« AnteriorContinuar »
date, that if Harrison were given a log cabin and hard cider he would rather stay at home in the West, the Whigs immediately took up the remark as an insult to their candidate, adopted “log cabin and hard cider” as their motto and made it their war-cry.
Harrison was the “log cabin” candidate, the man of the people, living its frugal and simple life and cultivating all its virtues, offering hospitality to every passer-by, who found the door open and a glass of cider on the table, whereas Van Buren inhabited a palace and eat with gold spoons and forks. Everywhere log cabins were run up, models of them were paraded in procession through the streets, ornaments for women were made of them, medals were struck with them. Pictures were circulated wholesale throughout the country representing Harrison now as a victorious general, now as a labourer driving a plough on his farm or welcoming old comrades at the door of his cabin. Meetings organized in the open air drew enormous crowds, people brought their wives and children, the number of persons present was reckoned by the acres of ground which they covered. Torrents of oratory flowed at the meetings, but it was devoid of sense; it did not seek to enlighten the mind or to bring home convictions, but to strike the imagination. This effect was obtained mainly by political songs composed for the occasion, which, passing froin mouth to mouth, produced a downright frenzy, absurd as they were. Clubs and associations of young men were formed throughout the country with the special duty of keeping up the hurly-burly. The Union was turned into a huge fair; for months there was a continuous carnival, with a whole people for actors. A monster procession at Baltimore, in May, 1840, gave the best picture of it. All the States sent delegations, some of which, that of Massachusetts, for instance, numbered not less than fifteen hundred persons; they formed an immense line stretching for miles, and advancing each with a band in front and banners bearing more or less allegorical inscriptions: "Tippecanoe and no reduction of wages," " W. H. Harrison, the poor man's friend," “We will teach the palace slaves to respect the log cabin," “The prairies are on fire," " Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.” The log cabin was not only mentioned or depicted on the banners, several delegations exhibited log cabins of natural size, drawn by horses with riders in fantastic costumes. The log cabins were adorned with all the accessories of these primitive dwellings, – skins of animals, horns, and especially barrels of cider, from which the delegates refreshed themselves liberally as they walked along. In some log cabins the idyll was completed by live raccoons running over the roofs and by the smoke issuing from the chimney of the cabin in which a squirrel was being cooked. One of the greatest successes of the procession was a huge ball ten or twelve feet in diameter, rolled by mountaineers from the Alleghanies clad in the costume of their wild country. In this carnival procession were to be found Clay, Webster, and the other Whig leaders driving in state in a barouche drawn by four grey horses. To serve the good cause they lowered themselves to the buffooneries by which it was sought to carry the multitude. These methods succeeded admirably; the success of “Tippecanoe and Tyler too" at the poll was extraordinary; the majority obtained by Harrison over his rival, Van Buren, surpassed all expectations; the Whig victory was complete.
1 The most famous of these songs was “ Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Tippecanoe was Harrisou's nickname given him in memory of his victory over the Indians at Tippecanoe; Tyler was the name of the candidate for the VicePresidency adopted by the Whig National Convention at the same time as Harrison for the Presidency.
Tune : Little Pig's Tail.
Our country through ?
For Tippecanoe and Tyler too -
IX This victory also marked the definitive triumph of the new order of things in the existence of the parties, which had been taking shape after the fall of the congressional Caucus in 1824. The fifteen years that had elapsed since then were the formative period of this order of things, the elements of which have been brought out one by one in the preceding pages. They may be summed up in a few words. The old political parties, which had lost their locus standi, had been reconstituted in an artificial way by means of an amalgam of numerous factions, " without one ounce of honest principle to choose between them,” as J. Q. Adams remarked. These various contingents were united by the “magnetic” power of leaders like Jackson and Clay, whose commanding personalities constituted in a way the stock-in-trade of the new parties, while the democratic organization of the conventions supplied them with permanent cadres. The men who filled these were for the most part bent solely on satisfying their appetites, and the “division of the spoils” became the cohesive force of the party. “A national party became an army of occupation," as a historian puts it, "under a commander-in-chief, intrenched in the offices, and with all the resources of national influence at command, to resist, if need be, majorities and public opinion.” 2
1 Niles, Vol. LVIII, pp. 147-156,
ackson's autocratic temperament and the personal enthusiasm which he inspired established a military discipline and a blind devotion to the leaders, which transformed men into automatons. But success being the sole object which this conquering horde pursued, and to which it subordinated everything, this devotion was not that of the vassal of by-gone days, loyal in prosperity and in adversity; it was proportioned to self-interest, to the advantage to be gained. A Henry Clay was pitilessly thrown aside directly his chances of victory seemed to decline. The qualities of the leaders, their personal worth, ceased to be of consequence as soon as the party Organization was sufficiently developed through the vigorous impulse given it by the powerful individuals who made it a success. The Jacksons and the Clays having disappeared, or being put on one side, the Organization stepped into their shoes as a joint-stock company takes the place of the private individuals who have founded the firm. The will and good pleasure of Jackson, the imperious charm of Clay, which carried away the multitude, were succeeded by the interest of the "party" represented by any one stamped with the hallmark of its Organization; a figure-head sufficed even for the chief magistracy. The leadership became, so to speak, impersonal and anonymous, up to its highest grade, after having suffered so many losses in its “intermediate ranks” (to revert to Montesquieu's expression) even before the accession of Jackson.
1 Memoirs, Vol. IX, p. 187. 2 J. Schouler, History of the United States, Vol. IV, p. 464.
The devotion of the great mass of the voters was henceforth to be bestowed on the abstract entity of the party, being upheld by the superstitious respect for forms which had taken possession of the American political mind. This fetish-worship was developed on one side by the explosion of the democratic feeling which exalted Jackson, and which he, in his turn, exasperated, by constantly appealing in his thundering voice to the “people,” by threatening the opponents of his policy with outbreaks of the wrath of the “people," overbearing legislative assemblies with his capacity of elect of the “people”; good sense, equity, political proprieties, logic of the Constitution, - all were obscured by the fumes of the incense which was burnt before the new idol, the “people.” Its sacred will was that of the party in majority, and could be known by the outward signs of its Organization coming “fresh from the people,” i the mere democratic and representative trappings of which commanded respect. To follow these signs became the whole duty of the believer, constituted all the observances of his political religion of loyalty to the party. This twofold democratic formalism, both moral and material, was superadded to the superstitious adoration of the Constitution, of the written instrument, which had taken root in the public mind almost from the beginning. Hardly had a few years elapsed after the violent disputes about the adoption of the Constitution, when it appeared to the Americans as an almost superhuman creation, as a revelation of political truth offered to the whole human race, which had been walking in the darkness. Beyond the reach of rational criticism, it lent itself only to theological exegesis; the rage of controversialists, who each pull the words of Scripture their own way, no doubt found free scope in the conflicts of the “strict constructionists" and the “loose constructionists,” but both bowed down with equal fervour before the letter of the Constitution." Rising on this substratum of constitutional fetish-worship, the formalism introduced into every-day politics, into that of the parties, under the auspices of the new Organization, definitively cut off the American political mind from free enquiry by a sort of iron circle, by making it revolve in the fixed orbit of party regularity.
1 Jackson's own words when recommending the national convention which was to nominate Van Buren.
The industrial evolution and the economic upheaval which took place during the decade of 1830-1810, on their side, if they did not as yet seriously impede the expansion of individualism, were not exactly favourable to it: individual enterprise was beginning to give way to joint-stock companies (corporations), capitalism and monopolies appeared on the scene, the equality of conditions was disappearing.
Engrossed in his material interests, the citizen was not, and did not even wish to be, aware of the part of dummy which he was playing in political life, where the professionals had installed themselves as masters. To give his casting vote to one or the other side, he allowed himself to be roused or a moment from his indifference, or he roused himself under the spur of events; but in both cases the habitual passivity of his political mind yielded only to a strong shock given to his senses; he started only when dragged along with the crowd, worked upon by methods which appealed mainly to popular feeling, and of which the " Tippecanoe and Tyler too” campaign was such a striking picture, not to say a caricature. When the alarm raised by the election contest subsided, citizens and professional politicians could return in peace to their daily preoccupations, the former to attend to their private affairs, the latter to unblushingly exploit the public interest.
Such were, at the moment when the Republic of the United States was entering on the second half-century of its existence, the cardinal points of the political situation, which the development of the party Organization brought out, or helped to
1 Cf. in Verfassung und Demokratie der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, by H. von Holst, Vol. I, Düsseldorf, 1873, the very acute chapter entitled Die Kanonisirung der Verfassung und ihr wahrer Charakter,