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thus evident that the administration were in the minority on their favorite measure, in the popular branch of Congress. Having passed a bill postponing until January 1, 1839, the deposite with the states, of the fourth instalment of the surplus funds directed to be made with them; acts authorizing the issue of ten millions of dollars in treasury-notes, for the immediate wants of government; appropriating $1,600,000 for the suppression of Indian hostilities in Florida; extending the time of bonds for duties on imports; and providing for adjusting the claims upon the late deposite banks, with a few acts of minor importance; Congress adjourned without carrying out the wishes of either the people or the government, at this extra session.
The second session of the twenty-fifth Congress commenced on the 4th of December, 1837, and continued until the 9th of July, 1838.
The independent, or sub-treasury scheme was again pressed upon the consideration of Congress, by the president, and a bill for that purpose, similar to that proposed at the extra session, being reported in the senate, the subject underwent an elaborate discussion in that body. The bill was ably sustained by Senators Wright, Benton, and others, and opposed also with ability by Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster, and other whig senators. Mr. Clay's speech was of great length, and he endeavored to establish the following proposition: First, that it was the deliberate purpose and fixed design of the administration of General Jackson to establish a government bank-a treasury bank-to be administered and controlled by the execu tive department. Secondly, that, with that view, and to that end, it was its aim and intention to overthrow the whole banking system, as existing in the United States when that administration came into power, beginning with the bank of the United States, and ending with the state banks. Thirdly, that the attack was first confined, from considerations of policy, to the bank of the United States; but that after its overthrow was accomplished, it was then directed, and has since been continued, against the state banks. Fourthly, that the present administration, by its acknowledgments, emanating from the highest and most authentic source, has succeeded to the principles, plans, and policy, of the preceding administration, and stands solemnly pledged to complete and perfect them. And fifthly, that the bill under consideration (the sub-treasury plan) was intended to execute the pledge, by establishing, upon the ruins of the late bank of the United States, and the state banks, a government bank, to be managed and controlled by the treasury department, acting under the commands of the president of the United States."
Among those who supported the sub-treasury bill in the senate, was Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina, who, with the South Carolina members in the house of representatives, now sustained the administration. Mr. Preston, the senatorial colleague of Mr. Calhoun, acted with the opposition.
The sub-treasury bill passed the senate, but was rejected in the house
of representatives on the 25th of June, 1838, by 125 to 111 votes. plan of finance was proposed originally in Congress in 1834, by Mr. Gordon, of Virginia, but was then opposed by the friends of the administration, and rejected. In the present instance, as at the extra session, the whigs and conservatives combined against the bill.
A bill was passed at this session granting pre-emption rights to settlers on the public lands. Other important acts passed were the following: to establish the territory of Iowa; granting land for opening a canal in the territory of Wisconsin; to encourage the introduction and promote the cultivation of tropical fruits in the United States; making appropriations for lightboats and beacons, and making surveys; authorizing the printing of the Madison papers; to provide for certain harbors, and the improvement of navigation of certain rivers in Florida; making an appropriation for the Cumberland road; appropriating money also for suppressing Indian hostilities, and for fortifications.
Mr. Preston, whig senator from South Carolina, introduced, in the senate, resolutions in favor of the annexation of Texas to the United States, but they did not receive favorable action at this time. The independence of that republic had been recognised by the United States in the last year of General Jackson's administration.
In June, 1838, Mr. Dickerson resigned the office of secretary of the navy, and James K. Paulding, of New York, was appointed in his place.
During this year serious disturbances against the colonial government occurred in Canada, and many of the citizens of the United States, on the northern frontiers prepared to join them. President Van Buren, therefore, issued a proclamation, calling upon all the persons engaged in the schemes of invasion of Canada, to abandon the design; and warning all those who had engaged in these criminal enterprises, if persisted in, that, "to whatever condition they may be reduced, they must not expect the interference of the United States government, in any form, on their behalf, but would be left, reproached by every virtuous fellow-citizen, to be dealt with according to the policy and justice of that government whose dominions they have, in defiance of the known wishes and efforts of their own government, and without the shadow of justification or excuse, nefariously invaded."
Although there were many individuals largely interested in banks, who continued in good faith to support the democratic party, and the administration of Mr. Van Buren, yet it was generally believed that the great mass of the banking interest was brought to bear against the administration. The state banks, in many instances, had sustained, with all their influence, General Jackson, in his veto of the United States bank bill, and in the transfer which he made of the deposites from the national to the state banks; but when President Van Buren recommended the removal of the
deposites from the state banks, and the establishment of the independent treasury, it was quite another matter.*
The agitation of the currency question, and a combination of causes adverse to the administration, resulted in a great political change at the elections in the important state of New York, in 1837 and 1838. The influence of these elections in the native state of the president, which had previously sustained him by large majorities, could not fail to act upon other states; and it was soon evident, notwithstanding partial successes of the democratic party in some of the states, that the administration was gradually declining in popularity.
The twenty-fifth Congress held its third session from the 3d of December, 1838, to the expiration of its term, on the 3d of March, 1839. But few acts of general interest were passed. Among them may be named an act for preventing and suppressing Indian hostilities; this law related particularly to the difficulties with the Seminole tribe in Florida. The war with these Indians was continued during several years, and large sums were expended in maintaining it. In 1836, one million and a half of dollars were appropriated to prosecute that unfortunate contest. In January, 1837, two millions more were voted by Congress for the purpose. These appropriations were made before the retirement of General Jackson. At the extra session, in October, 1837, and in the two succeeding sessions, large amounts were again appropriated. When the difficulty arose with the Seminoles, President Jackson supposed that it would soon be terminated. And no one, at that time, had any reason to suppose that it would continue for years, and have cost the government eight or ten millions.†
Another act was passed at this session, locating and providing for the Seminole Indians, who had been removed from Florida; another abolishing imprisonment for debt in certain cases. The aspect of our relations with Great Britain was at this time threatening, in consequence of the difficulty respecting the northeast boundary. Congress, therefore, passed an act giving to the president additional powers for the defence of the United States.
During the summer of 1839, President Van Buren visited the state of New York, for the first time since his election. He travelled through the state, stopping at the principal cities and villages. He was received with public honors, and followed by processions of citizens, civil and military. In an address made to him by Mr. Edmonds, formerly a state senator, upon his arrival at New York, he made some remarks which rendered it necessary for Mr. Van Buren to speak of political parties and his own political friends, and of course to express his strong attachment to those friends. This gave occasion to the opposition to represent, that instead of coming on a visit to the whole people, as a president of the United † Bradford.
Statos ought to do, he was on an electioneering tour, for the sole purpose of stimulating his friends to more active exertions, and of recruiting their dilapidated ranks by proselytes whom he was to gain from his political opponents. Hence everything he did, and every word he uttered, was the subject of the most critical and jealous scrutiny.*
In the election of members of the twenty-sixth Congress, there had been a considerable gain for the whigs and conservatives, and, until the fall of 1839, it appeared probable that there would be an opposition majority in the house of representatives. But the friends of the administration made a desperate rally in a few of the last states which chose representatives to the twenty-sixth Congress, and succeeded in returning a small majority of the members elect, leaving out of view five of the six representatives from the state of New Jersey, whose seats were contested. The full returns of members elected to the house of representatives were reported to stand thus: administration 119, opposition 118, and five members from New Jersey claimed by both parties, the certificates of election being given to the whig candidates, and their seats contested by the . administration candidates. In this situation of affairs, intense interest was felt, throughout the country, with regard to the meeting of Congress.
The twenty-sixth Congress met on the 2d of December, 1839. Every member elect of the house of representatives was present, except Mr. Kempshall (whig), from Monroe county, New York, who was detained by sickness in his family. On the assembling of the house, the clerk of the last house, Mr. Garland, a friend of the administration, agreeably to the usual custom, commenced calling the roll; and having called the members from the several New England states and the state of New York, and one of the six members from the state of New Jersey, who all brought the regular certificates, proposed to pass by the other five (whose rights to seats would be contested) till the members from the rest of the states should be called. This brought on a long, animated, and disorderly debate. Scenes of excitement and confusion continued until the 5th, when Mr. John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, addressed the members, and called upon them to organize, by choosing a chairman pro tem. Thereupon Mr. Rhett, of South Carolina, nominated Lewis Williams, of North Carolina, as chairman he declined; when Mr. Rhett nominated John Quincy Adams, who was immediately chosen chairman pro tem., and entered upon the duties of the same. The debate respecting the contested seats from New Jersey was continued from day to day till, on the 16th of December, Robert M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, an opposition member (but in favor of the subtreasury), was elected speaker on the 11th ballot. He received 119 votes, to 113 for all others. On the 17th, the members of the house of representatives were sworn, with the exception of the five disputed members from New Jersey. The whigs having the certificates of election, under
the broad seal of the governor, now came forward and demanded, as their right, to be sworn, which gave rise to a new and and animated debate, and on the 20th the following resolution was decided in the negative, by a vote of 112 to 116: "Resolved, That the representatives of the twenty-sixth Congress, now present, do advise and request the speaker to administer the oath required by law, to the five gentleman from the state of New Jersey who have presented credentials to the speaker and demand to be sworn." On the 21st the house completed its organization, by the election of a clerk; and on the 24th the president's message was delivered, just three weeks after the regular time.
A national convention of the whig party was held at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the 4th of December, 1839, for the purpose of nominating candidates for president and vice-president of the United States. Great difference of opinion prevailed among the whigs, with respect to a suitable candidate for president, regard being especially had to the importance of nominating one upon whom the different elements of which the opposition to the administration was composed could unite with the cordiality and zeal required to be effectual.
It was the expectation of a large proportion of the whig party, especially of those who had been originally opposed to the administration of General Jackson, that Henry Clay, of Kentucky, would receive the nomination of the national convention at Harrisburg, as the opposition candidate for president. Some time before the assembling of that convention, it had been proclaimed that a clear majority of the whole number of delegates had been chosen as friendly to the nomination of Mr. Clay. Yet, during the autumn of the year 1839, notwithstanding the unpopularity of the administration, the whig party met with defeats in the elections in Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Maine. In New Jersey they held the legislature, with a strong majority against them in the popular vote. In New York the whig majority in the state was about 4,000 on the vote for senators, against 10,000 in 1838, and 15,000 in 1837. In North Carolina the whig triumph was not of a decisive character. These results showed that the opposition were losing in 1839 the advantages they had gained in 1837 and 1838, and this cast a shadow over the spirits of the reflecting friends of Mr. Clay. Under these circumstances, many of those friends began to doubt the expediency of placing him in nomination in opposition to Mr. Van Buren; particularly when it was known that the friends of the administration were desirous that Mr. Clay should be the opposition candidate. In that case, inasmuch as they believed that gentleman could not concentrate the opposition vote in his favor, they anticipated an easy victory for the democratic party at the approaching election.
Mr. Clay himself seemed to acquiesce in the doubts expressed by some of his friends, as to his own comparative strength with the whig party. In