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[166] Democratic repugnance to this measure was still manifested. Messrs. George P. Barker, William C. Bryant, John W. Edmonds, David Dudley Field, Theodore Sedgwick, and others, united in a letter — stigmatized by annexationists as a “secret circular” --urging their fellow — Democrats, while supporting Polk and Dallas, to repudiate the Texas resolution, and to unite in supporting, for Congress, Democratic candidates hostile to Annexation. Silas Wright, who had prominently opposed the Tyler treaty in the United States Senate, and had refused to run for Vice-President with Polk, was made the Democratic candidate for Governor of New York, which State could not otherwise have been carried for Polk. In a canvassing speech at Skaneateles, Mr. Wright referred to his opposition as unabated, and declared that he could never consent to Annexation on any terms which would give Slavery an advantage over Freedom. This sentiment was reiterated, and emphasized in a great Democratic convention held at Herkimer in the autumn of that year.

The canvass of 1844 was opened with signal animation, earnestness, and confidence on the part of the Whigs, who felt that they should not, and believed that they could not, be beaten on the issue made up for them by their adversaries. So late as the 4th of July, their prospect of carrying New York and Pennsylvania, and thus overwhelmingly electing their candidates, was very flattering. On the 16th of August, however, The North Alabamian published a letter from Mr. Clay to two Alabama friends, who had urged him to make a further statement of his views on the Annexation question. The material portion of that letter concluded as follows:

I do not think it right to announce in advance what will be the course of a future Administration in respect to a question with a foreign power. I have, however, no hesitation in saying that, far from having any personal objection to the Annexation of Texas, I should be glad to see it--without dishonor, without war, with the common consent of the Union, and upon just and fair terms.

I do not think that the subject of Slavery ought to affect the question, one way or the other. Whether Texas be independent, or incorporated in the United States, I do not believe it will prolong or shorten the duration of that institution. It is destined to become extinct, at some distant day, in my opinion, by the operation of the inevitable laws of population. It would be unwise to refuse a permanent acquisition, which will exist as long as the globe remains, on account of a temporary institution.

In the contingency of my election, to which you have adverted, if the affair of acquiring Texas should become a subject of consideration, I should be governed by the state of facts, and the state of public opinion existing at the time I might be called upon to act. Above all, I should be governed by the paramount duty of preserving the Union entire, and in harmony, regarding it, as I do, as the great guaranty of every political and public blessing, under Providence, which, as a free people, we are permitted to enjoy.

This letter was at once seized upon by Mr. Clay's adversaries, whether Democrats or Abolitionists, as evincing a complete change of base on his part. It placed the Northern advocates of his election on the defensive for the remainder of the canvass, and weakened their previous hold on the moral convictions of the more considerate and conscientious voters of the Free States. These were generally hostile to Annexation precisely or mainly because of its bearings upon Slavery; and the declaration of their candidate that such considerations “ought not to ”

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