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legislate upon the subject. Buchanan of the interference of the United States gave to President Van Buren the same to secure the Southern slave States from uncompromising political support that so dangerous a neighborhood of free he had given to his predecessor.
negroes. On the change of policy effected by Mr. Buchanan returned to the United President Tyler, after the death of Har- States in the spring of 1856, and in the rison, Buchanan rallied to the support following June was unanimously nomof the administration ; he advocated the inated, by the Democratic Convention recognition of the independence of Texas, at Cincinnati, candidate for President. as he subsequently did its admission into In November he was elected by the the Union and the consequent war with electoral vote of nineteen States. Upon Mexico. Under President Polk he be- his accession to office there was a gencame secretary of state, and at the ex- eral willingness to concede to him a dispiration of the Presidential term retired position to repress sectional differences to private life. He, however, used his and to administer the Government with great political influence in opposition to a national spirit. His administration, the Wilmot proviso, and in favor of an however, served only to reinvigorate extension to the Pacific Ocean of the factious dispute, and the Republican Missouri Compromise line of latitude party attacked him with great animosity 36 degrees 30 minutes north. On the for his partisan efforts to secure the adaccession of Pierce to the Presidency, mission of Kansas as a slave State. Buchanan was appointed ambassador to The most momentous event, however, Great Britain. It was while thus sery- during Buchanan's administration, was ing that he joined with the United States the secession of six States from the Union. minister to Paris, and Pierre Soulé, the This will always give him an historic minister to Madrid, in forming the no- importance, and serve to make his chartable Ostend Conference, the object of acter and conduct subjects of the deepwhich was to induce Spain to sell Cuba. est interest to the investigator of the
A memorandum of the proceedings causes of the civil war initiated during of the conference was published, and his Presidency. has been dignified with the title of a That Buchanan could have checked protocol. This set forth the import- the fatal movement (the rebellion], no ance of Cuba, commercially and de- one can affirm ; but that it was his duty fensively, to the United States ; the to make the effort, few will deny. That advantage to Spain in consenting to he did not do so, is attributed by some receive compensation for a possession to corrupt connivance with the conspirthe prolonged tenure of which was so ators who shared his counsels ; by some, uncertain, and the necessity-in case the to the timidity of enfeebled age ; and by island should fall under the control, like others, to the conviction that neither St. Domingo, of its African population- | right nor expediency would justify an attempt to repress the rising rebellion. thority against the menace of disaffecHis irreproachable personal character, tion and the attack of treason. his previous career of reputable states- The new President, however, in acmanship, and his honored position as cordance with traditional practice, chose President, forbid the imputation of trea- his cabinet from that party to which he sonable design or corrupt motive. It is was indebted for his own elevation. Wm. more reasonable to attribute his conduct H. Seward, of New York, was appointed to the influence of unworthy but unsus- secretary of state ; Salmon P. Chase, of pected counsellors acting upon an in- Ohio, secretary of the treasury; Simon firm judgment and unsteady moral Cameron, of Pennsylvania, secretary of courage.
war ; Gideon Welles, of Connecticut, The last act of President Buchanan's secretary of the navy ; Montgomery administration was the signing of the Blair, of Maryland, postmaster-general ; Morrill tariff. This sanction of high Edward Bates, of Missouri, attorneyprotective custom dues was contrary to general; and Caleb B. Smith, of Inhis professed opinion that duties should diana, secretary of the interior. be levied only for revenue.
The advo- Some of these were known to the cates of free trade, both in the United country as prominent statesmen ; others, States and Europe, condemn this act as possessed only of local fame, were comone of the most unworthy of his admin- paratively obscure, but all had been istration, while the protectionists doubt- active promoters of the “Republican” less commend it as the best.
The most distinguished was the Within a few weeks of the close of his secretary of state. term of office, Buchanan had called to William H. Seward was born in the his aid in the cabinet two statesmen village of Florida, Orange County, in whose energetic action, inspired by the the State of New York, on the 16th day truest patriotism, had served to redeem, of May, 1801. After a good elementary to some degree, an administration which schooling he was sent to Union College, had proved so fatal to the country. at Schenectady, where he received his These men were Joseph H. Holt, of academic degree with the honors of his Kentucky, and John A. Dix, of New class. In 1820 he became a student at York, the former the secretary of war, law in the office of John Anthon, Esq., and the latter secretary of the treasury. an eminent counsellor of the city of New It was hoped that Lincoln would have York, but completed his studies under waived so far his party predilections as the guidance of Ogden Hoffman, then to have retained these statesmen, who district attorney. In 1822 he was adhad won the confidence of the nation by mitted to the bar at Goshen, in Orange their loyal firmness in sustaining the County, but soon after removed to Audignity and power of the Federal au- burn, where he formed a partnership o Manuscript work, by the author.
with Judge Miller, whose daughter he