The American Whigs: An Anthology

By Daniel Walker Howe | Go to book overview

5
THE FAMILY, THE NATION, AND THE CHURCH

Daniel D. Barnard


THE SOCIAL SYSTEM

A recurring theme in Whig rhetoric was the organic unity of society. Whereas the Jacksonians often spoke of the conflicting interests of "producers" and "nonproducers," the "house of have" and the "house of want," the Whigs were usually concerned with muting social conflict. The interdependence of different classes, geographical regions, and interest groups within the nation was an article of Whig faith. Many Whig economic, political, and-cultural positions can be interpreted as efforts to create national unity and preserve social harmony. The following address, delivered before the faculty and alumni of Trinity College, Hartford, provides an excellent example of this kind of thinking.

Daniel D. Barnard ( 1796- 1861)was a lawyer and journalist who served several terms as Whig congressman from New York State. He wrote on the European revolutions of 1830 and 1848 and later became United States minister to Prussia.

The present is a period of great restlessness and agitation among the popular elements of the world. The established order of things is almost every where being questioned, disturbed, and, in many cases, subverted. There is a great demand for rights, and for the redress of wrongs -- which is all very well, only one would like to be able to discover, along with these, some corresponding inquiry after duties and obligations. While every body is thinking of rights and nobody is thinking of duties, it is not likely that any very valuable discoveries will be made or improvements effected. Statesmanship, or what goes by that name, is very much employed of late in teaching mankind that

____________________

SOURCE. Daniel D. Barnard, The Social System. An Address Pronounced Before the House of Convocation of Trinity College ( Hartford, Conn., 1848).

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