Letter from WILLIAM WESTON to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated July 25, 1848.
I enclose you a call for a free soil convention, held yesterday at Williston. Being an original Free soil man, I attended the convention with a view of acting under the call, and upon the business therein specified, and that alone.
Speeches were made, and all went on harmoniously until the report of the committee on resolutions came in. The first resolution set forth the duty of every man who considers slavery an evil, to exert his influence against the extension of it into territory now free. Mr Briggs (editor of the Gazette, not W P.,) moved to amend by asserting the constitutional power of Congress to abolish slavery in the district of Columbia, and their duty to exercise that power
This was strenuously opposed by some of the barnburners and F. G. Hill & Stansbury, whigs, on the ground that the call did not authorize any action upon the subject of slavery in the District of C. and Mr Briggs first modified--and afterwards withdrew the amendment .
Matters went on tolerably harmoniously afterwards. A proposition to nominate county
Senators came up, which I opposed, because the convention was not called for that
purpose, and as the convention had confirmed their action thus far strictly within
the call, it ought not to make any nomination for Senators: it would not be binding
the convention if a nomination were made.
This did not suit the barnburners and 'liberty' men. They had assembled to nominate Kasson & French, and did nominate them.
The convention was large--from 600 to 800 persons being present. Many whigs were there, some as spectators, some to act with reference to the Presidential Election, but a few, only, for the nomination of county Senators. It was clearly a convention, called for the purpose of acting in relation to the Presidential Election, but for the purpose of paving the way for the Election of a loco and an abolition senator. At least, such is the inference I draw from the action of leading barnburners and third party men.
Among whigs--Lyman H. Potter & Stansbury go .
The latter is more rabid than any barnburner. A resolution drafted by him, and
reported by the committee, was exceedingly bitter against general
Taylor, representing him as being as ignorant of all political matters as
an infant, cc. This resolution I opposed and the result was that the convention
dismissed it with great unamity. That the nomination of Cass
is dissatisfactory to the Barnburners and the nomination of Taylor equally so to
many whigs there cannot be a doubt. But I hope that
the whigs will adhere to their party nominations for state officers. Members of Congress, State Senators & representatives. This course I advise and advocate and am anxious to have it carried out.
You on the subject of Free Territory, no more slavery extension--and spice it with , and if the bill now in the senate does not come soon into the house, then make the speech in anticipation, on some other bill.
Such a speech from you should be freely circulated here in your district.
Now, lay aside all modesty;--go in for home consumption. Show also the insufficiency of the tariff of '46--how it [...] a famine in Europe to make it tolerable at home. And that we have no reasonable ground to believe that Providence will starve Europe very often in order to make a market for our surplus produce. Now follow my advice. It is for and good that you should do so. Altho' I cannot, with the light I now have, go for Taylor, yet on all other questions I train in the old whig ranks.
There will be a State convention next week at Middlebury Delegates
will probably be appointed to the Buffalo Convention, and
a state organization gone into. The barnburners will try to swallow the liberty men, and the liberty men to swallow them, hoping to draw in a portion of the whig party to act with them.
You have the program, as I understand it. My feelings are as strong as those of any other person can be, against slavery being permitted in the territories now free, and in favor of wiping out the stain of slavery around our capitol in the District of Columbia Still I am as desirous as I ever was that the measure of the whig part should be triumphant, deeming them all important to the well being of our country.
My kind regards to Mrs M. and Miss Crane
I am very trulyYours --W Weston
Hon Geo P. Marsh
References in this letter:
Begun in 1847 as part of the opposition to the extenision of slavery into new territories, the Free- Soil Party was composed of New York Democrats and antislavery Whigs. They backed Martin Van Buren in his failed bid for the Presidency against Zachary Taylor, but were successful in electing Salmon P. Chase of Ohio to the U.S. Senate and thirteen representatives to the House. In 1854 they were absorbed into the newly formed Republican Party.
The Barnburners were a faction of the Free Soil Party that opposed to the expansion of slavery into the new territories. Following the Compromise of 1850, an attempt to solve the North-South divisions over the expansion of slavery in the country, and most specifically, into the new territories, most members of the Barnburners rejoined the Democratic Party, while some kept the Free Soil Party alive until it was assimilated into the new Republican Party.
Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) was the 12th president of the United States. He was a successful commander in the Mexican War, and was elected to the presidency in 1848, on the Whig Part ticket, with the support of Vermont. As a result, Taylor appointed Marsh U.S. Minister to Turkey. Taylor died of cholera in office and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore in 1850. His death was a blow to Marsh's hopes for reappointment.
Lewis Cass (1782-1866), Brigadier General in the U.S. army and for eighteen years (1813-1831) governor of the Michigan Territory, was a U.S. Senator (1845-1857), Democratic candidate for president in 1848 (losing to Whig Zachary Taylor), and Secretary of State under James Buchanan (1857-1860).
William Weston, (1803-1875), was a Chittenden County Senator from the town of Burlington, Vermont, for the years 1849 and 1850.