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PASSAGES FROM A POLITICIAN'S NOTE-BOOK.
THE NEXT PRESIDENCY.
ARE we to have everything our own way the next time,-to walk leisurely over the course without crack of whip or prick of spur,-as so many of our sanguine friends, under the elation of the late Democratic reactions, seem to expect? They are vastly mistaken who lay so flattering an unction to their souls.
There is no doubt, indeed, that we shall reap an overwhelming triumph in the election of '44, unless we forfeit by not deserving it. We have it in our power to secure it with ease,with equal ease we may throw it away, if such is our preference. On the part of some of our friends it would seem to be almost a matter of indifference which.
The present position of the Democratic Party is an extremely critical one. During the last Presidential contest we saw, on the side of our opponents, the singular spectacle of a great party diametrically diverse in their principles, yet united on their men; we seem now in some danger of our selves exhibiting the reversed attitude, of antagonism of men with harmony of principles, for the partial diversity of opinion on the Tariff question, existing in certain portions of the country, is not sufficient seriously to affect this general truth. The different sections of the Union have their respective statesmen who are the objects of their peculiar attachment, pride, and hope, and whose claims they are ill disposed to see subordinated or postponed to those of any other of the same or similar general rank in the scale of political prominence. The working of our system of institutions has by this time developed this tendency, the germ of which was early manifest, to a degree which must make it, now and henceforth, one of the most important of the elements in our politics. The tendency is to a certain sectionality, to which as a fact we cannot shut our eyes, but which, properly allowed for and managed, is not incompatible with perfectly harmonious unity. The disribution of the different interests and
sympathies of our population into an East, a Centre, a South, and a West, is no less distinct and real than the corresponding demarcations to be traced in blue, yellow, and red, on a school map. In each of these naturally arises its political chief,-the strongest and greatest of its public men, about whom, as their centre, those of a secondary grade as naturally group or cluster, the representative of his section and fullest embodiment of its spirit and character. We speak particularly of the Democratic party, which is the proper and permanent governing party of the country; the opposition to it, under various forms and phases, being only a negative force, acting irregularly and incoherently, and without any such solid or steady cohesion as to admit the slow development of such a principle of organization as that referred to. It is needless to point to the existing practical illustration of the double truth of which we speak, namely, the absence of this sectional division of political geography and political leadership on the part of the Whigs, and its distinct and strongly marked existence on our own. Out of this state of things grows now, and will probably continue to grow, the most serious danger to the stability of the Democratic ascendency. We must beware of allowing this sectionality to run into disunion, this emulation into antagonism,-this natural preference for our own into unjust prejudice against the equal rights of others. Our eyes open to the danger, we must be the more cautious to shun it. The unity of the Party must be the common central aim of all, to which all must come prepared to sacrifice, and sacrifice with cheerful good-will, alike our preferences and our prejudices. It is too late now to apply to this evil the remedy which must soon be sought in a change of the constitutional tenure of the Presidency-too late for application to the coming election. We must deal with the case as it now stands, in that spirit of concession and har mony, which, while it certainly can
command success, is, at the same time, in the present state of our Party, indispensable to it. Afterward we must address ourselves to the duty of reforming the defect in the working of our institutions which reveals itself in this result, of the conflicting attitude of these great political interests and ambitions. It is only to be done by reducing the Presidential term to two years, or (still better)-to one. With out restriction on the right of reelection, the practice of three or four years' incumbency would soon grow into a common law of usage, while at the same time elastic and open to occasional exception under extraordinary circumstances. A harmonious rotation would thus carry the succession round the main sections of our political geography, embracing in fair turn all the individuals naturally entitled to that high aspiration, within the limits of age-say from fifty to about sixty-five or six-within which that class must always be found.
or arrogantly and intolerantly avowing their determination to run their candidates before the people, with or without the adoption of a Convention-all such, we say, will prove themselves, by such a line of conduct, as false friends to those whose claims they would thus urge, as to that great party and its great principles, to which are due our first and highest loyalty and love.
But for the present, we repeat, we must deal with the case as we find it. Everything for the Whole and nothing for any of the Parts, must be our motto. Selecting, through the agency of a Convention, the candidate best able to unite the Democracy of the Union, toward his election all must bend every energy, with the single aim of one final blow of annihilation to the Bank and Tariff cause, and of adequate rebuke to the great political fraud and farce of 1840. In making this choice, from the range of safe selection open to us, where blindfold chance could scarcely go astray, we know no better rule than that that man ought certainly not to be taken who, directly or through his leading friends, should exhibit the least disposition to throw discord and confusion into the ranks of his party, at a time when all the reverse is so imperatively needed. All must go into the Convention with the virtual pledge of mutual faith and loyalty, all to give a cordial support to the one in whose favor the choice of the majority shall be found to preponderate. Those friends of either who urge the claims of their peculiar preference in a spirit of arrogant exclusiveness-sowing the seeds of ill-will and prejudice against other rivals, destined to spring up into apathy, if not hostility, in the event of the success of either of those othersVOL. XII.-NO. LV.
But claims!-who has a right to speak of "claims" to such an honor as the Presidency of this great nation? Desert loses instantly all its character of merit, all the ground on which it can ask for either gratitude or confidence, the moment it pretends to erect itself into a right, and to put forward the word or the idea of its claims. No man, be he the best and ablest, can do more than his simple duty to his country. No man whose motive of action springs from any other source than his conviction of truth and his devotion to duty, is entitled to any degree of either gratitude or applause for any displays of power he may have exhibited in the arena of political life, or for any practical services he may have there rendered on the one side or the other of the great lines of party. Their merit consists in their spirit, which is to be judged from every accessible evidence; and no more significant proof can be shown that, not disinterested love of country, not earnest enthusiasm of conviction, has constituted the impelling motive of a statesman's career, but a mere selfish and successful sagacity, pursuing the aims of a far-seeing and far-reaching ambition, than to witness him-(we say, to witness him, because a prominent political man cannot disconnect himself from the responsibility of a course of conduct pursued, unforbidden, by his principal partisans and friends)—than to witness him putting forward the good deserts and services of his public life as a basis of pretended right to public reward or compensation. In the dispensation of a President's own official patronage, whenever a candidate is seen to ground his application, or with his personal knowledge and consent to allow it to be grounded, on the "claims" derived from his political services, it ought instantly to be decisive against him and his pretensions. Such a Democrat deserves little thanks for the past and
less trust for the future. The same of Federalism and a Federal Bank principle is applicable to candidateship before the people for the Presidency itself.
A general Convention-peace and good-will before its selection of the Democratic candidate, unanimity and zeal after it-and those unquiet ghosts
which still haunt us, spectral though embodied in a form of Clay, are for ever laid at the deepest bottom of the Red Sea, no more, in our day and generation, to
"Revisit the glimpses of the moon, Making night hideous!"
MONTHLY FINANCIAL AND COMMERCIAL ARTICLE.
WE cannot notice any material change in the aspect of commercial affairs since the date of our last. Agricultural produce has continued to move steadily forward, and to sell in fair amounts for specie; at prices, however, so low as to leave but little surplus after paying expenses, freight, commissions, &c. This is a preparatory step to better business. The country is becoming supplied with a sound circulation, and when it shall have attained a sufficiency, some improvement will be felt in the movements of trade. The commerce of the country is almost suffocated under the onerous impositions of the late tariff, the arbitrary provisions of which tend to concentrate the importation of those descriptions of goods which are at all admissible under the high duties, into the hands of the wealthy few, to the utter exclusion and ruin of men of small capital. Under the new system, a person with limited means, having a consignment of foreign goods to sell on commission, is obliged to raise in cash the amount of the invoice to secure the duties, in order to effect his entry. He is thus bound hand and foot. He cannot move in the matter, and the whole is turned over to those of large means. This is ruinous in the extreme. The whole mercantile marine and the commercial interests,
which are identical with those of the great agricultural interests of the whole country, are perishing under an aristocratic law passed with the avowed object of benefiting one class at the expense of all the rest. The effect of this state of affairs upon the value of money is obvious. There can be no increased demand for mercantile enterprises under these circumstances. The promised investments of capital in manufacturing were delusive. No one will invest in that business, when the means of the best customers (the agriculturalists) for manufactured goods are destroyed by depriving them of their foreign market for their surplus, which is done by prohibiting the means of payment from returning. The comparatively small capital required for the export of produce paid for in specie, absorbs but little of the funds of capitalists, and limits the call upon the banks for their "facilities." Hence, money is very abundant at low rates of interest, say four to five per cent., with every prospect of so continuing for some time to come. This state of the market for the employment of money naturally increases the investments in stocks, and such as are of undoubted character improve in price. The following is a table of the prices of stocks in New York at various dates:
This table embraces a period of several changes in public opinion in relation to stocks as an investment. In August, 1841, they stood at rates at which they had been supported under the delusive promises of the party newly come to power, whose measures were by magic to restore value to baseless speculation, and to satisfy the creditors of bankrupt States, corporations, and individuals, without recourse to taxation.
In the latter part of August, the distribution law was passed. Its illusive nature was discovered at the moment of its perfection, and stocks began to fall. They were accelerated in their decline by the discovery that the attempts to sustain insolvent Štates, at the expense of a needy federal Treasury, had destroyed the credit of the General Government, without effecting the object for which that error was committed. This fact was discovered in the inability of the government to borrow a few millions of dollars at six per cent. interest. The policy of the then prevailing party in the New York Legislature, was to increase the State debt without much regard to the means of discharging it. This fact, with the condition of the Federal Government, and the failure of six States on the 1st of January, influenced all stocks, and the result
78 79 a 80 80 a 83
85 a 87 844 a 85
was the great fall evinced in the figures under date of February 15th, 1842, as compared with those of August, 1841. At that moment a new influence was exerted in the State of New York, and a new policy pursued. The amount of the State indebtedness was limited to a point marked out, beyond which borrowing was not to extend. At the same time a tax was levied for the express purpose of paying the State interest under any possible contingency that might arise, and the proceeds of the tax were pledged for the discharge of a new debt authorized to be borrowed at seven per cent. This was the first instance of taxation to pay debts, and its beneficial influence was immediately felt not only on the stocks of this State but all others. Under its influence they continued to rise until they reached the figures embraced in the third column of prices. At that time the Whig party were. actively electioneering for power under the banner of "repudiation." That word indeed was not expressed, but the avowed policy was to increase the debt after the faith of the State had been pledged that it should not be increased, and to repeal a tax pledged for the payment of money borrowed, before that money is repaid. The avowal of this policy alarmed capitalists, and, instead of continuing to
rise, prices actually gave way up to the moment of the election, when they stood as recorded in the column under that date.
The result of the election, as is well known, was a ruinous defeat of the repudiating party, and consequently a complete restoration of confidence in the stocks of this State, and, as expressed in our last Number, producing the rise evinced in the last column. Some of the other States have been struggling in dishonor. The State of Pennsylvania made a vain attempt to sell some of its public property with the view of meeting the claims of its creditors. She has as yet taken no efficient steps towards retrieving her dishonor. The Governor of Indiana in his late message, gives no hope that any means can be speedily adopted in that State towards paying its debt. The State of Ohio has also made an injudicious move, forced upon her by her former iniquitous intercourse with her insolvent banks, from which she borrowed large sums of money. From the Franklin Bank and the Bank of Chillicothe, she borrowed $1,031,000 to be repaid in instalments at a time dependent upon the period when the banks should by law be forced to resume specie payments. Of this sum, $200,000 fell due on the first of December, and was discharged by a sale of the six per cent. stocks of the State at sixty-nine per cent. That State, however, expects to complete during the present season the Miami Extension Canal, which will unite with, and give an outlet to, the Indiana Canal, and it is hoped will yield revenue sufficient to make up the deficiency in the means of the State.
Under all these circumstances, taking into consideration the probable continued plenteousness of money, it is fair to conclude, that good stocks will retain their present buoyancy, more particularly as the accounts from the other side by late arrivals give indications of a considerable change in feeling on the part of the large capitalists and land owners in regard to American stocks, produced in some degree by the position of the State of New York; and also by the fear that the example and doctrine so freely discussed on this side of the Atlantic, and which
attracts so much attention on that side, in relation to the binding of one generation for the debts of a former one, may spread in Europe, and the oppressed and starving masses may revolutionize and destroy the paper system with its incumbent aristocracy, tyranny, and taxation. The apprehension of such an effect of the workings of the public mind does more towards inducing a spirit of compromise than anything else. No doubt England, as a whole, would gladly forgive the debt, if it could be obliterated and forgotten. As it is, there is a strong desire to conciliate on the part of capitalists, while the press of England is unceasing in its libels on American institutions. The cash principles of the Republic, as opposed to aristocratic credit, are as much to be dreaded, as was the propagandism of Republican France in opposition to despotic rule. In this view, some disposition to purchase American stocks, with the purpose of encouraging the issuers into some method of amicable arrangement, is apparent. Some few orders for the low-priced stocks were received by the late steamers.
This view of affairs has been in some degree heightened by the prospective state of the trade between the two countries. England buys of the United States annually $30,000,000 of cotton, and $5,000,000 of tobaccoarticles which she must have, and which under the new tariff can scarcely be paid for in aught else but specie, which cannot be done without sapping the foundation of her whole paper system. This operation has practically commenced, the last few steamers having brought near $1,000,000; and large sums are now on the way with every prospect of a continuance of the demand. As the specie arrives, it continues to move south and west. The largest amounts seek Mobile and New Orleans. At the latter city several of the banks have returned to specie payments, fulfilling the anticipations to that effect in our last Number; others have gone into liquidation. The following are the institutions now in operation in that city, with their capitals and leading features at the latest dates: