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public station. In each successive convention of the party his name has been mentioned by delegates unacquainted with his desires, and the loud acclamations with which it has ever been received evince how gladly the Democracy would again place him before the people, were it not generally understood that his earnest wish is not to be again a candidate. He still continues to labor faithfully and efficiently in the Democratic cause, attending both local and national conventions, advising with his brother Democrats upon all matters of interest to the organization, and eloquently advocating true principles before the people.
In 1856, he labored long and faithfully for the success of the nominations made at Cincinnati; and recently his voice was heard in the Far West, exhorting the Democrats of Minnesota to build up in their young State the great conservative party of the Union. His influence in the Empire State and with the party of his choice is, of course, controlling; yet it is never exercised except on important occasions; and at such time no mere personal motive, however strong, can induce him to be silent. An instance of this is of recent date. In the State Convention of September, 1857, it was necessary to nominate a Judge of the Court of Appeals in place of Hon. Hiram Denio, whose term was about to expire. It had been the duty of that eminent jurist, in the discharge of the duties of his high office, to declare that the oppressive laws which weighed so heavily upon the city of New York were within the letter of the Constitution. For this simple act of duty he was bitterly denounced and threatened with proscription by the party which had placed him in office. Much partisan feeling was manifested in the convention. Mr. Seymour was present, but took little part in the proceedings until the question came up upon the nomination of a Judge of the Court of Appeals. At this point, and before the opposition could make itself manifest, he took the floor and, by a well-directed effort replete with solid argument and earnest appeals to the justice and magnanimity of the party, secured the renomination of Judge Denio, and thus achieved a memorable triumph for the friends of an independent judiciary. The reelection of Judge Denio, which followed upon his nomination, is a happy incident in the history of the State and a strong argument in favor of an elective judiciary. It is, moreover, full of honor to the Democratic party and to the man through whom it was accomplished.
The friends of ex-Governor Seymour are deeply attached to him, and as eloquent in illustration of his excellent qualities as a man as of his undoubted prominence as a Democratic statesman. One of the number-a communication from whom is previously quoted-says
“Horatio Seymour—the last of the Democratic Governors of New York and, in the estimation of a majority of her people, the first of her living statesmen-is to-day the unquestioned leader of the Democracy of the State. Nor is his a leadership won by the management of politicians, or retained by the packing of conventions. It was conferred in the days of trouble and divided counsels as a mark of confidence and a means of safety, and it is continued in calmer times in gratitude for favors past and as an earnest of prouder things to come, when the hopes of the party shall have been realized and the State restored to its ancient influence in the councils of the National Democracy.
“Unbounded confidence in Mr. Seymour, and a firm belief that for him are reserved the highest honors of the Republic, seem now to be regarded as part of the creed of every true Democrat of the Empire State; and, whatever may be the action of the coming National Convention, there is much reason to think that this belief, like the sontence of an ancient oracle, will, sooner or later, work out its own fulfilment.”
The career of the senior Senator from Louisiana is quite remarkable in one respect; and that is, that, although he rarely obtrudes himself in a set speech before Congress, his influence is admitted to be of a decided and paramount character. When the fact of his seldom appearing is contrasted with the prominence of his name among those whose opinions and labors affect the government of the country, we are led to the discovery that he is an indefatigable worker rather than an outliner of work to be done or a displayer of work done, and that in council he not only sedulously labors himself, but that by his counsel he keeps others employed. Therein lies the secret of his potency.
This influential member of the Upper House was born in the city of New York in 1793. Receiving a liberal education, he embraced the law as a profession, and, on arriving at his majority, sought the city of New Orleans as the field upon which he would strive for eminence. The Crescent City has long been celebrated for the talents of its bar; and among its most steady lights Mr. Slidell soon enrolled himself. His success is accounted rare, considering what he had to encounter; but it is a notable fact that, after a few years' competition with the ablest men, he achieved so distinguished a success as to render his opinion or services necessary to every important cause, on one side or the other.
Mr. Slidell's Democracy being as decided as his talents, President Jackson bestowed upon him his first public position, in the appointment to the office of United States District Attorney at New Orleans. Such an appointment was precisely the kind of recognition a practical, thoughtful man like Mr. Slidell would desire, and was thoroughly illustrative of the discrimination so characteristic of General Jackson. In this connection it is gratifying to remark that Mr. Slidell took the initiative in urging upon Congress the reimbursement of the fine on Jackson for alleged violations of law during his movements in and about New Orleans in the second war with Great Britain.
After frequent service in the Legislature of Louisiana, Mr. Slidell's political capacity pointed him out for national distinction, and he was sent as a Representative to the Twenty-Eighth Congress. In this wider arena, his expertness and foresight in emergencies gave him an indisputable advantage, which his clearness and coolness in debate turned to the best possible account for his party
The effect of these characteristics was not lost upon President Polk, and that statesman selected the member from Louisiana as Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to Mexico.
Our affairs with Mexico had arrived at an imminent point. General Taylor, who had the largest portion of the regular army concentrated at Corpus Christi for the protection of Texas, had been ordered by the War Department to the left bank of the Rio Grande. He was there. The Mexican generals on the frontier, Meja, Ampudia, and Arista, protested against the advance of Taylor, declaring it a hostile move. Our Government claimed that Texas extended to the Rio Grande, while the Mexicans recognised the Nueces as the boundary of the new American State. Before commencing actual hostilities, President Polk was anxious to do all that was possible to preserve peace; and, a somewhat similar disposition having been manifested by the Mexican Government, Mr. Slidell was accredited on the important and delicate mission. The American Government, placing itself on the Monroe doctrine, in favor of any desirable understanding between the nations of the continent of America, and against any European interference in the settlement of their difficulties, instructed Mr. Slidell—through Mr. Buchanan, then Secretary of State-to reject any proposition of mediation on the part of a European Power. The mission was not productive of the result which the President desired. After considerable discussion, the Mexican Government did not see fit to receive our envoy; and Mr. Slidell, after the failure of his efforts to bring about an amicable settlement of the points in dispute, demanded his passports and returned home.
The reputation of Mr. Slidell, and the interest which it was well known that he felt in the elevation of Central and South America in the scale of nationality, induced President Pierce to tender to him the mission to Central America. The offer was, however, gracefully declined, and when the seat of Mr. Pierre Soulé was made vacant by his acceptance of the mission to the Court of Spain, Mr. Slidell was appointed to succeed him in the Senate of the United States for the unexpired term, at the end of which he was re-elected to the Senate for six years. In the Senate he is one of the marked and most prominent
Whether in committee or in the open chamber, the opinion of no member has more weight than his. Devoted to the interests and the development of the resources of Louisiana, he is not less zealous in support of measures which have a national importance. Early in 1855 he succeeded in accomplishing the passage of an appropriation for the purchase of a site and the erection and completion of military defences at Proctor's Landing, at the terminus of the Mexican Gulf Railway, in Louisiana,
Among his labors in behalf of his State, some are especially noteworthy, as embracing subjects of general interest. The sugar-crop
of Louisiana for several years had fallen off from over four hundred and sixty thousand hogsheads to probably not more than one hundred and twenty thousand,—the estimate for 1856. One cause of great apprehension on the part of the planters of Louisiana was the supposed deterioration of the cane.
The cane cannot be raised from seed, but the cane itself must be planted, the plant germinating from the eyes of
It was necessary to introduce new plants; and, in order to do this conveniently, it was requisite that vessels should be allowed to proceed at once to the plantations where the canes were to be planted, so as to avoid the injury resulting from frequent handling. At the instance of Senator Slidell, the Secretary of the Treasury expressed a willingness to aid in the matter, but had no authority in himself to do so. Through Senator Slidell's influence, a joint resolution--prepared by Secretary Guthrie at the desire of the Senator from Louisiana–to allow vessels to proceed at once to transfer cargoes of sugarcane to the plantations where they were to be used, was introduced on the 26th of June, 1856, and passed. In connection with this mea