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magistrate and most honored citizen of the nation ; — so

rapidly are political parties under a popular government sometimes required to expiate their follies and injustice.

"On the 15th of May, 1776, the Congress called upon the different assemblies and conventions of the United States, if they had not yet so done, immediately to erect and establish such a form of government in their respective States as the present situation of things required, and to adopt such a constitution as might contribute to the well-being and security of the State.

" The effect of Franklin's return from London was perceptible in this resolution, but still more in the introduction, which was prefixed to the resolution, in the Pennsylvania newspapers.

It is there stated that since his Britannic Majesty, with the consent of Parliament, has excluded the inhabitants of the Colonies from the benefit of their protection, it is now regarded as both necessary and useful to abolish the government and constitution which has been derived from that source."

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1 An eminent German historian has published a statement which shows that in the revolt of the Free-Soil Democrats in 1848, they were following a very respectable precedent.

2 Schlosser's - History of the Eighteenth Century,” Vol. V. p. 175.

64

CHAPTER VI

At the bar - Nominated for attorney-general – Correspondence with his

Democratic competitor - Defence of Comptroller Flagg The Burdell will contest The Pennsylvania Coal Company - Professional gains, habits, and characteristics.

The wreck of the Democratic party in his State and in the nation, and its incurable division on the slavery question, left Mr. Tilden free to devote himself entirely to his profession, in which, in spite of political distractions, he had secured already a firm position. From this time forth, and until he practically withdrew from it with an ample fortune, he had little to do with politics except as a sort of privy councillor and loyal citizen, in both of which capacities his influence upon public affairs grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength.

As early as 1855 he had attained that degree of prominence in his profession which entitled him to be regarded by his party as an available candidate for the important office of attorney-general of the State. It was the year when a wild prejudice against foreigners and Roman Catholics had temporary possession of the country, and most of the candidates of both the old parties in New York, including Mr. Tilden, fell before it. He allowed himself to accept this nomination, which was made without a ballot and by acclamation, - a compliment which political conventions rarely pay to their candidates, — because it was thought he

would strengthen the Free-Soil wing of the party with which he was identified, and because, if elected, of which, in the then schismatic condition of the New York Democracy, he had little, if any, expectation, his official duties would all lie in the line of his profession.

In view of subsequent events it may be worth remarking here, that the only resolution or declaration of principles of this convention was the following, offered by John Van Buren and unanimously adopted :

" Resolved, That while the Democracy of this State will faithfully adhere to all the compromises of the Constitution and maintain all the reserved rights of the States, they deem this an appropriate occasion to declare their fixed hostility to the extension of slavery into free territory."

The Democratic party was still divided against itself, and struggling under the disadvantage of two State organizations. In the progress of the canvass Mr. J. S. Sutherland, the "Hardshell” candidate for the office of attorney-general, seeking to score an advantage by trying to place Mr. Tilden in an attitude of hostility to the prevailing political influences at Washington, addressed to him a letter dated Oct. 12, 1855, in which he offered to withdraw as a candidate upon the following terms:

"I was nominated for the office of attorney-general of this State by that portion of the Democratic party of the State called the 'Hards.' You were subsequently nominated for the same office by that portion or section of the Democratic party of the State called the 'Softs. I look upon the resolutions passed and published by the convention which put me in nomination (a copy of which I herewith enclose) as truly, emphatically, and unequivocally expressing the great principles of the national Democracy and of the Constitution. The third resolution, as you will observe, firmly enunciates the great Democratic principle, that it should be left to the people of the State to determine for themselves all local questions, including the subject of slavery ;' it expresses also 'an unqualified adherence to the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and a firm opposition to any effort to reëstablish the Missouri prohibition. I approve of these resolutions and have endorsed them, and do now endorse them in letter and spirit.

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** Do you look upon these resolutions as truly and faithfully expressing principles of the national Democracy and of the Constitution ?

Do you approve of and endorse these resolutions ? ** Are you in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and of the great principle of the exclusive constitutional right and liberty of the people of the Territories on the subject of slavery thereby affirmed ? "Do

you believe that, in the organization of future Territories, Congress will have no right or power, under the Constitution as it now is, to prohibit or prevent the inception, existence, or continuance of slavery in such Territories as a domestic or territorial institution; that the question and subject of slavery as a domestic or territorial institution, in the absence of any express provision or clause of the Constitution giving such right and power to Congress, will and must of necessity belong exclusively to the people of such Territories of natural if not constitutional right; and the only constitutional and legitimate way in which a citizen of Massachusetts or New York can interfere with or act upon that question is by exercising his undoubted right to move to the Territory where the question is pending, and to become a citizen or resident thereof?

"Are you opposed to the organized political verbal Black-Republican' fanatics and demagogues of the North who, using words for things, oppose this great principle and call for a restoration of the Missouri compromise line?

" Are you opposed to the State ticket lately put in nomination in this State headed Preston King, and to the declared principles and grounds upon which that ticket was nominated ?

"The opinions, propositions, or principles which would be implied as affirmative answers to the foregoing questions appear to me to be plainly expressed, or necessarily implied in the resolutions of the convention which put me in nomination, and of which you herewith receive a copy.

" Please answer these questions by letter at the earliest possible day; for if you answer them in the affirmative, I shall take great pleasure in immediately laying your letter before the State committee of the party which put me in nomination, and shall at the same time inform that committee that I decline any longer to be considered a candidate."

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VOL. I.-9

Mr. Tilden by his reply, so far from giving Mr. Sutherland an advantage, placed him in the very position which Mr. Tilden shows most distinctly that it would be dishonorable for any party candidate to occupy: dishonorable towards his colleagues on the ticket, and dishonorable towards the body that nominated him. The admirable taste and skill with which he turned the tables upon his competitor is the feature of this correspondence which most entitles it to a place in these pages.

MR. TILDEN TO MR. SUTHERLAND.

"NEW YORK, Thursday, Oct. 18, 1855. DEAR SIR:

"I have received your letter offering, on certain conditions, to send your declension to the State committee of the party by which you were nominated, with my letter of compliance, and to open to me the opportunity of running before that committee for their nomination in the vacancy.

"I think that, on reflection, you will see that it is impossible for me to entertain any negotiation or dicuss any conditions for a fusion of a part of the two State tickets as proposed by you, or of the entire ticket as proposed in other quarters; still less can I initiate such an arrangement for my individual advantage, irrespective of the other gentlemen nominated on the ticket with me, and which, even if not intended for that purpose, may result in a call on some of them to reciprocate your withdrawal. Discussions as to the feasibility, propriety, or terms of any union of the two tickets belong not to me, but to the party which nominated me, or its authorized representatives.

" The only countenance I could in any event give to the suggestion would be in retiring myself, and not in being made instrumental in or even a party to causing others to

Those who have done me the honor to make me their candidate know that no delicacy toward me need restrain them from anything of this nature which they think it advisable to do.

"Very respectfully,
e Your obedient servant,

e S. J. TILDEN."

do so.

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