Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/568
The Whig Party:
one-fifth of the value on the face of them, will not fail to mingle in this question.
It is to this day made a party reproach against Alexander Hamilton, that he devised and carried through the funding system, whereby ample and honorable provision was made for the debt contracted in the struggle for independence, and which was strictly the price of freedom; but which, owing to the pressure of war while it lasted, and after its close, of the poverty and almost anarchy of the confederation, had run down so low as hardly to retain any value in exchange. To have opposed or supported Hamilton's funding system is still occasionally used as a distinguishing test between parties, and the name of republican, or, in more modern phraseology, of democratic, is expressly claimed for the party which resisted that honest measure, and resisted it on the double ground—first, that by funding the debt, a favored class of citizens were raised up, interested in sustaining the government, however administered; because upon that government they were dependent for the payment of their stocks—and secondly, that in redeeming at par a debt which had passed at merely nominal rates from its original holders, from those who had rendered the service into the hands of grasping cormorants, not those who, in reality, had made sacrifices for, and shown their confidence in the cause, were benefited, but those who speculated upon the necessities of the well-deserving patriots, and who, or some of whom, by witholding supplies exaggerating difficulties, and propagating doubts and fears, had been enabled eventually to buy up, for the merest trifle, the certificates of debt.
It will now be seen whether those who claim to be the representatives, at this day, of the anti-Federal party of our earlier annals, will maintain the same line of argument in respect to the debt of Texas; a debt recommended by no such sacred associations and patriotic appeals as that of our revolution, and which, not less than that, has passed almost entirely from the hands of its original holders, into those of mere speculators. From past indications there is little reason to doubt that, in this particular, as in so many others, there will be found a very decided contradiction between the practice of the democracy, and the principles it professes; and that we shall see those who, wearying the popular ear with declarations that they are the true disciples of the original Republican party, will now be foremost—not directly, but by circumlocution and expedients meant to deceive—virtually to assume the debts of a foreign State incurred under circumstances similar to, but certainly not more sacred than, that of their own country, which yet, their great prototypes not only refused to provide for, but stigmatized the honest patriots who did so, as a corrupt stock-jobbing aristocracy.
There is, too, a general impression, which we merely refer to, without any intention of analyzing its justness—that, among the speculators in Texas securities, are included many, who in official stations contributed to annexation, and who were moved thereto at least as much by the hope of personal advantage, as by patriotic solicitude. Of this impression, we repeat, it is not our purpose to examine the justness, but its existence is as general and unquestionable, as it will obviously be adverse to the success of any project of a redemption of these securities through the means or credit of the United States.
From these various considerations it will be readily perceived that, whatever the abstract view of many leading men and presses may be, there are strong, practical and well-grounded reasons for resisting any project of making this country responsible for the debt of Texas. Moreover, some of the States of the Confederacy are suffering the dishonor of repudiation; why not, it will be asked, first go to their assistance? Give them the value of their share of the public lands we already possess, before we add to our untold millions of unproductive acres, many millions more to be paid for out of the present resources of the Union. This seems reasonable, and possibly there may result from these conflicting interests and opinions a compromise which shall substantially satisfy all parties.
For the virtual assumption of the debt of Texas, in spite of the positive disclaimer of the resolution of Annexation, will be most warmly pressed by that party, which has most strenuously resisted every proposition at home, to appropriate the proceeds of the sales of the public lands to the respective states. Is this not an occasion then, when the Whigs may say to their opponents. We will meet you half way. Do for the States now composing the Union what you propose in respect of the new State about to be admitted to it and we will co-