“From Washington,” New York Daily Times, 13 February 1857, p. 3.
New York Times
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.
Cabinet Speculations—Mr. Bucanan’s Policy—The Dallas Treaty and our Relations with Great Britain.
Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times.
WASHINGTON, Saturday, Feb. 7, 1857
No indication of any kind, concerning the composition of the Cabinet, has come from Wheatland since Mr. BUCHANAN’S return. He is imitating the example of Harpocrates, and believes silence to be one of the political virtues. There is a general settling down of conviction that Mr. HOWELL COBB will go into the Department of State, because of the exclusion of others who occupied more prominence and had higher claims for that position. Besides, Mr. BUCHANAN has indicated very unmistakably that he means to look after the Foreign affairs personally; and, to a certain extent, supervise the whole diplomacy. This, to be sure, is not very complimentary to any expectant of the Premiership, but it serves to explain why the new President may be content with the association of mediocrity. His ambition will be to shine as the bright particular star of his own Administration, and his policy is so to form the Cabinet that this star cannot be eclipsed by any superior light.
Although the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Senate may attempt to repair the Dallas-Clarendon Treaty, which was returned to them by a decisive vote on Wednesday, still, the objections that were urged during the discussion seem to preclude any hope of amendments that could be accepted by the British Government. There are two elements at the bottom of this opposition, one being sympathy with unrestricted territorial expansion, and the other, the propagandism of Slavery. The treaty between Honduras and Great Britain, which virtually formed the basis of our Convention, contained a clause prohibiting Slavery, and while this instrument was not presented to the Senate as a feature of the Dallas negotiation, still it was seized upon and appropriated as a rallying point, even for that conservative portion of the South whose sympathies have always strongly leaned to England, and which has uniformly deprecated any resort to arms for the redress of grievances. Mr. DALLAS cannot but suffer deep mortification at the humiliating rejection of a scheme of pacification upon which he prides himself no little, and especially after Mr. BUCHANAN’S failure in the same field of labor. He hoped to bear off the “laurels from his ancient rival, and to hold up this arrangement as an offset to the caprice of political fortune by which Mr. BUCHANAN has been raised to the Presidency. He is, however, doomed to disappointment, and before many months may be compelled to submit to even a more mortifying renunciation, in obeying a summons of official recall.
The announcement of Lord NAPIER’S presence in London, to make preparations for his mission, does not induce any one here to believe, whatever other impression may be intended, that he means to deliver his credentials to the present Administration. Six or either weeks are usually allowed a Minister for personal arrangements, and it has been very well understood among the Foreign Legations that Lord NAPIER’S coming would be so timed as to put a slight upon the outgoing dynasty. And there are others besides the London Times who see in the selection of this young and undistinguished diplomat a disguised resentment for the dismissal of CRAMPTON, and the rasping which my Lord CALRENDON received at the hands of Mr. MAROY. Mr. DALLAS, who represents the United States, had been Vice-President, and was somewhat distinguished in the country. Lord NAPIER’S highest diplomatic grade has been that of Secretary to an Embassy at Constantinople, and his highest mark, intellectually, respectable mediocrity. Mr. CRAMPTON was jumped from a Secretaryship to a full mission, by the interference of Mr. WEBSTER, when Secretary of State, and the British Government seems to have adopted the precedent practically in the present instance. This fact is only worthy of notice as showing that with all the friendly professions of Lord PALMERSTON, which, by the way, were extorted through a threatened opposition in Parliament, he did not intent to emphasize the reconciliation by any appointment that could be regarded as flattering to our national vanity.
There is no probability now, that any thorough revision of the Tariff can be accomplished at this session. The debate, thus far, has assumed mainly a political complexion, and not more than half a dozen speeches have been addressed to the subject itself. The Committee of Ways and Means materially impaired the force of their recommendation, by a change of position; for the bill presented last August, differs very radically in practical operation, from the substitute offered last week. And the main idea which seems to exercise them most, is not worth much consideration, unless governed by a wiser principle of application. They start with the proposition, that because there is a surplus in the Treasury, and the revenue exceeds the actual expenditures, therefore there must be reduction. As an abstraction, this is well enough, but in making the reduction, some mode of discrimination should be observed, by which large industrial interests may not be rashly struck down. By the proposed change o duty, from 100 to 50 percent, on brandy and spirits, the revenue is diminished two millions at a single blow, and if reduction only be aimed at, their admission to the free list would still further diminish the revenue to the extent of two millions. If the Tariff is to be modified at all, it should be done with the best intelligence, and upon the most reliable facts. We need stability in this sort of legislation, and not mere experiments, by which capital and enterprise may be subjected to the freaks of Congressional charlatans. There is no such extreme urgency for cutting down the revenue, that we cannot afford to wait and do it properly. The public debt is thirty-one millions in round numbers, besides which, according to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, we owe the Indians, under various treaties, about twenty-one millions more: making the neat little aggregate of fifty-two millions. The estimated balance in the Treasury on the 30th of June, 1856, allowing the receipts from all sources for that fiscal year to be $73,000,000 is about forty-four millions. It will, therefore, be seen from those figures, that with a steady redemption of the two accounts of indebtedness, the Treasury is not likely to be burdened with any such oppressive plethora as may be injurious, until the revenue can be judiciously conformed to the expenditures. The real danger about the tariff is, and has been throughout the session, that a combination of special interest may be formed at some opportune moment, and sprung upon the House as a surprise. All such legislation is prejudicial, and diverts Congress from the just regard for national interests, making it subordinate to local and selfish schemes.
A general feeling of regret is expressed here that the correspondence between Gen. SCOTT and the Secretary of War should have been allowed publicity at all. So far as the pending bill, relating to the pay of the former, is concerned, it furnished no means of enlightenment: for the personal matters on both sides appear to have engrossed all the reflection and temper of each, while an ambition to excel in strong writing is manifest throughout. These letters now form a part of the public history, and they only serve to show that neither age nor position furnishes any example from the infirmities to which poor human nature is liable.
Out Washington season of gayety is not at its zenith. During the present week there has been at least one large party every night, to say nothing of formal dinners, small reunions and official reception, which are squeezed in as interludes to the social drama. Perhaps one of the most brilliant gatherings of the Winter assembled under the hospitable roof of Senator FISH, on Thursday night. Every department of the Government, and almost every interest in society, were well represented. Five hundred persons were estimated to have been present during the evening, including the most distinguished in public life, and the most attractive and piquant of the gentler sex. The loss of Senator FISH and his family will be much felt in Washington, where they have been general favorites for many years, and where they will leave a lasting impression for refined and generous hospitality.