CHAPTER XV. THE ELECTION OF 1824 (1822-1825)
As we have seen, [Footnote: See above, chap. x.] the dissensions in Monroe's cabinet approached the point of rupture by the spring and summer of 1822, when the spectacle was presented of the friends of the secretary of the treasury making war upon the measures of the secretary of war, and even antagonizing the president himself. Crawford's followers gained the name of the "radicals," and declared as their principles, democracy, economy, and reform. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 56; Mass. Hist. Soc., Proceedings, XIX., 40.] Professing to represent the pure Jeffersonian republicanism of the "Revolution of 1800," they appealed to the adherents of the Virginia school of politics for support. [Footnote: Edwards, Illinois, 489.] Jefferson, although refusing to come out openly, was clearly in sympathy with Crawford's candidacy: he believed that the old parties still continued, although under different names, and that the issue would finally be reduced to a contest between a northern and a southern candidate.
"You see," said he, in a letter to Gallatin, "many calling themselves Republicans and preaching the rankest doctrine of the old Federalists. One of the prominent candidates [Adams] is presumed to be of this party; the other [Crawford] a Republican of the old school, and a friend to the barrier of state rights, as provided by the Constitution against the danger of consolidation." [Footnote: Jefferson, Writings (Ford's ed.), X., 235; cf. 225-227, 237, 261, 264, 280.] Pennsylvania and New York, he thought, would decide the question, and the issue would depend upon whether or not the "Missouri principle" became involved.
At this time parties and principles were still plastic. This is illustrated by a letter written in the spring of 1823 to Monroe, by John Taylor, of Caroline, the leading exponent of the orthodox Virginia tenets of state sovereignty. The writer was evidently stirred by the recent publication, in Calhoun's Washington organ, of a series of letters signed A. B., [Footnote: Edwards, Illinois, 525; National Intelligencer, April 21-23, 1823; Am. State Papers Finance, V., 1-145.] in which Crawford was denounced for corrupt dealings with the banks, collusion with slave-traders, and intrigues in general. Calhoun himself had just ended a visit with Taylor when the latter wrote, bitterly condemning the "example of obtaining the presidency by crafty intrigues and pecuniary influence," as tending to transfer power to a moneyed aristocracy. Neither Calhoun nor Adams, in his opinion, was open to this objection, and neither of them, he thought, would prefer a protective tariff to a navy as a means of national defense. While he admitted his ignorance of Adams's views on the subject of division of power between the federal and state governments, he declared that Calhoun had no advantage on this point, for although the latter professed to consider the distribution of powers between the states and the central authority as "a distinguishing pre-eminence in our form of government," yet, in the opinion of Taylor, he destroyed "this pre- eminence by endowing the federal government with a supremacy over the state governments whenever they come in conflict." This was important testimony, following immediately on Calhoun's visit, and coming from the pen of a man who was primarily interested in the question.
In spite of these objections, which would seem to be insuperable from the point of view of this distinguished expositor of state sovereignty, Taylor was ready to take the initiative in a movement against Crawford, if Monroe, Jefferson, and Madison agreed. Although as between Calhoun and Adams, he intimated that "the Missouri question" made a distinction of considerable weight, [Footnote: Taylor to Monroe, April 29, 1823, Monroe Papers, MSS. in Cong. Libr.; cf. "Farmer's" attacks on Crawford as a protectionist, in Richmond Enquirer, noted in Niles' Register, XXIV., 306. See Calhoun to Gouverneur, April 28, 1823, N. Y. Publ. Libr., Bulletin, 1899, p. 324; Adams, Memoirs, VI., 356.] he did not press the point. James Barbour, the other senator from Virginia, also seriously thought of supporting Adams, [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 242, 450-452; see also Taylor's interview with Adams, May 26, 1824, ibid., 356, 357.] and it is clear that the secretary of state at this time was not regarded as unsafe in the Old Dominion. In the spring and summer of 1823, however, Crawford seemed to be clearly in the lead. He was supported by a well-organized press, which took its tone from the Washington newspapers; and until Calhoun, in retaliation, established a paper of his own to denounce Crawford's management of his department, he had effective control of the most influential organs of public opinion. [Footnote: Ibid., 47, 56, 57, 60, 62-64, 66.] He was a master of political manipulation; but among his rivals were men of almost equal skill in this respect.