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the affair pocketed the proceeds-with a “moral courage," for which the arch manager is proverbial. Mr. Dargan was afterwards employed by the United States Bank in their suit against the estate of Henry Hitchcock, for some eight hundred thousand dollars. The rights of the bank were established.
In 1844 Mr. Dargan was nominated by the Democratic Party as candidate for senator from Mobile county, in the state senate, and notwithstanding a majority of the voters in Mobile county are whigs, Mr. Dargan was triumphantly elected. During the one session that he served as senator, his course was distinguished by efforts to wind up the state bank.
At the next election in the Mobile district for Congress, and before his term as senator had expired, Mr. Dargan was nominated as the democratic candidate for Congress. This nomination was given him by the county against the first impression of the delegates from the city of Mobile, who were under the impression that Mr. Dargan would not accept the nomination.
Mr. Dargan was elected to Congress by nearly three hundred majority, in a district strongly whig, which a long time previously and since, has elected whig representatives by an average majority of five hundred. There was a new issue introduced into this canvass, which was the principal topic discussed ; the admission of Texas to the Union. Mr. Dargan took strong ground in favor of the admission of Texas to the Union, and advocated it with a power which carried conviction to his hearers. The welfare of the South required an extension of her territory, not only to keep up the equilibrium in the Federal Councils, but to prevent the crowding together of our servile population, which history shows in all countries and all ages, like all elements of power, to be dangerous when compressed into too small a space.
In 1847, Mr. Dargan declined to be a candidate for re-election to Congress, and in a farewell speech to his constituents, he opposed the annexation of conquered territory from Mexico, on the ground that it would endanger the perpetuity of the Union, and encourage a grasping spirit incompatible with the welfare of republics. Even then he could see the shadows of coming events.
At the next session of the Legislature in December, 1847, Mr. Dargan was unanimously, and without opposition, elected Judge of the Supreme Court of Alabama, and became Chief Justice of the state upon the nomination of Judge Collier, in July, 1849, as a candidate for governor.
Of course, it is out of our power, in a sketch like this, to speak of more than one or two of the principal events in the life of a man, who, like Judge Dargan, has received from his country such varied honors. The short time that he served his country in Congress, has left an impression which cannot be effaced. Since he left the house he has been quoted upon the floor of Congress as the exponent of Southern democracy. Let us give honor to whom honor is due. In February, 1846, Mr. Dargan made a speech upon the Oregon question, in the House of Representatives, which, in its printed form, is contained in three pamphlet pages. He was always concise. This speech received marked attention both in this country and abroad. Its effects upon the settlement of the controversy can be best seen by quotations from some of the foreign reviews.
The London Quarterly Review, which is thought to speak by authority, in the March number, 1846, after commenting upon the remark of Cole
ridge, “the possible destiny of the United States of America, as a nation of a hundred million of freemen, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, living under the laws of Alfred, and speaking the language of Shakspeare and Milton, is an august conception,” and after expressing an earnest desire for a solution of the difficulty consistent with the original claims, and consequently with the interest and honor of both parties, proceeds
to say :
“By a singular coincidence, and one we hope of happy omen, after we had written the greater part of this article, and in this place explained our proposition, we received. (28th of February,) through the American journals, the account of a motion proposed in Congress by Mr. Dargan, of Alabama, which so nearly approaches to what we bad proposed, that we gladly adopt it as expressing with a more weighty authority our own preconceived opinions.
* The differences existing between the government of the United States and the government of Great Britain, in relation to the Oregon treaty, are still the subject of þovorable negotiation and compromise, and should be so adjusted,
" That the line separating the British provinces of Canada from the United States, should be extended due west to the coast south of Frazer's River, and thence through the centre of the Straits of Fuca, to the Pacific Ocean, giving to the United States that portion of the territory south, and to the government of Great Britain that portion of the territory north of said line.
* This proposition narrows the question to its true issue; and on it, or something like the case, as we shall show, inust be ultimately, and may be honorably decided. All that has hitherto passed is really, and for any practical purpose, obsolete, and the whole Oregoniad is in this nutshell."
The reviewer then proceeds to investigate the title of the United States to the territory of Oregon under three heads.
1. The rights of Spain acquired to the United States by the Florida treaty.
2. The right of France acquired by the purchase of Louisiana.
3. The right of the United States themselves by the discovery and settlement of the Columbia River.
And proceeds to show (though before and afterwards expressing a willingness to meet Mr. Dargan's proposition, and make that the basis of a treaty) that if Messrs. Lewis and Clark, the well known explorers appointed by Mr. Jefferson, “ had been authorized to take possession of all they saw, and had done so, they would not have touched our (the British) original claim to the whole right bank, and still less Mr. Dargan's proposition; for so far from reaching 499, the most northern point reached by the travelers was 41° 48," which position cannot be denied.
The reviewer then proceeds to make a statement which, when we reflect that the London Quarterly was considered the organ of the government, shows conclusively that Mr. Dargan struck out the only course by which the contest could be settled peaceably and honorably to both gov. ernments—that to him belongs of right the credit of having settled an impending controversy between these two great governments, which, if not prevented, would have brought upon both nations all the horrors and ravages
There have been heretofore occasions not a few on which we have been able to advise our readers upon authority higher than that of mere literary
fraternity ; but it is needless to disclaim any ministerial influence or responsibility for our present opinions, and we therefore with less reserve venture to express our hope, that our government may have proposed something equivalent 10 Mr. Dargan's scheme as the basis of an arrangement of the whole difficulty, rational and equitable in itself, and which being a new expedient, consistent at once with principles which Great Britain can never abandon, and with offers which the United States have repeatedly made, may be adopted by both parties with, we believe, mutual advantage, and obviously without the slightest sacrifice of national honor."
“ Mr. Dargan's scheme” was adopted, and is now an existing treaty, ratified by the United States on the 18th June, 1846, binding the two governments in closest bonds of amity, as two great nations of the same blood and the same language, with the same principles of freedom, and the same mighty power over the world should be bound.
Perhaps if Mr. D. had been in parliamentary life for forty years, and had been backed by manufacturing interest and bank power, he might have deserved the title of the "
great pacificator," which has been awarded for less services.
The reviewer concludes : “ The proposition of Mr. Dargan, or some slight modification of it, (we ourselves should not be disinclined to see it literally adopted,) appears in our view of the tempers and prospects of the two nations, the only one that can avert a war, which, to use a phrase of the distinguished American senator, would be on the part of those who provoked it, almost impious.'"
But let us return to the Oregon settlement, the credit of which, we have already shown, belongs to Mr. Dargan.
The Westminster Review, the peculiar tenets of which are well known, takes a different view of Mr. Dargan's proposition, and seems to conclude that Mr. D. was playing a game of diplomacy to outwit John Bull, and in advance admits that his proposition, which was finally adopted as the treaty between the two governments
, led to a very advantageous arrangement for the United States. It says, (Art. 6, June number, 1846, Westminster Review,) " If the proposal of Mr. Dargan, of Alabama, is thought to be worthy of consideration, namely, that the line of 49 degrees should be extended from Canada to Frazer's River, and thence through the Straits of Fuca to the sea—it should be remembered that Capt. Wilkes reports that there is no part of the coast where a settlement could be formed between Frazer's River, 49 deg. north, and the northern boundary of 54° 40 min. that would be able to supply its own wants. The liberality, therefore, of this proposal, is evident."
Whatever may be said of the liberality of Mr. D.'s proposal, and without attempting to investigate the question, whether the territory yielded up by the United States was of any value or not, it must be admitted that Mr. Dargan's scheme led to a most advantageous treaty for the United States; that in adopting that scheme as the basis of the treaty, Britain accepted and offered a proposition, which she had before at divers times rejected when oflered by the United States.
It is not our intention to comment upon the arguments used by Mr. D. in his speech; the result has already been shown. It is enough to remark, that his argument has never been answered, and is unanswerable, and has been approved and confirmed by the action of both governments. Yet, this speech occupies but three pamphlet pages. The absence of all the
catch-trap of ordinary politicians is a remarkable characteristic of the speech. The quietness of the calm, strong man, confident of his strength, confident of his position, of itself causes his fellows to place trust in him.
Judge Dargan, while in Congress, made a speech upon the Mexican war, and matters therewith connected, which sustained his justly earned reputation, but which w have not space here to comment upon. He expressed the same views that he afterwards expressed to his constituents, when giving an account of his stewardship.
It is needless to say that Judge Dargan's course as chief justice has met with general, we might say, with universal approbation, if it were not for the envious detractions of those who once had the presumption to think themselves his rivals. The following passage is quoted from one of his opinions upon a well settled point, simply as a contrast to the decisions of the preceding court, “ All the authorities agree that a deed procured or obtained with a view or intent to delay, hinder, or defraud creditors, is absolutely void against those who are intended to be injured by it; that the dead purports to be made by a sheriff in pursuance of a sale under execution, cannot impart to it vitality, or enable the fraudulent grantee to consummate his illegal purpose. Whether the deed be direct from the fraudulent grantor to the fraudulent grantee, or whether it be procured by means of a sale under execution, when once the fraud is established, it is null and void, and can form no impediment to creditors in subjecting the law to the payment of their debts.” Forest v. Lyon and Camp, June term, 1849. Compare this with the following, pronounced by the preceding court, in June, 1841, Costello et al. v. Thompson, 9 Ala. Rep. : “We are aware that cases may be found, in which it has been held that the improper conduct of the purchaser at the sale of property under execution, amounting to fraud, vacates the sale, and that the title does not pass by the sheriff's deed; such are the cases of Smith v. Greenlee, 2 Den. 126, and Swaze v. Burke, 12 Peters, 11. But we are constrained to adhere to our own adjudications until, upon established principles of law, they can be shown to be erroneous. Under our complex system of jurisprudence, it is not to be wondered at that discordant decisions should be made; and whilst we cheerfully admit the high character of tribunals which hold a different opinion, we think in this particular the law has been misapprehended.” Decisions showing the character and justly deserved reputation of Mr. Dargan as a judge might be quoted to any extent; but as during the short time that he has been chief justice, no constitutional questions have arisen, and as this is not a proper place to comment upon legal questions, we will only remark, that as a judge he has won the esteem and confidence of the profession and of the community, and given to the reports of the state character and weight.
In conclusion we have only to say, that Judge Dargan has ever been a warm and earnest friend of his native South ; that he supported the Nashville Convention, not as a disunion proceeding, but simply as an assembly of the people by their delegates under the rights and privileges guaranteed to them by the Constitution, to consult upon the proper measures to adopt in a time of danger, to ward off threatened injury, and to preserve the Union inviolate, by preventing designing men from cutting the strongest bonds of the Union, and from nullifying the solemn compact under which the rights of all are guaranteed.
VERMONT “DEMOCRATIC” STATE CONVENTION.
SPEECH OF MR. VAN BUREN.
We had supposed the Buffalo platform demolished the Buffalo organization defunct and buried-the Buffalo creed turned over to the abolitionists proper, and the Democratic Party finally cut loose from those restless disorganizers and factious demagogues, who have sought to revenge the supposed wrongs of ex-President Van Buren on the national democracy. But it appears that the snake, though scotched, has not been killed ; the Democratic Party has not been thoroughly purged of abolitionism and abolitionists; free soilism has again “ burst its cerements," and the sepulchre, wherein we saw it at Syracuse
* Quietly inurned,
To cast it up again!" Our attention has been lately directed to a speech, delivered at Burlington, by Mr. John Van Buren, to the so called Democratic State Convention of Vermont, and “Reported expressly for the Evening Post.” From the wise precaution thus taken by the orator, or his friends, in having the Post's reporter on the ground, (Mr. V. B. says, in his speech, that " until yesterday afternoon," he feared other engagements would have prevented his attendance, and the vigilant Post stenographer must have followed him that day in New York like his shadow,) we take it for granted that the speech was made for the meridian of New-York, rather than that of Vermont, and Mr. Van Buren would, of course, consider himself treated with discourtesy should we fail to pay it ou compliments.
The fact that he speaks, ex cathedra, as the oracle and representative of the Van Buren interest in this state—the disingenuous assumption, on his part, that the sentiments he utters are the sentiments of the united democracy" of NewYork; and the consideration that these sentiments were uttered amid “ cheers and laughter,” to a State Convention in Vermont, pretending to be democratic, and its being reported at length, "expressly for the Post,” are our apologies to our readers for a few running commentaries on certain portions of a speech, which otherwise would have been dismissed with a paragraph. As to what sort of democrats composed this convention, we leave the speaker himself to describe :
“And now, democrats of Vermont, a word or two in regard to the election that is approaching, and when I say democrats of Vermont, nobody, I trust, will understand me as referring to that small band of men who denominate themselves the Old Line democracy-a corps who, at the suggestion of whigs, draw off from the democratic column into a field by themselves, and expect to be paid a certain sum per head to return to the ranks. (Cheers and laughter.) I speak of the democracy whose convention assembled here to-day.”
The "old line democracy,” it appears, were not there. It was the new light, higher-law, abolition “ democracy," who assembled to listen to the teachings of the speaker on "human freedom ;” and received them amid“ laughter and cheers.” Elsewhere he remarks:
My hopes rest on the Democratic Party. I look forward anxiously to their restoration to power in the nation. There are reasons persoval to myself why I should do
I owe to them obligations which the services of my life could but poorly reqnite. One who slands to me in a near relation, has enjoyed their favor for nearly half a century.”