Washington (DC) National Era, “Evils of Organism,” October 15, 1857

    Source citation
    “Evils of Organism,” Washington (DC) National Era , October 15, 1857, p. 168: 1.
    Original source
    Richmond (VA) South
    Newspaper: Publication
    Washington National Era
    Newspaper: Headline
    Evils of Organism
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    From the Richmond (Va) South.

    It was not at all surprising that a politician of Mr. Buchanan’s sagacity should avow a repugnance to “organs,” and decline to avail himself of their services in the conduct of his Administration. The public accepted the circumstance as an encouraging augury.

    In countries where the personal will of the Sovereign is the supreme power in the State, and Government relies upon military force, rather than the support of public opinion, a Court Journal is a logical and perhaps necessary institution. But “organism” is quite out of place in these United States, where the President is responsible to the people, and the public judgment is determined by reason, instead of authority.

    So far from being a help, “organism” is ascertained to be a positive hindrance to an Administration. For a suspicion of corrupt motive not only deprives a journal of its legitimate influences, but attaches something of odium to the cause it is retained to support. When an Administration employs the interested assistance of professional apologists, the common sense of the masses instantly concludes that it wants the strength of conscious integrity. This effect is independent of the ability with which the “organ” may direct its efforts; but ordinarily, the unskillfulness of its aim aggravates the inevitable mischief of its recoil. Instead of extricating an Administration from difficulty, the “organ” only multiplies its embarrassments.

    Determined by these obvious considerations, or by others which his long experience and acute intellect might suggest, Mr. Buchanan gave the public to understand that no organ should encumber the course of his Administration. But the Washington Union is not so easily shaken from its grasp on the Treasury. With the capacious swallow of an earthquake, it still refuses to let go, after four years of uninterrupted suction! Neither will it willingly lose the dignity and power which it enjoys in virtue of its confidential relations with the Executive. So, despite the well-known wishes of the President, the Union affects to be the special “organ” of the Administration. In what manner this arrogant pretension has affected the interests of the Executive, the history of the Kansas controversy will suffice to show, without any reference to other instances of indiscretion.

    Cut off, in point of fact, from all confidential communication with the Cabinet, the Union was left to its own unaided sagacity to ascertain the policy of the Administration. Inflamed with an impatient desire to signalize its zeal in the service of a liberal patron, it eagerly availed itself of every opportunity to extol the measures of the Executive. Thus ignorant of the President’s purposes, and thus anxious to applaud his wisdom, the Union is necessarily precipitated into many embarrassing blunders. If it awaits an authoritative exposition of Cabinet policy, some enterprising contemporary may get the start in praise of the Administration. Rather than be beaten in this momentous rivalry, the Union prefers to run the hazard of misrepresenting the policy of the Executive. In the worst event, a humiliating recantation can atone for the error.

    It was by such an impulse, and under such considerations, that the Washington Union was betrayed into an early an emphatic approval of Walker’s acts in Kansas. The enemies of the Administration represented that paper to speak at the suggestion of the Cabinet; and, pleased with the compliment, it assumed an air of authority which deceived a few Democrats into the opinion that it was indeed an “organ” of the Administration. Thus, for a time, the President was held responsible for measures which he did not approve, and, by the unpardonable indiscretion of a blundering zealot, was reduced to the necessity of explaining his position in a public letter.

    The rebuke is obvious to all the world; but the Union unfortunately does not feel its force. Again that paper essays to play the part of “organ,” and again the Administration will suffer from its folly, if its utterances be accepted as the inspiration of the President.

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