Omitting minor points of difference, it may be said that “the difference between the old Democrat and Whig parties” was the same as that which separated the schools of Jefferson and Hamilton.
The old Democratic party stood for Free Trade, for equal and exact justice to all without Special Privileges to any, for a strict construction of the Constitution, for the maintenance of States Rights, for “the separation of the moneys of the Government from banking institutions.” The old Democratic party was opposed to National banks. It took its stand, flatfooted, on the proposition that “Congress has no power to charter a U. S. bank; we believe such an institution one of deadly hostility to the best interests of the country, dangerous to our republican institutions, and the liberties of the people, and calculated to place the business of the country within the control of a concentrated money power, and above the laws and the will of the people.”
(That sounds like a Populist speech of 1893, does it not, friend Neal? Yet it is copied, word for word, from the sixth Resolution of the Democratic National Convention of 1840.)
That Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore. Obeying the will of Andrew Jackson it gave its unanimous vote for Martin Van Buren for Presidential nominee. The seventh Resolution of the platform declared that “Congress has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States.” The 2nd Resolution declared that Congress has no Constitutional power “to commence or carry on a general system of internal improvements.’’
The 4th Resolution declared “that justice and sound policy forbid the federal government to foster one branch of industry to the detriment of another.’’ This being the Democratic position in 1840, we may readily guess what was the creed of the opposing party, the Whigs. They favored, Internal Improvements, National Banks, Protective Tariffs, and a liberal construction of the Constitution.
“What was it that caused the death of the Whig party?”
The slavery question.
Mason and Dixon’s line went through the great Whig party as a knife cuts a melon. Southern Whigs became Democrats-they had nowhere else to go. Northern Whigs became either Democrats or Abolitionists.
“What is the difference between the old Democratic party before the war and the Democratic party of today?”
THE OLD DEMOCRATIC PARTY WAS OPPOSED TO THIS KIND OF DEMOCRACY.
Just the same as the difference between any other two things which differ from top to bottom and from center to circumference.
The Democratic party of today occupies opposite ground, at every point, to that held by the old Democratic party of 1840. It favors National Banks. It favors the fostering of “one branch of industry to the detriment of another.’’
It sanctions a liberal construction of the Constitution,-so liberal that the construction, the child, does not “favor” its daddy, the Constitution.
It sanctions Internal Improvement, and votes supplies for the biennial Pork Barrel so liberal that even the shoats are satisfied. In some cases, the appropriations for little one-horse rivers are almost as big as the river. Custom Houses are multiplied all over the country, thousands of miles from the sea and the ships,—inaccessible save to mountain-climbing salary grabbers. The solemnity with which Uncle Sam appoints and pays a colored gentleman “Surveyor of the Port” for such hilltowns as Atlanta, Georgia, is only equalled by the seriousness with which he listens to Mr. Taft’s speeches setting forth our altruism in the Philippines.
The 5th Resolution of the Democratic platform of 1840 declared that the practice of “the most rigid economy” was the duty of every branch of the Government and that “no more revenue ought to be raised than is required to defray the necessary expenses of government.”
Under President Cleveland, the modern Democratis party gave us its idea upon this important subject. The Public Debt was increased by more than two hundred million dollars, offices and salaries were increased, and by acts which speak louder than words the extravagant administration of our public affairs by the Republican party was cordially endorsed by “the other twin,” the Democratic party.
For several years, the Government has been taxing out of the pockets of the unprivileged people, many millions of dollars in excess of its necessary requirements. This surplus money is a burden to Uncle Sam, but comes handy to the pet National Banks. These pets enjoy the free use of public money, year in and year out, to amounts ranging from sixty millions to one hundred and eighty million dollars. Of late years, the amount has far exceeded one hundred million dollars. At present, it is crowding the two hundred million dollar limit. Yet neither Democrats nor Republicans seriously combat this indefensible abuse of the taxing power,-this forcing of the many to give up their cash for the use of the few.
The Republican party of Thomas Jefferson was organized to fight the Hamilton Federalists. Under the elder Adams, the Federalists met a Waterloo. This disaster was, in part, caused by the treachery of Hamilton himself. In a mean spirit of spite and revenge, he knifed John Adams, because Adams had detected and foiled the Hamiltonian intrigue to bring on a war between this country and France.
The debt of gratitude which we owe to sturdy, honest, patriotic John Adams for his defeat of Alexander Hamilton’s deep laid plans, at this critical period, has seldom been acknowledged, and has never been fully appreciated.
The Jefferson Republicans remained in power until the memorable campaign in which William H. Crawford was the Caucus nominee. By the unwritten law of succession in Jefferson’s party, Crawford was entitled to its loyal support. He had stood back for Monroe, when he could have secured the nomination for himself; and there was “a gentleman’s understanding” that Crawford was to be the next President, after Monroe. But the unexpected happened.
Crawford had a stroke of paralysis, and a close-corporation of politicians, who were new men of the tribe of the Outs, had taken possession of Andrew Jackson, as a political asset of great promise; and the grim soldier from Tennessee was ready to defy Caucus Custom, party law, political precedent, and everything else “to serve my country, sir,” as President.
Mary’s lamb was not more certain to follow Mary wherever that popular maiden went, than a first-class row and fight was sure to keep close to Andrew Jackson, whenever that pugnacious Irishman moved from one sphere into another.
His advent into national politics played smash in all directions. It plowed up the ground, unsettled the weather, broke the slates, confused the pilot, muddled the mind of the engineer, broke up old groups and compelled the formation of new ones.
When the boat had quit rocking, and the waves had somewhat subsided, and the sailors looked abroad to get their bearings, conditions had undergone a change.
The Jefferson Republican party was nowhere to be seen. To use the slang of the day, it had been put out of business. The Andrew Jackson men, calling themselves Democrats, professed to be the true disciples of the Sage of Monticello, and clung to the Declaration of Independence as the sheet anchor of their faith.
The old party of Federalists was gone; and the various elements opposed to Jacksonian Democracy began to be known, collectively, as the Whig party.
Then came the rock of Slavery, and the split-up of Secession; when the smoke of battle lifted there were but two great parties, Democrats and Republicans. During the fearful conflict between the sections, the Government was often in the direst straits gasping for breath. To live, it granted Special Privileges. The opportunity thus given to the Capitalists was exploited to the utmost, without mercy, without shame, without any other motive than the most selfish, sordid, unpatriotic greed.
The Government had saved itself and freed the slaves—but at a price which will be a mill-stone about the necks of our children’s children even as it as been about ours.
Special Privilege has fastened itself so firmly, so deeply, with such infernal art and thoroughness, that in pulling out the weed there is danger to the flower.
Since the Civil War, the two great parties have each been the servile tools of Special Privilege. They are so to-day. For forty years, the leaders of these two parties have kept up a sham battle, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. So far as the exploiters of Special Privilege are concerned, the battle has always been consciously and designedly, a sham battle. To keep the masses divided, was the simple policy of the Privileged classes who were united. These National bankers, manufacturers, bond-holders, railroad kings, Trust magnates tag themselves “Democrat” or “Republican,” but the difference in the tags means no difference in the principles or the purposes of the men. But they went through the form of fighting each other, at long range, through political conventions, party platforms, and newspaper controversies, in order to draw the unprivileged masses of taxpaying citizens into two hostile camps.
Then, with about one-half the dupes in one camp, and onehalf in the other, the subtle leaders went to Congress and voted together to make the laws which robbed both halves.
The dupes have been going into the two hostile camps, regularly, ever since the cruel war was over. Every two years, the subtle leaders go through the form of marshaling their troops for battle. There is the noise and heat of a political campaign. Feroid oratory does its time-honored stunt. The editor re-vamps the old campaign lies. Sectional hate and race prejudice are played up to the limit. Then comes the ballot. Then comes the “glorious victory,” of the subtle leaders. THEY NEVER LOSE. So long as they can keep the masses divided, THEY CAN’T LOSE. A Republican triumph is a victory for the Privileged Few. A Democratic victory is a triumph of the Privileged Few.
If your rooster whips your gobbler, it is your champion that crows. If your gobbler chases your “Dominecker,” it is your champion that struts till his wings plow trenches in the ground.
How any citizen of common intelligence can study the present make-up of the national committees of the two old parties, consider the Trust magnates, National bankers, railroad kings, and other exploiters of Special Privilege who have taken possession, and then hope for real, radical reform from either the Republican or Democratic party, as now constituted, passes my power of comprehension.
In Great Britain, a few years ago, there was a crusade against the hereditary House of Lords.
Who led the movement? Lord Roseberry, the son-in-law of Rothschild.
We Americans laughed at such a movement for we knew it could not possibly be honest, sincere, earnest and effective. The event proved that the whole campaign was a side-tracking fraud. But it served its purpose. It hood-winked the people and saved the Lords.
But another order of leaders is now at the helm in Great Britain, and there is a new movement against the House of Lords.
And this time nobody laughs; least of all the Lords.
Why? Because the movement is being led by the champions of the Laboring Classes,—and the Privileged Few know that it is war to the knife.
In this country, we have had sham campaigns against Privilege led by the Privileged. How could we expect satisfactory results when the beneficiaries of the wrong manage the case against it?
In our private affairs, we would never be guilty of such folly. We would never allow the litigant against us to serve on the jury. We would never consent for the lawyer on the other side to act as judge. In a crusade against gambling hells, we would not choose the blacklegs as leaders. In a Prohibition fight, we do not ask the guidance of the Liquor Dealers’ Association.
Why should we do the wise things everywhere else, and reserve our foolishness for politics? Why not bring our mother wit, our common sense, to bear upon matters of Government?
We know that Special Privilege is rank poison to Democratic Government, yet in the crusade which we go through the form of waging against Special Privilege, every two years, we have National Conventions controlled by the beneficiaries of Special Privilege, National Committees made up like a deck of “stacked” cards, and campaign funds supplied by those who take, as security, a mortgage upon the future of the party.
Will we never learn better than to choose a hereditary Lord as our leader against the Lords? Will we always be silly enough to range ourselves under the two descredited standards when all those who have eyes can see for themselvesTHAT THE MANAGERS OF BOTH PARTIES ARE DRAWN FROM THE SELECT CIRCLE of SPECIAL PRIVILEGE?
Both the old parties are now hopelessly Hamiltonian; it remains to be seen whether we shall have a party of Jeffersonians in 1908, or whether we shall have one more final “Farewell performance” of “The Twins.”