The Democratic Machine, 1850-1854

By Roy Franklin Nichols | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
JACKSON'S HEIR

WHEN Jackson died his mantle descended upon Martin Van Buren, Thomas Hart Benton, his chosen successors, and Francis P. Blair, Sr., his editor. But new leaders had arisen and Robert J. Walker and John C. Calhoun had dragged that mantle in the dust. To the old leaders, Van Buren, Benton and Blair, there still remained loyal a remnant who sighed for other days and other times and remembered the years of power. They styled themselves the "True Jacksonian Democracy"; the others, to adopt Benton's vivid phraseology were the "rottens". The hope of regaining control had never died out and while 1852 was yet afar off Jackson's heirs were making plans.1

In January, 1851, prospects were not bright. Benton was defeated for reelection to the Senate and the old Jackson influence had almost disappeared from Congress. But one way seemed open. The national party convention had proved disastrous to this group; it had defeated Van Buren in 1844. Consequently to the little Jacksonian coterie in Washington, Francis P. Blair, Sr. and Congressmen Preston King of New York and David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, it seemed that Benton should announce his independent candidacy immediately without endorsement by a party convention, going back to the old days when candidates were nominated "whenever two or three . . . . could be gathered together in Legislative Halls, in towns or at crossroads or

____________________
1
I. O. Barnes to B. F. Butler, 12 Mar., 1851, Butler MSS.

-79-

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