THE STATESMAN OF THE DEMOCRACY
AGAIN must we speak of barnburners and hunkers, soft- shells and hard-shells, again must we delve into the intricacies of New York politics. It is repetition to say that the barnburners and hunkers were in a continual struggle for control of the New York Democracy. It has already been stated that the struggle had split the hunkers and that the soft-shell portion had formed an alliance with the barnburners against the hard-shells. But these facts must again be our text or no adequate understanding can be had of the events that so nearly made William L. Marcy President of the United States.
Soon after the reunion of 1849 the lines began to form for 1852. The hard-shells were determined that the barnburners must do penance for 1848 by swearing fealty to Cass. The barnburners were just as determined that they would have none of Cass. The soft-shells were his friends, how could they be wooed from his standard to support a leader favored by their allies. To Flagg and his barnburner associates occurred a scheme.1 They would support a prominent soft-shell and appeal to the people of the state to back a New York candidate--this would win the softs, prove popular with the masses and relieve them of the dilemma of opposing Cass, for the favorite son by unwritten law had first claim to all local support. Who was to be this one? In Albany in retirement lived a man whose biography____________________