header by Emerson Taymor, 2005
9. The Twenties
14. The Sixties
John Scholefield to Henry Clay, Nov. 13, 1833
From John Scholefield
[Asks if a group of Philadelphia "Manufacturers and Merchants" could honor Clay, "the Father of the American System," by greeting him in New York and escorting him to Philadelphia on his return trip to Washington. Continues:]
May I be permitted, Sir, to embrace this opportunity for acquainting you with a little piece of history--partly secret--belonging to the present times?--About two weeks ago, Gen. Duff Green--alarmed at the notice you have recently attracted, and, as we understand, at an expression in your favor from the South--left Washington for New York, on a political mission. He commenced his operations at Baltimore:--got up a meeting of "Working Men," so called, at which John McLean was nominated as a candidate for the Presidency. The scheme failed. His next attempt was in our city, where he also tried to operate on the same description of persons. At a very early stage of the business, we became acquainted with his designs, and measures were accordingly taken to frustrate them. We succeeded, and consequently he was defeated: he could not even get a meeting. He then went to Trenton, Newark, and New York, for the same avowed purpose; and he was every where unsuccessful. Since that time, we have heard no more of him, except of his return home.--A few days ago, however, the partisans of Mr. McLean in this City, made another clandestine attempt; in a similar way, and for the same purpose; and again they have been defeated.
Now, Sir, in order to a right understanding of their movements, it is necessary to state, that the "Working Men," when well organized, constitute a considerable portion of the political strength of the city and county of Philadelphia. They have formerly been found quite available for party purposes. At the present moment they are not very firmly bound together, not having recently moved in unison. It is evident that although many of their most influential men are decidedly of one party, they have among them political characters of every shade.
Such being the materials of which this class of our citizens is composed, a question presents itself as to the best mode of operating upon them, for the advantage of the public. The knowledge of one little secret gives us a ready answer to the question. It is simply to make them of some consequence in the world--to give them an air of importance in the eyes of others. As a body, they are very ambitious to possess some weight in society. Let this feeling be gratified, and they are content. It is for these reasons that we apprehend they may some time or other, be induced to unite for evil as well as good. And in order to prevent the former, we must endeavor to ensure the latter. As manufacturers and mechanics, in other words, as "working men," they have a deep interest at stake in the support of "the protective system." But, Sir, many of them do not perfectly understand it; nor, in this respect, is there any other way in which a favorable and lasting impression can possibly be made upon their minds, like that which would come from the lips of the Father of that system. Greatly therefore would I rejoice if by any means an opportunity could consistently be embraced for doing so much good. The benefit thus to be conferred on a great public cause, would be incalculable--But more of this when we have the happiness to see you here.