Party Government in the United States of America

By William Milligan Sloane | Go to book overview

XIX
THE CONVENTION SYSTEM 1837-1841

The political troubles of the panic-- Van Buren steadfast--His strictconstruction attitude--Final success--The conventions--Whig successes--Government and prosperity--Platforms a hated necessity--The Americans institutional--Good and evil in conventions.

WONDERFUL as was Jackson's work in reading the heart of a people continuously growing more democratic and imperious, more wonderful yet was his winning their confidence and expressing their wants to themselves by his own behavior. Van Buren did not possess these powers, but it is not likely that even Jackson could have behaved more discreetly or have acted so consistently with principle in the great crisis which now arose. Desiring, in the turgid phraseology of the time, "to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor," Van Buren accepted Jackson's Cabinet and Jackson's obligations. These were frightful, for the financial wind having been sown abroad, there was now a harvest of whirlwind to be reaped. With the glut of paper money consequent on the overthrow of a central banking system, and the chartering of countless feeble banks by the States, there was reckless speculation and an inflation of face values which was preposterous. The specie circular had resulted in wrecking many banks not favored with government deposits, and the incessant calls for the precious

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