Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy

William Leggett, courtesy of United States Library of Congress
Leggett, William
(1801-1839)
Bio
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Editor/Trans.
Lawrence H. White, ed.
First Pub. Date
1834
Publisher/Edition
Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc.
LibertyPress
Pub. Date
1984
Comments
Essays first published 1834-1837.

1. Theodore A. Leggett, Early Settlers of West Farms, with additions by A. Hatfield, Jr. (New York: n.p., 1913), pp. 51-52; Abraham Leggett, The Narrative of Abraham Leggett, introduction and notes by Charles I. Bushnell (New York: privately printed, 1865), pp. v-vi. The area of West Farms has since been annexed from Westchester by the Bronx.

2. Page S. Proctor, Jr., "William Leggett (1801-1839): Journalist and Literator," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 44 (July-September 1950), pp. 241-243; Richard Hofstadter, "William Leggett, Spokesman of Jacksonian Democracy," Political Science Quarterly 58 (December 1943), pp. 582-584; [William Cullen Bryant,] "William Leggett," The United States Magazine and Democratic Review 6 (July 1839), pp. 20-22.

3. William Cullen Bryant, "Reminiscences of the 'Evening Post,' " in John Bigelow, William Cullen Bryant (New York: Chelsea House, 1980), pp. 326-327.

4. William Leggett, "The Newspaper Press," in A Collection of the Political Writings of Willam Leggett, selected and arranged by Theodore Sedgwick, Jr. (New York: Taylor & Dodd, 1840), vol. II, p. 199.

5. James J. Barnes, Authors, Publishers and Politicians (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974), p. 267 n. 8.

6. John Greenleaf Whittier, "William Leggett," in Old Portraits and Modern Sketches (Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1840), p. 232.

7. Ibid., p. 218.

8. F. Byrdsall, The History of the Loco-Foco or Equal Rights Party (New York: Burt Franklin, 1967 [Reprint of 1842 edition]), pp. 15, 22-23.

9. See Leggett's editorials "Extremes Unite" and "The Committee and the Evening Post" in Political Writings, vol. II, pp. 70-76, 76-80.

10. Byrdsall, op. cit., pp. 26-27.

11. Ibid., pp. 34, 46; William Trimble, "Diverging Tendencies in New York Democracy in the Period of the Locofocos," American Historical Review 24 (April 1919), pp. 399-400, 416; Idem, "The Social Philosophy of the Loco-Foco Democracy," American Journal of Sociology 26 (May 1921), pp. 705-708; Hofstadter, op. cit., pp. 593-594.

12. See "True Functions of Government" below, p. 3.

13. See "The Rights of Authors" below, p. 396.

14. Jeremy Bentham, "Lending Principles of a Constitutional Code For Any State" in Bentham's Political Thought, edited by Bhikhu Parekh (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1973), pp. 195-206. This first appeared in The Pamphleteer 44 (1823).

15. See "The Sister Doctrines" below, p. 35.

16. Leggett, "Banking," Plaindealer 39 (August 26, 1837), pp. 610-612.

17. Leggett, "Democracy," Plaindealer 38 (August 19, 1837), pp. 593-595.

18. For a list of those editorials see Proctor, op. cit., pp. 252-253.

TRUE FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT

19. From Andrew Jackson's message to the Senate, July 10, 1832, vetoing the rechartering of the Bank of the United States.—Ed.

OBJECTS OF THE EVENING POST

20. This law prohibited banks not expressly chartered by the New York State legislature.—Ed.

REPLY TO THE CHARGE OF LUNACY

21. Frances Wright (1795-1852), controversial feminist and communitarian reformer.—Ed.

PREFATORY REMARKS

22. The story to which allusion is here made cannot too often be repeated. We copy it from a life of Marvell, by John Dove. It is as follows: The borough of Hull, in the reign of Charles II. chose ANDREW MARVELL, a young gentleman of little or no fortune, and maintained him in London for the service of the public. His understanding, integrity, and spirit, were dreadful to the then infamous administration. Persuaded that he would be theirs for properly asking, they sent his old schoolfellow, the LORD TREASURER DANBY, to renew acquaintance with him in his garret. At parting, the Lord Treasurer, out of pure affection, slipped into his hand an order upon the Treasury for 1,000l., and then went to his chariot. Marvell looking at the paper, calls after the Treasurer "My Lord, I request another moment." They went up again to the garret, and Jack, the servant boy, was called. "Jack, child, what had I for dinner yesterday?" "Don't you remember, sir? you had the little shoulder of mutton that you ordered me to bring from a woman in the market." "Very right, child. What have I for dinner to day?" "Don't you know, sir, that you bid me lay by the blade-bone to broil?" " 'Tis so, very right, child, go away. My Lord, do you hear that? Andrew Marvell's dinner is provided; there's your piece of paper. I want it not. I knew the sort of kindness you intended. I live here to serve my constituents; the Ministry may seek men for their purpose; I am not one."

THE MONOPOLY BANKING SYSTEM

23. A reference to William M. Gouge, A Short History of Paper Money and Banking in the United States (Philadelphia: T. W. Ustick, 1833).—Ed.

24. "Hurry slowly."—Ed.

STRICTURES ON THE LATE MESSAGE

25. Leggett may have been aware of the private Bechtler mint in North Carolina, which coined several million dollars worth of Southern Appalachian gold between 1831 and 1850. Congress did not outlaw private coinage until 1864.—Ed.

26. Bob Acres is a shallow-headed comic character in Richard Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775).—Ed.

THE MONEY MARKET AND NICHOLAS BIDDLE

27. President of the Second Bank of the United States, at the date of this editorial operating under a charter from the state of Pennsylvania.—Ed.

28. An allusion to the fable of the frogs desiring a king, to whom Jupiter sent down a log of wood.—Ed.

29. A reference to Biddle's offer to rediscount bills held by the New York banks.—Ed.

THE PRESSURE—THE CAUSE OF IT—AND THE REMEDY

30. This extract, and another following it, described speculations in cotton financed by bank credits.—Ed.

CONNEXION OF STATE WITH BANKING

31. See "Commencement of the Administration of Martin Van Buren" below, p. 221.—Ed.

THE CRISIS

32. A four-volume biographical record of the more notorious criminals confined at London's Newgate Prison, published 1824-28.—Ed.

SEPARATION OF BANK AND STATE

33. This law prohibited the entry of any bank not expressly chartered by the state legislature.—Ed.

"BLEST PAPER CREDIT"

34. John Randolph of Roanoke, Representative of Virginia, 1800-1824.—Ed.

35. "Greedy toward others, extravagant toward himself."—Ed.

36. The character Jeremy Diddler, in James Kenney's farce Raising the Wind (1803), continually contrives to borrow money.—Ed.

THEORY AND PRACTICE

37. Jean Baptiste Say, French classical economist, was author of A Treatise on Political Economy, the fifth American edition of which was published in 1832, from which this quote is likely taken.—Ed.

"SPECIE BASIS"

38. In the free banking system of Scotland, which Leggett praises elsewhere, almost all banks operated with unlimited shareholder liability for bank obligations. They experienced no runs for specie, though their specie reserves were a small percentage of their note and deposit liabilities.—Ed.

THE CREDIT SYSTEM AND THE ARISTOCRACY

39. Roughly, "it stands to reason that painted falsehood, in much it is more likely, occasionally conquers the naked truth.''—Ed.

40. A reference to Daniel Raymond, The Elements of Political Economy, the second edition of which was published in 1823.—Ed.

RIOT AT THE CHATHAM-STREET CHAPEL

41. This is a reference to the American Colonization Society, founded 1817 to aid free blacks by resettling them in Africa. The Society founded the colony of Liberia in 1822, and at the time Leggett wrote was at the peak of its influence.—Ed.

GOVERNOR McDUFFIE'S MESSAGE

42. William Lloyd Garrison, leading advocate of the immediate abolition of slavery.—Ed.

43. Member of Parliament from Ireland, well known for agitation on behalf of the rights of Roman Catholics and repeal of Ireland's union with England.—Ed.

44. Whig Senator from New York who led anti-slavery opposition to the Missouri Compromise of 1820.—Ed.

THE ABOLITIONISTS

45. The postmaster of Charleston, South Carolina, had refused to deliver abolitionist tracts.—Ed.

REWARD FOR ARTHUR TAPPAN

46. Tappan was president of the American Anti-Slavery Society, a prominent abolitionist organization.—Ed.

THE ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY

47. Sir Henry Percy (1366-1403) plotted against the English King Henry IV. The affair is treated in Shakespeare's Henry IV.—Ed.

48. From Joseph Addison's play Cato (1716), which depicts Cato the Younger's tragic last-ditch defense of the Roman Republic against Julius Caesar.—Ed.

49. From a poem by Thomas Moore, satirist of the London Times. See The Critic (January 28, 1829), p. 153, for Leggett's review of Moore.—Ed.

ABOLITIONISTS

50. A fish market in London, England, whose fish porters made it synonymous with coarse language.—Ed.

51. Jack Cade led the Kentish insurrection against Henry the Sixth. See Leggett's defense of him in "Utopia—Sir Thomas More—Jack Cade," in Political Writings, vol. I, pp. 125-133.—Ed.

PROGRESS OF FANATICISM

52. Amos Kendall, Postmaster General of the United States, had refused to overrule the postmaster of Charleston's decision not to deliver abolitionist tracts through the mail. Leggett devoted several editorials to denunciation of this postal censorship.—Ed.

53. William Ellery Channing was a leading Unitarian clergyman and anti-slavery pamphleteer.—Ed.

THE QUESTION OF SLAVERY NARROWED TO A POINT

54. William C. Rives, senator from Virginia.—Ed.

55. John C. Calhoun, senator from South Carolina.—Ed.

56. A reference to Jonathan Dymond's On the Applicability of the Pacific Principles of the New Testament to the Conduct of States, the first American edition of which was published in 1832.—Ed.

57. See his letter to Lord Sheffield, Miscellaneous Works, vol. 1, p. 349.

"ABOLITION INSOLENCE"

58. Namely, the American flag.—Ed.

DESPOTISM OF ANDREW JACKSON

59. William John Duane, secretary of the treasury from June to October of 1833, was removed after refusing to obey Jackson's directive to transfer federal government deposits from the Bank of the United States to state banks.—Ed.

A BAD BEGINNING

60. The English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley published the long ideological poem Queen Mab together with notes in 1813. The ninth note was a celebrated essay against legal marriage.—Ed.

THE WHIG EMBASSY TO WASHINGTON, AND ITS RESULT

61. Leggett refers to the published comments of a committee of New York Whigs on a letter from President Van Buren. The President wrote in response to requests presented to him in Washington by the committee.—Ed.

62. A line from Thomas Moore, London Examiner satirist.—Ed.

RIGHT VIEWS AMONG THE RIGHT SORT OF PEOPLE

63. One of the sons of Titus Adronicus in Shakespeare's play of that name.—Ed.

FOREIGN "PAUPERS"

64. New York's whig mayor, Aaron Clark, was formerly a lottery dealer. See "The Municipal Election," in Leggett, Political Writings, vol. II, pp. 279-281. Clark was elected because the Loco Focos split the democratic vote.—Ed.

"A LITTLE FREE-TRADE CRAZY"

65. See preface to the American edition of Say's Political Economy.

MONOPOLIES: II

66. William Bard was president of the New York Life Insurance and Trust Company, chartered in 1830.—Ed.

REVOLUTIONARY PENSIONERS

67. Abraham Leggett, William's father, attained the rank of major in the revolutionary war.—Ed.

FREE FERRIES AND AN AGRARIAN LAW

68. That is, stagecoaches.—Ed.

GAMBLING LAWS

69. That is, to prison.—Ed.

FREE TRADE, TAXES, AND SUBSIDIES

70. Leggett here refers to the question of the federal government selling western land only to settlers. See "Sale of Publick Lands" and "The Meaning of Free Trade" above, p. 350 and p. 355.—Ed.

THE CAUSE OF HIGH PRICES, AND THE RIGHTS OF COMBINATION

71. Here abridged.—Ed.

OMNIPOTENCE OF THE LEGISLATURE

72. George Colman (the younger) was an English playwright and author of comic verse whose Poetical Works were published in their first American edition in 1834.—Ed.

73. Rasselas (1759) is a tale by the English critic and essayist Samuel Johnson.—Ed.

74. "Croaker" was a pseudonym used by Joseph Rodman Drake and Fitz-Greene Halleck for a series of satirical poems which appeared in the Evening Post in 1819. The stanza quoted is from "The National Paintings: Col. Trumbull's 'The Declaration of Independence' "; by Drake.—Ed.

RIGHTS OF AUTHORS

75. William Jackson, of New York, was the American publisher to whom Leggett here refers; the British publishers were the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Jackson sold his Penny Magazine for three cents and carried on the business from 1833 to 1841.—Ed.

THE RIGHTS OF AUTHORS

76. David Rittenhouse, American astronomer and instrument maker, was anticipated by Charles Boyle, the fourth earl of Orrery, in the invention of a gear-driven device for illustrating the relative movements of the bodies in the solar system.—Ed.

RIGHT OF PROPERTY IN THE FRUITS OF INTELLECTUAL LABOUR

77. This is likely a reference to the title character in Oliver Goldsmith's novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1776).—Ed.

78. In William Barnes Rhodes's long-popular mock-heroic burlesque Bombastes Furioso (1810) the title character is killed in a fight but revives to join in the finale.—Ed.

End of Notes

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