Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/201

This page needs to be proofread.

/,'. .17. y. ll,i,,t,,; 197

tin la>t a mere cloud in the sky at that day, but destined soon to loom up ami obscure the entire horizon. Thrown by a new appor- tionment into a partially new congressional district, he was beaten candidate for the Twenty-eighth Congress by a small majority; but two years afterwards he was easily elected to the Twenty-ninth Congress. This was the first Congress of Mr. Polk, whom he had helped to elect to the presidency. In this Congress he promoted the establishment of the Independent Treasury a measure strongly opposed, but which vindicated itself and soon ceased to be a party issue. He also earnestly supported the celebrated revenue tariff bill <>f 1846, known in after years as the Walker tariff; and he also favored the warehouse system. The last measure was largely, if not wholly, his work. Its 'vast importance and place in modern com- mercial transactions is known to every merchant in the land; but how few of them know and are grateful to the statesman who did most to give it a permanent place in our fiscal system ! On the sub- ject of the tariff, Mr. Hunter followed the teachings of Adam Smith, Ricardo, McCulloch and the great political economists of Europe, whose works have built up the doctrine of free exchange of pro- ducts, upheld in this country by Jefferson, Calhoun, Silas Wright, and numbers of our greatest thinkers and patriots, and held abroad by Peel, Cobden, Bright, Bastiat and Gladstone.


In the same Congress he actively and most wisely promoted the retrocession of Alexandria to Virginia a policy dear to every heart in the Commonwealth, and destined, as I hope, never to be surren- dered at the bidding of alien speculators and jobbers. The long and dangerous contention with England over the Oregon boundary was also settled at this Congress by the wise and patriotic statesman- ship of Webster, Calhoun and Benton. In this patriotic work Mr. Hunter co-operated. But it required no common nerve and sagacity for a public man to take then a position which all can now see and admit was the very essence of wisdom and state-craft. It was a race for empire, and our country, with greatly inferior naval power and no easy land communication at that hour across the continent, has won the race. We sacrificed a pawn to win a queen. A war with England at that time might "have cost us Oregon and the whole coast.

By this time 1846 the war with Mexico had begun, and the slavery agitation had broken out afresh by the claim of the anti-