MVB et al. to the Republican electors of the Middle District, 27 March 1818
TO THE REPUBLICAN ELECTORS OF THE MIDDLE DISTRICT.
Pursuant to the usage of their predecessors, your representatives in Senate and Assembly met at the capitol in this city, to designate the counties from which the next candidates for senators for the middle district ought to be taken. The proceedings above detailed shew the result of their deliberations. The length of time for which this mode of designation has been pursued, its obvious fitness, and its happy tendency to preserve the harmony and perpetuate the ascendancy of the republican party, preclude the necessity of discussion, to secure the continued fidelity of all sound men.
Yet safe as they deem the district to be from all danger of collision between the respective counties, your representatives have reason to apprehend that attempts may be made to distract her by the claims of conflicting candidates of the same party. Collisions of this description are in some measure incident to our free elections. They have however always been the harbingers of defeat, and should at all times be deprecated and avoided. It is to this subject that your representatives are desirous of calling your attention.
There perhaps never was a party in any portion of the world, who have had more reason to be proud of the fortitude, the perseverance and the steady adherence to principle which has characterised the conduct of their friends for the last twenty years, than yours. Whether we turn our attention to the gloomy period of '98, and contemplate the steady spirit which actuated and sustained them in those "days of governmental abandonment, of popular degradation, and of expiring liberty;" or whether to the noble and manly sacrifices which were endured without a murmur during the period of our commercial restrictions; or to the patriotic spirit which sustained the government, preserved our liberties, and carried the country triumphantly through the late glorious struggle which gave perpetuity to our republican institutions, overthrew faction, and elevated our national character; in view of the transactions of either of those eventful times that are past, of periods which were eminently calculated to try mens' souls, the republican party have just cause to entertain the most grateful recollections. Never were the principles of men put to a severer test than were those of the friends of the government during the late war. Their country coerced by imperious circumstances into a war with a powerful and vindictive foe, it was the belief of all reflecting men that she would not only be sustained in that eventful crisis of her fate, by the ardent and united support of all her sons: and it was the hope and expectation of every good man that in this she would not be disappointed. The flattering delusion was indulged that however bitter and malignant our domestic feuds might have been, foreign violence would unite every heart and every hand in the country. The fact was not so; and it will forever be a stain in the page of our history that it was not so. At the moment of our utmost peril, when our frontiers were exposed to rapine and to plunder, when our defenceless citizens in those quarters were nightly saluted by the shrill sound of the Indian warwhoop; when our seaboard was equally exposed to the ravages of a no less savage foe; at that critical moment, when the liberties of the last republic and the last best hopes of man were endangered, it was, that your government was assailed at every avenue through which she was deemed vulnerable, by a portion of her citizens, respectable for numbers, for talents and for wealth. They labored with a zeal worthy of the best of causes to deprive the administration of the three great sinews of a nation's strength: men—money, and public confidence. To effect the one—enlistments were discouraged, and our military officers discountenanced, while all the blandishments and civilities of polished life were copiously lavished on those of the enemy, whom the fortune of war had thrown into our hands. To effect the other—loans were discouraged, and the walls of congress polluted by the sentiment, that those who loaned to the government were enemies to the plople; and that too by men who are ever and anon obtruding themselves upon the public, and would fain have us to forget that such things were. To effect the latter—a system of detraction and of misrepresentation was kept on foot without a parallel in this or any other country.
Thus circumstanced as your country was; thus assailed from without by foreign violence, and distracted within by the malign efforts of faction, the fidelity and fortitude of those of her citizens who stood by her in the days of her adversity were put to a severe trial. But that fidelity remained unshaken in every vicissitude of the war; it sustained with firmness the public burthens, and discharged with alacrity the public duties. The contest was an arduous one, but thanks to the virtue of our citizens, to the wisdom and firmness of the administration, to the bravery of our troops, and above all to the benign care and protection of an overruling Providence, she triumphed, she arose from the conflict with renovated strength; all her free institutions derived new vigor and increased beauty from the shock; her glory became equal to her merit and extensive with her name. The advantages obtained for the nation have been extended to her faithful citizens. As the country rose faction fell; and your cause and party have been placed on a higher footing, and your domestic adversaries degraded to a low state, than they have ever been since the war of the revolution.
Such has been, and such is, the actual state of things; and such are the means by which it has been produced. The interesting question now submitted to you and to us is,
"Shall we wear these glories for a day,
"Or shall they last and we rejoice in them?"
When the federal party, during the last war, assumed the daring and imposing attitude which they did, they were well aware that one of three results must inevitably follow—either, that in the alarms and convulsions of the times they might, through the fears and apprehensions of the people, succeed to power—or, that by their mad efforts they might bury in a common grave, the power of their political adversaries and the liberties of their country—or, that that country and those adversaries might be rescued from their grasp, and rising superior to all obstructions, leave to them nought but a full harvest of public obloquy and reproach. The merited result has been realized; faction has been entirely discomfited and totally disgraced.
Thus discomfited and thus disgraced, the federal party seek to impress you with a belief that they have not only abandoned the field, but disbanded as a party. The old lines of demarkation are sought to be destroyed and defaced, and the much abused terms that we are "all federalists and all republicans," are susbstituted for the denunciations and anathemas of former times. To the din of arms and the war of words has succeeded a state of quietness and apparent peace, which ought to be the source of much public happiness and prosperity, but which may be the prelude to new and more successful efforts of party strife.
Placed by you, as your representatives are, at the seat of government; having committed to them as well the interests of the state as the interests of your party, and having "a view of the whole ground," they feel that they would be wanting in duty were they to omit warning you of the dangers which may arise from the seduction of the times, to inculcate as far as in their power the necessity of watchfulness and unanimity, and to impress it on your minds, that that state of apathy and indifference which is seen and felt in every section of the party, relaxes its energy and endangers its safety.
When they see men, with whose intrigues they have long been familiar, maintaining with scrupulous perseverance all the ground which is securely theirs, proposing alliances in counties that are doubtful, evincing attachment and proffering support to republicans in proportion as they lose their hold upon their party and recede from its standard; when they see every effort put in motion, which ingenuity can devise, to bring about what they call "an amalgamation of parties," your representatives feel constrained to express to you their apprehensions that the calm which at this moment pervades the political atmosphere, is but the result of a change in the system and not in the feelings of your political opponents—to state to you their belief that the most sanguine hopes are to be entertained by leading federal men, to carry, by political stratagem, that citadel which for seventeen years withstood their open and most violent assaults.
Actuated by considerations such as have been stated, we embrace the occasion presented to us by the necessity of addressing you, to call on you for the exercise of that care and circumspection, that lively zeal and that unanimity, which was every where seen in times of danger; to urge you to remember, that it is with parties as with individuals, and that should you suffer your present prosperous state to throw you off your guard, and thereby to lay you open to your adversaries, you would not be the first men who have walked unhurt through the fiery ordeal of adversity, to be wrecked in the full tide of prosperity; to advise you to adhere, with scrupulous fidelity to the regularly expressed sentiments of the great body of the party on the subject of candidates, and to regard as an enemy the man who advises to distraction and discord.
Let not your representatives for a moment be understood, from any thing they now say to you, as being the advocates for political persecution or intolerance. They could with safety appeal to the course of their whole political lives, to repel an imputation they would so much abhor. So far from entertaining such a wish, the republican character never appears so amiable in their eyes as when it combines magnanimity with firmness. They flatter themselves that they have on all occasions shewn a tender solicitude for the just rights of all their fellow citizens, whatever may be their political sentiments. The plain matter in which they wish to be understood by you, is, that waving for the present the consideration how far an amalgamation of parties is compatible with the nature of our political institution, and the extreme improbability that such a state of things will ever, or can long exist; they wish to express to you their decided conviction, that your accustomed opposition has not been withdrawn to the extent which present appearances seem to indicate—to do what in them lies to prevent you from losing, by surprise, that ascendancy which you have so hardly earned and so nobly won—and to warn you to avoid those malignant bickerings and resentments which schism engenders, and which poison the streams of political intercourse.
ISAAC BELKNAP, Chn.
WILLIAM C. BOUCK, Sec'ry.
M. V. Buren,
Moses I. Cantine,
Simeon G. Throop,
N. P. Tyler,
G. H. Mann,
Jabez D. Hammond,