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The evolution of nominating machinery.

Unfair features of the legisla

tive caucus.


THE nomination of candidates for local offices and the legislature was made at first in mass meetings, which very soon evolved into regularly constituted conventions. Owing to the difficulties of travel, state conventions were for a long time well nigh impossible, so that the politicians of each party hit upon the scheme of forming all the party members in the state legislature into a "legislative caucus" for the purpose of putting forward the candidates for state offices. For example, Jay was nominated for governor of New York "at a sort of a legislative caucus" in 1795, and the institution soon won general recognition. The following account of the nomination of DeWitt Clinton for governor in 1817 reveals the curious device of supplementing the legislative caucus by delegates elected from districts not represented in the legislature by party members. It may be said to mark a stage between the legislative caucus and the regular state convention.

46. The Legislative Nominating Caucus

It had been the uniform usage of the democratic party to select their candidate for governor, by the majority of voices declared at an assemblage of men composed exclusively of the republican members of the legislature. By this arrangement those republican citizens who resided in counties represented by federalists, could have no voice in the selection of a candidate for that important office. This the Clintonians complained of as unreasonable and unjust. They therefore proposed that delegates should be chosen in county convention, which convention should be formed of delegates chosen at the primary meetings of republicans in the respective towns, and that the delegates thus chosen from the counties equal in number to the members of assembly from the respective

counties, should, in a caucus to nominate a governor, have the same rights and exercise the same powers as republican members of the legislature. It was, I believe, well understood, that in the greatest proportion of the counties represented by federalists, a very large majority of the republicans were in favor of the nomination of Mr. Clinton. Besides, the Clintonians, by means of the council of appointment, controlled the patronage of the state, and it was not difficult for a man who understood the use of that machine as well as Judge Spencer, to control by its influence, the action of most of the county conventions. Hence, it was most evident that the adoption of the scheme could scarcely fail to forward, and perhaps, I may add, ensure the triumph of Mr. Clinton.

chosen for counties


In accordance with these views, a republican convention was first Delegates held in the county of Albany, at which John J. Moak was chairman, and Jacob Lansing secretary, on the fourth of February, represented when it was resolved that the counties represented by federalists by Federalin the legislature, ought to be represented in the state convention to nominate a governor by republican delegates chosen by such counties; and Albany being represented by federalists, John Woodworth, Elisha Jenkins, John McCarthy and Thomas Harman were appointed delegates from the county of Albany. Other counties respectable for their wealth, number and influence, followed the example.

of the dele


The delegates to the state convention thus chosen were generally Character favorable to the nomination of Mr. Clinton; and like the delegates from the county of Albany were composed of republicans of high standing and character. From the county of Oneida, Nathan Williams, and Henry Huntington were chosen, and from the county of Ontario, Gideon Granger, the late eminent and distinguished postmaster general, was a delegate.

ries to the


One difficulty which Mr. Van Buren and his friends had to Preliminaencounter, was to fix upon an opposing candidate to Mr. Clinton in caucus. Who was the man that would accept the post and combine the greatest strength, was a question not easy to be judiciously decided. They finally fixed on Judge Yates. He had

Clinton nominated.

Election of officers.

adhered to, and defended Mr. Clinton long after he had been
denounced by Judge Spencer. On his circuit the preceding sum-
mer, he had in various places urged his friends to support the nomi-
nation of Clinton. It was supposed that the known friendship of
Judge Yates to Mr. C. would induce some of the latter to support
the former; but a different result was produced. Men felt in-
dignant when they were invited to support a man in opposition,
who had himself taken pains and been instrumental in convincing
them that Clinton ought to be chosen governor. A day or two
before the meeting of the state convention, Judge Yates positively
declined being a candidate. This produced some confusion in
the ranks of the opposition, but they finally fixed upon Gen. Peter
B. Porter as their candidate.

The state convention was held at the capitol on the 25th March.
Upon balloting for a candidate, Mr. Clinton received eighty-five
votes and Gen. Porter forty-one. It was understood that sixty
members and twenty-five delegates voted for Mr. Clinton, and
thirty-three members and seven delegates for his opponent.

47. The Congressional Caucus for Nominating Presidential Can-
didates *

In 1800, the Federalists in Congress held a secret conference to
agree on candidates and thus present a solid front to the Jeffer-
sonians. This scheme, denounced at the time by the opposite
party, was, however, speedily adopted as a regular institution for
nominating presidential candidates, and it lasted until the election
of 1824, when it gave way before the popular uprising in favor
of Andrew Jackson. The following official record of the caucus
of 1824 shows how the system worked:

Chamber of the House of Representatives of the United States.
February 14, 1824.

At a meeting of the republican members of Congress, assembled
this evening, pursuant to public notice, for the purpose of recom-
mending to the people of the United States suitable persons to be

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supported at the approaching election, for the offices of president and vice-president of the United States:

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On motion of Mr. James Barbour, of Virginia –

Mr. Benjamin Ruggles, a senator from the state of Ohio, was called to the chair, and Mr. Ela Collins, a representative from the state of New York, was appointed secretary.

Resolved, That this meeting do now proceed to designate, by The ballot

ballot, a candidate for president of the United States.

Determined in the affirmative.

On motion of Mr. Van Buren of New York, it was

Resolved, That the Chairman call up the republican members

of congress by states, in order to receive their respective ballots. Whereupon the Chairman proceeded to a call, and it appeared the following members were present.

ing for President.

the ballot.

Mr. Bassett, of Virginia, and Mr. Cambreleng, of New York, Counting were appointed tellers, and, on counting the ballots, it appeared that

William H. Crawford had sixty-four votes,

John Quincy Adams two votes,

Andrew Jackson one vote, and

Nathaniel Macon one vote.

Mr. Dickinson of New Jersey then submitted the following The viceresolution, which was agreed to:

Resolved, That this meeting do now proceed to designate, by ballot, a candidate for the office of vice president of the United States.

Mr. Van Buren, of New York, then stated that he was authorized to say that the vice president having, some time since, determined to retire from public life, did not wish to be regarded by his friends as a candidate for reëlection to that office.

On counting the ballots, it appeared that Albert Gallatin, of Pennsylvania, had fifty-seven votes; John Q. Adams of Massachusetts, one vote; William Eustis of Massachusetts, one vote; Samuel Smith of Maryland, one vote; William King of Maine, one vote; Richard Rush of Pennsylvania, one vote; Erastus Root

presidential nomination.

Nominees recom

mended to the voters.

The address to the people.

Notification of the candidates.

of New York, two votes; John Tod of Pennsylvania, one vote; and Walter Lowrie of Pennsylvania, one vote.

And, thereupon, Mr. Clark of New York submitted the following resolution, to wit:

Resolved, As the sense of this meeting that William H. Crawford, of Georgia, be recommended to the people of the United States as a proper candidate for the office of president, and Albert Gallatin, of Pennsylvania for the office of vice president of the United States, for four years from the 4th of March 1825.

Resolved, that, in making the foregoing recommendation, the members of this meeting have acted in their individual characters, as citizens; that they have been induced to this measure from a deep and settled conviction of the importance of union among republicans, throughout the United States, and, as the best means of collecting and concentrating the feelings and wishes of the people of the union, upon this important subject. The question being put upon these resolutions, they were unanimously agreed to.

Mr. Holmes of Maine then moved that the proceedings of the meeting be signed by the chairman and secretary, and published, together with an address to the people of the United States, to be prepared by a committee to be appointed for the purpose.

On motion, it was ordered that this committee consist of the chairman and secretary of the convention, together with the gentlemen whose names were signed to the notice calling the meeting. On motion, it was further

Resolved, That the chairman and secretary inform the gentlemen nominated for the offices of president and vice president of their nomination, and learn from them whether they are willing to serve in the said offices, respectively.

E. COLLINS, Secretary.


48. The Tennessee Legislature Protests against the Caucus

Jackson's followers were enraged with the caucus system, because they believed that he was the real choice of the nation and

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