on the way to Mr. Lovejoy, and might arrive at any time. Great excitement pervaded the community. Friends were on the alert to protect it on its arrival, and enemies to insure its destruction. It finally reached St. Louis on the night of the 5th, and an arrangement was made to have it landed at Alton at three o'clock on the morning of the 7th. Meantime Mr. Lovejoy and a friend went to the Mayor and notified him of its expected arrival and of the threats that it should be destroyed, requesting the appointment of special constables to protect it. A meeting of the City Council was held, and some discussion had; but the subject was laid on the table and nothing done.

About ten o'clock, some thirty persons, as if by preconcert, suddenly emerged from a neighboring grog-shop a few of them with arms, but the majority with only stones in their hands formed a line at the south end of the store, next the river, knocked and hailed. Mr. Gilman, from the garret door, asked what they wanted. Their leader replied: "The press." Mr. Gilman assured them that it would not be given up; adding: "We have no ill feelings toward any of you, and should much regret to do you any injury; but we are authorized by the Mayor to defend our property, and shall do so with our lives." The leader replied that they were resolved to have the press at any sacrifice, and presented a pistol, whereupon Mr. Gilman retired into the building. The mob then passed around to the opposite end of the warehouse and commenced throwing stones, which soon demolished several of the windows. No resistance was offered, the inmates having agreed not to fire unless their lives were in danger.

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Turbulent Presidential Election Of 1828

By Thomas H. Benton.

SENATOR BENTON, the statesman-historian, from whose "Thirty Years' View" this account is taken, had not only become reconciled to General Jackson, with whom he had fought a spectacular duel fifteen years earlier, but had become a warm adherent of his in the campaign of 1828. This is particularly evidenced by his defense of "Old Hickory" against the flippant and shallow statements" made by the French statesman De Tocqueville, in his great work on "Democracy in America," published in 1835. In taking his French contemporary to task for his misstatements regarding Jackson, Benton ingenuously pleads that his action was inspired by his high regard for M. de Tocqueville and his even higher regard for "the cause of Republican government," of which Jackson was such a stalwart champion.

GENERAL JACKSON and John Quincy Adams were the candidates; with Henry Clay (his Secretary of State), so intimately associated in the public mind, on account of the circumstances of the previous presidential election in the House of Representatives, that their names and interests were inseparable during the canvass. General Jackson was elected, having received 178 electoral votes to 83 received by Mr. Adams. Mr. Richard Rush of Pennsylvania was the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of Mr. Adams, and received an equal vote with that gentleman: Mr. Calhoun was the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket with General Jackson, and received a slightly less vote the deficiency being in Georgia, where the friends of George Washington Crawford, State Attorney-General, and a Calhoun adherent, still resented his believed connection with the A. B. plot." In the previous election, he had been neutral between General Jackson and Mr. Adams; but was now decided on the part of the General, and received the same vote everywhere, except in Georgia. In this election there was a circumstance to be known and remembered. Mr. Adams and Mr. Rush were both from the non-slave holding General Jackson and Mr. Calhoun from the slave holding States, and both large slave owners themselves and both received a large vote (73 each) in the free States and of which at least forty were indispensable to their election. There was no jealousy, or hostile, or aggressive spirit in the North at that time against the South!

The election of General Jackson was a triumph of democratic principle, and an assertion of the people's right to govern themselves.

That principle had been violated in the presidential election in the House of Representatives in the session of 1824-25; and the sanction, or rebuke, of that violation was a leading question in the whole canvass. It was also a triumph over the high protective policy, and the Federal internal improvement policy, and the latitudinous construction of the Constitution; and of the Democracy over the Federalists, then called National Republicans; and was the re-establishment of parties on principle, according to the landmarks of the early ages of the government. For although Mr. Adams had received confidence and office from Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe, and had classed with the Democratic party during the fusion of parties in the "era of good feeling," yet he had previously been Federal; and in the re-establishment of old party lines which began to take place after the election of Mr. Adams in the House of Representatives, his affinities, and policy, became those of his former party; and as a party with many individual exceptions, they became his supporters and his strength. General Jackson, on the contrary, had always been Democratic, so classing when he was a Senator in Congress, under the administration of the first Mr. Adams, and when party lines were most straightly drawn, and upon principle.

In the mean time I have some knowledge of General Jackson, and the American people, and the two presidential elections with which they honored the General, and will oppose it, that is, my knowledge, to the flippant and shallow statements of Monsieur de Tocqueville. "A man of violent temper." I ought to know something about that . . . and I can say that General Jackson had a good temper, kind and hospitable to everybody and a feeling of protection in it for the whole human race, and especially the weaker and humbler part of it. He had few quarrels on his own account; and probably the ones of which M. de Tocqueville had heard were accidental, against his will, and for the succor of friends.

"The majority of the enlightened classes always opposed him." A majority of those classes which M. de Tocqueville would chiefly see in the cities, and along the highways bankers, brokers, jobbers, contractors, politicians and speculators were certainly against him, and he was as certainly against them : but the mass of the intelligence of the country was with him, and sustained him in retrieving the country from the deplorable condition in which the "enlightened classes" had sunk it, and in advancing it to that state of felicity at home, and respect abroad, which has made it the envy and admiration of the civilized world, and the absorbent of populations of Europe.

I pass on. "Raised to the Presidency and maintained there solely by the recollection of the victory at New Orleans." Here recollection and military glare, reverse the action of their ever previous attributes, and become stronger, instead of weaker, upon the lapse of time. The victory at New Orleans was gained in the first week of the year 1815; . . . but it did not make Jackson President, or even bring him forward as a candidate. The same four years afterward, at the election of 1820 not even a candidate then. Four years still later, at the election of 1824, he became a candidate, and was not elected; receiving but 99 electoral votes out of 261.

I pass on to the last disparagement. "A victory which was a very ordinary achievement, and only to be remembered where battles were rare." Such was not the battle at New Orleans. It was no ordinary achievement. . . . It did what the marvelous victories of Champaubert, Montmirail, Chateau-Thierry, Vauchamp, and Montereau could not do turned back the invader, and saved the soil of France from the iron hoof of the conqueror's horse! . . . And so the victory at New Orleans will remain in history as one of the great achievements of the world, in spite of the low opinion which the writer on American Democracy entertains of it.

Regard for M. de Tocqueville is the cause of this correction of his error: . . . The character of our country, and the cause of Republican government, require his errors to be corrected.

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Spoils System At Work

By Colonel Thomas Lorraine M'Kenney.

M'KENNEY was the first United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, having been placed in charge of the Bureau when it was organized in 1824. He held the position until 1829, when President Jackson ordered his removal in the manner herewith described. Despite his democratic principles, as expressed in the phrase "Let the people rule," Jackson favored the removal of the Indians from lands coveted by the white man. M'Kenney was disposed to treat the redskins fairly, and suffered the consequences.

Jackson's democracy accounts in part for his approval of the spoils system, whereby some 2,000 Federal office-holders were removed in the first year of his administration to make room for his friends "the people." Like the leaders of primitive societies, he depended on the unswerving loyalty of personal friends, in the circle of which the author of this extract does not seem to have been included.

SOME time after General Jackson had been inaugurated, the Secretary of War, Major Eaton, inquired of me, if I had been to see the President? I said I had not. Had you not better go over? Why, sir? I asked I have had no official business to call me there, nor have I any now; why should I go? You know, in these times, replied the Secretary, it is well to cultivate those personal relations, which will go far towards securing the good-will of one in power and he wound up by more than intimating that the President had heard some things in disparagement of me, when I determined, forthwith, to go and see him, and ascertain what they were.

On arriving at the door of the President's house, I was answered by the door-keeper, that the President was in, and having gone to report me, returned, saying the President would see me. On arriving at the door, it having been thrown open by the door-keeper, I saw the President very busily engaged writing, and with great earnestness; so much so, indeed, that I stood for some time, before he took his eyes off the paper, fearing to interrupt him, and not wishing to seem intrusive. Presently, he raised his eyes from the paper, and at the same time his spectacles from his nose, and looking at me, said "Come in, sir, come in." You are engaged, sir? "No more so that I always am, and always expect to be"--drawing a long breath, and giving signs of great uneasiness.

I had just said, I am here, sir, at the instance of the Secretary of War, when the door was thrown open, and three Members of Congress entered. They were received with great courtesy. I rose, saying, you are engaged, sir, I will call when you are more at leisure; and bowed myself out. On returning to my office, I addressed a note to the President, of the following import: "Colonel M'Kenney's respects to the President of the United States, and requests to be informed when it will suit his convenience to see him?" To which Major Donaldson replied, "The President will see Colonel M'Kenney today, at twelve o'clock." I was punctual, and found the President alone. I commenced, by repeating what I had said at my first visit, that I was there at the instance of the Secretary of War, who had more than intimated to me, that impressions of an unfavorable sort had been made upon him, in regard to me; and that I was desirous of knowing what the circumstances were, that had produced them.

"It is true, Sir," said the President, "I have been told things that are highly discreditable to you, and which have come to me from such sources, as to satisfy me of their truth."

Very well, sir, will you do me the justice to let me know what these things are, that you have heard from such respectable sources?

"You know, Colonel M'Kenney, I am a candid. man---

I beg pardon, sir, I remarked, interrupting him, but I am not here to question that, but to hear charges which it appears have been made to you, affecting my character, either as an officer of the government, or a man.

"Well, Sir," he resumed, "I will frankly tell you what these charges are, and, sir, they are of a character which I can never respect."

No doubt of that, sir, but what are they?

"Why, sir, I am told, and on the best authority, that you were one of the principal promoters of that vile paper, 'We the People"; as a contributor towards establishing it, and as a writer, afterwards, in which my wife Rachel was so shamefully abused. I am told, further, on authority no less respectable, that you took an active part in distributing, under the frank of your office, the 'coffin hand-bills'; and that in your recent travels, you largely and widely circulated the militia pamphlet."

Here he paused, crossed his legs, shook his foot, and clasped his hands around the upper knee, and looked at me as though he had actually convicted, and prostrated me; when, after a moment's pause, I asked----

Well, sir, what else?

"Why, Sir," he answered, "I think such conduct highly unbecoming in one who fills a place in the government such as you fill, and very derogatory to you, as it would be in any one who should be guilty of such practices."

All this, I replied, may be well enough, but I request to know if this is all you have heard, and whether there are any more charges?

"Why, yes, sir, there is one more; I am told your office is not in the condition in which it should be."

Well, sir, what more?

"Nothing, Sir; but these are all serious charges, sir." Then, sir, these comprise all?

"They do, sir."

Well, General, I answered, I am not going to reply to all this, or to any part of it, with any view of retaining my office, nor do I mean to reply at all, except under the solemnity of an oath when I threw up my hand towards heaven, saying, the answers I am about to give to these allegations, I solemnly swear, shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. My oath, sir, is taken, and is no doubt recorded----

He interrupted me, by saying, "You are making quite a serious affair of it."

It is, sir, what I mean to do, I answered.

Now, sir, in regard to the paper called "We the People, I never did, directly or indirectly, either by my money, or by my pen, contribute towards its establishment, or its continuance. I never circulated one copy of it, more or less, nor did I subscribe for a copy of it, more or less; nor have I ever, to the best of my knowledge and belief, handled a copy of it, nor have I ever seen but two copies, and these were on the table of a friend, among other newspapers. So much for that charge.

In regard to the "coffin hand-bills," I never circulated any, either under the frank of my office, or otherwise, and never saw but two ; and am not certain that I ever saw but one, and that, some fool sent me, under cover, from Richmond, in Virginia, and which I found on my desk among other papers, on going to my office; and which, on seeing what it was, I tore up, and threw aside among the waste paper, to be swept out by my messenger. The other, which I took to be one of these bills, but which might have been an account of the hanging of some convict, I saw some time ago, pendent from a man's finger and thumb, he having a roll under his arm, as he crossed Broadway, in New York. So much for the coffin hand-bills. As to the "militia pamphlet," I have seen reference made to it in the newspapers, it is true, but I have never handled it have never read it, or circulated a copy or copies of it, directly or indirectly. And now, sir, as to my office. That is my monument; its records are its inscriptions. Let it be examined, and I invite a commission for that purpose ; nor will I return to it to put a paper in its place, should it be out of place, or in any other way prepare it for the ordeal; and, if there is a single flaw in it, or any just grounds for complaint, either on the part of the white or the red man, implicating my capacity my diligence, or want of due regard to the interests of all having business with it, including the government, then, sir, you shall have my free consent to put any mark upon me you may think proper, or subject me to as much opprobrium as shall gratify those who have thus abused your confidence by their secret attempts to injure me.

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Battle Of San Jacinto

By General Sam Houston.

HOUSTON made his report of the Battle of San Jacinto to Congress in the third person. It was printed in the "Congressional Globe." As a result of the battle fought April 21, 1836, the Mexican President-General Santa Ana was captured by the Texans under Houston, and the independence of Texas was achieved.

Yielding to popular clamor, the "hero of San Jacinto" reluctantly became a candidate for President of the Republic of Texas, and was elected by a large majority. One of his first acts was to liberate Santa Ana, who had been kept in captivity, and to send him to Washington to confer with President Jackson. He next opened negotiations with the United States Government for the annexation of Texas, but the the measure met with such opposition in Congress that it did not succeed until 1845, when Houston Went to Washington as the first United States Senator from the Lone Star State.

IT is necessary, in the first place, to announce the fact that, on the 2d of March, 1836, the declaration of Texan independence was proclaimed. The condition of the country at that time I will not particularly explain; but a provisional government had existed previous to that time. In December, 1835, when the troubles first began in Texas, in the inception of its revolution, Houston was appointed Major General of forces by the consultation then in session at San Felipe. He remained in that position. A delegate from each municipality, or what would correspond to counties here, was to constitute the government, with a Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Council. They had the power of the country. An army was requisite, and means were necessary to sustain the revolution. This was the first organization of anything like a government, which absorbed the power that had previously existed in committees of vigilance and safety in different sections of the country. When the General was appointed, his first act was to organize a force to repel an invading army which he was satisfied would advance upon Texas. A rendezvous had been established, at which the drilling and organization of the troops was to take place, and officers were sent to their respective posts for the purpose of recruiting men. Colonel Fannin was appointed at Matagorda, to superintend that district, second in command to the General-in-Chief; and he remained there until the gallant band from Alabama and Georgia visited that country. They were volunteers under Colonels Ward, Shackleford, Duvall, and other illustrious names. When they arrived, Colonel Fannin, disregarding the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, became, by countenance of the council, a candidate for commander of the volunteers. Some four or five hundred of them had arrived, all equipped and disciplined; men of intelligence, men of character, men of chivalry and of honor. A more gallant band never graced the American soil in defense of liberty. He was selected; and the project of the council was to invade Matamoras, under the auspices of Fannin. San Antonio had been taken in 1835. Troops were to remain there. It was a post more than seventy miles from any colonies or settlements by the Americans. It was a Spanish town or city, with many thousand population, and very few Americans. The Alamo was nothing more than a church, 'and derived its cognomen from the fact of its being surrounded by poplars or cotton-wood trees. The Alamo was known as a fortress since the Mexican revolution in 1812.

. . . the Commander-in-Chief . . . send an order to Colonel Neill, who was in command of the Alamo, to blow up that place and fall back to Gonzales, making that a defensive position, which was supposed to be the furthest boundary the enemy would ever reach.

This was on the 17th of January. That order was secretly superseded by the council; and Colonel Travis, having relieved Colonel Neill, did not blow up the Alamo, and retreat with such articles as were necessary for the defense of the country; but remained in possession from the 17th of January until the last of February, when the Alamo was invested by the force of Santa Anna. Surrounded there, and cut off from all succor, the consequence was they were destroyed; they fell victims to the ruthless feelings of Santa Anna, by the contrivance of the council, and in violation of the plans of the Major General for the defense of the country.

The General proceeded on his way and met many fugitives. The day on which he left Washington, the 6th of March, the Alamo had fallen. He anticipated it; and marching to Gonzales as soon as practicable, though his health was infirm, he arrived there on the 11th of March. He found at Gonzales three hundred and seventy-four men, half fed, half clad, and half armed, and without organization. That was the nucleus on which he had to form an army and defend the country. No sooner did he arrive than he sent a dispatch to Colonel Fannin, fifty-eight miles, which would reach him in thirty hours, to fall back. He was satisfied that the Alamo had fallen. Colonel Fannin was ordered to fall back from Goliad, twenty-five miles to Victoria, on the Guadalupe, thus placing him within striking distance of Gonzales, for he had only to march twenty-five miles to Victoria to be on the east side of the Colorado, with the only succor hoped for by the General. He received an answer from, Colonel Fannin, stating that he had received his order; had held a council of war ; and that he had determined to defend the place, and called it Fort Defiance, and had taken the responsibility to disobey the order.

The General fell back from the Colorado. . . . He marched and took position on the Brazos, with as much expedition as was consistent with his situation ; but at San Felipe he found a spirit of dissatisfaction in the troops. The Government had removed east. It had left Washington and gone to Harrisburg, and the apprehension of the settlers had been awakened and increased, rather than decreased. The spirits of the men were bowed down. Hope seemed to have departed, and with the little band alone remained anything like a consciousness of strength.

. . . On the Brazos, the efficient force under his command amounted to five hundred and twenty.

. . . The encampment on the Brazos was the point at which the first piece of artillery was ever received by the army. They were without munitions; old horse shoes, and all pieces of iron that could be procured, had to be cut up; various things were to be provided; there were no cartridges and but few balls. Two small six-pounders, presented by the magnanimity of the people of Cincinnati, and subsequently called the "twin sisters," were the first pieces of artillery that were used in Texas. From thence, the march commenced at Donoho's, three miles from Groce's. It had required several days to cross the Brazos, with the horses and wagons.

The march to Harrisburg was effected through the greatest possible difficulties. The prairies were quagmired. . . . Notwithstanding that, the remarkable success of the march brought the army in a little time to Harrisburg, opposite which it halted. . . . Orders were given by the General immediately to prepare rations for three days, and to be at an early hour in readiness to cross the bayou. The next morning we find that the Commander-in-Chief addressed a note in pencil to Colonel Henry Raguet, of Nacogdoches, in these words:

Camp at Harrisburg, April 19, 1836.

"Sir: This morning we are in preparation to meet Santa Anna. It is the only chance of saving Texas. From time to time, I have looked for reinforcements in vain. The convention adjourning to Harrisburg, struck panic throughout the country. Texas could have started at least four thousand men. We will only have about seven hundred to march with, besides the camp guard. We go to conquer. It is wisdom, growing out of necessity, to meet the enemy now; every consideration enforces it. No previous occasion would justify it. The troops are in fine spirits, and now is the time for action."

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Why The Annexation Of Texas Was Opposed

By William Ellery Channing, D.D.

THIS is the main portion of a letter written to Senator Henry Clay in 1837 by Dr. Charming, the most famous and eloquent of the early Unitarian divines. His interest in social problems led to his active participation in the anti-slavery movement. He was not an extreme abolitionist, but favored political action. His principles are clearly enunciated in this protest against the proposed annexation of Texas, on the ground that it would strengthen "the peculiar institutions of the South, and open a new and vast field for slavery."

Dr. Channing was greatly esteemed by such notable contemporaries as Wordsworth and Coleridge, in England, and our own Ralph Waldo Emerson. Coleridge said of him: "He has the love of wisdom and the wisdom of love." In concert with Emerson and other great intellectual leaders, Channing was a factor in the strenuous New England life of his time.

I PROCEED now to a consideration of what is to me the strongest argument against annexing Texas to the United States. This measure will extend and perpetuate slavery.

. . . It is fitted and still more intended to do so. On this point there can be no doubt. As far back as the year 1829, the annexation of Texas was agitated in the Southern and Western States; and it was urged on the ground of the strength and extension it would give to the slaveholding interest. In a series of essays ascribed to a gentleman, now a Senator in Congress, it was maintained, that five or six slaveholding states would by this measure be added to the Union; and he even intimated that as many as nine states as large as Kentucky might be formed within the limits of Texas. In Virginia, about the same time, calculations were made as to the increased value which would thus be given to slaves, and it was even said, that this acquisition would raise the price fifty per cent. Of late the language on this subject is most explicit. The great argument for annexing Texas is, that it will strengthen "the peculiar institutions" of the South, and open a new and vast field for slavery.

By this act, slavery will be spread over regions to which it is now impossible to set limits. Texas, I repeat it, is but the first step of aggression. I trust, indeed, that Providence will beat back and humble our cupidity and ambition. But one guilty success is often suffered to be crowned, as men call it, with greater; in order that a more awful retribution may at length vindicate the justice of God, and the rights of the oppressed. Texas, smitten with slavery, will spread the infection beyond herself. We know that the tropical regions have been found most propitious to this pestilence; nor can we promise ourselves, that its expulsion from them for a season forbids its return. By annexing Texas, we may send this scourge to a distance, which, if now revealed, would appall us, and through these vast regions every cry of the injured will invoke wrath on our heads.

By this act, slavery will be perpetuated in the old States as well as spread over new. It is well known, that the soil of some of the old States has become exhausted by slave cultivation. Their neighborhood to communities, which are flourishing under free labor, forces on them perpetual arguments for adopting this better system. They now adhere to slavery, not on account of the wealth which it extracts from the soil, but because it furnishes men and women to be sold in newly settled and more southern districts. It is by slave breeding and slave selling that these States subsist. Take away from them a foreign market, and slavery would die. Of consequence, by opening a new market, it is prolonged and invigorated. By annexing Texas, we shall not only create it where it does not exist, but breathe new life into it, where its end seemed to be near. States, which might and ought to throw it off, will make the multiplication of slaves their great aim and chief resource.

Nor is the worst told. As I have before intimated, and it cannot be too often repeated, we shall not only quicken the domestic slave trade; we shall give a new impulse to the foreign. This indeed we have pronounced in our laws to be felony; but we make our laws cobwebs, when we offer to rapacious men strong motives for their violation. Open a market for slaves in an unsettled country, with a sweep of sea-coast, and at such a distance from the seat of government that laws may be evaded with impunity, and how can you exclude slaves from Africa? It is well known that cargoes have been landed in Louisiana. What is to drive them from Texas? In incorporating this region with the Union to make it a slave country, we send the kidnapper to prowl through the jungles, and to dart, like a beast of prey, on the defenseless villages of Africa. We chain the helpless despairing victims; crowd them into the fetid, pestilential slave ship; expose them to the unutterable cruelties of the middle passage, and, if they survive it, crush them with perpetual bondage.

I now ask, whether as a people, we are prepared to seize on a neighboring territory for the end of extending slavery? I ask, whether, as a people, we can stand forth in the sight of God, in the sight of the nations, and adopt this atrocious policy? Sooner perish! Sooner be our name blotted out from the record of nations!

Whoever studies modern history with any care, must discern in it a steady growing movement towards one most interesting result, I mean, towards the elevation of the laboring class of society.

It is the great mission of this country, to forward this revolution, and never was a sublimer work committed to a nation. Our mission is to elevate society through all its conditions, to secure to every human being the means of progress, to substitute the government of equal laws for that of irresponsible individuals, to prove that, under popular institutions, the people may be carried forward, that the multitude who toil are capable of enjoying the noblest blessings of the social state. The prejudice, that labor is a degradation, one of the worst prejudices handed down from barbarous ages, is to receive here, a practical refutation. The power of liberty to raise up the whole people, this is the great Idea, on which our institutions rest, and which is to be wrought out in our history. Shall a nation having such a mission abjure it, and even fight against the progress which it is specially called to promote?

The annexation of Texas, if it should be accomplished, would do much to determine the future history and character of this country. It is one of those measures, which call a nation to pause, reflect, look forward, because their force is not soon exhausted. . . . The chief interest of a people lies in measures, which, making, perhaps, little noise, go far to fix its character, to determine its policy and fate for ages, to decide its rank among nations. A fearful responsibility rests on those who originate or control these pregnant acts. The destiny of millions is in their hands. The execration of millions may fall on their heads. Long after present excitements shall have passed away, long after they and their generation shall have vanished from the earth, the fruits of their agency will be reaped. Such a measure is that of which I now write. It will commit us to a degrading policy, the issues of which lie beyond human foresight. In opening to ourselves vast regions, through which we may spread slavery, and in spreading it for this, among other ends, that the slaveholding states may bear rule in the national councils, we make slavery the predominant interest of the state. We make it the basis of power, the spring or guide of Public measures, the object for which the revenues, strength, and wealth of the country, are to be exhausted. Slavery will be branded on our front, as the great Idea, the prominent feature of the country. We shall renounce our high calling as a people, and accomplish the lowest destiny to which a nation can be bound.

And are we prepared for this degradation? Are we prepared to couple with the name of our country the infamy of deliberately spreading slavery, and especially of spreading it through regions from which the wise and humane legislation of a neighboring republic had excluded it? We call Mexico a semi-barbarous people; and yet we talk of planting slavery where Mexico would not suffer it to live. What American will not blush to lift his head in Europe, if this disgrace shall be fastened on his country? Let other calamities, if God so will, come on us. Let us be steeped in poverty. Let pestilence stalk through our land. Let famine thin our population. Let the world join hands against our free institutions, and deluge our shores with blood. All this can be endured. A few years of industry and peace will recruit our wasted numbers, and spread fruitfulness over our desolated fields. But a nation devoting itself to the work of spreading and perpetuating slavery, stamps itself with a guilt and shame, which generations may not be able to efface. The plea on which we have rested, that slavery was not our choice, but a sad necessity bequeathed us by our fathers, will avail us no longer. The whole guilt will be assumed by ourselves.

It is very lamentable, that among the distinguished men of the South, any should be found so wanting to their own fame, as to become advocates of slavery . . . that men, who might leave honorable and enduring record of themselves in their country's history . . . should lend their great powers to the extension of slavery, is among the dark symptoms of the times. . . . Have they nothing of that prophetic instinct, by which truly great men read the future? Can they learn nothing from the sentence now passed on men, who, fifty years ago, defended the slave trade?

I have expressed my fears, that by the annexation of Texas, slavery is to be continued and extended. But I wish not to be understood, as having the slightest doubt as to the approaching fall of the institution. It may be prolonged to our reproach and greater ultimate suffering. But fall it will and must. . . . Moral laws are as irresistible as physical. In the most enlightened countries of Europe, a man would forfeit his place in society, by vindicating slavery. The slaveholder must not imagine, that he has nothing to do but fight with a few societies. These, of themselves, are nothing. He should not waste on them one fear. They are strong, only as representing the spirit of the Christian and civilized world. His battle is with the laws of human nature and the irresistible tendencies of human affairs. These are not to be withstood by artful strokes of policy, or by daring crimes. The world is against him, and the world's Maker. Every day the sympathies of the world are forsaking him. Can he hope to sustain slavery against the moral feeling, the solemn sentence of the human race?

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This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Effects Of The Panic Of 1837

By Captain Frederick Marryat.

CAPTAIN MARRYAT, the well-known English novelist, author of "Mr. Midshipman Easy" and other best sellers of the early nineteenth century, visited America in 1837 and recorded his impressions in "A Diary in America, With Remarks on Its Institutions." His visit was enlivened by events incident to the most severe panic that had yet convulsed the country, growing out of President Jackson's fight on the Bank of the United States. Its career being ended, the Federal government encouraged the formation of hundreds of new State banks with nominal capital and the flooding of the country with paper money. Wild speculation occurred, especially in land, millions of acres being bought, on credit extended by banks and held for a rise. When the banks began to call their loans and to increase rates of interest the panic was started. There was an epidemic of business failures and more than a hundred banks suspended. Captain Marryat pens a vivid picture of the state of chaos he encountered.

A VISIT, to make it agreeable to both parties, should be well timed. My appearance at New York was very much like bursting into a friend's house with a merry face when there is a death in it with the sudden change from levity to condolence. "Any other time most happy to see you. You find us in a very unfortunate situation."

"Indeed I'm very very sorry."

Two hundred and sixty houses have already failed, and no one knows where it is to end. Suspicion, fear and misfortune have taken possession of the city. Had I not been aware of the cause, I should have imagined that the plague was raging, and I had the description of Defoe before me.

Not a smile on one countenance among the crowd who pass and repass ; hurried steps, careworn faces, rapid exchanges of salutations, or hasty communication of anticipated ruin before the sun goes down. Here two or three are gathered together on one side, whispering and watching that they are not overheard; there a solitary, with his arms folded and his hat slouched, brooding over departed affluence. Mechanics, thrown out of employment, are pacing up and down with the air of famished wolves. The violent shock has been communicated like that of electricity, through the country to a distance of hundreds of miles. Canals, railroads, and all public works have been discontinued, and the Irish emigrant leans against his shanty, with his spade idle in his hand, and starves, as his thoughts wander back to his own Emerald Isle.

The Americans delight in hyperbole; in fact they hardly have a metaphor without it. During this crash, when every day fifteen or twenty merchants' names appeared in the newspapers as bankrupts, one party, not in a very good humor, was hastening down Broadway, when he was run against by another whose temper was equally unamiable. This collision roused the choler of both.

"What the devil do you mean, Sir?" cried one. "I've a great mind to knock you into the middle of next week."

This occurring on a Saturday, the wrath of the other was checked by the recollection of how very favorable such a blow would be to his present circumstances.

"Will you! By heavens, then pray do; it's just the thing I want, for how else am I to get over next Monday and the acceptances I must take up, is more than I can tell."

All the banks have stopped payment in specie, and there is not a dollar to be had. I walked down Wall Street, and had a convincing proof of the great demand for money, for somebody picked my pocket.

The militia are under arms, as riots are expected. The banks in the country and other towns have followed the example of New York, and thus has General Jackson's currency bill been repealed without the aid of Congress. Affairs are now at their worst, and now that such is the case, the New Yorkers appear to recover their spirits. One of the newspapers humorously observes "All Broadway is like unto a new-made widow, and don't know whether to laugh or cry." There certainly is a very remarkable energy in the American disposition; if they fall, they bound up again. Somebody has observed that the New York merchants are of that elastic nature, that, when fit for nothing else, they might be converted into coach springs, and such really appears to be their character.

Nobody refuses to take the paper of the New York banks, although they virtually have stopped payment; they never refuse anything in New York; but nobody will give specie in change, and great distress is occasioned by this want of a circulating medium.

Some of the shopkeepers told me that they had been obliged to turn away a hundred dollars a day; and many a Southerner, who has come up with a large supply of Southern notes, has found himself a pauper, and has been indebted to a friend for a few dollars in specie to get home again.

The radicals here, for there are radicals, it appears, in a democracy----

"In the lowest depths, a lower deep"

are very loud in their complaints. I was watching the swarming multitude in Wall Street this morning, when one of these fellows was declaiming against the banks for stopping specie payments, and "robbing a poor man in such a villainous manner, when one of the merchants, who appeared to know his customer, said to him "Well, as you say, it is hard for a poor fellow like you not to be able to get dollars for his notes; hand them out and I'll give you specie for them myself !" The blackguard had not a cent in his pocket, and walked away, looking very foolish. He reminded me of a little chimney-sweeper at the Tower Hamlets election, asking "Vot vos my hopinions about primaginitur?" a very important point to him certainly, he having no parents, and having been brought up by the parish.

I was in a store when a thorough-bred Democrat walked in. He talked loud, and voluntarily gave it as his opinion that all this distress was the very best thing that could have happened to the country, as America would now keep all the specie and pay her English creditors with bankruptcies. There always appears to me to be a great want of moral principle in all radicals; indeed, the leveling principles of radicalism are adverse to the sacred rights of "meum" and "tuum." At Philadelphia the ultra Democrats have held a large public meeting, at which one of the first resolutions brought forward and agreed to was "That they did not owe one farthing to the English people."

"They may say the times are bad," said a young American to me, "but I think that they are excellent. A twenty-dollar note used to last but a week, but now it is as good as Fortunatus's purse, which was never empty. I eat my dinner at the hotel, and show them my twenty-dollar note. The landlord turns away from it, as if it were the head of Medusa, and begs that I will pay another time. I buy everything that I want, and I have only to offer my twenty-dollar note in payment, and my credit is unbounded that is, for any sum under twenty dollars. If they ever do give change again in New York it will make a very unfortunate change in my affairs."

A government circular, enforcing the act of Congress, which obliges all those who have to pay custom-house duties or postage to do so in specie, has created great dissatisfaction, and added much to the distress and difficulty. At the same time that they (the Government) refuse to take from their debtors the notes of the banks, upon the ground that they are no longer legal tenders, they compel their creditors to take those very notes having had a large quantity in their possession at the time that the banks suspended specie payments an act of despotism which the English government would not venture upon.

Miss Martineau's work is before me. How dangerous it is to prophesy. Speaking of the merchants of New York, and their recovering after the heavy losses they sustained by the calamitous fire of 1835, she says, that although eighteen millions of property were destroyed, not one merchant failed; and she continues, "It seems now as if the commercial credit of New York could stand any shock short of an earthquake like that of Lisbon." That was the prophesy of 1836. Where is the commercial credit of New York now in 1837?

The distress for change has produced a curious remedy. Every man is now his own banker. Go to the theaters and places of public amusement, and, instead of change, you receive an I. O. U. from the treasury. At the hotels and oyster cellars it is the same thing. Call for a glass of brandy and water, and the change is fifteen tickets, each "good for one glass of brandy and water." At an oyster shop, eat a plate of oysters, and you have in return seven tickets, good for one plate of oysters each. It is the same everywhere. The barbers give you tickets, good for so many shaves; and were there beggars in the street, I presume they would give you tickets in change, good for so much philanthropy. Dealers, in general, give out their own bank notes, or as they are called here, "Shin plasters," which are good for one dollar, and from that down to two and a half cents, all of which are redeemable, and redeemable only upon a general return of cash payments.

Hence arises another variety of exchange in Wall Street.

"Tom, do you want any oysters for lunch today?" "Yes!"

"Then here's a ticket, and give me two shaves in return."

The most prominent causes of this convulsion have already been laid before the English public; but there is one that of speculating in land which has not been sufficiently dwelt upon, nor has the importance been given to it which it deserves ; as, perhaps, next to the losses occasioned by the great fire, it led, more than any other species of over-speculation and over-trading, to the distress which has ensued.

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Principles Of Executive Government

By President Andrew Jackson.

THIS protest was made to the United States Senate by President Jackson in 1834, as a result of its censure of him for his action in attempting to abolish the United States Bank. Never before had a President been subjected to such a Senatorial proceeding. Three years later, however, the resolution of censure Was by vote expunged from the Congressional Record.

Jackson, in his often-assailed bank policy, seems to have been nearer right in some respects than his critics. He was vain of his integrity proud of the position on he occupied and was little inclined to brook either criticism or questioning. His decisions were often determined by his manipulating friends, known as the "Kitchen Cabinet," who shrewdly used his force and popularity. The Senate refused to memorialize the accompanying protest.

IT appears by the published Journal of the Senate that on the 26th of December last a resolution was offered by a member of the Senate, which after a protracted debate was on the 28th day of March last modified by the mover and passed by the votes of twenty-six Senators out of forty-six who were present and voted, in the following words, viz.:

Resolved, That the President, in the late executive proceedings in relation to the public revenue, has assumed upon himself authority and power not conferred by the Constitution and laws, but in derogation of both.

Having had the honor, through the voluntary suffrages of the American people, to fill the office of the President of the United States during the period which may be presumed to have been referred to in this resolution, it is sufficiently evident that the censure it inflicts was intended for myself. Without notice, unheard and untried, I thus find myself charged on the records of the Senate, and in a form hitherto unknown in our history, with the high crime of violating the laws and Constitution of my country.

It can seldom be necessary for any department of the Government, when assailed in conversation or debate or by the strictures of the press or of popular assemblies, to step out of its ordinary path for the purpose of vindicating its conduct or of pointing out any irregularity or injustice in the manner of the attack; but when the Chief Executive Magistrate is, by one of the most important branches of the Government in its official capacity, in a public manner, and by its recorded sentence, but without precedent, competent authority, or just cause, declared guilty of a breach of the laws and Constitution, it is due to his station, to public opinion, and to a proper self-respect that the officer thus denounced should promptly expose the wrong which has been done.

In the present case, moreover, there is even a stronger necessity for such a vindication. By an express provision of the Constitution, before the President of the United States can enter on the execution of his office he is required to take an oath or affirmation in the following words:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will do the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The duty of defending so far as in him lies the integrity of the Constitution would indeed have resulted from the very nature of his office, but by thus expressing it in the official oath or affirmation, which in this respect differs from that of any other functionary, the founders of our Republic have attested their sense of its importance and have given to it a peculiar solemnity and force. Bound to the performance of this duty by the oath I have taken, by the strongest obligations of gratitude to the American people, and by the ties which unite my every earthly interest with the welfare and glory of my country, and perfectly convinced that the discussion and passage of the above-mentioned resolution were not only unauthorized by the Constitution, but in many respects repugnant to its provisions and subversive of the rights secured by it to other coordinate departments, I deem it an imperative duty to maintain the supremacy of that sacred instrument and the immunities of the department intrusted to my care by all means consistent with my own lawful powers, with the rights of others, and with the genius of our civil institutions. To this end I have caused this my solemn protest against the aforesaid proceedings to be placed on the files of the executive department and to be transmitted to the Senate.

It is alike due to the subject, the Senate, and the people that the views which I have taken of the proceedings referred to, and which compel me to regard them in the light that has been mentioned, should be exhibited at length, and with the freedom and firmness which are required by an occasion so unprecedented and peculiar.

Under the Constitution of the United States the powers and functions of the various departments of the Federal Government and their responsibilities for violation or neglect of duty are clearly defined or result by necessary inference. The legislative power is, subject to the qualified negative of the President, vested in the Congress of the United States, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives; the executive power is vested exclusively in the President, except that in the conclusion of treaties and in certain appointments to office he is to act with the advice and consent of the Senate; the judicial power is vested exclusively in the Supreme and other courts of the United States, except in cases of impeachment, for which purpose the accusatory power is vested in the House of Representatives and that of hearing and determining in the Senate. But although for the special purposes which have been mentioned there is an occasional intermixture of the powers of the different departments, yet with these exceptions each of the three great departments is independent of the others in its sphere of action, and when it deviates from that sphere is not responsible to the others further than it is expressly made so in the Constitution. In every other respect each of them is the coequal of the other two, and all are the servants of the American people, without power or right to control or censure each other in the service of their common superior, save only in the manner and to the degree which that superior has prescribed.

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Last Seminole War

By Thomas H. Benton.

AT THE time of the last Seminole War (1835-42) Thomas H. Benton was a United States Senator, and no one was better qualified to record the events of "the most desperate and costly of our Indian wars . . . and the last serious obstruction offered by the redskins to the national plan of transferring them bodily to the west side of the Mississippi." In his "Thirty Years' View," Benton gives this account of the tragic stand made by Osceola and his Seminoles for the hunting-grounds of their ancestors.

Osceola was born in Georgia in 1804, and died at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, where he was a prisoner, in 1838. He was the son of an English trader and an Indian woman. 'It took seven years and cost some $30,000,000 to subjugate the Seminoles, following their massacre of Major Dade and his command of a hundred men, on December 28, 1835, as here described.

THIS was one of the most troublesome, expensive and unmanageable Indian wars in which the United States had been engaged; and from the length of time it continued the amount of money it cost, and the difficulty of obtaining results, it became a convenient handle of attack upon the [Jackson] administration; and in which party spirit, in pursuit of its object, went the length of injuring both individual and national character. It continued about seven years as long as the Revolutionary War cost some thirty millions of money and baffled the exertions of several generals; recommenced when supposed to be finished; and was only finally terminated by changing military campaigns into an armed occupation by settlers. All the opposition presses and orators took hold of it, and made its misfortunes the common theme of invective and declamation.

Its origin was charged to the oppressive conduct of the administration its protracted length to their imbecility its cost to their extravagance its defeats to the want of foresight and care. The Indians stood for an innocent and persecuted people. Heroes and patriots were made of their chiefs. Our generals and troops were decried; applause was lavished upon a handful of savages who could thus defend their country; and corresponding censure upon successive armies which could not conquer them. All this going incessantly into the Congress debates and the party newspapers, was injuring the administration at home, and the country abroad; and, by dint of iteration and reiteration, stood a good chance to become history, and to be handed down to posterity.

At the same time the war was one of flagrant and cruel aggression on the part of these Indians. Their removal to the west of the Mississippi was part of the plan for the general removal of all the Indians, and every preparation was complete for their departure by their own agreement, when it was interrupted by a horrible act. It was the 28th day of December, 1835, that the United States agent in Florida, and several others, were suddenly massacred by a party under Osceola, who had just been at the hospitable table with them: at the same time the sutler and others were attacked as they sat at the table; the same day two expresses were killed; and to crown these bloody deeds, the same day witnessed the destruction of Major Dade's command of H 2 men, on its march from Tampa Bay to Withlacootchee. All these massacres were surprises, the result of concert, and executed as such upon unsuspecting victims. The agent (Mr. Thompson) and some friends were shot from the bushes while taking a walk near his house; the sutler and his guests were shot at the dinner table; the express riders were waylaid, and shot in the road; Major Dade's command was attacked on the march, by an unseen foe, overpowered, and killed nearly to the last man. All these deadly attacks took place on the same day and at points wide apart showing that the plot was as extensive as it was secret, and cruel as it was treacherous; for not a soul was spared in either of the four relentless attacks.

It was two days after the event that an infantry soldier of Major Dade's command appeared at Fort King, on Tampa Bay, from which it had marched six days before, and gave information of what had happened. The command was on the march, in open pine woods, tall grass all around, and a swamp on the left flank. The grass concealed a treacherous ambuscade. The advanced guard had passed, and was cut off. Both the advance and the main body were attacked at the same moment, but divided from each other. A circle of fire enclosed each fire from an invisible foe. To stand was to be shot down; to advance was to charge upon concealed rifles. But it was the only course---was was bravely adopted and many savages, thus sprung from their coverts, were killed. The officers, courageously exposing themselves, were rapidly shot Major Dade early in the action. At the end of an hour successive charges had roused the savages from the grass (which seemed to be alive with their naked and painted bodies, yelling and leaping), and driven beyond the range of shot.

But the command was too much weakened for a further operation. The wounded were too numerous to be carried along; too precious to be left behind to be massacred. The battle-ground was maintained, and a small band had conquered respite from attack: but to advance or retreat was equally impossible. The only resource was to build a small pen of pine logs, cut from the forest, collect the wounded and the survivors into it, as into a little fort, and repulse the assailants as long as possible. This was done till near sunset the action having begun at ten in the morning.

By that rime every officer was dead but one, and he desperately wounded, and helpless on the ground. Only two men remained without wounds, and they red with the blood of others, spirted upon them, or stained in helping the helpless. The little pen was filled with the dead and the dying. The firing ceased. The expiring lieutenant told the survivors he could do no more for them, and gave them leave to save themselves as they could. They asked his advice. He gave it to them; and to that advice we are indebted for the only report of that bloody day's work. He advised them all to lay down among the dead to remain still and take their chances of being considered dead. This advice was followed. All became still, prostrate and motionless; and the savages, slowly and cautiously approaching, were a long time before they would venture within the ghastly pen, where danger might still lurk under apparent death.

A squad of about forty ******* fugitives from the Southern States, more savage than the savage were the first to enter. They came in with knives and hatchets, cutting throats and splitting skulls wherever they saw a sign of life. To make sure of skipping no one alive, all were pulled and handled, punched and kicked; and a groan or movement, an opening of the eye, or even the involuntary contraction of a muscle, was an invitation to the knife and the tomahawk. Only four of the living were able to subdue sensations, bodily and mental, and remain without sign of feeling under this dreadful ordeal; and two of these received stabs, or blows as many of the dead did. Lying still until the search was over, and darkness had come on, and the butchers were gone, these four crept from among their dead comrades and undertook to make their way back to Tampa Bay separating into two parties for greater safety.

The one that came in first had a narrow escape. Pursuing a path the next day, an Indian on horseback, and with a rifle across the saddle-bow, met them full in the way. To separate, and take the chance of a divided pursuit, was the only hope for either: and they struck off into opposite directions. The one to the right was pursued; and very soon the sharp crack of a rifle made known his fate to the one that had gone to the left. To him it was a warning, that his comrade being dispatched, his own turn came next. It was open pine woods, and a running, or standing, man visible at a distance. The Indian on horseback was already in view. Escape by flight was impossible. Concealment in the grass, or among the palmettos, was the only hope; and this was tried. The man lay close: the Indian rode near him. He made circles around, eying the ground far and near. Rising in his stirrups to get a wider view, and seeing nothing, he turned the head of his horse and galloped off the poor soldier having been almost under the horse's feet. This man, thus marvelously escaping, was the first to bring in the sad report of the Dade defeat followed soon after by two others with its melancholy confirmation.

And these were the only reports ever received of that completest of defeats. No officer survived to report a word. All were killed in their places men and officers, each in his place, no one breaking ranks or giving back: and when afterward the ground was examined, and events verified by signs, the skeletons in their places, and the bullet holes in trees and logs, and the little pen with its heaps of bones, showed that the carnage had taken place exactly as described by the men. And this was the slaughter of Major Dade and his command of 108 out of 112; as treacherous, as barbarous, as perseveringly cruel as ever was known. One single feature is some relief to the sadness of the picture, and discriminates this defeat from most others suffered at the hands of Indians. There were no prisoners put to death; for no man surrendered. There were no fugitives slain in vain attempts at flight; for no one fled. All stood, and fought, and fell in their places, returning blow for blow while life lasted. It was the death of soldiers, showing that steadiness in defeat which is above courage in victory.

And this was the origin of the Florida Indian war: and a more treacherous, ferocious, and cold-blooded origin was never given to any Indian war. Yet such is the perversity of party spirit that its author the savage Osceola has been exalted into a hero-patriot; our officers, disparaged and ridiculed; the administration loaded with obloquy. And all this by our public men in Congress, as well as by writers in the daily and periodical publications. The future historian who should take these speeches and publications for their guide (and they are too numerous and emphatic to be overlooked), would write a history discreditable to our arms, and reproachful to our justice. It would be a narrative of wickedness and imbecility on our part of patriotism and heroism on the part of the Indians: those Indians whose very name (Seminole wild), define them as the fugitives from all tribes, and made still worse than fugitive Indians by a mixture with fugitive *******, some of whom became their chiefs.

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Webster-Ashburton Treaty Forecasts The Fate Of Texas

By a French-born American Citizen


THIS is one in a series of articles published anonymously in France and America shortly after the Webster-Ashburton Treaty between Great Britain and the United States was signed three years before Texas was annexed, in 1845. It explains why the treaty was making Texas annexation a popular American issue, the reason being that Great Britain was seeking to establish a protectorate over Texas and had bamboozled America into making the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.

Prior to its ratification, England could not communicate with Canada (other than Nova Scotia) in winter because of a wedge-shaped strip of land belonging to Maine. This was ceded to Canada, the United States paying Maine and Massachusetts $300,000 as compensation.

THE news lately received from the United States, represent the popular feeling in favor of the annexation of Texas as daily gaining ground; the impulse that produces it, proceeds from a cause that begins to be felt in the Northern States, although that cause has not yet been publicly divulged. The reasons why the American press has been silent thereupon, will be easily seen through on reading the following explanation. It is now given in France, for the purpose of refuting, at once, the daily abuse belched out by the British press, concerning what it calls the grasping ambition of the United States; the cause alluded to is briefly explained underneath.

The Ashburton Treaty has enabled England to assume a threatening, and a truly formidable attitude on the Northern and Northwestern frontiers of the Federal Union. The new position created by that treaty, enables her to stir up, on a great scale, the whole of the Indian nations and tribes which have been of late years mostly concentrated west of the Mississippi, many of them with hostile feelings against the United States. Admitting the assertion as to the effect of the treaty to be true, it will be easily conceived, by looking over a chart of America, how important it is to prevent Great Britain from extending her protection to Texas, and from cementing with that country a connection akin to the one she established formerly with Portugal; it would, undoubtedly, enable her to control altogether the Gulf of Mexico; and it would give her an entering wedge to scatter her emissaries among the Indian tribes as far up as Lake Michigan, and thereby encircle with enemies the whole of the western frontier of the Union from North to South, which enemies would rise up at her bidding; and in order to demonstrate the strict truth of the above assertion, as to the dangerous consequences of the Ashburton Treaty, I am going to set forth, as clearly and as forcibly as I possibly can, the position of England before the treaty, and compare it with what it is now, and what it may be within a short time.

In the month of November, 1837, a general rising of the people of Canada took place against the Colonial Government. The river St. Lawrence was then bound in icy fetters, and the news reached England through the United States, as no part of Canada can be approached from sea in winter time. Halifax, in Nova Scotia, is the only harbor that has a free communication with England all the year round; but Halifax, before the Ashburton Treaty, could not communicate with Canada, on account of a strip of land belonging to the State of Maine, which stretched so far North in those uncultivated and dreary regions as to prevent the possibility of its being turned. The result was, that England, notwithstanding her large standing army and her numerous fleets, could not send a single regiment to strengthen the garrison. The St. Lawrence did not open until the end of the month of May, and England would no doubt have lost, forever, her colony; if local causes had not enabled the Colonial Government to get over their adversaries without any material aid from the metropolis.

Anterior to the Ashburton Treaty, the Northern and Western frontiers of the Union were comparatively safe, as, in case of war, Canada was actually cut out from England seven months out of twelve. It was then annually dependant on the United States for supplies and intelligence from abroad that is, from the month of November to the month of May. The Ashburton Treaty has brought about a complete change. That part of the State of Maine which England had been so long coveting, for the purpose of opening a short and easy communication between Halifax and Canada, having been given up to her by the United States, a military road has already been completed; a railway is even talked of, and now, the British Ministry can send direct, despatches, emissaries, ammunitions, troops, &c., whenever it suits them, in winter as well as in summer. It must be taken into consideration, besides, that England keeps in North America, since the treaty, a garrison of twelve thousand men, which is nearly double the number of the whole regular American army, while in 1837 she had hardly three thousand! England has now completed such a compact and powerful organization in Canada, that she can, through the means of her steam navy on the Lakes, annoy and harass the American Union on a frontier extending three thousand miles.

But what ought to be considered the most dangerous features of this new position, is the rapidity wherewith instructions may be transmitted from London to Montreal. Celerity in war movements is well known to be the most energetic promoter of success, and the British Ministers might now, in the space of a few weeks, organize a plan of operations with the incalculable advantage of being able to superintend its execution, details, and progress, almost daily, from Downing street, in London, through expeditious steamers from England to Halifax; and the whole available force of Great Britain might thus be brought to act wherever it would be thought to be the most effective.

The Colonial authorities in Canada succeeded in the last war, with limited means, to stir up against the Americans some of the Indian tribes, which waged on the borders a war of extermination, without distinction of age or sex. Now that we can appreciate the extent and efficiency of the means at the disposal of England, we may form some idea of the extension she might give to such a cruel and barbarous warfare. Well, if England, over and above the powerful means that the Ashburton Treaty has supplied her with, was to succeed besides to draw Texas under her protection, and was thereby, as a matter of course, to control the Gulf of Mexico, she might, it appears obvious, stir up simultaneously an Indian war all along the extensive Western frontiers, and at the same time, a war of revolted slaves at the South; which war of all others, is the most dangerous to the American Confederacy. To break asunder the Republican Union, has been the secret aim at which British machinations have been directed ever since 1815. This is the aim she had in view when she lavished so much money to abolish slavery in her Colonies on the coast of America.

It is needless, no doubt, to enter into further developments. Every intelligent reader understands now the reasons why the annexation of Texas has become so popular. The Ashburton Treaty has made it an event of sheer necessity for the protection of the American Confederacy; so much so, indeed, that many individuals in the Northern States, who at first opposed annexation on account of honest and conscientious scruples about slavery, admit now, after a more comprehensive view of the subject, the urgency of immediate annexation.

But many people will probably exclaim, how is it that the American Government has been drawn into the discreditable cession of a passage whereof the consequences might be so disastrous? I confine myself to-day to prove the fact the following remarks will, however, account for the silence of the American press. The fed attorney of Baring & Co. was Secretary of State, and was the American negotiator of the disgraceful treaty. President Tyler was so situated with his Whig Cabinet, that he was drawn into signing it over two-thirds of both the Whig and Democratic Senators were equally guilty in voting for its ratification. Most of the influential presses took sides in its favor, some of them biased by their political leaders, others through mere corrupt influence. These circumstances, and the general disgust they created, explain the sullen silence of the great mass of the community on that infamous treaty.

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This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Invention Of The Telegraph

By Samuel F. B. Morse.

MORSE first conceived the idea of the telegraph while aboard the packet-ship "Sully on his way from Europe to America in 1832, while discussing the then recent French discovery of a method for obtaining the electric spark from the magnet. He was a graduate of Yale and was reckoned a successful artist, ranking with Washington Alston and Benjamin West. He was the first president of the National Academy of Design.

His right to the discovery of the telegraph was attacked and he labored for many years in defending his patent, and even his honor and integrity; but all his claims. were finally established. The device brought him honors such as come to few inventors.

This account of the inauguration of the telegraph, through the aid of Congress in voting him $30,000 in 1843 was written by the inventor for Bishop Stevens of Pennsylvania. The supplementary account of the first telegraph instrument is taken from the "Life of Samuel F. B. Morse," by S. I. Prime.

I HAD spent at Washington two entire sessions of Congress, one in 1837-38, the other in 1842-43, in the endeavor so far to interest the government in the novel telegraph as to furnish me with the means to construct a line of sufficient length to test its practicability and utility.

The last days of the last session of that Congress were about to close. A bill appropriating thirty thousand dollars for my purpose had passed the House, and was before the Senate for concurrence, waiting its turn on the calendar. On the last day of the session (3d of March, 1843), I had spent the whole day and part of the evening in the Senate-chamber, anxiously watching the progress of the passing of the various bills, of which there were, in the morning of that day, over one hundred and forty to be acted upon, before the one in which I was interested would be reached; and a resolution had a few days before been passed, to proceed with the bills on the calendar in their regular order, forbidding any bill to be taken up out of its regular place. As evening approached, there seemed to be but little chance that the Telegraph Bill would be reached before the adjournment, and consequently I had the prospect of the delay of another year, with the loss of time, and all my means already expended.

In my anxiety, I consulted with two of my senatorial friends Senator Huntington, of Connecticut, and Senator Wright, of New York asking their opinion of the probability of reaching the bill before the close of the session. Their answers were discouraging, and their advice was to prepare myself for disappointment. In this state of mind I retired to my chamber, and made all my arrangements for leaving Washington the next day. Painful as was this prospect of renewed disappointment, you, my dear sir, will understand me when I say that, knowing from experience whence my help must come in any difficulty, I soon disposed of my cares, and slept as quietly as a child.

In the morning, as I had just gone into the breakfast-room, the servant called me out, announcing that a young lady was in the parlor, wishing to speak with me. I was at once greeted with the smiling face of my young friend, the daughter of my old and valued friend and classmate, the Hon. H. L. Ellsworth, the Commissioner of Patents. On expressing my surprise at so early a call, she said, "I have come to congratulate you."

"Indeed, for what?"

"On the passage of your bill."

"Oh, no, my young friend, you are mistaken; I was in the Senate-chamber till after the lamps were lighted, and my senatorial friends assured me there was no chance for me."

"But," she replied, "it is you that are mistaken. Father was there at the adjournment, at midnight, and saw the President put his name to your bill ; and I asked father if I might come and tell you, and he gave me leave. Am I the first to tell you?"

The news was so unexpected that for some moments I could not speak. At length I replied: "Yes, Annie, you are the first to inform me; and now I am going to make you a promise: the first dispatch on the completed line from Washington to Baltimore shall be yours.

"Well," said she, "I shall hold you to your promise."

In about a year from that time, the line from Washington to Baltimore was completed. I was in Baltimore when the wires were brought into the office, and attached to the instrument. I proceeded to Washington, leaving word that no dispatch should be sent through the line until I had sent one from Washington. On my arrival there, I sent a note to Miss Ellsworth, announcing to her that everything was ready, and I was prepared to fulfill my promise of sending the first dispatch over the wire, which she was to indite. The answer was immediately returned. The dispatch was, "What hath God wrought!" It was sent to Baltimore, and repeated to Washington, and the strip of paper upon which the telegraphic characters are printed, was claimed by Governor Seymour of Hartford, Connecticut, then a member of the House, on the ground that Miss Ellsworth was a native of Hartford. It was delivered to him by Miss Ellsworth, and is now preserved in the archives of the Hartford Museum, or Athen um.

I need only add that no words could have been selected more expressive of the disposition of my own mind at that time, to ascribe all the honor to Him to whom it truly belongs.


I COMMENCED, with very limited means, to experiment upon my invention. My first instrument was made up of an old picture or canvas frame fastened to a table; the wheels of an old wooden clock, moved by a weight to carry the paper forward; three wooden drums, upon one of which the paper was wound and passed over the other two; a wooden pendulum suspended to the top piece of the picture or stretching frame, and vibrating across the paper as it passes over the centre wooden drum; a pencil at the lower end of the pendulum, in contact with the paper; an electro-magnet fastened to a shelf across the picture or stretching frame, opposite to an armature made fast to the pendulum; a type rule and type for breaking the circuit, resting on an endless band, composed of carpet-binding, which passed over two wooden rollers, moved by a wooden crank, and carried forward by points projecting from the bottom of the rule downward into the carpet-binding; a lever, with a small weight on the upper side, and a tooth projecting downward at one end, operated on by the type, and a metallic fork also projecting downward over two mercury-cups, and a short circuit of wire, embracing the helices of the electro-magnet connected with the positive and negative poles of the battery and terminating in the mercury-cups.

When the instrument was at rest the circuit was broken at the mercury-cups; as soon as the first type in the type-rule (put in motion by turning the wooden crank) came in contact with the tooth on the lever, it raised that end of the lever and depressed the other, bringing the prongs of the fork down into the mercury, thus closing the circuit; the current passing through the helices of the electro-magnet caused the pendulum to move and the pencil to make an oblique mark upon the paper, which, in the mean time, had been put in motion over the wooden drum. The tooth in the lever falling into the first two cogs of the types, the circuit was broken when the pendulum returned to its former position, the pencil making another mark as it returned across the paper. Thus, as the lever was alternately raised and depressed by the points of the type, the pencil passed to and fro across the slip of paper passing under it, making a mark resembling a succession of V's. The spaces between the types caused the pencil to mark horizontal lines, long or short, in proportion to the length of the spaces.

With this apparatus, rude as it was, and completed before the first of the year 1836, I was enabled to and did mark down telegraphic intelligible signs, and to make and did make distinguishable sounds for telegraphing; and, having arrived at that point, I exhibited it to some of my friends early in that year, and among others to Professor Leonard D. Gale, who was a college professor in the university.

I also experimented with the chemical power of the electric current in 1836 and succeeded in marking my telegraphic signs upon paper dipped in turmeric and a solution of the sulphate of soda (as well as other salts), by passing the current through it. I was soon satisfied, however, that the electro-magnetic power was more available for telegraphic purposes and possessed many advantages over any other, and I turned my thoughts in that direction.

Early in 1836 I procured forty feet of wire, and putting it in the circuit I found that my battery of one cup was not sufficient to work my instrument. This result suggested to me the probability that the magnetism to be obtained from the electric current would diminish in proportion as the circuit was lengthened, so as to be insufficient for any practical purposes at great distances; and to remove that probable obstacle to my success I conceived the idea of combining two or more circuits together in the manner described in my first patent, each with an independent battery, making use of the magnetism of the current on the first to close and break the second; the second, the third, and so on. This contrivance was fully set forth in my patents.

My chief concern, therefore, on my subsequent patents was to ascertain to what distance from the battery sufficient magnetism could be obtained to vibrate a piece of metal, knowing that, if I could obtain the least motion at the distance of eight or ten miles, the ultimate object was within my grasp. A practical mode of communicating the impulse of one circuit to another, such as that described in my patent of 1840, was matured as early as the spring of 1837, and exhibited then to Professor Gale, my confidential friend.

Up to the autumn of 1837 my telegraphic apparatus existed in so rude a form that I felt a reluctance to have it seen. My means were very limited so limited as to preclude the possibility of constructing an apparatus of such mechanical finish as to warrant my success in venturing upon its public exhibition. I had no wish to expose to ridicule the representative of so many hours of laborious thought. Prior to the summer of 1837, at which time Mr. Alfred Vail's attention became attracted to my telegraph, I depended upon my pencil for subsistence. Indeed, so straitened were my circumstances that, in order to save time to carry out my invention and to economize my scanty means, I had for many months lodged and eaten in my studio, procuring my food in small quantities from some grocery, and preparing it myself. To conceal from my friends the stinted manner in which I lived, I was in the habit of bringing my food to my room in the evenings, and this was my mode of life for many years.

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

How Texas Was Annexed

By Senator Thomas H. Benton.

BENTON, who represented Missouri in the United States Senate for thirty years, charges John C. Calhoun with having instigated the war between this country and Mexico as far back as 1836 when he prematurely advocated the recognition of Texas as a Republic preparatory to its admission into the Union. The question of annexation was bound up with that of slavery, and the whole country was agitated. Finally the matter became a national issue, and James K. Polk was elected President on a platform favoring annexation; but before he took Office a resolution was passed by Congress making an offer of statehood to Texas. This was accepted, and in December, 1845, the State was admitted.

I COME now to the direct proofs of the Senator's [John C. Calhoun's] authorship of the war; and begin with the year 1836, and with the month of May of that year, and with the 27th day of that month, and with the first rumors of the victory of San Jacinto. The Congress of the United States was then in session: the Senator from South Carolina was then a member of this body; and, without even waiting for the official confirmation of that great event, he proposed at once the immediate recognition of the independence of Texas, and her immediate admission into this Union.

. . he was for plunging us into instant war with Mexico. I say, instant war; for Mexico and Texas were then in open war; and to incorporate Texas, was to incorporate the war at the same time. All this the Senator was then for, immediately after his own gratuitous cession of Texas, and long before the invention of the London abolition plot came so opportunely to his aid.

The Congress of 1836 would not admit Texas. The Senator from South Carolina became patient: the Texas question went to sleep; and for seven good years it made no disturbance. It then woke up, and with a suddenness and violence proportioned to its long repose. Mr. Tyler was then President: the Senator from South Carolina was potent under his administration, and soon became his Secretary of State.

. . . I come at once to the letter of the 17th of January, from the Texian Minister to Mr. Upshur, the American Secretary of State; and the answer to that letter by Mr. Calhoun, of April 11th of the same year. They are both vital in this case; and the first is in these words:

"Sir: It is known to you that an armistice has been proclaimed between Mexico and Texas; that that armistice has been obtained through the intervention of several great Powers mutually friendly; and that negotiations are now pending, having for their object a settlement of the difficulties heretofore exist-in between the two countries. A proposition likewise having been submitted by the President of the United States, through you, for the annexation of Texas to this country, therefore (without indicating the nature of the reply which the President of Texas may direct to be made to this proposition) I beg leave to suggest that it may be apprehended, should a treaty of annexation be concluded, Mexico may think proper to at once terminate the armistice, break off all negotiations for peace, and again threaten or commence hostilities against Texas ; and that some of the other Governments who have been instrumental in obtaining their cession, if they do not throw their influence into the Mexican scale, may altogether withdraw their good offices of mediation, thus losing to Texas their friendship, and exposing her to the unrestrained menaces of Mexico. In view, then, of these things, I desire to submit, through you, to his excellency the President of the United States this inquiry: Should the President of Texas accede to the proposition of annexation, would the President of the United States, after the signing of the treaty, and before it shall be ratified and receive the final action of the other branches of both Governments, in case Texas should desire it, or with her consent, order such number of the military and naval forces of the United States to such necessary points or places upon the territory or borders of Texas or the Gulf of Mexico as shall be sufficient to protect her against foreign aggression?

. . . at last, and after long delay, the Secretary wrote, and signed the pledge which Murphy had given, and in all the amplitude of his original promise. That letter was dated on the 11th day of April, 1844, and was in these words:

"Gentlemen: The letter addressed by Mr. Van Zandt to the late Secretary of State, Mr. Upshur, to which you have called my attention, dated Washington, 17th January, 1844, has been laid before the President of the United States.

"In reply to it, I am directed by the President to say that the Secretary of the Navy has been instructed to order a strong naval force to concentrate in the Gulf of Mexico, to meet any emergency; and that similar orders have been issued by the Secretary of War, to move the disposable military forces on our southwestern frontier, for the same purpose. Should the exigency arise to which you refer in your note to Mr. Upshur, I am further directed by the President to say, that during the pendency of the treaty of annexation, he would deem it his duty to use all the means placed within his power by the Constitution to protect Texas from all foreign invasion. I have the honor to be, &c."

The pledge of the 11th of April being signed, the treaty was signed, and being communicated to the Senate it was rejected: and the great reason for the rejection was that the ratification of the treaty would have been war with Mexico! an act which the President and Senate together, no more than President Tyler and his Secretary of State together, had the power to make.

I now come to the last act in this tragedy of errors the alternative resolutions adopted by Congress in the last days of the session of 1844-45, and in the last moments of Mr. Tyler's administration. A resolve, single and absolute, for the admission of Texas as a State of this Union, had been made by the House of Representatives; it came to this body; and an alternative resolution was added, subject to the choice of the President, authorizing negotiations for the admission, and appropriating $100,000 to defray the expenses of these negotiations. . . . It was considered by everybody, that the choice between these resolutions belonged to the new President, who had been elected with a special view to the admission of Texas, and who was already in the city, awaiting the morning of the 4th of March to enter upon the execution of his duties, and upon whose administration all the evils of a mistake in the choice of these resolutions were to fall. We all expected the question to be left open to the new President; and so strong was that expectation, and so strong the feeling against the decency or propriety of interference on the part of the expiring administration, to snatch this choice out of the hands of Mr. Polk, that, on a mere suggestion of the possibility of such a proceeding, in a debate on this floor, a Senator standing in the relation personally, and politically, and locally to feel for the honor of the then Secretary of State, declared they would not have the audacity to do it. . . . They did have the audacity! They did do it, or rather, he did it, for it is incontestable that Mr. Tyler was nothing, in anything that related to the Texas question, from the time of the arrival of his Secretary of State. . . . On Sunday, the second day of March, that day which preceded the last day of his authority and on that day, sacred to peace the council sat that acted on the resolutions; and in the darkness of a night howling with the storm, and battling with the elements, as if Heaven warred upon the audacious act, (for well do I remember it,) the fatal messenger was sent off which carried the selected resolution to Texas. The exit of the Secretary from office, and the start of the messenger from Washington, were coetaneous twin acts which come together, and will be remembered together. The act was then done: Texas was admitted: all the consequences of admission were incurred.

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This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Why The United States Bank Was Closed

By President Andrew Jackson.

THROUGHOUT his first administration, President Jackson had sought to abolish the United States Bank as an "iniquitous institution." His opportunity came at the beginning of his second administration when, on July 10, 1832, he sent this message to Congress, giving his reasons for vetoing the bill to renew the charter. The next step was to remove Federal deposits from the Bank. This his Secretary of the Treasury, Duane, refused to do. Consequently Jackson removed him, and appointed Roger B. Taney, who was more tractable, but whose appointment was held up by the Senate. Subsequently Taney was made Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Following Jackson's message, we publish, for comparison, the opinion of Alexander Hamilton as to the constitutionality of the United States Bank. It was given in 1791, but is appropriately presented in conjunction with the dissenting view of Jackson forty-one years later.

A BANK of the United States is in many respects convenient for the Government and useful to the people. Entertaining this opinion, and deeply impressed with the belief that some of the powers and privileges possessed by the existing Bank are unauthorized by the Constitution, subversive of the rights of the States, and dangerous to the liberties of the people, I felt it my duty, at an early period of my administration, to call the attention of Congress to the practicability of organizing an institution combining all its advantages, and obviating these objections. I sincerely regret that, in the act before me, I can perceive none of those modifications of the Bank charter which are necessary, in my opinion, to make it compatible with justice, with sound policy, or with the Constitution of our country.

Every monopoly, and all exclusive privileges, are granted at the expense of the public, which ought to receive a fair equivalent. The many millions which this act proposes to bestow on the stockholders of the existing Bank must come directly or indirectly out of the earnings of the American people. It is due to them, therefore, if their Government sell monopolies and exclusive privileges, that they should at least exact for them as much as they are worth in open market. The value of the monopoly in this case may be correctly ascertained. The twenty-eight millions of stock would probably be at an advance of fifty percent, and command in market at least forty-two millions of dollars, subject to the payment of the present bonus. The present value of the monopoly, therefore, is seventeen millions of dollars, and this the act proposes to sell for three millions, payable in fifteen annual installments of two hundred thousand dollars each.

It is not conceivable how the present stockholders can have any claim to the special favor of the Government. The present corporation has enjoyed its monopoly during the period stipulated in the original contract. If we must have such a corporation, why should not the Government sell out the whole stock, and thus secure to the people the full market value of the privileges granted? Why should not Congress create and sell twenty-eight millions of stock, incorporating the purchasers with all the powers and privileges secured in this act, and putting the premium upon the sales into the Treasury.

It has been urged as an argument in favor of rechartering the present Bank, that the calling in its loans will produce great embarrassment and distress. The time allowed to close its concerns is ample; and if it has been well managed, its pressure will be light, and heavy only in case its management has been bad. if, therefore, it shall produce distress, the fault will be its own: and it would furnish a reason against renewing a power which has been so obviously abused. Will there ever be a time when this reason will be less powerful? To acknowledge its force is to admit that the Bank ought to be perpetual; and, as a consequence, the present stockholders, and those inheriting their rights as successors, be established a privileged order, clothed both with great political Power and enjoying immense pecuniary advantages from their connection with the Government. The modifications of the existing charter, proposed by this act, are not such, in my views, as make it consistent with the rights of the States or the liberties of the people.

Is there no danger to our liberty and independence in a Bank that in its nature has so little to bind it to our country. The president of the Bank has told us that most of the State banks exist by its forbearance. Should its influence become concentered, as it may under the operation of such an act as this, in the hands of a self-elected directory, whose interests are identified with those of the foreign stockholders, will there not be cause to tremble for the purity of our elections in peace, and for the independence of our country in war. Their power would be great whenever they might choose to exert it; but if this monopoly were regularly renewed every fifteen or twenty years, on terms proposed by themselves, they might seldom in peace put forth their strength to influence elections or control the affairs of the nation. But if any private citizen or public functionary should interpose to curtail its powers, or prevent a renewal of its privileges, it cannot be doubted that he would be made to feel its influence.

Should the stock of the Bank principally pass into the hands of the subjects of a foreign country, and we should unfortunately become involved in a war with that country, what would be our condition? Of the course which would be pursued by a bank almost wholly owned by the subjects of a foreign power, and managed by those whose interests, if not affections, would run in the same direction, there can be no doubt. All its operations within would be in aid of the hostile fleets and armies without. Controlling our currency, receiving our public moneys, and holding thousands of our citizens in dependence, it would be more formidable and dangerous than the naval and military power of the enemy.

It is maintained by the advocates of the Bank, that its constitutionality, in all its features, ought to be considered as settled by precedent, and by the decision of the Supreme Court. To this conclusion I cannot assent. Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding questions of constitutional power, except where the acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as well settled. So far from this being the case on this subject, an argument against the Bank might be based on precedent. One Congress, in 1791, decided in favor of a bank; another, in 1811, decided against it. One Congress, in 1815, decided against a bank; another, in 1816, decided in its favor. Prior to the present Congress, therefore, the precedents drawn from that source were equal. If we resort to the States, the expressions of legislative, judicial, and executive opinions against the Bank have been probably to those in its favor as four to one. There is nothing in precedent, therefore, which, if its authority were admitted, ought to weigh in favor of the act before me.

If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the whole ground of this act, it ought not to control the coordinate authorities of this Government. The Congress, the Executive, and the Court, must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each public officer, who takes an oath to support the Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others. It is as much the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval as it is of the supreme judges when it may be brought before them for judicial decision.

It cannot be necessary to the character of the Bank as a fiscal agent of the Government that its private business should be exempted from that taxation to which all the State banks are liable; nor can I conceive it "proper" that the substantive and most essential powers reserved by the States shall be thus attacked and annihilated as a means of executing the powers delegated to the general government. It may be safely assumed that none of those sages who had an agency in forming or adopting our Constitution, ever imagined that any portion of the taxing power of the States, not prohibited to them nor delegated to Congress, was to be swept away and annihilated as a means of executing certain powers delegated to Congress.

Suspicions are entertained, and charges are made, of gross abuse and violation of its charter. An investigation unwillingly conceded, and so restricted in time as necessarily to make it incomplete and unsatisfactory, disclosed enough to excite suspicion and alarm. In the practices of the principal bank partially unveiled, in the absence of important witnesses, and in numerous charges confidently made, and as yet wholly uninvestigated, there was enough to induce a majority of the committee of investigation, a committee which was selected from the most able and honorable members of the House of Representatives, to recommend a suspension of further action upon the bill, and a prosecution of the inquiry. As the charter had yet four years to run, and as a renewal now was not necessary to the successful prosecution of its business, it was to have been expected that the Bank itself, conscious of its purity, and proud of its character, would have withdrawn its application for the present, and demanded the severest scrutiny into all its transactions. In their declining to do so, there seems to be an additional reason why the functionaries of the Government should proceed with less haste and more caution in the renewal of their monopoly.

I have now done my duty to my country. If sustained by my fellow citizens, I shall be grateful and happy ; if not, I shall find in the motives which impel me ample grounds for contentment and peace. In the difficulties which surround us and the dangers which threaten our institutions there is cause for neither dismay nor alarm. For relief and deliverance let us firmly rely on that kind Providence which, I am sure, watches with peculiar care over the destinies of our republic, and on the intelligence and wisdom of our countrymen. Through His abundant goodness, and their patriotic devotion, our liberty and Union will be preserved.

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Jackson-Calhoun Break

Their Diplomatic Correspondence


BUT for the publicity given this correspondence between President Andrew Jackson and Vice-President John C. Calhoun in 1830, growing out of the charge that Calhoun, as Secretary of War in Monroe's Cabinet twelve years previously, had recommended that General Jackson be reprimanded, if not punished, for his conduct of the Seminole War, Calhoun probably would have succeeded Jackson as President of the United States. The characters of the two men are clearly revealed in these diplomatic letters, which now and then promise a violent sequel.

The rupture between Jackson and Calhoun seems to have been instigated by William H. Crawford, a former Cabinet officer and Minister to France, who nursed Presidential aspirations. This breach was still further widened when Calhoun refused to support Jackson in an effort to reinstate Mrs. Eaton (Peggy O'Neill) in Washington society.

THAT frankness, which, I trust, has always characterized me through life, towards those with whom I have been in the habits of friendship, induces me to lay before you the enclosed copy of a letter from William H. Crawford, Esq., which was placed in my hands on yesterday. The submission, you will perceive, is authorized by the writer. The statements and facts it presents being so different from what I had heretofore understood to be correct, requires that it should be brought to your consideration. They are different from your letter to Governor Bibb, of Alabama, of the 13th May, 1818, where you state "General Jackson is vested with full power to conduct the war in the manner he may judge best and different, too, from your letters to me at that time, which breathe throughout a spirit of approbation and friendship, and particularly the one in which you say, "I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th ultimo, and to acquaint you with the entire approbation of the President of all the measures you have adopted to terminate the rupture with the Indians." My object in making this communication is to announce to you the great surprise which is felt, and to learn of you whether it be possible that the information given is correct; whether it can be, under all the circumstances of which you and I are both informed, that any attempt seriously to affect me was moved and sustained by you in the Cabinet council, when, as is known to you, I was but executing the wishes of the Government, and clothed with the authority to "conduct the war in the manner I might judge best."

You can, if you please, take a copy: the one enclosed you will please return to me.


I RECOLLECT having conversed with you at the time and place, and upon the subject, in that enclosure stated, but I have not a distinct recollection of what I said to you, but I am certain there is one error in your statement of that conversation to Mr.--. I recollect distinctly what passed in the Cabinet meeting, referred to in your letter to Mr.--.

Mr. Calhoun's proposition in the Cabinet was, that General Jackson should be punished in some form, or reprehended in some form; I am not positively certain which. As Mr. Calhoun did not propose to arrest General Jackson, I feel confident that I could not have made use of that word in my relation to you of the circumstances which transpired in the Cabinet, as I have no recollection of ever having designedly misstated any transaction in my life, and most sincerely believe I never did. My apology for having disclosed what passed in a Cabinet meeting is this: In the summer after that meeting, an extract of a letter from Washington was published in a Nashville paper, in which it was stated that I had proposed to arrest General Jackson, but that he was triumphantly defended by Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Adams. This letter, I always believed, was written by Mr. Calhoun, or by his directions. It had the desired effect. General Jackson became extremely inimical to me, and friendly to Mr. Calhoun. In stating the arguments of Mr. Adams to induce Mr. Monroe to support General Jackson's conduct throughout, adverting to Mr. Monroe's apparent admission that if a young officer had acted so he might be safely punished, Mr. Adams said, that if General Jackson had acted so, that if he was a subaltern officer, shooting was too good for him. This, however, was said with a view of driving Mr. Monroe to an unlimited support of what General Jackson had done, and not with an unfriendly view to the General. Indeed, my own views on the subject had undergone a material change after the Cabinet had been convened. Mr. Calhoun made some allusion to a letter the General had written to the President, who had forgotten that he had received such a letter, but said, if he had received such an one, he could find it; and went directly to his cabinet, and brought the letter out. In it General Jackson approved of the determination of the Government to break up Amelia island and Galveztown, and gave it also as his opinion that the Floridas ought to be taken by the United States. He added, it might be a delicate matter for the Executive to decide; but if the President approved of it, he had only to give a hint to some confidential Member of Congress, say Johnny Ray, and he would do it, and take the responsibility of it on himself. I asked the President if the letter had been answered. He replied, no; for that he had no recollection of having received it. I then said that I had no doubt that General Jackson, in taking Pensacola, believed he was doing what the Executive wished. After that letter was produced, unanswered, I should have opposed the infliction of punishment upon the General, who had considered the silence of the President as a tacit consent; yet it was after this letter was produced and read, that Mr. Calhoun made his proposition to the Cabinet for punishing the General. You may show this letter to Mr. Calhoun, if you please. With the foregoing corrections of what passed in the Cabinet, your account of it to Mr. is correct. Indeed, there is but one inaccuracy in it, and one omission. What I have written beyond them is a mere amplification of what passed in the Cabinet. I do not know that I ever hinted at the letter of the General to the President; yet that letter had a most important bearing upon the deliberations of the Cabinet, at least in my mind, and possibly in the minds of Mr. Adams and the President; but neither expressed any opinion upon the subject. It seems it had none upon the mind of Mr. Calhoun, for it made no change in his conduct.


IN answering your letter of the 13th instant, I wish to be distinctly understood, that however high my respect is for your personal character, and the exalted station which you occupy, I cannot recognize the right on your part to call in question my conduct on the interesting occasion to which your letter refers. I acted, on that occasion, in the discharge of a high official duty, and under responsibility to my conscience and my country only. In replying, then, to your letter, I do not place myself in the attitude of apologizing for the part I may have acted, or of palliating my conduct on the accusation of Mr. Crawford. My course, I trust, requires no apology; and if it did, I have too much self-respect to make it to any one in a case touching the discharge of my official conduct. I stand on very different ground. I embrace the opportunity which your letter offers, not for the purpose of making excuses, but as a suitable occasion to place my conduct in relation to an interesting public transaction in its proper light; and I am gratified that Mr. Crawford, though far from intending me a kindness, has afforded me such an opportunity.

In undertaking to place my conduct in its proper light, I deem it proper to premise that it is very far from my intention to defend mine by impeaching yours. Where we have differed, I have no doubt that we differed honestly; and in claiming to act on honorable and patriotic motives myself, I cheerfully accord the same to you.

I know not that I correctly understood your meaning; but, after a careful perusal, I would infer from your letter that you had learned for the first time, by Mr. Crawford's letter, that you and I placed different constructions on the orders under which you acted in the Seminole War; and that you had been led to believe, previously, by my letters to yourself and Governor Bibb, that I concurred with you in thinking that your orders were intended to authorize your attack on the Spanish posts in Florida. Under these impressions, you would seem to impute to me some degree of duplicity, or at least concealment, which required on my part explanation. I hope that my conception of your meaning is erroneous; but if it be not, and your meaning be such as I suppose, I must be permitted to express my surprise at the misapprehension, which, I feel confident, it will be in my power to correct by the most decisive proof, drawn from the public documents, and the correspondence between Mr. Monroe and yourself, growing out of the decision of the Cabinet on the Seminole affair, which passed through my hands at the time, and which I now have his permission to use, as explanatory of my opinion, as well as his, and the other members of his administration. To save you the trouble of turning to the file of your correspondence, I have enclosed extracts from the letters, which clearly prove that the decision of the Cabinet on the point that your orders did not authorize the occupation of St. Mark's and Pensacola, was early and fully made known to you, and that I, in particular, concurred in the decision.

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Constitutionality Of The Bank Of The United States

Alexander Hamilton's Opinion.

IN response to a request from President Washington, Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, on February 23, 1791, gave this famous opinion as to the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States an opinion which Washington adopted in signing the bill which created the bank, but with which Jackson differed decidedly in abolishing the bank in 1832. Feeling ran so high in this bank war that the Senate passed a resolution censuring Jackson, a hitherto unheard-of proceeding.

In 1819 the question of the constitutionality of the bank came before the United States Supreme Court in the case of McCullough vs. Maryland. Chief Justice Marshall's decision, regarded as one of his ablest, supported that of Hamilton in strongly affirming the constitutionality of the bank. Hamilton's doctrine of the unimplied powers of the Constitution was the first triumph of that principle which has done more than anything else to strengthen the power of the National Government.

THE Secretary of the Treasury [Hamilton] having perused with attention the papers containing the opinions of the Secretary of State [Thomas Jefferson] and the Attorney-General [Edmund Randolph] concerning the constitutionality of the bill for establishing a national bank, proceeds, according to the order of the President [Washington], to submit the reasons which have induced him to entertain a different opinion.

It will naturally have been anticipated, that in performing this task he would feel uncommon solicitude. Personal considerations alone, arising from the reflection that the measure originated with him, would be sufficient to produce it. The sense which he has manifested of the great importance of such an institution to the successful administration of the department under his particular care, and an expectation of serious ill consequences to result from a failure of the measure, do not permit him to be without anxiety on public accounts. But the chief solicitude arises from a firm persuasion, that principles of construction like those espoused by the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General would be fatal to the just and indispensable authority of the United States.

In entering upon the argument, it ought to be premised that the objections of the Secretary of State' and the Attorney-General are founded on a general denial of the authority of the United States to erect corporations. The latter, indeed, expressly admits, that if there be anything in the bill which is not warranted by the Constitution, it is the clause of incorporation.

Now it appears to the Secretary of the Treasury that this general principle is inherent in the very definition of government, and essential to every step of the progress to be made by that of the United States, namely: That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society.

This principle, in its application to government in general, would be admitted as an axiom; and it will be incumbent upon those who may incline to deny it, to prove a distinction, and to show that a rule which, in the general system of things, is essential to the preservation of the social order, is inapplicable to the United States.

The circumstance that the powers of sovereignty are in this country divided between the National and State governments, does not afford the distinction required. It does not follow from this, that each of the portion of powers delegated to the one or to the other, is not sovereign with regard to its proper objects. It will only follow from it, that each has sovereign power as to certain things, and not as to other things. To deny that the Government of the United States has sovereign power, as to its declared purposes and trusts, because its power does not extend to all cases, would be equally to deny that the State governments have sovereign power in any case, because their power does not extend to every case. The tenth section of the first article of the Constitution exhibits a long list of very important things which they may not do. And thus the United States would furnish the singular spectacle of a political society without sovereignty, or of a people governed, without government.

If it would be necessary to bring proof to a proposition so clear, as that which affirms that the powers of the Federal Government, as to its objects, were sovereign, there is a clause of its Constitution which would be decisive. It is that which declares that the Constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance of it, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority, shall be the supreme law of the land. The power which can create the supreme law of the land in any case, is doubtless sovereign as to such case.

This general and indisputable principle puts at once an end to the abstract question, whether the United States have power to erect a corporation; that is to say, to give a legal or artificial capacity to one or more persons, distinct from the natural. For it is unquestionably incident to sovereign power to erect corporations, and consequently to that of the United States, in relation to the objects intrusted to the management of the government. The difference is this: where the authority of the government is general, it can create corporations in all cases; where it is confined to certain branches of legislation, it can create corporations only in those cases.

Here, then, as far as concerns the reasonings of the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General, the affirmative of the constitutionality of the bill might be permitted to rest. It will occur to the President, that the principle here advanced has been untouched by either of them.

For a more complete elucidation of the point, nevertheless, the arguments which they had used against the power of the government to erect corporations, however foreign they are to the great and fundamental rule which has been stated, shall be particularly examined. And after showing that they do not tend to impair its force, it shall also be shown that the power of incorporation, incident to the government in certain cases, does fairly extend to the particular case which is the object of the bill.

The first of these arguments is, that the foundation of the Constitution is laid on this ground: "That all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, or to the people." Whence it is meant to be inferred, that Congress can in no case exercise any power not included in those enumerated in the Constitution. And it is affirmed, that the power of erecting a corporation is not included in any of the enumerated powers.

The main proposition here laid down, in its true signification, is not to be questioned. It is-nothing more than a consequence of this republican maxim, that all government is a delegation of power. But how much is delegated in each case is a question of fact, to be made out by fair reasoning and construction, upon the particular provisions of the Constitution, taking as guides the general principles and general ends of governments.

It is not denied that there are implied, as well as express powers, and that the former are as effectually delegated as the latter. And for the sake of accuracy it shall be mentioned that there is another class of powers, which may be properly denominated resulting powers. It will not be doubted that if the United States should make a conquest of any of the territories of its neighbors, they would possess sovereign jurisdiction over the conquered territory. This would be rather a result from the whole mass of the powers of the government, and from the nature of political society, than a consequence of either of the powers specially enumerated.

The proposed bank is to consist of an association of persons, for the purpose of creating a joint capital, to be employed chiefly and essentially in loans. So far the object is not only lawful, but it is the mere exercise of a right which the law allows to every individual. The Bank of New York, which is not incorporated, is an example of such an association. The bill proposes, in addition, that the government shall become a joint proprietor in this undertaking, and that it shall permit the bills of the company, payable on demand, to be receivable in its revenues; and stipulates that it shall not grant privileges, similar to those which are to be allowed to this company, to any others. All this is incontrovertibly within the compass of the discretion of the government. The only question is, whether it has a right to incorporate this company, in order to enable it the more effectually to accomplish ends which are in themselves lawful.

To establish such a right, it remains to show the relation of such an institution to one or more of the specified powers of the government. Accordingly it is affirmed that it has a relation, more or less direct, to the power of collecting taxes, to that of borrowing money, to that of regulating trade between the States, and to those of raising and maintaining fleets and armies. To the two former the relation may be said to be immediate ; and in the last place it will be argued, that it is clearly within the provision which authorizes the making of all needful rules and regulations concerning the property of the United States, as the same has been practiced upon by the government.

The constitutionality of all this would not admit of a question, and yet it would amount to the institution of a bank, with a view to the more convenient collection of taxes. For the simplest and most precise idea of a bank is, a deposit of coin, or other property, as a fund for circulating a credit upon it, which is to answer the purpose of money. That such an arrangement would be equivalent to the establishment of a bank, would become obvious, if the place where the fund to be set apart was kept should be made a receptacle of the moneys of all other persons who should incline to deposit them there for safekeeping; and would become still more so, if the officers charged with the direction of the fund were authorized to make discounts at the usual rate of interest, upon good security. To deny the power of the government to add these ingredients to the plan, would be to refine away all government.

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

An Argument Upholding Slavery

By Professor Thomas Roderic Dew.

DR. DEW taught political economy, history and metaphysics at William and Mary College from 1827 to 1836, when he was made president of that historic Virginia institution. His essay on slavery, written after the debates in the Virginia constitutional convention and the events of the Nat Turner insurrection had aroused much sentiment in favor of emancipation, aided greatly in quieting the discussion. It served to counteract the anti-slavery sentiment dating back to Thomas Jefferson, and it did much to determine the Virginian attitude toward slavery.

Preceding this influential utterance, Dr. Dew's "Lectures on the Restrictive System," published in 1829, when feeling ran high between protectionists and free-traders on the subject of the tariff, were largely responsible for the adoption of the compromise of 1832.

IT is said slavery is wrong, in the abstract at least, and contrary to the spirit of Christianity. To this we answer . . . that any question must be determined by its circumstances, and if, as really is the case, we cannot get rid of slavery without producing a greater injury to both the masters and slaves, there is no rule of conscience or revealed law of God which can condemn us. . . . If slavery had commenced even contrary to the laws of God and man, and the sin of its introduction rested upon our hands, and it was even carrying forward the nation by slow degrees to final ruin yet if it were certain that an attempt to remove it would only hasten and heighten the final catastrophe . . . then, we would not only not be found to attempt the extirpation, but we would stand guilty of a high offense in the sight of both God and man, if we should rashly make the effort. But the original sin of introduction rests not on our heads, and we shall soon see that all those dreadful calamities which the false prophets of our day are pointing to, will never in all probability occur.

With regard to the assertion that slavery is against the spirit of Christianity, we are ready to admit the general assertion, but deny most positively that there is anything in the Old or New Testament, which would go to show that slavery, when once introduced, ought at all events to be abrogated, or that the master commits any offense in holding slaves. The children of Israel themselves were slave holders, and were not condemned for it. . . . When we turn to the New Testament, we find not one single passage at all calculated to disturb the conscience of an honest slave holder. No one can read it without seeing and admiring that the meek and humble Saviour of the world in no instance meddled with the established institutions of mankind he came to save a fallen world, and not to excite the black passions of men and array them in deadly hostility against each other. From no one did he turn away; his plan was offered alike to all to the monarch and the subject, the rich and the poor the master and the slave. He was born in the Roman world, a world in which the most galling slavery existed, a thousand times more cruel than the slavery in our own country and yet he nowhere encourages insurrection he nowhere fosters discontent but exhorts always to implicit obedience and fidelity. What a rebuke does the practice of the Redeemer of mankind imply upon the conduct of some of his nominal disciples of the day, who seek to destroy the contentment of the slaves, to rouse their most deadly passions, to break up the deep foundations of society, and to lead on to a night of darkness and confusion!

2dly. But it is further said that the moral effects of slavery are of the most deleterious and hurtful kind; and as Mr. Jefferson has given the sanction of his great name to this charge, we shall proceed to examine it with all that respectful deference to which every sentiment of so pure and philanthropic a heart is justly entitled.

"The whole commerce between master and slave," says he, "is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it, for man is an imitative animal this quality is the germ of education in him. . . ." Now we boldly assert that the fact does not bear Mr. Jefferson out in his conclusions. He has supposed the master in a continual passion in the constant exercise of the most odious tyranny, and the child, a creature of imitation, looking on and learning. But is not this master sometimes kind and indulgent to his slaves? Does he not mete out to them, for faithful service, the reward of his cordial approbation? Is it not his interest to do it? And when thus acting humanely, and speaking kindly, where is the child, the creature of imitation, that he does not look on and learn? We may rest assured, in this intercourse between a good master and his servant, more good than evil may be taught the child, the exalted principles of morality and religion may thereby be sometimes indelibly inculated upon his mind, and instead of being reared a selfish contracted being, with nought but self to look to he acquires a more exalted benevolence, a greater generosity and elevation of soul, and embraces for the sphere of his generous actions a much wider field. Look to the slave holding population of our country, and you everywhere find them characterized by noble and elevated sentiment, by humane and virtuous feelings. We do not find among them that cold, contracted, calculating selfishness, which withers and repels everything around it, and lessens or destroys all the multiplied enjoyments of social intercourse. Go into our national councils, and ask for the most generous, the most disinterested, the most conscientious, and the least unjust and oppressive in their principles, and see whether the slave holder will be past- by in the selection.

Is it not a fact, known to every man in the South, that the most cruel masters are those who have been unaccustomed to slavery? It is well known that northern gentlemen who marry southern heiresses, are much severer masters than southern gentlemen. And yet, if Mr. Jefferson's reasoning were correct, they ought to be much milder: in fact, it follows from his reasoning, that the authority which the father is called on to exercise over his children, must be seriously detrimental; and yet we know that this is not the case; that on the contrary, there is nothing which so much humanizes and softens the heart, as this very authority; and there are none, even among those who have no children themselves, so disposed to pardon the follies and indiscretion of youth, as those who have seen most of them, and suffered greatest annoyance. There may be many cruel relentless masters, and there are unkind and cruel fathers too; but both the one and the other make all those around them shudder with horror. We are disposed to think that their example in society tends rather to strengthen than weaken the principle of benevolence and humanity.

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 6 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The First Telegraph Instrument

I COMMENCED, with very limited means, to experiment upon my invention. My first instrument was made up of an old picture or canvas frame fastened to a table; the wheels of an old wooden clock, moved by a weight to carry the paper forward; three wooden drums, upon one of which the paper was wound and passed over the other two; a wooden pendulum suspended to the top piece of the picture or stretching frame, and vibrating across the paper as it passes over the centre wooden drum; a pencil at the lower end of the pendulum, in contact with the paper; an electro-magnet fastened to a shelf across the picture or stretching frame, opposite to an armature made fast to the pendulum; a type rule and type for breaking the circuit, resting on an endless band, composed of carpet-binding, which passed over two wooden rollers, moved by a wooden crank, and carried forward by points projecting from the bottom of the rule downward into the carpet-binding; a lever, with a small weight on the upper side, and a tooth projecting downward at one end, operated on by the type, and a metallic fork also projecting downward over two mercury-cups, and a short circuit of wire, embracing the helices of the electro-magnet connected with the positive and negative poles of the battery and terminating in the mercury-cups.

When the instrument was at rest the circuit was broken at the mercury-cups; as soon as the first type in the type-rule (put in motion by turning the wooden crank) came in contact with the tooth on the lever, it raised that end of the lever and depressed the other, bringing the prongs of the fork down into the mercury, thus closing the circuit; the current passing through the helices of the electro-magnet caused the pendulum to move and the pencil to make an oblique mark upon the paper, which, in the mean time, had been put in motion over the wooden drum. The tooth in the lever falling into the first two cogs of the types, the circuit was broken when the pendulum returned to its former position, the pencil making another mark as it returned across the paper. Thus, as the lever was alternately raised and depressed by the points of the type, the pencil passed to and fro across the slip of paper passing under it, making a mark resembling a succession of V's. The spaces between the types caused the pencil to mark horizontal lines, long or short, in proportion to the length of the spaces.

With this apparatus, rude as it was, and completed before the first of the year 1836, I was enabled to and did mark down telegraphic intelligible signs, and to make and did make distinguishable sounds for telegraphing; and, having arrived at that point, I exhibited it to some of my friends early in that year, and among others to Professor Leonard D. Gale, who was a college professor in the university.

I also experimented with the chemical power of the electric current in 1836 and succeeded in marking my telegraphic signs upon paper dipped in turmeric and a solution of the sulphate of soda (as well as other salts), by passing the current through it. I was soon satisfied, however, that the electro-magnetic power was more available for telegraphic purposes and possessed many advantages over any other, and I turned my thoughts in that direction.

Early in 1836 1 procured forty feet of wire, and putting it in the circuit I found that my battery of one cup was not sufficient to work my instrument. This result suggested to me the probability that the magnetism to be obtained from the electric current would diminish in proportion as the circuit was lengthened, so as to be insufficient for any practical purposes at great distances; and to remove that probable obstacle to my success I conceived the idea of combining two or more circuits together in the manner described in my first patent, each with an independent battery, making use of the magnetism of the current on the first to close and break the second; the second, the third, and so on. This contrivance was fully set forth in my patents.

My chief concern, therefore, on my subsequent patents was to ascertain to what distance from the battery sufficient magnetism could be obtained to vibrate a piece of metal, knowing that, if I could obtain the least motion at the distance of eight or ten miles, the ultimate object was within my grasp. A practical mode of communicating the impulse of one circuit to another, such as that described in my patent of 1840, was matured as early as the spring of 1837, and exhibited then to Professor Gale, my confidential friend.

Up to the autumn of 1837 my telegraphic apparatus existed in so rude a form that I felt a reluctance to have it seen. My means were very limited so limited as to preclude the possibility of constructing an apparatus of such mechanical finish as to warrant my success in venturing upon its public exhibition. I had no wish to expose to ridicule the representative of so many hours of laborious thought. Prior to the summer of 1837, at which time Mr. Alfred Vail's attention became attracted to my telegraph, I depended upon my pencil for subsistence. Indeed, so straitened were my circumstances that, in order to save time to carry out my invention and to economize my scanty means, I had for many months lodged and eaten in my studio, procuring my food in small quantities from some grocery, and preparing it myself. To conceal from my friends the stinted manner in which I lived, I was in the habit of bringing my food to my room in the evenings, and this was my mode of life for many years.
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