“The American Party,” New York Times, March 3, 1857, p. 2.
New York Daily Times
The American Party
Leah Suhrstedt, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
THE AMERICAN PARTY.
Address of the American State Council to the People of the State.
Address of the American State Council to the People of the State.
To the Americans of New-York State:
FRIENDS AND BRETHEREN: Now that the confusion of the conflict is over and the unnatural and dangerous excitement which swayed the passions of men has subsided, we can survey our condition and view with calmness our prospects for the future. The public has passed through one of those perilous crises to which all popular Governments are exposed, and the sober second thought of the honest and good is returning. The American party in this State has been belied in its principles, its aims and its objects, and thus defeated; but its column, though thinned, remains unbroken, and the stout and undismayed hearts that bore it onward through the storm are undismayed. Based on truth and reason and not on passion, its principles are as eternal as those affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, while the necessity of their immediate application was never more apparent than in the recent election. The most numerous of our opponents are now compelled to admit this, and see that, while pleading for the protection of a ballot-box on a distant territory, they have thoughtlessly trampled it down at home, and have found that there is no invasion of the elective franchise more dangerous than that made by a foreign vote banded together by priestly authority- of whatever name.
The American Party believe these truths to be “self-evident:” 1st. That the men born on this soil, educated under out free institutions, and breathing their spirit, are best qualified to control the destinies of our country. To preserve our nationality, and transmit the blessings we enjoy to posterity, we must not pile into the structure we are are rearing with so much labor and solicitude, such materials as despots may choose to send us. Politicians may assert that there is no danger from that foreign influence against which WASHINGTON warned us; but while New-York, Boston, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and most of the cities of the West, are half or more than half composed of foreigners; while more than a quarter of a million paupers, criminals, and ignorant men, have crowded into the port of new-York in a single year; while an Austrian can represent us at the Hague, a Frenchman at the Court of Madrid, and Consuls in various parts of the world, who cannot speak at all, or very imperfectly, the English language; while more voters are made annually in the State than American youths pass the age of twenty-one, while the ballot-box is invaded by foreign criminals and desperadoes, and intelligent American citizens are stricken down as they approach the polls to vote for their own rulers, we shall affirm that our citizenship is degraded, our institutions endangered, and that a prompt and thorough reform on the part of the American people is demanded. We ask that peaceable American citizens shall be allowed to vote without fear or personal injury, and determine for themselves without the assistance of foreign paupers and convicts or priestly dictation, what shall be the character of their own Government, and what principles shall be incorporated into the institutions they have founded.
The American Party, in the second place, believe there is no truth the utterance of which carries clearer conviction with it, then that men are not qualified to vote or make laws under a Constitution which they are unable to read. Knowledge and Virtue are the bulwarks of our liberties: yet these are the qualities especially wanting in the majority of that part of foreign population which is yearly incorporated into our body politic and enter immediately on the work of reforming our institutions. Swayed by unprincipled demagogues, they are driven like cattle to the polls to override by mere numbers the votes of intelligent free born Americans.
The third self evident truth on which the American Party is based, is that the Protestantism of the Bible must predominate in this country, and pervade all our institutions, if we expect them to be permanent. If there is one act clearly established in the history of the past, it is that the temporal power of the Romish Church cannot exist with liberty. The one always supplants the other, and no one can survey the vast West and reflect on the influences it is to exert on the swelling tides of population that are pouring into it from the despotisms and Papal kingdoms of the old world without trembling for the final result.
These great truths, on which our Party is based, we believe, commend themselves to every American heart, and the only reason they do not find immediate advocates in the great mass of people is the falsehoods uttered against us by political demagogues. Pledged as the Party was in the State against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, yet because it would not surrender those principles dear to it as the land of its birth- nay, openly deny and denounce them, and indulge in those bitter denunciations and appeals to the worst passions of human nature- seek to inflame sectional hatred and kindle it into tenfold fury, its members were subjected to the insane charge of being Pro-Slavery.
Now that this strange excitement has passed away, no one believes the accusation to be true. It is true we warned our countrymen against this fierce and inflammatory discussion of Slavery, and declared what has since proved true, that but for it Kansas would long since have been a free state. As it is, what have those men accomplished? Endangered the very cause they proposed to advocate, and stopped for a term of years the measures that had been honestly set on food in the more northern of the Southern States for gradual emancipation. Added to all this, they have weakened the bonds of the Union, arrayed State against State in fraternal strife, and kindled into expectation the long-cherished hope of foreign despots, that our experiment of self-government was about to prove a failure. Even some of the clergy, whom we hoped to see exhibit the spirit of our Saviour and rebuke men who were calling down fire from Heaven to consume those who differed with them, have fanned into still greater intensity those dangerous passions. To a wrong conception of their duty, growing out of the violence and outrages that occurred in Kansas and Washington, we must attribute their strange alliance with political demagogues and tricksters. To them we now appeal, and ask in all sincerity if it is right, if it is wise, to turn and strike the only party that has dared to follow their teachings from the pulpit, and to hold up the Bible as the standard around which the Protestants of this land were to rally. We ask them to pause and inquire who are their friends, and reflect seriously on the effect of attempting to put down this first effort to resist Papal interference with out political institutions, and of striking to the heart the band of Protestant young man of the State. We ask them to consider what interest, what hopes must sink with them.
Especially would we direct their attention, and of honest men, to the political leaders whose guidance they have followed. We would remind them of that memorable struggle for the Speakership in the House of Representatives, put forth, as affirmed, not for power or for plunder, but for freedom and humanity, and of the humiliating results that have followed. Our Congress has never before suffered such disgrace. Those who were the loudest in their harangues for freedom- collected with most assiduity funds for Kansas, have been convicted of receiving and offering bribes to carry through measures designed to rob the public treasury. When we hear of the receipts of large sums of money by private individuals to influence representatives in Congress who have sworn to legislate honestly, it is time that an account of their stewardship in the moneys intrusted to their care was required of them. It is time that the honesty of their efforts in the cause of humanity was suspected by those who in their conduct have not been governed by selfish ends.
The American Party of New-York would take this occasion to express its gratitude to its brethren in the Southern States, for their firmness and devotion to the Union in the severe trial to which they have been subjected. Especially do we extend the right hand of fellowship to the State of Maryland for the noble example she has set the entire country. Midway in local position, she has stood midway in sectional strife that has so severely tasted the strength of the Union. Amid the many bright passages in her history, her record shows none more glorious than this, or to which her children will point with greater pride
In conclusion, we would say, we have no animosities to gratify, no wrongs to revenge,- but cordially invite our American friends of every party to examine our principles and reflect on the objects we seek to secure. To the members of the American Party we have only words of encouragement. The storm that assailed us has swept by, and the future is bright before us. From every portion of the State we receive the most cheering tidings. The American heart begins to beat healthful again, and that love of our institutions which is our safeguard has taken the place of passion. With calmer thoughts comes the conviction that sectional strive can work evil and only evil.
Devotion to the UNION will drive out the hatred of sister States, and the sentiments and teachings of WASHINGTON which have been derided and ridiculed, will once more assume their control over the minds of patriotic men. If there is one determination stronger than all others in the American Party, it is to preserve one and indissoluble the Union of those States. With their permission, the graves of WARENN, WASHINGTON, and MARION, shall never rest in separate lands, and while Mount Vernon holds its sacred trust, the repose of the great sleeper there shall never be disturbed by the jar of contending States. One Constitution, one Faith, one Destiny, are inscribed on our banners and engraved in our hearts.