June ~Election Year 1852

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The two major parties hold their conventions, select their candidates and decide on their platforms. While these parties uphold the status quo on slavery and call for enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, others are deeply concerned about the end of slavery and some consider a third party option. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel continues to deeply rankle the slave-holding South. Agitation by women continues. A giant of American politics dies.

June 1– Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democratic National Convention opens at the Maryland Institute.

June 1– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action thereon, eighteen treaties negotiated with Indian tribes in California, as described in the accompanying letter of the Secretary of the Interior, dated the 22nd ultimo, with a copy of the report of the superintendent of Indian affairs for the State of California and other correspondence in relation thereto.” ~ Message from President Millard Fillmore to the Senate.

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Frederick Douglass

 

June 3– Thursday– Rochester, New York– “The wire-pullers of each of the great political parties are successful in proportion to their accuracy in calculating the amount of villainy which will be tolerated by the good, and the amount of virtue which will be supported by the bad part of society. In selecting a candidate, they aim to present a character in which is blended a sufficient semblance of virtue to win the support of the nominally good, with an amount of wickedness, which will be sure to satisfy the unprincipled, selfish and oppressive part of the community. Thus, the lowest element in the national character, becomes predominant in all our Presidential elections; and so it will forever be until the principles of the Liberty Party shall prevail in this land. That faithful, brave and uncompromising little party will not consent to support any man for civil office who is not for a perfectly just and righteous government. To this platform, all, who would not incur the guilt and shame of prostituting their suffrage to the base and inhuman purposes of tyrants, should rally.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper

June 5– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Democratic National Convention closes, having nominated Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire for President and William R. King, age 66, of Alabama for Vice President on the 49th round of balloting. Pierce, age 47, is a lawyer and politician who served nine years in Congress, with a reputation of being an ardent nationalist, and pro-slavery with strong sympathy for the South. King, born in North Carolina, is a lawyer, has lived in Alabama since 1818, served in the United States Senate and in the diplomatic corps. He is a close friend of James Buchanan from Pennsylvania and as Buchanan failed to win the nomination for President, party leaders arranged for King to receive the Vice President nomination as a peace-making move to Buchanan. The party’s platform declares in key sections that “the constitution does not confer upon the general government the power to commence and carry on a general system of internal improvements . . . . the liberal principles embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, and sanctioned in the constitution, which make ours the land of liberty and the asylum of the oppressed of every nation, have ever been cardinal principles in the democratic faith; and every attempt to abridge the privilege of becoming citizens and the owners of the soil among us ought to be resisted with the same spirit that swept the Alien and Sedition laws from our statute-books . . . . Congress has no power under the constitution to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States, and that such States are the sole and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own affairs not prohibited by the constitution; that all efforts of the abolitionists or others made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences; and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend of our political institutions. . . . the foregoing proposition covers, and was intended to embrace, the whole subject of slavery agitation in Congress; and therefore the Democratic Party of the Union, standing on this national platform, will abide by and adhere to a faithful execution of the acts known as the compromise measures settled by the last Congress– ‘the act for reclaiming fugitives from service or labor’ included; which act, being designed to carry out an express provision of the constitution, cannot, with fidelity thereto be repealed nor so changed as to destroy or impair its efficiency. . . . the Democratic Party will resist all attempts at renewing, in congress or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made. . . . the war with Mexico, upon all the principles of patriotism and the laws of nations was a just and necessary war on our part, in which every American citizen should have shown himself on the side of his country, and neither morally nor physically, by word or deed, have given ‘aid and comfort to the enemy.’” [On the history of the Democratic Party, see: The History of the Democratic Party (2007) by Heather Lehr Wagner; The Democratic Machine, 1850-1854 (1967) by Roy F Nichols; The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, 1828-1861 (2007) by Yonatan Eyal.]

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Democratic Poster 1852

 

June 7– Monday– New York City– “After some forty-odd labor pains in the shape of balloting, the Democratic Convention has brought forth its candidate: Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, with William Rufus King for Vice-President. Nobody knows much of Franklin Pierce, except that he is a decent sort of man in private life.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 10– Thursday– Rochester, New York–”Will you give notice that the Free Soil National Convention for nominating candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, will be held at Cleveland, Ohio, on the first Wednesday in August next.The time cannot, under the instructions of a majority of the committee, be fixed before harvest, and it would be doing great wrong to fix a day during the hurry of that season. The day named is, therefore, the earliest, under all circumstances, that could be appointed, and the place designated by the committee is very easy of access, at that season, of the year, since all the delegates can leave home, spend two days at the Convention, and return the same week. The regular call, in full, will be prepared and issued hereafter. We hope editors friendly to the liberty and prosperity of the people and country, will aid in circulating the notice. Samuel Lewis, Chairman.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper

June 11– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At the session of the Universal Reform Society composed in part of the leading Universalist ministers, the following resolution was offered: ‘Resolved, That we view with deep concern the present attitude of our country on the subject of slavery, believing as we do, that earnest efforts must be made for the overthrow of slavery, or the just judgment of God will descend on our land; and seeing, with great pain, a disposition on the part of those called statesmen to patch up compromises, which Merely hide but cannot cure the evil, we feel called on as Christians to testify against the unrighteousness of slavery, and to request our fellow Christians of every sect, to unite with us in striving to breakdown that loathsome institution.’” ~ The Liberator.

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William Lloyd Garrison

 

June 11– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit to Congress a report from the Secretary of State, on the subject of the disorders on the Rio Grande frontier, and recommend the legislation which it suggests, in order that the duties and obligations of this Government occasioned thereby may be more effectually discharged and the peace and security of the inhabitants of the United States in that quarter more efficiently maintained.” ~ Message to Congress from President Fillmore.

June 12– Saturday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Taking note that a Southern writer is preparing a novel to contrast with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “he had better write a history of Uncle Tag, Rag and Bobtail’s Cabin at the North, illustrating it with women fishing out drift wood from the ice of the river for fires; children eating with hogs out of offal barrels; emaciated corpses of fathers and mothers unshrouded, but ready for the grave, with starvation written on their sunken brows; young women, reduced by necessity to crime, leading a life of shame and vice, and giving birth to diseased and suffering children, whose little ray of life quickly expires amid the noxious atmosphere of sin and woe by which they are surrounded. Or all these groups might be placed in one picture, and to complete the whole, a likeness given of Mrs. Stowe, treading gingerly along upon her tiptoes, not noticing one of these most miserable objects at her own doors, but her eyes fixed upon distant ‘Africa,’ and her plaintive voice bemoaning the fate of the stout, fat, healthy Negroes and Negresses of the South, who are not only in an infinitely superior condition to the white poor of the North, but who, we dare say, are quite as well fed and a deal happier than Mrs. Stowe herself.” ~ Daily Picayune.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

 

June 17– Thursday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party National Convention opens.

June 18– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The third Woman’s Rights Convention of Ohio has just closed its session. It was . . . numerously attended, there being a fair representation of men as well as women; for though the object of these and similar meetings is to secure woman her rights as an member of the human family, neither speaking nor membership was here confined to the one sex, but all who had sentiments to utter in reference to the object of the Convention—whether for or against it—were invited to speak with freedom, and those who wished to aid the movement to sit as members, without distinction of sex. All honorable classes of society were represented, from the so-called highest to The so-called lowest. The seamstress who works for her twenty-five cents a day, the daughters of the farmer, fresh from the dairy and the kitchen, the wives of the laborer, the physician, the lawyer, the banker, the legislator, and the minister, were all there—all interested in one common cause, and desirous that every right God gave to woman should be fully recognized by the laws and usages of society, that every faculty He has bestowed upon her should have ample room for its proper development. Is this asking too much? And yet this is the sum and substance of the Woman’s Rights Reform—a movement which fools ridicule, and find easier to than meet with argument.” ~ The Liberator.

June 18– Friday–Baltimore, Maryland– On its second day the Whig convention adopts a platform which asserts in its key parts that the Fugitive Slave Act ought to be fully enforced, states’ rights will be protected, citizens must obey the constitution and the laws made under it [a reprimand to those involved anti-slavery activity, particularly those performing acts of civil disobedience], the government must avoid “all entangling alliances with foreign countries”, and the federal government properly has authority to improve and repair harbors and rivers as “such improvements are necessary for the common defense, and . . . the facility of commerce with foreign nations, or among the States.”

June 20– Sunday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig National Convention concludes, having nominated General Winfield Scott, age 66, a lawyer and career military man of New Jersey for President and William A Graham, age 48, a lawyer and politician of North Carolina for Vice President on the 53rd round of balloting. After a rather fractious convention, General Scott’s supporters have taken away the hopes of President Fillmore for renomination and dashed the hopes of Massachusetts’ Daniel Webster, now 70 years of age. [On the history of the Whig Party, see: The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (1999) by Michael F Holt; Henry Clay and the Whig Party (1936) by George Rawlings Poage.]

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Whig campaign poster

 

June 22– Tuesday– New York City– “Scott is the nominee at last . . . . His chance of election, I think, is small. . . . The Whigs here receive the nomination coolly. Several have said they won’t vote at all.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 24–Thursday– New York City–In today’s Tribune, Horace Greeley declares that he and his newspaper will not “keep silent about Slavery, nor acquiesce in fugitive slave hunting.”

June 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Fillmore requests that the Senate take action to approve a treaty between the United States and Mexico regarding the extradition of fugitives. He notes that the matter has been pending since he took office in March, 1849.

June 27– Sunday– New York City– “Scott is going to run better than I thought at first. The struggle will be close enough to be interesting.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 29– Tuesday– Walden Pond, Massachusetts– “In my experience nothing is so opposed to poetry – not crime – as business. It is a negation of life.” ~ Journal of Henry David Thoreau.

June 29–Tuesday – Washington, D. C–Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky dies at 75 years of age. President Fillmore orders all federal government offices to be closed for the remainder of the day.

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Henry Clay

 

June 29– Tuesday– Springfield, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln presides a meeting to arrange a tribute to Henry Clay.

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