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Upon the issues thus raised, Great Britain claimed the right to seize and search American vessels, and to take therefrom Britishborn seamen, and that without reference to the fact that in some instances they had become citizens of the United States. This claim led to the war of 1812, and there was no waiver of the claim in the treaty of peace.
Upon the issues thus raised Prussia claimed the right to exact military service of naturalized citizens of the United States, who, having been born in Prussia, might be sojourning temporarily in that country.
These claims were supported in a measure by a reference to congressional, diplomatic, and judicial proceedings in the United States. The increase in the United States of foreign-born citizens, who, with their immediate descendants, were claimed as subjects by other governments, led to the passage of the law of 1868, and to the formation of treaties with the principal nations of Europe, excepting France only, in which the doctrine of expatriation is recognized as a personal right. Beginning in 1868, twelve such treaties have been made. The chief contracting parties are Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the North German Empire, represented by the King of Prussia.
Thus has the public law of Europe been changed by the agency of the United States. The ability to dictate that change was due in a large degree to the supremacy of the United States as a military power, and its recognition as such by the nations of Europe. Thus has been secured to each of the thousands of naturalized citizens the right to return to his native land free from any apprehension that military or other service will be required of him.
THE QUESTIONS AT ISSUE IN THE PENDING CONTEST.
HE history of a political party furnishes better means for testing its quality and estimating its claims to public confidence than can be deduced from the professions of its leaders or the platforms of its conventions.
The government of the country was in the hands of the Democratic party during four Presidential terms of the six terms next preceding the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln.
Upon the death of General Harrison and the succession of Mr. Tyler in April, 1841, the administration was controlled in a large degree by the leaders of the Democratic party.
In the long period, therefore, of twenty-four years, from 1837 to 1861, there were only temporary interruptions to the domination of the Democratic party, as represented by the Southern leaders, in the government of the country.
The annexation of Texas, the consequent war with Mexico and the vast acquisitions of territory, which followed, have inured to the benefit of the country, but the scheme of annexation was designed and executed for the advancement of the system of slavery. It is not to the credit of the Democratic party that a scheme designed to foster that system has been controlled for the advantage of freedom and the extension of free institutions.
Of the legislation of those twenty-four years one measure only of importance remains upon the statute books of the country. The independent treasury system exists. In all other respects its financial experiments have failed, and its financial theories have been abandoned.
Its ancient doctrine of State rights, by which the national government was subordinated to the will of individual States, has become
odious to the people. In obedience to this doctrine of State rights the party continued in a persistent defence of the institution of slavery. At the end, the Southern half of the party engaged in rebellion; a portion of the Democratic party of the North either encouraged or tolerated the treasonable conduct of their brethren of the South; while a minority, not exceeding one-fourth of the entire organization, united their fortunes with the Republican party, and contributed their full share to the prosecution of the war and the destruction of slavery.
If the Democratic party is to be judged by its record from 1837 to 1861, there is no ground for the belief that it would so administer the affairs of the government as to meet the demands of the present period. When it lost power in 1860, its tariff policy, and its financial ideas were alike distasteful to the people. Not to Republicans only; the failure of their policies was admitted by themselves.
From 1860, to the present time, the Democratic party has resisted every new measure, and more especially those relating to human rights, -but when those measures had been adopted by the country it has been constrained to give them a tardy approval. Each year has produced a new issue, and each year has found the party yielding assent to some measure which it had previously condemned.
It opposed Emancipation, and it opposed each of the three Amend ments to the Constitution, nevertheless it has been compelled to accept and endorse them all.
It opposed the homestead laws, the policy of making grants of lands to the agricultural colleges, and the system of improving the rivers and harbors at the public expense. Now it dare not avow its opposition to those measures, or to the policies in which they have their origin.
The National Bank System was introduced and adopted as a measure of Mr. Lincoln's administration, but it was opposed by the Democratic members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and with great unanimity.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of thirty Senators in the affirmative and nine in the negative. The affirmative votes were given by Republicans. In the House of Representative the bill was agreed to by a vote of eighty Republicans in the affirmative over the vote of sixty-four Democrats and two Republicans in the negative. Of the two Republicans, one was from Maryland, and the other was from Missouri.
The opposition of the Democratic party was due to its State rights notions which then found expression in a fear of centralization. That fear was groundless, if any injurious results to the public welfare were apprehended.,
There are two thousand and five hundred national banks, with an aggregate capital of five hundred million dollars. They are doing business in all the States and Territories of the Union. They are managed by citizens whose interests are identified with those States and Territories. The assumption by the general government of the power to provide a currency for the whole country was an act of centralization; but there is no centralization of capital or of management that might not have existed under the State system.
There is a class of duties that may be performed by States in case the National Government does not assert its better right. The banking system belongs to that class. Until the year 1863, the business of furnishing a circulation of paper was left to the States. The exigencies of the war compelled Congress to assume jurisdiction of the subject. It is a noticable fact that the Democratic party never admitted that the exigencies of the public service required a change of policy on its part.
Assuming always that the war was unnecessary, it followed that exigencies should not control the public policy. In the opinion of the Democratic party an easy way was before the country. The remedy was peace.
Within the limits prescribed by the Constitution, the question, whether a particular power should be exercised by the general government or left with the States, is a question for Congress. Congress is composed of representatives of the States and of the people. If our theory is not false in a fatal degree, those representatives will confer power upon the general government or withhold power as may seem most advantageous to the public interest. Anything in the nature of a usurpation is impossible. The parties are the same. The citizens of the States are citizens of the United States also. They have but one interest, and that is to lodge the exercise of the power where the advantage will be the greatest and the injury the least.
Within constitutional limits the people may concentrate the exercise of discretionary powers in the hands of the general government or they may confide their exercise to the States.
The power to furnish a bank currency is now lodged with the general government, and after an experience of twenty years the claim may be made safely, that the system has never been excelled, in this or in any other country. It embodies every advantage that was claimed for a national bank, when, in the administration of General Jackson, the Whig party sought to recharter the United States Bank, and it avoids every evil that the enemies of that institution alleged against it. The system is free, and the currency being equally valuable in every part of the Union, the old evil of domestic exchange has disappeared. While the State Bank System existed the question of exchange between cities distant from each other, as New York and New Orleans, was an element of trade more important than is now the rate of exchange between New York and London.
The preservation and perpetuation of the system is a subject of large public concern. As the bonds of the United States are the basis of the circulation, and as these bonds are now subject to purchase and payment at a rate which will lead to the withdrawal of those now held as security for the redemption of bank notes, a friendly hand is needed to so adjust the revenues of the country to its expenditures as to continue the system for an indefinite period.
As the Democratic party opposed the system at the outset, and as it has never exhibited any friendship for it, there can be no violence in assuming that it would willingly see it die.
The capital invested in national banks exceeds five hundred million dollars, their loans aggregate a thousand and three hundred million dollars, and their other assets are not less than one thousand million dollars more. The overthrow of this system, even if it were possible to substitute a better one, or its gradual disappearance, would be attended with financial evils that would reach and embarrass every branch of business. The loans are generally to men of business whose capital does not equal their opportunities for the employment of capital. A financial change which should require the business men of the country to pay these loans, would cripple them while other sources of capital were sought and secured. In the meantime, production would diminish, laborers would lose employment, sales would fall off, all to be followed by still greater reduction in manufactures, trade, and consumption.
There is in the country a body of men who advocate the issue of United States notes without an accompanying pledge or promise of