[ docketing ]
July 27 1848
Speech in U.S. House of Representatives on the Presidential Question, 27 July 18481
Gen: Taylor, and the veto
Mr Speaker
Our democratic friends seem to be in great distress because they think our candidate for the Presidency dont suit us– Most of them can not find out that Gen: Taylor has any principles at all; some, however, have discovered that he has one principle, but that that one is entirely wrong– This one principle, is his position on the veto power– The gentleman from Tennessee (Mr Stanton) who has just taken his seat, indeed, has said there is very little if any difference on this question between Gen: Taylor and all the Presidents; and he seems to think it sufficient detraction from Gen: Taylor's position ^on^ it, that it has nothing new in it– But all others, whom I have heard speak, assail it furiously– A new member from Kentucky (Mr Clark) of very considerable ability, was in particular concern about it– He thought it altogether novel, and unprecedented, for a President, or a Presidential candidate to admit the constitutionality of a bill which has passed congress, unless it's unconstitutionality is ^to think of approving bills whose constitutionality may not be entirely^ clear to his own mind– He thinks the ark of our safety is gone, unless Presidents shall always veto such bills, as in their judgment, may be of doubtful constitutionality– However clear congress may be of their authority to pass any particular act, the gentleman from Kentucky thinks the President must veto it if he has doubts about it–2 Now I have neither time nor inclination to argue with the gentleman on the veto power as an original question; but I wish to show that Gen: Taylor, and not he, agrees with the earlier statesman on this question– When the bill chartering the first bank of the United States passed Congress, it's constitutionality was questioned– Mr Madison, then in the House of Representatives, as well as others, had opposed it on that ground– Gen: Washington, as President, was called on to approve or reject it– He sought and obtained ^on the constitutional question^ the separate written opinions of Jefferson, Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph;

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they then being respectively Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney General– Hamilton's opinion was for the power; while Randolph's and Jefferson's were both against it– Mr Jefferson, after giving his opinion decidedly against the constitutionality of that bill, closes his letter with the paragraph which I now read:
"It must be admitted, however, that, unless the President's mind, on a view of every thing, which is urged for and against this bill, is tollerably clear that it is unauthorized by the constitution; if the pro and the con hang so even as to ballance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of the legislature, would naturally decide the ballance in favor of their opinion: it is chiefly for cases, where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the constitution has placed a check in the negative of the President.
February 15– 1791–
Thomas Jefferson–"3
Gen: Taylor's opinion, as expressed in his Allison letter, is as I now read:
"The power given by the veto, is a high conservative power; but in my opinion, should never be exercised except in cases of clear violation of the constitution, or manifest haste, and want of consideration by Congress–"4
It is here seen that, in Mr Jefferson's opinion, if in any on the constitutionality of any given bill, the President doubts, he is not to veto it, as the gentleman from Kentucky would have him to do, but is to defer to congress, and approve it– And if we compare the opinions of Jefferson and Taylor, as expressed in these paragraphs, we shall find them more exactly alike, than we ^can^ often find any two expressions, having any litteral difference–
They are more alike than the account of the crucifixion, as given by any two of the evangelists—more alike, th or at least as much alike, as any two accounts of the inscription, written and erected by Pilate at that time ^None but interested faultfinders, I think, can discover any substantial variation–^

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Taylor on measures of policy
But gentlemen on the other side are unanamously agreed that Gen: Taylor has any ^no^ other principles– They are in utter darkness as to his opinions on any of the questions of policy which occupy the public attention. Is ^But is^ there any doubt as to what he will do on the prominent questions, if elected? Not the least– It is not possible to know what he will, or wouldo do, in every immaginable case; because many questions have passed away, and others doubtless will arise which none of us have yet thought of; but on the prominent questions of Currency, Tariff, internal improvements, and Wilmot Proviso, Gen: Taylor’s course is at least as well defined as ^is^ Gen: Cass' is– Why, in their eagerness to get at Gen: Taylor, the several of democratic members here, have desired to know whether, in case of his election, a bankrupt law is to be established– Can they tell us Gen: Cass' opinion on this question? (Some member answered "He is against it") Aye, how do you know he is? There is nothing about it in the Platform, nor elsewhere that I have seen– If the gentleman knows of anything, which I do not, he can show it– But to return: Gen: Taylor, in his Allison letter, says
"Upon the subject of the tariff, the currency, the improvements of our great high-ways, rivers, lakes, and harbors, the will of the people, as expressed through their representatives in congress, ought to be respected and carried out by the executive–"
5Now this is the whole matter– In substance, it is this: The people say to Gen: Taylor "If you are elected, shall we have a national bank?" He answers "Your will, gentlemen, not mine" "What about the Tariff?" "Say yourselves–" "Shall our rivers and harbours be improved?" "Just as you please" "If you desire a bank, an alteration of the tariff, internal improvements, any, or all, I will not hinder you; if you do not desire them, I will not attempt to force them on you" "Send up your members of congress from the various

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districts, with opinions according with ^to^ your own; and if they are for these measures, or any of them, I shall have nothing to oppose; if they are not for them, I shall not, by any appliances whatever, attempt to dragoon them into their adoption" Now, can there be any difficulty in understanding this? To you democrats, it may not seem like principle; but surely you can not fail to perceive the position plainly enough– The distinction between it, and the position of your candidate is broad and obvious; and, ^I admit,^ you have a clear right to show it is wrong if you can; but you have no right to pretend you can not see the position ^it^ at all– We see it; and to us it appears like principle, and the best sort of principle at that—the principle of allowing the people to do as they please with their own business– My friend from Indiana (C. B. Smith) has aptly asked "Are you willing to trust the people?" Some of you answered, substantially "We are willing to trust the trust the people; but the President is as much the representative of the people a[s] Congress–"6 In a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he is the representative of the people– He is elected by them, as well as Congress ^is–^– But can he, in the nature of*things, know the wants of the people, as well as three hundred other men, coming from all the various localities of the Nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a congress? That the constitution gives the President a negative on legislation, all know; but that this negative should be so combined with platforms, and other appliances, as to enable him, and, in fact, almost compel him, to take the whole of legislation into his own hands, is what we object to, is what Gen: Taylor objects to, and is what constitutes the broad distinction between you and us– To thus transfer legislation, is clearly to take it from those who understand, with minuteness,7 the interests of the people, and give it to one who does not, and can not so well understand it– I understand your idea, that if a Presidential candidate avow his opinion upon a given questions or matter, upon all questions,

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and the people, with full knowledge of this, elect him, they thereby distinctly approve all those opinions– This, though plausable, is a most pernicious deception– By means of it, measures are adopted or rejected, contrary to the wishes of the whole of one party, and often nearly half of the other– The process is this– Three, four, or half a dozen questions are prominent at a given time; the party selects it's candidate, and he takes his position on each of these questions– On all but one, his positions have already been endorsed at former elections, and his party fully committed to them; but that one is new, and a large portion of them are against it– But what are they to do? The whole are strung together; and they must take all, or reject all– They can not take what they like, and leave the rest– What they are already committed to, being the majority of the points, they shut their eyes, and gulp the whole– Next election, still another is introduced in the same way– If we run our eyes along the line of the past, we shall see that almost, if not quite all the articles of the present democratic creed, have been at first forced upon the party in this very way– And just now, and just so, opposition to internal improvements is to be established, if Gen: Cass shall be elected– Almost half the democrats here, are for improvements; but they will vote for Cass, and if he succeeds, their votes will have aided in closing the doors against improvements– Now this is a process which we think is wrong– We prefer a candidate, who, like Gen: Taylor, will allow the people to have their own way, regardless of his private opinions,– and I should think the internal improvement democrats, at least, ought to prefer such a candidate– He would force nothing on them which they dont want, and he would allow them to have improvements, which their own candidate, if elected, will not–8
Mr Speaker, I have said Gen: Taylors position is as well defined, as is that of Gen: Cass– In saying this I admit I do not certainly know what he would do on

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the Wilmot Proviso– I am a Northern man, or rather, a Western free state man, with a constituency I believe to be, and with personal feelings I know to be, against the extension of slavery– As such, and with what information I have, I hope and believe, Gen: Taylor, if elected, would not veto the Proviso;– But if I but ^But^ I do not know it– Yet, if I knew he would veto it, I still would vote for him- I should do so, because, in my judgment, his election alone, can defeat Gen: Cass; and because, should slavery thereby go to the teritory we now have, just so much will certainly happen by the election of Cass; and, in addition, a course of policy, leading to new wars, new acquisitions of teritory and still further extensions of slavery– One of the two is to be President; which is preferable?
But there is as much doubt of Cass on improvements, as there is of Taylor on the Proviso– I have no doubt myself of Gen: Cass on this question; but I know the democrats differ among themselves as to his position– My internal improvement colleague (Mr Wentworth) stated on this floor the other day that he was satisfied Cass was for improvements, because he had voted for all the bills that he (Mr W.) had–9 So far so good; but Mr Polk vetoed some of these very bills, the Baltimore Convention passed a set of resolutions, among other things, approving these vetoes, and Gen: Cass declares, in his letter accepting the nomination, that he has carefully read these resolutions; and that he adheres to them as firmly as he approves them as he approves them cordially– In other words, Gen: Cass voted for the bills, and thinks the President did right to veto them; and his friends here are amiable enough to consider him as being on one side or the other, just as one or the other may correspond with their own respective inclinations– My colleague admits that the platform declares against the constitutionality of a general system of improvements, and that Gen: Cass endorses the platform; but he still thinks Gen: Cass is in favor of some sort of improvements– Well, what are they? As he is against general ob-

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jects, those he is for, nor must be particular and local– Now this is taking the subject precisely by the wrong end– Particularity—expending the money of the whole people, for an object, which will benefit only a portion of them—is the greatest real objection to improvements, and has been so held by Gen: Jackson, Mr Polk, and all others, I believe, till now– But now, behold, the objects ne most general,—nearest free from this objection, are to be rejected, while those most liable to it, are to be embraced–some people think —but Gen: Cass has not exposed himself to the ridicule of pretending to think any such thing. To return; I can not help believing that Gen: Cass, when he wrote his letter of acceptance, well understood he was to be claimed by the advocates of both sides of this question, and that he then closed the door against all further expressions of opinion, purposely to retain the benefits of that double position– His subsequent equivocation at Cleveland, to my mind, proves such to have been the case–10
11 One word more, and I shall have done with this branch of the subject– You democrats, and your candidate, ^in the main^ are in favor of laying down, in advance, a platform—a set of party positions, as a unit; and then of enforcing the people, by every sort of appliance, to ratify them, however unpalatable some of them may be– We, and our candidate, are in favor of making Presidential elections, and the legislation of the country, distinct matters; so that the people can elect whom they please, and afterwards, without legislate just as they please, without any hindrance, save only so much as may guard against infractions of the Constitution, undue haste, and want of consideration– The difference between us, is clear as noon-day– That we are right, we can not doubt. We hold the true republican position– In leaving the people's business in their hands, we can not be wrong– We are willing, and even anxious, to go to the people, on this issue–

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Old horses, and military coat tails
But I suppose I can not reasonably hope to convince you that we have any principles– The most I can expect, is to assure you that we think we have, and are quite contented with them– The other day, one of the gentlemen from Georgia (Mr Iverson) an eloquent man, and a man of learning, so far as I could judge, not being learned, myself, came down upon us astonishingly– He spoke in what the Baltimore American calls the "scathing and withering style". At the end of his second severe flash, I was struck blind, and found myself feeling with my fingers for an assurance of my continued physical existence– A little of the bone was left, and I gradually revived– He eulogised Mr Clay in high and beautiful terms, and then declared that we had deserted all our principles, and had turned Henry Clay out, like an old horse to root– This is terribly severe– It can not be answered by argument; at least, I can not so answer it– I merely wish to ask the gentlemen if the whigs are the only party he can think of, who some times turn old horses out to root– Is not a certain Martin Van Buren, an old horse which your own party have turned out to root? and is he not rooting a little to your discomfort about now? But in not nominating Mr Clay, we deserted our principles, you say– Ah! in what? Tell us, ye men of principles, what principle we violated– We say you did violate principle in discarding Van Buren, and we can tell you how– You violated the primary, the cardinal, the one great living principle of all Democratic representative government– the principle, that the representative is bound to carry out the known will of his constituents– A large majority of the Baltimore Convention of 1844, were, by their constituents, instructed to procure Van Buren's nomination if they could– In violation, in utter, glaring contempt of this, you rejected him—rejected him, as the gentleman from New-York (Mr Birdsall) the other day, expressly admitted, for availability—that same "General availability" which you charge upon us, and daily chew over here, as something exceedingly odious and unprincipled– But the gentleman from Georgia (Mr Iverson) gave us a second

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speech yesterday, all well considered, and put down in writing, in which Van Buren was scathed and withered a "few" for his present position and movements– I can not remember the gentlemans precise language; but I do remember he put Van Buren down, down, till he got him where he was finally to "slink" and "rot"–12
Mr Speaker, it is no business, or inclination of mine, to defend Martin Van Buren– In the war of extermination now waging between him and his old admirers, I say, devil take the hindmost—and the foremost– But there is no mistaking the origin13 of the breach; and if the ^curse of^ "stinking" and "rotting" is ^is^ are to fall on the first and greatest violaters of principle in the matter, I disinterestedly suggest, that the gentleman from Georgia, and his present co-workers, are bound to take it upon themselves–14
But the gentleman from Georgia further says we have deserted all our principles, and taken shelter under Gen: Taylor's military coat-tail; and he seems to think this is exceedingly degrading– Well, as his faith is, so be it unto him– But can he remember no other military coat tail under which a certain other party have been sheltering for near a quarter of a century? Has he no acquaintance with the ample military coat tail of Gen: Jackson? Does he not know that his own party have run the five last Presidential races under that coat-tail? and that they are now running the sixth, under the same cover? Yes sir, that coat tail was used, not only for Gen: Jackson himself; but has been clung to, with the gripe of death, by every democratic candidate since– You have never ventured, and dare not now venture, from under it– Your campaign papers have constantly been "Old Hickories" with rude likenesses of the old general upon them; hiory ^hickory^ poles, and hickory brooms, your never-ending emblems; Mr Polk himself was "Young Hickory" "Little Hickory" or something so; and even now, your campaign paper here, is proclaiming that Cass and Butler are of the true "Hickory stripe–" No sir, you dare not give it up–

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Like a horde of hungry ticks you have stuck to the tail of the Hermitage lion to the end of his life; and you are still sticking to it, and drawing a loathsome sustenance from it, after he is dead– A fellow once advertised that he had made a discovery by which he could make a new man out of an old one, and have enough of the stuff left to make a little yellow dog– Just such a discovery, has Gen: Jackson's popularity been to you– You not only twice made President of him out of it, but you have had enough of the stuff left, to make Presidents of several comparatively small men since; and it is your chief reliance now to make still another–
15Mr Speaker, old horses, and military coat-tails, or tails of any sort, are not figures of speech, such as I would ^not ^ be the first to introduce into discussions here; but as the gentleman from Georgia has thought fit to introduce them, he, and you, are welcome to all you have made, or can make, by them– If you have any more old horses, trot them out; any more tails, just cock them, and come at us–
I repeat, I would not introduce this mode of discussion here: but I wish gentlemen on the other side to understand, that the use of degrading figures is a game at which they may not find themselves able to take all the winnings– (We give it up). Aye, you give it up, and well you may; but for a very different reason from that which you would have us understand– The point—the power to hurt—of all figures, consists in the truthfulness of their application; and, understanding this, you may well give it up– They are wa weapons which hit you, but miss us–
^(Military tail of the Great Michigander)^
But in my hurry I was very near closing on the subject of military tails before I was done with it– There is one entire article of the sort I have not discussed yet; I mean the military tail you democrats are now engaged in dovetailing onto the great Michigander– Yes sir, all his biographers (and they are legion) have ^him^ in hand, tying him to a military tail, like so many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of beans– True, the material they have is very limited; but they drive

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drive at it, might and main– He invaded Canada without resistance, and he outvaded it without pursuit– As he did both under orders, I suppose there was, to him, neither credit or discredit in them; but they are made to** constitute a large part of the tail– He was not at Hull's surrender, but he was close by;16 he was volunteer aid to Gen: Harrison on the day of the battle of the Thames; and, as you said in 1840, Harrison was picking huckleberries whortleberries**two miles off while the battle was was fought, I suppose it is a just conclusion with you, to say Cass was aiding Harrison to pick huckleberrieswhortleberries**17 This is about all, except the mooted question of the broken sword– Some authors say he broke it, some say he threw it away, and some others, who ought to know, say nothing about it– Perhaps it would be a fair historical compromise to say, if he did not break it, he didn't do any thing else with it–18
By the way, Mr Speaker, did you know I am a military hero! Yes sir; in the days of the Black Hawk war, I fought, bled, and came away– Speaking of Gen: Cass' career, reminds me of my own– I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it, as Cass was to Hulls surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards–19 It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in de[s]paration; I bent the musket by accident– ^If Gen Cass went in advance of me in picking huckleberrieswhortleberries**, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions–^ If Gen: Cass ^he^ saw any live, fighting indians, it was more than I did; but I had a good many bloody struggles with the musquitoes; and, although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry– Mr Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our democratic friends may suppose there is of black cockade federalism about me, and thereupon, they shall take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me, as they have of Gen: Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero–

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Cass on the Wilmot Proviso
While I have Gen: Cass in hand, I wish to say a word about his political principles– As a specimen, I take the record of his progress on the Wilmot Proviso– In the Washington Union, of March 2nd 1847, there is a report of a speech of Gen: Cass, made the day before, in the Senate, on the Wilmot Proviso, during the delivery of which, Mr Miller, of New Jersey, is reported to have interupted him as follows, towit
"Mr Miller expressed his great surprise at the change in the sentiments of the senator from20 Michigan, who had been regarded as the great champion of freedom in the North West, of which he was a distinguished ornament– Last year the senator from Michigan was understood to be decidedly in favor of the Wilmot Proviso; and, as no reason had been stated for the change, he (Mr M.) could not refrain from the expression of his extreme surprise"
To this, Gen: Cass is reported to have replied as follows, towit:
"Mr Cass said that the course of the senator from New-Jersey was most extraordinary– Last year he (Mr C) should have voted for the proposition had it come up– But circumstances had altogether changed– The honorable senator then read several passages from the remarks, as given above, which he had committed to writing, in order to refute such a charge as that of the senator from New-Jersey"
In the "remarks above reduced to writing" is one numbered 4 as follows, towit
"4th Legislation now would be wholly inopperative, because no teritory hereafter to be acquired can be governed, without an act of congress providing for its government– And such an act, on it's passage, would open the whole subject, and leave the congress, called on to pass it, free to exercise it's own discretion, entirely uncontrolled by any declaration found on the statute book"21
In Niles’ Register, Vol. 73, page 293, there is a letter of Gen: Cass to A. O. P.**Nicholson, of Nashville, Tenn. dated Decr[December] 24th 1847, from which, the following are correct extracts—

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"The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some time. It has been repeatedly discussed in Congress, and by the public press– I am strongly impressed with the opinion that a great change has been going on in the public mind upon this subject—in my own as well as others; and that doubts are resolving themselves into convictions, that the principle it involves should be kept out of the national legislature, and left to the people of the confederacy in their respective local governments" * * *
"Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any jurisdiction by Congress over this matter; and I am in favor of leaving the people of any teritory which may be hereafter acquired, the right to regulate it themselves, under the general principles of the constitution; Because
1– I do not see in the constitution any grant of the requisite power to congress; and I am not disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond it's necessity—the establishment of teritorial governments when needed—leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatable with the relations they bear to the confederation–"22
These extracts show that, in 1846, Gen: Cass was for the Proviso at once; that in March 1847, he was still for it, but not just then; and that, in Decr 1847 he was against it altogether– This is a true index to the whole man– When the question was raised in 1846, he was in a blustering hurry to take ground for it– He sought to be in advance, and to avoid the uninteresting position of a mere follower; but soon he began to see ^glimpses of^ this great democratic ox-gad waving in his face, and to hear, indistinctly, a voice saying "Back" "Back sir" "Back a little"– He shakes his head, and bats his eyes, and blunders back to his position of March 1847; but still the gad waves, and the voice grows more distinct, and sharper still "Back sir" "Back I say" "Further back"; and back he goes, to the position of Decr 1847, at which ^the gad is still, and^ the voice soothingly says "So" "Stand at that"–

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Have no fears, gentlemen, of your candidate– He exactly suits you, and we congratulate you upon it– However much you may be distressed about our candidate, you have all cause to be contented and happy with your own– If elected, he may not maintain all, or even any of his positions previously taken; but he will be sure to do whatever the party exigency, for the time being, may require; and that is precisely what you want– He and Van Buren are the same "manner of men;" and, like Van Buren, he will never desert you, till you first desert him
23^(Cass on working and eating)^24
Mr Speaker, I adopt the suggestion of a friend, that Gen: Cass is a General of splendidly successful charges— charges, to be sure, not upon the public enemy, but upon the public Treasury–
He was governor of Michigan Teritory, and ex-officio, superintendant of indian affairs, from the 9th of October 1813 till the 31st of July 1831, a period of seventeen years, nine months, and twentytwo days– During this time period, he received from the U.S. Treasury, for personal services, and personal expenses, the aggregate sum of $96–028, being an average sum*** of $14–79 cents per day, for every day of the time– This large sum was reached, by assuming that he was doing service, and incurring expenses, at several different places, and in several different capacities in the same place, all at the same time– By a correct analysis of his accounts, during that period, the following propositions may be deduced–
First: He was paid in three different capacities during the whole of the time—that is to say—
1– As governor's salary, at the rate per year of $ 2000–
2– As estimated for office-rent, clerk-hire fuel &c[etc] in superintendance of indian affairs in Michigan, at the rate per year of " 1500
3– As compensation and expenses, for various miscellaneous, items of indian services out of Michigan, an average per year of– " 625

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Second: During part of the time, that is, from the 9th of October 1813, to the 29th of May 1822, he was paid in four different capacities—that is to say—
The three as above, and, in addition thereto, the commutation of ten rations per day, amounting, per year, to $730–
Third: During another part of the time, that is, from the beginning of 1822 to the 31st of July 1831, he was also paid in four different capacities, that is to say—
The first three, as above (the rations being dropped after the 29th of May 1822) and, in addition thereto, for superintending indian agencies at Piqua, Ohio, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, at the rate per year of $1500–
It should be observed here, that the last item, commencing at the beginning of 1822, and the item of rations, ending on the 29th of May 1822, lap on each other, during so much of the time as lies between those two dates–
Fourth: Still another part of the time, that is, from the 31st of October 1821 to the 29th of May 1822, he was paid in six different capacities—that is to say—
The three first, as above, the item of rations, as above; and, in addition thereto, another item of ten rations per day, while at Washington settling his accounts, being at the rate per year of $730–
And also, an allowance for expenses traveling to and from Washington, and while there, of $1022, being at the rate per year of $1793–
Fifth: And yet during the little portion of the time which lies between the 1st of Jany[January] 1822, and the 29th of May 1822, he was paid in seven different capacities, that is to say—
The six, last mentioned, and also, at the rate of $1500 per year, for the Piqua, Fort Wayne, and Chicago service, as mentioned above–
These accounts have already been discussed some here; but when we are amongst them, as when we are in the

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Patent Office, we must peep about a good while before we can see all the curiosities– I shall not be tedious with them– As to the large item of $1500 ^per year^ amounting in the aggregate, to $6610 ^26–715^ for office-rent, clerk-hire, fuel &c, I barely wish to remark that, so far as I can discover in the public documents, there is no evidence, either by word or inference, either from any disinterested witness or of Gen: Cass himself, that he ever rented, or kept a separate office; ever ^hired or^ kept a clerk; or ever used any extra amount of fuel &c. in consequence of his indian services– Indeed, Gen. Cass' entire silence in regard to these items, in his two long letters urging his claims upon the government, is, to my mind, almost conclusive that no such items had any real existence–
But I have introduced Gen: Cass' accounts here chiefly to show the wonderful physical capacities of the man. They show that he not only did the labor of several men at the same time; but that he often did it at several places, many hundreds of miles app apart, at the same time– And, at eating too, his capacities are shown to be quite as wonderful. From October 1821 to May 1822, he eat ten rations a day in Michigan, ten rations a day here in Washington, and near five dollars worth a day besides, partly*** on the road between the two places! And then there is an important discovery in his example—the art of being paid for what one eats, instead of having to pay for it– Hereafter if any nice young man shall owe a bill which he can not pay in any other way, he can just board it out– Mr Speaker, we have all heard of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay, and starving to death–25 The like of that would never happen to Gen: Cass; place the stacks a thousand miles apart, he would stand stock still midway between them, and eat them both at once; and the green grass along the line be would be apt to suffer some too at the same time– By all means, make him President, gentlemen– He will feed boun you bountiously, —if —if there is any left after he shall have helped himself–26

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27The whigs and the war
But, as Gen: Taylor is, par excellance, the hero of the mexican war; and, as you democrats say we whigs have always opposed the war, you think it must be very awkard and embarrassing to us for us to go for Gen: Taylor– The declaration that we have always opposed the war, is true or false, accordingly as one may understand the term "opposing the war"– If to say "the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President" be opposing the war, then the whigs have very generally opposed it–28 Whenever they have spoken at all, they have said this; and they have said it on what has appeared good reason to them– The marching of*** an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops, and other property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly aim amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us– So to call such an act, to us appears no other than a naked, impudent absurdity, and we speak of it accordingly– But if, when the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the giving of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the war– With few individual exceptions, you have constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies–29 And, more than this, you have had the services, the blood, and the lives of our political bretheren in every trial, and on every field– The beardless boy, and the mature man—the humble and the distinguished, you have had them– Through suffering and death, by disease, and in battle, they have endured, and fought, and fell with you– Clay and Webster each gave a son, never to be returned–30 From the state of my own residence, besides other worthy but less known whig names, we sent Marshall, Morrison, Baker, and Hardin; they all fought, and one fell; and in the fall of that one, we lost our best whig man– Nor were the whigs few in number, or laggard in the day of danger– In that fearful, bloody, breathless struggle

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^at^ of Buena Vista, where [e]ach man's hard task was to beat back five foes or die himself, of the five high officers who perished, four were whigs–31
In speaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the lion-hearted whigs and democrats who fought there– On other occasions, and among the lower officers and privates on that occasion, I doubt not the proportion was different– I wish to do justice to all– I think ^of^ all those brave men as Americans, in whose proud fame, as an American, I too have a share– Many of them, whigs and democrats, are my constituents and personal friends; and I thank them—more than thank them—one and all, for the high, imperishable honor they have confered on our common state–
But the distinction between the cause of the President in beginning the war, and the cause of the country after it was begun, is a distinction which you can not perceive– To you the President, and the country, seems to be all one– You are interested to see no distinction between them; and I venture to suggest that possibly your interest blinds you a little– We see the distinction, as we think, clearly enough; and our friends who have fought in the war have no difficulty in seeing it also– What those who have fallen would say were they alive and here, of course we can never know; but with those who have returned there is no difficulty– Col: Haskell, and Major Gaines, members here, both fought in the war; and one of them underwent extraordinary perils and hardships; still they, like all other whigs here, vote, on the record, that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President– And even Gen: Taylor himself, the noblest Roman of them all, has declared that as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient for him to know that his country is at war with a foreign nation, to do all in his power to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination, by the most vigorous and energetic opperations, without enquiring about it's justice, or any thing else connected with it–
Mr Speaker, let our democratic friends be comforted with the assurance, that we are content with our position, content with our

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company, and content with our candidate; and that although they, in their generous sympathy, think we ought to be miserable, we really are not, and that they may dismiss the great anxiety they have on our account–
^(Divided gangs of hogs“)^
Mr Speaker, I see I have but three minutes left, and this forces me to throw out one whole branch of my subject– A single word on still another– The democrats are kind enough to frequently remind us that we have some dissensions in our ranks– Our good friend from Baltimore, immediately before me (Mr McLane) expressed some doubt the other day as to which branch of our party, Gen: Taylor would ultimately fall into the hands of–32 That was a new idea to me– I knew we had dissenters, but I did not know they were trying to get our candidate away from us– I would like to say a word to our dissenters, but I have not the time– Some such we certainly have; have you none, gentlemen democrats? Is it all union and harmony in your ra[n]ks?—no bickerings?—no divisions? If there be doubt as to which of our divisions will get our candidate, is there no doubt as to which of your candidates will get your party? If have heard some things from New-York; and if they are true, one might well say of your party there, as a drunken fellow once said when he heard the reading of an indictment for hog-stealing– The clerk, read on till he got to, and through the words "did steal, take, and carry away, ten boars, ten sows, ten shoats, and ten pigs" at which he exclaimed "Well, by golly, that is the most equally divided gang of hogs, I ever did hear of"– If there is any other gang of hogs more equally divided that ^than^ the democrats of New-York are about this time, I have not heard of it–33
*Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1041 (1848).
**Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1042 (1848).
**Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1042 (1848).
**Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1042 (1848).
**Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1042 (1848).
**Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1042 (1848).
***Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1043 (1848).
***Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1043 (1848).
***Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1043 (1848).
1Abraham Lincoln wrote the text of this speech in its entirety. Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, contends that Lincoln wrote and revised this manuscript with the intention of publishing it as a campaign pamphlet in support of Zachary Taylor for president in the presidential election of 1848. Basler’s contention seems plausible, though he provides no attribution, and there is no evidence that Lincoln published the manuscript.
The subheadings which appear throughout do not appear in the speech as printed in the Appendix to the Congressional Globe. Otherwise, except for changes in style and punctuation, the Globe version follows the manuscript fairly closely. Principal variations in wording which appear in the Globe have been inserted in the text accompanied by authorial footnotes.
Lincoln delivered this speech during debate on President James K. Polk’s message regarding the boundaries of California, New Mexico, and other territories gained from Mexico under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. On July 10, the House adopted two resolutions, one calling on Polk to inform the House how much public land the United States had acquired under the fifth article of the treaty, and another asking him to inform the House on the proper boundaries of California and New Mexico and whether civil governments had been established in these areas. Polk responded to these resolutions with a message written on July 21 and laid before the House on July 24. Lincoln rose to speak on July 24, but yielded the floor to Samuel F. Vinton. Lincoln would deliver his speech when debate resumed on the 27th.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1:501; U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 1010-12; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 989-90, 1006 (1848); Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1041-43 (1848).
2Frederick P. Stanton spoke just before Lincoln made his speech. Beverly L. Clarke delivered his speech on the veto power on June 26 1848, as the House debated the civil and diplomatic appropriations bill.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 1006 (1848); Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 743-47, 798-802 (1848).
3After much deliberation, George Washington endorsed Alexander Hamilton’s argument, and the bill creating the First Bank of the United States became law on February 25, 1791.
“An Act to Incorporate the Subscribers to the Bank of the United States,” 25 February 1791, Statutes at Large of the United States 1 (1845):191-96.
4Written on April 22, 1848 and addressed to John S. Allison, a Kentucky tobacco factor who was visiting him at the time, the “Allison Letter” was Zachary Taylor’s public declaration of Whig principles--a declaration he had resisted because he initially insisted on an independent candidacy separate from party, but one that his advisors insisted was necessary to secure the party’s nomination. Although reiterating his intention to act above party, declaring “I am a Whig, but not an Ultra Whig,” Taylor’s letter had the desired effect of convincing doubters that he was a Whig.
Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 309-10; K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 233.
5“Perry” is written above this line.
6Caleb B. Smith asked these questions in a speech on executive power delivered on July 21, as the House debated the civil and diplomatic appropriations bill.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 808-12 (1848).
7"strip 2" is written above this line.
8Ever since President Andrew Jackson made broad use of the veto power to reject internal improvements, a National Bank, and other parts of Henry Clay’s American System, the Whigs had railed against “executive usurpation.” Congressional supremacy became a mantra for the Whig Party, and Whig orators made what they deemed unconstitutional use of the veto power by Jackson’s successors a theme in most elections up to 1848. In the presidential campaign of 1848, Whigs sought to mobilize their supporters and gain neutral voters by claiming that Lewis Cass, the Democratic nominee, would continue James K. Polk’s unconstitutional usurpation of power, most notably in commencing and waging the Mexican War.
In the Allison Letter, Taylor embraced the Whig notion of a weak executive, declaring that Congress should exercise leadership on the tariff, banks, and internal improvements, and that the executive should only use the veto power when a law was clearly unconstitutional.
Norma Lois Peterson, The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tyler (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989), 14, 89-90, 97; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, 27-30, 49, 60, 67, 69, 110, 128, 130-34, 137-39, 146-50, 166, 310, 350-51; K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest, 233.
9John Wentworth made these comments on July 21 during debate over the civil and diplomatic appropriations bill, specifically over improvements on the Savannah River.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 966, 967 (1848).
10Reference to remarks Cass made in Cleveland on June 15, 1848, as he journeyed from Washington, DC to his home in Detroit. An account of Cass’ speech in the Cleveland Herald claimed that Cass used the noise and confusion of the occasion to avoid expressing his views on internal improvements. Whigs would use this charge against Cass throughout the campaign. Opponents resurrected the charge in 1850, and Cass’ friends worked to prove the allegations untrue.
During the presidency of James K. Polk, Congress passed numerous bills to improve rivers, harbors, and lakes. Polk believed that internal improvements were rightly the business of the states, and, following his strict constructionist views, vetoed several internal improvement bills. Two of his more controversial vetoes occurred in August 1846 and December 1847. On August 3, 1846, Polk vetoed a $1.3 million appropriation bill entitled “A Bill Making Appropriations for the Improvement of Certain Harbors and Rivers,” passed by the House on March 20 and the Senate on July 24. On December 15, 1847, he vetoed a bill entitled “A Bill to provide for Continuing Certain Works in the Territory of Wisconsin, and for Other Purposes,” passed by the House on February 20 and the Senate on March 3, 1847.
At its national nominating convention held in Baltimore from May 22 to 25, 1848, the Democrats adopted a platform which included the second plank as follows: "That the constitution does not confer upon the general government the power to commence and carry on a general system of internal improvements." In his letter of May 30 accepting the nomination, Cass wrote: "I have carefully read the resolutions of the Democratic National Convention, laying down the platform of our political faith, and I adhere to them as firmly as I approve them cordially."
W. L. G. Smith, Fifty Years of Public Life. The Life and Times of Lewis Cass (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856), 624-26; “Cleveland, Ohio, Convention City, 1914,” Universal Engineer 19 (August 1914), 156; H.R. 18, 29th Cong. (1846); H.R. 84, 29th Cong. (1847); U.S. House Journal. 1847. 29th Cong., 1st sess., 564, 2nd sess., 394-95; U.S. Senate Journal. 1847. 29th Cong., 1st sess., 443, 2nd sess., 269-70; U.S. House Journal. 1847. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 82-98; James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1798-1908 (Washington, DC: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1909), 4:460-66; John S. Jenkins, James Knox Polk, and a History of his Administration (New Orleans: Burnett & Bostwick, 1854), 337-55; Walter R. Borneman, Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America (New York: Random House, 2008), 228; The Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, Held at Baltimore, May 22, 1848 ([Washington, DC]: [Blair & Rives], [1848]), 19, 29-30; Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1996), 184-86, 189.
11“Wright” written above this line.
12Alfred Iverson, Sr., delivered his speech eulogizing Henry Clay on July 20, as the House debated the civil and diplomatic appropriations bill. Ausburn Birdsall delivered his speech on July 24, as the House considered President Polk’s message in response to the tw0 resolutions passed on July 10. Iverson delivered his second speech on July 26, during debate on a bill to establish a territorial government for Oregon.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 962, 963 (1848); Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 794-98, 961-66 (1848).
13"strip 3" written above this line.
14Many Whigs shared Iverson’s revulsion at the nomination of Taylor. Anti-slavery and some regular Whigs condemned the nomination of Taylor, a southern slaveholder who had no previous political affiliation, as an abandonment of Whig principles. This included Clay, the party’s standard bearer in the 1844 election and still nominal head of the party. As an act of protest, Henry Clay and many others refused to endorse Taylor and participate in the campaign.
Accusations that Taylor was not a Whig plagued his campaign, and Lincoln and other Taylorite Whigs, led by John J. Crittenden, spent the summer and fall of 1848 working to convince party faithful and neutrals of the general’s Whig bona fides. One diversionary tactic, which Lincoln employs here, was to condemn the Democrats for using Martin Van Buren’s opposition to the annexation of Texas to reject him as their presidential candidate in 1844, opting instead for the pro-annexation Polk. Lincoln and others also took advantage of Van Buren’s growing disenchantment with the Democrats and its pro-Southern and pro-slavery orientation. For Van Buren and his disaffected supporters, the nomination of Cass proved the last straw, and many Van Buren Democrats left the party, making plans to establish an anti-slavery party. Van Buren Democrats and “Conscience” Whigs coalesced to form the Free Soil Party. The party held a convention in Buffalo in August and nominated Martin Van Buren for president.
Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War, 333-39; K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest, 243-44; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:275-76; Holman Hamilton, Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the White House (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1966), 63-64; Amy S. Greenberg, A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (New York: Vintage Books, 2013), 19, 38-41; John Niven, Martin Van Buren: The Romantic Age of American Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 526-42.
15“Cochran” written above this line.
16During the early days of the War of 1812, Cass was a colonel in the command of Brigadier General William Hull, who launched an invasion into Canada from Fort Detroit in July 1812. British forces and their Indian allies forced Hull to flee Canada and take refuge in the fort. Facing what he perceived was an overwhelming enemy force and the prospect of a siege, Hull surrendered Fort Detroit on August 16. Hoping to secure his communications and supply lines, Hull had sent Cass with 400 men to meet a relief force coming from Ohio. Cass failed to contact the relief force and returned to within three miles of Detroit when he learned that he and his detachment were included in Hull’s surrender.
Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation, 9-13; Donald R. Hickey, The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012), 80-83.
17Having received a regular army commission as brigadier general, Cass served as Harrison’s unofficial aide-de-camp in the battle. Campaign biographers had long exaggerated Cass’ role in the American victory, and a campaign biography in 1848 claimed falsely that he participated in the decisive charge; he actually took no part in the fighting.
Instead of trying to defend President Van Buren, who had become increasingly unpopular due to his stumbling response to the Panic of 1837, Democrats in charge of his re-election campaign in 1840 launched a newspaper campaign attacking Harrison’s physical fitness for office, military exploits, and civic achievements. Harrison had only a sparse legislative record, so the Democratic press often focused on his military career, where there was more grist for the mill. On February 14, 1840, Democratic Representative Isaac Crary of Michigan interposed, in a speech on the Cumberland Road, a withering attack on Harrison’s conduct at the Battle of the Thames, declaring that the real hero of the battle was Richard M. Johnson, not Harrison as the Whigs claimed. Democratic members of the Ohio House of Representatives asserted on the House floor that Harrison neither participated in the battle nor was he within two miles of the battlefield. Supporters of Harrison countered these assertions by soliciting letters from eyewitnesses who attested to Harrison’s conduct and bravery.
Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation, 15; Biography of General Lewis Cass. Including a Voice from a Friend (New York: J. Winchester, New World Press, 1843), 7-8; Life of General Lewis Cass: Comprising an Account of his Military Services in the North-West During the War with Great Britain, His Diplomatic Career and Civil History (Philadelphia: G. B. Zieber, 1848), 55; Gail Collins, William Henry Harrison (New York: Times Books, 2012), 109-10; Cong. Globe, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., 200 (1840); Cong. Globe, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 241-42 (1840); “General Harrison’s Bravery,” American Historical Register 1 (September 1894), 59-66; Isaac R. Jackson, A Sketch of the Life and Public Services of William Henry Harrison (Columbus, OH: I. N. Whiting, 1840), Appendix, 30-40.
18Hull’s surrender of Fort Detroit humiliated Cass, who spent the remainder of his public career defending American prerogatives and rights against Great Britain but could never overcome the feeling of personal dishonor he experienced over the loss of Detroit. Opponents used it against him in subsequent political campaigns, and Democratic boosters sought to mitigate the damage by emphasizing that Cass, upon learning of Hull’s action, broke his sword rather than surrender it to the British, as was military custom. There is little evidence that Cass actually snapped his sword in two.
Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation, 15; Life of General Lewis Cass: Comprising an Account of his Military Services in the North-west During the War with Great Britain, His Diplomatic Career and Civil History, 37.
19On May 14, 1832, Major Isaiah Stillman, with 275 men from the Illinois Militia, encountered a force of Sauk and Fox Indians under the command of Black Hawk. The ensuing skirmish, the first military engagement in the Black Hawk War, saw Stillman’s militia, which was intoxicated from consuming alcohol, flee the field in the face of an Indian attack. Known initially as the Battle of Old Man’s Creek or the Battle of Sycamore Creek, the skirmish later received the moniker the Battle of Stillman’s Run to describe the militia’s hasty retreat.
Edward F. Finch, “Stillman’s Run, Battle of,” The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars 1607-1890: A Political, Social, and Military History, ed. by Spencer C. Tucker (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2011), 766.
20"of" changed to "from".
21The interaction between Cass and Jacob W. Miller occurred during debate in the U.S. Senate on March 1, 1847, over the so-called Three Million Bill-legislation appropriating $3 million to allow President Polk to conclude a peace treaty with Mexico. The House had passed this bill with the Wilmot Proviso, but the Senate passed it without the Proviso. The House acceded to the Senate version and the bill without the Proviso became law on March 3.
The Daily Union (Washington, DC), 2 March 1847, 2:1-4; S. 105, 29th Cong. (1847); “An Act Making Further Appropriation to Bring the Existing War with Mexico to a Speedy and Honorable Conclusion,” 3 March 1847, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):174; Robert W. Johannsen, Stephen A. Douglas (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997), 203-4.
22In his letter to Alfred O. P. Nicholson, Cass offered one of the first articulations of popular sovereignty as a solution to the problem of slavery in the territories. The Nicholson Letter became Cass’ personal platform in the presidential campaign of 1848. The Washington Union published the letter on December 30. It appeared in the Niles’ Register on January 8, 1848.
Holman Hamilton, Prologue to Conflict: The Crisis & Compromise of 1850 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1964), 145; The Daily Union (Washington, DC), 30 December 1847, 2:5-6, 3:1; Niles’ National Register (Baltimore, MD), 8 January 1848, 293:2-3, 294:1-3.
23“Crossly” written above this line.
24"strip 4." is written above this line.
25Lincoln compares Cass to Buridan’s ass, an illustration of a paradox in philosophy named after French philosopher Jean Buridan.
Michael Clark, Paradoxes from A to Z, 2nd ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 2007), 30-31.
26As the presidential campaign grew more heated, Whigs and Democrats labored to impugn the character of their respective opponents. On June 26 and again on August 3, 1848, Representative Andrew Stewart accused Cass of obtaining $64,865.46 in extra pay while serving in various government offices, in stark comparison to Taylor, who, according to Stewart, received no extra pay. Representative Robert McClelland and other Democrats worked to refute Stewart’s charges and pointed an accusing finger at Taylor, claiming he received over $70,000 in extra pay allowances.
On July 17, 1848, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling on President Polk to inform the House how much public money Cass and Taylor had received since their first entrance into public service, distinguishing between regular and extra compensation. On August 11, President Polk submitted the requested materials to the House, and the House referred them to the Committee on the Expenditures of the War Department, of which Lincoln was a member.
On August 14, Lincoln asked the attention of the House for the purpose of saying that the Committee on Expenditures of the War Department had prepared a report, the substance of which called for the printing of President Polk’s message and the accompanying documents. Lincoln asked the House to suspend the rules and enable him to move for the adoption of the report, which the House rejected by a vote of either 76 yeas to 76 nays or 75 yeas to 78 nays (the House Journal and the Congressional Globe disagreed on the vote).
Andrew Stewart, Gen. Cass’s Extra Pay, $64,865 46--General Taylor Not One Cent: Proved by Documents, Officially Certified and Appended, Speech of Hon. Andrew Stewart, of Penn., Delivered in the House of Representatives, U.S., August 3, 1848 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1848); A Refutation of Andrew Stewart’s Fabrication Against General Lewis Cass: A Gross Misrepresentation of the Public Documents, by Andrew Stewart and the Whig Central Committee at Washington, Exposed (Washington, DC: S.N., 1848); U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 63, 1048, 1246-48, 1285; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 1081 (1848); Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 766-69, 779-81, 1100-1103 (1848); Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation, 208.
27“Klopfer” written above this line.
28Lincoln alludes to a quotation from George Ashmun’s amendment to a resolution expressing thanks to General Zachary Taylor and his troops. On January 3, 1848, Representative John W. Houston introduced a joint resolution of thanks to General Taylor and his soldiers. Representative Robert C. Schenck moved that the resolution be referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. Representative Thomas J. Henley moved to amend Schenck’s motion by adding the following: “with instructions to insert in the said resolution the following: 'engaged as they were, in defending the rights and honor of the country.’” Ashmun proposed to amend these instructions by adding at the end the following: “in a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States." The House adopted Ashmun’s amendment either by a vote of eighty-two yeas to eighty-one nays or eighty-five yeas to eighty-one nays, with Lincoln voting yea. (The House Journal and the Congressional Globe differ on the vote tabulation.) There is no evidence that the House resumed consideration of this joint resolution or its amendments. On February 7, 1848, the House passed a joint resolution of thanks to Taylor without Ashmun’s or Henley’s amendments by a vote of 181 yeas to one nay, with Lincoln voting yea. The Senate adopted the joint resolution with amendments on February 16, and the House concurred in the Senate amendments on May 4. President James K. Polk approved the resolution in final form on May 9.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 183-85, 365-66, 765, 773, 782; U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 178-79; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 95, 320 (1848).
29Whigs condemned President Polk’s decision to send American troops under General Taylor to the Rio Grande River as an unnecessary act of aggression, but when Democrats in both the House and the Senate included a preamble blaming Mexico for the war in the initial bill raising troops and supplies to conduct the conflict, the Whigs faced a dilemma. Knowing the fate of the Federalist Party for opposing the War of 1812, most congressional Whigs recognized that it was essential for their political survival to appropriate men and material to carry the war to a successful conclusion, but bristled at the idea of exonerating Polk for his culpability for instigating the conflict. In the end, only fourteen of seventy-seven Whigs in the House and two of twenty-four in the Senate voted against the bill enacted on May 13, 1846. As the war progressed, most Whigs continued to join the Democrats in voting for bills to equip the army while also castigating Polk for his justification for and management of the war.
“An Act providing for the Prosecution of the Existing War Between the United States and the Republic of Mexico,” 13 May 1846, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):9-10; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War, 233.
30Henry Clay’s third son, Henry Clay, Jr., died in combat at the Battle of Buena Vista. Daniel Webster’s son Edward died of typhoid fever on January 23, 1848, while stationed outside Mexico City.
Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 57, 684; Robert V. Remini, Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 642.
31In a speech on July 25, 1850, commemorating the death of General Taylor, Lincoln identified these men: John J. Hardin, Henry Clay, Jr., Archibald Yell, William R. McKee, and George Lincoln.
Roy P. Basler, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 2:83-90; Wm. Hugh Robarts, Mexican War Veterans: A Complete Roster of the Regular and Volunteer Troops in the War Between the United States and Mexico, from 1846 to 1848 (Washington, DC: Brentano's, 1887), 5, 40, 43, 51.
32Robert M. McLane wondered specifically whether Taylor would gravitate to the wing of the Whig Party that supported the war or the anti-war, anti-slavery wing. He made this comment in a speech delivered on July 10, 1848, as the House debated the resolution asking President Polk to inform the House on the proper boundaries of California and New Mexico and whether civil governments had been established in these areas.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 936 (1848).
33The Barnburners and Hunkers, the two leading factions of the Democratic Party in New York, were battling to get control of the party. In early 1848, President Van Buren, leader of the Barnburners, issued a manifesto calling on the national party to recognize the Barnburners as the legitimate representatives of the party in New York. Van Buren also called on the party to disavow the extension of slavery into any territories acquired from Mexico. When the Democratic National Convention accepted the New York Hunker delegation, the Barnburners walked out. Van Buren and the Barnburners would join Conscience Whigs in forming the Free Soil Party.
Ted Widmer, Martin Van Buren (New York: Henry Holt, 2005), 152-54.

Handwritten Document, 35 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).