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THE PROPOSED NEW YORK POST-OFFICE.
We do not know, either that there is any steadily maintains, the standard of excellence, hope of any thing being done at this late day would make it impossible for then to even to prevent the adoption of the Design for the dream of obtaining an important GovernNew York Post-Office which has been accept- ment commi-sion. And if these words seem ed by the committee; or, chat, if it be de- harsh, and difficult to justify, the reader has termined, in defiance of art, common sense, only to read Mr. Mullett's Report, where he and economy, to adopt that design, any in- will find abundant evidence that we speak fluence from any quarter can prevent its within bounds, and hold no intemperato erection on the site selected, at the lower end opinion. of City Hall Park; but to do all that lies in Mr. Mullett says little, and perhaps little his power to prevent either of these misfor- need be said, as to the exterior of the protunes, is the duty of every man who believes posed building-what may properly be called they would be misfortunes, and accordingly the Design. If the building is to be erected we offer the following considerations to the at all, the exterior must probably be acceptpublic.
ed as it is, although, if any body chose to yo A careful reading of Mr. A. B. Mullett's over it, point by point, it could easily be two papers: his first Report to the Govern- shown to be as bad in design as Mr. Mullett ment on the Plan presented by the New York has proved it to be in construction and in Post-Office Commissioners; and his subse- plan. It may suffice to say that its design quent Defense of that Report in answer to belongs to the worst phase of the worst the Architects of the Plan, who had had the school of architecture ihat has ever existed indiscretion to attempt a Reply to that ex- the late French Renaissance ; that, both in its haustive and able paper, must convince any mass, and in its details, it is equally repugnant fair-minded person that the Design cannot be to a pure taste; and that, if by any misforcarried out without squandering the public tune it should be erected, it will bring an admoney on a building every way unsuited to ditional discredit upon our ill-fated city, the purpose for which it is intended. All that already most unfortunate in its public archiwas said and written before the Design had tecture. No man of education, no man been sent in, and of course, therefore, before whose judgment in this matter is entitled to its character could be known, as to the moral any respect whatever, whether in the profes. certaiuty, reasoning à priori, that a design sion or out of the profession, has ventured so prepared, made up by seven architects out to say, or will venture to say, that he consiof their seven separate designs sent in in ders this Design beautiful; that he would be competition, could not be worthy of accept- glad to see it carried out; or, that he thinks ance,-all this has been more than justified it would be a credit to the city of New York, by the result; as is sufficiently proved, even or to the General Government. But this to the non-professional mind, by Mr. Super point need not be enlarged upon, for, if the vising Architect Mullett's searching examina- Design shall be rejected, as it probably will tion.
be, on the scores of bad construction, inconMuch more than this has been proved by venient planning, and extravagant cost, the that gentleinar's Report and by his subse- vulgar and ugly exterior must share the fate quent. Defence, although it may well be that of the interior. he had no such object in view. For it is now After it has once been decided that this made clear to every one who has the power Design cannot be accepted, the question will to form an independent judgment, that the again be in order, whetber, after all, the Post authors of this Design have shown an amount Office should be erected on the site already of ignorance not only of the theory, but of chosen. This is a question of grave interest the practice, of their noble profession, that, to the citizens of New York, and yet it has in any one of the older countries, where a been decided in the most off-hand and care healthy competition has greatly raised, and less fashion, as if it were of no interest or importance whatever. On neither of these their arguments of no weight. Nevertheless, subjects—the selection of the site, and the the arguments of the World, at least, havo acceptance of the plan-has the public ever never been answered. They cannot be anbeen allowed an opportunity to express its swered, and no one has ever seriously atapprobation or its disapprobation of the de- tempted to answer them. This newspaper cisions arrived at by the committees. The has done more than any other journal in New whole business has been a piece of jobbery, York to convince the public that the site has from beginning to end. The arguments, too, been unwisely selected, and that the Design in favor of the site, instead of being of that is unworthy of adoption ; and it is greatly to large and public-spirited nature that might be regretted that its advice cannot get a bearhave been expected, have been drawn from ing, or be rated at its worth, because its pothe supposed interests of a small portion of litics are not those of the dominant-and the public, -of business men in the lower long may it be the dominant-party. The part of the city, and of two or three of the Evening Post has also done yeoman's service daily newspapers. All these arguments, how- for the right in this matter, having freely ever, seem reducible to two: lst, that the opened its columns to the discussion, and site chosen is a central one, easy of access to having printed every thing bearing upon the the majority of business men, near to the subject from official sources, including Mr. principal newspaper-offices, and surrounded Mullett's two unanswerable papers, for which by wide streets; 2d, that it is the only piece the Tribune could find no room. It may be of ground, in that neighborhood, that is in that the Herald's opinion has been influenced the market, or that can be bought by the by a desire to prevent the erection of a buildGovernment at a reasonable price. It is also ing that would not only cut off the view of its urged, in addition, that the Government bas own new and costly structure, but would also already bought it and paid for it.
dwarf it and drown it, by its superior size As for the first of these arguments, it ought and greater amount of vulgar finery. But, to be a sufficient answer, that, so long as the we have no right to suspect motives, and the Post-Office is not inaccessible, it cannot long arguments of the Herald have been too sound make any matter whether it is especially con- and reasonable to be answered by mcre asvenient of access or not. Postmaster Kelly persions of character. is trying to bring about, what ought long ago The course of the Times and the Tribune to have been established, such a system of is greatly to be regretted. The course of the collection and delivery of mail-matter as will latter is simply inexplicable. After a series make it as unnecessary for any body to go of articles arguing against the Design itself, to the Post-Office in New York for his let. and against the choice of site, saying, among ters and newspapers, as it is, to-day, in Lon- other things, that the building is not only don or Paris. In fact, he means to break ugly, but that it has chosen the most conup the system of box-delivery altogether spicuous place in the city to air its ugliness has already begin to break it up. When he in, and that, situated at the end of the Park, bas fully perfected his arrangements, what it would be like a boil on the end of a man's will prove to have been the benefit of clos- nose, -it suddenly chopped about, almost ing up the one remaining open spot in the the next day, and argued in favor of the site, lower city? What shall we have gained that and has been pursuing the same course ever will be worth that sacrifice ?
since. Yet, all its arguments are reducible The five principal daily newspapers in New to the one plea of centrality, which, as has York City are unequally divided in opinion been already shown, will be rendered of no on this subject, though their interests would importance or cogency when Mr. Kelly's new appear to be identical, since with one excep- system of letter-delivery shall have been pertion—the Evening Post—they are all situ- fected. ated in the same quarter. The Evening So much for the argument of convenience Post, the Herald, and the World are strongly and its advocates. It is not likely that any opposed to the erection of the Post-Office in one considers the other argument of any great the City Hall Park. On the other hand, the weight. The Government can, of course, Tribune and the Times are in favor of it. buy land or take it, wherever it chooses. No It is unfortunate that the attitude of the doubt it might buy the remainder of the land Herald and the World to the Government, on Chambers street, not occupied by Stewor rather to the Republican party, is such as, art's wholesale store-an excellent situation, to those influenced by party feelings, to make bounded by three streets ; and there are plenty of places as good. But it is of little use to the same roof with the Post-Office, and that go into this portion of the subject. It re- the freedom from noise desirable in a build. mains, that any land the Government really ing devoted to courts of law can never be obneeds, it can easily procure on reasonable tained in a structure situated as this is proterms, and land, too, with a defensible title, posed to be. The argument of “inconveniwhich is more than can be said of the site at
ence,” though of little weight when the Postpresent fixed upon.
Office is concerned, becomes of great importAs for the arguments against the site se ance in relation to the Courts of Law. The lected by the Commission, it would be long building cannot be reached without crossing to examine them in full. They are argu- two broad, and at all times crowded, streets. ments drawn, 1st. From its inconvenience of 5th. And lastly, there is the argument drawn access—a very strong argument if the pres from health. This building will rob the ent system of mail-delivery were to be ad- lower city of another of its lungs; the City hered to, but, of course, of little value in Hall Park will follow the fate of St. John's case it is changed. 2d. From its want of Square, and the only bit of open space that availability, from the point of view of Art: is left in this wilderness of bricks-and. it is a site where no building of consequence mortar will be closed upon rich and poor ought to be placed, since it cannot be seen alike. to any advantage ; and it will completely These arguments have been many times hide the City Hall, itself an excellent piece presented, nor are they all that might be of architecture and extremely well placed. brought forward. But they have never been 3d. From the impossibility of the future ex. answered; nor would it be easy to answer tension of any building that may be erected them. And we venture to hope that someon this triangular plot. Mr. Mullett shows thing may yet be done to prevent the conthat the present Design calls for every foot summation of a scheme that will be alike inof the land ! 4th. From its entire unsuita- jurious to the reputation of the city of New bleness to at least one of the purposes of the York on the score of good taste, and a serious proposed building : it is to be remembered blunder in relation to the public convenience that the Courts of Justice are to be under and utility.
TIE SITUATION AND THE CANDIDATES.
POLITICAL PARTIES, in the zeal of heated conquered people “ amid the ruins of liberty, contests, greatly exaggerate the consequences and the shattered fragments of the Constitu. for good or evil which are to result from tion." their success or failure, unless it be on the there any thing in the platforms of the eve of those transition periods, when circum. respective parties which justifies either in stances too slight in themselves to be the indulging in such strenuous and violent ex. causes of important events, prove to be the pectations? The provisions of the two platoccasion, in conjunction with far deeper forms on minor points are nearly identical. causes, of great revolutionary upheavals and Both promise protection to naturalized citiintense and momentous chapters of history. zens, economic administration, and gratitude On such great occasions the imagination of to the army and navy of the Union. The partisan oracles, lacking the sure inspiration Democratic platform recognizes the two anof a statesman-like and prophetic insight into cient grounds of conflict, secession and slav. the secret springs of the social mechanism, ery, as ended by the war-terms that frankly falls as far short of the truth as its predic. imply a surrender of once cherished princitions had on previous and petty occa-ions ples by that party, which they could not be overrun it. We are entering upon a cam. expected to express more plainly. It also repaign in which Republicans charge that a commends the payment of the national bonds Democratic victory means revolution, while according to the letter of the bonds themselves the Democratic platform responds by declar- and of the laws authorizing them, while the Reing that upon the election of Gen. Grant the publican platform goes farther, and advocates American people will meet as a cubject and their payment according to their letter and
spirit. Of the prominent Republican states- of the United States, whether, in all our Go. men we find Senators Sherman, Henderson, vernments, from that of the Nation, through Morton, and we believe Howe, and Repre. the State, County, and City, down to the Bentatives Stevens, Butler, and others, in School District, blacks should be admitted to favor of paying the bonds according to the equal participation with whites in the right Democratic platform, in “lawful money,” to vote and hold office, the majority would while Gov. Seymour and a respectable section be heavy against it in all the States south and of the Democratic party seem to advocate west of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. making the greenbacks as good as gold; in There are a few who would go all lengths for which event the question in which manner universal negro suffrage as an abstract prin. payment is to be made wholly disappears. ciple, independent of political necessity; but As a singular and unlooked-for concession in they are not a twentieth of the number of favor of what has been regarded as a Repub. those who assent to negro suffrage as the lican principle, the Democratic platform re- only tangible means of securing the suprem. commends such an adjustment of the tariff acy of loyal men at the South. The last is to the internal revenue as shall incidentally the only ground on wbich Congress could hope proiect our American manufactures. True, to carry the Northern States in favor of nethe clause is equivocally drawn, but this is gro suffrage as a means of reconstruction, its only unequivocal rendition. The Repub- and even on this issue the Republican party lican platform is silent on the question, but did not feel in condition to disdain the aid three fourths of Republican politicians would which their principles would receive at the endorse this feature of the Democratic plat polls from the powerful name of Gen. Grant. form. Upon the question of taxing the bonds, Several contingencies may reveal the weakthe Republican resolution for “equal taxa. ness which honeycombs the Republican party tion," if interpreted by the votes of a major. on the abstract question of universal suffrage. ity of the Republicans in Congress on the If it should appear that colored votes will Bill passed by the House to tax the interest not secure the ascendency of loyal men at on the National bonds, differs not materially the South, the broken reed would be disfrom the Democratic platform. The most carded. If it should result in a clannish important difference, and that which calls preference for blacks for office, it will fall forth the adverse predictions above referred into increased disfavor. Many Republicans to, lies in the attitude of the two platforms blush to-day at the prospect that black men, toward the Reconstruction policy of Congress. of whatever talents or abilities, may sit in the The Republican platform endorses it, and United States Senate and House, or act as pledges to carry it out. The Democratic Governors of States. If the abilities and platform denounces it as unconstitutional, but character should be wanting, the disgraceful leaves open and undecided the course they conduct which might be overlooked in a should sue in the event of their success. white Senator or Governor, would kindle
In Reconstruction, therefore, lies the gist fiery indignation against a suffrage system of the political issue. To this both parties which permitted the disgrace to come from refer when they charge—the one, that a an African. On the other hand, every day Democratic victory means revolution, and lessens the feeling of partisan hostility the other, that a Republican triumph would toward the rebels. Popular sentiment runs a result in the unconstitutional subjugation of race with the President and Congress in the Southern States to the colored race. granting universal amnesty, and removing Underlying this question of reconstruction is political disabilities. The importance of conthat question of sovereignty of race, which fining office and power to those who were may be pregnant with dangers and convul- loyal during the war disappears with tho sions no less fearful than those which have growth of the conviction that all are loyal arisen out of the slavery question. As prejudices and falsehoods have as often given In this unsettled state of public opinion, rise to wars as principles or truths, it does reconstruction on the basis of universal suf. not dispose of the negro-question to argue, frage is neither assured by the election of or even prove, that repugnance to the colored Grant, nor overthrown by the election of. race is a groundless prejudice or the result Seymour, but depends largely on other of miseducation. It is undeniable that this contingencies. The moral effect of the prejudice exists, in so far that, if it were to eiection of Seymour would be immense be submitted to the vote of the white people through its influence upon the Suprence Court, on Congress, and on the Southern and even in Mississippi they have recently people. It would be the apparent vox populi procured a sufficient number of the blacks to against the reconstruction policy of Congress. vote with them to defeat the very ConstituThe two Houses would still remain Republi- tion which was to have secured equal politi. can, and their complexion could not be cal rights to all. Whichever of the two changed for two years, perhaps not for four, candidates may be elected, therefore, it is unless some of the present members should plain that reconstruction, on the basis of change their views. While the direct exer. universal suffrage, will still have to contend cise of the presidential powers alone could against the repugnance to negro equality at not without revolution overturn the recon. the North in both parties; a probable adstruction policy of Congress, these powers verse decision of the Supreme Court; and, aided by others, might. The Supreme Court possibly, the votes of the white niajority of has at no time been trustworthy for more the people of the Southern States, changing than three votes out of eight in favor of the or amending their constitutions. reconstruction policy, and since the separa- It will be aided, indeed, by the powerful tion of Chief-Justice Chase from the Repub- arguments that the colored race are now in lican party, and his strong enunciation of the possession of the ballot; that they have thus States' rights theory of reconstruction, it far used it on the whole wisely, prudently, would be reasonable to expect that the Su- and with a peaceful tendency; that prior to preme Court would, especially in the event its conferment upon them every tendency of of Seymour's election, decide the Recon- the white voting class at the South was to struction Acts unconstitutional.
ward oppression, black codes, slavery, the The negro suffrage element in reconstruc- restoration of rebels to power and disunion, tion is also exposed to danger from other and that the continuance of political rights
The platform of the Republican in the black race is essential to their protecparty agrees with that of the Democratic in
tion, promotive of their industry, conducive declaring that the control of the suffrage to the peace of Southern society, and indeed, question belongs to the States alone. The essential to the welfare of the country and same doctrine is made part of the Constitution the maintenance of the Union. But all by the XIV th Amendment, under which the these arguments, though satisfactory to the reconstructed States are admitted. This pro- nation at large, like the arguments against vides that wherever the majority of the peo- slavery, will utterly fail if the question be ple of a State disfranchise the minority on left to the Southern States. If all these reaaccount of race or color, the representation sons for colored suffrage be true, the Repubof the State in Congress and in the Electoral lican party will have fallen almost as far College shall be reduced in the proportion short of securing these ends in leaving the that the number excluded from the suffrage question to the Southern States, as the Dembears to the whole number of adult male cit. ocratic party in denouncing universal suffrage izens. The right of the majority of the peo- as unconstitutional. ple of any State to disfranchise the minority Looking at the personal characters of the being thus made part of the Constitution of two candidates, we must conclude that revo the United States, all Acts of Congress, or lution under the administration of either Constitutions or Acts of any State, inconsist would be alike impossible. Gov. Seymour, ent therewith, are void. The Acts to pre- while radically hostile to any introduction of vent the disfranchisement of the blacks by the colored race into citizenship, is by perexcluding wbites from voting unless they sonal constitution and judgment cautious to accept the political equality of all men, the verge of timidity, and legal to the exare probably consistent with the XIV th treme of technicality, in the modes by which Amendment, and would not be annulled by it. he would attain these results. While he has Not so, however, the Acts of Congress pro- none of the executive or military vigor which viding, as the condition of the returu of those might be relied on to suppress a rebellion, States to the Union, that the readmitted he bas still less of the misguided energy State shall not disfranchise any of its citi. which would inaugurate one. With the twozens on account of race or color. This thirds - vote of both Houses of Congress would be clearly void. The whites, by vot- threatening him with impeachment and reing solid, have a sufficient majority to dis- moval at the first revolutionary act, he would franchise the blacks in all the States except be powerless to effect a revolution if he liad South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the folly to attempt it.