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primitiveness of the times-with but few newspapers, no railroads or telegraphs or cheap postage, and only the merest beginnings of school instruction for the masses of the people.
It was the powerful personality of General Jackson, and the ardent partisanship in his behalf matched by an equally ardent opposition to him, that wrought the radical change in party foundations, conceptions, and methods. Aside from the popularity that he enjoyed as the "hero of New Orleans," his tremendous resoluteness and absolutely uncompromising attitude on every question and matter made him an ideal man to found and lead a great party. Though lacking in literary education and deficient in training to statecraft, these accidents of the circumstances of his life were regarded by his followers as needing no apology in view of his commanding traits of character-his indisputable greatness as a man. On the other hand, his critics who were inclined lightly to esteem his capacity for public affairs and to look for his collapse accordingly, erred most egregiously; never was there a President who more completely dominated the government, or retained a stronger hold on the people both throughout his service in office and after. Under his leadership the Democratic party absorbed the principal following, numerically, of the old all-powerful Republican organization
that is to say, the "rank and file" of the voters in the nation generally, with important State exceptions, which exceptions, however, did not at all indicate a merely sectional preference so long as the opposition to the Democrats was conducted by the National Repub
HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
licans and their successors, the Whigs.1 It became at once the reproach and pride of the Democratic party that the poor and struggling, those of obscure position and meager advantages, and the naturalized citizens, gravitated naturally to it.
After the election of 1828 Clay sprang to the fore as the leader of the National Republicans, or anti-Jacksonians. His remarkable brilliancy and attainments, fascinating manners and address, persuasive but at the same time reasoned eloquence, and perfect equipment as both a statesman and political chieftain, combined with the prestige of his distinguished services in the Senate, the Speakership of the House, and the office of Secretary of State, seemed to give him and his enthusiastic partisans every justification for expecting a favorable outcome in the gigantic struggle to wrest the Presidency from Jackson in 1832. Added to his personal qualities was the high character of the membership of the National Republican party, which embraced citizens of influence, affairs, substance, and cultivation to a notable degree. There was nothing, however, in the new organization-its spirit, proposals, or manner of operations—to be in fairness regarded as assimilating it to the Federalist party of melancholy but unregretted memory. It sprang from the body of the genuine Republican party of Monroe, Madison, and
1During this period New York and Pennsylvania were among the most reliable supporters of the Democratic party, going against it only in the elections of 1840 and 1848. Illinois and New Hampshire nearly always went Democratic. Ohio was changeable. Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Delaware were Whig strongholds. The strictly southern States were mainly Democratic, but the Whigs were strong in all of them.
Jefferson, of which it claimed to be the legitimate successor. This claim was scornfully resented by the Democrats. To attempt a decision upon the merits of the controversy would be profitless. The late deceased party left no testament. It had never adopted a declaration of principles or policies with which to compare the contrasting positions of the Democrats and National Republicans on the issues that now arose. Neither did its record concerning matters of legislation afford a sure test, as it had been on both sides of important questions according to expediency and the balance of opinion from time to time. Probably it would be most nearly correct to say that both the disputants were undoubted true successors. The National Republicans inherited most of the select elements of the parent organization, the Democrats most of the votes.
At an early period of the development of the National Republican party two basic issues were defined as expressive of its creed-in favor of first, a protective tariff, and second, internal improvements. Previously, these matters, though considered and acted on at times as public measures, had not represented any determinate party action or course. The protective policy had already been well established, especially in the tariffs of 1816, 1824, and 1828; Jackson had approved the principle; even the southern States had been not without leanings toward it. As for internal improvements, their desirability had been recognized by Presidents Monroe and Madison, with, however, the
HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
qualification that a constitutional amendment would be necessary.
Clay presented these two party issues as cardinal and permanent political doctrines. A third, and, for the time, even more insistent issue, favoring the recharter of the Bank of the United States, was added as the result of President Jackson's opposition to that policy. The existent charter was not to expire until 1836, but the President's announced hostility to its extension caused Clay to precipitate the issue as opportune for the campaign of 1832. This action, comments his biographer, Mr. Schurz, was a strange blunder in political tactics; "he believed he could excite the enthusiasm of the masses for a great moneyed corporation in its contest against a popular hero like Jackson-a most amazing infatuation."
The general position of the Democratic party concerning all matters and questions of government and politics was that of its own established authority. It considered itself the legitimate ruling power, the inheritor of the accepted and settled traditions of American government and institutions, impregnable to attack because of its strength with the people and the resistless leadership of Jackson. In full control of the government, it was supplying, and would continue to supply, the required materials for public discussion and decision; and it therefore had no issues to create in other ways.
Thus were the parties constituted and led, and the principal questions between them defined, in preparation for the great contest of 1832, in which the funda