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THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT.
THE "IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT."
The first session of the thirty-fifth congress lasted until June 14, 1858. Some of the questions which, after the passage of English's bill, had to be disposed of, were of much greater importance than could be inferred from the interest public opinion took in the deliberations concerning them. This fact could not teach the presumptuous narrowness of the routine politicians that it was not a happy thought to have given the republicans the nickname of the "party of one idea." Precisely because they were a party of one idea, the future belonged to them; for the intellectual and moral elasticity of the people became more and more completely absorbed with the struggle for this one idea. All else could excite no great interest except to the extent that it promised to be, directly or indirectly, of importance in the progress of this struggle. The attention with which a few questions were still followed was attributable not so much to these questions themselves as to their presumptive influence on the attitude of the masses towards the administration and the democratic party.
On the 18th of May, the bill for the admission of Oregon as a state was passed by the senate by a vote of thirty-five against seventeen, although everything that had been said in defense of English's bill, in reference to its provisions about the number of the population, was just as applicable here. The republicans very naturally threw a glaring light on the wry faces made by the members of the administration party at one another; but the majority of them-ten against six-voted, notwith
standing, for the bill. They did not want to let Oregon atone for the sins of congress against Kansas, and estimated the gain which every increase of the free states would bring to the cause of freedom higher than the loss which would be caused to it by the direct strengthening of the democratic party in congress and in the electoral college. The administration party, on the other hand, did not believe that it should allow any considerations to weigh against this strengthening of the democratic party. The administration party might easily disregard the fact that it was obliged to expose its perfidious intervention against the free-state party in Kansas thus plainly; but it was certainly a great trial for the south to admit a free state without having the admission of a new slave state in prospect within any conceivable time. But Oregon was sure for the democrats: three, votes more or less, in the electoral college might easily turn the scales; and it became plain to the south, day after day, that in the next presidential election the decisive throw of the dice of fate would be cast.
That the bill at first lay quietly in the house was a matter of no consequence. It would be time enough if it were passed in the next session; and that it would be passed then might, considering the attitude of the republicans in the senate, be looked upon as almost undoubted.
If, therefore, Buchanan had good reason to be satisfied with the course of this matter, he was at least so far as he was personally concerned - certainly much better pleased with the turn which things took in Utah. The debate on the so-called deficiency bill had caused him many unpleasant hours. Fifteen millions had been originally granted for the army, and now eight millions more were asked for it. Even if the coffers of the treasury had been full, and if normal prosperity had prevailed in
THE DEFICIENCY BILL.
the economic condition of the country, this would not have been looked upon with equanimity. But trade had not yet, by any means, recovered from the crash of the preceding year; the revenues from the customs duties under the new tariff still flowed in scantily, and the government's coffers were still so empty that the country might be expected at any moment to hear the secretary of the treasury declare that recourse must be again had for money to the printing-press. And, in the first place, it was the campaign arbitrarily undertaken against the Mormons which had made this enormous extra demand necessary. The criticism would, therefore, not have been undeserved, even if the administration had proved that with the greatest economy and the strictest honesty the cost could not have been lessened one cent. But the contracts entered into for this expedition were not the least cause that led Toombs, in the senate, to express the conviction that, in the whole world, there was no government so corrupt as that of the United States.1
The bill was rejected by the house on the 8th of April, by a vote of one hundred and twenty-four against one hundred and six. The most material objection was, indeed, to the third section, which did not have reference to the army, but which, contrary to an express legal prohibition, granted extra remuneration to the appointees of the house. Reconsideration was resolved upon the very next day, and the bill passed by a vote of one hundred and eleven against ninety-seven. Still, the first vote, by which it was defeated, when twenty-seven democrats voted with the majority, contained a censure of extraordinary severity, and discontent over the Utah expedition had contributed not a little to the administration of that censure.
Buchanan might, therefore, look upon it as a special 1 Congr. Globe, 1st Sess. 35th Congr., App., p. 358.
favor of Heaven that, immediately before the end of the session, a dispatch from Cumming, dated the 2d of May, reached the secretary of state; - one which, in his own eyes, completely and strikingly justified the policy he had pursued on the Mormon question. The message of the 10th of June, with which he transmitted it to the senate, informed the country that the two regiments of volunteers granted by the law of April 7th were now no longer needed, because the news received from the governor warranted the assumption that "our difficulties with the territory of Utah have been terminated."
Others, indeed, might not come to this conclusion from that information with the same confidence. In a letter of Cumming's, dated April 15th, to Colonel Johnston, who brought the dispatch to the notice of the president, we, indeed, read: "I have been every where recognized as the governor of Utah," and Brigham Young has, in repeated conversations, "evinced a willingness to afford me every facility which I may require for the efficient performance of my administrative duties." He, however, also stated that a great many Mormons were packing up their property and moving away, without knowing whither themselves. Something said by Young seemed to imply that they would, perhaps, go to Sonora. And this embittered feeling of the people had, at least up to the sending of the dispatch, undergone no change, for it reported: "The masses everywhere announce to me that the torch will be applied to every house, indiscriminately throughout the country, as soon as the troops attempt to cross the mountains."1
Even in the most favorable case, therefore, the president's declaration greatly anticipated events, unless, by the termination of difficulties, the unconditional subjec
1 Sen. Doc., 35th Congr., 1st Sess., vol. XIII, No. 67, pp. 2, 6.
KANE AND THE MORMONS.
tion of the Mormons was to be understood. But that a great deal more had been accomplished than could have been expected at the beginning of the winter was unquestionable. This was due most directly and in the fullest measure to a brother of the celebrated explorer, Kane, who was indebted to the Mormons for careful nursing in a severe illness, and who now most fittingly discharged that debt by mediating, with the approval of the government but in no official capacity, between its organs and, Brigham Young. He had arrived at the camp in Fort Bridger on the 12th of March. Under the warm rays of the sun in spring both the snow and the courage of the Mormons had begun to melt away. On the 21st of March, Young held a "special council" in the Tabernacle, in order to come to a decisive resolution. We must, he said there, seek refuge in negotiation. If we take the initiative and shed the blood of the troops, the people of the United States, in their bitterness, will place unlimited means at the disposal of the government, and we will finally succumb in the unequal struggle. If the government decided to keep the troops inactive a while longer, and, at the same time, try what it could accomplish. by negotiation, there was, therefore, every prospect that an amicable settlement would be reached, provided both sides were satisfied with the restoration of a modus vivendi.
Temporizing was not to the liking of Colonel Johnston, but Cumming permitted himself to be induced to go with Kane to Salt Lake City in the beginning of April. Young, as we have seen, did not hesitate to submit externally; but Cumming purchased this submission with the promise that the troops should not come into the vicinity of the settlement, and should not interfere as
1 See Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints, p. 385.