Jackson did not treat his Cabinet as other Presidents had treated theirs. He had a soldier's idea of organization, and did not think it necessary to consult the Cabinet members about all the measures he planned. He treated them somewhat as a general treats his inferior officers, though with several of them, especially Van Buren and Eaton, his relations were very cordial and intimate. When he wished advice, however, he was more apt to seek it of his friend, Major Lewis, whom he had persuaded to accept an appointment, and who lived with him at the White House, or of Isaac Hill, who had come to Washington after fighting the Adams men in New Hampshire, or of Amos Kendall, who had dared to oppose Clay in Kentucky, or of General Duff Green, editor of " The Telegraph," the Jackson organ. These men, personal friends of the President, came to be called the " Kitchen Cabinet;" and at least three of the four were shrewd enough to justify any President in consulting them. Hill and Kendall were both New England men by birth, and had all the industry and sharpness of mind proverbially characteristic of Yankees. Even Major Lewis did not surpass Kendall in political cleverness and far-sightedness; he was a " little whiffet of a man," but before long the opposition learned to see his hand in every event of political importance anywhere in the country. If a Democratic convention in Maine framed a resolution, or a newspaper in New Orleans changed its policy, men were ready to declare that it was Kendall who pulled the wire. Historians are fond of saying that it was such men as Kendall and Lewis who really ruled the country while Jackson was President; and it is true that by skilful suggestions, by playing upon his likes and dislikes, much coidd be done with him. But it is equally true that when he was once resolved on any course his friends could no more stop him than his enemies could. A clerk in the State Department won his favor by a happy use of the phrase, " I take the responsibility," and from that time was safe even against the displeasure of Secretary Van Buren. A member of Congress began a successful intrigue for office by begging for his father the pipe which the President was smoking, ashes and all. A clerk in the War Department attracted his attention by challenging a man to a duel, and so started himself on a career that ended in the Senate. Secretary Van Buren called on Peggy Eaton and supplanted Calhoun as the heir apparent to the presidency. Jackson in good humor was the easiest of victims to an artful intriguer; but, unlike the weak kings whom scheming ministers have shaped to their purposes, he could not be stopped when once he was started.
It was Peggy Eaton who made a division between the married men and the widower of the Cabinet. She was the wife of Senator Eaton, who was now Secretary of War, and the widow of a naval officer named Timberlake. Her father was a tavern-keeper named O'Neill, and both Jackson and Eaton had lived at his tavern when they were Senators, and Mrs. O'Neill had been kind to Mrs. Jackson. The O'Neills had no place in Washington society, and there were ugly stories about the conduct of Mrs. Timberlake with Senator Eaton before the death of Timberlake, who killed himself at sea. Washington society believed these stories. President Jackson refused to believe them, and became Mrs. Eaton's champion. His zeal in her cause knew no bounds, and he wished his secretaries and their wives to help him. But the Cabinet ladies woidd not visit or receive Mrs. Eaton, and their husbands refused to interfere. Calhoun, the Vice-President, also declined to take up Mrs. Eaton's cause. Mr. Van Buren, a widower, showed the lady marked attention.
For once in his life, Andrew Jackson was defeated. Creeks and Spaniards and Redcoats he could conquer, but the ladies of Washington never surrendered, and Peggy Eaton, though her affairs became a national question, never got into Washington society. Jackson, however, did not forget who had been his friends in a little matter any more than if it had been the greatest affair of state.
It was already a question whether Calhoun or Van Buren should lead the Jackson party at the end of the one term which Jackson had declared to be the limit of his stay in the White House. Calhoun's friends in the Cabinet, and General Duff Green, of " The Telegraph," were active in his interest. Van Buren, however, was constantly growing in favor with the President. When at last Jackson discovered that Calhoun, as a member of Monroe's Cabinet, had wished to censure him for his conduct in Florida, he and the Vice-President broke forever. Meantime, a great public question had arisen on which the two men stood out as representatives of two opposite theories of the Union. The estrangement begun over Peggy Eaton widened into a breach be-, tween a State and the United States, between the nullifier of the laws and the defender of the Union.
For the pendulum had swung, and it was no longer the Federalist merchants of New England, but the planters of the South, and particularly of South Carolina, who were discontent with the policy of the government. New England had turned to manufactures some of the energy she had formerly given to commerce and seafaring, and was now in favor of a protective tariff. Webster, her foremost man at Washington, had voted against the tariff of 1816, but had changed his mind and supported a higher tariff in 1824, and a stiU higher in 1828. The planters of the South had not found it easy to develop manufactures with their slave labor. They had little or nothing, therefore, to protect against the products of European countries. On the contrary, they exported much of their cotton to England, and imported from England and other countries many of the things they consumed. Accordingly, they were, as a rule, opposed to the whole system of tariff taxation, and desired free trade. Many of them also opposed the system of internal improvements, both on constitutional grounds and because they felt that the tariff made them pay more than their share of the expense of such undertakings.