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ments. But it must not in the least be imagined that either party was Northern or Southern; for there were many Whigs in the South, and very many Democrats in the North. Moreover, it should be clearly grasped, though it is hard, that among Northern Democrats insistence on State rights did not involve the faintest leaning towards the doctrine of secession; on the contrary a typical Democrat would believe that these limitations to the power of the Union were the very things that gave it endurance and strength. Slavery, moreover, had friends and foes in both parties. If we boldly attempted to define the prevailing tone of the Democrats we might say that, while they and their opponents expressed loyalty to the Union and the Constitution, the Democrats would be prone to lay the emphasis upon the Constitution. Whatever might be the case with an average Whig, a man like Lincoln would be stirred in his heart by the general spirit of the country's institutions, while the typical Democrat of that time would dwell affectionately on the legal instruments and formal maxims in which that spirit was embodied.
Of the Whigs it is a little harder to speak definitely, nor is it very necessary, for in two only out of seven Presidential elections did they elect their candidate, and in each case that candidate then died, and in 1854 they perished as a party utterly and for ever. Just for a time they were identified with the "American policy" of Clay. When that passed out of favour they never really attempted to formulate any platform, or to take permanently any very definite stand. They nevertheless had the adherence of the ablest men of the country, and, as an opposition party to a party furnished much ground for criticism, they possessed an attraction for generous youth.
The Democrats at once, and the Whigs not long after them, created elaborate party machines, on the need of which Jackson insisted as the only means of really giving influence to the common people. The prevailing system and habit of local self-government made such organisa.
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tion easy. Men of one party in a township or in a county assembled, formulated their opinions, and sent delegates with instructions, more or less precise, to party conventions for larger areas, these would send delegates to the State Convention and these in turn to the National Convention of the Party. The party candidates for the Presidency, as well as for all other elective positions, were and are thus chosen, and the party plat
or declaration of policy was and is thus formulated. Such machinery, which in England is likely always to play a less important part, has acquired an evil name. At the best there has always been a risk that a platform" designed to detach voters from the opposite party will be an insincere and eviscerated document, by which active public opinion is rather muzzled than expressed. There has been a risk too that the "available" candidate should be some blameless nonentity, to whom no one objects, and whom therefore no one really wants. But it must be observed that the rapidity with which such organisation was taken up betokened the prevalence of a widespread and keen interest in political affairs.
The days of really great moneyed interests and of corruption of the gravest sort were as yet far distant, but one demoralising influence was imposed upon the new party system by its author at its birth. Jackson, in his perpetual fury, believed that office holders under the more or less imaginary ruling clique that had held sway were a corrupt gang, and he began to turn them out. He was encouraged to extend to the whole country a system which had prevailed in New York and with which Van Buren was too familiar. “To the victors belong the spoils,” exclaimed a certain respectable Mr. Marcy. A wholesale dismissal of office holders large and small, and replacement of them by sound Democrats, soon took place. Once started, the "spoils system could hardly be stopped. Thenceforward there was a standing danger that the party machine would be in the hands of a crew of jobbers and dingy hunters after petty offices. England, of course, has had and now has
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practices theoretically as indefensible, but none pos. sessing any such sinister importance. It is hard, there. fore, for us to conceive how little of really vicious intent was necessary to set this disastrous influence going. There was no trained Civil Service with its unpartisan traditions. In the case of offices corresponding to those of our permanent heads of departments it seemed reasonable that the official should, like his chief the Minister concerned, be a person in harmony with the President. As to the smaller offices--the thousands of village postmasterships and so forth-one man was likely to do the work as well as another; the dispossessed official could, in the then condition of the country, easily find another equally lucrative employment; “turn and turn about" seemed to be the rule of fair play.
There were now few genuine issues in politics. Compromise on vital questions was understood to be the highest statesmanship. The Constitution itself, with its curious system of checks and balances, rendered it difficult to bring anything to pass. Added to this was a party system with obvious natural weaknesses, infected from the first with a dangerous malady. The political life, which lay on the surface of the national life of America, thus began to assume an air of futility, and, it must be added, of squalor. Only, Englishmen, recollecting the feebleness and corruption which marked their aristocratic government through a great part of the eighteenth century, must not enlarge their phylacteries at the expense of American democracy. And it is yet more important to remember that the fittest machinery for popular government, the machinery through which the real judgment of the people will prevail, can only by degrees and after many failures be devised. Popular government was then young, and it is young still.
So much for the great world of politics in those days. But in or about 1830 a Quaker named Lundy had, as Quakers used to say, a concern to walk 125 miles through the snow of a New England winter and speak his mind to William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was a
poor man who, like Franklin, had raised himself as a working printer, and was now occupied in philanthropy. Stirred up by Lundy, he succeeded after many painful experiences, in gaol and among mobs, in publishing in Boston on January 1, 1831, the first number of the Liberator. In it he said: “I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. I will be as hard as truth and as uncompromising as justice. I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard." This was the beginning of the new Abolitionist movement. The Abolitionists, in the main, were impracticable people; Garrison in the end proved otherwise. Under the existing Constitution, they had nothing to propose but that the free States should withdraw from “their covenant with death and agreement with hell”-in other words, from the Union --whereby they would not have liberated one slave. They included possibly too many of that sort who would seek salvation by repenting of other men's sins. But even these did not indulge this propensity at their ease, for by this time the politicians, the polite world, the mass of the people, the churches (even in Boston), not merely avoided the dangerous topic; they angrily proscribed it. The Abolitionists took their lives in their hands, and sometimes lost them. Only two men of standing helped them: Channing, the great preacher, who sacrificed thereby a fashionable congrega: tion; and Adams, the sour, upright, able ex-President, the only ex-President who ever made for himself an aftercareer in Congress. In 1852 a still more potent ally came to their help, a poor lady, Mrs. Beecher Stowe, who in that year published “Uncle Tom's Cabin," often said to have influenced opinion more than any other book of modern times. Broadly speaking, they accomplished two things. If they did not gain love in quarters where they might have looked for it, they gained the very valuable hatred of their enemies; for they goaded Southern politicians to fury and madness, of which the first symptom was their effort to suppress Abolitionist petitions to Con
gress. But above all they educated in their labour of thirty years a school of opinion, not entirely in agreement with them but ready one day to revolt with decision from continued complicity in wrong.
6. Slavery and Southern Society. In the midst of this growing America, a portion, by no means sharply marked off, and accustomed to the end to think itself intensely American, was distinguished by a peculiar institution. What was the character of that institution as it presented itself in 1830 and onwards ?
Granting, as many slave holders did, though their leaders always denied it, that slavery originated in foul wrongs and rested legally upon a vile principle, what did it look like in its practical working? Most of us have received from two different sources two broad but vivid general impressions on this subject, which seem hard to reconcile but which are both in the main true. On the one hand, a visitor from England or the North, coming on a visit to the South, or in earlier days to the British West Indies, expecting perhaps to see all the horror of slavery at a glance, would be, as a young British officer once wrote home, "most agreeably undeceived as to the situation of these poor people." He would discern at once that a Southern gentleman had no more notion of using his legal privilege to be cruel to his slave than he himself had of overdriving his old horse. He might easily on the contrary find quite ordinary slave owners who had a very decided sense of responsibility in regard to their human chattels. Around his host's house, where the owner's children, petted by a black nurse, played with the little black children or with some beloved old negro, he might see that pretty aspect of our institution at the South,” which undoubtedly created in many young Southerners as they grew up a certain amount of genuine sentiment in favour of slavery. Riding wider afield he might be struck, as General Sherman was, with the contentment of the negroes whom he