The History of New York State
Book XII, Chapter 7, Part 4

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


The Anti-Rent Agitation--One of the most troublesome problems confronting Governor Wright, and one that demanded positive attention, was the Anti-Rent question, which, in that decade, had developed such belligerent action as to be commonly called the Anti-Rent War. Central New York had been in turmoil. The disturbances arose from the system of manorial tenure of farmland granted to patroons of the Dutch period, and continued by English patents. The almost feudal system still demanded from the farming tenants of leasehold property certain personal service to the landlords, and delivery of part of the products of the land annually as ground rental. The exaction was not extortionate, but the system whereby it became impossible for the tenant ever to fully own the land he worked grew to seem a preposterous state of serfdom in a land so democratic as the United States. there were disturbances as early as 1750; and, after the Revolution, the resistance to the law, which by the terms of leasehold were bound to recognize the right of the landlords to the rental, culminated, in one instance in 1791, in the shooting of the sheriff of Columbia County. The Van Rensselaer estate covered an immense area; it embraced several towns lying east and north of the city of Hudson, in Columbia County. Adjoining it, on the south, was the Livingston grant, which originally had contained 160240 acres. The Van Rensselaer estate was much larger, extending over Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, and Delaware counties, the area being several hundreds of thousands of acres. Major-General Stephen Van Rensselaer (1764-1839) was the last patroon in full authority, and he was so republican that he had had no desire to exercise arbitrarily that authority. In fact, when he died in 1839, it was found that he had been so lenient with tenants that the rental arrearages, which he not endeavored to collect from families in evident distress, amounted to $400,000. At that time there were more than 3,000 farms on his 436,000 acre estate; and General Van Rensselaer's kindness to his tenants had been so genuine that it had been quite generally believed by the tenants that his will would contain a provision remitting all arrearages of rent, if it did not altogether sweet away the system. No such provision was made, and his heirs adopted a sterner attitude. The tenants who were delinquent were pressed for payment of rentals. Some settled the whole question by purchasing their holding of land, but the majority of tenants could not or would not do so. Instead, the combined to defy the landowners, and if needs be the law. The "Boston Tea Party" was rehearsed. Armed and masked men, known as the Calico Indians resisted the officers of the law. Evictions could not be carried out, by the county official. At one sheriff's sale in December, 1844, 300 men, masked and wearing calico dresses after the Indian mode, and also carrying arms, gathered to prevent the sale. The lone sheriff was powerless. At the point of the gun the legal papers were taken from him and burned in his presence. He was then permitted to depart. Some days later, there was a shooting affray and it eventually became necessary to mobilize several companies of militia, to assist the county authorities in preserving peace. Some of the Anti-Rent leaders were arrested and charged with murder. John Van Buren, son of the ex-president, and at that time, Attorney-General of New York, personally conducted the case of the people. Ambrose L. Jordan was leading counsel for the defense. The jury disagreed, but the same distinguished lawyers conducted the retrial in September before Justice John W. Edmonds. As the case proceeded, it was evident that considerable acerbity of feeling existed between the counsel. This the trial judge strove to restrain. One day, however, the quarrel between the contending counsel passed beyond control and resulted in blows being struck in open court; for which "desecration of the Temple of Justice," the trial judge sentenced both combatants--one of whom was the Attorney-General of the State, the son of a former President of the Untied States--"to solitary confinement in the county jail for twenty-four hours." Governor Wright positively refused to accept Van Buren's resignation of the attorney-generalship, and after the day of incarceration, both counsel proceeded with the case as though nothing untoward had occurred. The prisoner, Big Thunder, was sentenced to imprisonment in the State prison "for the term of his natural life."

The case created State-wide, indeed, Nation-wide interest and the sympathy of the average citizen was with the Anti-Renters. It affected political balances, the weight of popular opinion being that the Governor had not lifted a hand to defend the oppressed tenant, but rather had bought the judicial rod of the State upon their prostrate forms. Governor Wright was defeated in the State election of 1846, the Anti-Renters polling sufficient votes against him to elect his opponent, John Young. The constitution of 1846, which made judicial offices elective instead of appointive, also legislated Attorney-General John Van Buren out of office, his successor, by election to that office, eventually proving to be his fellow prisoner, the opposing counsel of the Big thunder case, Ambrose L. Jordan. The end of the Anti-Renters question seemed to have come when Governor Young, soon after his inauguration, pardoned those Anti-Renters who had been convicted of murder "and other high crimes." He reasoned "that their offenses were political," thus wiping the annoying question off his slate. He did not wipe away the system. A test case came into the courts in the 'fifties, the Circuit Court deciding in favor of the landlord. This decision still remains unreversed, and actually, the manorial title still holds in some cases, although the great feudal estate of the Van Rensselaers passed out of that family, into many hands--some of then tenants--in 1868.

The Appointive System Abolished--The constitution under which, with slight but occasional amendments and changes, the State has been functioning since 1777 gave way to another in 1847. The Constitutional Convention of 1846 clearly divides the constitutional history of New York into two period, the earlier (1777-1846) being marked by the filling of most State offices by appointment, and the latter (1847-1926) by the selective system, which was more truly democratic. As was clearly stated in one of the articles of the new constitution of 1846, the change marked the "supremacy of the People over the legislature, of the Principal over the Agent." The governor and Legislature, as agents of the people, were no longer to have the authority to appoint the public servants. There were some exceptions, but the large number of important and even unimportant State officials henceforth were to hold office upon sufferance of the citizens, as made known at the polls, and not by favor of the Chief Executive, and a small appointing group.

The constitutional Convention of 1846 is reviewed somewhat extensively in the Bench and Bar chapter, and here we need only take notice of its general features. The personnel of the convention gives positive indication of the popular trend. The Constitution of 1777 was entrusted to a small group of aristocrats--its landed gentry. In 1846, the people were in the majority among the members of the convention. According to Hammond, among the 128 members were 45 lawyers, 43 farmers, 12 merchants, t mechanics, 2 surveyors, and 1 each of a number of businesses, trades, and professions.

The delegates convened at Albany on June 1, 1846, and entered upon their deliberations with John Tracy as president and James F. Starbuck, Henry W. Strong, and Francis Segar as secretaries. Many men who were prominent, or who later gained distinction, in public affairs gave their earnest thought to the constitutional needs of the changing State; and while there were many radical changes, the new Constitution embodied the greater part of that of 1777. The important changes affected:

    1. The canals, internal improvements, public revenue, and public debts.
    2. Incorporations.
    3. The election of State, Judicial, and local offices.
    4. The enlargement of the number of Senate districts and the substitution of district for country representation in the Assembly.
    5. The reorganization of the judiciary and reformation in the system of legal procedure.
    6. The method of amending the Constitution.

Briefly reviewing these changes:

First--Article VII of the Constitution of 1846 covered what was in fact the chief cause for the summoning of the convention. It stated how far the canal projects could be carried, in the expenditure of public money. Michael Hoffman, who headed the financial committee, manifested brilliant statesmanship in protecting the public credit without crippling canal expansion and adequate maintenance. Out of canal revenues, a certain fixed sum was to be applied to the gradual reduction of the canal debts, another amount was to be placed at the service of the State for its general use, and the remainder was to provide for canal improvement. The new article adopted the policy of creating no debt without laying a direct annual tax sufficient to redeem it within eighteen years. As Hoffman stated in his last speech at the convention: ". . . . this legislation would not only preserve the credit of New York by keeping its debts paid, but it would cause every State in the Union, as soon as such State were able to do so, to sponge out its debts by payment and thus remove from representative government the reproaches cast upon us on the other side of the water." The article forbade the payment of State money except in pursuance of appropriations by law; also that State credit should not be lent to enterprises originated by private capital. No bond issue could become law unless sustained by a majority of all the votes cast at the popular polls for and against it. Even after popular sanction had been obtained, the Legislature might repeal the law and stop the public work. The financial article of the Constitution of 1846 redounds to the credit of its makers, for it has guarded the public purse through many periods of public excitement which otherwise might have pledged the State to disastrous expenditures before saner counsel prevailed.

Second--Article VIII curbed the evil of special legislation, since 1777 the State had suffered in this respect. The constitution of 1821 had provided a partial remedy by requiring the assent of two-thirds of the members elected to every bill appropriating public money or property for local or private purposes, or creating continuing altering or renewing any body politic or corporation. The new article forbade special charters, for private corporations, and made shareholders responsible for corporate debts. As was pointed out by the convention committee: "The people had seen a system existing by which the Government had granted to particular individuals special privileges which had been refused to others, contrary to the great principle of equality among men. They had seen not only that, but that, when these special privileges which were essential to the very nature of a corporation were exercised, they had the further privilege of immunity from loss arising from business, which other individuals had not from loss by their business." The article also prohibited the granting of special charters for banking purposes, forbade the Legislature from sanctioning suspension of specie payments by any person or association that been issuing bank notes, and also provided to the registry of all bills issued to circulate as money, and for their redemption in specie. The Legislature was given power to alter and repeal charters.

Third--The restrictions imposed by the Constitution of 1846 upon the lawmaking power was probably of greater importance than the constitutional change which abolished the system of appointment. The Council of Appointment had been all-important under the first Constitution. The Constitution of 1821 transferred the authority of this Council to the Governor and Senate, but the keynote of the third Constitution--that of 1846--was decentralization of power. Henceforth, the people were to have the right to elect not only the officers hitherto appointed by the Governor, and the state officials previously elected by the Senate and Assembly, but also practically all county, city, and village functionaries. The Governor and Legislature, however, retained the power of removal for misconduct in office.

Fourth--the decentralizing spirit wrought a change in the tenure of the Senatorial office, and in the mode of electing Senators and Assemblymen. The State was divided into thirty-two Senatorial districts, and district representation took the place of county in the Assembly. Provision was also made for a new census and a corresponding reapportionment of Assembly representation every ten years. The restrictions upon colored citizenship were continued.

Fifth--The new Constitution retained the Court of Impeachment, but abolished the Court for the Correction of Errors. The historic Chancery Court also went out of existence, Chancery and equity jurisdiction being vested in the enlarged Supreme Court.

Sixth--Difference of opinion as to the manner in which constitutional amendments might be obtained was set at rest by Article XIII of the Constitution of 1846. It provided for ascertaining the popular desire for a constitutional convention at least once in every twenty years. But amendments might also be initiated by the Legislature, ands become effective if sustained by popular vote. Many other States later adopted this dual method of constitutional amendment.

The fourteen articles of the constitution of 1846 were submitted to the people as a whole, and the new Constitution was ratified by a vote of 221,528 against 92,436. The people were apparently more pleased with the work of the convention than were many of the convention delegates. For instance, Taggart, who moved in convention that the constitution be read, adopted, and signed, disapproved of some part of it. Patterson, who seconded the motion, hoped that the Constitution would receive a unanimous vote, notwithstanding its defects. Henry C. Murphy thought that the good overbalanced the evil; Worden favored it; Dana protested against race distinction; Chamberlain, who had voted against the convention, saw "bright spots" in the new Constitution and would sustain it as a whole, though he would have preferred giving the people the privilege of expressing their opinion on each article separately. Ira Harris pronounced the Constitution the best ever made Cambreleng was pleased that it separated the legislative, judicial, and executive departments with reasonable clearness. Charles O'Conor did not hesitate to call the Constitution "a signal failure."

Outside opinions were many and conflicting. Daniel Webster, for instance, saw much in it to condemn, but many changes to praise. As he stated, in a letter to Thurlow Weed: "There is much in it that is wrong, in my judgment, but then there is much in it that is right, and the good, I think, is likely in time to root out the evil." Time has indeed wrought many changes, undoing much that was good in the Constitution of 1846, but probably more that was evil. It seemed to very many students of public affairs that the abolishment of the appointive system and the filling of the public offices by popular vote--which to some minds was synonymous with popular clamor--would bring many incapable me into public responsibility, to t he grave determent of the State. Especially were the apprehensive of popular disturbance of the judiciary, which they thought should be protected against the swing of the political pendulum. But seventy-five years of functioning of New York State under the elective system has shown that the standard of efficiency in the State service has been as high as it was during the period when the Governor and Legislature had the power of appointment.

One writer, Willis F. Johnson, think it fitting "to observe what manner of State it was that thus revised its Constitution." He notes that New York State was at that time "the foremost State of the Union," in point of population. He further points out that "Its growth in component parts and in complexity of organization had been comparable with that in the number of its inhabitants. Originally it had consisted of twelve counties: Albany, Charlotte, Dutchess, Kings, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Tryon, Ulster and Westchester. Charlotte was changed to Washington and Tryon to Montgomery in 1784. Subsequent additions were made by these creations of new counties: 1786, Columbia from Albany; 1788, Clinton from Washington, and Ontario from Montgomery; 1791, Herkimer, Otsego and Tioga from Montgomery, and Rensselaer and Saratoga from Albany; 1794, Onondaga from Herkimer; 1795, Schoharie from Albany and Otsego; l 1796, Steuben from Ontario; 1797, Delaware from Otsego and Ulster; 1798, Rockland from Orange, Oneida from Herkimer, and Chenango from Herkimer and Tioga; 1799, Cayoga from Onondaga, and Essex from Clinton; 1800, Greene from Albany and Ulster; 1802, Genesee from Ontario, and St. Lawrence from Clinton; 1804, Seneca from Cayuga; 1805, Jefferson and Lewis from Oneida; 1806, Madison from Chenango, Alleghany from Genesee, and Broome from Tioga; 1808, Cortland from Onondaga, Cattaraugus, Chautauque (changed to Chatauque in 1859), and Niagara from Genesee, and Franklin from Clinton; 1809, Schenectady from Albany, and Sullivan from Ulster; 1812, Putnam from Dutchess; 1813, Warren from Washington; 1816, Hamilton from Montgomery, and Oswego from Oneida and Onondaga; 1817, Tompkins from Cayuga and Seneca; 1821, Erie from Niagara, and Livingston and Monroe from Genesee and Ontario; 1823, Yates from Ontario, and Wayne from Ontario and Seneca; 1824, Orleans from Genesee; 1836, Chemung from Tioga; 1838, Fulton from Montgomery; 1841, Wyoming from Genesee. Thus, at the Constitution Convention of 1846 the roll of counties was almost complete as it is today (1922). The only creations since that time have been Schuyler from Chemung, Steuben and Tompkins (1859); Bronx from Westchester (1914), and Nassau from queens (1899)"

"New York county (and the city) had not yet attained its present size in proportion to the entire State. Today that county--not the entire city, which comprises five counties--contains about twenty per cent of the population of the whole State. In 1845 it shad 371,102 inhabitants, or less then fifteen per cent of the whole, but its growth was so rapid largely under the stimulus of the commerce of the Erie Canal, as clearly to foreshadow its rise to dominance of the State. In 1830 its population was 202,589; in 1835, 270,089; in 1840, 312,710. No other county was at that time comparable with it. Oneida had 84,776; Kings, Erie, and Albany came next, with between 77,000 and 79,000 each; Monroe and Onondaga had just under 71,000 each; Jefferson had 64,999; St. Lawrence, 62,354; Rensselaer, 62,338; Dutchess, 55,124; Orange, 52,227; Steuben, 51,679; Otsego, 50509; and no other as many as 50,000."

Partly because of his opposition to the Constitutional Convention, and partly because of his determination to uphold the law and enforce order during the unfortunate anti-rent agitation, Silas Wright went to defeat in 1846. He was nominated by the Democratic State convention at Syracuse, in October, but the Hunkers were not enthusiastically supporting him. The Whigs likewise were divided in opinion on their candidates. The majority preferred Millard Fillmore as their standard bearer, but it became evident, upon further consideration, that they could have a better chance of turning the Democrats out of office if they nominated John Young, who had the confidence of the Anti-Renters. On the third ballot in the Whig State Convention Young received seventy-six votes and Fillmore only forty-five. The Anti-Renters endorsed Young, who had promised that if elected he would pardon those who had been imprisoned for part in the revolt. On the other hand, Wright was so ultra-conscientious that although Democratic Anti-Renters pleaded with him to also promise clemency, he could not bring himself to do so. For political office he would not lie, or even allow others to lie or equivocate for him.

Wright's public records is one of the cleanest in New York political history. No public official was less elfish; none more faithful; but few have shown so little tact. Wright would not dodge his conscience even to get to the White House. He had but on answer to the most awkward of questions; and whether it hurt him, or his party, or his opponent mattered not--Governor Wright spoke and acted as his conscience dictated. Tact, which slips out by the side door when the main entrance is crowded, never took the Governor by the hand. He stood his ground. He vetoed a canal appropriation which Young had supported. He vetoed the Constitutional Convention which the people had set their minds upon holding. Wright did many other things that embarrassed his party. Generally, his conscientious administration of affairs of state distress his friends, who, indeed, had him in mind for the Presidency.

On the other side was Young, reliable but more of an opportunist; a very capable man with the happy knack of finding that his opinions, in general, were in harmony with the popular thought. In the matter of the Texas annexation, he was prepared to support his country, "right or wrong." Young was accommodating; Wright was unbending. So the election went to the former. #19

Few were surprised. Even Wright had predicted his own defeat; now he saw that with it the curtain had run down on his public career. He hardly seems to have regretted that it had. At the end of his term Governor Wright retired to his farm. There he spent some happy months, relieved of "that ever pressing load," as he himself described the responsibility of public office. The whirl of public affairs had passed him by, and death came soon afterwards (August 27,1847).

The Young administration, of course, ushered in the elective system. In his first message, Governor Young dealt very tactfully with the subject. He rang out the old system of State government gracefully, and brought in the new with a fanfare of heroic optimism. In stating that he did not quite approve of the new constitution, Governor Young struck a sympathetic chord in those who had opposed the change, but he pleased the proponents of the elective system when he stated that the good features of the constitution "so far outweighed its bad that acceptance of it was right." "Most of the its great leading features," he said, "breathe the spirit of the age and command not only the assent but the admiration of a vast majority of the electors of the State." That the office-filling power should be taken away from a few men and held by the people at least eliminated one evil; the people might blinder, but no longer would the thousands of public servants have to look forward with trepidation to election day. Never again would the election of one man, or a few men, be able to affect the tenure of office of the vast army of State servants. "Any appointing power other than the people," said Governor Young, "may be either corrupted or subjected unconsciously to interested and pernicious influence."

Time has confirmed this assertion. Three-quarters of a century of office-filling by the people may be considered a fair test; and these seventy-five years show a record that might confidently be compared with that of the previous seventy-five years under the appointive system. The constitution-makers of 1846 served the State well.

The Free-Soil Revolt--While the Hunkers "hankered" for office and so found themselves able to swallow what the National government advocated, in the Texas-Mexico-Slavery matter, the other section of New York Democrats, the Barnburner faction, actively opposed the extension of slavery. The Barnburners had enthusiastically supported Preston King in his effort to push the Wilmot Proviso through Congress. Several weeks before the measure was passed a second time in the House of Representatives, only to meet death a second time in the Senate in 1847, the New York Legislature adopted a resolution which urged every citizen loyally to support the government in the Mexican War, but to make sure that no territory conquered or acquired should be permitted to become a slave State or territory.

Had the Barnburners not held a dominant position in the Legislature such a resolution could not have passed. Undoubtedly, the breach between the Radicals, or Barnburners, and the Conservatives, or Hunkers, of the Democratic Party was widening, and the dominance of the Legislature by the Barnburners only made the Hunkers keener to counteract this outside. Preparatory to the convening of the State Democratic Convention in Syracuse, in September, 1847, the Hunkers had been most active, where the Barnburners had been somewhat stunned by the sudden death of their leader, ex-Governor Wright, ten days before the convention opened. The result was that the Hunkers seated enough delegates to control the convention.

Soon after the convention opened a resolution like that passed in the Legislature, endorsing the Wilmot Proviso, was introduced. One of the Barnburners pleased for adoption, if only "as a tribute of justice to Silas Wright." "It is too late for that. He is dead," retorted a cynical Hunker. One great admirer of the deceased Governor, thinking that he detected a sneer in the Hunker's retort, sprang to his feet. "It may be too late to do justice to Silas Wright," said James S. Wadsworth, much angered, "but it is not too late to do justice to his assassins." The indignant Wadsworth would not sit longer with them. He left the hall; and every Barnburner delegate followed him, to the delight perhaps of some of their opponents. At all events the Hunkers, with all opposition thus removed, made short work of the convention business and adjourned.

However, the Barnburners did not intend to bury their anger in seclusion and inactivity. They publicly accused the Hunkers of having got control of the convention "through a fraudulent organization." Barnburners were called upon to attend another convention, on October 26, "to avow their principles and consult as to future action.' Those who gathered were mainly friends of Martin Van Buren, and of the dead governor, who had been one of the most loyal colleagues of the "Sage of Kinderhook." Once, Silas Wright had refused Vice-Presidential nomination because it would draw him away from his old friend. Possibly, the thought of this unfaltering friendship between the two now obscured the vision of the Barnburners, for, undoubtedly, Van Buren's records had not been very consistent on the subject of slavery. However, Van Buren's son, John, the ex-Attorney-General, let it be known that his father had always been opposed to the extension of slavery.

The Barnburners were now, to all intents, a separate party, but upon John Van Buren's advice, they put out no ticket for that year, 1847. They were content to denounce the Hunkers publicly and declare for Free Soil and so far succeeded that the Whigs trampled over the democrats, i. e., over the Hunkers, in the State elections. Among the Principal State officers who came in with the Whig triumph were: Millard Fillmore, elected State comptroller; Christopher Morgan, elected Secretary of State; Alvah Hunt, State Treasurer; Ambrose L. Jordan, Attorney-General. All were Whigs, and another Whig, Hamilton fish, was now Lieutenant-Governor, Addison Gardiner having been elected to the new Court of Appeals. In the Legislature, the Whigs now had, on joint ballot, a majority of almost two to one. Nothing sensational or notable happened during that session, but during the winter and spring lines were grimly laid for a Presidential campaign that would be more than usually interesting.

John Van Buren had been making his way as well in this as in his professional career. He had shown much ability as a lawyer, and was now manifesting astuteness somewhat like that which had been his father's fortune in public affairs. Of the two John Van Buren was the more Eloquent. In general, he was of franker, freer characteristics, and, indeed, might have succeeded better in political life had he not been the son of a President. Possibly John Van Buren was a little short of the full measure of grit that had carried his father strongly through the ups and downs of perplexing politics, but the son was undoubtedly capable. Daniel Lord said of the younger Van Buren: "He possessed beyond any man I ever knew the power of eloquent illustrative amplification, untied with close flexible logic."

However, neither of the Van Burens was naturally a Free Soiler, John was smarting under the loss of the Attorney-Generalship, and he opposed slavery partly because the Hunkers favored it and partly because he would like his father to secure another term in the White House. Martin Van Buren headed the Free-Soil ticket, it would seem, so as to come at least once more before the people as a Presidential candidate. Fate and fortune conspired to deny the ex-President another term, but another good New Yorker, Millard Fillmore, was soon in the White House. Under the changed circumstances John Van Buren saw no reason to persist in his opposition to this party on the slavery question. Thus he missed the great opportunity of his life. Had John Van Buren, like Seward, held unswervingly to anti-slavery, he might have become one of the great leaders of the Republican party, for he was "the bright particular star" of the Free-Soil revolt.

The Democratic National Convention of 1848, in Baltimore, was somewhat interesting. Both Barnburners and Hunkers were there in full strength, and each faction, claiming to be the only regular Democratic delegation, demanded the expulsion of the other. The situation was most awkward. All Democrats knew that New York was the pivotal State. New York must be appeased at all costs, but the plan adopted to bring this about pleased neither faction. The seating of both Barnburners and Hunkers and the sharing of New York's vote between then brought both factions to one mind, that neither would sit in the convention. So Lewis Cass became the Democratic nominee with the aid of New York delegates.

Returning to their home State, the Barnburners repudiated the Baltimore convention. Samuel J. Tilden wrote an address which called the Barnburners together in State convention, at Utica on June 22. Samuel Young presided over this convention, and John Van Buren was the leading spirit. Before the delegates adjourned they had nominated Martin Van Buren for the Presidency. On august 9, 1848, a National convention of Free Soilers was held in Buffalo. Considerable enthusiasm was shown. Salmon P. chase, of Ohio, not yet a national figure but rapidly rising, presided; and the convention was followed by a mass meeting led by Charles Francis Adams, of Massachusetts. The gathering was a strange one, for in the convention were friends of Martin Van Buren, seeking only his vindication; friends of Silas Wright, seeking to avenge "his assassination"; Free Soilers of New York, bent upon confounding the Hunkers; Southern Whigs, intent upon punishing the Whig party for rejecting Clay as their candidate; and Northern Whigs, who could support the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor, seeing that he was a Southerner, and worse still, the owner of 400 slaves. The Buffalo Convention of Free Soilers thus had drawn from both parties, and only the optimist could fail to see that a vast change in permanent party allegiance might result. The convention closed with " a declaration that rang throughout the land like a blast forma trumpet: 'We inscribe on our banner Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor and Free Men,'" was the trumpet blast. The Free Soilers had taken the cue from the New York Barnburners' Convention, and had accepted Martin Van Buren as their candidate for President, C. F. Adams being their choice for the Vice-Presidency. Abolitionists now merged with Free Soilers in accepting Van Buren, and John A. Dix became the nominee of the Barnburners for the Governorship, with Seth M. Gates at Lieutenant-Governor. The Hunkers chose the former Chancellor, Reuben H. Walworth, with Charles O'Conor, for the State Gubernatorial offices.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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