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From such principles it followed that those Frenchmen who were striving to suppress the inequalities which arise from this universal "thirst for distinction" were at war with nature. Indeed, Adams held that the only equality practicable and desirable is equality before the laws. "Too many Frenchmen," so he wrote Dr. Price, "after the example of too many Americans, pant after equality of persons and property. The impracticability of this God Almighty has decreed." Such views and sentiments however wise ran counter to the strong tides of American political passion. The result to himself of giving them utterance he afterwards described in a letter to Jefferson: "In truth my Defence of the Constitutions and Discourses on Davila were the causes of that immense unpopularity which fell like the tower of Siloam upon me. Your steady defence of democratic principles, and your invariable favorable opinion of the French Revolution, laid the foundation of your unbounded popularity." 2 And yet despite this immense unpopularity with the democratic masses, despite the well-grounded fear of many Federalist leaders that this man of strong will and independent views might prove unmanageable, and despite the treacherous plan to give to Pinckney the place which the voters allotted to him, John Adams was chosen as the successor of Washington.
With this event opened the last chapter of his public career. Throughout the previous period, fidelity to his country and to his political system had made him the advocate of a policy that coincided with that of the Federalists; but now the tie between him and the leaders of the Federalist party, particularly those whose homes were in the North, was about to be broken. The forces that did this were two first a difference of view in respect to foreign policy; and second, a disagreement as to the proper functions and rights of the executive. We need not rehearse here the story of the struggle between the President and his cabinet, the latter acting under the direction of Hamilton and in collusion with leading Federalist senators: it will suffice to point out that when the secretaries undertook to thwart the President in his purpose to renew negotiations with France, and also when they sought by a clandestine appeal to Washington to secure the appointment of Hamilton to the virtual command of the army, they arrogated to themselves rights which the Constitution had conferred upon their official chief. Pickering, Wolcott, and McHenry were not prompted by motives of personal ambition. They were doing the will of a division of the Federal party whose leader was Hamiliton; their plan was to transfer to him the high functions which belong to the President. No one ques2 Works, X. 54.
1 Works, IX. 564.
tions now that John Adams was in the right in renewing the negotiations with France; in the long series of services that he rendered his country, this was certainly one of the most heoric and beneficent. Nor does any one question now his view of the functions of President and cabinet. But in bestowing peace on his country and in maintaining the rights of her chief magistrate he alienated an important section of the Federal party.
The party revolution of 1800 brought the public career of John Adams to a close, but not, however, until he had named John Marshall as chief justice, a nomination second in importance in its bearing on the welfare of the Union only to that which was made by him a quarter of a century earlier, when he proposed the name of George Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
With the possible exception of Daniel Webster no other American statesman of the highest rank has retired so hated and unfriended as did John Adams. The followers of Jefferson regarded him as a monarchist and a persecutor of democrats; the followers of Hamilton as a traitor to the cause of Federalism. But the truth is that his course from the beginning was singularly consistent. His simple creed was this: in order that a state may prosper it must have in its government a democratic element, an aristocratic element and an executive; each of these must be strong enough to maintain its rights; but each must be checked in its attempts to encroach upon the others. In the first and second periods he devoted himself to the championship of the endangered American democracy and to the reconstruction of the colonial governments on the lines given above; in the third period he devoted himself to the championship of the aristocratic interest against the encroaching disposition of the democracy, and to the further exposition and defence of his system; in the fourth period he devoted himself to the championship of the executive against the encroachments of the aristocratic party; and he was surely in the right. We name only half the truth in claiming for America the mission to produce a finer type of democracy; a strong and healthful democracy without a strong and healthful aristocracy is impossible; the two are essential parts of one organic whole. A higher type of aristocracy,-an aristocracy open to every aspiring soul, without legal privilege, based on merit, assigning its highest honor to highest service, welcoming the lowly-born Abraham Lincoln as heartily as the patrician-born George Washington,-to produce such an aristocracy is the only way to produce a healthful, happy, useful democracy; and to help to establish this type of aristocracy throughout the world is the highest service which America can render to mankind, but this-just this, was what John Adams wished and worked for.
It is narrated that five days before that memorable fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on which both he and Jefferson were to die, John Adams gave as a toast to be presented at the celebration to be held by his fellow-townsmen, the words INDEPENDENCE FOREVER. "In this brief sentiment," says his biographer, “Mr. Adams infused the essence of his whole character, and of his life-long labors for his country.” But independence, however characteristic of the spirit and method, does not seem to me an adequate description of the "essence" of his labors. It is true that he maintained always an unusual degree of personal independence, and that he strove with all his might for "independent independence" in his country's behalf-but only as the necessary means to a certain end; and this end was the attainment of the "best character." The key to the politics of John Adams is the right and duty incumbent upon each citizen, each class, the people as a whole and mankind, of complete self-realization. To protcet and assist the process by which this is accomplished, determines for him the form and functions of government and the aim of public policy. For the divine right to rule, whether claimed by king, parliament or party, he substituted the divine indefeasible right of the people to grow.
ANSON D. MORSE.
THE FIRST REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
THE Convention which met in Pittsburg on the 22d of February, 1856, for the purpose of organizing a national Republican party, was called together by the chairmen of the Republican state committees of Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin. It was not a convention of delegates selected by constituent assemblies of the people, but a mass convention of men who favored the formation of a great national anti-slavery party and who volunteered their services in the undertaking. It was in session two days, and its purpose was fully accomplished, but the report of its proceedings in the newspapers of the time was meagre and nadequate. They were published in pamphlet soon after the convention, but they covered only a few pages, being a mere skeleton of what happened and even less satisfactory than the newspaper reports, while they gave the reader no conception of the spirit and character of the gathering. No roll of the members was preserved, while the several histories of political parties and conventions which have since appeared contain little more than a mere reference to the subject. Since the writer is one of the very few survivors of the convention, and was officially and somewhat actively connected with its proceedings, and since there is always a natural curiosity to know something of the beginnings of a great historic movement, perhaps a brief paper on the subject may prove timely and not entirely without value as a contribution to the literature of politics.
The creation of the proposed new party was a vexed problem. The Whig party had received its death-blow in the presidential campaign of 1852, but it still had a lingering and fragmentary existence. In Michigan its members had united with the Free Soilers and bolting Democrats in state convention as early as July 6, 1854, in forming a Republican party and giving it that name, and this action was followed soon after by like movements in Wisconsin and Vermont. In New York and Massachusetts the Whigs refused to disband, and thus prevented the desired action in these states during the years 1854 and 1855. In Indiana a combination was formed consisting of conservative Whigs, anti-Nebraska Democrats, Know-nothings and Free Soilers. It called itself "the People's Party," and for three years in succession, beginning in 1854, it disowned the name (313)
Republican and subordinated every question of principle to its desire for political success. The situation was most humiliating, but with the nomination of Frémont, Indiana finally started upon its journey out of the wilderness. The formation of a new party in Illinois in 1854 was attempted, but was defeated by the Whigs, who persuaded Abraham Lincoln to avoid any connection with such a movement. The political elements in that state were similar to those in Indiana. In Ohio the new party was launched in 1854 on the basis of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and opposition to the extension of slavery, and Mr. Chase was chosen senator in 1855. Like action was taken in Iowa. In Maine, as in Pennsylvania, a Republican party was not formed till 1856. The Whigs of the northern states generally, and a large proportion of the antiNebraska Democrats, finally found their way into the Republican camp through the lodges of Know-nothingism, which served as a convenient escape from their old political bosses. This secret political movement still further complicated the situation. Its action had a two-fold effect. On the one hand, it did good service in the breaking up of the old parties which had so long stood as the bulwarks of slavery; but on the other, its crusade against the Pope and the foreigner tended to balk the rising popular indignation caused by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and thus to divide the people upon side issues instead of uniting them as one man on the single question of slavery. In 1855, Know-nothingism elected the governors of nine northern states and forty-three members of the national House of Representatives. It acted in the dark, and thus fearfully aggravated the political confusion and bewilderment of the times.
A very formidable element had to be reckoned with in the old Free Soil party, which rejoiced in the omens of an anti-slavery revival, but demanded the recognition of its principles in the new organization. This party had given over 291,000 votes in 1848, but four years later it gave only a little over 156,000. falling off was chiefly caused by the Barnburners of New York and their sympathizers, who had rallied under the Free Soil banner in 1848 for the purpose of punishing their party for throwing Van Buren overboard in 1844, and who now returned to the party fold. The Free Soilers of 1852 however were stronger without this trading element than with it. They stood upon a magnificent platform, and they had the courage of their convictions; and they so commanded the respect of all parties that in 1853, before the repeal of the Missouri Compromise had been attempted, concerted measures had been extensively set on foot for the formation of a national anti