« IndietroContinua »
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, have 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 hearhave 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: Ist, 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 bave 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 mere 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 begun to break it up. When he in, and that, situated at the end of the Park, has 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 ob needs, 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-andit 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 some on 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.
THE 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 Constitufor good or evil which are to result from tion." their success or failure, unless it be on the Is 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 excauses 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 citi. intense 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 couflict, 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 princi. tions 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 subject 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 wbites 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 prinpayment 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 supremcommends 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 pursue 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 the 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 sufnot 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 miscducation. 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 Congrese, and on the Southern people. It would be the apparent vox populi against the reconstruction policy of Congress. The two Houses would still remain Republican, and their complexion could not be changed for two years, perhaps not for four, unless some of the present members should change their views. While the direct exer. cise of the presidential powers alone could not without revolution overturn the reconstruction policy of Congress, these powers aided by others, might. The Supreme Court has at no time been trustworthy for more than three votes out of eight in favor of the reconstruction policy, and since the separation of Chief-Justice Chase from the Republican party, and his strong enunciation of the States' rights theory of reconstruction, it would be reasonable to expect that the Supreme Court would, especially in the event of Seymour's election, decide the Reconstruction Acts unconstitutional.
The negro suffrage element in reconstruction is also exposed to danger from other
The platform of the Republican party agrees with that of the Democratic in declaring that the control of the suffrage question belongs to the States alone. The same doctrine is made part of the Constitution by the XIVth Amendment, under which the reconstructed States are admitted. This provides that wherever the majority of the people of a State disfranchise the minority on account of race or color, the representation of the State in Congress and in the Electoral College shall be reduced in the proportion that the number excluded from the suffrage bears to the whole number of adult male citizens. The right of the majority of the people of any State to disfranchise the minority being thus made part of the Constitution of the United States, all Acts of Congress, or Constitutions or Acts of any State, inconsistent therewith, are void. The Acts to prevent the disfranchisement of the blacks by excluding wbites from voting unless they accept the political equality of all men, are probably consistent with the XIVth Amendment, and would not be annulled by it. Not so, however, the Acts of Congress providing, as the condition of the return of those States to the Union, that the readmitted State shall not disfranchise any of its citizens on account of race or color. This would be clearly void. The whites, by voting solid, have a sufficient majority to disfranchise the blacks in all the States except South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana,
and even in Mississippi they have recently procured a sufficient number of the blacks to vote with them to defeat the very Constitution which was to have secured equal political rights to all. Whichever of the two candidates may be elected, therefore, it is plain that reconstruction, on the basis of universal suffrage, will still have to contend against the repugnance to negro equality at the North in both parties; a probable adverse decision of the Supreme Court; and, possibly, the votes of the white niajority of the people of the Southern States, changing or amending their constitutions.
It will be aided, indeed, by the powerful arguments that the colored race are now in possession of the ballot; that they have thus far used it on the whole wisely, prudently, and with a peaceful tendency; that prior to its conferment upon them every tendency of the white voting class at the South was to ward oppression, black codes, slavery, the restoration of rebels to power and disunion, and that the continuance of political rights in the black race is essential to their protection, promotive of their industry, conducive to the peace of Southern society, and indeed, essential to the welfare of the country and the maintenance of the Union. But all these arguments, though satisfactory to the nation at large, like the arguments against slavery, will utterly fail if the question bo left to the Southern States. If all these reacons for colored suffrage be true, the Republican party will have fallen almost as far short of securing these ends in leaving the question to the Southern States, as the Democratic party in denouncing universal suffrage as unconstitutional.
Looking at the personal characters of the two candidates, we must conclude that revo lution under the administration of either would be alike impossible. Gov. Seymour, while radically hostile to any introduction of the colored race into citizenship, is by personal constitution and judgment cautious to the verge of timidity, and legal to the extreme of technicality, in the modes by which he would attain these results. While he has none of the executive or military vigor which might be relied on to suppress a rebellion, he has still less of the misguided energy which would inaugurate one.
With the twothirds vote of both Houses of Congress threatening him with impeachment and re moval at the first revolutionary act, he would be powerless to effect a revolution if he had the folly to attempt it.
On the other band, Gen. Grant, baving in- as they thought best. To remove would vested not a feather's weight of influence for have demonstrated the temporary success of or against colored suffrage, and having by an antagonistic party ; to forego removing his letter of acceptance held himself free to was the calm vindication of conscious and act as circumstances might dictate, and being absolute supremacy. The effect must be to disposed by his antecedents as a Democrat to vastly diminish the political importance of place a very limited estimate on the intrinsic the election of President, and to increase value of colored suffrage, will acquiesce relatively the importance of elections of Senheartily in any constitutional action which ators and Congressmen. By dividing the esthe votes of the majority of the people of a
citement incident to the settlement of im. particular State, the decision of the Supreme portant political issues among many candid Court, or the action of the majority in Con- ates and distributing it over several elections, gress, may render expedient. In short, the instead of concentrating it upon one, the approaching election, however it may turn, strain on our institutions is lessened, and the can hardly dispose of the negro-question, tendency to revolution as the result of presiwhich must continue to agitate the country dential elections is happily diminished. until the colored race shall have risen to a In the selection of their candidates both higher intellectual and social position than parties have done themselves signal justice. they now occupy.
It is to be regretted that the vituperations Since the election of a President leaves the incident to our mode of conducting a politipolitical slatus of the colored race still open cal campaign should descend to the littleness to be adjusted by future, and probably by of atterrpting to obscure the military glory State, legislation, and since no rights are of Grant or the parliamentary abilities of foreclosed or questions settled by it, it is idle Colfax, the political integrity of Seymour or to predict either revolution or the subjuga- the gallantry and courage of Blair. If Nation of any State or community to negro- poleon or Wellington or Jackson or Taylor rule as the result of it. In fact, as the sup- was a butcher in being unwilling to lose a pression of the great rebellion determined battle to save the lives of a few, when by that the preservation of the Union shall not gaining the battle he would save the lives of depend on the election of a particular candi- many, then is Grant a butcher. But, since date to the Presidency, so the protracted in this sense all war is butchery, the butcher after-struggle between Congress and Presi- par excellence is the first of warriors. If to dent Johnson, culminating in his impeach. believe that the election of an anti-slavery ment and escape by a single vote from re- President would result in secession and civil moval, determines that hereafier political strife, and that the evils of slavery were far policies are to be shaped by the democratic lighter than the horrors of civil war, proves power of Congress and not by the autocratic a man a devotee of slavery, then were both power of the President. The war for the Seymour and Grant advocates of slavery in Union established the snipremacy of the Fed- the days prior to the war. If to believe that eral Government over the States. The tri- the South could never be subdued by force, umph of Congress over fifty vetoes, and the that the war must be ended by compromise, trial and acquittal of the President, vindi- and that emancipation only rendered comcated the supremacy of the legislative over promise more difficult, were more than an the executive. Nor is this vindication ren- error of judgment, then Mr. Seymour was dered less effective by the acquittal of the Pres- guilty of something worse than such an error ident than it would have been by his removal. during the war. The power of the British Parliament to trans- After Gen. Grant has successfully com. fer the Crown was better illustrated by elect- manded the armies of the Union, won in per ing William of Orange and Mary, King and son a score of hotly-contested battles against Queen of England, while James II. still re- some of the ablest generals of the age, and mained alive and at liberty, than it would planned and in their most important and difhave been if he had been executed. In the ficult features executed the campaigns by former case a vacancy would have compelled which the rebellion was subdued, it is in vain an election. In the latter the election re- to attempt to deny him the highest executive moved the King. So the conviction of Pres- powers. Compared with the Atlas-burden of ident Johnson would have proved the power executive responsibility which he bore as of Congress to remove; but his acquittal General-in-Chief, the duties of President proved the r higher power to remove or not would be similar but light. He descends