The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics - Vol. 1

By William Ernest Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE CAMPAIGN FOR FREEDOM IN 1848

Freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft is ever won.

-- BYRON.


1

WHY did the Blairs join the Free-Soil party in 1848? That question has been asked many times. Was it because Van Buren led the party with his name; or did the Blairs leave the old organization through a spirit of revenge; or did they find it impossible to follow the Southern leaders in the Democratic party?

In the first place, the dearest friends of the Blairs were involved in political disputes within the state of New York. Silas Wright accepted the Democratic nomination for governor of New York in 1844 because he was led to believe that it was to save the party ticket from defeat in the state and nation. He therefore reluctantly resigned his seat in the Senate to enter the gubernatorial race, which he won. Polk carried New York and was elected. Once Wright had sacrificed himself to the wishes of his party, he fully expected complete coöperation from the President. He failed to receive it, although President Polk felt he was supporting his benefactor.

Wright was placed in an embarrassing situation. He strongly opposed the annexation of Texas in the manner in which it was accomplished. The Baltimore convention of 1844 had wounded his feelings when it shelved Van Buren and chose Polk. The offer of the vice-presidency was not sufficient balm to heal his wound. He was not a popular governor of New York, for he could not stoop to cheap politics, which he knew to be necessary for his success at Albany. The factional quarrels were intensified by his administration. His friends refused to allow him to retire

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