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- reorganized and built up and cast down from the earliest period of our history to this day, all for the purpose of controlling the powers, and honors, and the moneys of the central Government. For a good many years parties were organized upon questions of finance or of political economy. Upon the subjects of a permanent public debt, a national bank, the public deposits, a protective tariff, internal improvements, the disposition of the public lands, and other questions of a similar character, all of them looking to the special interests of the moneyed classes, parties were for a long while divided. The different kinds of capitalists sometimes also disagreed among themselves — the manufacturers with the commercial men of the country; and in this manner party issues were occasionally made up. But the great dividing line at last was always between capital and labor — between the few who had money and who wanted to use the Government to increase and protect” it, as the phrase goes, and the many who had little but wanted to keep it, and who only asked Government to let them alone.
Money, money, sir, was at the bottom of the political contests of the times; and nothing so curiously demonstrates the immense power of money as the fact that in a country where there is no entailment of estates, no law of primogeniture, no means of keeping up vast accumulations of wealth in particular families, no exclusive privileges, and where universal suffrage prevails, these contests should have continued, with various fortune, for full half a century. But at the last the opponents of Democracy, known at different periods of the struggle by many different names, but around whom the moneyed interests always rallied, were over
the last and ablest of the economic parties, died out; and the politicians who were not of the Democratic party, with a good many more, also, who had been of it, but who had deserted it, or whom it had deserted, were obliged to resort to some other and new element for an organization which might be made strong
tain control of the Federal Government. And most unfortunately for the peace of the country, and for the perpetuity, I fear, of the Union itself, they found the nucleus of such an organization ready formed to their hands — an organization, odious, indeed, in name, but founded upon two of the most powerful passions of the human heart: sectionalism, which is only a narrow and localized patriotism, and antislavery, or love of freedom, which commonly is powerful just in proportion as it is very near coming home to one's own self, or very far off, so that either self-interest or the imagi. nation can have full power to act. And here let me remark that it had so happened that almost, if not quite, from the beginning of the Government, the South, or slaveholding section of the Union — partly because the people of the South are chiefly an agricultural and producing, a noncommercial and nonmanufacturing people, and partly because there is no conflict, or little conflict, among them between labor and capital, inasmuch as to a considerable extent capital owns a large class of their laborers not of the white race; and it may be also because, as Mr. Burke said many years ago, the holders of slaves are “by far the most proud and jealous of their freedom," and because the aristocracy of birth, and family, and of talent, is more highly esteemed among them than the aristocracy of wealth — but no matter from what cause, the fact was that the South for fifty years was nearly always on the side of the Democratic party. It was the natural ally of the Democracy of the North, and especially of the West. Geographical position and identity of interests bound us together; and till this sectional question of slavery arose, the South and the new States of the West were always together; and the latter, in the beginning at least, always Democratic. Sir, there was not a triumph of the Democratic party in half a century which was not won by the aid of the statesmen and the people of the South. I would not be understood, however, as intimating that the South was ever slow to appropriate her full share of the spoils—the opima spolia of victory; or especially that the politicians of that great and noble old Commonwealth of Virginia — God bless her — were ever remarkable for the grace of self-denial in this regard — not at all. But it was natural, sir, that they who had been so many times, and for so many years, baffled and defeated by the aid of the South, should entertain no very kindly feelings towards her. And here I must not omit to say that all this time there was a powerful minority in the whole South, sometimes a majority in the whole South, and always in some of the States of the South, who belonged to the several parties which, at different times, contended with the Democracy for the possession and control of the Federal Government. Parties in those days were not sectional, but extended intc every State and every part of the Union. And, indeed, in the convention of 1787, the possibility, or at least the probability, of sectional combinations seems, as I have already said, to have been almost wholly overlooked. Washington, it is true, in his Farewell Address warned us against them, but it was rather as a distant vision than as a near reality; and a few years later, Mr. Jefferson speaks of a possibility of the people of the Mississippi Valley seceding from the East; for even then a division of the Union, North and South, or by slave lines, in the Union or out of it, seems scarcely to have been contemplated. The letter of Mr. Jefferson upon this subject, dated in 1803, is a curious one; and I commend it to the attention of gentlemen upon both sides of the House.
So long, sir, as the South maintained its equality in the Senate, and something like equality in population, strength, and material resources in the country, there was little to invite aggression, while there were the means, also, to repel it. But, in the course of time, the South lost its equality in the other wing of the Capitol, and every year the disparity between the two sections became greater and greater. Meantime, too, the antislavery sentiment, which had lain dormant at the North for many years after the inauguration of the Federal Government, began, just about the time of the emancipation in the British West Indies, to develop itself in great strength, and with wonderful rapidity. It had appeared, indeed, with much violence at the period of the admission of Missouri, and even then shook the Union to its foundation. And yet how little a sectional controversy, based upon such a question, had been foreseen by the founders of the Government may be learned from Mr. Jefferson's letter to Mr. Holmes, in 1820, where he speaks of it falling upon his ear like «a fire bell in the night.” Said he:
“I considered it, at once, as the death knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment; but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political ” —
Sir, it is this very coincidence of geographical line with the marked principle, moral and political, of slavery, which I propose to reach and to obliterate in the only way possible; by running other lines, coinciding with other and less dangerous principles,
none of them moral, and, above all, with other and conflicting interests—
“A geographical line coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated, and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.» ; . . "I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons; and that my only consolation is to be that I shall not live to weep over it.”
Fortunate man! He did not live to weep over it. To-day he sleeps quietly beneath the soil of his own Monticello, unconscious that the mighty fabric of Government which he helped to reara Government whose foundations were laid by the hands of so many patriots and sages, and cemented by the blood of so many martyrs and heroes — hastens now, day by day, to its fall. What recks he, or that other great man, his compeer, fortunate in life and opportune alike in death, whose dust they keep at Quincy, of those dreadful notes of .preparation in every State for civil strife and fraternal carnage; or of that martial array which already has changed this once peaceful capital into a beleaguered city ? Fortunate men! They died while the Constitution yet survived, while the Union survived, while the spirit of fraternal affection still lived, and the love of true American liberty lingered yet in the hearts of their descendants.
SIR HENRY VANE
IR HENRY Vane, in many ways the noblest product of English
Puritanism, was deeply influenced both by the Bible and
the Classical Renaissance. The revival of classical learning among the English aristocracy had produced such many-sided characters, as Sir Walter Raleigh, while the general circulation of the Bible among the masses had resulted in the contemporaneous development of a class of intellects as much in the lineal succession from Jerusalem in the time of David as Raleigh's was from Rome in the time of Augustus. Cromwell represented the Renaissance of the Hebraic intellect of the time of the Judges. Vane stood for Christianity modified by the classical revival. He came as close to Paul at Athens as Cromwell did to Joshua at Jericho. It was inevitable that such a man should oppose Cromwell's military absolutism, and he did it as resolutely as he had opposed the divine right of the Stuarts. He was born in Kent in 1612. His father, Sir Henry Vane, was comptroller of the household of Charles I., and there was nothing in the antecedents of his family to make any member of it an opponent of royal power. In his early youth, however, the younger Vane adopted religious views which controlled his life in spite of hereditary influences and social connections. When he associated himself with Pym and the popular party, his ability was so marked that strong efforts were made to win him to the royal party. He had emigrated to Massachusetts, and, after serving a term as Governor of the Province, had returned and taken the leadership of the Independents in the Short Parliament. The King knighted him, and made him Joint Treasurer of the Navy, but throughout his life he remained faithful to the cause of popular government, not only against Charles but against Cromwell. After the Protectorate had become a military dictatorship, Cromwell was obliged to send Vane to prison. Elected to Parliament after Cromwell's death, he attacked and was chiefly instrumental in overthrowing the protectorate of Richard Cromwell. After the Restoration, Charles II. wrote Clarendon that Vane was "too dangerous a man to let live if we can honestly put him out of the way.” He was accordingly arrested on a charge of high treason, and, after the formality of trial, was executed on June 14th, 1662.