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gressional career of six years had been brilliant; as a legislator and as an orator he stood on a proud elevation before his country, and now his capacity for administration was to be tested. Such was the deranged state of the department, the vast accumulation of its business, and its imperfect organization, that many friends dissuaded him from occupying a post of so much danger. Space will not permit even a sketch of the history of his administration of the war department during seven years. He found it, in all its branches, in confusion, and lest it in complete order. He found upwards of forty millions of dollars of unsettled accounts, which he reduced to less than three millions, and he completely prevented all further accumulation by the unexampled exactness of accountability which he introduced into every branch of the disbursements, and in consequence of which he was enabled to report to congress in 1823, that, “of the entire amount of money drawn from the treasury in 1822, for the military service, including pensions, amounting to four million five hundred and seventy-one thousand nine hundred and sixty one dollars and ninetyfour cents, although it passed through the hands of two hundred and ninety-one disbursing agents, there had not been a single defalcation, nor the loss of a cent to the government; and that he had reduced the expense of the army from four hundred and fifty-one dollars per man, to two hundred and eighty-seven dollars, and thereby saved to the country annually more than one million three hundred thousand dollars.
It is to be remembered that all this was effected under adverse circumstances; when Mr. Calhoun, who had been brought forward as a candidate for the presidency, had to encounter misrepresentations, and a violent opposition to almost every measure he proposed for the improvement of the department. In fact it is only by the perfect order and system brought into the department, that it is possible to explain how Mr. Calhoun found time for preparing his numeroiis reports, which are not surpassed in ability by our ablest public documents, particularly those on our Indian affairs, internal improvements, and the reduction of the army; for the despatch of the immense mass of unsettled accounts of the war; for the examination of the claims for revolutionary pensions; the thorough resuscitation of the military academy; the establishment of discipline and rigid economy in the army; a complete reorganization, which gave us, at the expense of a force of six thousand men, so officered as to be capable of prompt enlargement, a peace establishment having the military capacity, and defensive power of thirty thousand; the survey of our maritime frontier; the institution of a system of permanent fortifications for our coasts; the establishment of a cordon of military posts, stretching from the upper lakes around our western frontier; and, finally, for his duties as a leading and influential member of Mr. Monroe's able and enlightened cabinet.
In the second term of Mr. Monroe's presidency, the question of the choice of a successor agitated the country, and Mr. Calhoun's name was brought forward with those of four other distinguished candidates. Events had turned the controversy, so far as he was concerned, more particularly between his friends and those of Mr. Crawford, on the subject of a congressional caucus, as the means of designating the chief magistrate. Mr. Calhoun believing that, in consequence of the great increase of the patronage of the government, it was dangerous to place thus in the power of the president, the choice of his successor, through his influence over the members of congress, took a decided stand against it. In the progress of the canvass, Mr. CalHOUN's name was withdrawn so as to strengthen the probability of a choice by the people, and consequently to lessen the hazard of the election being devolved upon the house of representatives. The contest terminated in returning General Jackson, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Crawford as the three highest candidates to the house, and the election of Mr. Calhoun by a large majority of the people as vice-president. We cannot dwell on the events which succeeded. During the whole canvass Mr. Calhoun bore very kind personal and political relations with both the leading candidates; but acting on the principle which had placed him in opposition to a congressional caucus, he did not hesitate to avow his opinion that the members of the house, in discharging the high duties devolved on them, ought to act in reference and subordination to the will of the people. He was necessarily, therefore, placed in the opposition, which at the end of the term, overthrew the administration, and terminated in the election of General Jackson as president, and the reëlection of himself as vice-president.
It is admitted that Mr. CALHOUN conferred upon the vice-presidency a dignity and character worthy of the station. His decisions gave universal satisfaction with one exception, the circumstances of which were remarkable, viz., his decision in regard to the power of the vice-president, as presiding officer of the senate, to call a senator to order for words spoken in debate. The senate at no period had been in such a state of excitement. Mr. CALHOUN was known to be opposed to the administration. It was the first case which had occurred, and the principle on which the decision rested was novel. The constitution gives each house the power of establishing its rules of proceeding, and there existed at this time no rule in the senate which gave the vice-president the power in question. Accordingly, while those who took the opposite view contended that the vicepresident possessed this power inherently under the constitution, as the presiding officer of the body, Mr. Calhoun decided that as the rules did not confer the power, either expressly or by implication, he did not possess it, believing if he possessed it under the constitution there could be no appeal to the senate, and the freedom of debate in that body would depend upon the pleasure of an officer who held his place independent of it. Satisfied with the correctness of his decision, Mr. Calhoun evinced not the slightest impatience at the clamor which followed. He calmly and confidently left his conduct to abide the result of cooler, and more mature investigation. The result has proved that a good cause may be left to the quiet operation of time. After the lapse of two years, the senate, without any movement of his friends took up the subject, and after a full examination and discussion, Mr. Calhoun's decision received the deliberate sanction of that body.
This brings us down to a period so near the present time, that it is not necessary to give even a succinct narrative of Mr. Calhoun's course as connected with public events, and accordingly we pass over the measures adopted by General Jackson on his accession to power, the position in which Mr. CALHOUN was placed in to him politically in consequence of those measures, the rupture of their political and private relations, the correspondence to which it his own conduct which it contains. We pass over all these and gave rise, the character of that correspondence, and the vindication of come to that portion of his political life which his friends confidently believe will hereafter be the most distinguished, and will strongly mark his character with posterity. We mean that which and burdens in reference to the protective system, and a thorough reformation of the government, and restoration of the constitution to its primitive principles, which he deemed necessary to the preservation of the country, could not be realized in any other way, he turned his attention from that time to the sovereignty of the states and their reserved rights as the only certain means of effecting these objects, the salvation of our institutions, and of the union. The result was, that view of our system which recognises in each state, as a sovereign party to the political compact, a right to declare an act of congress, which it believes to be unconstitutional, to be null and void, and of course not obligatory upon its citizens, and to arrest the execution of such an act within its limits. This doctrine, which was rendered so unpopular under the name of nullification, is maintained to be clearly contained in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, is more fully stated and carried out in the discussions to which it gave rise in the controversy between South Carolina and the general government. In these discussions the papers prepared by Mr. Calhoun, constitute a striking part.*
of the tariff of 1828, and the part which he felt himself compelled to take in resistance to what he considered an unconstitutional and oppressive act, in order to arrest a course of events which he clearly perceived, at that early period, would grow out of the measure, and which he was under a deep con would terminate
, if not arrested, in the destruction of the liberty and the constitution of the country, or in the dissolution of the union. Apprehending, from what he saw in the passage of the tariff act of 1828, that the expectations of the friends of an equal system of benefits
The first of these papers attributed to him, is the exposition of the South Carolina legislature in the session of 1828, in which a full and very original view is taken of the relations between the states and the general government, and the operation of the protective system as affecting unequally the two great sections of the union. This was followed, in 1830, by a statement drawn up by Mr. CalHOUN, containing his opinion on the relations between the state and the general government, in deference to public opinion, which seemed to demand an exposition of his views on a subject which then began so deeply to agitate the country. The open avowal of doctrines then considered by many as little short of treason, which he knew would separate him from many of his political friends, on a conviction of duty, and without regard to the effect it would have upon his popularity, required a firmness of purpose and a deep and solemn sense of duty which few possessed. Subsequently, at Governor Hamilton's request, he addressed him a letter in which the subject is more amply discussed, and which acquired for Mr. CALHoun a reputation for ability and candor even among those who did not approve his doctrine.
* The Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, which were the platform of the old democratic republican faith, contain the following passages, which are given for the satisfaction of the reader.
“Resolved, That this assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government as resulting from the compact to which the states are parties, as limited by the plain sense, and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no farther valid than they are authorised by the grants cnumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them." Virginia resolution, of 1798, drawn up by James Madison.
"Resolved, That this commonwealth considers the federal union, upon the terms, and for the purposes specified in the late compact, as conducive to the liberty and happiness of the several states : That it does now unequivocally declare its attachment to the union, and to that compact agreeably to its obvious and real intention, and will be among the last to seek its dissolution; That if those, who administer the general government, be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact, by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, an annihilation of the state governments, and the erection upon their ruins of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence; That the principle and construction contended for by sundry of the state legislatures, that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extent of the powers delegated to it, stop nothing short of despot
The payment of the public debt, without a satisfactory adjustment of the tariff, brought on a crisis which will long be remembered. South Carolina carried out her doctrine ; a convention of the people was called in their sovereign capacity, and the protective acts declared unconstitutional, and therefore void, and no law. At the call of his state, Mr. Calhoun resigned his office of vice-president of the United States, and was elected senator in congress, and took his seat in that body to defend her cause, which he believed to be the cause of liberty and the constitution. His re-appearance, after so years, on the floor of a deliberative body, was under circumstances the most trying that can be conceived. He and his colleague stood almost alone. The cause was universally unpopular, and regarded as synonymous with disunion and treason. Under these circumstances, with all the disadvantage of not having spoken in a assembly for more than sixteen years, he had to meet the joint array of the talents, both of the administration, and of the opposition.
ism, since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge done under color of that instrument, is the rightful remedy." Kentucky resolutions of 1799. The original draft of which was made by Mr. Jefferson.