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William Henry Harrison and the Whig party came to power in 1841 without a program. The men who had driven Martin Van Buren from office in 1840 were in as much doubt what to do for the country as the Jackson men had been in 1829. Clay had said during the campaign that he might restore the United States Bank, and he had said he might not do so; the Eastern Whigs had declared for a higher tariff in 1842, when the compromise of 1833 would expire, while the Southern Whigs had denied that such a move would be made; the Western men who had deserted Van Buren for a log-cabin leader demanded now as ever internal improvements, though their Southern allies bitterly opposed all such propositions.

With counsels so divided Harrison turned readily to Henry Clay, who shaped the inaugural and filled the Cabinet with his political friends. Congress was called in extra session for the last of May, 1841, when an improvised plan of action would be offered and perhaps enacted into law. The main items were to be a new National Bank, a higher tariff, and the distribution among the States of the proceeds of the public land sales. This would enable States to construct their own public improvements and at the same time avoid a rupture between Southern and Western Whigs. Thus the chief items of the old Clay and Adams "American System" was to be reënacted by a Congress whose majority was none too large and more than heterogeneous in character.

But before the national legislature met, the President had died and John Tyler had become the head of the Administration. Virginia politics were at that time and long after dominated by a state banking system, and both Virginia and the lower South opposed all forms of tariff protection. The new President had been nominated by the Whigs in spite of his political views, and only in the hope that he might carry his State, in which they had been disappointed. Clay thought, however, that he could control the Administration, and undertook with the assistance of the Cabinet to bring all into a harmonious support of his "system." The law creating the Independent Treasury, for which Jackson and Van Buren had labored industriously for six years before its final passage, was promptly repealed. In place of the Independent Treasury there was to be a National Bank, but the President was reported to be hostile to such a bank unless it should be located in the District of Columbia, and the consent of the States should be made necessary before branches could be established anywhere. Aware of Tyler's scruples on this and other measures, Clay marshaled his followers in both houses, held his friends in the Cabinet in his firm grasp, and was reported to have declared: "Tyler dares not resist me; I will drive him before me." Tyler was not the man to be driven, and meanwhile Calhoun, Benton, and their friends were rallying around him in the hope of breaking down once again the program of Clay.

A bank law was passed. On the 16th of August it was vetoed, and there ensued another party break very much like that which Calhoun led in 1831. Many Southern Whigs supported the President; Eastern Whigs burned Tyler in effigy as "the traitor." A second bank bill was passed only to meet another veto; and the Clay scheme for the distribution of the proceeds of the land sales, on which he had set his heart, was so mutilated by amendments that it could not serve the purpose of its friends. Anger and denunciation were the order of the day in Washington. Clay called a conference of the members of Tyler's Cabinet early in September, and advised all to resign at once in order to isolate their chief. The advice was followed by all save Webster, who retained his post and otherwise refused to accept the dictation of the Kentucky leader. Calhoun, Henry A. Wise, William C. Rives, and other leaders of Congress applauded the President and Webster. Congress adjourned on September 13 in the worst possible humor. Excitement now ran high throughout the country. Whig meetings were held everywhere, some to denounce, some to defend the Virginian President. The congressional elections came on and the voters divided sharply. But the Democrats won, which meant that the next Congress would be deadlocked--the Senate Whig, and the House Democratic. Under these circumstances Tyler gathered about him a Cabinet to his own liking and planned a forward step in the national policy. At the regular session of Congress a protective tariff law which restored many of the high duties of 1832 was enacted. Tyler gave his assent, perhaps in the hope of holding his New England friends like Webster. In view of the fact that the next Congress would be at least half anti-tariff, this move on the part of the Whigs was resented in the South, where leaders like Robert Barnwell Rhett still spoke openly of secession in case the old protectionist policy should be resumed.

The lines were being drawn for the next presidential race. Clay came back to Congress in December, 1841, deeply resentful toward the President and displeased at Webster. Having carried through Congress the tariff bill already mentioned, he rose on March 31 to offer "the last motion I shall ever make in this body," and to read his farewell address after the manner of his great antagonist Jackson, who had sent to Congress a similar message on his retirement in March, 1837. It was an affecting scene as the able and dramatic orator prayed "the most precious blessings upon the Senate," even upon Calhoun, who at the close extended his hand for the first time in several years. "Sober old Senators as well as ladies in the galleries shed tears at the scene"; yet it was known that Clay would seek the Presidency two years later. Calhoun, likewise, retired "forever" from the august legislative assembly, twelve months later, the better to lay his plans for the Democratic nomination in 1844. Though the South was not ready to unite in support of its greatest statesman, its leaders were ready to adopt his views and carry out his policy. The South, with its cotton, tobacco, and sugar plantations yielding their increasing annual returns, was preparing for another effort at getting control of the National Government. And changes of sentiment as well as economic development favored her in the struggle.

In Virginia the reforms of 1829 had been inadequate. The slavery problem was still a burning question, and the Nat Turner insurrection of 1831, in which a few slaves rose against their masters and killed many men, women, and children, forced a reconsideration. Again the difficult problem was declared insoluble. Thomas R. Dew, a professor of political science in William and Mary College, gave the deciding counsel in elaborate testimony before a committee of the legislature, which was enlarged and published in book form in May, 1832. He contended that slavery was a positive good; that negroes could not live in the South except in a state of bondage; and that for the State of Virginia, at least, it was a most profitable institution. The time had passed, he contended, for men to believe or teach the fallacies of the Declaration of Independence. Society, certainly Southern society, was taking on a stratified form in which all men had their definite places; and the North, too, was fast drifting in the same direction, because of the influence of their growing industries, in which it was essential that some should be masters of great plants and direct the labor of thousands of people. Few books ever influenced Southern life so much as did this little word of clear reasoning and convincing statistics.

A year later Calhoun was offering the same arguments in the United States Senate; South Carolina had already come in a practical way to the same conclusion. North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana accepted the teaching that slavery was a beneficent social arrangement. In Kentucky and Tennessee, where James G. Birney and John Rankin had long worked for gradual emancipation, sentiment rapidly crystallized about the same dogma. Southern anti-slavery leaders emigrated to Ohio during the next few years, "leaving Ephraim joined to his idols"; and Southern men in Congress now replied with increasing earnestness to the petitions which came from Northern abolitionists. In 1837 it was decided not to receive such petitions, and John Quincy Adams was given his great theme for agitation; the United States mails were also closed to abolitionist literature intended for Southern distribution. The representatives of the great region which stretched from Baltimore to New Orleans and extended from the coast to the mountains, united almost to a man in defense of "the institutions of the South," and he who offered argument or example to the contrary was then unwelcome and later compelled to hold his tongue or emigrate.

Calhoun now became the undisputed leader of the plantation interests of the South, and few men were better fitted for the great commission. A keen and able debater and an enthusiastic Southerner, a combination in himself of the up-country ideals and the low-country purposes, he had become the idol of South Carolina. Conciliatory in manner and pure in all his public and private life, he won the respect and friendship of the best men in the North, like the Lowells and Winthrops of Massachusetts, and of Senators Allen, Hannegan, Breese, and the Dodges of the Northwest. Devoted to the ideal of a great American Union which he had made strong at the close of the second war with England, he was willing always to yield something to the West if only his "one institution" be left alone. Badly treated by Jackson and Van Buren, he had yet forgiven and joined hands with them both in 1840, in the hope that the power of Clay and his Eastern allies might be broken. In Congress and out he was the leader of the South as that section began to gird her loins for the fight over tariff, slavery, and expansion in 1840-44.

While the South was coming to one opinion on the great question of slavery, the West had been reviving her old ambitions and claims for more lands. So long as there was plenty of free lands and wide wildernesses, the Westerner felt that the American Republic was a free country; but when these began to fail he imagined himself hemmed in and stifled. In 1812 he had demanded Canada and Florida. He secured only the latter in 1819, and that after giving up Texas. The ink was hardly dry on the parchment of the treaty of that year before leading Westerners began their campaign for the "reannexation" of Texas. Stephen Austin, who settled in Texas, and Sam Houston, who deserted his wife for a home on the distant Southwestern frontier, kept the question alive. Thousands of Southerners and Westerners poured into the new cotton region between 1828 and 1836, and in the latter year they fought with the Mexicans the battle of San Jacinto, which gave Texas her freedom. A new American Republic with a pro-slavery constitution was speedily organized. Though Van Buren evaded the issue, Calhoun and the South urged immediate annexation.

There was thus a Southern call to the isolated President in 1842 to take up the Texas problem. Moreover, Virginia under the apportionment of 1841 lost five Representatives in the National House; South Carolina's number fell from nine to seven. North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia barely held their own. The older South was distinctly losing in the national race, despite the three-fifths rule on slavery. The Southwest gained some members, but the Northwest was growing faster. It was time for the South to act if she was to maintain her position in the country. In making up his Cabinet in the autumn of 1841, and again in filling the vacancies that occurred from time to time, the President selected men who favored expansion in the Southwest. The leaders of the Administration in the House of Representatives were ex-Governor Gilmer and Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, and the spokesmen of the South generally joined these in demanding the immediate annexation of Texas as a Southern measure. Calhoun, though not speaking so often, was the real leader of this cause in the Senate, and he constantly urged upon his friends the necessity of this acquisition as a distinct aid to his section.

Nearly all the West favored this Southern proposition; but an equally important matter to them was the occupation of Oregon. In Ohio, Michigan, and northern Illinois there was some indifference as to Texas, but none on the subject of Oregon. The vast region stretching from the forty-second parallel of north latitude to Alaska, and embracing an empire in itself, was held jointly with England, whose fur traders had actually occupied the country on the northern side of the Columbia River. England desired to hold the promising region. Under the agreement of 1818, renewed in 1828, either country was to give one year's notice of a purpose to abandon joint control, and, should the relation with England be dissolved, the stronger party would doubtless obtain the better part of the territory. The people of the Northwest under radical leadership soon learned to demand all Oregon; English fur interests understood the situation well, and they pressed their Government to seize all the territory along the Pacific to the Bay of California. And English relations with Mexico were such that Lower California was apt to be added to Oregon in case of a break with the United States.

In the East there had been reason for increasing irritation between the two Governments. British public opinion had been distinctly unfriendly since the Canadian insurrection of 1837-38, when so many Americans gave assistance to the insurgents. And this unfriendliness was fed by the ill-concealed desire of the people of the West for the annexation of Canada to the United States. When the American ship Caroline, which had been assisting the Canadian insurrectionists, was seized and destroyed by the English on Lake Erie, an American citizen was killed. This was amicably arranged; but in 1840 a certain Alexander McLeod, then in New York, avowed that he had killed the American and was promptly seized by the state authorities and put on trial for his life. McLeod now claimed that he had done the deed in obedience to orders, and the British Minister came to his assistance. Officers of the American State Department took the same view, but they were helpless, and for a time it seemed that one of the States would put to death as a murderer a man whom both England and the United States recognized to be innocent. War seemed imminent, but as so often happens in Anglo-Saxon procedure, a way out of the legal _impasse_ was found in a fictitious _alibi_, and McLeod was acquitted.

When Sir Robert Peel became the head of the English Government in 1841 he sent, as Minister to Washington, Lord Ashburton, one of the Baring Brothers who had had such large business relations with many of the States and with the old National Bank. Ashburton and Webster were personal friends, and they were likely to find a solution to other important and pressing problems engaging the attention of both countries. One of these disputes had to do with the suppression of the nefarious African slave trade, which still flourished in spite of the most stringent of laws, national and international. The difficulty lay in the enforcement of law. The South did not regard slavery as an unmixed evil, and hence Southern Presidents had not been overzealous of invoking the severe law against the slave trade. England stood ready to enforce her laws, but then the traders would raise the American flag. This necessitated the exercise of the obsolete right of search of suspected vessels, if anything was to be done. But the people of the United States resented the exercise of the right, and Northern statesmen were also loath to allow this. To obviate all difficulty the two Governments agreed in 1842 to maintain a joint naval patrol of the African coast. The South was not quite pleased, and a great many people of the West were displeased that Webster had yielded the right of search in disguise, as it was thought.

At the same time a matter of larger importance to the North, the settlement of the long-disputed boundary between Maine and Nova Scotia, was pending. Since 1838 there had been quarrels and actual encounters along the northeastern boundary, which had won the name of "the Aroostook War." Both Maine and the National Congress had appropriated money to maintain American rights on the border, and here again there was reason to fear war. Webster and Ashburton took up the problem and by mutual concessions came to a fair but very unpopular agreement. They also settled outstanding disputes concerning the long boundary between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains.

But the question of dividing Oregon was left untouched even by these friendly diplomats. Nor could they do more than discuss the critical Creole trouble, which just now came to complicate the relations of both peoples, evidently desirous of avoiding war. The Creole was a vessel engaged in the domestic slave trade. In 1841 this ship, bound for New Orleans, was seized by the slaves on board, who killed its crew and carried it into the port of Nassau. The local courts punished some of the negroes as murderers and set the others free. Speaking for the American Government, Webster demanded of England an apology and compensation for the slaves. Ashburton defended his country stoutly and refused satisfaction. Again public opinion, at least Southern opinion, was greatly excited, but nothing was done about the Creole case until 1853, when it was submitted to arbitration, and compensation was allowed the owners of the slaves.

Thus the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 was a settlement of some threatening difficulties and a tacit compromise or ignoring of others. It served the useful purpose of keeping the peace between kindred peoples. The Oregon and Texas questions were left open, and these were assuming more dangerous forms with the passage of time.

This served to direct attention to the Pacific Coast and even the Far East, where New England merchants and shipowners had long driven a profitable trade. President Tyler sent Commodore Jones to the Pacific to protect American interests; he proposed to send a commissioner to China in the hope of aiding American commerce there, and he began to consult members of Congress about the possibility of obtaining Texas, California, and Oregon all in treaties with Mexico and England. He offered to send Webster to London to conduct the negotiations, and at his instance John Quincy Adams wrote Edward Everett, the American Minister to England, that he might resign and go to China to do pioneer work for New England interests. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty was to be followed by a greater one, securing to the United States the coveted expansion southwest, west, and northwest. Thus Calhoun and his extreme Southerners, Benton and his ardent imperialist followers, and the radical Northwest were all to be satisfied at a single stroke of state, and Webster, the New Englander, was to be the happy instrument and perhaps become President in consequence.

Everett refused to resign, and Webster had promised his Whig friends to leave the State Department. Tyler did not despair; when the great New Englander retired in 1842, like Clay, to private life, he invited Hugh S. Legaré, of Charleston, to the vacant place. A year later Abel P. Upshur succeeded to the office. All the while the President was seeking to guide the Administration into other channels than the old ones of tariff, bank, and internal improvements.

The Texan envoys to Washington repeatedly urged unofficially the annexation of their country, which had fallen into a state of semi-bankruptcy, and whose governor, Sam Houston, was making overtures for English protection as an alternative to failure to get a favorable hearing in Washington. Southern States petitioned for annexation, while Middle Westerners met in a convention at Cincinnati in August, 1843, and demanded the immediate seizure of Texas and prompt occupation of Oregon. Thousands of emigrants left Missouri during the summer of 1843 for the Columbia Valley, under the encouragement of Senator Benton and for the purpose of holding the country against English fur traders or more permanent settlers. Under all this pressure the Administration let it be known in Congress that at least Texas would be annexed. Upshur reopened negotiations with the Texan envoy in Washington. Immediately John Quincy Adams protested, declaring the "Confederacy" to be dissolved in case Tyler's "nefarious" scheme should be consummated; but the President continued to press the Texan negotiations.

When the treaty with the new republic was about concluded, Upshur was accidentally killed by the explosion of a gun on the ship Princeton. Calhoun, whose ardent candidacy for the Democratic nomination had failed, was called to the State Department to take up the unfinished work. Meanwhile the campaigns of the two great parties were already far advanced. Clay was the acknowledged candidate of the Whigs, and Van Buren had obtained the pledged support of two thirds of the delegations to the next Democratic Convention, which was to meet in Baltimore in May, 1844. Instinctively dreading new issues, Van Buren arranged a visit to Jackson in the early spring, and on his return he called on Clay at Lexington, Kentucky, where it seems to have been agreed that the two candidates should eventually eliminate the Texas proposition from the platforms of the two great parties. On April 20, when Clay was in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Van Buren was at his home at Lindenwald, New York, public letters were given out by both leaders. Both advised against discussing the one thing everybody was discussing. The simultaneous appearance of these formal statements, each advising the same thing, caused a national sensation. Men thought that the two candidates had agreed beforehand what the people should not do. In Virginia, South Carolina, and Mississippi, where Texas feeling ran high, Democratic opinion could not be restrained, and meetings were called to reconsider the instructions of their delegations to the Baltimore Convention; nor were the Southern Whigs less anxious about the outcome, though the party as a whole acquiesced in Clay's wish that Texas should be eliminated from their forthcoming platform.

At this point Robert J. Walker, Senator from Mississippi, a shrewd little man who had gone to the Southwest eighteen years before to make his fortune, assumed the management of the Democratic party. A bold land speculator and an able lawyer, connected with the powerful Dallas and Bache families in Pennsylvania, he quickly rose to a commanding position in his State and was sent to the United States Senate, where he soon made himself felt as the most radical representative of Southern and Western interests, urging the rapid removal of the Indians beyond the western frontiers, free homesteads for all who would go West, and the immediate annexation of Texas. An intimate friend of Van Buren, a persistent opponent of Calhoun, and a rival of Benton for national honors, Walker published on Jackson Day, January 8, 1844, a letter to the public which was immediately reprinted in the newspapers of the South and West, and which in pamphlet form had a very wide circulation. In this letter he came out boldly for the "reannexation of Texas and the reoccupation of Oregon,"--all Oregon. His rhetorical language and his defiance of England gained the public ear on both Texas and Oregon, while his shrewd suggestions of commercial expansion in the Pacific won powerful support in New York and Boston. But the greatest stroke of this publication was the apparent Southern demand for all Oregon, and before the Van Buren-Clay "self-denying ordinances" appeared, Walker was forging the union of South and West on the proposition, reannexation of Texas and reoccupation of Oregon, and maneuvering in Washington for what was later called the "bargain of the Baltimore Convention." Walker's relations with the Pennsylvania leaders gave him a strong position in that great Democratic community, and he soon secured the support of Thomas Ritchie, the master politician in Virginia. When the Democrats met, late in May, the "little Senator" was in perfect control. He renewed and vitalized the rule of the Democratic party whereby the candidate must secure two thirds of all votes cast in order to receive the nomination. He procured the passage of this resolution by a mere majority vote, and thus Van Buren, who had a majority of the delegates instructed to vote for him, was deprived of the leadership of the party. The Walker slogan, "All of Texas, all of Oregon," was adopted by the convention, and James K. Polk, formerly Speaker of the House of Representatives, was nominated for the Presidency. Walker's brother-in-law, George M. Dallas, a Pennsylvania protectionist, was nominated for the Vice-Presidency. It was but a few days before the Northwestern men indicated the trend of events by giving every assurance of their support and adding to the campaign cry of Walker the "fifty-four-forty-or-fight" slogan which was heard on every stump from June till November.

Van Buren was humiliated and eliminated from the counsels of the party; Clay laughed at his "dark-horse" competitor, of whom he affected never to have heard; Calhoun, the legitimate beneficiary of the Texas propaganda, joined Walker with heart and soul and aided greatly in the management of the campaign. A new Democratic régime--the South and West coöperating--had been founded. This second coalition aimed at Clay and the East resembled very strikingly that of 1828. And new issues had been injected into the national discussion. A rapid extension of the national domain to the Rio Grande, to the Pacific, and to 54° 40' of north latitude in the Far Northwest was opposed to Clay's well-worn program of a protective tariff, national bank, and internal improvements.

Meanwhile Calhoun and Tyler completed their treaty with Texas and submitted it to the Senate, where it was held in suspense until after the meeting of the conventions. Tyler, after some hesitation, gave his support to Polk and Dallas. Calhoun suppressed uprisings against the new leadership in South Carolina, where strong doubt prevailed as to the purposes of Walker and Dallas with reference to the tariff. The old statesman, isolated though he was, thought that if the South and West could be held together the future would be secure. He took pleasure in the belief that "this is the end of Clay," who had so long troubled the national waters, while the politicians of the new coalition assured him that he would succeed Polk in 1848. Webster said little during the campaign; New England was divided by the promises of a great commercial expansion and the annexation of Oregon. The election of Polk and Dallas justified the bold moves of the Baltimore Convention. The scheme of Tyler, looking to the annexation of Texas, California, and Oregon, was now to be put into effect, even at the risk of war with England, whence serious warnings had been coming since the new national purpose became clear.

After years of uncertainty and deadlock, the country was now prepared for a forward movement, and though Polk was not her ideal statesman, the people rallied with fair unanimity to his standard. The new Administration would represent the new Democratic party--a resolute South and an ardent West. And the President-elect, simple and direct in all his ways, was determined to carry out the purposes of his supporters, namely, set the country upon a career of expansion hitherto unparalleled in its history.

In Illinois, Missouri, and throughout the South the demand was well-nigh unanimous that the disputed region along the Rio Grande should be held as against Mexico, and that California and Oregon should be seized and colonized. Cass, the older, and Douglas, the younger leader of the Northwest, were agreed in these extreme demands; even Benton, the disappointed friend of Van Buren, found compensation in the proposed Pacific frontier, while a powerful group of Southerners led by Governor Gilmer, of Virginia, Robert Barnwell Rhett, of South Carolina, William L. Yancey, of Alabama, and Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, took up the program of Calhoun and pressed it almost daily upon Congress and the country. The South was about to resume control of the national fortunes.

In that region, where cotton was king, and tobacco, sugar, and rice were powerful allies, a unique civilization had grown up. The plantation was the model, and the patriarchal master of slaves the ideal character which the ambitious poor imitated everywhere. The elegant life of the colonial plantation houses, which adorned the banks of the winding rivers of the old South in the days of the Revolution, had gradually moved westward and southwestward until the larger tobacco area of the Piedmont region extended from Petersburg, Virginia, to Greensboro, North Carolina, and from the falls of the rivers to the slopes of the Blue Ridge. Instead of running away from their slaves, as John Randolph had feared Southern gentlemen would be compelled to do, the tobacco planters found their business increasingly prosperous as the great cotton area south of them opened larger markets for their crops and higher prices for their surplus negroes. Even the wheat-growers of Virginia and Maryland became again prosperous when the great canals and the improved turnpikes reached the valley of Virginia and opened still wider areas of rich lands to the Richmond and Baltimore markets. The plantation form of life penetrated the high lands of Virginia almost to the Tennessee border, and slavery was fastening its hold upon the up-country people who had formerly been hostile.

[Illustration: Tobacco Areas in 1840]

[Illustration: Cotton Areas in 1840]

But the vast cotton region, embracing the better part of middle and eastern North Carolina and the accessible lands of the lower South to Eastern Texas, and extending over most of the Mississippi Valley to St. Louis, was the heart of the South, which supported the Polk Administration and waged the war upon Mexico soon to begin. In this fine country, men of ability made fortunes in a few years and learned to imitate the life of the old southern manor houses. Forests were cleared away in winter by the sturdy hands of slaves, and new fields were opened to cotton culture each spring to supply the places of those that had been rapidly worn down by unscientific methods of agriculture. The cabins which made the homes of well-to-do men in the Jeffersonian epoch gave way to substantial frame houses with massive columns and wide verandas, with great hallways and broad banquet-rooms, which so much delighted the heart of the planter of Calhoun's day. In a warm climate like that of the cotton region the object of the builder was always to attain cool recesses and retired gardens, where the social life of the time displayed itself.

The houses were built on hilltops covered with primeval oaks, which cast a dense shade over all. Sometimes stone or brick walls protected the premises against the outer world, and wide entrances, guarded on either side by sculptured lions or tigers, gave a dignity and a splendor which reminded one of the estates of English noblemen. In the rear of these pretentious and sometimes beautiful houses were the rows of negro cabins, with their little gardens for the raising of vegetables and the ranges for chickens, as dear to the palates of negro slaves as to those of visiting clergymen. The barns and carriage houses completed the outfit. Where hundreds of bales of cotton and thousands of barrels of corn were grown annually, there would be driving or saddle horses for the master's family and many Kentucky mules for the work of the fields; and a plantation took on the appearance of a busy colony in a new country. Sixty to a hundred negroes were regarded as the best labor unit for profitable agriculture. Of these there would be a few house servants trained in all the intricacies of patriarchal hospitality and courtesy. The carriage driver and keeper of the stables, sometimes clad in the extra dignity of a special livery and a tall silk hat, a tyrant to all the little negroes, but an obsequious flatterer to those who were welcome at the master's house, was perhaps the most envied man of the estate. To see this matchless son of Africa mounted on the high seat of an old-fashioned English carriage, as he drove his prancing horses to the front door of the "great house" and asked if all were ready for church, was to get a glimpse of the old South itself. The boasted freedom of "poor white trash" or of "impudent free issue negroes" had no attractions to him who enjoyed these high prerogatives.

The master who was responsible for the multitudinous life of the plantation, arbiter of the fortunes, sometimes, of a thousand men, was usually conscious of his power and, when "times were good," kind to his dependents. He liked to see his negroes fat and happy, for a "likely slave" was as good as money in the bank. Accustomed to the exercise of authority, he was apt to be a member of the county court, the actual governing agency of the old South, and as such he was always "squire." From the county court he went to the state legislature, where he and his fellow planters made the laws of these sovereign States of the old régime. From local magistrate to chief executive the Southern community was governed by the owners of slaves, and the great men whom they chose to speak for the South in Congress or to advise the President and his Cabinet or to sit upon the benches of the federal courts were invariably masters of plantations, trained from early youth to the exercise of authority and accustomed to receive the homage of their neighbors. It was a mighty social and economic organization which had grown up in and spread over the richer lands of South and West, as far as the borders of Mexico and the valleys of the Ohio and Missouri. The wheat and tobacco growers, the rice and sugar planters were allied to the more powerful cotton lords, and, though there were party differences, all spoke the same voice in the national life. Of the five or six millions of southern white people in 1845 only seven or eight thousand were great plantation masters, though some three hundred thousand were either owners of slaves or members of the privileged families--a larger proportion than usual for a favored class, but still a small number when compared to the total population of the country which was, from 1845 to 1860, controlled by them.

As was natural, the professional classes of the South, the lawyers, clergymen, physicians, and teachers, were in close alliance with the planters, their callings and their incomes being directly dependent on them. A successful professional man soon became a master and usually retired to a country seat. If a poor but capable young man gave promise of power and leadership he was soon accepted by his dominant neighbors and became a son-in-law of a privileged family; if a preacher rose to fame doubting or even condemning the institutions of the South, he was apt to find a way to change his views and to become a part of the system before he reached his mature years. The articulate South was, therefore, in economic and social life a unit in 1845, and this unit was the strongest group in the country as a whole. Its demand for expansion towards the southwest was based upon the common desire, the common law of growth, and this growth was the only means of winning new votes in Congress and in the electoral college. It was the same motive which actuated the farmers of the Northwest and the commercial leaders of New England when they demanded of the Federal Government the seizure of Oregon or the protection of ships upon the ocean.

[Illustration: Wheat Areas in 1840]

If the planter and dominant element of the South urged Polk and Walker onward in their course and gave power to Calhoun, the greater masses of non-slaveholding Southerners were hardly less enthusiastic. The earlier jealousy and fear of the planters had everywhere weakened as the new lands of the South and West gave opportunity to the more ambitious to rise in the social and economic scale. The sons of small farmers and landless men in the old South had built the cotton kingdom of the lower South, and were now drawing aristocratic Virginia and the Carolinas into a close union with the new region. The widening of the area of slavery was equivalent to the opening of a social safety valve to the older and stratifying life of the South. Young men who had been hostile to slavery at home became friendly allies in a new environment. Thus the small farmers became enthusiastic supporters of the great machine of which slavery was the base.

Not only so, the growers of corn and wheat in the remote hills and mountains of the South, the men who distilled their grain into strong drink, those who raised pigs or cotton a hundred or two hundred miles west of the tobacco and cotton belts, could always find a market in the plantation towns where calicos, "store-clothes," and trinkets could be had for themselves and families. The long trains of quaint, covered tobacco wagons which wound their way over rough roads from the mountains to the black belt carried whiskey or other up-country products to the plantations; the droves of mules, cattle, or hogs which poured into the Carolinas and the Gulf region from East Tennessee and Kentucky were bonds of attraction between the planters and the non-slaveholding elements too powerful to be ignored. And as time passed the legislatures under planter control built better highways and projected railways into the richer sections of the interior, which invariably made allies of these new economic communities, and gradually slavery followed in the wake of the new channels of communication.

The most helpless of the Southern groups were the poorer farmers, who lived on the semi-sterile lands which the planters refused to occupy or in the pine barrens of the eastern Carolinas, and the landless class which hung on to the skirts of slavery. Unambitious, ignorant, and improvident, frequently the "ne'er-do-wells" of the old families, ignored by the wealthy and spurned by the slaves, who gave them the name of "poor white trash," their lot was hard, indeed. They earned a few dollars a year at odd jobs, raised a few hogs or at most a bale or two of cotton, and lived in cabins little better than those occupied by the negroes. Their children were numerous, without educational advantages, and accustomed to the poor and meager cultural life of an outcast class. Their outlook was no better than that of their parents. Barefoot, half-clad, yet alert and agile, hating negroes and fearing the masters, these "Anglo-Saxons" offered the problem of the South. Unaccustomed to independent voting, they did not endanger the existing order, and even when they were aroused to a sense of their position, their ignorance and dependence and prejudices prevented them from organizing in self-defense. They usually followed their economic superiors, and learned to denounce the tariff, internal improvements, and "scheming Yankees" as roundly as did their wealthy neighbors.

Still, life in the South was in the open; the joys and the sports of the people were those of healthy rural communities. The well-to-do and even the poorer classes lived on horseback, bet on the races, and participated in the rough-and-tumble games of the court days. The wealthy did not refuse all relations with "the people" on such occasions. The planter knew and called familiarly by name every man in his part of the county, and the magistrates who made up the courts of the people exercised a kindly patriarchal authority over their "inferiors," the dependent whites. There were few occupants of jails or penitentiaries; poorhouses were often tenantless, and asylums for the insane were not numerous or crowded. Beggars and tramps were unknown. Judged by the facts of life the system of slavery and large proprietors was not so bad as it appeared; and as the South came into full self-consciousness, say with the inauguration of Polk and Dallas, the problems of adjustment of the different economic groups, of providing better educational facilities for the poorer classes, and of meeting certain religious and social requirements of the slaves themselves, were fully recognized by the masters, and beginnings of improvement in all these matters were already making.

In nothing was this more evident than in Southern religious life. The South which followed Jefferson was largely indifferent to religious dogmas of all kinds. Most of the greater leaders had been deists rather than Christians; nor had they suffered for these opinions at the hands of the people. Calhoun's Unitarianism had in no way retarded his political career. But before 1830 a change was taking place. The stout Presbyterianism of the up-country forced the retirement of one of the professors of the University of Virginia, in its earlier years, and it compelled the resignation of President Cooper of the University of South Carolina, in 1836, because of his denial of the inspiration of the Pentateuch. The Presbyterians had grown powerful and wealthy; they asserted their influence in Virginia and South Carolina, and they were already recognized as leaders in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. What this denomination did was applauded by the more numerous Baptists and Methodists, whose membership was as yet too poor to command the influence of their rivals.

Before 1844, however, these great religious organizations in the South, with a combined membership of nearly a million, received full recognition. With a small-farmer and landless membership they had opposed slavery and the whole aristocratic system before 1820, but as the years passed, tobacco and cotton culture made many of them wealthy and opened the way to all who were ambitious to rise. At once the official attitude began to change. The preachers ceased first to denounce "the institution," and finally without offense became slave-owners themselves. The clergy's stern rebukes of fashion, of dancing, and of "the wearing of fine raiment" ceased or lost its effect. Presbyterians had long believed in an educated ministry, and when they forced their influence into political life, they were already friendly to the dominant ideas of the South. Now the Baptists and Methodists built colleges for the training of young ministers, and preaching in their simple churches was made to conform to the canons of good taste. Throughout the South the churches became the allies of the existing economic and social order, and they presented a solid front to those who proposed to discipline men for holding other men in bondage. Their clergy formulated a strong Biblical and patriarchal defense of the South. Slavery, from being an institution to be lamented as an evil, became a blessing sustained by the Holy Scriptures, according to the ablest ministers of God.

When the Northern branches of these churches found how completely their Southern brethren had yielded to the powerful social pressure of their local life, a vigorous attempt was made to correct the tendency. It failed, and in 1844-45 the Baptists of the East and those of the upper Northwest refused to coöperate with Southern churches which insisted on the right to send out missionaries who owned slaves. A Southern Baptist Church was the immediate result. In the same year, 1844, the Methodists of the East and upper West refused to recognize the ministrations of a bishop who owned slaves, and a break-up of the church followed. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized at Louisville the following year. The Presbyterians and Episcopalians had become so completely reconciled to the aristocratic life which slavery connoted that they sustained no serious breach in their ranks. In the North as well as in the South they accepted slavery. A notable result of these breaks in the Baptist and Methodist churches was the rapid increase of membership of both in the South. Within a period of ten years the Southern Baptists were as powerful as the American Baptists had been in 1844. The same is true of the Methodists, and what happened in the South was paralleled in the North. Pro-slavery churches in the South and anti-slavery churches in the North seemed to be required by the people. Revivals, educational improvements, and missionary zeal were the fruits of the "reformation." Politicians like Calhoun, who watched and counseled these peaceful schisms, urged that the Union must in due time likewise break into pieces; but the great economic forces of the country were as yet too strong; common markets, interlocking transportation systems, and the extraordinary prosperity which followed the Polk régime defeated the wishes of those who thought that two confederations within the area of the United States would be better than one.

Thus, when Polk took up the forward program which had been outlined at Baltimore, and which was to antiquate the "American System" over which Clay and Jackson and their respective groups had fought so bitterly since 1824, the South was rapidly crystallizing into a solid section with definite ideas and purposes. The plantation owners were in full command; the older and small-farmer element was falling into line behind their pro-slavery leaders; the social and religious life had become orthodox and stratified; and the clergy, who now preached acceptably to great masses of people, were, like those of New England, in full sympathy with the dominant economic interests of their time. The immediate future of the South was fairly certain, and Southern leaders assumed a militant tone indicative of the wishes of their people.

Bibliographical Note

Justin H. Smith's _Annexation of Texas_ (1911) and G. P. Garrison's _Westward Extension_ (1906), in _American Nation_ series, give full and trustworthy accounts of the Texas movement; while Lyon G. Tyler's _Times of the Tylers_ (1884); C. H. Ambler's _Life of Thomas Ritchie_ (1913); J. W. DuBose's _Life of William L. Yancey_ (1892); and J. F. H. Claiborne's _Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman_ (1860), supply abundant material showing the temper and purposes of the different parts of the South in 1840. U. B. Phillips's _The Plantation and Frontier_ (1909) is an excellent source-book for the period, and the Adams _Memoir_, Clay _Correspondence_ (Colton), Calhoun _Correspondence_ (Jameson), and Mrs. A. M. Coleman's _The Life of John J. Crittenden_ (1871) are most useful for these years. The debates of Congress for the period of 1833 to 1873 are found in the _Congressional Globe_ and _Appendices_. For the philosophy of slavery and the Southern social system of which slavery was the basis read _The Pro-Slavery Argument_ (1852), containing Thomas R. Dew's and James H. Hammond's writings on the subject.