« PreviousContinue »
to the President, that we look for these sire to see this nation built up in virtue
It is in Congress, and not in and moral greatness, as well as in wealth the President, that the power over these and physical grandeur, and enjoying Libsubjects resides. If the President to be erty, supported by Law, Order, Goodness, elected for the next term should agree and Truth, he is no Whig. with us in regard to the importance of ZACHARY Taylor has been presented to these measures, he may, as the Constitu- the People of the United States as a cantion directs, in his discretion, recommend didate for the Presidency, by a National the consideration of them to Congress; or Convention assembled at Philadelphia. Congress may consider them without his This was a party convention, composed of recommendation. But we do not look Whigs, and convened according to the apto him, however favorably or strongly in- proved usages of that party in such cases. clined towards these measures, for any Probably no party convention ever met in influence in their behalf other than that this country which combined in its compowhich the Constitution contemplates and sition more talent or more patriotism. The prescribes ; least of all do we expect him results of its deliberations and its recomto undertake to force them on an unwilling mendations ought, we think, to come to Congress, by threats of displeasure or the Whigs of the United States with the promises of favor or reward. As Whigs force of some authority. General Taylor we shall be satisfied, and we are bound by was nominated by a strong majority over our principles to be satisfied, first with his all competitors on a fourth ballot. From recommendation of them, if such shall be the first, his vote was not confined to single his opinion, and next with his allowing States, or to any particular section. Well Congress to do its own work in relation to known and honored Whigs from New Engthese subjects, without the interposition of land, and from the Middle and Western his veto on the results of their labors. States, voted, from the beginning, for his
We think it must, by this time, be ap- nomination. We have seen no evidence, parent to the reader who has followed us nor heard of any, that the Convention thus far, what, in our estimation, are the was infected with any corruption, or acted distinctive principles of the Whig party, under any delusion or deception. If party and also what sort of principles a candi- organization is a necessary or desirable date for the Presidency ought to hold in thing, we do not see how its action in this order to be acceptable, as such, to the instance can well be repudiated. Those Whig party. As we have said, we are a who are Whigs and mean to continue such, conservative party, as well as a party of and who believe that they can offer patriprogress. We want a President who otic service to the country in no other knows his place when he is in it, who will party combination so well as in this, will take the Constitution for his guide and feel bound, we suppose, to give the nomicounsellor, and who will be content with nation of General Taylor a hearty support; the limited authority it clothes him with. certainly they will do so, unless it shall We want a President who will leave it to appear that the Convention which preCongress, under such official recommenda- sented his name, acted under some palpation as he shall deem it necessary or expe- ble mistake or error, in regard to the dient to give, to shape the policy of the character of the man, and the principles government for the time, so far as it may entertained by him. If it had appeared, depend on legislation—and nearly every- or should turn out, that a Whig National thing of direct interest to the people does Convention, like that assembled at Philadepend, by the Constitution, on the legis- delphia, had nominated a man who was lative department. We want an honest not a Whig in sentiment at all, or who, for President, one who, with Whig sentiments defects of character or fitness, was unworand feelings in his heart, shall be the Pre-thy of the support of a great party, we sident of the nation, and not of a party. should certainly hope to see character and If he be not thus honest and patriotic, he is consistency enough in the party to reject no Whig, be he who or what he may. If such a nomination. But we think, at the he do not rule by the Constitution, and in same time, that a strong array of facts the fear of God, and with an anxious de- I would be required to convince candid Whigs
that a Whig Convention had really fallen politics, I am a Whig, and shall ever be deinto so strange a mistake.
voted in individual opinion to the principles of It is undoubtedly true that Gen. Taylor, !hat party. Even if the subject which you have up to the time of his nomination by the in your letter opened to me were acceptable at
any time, I have not the leisure to attend to it Philadelphia Convention, had not, by any
now; the vigorous prosecution of the war with prominent act or action, on his part, iden- Mexico, so important to the interests of my tified himself with any party combination country, demands every moment of my present whatever. He had been nearly all his life time, and it is my great desire to bring it to a a soldier, living in camps, and serving his
speedy and honorable termination." country in the field. For many years he had been stationed on service upon our
He continued to be plied with commuremote Western frontier, or in the Indian nications on this subject, and he continued countries. He had been in no manner to answer, when he thought himself commixed up with politics or political parties.
pelled to answer at all, after the same He had not, however, been unobservant of manner. After the letter just quoted, we civil affairs ; he was not unacquainted with have seen nothing from him cn the subject the civil history of his country, or with
of a date earlier than the 28th of April, current events, or with the character and 1847, written from his camp, near Monteobjects of contending parties. He was a rey. This letter was in reply to reading man, a reflecting man, and a man
which had proposed to tender him a nomof close observation. He had been in no ination by the “ Native American Convencondition to take any active part in public tion,” and in it he said :affairs, beyond what appertained to his profession of arms. But he was not with
“Even if an aspirant for the Presidential out his opinions on politics and parties. In office, (which is not the case,) I could not, a letter dated August 3d, 1847, after
while the country is involved in war, and while
my duty calls me to take part against the stating that he was, what he had been rep
enemy, acknowledge any ambition beyond that resented to be, “a Whig in principle,” he of bestowing all my best exertions towards says : “At the last Presidential canvass it obtaining an adjustment of our difficulties with was well known to all with whom I mixed, Mexico. Whigs and Democrats—for I had no concealment in the matter that I was de It is worth observing that, in all his corcidedly in favor of Mr. Clay's election, and respondence touching this matter, so long I would now prefer seeing him in that as he was actually in the field and engaged office to any individual in the Union." in military operations, so far from manifest
It cannot surprise any reflecting person ing any eagerness for such a movement, he that General Taylor, in camp in the face was constantly disposed to discourage the of the public enemy, when first approach- use of his name for President, and especialed on the subject of the Presidency, ly by any party, lest the effect might be to should have replied to all suggestions and lessen, in some quarters, public confidence solicitations rather after the manner of an in him as a military commander, and so old soldier than a hackneyed politician. result in injury to the public service in The very first letter, so far as which he was engaged. "I regret,” said find, ever written by him in reference to he, in June, 1847, “ the subject has been this subject, and which was in answer to a agitated at this early day, and that it had communication addressed to him from not been deferred until the close of this Ohio, was dated at Matamoras, July 21st, war, or until the end of the next session of 1846; and in it he holds this language :- Congress, especially if I am to be mixed
up with it, as it is possible it may lead to "I feel very grateful to you, sir, and to my the injury of the public service in this fellow-citizens who with you have expressed quarter by my operations being embarthe very flattering desire to place my name in rassed,” &c. , In another letter he said : nomination for the Presidency; but it becomes “My own personal views Con questions of that for that office I have no aspiration what- public policy about which his opinions had ever. Although no politician, having always been asked) were better withheld till the held myself aloof from the clamors of party end of the war, when my usefulness as a
military chief serving in the field against but here I am a soldier, serving my counthe common enemy shall no longer be try and my whole country; and here, in compromised by their expression or dis- the face of the public enemy, under the cussion in any matter.” In another letter orders of my constitutional Commanderstill, he held this language :-“If I have in-Chief, I am an American—I have no been named by others, and considered a party. My time, my talents, my energies, candidate for the Presidency, it has been shall all be devoted to this service while by no agency of mine in the matter; and thus employed, and no part of either will if the good people think my services im- I give towards making myself a party to portant in that station and elect me, I will any movement-especially by any politifeel bound to serve them; and all the cal combination—for my elevation to the pledges and explanations I can enter into Presidential office.
It that I will do so honestly and faithfully the consideration just stated, that Gen. to the best of my abilities, strictly in com- Taylor was then, and has been all the pliance with the Constitution. Should I while, averse to his being looked upon by ever occupy the White House, it must be his countrymen as a mere party man. He by the spontaneous move of the people, claimed to be something more and better and by no act of mine, so that I could go than this, and in giving voice to this feelinto the office untrammelled, and be the ing, he has sometimes uttered strong exchief magistrate of the nation and not of pressions, which need to be taken in cona party
nection with the character and professional All who remember the correspondence occupations of the man, in order to be between the Department of War and rightly understood. As a soldier, on an General Taylor--the want of support of exposed and responsible post of duty, it which he had constantly to complain, and seemed to him proper that he should be the manifest jealousy of the administration an American, and nothing else. As a towards him on account of his successes patriot, and one who, though “a Whig, will be at no loss to understand what the and devoted in individual opinion to the General means, when he objects to the principles of that party," was also a soldier agitation of the subject of the Presidency and “no politician, having always held by the use of his name, and especially by
himself aloof from the clamors of party any party, so long as he had such high du- politics," he would have been glad, if such ties in the field to perform, and for the a thing were possible, that once more since efficient performance of which it was so the case of Washington, not to mention necessary that he should have, as far as that of Monroe, a President of these United possible, the full confidence both of the States might be elected by the common country and of the administration. It was voice of the people, and without their dinot for him, voluntarily, or by any act vision into rancorous and hostile parties. whatever of his own, to place himself At any rate, he seemed resolved from the openly before the country in an attitude of first, so far as he was concerned, not to political hostility to the President and his give encouragement to any mere party oradministration, under whose orders he was ganization to make him their candidate. operating in the field against the public The manner in which he constantly repelled enemy. If the people in any quarter the repeated advances of the Native should spontaneously move in the matter, American" party, is very significant. But he could not help it. He would do his language was consistent towards all nothing to encourage any movement of the parties. He did not desire to be a mere sort whatever, and as for political parties, party candidate, or elected to be the expoarrayed in opposition to the administration, nent of any mere party doctrines. If electhe would not, whatever might be his pri ed at all, he wished to be left at liberty, vate opinions, take such a lime to identify and he resolved he would be, to “ look to himself with any of them. At home, and the Constitution, and to the high interests in civil life, he could say, "I am a Whig, of our common country, and not to the and shall ever be devoted, in individual principles of a party, for his rules of acopinion, to the principles of that party;" | tion.' Where the principles of a party
agreed with his own, and squared, at the self withdraw his own name as a popular same time, both with the Constitution and candidate, in order to stand in the list of the high interests of the country, of course candidates before the Convention ; but he he would have no difficulty about them, or agreed that those friends of his who came about his rules of action;" and this, as into this Convention with his name, did, by we shall see directly, is exactly the state that act, so far as they were concerned, of things, and exactly his position in re- pledge themselves, and were bound, to gard to the principles of the Whig party. sustain the nominee of the Convention, Gen. Taylor thought it more becoming the whoever he might be. Considering the high dignity of such a position as that of attitude in which these friends stood toPresident of the United States, or that of wards him, this was virtually a withdrawal a candidate for the Presidency, to declare of his name wholly from the canvass, in the that “the Constitution, in a strict and event of some other person receiving the honest interpretation, and in the spirit and nomination of the Convention. The other mode in which it was acted upon by the thing to be understood in his behalf was, earlier Presidents, would be his chief that in no event should any pledges be guide” in that high office, rather than exacted of him as the candidate of the promise to do the will and bidding of any Whig party, beyond what might be implied party. And he thought also, no doubt in the sentiments already freely expressed and he adhered for a long time, with char- by him. acteristic and honest pertinacity, to this The question presents itself, whether the idea and this hope that a President, though Convention had sufficient evidence of the known to entertain sentiments consonant political sentiments of Gen. Taylor, to justo those of a particular party, and there- tify them, as Whigs, in putting him in fore supported as the nominee of that nomination, in the face of his declaration, party, would be all the more fortunate and that he would give them no pledges behappy, and all the more likely to be useful yond the general avowal of his sentiments to his country, if receiving at the same already before the public. What then time a popular support, irrespective of was known of his political opinions at the party. They were strictly popular move- sitting of the Convention ? 'We venture ments, or so they seemed to him, which to say, as much was known as could be first presented his name for President, and known of the opinions of any man not acit was in response to such movements that tually brought up in the din and strife of his assent to the use of his name was first party politics. He had already in repeatgiven. Having consented to occupy that ed instances declared that he was a Whig, position, it was not for him to withdraw though he took care uniformly to qualify from it, though others might withdraw the declaration with the remark, that he him if they chose. It was not inconsistent was not an ultra Whig. Still he was a with that position that he should receive Whig, and "should ever be devoled, in inand accept the nomination of a party, at dividual opinion, to the principles of that least of the Whig party, with whose prin- party.”. ciples his own were in accordance; but But he did not rest finally in this genethen it was necessary this should be done ral declaration. After the war was virtuwithout exacting from him any mere party ally over, and he was withdrawn from the pledges.
field, he put forth a more explicit and full Such, according to our understanding of declaration of his opinions. . And we prothe matter, was the position of Gen. Tay- pose now to place that document on lor down to the time of the holding of the record, at length, in this journal, received Philadelphia Convention. He was already as it was—in our judgment properly rebefore the people, in some quarters, as a ceived- as satisfactory to the Convention popular candidate irrespective of party: which nominated Gen. Taylor to the PresThe question now was, whether he should idency, and worthy to be received everybe made the candidate of the Whig party. where, by all true Whigs, as an exposition To this he was willing to assent; two of his principles, highly creditable to him, things, however, being expressly under- and wholly satisfactory to them. The stood. One was, that he could not him- | letter alluded to follows, and the best
Whig in the land may study it with profit | pen to occupy the Executive chair, ought not to and advantage:
control the action of Congress upon questions of
domestic policy; nor ought his objections to be inBaton Rouge, April 22, 1848.
terposed where questions of constitutional power DEAR SIR :-My opinions have recently have been settled by the various departments been so often misconceived and misrepresen- of government and acquiesced in by the people. ted, that I deem it due to myself, if not to my
Third. Upon the subjects of the tariff
, the friends, to make a brief exposition of them currency, the improvement of our great highupon the topics to which you have called my people, as expressed through their Representa
ways, rivers, lakes, and harbors, the will of the attention. I have consented to the use of my name as
tives in Congress, ought to be respected and a candidate for the Presidency. I have frankly carried out by the Executive. avowed my own distrust of my fitness for that
Fourth. The Mexican war. I sincerely rehigh station ; but having, at the solicitation of joice at the prospect of peace. My life has many of my countrymen, taken my position as
been devoted to arms, yet I look upon war at a candidate, I do not feel at liberty to surrender all times and under all circumstances as a nathat position until my friends manifest a wish tional calamity, to be avoided if compatible that I should retire from it. I will then most
with national honor. The principles of our gladly do so. I have no private purposes to Government, as well as its true policy, are opaccomplish, no party projects to build up, no posed to the subjugation of other nations and enemies to punish-nothing to serve but my
the dismemberment of other countries by concountry.
quest. In the language of the great WashingI have been very often addressed by letter, ton, “Why should we quit our own to stand on and my opinions have been asked upon almost foreign ground ?” In the Mexican war our every question that might occur to the writers national honor has been vindicated, amply vinas affecting the interests of their country or
dicated, and in dictating terms of peace, we their party. I have not always responded to may well afford to be forbearing and even these inquiries, for various reasons.
magnanimous to our fallen foe. I confess, whilst I have great cardinal prin
These are my opinions upon the subjects ciples which will regulate my political life
, 1 referred to by you ; and any reports or publica. am not sufficiently familiar with all the minute tions, written or verbal, from any source, differdetails of political legislation to give solemning in any essential particular from what is pledges to exert my influence, if I were Presi- here written, are unauthorized and untrue. dent, to carry out this or defeat that measure.
I do not know that I shall again write upon I have no concealment. I hold no opinion the subject of national politics. I shall engage which I would not readily proclaim to my as
in no schemes, no combinations, no intrigues. sembled countrymen; but crude impressions If the American people have not confidence in upon matters of policy, which may be right me, they ought not to give me their suffrages. to-day and wrong to-morrow, are, perhaps, not
If they do not, you know me well enough to the best test of fitness for office. One who believe me when I declare I shall be content. cannot be trusted without pledges cannot be I am too old a soldier to murmur against such confided in merely on account of them.
Z. TAYLOR. I will proceed, however, now to respond to
To Capt. J. S. Allison. your inquiries. First. 1 reiterate what I have often said-1
If we have been at all fortunate in the am a Whig, but not an ultra Whig. If elected
brief exposition we have attempted in this I would not be the mere President of a party.
article, of what constitutes, in our judgI would endeavor to act independent of party ment, the sum and essence of Whig princidomination. I should feel bound to administer ples, the reader who agrees to these printhe government untrammelled by party schemes. Second. The veto power. The power given
ciples cannot fail to discern at once, on by the Constitution to the executive to interpose
perusing this letter, that if there be a his veto, is a high conservative power; but in
Whig in this land—his own word being tamy opinion should never be exercised except in
ken for it—Zachary Taylor is one. Let it cases of clear violation of the Constitution, or be remembered all the while, that Gen. manifest haste and want of consideration by Taylor is no partisan-has not been brought Congress. Indeed, I have thought that, for up in the school of party-and is taken many years past, the known opinions and wishes from the camp and the field, to be our canof the Executive hare exercised undue and in- didate for President. Agreeing with us jurious influence upon the legislative department of the Government; and for this cause I have fully in feeling and sentiment, what should thought our system was in danger of undergoing
we expect him to say more than he has a great change from its true theory. The per
said in this letter ? Do we want him to sonal opinions of the individual who may hap-l be the President of a party, and not the