[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous chapter]
Chapter 8

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of North Carolina

The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York, 1919
Volume II by
William K. Boyd

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next chapter]
Chapter 10
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. II
Chapter 9
Federal Politics, 1824‑1836

Jacksonian Democracy and the Origin of the Whig Party

The profound discontent and spirit of revolt illustrated by legislation on trade and education and the movement for constitutional reform were not limited to local affairs. There was likewise dissatisfaction with the rôle of North Carolina in federal politics. In the electoral college the state's vote from 1800 to 1830 was surpassed only by Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; and in 1820, 1824, and 1828, it was equal to that of Massachusetts (15 votes). With the exception of 1808 the North Carolina vote was undivided, yet the state had a small share in the distribution of federal patronage, only one office of high distinction being given to a North Carolinian under the Jeffersonian regime, the Speakership of the House, which was held by Macon for six years. This was a record comparable only to that of Tennessee and Delaware, whose votes in the electoral college were far less than that of North Carolina.

The explanation of this humble place of the state in the party councils was mainly its loyalty. No use of the patronage was necessary to conserve its allegiance. Another cause was subservience to Virginia leader­ship. Dependence on the Old Dominion for markets produced subordination to Virginia in political affairs. "Already has Virginia as a matter of course on the subject of the coming election," wrote the editor of the Fayetteville Observer in 1823, "tacked us to her skirts to follow whither she leads; and without condescending to ask our opinion, placed us on her side of the question. This state of things must be changed. North Carolina must make herself heard and must assert her dignity. She must take an  p167 elevated stand and show to the nation and to her revilers that she has a will. She possesses also the ability to maintain it. * * * It is the same with the states as with individuals. Those only who cease to respect themselves, will lose the respect of others."1

The leader who contributed most to perpetuate the humble place of North Carolina in national affairs was Thomas Jefferson. To establish his party, he needed the co-operation of New York. This was secured by assigning to that state the vice-presidency, a custom continued from 1800 to 1824 with the exception of 1812. The training school for the presidency was the Department of State, headed in succession by Madison, Smith, Monroe, and Adams. The loyalty of other states to such manipulation was secured by appeal to sectional feeling and by appointments to less prominent offices, the Treasury going to Pennsylvania in 1814, and Georgia and South Carolina being represented in the cabinet from that year. In time the Virginia hegemony produced unrest. "Who could ever dream of being President at this day," wrote Balch, "without an alliance with Jefferson, Gallatin, Macon, and Smith of Maryland, and a host of others who are accounted the patriarchs of the Democratic party? He might as well attempt to train the Mississippi back upon its sources."2

Moreover the type of political leader­ship in North Carolina, especially after the second war with England, showed no vision regarding the interests of the nation or the state. On the whole the North Carolina delegation in Congress was reactionary toward the prevalent nationalizing tendencies. While a majority voted for the recharter of the second bank and the internal improvement bills of 1816, there was no support of the tariffs of 1816 and 1824, and only one member, Vance, of the mountain district, supported the bill for surveys for internal improvement in 1824. Macon, the dominant figure of the North Carolina delegation, was notably out of sympathy with the process of nationalization and his ideal of individualism through states rights, with a strict interpretation  p168 of the powers of the Federal Government, dominated his North Carolina colleagues.

Restlessness with the New York-Virginia coalition reached a climax in the presidential campaign of 1824. The liberal element in local affairs had secured appropriations for internal improvements, and the western counties were by 1823 at the point of revolt over the question of more equitable representation in the legislature. The time was therefore ripe for protest against the conduct of national politics. Leadership was taken by the western county in 1823. The Western Carolinian, of Salisbury, a newspaper recently established, vigorously advocated the candidacy of Calhoun for the presidential nomination, while Crawford, acknowledged candidate of the Virginia-New York alliance, was strong in the eastern counties. The latter had the support of the Raleigh Register, the oldest party organ, and also of Mr. Macon. The principal issue was the political machinery of the day. Since 1796 presidential nominations had been made by a congressional caucus, and in North Carolina presidential electors were nominated by a caucus of the state legislature. Controversy over the matter reached a climax in the legislature of 1823. Charles Fisher of Rowan introduced resolutions instructing the state's senators and requesting its representatives to use their influence to prevent the nomination of candidates for President and Vice-president by the congressional caucus. There followed a long and exhaustive debate, in which the theory of the caucus and also the relative merits of Calhoun and Crawford were ably presented. The principal defense of the caucus was by eastern leaders, Blackledge of Beaufort, Bynum of Halifax (Borough) and Strange of Fayetteville (Borough). The ablest criticism was by Fisher, representing the west, and two eastern federalists, Iredell of Edenton, and Stanly of Newbern. However the resolutions did not have the support of all the anti-Crawford forces, probably because they were based on the right of instruction, a custom which had aroused as much criticism as the caucus. Moreover the resolutions were supported by two federalists and so tended to revive the fires of ancient partisan­ship. Hence the resolutions  p169 were indefinitely postponed by a vote of eighty-two to forty-six, after prolonged debate.

The local political machine was also attacked by Beall of Iredell, in a resolution calling for the nomination of electors by districts instead of the general ticket system. This would rob the legislative caucus of its prerogative and throw the nomination of electors in the hands of the people instead of the state politicians. The resolution was defeated, and before the end of the session a legislative caucus composed of 80 of 196 members nominated a Crawford electoral ticket. The issue of caucus versus the people was thus stated by the Western Carolinian. "Freemen of North Carolina! Are you willing to sanction so flagrant a usurpation of your rights and privileges as this aristocratic minority attempted to palm upon you? Shall we tamely yield our election and franchise, and become the willing slaves, the miserable panders of a minority of only eighty members of our Assembly, out of one hundred and ninety-six — who have taken upon themselves to meet in conclave and attempt to forestall the sentiments of near 500,000 republican freemen of the State! No; the slumbering spirits of our Revolutionary forefathers, from the blessed realms of eternity, will rebuke us if we do."

The opponents of Crawford, defeated in the legislature, appealed directly to the people. During the spring of 1824 meetings were held in the various counties which selected presidential electors. Calhoun was at first the favored candidate; but in March, 1824, an aggressive movement for Jackson set in, led by Colonel William Polk and supported by Archibald DeBow Murphey and others, and after March 16, by the Western Carolinian. The campaign was the most vigorous and exciting since the decline of the federalist party. Ten of the fifteen congressmen attended the caucus that nominated Crawford, while the Raleigh Register, organ of the dominant party, and also Mr. Macon, supported him. On the other hand the Star, the Western Carolinian, and papers of minor importance endorsed the Peoples' Ticket, headed by Jackson and Calhoun. An important factor in the campaign was the federalist element, which endorsed Adams and had an able organ, the Fayetteville Observer. As there was small hope of carrying  p170 the state for Adams, a compromise was made by which the federalists agreed to support the Peoples' Ticket with the understanding that the electors should cast their vote for Adams, Calhoun, or Jackson, whichever had the best chance for election. The victory of the Peoples' Ticket was complete, winning 20,177 votes to 15,396 for Crawford. An interesting feature of the returns was the sectional alignment of the vote; the Peoples' Ticket carried twenty western counties, four along the coast, and eight in the middle east; Crawford swung the vote of nine western, three coastal, and seven mid-eastern counties, — an alignment very similar to that of the whig and democratic parties a few years later. The North Carolina electors met and cast their vote for Jackson. No candidate having a majority in the electoral college, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives, resulting in the choice of Adams. For him the representative from the Quaker counties of Guilford, Randolph, and Chatham voted.

Although Jackson was defeated, the election had a moral significance in North Carolina. The state had revolted from Virginia leader­ship. "Henceforth the cant of early times," wrote William Eaton, "which used exceedingly to annoy me, shall be heard no more; it will not in the future be said, that North Carolina floats up or down stream as Virginia may or not. I need not tell you, that this has often been declared and that heretofore in estimating the political course of our state, it has been determined on what Virginia had agreed on; you well know the fact has been so. Now however she has taken a course after her own, and I rejoice at it."​3 The revolutionary tendency begun in the presidential election was reflected in the congressional elections of 1825. Of the fourteen congressmen elected, eight were new members, four of the retiring members having voted for Crawford.

Four years later Jackson again carried the state. Although his majority was overwhelming, the campaign was not without political significance. His opponent, John Quincy Adams, had considerable strength. In response to a demand for more democratic methods of nomination, his supporters  p171 called a state convention, — the first party convention in North Carolina. It met in Raleigh in December, 1827. Delegates were present from thirteen of the fifteen electoral districts. William Davidson presided. Gaston made the keynote speech, a committee was chosen to form an address to the people and also to select an Adams electoral ticket. The character of the movement was interesting. Prominent was the old federalist element, led by Gaston. Some of the former Crawford faction also joined in; their views were well represented by the Raleigh Register. There were also experienced politicians, Lewis Williams, John Long, W. S. Blackledge, and Dr. David Caldwell. Prominent also was the Quaker element, ably represented by Jonathan Worth, Moses Swain, and Aaron Coffin. An attempt by the Adams members of the legislature to establish the district system of choosing electors, which might have divided the state's vote, failed. On the other hand the Jackson forces showed a distinct gain in the campaign over that of 1824. Some of the Crawford men of that year now supported him, notably Mr. Macon. The Jackson electoral ticket was made up by district conventions whose nominations were guided by a legislative junto at Raleigh. The appeal made for the respective candidates was not different from that in the nation at large. Jackson carried the state by a majority of 23,939; Adams carried only nine counties, six eastern (Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Jones, Pitt, and Pasquotank) and Guilford, Randolph, and Iredell in the west.

Although the victory of the Jacksonian democracy was overwhelming, unanimity within its ranks was in a few years broken, and a rival political organization, the whig party, came into existence. For the cleavage there were a number of causes. One was the conflict of state and sectional interests. The political and social structure in the United States in the early 'thirties resembled that of an empire rather than a united nation. Three great sections, each with distinct economic interests, contended for mastery in national legislation. These were New England, which desired a protective tariff to support its manufactures, the pioneer West, which demanded cheap land, and the South, which opposed protection.  p172 New England also opposed cheap land, which would induce migration of its laboring population, and offered as an alternative the distribution of the proceeds of land sales among the states for internal improvements and education. Such a policy and its immediate results might have received the support of the South, which needed more funds for domestic purposes; but to diminish federal revenue by distribution would undoubtedly create a greater dependence on the tariff and so aid the cause of protection. A similar result might follow if the Federal Government itself should engage in works of internal improvement. Consequently national politics was characterized by sectional bargaining, and the choice before each North Carolina leader was that of supporting the alliance of the South with some other section or of working in the interest of his state, irrespective of sectional alliances.

An early indication of this trend was shown in the federal debates on internal improvement. Since the bill of 1817 providing federal funds for internal improvements, over which the North Carolina congressmen were about equally divided, was vetoed by Madison, the attitude of the state's delegation had become more conservative. Only one member favored the bill of 1824 giving the government the right to make surveys, and the North Carolina vote was uniformly against the internal improvement bills of the Adams administration. Pertinent were the views of Macon. "If Congress can make canals, it can with more propriety emancipate," he wrote in 1818. "Be not led astray by grand notions or magnificent opinions; remember you belong to a meek state and just people, who want nothing but to enjoy the fruits of their labor honestly and to lay out profits in their own way."​4 When Congress made an appropriation for the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal in 1825, he rose in the Senate and said, "I rise with a full heart to take a last farewell to an old friend which I have always loved and admired — the Constitution of the United States."5

However by 1830 better means of transportation was a live  p173 issue in North Carolina. At the same time there was a movement for the encouragement of manufacturing. Here was a basis for a new sentiment in regard to internal improvement by federal aid. When the rivers and harbors of North Carolina were included in appropriations, expediency outweighed constitutional scruples; a majority of the congressmen voted for such an appropriation in 1831. Indeed William B. Shepard favored the passage of the Maysville Turnpike Bill over Jackson's veto. However the principle of federal aid was put to the test in the legislature of 1830. Resolutions were adopted in the Commons denying the right of Congress to carry on works of internal improvement within the states, but they were lost in the Senate. A similar fate met the resolution approving the veto of the Maysville Turnpike Bill.

A larger division of opinion prevailed on the kindred matter of the public domain. The desire of the pioneer West for cheap lands and of the South for a lower tariff resulted in a coalition in 1829, led by Calhoun, Edwards of Illinois, and Duff Green of the United States Telegraph. By this the South should support a more liberal land policy, and the West in return would aid in the fight on the "Tariff of Abominations." Realizing the existence of this agreement, New England took the initiative. A resolution by Hunt of Vermont in 1829 directed the Committee on Public Lands to inquire into the expediency of distributing the net proceeds of the sales of public lands among the states for internal improvements. This was an offer of financial aid to the South to check its alliance with the West. The attitude of the southern and western coalition toward it was well expressed by Speight, of North Carolina: —

"Take the public lands away from the sinking fund — have a tariff sufficient to prohibit exportation, and, I say, what, sir, is to be the result? Why, sir, direct taxation. And, next to that, follows ruin to the Southern States; our slaves, our land, etc., will be taken and sold to pay the tax. Importation being stopped, it necessarily prohibits exportation, and our staple being cotton, just as much as is wanted for consumption, by the manufacturing states, will be bought at their own price,  p174 and the balance will sink with us * * * I have always had my doubts as to the sincerity of the policy."​6

In the vote on the resolution, eight of the North Carolina members were among the ayes and four among the nays. Evidently a majority of the North Carolina congressmen were not in sympathy with the southern and western alliance. In the meantime Benton introduced into the Senate a bill for more liberal terms in the sale of land. It received the support of the North Carolina senators, in fact of all the southern senators except two. When it reached the House the North Carolina delegation was divided; five favored tabling the resolution and six opposed such action. Of the former, four were from the western counties, Deberry, Rencher, Shepperd, and Williams; of the latter, four were from the east, Allston, Dudley, Speight, and Hall. There was thus a large majority among the North Carolina congressmen who were opposed to the western and southern alliance. Leadership in opposing the reduction of land prices was taken by Clay, who advocated the distribution of proceeds among the states. In July, 1832, a bill embodying his views passed the Senate, Brown and Mangum of North Carolina opposing it. It was postponed in the House, four of the North Carolina members voting against postponement. The views of the North Carolina minority were well stated by Williams.

If this public property of the Union should be surrendered, then, (admitting the proceeds of the sales to amount to three millions of dollars) his own state of North Carolina would have to pay from one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand more than if the Government retained it, in the shape of bounty to soldiers, augmentation of the navy, and paying the current charges of the Government.

If these lands should not be equally divided among the states, then North Carolina would lose that amount of revenue entirely; but if, on the contrary, the proceeds were to be equally divided, she would gain that amount. He asked, therefore, whether it was reasonable in the new states to call for the setting apart of the whole of this public property exclusively: Were not the old states asked to do for them what they would be far from doing for the old states? Suppose he should put in a similar claim in behalf of the old states of this Union; would the gentleman from Alabama yield the motion for support. The gentleman, he perceived, shook his head. He knew it must be so.  p175 Then by what rule of equity could the gentleman ask him to do what that gentleman publicly, in his place, declared himself unwilling to do for them?​7

Another question of importance was the recharter of the United States Bank. Jackson's hostility to the institution, whose charter would expire in 1836, was well known. His opponents decided to make the bank an issue in the presidential election of 1832. Hence the national republican convention, which met in December 1831, endorsed the bank, and on the advice of Clay, Webster, and McDuffie, the officials of the bank applied for a renewal of the charter. If Jackson approved the measure, he would thereby surrender one of his favorite "isms." If he vetoed it, the strongest financial interests in the country would work against him. A bill rechartering the bank was passed in 1832, but was vetoed by the president. Toward the recharter and the veto sentiment in North Carolina was divided. For support of the President there seemed to be ampel ground, because the bank, by requiring the state banks to redeem their notes in specie, had undoubtedly forced into liquidation the State Bank of North Carolina, the Bank of the Cape Fear, and the Bank of New Bern, thereby causing great commercial depression. On the other hand, the veto contributed to the existing depression, for the bank and its branches became more conservative in regard to their loans. Moreover one of the needs of the state was a stable paper currency, which the bank alone offered. Hence the sound money element favored the recharter. "Whether right or wrong," wrote James Iredell to Mangum, "that bank is at this time very popular in our state. I believe, indeed I know, it has done us vast good, and as yet we have felt no evils from it. Where is the check upon the state banks if it is not to be found here?"​8 However only four of the North Carolina congressmen voted for the recharter, Barringer, W. B. Shepard, A. H. Shepperd, and Williams; both senators, Brown and Mangum, opposed it. However William R. Hinton, elector on the Jackson-Barbour ticket of 1832, refused to support Jackson after the veto, and withdrew  p176 from the ticket, regarding the bank as "inseparably connected with the prosperity of the Union and indispensable to the preservation of a sound currency." In the congressional election of 1833 Deberry defeated Bethune, who had voted against the recharter.

In the meantime a rift had developed in the cabinet. The reward of North Carolina's loyalty to Jackson was the appointment of John Branch, former governor and then senator, as Secretary of the Navy. Social matters created ill feeling. Mrs. Branch was one of those ladies of the cabinet who neither called on nor entertained Mrs. Eaton, wife of the Secretary of War. After President Jackson appealed repeatedly in behalf of the slighted lady, he decided to reconstruct the cabinet. Secretary Branch's role in the affair showed him to be independent and headstrong as Jackson himself. He had advised the President against the nomination of Eaton on account of probable unpleasant social relations and had even suggested to Eaton the same possible results if he should enter the cabinet. But advice was in vain, and when Eaton's wife was ignored socially, Eaton became less friendly with Branch. When Jackson found his appeals in behalf of Mrs.  p177 Eaton fruitless, Colonel Johnson brought an ultimatum to Branch, Berrien, and Ingham, that they must retire from the cabinet unless Mrs. Eaton was recognized.

[image ALT: missingALT]

John Branch

When he closed (wrote Branch) I well recollect rising from my seat, and with an earnestness of manner which the extraordinary character of the communication was so well calculated to produce, observed, among other things, that no man had a right to dictate to me and my family, in their domestic relations, and that I would submit to no control of the kind. The Colonel undertook to reason the matter with us by observing that, although it might be impracticable to establish intimate and social relations between our families and Mrs. Eaton, he could see no reason why she should not be invited to our large parties to which everybody was usually invited, Tom, Dick, Harry, etc. With the concession he said the President would be satisfied. We protested against the interference of the President in any manner whatever, as it was a matter which did not belong to our official connection with him. Soon after which Colonel Johnson expressed his deep regrets at the failure of his mission, and we separated.​9

Two days later Branch called on the President and declared that before he would accept dictation in family matters, he would resign. Jackson repudiated Johnson's ultimatum, and disavowed any intention of dictating social affairs, stating that his only desire was to protect Mrs. Eaton. Soon followed an interview with Eaton himself, which proved equally fruitless. The President became less communicative towards the offending members, and finally, after the resignation of Van Buren and Eaton, and acting on Jackson's intimation of a desire to reconstruct the cabinet, Branch also resigned. He was offered the governor­ship of the Territory of Florida as recompense, but declined, telling Jackson that he had not supported him for the sake of office. Returning to North Carolina, Branch was enthusiastically endorsed by his constituents. Jesse A. Bynum and other aspirants for congressional honors retired in his favor, and he was elected without opposition a member of the twenty-second congress in August, 1831.

In the meantime another issue arose, which overshadowed the land question, the bank, the disaffection of Branch, and  p178 undoubtedly did much to divide the friends of Jackson. That was the question of tariff and nullification.

The dominant political sentiment of North Carolina was hostile to the protective policy. It was the only southern state whose representatives in Congress voted unanimously against the tariff of 1816. Similar action was also taken towards the acts of 1824 and 1828. That the vote in the latter year registered the sentiment of the state is attested by a resolution in the legislature of 1827, which declared that "whenever a system is adopted by the general government which does not equally serve the interests of all, then the right rests with any state to question whether the benefits of the Union are not more than counterbalanced by its evils." Nullification, advanced by South Carolina as a possible remedy in the "Exposition," received some approval, especially by that element in the western counties which in 1824 had endorsed Calhoun for the presidency. Cooperation with South Carolina on the ground of commercial ties was advocated by the Western Carolinian.

There is not a day on which we do not see passing through this place (Salisbury) either from this or some other counties of this state, wagons going to South Carolina, with full loads of something to sell. The fact is, that our trade to South Carolina is nearly, if not altogether as valuable to our people, as is our foreign trade; in truth it is a great deal more so to all the western counties. As a proof of this we may adduce the fact that scarcely have we a dollar in circulation other than South Carolina bills. How do these get here? They are not blown here by the wind. For every dollar of South Carolina money some of our citizens exchange a dollar's worth of something or other they had to dispose of; this is the way they come among us. Now, how much more valuable would this trade be to us, if South Carolina was not crippled by the tariff? If trade was free as it ought to be, the people of South Carolina would employ themselves more exclusively in raising the staples for the foreign market and buy from us their provisions; where we now sell one dollar's worth of our products we would then at least sell five for they would be able to buy from us.​10

Elsewhere in the western counties nullification was condemned, notably in public meetings on Independence Day,  p179 1830, at Ashboro, Hillsboro, and Fayetteville. The legislature of 1830 gave an opportunity to test the conflict of opinion. In the House of Commons Jonathan Worth introduced resolutions which, slightly amended, declared that "although the tariff laws as they do now exist are unwise, unequal in their operations, and oppressive to the southern states, yet this legislature does not recognize the right of the individual states of this Union to nullify a law of the United States." After a spirited debate the resolutions were adopted, the opposition being led by Sawyer, Bynum, and Mebane of Bertie. In the Senate no action was taken on the resolution. During the next two years tariff and nullification were widely discussed in the press and public meetings. In the dominant sentiment both were condemned, but fear of disunion overshadowed hatred of the tariff. Typical were the words of Gaston: — "The people may disapprove the tariff but they love the Union more."

Jackson was not held responsible for the failure to revise the tariff of 1828. By November 1832, Congress had made no reduction, and South Carolina adopted an ordinance of nullification. North Carolina was now forced to take a definite stand. In the legislature an avalanche of resolutions appeared, in which were represented every shade of opinion from the extreme of nationalism to the most radical particularism. Of the latter, the resolutions of Sawyer were typical; they declared the Union was a compact between the states, the violation of which each state must decide for itself, that nullification was the proper remedy against which the Federal Government could not use force, and that a national convention should be called to settle the controversy between South Carolina and the Federal Government. On the other hand the resolutions of a joint committee, to which was referred a communication from South Carolina, condemned the tariff as unconstitutional and nullification as revolutionary and subversive of the Constitution.

The debate revealed a variety of opinion. A minority led by J. A. Hill defended the protective principle. Opposition to nullification included, as well as professed nationalists, many who believed that sovereignty was in the states and  p180 that secession was a constitutional right. Among the people the drift of sentiment was overwhelmingly against the policy of South Carolina. Mr. Macon, then in retirement, voiced the conservatism of the east when he declared that a state could not nullify and remain in the Union, but could secede on paying its part of the national debt. Love, a western leader who had been a member of the convention which ratified the Constitution, said:— "If I understand anything about the meaning of it (nullification) it is intended as a severance from the Union, and is a specie of treason, and if not nipped in the bud it may amount to treason of the deepest dye."​11 Interesting was the sentiment of the anti-slavery element in the west. "The Constitution of the United States was not formed by the states but the people," declared the Greensboro Patriot. "The states have no hand in it * * * The people of the United States called the general government into existence and no power short of that which called it into being could again alter it or extinguish it."​12 In Salisbury the Western Carolinian continued its defense of nullification, but its rival, the Carolina Watchman, declared the doctrine sprang from "pampered nabobs or declining lordlings * * * It is the rank spirit of aristocracy originating in the corrupt conditions of slavery, that has given the lead to nullification. Gorged and fattened indolence in all ages and countries has associated itself with ignorance enlisted under ambition, and finally vented itself in efforts to destroy a virtuous government."

With the tariff issue unadjusted and nullification impending, came the campaign of 1832 in which Jackson's reelection was the preeminent issue. The opposition to his candidacy was even less than in 1828. Only three delegates attended the national republican convention which nominated Clay, and no state convention in his behalf was held. The main interest in national politics was the vice-presidency. For that honor Van Buren was the choice of Jackson, but there was a strong feeling in North Carolina that Van Buren favored protection and that he was federalistic. In the Baltimore convention  p181 which nominated Jackson, six of the fifteen North Carolina delegates gave their votes for the vice-presidency to Barbour of Virginia. After the national convention adjourned a state convention met at Raleigh, and framed a Jackson-Barbour ticket. It is interesting to note that the Barbour element was almost exclusively eastern, only three western counties sending delegates to the convention, while the west was apparently satisfied with Van Buren. The result of the election was an overwhelming victory for Jackson. The vote for Clay was insignificant; he did not carry a single county. In six counties the Jackson-Barbour ticket had a majority over the regular ticket; strange to say, four of these were western, Cabarrus, Davidson, Montgomery, and Rowan.

It is evident that there were elements of discord in North Carolina during Jackson's first administration. In his second term these elements were strengthened and cemented, resulting in the rise of an opposition party. The process of realignment is revealed by sentiment on two measures.

First of these was the policy of the administration toward nullification. Although the prevailing sentiment in the state repudiated the South Carolina doctrine, the measures taken against it were not unanimously approved. The Force Bill was too drastic for party leaders. In the Senate both Brown and Mangum were out of sympathy with it and refrained from voting. In the House three of the congressmen opposed it, and one of them, Carson, went so far as to repudiate openly Jackson's administration.

He now rose to perform a solemn duty; such a one as he had once hoped would never have been his lot, and one which filled him with the deepest regret; it was to part with a number of gentlemen with whom it had been his pride and pleasure heretofore to act. But the hour was come in which he was called to separate himself from them. He regretted this the more, as he knew it would operate as a banishment of himself from the regard of a man whom he had delighted to honor; a man whom he had served, if not with as much ability, at least with as much honest zeal as ever son felt toward the person and reputation of his own father. Never had his heart known such a feeling of devotion toward any human being, unconnected with himself by blood, as toward Andrew Jackson. But he had arrived at the spot where they must part, etc.​13

 p182  With the exception of Carson, there was no formal break with Jackson over nullification. Incipient revolt was checked by the compromise tariff of 1833 and a repeal of the ordinance of nullification. However Jackson's financial policy precipitated a breach in the party lines. Not satisfied with the failure of the bank to secure a new charter, he brought about a withdrawal of the federal funds from the bank and its branches. This produced profound financial stringency. Moreover it raised the constitutional question of executive control over the national finances. In North Carolina there was already a financial depression due to the liquidation of the state banks. This was now increased by Jackson's action, because discount rates were raised. The depression seems to have been especially strong in the western counties, where money was always difficult to obtain.

In Congress there was a definite revolt against Jackson's leader­ship. In the Senate it came with the resolutions of censure adopted in December, 1833. It was here that Senator Mangum broke with the party, for he voted in favor of the  p183 resolutions. Later, in February, 1834, he made the administration the subject of a caustic philippic, in which he said:—

The principle of this administration! As far as I know, and I make the declaration under a full sense of responsibility, this administration has put forward no principle as a test principle, as a party principle, except the principle of election and office. The administration came into power as a reforming administration to put down abuses, lop off excrescences, restore economy, and bring back the Government to a sound, simple, and healthful action. The great questions before the country were the tariff, internal improvement, and economy. I am bold to say that not a single pledge, either expressed or implied, by the opponents of the late and the friends of the present administration has been redeemed.

The only great principle, until this of the deposits, which the friends of the administration were required to support, was the principle of office. Is the fact not so?​14


[image ALT: missingALT]

Willie P. Mangum

In the House of Representatives the test of party allegiance was applied in a series of resolutions on April 4, 1834. The vote on these disclosed practically an equal division in the North Carolina delegation. On the first resolution, that the United States Bank ought not to be rechartered, the division was seven to six; Bynum, Conner, Hall, Hawkins, McKay, Rencher, and Speight voting aye, and Barringer, Deberry, Graham, William B. Shepard, A. H. Shepard, and Lewis Williams voting nay. On the second resolution, that the public deposits ought not to be restored to the Bank of the United States, the vote was six to seven, Rencher now voting in the negative. On the third resolution, that state banks should be continued as places of deposit, the division was likewise six to seven, while on the fourth resolution, to appoint a committee to investigate the conduct of the Bank of the United States, only Shepard and Williams were among the nays. Later, on April 19, Barringer, Bynum, Deberry, Shepard, Shepperd, and Williams favored, and Hall, Hawkins, McKay, and Speight opposed, a resolution that the custody of the unappropriated money of the United States constitutionally belonged to Congress.

These votes indicate a permanent cleavage in the Jacksonian  p184 democracy. In the spring of 1834 all opponents of Jackson drifted together and assumed a new party name, whig. In North Carolina Jackson was immensely popular with the rank and file. It was therefore necessary for the leaders of the new party to find some issues besides opposition to the executive. These were at hand in local politics. The burning questions in the state were aid to internal improvements and revision of the state constitution. These causes were now championed by the whigs. And as these measures were especially popular in the western counties, the whigs found in that region their greatest support and strength. It is notable that most of the congressmen who revolted against Jackson were from the west — Barringer, Deberry, Graham, Rencher, Shepperd, and Williams, and likewise Senator Mangum. Undoubtedly these leaders realized the necessity of economic improvement in their section and felt that Jackson's financial policy, which raised discount rates, would tend to delay that development; and so they took the leader­ship in the revolt against his administration.

The first test of party strength within the state came in the fall of 1834. The legislature was democratic and adopted a resolution instructing the senators to vote for a resolution expunging from the records of the Senate the resolutions condemning Jackson's removal of the deposits. This was directed at Senator Mangum, his colleague, Bedford Brown, being loyal to Jackson. Mangum, however, declared that the legislature, like himself, was a servant of the people and had no right to control his actions. He therefore refused to obey the resolution of instruction, but when the democrats carried the succeeding state election, he resigned and was succeeded by Robert Strange, a democrat. Such was the alignment as the year 1836 approached.

The Author's Notes:

1 Quoted from the Western Carolinian, July 8, 1823.

[decorative delimiter]

2 Balch to Wm. Polk, Jan. 9, 1824 (Polk MSS. Library of Congress.)

[decorative delimiter]

3 Eaton to William Polk, Dec. 11, 1824 (Polk MSS.).

[decorative delimiter]

4 Dodd, Life of Macon, p310.

[decorative delimiter]

5 Ibid., 345.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Cong. Debates VI.539.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Cong. Debates, IX, p879.

[decorative delimiter]

8 Mangum MSS.: Iredell to Mangum, Feb. 4, 1832.

[decorative delimiter]

9 Raleigh Register, Sept. 1, 1831: Niles Register, Sept. 3, 1831.

[decorative delimiter]

10 Western Carolinian, Dec. 31, 1832.

[decorative delimiter]

11 Carolina Watchman, Oct. 20, 1832.

[decorative delimiter]

12 Patriot, Dec. 8, 1832.

[decorative delimiter]

13 Congressional Debates, IX.1826.

[decorative delimiter]

14 Congressional Debates, X.687.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 5 Dec 11