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that the particular president who has perhaps come nearer than any other to the accomplishment of the entire programme with which he entered office should have felt himself so sad a victim of party defection. His very successes had roused strong and relentless opposition, had divided his party into factions, and was finally threatening it with complete disruption. Buchanan believed, with reason, that the Democratic reverses in Pennsylvania in the fall of 1846 were due to the hard-won victory in the passage of the Walker tariff.1 That it had been a dearer triumph still by which Polk snatched the nomination from Van Buren in 1844 was to be made evident in the political outcome of 1848.
The first party to hold its national convention preparatory to the campaign for a successor tc Polk was that of the Native Americans, then of small importance, and its nomination counted for but little. The convention met at Philadelphia in September, 1847. It declined to put forward a candidate for the presidency, but recommended General Taylor. For vice-president it nominated General A. S. Dearborn of Massachusetts.2
The next nomination was made by the Liberty, or Abolition, party, whose convention met in New York City in November, 1847. The men selected as its candidates were John P. Hale of New Hampshire for president, and Leicester King of Ohio for \
1 Polk, MS. Diary, November 5, 1846. »Mies' Register, LXXIII., 79.
vice-president.1 Hale had a record which made him the logical nominee of the abolitionists; but the anti-slavery men of the free states repudiated the extreme of Garrisonian abolition, and the votes of the political abolitionists were too few to do more than decide between the candidates of the stronger organizations. Therefore, when the nomination of Van Buren divided the Democrats, Hale withdrew in his favor. In June, 1848, a radical section of the abolitionists known as the Liberty League nominated Gerrit Smith of New York for president, and Charles E. Foote of Ohio for vice-president; but those nominations seem to have attracted no votes. An "industrial congress," composed of representatives of labor organizations, which met at Philadelphia June 13, 1848, and nominated Gerrit Smith and William S. Waitt of Illinois was equally ineffective.2
The national convention of the Democratic party met at Baltimore May 22, 1848.3 Before it could proceed to the business of nomination or of platform-making it had to settle a contest over the representation of New York, which was so important as to require consideration in detail. This contest was really the aftermath of the struggle of 1844. The New York Democracy was now divided into the two opposing factions of "Hunkers" and "Barnburners," each named by the other; the Barnburners /
1 Niles' Register, LXXIIL, 172. • Ibid,, LXXIV., 8.
3 For the proceedings, see ibid., 69-77, 334-3*9. 348.
being radical reformers, who were humorously characterized as willing to burn down the political barn in order to get rid of the rats. "Hunkers" has been explained as meaning those who "hunkered" for office,1 but this appears uncertain. With the former were identified Van Buren and Silas Wright. Though the nomination for the vice-presidency was offered to Wright in 1844 and was declined,2 he made the race for governor of New York that fall, and won by a majority about five thousand greater than Polk's; and his friends claimed for him the credit for the national victory of the Democrats. On the other hand, it was charged that the smaller majority for Polk was due to the neglect of the presidential canvass by Wright and Van Buren.3
There is no reason to believe that Polk thought so. On the contrary, he offered the secretaryship of the treasury first to Wright, and, when he declined it, to B. F. Butler, another Barnburner, whose appointment would have been satisfactory to that element; but Butler also declined, because he could not be secretary of state.4 The place was then offered to the Hunker William L. Marcy, and was accepted. Polk refused to align himself positively with either faction; but in 1846, when Wright was again a candidate for governor and was beaten, the president ascribed his defeat to the Hunkers, and recorded his intention to extend them no more favors. The next year, however, his condemnation fell on the Barnburners, whom he charged with the defeat of the New York Democracy in the November election; and from that time on his tolerance for them grew steadily less.1 In May, 1848, he complained that neither faction was concerned about anything except the offices. As the time appointed for the Free Soil convention at Buffalo drew near, his cabinet was unanimously of the opinion that the Barnburner Federal officials who were taking part in the movement should be dismissed; and after the convention he removed B. F. Butler from his office of Federal district-attorney.2 After the fall elections, when Buchanan gave a share of government printing to a Barnburner paper — the Rochester Daily Advertiser—Polk interfered, and directed that the arrangement be cancelled.3
1 Niles' Register, LXXIV., 325; Von Hoist, United States, III., 359 ».; McLaughlin, Cass, 237. 'Seep. 130, above.
* Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 626; cf. Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 2 Sess., 361.
* Hammond, Silas Wright, 532; cf., however, Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 650.
It was, however, from the first impossible to keep up neutrality towards the New York factions. The loss of the nomination by Van Buren in 1844, after he had obtained, through personal leaning or instructions, a clear majority of delegates, could not easily be forgiven. If the larger vote for Wright than for Polk in the New York election was not the effect of a blow in return, then it meant that the president was under obligations to the followers of Van Buren that could not easily be discharged. No doubt he honestly tried to square the account; but the fact that Wright and Butler were successively offered a place in the cabinet, before Polk turned to the Hunkers, did not make Marcy less objectionable to the Barnburners. With each succeeding year the relations of the president with this faction grew less cordial, and at length the Barnburners seized upon the Wilmot Proviso as a weapon which might be used effectively both against the administration and against the Hunkers.
1 Polk, MS. Diary, November 5, 1846, November 8, 1847. 'Ibid., August 5, September i, 1848. 'Ibid., December 16, 1848.
. To the national Democratic convention of 1848 came two sets of delegates, one from each faction. The Hunkers obtained control of the regular state convention of the party, tabled a resolution containing the substance of the Wilmot Proviso, and issued an address in the name of the New York Democracy. Then the factions held separate conventions, that of the Barnburners declaring in favor of the proviso; and the result was that both sent delegates to the national convention. That body tried to compromise the matter by admitting both delegations and giving them each one-half of the vote of the state, but both then refused to take part. The Hunkers promised to support the nominee of the convention, but the Barnburners would not.1
1 Niks' Register, LXXIV., 325; Von Hoist, United States, III.,