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bring out, in a direct or indirect way. These points, of an uncompromising distinctness, which beset the political society of America, constituted so many premises, which were bound to reveal their effects, as its evolution proceeded, with everincreasing fulness. We shall see them unfold themselves with an only too perfect logic, as we follow the course of the party Organization step by step in the electoral struggles for supreme power in the Union, in the solution of great national problems, in local public life, as well as in the play of the machinery of the Constitution, and in the relations of the economic sphere with the State.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE CONVENTION SYSTEM
The change of parties in power, effected by the election of 1840, only made it more evident that the political manners and methods brought into fashion by the Jacksonian Democracy were not a transitory manifestation, due to the character or the traditions of the Democratic party, but that they were taking permanent root in the political society of America. Immediately after the defeat of Van Buren's party it appeared clearly that there would be no solution of continuity. The Whigs had rushed into the fight to the cry of “ Away with the spoilers," but hardly was the battle over when they flung themselves on the spoils. The twelve years' waiting in opposition had given a keen edge to the Whig appetites. As on the accession of Jackson, Washington presented the spectacle of a city invaded by office-seekers, but on this occasion they were still more numerous. The new means of locomotion, the railways, which did not exist in 1829, facilitated this invasion of the hungry host in a peculiar degree. Before the new President had entered on office his future ministers were beset. by applicants, who were not all small, needy politicians; among them were members of Congress, senators of the United States, who were eager for places. When Harrison
1 John Bell, who was to have a ministerial post in the future administration, was overrun two months even before his installation by place-hunters, to such an extent that he wrote: “I am growing pretty sick already of this thing of office in my own case, and the increasing tide of application from new quarters that daily beats against my ears gives me spasms. In truth, I begin to fear that we are at last, or rather that our leading politicians are, in the several States, chietly swayed by the thirst for power and plunder. Would you think that Senator Talmadge is willing to descend from the Senate to the New York Custom House ? This is yet a secret, but it is true!" (Letter from J. Bell to Governor Letcher of the 13th January, 1811. Coleman's Life
took up his abode in the White House, the rush became tremendous; the applicants literally pursued the ministers and the President day and night; they besieged the former in their offices or in their homes, and even in the streets; a good many candidates for office slept in the corridors of the White House, to catch the President the next morning as soon as he got up; there were no fixed times for audiences, the “log cabin” President indulged in a simplicity which allowed every one to have access to him. But his great age could not stand the fatigues and worries caused by the never-ending crowd of applicants, and he died after one month of office.
The Vice-President, Tyler, who, in accordance with the Constitution, succeeded Harrison, was not a genuine Whig. Originally a Democrat, he parted from Jackson without embracing the Whig creed. But the managers of the national convention of Harrisburg, who cared little for principles and were bent only on success, thought it a good move to couple the name of Tyler ("Tyler too") with that of General Harrison to catch the votes of the malcontent Democrats. Having become President, contrary to all expectation, Tyler dropped the Whig mask with which the wire-pullers had disguised him, and prevented the Whig party from reaping the fruits of their victory in carrying the legislative measures which were dear to their hearts. Disowned by the Whigs as a traitor, the President did not inspire the Democrats whom he had deserted with much confidence either. But as full of infatuation and ambition as he was weak-minded, Tyler fancied that he could create a personal party which would carry him triumphantly into the Presidency for another term, or even for two terms. To recruit adherents, the President laid hands on the public service; he turned out the officials devoted to the Whigs, and replaced them by his own creatures. He gained nothing by this; it was the genuine Democrat candidate who won the victory at the presidential election of 1844. As soon as he came into power, the new President in his turn upset the public service, and still more completely than his predecessors had done; almost all the federal officials were changed to make room for the victors.
of J. J. Crittenden, Vol. I, p. 136, quoted by Holst, Verfassungsgeschichte der Vereinigten Staaten, Vol. I, p. 358).
From that time it became the rule that every change of President involved as a matter of right that of all the public servants appointed by his predecessor of the opposite party. As soon as the new President entered on his office, the "guillotine of the party” was set going for the greater triumph of the so-called democratic principle of “rotation,” which was alleged to be essential to the preservation of popular liberties. For the struggle for office kept the political mind of the nation on the alert while participation in public honours was an incentive to the citizen to remain loyal to free institutions. “ It is a great American principle,” said a speaker from his place in the Senate, “it lies at the foundation of our
In vain did men of the stamp of Webster and Calhoun raise their voice against these practices and these theories. “ He will be asserting,” cried Calhoun, one of the most untrue and monstrous propositions on the face of God's earth who says that this is a popular doctrine. What! a popular doctrine. This a popular doctrine? It is the very reverse. It is the doctrine to create a king and to annihilate liberty!”? The next President, Taylor, had no doubt declared that he would make "honesty, capacity, and fidelity indispensable prerequisites to the bestowal of office,” but hardly was he installed (in 1819) when his conscience baile him reward the members of the Organization of the party which had brought him into power.3
1 Speech of Senator Allen, of the 14th of May, 1846 (Congressional Globe, Vol. XV, p. 819). Since then, evidence in favour of rotation has been sought for even in the erudition of past centuries. The principle of rotation is alleged to be contemporary with the very discovery of America. Ferdinand and Isabella wrote in their famous “ formal lecture," addressed to the new governor of Hispaniola, Ovando: “Also let there be change of authorities, so that many may have a share of profit and honour, and be made skilful in affairs." * This pregnant sentence contains the whole philosophy of rotation in office," as an American publicist gravely remarks (W. Martin Dickson, " The New Political Machine," North American Review, January, 1882, p. 50).
2 Speech in the Senate, of the 14th of May, 1846 (Calhoun's Works, Vol. IV,
3 "I did not think it wise or just,” he said, “ to kick away the ladder by which I ascended to the presidency; colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, sergeants, and corporals are just as necessary to success in polities as they are to discipline and efficiency in an army.” “ If the country,” he remarked to one of his ministers, “is to be benefited by our services, it seems to me that you and I ought to remember those to whose zeal, activity, and influence we are indebted for our places. There are plenty of Whigs just as capable and as honest, and quite as deserving of office as the Democrats who have held them at two or three presidential terms. Rotation in ottice, provided good men are appointed, is sound republican doctrine" (Thurlow Weed's Autobiography, Vol. II, pp. 175, 176).
The members of the beaten party had only the Press in which to vent their ill-humour and denounce the proscriptions in which the victors indulged. But soon even the recriminations stopped, people learnt to consider the periodical dismissals not only as natural but as justifiable. When the Democratic President who entered the White House in 1853 made a clean sweep of the public service, the opposition Press countenanced this conduct by its silence or even by its formal acquiescence. At last there was no need even of a change of the party in power to carry out the hecatomb of office-holders, the principle of rotation enjoined it even when the party was confirmed in power by the new election; those who had feasted were obliged to make way for their hungry political coreligionists. The Democratic President Buchanan, who succeeded, in 1857, to the Democrat Pierce, yielded with a good grace to the reasons adduced in favour of changing the officials in any event, to reward election services and keep up the Organization of the party. The rotation was carried out so consistently that the author of the famous formula “The spoils to the victors," Marey, could not help remarking: “They have it that I am the author of the office-seekers' doctrine that 'to the victors belong the spoils,' but I certainly should never recommend the policy of pillaging my own camp.
1 “The constant practice and advocacy of the policy by party leaders has so debauched public opinion that a change of officers in the civil service had come to be regarded as a necessary accompaniment of a change of party control. From the year 1853 we must date the cordial recognition by politicians and people of the principle “To the victors belong the spoils.'” (J. F. Rhodes, History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850, N. Y., 1893, Vol. I, p. 100.) 2"I cannot mistake," wrote Buchanan in a private letter,
" the strong current of public opinion in favor of changing public functionaries, both abroad and at home, who have served a reasonable time. They say, and that, too, with considerable force, that is the officers under a preceding Democratic administration shall be continued by a succeeiling administration of the same political character, this must necessarily destroy the party” (quoted in Rhodes, Vol. II, p. 248).