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120 distributed among six others, Cass having 83 and Calhoun 6. This ballot was marked especially by the sectionalization which was then becoming such an ominous feature of American politics; only twelve votes from the South were cast for Van Buren, and only twenty-three from the North against him. On the second ballot his majority declined to a plurality, and on the fifth it became a minority, Cass leading with 107 votes, while Van Buren had only 103. On the eighth ballot James K. Polk of Tennessee was given 44 votes, and on the ninth Van Buren was withdrawn, and amid great enthusiasm Polk was unanimously nominated.1

The convention then proceeded to a choice of a candidate for the vice-presidency. Silas Wright of New York was nominated almost unanimously, but on being notified by telegraph he peremptorily declined. An effort had previously been made to induce him to allow the use of his name for the first place if that of Van Buren should be withdrawn; but he was Van Buren's personal and political friend, and he steadfastly refused. The same disinclination to profit by the defeat of Van Buren led him to decline the honor proffered him by the convention. Finally, George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania was nominated.


Polk was not an unknown man. He had been a

1 For the proceedings, see Niles' Register, LXVI., 211–218, 227. For his reasons as he gave them, see ibid., 295.

member of Congress from 1825 to 1839, and during the last four years of that time, when the memorable contest over the right of petition was going on, he had been speaker of the House. In 1839 he was put forward by the legislature of Tennessee for vicepresident, but Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky was nominated by the national convention. In the same year Polk was elected governor of Tennessee. In 1841 and 1843 he was again a candidate for this office, but was beaten in both instances. As the time for the Democratic convention of 1844 approached he developed considerable strength as a candidate for the vice-presidency again, being nominated for that place by conventions in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas; but even as second on the ticket he had less general support than R. M. Johnson. The nomination came to him simply as an available man, who was on record in favor of annexation. He was not a man that his party could afford to parade before the people as the Whigs paraded Clay.

The platform of the Democrats, while it mentioned the nominees and contained a strong expression of gratitude towards Van Buren and unimpaired confidence in him, intended to sugar-coat the pill of his defeat, dealt with issues rather than with men. It was detailed and explicit as to all the more important political questions of the time. The resolution referring to the issue on which Van Buren had lost and Polk had won the nomina

tion asserted that "the re-occupation of Oregon and the re-annexation of Texas are great American measures, which the convention recommends to the cordial support of the Democracy of the Union."

It is not to be supposed that the mass of delegates who voted for this resolution reached their conclusions through any careful study of the complicated questions involved. They simply gave expression to a widely prevalent desire and determination which it was dangerous to resist, and which sought rather to accomplish its purposes than to justify itself. The wish to extend the slave-holding area was one of its elements, but not the strongest. Sectional antagonism helped to confuse it, West against East as well as North against South, and commercial motives had their part.' But in spite of its complexity it was essentially an impulse to possess both Texas and Oregon, which was stronger than the dislike of slavery, the fear of war, or any scrupulous consideration as to how the desired enlargement should be brought about.

The term "re-annexation" as applied to the movement then under way to acquire Texas would be difficult to justify. The evidence existing at the time of the Louisiana purchase that Texas was a part of it has since been somewhat strengthened,

1 See speech of Hamlin, in Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 1 Sess., 186-189; of Davis, ibid., 318-320; and of Calhoun, ibid., 27 Cong., 3 Sess., App., 141.

but still seems insufficient to warrant such a conclusion.1 "Re-occupation," as applied to Oregon, will be considered later.

Four interesting incidents serve to make the Democratic convention of 1844 memorable: Polk was the first "dark horse" that was winner of the race for a presidential nomination; the first "stampede” in a national convention was that by which he was nominated on the second ballot after his name had been presented; it was this convention that was first to have its proceedings reported by telegraph; and Silas Wright was the only man who has ever declined a nomination by one of the strong parties for first or second place on the national ticket, after it was made.

Contemporaneously with the Democratic convention was held in the same city what was known as the Tyler convention. To judge from Niles' report of its proceedings, most of the states were represented; but the convention could hardly have been composed of delegates from organized bodies of voters. Tyler's enemies asserted that it consisted mainly of office-holders; but this charge cannot be said to rest on any satisfactory statistical basis. Tyler afterwards wrote Wise that there were "a thousand delegates, and from every state


1 For the affirmative view, see Adams, United States, II., 7; for the negative, Ficklen, “The Louisiana Purchase vs. Texas" (Southern Hist. Assoc., Publications, V., 351-387); cf. Channing, Jeffersonian System (Am. Nation, XII.), 77-79. 'Niles' Register, LXVI., 218-220.


in the Union." The convention was an effort to put Tyler forward along with the issue which he had done more than any other man to raise, and its purpose was well expressed in the cry that rang through its proceedings of "Tyler and Texas." It nominated the man of its choice, and he accepted. But for the fact that he was without a party he would have been the most logical candidate on an annexation platform; but it soon became evident that the mass of annexationists would not follow his lead, and on August 20 he withdrew. His own explanation was that he was only endeavoring to prevent the proscription of his friends and to insure the success of the measures with which his administration was identified."

The campaign was enthusiastic, but not as much so as that of 1840. The Democrats were to a certain extent estopped from noisy demonstrations by the first resolution of their platform itself, which was as follows: "Resolved, That the American democracy place their trust not in factitious symbols, not in displays and appeals insulting to the judgments and subversive of the intellects of the people, but in a clear reliance upon the intelligence, the patriotism, and the discriminating justice of the American masses. To this they had added many expressions of contempt for the Whig methods of the previous canvass; nevertheless, the mem2 Ibid., 341.


1 Tyler, Tylers, II., 317.
Niles' Register, LXVI., 227.

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