Democratic Presidential Candidate (1848): "A Statesman Renowned for His Patience, Wisdom, and Energy"
JAMES K. POLK pledged himself to a single term of office during the election campaign of 1844, and soon after his inauguration political maneuvering began among his potential successors. Lewis Cass shrewdly attempted to discourage the use of his name as a candidate for the presidential nomination during the early years of Polks' administration. The Michigan senator was keenly aware the Democrats were "broken into two fractions, and under the names of 'barn burners' and 'old hunkers,'...a great deal of ill feeling has been generated." The Barnburners, with a nucleus of antibank Van Burenites, increasingly advocated a more "radical," free-soil position regarding slavery extension, while the Hunkers, continuing to stake out the middle ground, were content to compromise with Southern defenders of the peculiar institution. The party division was especially acute in the pivotal states of New York and Ohio, and under such circumstances it was "better to give time for the councils of moderation to be heard." His political instincts and personality equally dictated "a prudent course," and Cass proposed "to sit still and wait the developments of public opinion, rather than seek to guide them," because if he advocated a position taken by one wing of the party, the other was "sure to oppose him." In truth, complained a dismayed President Polk more than a year before the national convention met at Baltimore, "faction rules the hour, while principle & patriotism is forgotten." Cass did acknowledge that "if the Democratic Party select me as their candidate I shall