EXTINCTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
[FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.]
New York, November 11, 1865. THE elections this week have been very decisive and very signi- ficant. Like those which shortly preceded them, they were all local, that is, for State or municipal officers, but they showed unmistakably the current of political feeling in regard to ques- tions of national importance. They took place in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, Wis- consin, and Minnesota. In all of these States except Massa- chusetts the Democratic party had, a month or two ago, at least strong hopes of success, but in all it was decisively overthrown. The elections of most importance were those in New York and New Jersey. In New Jersey, because of the devotion of that State hitherto to the cause of State sovereignty and its steadfast adherence to the Democratic party, and its consequent refusal thus far to confirm the anti-slavery amendment of the Constitu- tion; in New York, not only because of the great political weight of the State in Congress, and its almost controlling political in- fluence, but because of the desperate and, it must be confessed, very adroit expedient adopted by the Democratic leaders. That expedient was the adoption at the Democratic Convention (which was held after the Pennsylvania and Ohio elections, and before the New York Republican Convention) of a platform of principles thoroughly Republican, and even the selection of two Republicans as candidates for prominent positions, one of them, General Slocum, who commanded the right wing of Sherman's army in the Atalanta campaign and the great march. It was supposed, and not with- out reason, that this concession to the dominant feeling of the hour, working with old party fealty and the well knit party orga- nization of the Democrats, would carry the State triumphantly. It attained the end also of depriving the Republicans of. any distinctive ground on which to take their stand and fight their battle. How could they say to the many Democrats whom the logic of events has turned from State sovereignty, and toward freedom, "You must vote with us, or the country will lapse again into its old pail," when their own party, that party which has ruled the country for more than a generation, accepted the situa- tion and avowed its conversion? This manceuvre at first carried dismay into the ranks of the Republicans. It was even seriously discussed among them whether it would not be best to adopt the platform and the prominent candidates set up by the Democrats, and thus by a counter-check deprive the election of any party aspect. But other and, as it has proved, wiser counsels prevailed. ;The two platforms were indeed inevitably almost identical. But a distinct ticket, or set of candidates, was nominated, among whom were two generals, Barlow and Martindale—one of them, Barlow, - a man of distinguished ability and services, although not of such prominent position as Slocum—and the Democrats were attacked in the canvas on the ground that their only object was to get into power again, and that their professions were not to be trusted. The result of this anomalous contest between parties professing identi- cal principles, and with candidates equally popular and equally committed by their action to those principles, is the defeat of the Democrats by a majority of 27,000. The conclusion is manifest and important. The question put to the people, made, by the con- trivance of the Democratic leaders themselves, the single one, "Is the Democratic party any longer fit to be trusted with the control of public affairs?" The answer is an emphatic "No."
The returns of the New York election are interesting, and will show to European observers of our affairs how little the voice of New York city, and of other towns and cities more or less of its complexion, is to be regarded as that of the " American " people, properly so called. Elections for State as well as for national officers are of course decided in each State by the aggregate vote, but the returns come in by counties. Of the sixty counties in the State forty-five gave Republican majorities, the aggregate majority, not the whole number of ballots, being in round numbers 61,000. Yet the aggregate majority of the other fifteen coun- ties given for the Democrats was 34,000. Now of these -fifteen counties, four, New York, Kings, Westchester, and Rich- mond, form what is called the Metropolitan District. They include New York city and its suburbs, and are under the con- trol of the Metropolitan Police Department. These counties gave a majority for the Democrats of 27,850, the majority in the city alone being 24,000. Of the remaining eleven Democratic counties, six, Albany, Putnam, Queen's, Rockland, Sullivan, and Ulster, are like the Metropolitan counties full of Irish emigrants. In brief, 31,000 of the aggregate Democratic county majorities came from the counties which, like New York
City, are-almost at the mercy of " naturalized " Irishmen, leaving only a majority of 4,000 to be distributed among the other fifty- counties of the State, which, not containing cities, or the termini and chief stations of public works, railways, and canals, or quarries and mines, are under the control of " Americans " born and bred, most of them of New England origin. Thus it is that in spite of the 24,000, and sometimes 30,000 Democratic majority in the great city, and the 3,000 or 4,000 more in its suburbs, the State can take this load 'upon its shoulders, and walk steadily off with it.
But perhaps it was in New Jersey that the defeat of the Demo- crats was least expected, and is therefore most significant. The present Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Parker, was elected in the midst of the rebellion, in the autumn of 1862, by a majority of 14,597,—a very large preponderance in so small a State ; and at the Presidential election in 1864 New Jersey went against Mr. Lincoln by a majority of 7,300. Had it not been for the peril of the country, the majority for the Democratic candidate would have been as before, twice as large. Now with peace restored, the Republic preserved, and the Democratic party, which has hitherto boasted that it "owned New Jersey," seeking to maintain its old position in the State, and having all the State patronage in its hands, the Republicans have a majority of 3,700, showing a gain of more than 20,000 votes, and the Governor and State Legislature in both Houses are Republican, or at least strongly anti-Democratic. This is wonderful in our eyes, and it rejoices the hearts of all the friends of freedom, for it ensures the ratification of the anti-slavery amendment to the Constitution, and makes it certain that freedom will soon be the organic and perpetual law of the whole land.
The great political indication of these elections is the sure, although perhaps not very speedy, extinction of the Democratic party. The people even of this day will no longer trust it, and its power as a distinctive political organization controlling, or seek- ing to control, the affairs of the country is gone for ever. It will linger awhile, for it was big and tough, but the best it can do here- after is to play the part of Giant Pope, who had" grown crazy and stiff in his joints," and whom Christian saw sitting in his cave's mouth grinning at pilgrims as they went carelessly by, and bitinghis nails because he could not come at them. If the menef to-day will not trust it, still less will they of 1868. As each year adds its new thou- sands to the body of voters, it will pass nearly all of them to the side of the party which carried the Republic triumphantly through its peril ; while they whose fixedness of principle or whose immobility of nature or of habit will cause them to cling to the party which sought to embarrass the Government in the hour of its supremest need, are they whom time will remove from ranks that no young recruits will stand ready to fill up. Strangely enough, the fake of the Federal party, which the Democratic party supplanted, .has now become its own. The Federal party (which according to modem nomenclature should have been called Republican, for it favoured the Republic, one and indivisible) opposed the war of 1812, which we declared against Great Britain because she insisted upon the right of taking British subjects out of our ships upon the high seas, and which she did not abandon at the treaty of peace signed at Ghent ; and the Democratic party (which was at first called Republican, but which should have been called Federal, be- cause it favoured the theory that our Government was not national, but federative, and which called itself after a while Democratic- Republican, and afterward Democratic) sustained the Government in the war, and carried it through with a great measure of success, although the end for which it was fought was not attained until recently. The parties were really named, as all those who' are acquainted with our political history knows—the Federal from the Federalist, whose authors, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, favoured a national form of government,—the Republican on account of a special profession of democratic principles which sixty years ago were called not democratic, but republican. In consequence of this defection in the nation's need the Federal party, although it included many, perhaps most, of the ablest and most cultivated men of the country, withered and died. It did not die fighting ; it faded away. After a few years had passed, men began to be shy of owning that they had belonged to the scorned and rapidly vanishing political body. I have never seen even an old man who confessed himself a Federalist, but I have seen many old and young who said with pride that their fathers were of that party. Unless indeed there is still some hope for the Democrats in the Southern States, and they can appropriate President Johnson to themselves, which is more than doubtful, three years will see their party helplessly paralytic ; above ground, but dead to all intents and purposes. Like the Federal party, it will simply fade away ; and men will cast about for questions upon which to
organize an opposition to the triumphant and firmly seated Republican administration, which will hold its place in virtue o'r.' its pluck, its principles, and its success ; and which will be, as its vanquished opponent has long been, strongly bound together by the cohesive power of public plunder. What ques- tions will be made the ground of opposition it would be unwise at this day to predict with confidence. Bat it is not improbable that there will be a party spring up advocating chiefly both negro suffrage and free trade. Free trade has now a not very numerous but highly respectable and intelligent body of advocates. These will probably increase in numbers as years go on, until at last, when the national debt has been paid and the manufactures of the country are so strong that they need no protection, if not before, free-trade principles will prevail. New England is looked to as the quarter in which the strongest support of negro suffrage is to be found, but New England is the strongest hold of protection. It would not be surprising if the West should bring forth the party of free trade and universal suffrage. But this is mere speculation. What may be regarded as certain, however, is the abandonment of. what have been hitherto known as Democratic principles, and the adoption of a new party cry by an opposition, which, if it does not at once become strong enough to elect the next President, will be feeble for many years.
That wretched man Henry Wirz was hanged to-day,---a sacrifice to the manes of the 12,000 Union soldiers whom he was instru- mental in torturing to death at .Andersonville. He died protesting his innocence, but if ever a prisoner was justly convicted of the crime of which he was accused, it was this man ; and if ever man was rightfully hanged, it was Wirz. The event suggests questions which make themselves heard on all sides, although more in private than in public. If this poor Swiss adventurer were worthy of death for the crimes committed at Andersonville, he who owed no alle- giance to this Government and this flag, and who had no tie of blood, of country, or of former association to bind him to the men who suffered and died in that Aceldama, upon what ground is it that the high civil and military officers who knew of his crimes, and who could have removed him or have hanged him by a word, and who did neither, and who to their complicity with him in the acts for which he has suffered an ignominious death added the highest crime known to our law, treason, are pardoned, and allowed to seek positions of trust and honour unmolested? There seems some preposterousness here, in the old radical sense of the word. As to Jefferson Davis, he, it has been plain for a long time, will undergo no other punishment than that of failure, and that moderate term of imprisonment which will be brought to an end by his trial. And in the way of the trial itself difficulties continue to rise. Chief Justice Chase has given an opinion that while the military power of the United States controls Virginia, the Supreme Court cannot sit there, at least to try a case of this nature. The opinion seems to be sound. Yet where else can the trial at present take place? Mr. Davis is indicted by the grand jury of Ilenrico county, Virginia, in which Richmond is situated; and even were he to be indicted anew, where could it be done, unless he were taken to the North for the purpose, away from the district in which the crime for which he is to be tried was committed? This is objectionable. Legal ingenuity, however, must be taxed to obviate this difficulty; for it is felt that decency at least requires that the great rebel repudiator should be tried, convicted, and sentenced according to law.