« 이전계속 »
"SCAN. MAG."—THE STORY OF THE IMPUTED BARGAIN AND CORRUPTION—OLD HICKORY NEVER RELENTS.
IT would be folly, indeed, for any attempt to be made at this day to prove that General Jackson could bear any kind of defeat like an intelligent Christian. A man who stood in his way, no matter how he came to be there, was an enemy. And so deep and blind were his feelings and passions that he never could forgive and forget, no matter how foundationless were his prejudices and enmity. The mere fact of opposition to him was sufficient to kindle these passions, and lead him to countenance mischievous schemes which had no other virtue than a purpose to benefit himself. How far he was personally responsible for the origin and start of the charge of bribery and corruption in the election of Mr. Adams over him in 1825, may, at least, remain a matter of doubt. But that he was more instrumental than any or all other men in perpetuating the most nefarious political slander in our history, there can be no doubt. When other men had crawled out, or apologized, or contritely recanted; when even his original witnesses had acknowledged their errors; when the whole country, friends and foes, saw the villainy of the charge, and would have been glad to see it buried with the evils of the past, he still believed, or pretended to believe, in its justness and fitness, and did what he could to keep it alive while he lived himself.
On the 28th of January,. 1825, the following letter appeared in the "Columbian Observer," a newspaper published in Philadelphia :—
"Washington, January 25, 1825. "dear Sir,—I take up my pen to inform you of one of the most disgraceful transactions that ever covered with infamy the Republican ranks. Would you believe that men, professing democracy, could be found base enough to lay the ax at the very root of the tree of liberty? Yet, strange as it is, it is not less true. To give you a full history of this transaction would far exceed the limits of a letter. I shall, therefore, at once proceed to give you a brief account of such a bargain as can only be equaled by the famous Burr conspiracy of 1801. For some time past the friends of Clay have hinted that they, like the Swiss, would fight for those who pay best. Overtures were said to have been made by the friends of Adams to the friends of Clay, offering him the appointment of Secretary of State for his aid to elect Adams. And the friends of Clay gave the information to the friends of Jackson, and hinted that if the friends of Jackson would offer the same price, they would close with them. But none of the friends of Jackson would descend to such mean barter and sale. It was not believed, by any of the friends of Jackson, that this contract would be ratified by the members from the States which had voted for Clay. I was of opinion, when I first heard of this transaction, that men professing any honorable principles could not, nor would not, be transferred like the planter does his negroes or the farmer does his team of horses. No alarm was excited. We believed the Republic was safe. The Nation having delivered Jackson into the hands of Congress, backed by a large majority of their votes, there was on my mind no doubt that Congress would respond to the will of the Nation by electing the individual they had declared to be their choice. Contrary to this expectation it is now ascertained, to a certainty, that Henry Clay has transferred his interest to John Quincy Adams. As a consideration for this abandonment of duty to his constituents, it is said and believed, should this unholy coalition prevail, Clay is to be appointed Secretary of State. I have no fear on my mind. I am clearly of opinion we shall defeat every combination. The force of public opinion must prevail, or there is an end of liberty."
It is not now worth while to stop to criticise this despicable letter, and only as an essential part of the history of an ignoble event could the reproduction of it be justified. Its character is now plain enough on its face, and, more than a quarter of a century ago, not an intelligent living man believed a word of it to be true, if there ever did one live who so believed. It was yet nearly two weeks until the House of Representatives would meet in form to choose a President; and it was designed by the authors of this letter to make such use of it in that time as to prevent the defeat of General Jackson, an event which, they began to fear, was quite probable. It was said to be the production of a member of Congress, and, however far from the truth this really was, one weak fellow was made to father it, as shall soon appear, although it has long been the common judgment that he did nothing more than to copy it when the whole scheme had been prepared by abler heads.
On the first day of February, 1825, the following card was printed in the "National Intelligencer:" —
"I have seen, without any other emotion than that of ineffable contempt, the abuse which has been poured upon me, by a scurrilous paper issued in this city, and by other kindred prints and persons, in regard to the Presidential election. The editor of one of these prints, ushered forth in Philadelphia, called the 'Columbian Observer,' for which I do not subscribe, and which I have never ordered, has had the impudence to transmit to me his vile paper of the 28th instant. In that number is inserted a letter, purporting to have been written from this city, on the 25th instant, by a member of the House of Representatives, belongiug to the Pennsylvania delegation. I believe it to be a forgery; but if it be genuine, I pronounce the member, whoever he may be, a base and infamous calumniator, a dastard, and a liar; and if he dare unveil himself, and avow his name, I will hold him responsible, as I here admit myself to be, to all the laws which govern and regulate men of honor. Henry Clay.
"3l8t January, 1825."
Two days later this reply to Mr. Clay's card came out in the "National Intelligencer :—
"George Kremer, of the House of Representatives, tenders his respects to the Honorable H. Clay, and informs him, that, by reference to the editor of the 'Columbian Observer,' he may ascertain the name of the writer of a letter of the 25th ult., which, it seems, has afforded so much concern to H. Clay. In the meantime George Kremer holds himself ready to prove, to the satisfaction of" unprejudiced minds, enough to satisfy them of the accuracy of the statements which are contained in that letter, to the extent that they concern the course and conduct of H. Clay. Being a Representative of the people he will not fear to 'cry aloud and spare not,' when their rights and privileges are at stake."
While, in construction, this card could never do honor to a member of the House of Representatives, it did not, in that respect, perhaps, fall below the average ability of that body at this day. But Mr. Kremer, now for the first and last time introduced to the world, held good none of the pretensions made in this card, and was shortly allowed to slink into oblivion.
Mr. Clay, then Speaker of the House, called for a committee to investigate the villainous charge, and Kremer blustered about his ability to prove the correctness of his position, or failing to do this, to receive the punishment he richly merited from the body in which he was an unfortunate member. But he finally declined to appear as a witness or a prosecutor, and the committee of the House, composed entirely of men who had opposed Mr. Clay in the race for the Presidency, reported inability to proceed in the investigation. This ended any formal notice of the case in Congress, and did much toward establishing the common belief that George Kremer deserved the hard terms Mr. Clay had applied to him.
Kremer acknowledged that he did not write the letter to the "Observer," nor, indeed, the foolish card in answer to Mr. Clay in the "Intelligencer." He was simply a tool, and that was soon plain enough. But Kremer had the virtue to resist the temptation to reveal his real backers, although the supposition was very strong that he had merely copied after Jackson's early biographer, John H. Eaton. Kremer had unbounded confidence in General Jackson, and when he had sufficiently recovered in his retirement in Pennsylvania, and the certainty of Jackson's success in 1828 had become more apparent, he stolidly asserted that the charge against Clay and Adams must be true, as the very thing had happened which his letter charged in 1825.
Mr. Kremer's letter to the committee of the House refusing to appear before it is a very poor piece of sophistry, revealing the fact that it was the original intention of the slanderers to leave the matter with the "American people," where jurisdiction belonged. This has always been the ruse of every political scamp and humbug since the establishment of the Government. And what was George Kremer's reward? General Jackson dubbed him "Honest George Kremer," and that was all. But however potent the General's