Saturday, September 26, 1840.
A large meeting of the Workingmen was held in this city to receive the Report of their Committee to draft an Address. Of that paper, contained in this day’s Globe, we invoke the candid perusal of every man who has an interest (and what honest man has not?) in the productive industry of our country. Though not addressed to the tobacco, rice, sugar, and cotton planters, its principles are as interesting and important to them as to the humblest farmer of the North. The same course of legislation which taxes the products of the small farm, taxes also those of the most extensive plantations, and it is equally the interest of the owners of both to preserve them as free as possible from exactions, direct or indirect. In this fundamental principle is found the basis of that natural alliance between the South and the Democracy of the North, which Mr. Jefferson announced and recommended as the security of both.
The violent spirit of modem Federalism was again illustrated on this occasion. In addition to the stale resort to the cry of fire, and other noises, white Mr. Cunningham was reading the Address to a quiet and listening crowd, a stone or brickbat was thrown among them, inflicting a severe wound on the face of Mr. R.S. Clemens, of Georgetown. If the assassin could have been identified at that moment, he would probably never have endangered the life of a workingman again.
Has it indeed come to this, that the workingmen –those who confer on our country all its wealth and greatness– cannot meet to announce their principles and peacefully discuss public affairs without danger of assassination ? If exposed to such danger now, what are they to expect when HARD CIDER becomes the ruling power of our land ? But in what is this assassin spirit, which throws brickbats into crowds of peaceful workingmen, worse than the threats of the federal leaders, who declare they will put them down by MURDEROUS WAR if they will not consent to be governed by falsehood and fraud ? It is all in the same spirit –all an evidence of a disposition “to rule in hell rather than serve in heaven”– all indicating a determination to silence, conquer, and if need be, KILL the workingmen here, as they are silenced, conquered and killed by their lords and masters in the old world ! Woe be to him who shall raise his hand in violence in open day ! The assassin in the dark may escape; but if his insolent master dare to lift a weapon in open day, to execute his threats, he will find every farm an empire, every workshop a fortress, and every tree a gallows.
Capital speeches were made at the meeting by two workingmen of Baltimore –one of them a journeyman painter, Mr. Seidenstricker, and the other a journeyman shoemaker, Mr. Gallagher, who quit his bench in Baltimore at 3 o’clock, to address his brethren from the rostrum in Washington.
Adjourned Meeting of the Workingmen of the District of Columbia.
On Wednesday evening [September 23rd, 1840.] one of the largest meetings ever held in the City of Washington, was convened in the square in front of the Franklin Engine-house. The Democracy of Washington, Alexandria, and Georgetown, turned out in their strength to evince their continued support of those principles preserved lo them by the blood of their fathers.
Mr. Hanly took the chair and called the meeting to order; when the committee appointed at the last meeting to prepare an address, reported that they had performed that duty, and presented the annexed address, which was read to the assembled multitude, adopted, and 20,000 copies ordered to be printed by acclamation.
Mr. Gallagher, a mechanic from Baltimore, was then presented to the meeting, and addressed the people in one of the most fervent, eloquent, and heart stirring appeals that ever fell from the lips of man. He depicted in glowing colors the means the Federalists were using to impose upon the workingmen, and their contempt for the understanding of the people by their senseless parades of log cabins, coon skins, hard cider barrels. Every sentence was echoed by the shouts of the assembled freemen; and when he closed, three cheers were given for the Baltimore mechanic.
He was followed by Mr. Seidenstricker, (another Baltimore mechanic,) who showed up the fraud and corruption of the British Whigs, both at the ballot box and in the legislative halls; handled Webster’s project of a high tariff in a masterly manner, and held up to the people the principles of the two parties, and the respective candidates to carry out those principles and measures; the one in the vigor of life, the first statesman of the age, and possessed of firmness and moral courage –the other without talents or fixed principles, physically incompetent to the high station of President, and used as a mere instrument of the Federal party, to carry an election, and enable them to introduce their principles into the administration of the Government.
Mr. Arnold of this city being called upon, came forward, and excused himself on account of the lateness of the hour; when, after a vote of thanks to the committee who prepared the address, and to the speakers, and the appointment of a committee to receive contributions to pay for the printing of the address, the meeting adjourned.
The committee are as follows, viz:
RR. Shechles, C.L. Jones —Georgetown, D.C.
C.W.C. Dunnington, Francis Reiley, Philip Ennes, Jas. R. Taite —Washington
James Payne, William B. Thomas —Alexandria
We separate you from other portions of society in this address, not because we consider you entitled to precedence before the rest but to call your attention to your peculiar condition, and attempt to induce you to assert that equality which you are entitled to, but do not enjoy. Constituting a vast majority of the people, you ought to have, according to the theory of our institutions, a preponderating influence in the government. The creators of all the wealth in the country, you ought, if yourselves prudent and wise, to possess, in the highest degree, the comforts it confers.
Does it require any argument to prove that to the working men is every country indebted for its wealth and its power ? It is their hands which clear off the forest, build the houses, till the soil, and exercise all those mechanic arts by which civilized society is built up, sustained, and enriched. What wealth is there in the most fertile soil, without the hands to till it ? What riches are there in mines of silver or gold, copper or iron, without hands to dig up and purify the metal ? How could the manufactory and railroad be constructed without working men, and what profit would they yield to their proprietors without labourers to manage and keep them in order ? If the working man were to cease his labour, the business of the world would stop. It is he who not only raises the fruit, the grain, the cattle, the sheep, the cotton, the linen, and the silk, which feed and clothe the high as well as the low, the rich as well as the poor, but it is he who prepares them for market, who drives the cart and the wagon, manages the car, and navigates as well as builds boat and the ship which convey them from place to place and from nation to nation. If he were but for a single year to withdraw his aid from what are called the higher classes of mankind, with what dismay and poverty and suffering would they be overwhelmed ! Thrones and hierarchies, principalities and powers, all those costly and splendid establishments built up by the sweat and toil of the human race, would vanish like the gorgeous clouds of a summer sky. The millions of little streams which pour their united torrents of wealth into the coffers of the few, would be dried up; the bank stock-holder, and the holders of government stocks, the lord with his thousand tenants, and the merchant with his hundred ships, the capitalist with his stock in manufactories, and turnpikes would stand aghast at the loss of his income, and those who now assume to be the highest among mankind would find themselves as helpless and miserable as their coachmen and their gardeners.
What makes one man better than another ? Are not all made of the same earth ? Do not all breathe the same air, eat similar food, and drink the same water ? Are not all alike endued with the same immortal mind, all alike created in the image of their Maker ? Have not all similar thews and sinews ? Are not all, in a degree, alike improveable in their physical powers and mental faculties ? Are they not alike in their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, their passions, appetites, and aspirations ?
With this natural similarity among men, why, as a class, do those who create all the wealth of the world enjoy the least of it ? Why is it that so many of those who hold in their hands the power of the human race, are everywhere found, under one name or another, toiling for masters ? Is it because the mass of mankind have everywhere suffered themselves to be conquered like the horse, and driven like the ox ? It is because, sunk in ignorance, blinded by superstition, dazzled by show, and misled by multiplied arts, they have suffered themselves to be led, driven, worked, and butchered, with a docility almost equal to that of the brutes which they themselves lead, drive, ride, and butcher. It is because they have not duly cultivated the immortal mind which God has given them as a guide and a shield. It is because, in the blindness of the mind, the mighty arm in which rests the strength of nations has hung powerless by their side, or if nerved to action by a sense of oppression or a glimpse of heaven-born liberty, it has wasted its strength in furious, ill-directed, and ineffectual blows, and sunk again to rest, paralyzed by the spasmodic effort. It is because the working men of the earth have not made themselves sufficiently acquainted with their own rights or power, or the means of safely vindicating the one by the exertion of the other.
We are not levellers. God has made some men superior to others in physical and mental power. To these distinctions and their just consequences we submit with implicit faith in the wisdom of their author. To protect the strong against the combinations of the weak, as well as the weak against the power of the strong, we hold to be the first duty of government. To protect the property rightfully acquired by the strong, however unequal it may be, we hold to be as much the duty of the government as to protect the humbler possessions of the weak. To the advantages of superior strength, intelligence, and skill, so exercised as to wrong no one, we hold every man to be entitled, and that it is the duty of government to protect him in their full enjoyment. By the equality of man we mean only an equality of rights and an equality of protection in his person and in his property, honestly acquired, and not an equal distribution of property or an equality of condition.
While we hold it to be the duty of government thus to protect even the strong, we deny its right to add to these advantages by human legislation. We deny its right to double his strength or double his property, thus giving him advantages over his fellow-man in addition to those he derives from his Maker. We deny its right to change the relative position in which God has placed man to man, to cut the sinews of the strong, or strengthen the arm of the weak, to take from the poor and give to the rich, or from the rich and give to the poor; but we maintain, that its only duty is to protect all, strong or weak, rich or poor, in the enjoyment of personal security and the property honestly acquired by their own industry and skill.
Working men in modern times.—
Within a few centuries past the art of printing, added to the extension of commercial intercourse, has been gradually awakening the sleeping giant, and the individual man begins to understand his rights, interests, and duties. In Europe an all-powerful public opinion has, in most nations, taken the place of the will of princes and kings; and a larger portion of the human race have a voice, directly or indirectly, in their own government. This public opinion, however, is derived in but a moderate degree from those who possess the physical power, and create the wealth of nations, and can be considered, as to them, only the dawn of that glorious day, when the sun of knowledge shall illuminate and set free the minds and bodies of men in every condition, however humble.
But before the old establishments which kept so large a portion of the working men in bondage, have been swept away, new ones have sprung up tending, through other means, to the same end. Under the feudal system, which in England grew out of the Saxon conquest, the mass of the people were bound to labour for their respective military chieftains in peace, and follow them in war, without the semblance of personal independence. Blind and implicit obedience was considered as much a duty as it was in ancient times among the subjects of eastern despots; and he who refused it died the death of a traitor. This state of things has passed away; but that which has succeeded it is but little better for those who live by the labour of their hands. To the lords of man who sprung out of the wars of barbarous ages, now vanishing from the scene, have succeeded a new set, to whom the subjection of the working men is scarcely less absolute or oppressive, although they are mocked with the name of liberty. They are not obliged, it is true, like their ancestors, to follow their chieftains to war; but they are subject to be dragged by press-gangs from their homes and families whenever their services are needed in the army or navy. They do not, like their ancestors, work for masters by that name; but the profits of their labour are quite as effectually appropriated to the use of others through taxes exacted by government, the church, and corporations, as when the means of subsistence were all they could claim. They have lost the aid and comfort of masters in times of sickness and distress, and the equivalent they have gained is the name of liberty without the reality.
The British credit system.—
As we have copied our institutions in a great degree from England, it becomes Americans seriously to inquire into the causes which have produced and maintain the degradation of the working classes in that kingdom, and profit by their warnings.
The taxes to support the government, with its great military and naval establishments, its army of civil officers, sinecurists, and pensioners, and to pay the interest on the national debt, constitute the overwhelming burden which bows to the earth the working man of the British isles. Her banking system has had no small influence in creating this burden; and by its own exactions and the fluctuations in business, which it produces, has greatly added to its weight.
In 1694 the English government wanted money, and, in consideration of a loan of £1,200,000, granted those banking privileges which originated the Bank of England. In consideration of another loan of £400,000 in 1708, the charter was continued, and the capital increased to £4,402,343. It was subsequently increased to £15,000,000 or over $70,000,000.
There had previously been banks but they were banks not authorized to lend their credit as money. The merit of inventing a plan by which credit is made to take the place of money, the shadow of the substance, and falsehood of truth, belongs exclusively to the English. That the working men not only of England, but of the rest of the world, have been in many ways the victims of this new system, is fast becoming the conviction of mankind.
The Bank of England, as we have seen, sprung out of a national debt, and the two grew up together, forming parts of a great “credit system.” It was in effect a combination or copartnership between the government and the stock-holders of the bank to tax people for their common benefit. The government borrowed their money and taxed the people to pay the interest; and, in consideration of the loan, it authorized the stock-holders to lend their credit to the people as money in the shape of bank-notes, and tax them to pay interest upon it. Thus the national debt and individual indebtedness grew up together, while the interest on both had to be paid, directly or indirectly, by the labour of the working men.
How the British credit system defrauds mankind.—
By the common consent of civilized man, gold and silver have been adopted as a standard of value, and governments have stamped certain marks upon them by which the quantity and quality of each is readily recognized without weighing or analysis. By this standard, thus prepared, the value of labour, and of everything bought and sold, is compared and regulated. To debase the coin of a country –that is, to lessen the quantity of pure metal which it contains, still requiring it to pass at the same rate– is a fraud upon mankind which has been denounced by all history. It not only defrauds the creditor out of a portion of his just dues, but it virtually takes from the seller a part of his goods, and cheats the working man out of a part of his wages. What can be said in favour of any other measure which notoriously produces the same result ? Yet such is the effect of the British system, which converts credit into currency. Every credit dollar or bank-note added to the mass, so long as it is redeemable in specie, has the same effect in depreciating the whole as if another specie dollar were added. Millions of credit dollars added have the same effect as millions of specie dollars; every specie dollar becomes less valuable than it was, as effectually as if it were debased by copper; the creditor gets less than his debt; the seller less than the just price; the labourer less than his stipulated wages. Thus, the debasing of the currency by the Sultan of Turkey in mixing it with copper, and its depreciation by the government of England in mixing it with credit paper, produce the same effect on the trading and working interests, and ought to be classed together in history, as they stand in the same class in morals.
Indeed, the Sultan’s fraud operates on few except his own subjects, and is temporary in its effects, while that of the British government extends to the whole commercial world, and is repeated as often as the bank through which it is produced increased its issues. In Turkey all classes soon become familiar with the real value of the debased currency, and the prices of labour, and all things sold, nominally rise, and thus accommodate themselves to the standard, while the currency of the rest of the world remains unaffected. But in England the value of the currency is never stationary. Millions of credit are thrown into it in the shape of bank-notes redeemable in specie, which produces a redundancy and depreciation. The specie part of it thus depreciated, being more valuable in other countries where it has not been mixed with credit, is exported; and being added to the general mass abroad, depreciates the currency and affects contracts and prices throughout the commercial world.
Suddenly the over-issues of the bank inordinate speculation, short crops, the policy of the bank, or other causes, produce curtailment of the currency in England, a consequent increase of its value, and finally a returning current of the precious metals from abroad, which also increases the value of the currency in other countries. The value of all debts is augmented, the price of property falls, improvements cease, manufacturing interrupted, and the working man who was defrauded in the depreciation, is often ruined in the reverse operation by being deprived of all employment. These fluctuations, though felt in all the civilized world, operate with tenfold force in England, where the tide is raised higher and sunk lower than in other countries, to produce the currents which cause them. Thus, an eternal round of expansion and contraction, reducing the value of his wages one month, and throwing him out of employment the next, tortures and impoverishes the working man of England, inflicts wrong and injury on the rest of civilized man, and benefits no class which deserves the favour of government. If the mechanic and other labouring men appear to prosper awhile in the flood-tide of expansion, they soon find themselves, like the fish whom the swell of the ocean has tempted to revel among the high grass of the marshes, left by the ebb, gasping for their native element, and struggling for life.
The mischiefs to the working classes do not stop here. They bear in a measure the responsibility of the credit currency, which to them yields nothing but unqualified evil. On every bank note they receive, they become, while they keep it, the security of the bankers who issue it. If the bank become insolvents the loss is thrown upon them by a process much more rapid than a recovery from an ordinary endorser in a court of justice. If the stock of the bank, in consequence of fraud or mismanagement, is not sufficient to pay its notes, the working men are doomed, not only to mourn over their losses in silence, but to see the very men who have committed the frauds or profited by them, exempt by law from all pecuniary or personal responsibility, enjoy unbounded wealth and revel in luxury, as if in derision of all that is honest and right among men.
Such is a faint picture of the condition in which the Bank of England and the country banks founded on similar principles, have placed the working men of that kingdom. But the whole truth is not yet told.
How the British credit system was completed.—
The partnership between the bank and the government has produced a national debt unprecedented among men, and utterly beyond hope of redemption. Much of this debt was contracted in hiring the working men of Germany and the British Isles to shoot the working men of America in a vain effort to reduce our fathers to bondage. A much larger portion sprang from hiring the working men of the rest of Europe to mangle and kill those of France, who, having broke the fetters which kingcraft had been for ages twining around their limbs, and stimulated to madness by the coalition of despots to re-enslave them, were marching from victory to victory and endangering the royal establishments of the European continent and of England herself. To save those establishments required an extraordinary effort. In that effort the glories of the “credit system” were eminently displayed. By order of the government the Bank of England suspended payment, and remained in a state of suspension twenty-six years. Her depreciated notes were a tender. The government exchanged its own credit for that of the bank, and forced the bank-notes upon its soldiers, its sailors, and its people. With the aid of this stupendous system of credit and fraud, it kept up armies and navies, and subsidized nations; it did much to induce the working men of France to submit to an emperor, and then save their chosen emperor a refuge and a grave in a distant isle of the ocean.
But if the French people had been as just and prudent as they were patriotic and brave, the energies of the “credit system” would have been spent upon them in vain, and they would now have been enjoying peace, liberty, and a glorious prosperity in the midst of regenerated Europe.
What did nine-tenths of the English people gain by the resistance of their government, first to the storm of revolution, and then to the ambition of the ruling spirit, who was thrown up by its convulsions ? Are they more happy or more free than before the carnage began ? Has the blood of Aboukir or Trafalgar, of Talavera or Waterloo, brought deliverance or comfort to them ? Had the thousands of English and Irish, of Scotch and Hanoverians, led out to the slaughter on those occasions, or the millions of their fellow working men at home, any real interest in the result, more than the myriads of men driven forth by the despot of Persia and his dependent satraps, to be butchered by the Macedonian madman and his Grecian bull-dogs ? The glory of a nation is dearly purchased when centuries of degradation and suffering, throughout all its working population, is the price.
Better had the government of Great Britain, from their own fast anchored isle, witnessed the eruptions of the revolutionary volcano without an effort to arrest its rivers of lava, than to have placed their own people in a state of oppression and wretchedness from which, after centuries of endurance, they can be relieved only by a revolution perhaps as fearful and bloody.
Effects of the British credit system upon the working men of England.—
To the working men of England the “credit system” is no bubble. The bubbles of glory which it raised are fast passing away; but they have left behind a sad reality in a taxed, oppressed, and often starving people. By the wars of the French revolution the national debt of that kingdom was increased to an amount exceeding £800,000,000, or a little less than four thousand millions of dollars. The annual interest upon it is about £25,000,000, or over one hundred and twenty millions of dollars. For other purposes the government raises annually, by taxation, about £25,000,000 more, making the amount exacted from British industry every year, in government taxes, something short of two hundred and fifty millions of dollars. To this may safely be added for church rates, the poor tax, corporation and county taxes, more than $150,000,000, making the whole annual amount paid from the avails of the working man’s labour in Great Britain, for the support of government and its establishments, at least four hundred millions of dollars. Add to all this so much of the rents of numerous landlords, the income of numberless manufactories, and the profits of trade, as is not absorbed in taxes, and we may form some conception of the mountains which weigh down the working men of England. The fabled giant of Mount Ætna, half consumed by never-dying fires, whose agonized throes cause earthquakes and fearful eruptions, is scarcely an adequate picture of the miseries of that people whose despair will some day shake the fast anchored isle with convulsions more awful than those of the volcano.
After these abstractions from the proceeds of labour, it is no wonder that the average wages of a working man in England do not exceed $1,50 per week, not more than a common mechanic now receives in Washington for a single day, while a considerable portion of even this pittance is snatched from him in taxes. It is no wonder that the lowest class of labourers cannot get meat to eat more than once a week, and the better sort not more than two or three times, while, owing to oppressive corn laws, bread is extremely dear. “The English pauper,” says the London Quarterly Review, “is better fed than the independent labourer; the suspected thief receives considerably more food than the pauper; the convicted thief receives still more; and the transported felon receives every day nearly three times as much food as the honest peasant.” No wonder that felonies multiply; that the prisons are crowded; that the halter has its daily work; and that ships freighted with wretchedness and crime frequently disgorge their living cargoes upon the isles of the distant sea. No wonder that one-sixth of the population are already paupers; that from 1814 to 1832 they increased twenty-five per cent., and the poor rates more than three hundred per cent. No wonder that when the labourer having a family is sick, or, when a curtailment of the currency by the bank throws him out of employment, his wife and children suffer with hunger, and sometimes die from starvation. No wonder that the offspring of overworked and half-fed parents, neglected and almost naked, pine away and perish by untold thousands, escaping, by an early and happy death, from a life of unceasing toil, irredeemable suffering.
WORKING MEN OF THE UNITED STATES,
these are the effects, as stated by English writers and parliamentary documents, of the great credit system of England which already has its offspring and advocates in our own happy country. Never was man placed in a position so favourable to the maintenance of his heaven-bestowed rights, as in the first settlement of this continent. Seeking only liberty for themselves, instead of the conquest of their fellow-men, our ancestors had no military leaders to assume authority over them, under the plea of necessity or choice. A common poverty made them practically equal, and each started in his new life of labour upon a level with his neighbours. That inequalities of property and of influence should grow out of inequalities of strength, health, habits, and intelligence, was to be expected. Such inequalities are the necessary offspring of God’s laws; and to attempt to prevent or remedy them by human enactments or institutions, is as presumptuous as it is impracticable. But to avoid making them greater –to avoid increasing by law the strength of the strong, the wealth of the rich, and the influence of the sagacious– was not only practicable and proper, but the duty of those to whom the people intrusted the powers of government. This duty has not been faithfully performed. There were those before our revolutionary war who aspired to personal and family distinctions, and began to ape the follies of nobility in the mother country, but their influence was not so great as to prevent or question the announcement of true principles in the Declaration of Independence, as the basis on which the revolution was to be conducted and a new government established.
But the revolution was scarcely ended before some of its leaders evinced a settled contempt for its principles, and a predilection for a government of orders and privileges, of splendour and power, enabling a rich and intelligent few, like the noble and rich of the old world, to rule over the labouring and ignorant many, taking their earnings to gratify their luxurious tastes, and using their bodies to carry on wars of conquest, hatred, and ambition. The man who was afterward our second President, once declared, as we are informed by Mr. Jefferson, that, stripped of its corruptions, the British Government with its king, lords, and commons, its hierarchy and its bank, was the most stupendous fabric of human wisdom; and our first secretary of the Treasury at the same time said, that, with its corruptions, it was the best government on earth, and without them, wholly impracticable.
Introduction of the British credit system into the United States.—
It was natural that statesmen who differed only upon such a point, should co-operate in efforts to assimilate our government, in its forms, institutions, and laws, to the monarchy of the mother country. In the claims upon the several states and the United States growing out of the revolutionary war, were found materials which were soon imbodied into a formidable national debt, and a Bank of the United States, established on British principles, was soon found associated with the government. To these means, by which the legislative power might be controlled, were soon added —a sedition law, to muzzle the press in its comments upon the acts of government; alien laws to check the influx of Republican foreigners, flying from the corruptions and oppressions of European establishments; an increasing army and navy, to check the uprisings of the Democratic spirit; and a system of taxation capable of indefinite enlargement, embracing not only all the imports of the country, but the lands and houses, together with much of the personal property and private business of the people. The broad property foundations were thus laid of a system which was destined in its natural consequences to place the working men of America in the same condition with those of England, and convert our free people into a nation of lords and paupers.
All this paraphernalia of monarchy was, however, scattered and dissipated by the triumph of the Democratic spirit in 1800, which placed Mr. Jefferson in the presidential chair. The army and navy were reduced, the alien and sedition laws repealed, the internal taxes abolished, the increase of the national debt arrested, its payment commenced, and the National Bank left to expire with the termination of its charter. The war of 1812 interrupted the successful career of Democratic rule in our national affairs, largely increased the national debt, and, shaking by its calamities the sound principles of some of our statesmen, led to the establishment of a new National Bank, more privileged and more powerful than the old. This debt and this bank we have seen all swept away by a second triumph of the Democratic spirit in support of the able, honest, and intrepid hero of New Orleans.
Thus, so far as our general government is concerned, the efforts to place around it those corrupt and corrupting establishments which have reduced the people of England to a condition not to be envied by the serfs of Russia, and have yet recommended that monarchy and its institutions as a model to many American statesmen, have been signally unsuccessful. Erect in its own independence, and looking alone to an enlightened popular opinion for support, our government has passed its fiftieth year in its original purity and simplicity, both of form and administration.
The stealing in of the British credit system through the state governments.—
During the struggles of the Democracy to maintain the principles of the revolution in the general government, an insidious enemy has been stealing upon the working men from another quarter. It was the obvious and admitted object of the constitution to establish, for the protection of contracts, property, and labour, a specie currency for the whole United States. That object is clearly displayed in the provisions authorizing congress to coin money and fix the value of foreign coins, prohibiting the states from coining money or making anything but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, and in the absence of any grant of power to establish banks, or create a paper currency. If, as the constitution shows on its face, an express grant was deemed necessary to confer on the new government the benignant authority to fix and protect the standard of value, much more was such a grant necessary to confer on it power to render that standard uncertain, if not fraudulent, by mixing with the coin a paper currency as fluctuating as the sea and as changeable as the winds.
Unfortunately, two or three state banks existed when the constitution was adopted, and no provision was made for winding them up. It is difficult to make a satisfactory reply to the argument deducible from this fact, that it was not intended to suppress or prohibit state banks. Yet it cannot be doubted that it was the abject of those who framed, as well as those who adopted, the constitution, to guard, by providing a specie standard, against the recurrence of such scenes as the state banks have repeatedly brought upon us –the substitution of a paper for a specie currency, with its never-ending train of frauds, fluctuations, and explosions. By the indiscreet use or abuse of this power left to the states, the object of the constitution in this respect has been in a great measure defeated and the mischiefs of the British banking system have silently crept in upon us until our working men are startled at finding themselves hurrying on to the condition of dependence, taxation, want, and misery, which is the doom of their race in the mother country.
The character of the banking system.—
Let us take a dispassionate look at this system in its principles, inception, and progress, and consider how far it is adapted to a society governed by equal laws. In its least objectionable form, what is it ? One man’s property is in lands and buildings, another’s in produce or merchandise, another’s in mechanical skill and its products, another’s in his good name and capacity to labour, while the property of one in a thousand is in money.
While all are left by the law to manage or dispose of their lands, houses, produce, merchandise, labour, or money, according to their own skill and judgment, all stand on an equal footing, and none have a right to complain. But the principles of the British banking system step in and authorize the man whose property is in money to make promises to deliver three times as much property as he really has, to lend these promises to his neighbours as money and take notes therefor bearing interest. For every one hundred dollars in money actually owned by him, he is thus enabled to get interest on three hundred, more or less, according to the amount of promises he lends. If it were possible for the law to confer similar privileges on other would it be just ? Would it be just to authorize the farmer to sell and promise to convey or deliver three times as much land or produce as he has, the artisan to promise three times as may manufactures as he can make, the labourer to promise eighteen days’ work in a week, the merchant to sell three times as many goods as he has, and enable all to get interest upon their hollow promises ? Does the law attempt to give the farmer three crops from the same field for the labour necessary to produce one ? Does it attempt to triple the work of the mechanic’s chisel, or multiply each day’s work of the labourer into three ? All this is obviously impossible, and would as obviously be unjust and impolitic, if it were possible. Yet the law gives to the man who has money a privilege which, in fact, and of necessity, is withheld from every other man, thus making him the object of its special favour. Until it at last authorizes every one, in whatsoever may be his property or, capital, virtually to multiply it in a similar way, our licensed bankers are a “privileged order,” established in direct violation of the principle of equal laws, which professedly forms the basis of our institutions.
So far from authorizing others to issue promises to deliver what they have not, with a view to make a profit by imposing on their fellow citizens, the law in some cases stigmatizes it as a fraud, and punishes it as such, sometimes with the infamy of the penitentiary. In most states, when the unprivileged owner of money itself loans his real dollars at nine per cent. interest where six is the legal rate, the law punishes him by fines and forfeitures, when the same code authorizes his neighbour to take twelve or eighteen per cent. interest on his real dollars, through the magic of a bank and its delusive promises to pay; and while the banker is enabled to profit by the fiction, he is held responsible only for the reality. When he has paid out the one dollar of stock, he is no longer bound to redeem the three dollars in promises. He enjoys in security the balance of his wealth, while his unprivileged neighbour is left to pocket the loss.
What advantages do the rest of society gain by granting these privileges and exemptions, and recognising a few men’s promises as money ? Gold and silver are property –as much so as lands, produce, manufactures, and merchandise. Is a promise to deliver property better than the property itself ? Are men as safe in possessing the promise as the thing promised ? Is a working man as safe in having one of the three promises issued upon a silver dollar, as in having the silver dollar itself ? Is there no danger that it will be abstracted by some officer or servant of the bank, or stolen by some rogue from without, or that some holder of one of the other two promises will step in before him and take it away ? Who bears the responsibilities from which the bankers are exempted ? On whom falls the depreciation when they stop payment ? Who incurs the loss when they break ? The holders of their notes, not those who profit by these privileges; the farmers, mechanics, and labourers in particular, who are not in situations to foresee these events or to guard against them. The farmer has converted his land into bank-notes, and loses it –the mechanic has received his price for building a house in bank-notes, and loses it –the labourer has laid by the savings of years to buy him a little farm, and loses it –tens of thousands encounter loss –families are plunged into hopeless poverty –misery and despair brood over many a dwelling: and all this is a tax paid by the working man –tax of losses, tears and sufferings, if not of blood, to enrich other men by the toil of hands, for which the law neither gives nor can give him any equivalent whatever.
Though nominally granted to the money-holder, these privileges really attach to those whose wealth is much less substantial. The amount of specie in the United States, as computed by Mr. Gallatin in 1830, was but thirty millions of dollars, and the whole amount at any time since has not probably exceeded eighty millions. The privileged portion, or that vested in the banks, can scarcely have exceeded fifty millions. Yet our “banking capital,” so called, now enjoying these special privileges, is not far from two hundred and thirty-five millions. It is far beyond, not only all the money in the country, but all the money and all the bank-notes used as a currency put together ! How is it that, for banking purposes, two hundred and thirty-five millions of money have been made out of fifty ? There is not probably a bank in the Union whose entire capital, or even a majority of it, has been paid in real money. Sometimes the subscriber for stock gives his note on interest, which is counted as stock paid in, called a stock-note. Sometimes he pays in one or two instalments in money, and the bank, having gone into operation, gets a note discounted to pay the balance. Generally notes of other banks, called “specie funds,” are received for stock as equivalent to money. Where the states have peremptorily required by law that a certain portion shall be paid in specie, the requisite amount has sometimes been borrowed at other banks, hauled to the new establishment, formally received, and then hauled back again in the conveyance which brought it. Legal restrictions and solemn oaths in these, as in other respects, have been inefficient to check the arts and devices of the “credit system.”
Thus, by considering credit as cash, and piling credit upon credit, fifty millions of money have been converted into two hundred and thirty-five millions of “banking capital;” one dollar of a stock-holder’s note discounted in bank has become the basis of two or three dollars lent out to others by the same bank; one bank’s specie, and even notes, have been made the capital of another; men without money have become money-lenders, creating the currency they issued; men without property have been enabled by law to realize an income without labour, appropriating the labour of others to their uses; and a system has been built up more unsound and unsafe than its British model.
How far the British credit system already taxes the industry of our country.—
From data in the Treasury Department, and other sources of information, we have made up the following statement, showing, with an approach to accuracy, the growth of this system and the amount it levies upon the productive industry of the country, viz.:
The bank stock for the last period is supposed to be less than the real amount, while the revenues of the general government are made out from the actual returns.
It will be seen that the tax levied upon our country by the privileged bankers is now twenty-eight millions of dollars a year, about equal to the whole revenue of the general government, and that the amount collected by them since the revolution exceeds six hundred millions of dollars. This tax is now equal to at least five dollars annually on every head of a family in the United States. And this is not a tax for interest on money loaned to the people, but for the loan of credit, for the exchange of notes not bearing interest, for notes bearing interest.
This is not all. In 1837 the bankers had so far abused their privileges, that they were obliged to stop payment, in consequence of which their notes at once depreciated, on an average, at least ten per cent. At that time their circulation probably exceeded $150,000,000, so that the loss to the note-holders was about fifteen millions, or a tax of about three dollars on every head of a family. Add this to the regular bank tax for that year, and it makes about eight dollars for each family, or forty-three millions in all.
In 1838 the same scene was repeated in more than half the Union, with similar consequences. And now these privileged establishments are, one after another, exploding altogether, leaving their entire circulation on the hands of the people.
In addition to the enormous taxes upon industry, the fluctuations of this system affect the interests of a portion of the working men in another way still more fatally. When the banks are in the full tide of prosperity, and issuing notes without restraint, speculators and aspiring men obtain by loans the means of constructing houses to rent or for occupation, and of purchasing an abundance of costly furniture. Mechanics whose occupation it is to build houses and manufacture furniture, are in great demand; their wages rise and their numbers increase. Suddenly, either from necessity or policy, the course of the banks is changed; they cease to loan, and call upon their debtors; improvements stop, and mechanics are thrown out of employment; in idleness and complaining they spend all they made in the days of prosperity, and many of them are finally driven into other occupations, and forced to seek employment in other regions.
The same effect is in some degree produced upon every class of labouring men. The price of produce and manufactures is made to rise and fall by the same operation, as also the wages of the day labourer in every business of society. It requires no argument to prove that steady prices, though moderate, are better for the advancement as well the morale of the farmer, mechanic, and labourer, than a system which gives him an abundance to-day, to be snatched from him to-morrow, baffles all his calculations, unsettles his habits, prevents him collecting a family around him, or, if he have one, subjects them to disappointment, change, and distress. Nothing could more effectually prevent his moral and intellectual improvement, keep him in poverty, and make him the blind or corrupt instrument to support those who aspire to an effectual dominion over the minds and bodies of men.
Thus we have fixed upon us already, to some extent, not through the organization and power of a National Bank, but through about nine hundred banks created by the States, one branch of the British credit system. Through the same channel the other branch of that system is already fastened upon some of the States. State banks have not only brought on the country a direct individual indebtedness of some three hundred and fifty millions of dollars, but they have also drawn after them State debts now amounting to about two hundred millions. On these State debts our people have to pay an interest averaging more than five per cent., and amounting to more than millions of dollars annually. If this were diffused over the whole Union, it would be equal to an annual tax of two dollars on every head of a family. Distributed as it is, the tax in some States is equal to at least sixteen dollars to a family.
Hence, fellow working men of America, you see that the “British credit system,” which has reduced a large portion of the people of England to a condition worse than slavery, is already upon us through the indiscreet legislation of the several States. It taxes us, through the banks, twenty-eight millions of dollars a year, and, throughout State debts, ten millions more, making an annual tax of thirty-eight millions of dollars, in addition to that paid by us for the support of the General and State Governments, county, town, and city taxes, church rates, and voluntary contributions.
The British credit system more degrading to the workingmen of America than of England.—
In some aspects this system is calculated to be more degrading to the working men of America than it is to the same class in England. The British labourer, in his disfranchisement and suffering, has at least the consolation that his servitude is not accompanied by national degradation, and the British pauper the comfort of reflecting that he is supported out of the wealth which in better days he laboured to create. Even this poor recompense will be denied to the working men of America, should they suffer themselves to be made the dupes and the victims of the British credit system. Each branch of that system is a cord to bind America to the proud mistress of the sea, and make our working men labour for her aggrandizement. We have all seen how dependent these banks of credit are on each other. In 1837, when the banks in New York stopped payment, the banks throughout the Union were compelled to follow the example. In 1838, when the banks of Philadelphia suspended, nearly all the banks south and west followed the example. The immediate cause of the stoppage of the New York banks, in 1837, was the refusal of the Bank of England to give credit to those houses and individuals in England who managed the trade with America, as well in stocks as in produce and merchandise. As soon as credit was gone, money had to come; and the New York banks, on which the demand first fell, not having enough to supply it, stopped payment, and threw it upon the neighbouring banks. Much less had those banks, assailed by panic at home as well as the demand from abroad, power to sustain themselves; and thus suspension spread with the rapidity of the mails to the extremes of the Union.
This scene illustrates the true principles of the British credit system. In essence and in power it is one, however numerous or distant are the establishments which form its parts. Its seat of empire is in England; its monarch, the Bank of England; its dominion, all the commercial world which admits a credit currency; its subjects the presidents, directors, officers, servants, stock-holders, and debtors of banks; and its allies their attorneys, stipendiaries, and dependants. Through these avenues its power already reaches the extremes of our Union; and on its policy, caprices, or necessities our commerce and currency in a great measure depend.
If one branch of the British credit system subjects a vast mass of our people to the power of its British head, the other branch makes our whole labouring population the tributaries of its lords and nobles. Of our State stocks and bank stocks, the amount now held in England exceeds, it is believed, two hundred millions of dollars, the annual interest on which is at least ten millions. To the extent of ten millions of dollars, therefore, our country is annually tributary to the lords of the credit system in the British Isles. This tribute has to be paid out of the proceeds of the working men’s labour. The cotton of the south, the flour of the middle States, and the manufactures of the north annually exported from the country, to the extent of ten millions of dollars, give us no return. To our country the effect is the same as if, when prepared for market, they were piled up and burned. Upon great Britain they have the effect to increase her riches and her power.
Thus, if our banks be increased, the power of monarchists and moharchical institutions is extended among our people; if our public debts be increased, we become more and more the tributaries of a foreign land. It sends the fruits of our labour to be consumed in England, and, as, far as it goes, places our working men on the footing of the Irish tenantry who toil for landlords residing in England and France, while a bare subsistence is all that is left to them. Every million added to our State debts abroad increases the tax; and should our general government enter upon the career which some of our statesmen recommend, it is impossible to foresee the amount of the burden which may be imposed on our country, or the extent of the individual and national poverty, dependence, and degradation which may grow out of it. This instrument may be found adequate to achieve a conquest to which all the fleets and armies of the British empire have twice proved to be incompetent.
The great question for the decision of the working men of the United States.—
The grand, the all-absorbing question with the working men of America is, shall we suffer this system to grow upon us, until, as in England, it takes one-third of the earnings of labour to pay the taxes of the government; until our wages become $1,50 a week; until we and our families shall not have the means to taste meat more than once or twice a week; until, when our pittance of food is cut off by sickness or want of employment, we see our emaciated and half-naked wives and children starve around us; until, instead of having the means to educate our offspring and give them an equal rank among their fellow-men, we feel an inward joy at seeing them die in infancy, and go to a world where there is at least hope that their lot will not be one of hope1ess misery and irredeemable degradation ? What do we hear agitated among those who participate in our legislation ? Nothing less than the imbodiment of the elements of this system now somewhat disordered and scattered, and its organization and enlargement in close connexion with the general government. Under pretence of regulating our currency, its derangement is to be made perpetual by the issues of a new National Bank on British principles, with a capital of fifty millions of dollars.
Under pretence of relieving the states, it is proposed that the general government shall, directly or indirectly, pay their debts out of its means, and, to place all the members of the confederacy on an equality, give its credit to those not at all or but a little indebted, thus substituting for the two hundred millions of state debts a national debt of perhaps more than a thousand millions. Attempt to relieve the indebted states as we may, by any measure not palpably unjust, such in effect will be its practical results; and the people of those states, instead of being actually relieved, will only see the people of the other states sunk to the same level of taxation and oppression with themselves. Nay, if this career be once entered upon, where will it stop ? It the managers of the British government, to gratify their hatred, first of liberty and then of Napoleon, found it easy, by piling credit on credit, to throw a debt of £800,000,000 upon the working men of England, what shall prevent the managers of our government under pretence of aiding the states, from throwing upon the working men of America, by the same means, a debt of $10,000,000,000 ?
Be that as it may, the design is already announced to establish a new bank of fifty millions, and in some way relieve the states from their debts –measures which, in any shape that can be devised, will fix the British credit system upon the government of the United States, and at once largely increase the tax upon labour and the depression of the working men. We call upon you, therefore, as you value your own independence, and especially the rank your children are to hold among men, their health, morals, comfort, and liberty, to unite with us in the measures necessary to prevent the engrafting of this man-degrading system upon our general government.
Our means of defence.—
Fortunately, we are not so defenceless as the workingmen of England. We have not, like them, or at least not to the same extent, been deprived of our inborn right to a voice in our own government. Though constantly resisted by the few who aspire to be the lords of the many, the right of suffrage has, from the revolution down to the present day, been extending itself with the adoption of every new state constitution, until the working men in most, if not all the states, have acquired power to control the state governments. And as the same votes choose the electors of president and vice-president of the United States, representatives in congress, and the members of the state legislatures, who elect the senators, they have also, directly and indirectly, power to control the general government. The British working man has no hope but in revolution; you have present security in the right of suffrage if it be exercised for your own benefit and protection. Think you the working men of England would bear for a year the burdens which sink them into the earth, if they had the control of their government ? And will you not exercise your control to prevent a state of things in this country which to them is so intolerable ?
The measures of defence.—
You will ask, perhaps, through what means your power can be exercised to accomplish this great end ? To this we answer, first fix your minds steadily upon the measures to be prevented: adopt as your watchwords,
NO NATIONAL DEBT.
NO NATIONAL BANK.
NO INCREASE OF STATE DEBTS.
NO INCREASE OF STATE BANKS.
As your action shall be on these heads, so will the question of liberty or slavery for the working men of America be for ever decided. The effects of a wrong action now cannot be easily recalled. Give those who do not work a license to increase at will the burdens of those who do, either through the banks or the government, and you make yourselves and your posterity their slaves. Once placed within their dominion, your right of suffrage, exercised under their directions, will only go to increase their individual power as your labour has already increased their individual wealth; and lest the miseries of nakedness and starvation should induce your children, in some moment of rebelling nature, to exert it for their deliverance, it will be taken from them altogether.
The men on whom we may rely.—
You will perhaps farther ask, on what men you can rely to maintain your rights and promote your true interests in the legislative hall and the executive chair –in the state governments and in the general government.
Not, we emphatically reply, on men or a class of men who have, from the beginning of the government, denied your capacity to manage your affairs, and withheld from you, as far as they could, the right of suffrage.
Not on the Hamiltons or their followers, who believe, and teach, and practise upon the doctrine that a government, in any degree popular, cannot be successfully conducted without corruption.
Not on the Adamses or their followers, who teach that, because the rich and powerful always impose on the poor and weak, it is best to legalize their impositions, by erecting them into a separate order with special privileges and exemptions, and vesting them with power, as a branch of the legislature, to check or control all the legislation of the country.
Not on the Websters or their followers, who so far underrate immortal man and his celestial mind, as to be in favour of basing government upon property, thus making creation’s lord the inferior of the sleeping earth which he tills, and the ox and the ass that he uses in the process.
Not on the Leighs and their followers, who teach and practise upon the false assertion, and the principle more false, that the working men never do, never can, and never will take an active or intelligent part in the affairs of government.
Not on the men who would deny to their fellow men, seeking emancipation and comfort by emigrating from oppressed Europe, the hospitality of our shores and the rights of men.
Not on men who divert you from the protection of your own rights and interests, by occupying your attention upon the condition of the coloured man while they enslave the white.
Not on those who tell you that the general government is responsible for the suspensions, bankruptcies, and frauds of banks, which it neither establishes nor has the power to control, and, for the fluctuations, losses, embarrassment, and distress which grow out of them.
Not on those who tell you that the evils of banking are to be remedied by an increase of banks; that the burden of debt is to be lightened by an increase of indebtedness; and that the working man is to be made more free by the extension of a system which takes from him the profits of his labour, dooms him to perpetual dependence, and makes, him and his country the tributary of a foreign land.
Not on men who attempt to procure your suffrages by any other appeal than truth, or through any other channel than reason.
Not on men who lay off their fine broadcloth and put on the tow hunting shirt, when they come out to address you.
Not on men who come down from their carpeted and gilded parlours in mansions of stone and of brick, where you, as equal, are never permitted to tread, to meet and greet and wheedle you in a log cabin before an election.
Not on men who come from tables loaded with Madeira and Champaign, to nauseate their pampered stomachs with “hard cider,” that they may appear before an election on a level with their labouring fellow-citizens.
Not on men who attempt to influence you by the noise of bells, drums, trumpets, and shouts, as the farmer does the swarming bees whose honey he wishes to eat.
Friday, September 25, 1840.
we do call upon you, as you love real liberty, and prize the right of governing yourselves;
as you desire to save your country from the dominion of stockjobbers and gamblers;
yourselves and your posterity from oppressive taxation to pay the interest on an enormous national debt, and build up a privileged order among you;
to imitate their organization, their industry, and their zeal.
Organize, so that you may discover every man whom their falsehoods have deluded, and reclaim him by the light of truth.
Organize, so that you may put the truth into every man’s hands, who is wavering for the want of it.
Organize, so that you can bring to the polls every Democrat in every ward, town, and election precinct.
Organize, so that you may have at hand every legal voter’s name, and their entire numbers, in every ward, town, and precinct, that no fraud may be practised without detection.
Organize, and appoint men to demand that every ballot box shall be opened and exhibited before the election commences, that no fraudulent votes may be concealed therein, and that the number of votes given on each side shall be publicly announced as soon as possible after the election.
Organize, peacefully, but firmly, to maintain the right of every Democratic voter at the polls, and see that no illegal votes on any side be received.
There is no safety for the Democratic party, none for the people, but in the most effectual measures to defeat that system of universal fraud, by which, there is too much reason to believe, the leaders of the Whig party have conspired to deliver over the Government and people of this country to the bankers and stockjobbers of Wall street and the London exchange.
Menaces of the Black Cockade Party.
One of the marked characteristics of the anti-popular party in this country, as in all others, is the disposition to extort political power by the direct application of force –or such an exhibition of a design to apply it as will obtain, from the fears of the community, what cannot be expected from its good will. No privileged class could ever get the reins of Government out of the hands of the Democracy, and obtain for the few the power of enriching themselves from the labors of the many, but by corruption, fraud, or force. All these elements of aristocratic power are now put into requisition by the Bank party among us, aided by their allies abroad. At all times the gasconading spirit of Federalism has (in emulation of the great class abroad, which it aspires to become the peer of in the United States) made an audacious display of the fighting propensity as a part of its political tactics.
In the elder Adams’s time, its standing army of officers hoisted the black cockade badge, for the express purpose of intimidating the Democracy. Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Gallatin, and many of the Republican members of Congress, were openly insulted in the streets, in the theatres, and other public places, by these hired bullies; and the arrogance of the Federal party was not content with the terrors of the sedition act, “to muzzle the press,” as they called it. They sent their mercenary ruffians into the offices of leading Republican editors, to commit assaults upon them, with a view to act upon the fears of the whole corps, and paralyze the freedom of the pres”.
Mr. Duane, the Editor of the Aurora, (the organ of the Democratic party at the seat of Government,) was barbarously beaten by some of the Federal banditti; and the country press did not escape military violation. From an article copied from the Ohio Statesman, which quotes the journals of that day to bear witness, it will be seen that, in one instance, an Editor was dragged from his office by the soldiery, to the market place, and there stripped and whipped.
Modern Whigery shows its genealogy in nothing more strongly than its tendency to violence. We have seen this bullying propensity continually breaking out in all the panics which have preceded the last two Presidential elections. Mr. Clay set the key note in the first, by his announcement in the Senate of “a revolution bloodless as yet.” Mr. Webster followed it up with his Sunday Baltimore speech, in which he proclaimed that there were “no Sabbaths in revolutionary times.” This was promptly succeeded by the organization of the Whig military association at Baltimore, which resolved to march to Capitol Hill and encamp until the vote was taken on the restoration of the deposites. This military association was dissolved by the spirited Democracy of Baltimore, as a similar junto of Federalists were, during the war, in the same city. In Philadelphia and New York, the Bank cohorts made an actual experiment of violence to intimidate the voters, and control the elections. The redoubtable Webb figured considerably in the effort to seize upon the depot of State arms in thir city of New York, to bring them to bear on the ballot box; and in Philadelphia Mr. Biddle filled his marble palace with arms during the contest, which began by the assassination of a “worthy Democratic mechanic with knife, driven by an unseen hand, at the polls, and which ended in the use of firearms upon a portion of the people.
The disposition to add intimidation to the other means put in requisition by them to secure success, was never more strikingly manifested by Federalism than at present, and never before in so early a stage of the controversy. The movement is one evidently of deliberation and preconcert –not of unpremeditated passion. Whenever the instruments of a Bank are found resorting to force to carry a point, calculation has always something to do with it.
Two prominent editors in Ohio have already been assaulted with murderous weapons. Mr. Medary, the Editor of the Statesman, but the other day; and to show the spirit which prompted the attempt, it is only necessary to add that his assailant was a perfect stranger to him –simply accosted him and then aimed a deadly blow with a bludgeon, which would have proved fatal, if it had not been dexterously parried, and was as the time backed by a body of bankers, who had a horse and light vehicle ready to favor the escape of the criminal if his blow had succeeded.
In St. Louis, the owner of the Argus was recently murdered by an agent employed to get up a Bank meeting under the false colors of Democracy, simply because he did not prevent the Editor from exposing the fraud in his columns.
In Mississippi, the president of the Union Bank challenged and shot Mr. Howard, for an able, argumentative comment upon the abuses of his institution, without a reflection upon the president in his individual character; and the same Bank manager afterwards attacked the Governor of the State with a stick, for discharging his official duty in regard to a concern in which the State is deeply interested.
In Tallahassee, Florida, where the party question has rewired itself into a question of the frauds of the banks, blood has already been shed in mortal combat; and but a few weeks since, the Governor felt obliged to call on the militia to suppress a threatened insurrection against the laws, and the pulling down of the house and the destruction of the press of an editor who had signalized his opposition to the fraudulent management of the banks of that Territory.
The Bank party look to the institutions in whose cause they are enlisted, to provide both the sources of corruption, and the sinews of war. With money they can bribe officers at the polls to cheat, to falsify the records, put in false ballots, or to withhold the returns, as in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey cases. With money they can hire assassins to cut off the conductors of the press, and strike terror into the timid. With money they can hire bullies to attend the polls, to drive off the feeble or fainthearted, and to raise riots and confusion, to cover the frauds which they design lo perpetrate.
All these things have been done before, by the desperate and mercenary faction with which the Democracy is now contending, and on the largest scale by the wretches who first named Harrison for the Presidency —Thaddeus Stevens and his crew. To encourage this diabolical body of conspirators against the purity and freedom against the right of suffrage in every aspect in which it can be valuable –we find their leaders openly threatening violence, if they fail in securing their point by the fraud and corruption, now so notoriously a part of their system.
Harrison has been once already defeated by the President, and with an overwhelming majority of the popular vote. Harrison and his partisans see, therefore, that something more than his personal pretensions or party strength is essential to his success. From his speech at Fort Meigs, it seems that he would not appeal to force, except in the last resort, but he distinctly points to it as the ultimate alternative; and his friends, following out his watchword, have openly avowed it.
Albany Argus, September 1, 1840:—
The money of English bankers and stockjobbers is in the field. It is in the hands of “Whig” partisans, who will use it with a settled design to corrupt the franchise, and to defraud the ballot-box. This stockjobbing fund was brought into requisition at Baltimore. The large assemblage of Federalists there, from the several States, were assured, in all necessary confidential instances, that they could count upon all the auxiliary power of money in the coming contest; –were told where to apply it, and when and where to get it. They were sent back to their homes, in many instances, with the “spoils” in their pockets –spoils wrung from the tax payers of America by the same stock brokers of England –with the admonition strongly impressed upon them that this was the mightiest effort of Federalism and the friends of a great central moneyed power since their overthrow in 1800 –that if they failed now, with all the appliances of British gold, the indebtedness of States, the embarrassments of individuals, the foul swindling of “Whig” banking institutions, the depression of trade, and the reduction of prices, there could be no hope for the future –and that no means, however corrupt or fraudulent, must be omitted, that could promise to deceive or defraud the electors, or gain votes for the combined factions that had resolved to make a desperate, and if unsuccessful a final, struggle to overthrow the Democracy and establish a great consolidated empire, of which British and American bankers and stock jobbers would be the chief corner.
This money has gone out into the States. It will be charged to do its work, by some of the most profligate men of the age. Rely upon it, it will be found at every assailable point; and unless you are vigilant, indefatigable, to detect, arrest, and counteract its corrupt approaches, its power will be seen to your injury, if not to your overthrow.
Are we asked by whom this monstrous scheme of fraud, backed by the money power of the English stockjobbers, is to be pushed to its utmost capacity of wrong and mischief ? Can we doubt that the leaders of Federalism will become its willing, its voluntary agents or that they in turn will lack the ability or disposition to employ their instruments ?
At the fall election of 1838, Ritner and the “Whig” party in Pennsylvania, now the leading friends of Harrison in that State, sought to retain their power by the most atrocious violations of the integrity of the ballot-box. The monstrous frauds in Adams county —Thaddeus Stevens’s county— are notorious, and beyond contradiction. They have become matter of history, and stand out, dark and damning exhibitions of the desperation and profligacy to which Federalism will descend when the emergency is the hope or the hazard of political power. Upwards of 1,100 spurious votes were brought into a single township of that county; and 1,200 majority obtained Mr. Ritner, where before nor since has the poll exceeded 150 votes !
The stupendous fraud, the 900 fake entries on the Philadelphia registry, and all the invasions of the franchise which marked the course of the Federal dynasty in the Keystone State, in its great struggle for the continuance of power, were unavailing. But, although beaten by the honest votes of the people, Ritner and his desperate adjuncts were resolved to hold, by a usurpation more audacious and profligate than any then known to our history, what they were not able to conquer even by the boldest violation of the suffrage. Instead of submitting to the decision of the people, (to adopt the language of an eloquent commentator upon the affair,) they determined to disregard it and retain possession of the Government of the State at every hazard.
From the county of Philadelphia, two Democratic Senators and eight Representatives had been elected, and it was so certified by a majority of the judges of the election; yet, though the Democratic majority was several hundreds, a minority of the judges sent a certificate to the office of the Secretary of State, falsely showing that the Harrison candidates had a majority. The change of these eight members from one side to the other would give them a majority in the House of Representatives. Fortified by this false certificate, and supported by the Governor and a majority of the Senate, the Secretary of State publicly advised his party to treat the election of Governor as if it had never been held, although the Democratic candidate had a majority of thousands ! On the meeting of the Legislature, he sent in the false returns, and withheld the true ones. The Senate immediately admitted the usurpers. When the Democrats of the House resisted their introduction info that body, the Harrison party proceeded separately, in connection with the usurpers, to organize a House and choose their officers. The Democratic members did the same thing, in conjunction with the true Representatives from Philadelphia county. But, as the Governor and a majority of the Senate were of the Harrison party, all power was in their hands and it became evident that they intended to create, by arbitrary power, a major in in the House, and set aside the election, not only of several Senators and Representatives, but that of Governor also !
This design roused the spirit of ’76; indignant multitudes poured into the capitol; they organized a committee of safety, and prepared to assert the rights of the people. The affrighted Governor and his guilty counsellors, instead of receding from their foul design, denounced the people as rebels, and determined to carry out the usurpation by force of arms ! Troops were called out, provided with “buckshot and ball cartridges;” the capital of the State resounded with the din of arms; and the peace of the Commonwealth seemed to be suspended upon a hair. Lest the militia of the State might show some reluctance to shoot down their own friends, and subvert their own rights, the Governor had the audacity to request the aid of a body of United States regulars, then in the vicinity, and to demand of the President [Martin VanBuren] the aid of the army of the Union !
What on this occasion was the conduct of those who now constitute the Harrison party in the State, and in other States ? Did they denounce the usurpers, and take the side of the people ? No; almost to a man they sustained, encouraged, and defended Governor Ritner and his daring associates. The people received from them but ferocious abuse, with the epithets of traitors and rebels. The attempt to cleave down by the sword the most precious rights of freemen, was every where applauded by them, showing that the same contempt for the people pervades that party throughout the Union.
So also with the New Jersey fraud. No man in the State or in the Union doubted the election of all save one of the Democratic Congressional ticket. This was the conceded result. The world will so regard it, whenever and wherever this transaction shall be known; and yet a detestable fraud, in withholding the returns from two townships, was connived at, perhaps concocted, by the Whig Executive of that State –was covered by its “broad seal”– the Federal members, notoriously not elected, were returned, and did not hesitate to claim and insist upon holding seats thus shamelessly filched from the duly chosen Representatives; and this act of usurpation was not only approved, but lauded and sustained by all the ingenuity, the talent, the audacity, and we may well say the profligacy, of the Federal minority and the Federal press throughout the Union.
extract of a latter from the Rev. Abel Brown, Baptist preacher, at Northampton, Mass., to Mr. John Clark, of Fredericksburg, Va., published in the last Crisis, viz:
“My preaching upon politics amounts to this:— Usually a short time before election, I preach a sermon showing the character of the men whom God requires us to set as rulers over the people, and usually mention some of the public sins of the nation without reference to either party. I have, since I have been in this place, had occasion to rebuke carousals of one of the parties. I will state the facts, and you can judge whether I have done wrong. The leading Whigs here are usually members of the Congregational Church. They usually have a Sabbath evening caucus. A Deacon frequently presides. Other influential members make speeches; and, after the people have become excited, they go out and get in front of the office of the opposite party, and the air rings with their yells.
“The past spring, a huge log cabin was reared in front of the large Congregational Church, and lined with hard cider. Through it the people passed into the church. A pitcher of hard cider was carried along the aisle, and placed upon the sacred desk. A leading and influential member of the church (among others) mounted the platform, and there, amid the shouts of the multitude, drank hard cider, and appealed to the baser passions of men, until they were ready to rush and yell for their General. Again– upon another occasion, I was aroused at about 11 o’clock at night, by the ringing of bells and the shouts of the multitude, as if the whole town was in flames. Rushing from my room, I found it was only the Whigs returning from a Convention, headed by these same religious men. This last transaction has been repeated twice or thrice, as I learn from good authority, with the exception of ringing bells.
“I live in a very retired part of the town, and am less disturbed than others. My political preaching is a rebuking of these public sins. I should as soon rebuke them in any other party as the Whigs, but the occasion does not exist here. I am possibly in error; but have thought, and do now think, that God required it at my hands. After such a convention as those described, I find it almost impossible to make an impression upon the minds of men favorable to Christianity; and I may as well cease preaching as to suffer the community to rush head-long into such transactions, and still retain any sense of the obligations of Christianity.”