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Reports of the Secretaries of War, Treasury, Navy, and Postmas-
Memorials of Aspinwall and Hargous,
The present number of the Register having been delayed beyond the regular period of publication, it is due to the patrons of the work to state the cause of this irregularity.
The materials for the third number were mostly prepared and ready for the press by the first of November last, when the editor being called from home in relation to necessary business arrangements, was suddenly and severely attacked by sickness. During a confinement of several weeks, rendered wholly incapable of completing his arrangements, or of superintending the press, he was obliged to abandon all hope of getting out the third number in the month of December. Having but recently been restored to a state of sufficient strength to resume his labours, he has at once recommenced the prosecution of his work.
The second volume therefore begins with the month of March instead of December, but there will still be two volumes within the year as originally proposed; so that from this temporary delay and derangement, there will result, in fact, no loss to the subscribers.
In addition to the circumstances just related, it is proper to state, by way of further explanation, that the editor has hitherto been compelled to depend mainly on his own personal efforts in regard to the preparation and publication of the work; an arduous task, it is true, but one to which he has cheerfully applied himself, and which he has hitherto accomplished, until the recent providential hinderance. He is now making arrangements to prevent, as far as possible, the recurrence of a similar failure, and no effort will be want. ing on his part to secure the regular quarterly issues hereafter.
VOL. II.-MARC#, 1849. 2
THE HISTORY OF 1848, CONCLUDED.
UNITED STATES. Our country being now at peace with all the world, and the national legislature having terminated its session on the 14th of August, it has furnished few incidents deserving the notice of history, since our last number. Its late harvest was unusually abundant, and the crops of wheat and maize were equally good, which is not often the case, as the dry summers, which are most favourable to wheat, are unpropitious to Indian corn.
Thus blessed with abundance and peace, the public concerns which have chiefly interested the American people, have been the political changes that are now going on in Europe, the election of a President for the next four years, and the emigration to their new possessions on the Pacific.
The features of the presidential contest have differed from most of those which preceded it, in having more than two candidates, and in being attended with less popular excitement. In general, those distinguished individuals who are at once deemed worthy of this high office, and are sufficiently known and esteemed by the people to be likely to obtain their suffrages, however numerous at first, have finally settled down to two. In the fifteen elections which had previously taken place, there were but two exceptions—that in 1824, when there were four candidates, all hoping for success, either with the people, or in the house of Representatives, and that in 1836, when Gen. Harrison of Ohio, and Judge White of Tennessee, were brought forward in opposition to Mr. Van Buren. On the present occasion, there were in like manner, three prominent candidates, General Taylor, General Cass, and Mr. Van Buren. That the popular interest should have been far less than at the election in 1844, may be ascribed to the extraordinary enthusiasm with which Mr. Clay's public and party services had inspired his friends, and the almost equal hostility felt by his opponents. That this interest should even have been less than has been usually felt at such elections, may be referred to the fact that the public mind, so often and so forcibly excited by the victories in the Mexican war, and by the late astounding events in Europe, was less sensitive to the wonted stimulus of political controversy.
It has, of late years, been the practice of those conventions, which, by mere party machinery, without any operation of law, voluntarily assemble for the nomination of suitable candidates of the presidency,
to set forth the leading principles of their political faith, and this exposition, by a figure of rhetoric, like that which extended the meaning of the word rostra* at Rome, it has been the fashion of late to call the platform of the party:
The more ostensible and avowed principles of these parties are ever varying with the changing circumstances of the times, but there are some more fundamental points of difference which undergo no change. These, having their foundation in human nature, make an essential element in political parties every where, and have the most activity and force in the countries that are most free. Society in such countries naturally divides itself into those who, having more than an average share of property, feel solicitude for its preservation, and those who own less than an average share, and view the richer class, if not with envy, at least with jealousy of the power and influence produced by wealth. Too many of the one class, like Cæsar, are intolerant of equality, while most of the other class, like Pompey, resist the claims of superiority. The one, having more to gain than to lose by change, are ever ready to attempt reform: the other, having more to lose than gain, instinctively dread innovation. Other circumstances besides wealth, doubtless contribute to engender pride on the one hand, and jealousy on the other, but property is the chief agent in dividing all civilized countries into two discordant classes; and a large majority of those who compose the great political parties, are ranged under the one or the other, by the affinities and sympathies to which the possession of property, or the want of it, give occasion. Fortunately, for the peace of society, many, both of the rich and the poor, are placed, by the force of circumstances, in the class to which they do not naturally belong.
Other principles occasionally may be mingled with the fundamental one that has been mentioned, but unless they have the closest natural alliance with the apistol on the one hand, or the rolaou on the other, they are sometimes found in the ranks of one party, and sometimes in those of the other. Thus, a bank of the United States was supported by the federal party in 1790, and opposed by the republicans. In 1816, it was supported by the latter party, then in power, and opposed by the federalists. Afterwards it was supported by whigs and federalists, and opposed by the democratic party, headed by General Jackson.
War has generally been denounced by the democratic party as repugnant to republican principles, and unfriendly to civil liberty; yet the recent war was defended and justified chiefly by the democratic party, and the war in 1816 was exclusively the act of the same party.
The restrictive policy in commerce, by way of retaliation, was adrocated in 1793 by the republicans, and opposed by the federalists;
rostrisque earum, suggestum, in foro extructum, adornari placuit: rostraque id templum appellatum.-LIVY.
but, of late years, a similar policy has been supported by the conservative party, and opposed by the democrats. So, too, with the exercise of the President's qualified negative on questions of public policy, which the whigs now condemn, and the democrats not only justify, but exalt into a merit, it will probably not be long before the parties change places.
Bearing in mind that the radical principles growing out of man's moral nature, are at the bottom of this, as well as of all preceding presidential contests, and animate nearly all those who are not operated upon by personal ambition, or the desire of office, and their adherents, let us see what are the minor principles which the three parties severally profess, and by which they seek to recommend themselves to popular favour.
The principles of the democratic party were set forth by the convention which assembled at Baltimore on the 22d of May, and were as follows:
“Resolved, That the American democracy place their trust in the intelligence, the patriotism, and the discriminating justice of the American people.
“ Resolved, That we regard this as a distinctive feature of our political creed, which we are proud to maintain before the world as the great moral element in a form of government, springing from and upheld by the popular will; and we contrast it with the creed and practice of federalism, under whatever name or form, which seeks to palsy the will of the constituents, and which conceives no imposture too monstrous for the popular credulity:
“Resolved, therefore, That entertaining these views, the democratic party of this Union, through their delegates assembled in general convention of the states, coming together in a spirit of concord, of devotion to the doctrines and faith of a free representative government, and appealing to their fellow citizens for the rectitude of their intention, renew and repeat before the American people the declarations of principles avowed by them, when, on a former occasion, in general convention, they presented their candidates for the popular suffrages.
“1. That the federal government is one of limited powers, derived solely from the constitution, and the grants of power shown therein ought to be strictly construed by all the departments and agents of the government; and that it is inexpedient and dangerous to exercise doubtful constitutional powers.
“2. That the constitution does not confer upon the general government the power to commence and carry on a general system of internal improvements.
“3. That the constitution does not confer authority upon the federal government, directly or indirectly, to assume the debts of the several states, contracted for local internal improvements, or state purposes; nor would such assumption be just or expedient.