With the quarrels of public men history has no concern, except as they enter into public conduct, and influence public events. In such case, and as the cause of such events, these quarrels belong to history, which would be an empty tale, devoid of interest or instruction, without the development of the causes, and consequences of the acts which it narrates. Division among chiefs has always been a cause of mischief to their country; and when so, it is the duty of history to show it. That mischief points the moral of much history, and has been made the subject of the greatest of poems:
"Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring Of woes unnumbered"
About the beginning of March, in the year 1831, a pamphlet appeared in Washington City, issued by Mr. Calhoun, and addrest to the people of the United States, to explain the cause of a difference which had taken place between himself and General Jackson, instigated as the pamphlet alleged by Mr. Van Buren, and intended to make mischief between the first and second officers of the Government, and to effect the political destruction of himself (Mr. Calhoun) for the benefit of the contriver of the quarrelthe then Secretary of State; and indicated as a candidate for the presidential succession upon the termination of General Jackson's service. It was the same pamphlet of which Mr. Duncanson had received previous notice as being in print in his office, but the publication delayed for the maturing of the measures which were to attend its appearance; namely: the change in the course of the Telegraph; its attacks upon General Jackson and Mr. Van Buren; the defense of Mr. Calhoun; and the chorus of the affiliated presses, to be engaged "in getting up the storm which even the popularity of General Jackson could not stand."
The pamphlet was entitled, "Correspondence between General Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun, President and Vice-President of the United States, on the subject of the course of the latter in the deliberations of the Cabinet of Mr. Monroe on the occurrences of the Seminole War"; and its contents consisted of a prefatory address, and a number of letters, chiefly from Mr. Calhoun himself, and his friendsthe General's share of the correspondence being a few, brief notes to ascertain if Mr. Crawford's statement was true? and, being informed that, substantially, it was, to decline any further correspondence with Mr. Calhoun, and to promise a full public reply when he had the leisure for the purpose and access to the proofs. His words were: "In your and Mr. Crawford's dispute I have no interest whatever; but it may become necessary for me hereafter, when I shall have more leisure, and the documents at hand, to place the subject in its proper lightto notice the historical facts and references in your communicationwhich will give a very different view to the subject. Understanding you now, no further communication with you on this subject is necessary." And none further appears from General Jackson. . . .
But the General did what he had intimated he woulddrew up a sustained reply, showing the subject in a different light from that in which Mr. Calhoun's letters had presented it; and quoting vouchers for all that he said. The case, as made out in the published pamphlet, stood before the public as that of an intrigue on the part of Mr. Van Buren to supplant a rivalof which the President was the dupeMr. Calhoun the victim and the country the sufferer: and the modus operandi of the intrigue was, to dig up the buried proceedings of Mr. Monroe's Cabinet, in relation to a proposed court of inquiry on the General (at the instance of Mr. Calhoun), for his alleged, unauthorized, and illegal operations in Florida during the Seminole War. It was this case which the General felt himself bound to confrontand did; and in confronting which he showed that Mr. Calhoun himself was the sole cause of breaking their friendship; and, consequently, the sole cause of all the consequences which resulted from that breach.
Up to that timethe date of the discovery of Mr. Calhoun's now admitted part in the proposed measure of the court of inquirythat gentleman had been the General's beau ideal of a statesman and a man"the noblest work of God," as he publicly exprest it in a toast: against whom he would believe nothing, to whose friends he gave an equal voice in the Cabinet, whom he consulted as if a member of his administration; and whom he actually preferred for his successor. This reply to the pamphlet, entitled "An exposition of Mr. Calhoun's course toward General Jackson," tho written above twenty years ago, and intended for publication, has never before been given to the public. Its publication becomes essential now. It belongs to a dissension between chiefs which has disturbed the harmony, and loosened the foundations of the Union; and of which the view, on one side, was published in pamphlet at the time, registered in the weeklies and annuals, printed in many papers, carried into the Congress debates, especially on the nomination of Mr. Van Buren; and so made a part of the public history of the timesto be used as historical material in after time. The introductory paragraph to the "Exposition" shows that it was intended for immediate publication, but with a feeling of repugnance to the exhibition of the chief magistrate as a newspaper writer: which feeling in the end predominated, and delayed the publication until the expiration of his office-and afterward, until his death. But it was preserved to fulfil its original purpose, and went in its manuscript form to Mr. Francis P. Blair, the literary legatee of General Jackson; and by him was turned over to me (with trunks full of other papers to be used in this Thirty Years' View).
It had been previously in the hands of Mr. Amos Kendall,2 as material for a life of Jackson, which he had begun to write, and was by him made known to Mr. Calhoun, who declined "furnishing any further information on the subject." It is in the fair round-hand writing of a clerk, slightly interlined in the General's hand, the narrative sometimes in the first and sometimes in the third person; vouchers referred to and shown for every allegation; and signed by the General in his own well-known hand. Its matter consists of three parts. 1. The justification of himself, under the law of nations and the treaty with Spain of 1795, for taking military possession of Florida in 1818. 2. The same justification, under the orders of Mr. Monroe and his Secretary at War (Mr. Calhoun). 3. The statement of Mr. Calhoun's conduct toward him (the General) in all that affair of the Seminole War, and in the movements in the Cabinet, and in the two Houses of Congress, to which it gave rise. All these parts belong to a life of Jackson, or a history of the Seminole war; but only the two latter come within the scope of this View.
From the rupture between General Jackson and Mr. Calhoun (beginning to open in 1830, and breaking out in 1831), dates calamitous events to this country, upon which history can not shut her eyes.
1 From Benton's "Thirty Years' View."
2 Kendall, a native of Massachusetts, was Postmaster-General from 1825 to 1830, and associated with Morse in his telegraph patents.
South Carolina nullification was now coming in sight, and a celebrated debate which belongs to the first session exposed its claims and its fallacies to the country. The arena selected for a first impression was the Senate, where the arch-heretic2 himself presided and guided the onset with his eye. Hayne, South Carolina's foremost Senator, was the chosen champion; and the cause of his State, both in its right and wrong sides, could have found no abler exponent while Calhoun's official station kept him from the floor. It has been said that Hayne was Calhoun's sword and buckler, and that he returned to the contest refreshed each morning by nightly communions with the Vice-President, drawing auxiliary supplies from the well-stored arsenal of his powerful and subtle mind. Be this as it may, Hayne was a ready and copious orator, a highly-educated lawyer, a man of varied accomplishments, shining as a writer, speaker, and counselor, equally qualified to draw up a bill or to advocate it, quick to discern, and, tho brilliant, disposed to view things on the practical side.
His person was flexible, about the medium height and well proportioned; his face pleasant and expressive, and tho serious, lighting up readily with a smile; his manners irresistibly cordial and easy, winning strangers at first sight. He turned readily from business to society, and pursued with equal zest the triumphs of the forum and ballroom. A graceful adaptiveness at all points to a life of distinction was his striking quality; rugged inequalities in his nature there were none. Gifted for a life of public eminence, nobly born, bearing a Revolutionary name pathetic in its memories, well fortified by wealth and marriage connections, dignified, never vulgar nor unmindful of the feelings of those with whom he mingled, Hayne moved in an atmosphere where lofty and chivalrous honor was the ruling sentiment. But it was the honor of a caste; and the struggling bread-winners of society, the great commonalty, he little studied or understood. This was the man to fire an aristocracy of fellow citizens ready to arm when their interests were in danger, and upon him it devolved to advance the cause of South Carolina, break down the tariff, and fascinate the Union with the new rattlesnake theories.
The great debate, which culminated in Hayne's encounter with Webster, came about in a somewhat casual way. Senator Foote, of Connecticut, submitted a proposition inquiring into the expediency of limiting the sales of public lands to those already in the market. This seemed like an Eastern spasm of jealousy at the progress of the West. Benton was rising in renown as the advocate not only of Western settlers, but of a new theory that the public lands should be given away instead of sold to them. He joined Hayne in using this opportunity to try to detach the West from the East, and restore the old cooperation of the West and the South against New England. The discussion took a wide range, going back to topics that had agitated the country before the Constitution was formed. It was of a partizan and censorious character, and drew nearly all the chief senators out. But the topic which became the leading feature of the whole debate and gave it an undying interest was that of nullification, in which Hayne and Webster came forth as chief antagonists. . . .
Hayne launched his confident javelin at the New England States. He accused them of a desire to check the growth of the West in the interests of protection. Webster replied to his speech the next day, and left not a shred of the charge, baseless as it was. Inflamed and mortified at this repulse, Hayne soon returned to the assault, primed with a two-days' speech, which at great length vaunted the patriotism of South Carolina and bitterly attacked New England, dwelling particularly upon her conduct during the late war. It was a speech delivered before a crowded auditory, and loud were the Southern exultations that he was more than a match for Webster. Strange was it, however, that in heaping reproaches upon the Hartford Convention he did not mark how nearly its leaders had mapped out the same line of opposition to the national Government that his State now proposed to take, both relying upon the arguments of the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798-99.
Webster rose the next day in his seat to make his reply. He had allowed himself but a single night from eve to morn to prepare for a critical and crowning occasion. But his reply was gathered from the choicest arguments and the richest thoughts that had long floated through his brain while this crisis was gathering; and bringing these materials together in lucid and compact shape, he calmly composed and delivered before another crowded and breathless auditory a speech full of burning passages, which will live as long as the American Union, and the grandest effort of his life. Two leading ideas predominated in this reply, and with respect to either Hayne was not only answered but put to silence. First, New England was vindicated. As a pious son of Federalism, Webster went the full length of the required defense.
Some of his historical deductions may be questioned; but far above all possible error on the part of her leaders, stood colonial and Revolutionary New England, and the sturdy, intelligent, and thriving people whose loyalty to the Union had never failed, and whose home, should ill befall the nation, would yet prove liberty's last shelter. Next, the Union was held up to view in all its strength, symmetry, and integrity, reposing in the ark of the Constitution, no longer an experiment, as in the days when Hamilton and Jefferson contended for shaping its course, but ordained and established by and for the people, to secure the blessings of liberty to all posterity. It was not a Union to be torn up without bloodshed; for nerves and arteries were interwoven with its roots and tendrils, sustaining the lives and interests of twelve millions of inhabitants. No hanging over the abyss of disunion, no weighing of the chances, no doubting as to what the Constitution was worth, no placing of liberty before Union, but "liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable." This was the tenor of Webster's speech, and nobly did the country respond to it. . . .
Some of Webster's personal friends had felt nervous over what appeared to them too hasty a period for preparation. But his cool, unperturbed manner reassured them in an instant. He entered the Senate on that memorable day with slow and stately step, and took his seat as tho unconscious of the loud buzz of expectant interest with which the crowded auditory greeted his appearance. He was drest with scrupulous care, in a blue coat with metal buttons, a buff vest rounding over his full abdomen, and his neck encircled with a white cravat. He rose, the image of conscious mastery, after the dull preliminary business of the day was dispatched, and with a happy figurative allusion to the tossed mariner, as he called for a reading of the resolution from which the debate had so far drifted, lifted his audience at once to his level. Then he began his speech, his words flowing on so completely at command that a fellow-senator who heard him has likened his elocution to the steady flow of molten gold. There was an end of all apprehension. Eloquence threw open the portals of eternal day. New England, the Union, the Constitution in its integrity, all were triumphantly vincidated; and the excited crowd which had packed the Senate chamber, filling every seat on the floor and in the galleries, and all the available standing room, dispersed after the orator's last grand apostrophe had died away on the air, with national pride throbbing at the heart.
Massachusetts men, gloomy and downcast of late, now walked the avenue as tho the fife and drum were before them. Hayne's few but zealous partizans shielded him still, and South Carolina spoke with pride of him. His speech was indeed a powerful one from its eloquence and personalities. But his standpoint was purely local and sectional. The people read Webster's speech and marked him for the champion henceforth against all assaults upon the Constitution. An undefinable dread now went abroad that men were planning against the peace of the nation, that the Union was in danger; and citizens looked more closely after its safety and welfare. Webster's speech aroused the latent spirit of patriotism. Even Benton, whose connection with the debate made him at first belittle these grand utterances, soon felt the danger and repudiated the company of the nullifiers. He remained through his long public career a Southern Unionist, and a good type of the growing class of statesman devoted to slave interests who loved the Union as it was and doted upon its compromises.
1 From Schouler's "History of the United States." By permission of Mr. Schouler, and of his publishers, Dodd, Mead & Company. Copyright 1880-1891.
2 Calhoun, who presided as Vice-President of the United states.
HOW THE FEDERAL UNION WORKED TO THE INJURY OF THE SOUTH