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about the time my old friends, the democrats, and myself got together again, the delegate from Beaver and some of his friends who had been very solicitous to get me back into the ranks, deserted to the enemy The delegate from Lancaster says, there is no representative of federalism here ; that all is now pure democratic antimasonry. This may be so, as it fregards some places ; but I scarcely think it will suit some of my worthy and estimable friends who are not ashamed of the old fashioned name of federalism ; and I am sorry that my friend from Lancaster should have abjured his ancient name, and the faith of his fathers, in form, whilst he has not, perhaps, departed from them in feeling. I have lived long enough to have seen many queer things, and among the queerest of them is, the chamelion-like facility with which party politicians can change their hues and name. My earliest recollections carry me back to the years 1799 and 1800, when we knew no other names than democrats and federalists. The leading characteristic of these parties I have already stated on this floor. A portion of the old federal party, thirteen in number, composed the majority of the Senate of Pennsylvania in November, 1800, when the Legislature was convened to enact a law for the choice of electors of President and Vice President. A bill passed the House of Representatives for the choice of those electors, by joint meeting of the two houses. When it came into Senate, they altered the bill, so that the House of Representatives should choose eight and the Senate seven electors, thus giving, in fact, but one vote for the State of Pennsylvania, in the election of President and Vice President of the United States, when the preceding gubernatorial and representative elections in 1799 and 1800, had given conclusive evidence that a majority of the people of the State were favorable to JEFFERSON and BURR, the democratic candidates. The Senate was then composed of twenty-four members, thirteen of whom, as I have said, were federalists, and eleven were democrats. The majority of the House of Representatives were democrats. The majority of the Senate were lauded by their partizans for thus standing between the voice of the people and their own wishes, and denominated “the Spartan Band”. And it was for the similarity between their conduct and that of the majority of the late Senate of Pennsylvania, that I denominated the latter by the same appellation. That Spartan Band soon died a natural death, and were never heard of again in Pennsylvania; and, if I mistake not, the same fate awaits their recent imitators.
We knew no other names but triumphant democracy and prostrate federalism, from 1800 to 1805, when the mass of the democratic party cast off THOMAS M'KEAN, and nominated SIMON SNYDER for Governor of Pennsylvania. The office-holders and their friends who had acted with the democratic party, desirous of holding on to the loaves and fishes, organized themselves as the “Constitntional republicans", and federalism hitched on to them, and aided them in re-electing THOMAS M'KEAN, whose administration thenceforward might be esteemed essentially as federal.
In 1808, the democratic party rallied, and, by an overwhelming majority elected SIMON SNYDER, over James Ross, the federal, and John Špayd, the Constitutional republican ; or, as the democrats then called the party, “lhe quid”, candidate for Governor. A certain portion of the democratic party
PENNSYLVANIA CONVENTION, 1837.
were disappointed in their expectations of office and influence under Governor SNYDER, and seceded under the denomination of the old school party, many of whom, with the federal party, were opposed to the administration of the General Government during the war, and supported Dewit CLINTON, the peace party candidate for President.
In 1817, these same gentlemen and the federal party, under the denomination of “independent republicans”, unsuccessfully supported General HIESTER, in opposition to WILLIAM FINDLAY, Esq., for Governor. But, having received an augmentation of strength from the disappointed officehunters, and the unpropitiousness of the times, they were, in 1820, successful in defeating the democratic candidate by a small majority, and elected General HIESTER, Governor. In 1823, the democratic party, having kissed and made friends united their strength, and elected ). ANDREW SHULze by a triumphanttity, over ANDREW GREGG, the candidate of the opposition. There was little party feeling in the election, and still less in the re-election of Mr. Monroe as President. In 1824, the old usages of party seemed broken up, and the party, being left without candidates selected in the usual manner, scattered their support among various individuals.
On that occasion, I was found among those who supported Henry Clay, and have never had cause to regret my having done so. It was not my fortune at any time to have supported the election of General Jackson, a circumstance for which I have never reproached myself. In all the subsequent Presidential elections, until the last, I found myself separated from many of the democratic friends with whom I had previously acted. I had belonged during that time to a very respectable party called the national republicans". But they having become lost, or merged in some new party, I found myself almost alone. I must either have stood still, until, in the revolution of years, my old friends were brought back to me, or I became persuaded again to action by the arguments and solicitudes of my old friends among the most anxious and strenuous of whom, were my friend from Beaver, and some gentlemen then acting and afterwards deserting with him.
Now it seems that good old honest federalism is to be shuffled off the stage, and its place supplied by some of the modern nomenclatured parties. Democracy, however, has gained a signal triumph. All must now muster, and all must fight under her broad banner-a just, but to some, a humiliating tribute to the right and capacity of the people for self-government. We have now nothing but democracy-in name I mean. The old party names are laid aside, and you find all the newspapers now headed “Democratic Reporters”, “Democratic State Journals”, “ Democratic Gazettes”, and, bless the mark, “ Democratic Anti-Masonic" papers. We have Democratic Whigs, too: and, to cap the climax, we have had a Convention held bere called “The Democratic Republican Anti-Masonic State Convention”, whose proceedings have been laid before us, at the head of which we find my most worthy and estimable « democratic friend” from Adams, (Mr. M'SHERRY). Now, I know where to find, and I respect an old federalist, although we differ because I know we differ honestly. I find him an honest, open hearted, gentlemanly and independent man, of proud, yet mostly pleasant bearing, who generally does not stoop to little matters, leaving that part of the work to be done by their less elevated allies and
the new.converts. But these new-fangled shreds and patches, the factions and fragments of factions, I cannot commune with, nor understand ; and I only regret to find my worthy and high-minded federal friends sometimes becoming hewers of wood and drawers of water to such factions. As to Anti-Masonry, I know little of it; and care less about it. This much I know, that, having no principle for its basis, it need not alarm us by any fears of its duration.
The delegate from Beaver having repudiated democracy, must, to prove the sincerity of his conversion, depreciate her, and prophecy her downfall. In this he will find his mistake, as he has in most other matters ; and I would advise him to be a little cautious in what he says; for if, in a course of years, he comes begging his way back to democracy, he may find his present denunciations in the way of his re-admission. This thing of strict consistency, in all the details of politics in the present day, is rather a rare virtue, and one which not every one can boast; and if we go into a strict investigation of the subject, it will be found to be rather a sore business for more than one of the would be great men of the present day. This observation is a general one, and it may fall where it hits; and whoever it fits can make the application to his particular case.
I had originally argued this question in a legitimate and regular manner, as a violation of the Constitution. To this, gentlemen have carefully abstained from replying, but have digressed and introduced extraneous matter, arguing about the expediency of the act in question, and endeavouring to justify the notives of those who passed it. My position remains untouched and unanswered, and I challenge all the talent and all the ingenuity of the other side to answer it if they can. It is this - The Constitution declares that all elections shall be free and equal. It specifies certain things as qualifications of electors.' A freeman in one part of the State is entitled to vote under these provisions. By the operation of this registry act, another freeman in a different part of the State, under precisely similar circumstances, is excluded from exercising the right of suffrage. Such a law is a violation of the Constitution, and an encroachment
' on the rights of the citizen".
But it seems that the observation I made, that this registry law is calculated to prejudice the poor and to trample their rights under foot, has met the special reprobation of the gentlemen on the other side, and allusion has been made sneeringly and contemptuously to the terms “the people", and they are called “the dear people”. There is no man living who more heartily condemns the unworthy arts of demagogues, and the low and grovelling attempts to pander to diseased and depraved appetites, than I do. Sir, I scorn all such unworthy appeals, and I make none such. I dislike on the one side the slang about the poor, and the continual placing the rich and the poor—the poor and the rich-in the fore-ground of every harangue; and, on the other hand, I dislike this sneering at the rights of the people. Sir, in this country, the poor and the rich are mutually dependent on each other. They ought to be friends, and most generally, I trust, are so. The poor man of to-day, if industrious, is often found the rich man of to-morrow; and he who to-day is rolling in wealth, may shortly experience all the inconveniences and distress of poverty and want, with few qualifications to bear up under them. The rich have equal rights with the poor, and the poor with the rich. "And it is this equality of rights--this common
enjoyment of privilege—which I wish to see continued. These are a part, and an essential part of the rights of the people of the dear people, if gentlemen will so have it, which I, for one, will never consent to barter, or see taken from them. I repeat, therefore, that as time to the industrious poor man is money, he has obstacles placed in his way by the onerous and oppressive provisions of this registry law, which do prevent him from enjoying the right of suffrage in an equal degree with his more wealthy and intelligent neighbors. I repeat, that these people are entitled to at least equal protection with other classes. On whom, let me ask, in times of war, must the country mainly rely for the bone and sinew of your army-for the men to shoulder their muskets and march in the defence of their country? Is it on the rich and well-born? Ah, no. Generally too fond of their ease and comfort, to risk the fatigue and privations of the tented field, they pay their fines, or send substitutes. The poor man is not able to do somhe must march. I am aware there are exceptions--many honorable exceptions to this rule—but not enough to destroy it as a rule. I see across the House two of my gallant Philadelphia friends, (Mr. Scott and Mr. Biddle) who at their country's call, volunteered their services and bared their bosoms for her defence; and that, too, in carrying on a war, the declaration of which they may have disapproved; esteeming it one thing to oppose the measure of declaring the war, and another to go for their country, right or wrong, in all conflicts with a foreign or domestic foe: And, in doing so, they did but live out their lives and their patriotic principles. There were others of my political opponents who honorably did the same thing—and it gives me pleasure, after the lapse of twenty odd years, when the asperities of party spirit, I trust, are in some measure worn off, to acknowledge the just merits of those who then, as now, I politically opposed.
I am charged, too, with having done injustice to the Legislature of 1835-6 and the expression used by me, that we never had such a Legislature before, and never will have such an one again, is found fault with. Sir, I repeat it—that Legislature was elected under circumstances which, I trust, never will, and I believe never can, occur again. The dissentions and divisions of the democratic party permited a minority to elect a majority of the Legislature, and put the State at the mercy of that minority. It is true, that they legislated with indecent haste—it is true, that they acted as men who knew they were disappointing the wishes and pec tions of the people. To screen themselves, and to maintain their ill gotten power, they gerrymandered the State for representative and senatorial districts, without regard to number of taxables, or situations of counties, but simply with a view of so arranging the districts, that the majority of the people should not rule. For instance, they thought my own dear native Montgomery was too democratic, and they attached her to the good old federal counties of Chester and Delaware, in order to keep her in order. See the result-an insulted people rose in their might: Montgomery has elected a senator for the Delaware part of the district, and sent three democratic senatoral delegates to this Convention, two more than could otherwise have been obtained. A district, too, was formed, reaching from the Susquehanna river to the Allegheny mountain, so arranged, that it was thought impossible for a democrat to be elected in it. When the next election came, you find the people rising in all the majesty of their strength, and electing a Democratic Senator in that district by from
1200 to 1600 majority. In fact, at the last general election, there were eight Senators elected in these cut and carved districts; and, to the astonishment of all, and the dismay of the principal actors in the scene, but one opponent of the democratic party succeeded, and that but by a few votes. Although I may not be embued with the spirit of prophecy, I see most clearly that the official term and the official influence of this modern Spartan band will expire together; and before the seven years alluded to by the gentleman from Beaver, during which he thinks they are so safe, shall have gone round, they will be sunk back to their original insignificance, and be forgotten, except as their deeds may be refered to as warnings to others.
Mr. McCahen said, he wished to make a few brief remarks. He said brief because as SHAKESPEARE says, “we must be brief when traitors take the field”. Gentlemen all round the House have taken occasion to speak of the city and county of Philadelphia, and the application of the registry law there. If those gentlemen had resided in the county of Philadelphia, and had been acquainted with the difficulties under which we labored in consequence of that act, they would have been better able to judge of the facts, and not made so many mis statements as they have. He was familiar with the application of the registry law there, and he knew there were many persons entitled to vote under the provisions of the Constitution, who were deprived of the right to vote in consequence of this law; those even who had paid a tax to the support of the Government, were deprived of the right of suffrage merely because their names were not on the register. It was known to every gentleman who had ever been there, that the county of Philadelphia was made up of a dense population ; there were many lanes and alleys which were thickly inhabited, and many families resided in the same house. By the registry law, the person who made the registry was judge of the elections and the qualifications of the citizens, and they could deprive such citizens as they chose of the right to vote. The law was unjust and partial, it cutting off many poor men from the enjoyment of the right of suffrage, while the rich were always secure, because property must be assessed.
The district of Kensington contained a large number of fishermen, and the registry was made at a season of the year when they were away from home, engaged in the fisheries, and the officers never registered any one on the recommendation of another. They were, therefore, deprived of their rights merely because they were not at home at the season when the registry was made. But gentlemen have said that there was a great deal of fighting and disturbance at the elections in the city and county
of Philadelphia. He admited there was some fighting there at the elections of 1834; but if the newspapers told the truth, there were equal disturbances in other parts of the State. At the elections of 1835, all was peaceable and he did not believe the registry law had the slightest tendency to preserve quiet at elections; and so far from extending the right of suffrage as had been asserted by some of the friends of that measure, it threw great difficulty in its way. In addition to the case cited by his colleague (Mr. Doran) he could give numerous instances, if it was necessary: where individuals entitled to vote under the Constitution were deprived in consequence of this registry law, and all that had been said about the city and county only showed that those who made the charge, knew nothing