Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/565

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No. VI.


At the moment when the XXIXth Congress is about for the first time to assemble, and when the aspect of our public affairs is troubled and portentous, it cannot be misplaced nor ill-timed, that we should devote some space to the consideration of the position and duties, in its present relation to the country, of the Whig Party.

Of that party it is not needful for us to speak in praise. Identified with it in opinions, aims and hopes, eulogy at our hands could hardly claim the merit of impartiality. Moreover, the office we desire to discharge is not that of a flatterer, who will see no faults,

"Altho' they were as huge as high Olympus,"

but of an earnest, faithful friend, whose aim it is rather. to serve than to please; and who, as one standing without the immediate vortex of the great political whirlpool, is in a condition to discern more accurately than those within its eddying sweep, the drift and tendency of the struggling elements.

The result of the Presidential election, so contrary to the expectations and so disastrous, to the hopes of the Whig party, seemed for a time to stun and overwhelm them. The candidates they had put forth were so eminent in talents and in public service—the issues upon which they went into the contest addressed themselves so strongly to the interests and intelligence of the country, and there was such apparent want of unity and cohesion among their opponents—that success appeared all but inevitable.

The rally, the discipline, and the unscrupulous arts of party, overthrew all these well-founded hopes, and placed in the highest seats of the government, two individuals, whom not one in ten of those who voted for them, if they had been acting on a question where their own individual interests were chiefly concerned, would have hesitated to postpone to their unsuccessful competitors.

The battle was fought and lost; and now in a minority, so far as official returns may be relied on, in the nation—in a minority in both houses of Congress—in a minority in the Legislatures of the States—and without a representative in any prominent official station under the Federal Government—the Whig party has, in the country, none other than a Moral Power.

That, however, is a great power—and, as it is wielded, will be more or less felt for good or for evil.

Among the great public issues of the recent contest, the Annexation of Texas, and the Tariff of '42, were most prominent; and, paradoxical as it may sound, both these were affirmed—although the one was supported, and the other was seemingly opposed, by the successful party.