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HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
the hands of a political organization by which these great reforms have been achieved and risk them in the hands of their known adversaries, with whatever delusive appeals they may solicit our surrender of that vigilance which is the only safeguard of liberty.
"22. Resolved, That the confidence of the Democracy of the Union in the principles, capacity, firmness, and integrity of James K. Polk, manifested by his nomination and election in 1844, has been signally justified by the strictness of his adherence to sound Democratic doctrines, by the purity of purpose, the energy, and ability which have characterized his administration in all our affairs at home and abroad; that we tender to him our cordial congratulations upon the brilliant success which has hitherto crowned his patriotic efforts, and assure him that at the expiration of his Presidential term he will carry with him to his retirement the esteem, respect, and admiration of a grateful country."
National convention held in Philadelphia, June 7-9, 1848; temporary chairman, John A. Collier, of New York; permanent chairman, John M. Morehead, of North Carolina.
Once more Clay sought the Presidential nomination. From the beginning, however, the favorite was General Zachary Taylor, of Louisiana, who was nominated on the fourth ballot by the following vote:Taylor, 171; Clay, 32; Winfield Scott, 63; Daniel Webster, 14.
Millard Fillmore, of New York, was nominated for Vice-President on the second ballot, his principal competitor being Abbott Lawrence, of Massachu
The convention adopted no platform of principles. Very determined and persistent efforts were made by
individual members to compel some expression on conspicuous questions; but resolution after resolution was laid on the table. It was thought best by the controlling spirits of the body not to commit the party to anything specific that could militate against it in either the north or south; they saw the impossibility of declaring a policy on the slavery issue suited to both sections, and realized that the sensitive balance of opinion everywhere was likely to be turned by feeling. The troubles of the Whigs about platform policy were always much more serious than those of the Democrats. The Whigs were under the necessity of winning support in the south in order to succeed nationally; this required particular discretion and ingenuity, with attentive reconsideration at each successive election; whereas the Democrats had a consistent program, which was sure to be acceptable to the south in the last reduction and was relied on to serve at the north on account of their strength with the masses, as well as the conservative forces, in the principal States of that quarter.
The Whig candidate, General Taylor, was selected for the popularity that he had gained in the Mexican War. He was a purely military character, had never held public office, had never even voted, and was not understood to hold decided opinions on the great question of the time, although as a southerner and slaveowner his predilections were presumed to be for his section.1 Manifestly, a platform would have been an encumbrance to him.
1A daughter of General Taylor was the first wife of Jefferson Davis.
HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Great discontent was felt by the anti-slavery Whigs. Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, who had been a delegate to the convention, was one of those who repudiated its acts and left the party.
In default of a national platform, the supporters of the ticket adopted declarations in conformity to their several points of view. A ratification meeting held in Philadelphia immediately after the convention passed resolutions, in platform style, which ably but altogether discreetly expressed the sentiments of the northern wing of the party, and which have been quoted by some writers as defining the Whig attitude in the campaign of 1848; but they had no official authority. the other hand, a Democratic convention in South Carolina tendered Taylor its endorsement (which he accepted) on the ground that he, as a southern man, could be better trusted regarding slavery than Cass, a northern man.
Analyzing the Democratic and Whig positions in the campaign, Carl Schurz says (Life of Clay):
"Thus both parties avoided any clear position on the one great question that most concerned the future of the republic. The Democratic convention had rejected strong pro-slavery resolutions in order to save its chances at the north. The Whig convention had shouted down anti-slavery resolutions to save its chances at the south. The Democratic party, which contained the bulk of the proslavery element, tried to deceive the north by the nomination of a northern man with southern principles. The Whig party, whose ruling tendencies were unfriendly to slavery, tried to deceive the south by silencing the anti-slavery sentiment for the moment and by nominating a southern man who had not professed any principles whatever."
Free Soil Party
The Barnburner, or anti-slavery, faction of the Democrats in New York had practically served notice that it would follow its own counsels in the campaign; and after the Democratic national convention, dissatisfied with the platform and the candidate, it proceeded to make its opposition as effective as possible. A convention was accordingly held in Utica, New York, June 22, 1848, at which delegates were present from New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, and WisconsinSamuel Young presiding. Martin Van Buren was nominated for President, and General Henry Dodge, of Wisconsin, for Vice-President. General Dodge declined.
The Utica convention proved to be the prelude to a general movement of the pronounced anti-slavery people of the country against the old-party tickets. The prevailing influence was that of the "Free Democrats," but, on account of the unquestioned sincerity of the movement in the respect of principle, many Whigs, as well as the supporters of the former Abolition party, joined in it. The result was a call for a new and more representative national convention, which met in Buffalo, August 9-10, 1848.
Upon the assembling of the Buffalo convention it was seen that a wide interest, especially considering its entirely spontaneous character, had been awakened. The States of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylva
HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
nia, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, sent delegates. Charles Francis Adams, of Massachusetts, presided.
Nominations:-For President, Martin Van Buren; for Vice-President, Charles Francis Adams.
The political organization evolved from the Buffalo convention is historically known as the Free Soil party. During its brief existence (restricted to the national campaigns of 1848 and 1852), it was generally called the Free Democratic party on account of its genesis and principal composition.
"Whereas, We have assembled as a union of free men, for the sake of freedom, forgetting all past political differences, in a common resolve to maintain the rights of free labor against the aggression of the slave power, and to secure free soil to a free people; and
"Whereas, The political conventions recently assembled at Baltimore and Philadelphia, the one stifling the voice of a great constituency entitled to be heard in its deliberations, and the other abandoning its distinctive principles for mere availability, have dissolved the national party organizations heretofore existing by nominating for the Chief-Magistracy of the United States, under the slaveholding dictation, candidates neither of whom can be supported by the opponents of slavery extension without a sacrifice of consistency, duty, and self-respect; and
"Whereas, These nominations so made furnish the occasion and demonstrate the necessity of the union of the people under the banner of Free Democracy, in a solemn and formal declaration of their independence of the slave power, and of their fixed determination to rescue the Federal government from its control,
"1. Resolved, Therefore, That we, the people here assembled, remembering the example of our fathers in the days of the first Declaration of Independence, putting our trust in God for the triumph of our cause, and invoking His guidance in our endeavors