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Author: Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
Title: Select Speeches of Daniel Webster, 1817-1845
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): webster; constitution; south carolina; carolina; congress; government; legislature
Contributor(s): Symonds, John Addington, 1840-1893 [Translator]
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Title: Select Speeches of Daniel Webster

Author: Daniel Webster

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SELECT SPEECHES OF DANIEL WEBSTER ***




Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Tiffany Vergon, Jerry Fairbanks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.






SELECT SPEECHES OF DANIEL WEBSTER

1817-1845

WITH PREFACE, INTRODUCTION, AND NOTES BY

A. J. GEORGE, A.M.

Instructor in Rhetoric and English Literature in the Newton, Mass., High
School


            "The front of Jove himself;
  An eye like Mars to threaten and command;
  A combination and a form indeed,
  Where every god did seem to set his seal,
  To give the world assurance of a man"


Boston, U.S.A.
D.C. Heath & Co., Publishers
1903



TO
THE HON. GEORGE F. HOAR, LL.D.
A WORTHY SUCCESSOR OF
DANIEL WEBSTER
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES




Blest Statesman He, whose Mind's unselfish will
Leaves him at ease among grand thoughts: whose eye
Sees that, apart from magnanimity,
Wisdom exists not; nor the humbler skill
Of Prudence, disentangling good and ill
With patient care. What tho' assaults run high,
They daunt not him who holds his ministry,
Resolute, at all hazards, to fulfil
Its duties; prompt to move, but firm to wait;
Knowing, things rashly sought are rarely found;
That, for the functions of an ancient State--
Strong by her charters, free because imbound,
Servant of Providence, not slave of Fate--
Perilous is sweeping change, all chance unsound.




Preface.



Burke and Webster are models in the forensic literature of our own language
as truly as are Demosthenes and Cicero in the language of the ancient
classics. Each has distinct and inimitable characteristics which give force
and beauty to his work. The study of each should be ordered in such a way
as to put one in touch with those qualities of mind and heart, of
intellectual and moral manhood, by which each became a leader in political
philosophy and a model in literary style. One who studies such authors in
order to formulate a historical or a personal estimate merely, or to
compare each as to certain externals of rhetorical form, has lost the true
perspective of literary judgment.

Reading in the school and in the home is far too often pursued with a
purpose to controvert and prove rather than to weigh and consider. Reading
which does not result in enlarging, stimulating, and refining one's nature
is but a busy idleness. The schools must see to it that the desultory and
dissipating methods of reading, so prevalent in the home, are not
encouraged. Pupils must be stimulated first of all to enjoy what is
beautiful in nature and in art: for here is

  "A world of ready wealth,
  Their minds and hearts to bless--
  Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
  Truth breathed by cheerfulness."

The wisdom of the classroom is too often "art tongue-tied by authority,"
and hence it is not wisdom at all, but a sham and a pretence. Not until
pupils rise to the spontaneity which betokens a genuine love for the work
in hand do they secure the richest results.

The publication of the masterpieces of the epic, the lyric, and the drama;
of the novel, the essay, and the oration, in a convenient form and at such
a price as to bring them within the reach of our schools, makes it
inexcusable if pupils are allowed to be ignorant of the great literary,
ethical, and artistic impulses which have touched and quickened the life
of the past.

Burke's _American Orations_ present him at his best as a statesman,
an orator, and a stylist. When the edition of those speeches was prepared,
a selection from Webster's great speeches was contemplated as a companion
volume. The present edition represents Webster in the various and distinct
fields in which his genius manifested itself so powerfully and so nobly.
He is here seen before a jury, before the Supreme Court of the United
States, on a great historical occasion, in the Senate of the United
States, in a great national canvass, and as a eulogist.

Had it not been for making the volume too large for school use I should
have included the famous speech delivered in the Senate on the 7th of
March, 1850. This speech has been considered by many as the _vulnus
immedicabile_ of Mr. Webster's political life; it is certain that for
it he was most rankly abused. "Massachusetts," as Hon. John D. Long has
said, "smote and broke the heart of Webster, her idol, and then broke her
own above his grave, and to-day writes his name highest upon her roll of
statesmen."

I find in this speech nothing but what is consistent with Mr. Webster's
noble adherence to the Constitution and the Union; nothing but what is
consistent with the solemn duty of a great man in a great national crisis.

In his address at Buffalo on the 22d of May, 1851, he expressed himself
very freely in regard to this speech, saying: "I felt that I had a duty to
perform to my country, to my own reputation; for I flattered myself that a
service of forty years had given me some character, on which I had a right
to repose for my justification in the performance of a duty attended with
some degree of local unpopularity. I thought it was my duty to pursue this
course, and I did not care what was to be the consequence. And, Gentlemen,
allow me to say here to-day, that if the fate of John Rogers had stared me
in the face, if I had seen the stake, if I had heard the fagots already
crackling, by the blessing of Almighty God I would have gone on and
discharged the duty which I thought my country called upon me to perform."

Does this seem the language of one who had abandoned his post and was
merely "bidding for the Presidency"?

The address of Hon. Rufus Choate, before the students of Dartmouth
College, commemorative of Daniel Webster, has a remark on this subject so
just that I cannot refrain from quoting it. He says: "Until the accuser
who charges Mr. Webster with having 'sinned against his conscience' will
assert that the conscience of a public man may not, must not, be
instructed by profound knowledge of the vast subject-matter with which
public life is conversant, and will assert that he is certain that the
consummate science of our great statesman was _felt by himself to
prescribe to his morality_ another conduct than that which he adopted,
and that he thus consciously outraged that 'sense of duty which pursues us
ever,'--is he not inexcusable, whoever he is, that so judges another?"

At the meeting held in Faneuil Hall, Oct. 27, 1852, commemorative of Mr.
Webster's life and work, Mr. Edward Everett said: "Whoever, in after time,
shall write the history of the United States for the last forty years will
write the life of Daniel Webster; and whoever writes the life of Daniel
Webster as it ought to be written will write the history of the Union from
the time he took a leading part in its concerns." Mr. Choate, at a meeting
of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, Oct. 25, 1852, said: "Happier than
the younger Pliny, happier than Cicero, he has found his historian,
unsolicited, in his lifetime, and his countrymen have him all by heart."

If this volume shall aid in bringing the young of this generation "to have
him all by heart," to ascend his imaginative heights and sit under the
shadow of his profound reflections on that which is fundamental in civil
and religious liberty, its purpose will be accomplished.

With few exceptions these selections are given entire. Whenever they have
been abridged, the continuity of the discourse has not been impaired.

In the matter of annotation the purpose has been to furnish sufficient aid
to the general reader, and at the same time to indicate to the special
student lines along which he may study the speeches.

In Edward Everett's Memoir, found in the first volume of Mr. Webster's
works; in the life of Mr. Webster by George Tichnor Curtis, and in Henry
Cabot Lodge's _Daniel Webster_, in the American Statesman Series, the
student has exhaustive, scholarly, and judicious estimates of Mr.
Webster's work.

I am indebted to the Hon. George F. Hoar and the Hon. Edward J. Phelps for
assistance in the task of selecting representative speeches; and to the
former for permission to associate his name with this edition of Mr.
Webster's work.

A. J. G.

Brookline, November, 1892.




Introduction.



Mr. Webster approaches as nearly to the _beau ideal_ of a republican
Senator as any man that I have ever seen in the course of my life; worthy
of Rome or Venice rather than of our noisy and wrangling generation.--
Hallam.

Coleridge used to say that he had seldom known or heard of any great man
who had not much of the woman in him. Even so the large intellect of
Daniel Webster seemed to be coupled with all softer feelings; and his
countenance and bearing, at the very first, impressed me with this. A
commanding brow, thoughtful eyes, and a mouth that seemed to respond to
all humanities. He deserves his fame, I am sure.--John Kenyon.

He is a magnificent specimen. You might say to all the world, "This is our
Yankee Englishman; such limbs we make in Yankee-land!" As a parliamentary
Hercules one would incline to back him at first sight against all the
extant world. The tanned complexion; that amorphous craglike face; the
dull black eyes under the precipice of brows, like dull anthracite
furnaces needing only to be _blown_; the mastiff mouth, accurately
closed; I have not traced so much of _silent Berserkir rage_ that I
remember of in any other man.--Thomas Carlyle.

When the historian shall look back upon the first century of the American
Republic, the two names that will shine with most unfading lustre and the
serenest glory, high above all others, are Washington and Webster.--
Professor Felton.

Consider the remarkable phenomenon of excellence in three unkindred, one
might have thought incompatible, forms of public speech,--that of the
forum, with its double audience of bench and jury, of the halls of
legislation, and of the most thronged and tumultuous assemblies of the
people. Consider, further, that this multiform eloquence, exactly as his
words fell, became at once so much accession to permanent literature in
the strictest sense,--solid, attractive, rich,--and ask how often in the
history of public life such a thing has been exemplified.--Rufus Choate.

The noblest monument to Daniel Webster is in his works. As a repository of
political truth and practical wisdom, applied to the affairs of
government, I know not where we shall find their equal. The works of Burke
naturally suggest themselves to the mind, as the only writings in our
language that can sustain the comparison.--Edward Everett.

He writes like a man who is thinking of his subject, and not of his style,
and thus he wastes no time upon the mere garb of his thoughts. His style
is Doric, not Corinthian. His sentences are like shafts hewn from the
granite of his own hills,--simple, massive, strong. We may apply to him
what Quinctilian says of Cicero, that a relish for his writings is itself
a mark of good taste.--George S. Hillard.

He taught the people of the United States, in the simplicity of common
understanding, the principles of the Constitution and government of the
country, and he wrought for them, in a style of matchless strength and
beauty, the literature of statesmanship. He made his language the very
household words of a nation. They are the library of the people. They are
the school-book of the citizen.--John D. Long.

Take him for all in all, he was not only the greatest orator this country
has ever known, but in the history of eloquence his name will stand with
those of Demosthenes and Cicero, Chatham and Burke.--Henry Cabot Lodge.

It may be said that the style of Webster is pre-eminently distinguished by
manliness. The intellect and moral manliness of Webster underlies all his
great orations and speeches; and this plain force of manhood, this sturdy
grapple with every question that comes before his understanding for
settlement, leads him to reject all the meretricious aids and ornaments of
mere rhetoric, and is prominent, among the many exceptional qualities of
his large nature, which have given him a high position among the prose-
writers of his country as a consummate master of English style.--Edwin P.
Whipple.

His broad, wise statesmanship is to be the ample and refreshing shade, his
character the bright and breezy presence, in which all the members of this
great and illustrious Republic may meet and sit down and feast together.--
H. N. Hudson.




Contents.



Defence of the Kennistons
The Dartmouth College Case
First Settlement of New England
The Bunker Hill Monument
The Reply to Hayne
The Murder of Captain Joseph White
The Constitution Not a Compact Between Sovereign States
Speech at Saratoga
Eulogy on Mr. Justice Story
Biographical
Notes




Defence of the Kennistons.



Gentlemen of the Jury,--It is true that the offence charged in the
indictment in this case is not capital; but perhaps this can hardly be
considered as favorable to the defendants. To those who are guilty, and
without hope of escape, no doubt the lightness of the penalty of
transgression gives consolation. But if the defendants are innocent, it is
more natural for them to be thinking upon what they have lost by that
alteration of the law which has left highway robbery no longer capital,
than upon what the guilty might gain by it. They have lost those great
privileges in their trial, which the law allows, in capital cases, for the
protection of innocence against unfounded accusation. They have lost the
right of being previously furnished with a copy of the indictment, and a
list of the government witnesses. They have lost the right of peremptory
challenge; and, notwithstanding the prejudices which they know have been
excited against them, they must show legal cause of challenge, in each
individual case, or else take the jury as they find it. They have lost the
benefit of assignment of counsel by the court. They have lost the benefit
of the Commonwealth's process to bring in witnesses in their behalf. When
to these circumstances it is added that they are strangers, almost wholly
without friends, and without the means for preparing their defence, it is
evident they must take their trial under great disadvantages.

But without dwelling on these considerations, I proceed, Gentlemen of the
Jury, to ask your attention to those circumstances which cannot but cast
doubts on the story of the prosecutor.

In the first place, it is impossible to believe that a robbery of this
sort could have been committed by three or four men without previous
arrangement and concert, and of course without the knowledge of the fact
that Goodridge would be there, and that he had money. They did not go on
the highway, in such a place, in a cold December's night, for the general
purpose of attacking the first passenger, running the chance of his being
somebody who had money. It is not easy to believe that a gang of robbers
existed, that they acted systematically, communicating intelligence to one
another, and meeting and dispersing as occasion required, and that this
gang had their head-quarters in such a place as Newburyport. No town is
more distinguished for the general correctness of the habits of its
citizens; and it is of such a size that every man in it may be known to
all the rest. The pursuits, occupations, and habits of every person within
it are within the observation of his neighbors. A suspicious stranger
would be instantly observed, and all his movements could be easily traced.
This is not the place to be the general rendezvous of a gang of robbers.
Offenders of this sort hang on the skirts of large towns. From the
commission of their crimes they hasten into the crowd, and hide themselves
in the populousness of great cities. If it be wholly improbable that a
gang existed in such a place for the purpose of general plunder, the next
inquiry is, Is there any reason to think that there was a special or
particular combination, for the single purpose of robbing the prosecutor?
Now it is material to observe, that not only is there no evidence of any
such combination, but also, that circumstances existed which render it
next to impossible that the defendants could have been parties to such a
combination, or even that they could have any knowledge of the existence
of any such man as Goodridge, or that any person, with money, was expected
to come from the eastward, and to be near Essex Bridge, at or about nine
o'clock, the evening when the robbery is said to have been committed.

One of the defendants had been for some weeks in Newburyport, the other
passed the bridge from New Hampshire at twelve o'clock on the 19th of
December, 1816. At this time, Goodridge had not yet arrived at Exeter,
twelve or fourteen miles from the bridge. How, then, could either of the
defendants know that he was coming? Besides, he says that nobody, as far
as he is aware, knew on the road that he had money, and nothing happened
till he reached Exeter, according to his account, from which it might be
conjectured that such was the case. Here, as he relates it, it became
known that he had pistols; and he must wish you to infer that the plan to
rob him was laid here, at Exeter, by some of the persons who inferred that
he had money from his being armed. Who were these persons? Certainly not
the defendants, or either of them. Certainly not Taber. Certainly not
Jackman. Were they persons of suspicious characters? Was he in a house of
a suspicious character? On this point he gives us no information. He has
either not taken the pains to inquire, or he chooses not to communicate
the result of his inquiries. Yet nothing could be more important, since he
seems compelled to lay the scene of the plot against him at Exeter, than
to know who the persons were that he saw, or who saw him, at that place.
On the face of the facts now proved, nothing could be more improbable than
that the plan of robbery was concerted at Exeter. If so, why should those
who concerted it send forward to Newburyport to engage the defendants,
especially as they did not know that they were there? What should induce
any persons so suddenly to apply to the defendants to assist in a robbery?
There was nothing in their personal character or previous history that
should induce this.

Nor was there time for all this. If the prosecutor had not lingered on the
road, for reasons not yet discovered, he must have been in Newburyport
long before the time at which he states the robbery to have been
committed. How, then, could any one expect to leave Exeter, come to
Newburyport, fifteen miles, there look out for and find out assistants for
a highway robbery, and get back two miles to a convenient place for the
commission of the crime? That any body should have undertaken to act thus
is wholly improbable; and, in point of fact, there is not the least proof
of any body's travelling, that afternoon, from Exeter to Newburyport, or
of any person who was at the tavern at Exeter having left it that
afternoon. In all probability, nothing of this sort could have taken place
without being capable of detection and proof. In every particular, the
prosecutor has wholly failed to show the least probability of a plan to
rob him having been laid at Exeter.

But how comes it that Goodridge was near or quite four hours and a half in
travelling a distance which might have been travelled in two hours or two
hours and a half. He says he missed his way, and went the Salisbury road.
But some of the jury know that this could not have delayed him more than
five or ten minutes. He ought to be able to give some better account of
this delay.

Failing, as he seems to do, to create any belief that a plan to rob him
was arranged at Exeter, the prosecutor goes back to Alfred, and says he
saw there a man whom Taber resembles. But Taber is proved to have been at
that time, and at the time of the robbery, in Boston. This is proved
beyond question. It is so certain, that the Solicitor-General has _nol
prossed_ the indictment against him.

There is an end, then, of all pretence of the adoption of a scheme of
robbery at Alfred. This leaves the prosecutor altogether unable to point
out any manner in which it should become known that he had money, or in
which a design to rob him should originate.

It is next to be considered whether the prosecutor's story is either
natural or consistent. But, on the threshold of the inquiry, every one
puts the question, What motive had the prosecutor to be guilty of the
abominable conduct of feigning a robbery? It is difficult to assign
motives. The jury do not know enough of his character or circumstances.
Such things have happened, and may happen again. Suppose he owed money in
Boston, and had it not to pay? Who knows how high he might estimate the
value of a plausible apology? Some men have also a whimsical ambition of
distinction. There is no end to the variety of modes in which human vanity
exhibits itself. A story of this nature excites the public sympathy. It
attracts general attention. It causes the name of the prosecutor to be
celebrated as a man who has been attacked, and, after a manly resistance,
overcome by robbers, and who has renewed his resistance as soon as
returning life and sensation enabled him, and, after a second conflict,
has been quite subdued, beaten and bruised out of all sense and sensation,
and finally left for dead on the field. It is not easy to say how far such
motives, trifling and ridiculous as most men would think them, might
influence the prosecutor, when connected with any expectation of favor or
indulgence, if he wanted such, from his creditors. It is to be remembered
that he probably did not see all the consequences of his conduct, if his
robbery be a pretence. He might not intend to prosecute any body. But he
probably found, and indeed there is evidence to show, that it was
necessary for him to do something to find out the authors of the alleged
robbery. He manifested no particular zeal on this subject. He was in no
haste. He appears rather to have been pressed by others to do that which,
if he had really been robbed, we should suppose he would have been most
earnest to do, the earliest moment.

But could he so seriously wound himself? Could he or would he shoot a
pistol-bullet through his hand, in order to render the robbery probable,
and to obtain belief in his story? All exhibitions are subject to
accidents. Whether they are serious or farcical, they may, in some
particulars, not proceed exactly as they are designed to do. If we knew
that this shot through the hand, if made by himself, must have been
intentionally made by himself, it would be a circumstance of greater
weight. The bullet went through the sleeve of his coat. He might have
intended it should go through nothing else. It is quite certain he did not
receive the wound in the way he described. He says he was pulling or
thrusting aside the robber's pistol, and while his hand was on it, it was
fired, and the contents passed through his hand. This could not have been
so, because no part of the contents went through the hand, except the
ball. There was powder on the sleeve of his coat, and from the appearance
one would think the pistol to have been three or four feet from the hand
when fired. The fact of the pistol-bullet being fired through the hand, is
doubtless a circumstance of importance. It may not be easy to account for
it; but it is to be weighed with other circumstances.

It is most extraordinary, that, in the whole case, the prosecutor should
prove hardly any fact in any way but by his own oath. He chooses to trust
every thing on his own credit with the jury. Had he the money with him
which he mentions? If so, his clerks or persons connected with him in
business must have known it; yet no witness is produced. Nothing can be
more important than to prove that he had the money. Yet he does not prove
it. Why should he leave this essential fact without further support? He is
not surprised with this defence, he knew what it would be. He knew that
nothing could be more important than to prove that, in truth, he did
possess the money which he says he lost; yet he does not prove it. All
that he saw, and all that he did, and everything that occurred to him
until the alleged robbery, rests solely on his own credit. He does not see
fit to corroborate any fact by the testimony of any witness. So he went to
New York to arrest Jackman. He did arrest him. He swears positively that
he found in his possession papers which he lost at the time of the
robbery; yet he neither produces the papers themselves, nor the persons
who assisted in the search.

In like manner, he represents his intercourse with Taber at Boston. Taber,
he says, made certain confessions. They made a bargain for a disclosure or
confession on one side, and a reward on the other. But no one heard these
confessions except Goodridge himself. Taber now confronts him, and
pronounces this part of his story to be wholly false; and there is nobody
who can support the prosecutor.

A jury cannot too seriously reflect on this part of the case. There are
many most important allegations of fact, which, if true, could easily be
shown by other witnesses, and yet are not so shown.

How came Mr. Goodridge to set out from Bangor, armed in this formal and
formidable manner? How came he to be so apprehensive of a robbery? The
reason he gives is completely ridiculous. As the foundation of his alarm,
he tells a story of a robbery which he had heard of, but which, as far as
appears, no one else ever heard of; and the story itself is so perfectly
absurd, it is difficult to resist the belief that it was the product of
his imagination at the moment. He seems to have been a little too
confident that an attempt would be made to rob him. The manner in which he
carried his money, as he says, indicated a strong expectation of this
sort. His gold he wrapped in a cambric cloth, put it into a shot bag, and
then into a portmanteau. One parcel of bills, of a hundred dollars in
amount, he put into his pocket-book; another, of somewhat more than a
thousand dollars, he carried next his person, underneath all his clothes.
Having disposed of his money in this way, and armed himself with two good
pistols, he set out from Bangor. The jury will judge whether this
extraordinary care of his money, and this formal arming of himself to
defend it, are not circumstances of a very suspicious character.

He stated that he did not travel in the night; that he would not so much
expose himself to robbers. He said that, when he came near Alfred, he did
not go into the village, but stopped a few miles short, because night was
coming on, and he would not trust himself and his money out at night. He
represents himself to have observed this rule constantly and invariably
until he got to Exeter. Yet, when the time came for the robbery, he was
found out at night. He left Exeter about sunset, intending to go to
Newburyport, fifteen miles distant, that evening. When he is asked how
this should happen, he says he had no fear of robbers after he left the
District of Maine. He thought himself quite safe when he arrived at
Exeter. Yet he told the jury, that at Exeter he thought it necessary to
load his pistol afresh. He asked for a private room at the inn. He told
the persons in attendance that he wished such a room for the purpose of
changing his clothes. He charged them not to suffer him to be interrupted.
But he now testifies that his object was not to change his dress, but to
put new loading into his pistols. What sort of a story is this?

He says he now felt himself out of all danger from robbers, and was
therefore willing to travel at night. At the same time, he thought himself
in very great danger from robbers, and therefore took the utmost pains to
keep his pistols well loaded and in good order. To account for the pains
he took about loading his pistols at Exeter, he says it was his invariable
practice, every day after he left Bangor, to discharge and load again one
or both of his pistols; that he never missed doing this; that he avoided
doing it at the inns, lest he should create suspicion, but that he did it,
while alone, on the road, every day.

How far this is probable the jury will judge. It will be observed that he
gave up his habits of caution as he approached the place of the robbery.
He then loaded his pistols at the tavern, where persons might and did see
him; and he then also travelled in the night. He passed the bridge over
Merrimack River a few minutes before nine o'clock. He was now at a part of
his progress where he was within the observation of other witnesses, and
something could be known of him besides what he told of himself.
Immediately after him passed the two persons with their wagons, Shaw and
Keyser. Close upon them followed the mail-coach. Now, these wagons and the
mail must have passed within three rods, at most, of Goodridge, at the
very time of the robbery. They must have been very near the spot, the very
moment of the attack; and if he was under the robbers' hands as long as he
represents, or if they staid on the spot long enough to do half what he
says they did, they must have been there when the wagons and the stage
passed. At any rate, it is next to impossible, by any computation of time,
to put these carriages so far from the spot, that the drivers should not
have heard the cry of murder, which he says he raised, or the report of
the two pistols, which he says were discharged. In three quarters of an
hour, or an hour, he returned, and repassed the bridge.

The jury will next naturally look to the appearances exhibited on the
field after the robbery. The portmanteau was there. The witnesses say,
that the straps which fastened it to the saddle had been neither cut nor
broken. They were carefully unbuckled. This was very considerate for
robbers. It had been opened, and its contents were scattered about the
field. The pocket-book, too, had been opened, and many papers it contained
found on the ground. Nothing valuable was lost but money. The robbers did
not think it well to go off at once with the portmanteau and the pocket-
book. The place was so secure, so remote, so unfrequented; they were so
far from the highway, at least one full rod; there were so few persons
passing, probably not more than four or five then in the road, within
hearing of the pistols and the cries of Goodridge; there being, too, not
above five or six dwelling-houses, full of people, within the hearing of
the report of a pistol; these circumstances were all so favorable to their
safety, that the robbers sat down to look over the prosecutor's papers,
carefully examined the contents of his pocket-book and portmanteau, and
took only the things which they needed! There was money belonging to other
persons. The robbers did not take it. They found out it was not the
prosecutor's, and left it. It may be said to be favorable to the
prosecutor's story, that the money which did not belong to him, and the
plunder of which would seem to be the most probable inducement he could
have to feign a robbery, was not taken. But the jury will consider whether
this circumstance does not bear quite as strongly the other way, and
whether they can believe that robbers could have left this money, either
from accident or design.

The robbers, by Goodridge's account, were extremely careful to search his
person. Having found money in his portmanteau and in his pocket-book, they
still forthwith stripped him to the skin, and searched until they found
the sum which had been so carefully deposited under his clothes. Was it
likely, that, having found money in the places where it is ordinarily
carried, robbers should proceed to search for more, where they had no
reason to suppose more would be found? Goodridge says that no person knew
of his having put his bank-notes in that situation. On the first attack,
however, they proceeded to open one garment after another, until they
penetrated to the treasure, which was beneath them all.

The testimony of Mr. Howard is material. He examined Goodridge's pistol,
which was found on the spot, and thinks it had not been fired at all. If
this be so, it would follow that the wound through the hand was not made
by this pistol; but then, as the pistol is now discharged, if it had not
been fired, he is not correct in swearing that he fired it at the robbers,
nor could it have been loaded at Exeter, as he testified.

In the whole case, there is nothing, perhaps, more deserving
consideration, than the prosecutor's statement of the violence which the
robbers used towards him. He says he was struck with a heavy club, on the
back part of his head. He fell senseless to the ground. Three or four
rough-handed villains then dragged him to the fence, and through it or
over it, with such force as to break one of the boards. They then
plundered his money. Presently he came to his senses; perceived his
situation; saw one of the robbers sitting or standing near; he valiantly
sprung upon, and would have overcome him, but the ruffian called out for
his comrades, who returned, and all together they renewed their attack
upon, subdued him, and redoubled their violence. They struck him heavy
blows; they threw him violently to the ground; they kicked him in the
side; they choked him; one of them, to use his own words, jumped upon his
breast. They left him only when they supposed they had killed him. He went
back to Pearson's, at the bridge, in a state of delirium, and it was
several hours before his recollection came to him. This is his account.
Now, in point of fact, it is certain that on no part of his person was
there the least mark of this beating and wounding. The blow on the head,
which brought him senseless to the ground, neither broke the skin, nor
caused any tumor, nor left any mark whatever. He fell from his horse on
the frozen ground, without any appearance of injury. He was drawn through
or over the fence with such force as to break the rail, but not so as to
leave any wound or scratch on him. A second time he is knocked down,
kicked, stamped upon, choked, and in every way abused and beaten till
sense had departed, and the breath of life hardly remained; and yet no
wound, bruise, discoloration, or mark of injury was found to result from
all this. Except the wound in his hand, and a few slight punctures in his
left arm, apparently made with his own penknife, which was found open on
the spot, there was no wound or mark which the surgeons, upon repeated
examinations, could anywhere discover. This is a story not to be believed.
No matter who tells it, it is so impossible to be true, that all belief is
set at defiance. No man can believe it. All this tale of blows which left
no marks, and of wounds which could not be discovered, must be the work of
imagination. If the jury can believe that he was robbed, it is impossible
they can believe his account of the manner of it.

With respect, next, to delirium. The jury have heard the physicians. Two
of them have no doubt it was all feigned. Dr. Spofford spoke in a more
guarded manner, but it was very evident his opinion agreed with theirs. In
the height of his raving, the physician who was present said to others,
that he could find nothing the matter with the man, and that his pulse was
perfectly regular. But consider the facts which Dr. Balch testifies. He
suspected the whole of this illness and delirium to be feigned. He wished
to ascertain the truth. While he or others were present, Goodridge
appeared to be in the greatest pains and agony from his wounds. He could
not turn himself in bed, nor be turned by others, without infinite
distress. His mind, too, was as much disordered as his body. He was
constantly raving about robbery and murder. At length the physicians and
others withdrew, and left him alone in the room. Dr. Balch returned softly
to the door, which he had left partly open, and there he had a full view
of his patient, unobserved by him. Goodridge was then very quiet. His
incoherent exclamations had ceased. Dr. Balch saw him turn over without
inconvenience. Pretty soon he sat up in bed, and adjusted his neckcloth
and his hair. Then, hearing footsteps on the staircase, he instantly sunk
into the bed again; his pains all returned, and he cried out against
robbers and murderers as loud as ever. Now, these facts are all sworn to
by an intelligent witness, who cannot be mistaken in them; a respectable
physician, whose veracity or accuracy is in no way impeached or
questioned. After this, it is difficult to retain any good opinion of the
prosecutor. Robbed or not robbed, this was his conduct; and such conduct
necessarily takes away all claim to sympathy and respect. The jury will
consider whether it does not also take away all right to be believed in
anything. For if they should be of opinion that in any one point he has
intentionally misrepresented facts, he can be believed in nothing. No man
is to be convicted on the testimony of a witness whom the jury has found
wilfully violating the truth in any particular.

The next part of the case is the conduct of the prosecutor in attempting
to find out the robbers, after he had recovered from his illness. He
suspected Mr. Pearson, a very honest, respectable man, who keeps the
tavern at the bridge. He searched his house and premises. He sent for a
conjuror to come, with his metallic rods and witch-hazel, to find the
stolen money. Goodridge says now, that he thought he should find it, if
the conjuror's instruments were properly prepared. He professes to have
full faith in the art. Was this folly, or fraud, or a strange mixture of
both? Pretty soon after the last search, gold pieces were actually found
near Mr. pearson's house, in the manner stated by the female witness. How
came they there? Did the robber deposit them there? That is not possible.
Did he accidentally leave them there? Why should not a robber take as good
care of his money as others? It is certain, too, that the gold pieces were
not put there at the time of the robbery, because the ground was then
bare; but when these pieces were found, there were several inches of snow
below them. When Goodridge searched here with his conjuror, he was on this
spot, alone and unobserved, as he thought. Whether he did not, at that
time, drop his gold into the snow, the jury will judge. When he came to
this search, he proposed something very ridiculous. He proposed that all
persons about to assist in the search should be examined, to see that they
had nothing which they could put into Pearson's possession, for the
purpose of being found there. But how was this examination to be made?
Why, truly, Goodridge proposed that every man should examine himself, and
that, among others, he would examine himself, till he was satisfied he had
nothing in his pockets which he could leave at pearson's, with the
fraudulent design of being afterwards found there, as evidence against
pearson. What construction would be given to such conduct?

As to Jackman, Goodridge went to New York and arrested him. In his room he
says he found paper coverings of gold, with his own figures on them, and
pieces of an old and useless receipt, which he can identify, and which he
had in his possession at the time of the robbery. He found these things
lying on the floor in Jackman's room. What should induce the robbers, when
they left all other papers, to take this receipt? And what should induce
Jackman to carry it to New York, and keep it, with the coverings of the
gold, in a situation where it was likely to be found, and used as evidence
against him?

There is no end to the series of improbabilities growing out of the
prosecutor's story.

One thing especially deserves notice. Wherever Goodridge searches, he
always finds something; and what he finds, he always can identify and
swear to, as being his. The thing found has always some marks by which he
knows it. Yet he never finds much. He never finds the mass of his lost
treasure. He finds just enough to be evidence, and no more.

These are the circumstances which tend to raise doubts of the truth of the
prosecutor's relation. It is for the jury to say, whether it would be safe
to convict any man for this robbery until these doubts shall be cleared
up. No doubt they are to judge him candidly; but they are not to make
every thing yield to a regard to his reputation, or a desire to vindicate
him from the suspicion of a fraudulent prosecution.

He stands like other witnesses, except that he is a very interested
witness; and he must hope for credit, if at all, from the consistency and
general probability of the facts to which he testifies. The jury will not
convict the prisoners to save the prosecutor from disgrace. He has had
every opportunity of making out his case. If any person in the State could
have corroborated any part of his story, that person he could have
produced. He has had the benefit of full time, and good counsel, and of
the Commonwealth's process, to bring in his witnesses. More than all, he
has had an opportunity of telling his own story, with the simplicity that
belongs to truth, if it were true, and the frankness and earnestness of an
honest man, if he be such. It is for the jury to say, under their oaths,
how he has acquitted himself in these particulars, and whether he has left
their minds free from doubt as to the truth of his narration.

But if Goodridge were really robbed, is there satisfactory evidence that
the defendants had a hand in the commission of this offence? The evidence
relied on is the finding of the money in their house. It appears that
these defendants lived together, and, with a sister, constituted one
family. Their father lived in another part of the same house, and with his
wife constituted another and distinct family. In this house, some six
weeks after the robbery, the prosecutor made a search; and the result has
been stated by the witnesses. Now, if the money had been passed or used by
the defendants it might have been conclusive. If found about their
persons, it might have been very strong proof. But, under the
circumstances of this case, the mere finding of money in their house, and
that only in places where the prosecutor had previously been, is no
evidence at all. With respect to the gold pieces, it is certainly true
that they were found in Goodridge's track. They were found only where he
had been, and might have put them.

When the sheriff was in the house and Goodridge in the cellar, gold was
found in the cellar. When the sheriff was up stairs and Goodridge in the
rooms below, the sheriff was called down to look for money where Goodridge
directed, and there money was found. As to the bank-note, the evidence is
not quite so clear. Mr. Leavitt says he found a note in a drawer in a room
in which none of the party had before been; that he thought it an
uncurrent or counterfeit note, and not a part of Goodridge's money, and
left it where he found it, without further notice. An hour or two
afterward, Upton perceived a note in the same drawer, Goodridge being then
with or near him, and called to Leavitt. Leavitt told him that he had
discovered that note before, but that it could not be Goodridge's. It was
then examined. Leavitt says he looked at it, and saw writing on the back
of it. Upton says he looked at it, and saw writing on the back of it. He
says also that it was shown to Goodridge, who examined it in the same way
that he and Leavitt examined it. None of the party at this time suspected
it to be Goodridge's. It was then put into Leavitt's pocket-book, where it
remained till evening, when it was taken out at the tavern; and then it
turns out to be, plainly and clearly, one of Goodridge's notes, and has
the name of "James Poor, Bangor," in Goodridge's own handwriting, on the
back of it. The first thing that strikes one in this account is, Why was
not this discovery made at the time? Goodridge was looking for notes, as
well as gold. He was looking for Boston notes, for such he had lost. He
was looking for ten-dollar notes, for such he had lost. He was looking for
notes which he could recognize and identify. He would, therefore,
naturally be particularly attentive to any writing or marks upon such as
he might find. Under these circumstances, a note is found in the house of
the supposed robbers. It is a Boston note, it is a ten-dollar note, it has
writing on the back of it; that writing is the name of his town and the
name of one of his neighbors; more than all, that writing is his own
handwriting! Notwithstanding all this, neither Goodridge, nor Upton, nor
the sheriff, examined it so as to see whether it was Goodridge's money.
Notwithstanding it so fully resembled, in all points, the money they were
looking for, and notwithstanding they also saw writing on the back of it,
which, they must know, if they read it, would probably have shown where it
came from, neither of them did so far examine it as to see any proof of
its being Goodridge's.

This is hardly to be believed. It must be a pretty strong faith in the
prosecutor that could credit this story. In every part of it, it is
improbable and absurd. It is much more easy to believe that the note was
changed. There might have been, and there probably was, an uncurrent or
counterfeit note found in the drawer by Leavitt. He certainly did not at
the time think it to be Goodridge's, and he left it in the drawer where he
found it. Before he saw it again, the prosecutor had been in that room,
and was in or near it when the sheriff was again called in, and asked to
put that bill in his pocket-book. How do the jury know that this was the
same note which Leavitt had before seen? Or suppose it was. Leavitt
carried it to Coffin's; in the evening he produced it, and, after having
been handed about for some time among the company, it turns out to be
Goodridge's note, and to have upon it infallible marks of identity. How do
the jury know that a sleight of hand had not changed the note at Coffin's?
It is sufficient to say, the note might have been changed. It is not
certain that this is the note which Leavitt first found in the drawer, and
this not being certain, it is not proof against the defendants.

Is it not extremely improbable, if the defendants are guilty, that they
should deposit the money in the places where it was found? Why should they
put it in small parcels in so many places, for no end but to multiply the
chances of detection? Why, especially, should they put a doubloon in their
father's pocket-book? There is no evidence, nor any ground of suspicion,
that the father knew of the money being in his pocket-book. He swears he
did not know it. His general character is unimpeached, and there is
nothing against his credit. The inquiry at Stratham was calculated to
elicit the truth; and, after all, there is not the slightest reason to
suspect that he knew that the doubloon was in his pocket-book. What could
possibly induce the defendants to place it there? No man can conjecture a
reason. On the other hand, if this is a fraudulent proceeding on the part
of the prosecutor, this circumstance could be explained. He did not know
that the pocket-book, and the garment in which it was found, did not
belong to one of the defendants. He was as likely, therefore, to place it
there as elsewhere. It is very material to consider that nothing was found
in that part of the house which belonged to the defendants. Every thing
was discovered in the father's apartments. They were not found, therefore,
in the possession of the defendants, any more than if they had been
discovered in any other house in the neighborhood. The two tenements, it
is true, were under the same roof; but they were not on that account the
same tenements. They were as distinct as any other houses. Now, how should
it happen that the several parcels of money should all be found in the
father's possession? He is not suspected, certainly there is no reason to
suspect him, of having had any hand either in the commission of the
robbery or the concealing of the goods. He swears he had no knowledge of
any part of this money being in his house. It is not easy to imagine how
it came there, unless it be supposed to have been put there by some one
who did not know what part of the house belonged to the defendants and
what part did not.

The witnesses on the part of the prosecution have testified that the
defendants, when arrested, manifested great agitation and alarm; paleness
overspread their faces, and drops of sweat stood on their temples. This
satisfied the witnesses of the defendants' guilt, and they now state the
circumstances as being indubitable proof. This argument manifests, in
those who use it, an equal want of sense and sensibility. It is precisely
fitted to the feeling and the intellect of a bum-bailiff. In a court of
justice it deserves nothing but contempt. Is there nothing that can
agitate the frame or excite the blood but the consciousness of guilt? If
the defendants were innocent, would they not feel indignation at this
unjust accusation? If they saw an attempt to produce false evidence
against them, would they not be angry? And, seeing the production of such
evidence, might they not feel fear and alarm? And have indignation, and
anger, and terror, no power to affect the human countenance or the human
frame?

Miserable, miserable, indeed, is the reasoning which would infer any man's
guilt from his agitation when he found himself accused of a heinous
offence; when he saw evidence which he might know to be false and
fraudulent brought against him; when his house was filled, from the garret
to the cellar, by those whom he might esteem as false witnesses; and when
he himself, instead of being at liberty to observe their conduct and watch
their motions, was a prisoner in close custody in his own house, with the
fists of a catch-poll clenched upon his throat.

The defendants were at Newburyport the afternoon and evening of the
robbery. For the greater part of the time they show where they were, and
what they were doing. Their proof, it is true, does not apply to every
moment. But when it is considered that, from the moment of their arrest,
they have been in close prison, perhaps they have shown as much as could
be expected. Few men, when called on afterwards, can remember, and fewer
still can prove, how they have passed every half-hour of an evening. At a
reasonable hour they both came to the house where Laban had lodged the
night before. Nothing suspicious was observed in their manner or
conversation. Is it probable they would thus come unconcernedly into the
company of others, from a field of robbery, and, as they must have
supposed, of murder, before they could have ascertained whether the stain
of blood was not on their garments? They remained in the place a part of
the next day. The town was alarmed; a strict inquiry was made of all
strangers, and of the defendants among others. Nothing suspicious was
discovered. They avoided no inquiry, nor did they leave the town in any
haste. The jury has had an opportunity of seeing the defendants. Does
their general appearance indicate that hardihood which would enable them
to act this cool, unconcerned part? Is it not more likely they would have
fled?

From the time of the robbery to the arrest, five or six weeks, the
defendants were engaged in their usual occupations. They are not found to
have passed a dollar of money to any body. They continued their ordinary
habits of labor. No man saw money about them, nor any circumstance that
might lead to a suspicion that they had money. Nothing occurred tending in
any degree to excite suspicion against them. When arrested, and when all
this array of evidence was brought against them, and when they could hope
in nothing but their innocence, immunity was offered them again if they
would confess. They were pressed, and urged, and allured, by every motive
which could be set before them, to acknowledge their participation in the
offence, and to bring out their accomplices. They steadily protested that
they could confess nothing because they knew nothing. In defiance of all
the discoveries made in their house, they have trusted to their innocence.
On that, and on the candor and discernment of an enlightened jury, they
still rely.  If the jury are satisfied that there is the highest
improbability that these persons could have had any previous knowledge of
Goodridge, or been concerned in any previous concert to rob him; if their
conduct that evening and the next day was marked by no circumstances of
suspicion; if from that moment until their arrest nothing appeared against
them; if they neither passed money, nor are found to have had money; if
the manner of the search of their house, and the circumstances attending
it, excite strong suspicions of unfair and fraudulent practices; if, in
the hour of their utmost peril, no promises of safety could draw from the
defendants any confession affecting themselves or others, it will be for
the jury to say whether they can pronounce them guilty.




The Dartmouth College Case.



The general question is, whether the acts of the legislature of New
Hampshire of the 27th of June, and of the 18th and 26th of December, 1816,
are valid and binding on the plaintiffs, _without their acceptance or
assent_.

The charter of 1769 created and established a corporation, to consist of
twelve persons, and no more; to be called the "Trustees of Dartmouth
College."

After the institution thus created and constituted had existed,
uninterruptedly and usefully, nearly fifty years, the legislature of New
Hampshire passed the acts in question.

The first act makes the twelve trustees under the charter, and nine other
individuals, to be appointed by the Governor and Council, a corporation,
by a new name; and to this new corporation transfers all the _property,
rights, powers, liberties, and privileges_ of the old corporation; with
further power to establish new colleges and an institute, and to apply all
or any part of the funds to these purposes; subject to the power and
control of a board of twenty-five overseers, to be appointed by the
Governor and Council.

The second act makes further provisions for executing the objects of the
first, and the last act authorizes the defendant, the treasurer of the
plaintiffs, to retain and hold their property, against their will.

If these acts are valid, the old corporation is abolished, and a new one
created. The first act does, in fact, if it can have any effect, create a
new corporation, and transfer to it all the property and franchises of the
old. The two corporations are not the same in anything which essentially
belongs to the existence of a corporation. They have different names, and
different powers, rights, and duties. Their organization is wholly
different. The powers of the corporation are not vested in the same, or
similar hands. In one, the trustees are twelve, and no more. In the other,
they are twenty-one. In one, the power is in a single board. In the other,
it is divided between two boards. Although the act professes to include
the old trustees in the new corporation, yet that was without their
assent, and against their remonstrance; and no person can be compelled to
be a member of such a corporation against his will. It was neither
expected nor intended that they should be members of the new corporation.
The act itself treats the old corporation as at an end, and, going on the
ground that all its functions have ceased, it provides for the first
meeting and organization of the new corporation. It expressly provides,
also, that the new corporation shall have and hold all the property of the
old; a provision which would be quite unnecessary upon any other ground,
than that the old corporation was dissolved. But if it could be contended
that the effect of these acts was not entirely to abolish the old
corporation, yet it is manifest that they impair and invade the rights,
property, and powers of the trustees under the charter, as a corporation,
and the legal rights, privileges, and immunities which belong to them, as
individual members of the corporation.

The twelve trustees were the _sole_ legal owners of all the property
acquired under the charter. By the acts, others are admitted, against
_their_ will, to be joint owners. The twelve individuals who are
trustees were possessed of all the franchises and immunities conferred by
the charter. By the acts, _nine_ other trustees and _twenty-
five_ overseers are admitted, against their will, to divide these
franchises and immunities with them.

If, either as a corporation or as individuals, they have any legal rights,
this forcible intrusion of others violates those rights, as manifestly as
an entire and complete ouster and dispossession. These acts alter the
whole constitution of the corporation. They affect the rights of the whole
body as a corporation, and the rights of the individuals who compose it.
They revoke corporate powers and franchises. They alienate and transfer
the property of the college to others. By the charter, the trustees had a
right to fill vacancies in their own number. This is now taken away. They
were to consist of twelve, and, by express provision, of no more. This is
altered. They and their successors, appointed by themselves, were for ever
to hold the property. The legislature has found successors for them,
before their seats are vacant. The powers and privileges which the twelve
were to exercise exclusively, are now to be exercised by others. By one of
the acts, they are subjected to heavy penalties if they exercise their
offices, or any of those powers and privileges granted them by charter,
and which they had exercised for fifty years. They are to be punished for
not accepting the new grant and taking its benefits. This, it must be
confessed, is rather a summary mode of settling a question of
constitutional right. Not only are new trustees forced into the
corporation, but new trusts and uses are created. The college is turned
into a university. Power is given to create new colleges, and, to
authorize any diversion of the funds which may be agreeable to the new
boards, sufficient latitude is given by the undefined power of
establishing an institute. To these new colleges, and this institute, the
funds contributed by the founder, Dr. Wheelock, and by the original
donors, the Earl of Dartmouth and others, are to be applied, in plain and
manifest disregard of the uses to which they were given.

The president, one of the old trustees, had a right to his office, salary,
and emoluments, subject to the twelve trustees alone. His title to these
is now changed, and he is made accountable to new masters. So also all the
professors and tutors. If the legislature can at pleasure make these
alterations and changes in the rights and privileges of the plaintiffs, it
may, with equal propriety, abolish these rights and privileges altogether.
The same power which can do any part of this work can accomplish the
whole. And, indeed, the argument on which these acts have been hitherto
defended goes altogether on the ground, that this is such a corporation as
the legislature may abolish at pleasure; and that its members have _no
rights, liberties, franchises, property, or privileges_, which the
legislature may not revoke, annul, alienate, or transfer to others,
whenever it sees fit.

It will be contended by the plaintiffs, that these acts are not valid and
binding on them without their assent,--

1. Because they are against common right, and the Constitution of New
Hampshire.

2. Because they are repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

I am aware of the limits which bound the jurisdiction of the court in this
case, and that on this record nothing can be decided but the single
question, whether these acts are repugnant to the Constitution of the
United States. Yet it may assist in forming an opinion of their true
nature and character to compare them with those fundamental principles
introduced into the State governments for the purpose of limiting the
exercise of the legislative power, and which the Constitution of New
Hampshire expresses with great fulness and accuracy.

It is not too much to assert, that the legislature of New Hampshire would
not have been competent to pass the acts in question, and to make them
binding on the plaintiffs without their assent, even if there had been, in
the Constitution of New Hampshire, or of the United States, no special
restriction on their power, because these acts are not the exercise of a
power properly legislative. Their effect and object are to take away, from
one, rights, property, and franchises, and to grant them to another. This
is not the exercise of a legislative power. To justify the taking away of
vested rights there must be a forfeiture, to adjudge upon and declare
which is the proper province of the judiciary. Attainder and confiscation
are acts of sovereign power, not acts of legislation. The British
Parliament, among other unlimited powers, claims that of altering and
vacating charters; not as an act of ordinary legislation, but of
uncontrolled authority. It is theoretically omnipotent. Yet, in modern
times, it has very rarely attempted the exercise of this power.

The legislature of New Hampshire has no more power over the rights of the
plaintiffs than existed somewhere, in some department of government,
before the Revolution. The British Parliament could not have annulled or
revoked this grant as an act of ordinary legislation. If it had done it at
all, it could only have been in virtue of that sovereign power, called
omnipotent, which does not belong to any legislature in the United States.
The legislature of New Hampshire has the same power over this charter
which belonged to the king who granted it, and no more. By the law of
England, the power to create corporations is a part of the royal
prerogative. By the Revolution, this power may be considered as having
devolved on the legislature of the State, and it has accordingly been
exercised by the legislature. But the king cannot abolish a corporation,
or new-model it, or alter its powers, without its assent. This is the
acknowledged and well-known doctrine of the common law.

There are prohibitions in the Constitution and Bill of Rights of New
Hampshire, introduced for the purpose of limiting the legislative power
and protecting the rights and property of the citizens. One prohibition
is, "that no person shall be deprived of his property, immunities, or
privileges, put out of the protection of the law, or deprived of his life,
liberty, or estate, but by judgment of his peers or the law of the land."

In the opinion, however, which was given in the court below, it is denied
that the trustees under the charter had any property, immunity, liberty,
or privilege in this corporation, within the meaning of this prohibition
in the Bill of Rights. It is said that it is a public corporation and
public property; that the trustees have no greater interest in it than any
other individuals; that it is not private property, which they can sell or
transmit to their heirs, and that therefore they have no interest in it;
that their office is a public trust, like that of the Governor or a judge,
and that they have no more concern in the property of the college than the
Governor in the property of the State, or than the judges in the fines
which they impose on the culprits at their bar; that it is nothing to them
whether their powers shall be extended or lessened, any more than it is to
their honors whether their jurisdiction shall be enlarged or diminished.
It is necessary, therefore, to inquire into the true nature and character
of the corporation which was created by the charter of 1769.

There are divers sorts of corporations; and it may be safely admitted that
the legislature has more power over some than others. Some corporations
are for government and political arrangement; such, for example, as
cities, counties, and towns in New England. These may be changed and
modified as public convenience may require, due regard being always had to
the rights of property. Of such corporations, all who live within the
limits are of course obliged to be members, and to submit to the duties
which the law imposes on them as such. Other civil corporations are for
the advancement of trade and business, such as banks, insurance companies,
and the like. These are created, not by general law, but usually by grant.
Their constitution is special. It is such as the legislature sees fit to
give, and the grantees to accept.

The corporation in question is not a civil, although it is a lay
corporation. It is an eleemosynary corporation. It is a private charity,
originally founded and endowed by an individual, with a charter obtained
for it at his request, for the better administration of his charity. "The
eleemosynary sort of corporations are such as are constituted for the
perpetual distributions of the free alms or bounty of the founder of them,
to such persons as he has directed. Of this are all hospitals for the
maintenance of the poor, sick, and impotent; and all colleges both in our
universities and out of them." Eleemosynary corporations are for the
management of private property, according to the will of the donors. They
are private corporations. A college is as much a private corporation as a
hospital; especially a college founded, as this was, by private bounty. A
college is a charity. "The establishment of learning," says Lord
Hardwicke, "is a charity, and so considered in the statute of Elizabeth.
To devise to a college, for their benefit, is a laudable charity, and
deserves encouragement."

The legal signification of _a charity_ is derived chiefly from the
statute 43 Eliz. ch. 4. "Those purposes," says Sir William Grant, "are
considered _charitable_ which that statute enumerates." Colleges are
enumerated as charities in that statute. The government, in these cases,
lends its aid to perpetuate the beneficent intention of the donor, by
granting a charter under which his private charity shall continue to be
dispensed after his death. This is done either by incorporating the
objects of the charity, as, for instance, the scholars in a college or the
poor in a hospital, or by incorporating those who are to be governors or
trustees of the charity. In cases of the first sort, the founder is, by
the common law, visitor. In early times it became a maxim, that he who
gave the property might regulate it in future. "Cujus est dare, ejus est
disponere." This right of visitation descended from the founder to his
heir as a right of property, and precisely as his other property went to
his heir; and in default of heirs it went to the king, as all other
property goes to the king for the want of heirs. The right of visitation
arises from the property. It grows out of the endowment. The founder may,
if he please, part with it at the time when he establishes the charity,
and may vest it in others. Therefore, if he chooses that governors,
trustees, or overseers should be appointed in the charter, he may cause it
to be done, and his power of visitation may be transferred to them,
instead of descending to his heirs. The persons thus assigned or appointed
by the founder will be visitors, with all the powers of the founder, in
exclusion of his heir. The right of visitation, then, accrues to them, as
a matter of property, by the gift, transfer, or appointment of the
founder. This is a private right, which they can assert in all legal
modes, and in which they have the same protection of the law as in all
other rights. As visitors they may make rules, ordinances, and statutes,
and alter and repeal them, as far as permitted so to do by the charter.
Although the charter proceeds from the crown or the government, it is
considered as the will of the donor. It is obtained at his request. He
uses it as the rule which is to prevail in the dispensation of his bounty
in all future times. The king or government which grants the charter is
not thereby the founder, but he who furnishes the funds. The gift of the
revenues is the foundation.

The leading case on this subject is _Phillips v. Bury_. This was an
ejectment brought to recover the rectory-house, &c. of Exeter College in
Oxford. The question was whether the plaintiff or defendant was legal
rector. Exeter College was founded by an individual, and incorporated by a
charter granted by Queen Elizabeth. The controversy turned upon the power
of the visitor, and, in the discussion of the cause, the nature of college
charters and corporations was very fully considered.

Lord Holt's judgment is that that college was a _private
corporation_, and that the founder had a right to appoint a visitor,
and to give him such power as he saw fit.

The learned Bishop Stillingfleet's argument in the same cause, as a member
of the House of Lords, when it was there heard, exhibits very clearly the
nature of colleges and similar corporations. It is to the following
effect. "That colleges, although founded by private persons, are yet
incorporated by the king's charter; but although the kings by their
charter made the colleges to be such in law, that is, to be legal
corporations, yet they left to the particular founders authority to
appoint what statutes they thought fit for the regulation of them. And not
only the statutes, but the appointment of visitors, was left to them, and
the manner of government, and the several conditions on which any persons
were to be made or continue partakers of their bounty."

These opinions received the sanction of the House of Lords, and they seem
to be settled and undoubted law.

"There is nothing better established," says Lord Commissioner Eyre, "than
that this court does not entertain a general jurisdiction, or regulate and
control charities _established by charter_. There the establishment
is fixed and determined; and the court has no power to vary it. If the
governors established for the regulation of it are not those who have the
management of the revenue, this court has no jurisdiction, and if it is
ever so much abused, as far as it respects the jurisdiction of this court
it is without remedy; but if those established as governors have also the
management of the revenues, this court does assume a jurisdiction of
necessity, so far as they are to be considered as trustees of the
revenue."

"The foundations of colleges," says Lord Mansfield, "are to be considered
in two views; namely, as they are _corporations_ and as they are
_eleemosynary_. As eleemosynary, they are the creatures of the
founder; he may delegate his power, either generally or specially; he may
prescribe particular modes and manners, as to the exercise of part of it."

In New England, and perhaps throughout the United States, eleemosynary
corporations have been generally established by incorporating governors,
or trustees, and vesting in them the right of visitation. The case before
the court is clearly that of an eleemosynary corporation. It is, in the
strictest legal sense, a private charity. In _King v. St. Catherine's
Hall_, that college is called a private eleemosynary lay corporation.
It was endowed by a private founder, and incorporated by letters patent.
And in the same manner was Dartmouth College founded and incorporated. Dr.
Wheelock is declared by the charter to be its founder. It was established
by him, or funds contributed and collected by himself.

As such founder, he had a right of visitation, which he assigned to the
trustees, and they received it by his consent and appointment, and held it
under the charter. He appointed these trustees visitors, and in that
respect to take place of his heir; as he might have appointed devisees, to
take his estate instead of his heir. Little, probably, did he think, at
that time, that the legislature would ever take away this property and
these privileges, and give them to others. Little did he suppose that this
charter secured to him and his successors no legal rights. Little did the
other donors think so. If they had, the college would have been, what the
university is now, a thing upon paper, existing only in name.

The numerous academies in New England have been established substantially
in the same manner. They hold their property by the same tenure, and no
other. Nor has Harvard College any surer title than Dartmouth College. It
may to-day have more friends; but to-morrow it may have more enemies. Its
legal rights are the same. So also of Yale College; and, indeed, of all
the others. When the legislature gives to these institutions, it may and
does accompany its grants with such conditions as it pleases. The grant of
lands by the legislature of New Hampshire to Dartmouth College, in 1789,
was accompanied with various conditions. When donations are made, by the
legislature or others, to a charity already existing, without any
condition, or the specification of any new use, the donation follows the
nature of the charity. Hence the doctrine, that all eleemosynary
corporations are private bodies. They are founded by private persons, and
on private property. The public cannot be charitable in these
institutions. It is not the money of the public, but of private persons,
which is dispensed. It may be public, that is general, in its uses and
advantages; and the State may very laudably add contributions of its own
to the funds; but it is still private in the tenure of the property, and
in the right of administering the funds.

The charter declares that the powers conferred on the trustees are
"privileges, advantages, liberties, and immunities"; and that they shall
be for ever holden by them and their successors. The New Hampshire Bill of
Rights declares that no one shall be deprived of his "property,
privileges, or immunities," but by judgment of his peers, or the law of
the land. The argument on the other side is, that, although these terms
may mean something in the Bill of Rights, they mean nothing in this
charter. They are equivalent with _franchises_. Blackstone says that
_franchise_ and _liberty_ are used as synonymous terms.

The privilege, then, of being a member of a corporation, under a lawful
grant, and of exercising the rights and powers of such member, is such a
privilege, _liberty_, or _franchise_, as has been the object of
legal protection, and the subject of a legal interest, from the time of
Magna Charta to the present moment. The plaintiffs have such an interest
in this corporation, individually, as they could assert and maintain in a
court of law, not as agents of the public, but in their own right. Each
trustee has a _franchise_, and if he be disturbed in the enjoyment of
it, he would have redress, on appealing to the law, as promptly as for any
other injury. If the other trustees should conspire against any one of
them to prevent his equal right and voice in the appointment of a
president or professor, or in the passing of any statute or ordinance of
the college, he would be entitled to his action, for depriving him of his
franchise. It makes no difference, that this property is to be holden and
administered, and these franchises exercised, for the purpose of diffusing
learning. No principle and no case establishes any such distinction. The
public may be benefited by the use of this property. But this does not
change the nature of the property, or the rights of the owners. The object
of the charter may be public good; so it is in all other corporations; and
this would as well justify the resumption or violation of the grant in any
other case as in this. In the case of an advowson, the use is public, and
the right cannot be turned to any private benefit or emolument. It is
nevertheless a legal private right, and the _property_ of the owner,
as emphatically as his freehold. The rights and privileges of trustees,
visitors, or governors of incorporated colleges, stand on the same
foundation. They are so considered, both by Lord Holt and Lord Hardwicke.

To contend that the rights of the plaintiffs may be taken away, because
they derive from them no pecuniary benefit or private emolument, or
because they cannot be transmitted to their heirs, or would not be assets
to pay their debts, is taking an extremely narrow view of the subject.
According to this notion, the case would be different, if, in the charter,
they had stipulated for a commission on the disbursement of the funds; and
they have ceased to have any interest in the property, because they have
undertaken to administer it gratuitously.

It cannot be necessary to say much in refutation of the idea, that there
cannot be a legal interest, or ownership, in any thing which does not
yield a pecuniary profit; as if the law regarded no rights but the rights
of money, and of visible, tangible property. Of what nature are all rights
of suffrage? No elector has a particular personal interest; but each has a
legal right, to be exercised at his own discretion, and it cannot be taken
away from him. The exercise of this right directly and very materially
affects the public; much more so than the exercise of the privileges of a
trustee of this college. Consequences of the utmost magnitude may
sometimes depend on the exercise of the right of suffrage by one or a few
electors. Nobody was ever yet heard to contend, however, that on that
account the public might take away the right, or impair it. This notion
appears to be borrowed from no better source than the repudiated doctrine
of the three judges in the Aylesbury case. The doctrine having been
exploded for a century, seems now for the first time to be revived.

Individuals have a right to use their own property for purposes of
benevolence, either towards the public, or towards other individuals. They
have a right to exercise this benevolence in such lawful manner as they
may choose; and when the government has induced and excited it, by
contracting to give perpetuity to the stipulated manner of exercising it,
it is not law, but violence, to rescind this contract, and seize on the
property. Whether the State will grant these franchises, and under what
conditions it will grant them, it decides for itself. But when once
granted, the constitution holds them to be sacred, till forfeited for just
cause.

That all property, of which the use may be beneficial to the public,
belongs therefore to the public, is quite a new doctrine. It has no
precedent, and is supported by no known principle. Dr. Wheelock might have
answered his purposes, in this case, by executing a private deed of trust.
He might have conveyed his property to trustees, for precisely such uses
as are described in this charter. Indeed, it appears that he had
contemplated the establishing of his school in that manner, and had made
his will, and devised the property to the same persons who were afterwards
appointed trustees in the charter. Many literary and other charitable
institutions are founded in that manner, and the trust is renewed, and
conferred on other persons, from time to time, as occasion may require. In
such a case, no lawyer would or could say, that the legislature might
divest the trustees, constituted by deed or will, seize upon the property,
and give it to other persons, for other purposes. And does the granting of
a charter, which is only done to perpetuate the trust in a more convenient
manner, make any difference? Does or can this change the nature of the
charity, and turn it into a public political corporation? Happily, we are
not without authority on this point. It has been considered and adjudged.
Lord Hardwicke says, in so many words, "The charter of the crown cannot
make a charity more or less public, but only more permanent than it would
otherwise be."

The granting of the corporation is but making the trust perpetual, and
does not alter the nature of the charity. The very object sought in
obtaining such charter, and in giving property to such a corporation, is
to make and keep it private property, and to clothe it with all the
security and inviolability of private property. The intent is, that there
shall be a legal private ownership, and that the legal owners shall
maintain and protect the property, for the benefit of those for whose use
it was designed. Who ever endowed the public? Who ever appointed a
legislature to administer his charity? Or who ever heard, before, that a
gift to a college, or a hospital, or an asylum, was, in reality, nothing
but a gift to the State?

The State of Vermont is a principal donor to Dartmouth College. The lands
given lie in that State. This appears in the special verdict. Is Vermont
to be considered as having intended a gift to the State of New Hampshire
in this case, as, it has been said, is to be the reasonable construction
of all donations to the college? The legislature of New Hampshire affects
to represent the public, and therefore claims a right to control all
property destined to public use. What hinders Vermont from considering
herself equally the representative of the public, and from resuming her
grants, at her own pleasure? Her right to do so is less doubtful than the
power of New Hampshire to pass the laws in question. I hope enough has
been said to show that the trustees possessed vested liberties,
privileges, and immunities, under this charter; and that such liberties,
privileges, and immunities, being once lawfully obtained and vested, are
as inviolable as any vested rights of property whatever. Rights to do
certain acts, such, for instance, as the visitation and superintendence of
a college and the appointment of its officers, may surely be vested
rights, to all legal intents, as completely as the right to possess
property. A late learned judge of this court has said, "When I say that a
_right_ is vested in a citizen, I mean that he has the power to do
_certain actions_, or to possess _certain things_, according to
the law of the land."

If such be the true nature of the plaintiffs' interests under this
charter, what are the articles in the New Hampshire Bill of Rights which
these acts infringe?

They infringe the second article; which says, that the citizens of the
State have a right to hold and possess property. The plaintiffs had a
legal property in this charter; and they had acquired property under it.
The acts deprive them of both. They impair and take away the charter; and
they appropriate the property to new uses, against their consent. The
plaintiffs cannot now hold the property acquired by themselves, and which
this article says they have a right to hold.

They infringe the twentieth article. By that article it is declared that,
in questions of property, there is a right to trial. The plaintiffs are
divested, without trial or judgment.

They infringe the twenty-third article. It is therein declared that no
retrospective laws shall be passed. This article bears directly on the
case. These acts must be deemed to be retrospective, within the settled
construction of that term. What a retrospective law is, has been decided,
on the construction of this very article, in the Circuit Court for the
First Circuit, The learned judge of that circuit says: "Every statute
which takes away or impairs vested rights, acquired under existing laws,
must be deemed retrospective." That all such laws are retrospective was
decided also in the case of _Dash v. Van Kleek_, where a most learned
judge quotes this article from the constitution of New Hampshire, with
manifest approbation, as a plain and clear expression of those fundamental
and unalterable principles of justice, which must lie at the foundation of
every free and just system of laws. Can any man deny that the plaintiffs
had rights, under the charter, which were legally vested, and that by
these acts those rights are impaired?

"It is a principle in the English law," says Chief Justice Kent, in the
case last cited, "as ancient as the law itself, that a statute, even of
its omnipotent Parliament, is not to have a retrospective effect. 'Nova
constitutio futuris formam imponere debet, et non praeteritis.' The maxim
in Bracton was taken from the civil law, for we find in that system the
same principle, expressed substantially in the same words, that the law-
giver cannot alter his mind to the prejudice of a vested right. 'Nemo
potest mutare concilium suum in alterius injuriam.'"

These acts infringe also the thirty-seventh article of the constitution of
New Hampshire; which says, that the powers of government shall be kept
separate. By these acts, the legislature assumes to exercise a judicial
power. It declares a forfeiture, and resumes franchises, once granted,
without trial or hearing.

If the constitution be not altogether waste-paper, it has restrained the
power of the legislature in these particulars. If it has any meaning, it
is that the legislature shall pass no act directly and manifestly
impairing private property and private privileges. It shall not judge by
act. It shall not decide by act. It shall not deprive by act. But it shall
leave all these things to be tried and adjudged by the law of the land.

The fifteenth article has been referred to before. It declares that no one
shall be "deprived of his property, immunities, or privileges, but by the
judgment of his peers or the law of the land." Notwithstanding the light
in which the learned judges in New Hampshire viewed the rights of the
plaintiffs under the charter, and which has been before adverted to, it is
found to be admitted in their opinion, that those rights are privileges
within the meaning of this fifteenth article of the Bill of Rights. Having
quoted that article, they say: "That the right to manage the affairs of
this college is a privilege, within the meaning of this clause of the Bill
of Rights, is not to be doubted." In my humble opinion, this surrenders
the point. To resist the effect of this admission, however, the learned
judges add: "But how a privilege can be protected from the operation of
the law of the land by a clause in the constitution, declaring that it
shall not be taken away but by the law of the land, is not very easily
understood." This answer goes on the ground, that the acts in question are
laws of the land, within the meaning of the constitution. If they be so,
the argument drawn from this article is fully answered. If they be not so,
it being admitted that the plaintiffs' rights are "privileges," within the
meaning of the article, the argument is not answered, and the article is
infringed by the acts. Are, then, these acts of the legislature, which
affect only particular persons and their particular privileges, laws of
the land? Lord Coke citing and commenting on the celebrated twenty-ninth
chapter of Magna Charta, says: "No man shall be disseized, &c., unless it
be by the lawful judgment, that is, verdict of equals, or by the law of
the land, that is (to speak it once for all), by the due course and
process of law." Have the plaintiffs lost their franchises by "due course
and process of law"? On the contrary, are not these acts "particular acts
of the legislature, which have no relation to the community in general,
and which are rather sentences than laws"?

By the law of the land is most clearly intended the general law; a law
which hears before it condemns; which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders
judgment only after trial. The meaning is, that every citizen shall hold
his life, liberty, property, and immunities under the protection of the
general rules which govern society. Every thing which may pass under the
form of an enactment is not therefore to be considered the law of the
land. If this were so, acts of attainder, bills of pains and penalties,
acts of confiscation, acts reversing judgments, and acts directly
transferring one man's estate to another, legislative judgments, decrees,
and forfeitures in all possible forms, would be the law of the land.

Such a strange construction would render constitutional provisions of the
highest importance completely inoperative and void. It would tend directly
to establish the union of all powers in the legislature. There would be no
general, permanent law for courts to administer or men to live under. The
administration of justice would be an empty form, an idle ceremony. Judges
would sit to execute legislative judgments and decrees; not to declare the
law or to administer the justice of the country.

That the power of electing and appointing the officers of this college is
not only a right of the trustees as a corporation, generally, and in the
aggregate, but that each individual trustee has also his own individual
franchise in such right of election and appointment, is according to the
language of all the authorities. Lord Holt says: "It is agreeable to
reason and the rules of law, that a franchise should be vested in the
corporation aggregate, and yet the benefit of it to redound to the
particular members, and to be enjoyed by them in their private capacity.
Where the privilege of election is used by particular persons, _it is a
particular right, vested in every particular man_."

It is also to be considered, that the president and professors of this
college have rights to be affected by these acts. Their interest is
similar to that of fellows in the English colleges; because they derive
their living, wholly or in part, from the founders' bounty. The president
is one of the trustees or corporators. The professors are not necessarily
members of the corporation; but they are appointed by the trustees, are
removable only by them, and have fixed salaries payable out of the general
funds of the college. Both president and professors have freeholds in
their offices; subject only to be removed by the trustees, as their legal
visitors, for good cause. All the authorities speak of fellowships in
colleges as freeholds, notwithstanding the fellows may be liable to be
suspended or removed, for misbehavior, by their constituted visitors.

Nothing could have been less expected, in this age, than that there should
have been an attempt, by acts of the legislature, to take away these
college livings, the inadequate but the only support of literary men who
have devoted their lives to the instruction of youth. The president and
professors were appointed by the twelve trustees. They were accountable to
nobody else, and could be removed by nobody else. They accepted their
offices on this tenure. Yet the legislature has appointed other persons,
with power to remove these officers and to deprive them of their livings;
and those other persons have exercised that power. No description of
private property has been regarded as more sacred than college livings.
They are the estates and freeholds of a most deserving class of men; of
scholars who have consented to forego the advantages of professional and
public employments, and to devote themselves to science and literature and
the instruction of youth in the quiet retreats of academic life. Whether
to dispossess and oust them; to deprive them of their office, and to turn
them out of their livings; to do this, not by the power of their legal
visitors or governors, but by acts of the legislature, and to do it
without forfeiture and without fault; whether all this be not in the
highest degree an indefensible and arbitrary proceeding, is a question of
which there would seem to be but one side fit for a lawyer or a scholar to
espouse.

If it could be made to appear that the trustees and the president and
professors held their offices and franchises during the pleasure of the
legislature, and that the property holden belonged to the State, then
indeed the legislature have done no more than they had a right to do. But
this is not so. The charter is a charter of privileges and immunities; and
these are holden by the trustees expressly against the State for ever.

It is admitted that the State, by its courts of law, can enforce the will
of the donor, and compel a faithful execution of the trust. The plaintiffs
claim no exemption from legal responsibility. They hold themselves at all
times answerable to the law of the land, for their conduct in the trust
committed to them. They ask only to hold the property of which they are
owners, and the franchises which belong to them, until they shall be
found, by due course and process of law, to have forfeited them.

It can make no difference whether the legislature exercise the power it
has assumed by removing the trustees and the president and professors,
directly and by name, or by appointing others to expel them. The principle
is the same, and in point of fact the result has been the same. If the
entire franchise cannot be taken away, neither can it be essentially
impaired. If the trustees are legal owners of the property, they are sole
owners. If they are visitors, they are sole visitors. No one will be found
to say, that, if the legislature may do what it has done, it may not do
any thing and every thing which it may choose to do, relative to the
property of the corporation, and the privileges of its members and
officers.

If the view which has been taken of this question be at all correct, this
was an eleemosynary corporation, a private charity. The property was
private property. The trustees were visitors, and the right to hold the
charter, administer the funds, and visit and govern the college, was a
franchise and privilege, solemnly granted to them. The use being public in
no way diminishes their legal estate in the property, or their title to
the franchise. There is no principle, nor any case, which declares that a
gift to such a corporation is a gift to the public. The acts in question
violate property. They take away privileges, immunities, and franchises.
They deny to the trustees the protection of the law; and they are
retrospective in their operation. In all which respects they are against
the constitution of New Hampshire.

The plaintiffs contend, in the second place, that the acts in question are
repugnant to the tenth section of the first article of the Constitution of
the United States. The material words of that section are: "No State shall
pass any bill of attainder, _ex post facto_ law, or law impairing the
obligation of contracts."

The object of these most important provisions in the national constitution
has often been discussed, both here and elsewhere. It is exhibited with
great clearness and force by one of the distinguished persons who framed
that instrument. "Bills of attainder, _ex post facto_ laws, and laws
impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first
principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound
legislation. The two former are expressly prohibited by the declarations
prefixed to some of the State constitutions, and all of them are
prohibited by the spirit and scope of these fundamental charters. Our own
experience has taught us, nevertheless, that additional fences against
these dangers ought not to be omitted. Very properly, therefore, have the
convention added this constitutional bulwark, in favor of personal
security and private rights; and I am much deceived, if they have not, in
so doing, as faithfully consulted the genuine sentiments as the undoubted
interests of their constituents. The sober people of America are weary of
the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have
seen with regret, and with indignation, that sudden changes, and
legislative interferences in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs
in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to
the more industrious and less informed part of the community. They have
seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the link of a long
chain of repetitions; every subsequent interference being naturally
produced by the effects of the preceding."

It has already been decided in this court, that a _grant_ is a
contract, within the meaning of this provision; and that a grant by a
State is also a contract, as much as the grant of an individual. In the
case of _Fletcher v. Peck_, this court says: "A contract is a compact
between two or more parties, and is either executory or executed. An
executory contract is one in which a party binds himself to do, or not to
do, a particular thing; such was the law under which the conveyance was
made by the government. A contract executed is one in which the object of
contract is performed; and this, says Blackstone, differs in nothing from
a grant. The contract between Georgia and the purchasers was executed by
the grant. A contract executed, as well as one which is executory,
contains obligations binding on the parties. A grant, in its own nature,
amounts to an extinguishment of the right of the grantor, and implies a
contract not to reassert that right. If, under a fair construction of the
Constitution, grants are comprehended under the term contracts, is a grant
from the State excluded from the operation of the provision? Is the clause
to be considered as inhibiting the State from impairing the obligation of
contracts between two individuals, but as excluding from that inhibition
contracts made with itself? The words themselves contain no such
distinction. They are general, and are applicable to contracts of every
description. If contracts made with the State are to be exempted from
their operation, the exception must arise from the character of the
contracting party, not from the words which are employed. Whatever respect
might have been felt for the State sovereignties, it is not to be
disguised that the framers of the Constitution viewed with some
apprehension the violent acts which might grow out of the feelings of the
moment; and that the people of the United States, in adopting that
instrument, have manifested a determination to shield themselves and their
property from the effects of those sudden and strong passions to which men
are exposed. The restrictions on the legislative power of the States are
obviously founded in this sentiment; and the Constitution of the United
States contains what may be deemed a bill of rights for the people of each
State."

It also has been decided that a grant by a State before the Revolution is
as much to be protected as a grant since. But the case of _Terrett v.
Taylor_, before cited, is of all others most pertinent to the present
argument. Indeed, the judgment of the court in that case seems to leave
little to be argued or decided in this. "A private corporation," say the
court, "created by the legislature, may lose its franchises by a
_misuser_ or a _nonuser_ of them; and they may be resumed by the
government under a judicial judgment upon a _quo warranto_ to
ascertain and enforce the forfeiture. This is the common law of the land,
and is a tacit condition annexed to the creation of every such
corporation. Upon a change of government, too, it may be admitted, that
such exclusive privileges attached to a private corporation as are
inconsistent with the new government may be abolished. In respect, also,
to _public_ corporations which exist only for public purposes, such
as counties, towns, cities, and so forth, the legislature may, under
proper limitations, have a right to change, modify, enlarge, or restrain
them, securing, however, the property for the uses of those for whom and
at whose expense it was originally purchased. But that the legislature can
repeal statutes creating private corporations, or confirming to them
property already acquired under the faith of previous laws, and by such
repeal can vest the property of such corporations exclusively in the
State, or dispose of the same to such purposes as they please, without the
consent or default of the corporators, we are not prepared to admit; and
we think ourselves standing upon the principles of natural justice, upon
the fundamental laws of every free government, upon the spirit and letter
of the Constitution of the United States, and upon the decisions of most
respectable judicial tribunals, in resisting such a doctrine."

This court, then, does not admit the doctrine, that a legislature can
repeal statutes creating private corporations. If it cannot repeal them
altogether, of course it cannot repeal any part of them, or impair them,
or essentially alter them, without the consent of the corporators. If,
therefore, it has been shown that this college is to be regarded as a
private charity, this case is embraced within the very terms of that
decision. A grant of corporate powers and privileges is as much a contract
as a grant of land. What proves all charters of this sort to be contracts
is, that they must be accepted to give them force and effect. If they are
not accepted, they are void. And in the case of an existing corporation,
if a new charter is given it, it may even accept part and reject the rest.
In _Rex v. Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge_, Lord Mansfield says: "There
is a vast deal of difference between a new charter granted to a new
corporation, (who must take it as it is given,) and a new charter given to
a corporation already in being, and acting either under a former charter
or under prescriptive usage. The latter, a corporation already existing,
are not obliged to accept the new charter _in toto_, and to receive
either all or none of it; they may act partly under it, and partly under
their old charter or prescription. The validity of these new charters must
turn upon the acceptance of them." In the same case Mr. Justice Wilmot
says: "It is the concurrence and acceptance of the university that gives
the force to the charter of the crown." In the _King v. Pasmore_,
Lord Kenyon observes: "Some things are clear: when a corporation exists
capable of discharging its functions, the crown cannot obtrude another
charter upon them; they may either accept or reject it."

And because charters of incorporation are of the nature of contracts, they
cannot be altered or varied but by consent of the original parties. If a
charter be granted by the king, it may be altered by a new charter granted
by the king, and accepted by the corporators. But if the first charter be
granted by Parliament, the consent of Parliament must be obtained to any
alteration. In _King v. Miller_, Lord Kenyon says: "Where a
corporation takes its rise from the king's charter, the king by granting,
and the corporation by accepting another charter, may alter it, because it
is done with the consent of all the parties who are competent to consent
to the alteration."

There are, in this case, all the essential constituent parts of a
contract. There is something to be contracted about, there are parties,
and there are plain terms in which the agreement of the parties on the
subject of the contract is expressed. There are mutual considerations and
inducements. The charter recites, that the founder, on his part, has
agreed to establish his seminary in New Hampshire, and to enlarge it
beyond its original design, among other things, for the benefit of that
Province; and thereupon a charter is given to him and his associates,
designated by himself, promising and assuring to them, under the plighted
faith of the State, the right of governing the college and administering
its concerns in the manner provided in the charter. There is a complete
and perfect grant to them of all the power of superintendence, visitation,
and government. Is not this a contract? If lands or money had been granted
to him and his associates, for the same purposes, such grant could not be
rescinded. And is there any difference, in legal contemplation, between a
grant of corporate franchises and a grant of tangible property? No such
difference is recognized in any decided case, nor does it exist in the
common apprehension of mankind.

It is therefore contended, that this case falls within the true meaning of
this provision of the Constitution, as expounded in the decisions of this
court; that the charter of 1769 is a contract, a stipulation or agreement,
mutual in its considerations, express and formal in its terms, and of a
most binding and solemn nature. That the acts in question impair this
contract, has already been sufficiently shown. They repeal and abrogate
its most essential parts.

A single observation may not be improper on the opinion of the court of
New Hampshire, which has been published. The learned judges who delivered
that opinion have viewed this question in a very different light from that
in which the plaintiffs have endeavored to exhibit it. After some general
remarks, they assume that this college is a public corporation; and on
this basis their judgment rests. Whether all colleges are not regarded as
private and eleemosynary corporations, by all law writers and all judicial
decisions; whether this college was not founded by Dr. Wheelock; whether
the charter was not granted at his request, the better to execute a trust,
which he had already created; whether he and his associates did not become
visitors, by the charter; and whether Dartmouth College be not, therefore,
in the strictest sense, a private charity, are questions which the learned
judges do not appear to have discussed.

It is admitted in that opinion, that, if it be a private corporation, its
rights stand on the same ground as those of an individual. The great
question, therefore, to be decided is, To which class of corporations do
colleges thus founded belong? And the plaintiffs have endeavored to
satisfy the court, that, according to the well-settled principles and
uniform decisions of law, they are private, eleemosynary corporations.

Much has heretofore been said on the necessity of admitting such a power
in the legislature as has been assumed in this case. Many cases of
possible evil have been imagined, which might otherwise be without remedy.
Abuses, it is contended, might arise in the management of such
institutions, which the ordinary courts of law would be unable to correct.
But this is only another instance of that habit of supposing extreme
cases, and then of reasoning from them, which is the constant refuge of
those who are obliged to defend a cause, which, upon its merits, is
indefensible. It would be sufficient to say in answer, that it is not
pretended that there was here any such case of necessity. But a still more
satisfactory answer is, that the apprehension of danger is groundless, and
therefore the whole argument fails. Experience has not taught us that
there is danger of great evils or of great inconvenience from this source.
Hitherto, neither in our own country nor elsewhere have such cases of
necessity occurred. The judicial establishments of the State are presumed
to be competent to prevent abuses and violations of trust, in cases of
this kind, as well as in all others. If they be not, they are imperfect,
and their amendment would be a most proper subject for legislative wisdom.
Under the government and protection of the general laws of the land, these
institutions have always been found safe, as well as useful. They go on,
with the progress of society, accommodating themselves easily, without
sudden change or violence, to the alterations which take place in its
condition, and in the knowledge, the habits, and pursuits of men. The
English colleges were founded in Catholic ages. Their religion was
reformed with the general reformation of the nation; and they are suited
perfectly well to the purpose of educating the Protestant youth of modern
times. Dartmouth College was established under a charter granted by the
Provincial government; but a better constitution for a college or one more
adapted to the condition of things under the present government, in all
material respects, could not now be framed. Nothing in it was found to
need alteration at the Revolution. The wise men of that day saw in it one
of the best hopes of future times, and commended it as it was, with
parental care, to the protection and guardianship of the government of the
State. A charter of more liberal sentiments, of wiser provisions, drawn
with more care, or in a better spirit, could not be expected at any
time or from any source. The college needed no change in its organization
or government. That which it did need was the kindness, the patronage, the
bounty of the legislature; not a mock elevation to the character of a
university, without the solid benefit of a shilling's donation to sustain
the character; not the swelling and empty authority of establishing
institutes and other colleges. This unsubstantial pageantry would seem to
have been in derision of the scanty endowment and limited means of an
unobtrusive, but useful and growing seminary. Least of all was there a
necessity, or pretence of necessity, to infringe its legal rights, violate
its franchises and privileges, and pour upon it these overwhelming streams
of litigation.

But this argument from necessity would equally apply in all other cases.
If it be well founded, it would prove, that, whenever any inconvenience or
evil is experienced from the restrictions imposed on the legislature by
the Constitution, these restrictions ought to be disregarded. It is enough
to say, that the people have thought otherwise. They have, most wisely,
chosen to take the risk of occasional inconvenience from the want of
power, in order that there might be a settled limit to its exercise, and a
permanent security against its abuse. They have imposed prohibitions and
restraints; and they have not rendered these altogether vain and nugatory
by conferring the power of dispensation. If inconvenience should arise
which the legislature cannot remedy under the power conferred upon it, it
is not answerable for such inconvenience. That which it cannot do within
the limits prescribed to it, it cannot do at all. No legislature in this
country is able, and may the time never come when it shall be able, to
apply to itself the memorable expression of a Roman pontiff: "Licet hoc
_de jure_ non possumus, volumus tamen _de plenitudine potestatis_."

The case before the court is not of ordinary importance, nor of every-day
occurrence. It affects not this college only, but every college, and all
the literary institutions of the country. They have flourished hitherto,
and have become in a high degree respectable and useful to the community.
They have all a common principle of existence, the inviolability of their
charters. It will be a dangerous, a most dangerous experiment, to hold
these institutions subject to the rise and fall of popular parties, and
the fluctuations of political opinions. If the franchise may be at any
time taken away, or impaired, the property also may be taken away, or its
use perverted. Benefactors will have no certainty of effecting the object
of their bounty; and learned men will be deterred from devoting themselves
to the service of such institutions, from the precarious title of their
offices. Colleges and halls will be deserted by all better spirits, and
become a theatre for the contentions of politics, Party and faction will
be cherished in the places consecrated to piety and learning. These
consequences are neither remote nor possible only. They are certain and
immediate.

When the court in North Carolina declared the law of the State, which
repealed a grant to its university, unconstitutional and void, the
legislature had the candor and the wisdom to repeal the law. This example,
so honorable to the State which exhibited it, is most fit to be followed
on this occasion. And there is good reason to hope that a State, which has
hitherto been so much distinguished for temperate counsels, cautious
legislation, and regard to law, will not fail to adopt a course which will
accord with her highest and best interests, and in no small degree elevate
her reputation. It was for many and obvious reasons most anxiously desired
that the question of the power of the legislature over this charter should
have been finally decided in the State court. An earnest hope was
entertained that the judges of the court might have viewed the case in a
light favorable to the rights of the trustees. That hope has failed. It is
here that those rights are now to be maintained, or they are prostrated
for ever. "Omnia alia perfugia bonorum, subsidia, consilia, auxilia, jura
ceciderunt. Quem enim alium appellem? quem obtester? quern implorem? Nisi
hoc loco, nisi apud vos, nisi per vos, judices, salutem nostram, quae spe
exigua extremaque pendet, tenuerimus; nihil est praeterea quo confugere
possimus." [1]

This, sir, is my case. It is the case, not merely of that humble
institution, it is the case of every college in the land. It is more. It
is the case of every eleemosynary institution throughout our country--of
all those great charities formed by the piety of our ancestors, to
alleviate human misery, and scatter blessings along the pathway of life.
It is more! It is, in some sense, the case of every man among us who has
property, of which he may be stripped, for the question is simply this:
Shall our State legislatures be allowed to take that which is not their
own, to turn it from its original use, and apply it to such ends or
purposes as they in their discretion shall see fit?

Sir, you may destroy this little institution; it is weak; it is in your
hands! I know it is one of the lesser lights in the literary horizon of
our country. You may put it out. But, if you do so, you must carry through
your work! You must extinguish, one after another, all those greater
lights of science, which, for more than a century, have thrown their
radiance over our land!

It is, sir, as I have said, a small college, and yet there are those who
love it. [2]

Sir, I know not how others may feel (glancing at the opponents of the
colleges before him), but for myself, when I see my Alma Mater surrounded,
like Caesar, in the senate house, by those who are reiterating stab after
stab, I would not, for this right hand, have her turn to me, and say,
_et tu quoque, mi fili! And thou too, my son!_ [3]




First Settlement of New England.



Let us rejoice that we behold this day. Let us be thankful that we have
lived to see the bright and happy breaking of the auspicious morn, which
commences the third century of the history of New England. Auspicious,
indeed,--bringing a happiness beyond the common allotment of Providence
to men,--full of present joy, and gilding with bright beams the prospect
of futurity, is the dawn that awakens us to the commemoration of the
landing of the Pilgrims.

Living at an epoch which naturally marks the progress of the history of
our native land, we have come hither to celebrate the great event with
which that history commenced. For ever honored be this, the place of our
fathers' refuge! For ever remembered the day which saw them, weary and
distressed, broken in every thing but spirit, poor in all but faith and
courage, at last secure from the dangers of wintry seas, and impressing
this shore with the first footsteps of civilized man!

It is a noble faculty of our nature which enables us to connect our
thoughts, our sympathies, and our happiness with what is distant in place
or time; and, looking before and after, to hold communion at once with our
ancestors and our posterity. Human and mortal although we are, we are
nevertheless not mere insulated beings, without relation to the past or
the future. Neither the point of time, nor the spot of earth, in which we
physically live, bounds our rational and intellectual enjoyments. We live
in the past by a knowledge of its history; and in the future, by hope and
anticipation. By ascending to an association with our ancestors; by
contemplating their example and studying their character; by partaking
their sentiments, and imbibing their spirit; by accompanying them in their
toils, by sympathizing in their sufferings, and rejoicing in their
successes and their triumphs; we seem to belong to their age, and to
mingle our own existence with theirs. We become their contemporaries, live
the lives which they lived, endure what they endured, and partake in the
rewards which they enjoyed. And in like manner, by running along the line
of future time, by contemplating the probable fortunes of those who are
coming after us, by attempting something which may promote their
happiness, and leave some not dishonorable memorial of ourselves for their
regard, when we shall sleep with the fathers, we protract our own earthly
being, and seem to crowd whatever is future, as well as all that is past,
into the narrow compass of our earthly existence. As it is not a vain and
false, but an exalted and religious imagination, which leads us to raise
our thoughts from the orb, which, amidst this universe of worlds, the
Creator has given us to inhabit, and to send them with something of the
feeling which nature prompts, and teaches to be proper among children of
the same Eternal Parent, to the contemplation of the myriads of fellow-
beings with which his goodness has peopled the infinite of space; so
neither is it false or vain to consider ourselves as interested and
connected with our whole race, through all time; allied to our ancestors;
allied to our posterity; closely compacted on all sides with others;
ourselves being but links in the great chain of being, which begins with
the origin of our race, runs onward through its successive generations,
binding together the past, the present, and the future, and terminating at
last, with the consummation of all things earthly, at the throne of God.

There may be, and there often is, indeed, a regard for ancestry, which
nourishes only a weak pride; as there is also a care for posterity, which
only disguises an habitual avarice, or hides the workings of a low and
grovelling vanity. But there is also a moral and philosophical respect for
our ancestors, which elevates the character and improves the heart. Next
to the sense of religious duty and moral feeling, I hardly know what
should bear with stronger obligation on a liberal and enlightened mind,
than a consciousness of alliance with excellence which is departed; and a
consciousness, too, that in its acts and conduct, and even in its
sentiments and thoughts, it may be actively operating on the happiness of
those who come after it. Poetry is found to have few stronger conceptions,
by which it would affect or overwhelm the mind, than those in which it
presents the moving and speaking image of the departed dead to the senses
of the living. This belongs to poetry, only because it is congenial to our
nature. Poetry is, in this respect, but the handmaid of true philosophy
and morality; it deals with us as human beings, naturally reverencing
those whose visible connection with this state of existence is severed,
and who may yet exercise we know not what sympathy with ourselves; and
when it carries us forward, also, and shows us the long continued result
of all the good we do, in the prosperity of those who follow us, till it
bears us from ourselves, and absorbs us in an intense interest for what
shall happen to the generations after us, it speaks only in the language
of our nature, and affects us with sentiments which belong to us as human
beings.

Standing in this relation to our ancestors and our posterity, we are
assembled on this memorable spot, to perform the duties which that
relation and the present occasion impose upon us. We have come to this
Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in
their sufferings; our gratitude for their labors; our admiration of their
virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those
principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the
dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages,
disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and to establish. And we would leave
here, also, for the generations which are rising up rapidly to fill our
places, some proof that we have endeavored to transmit the great
inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of public principles and
private virtue, in our veneration of religion and piety, in our devotion
to civil and religious liberty, in our regard for whatever advances human
knowledge or improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of
our origin.

There is a local feeling connected with this occasion, too strong to be
resisted; a sort of _genius of the place_, which inspires and awes
us. We feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history
was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed;
where Christianity, and civilization, and letters made their first
lodgement, in a vast extent of country, covered with a wilderness, and
peopled by roving barbarians. We are here, at the season of the year at
which the event took place. The imagination irresistibly and rapidly draws
around us the principal features and the leading characters in the
original scene. We cast our eyes abroad on the ocean, and we see where the
little bark, with the interesting group upon its deck, made its slow
progress to the shore. We look around us, and behold the hills and
promontories where the anxious eyes of our fathers first saw the places of
habitation and of rest. We feel the cold which benumbed, and listen to the
winds which pierced them. Beneath us is the Rock, on which New England
received the feet of the Pilgrims. We seem even to behold them, as they
struggle with the elements, and, with toilsome efforts, gain the shore. We
listen to the chiefs in council; we see the unexampled exhibition of
female fortitude and resignation; we hear the whisperings of youthful
impatience, and we see, what a painter of our own has also represented by
his pencil [1], chilled and shivering childhood, houseless, but for a
mother's arms, couchless, but for a mother's breast, till our own blood
almost freezes. The mild dignity of Carver and of Bradford; the decisive
and soldier-like air and manner of Standish; the devout Brewster; the
enterprising Allerton; [2] the general firmness and thoughtfulness of the
whole band; their conscious joy for dangers escaped; their deep solicitude
about dangers to come; their trust in Heaven; their high religious faith,
full of confidence and anticipation; all of these seem to belong to this
place, and to be present upon this occasion, to fill us with reverence and
admiration.

The settlement of New England by the colony which landed here on the
twenty-second [3] of December, sixteen hundred and twenty, although not
the first European establishment in what now constitutes the United
States, was yet so peculiar in its causes and character, and has been
followed and must still be followed by such consequences, as to give it a
high claim to lasting commemoration. On these causes and consequences,
more than on its immediately attendant circumstances, its importance, as
an historical event, depends. Great actions and striking occurrences,
having excited a temporary admiration, often pass away and are forgotten,
because they leave no lasting results, affecting the prosperity and
happiness of communities. Such is frequently the fortune of the most
brilliant military achievements. Of the ten thousand battles which have
been fought, of all the fields fertilized with carnage, of the banners
which have been bathed in blood, of the warriors who have hoped that they
had risen from the field of conquest to a glory as bright and as durable
as the stars, how few that continue long to interest mankind! The victory
of yesterday is reversed by the defeat of to-day; the star of military
glory, rising like a meteor, like a meteor has fallen; disgrace and
disaster hang on the heels of conquest and renown; victor and vanquished
presently pass away to oblivion, and the world goes on in its course, with
the loss only of so many lives and so much treasure.

But if this be frequently, or generally, the fortune of military
achievements, it is not always so. There are enterprises, military as well
as civil, which sometimes check the current of events, give a new turn to
human affairs, and transmit their consequences through ages. We see their
importance in their results, and call them great, because great things
follow. There have been battles which have fixed the fate of nations.
These come down to us in history with a solid and permanent interest, not
created by a display of glittering armor, the rush of adverse battalions,
the sinking and rising of pennons, the flight, the pursuit, and the
victory; but by their effect in advancing or retarding human knowledge, in
overthrowing or establishing despotism, in extending or destroying human
happiness. When the traveller pauses on the plain of Marathon, what are
the emotions which most strongly agitate his breast? What is that glorious
recollection, which thrills through his frame, and suffuses his eyes? Not,
I imagine, that Grecian skill and Grecian valor were here most signally
displayed; but that Greece herself was saved. It is because to this spot,
and to the event which has rendered it immortal, he refers all the
succeeding glories of the republic. It is because, if that day had gone
otherwise, Greece had perished. It is because he perceives that her
philosophers and orators, her poets and painters, her sculptors and
architects, her governments and free institutions, point backward to
Marathon, and that their future existence seems to have been suspended on
the contingency, whether the Persian or the Grecian banner should wave
victorious in the beams of that day's setting sun. And, as his imagination
kindles at the retrospect, he is transported back to the interesting
moment; he counts the fearful odds of the contending hosts; his interest
for the result overwhelms him; he trembles, as if it were still uncertain,
and seems to doubt whether he may consider Socrates and Plato,
Demosthenes, Sophocles, and Phidias, as secure, yet, to himself and to the
world.

"If we conquer," said the Athenian commander on the approach of that
decisive day, "if we conquer, we shall make Athens the greatest city of
Greece." [4] A prophecy how well fulfilled! "If God prosper us," might
have been the more appropriate language of our fathers, when they landed
upon this Rock, "if God prosper us, we shall here begin a work which shall
last for ages; we shall plant here a new society, in the principles of the
fullest liberty and the purest religion; we shall subdue this wilderness
which is before us; we shall fill this region of the great continent,
which stretches almost from pole to pole, with civilization and
Christianity; the temples of the true God shall rise, where now ascends
the smoke of idolatrous sacrifice; fields and gardens, the flowers of
summer, and the waving and golden harvest of autumn, shall spread over a
thousand hills, and stretch along a thousand valleys, never yet, since the
creation, reclaimed to the use of civilized man. We shall whiten this
coast with the canvas of a prosperous commerce; we shall stud the long and
winding shore with a hundred cities. That which we sow in weakness shall
be raised in strength. From our sincere, but houseless worship, there
shall spring splendid temples to record God's goodness; from the
simplicity of our social union, there shall arise wise and politic
constitutions of government, full of the liberty which we ourselves bring
and breathe; from our zeal for learning, institutions shall spring which
shall scatter the light of knowledge throughout the land, and, in time,
paying back where they have borrowed, shall contribute their part to the
great aggregate of human knowledge; and our descendants, through all
generations, shall look back to this spot, and to this hour, with unabated
affection and regard."

A brief remembrance of the causes which led to the settlement of this
place; some account of the peculiarities and characteristic qualities of
that settlement, as distinguished from other instances of colonization; a
short notice of the progress of New England in the great interests of
society, during the century which is now elapsed; with a few observations
on the principles upon which society and government are established in
this country: comprise all that can be attempted, and much more than can
be satisfactorily performed, on the present occasion.

Of the motives which influenced the first settlers to a voluntary exile,
induced them to relinquish their native country, and to seek an asylum in
this then unexplored wilderness, the first and principal, no doubt, were
connected with religion. They sought to enjoy a higher degree of religious
freedom, and what they esteemed a purer form of religious worship, than
was allowed to their choice, or presented to their imitation, in the Old
World. The love of religious liberty is a stronger sentiment, when fully
excited, than an attachment to civil or political freedom. That freedom
which the conscience demands, and which men feel bound by their hope of
salvation to contend for, can hardly fail to be attained. Conscience, in
the cause of religion and the worship of the Deity, prepares the mind to
act and to suffer beyond almost all other causes. It sometimes gives an
impulse so irresistible, that no fetters of power or of opinion can
withstand it. History instructs us that this love of religious liberty, a
compound sentiment in the breast of man, made up of the clearest sense of
right and the highest conviction of duty, is able to look the sternest
despotism in the face, and, with means apparently most inadequate, to
shake principalities and powers. There is a boldness, a spirit of daring,
in religious reformers, not to be measured by the general rules which
control men's purposes and actions. If the hand of power be laid upon it,
this only seems to augment its force and its elasticity, and to cause its
action to be more formidable and violent. Human invention has devised
nothing, human power has compassed nothing, that can forcibly restrain it,
when it breaks forth. Nothing can stop it, but to give way to it; nothing
can check it, but indulgence. It loses its power only when it has gained
its object. The principle of toleration, to which the world has come so
slowly, is at once the most just and the most wise of all principles. Even
when religious feeling takes a character of extravagance and enthusiasm,
and seems to threaten the order of society and shake the columns of the
social edifice, its principal danger is in its restraint. If it be allowed
indulgence and expansion, like the elemental fires, it only agitates, and
perhaps purifies, the atmosphere; while its efforts to throw off restraint
would burst the world asunder.

It is certain, that, although many of them were republicans in principle,
we have no evidence that our New England ancestors would have emigrated,
as they did, from their own native country, would have become wanderers in
Europe, and finally would have undertaken the establishment of a colony
here, merely from their dislike of the political systems of Europe. They
fled not so much from the civil government, as from the hierarchy, and the
laws which enforced conformity to the church establishment. Mr. Robinson
had left England as early as 1608, on account of the persecutions for non-
conformity, and had retired to Holland. He left England from no
disappointed ambition in affairs of state, from no regrets at the want of
preferment in the church, nor from any motive of distinction or of gain.
Uniformity in matters of religion was pressed with such extreme rigor,
that a voluntary exile seemed the most eligible mode of escaping from the
penalties of non-compliance. The accession of Elizabeth had, it is true,
quenched the fires of Smithfield, and put an end to the easy acquisition
of the crown of martyrdom. Her long reign had established the Reformation,
but toleration was a virtue beyond her conception, and beyond the age. She
left no example of it to her successor; and he was not of a character
which rendered it probable that a sentiment either so wise or so liberal
would originate with him. At the present period it seems incredible that
the learned, accomplished, unassuming, and inoffensive Robinson should
neither be tolerated in his peaceable mode of worship in his own country,
nor suffered quietly to depart from it. Yet such was the fact. He left his
country by stealth, that he might elsewhere enjoy those rights which ought
to belong to men in all countries. The departure of the Pilgrims for
Holland is deeply interesting, from its circumstances, and also as it
marks the character of the times, independently of its connection with
names now incorporated with the history of empire. [5] The embarkation was
intended to be made in such a manner that it might escape the notice of
the officers of government. Great pains had been taken to secure boats,
which should come undiscovered to the shore, and receive the fugitives;
and frequent disappointments had been experienced in this respect.

At length the appointed time came, bringing with it unusual severity of
cold and rain. An unfrequented and barren heath, on the shores of
Lincolnshire, was the selected spot, where the feet of the Pilgrims were
to tread, for the last time, the land of their fathers. The vessel which
was to receive them did not come until the next day, and in the meantime
the little band was collected, and men and women and children and baggage
were crowded together, in melancholy and distressed confusion. The sea was
rough, and the women and children were already sick, from their passage
down the river to the place of embarkation on the sea. At length the
wished-for boat silently and fearfully approaches the shore, and men and
women and children, shaking with fear and with cold, as many as the small
vessel could bear, venture off on a dangerous sea. Immediately the advance
of horses is heard from behind, armed men appear, and those not yet
embarked are seized and taken into custody. In the hurry of the moment,
the first parties had been sent on board without any attempt to keep
members of the same family together, and on account of the appearance of
the horsemen, the boat never returned for the residue. Those who had got
away, and those who had not, were in equal distress. A storm, of great
violence and long duration, arose at sea, which not only protracted the
voyage, rendered distressing by the want of all those accommodations which
the interruption of the embarkation had occasioned, but also forced the
vessel out of her course, and menaced immediate shipwreck; while those on
shore, when they were dismissed from the custody of the officers of
justice, having no longer homes or houses to retire to, and their friends
and protectors being already gone, became objects of necessary charity, as
well as of deep commiseration.

As this scene passes before us, we can hardly forbear asking whether this
be a band of malefactors and felons flying from justice. What are their
crimes, that they hide themselves in darkness? To what punishment are they
exposed, that, to avoid it, men, and women, and children, thus encounter
the surf of the North Sea and the terrors of a night storm? What induces
this armed pursuit, and this arrest of fugitives, of all ages and both
sexes? Truth does not allow us to answer these inquiries in a manner that
does credit to the wisdom or the justice of the times. This was not the
flight of guilt, but of virtue. It was an humble and peaceable religion,
flying from causeless oppression. It was conscience, attempting to escape
from the arbitrary rule of the Stuarts. It was Robinson and Brewster,
leading off their little band from their native soil, at first to find
shelter on the shore of the neighboring continent, but ultimately to come
hither; and having surmounted all difficulties and braved a thousand
dangers, to find here a place of refuge and of rest. Thanks be to God,
that this spot was honored as the asylum of religious liberty! May its
standard, reared here, remain for ever! May it rise up as high as heaven,
till its banner shall fan the air of both continents, and wave as a
glorious ensign of peace and security to the nations!

The peculiar character, condition, and circumstances of the colonies which
introduced civilization and an English race into New England, afford a
most interesting and extensive topic of discussion. On these, much of our
subsequent character and fortune has depended. Their influence has
essentially affected our whole history, through the two centuries which
have elapsed; and as they have become intimately connected with
government, laws, and property, as well as with our opinions on the
subjects of religion and civil liberty, that influence is likely to
continue to be felt through the centuries which shall succeed. Emigration
from one region to another, and the emission of colonies to people
countries more or less distant from the residence of the parent stock, are
common incidents in the history of mankind; but it has not often, perhaps
never, happened, that the establishment of colonies should be attempted
under circumstances, however beset with present difficulties and dangers,
yet so favorable to ultimate success, and so conducive to magnificent
results, as those which attended the first settlements on this part of the
American continent. In other instances, emigration has proceeded from a
less exalted purpose, in periods of less general intelligence, or more
without plan and by accident; or under circumstances, physical and moral,
less favorable to the expectation of laying a foundation for great public
prosperity and future empire.

A great resemblance exists, obviously, between all the English colonies
established within the present limits of the United States; but the
occasion attracts our attention more immediately to those which took
possession of New England, and the peculiarities of these furnish a strong
contrast with most other instances of colonization.

Among the ancient nations, the Greeks, no doubt, sent forth from their
territories the greatest number of colonies. So numerous, indeed, were
they, and so great the extent of space over which they were spread, that
the parent country fondly and naturally persuaded herself, that by means
of them she had laid a sure foundation for the universal civilization of
the world. These establishments, from obvious causes, were most numerous
in places most contiguous; yet they were found on the coasts of France, on
the shores of the Euxine Sea, in Africa, and even, as is alleged, on the
borders of India. These emigrations appear to have been sometimes
voluntary and sometimes compulsory; arising from the spontaneous
enterprise of individuals, or the order and regulation of government. It
was a common opinion with ancient writers, that they were undertaken in
religious obedience to the commands of oracles, and it is probable that
impressions of this sort might have had more or less influence; but it is
probable, also, that on these occasions the oracles did not speak a
language dissonant from the views and purposes of the state.

Political science among the Greeks seems never to have extended to the
comprehension of a system, which should be adequate to the government of a
great nation upon principles of liberty. They were accustomed only to the
contemplation of small republics, and were led to consider an augmented
population as incompatible with free institutions. The desire of a remedy
for this supposed evil, and the wish to establish marts for trade, led the
governments often to undertake the establishment of colonies as an affair
of state expediency. Colonization and commerce, indeed, would naturally
become objects of interest to an ingenious and enterprising people,
inhabiting a territory closely circumscribed in its limits, and in no
small part mountainous and sterile; while the islands of the adjacent
seas, and the promontories and coasts of the neighboring continents, by
their mere proximity, strongly solicited the excited spirit of emigration.
Such was this proximity, in many instances, that the new settlements
appeared rather to be the mere extension of population over contiguous
territory, than the establishment of distant colonies. In proportion as
they were near to the parent state, they would be under its authority, and
partake of its fortunes. The colony at Marseilles might perceive lightly,
or not at all, the sway of Phocis; while the islands in the Aegean Sea
could hardly attain to independence of their Athenian origin. Many of
these establishments took place at an early age; and if there were defects
in the governments of the parent states, the colonists did not possess
philosophy or experience sufficient to correct such evils in their own
institutions, even if they had not been, by other causes, deprived of the
power. An immediate necessity, connected with the support of life, was the
main and direct inducement to these undertakings, and there could hardly
exist more than the hope of a successful imitation of institutions with
which they were already acquainted, and of holding an equality with their
neighbors in the course of improvement. The laws and customs, both
political and municipal, as well as the religious worship of the parent
city, were transferred to the colony; and the parent city herself, with
all such of her colonies as were not too far remote for frequent
intercourse and common sentiments, would appear like a family of cities,
more or less dependent, and more or less connected. We know how imperfect
this system was, as a system of general politics, and what scope it gave
to those mutual dissensions and conflicts which proved so fatal to Greece.

But it is more pertinent to our present purpose to observe, that nothing
existed in the character of Grecian emigrations, or in the spirit and
intelligence of the emigrants, likely to give a new and important
direction to human affairs, or a new impulse to the human mind. Their
motives were not high enough, their views were not sufficiently large and
prospective. They went not forth, like our ancestors, to erect systems of
more perfect civil liberty, or to enjoy a higher degree of religious
freedom. Above all, there was nothing in the religion and learning of the
age, that could either inspire high purposes, or give the ability to
execute them. Whatever restraints on civil liberty, or whatever abuses in
religious worship, existed at the time of our fathers' emigration, yet
even then all was light in the moral and mental world, in comparison with
its condition in most periods of the ancient states. The settlement of a
new continent, in an age of progressive knowledge and improvement, could
not but do more than merely enlarge the natural boundaries of the
habitable world. It could not but do much more even than extend commerce
and increase wealth among the human race. We see how this event has acted,
how it must have acted, and wonder only why it did not act sooner, in the
production of moral effects, on the state of human knowledge, the general
tone of human sentiments, and the prospects of human happiness. It gave to
civilized man not only a new continent to be inhabited and cultivated, and
new seas to be explored; but it gave him also a new range for his
thoughts, new objects for curiosity, and new excitements to knowledge and
improvement.

Roman colonization resembled, far less than that of the Greeks, the
original settlements of this country. Power and dominion were the objects
of Rome, even in her colonial establishments. Her whole exterior aspect
was for centuries hostile and terrific. She grasped at dominion, from
India to Britain, and her measures of colonization partook of the
character of her general system. Her policy was military, because her
objects were power, ascendency, and subjugation. Detachments of emigrants
from Rome incorporated themselves with, and governed, the original
inhabitants of conquered countries. She sent citizens where she had first
sent soldiers; her law followed her sword. Her colonies were a sort of
military establishment; so many advanced posts in the career of her
dominion. A governor from Rome ruled the new colony with absolute sway,
and often with unbounded rapacity. In Sicily, in Gaul, in Spain, and in
Asia, the power of Rome prevailed, not nominally only, but really and
effectually. Those who immediately exercised it were Roman; the tone and
tendency of its administration, Roman. Rome herself continued to be the
heart and centre of the great system which she had established. [6]
Extortion and rapacity, finding a wide and often rich field of action in
the provinces, looked nevertheless to the banks of the Tiber, as the scene
in which their ill-gotten treasures should be displayed; or, if a spirit
of more honest acquisition prevailed, the object, nevertheless, was
ultimate enjoyment in Rome itself. If our own history and our own times
did not sufficiently expose the inherent and incurable evils of provincial
government, we might see them portrayed, to our amazement, in the
desolated and ruined provinces of the Roman empire. We might hear them, in
a voice that terrifies us, in those strains of complaint and accusation,
which the advocates of the provinces poured forth in the Roman Forum:--
"Quas res luxuries in flagitiis, crudelitas in suppliciis, avaritia in
rapinis, superbia in contumeliis, efficere potuisset, eas omnes sese
pertulisse."

As was to be expected, the Roman Provinces partook of the fortunes, as
well as of the sentiments and general character, of the seat of empire.
They lived together with her, they flourished with her, and fell with her.
The branches were lopped away even before the vast and venerable trunk
itself fell prostrate to the earth. Nothing had proceeded from her which
could support itself, and bear up the name of its origin, when her own
sustaining arm should be enfeebled or withdrawn. It was not given to Rome
to see, either at her zenith or in her decline, a child of her own,
distant, indeed, and independent of her control, yet speaking her language
and inheriting her blood, springing forward to a competition with her own
power, and a comparison with her own great renown. She saw not a vast
region of the earth peopled from her stock, full of states and political
communities, improving upon the models of her institutions, and breathing
in fuller measure the spirit which she had breathed in the best periods of
her existence; enjoying and extending her arts and her literature; rising
rapidly from political childhood to manly strength and independence; her
offspring, yet now her equal; unconnected with the causes which might
affect the duration of her own power and greatness; of common origin, but
not linked to a common fate; giving ample pledge, that her name should not
be forgotten, that her language should not cease to be used among men;
that whatsoever she had done for human knowledge and human happiness
should be treasured up and preserved; that the record of her existence and
her achievements should not be obscured, although, in the inscrutable
purposes of Providence, it might be her destiny to fall from opulence and
splendor; although the time might come, when darkness should settle on all
her hills; when foreign or domestic violence should overturn her altars
and her temples; when ignorance and despotism should fill the places where
Laws, and Arts, and Liberty had flourished; when the feet of barbarism
should trample on the tombs of her consuls, and the walls of her senate-
house and forum echo only to the voice of savage triumph. She saw not this
glorious vision, to inspire and fortify her against the possible decay or
downfall of her power. Happy are they who in our day may behold it, if
they shall contemplate it with the sentiments which it ought to inspire!

The New England Colonies differ quite as widely from the Asiatic
establishments of the modern European nations, as from the models of the
ancient states. The sole object of those establishments was originally
trade; although we have seen, in one of them, the anomaly of a mere
trading company attaining a political character, disbursing revenues, and
maintaining armies and fortresses, until it has extended its control over
seventy millions of people. Differing from these, and still more from the
New England and North American Colonies, are the European settlements in
the West India Islands. It is not strange, that, when men's minds were
turned to the settlement of America, different objects should be proposed
by those who emigrated to the different regions of so vast a country.
Climate, soil, and condition were not equally favorable to all pursuits.
In the West Indies, the purpose of those who went thither was to engage in
that species of agriculture, suited to the soil and climate, which seems
to bear more resemblance to commerce than to the hard and plain tillage of
New England. The great staples of these countries, being partly an
agricultural and partly a manufactured product, and not being of the
necessaries of life, become the object of calculation, with respect to a
profitable investment of capital, like any other enterprise of trade or
manufacture. The more especially, as, requiring, by necessity or habit,
slave labor for their production, the capital necessary to carry on the
work of this production is very considerable. The West Indies are resorted
to, therefore, rather for the investment of capital than for the purpose
of sustaining life by personal labor. Such as possess a considerable
amount of capital, or such as choose to adventure in commercial
speculations without capital, can alone be fitted to be emigrants to the
islands. The agriculture of these regions, as before observed, is a sort
of commerce; and it is a species of employment in which labor seems to
form an inconsiderable ingredient in the productive causes, since the
portion of white labor is exceedingly small, and slave labor is rather
more like profit on stock or capital than _labor_ properly so called.
The individual who undertakes an establishment of this kind takes into the
account the cost of the necessary number of slaves, in the same manner as
he calculates the cost of the land. The uncertainty, too, of this species
of employment, affords another ground of resemblance to commerce. Although
gainful on the whole, and in a series of years, it is often very
disastrous for a single year, and, as the capital is not readily invested
in other pursuits, bad crops or bad markets not only affect the profits,
but the capital itself. Hence the sudden depressions which take place in
the value of such estates.

But the great and leading observation, relative to these establishments,
remains to be made. It is, that the owners of the soil and of the capital
seldom consider themselves _at home_ in the colony. A very great
portion of the soil itself is usually owned in the mother country; a still
greater is mortgaged for capital obtained there; and, in general, those
who are to derive an interest from the products look to the parent country
as the place for enjoyment of their wealth. The population is therefore
constantly fluctuating. Nobody comes but to return. A constant succession
of owners, agents, and factors takes place. Whatsoever the soil, forced by
the unmitigated toil of slavery, can yield, is sent home to defray rents,
and interest, and agencies, or to give the means of living in a better
society. In such a state, it is evident that no spirit of permanent
improvement is likely to spring up. Profits will not be invested with a
distant view of benefiting posterity. Roads and canals will hardly be
built; schools will not be founded; colleges will not be endowed. There
will be few fixtures in society; no principles of utility or of elegance,
planted now, with the hope of being developed and expanded hereafter.
Profit, immediate profit, must be the principal active spring in the
social system. There may be many particular exceptions to these general
remarks, but the outline of the whole is such as is here drawn.[7]

Another most important consequence of such a state of things is, that no
idea of independence of the parent country is likely to arise; unless,
indeed, it should spring up in a form that would threaten universal
desolation. The inhabitants have no strong attachment to the place which
they inhabit. The hope of a great portion of them is to leave it; and
their great desire, to leave it soon. However useful they may be to the
parent state, how much soever they may add to the conveniences and
luxuries of life, these colonies are not favored spots for the expansion
of the human mind, for the progress of permanent improvement, or for
sowing the seeds of future independent empire.

Different, indeed, most widely different, from all these instances, of
emigration and plantation, were the condition, the purposes, and the
prospects of our fathers, when they established their infant colony upon
this spot. They came hither to a land from which they were never to
return. Hither they had brought, and here they were to fix, their hopes,
their attachments, and their objects in life. Some natural tears they
shed, as they left the pleasant abodes of their fathers, and some emotions
they suppressed, when the white cliffs of their native country, now seen
for the last time, grew dim to their sight. They were acting, however,
upon a resolution not to be daunted. With whatever stifled regrets, with
whatever occasional hesitation, with whatever appalling apprehensions,
which might sometimes arise with force to shake the firmest purpose, they
had yet committed themselves to Heaven and the elements; and a thousand
leagues of water soon interposed to separate them for ever from the region
which gave them birth. A new existence awaited them here; and when they
saw these shores, rough, cold, barbarous, and barren, as then they were,
they beheld their country. That mixed and strong feeling, which we call
love of country, and which is, in general, never extinguished in the heart
of man, grasped and embraced its proper object here. Whatever constitutes
_country_, except the earth and the sun, all the moral causes of
affection and attachment which operate upon the heart, they had brought
with them to their new abode. Here were now their families and friends,
their homes, and their property. Before they reached the shore, they had
established the elements of a social system,[8] and at a much earlier
period had settled their forms of religious worship. At the moment of
their landing, therefore, they possessed institutions of government, and
institutions of religion: and friends and families, and social and
religious institutions, framed by consent, founded on choice and
preference, how nearly do these fill up our whole idea of country! The
morning that beamed on the first night of their repose saw the Pilgrims
already _at home_ in their country. There were political institutions,
and civil liberty, and religious worship. Poetry has fancied nothing, in
the wanderings of heroes, so distinct and characteristic. Here was man,
indeed, unprotected, and unprovided for, on the shore of a rude and
fearful wilderness; but it was politic, intelligent, and educated man.
Every thing was civilized but the physical world. Institutions, containing
in substance all that ages had done for human government, were organized
in a forest.[9] Cultivated mind was to act on uncultivated nature; and,
more than all, a government and a country were to commence, with the very
first foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion.
Happy auspices of a happy futurity! Who would wish that his country's
existence had otherwise begun? Who would desire the power of going back to
the ages of fable? Who would wish for an origin obscured in the darkness
of antiquity? Who would wish for other emblazoning of his country's
heraldry, or other ornaments of her genealogy, than to be able to say,
that her first existence was with intelligence, her first breath the
inspiration of liberty, her first principle the truth of divine religion?

Local attachments and sympathies would ere long spring up in the breasts
of our ancestors, endearing to them the place of their refuge. Whatever
natural objects are associated with interesting scenes and high efforts
obtain a hold on human feeling, and demand from the heart a sort of
recognition and regard. This Rock soon became hallowed in the esteem of
the Pilgrims, and these hills grateful to their sight. Neither they nor
their children were again to till the soil of England, nor again to
traverse the seas which surround her. But here was a new sea, now open to
their enterprise, and a new soil, which had not failed to respond
gratefully to their laborious industry, and which was already assuming a
robe of verdure. Hardly had they provided shelter for the living, ere they
were summoned to erect sepulchres for the dead. The ground had become
sacred, by enclosing the remains of some of their companions and
connections. A parent, a child, a husband, or a wife, had gone the way of
all flesh, and mingled with the dust of New England. We naturally look
with strong emotions to the spot, though it be a wilderness, where the
ashes of those we have loved repose. Where the heart has laid down what it
loved most, there it is desirous of laying itself down. No sculptured
marble, no enduring monument, no honorable inscription, no ever-burning
taper that would drive away the darkness of the tomb, can soften our sense
of the reality of death, and hallow to our feelings the ground which is to
cover us, like the consciousness that we shall sleep, dust to dust, with
the objects of our affections.

In a short time other causes sprung up to bind the Pilgrims with new cords
to their chosen land. Children were born, and the hopes of future
generations arose, in the spot of their new habitation. The second
generation found this the land of their nativity, and saw that they were
bound to its fortunes. They beheld their fathers' graves around them, and
while they read the memorials of their toils and labors, they rejoiced in
the inheritance which they found bequeathed to them.

Under the influence of these causes, it was to be expected that an
interest and a feeling should arise here, entirely different from the
interest and feeling of mere Englishmen; and all the subsequent history of
the Colonies proves this to have actually and gradually taken place. With
a general acknowledgment of the supremacy of the British crown, there was,
from the first, a repugnance to an entire submission to the control of
British legislation. The Colonies stood upon their charters, which, as
they contended, exempted them from the ordinary power of the British
Parliament, and authorized them to conduct their own concerns by their own
counsels. They utterly resisted the notion that they were to be ruled by
the mere authority of the government at home, and would not endure even
that their own charter governments should be established on the other side
of the Atlantic. It was not a controlling or protecting board in England,
but a government of their own, and existing immediately within their
limits, which could satisfy their wishes. It was easy to foresee, what we
know also to have happened, that the first great cause of collision and
jealousy would be, under the notion of political economy then and still
prevalent in Europe, an attempt on the part of the mother country to
monopolize the trade of the Colonies. Whoever has looked deeply into the
causes which produced our Revolution has found, if I mistake not, the
original principle far back in this claim, on the part of England, to
monopolize our trade, and a continued effort on the part of the Colonies
to resist or evade that monopoly; if, indeed, it be not still more just
and philosophical to go farther back, and to consider it decided, that an
independent government must arise here, the moment it was ascertained that
an English colony, such as landed in this place, could sustain itself
against the dangers which surrounded it, and, with other similar
establishments, overspread the land with an English population. Accidental
causes retarded at times, and at times accelerated, the progress of the
controversy. The Colonies wanted strength, and time gave it to them. They
required measures of strong and palpable injustice, on the part of the
mother country, to justify resistance; the early part of the late king's
reign furnished them. They needed spirits of high order, of great daring,
of long foresight, and of commanding power, to seize the favoring occasion
to strike a blow, which should sever, for all time, the tie of colonial
dependence; and these spirits were found, in all the extent which that or
any crisis could demand, in Otis, Adams, Hancock, and the other immediate
authors of our independence.

Still, it is true that, for a century, causes had been in operation
tending to prepare things for this great result. In the year 1660 the
English Act of Navigation was passed; the first and grand object of which
seems to have been, to secure to England the whole trade with her
plantations. It was provided by that act, that none but English ships
should transport American produce over the ocean, and that the principal
articles of that produce should be allowed to be sold only in the markets
of the mother country. Three years afterwards another law was passed,
which enacted, that such commodities as the Colonies might wish to
purchase should be bought only in the markets of the mother country.
Severe rules were prescribed to enforce the provisions of these laws, and
heavy penalties imposed on all who should violate them. In the subsequent
years of the same reign, other statutes were enacted to re-enforce these
statutes, and other rules prescribed to secure a compliance with these
rules. In this manner was the trade to and from the Colonies restricted,
almost to the exclusive advantage of the parent country. But laws, which
rendered the interest of a whole people subordinate to that of another
people, were not likely to execute themselves; nor was it easy to find
many on the spot, who could be depended upon for carrying them into
execution. In fact, these laws were more or less evaded or resisted, in
all the Colonies. To enforce them was the constant endeavor of the
government at home; to prevent or elude their operation, the perpetual
object here. "The laws of navigation," says a living British writer, "were
nowhere so openly disobeyed and contemned as in New England." "The people
of Massachusetts Bay," he adds, "were from the first disposed to act as if
independent of the mother country, and having a governor and magistrates
of their own choice, it was difficult to enforce any regulation which came
from the English Parliament, adverse to their interests." To provide more
effectually for the execution of these laws, we know that courts of
admiralty were afterwards established by the crown, with power to try
revenue causes, as questions of admiralty, upon the construction given by
the crown lawyers to an act of Parliament; a great departure from the
ordinary principles of English jurisprudence, but which has been
maintained, nevertheless, by the force of habit and precedent, and is
adopted in our own existing systems of government.

"There lie," says another English writer, whose connection with the Board
of Trade has enabled him to ascertain many facts connected with Colonial
history, "There lie among the documents in the board of trade and state-
paper office, the most satisfactory proofs, from the epoch of the English
Revolution in 1688, throughout every reign, and during every
administration, of the settled purpose of the Colonies to acquire direct
independence and positive sovereignty." Perhaps this may be stated
somewhat too strongly; but it cannot be denied, that, from the very nature
of the establishments here, and from the general character of the measures
respecting their concerns early adopted and steadily pursued by the
English government, a division of the empire was the natural and necessary
result to which every thing tended.

I have dwelt on this topic, because it seems to me, that the peculiar
original character of the New England Colonies, and certain causes coeval
with their existence, have had a strong and decided influence on all their
subsequent history, and especially on the great event of the Revolution.
Whoever would write our history, and would understand and explain early
transactions, should comprehend the nature and force of the feeling which
I have endeavored to describe. As a son, leaving the house of his father
for his own, finds, by the order of nature, and the very law of his being,
nearer and dearer objects around which his affections circle, while his
attachment to the parental roof becomes moderated, by degrees, to a
composed regard and an affectionate remembrance; so our ancestors, leaving
their native land, not without some violence to the feelings of nature and
affection, yet, in time, found here a new circle of engagements,
interests, and affections; a feeling, which more and more encroached upon
the old, till an undivided sentiment, _that this was their country_,
occupied the heart; and patriotism, shutting out from its embraces the
parent realm, became _local_ to America. Some retrospect of the
century which has now elapsed is among the duties of the occasion. It
must, however, necessarily be imperfect, to be compressed within the
limits of a single discourse. I shall content myself, therefore, with
taking notice of a few of the leading and most important occurrences
which have distinguished the period.

When the first century closed, the progress of the country appeared to
have been considerable; notwithstanding that, in comparison with its
subsequent advancement, it now seems otherwise. A broad and lasting
foundation had been laid; excellent institutions had been established;
many of the prejudices of former times had been removed; a more liberal
and catholic spirit on subjects of religious concern had begun to extend
itself, and many things conspired to give promise of increasing future
prosperity. Great men had arisen in public life, and the liberal
professions. The Mathers, father and son, were then sinking low in the
western horizon; Leverett, the learned, the accomplished, the excellent
Leverett, was about to withdraw his brilliant and useful light. In
Pemberton great hopes had been suddenly extinguished, but Prince and
Colman were in our sky; and along the east had begun to flash the
crepuscular light of a great luminary which was about to appear, and which
was to stamp the age with his own name, as the age of Franklin.

The bloody Indian wars, which harassed the people for a part of the first
century; the restrictions on the trade of the Colonies, added to the
discouragements inherently belonging to all forms of colonial government;
the distance from Europe, and the small hope of immediate profit to
adventurers, are among the causes which had contributed to retard the
progress of population. Perhaps it may be added, also, that during the
period of the civil wars in England, and the reign of Cromwell, many
persons, whose religious opinions and religious temper might, under other
circumstances, have induced them to join the New England colonists, found
reasons to remain in England; either on account of active occupation in
the scenes which were passing, or of an anticipation of the enjoyment, in
their own country, of a form of government, civil and religious,
accommodated to their views and principles. The violent measures, too,
pursued against the Colonies in the reign of Charles the Second, the
mockery of a trial, and the forfeiture of the charters, were serious
evils. And during the open violences of the short reign of James the
Second, and the tyranny of Andros, as the venerable historian of
Connecticut observes, "All the motives to great actions, to industry,
economy, enterprise, wealth, and population, were in a manner annihilated.
A general inactivity and languishment pervaded the public body. Liberty,
property, and every thing which ought to be dear to men, every day grew
more and more insecure."  With the Revolution in England, a better
prospect had opened on this country, as well as on that. The joy had been
as great at that event, and far more universal, in New than in Old
England. A new charter had been granted to Massachusetts, which, although
it did not confirm to her inhabitants all their former privileges, yet
relieved them from great evils and embarrassments, and promised future
security. More than all, perhaps, the Revolution in England had done good
to the general cause of liberty and justice. A blow had been struck in
favor of the rights and liberties, not of England alone, but of
descendants and kinsmen of England all over the world. Great political
truths had been established the champions of liberty had been successful
in a fearful and perilous conflict. Somers, and Cavendish, and Jekyl, and
Howard, had triumphed in one of the most noble causes ever undertaken by
men. A revolution had been made upon principle. A monarch had been
dethroned for violating the original compact between king and people. The
rights of the people to partake in the government, and to limit the
monarch by fundamental rules of government, had been maintained; and
however unjust the government of England might afterwards be towards other
governments or towards her colonies, she had ceased to be governed herself
by the arbitrary maxims of the Stuarts.

New England had submitted to the violence of James the Second not longer
than Old England. Not only was it reserved to Massachusetts, that on her
soil should be acted the first scene of that great revolutionary drama,
which was to take place near a century afterwards, but the English
Revolution itself, as far as the Colonies were concerned, commenced in
Boston. The seizure and imprisonment of Andros, in April, 1689, were acts
of direct and forcible resistance to the authority of James the Second.
The pulse of liberty beat as high in the extremities as at the heart. The
vigorous feeling of the Colony burst out before it was known how the
parent country would finally conduct herself. The king's representative,
Sir Edmund Andros, was a prisoner in the castle at Boston, before it was
or could be known that the king himself had ceased to exercise his full
dominion on the English throne.

Before it was known here whether the invasion of the Prince of Orange
would or could prove successful, as soon as it was known that it had been
undertaken, the people of Massachusetts, at the imminent hazard of their
lives and fortunes, had accomplished the Revolution as far as respected
themselves. It is probable that, reasoning on general principles and the
known attachment of the English people to their constitution and
liberties, and their deep and fixed dislike of the king's religion and
politics, the people of New England expected a catastrophe fatal to the
power of the reigning prince. Yet it was neither certain enough, nor near
enough, to come to their aid against the authority of the crown, in that
crisis which had arrived, and in which they trusted to put themselves,
relying on God and their own courage. There were spirits in Massachusetts
congenial with the spirits of the distinguished friends of the Revolution
in England. There were those who were fit to associate with the boldest
asserters of civil liberty; and Mather himself, then in England, was not
unworthy to be ranked with those sons of the Church, whose firmness and
spirit in resisting kingly encroachments in matters of religion, entitled
them to the gratitude of their own and succeeding ages.

The second century opened upon New England under circumstances which
evinced that much had already been accomplished, and that still better
prospects and brighter hopes were before her. She had laid, deep and
strong, the foundations of her society. Her religious principles were
firm, and her moral habits exemplary. Her public schools had begun to
diffuse widely the elements of knowledge; and the College, under the
excellent and acceptable administration of Leverett, had been raised to a
high degree of credit and usefulness.

The commercial character of the country, notwithstanding all
discouragements, had begun to display itself, and _five hundred
vessels_, then belonging to Massachusetts, placed her, in relation to
commerce, thus early at the head of the Colonies. An author who wrote very
near the close of the first century says:--"New England is almost
deserving that _noble name_, so mightily hath it increased; and from
a small settlement at first, is now become a very _populous_ and
_flourishing_ government. The _capital city_, Boston, is a place
of _great wealth and trade_; and by much the largest of any in the
English empire of America; and not exceeded but by few cities, perhaps two
or three, in all the American world." But if our ancestors at the close of
the first century could look back with joy and even admiration, at the
progress of the country, what emotions must we not feel, when, from the
point on which we stand, we also look back and run along the events of the
century which has now closed! The country which then, as we have seen, was
thought deserving of a "noble name,"--which then had "mightily increased,"
and become "very populous,"--what was it, in comparison with what our eyes
behold it? At that period, a very great proportion of its inhabitants
lived in the eastern section of Massachusetts proper, and in Plymouth
Colony. In Connecticut, there were towns along the coast, some of them
respectable, but in the interior all was a wilderness beyond Hartford. On
Connecticut River, settlements had proceeded as far up as Deerfield, and
Fort Dummer had been built near where is now the south line of New
Hampshire. In New Hampshire no settlement was then begun thirty miles from
the mouth of Piscataqua River, and in what is now Maine the inhabitants
were confined to the coast. The aggregate of the whole population of New
England did not exceed one hundred and sixty thousand. Its present amount
(1820) is probably one million seven hundred thousand. Instead of being
confined to its former limits, her population has rolled backward, and
filled up the spaces included within her actual local boundaries. Not this
only, but it has overflowed those boundaries, and the waves of emigration
have pressed farther and farther toward the West. The Alleghany has not
checked it; the banks of the Ohio have been covered with it. New England
farms, houses, villages, and churches spread over and adorn the immense
extent from the Ohio to Lake Erie, and stretch along from the Alleghany
onwards, beyond the Miamis, and towards the Falls of St. Anthony. Two
thousand miles westward from the rock where their fathers landed, may now
be found the sons of the Pilgrims, cultivating smiling fields, rearing
towns and villages, and cherishing, we trust, the patrimonial blessings of
wise institutions, of liberty, and religion. The world has seen nothing
like this. Regions large enough to be empires, and which, half a century
ago, were known only as remote and unexplored wildernesses, are now
teeming with population, and prosperous in all the great concerns of life;
in good governments, the means of subsistence, and social happiness. It
may be safely asserted, that there are now more than a million of people,
descendants of New England ancestry, living, free and happy, in regions
which scarce sixty years ago were tracts of unpenetrated forest. Nor do
rivers, or mountains, or seas resist the progress of industry and
enterprise. Erelong, the sons of the Pilgrims will be on the shores of the
Pacific. The imagination hardly keeps pace with the progress of
population, improvement, and civilization.

It is now five-and-forty years since the growth and rising glory of
America were portrayed in the English Parliament, with inimitable beauty,
by the most consummate orator of modern times. Going back somewhat more
than half a century, and describing our progress as foreseen from that
point by his amiable friend Lord Bathurst, then living, he spoke of the
wonderful progress which America had made during the period of a single
human life. There is no American heart, I imagine, that does not glow,
both with conscious, patriotic pride, and admiration for one of the
happiest efforts of eloquence, so often as the vision of "that little
speck, scarce visible in the mass of national interest, a small seminal
principle, rather than a formed body," and the progress of its astonishing
development and growth, are recalled to the recollection. But a stronger
feeling might be produced, if we were able to take up this prophetic
description where he left it, and, placing ourselves at the point of time
in which he was speaking, to set forth with equal felicity the subsequent
progress of the country. There is yet among the living a most
distinguished and venerable name, a descendant of the Pilgrims; one who
has been attended through life by a great and fortunate genius; a man
illustrious by his own great merits, and favored of Heaven in the long
continuation of his years. The time when the English orator was thus
speaking of America preceded but by a few days the actual opening of the
revolutionary drama at Lexington. He to whom I have alluded, then at the
age of forty, was among the most zealous and able defenders of the
violated rights of his country. He seemed already to have filled a full
measure of public service, and attained an honorable fame. The moment was
full of difficulty and danger, and big with events of immeasurable
importance. The country was on the very brink of a civil war, of which no
man could foretell the duration or the result. Something more than a
courageous hope, or characteristic ardor, would have been necessary to
impress the glorious prospect on his belief, if, at that moment, before
the sound of the first shock of actual war had reached his ears, some
attendant spirit had opened to him the vision of the future;--if it had
said to him, "The blow is struck, and America is severed from England for
ever!"--if it had informed him, that he himself, during the next annual
revolution of the sun, should put his own hand to the great instrument of
independence, and write his name where all nations should behold it and
all time should not efface it; that erelong he himself should maintain the
interests and represent the sovereignty of his new-born country in the
proudest courts of Europe; that he should one day exercise her supreme
magistracy; that he should yet live to behold ten millions of fellow-
citizens paying him the homage of their deepest gratitude and kindest
affections; that he should see distinguished talent and high public trust
resting where his name rested; that he should even see with his own
unclouded eyes the close of the second century of New England, who had
begun life almost with its commencement, and lived through nearly half the
whole history of his country; and that on the morning of this auspicious
day he should be found in the political councils of his native State,
revising, by the light of experience, that system of government which
forty years before he had assisted to frame and establish; and, great and
happy as he should then behold his country, there should be nothing in
prospect to cloud the scene, nothing to check the ardor of that confident
and patriotic hope which should glow in his bosom to the end of his long
protracted and happy life.

It would far exceed the limits of this discourse even to mention the
principal events in the civil and political history of New England during
the century; the more so, as for the last half of the period that history
has, most happily, been closely interwoven with the general history of the
United States. New England bore an honorable part in the wars which took
place between England and France. The capture of Louisburg gave her a
character for military achievement; and in the war which terminated with
the peace of 1763, her exertions on the frontiers were of most essential
service, as well to the mother country as to all the Colonies.

In New England the war of the Revolution commenced. I address those who
remember the memorable 19th of April, 1775; who shortly after saw the
burning spires of Charlestown; who beheld the deeds of Prescott, and heard
the voice of Putnam amidst the storm of war, and saw the generous Warren
fall, the first distinguished victim in the cause of liberty. It would be
superfluous to say, that no portion of the country did more than the
States of New England to bring the Revolutionary struggle to a successful
issue. It is scarcely less to her credit, that she saw early the necessity
of a closer union of the States, and gave an efficient and indispensable
aid to the establishment and organization of the Federal government.

Perhaps we might safely say, that a new spirit and a new excitement began
to exist here about the middle of the last century. To whatever causes it
may be imputed, there seems then to have commenced a more rapid
improvement. The Colonies had attracted more of the attention of the
mother country, and some renown in arms had been acquired. Lord Chatham
was the first English minister who attached high importance to these
possessions of the crown, and who foresaw any thing of their future growth
and extension. His opinion was, that the great rival of England was
chiefly to be feared as a maritime and commercial power, and to drive her
out of North America and deprive her of her West Indian possessions was a
leading object in his policy. He dwelt often on the fisheries, as
nurseries for British seamen, and the colonial trade, as furnishing them
employment. The war, conducted by him with so much vigor, terminated in a
peace, by which Canada was ceded to England. The effect of this was
immediately visible in the New England Colonies; for, the fear of Indian
hostilities on the frontiers being now happily removed, settlements went
on with an activity before that time altogether unprecedented, and public
affairs wore a new and encouraging aspect. Shortly after this fortunate
termination of the French war, the interesting topics connected with the
taxation of America by the British Parliament began to be discussed, and
the attention and all the faculties of the people drawn towards them.
There is perhaps no portion of our history more full of interest than the
period from 1760 to the actual commencement of the war. The progress of
opinion in this period, though less known, is not less important than the
progress of arms afterwards. Nothing deserves more consideration than
those events and discussions which affected the public sentiment and
settled the Revolution in men's minds, before hostilities openly broke
out.

Internal improvement followed the establishment and prosperous
commencement of the present government. More has been done for roads,
canals, and other public works, within the last thirty years, than in all
our former history. In the first of these particulars, few countries excel
the New England States. The astonishing increase of their navigation and
trade is known to every one, and now belongs to the history of our
national wealth.

We may flatter ourselves, too, that literature and taste have not been
stationary, and that some advancement has been made in the elegant, as
well as in the useful arts.

The nature and constitution of society and government in this country are
interesting topics, to which I would devote what remains of the time
allowed to this occasion. Of our system of government the first thing to
be said is, that it is really and practically a free system. It originates
entirely with the people, and rests on no other foundation than their
assent. To judge of its actual operation, it is not enough to look merely
at the form of its construction. The practical character of government
depends often on a variety of considerations, besides the abstract frame
of its constitutional organization. Among these are the condition and
tenure of property; the laws regulating its alienation and descent; the
presence or absence of a military power; an armed or unarmed yeomanry; the
spirit of the age, and the degree of general intelligence. In these
respects it cannot be denied that the circumstances of this country are
most favorable to the hope of maintaining the government of a great nation
on principles entirely popular. In the absence of military power, the
nature of government must essentially depend on the manner in which
property is holden and distributed. There is a natural influence belonging
to property, whether it exists in many hands or few; and it is on the
rights of property that both despotism and unrestrained popular violence
ordinarily commence their attacks. Our ancestors began their system of
government here under a condition of comparative equality in regard to
wealth, and their early laws were of a nature to favor and continue this
equality.

A republican form of government rests not more on political constitutions,
than on those laws which regulate the descent and transmission of
property. Governments like ours could not have been maintained, where
property was holden according to the principles of the feudal system; nor,
on the other hand, could the feudal constitution possibly exist with us.
Our New England ancestors brought hither no great capitals from Europe;
and if they had, there was nothing productive in which they could have
been invested. They left behind them the whole feudal policy of the other
continent. They broke away at once from the system of military service
established in the Dark Ages, and which continues, down even to the
present time, more or less to affect the condition of property all over
Europe. They came to a new country. There were, as yet, no lands yielding
rent, and no tenants rendering service. The whole soil was unreclaimed
from barbarism. They were themselves, either from their original
condition, or from the necessity of their common interest, nearly on a
general level in respect to property. Their situation demanded a
parcelling out and division of the lands, and it may be fairly said, that
this necessary act _fixed the future frame and form of their
government_. The character of their political institutions was
determined by the fundamental laws respecting property. The laws rendered
estates divisible among sons and daughters. The right of primogeniture, at
first limited and curtailed, was afterwards abolished. The property was
all freehold. The entailment of estates, long trusts, and the other
processes for fettering and tying up inheritances, were not applicable to
the condition of society, and seldom made use of. On the contrary,
alienation of the land was every way facilitated, even to the subjecting
of it to every species of debt. The establishment of public registries,
and the simplicity of our forms of conveyance, have greatly facilitated
the change of real estate from one proprietor to another. The consequence
of all these causes has been a great subdivision of the soil, and a great
equality of condition; the true basis, most certainly, of a popular
government. "If the people," says Harrington, "hold three parts in four of
the territory, it is plain there can neither be any single person nor
nobility able to dispute the government with them; in this case,
therefore, _except force be interposed_, they govern themselves."

The history of other nations may teach us how favorable to public liberty
are the division of the soil into small freeholds, and a system of laws,
of which the tendency is, without violence or injustice, to produce and to
preserve a degree of equality of property. It has been estimated, if I
mistake not, that about the time of Henry the Seventh four fifths of the
land in England was holden by the great barons and ecclesiastics. The
effects of a growing commerce soon afterwards began to break in on this
state of things, and before the Revolution, in 1688, a vast change had
been wrought. It may be thought probable, that, for the last half-century,
the process of subdivision in England has been retarded, if not reversed;
that the great weight of taxation has compelled many of the lesser
freeholders to dispose of their estates, and to seek employment in the
army and navy, in the professions of civil life, in commerce, or in the
colonies. The effect of this on the British constitution cannot but be
most unfavorable. A few large estates grow larger; but the number of those
who have no estates also increases; and there may be danger, lest the
inequality of property become so great, that those who possess it may be
dispossessed by force; in other words, that the government may be
overturned.

A most interesting experiment of the effect of a subdivision of property
on government is now making in France. It is understood, that the law
regulating the transmission of property in that country, now divides it,
real and personal, among all the children equally, both sons and
daughters; and that there is, also, a very great restraint on the power of
making dispositions of property by will. It has been supposed, that the
effects of this might probably be, in time, to break up the soil into such
small subdivisions, that the proprietors would be too poor to resist the
encroachments of executive power. I think far otherwise. What is lost in
individual wealth will be more than gained in numbers, in intelligence,
and in a sympathy of sentiment. If, indeed, only one or a few landholders
were to resist the crown, like the barons of England, they must, of
course, be great and powerful landholders, with multitudes of retainers,
to promise success. But if the proprietors of a given extent of territory
are summoned to resistance, there is no reason to believe that such
resistance would be less forcible, or less successful, because the number
of such proprietors happened to be great. Each would perceive his own
importance, and his own interest, and would feel that natural elevation of
character which the consciousness of property inspires. A common sentiment
would unite all, and numbers would not only add strength, but excite
enthusiasm. It is true, that France possesses a vast military force, under
the direction of an hereditary executive government; and military power,
it is possible, may overthrow any government. It is in vain, however, in
this period of the world, to look for security against military power to
the arm of the great landholders. That notion is derived from a state of
things long since past; a state in which a feudal baron, with his
retainers, might stand against the sovereign and his retainers, himself
but the greatest baron. But at present, what could the richest landholder
do, against one regiment of disciplined troops? Other securities,
therefore, against the prevalence of military power must be provided.
Happily for us, we are not so situated as that any purpose of national
defence requires, ordinarily and constantly, such a military force as
might seriously endanger our liberties.

In respect, however, to the recent law of succession in France, to which I
have alluded, I would, presumptuously perhaps, hazard a conjecture, that,
if the government do not change the law, the law in half a century will
change the government; and that this change will be, not in favor of the
power of the crown, as some European writers have supposed, but against
it. Those writers only reason upon what they think correct general
principles, in relation to this subject. They acknowledge a want of
experience. Here we have had that experience; and we know that a multitude
of small proprietors, acting with intelligence, and that enthusiasm which
a common cause inspires, constitute not only a formidable, but an
invincible power.

The true principle of a free and popular government would seem to be, so
to construct it as to give to all, or at least to a very great majority,
an interest in its preservation; to found it, as other things are founded,
on men's interest. The stability of government demands that those who
desire its continuance should be more powerful than those who desire its
dissolution. This power, of course, is not always to be measured by mere
numbers. Education, wealth, talents, are all parts and elements of the
general aggregate of power; but numbers, nevertheless, constitute
ordinarily the most important consideration, unless, indeed, there be _a
military force_ in the hands of the few, by which they can control the
many. In this country we have actually existing systems of government, in
the maintenance of which, it should seem, a great majority, both in
numbers and in other means of power and influence, must see their
interest. But this state of things is not brought about solely by written
political constitutions, or the mere manner of organizing the government;
but also by the laws which regulate the descent and transmission of
property. The freest government, if it could exist, would not be long
acceptable, if the tendency of the laws were to create a rapid
accumulation of property in few hands, and to render the great mass of the
population dependent and penniless. In such a case, the popular power
would be likely to break in upon the rights of property, or else the
influence of property to limit and control the exercise of popular power.
Universal suffrage, for example, could not long exist in a community where
there was great inequality of property. The holders of estates would be
obliged, in such case, in some way to restrain the right of suffrage, or
else such right of suffrage would, before long, divide the property. In
the nature of things, those who have not property, and see their neighbors
possess much more than they think them to need, cannot be favorable to
laws made for the protection of property. When this class becomes
numerous, it grows clamorous. It looks on property as its prey and
plunder, and is naturally ready, at all times, for violence and
revolution.

It would seem, then, to be the part of political wisdom to found
government on property; and to establish such distribution of property, by
the laws which regulate its transmission and alienation, as to interest
the great majority of society in the support of the government. This is, I
imagine, the true theory and the actual practice of our republican
institutions. With property divided as we have it, no other government
than that of a republic could be maintained, even were we foolish enough
to desire it. There is reason, therefore, to expect a long continuance of
our system. Party and passion, doubtless, may prevail at times, and much
temporary mischief be done. Even modes and forms may be changed, and
perhaps for the worse. But a great revolution in regard to property must
take place, before our governments can be moved from their republican
basis, unless they be violently struck off by military power. The people
possess the property, more emphatically than it could ever be said of the
people of any other country, and they can have no interest to overturn a
government which protects that property by equal laws.

Let it not be supposed, that this state of things possesses too strong
tendencies towards the production of a dead and uninteresting level in
society. Such tendencies are sufficiently counteracted by the infinite
diversities in the characters and fortunes of individuals. Talent,
activity, industry, and enterprise tend at all times to produce inequality
and distinction; and there is room still for the accumulation of wealth,
with its great advantages, to all reasonable and useful extent. It has
been often urged against the state of society in America, that it
furnishes no class of men of fortune and leisure. This may be partly true,
but it is not entirely so, and the evil, if it be one, would affect rather
the progress of taste and literature, than the general prosperity of the
people. But the promotion of taste and literature cannot be primary
objects of political institutions; and if they could, it might be doubted
whether, in the long course of things, as much is not gained by a wide
diffusion of general knowledge, as is lost by diminishing the number of
those who are enabled by fortune and leisure to devote themselves
exclusively to scientific and literary pursuits. However this may be, it
is to be considered that it is the spirit of our system to be equal and
general, and if there be particular disadvantages incident to this, they
are far more than counterbalanced by the benefits which weigh against
them. The important concerns of society are generally conducted, in all
countries, by the men of business and practical ability; and even in
matters of taste and literature, the advantages of mere leisure are liable
to be overrated. If there exist adequate means of education and a love of
letters be excited, that love will find its way to the object of its
desire, through the crowd and pressure of the most busy society.

Connected with this division of property, and the consequent participation
of the great mass of people in its possession and enjoyments, is the
system of representation, which is admirably accommodated to our
condition, better understood among us, and more familiarly and extensively
practised, in the higher and in the lower departments of government, than
it has been by any other people. Great facility has been given to this in
New England by the early division of the country into townships or small
districts, in which all concerns of local police are regulated, and in
which representatives to the legislature are elected. Nothing can exceed
the utility of these little bodies. They are so many councils or
parliaments, in which common interests are discussed, and useful knowledge
acquired and communicated. The division of governments into departments,
and the division, again, of the legislative department into two chambers,
are essential provisions in our system. This last, although not new in
itself, yet seems to be new in its application to governments wholly
popular. The Grecian republics, it is plain, knew nothing of it; and in
Rome, the check and balance of legislative power, such as it was, lay
between the people and the senate. Indeed, few things are more difficult
than to ascertain accurately the true nature and construction of the Roman
commonwealth. The relative power of the senate and the people, of the
consuls and the tribunes, appears not to have been at all times the same,
nor at any time accurately defined or strictly observed. Cicero, indeed,
describes to us an admirable arrangement of political power, and a balance
of the constitution, in that beautiful passage, in which he compares the
democracies of Greece with the Roman commonwealth. "O morem preclarum,
disciplinamque, quam a majoribus, accepimus, si quidem teneremus! sed
nescio quo pacto jam de manibus elabitur. Nullam enim illi nostri
sapientissimi et sanctissimi viri vim concionis esse voluerunt, quae
scisseret plebs, aut quae populus juberet; summota concione, distributis
partibus, tributim et centuriatim descriptis ordinibus, classibus,
aetatibus, auditis auctoribus, re multos dies promulgata et cognita,
juberi vetarique voluerunt. Graecorum autem totae respublicae sedentis
concionis temeritate administrantur." [10]

But at what time this wise system existed in this perfection at Rome, no
proofs remain to show. Her constitution, originally framed for a monarchy,
never seemed to be adjusted in its several parts after the expulsion of
the kings. Liberty there was, but it was a disputatious, an uncertain, an
ill-secured liberty. The patrician and plebeian orders, instead of being
matched and joined, each in its just place and proportion, to sustain the
fabric of the state, were rather like hostile powers, in perpetual
conflict. With us, an attempt has been made, and so far not without
success, to divide representation into chambers, and, by difference of
age, character, qualification, or mode of election, to establish salutary
checks, in governments altogether elective.

Having detained you so long with these observations, I must yet advert to
another most interesting topic,--the Free Schools. In this particular, New
England may be allowed to claim, I think, a merit of a peculiar character.
She early adopted, and has constantly maintained the principle, that it is
the undoubted right and the bounden duty of government to provide for the
instruction of all youth. That which is elsewhere left to chance or to
charity, we secure by law. [11] For the purpose of public instruction, we
hold every man subject to taxation in proportion to his property, and we
look not to the question, whether he himself have, or have not, children
to be benefited by the education for which he pays. We regard it as a wise
and liberal system of police, by which property, and life, and the peace
of society are secured. We seek to prevent in some measure the extension
of the penal code, by inspiring a salutary and conservative principle of
virtue and of knowledge in an early age. We strive to excite a feeling of
respectability, and a sense of character, by enlarging the capacity and
increasing the sphere of intellectual enjoyment. By general instruction,
we seek, as far as possible, to purify the whole moral atmosphere; to keep
good sentiments uppermost, and to turn the strong current of feeling and
opinion, as well as the censures of the law and the denunciations of
religion, against immorality and crime. We hope for a security beyond the
law, and above the law, in the prevalence of an enlightened and well-
principled moral sentiment. We hope to continue and prolong the time,
when, in the villages and farm-houses of New England, there may be
undisturbed sleep within unbarred doors. And knowing that our government
rests directly on the public will, in order that we may preserve it we
endeavor to give a safe and proper direction to that public will. We do
not, indeed, expect all men to be philosophers or statesmen; but we
confidently trust, and our expectation of the duration of our system of
government rests on that trust, that, by the diffusion of general
knowledge and good and virtuous sentiments, the political fabric may be
secure, as well against open violence and overthrow, as against the slow,
but sure, undermining of licentiousness.

We know that, at the present time, an attempt is making in the English
Parliament to provide by law for the education of the poor, and that a
gentleman of distinguished character (Mr. Brougham) has taken the lead in
presenting a plan to government for carrying that purpose into effect. And
yet, although the representatives of the three kingdoms listened to him
with astonishment as well as delight, we hear no principles with which we
ourselves have not been familiar from youth; we see nothing in the plan
but an approach towards that system which has been established in New
England for more than a century and a half. It is said that in England not
more than _one child in fifteen_ possesses the means of being taught
to read and write; in Wales, _one in twenty_; in France, until
lately, when some improvement was made, not more than _one in thirty-
five_. Now, it is hardly too strong to say, that in New England
_every child possesses_ such means. It would be difficult to find an
instance to the contrary, unless where it should be owing to the
negligence of the parent; and, in truth, the means are actually used and
enjoyed by nearly every one. A youth of fifteen, of either sex, who cannot
both read and write, is very seldom to be found. Who can make this
comparison, or contemplate this spectacle, without delight and a feeling
of just pride? Does any history show property more beneficently applied?
Did any government ever subject the property of those who have estates to
a burden, for a purpose more favorable to the poor, or more useful to the
whole community?

A conviction of the importance of public instruction was one of the
earliest sentiments of our ancestors. No lawgiver of ancient or modern
times has expressed more just opinions, or adopted wiser measures, than
the early records of the Colony of Plymouth show to have prevailed here.
Assembled on this very spot, a hundred and fifty-three years ago, the
legislature of this Colony declared, "Forasmuch as the maintenance of good
literature doth much tend to the advancement of the weal and flourishing
state of societies and republics, this Court doth therefore order, that in
whatever township in this government, consisting of fifty families or
upwards, any meet man shall be obtained to teach a grammar school, such
township shall allow at least twelve pounds, to be raised by rate on all
the inhabitants."

Having provided that all youth should be instructed in the elements of
learning by the institution of free schools, our ancestors had yet another
duty to perform. Men were to be educated for the professions and the
public. For this purpose they founded the University, and with incredible
zeal and perseverance they cherished and supported it, through all trials
and discouragements.[12] On the subject of the University, it is not
possible for a son of New England to think without pleasure, or to speak
without emotion. Nothing confers more honor on the State where it is
established, or more utility on the country at large. A respectable
university is an establishment which must be the work of time. If
pecuniary means were not wanting, no new institution could possess
character and respectability at once. We owe deep obligation to our
ancestors, who began, almost on the moment of their arrival, the work of
building up this institution.

Although established in a different government, the Colony of Plymouth
manifested warm friendship for Harvard College. At an early period, its
government took measures to promote a general subscription throughout all
the towns in this Colony, in aid of its small funds. Other colleges were
subsequently founded and endowed, in other places, as the ability of the
people allowed; and we may flatter ourselves, that the means of education
at present enjoyed in New England are not only adequate to the diffusion
of the elements of knowledge among all classes, but sufficient also for
respectable attainments in literature and the sciences.

Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality
and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be
trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any
government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. Living under
the heavenly light of revelation, they hoped to find all the social
dispositions, all the duties which men owe to each other and to society,
enforced and performed. Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them
good citizens. Our fathers came here to enjoy their religion free and
unmolested; and, at the end of two centuries, there is nothing upon which
we can pronounce more confidently, nothing of which we can express a more
deep and earnest conviction, than of the inestimable importance of that
religion to man, both in regard to this life and that which is to come.

If the blessings of our political and social condition have not been too
highly estimated, we cannot well overrate the responsibility and duty
which they impose upon us. We hold these institutions of government,
religion, and learning, to be transmitted, as well as enjoyed. We are in
the line of conveyance, through which whatever has been obtained by the
spirit and efforts of our ancestors is to be communicated to our children.

We are bound to maintain public liberty, and, by the example of our own
systems, to convince the world that order and law, religion and morality,
the rights of conscience, the rights of persons, and the rights of
property, may all be preserved and secured, in the most perfect manner, by
a government entirely and purely elective. If we fail in this, our
disaster will be signal, and will furnish an argument, stronger than has
yet been found, in support of those opinions which maintain that
government can rest safely on nothing but power and coercion. As far as
experience may show errors in our establishments, we are bound to correct
them; and if any practices exist contrary to the principles of justice and
humanity within the reach of our laws or our influence, we are inexcusable
if we do not exert ourselves to restrain and abolish them.

I deem it my duty on this occasion to suggest, that the land is not yet
wholly free from the contamination of a traffic, at which every feeling of
humanity must forever revolt,--I mean the African slave-trade. Neither
public sentiment, nor the law, has hitherto been able entirely to put an
end to this odious and abominable trade. At the moment when God in his
mercy has blessed the Christian world with a universal peace, there is
reason to fear, that, to the disgrace of the Christian name and character,
new efforts are making for the extension of this trade by subjects and
citizens of Christian states, in whose hearts there dwell no sentiments of
humanity or of justice, and over whom neither the fear of God nor the fear
of man exercises a control. In the sight of our law, the African slave-
trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender
far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt. There is no brighter page of
our history, than that which records the measures which have been adopted
by the government at an early day, and at different times since, for the
suppression of this traffic; and I would call on all the true sons of New
England to cooperate with the laws of man, and the justice of Heaven. If
there be, within the extent of our knowledge or influence, any
participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the rock
of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it. It is not fit that the land of
the Pilgrims should bear the shame longer. I hear the sound of the hammer,
I see the smoke of the furnaces where manacles and fetters are still
forged for human limbs. I see the visages of those who by stealth and at
midnight labor in this work of hell, foul and dark, as may become the
artificers of such instruments of misery and torture. Let that spot be
purified, or let it cease to be of New England. Let it be purified or let
it be set aside from the Christian world; let it be put out of the circle
of human sympathies and human regards, and let civilized man henceforth
have no communion with it.

I would invoke those who fill the seats of justice, and all who minister
at her altar, that they execute the wholesome and necessary severity of
the law. I invoke the ministers of our religion, that they proclaim its
denunciation of these crimes, and add its solemn sanctions to the
authority of human laws. If the pulpit be silent whenever or wherever
there may be a sinner bloody with this guilt within the hearing of its
voice, the pulpit is false to its trust. I call on the fair merchant, who
has reaped his harvest upon the seas, that he assist in scourging from
those seas the worst pirates that ever infested them. That ocean, which
seems to wave with a gentle magnificence to waft the burden of an honest
commerce, and to roll along its treasures with a conscious pride,--that
ocean, which hardy industry regards, even when the winds have ruffled its
surface, as a field of grateful toil,--what is it to the victim of this
oppression, when he is brought to its shores, and looks forth upon it, for
the first time, loaded with chains, and bleeding with stripes? What is it
to him but a wide-spread prospect of suffering, anguish, and death? Nor do
the skies smile longer, nor is the air longer fragrant to him. The sun is
cast down from heaven. An inhuman and accursed traffic has cut him off in
his manhood, or in his youth, from every enjoyment belonging to his being,
and every blessing which his Creator intended for him.

The Christian communities send forth their emissaries of religion and
letters, who stop, here and there, along the coast of the vast continent
of Africa, and with painful and tedious efforts make some almost
imperceptible progress in the communication of knowledge, and in the
general improvement of the natives who are immediately about them. Not
thus slow and imperceptible is the transmission of the vices and bad
passions which the subjects of Christian states carry to the land. The
slave-trade having touched the coast, its influence and its evils spread,
like a pestilence, over the whole continent, making savage wars more
savage and more frequent, and adding new and fierce passions to the
contests of barbarians.

I pursue this topic no further, except again to say, that all Christendom,
being now blessed with peace, is bound by everything which belongs to its
character, and to the character of the present age, to put a stop to this
inhuman and disgraceful traffic.

We are bound, not only to maintain the general principles of public
liberty, but to support also those existing forms of government which have
so well secured its enjoyment, and so highly promoted the public
prosperity. It is now more than thirty years that these States have been
united under the Federal Constitution, and whatever fortune may await them
hereafter, it is impossible that this period of their history should not
be regarded as distinguished by signal prosperity and success. They must
be sanguine indeed, who can hope for benefit from change. Whatever
division of the public judgment may have existed in relation to particular
measures of the government, all must agree, one should think, in the
opinion, that in its general course it has been eminently productive of
public happiness. Its most ardent friends could not well have hoped from
it more than it has accomplished; and those who disbelieved or doubted
ought to feel less concern about predictions which the event has not
verified, than pleasure in the good which has been obtained. Whoever shall
hereafter write this part of our history, although he may see occasional
errors or defects, will be able to record no great failure in the ends and
objects of government. Still less will he be able to record any series of
lawless and despotic acts, or any successful usurpation. His page will
contain no exhibition of provinces depopulated, of civil authority
habitually trampled down by military power, or of a community crushed by
the burden of taxation. He will speak, rather, of public liberty
protected, and public happiness advanced; of increased revenue, and
population augmented beyond all example; of the growth of commerce,
manufactures, and the arts; and of that happy condition, in which the
restraint and coercion of government are almost invisible and
imperceptible, and its influence felt only in the benefits which it
confers. We can entertain no better wish for our country, than that this
government may be preserved; nor have a clearer duty than to maintain and
support it in the full exercise of all its just constitutional powers.

The cause of science and literature also imposes upon us an important and
delicate trust. The wealth and population of the country are now so far
advanced, as to authorize the expectation of a correct literature and a
well formed taste, as well as respectable progress in the abstruse
sciences. The country has risen from a state of colonial subjection; it
has established an independent government, and is now in the undisturbed
enjoyment of peace and political security. The elements of knowledge are
universally diffused, and the reading portion of the community is large.
Let us hope that the present may be an auspicious era of literature. If,
almost on the day of their landing, our ancestors founded schools and
endowed colleges, what obligations do not rest upon us, living under
circumstances so much more favorable both for providing and for using the
means of education? Literature becomes free institutions. It is the
graceful ornament of civil liberty, and a happy restraint on the
asperities which political controversies sometimes occasion. Just taste is
not only an embellishment of society, but it rises almost to the rank of
the virtues, and diffuses positive good throughout the whole extent of its
influence. There is a connection between right feeling and right
principles, and truth in taste is allied with truth in morality. With
nothing in our past history to discourage us, and with something in our
present condition and prospects to animate us, let us hope, that, as it is
our fortune to live in an age when we may behold a wonderful advancement
of the country in all its other great interests, we may see also equal
progress and success attend the cause of letters.

Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our
fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian
religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They
sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society,
and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil,
political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this
influence still more widely; in the full conviction, that that is the
happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and
peaceful spirit of Christianity.

The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be
passed. Neither we nor our children can expect to behold its return. They
are in the distant regions of futurity, they exist only in the all-
creating power of God, who shall stand here a hundred years hence, to
trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims, and to survey, as we
have now surveyed, the progress of their country, during the lapse of a
century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our sentiments
of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake
the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New England's
advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us
in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude, commencing on the
Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the
Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific seas.

We would leave for the consideration of those who shall then occupy our
places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers
in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good
government, and of civil and religious liberty; some proof of a sincere
and ardent desire to promote every thing which may enlarge the
understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when, from the long
distance of a hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall
know, at least, that we possessed affections, which, running backward and
warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness,
run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation,
ere yet they have arrived on the shore of being.

Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in
your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste
the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have
passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land
of the fathers. We bid you welcome to the healthful skies and the verdant
fields of New England. We greet your accession to the great inheritance
which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of good government
and religious liberty. We welcome you to the treasures of science and the
delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendent sweets of
domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We
welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the
immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting truth!

THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT.

This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling which
the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing with
sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude turned
reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament, proclaim
that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have made a
deep impression on our hearts.

If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to affect the mind
of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us here.
We are among the sepulchres of our fathers. We are on ground,
distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their
blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to
draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had
never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th of
June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history would
have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of
attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans. We
live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we
know that our posterity, through all time, are here to enjoy and suffer
the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of great
events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is
natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of
occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and
settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our
existence which God allows to men on earth.

We do not read even of the discovery of this continent, without feeling
something of a personal interest in the event; without being reminded how
much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It would be
still more unnatural for us, therefore, than for others, to contemplate
with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say that most touching and
pathetic scene, when the great discoverer of America stood on the deck of
his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man
sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet the stronger
billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own troubled thoughts;
extending forward his harassed frame, straining westward his anxious and
eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture and
ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of the unknown world.

Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and therefore
still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the settlement
of our own country by colonists from England. We cherish every memorial of
these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience and fortitude; we
admire their daring enterprise; we teach our children to venerate their
piety; and we are justly proud of being descended from men who have set
the world an example of founding civil institutions on the great and
united principles of human freedom and human knowledge. To us, their
children, the story of their labors and sufferings can never be without
its interest. We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while
the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in another early and
ancient Colony forget the place of its first establishment, till their
river shall cease to flow by it. [1] No vigor of youth, no maturity of
manhood, will lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was
cradled and defended.

But the great event in the history of the continent, which we are now met
here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and
the blessing of the world, is the American Revolution. In a day of
extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honor,
distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our
love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude
for signal services and patriotic devotion.

The Society whose organ I am [2] was formed for the purpose of rearing
some honorable and durable monument to the memory of the early friends of
American Independence. They have thought, that for this object no time
could be more propitious than the present prosperous and peaceful period;
that no place could claim preference over this memorable spot; and that no
day could be more auspicious to the undertaking than the anniversary of
the battle which was here fought. The foundation of that monument we have
now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to
Almighty God for his blessing, and in the midst of this cloud of
witnesses, we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted, and
that, springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity
and unadorned grandeur, it may remain as long as Heaven permits the works
of men to last, a fit emblem, both of the events in memory of which it is
raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.

We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely
deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know, that if we
could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reached the skies,
but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain but part
of that which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread over the
earth, and which history charges itself with making known to all future
times. We know that no inscription on entablatures less broad than the
earth itself can carry information of the events we commemorate where it
has not already gone; and that no structure, which shall not outlive the
duration of letters and knowledge among men, can prolong the memorial. But
our object is, by this edifice, to show our own deep sense of the value
and importance of the achievements of our ancestors; and, by presenting
this work of gratitude to the eye, to keep alive similar sentiments, and
to foster a constant regard for the principles of the Revolution. Human
beings are composed, not of reason only, but of imagination also, and
sentiment; and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated
to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper
springs of feeling in the heart. Let it not be supposed that our object is
to perpetuate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere military
spirit. It is higher, purer, nobler. We consecrate our work to the spirit
of national independence, and we wish that the light of peace may rest
upon it forever. We rear a memorial of our conviction of that unmeasured
benefit which has been conferred on our own land, and of the happy
influences which have been produced, by the same events, on the general
interests of mankind. We come, as Americans, to mark a spot which must
forever be dear to us and our posterity. We wish that whosoever, in all
coming time, shall turn his eye hither, may behold that the place is not
undistinguished where the first great battle of the Revolution was fought.
We wish that this structure may proclaim the magnitude and importance of
that event to every class and every age. We wish that infancy may learn
the purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and that weary and
withered age may behold it, and be solaced by the recollections which it
suggests. We wish that labor may look up here, and be proud, in the midst
of its toil. We wish that, in those days of disaster, which, as they come
upon all nations, must be expected to come upon us also, desponding
patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward, and be assured that the
foundations of our national power are still strong. We wish that this
column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples
dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce, in all minds, a pious
feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally, that the last
object to the sight of him who leaves his native shore, and the first to
gladden his who revisits it, may be something which shall remind him of
the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it rise! let it rise, till
it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild
it, and parting day linger and play on its summit.

We live in a most extraordinary age. Events so various and so important
that they might crowd and distinguish centuries are, in our times,
compressed within the compass of a single life. When has it happened that
history has had so much to record in the same term of years, as since the
17th of June, 1775? Our own Revolution, which, under other circumstances,
might itself have been expected to occasion a war of half a century, has
been achieved; twenty-four sovereign and independent States erected; and a
general government established over them, so safe, so wise, so free, so
practical, that we might well wonder its establishment should have been
accomplished so soon, were it not far the greater wonder that it should
have been established at all. Two or three millions of people have been
augmented to twelve, [3] the great forests of the West prostrated beneath
the arm of successful industry, and the dwellers on the banks of the Ohio
and the Mississippi become the fellow-citizens and neighbors of those who
cultivate the hills of New England. [4] We have a commerce, that leaves no
sea unexplored; navies, which take no law from superior force; revenues,
adequate to all the exigencies of government, almost without taxation; and
peace with all nations, founded on equal rights and mutual respect.

Europe, within the same period, has been agitated by a mighty revolution,
which, while it has been felt in the individual condition and happiness of
almost every man, has shaken to the centre her political fabric, and
dashed against one another thrones which had stood tranquil for ages. On
this, our continent, our own example has been followed, and colonies have
sprung up to be nations. Unaccustomed sounds of liberty and free
government have reached us from beyond the track of the sun; and at this
moment the dominion of European power in this continent, from the place
where we stand to the south pole, is annihilated forever.

In the mean time, both in Europe and America, such has been the general
progress of knowledge, such the improvement in legislation, in commerce,
in the arts, in letters, and, above all, in liberal ideas and the general
spirit of the age, that the whole world seems changed.

Yet, notwithstanding that this is but a faint abstract of the things which
have happened since the day of the battle of Bunker Hill, we are but fifty
years removed from it; and we now stand here to enjoy all the blessings of
our own condition, and to look abroad on the brightened prospects of the
world, while we still have among us some of those who were active agents
in the scenes of 1775, and who are now here, from every quarter of New
England, to visit once more, and under circumstances so affecting, I had
almost said so overwhelming, this renowned theatre of their courage and
patriotism.

VENERABLE MEN! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven
has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this
joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour,
with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife
for your country. Behold, how altered! The same heavens are indeed over
your heads; the same ocean rolls at your feet; but all else, how changed!
You hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you see no mixed volumes of smoke
and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with the
dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and successful
repulse; the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning of all that is
manly to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly
bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in war and death;--
all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no more. All is peace.
The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers and roofs, which you then saw
filled with wives and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and
looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the combat, have
presented you to-day with the sight of its whole happy population, come
out to welcome and greet you with a universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships,
by a felicity of position appropriately lying at the foot of this mount,
and seeming fondly to cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you,
but your country's own means of distinction and defence.[5] All is peace;
and God has granted you the sight of your country's happiness, ere you
slumber in the grave. He has allowed you to behold and to partake the
reward of your patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, your sons and
countrymen, to meet you here, and in the name of the present generation,
in the name of your country, in the name of liberty, to thank you! [6]

But, alas! you are not all here! Time and the sword have thinned your
ranks. Prescott, Putnam, Stark, Brooks, Read, Pomeroy, Bridge! our eyes
seek for you in vain amid this broken band. You are gathered to your
fathers, and live only to your country in her grateful remembrance and
your own bright example. But let us not too much grieve, that you have met
the common fate of men. You lived at least long enough to know that your
work had been nobly and successfully accomplished. You lived to see your
country's independence established, and to sheathe your swords from war.
On the light of Liberty you saw arise the light of Peace, like

  "another morn,
   Risen on mid-noon"; [7]

and the sky on which you closed your eyes was cloudless.

But ah! Him! the first great martyr in this great cause! Him! the
premature victim of his own self-devoting heart! Him! the head of our
civil councils, and the destined leader of our military bands, whom
nothing brought hither but the unquenchable fire of his own spirit! Him!
cut off by Providence in the hour of overwhelming anxiety and thick gloom;
falling ere he saw the star of his country rise; pouring out his generous
blood like water, before he knew whether it would fertilize a land of
freedom or of bondage!--how shall I struggle with the emotions that stifle
the utterance of thy name! Our poor work may perish; but thine shall
endure! [8]

This monument may moulder away; the solid ground it rests upon may sink
down to a level with the sea; but thy memory shall not fail! Wheresoever
among men a heart shall be found that beats to the transports of
patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall be to claim kindred with thy
spirit!

But the scene amidst which we stand does not permit us to confine our
thoughts or our sympathies to those fearless spirits who hazarded or lost
their lives on this consecrated spot. We have the happiness to rejoice
here in the presence of a most worthy representation of the survivors of
the whole Revolutionary army.

Veterans! you are the remnant of many a well-fought field. You bring with
you marks of honor from Trenton and Monmouth, from Yorktown, Camden,
Bennington, and Saratoga. VETERANS OF HALF A CENTURY! when in your
youthful days you put everything at hazard in your country's cause, good
as that cause was, and sanguine as youth is, still your fondest hopes did
not stretch onward to an hour like this! At a period to which you could
not reasonably have expected to arrive, at a moment of national prosperity
such as you could never have foreseen, you are now met here to enjoy the
fellowship of old soldiers, and to receive the overflowings of a universal
gratitude.

But your agitated countenances and your heaving breasts inform me that
even this is not an unmixed joy. I perceive that a tumult of contending
feeling rushes upon you. The images of the dead, as well as the persons of
the living, present themselves before you. The scene overwhelms you and I
turn from it. May the Father of all mercies smile upon your declining
years, and bless them! And when you shall here have exchanged your
embraces, when you shall once more have pressed the hands which have been
so often extended to give succor in adversity, or grasped in the
exultation of victory, then look abroad upon this lovely land which your
young valor defended, and mark the happiness with which it is filled; yea,
look abroad upon the whole earth, and see what a name you have contributed
to give to your country, and what a praise you have added to freedom, and
then rejoice in the sympathy and gratitude which beam upon your last days
from the improved condition of mankind!

The occasion does not require of me any particular account of the battle
of the 17th of June, 1775, nor any detailed narrative of the events which
immediately preceded it. These are familiarly known to all. In the
progress of the great and interesting controversy, Massachusetts and the
town of Boston had become early and marked objects of the displeasure of
the British Parliament. This had been manifested in the act for altering
the government of the Province, and in that for shutting up the port of
Boston. Nothing sheds more honor on our early history, and nothing better
shows how little the feelings and sentiments of the Colonies were known or
regarded in England, than the impression which these measures everywhere
produced in America. [9] It had been anticipated, that, while the Colonies
in general would be terrified by the severity of the punishment inflicted
on Massachusetts, the other seaports would be governed by a mere spirit of
gain; and that, as Boston was now cut off from all commerce, the
unexpected advantage which this blow on her was calculated to confer on
other towns would be greedily enjoyed. How miserably such reasoners
deceived themselves! How little they knew of the depth, and the strength,
and the intenseness of that feeling of resistance to illegal acts of
power, which possessed the whole American people! Everywhere the unworthy
boon was rejected with scorn. The fortunate occasion was seized
everywhere, to show to the whole world that the Colonies were swayed by no
local interest, no partial interest, no selfish interest. The temptation
to profit by the punishment of Boston was strongest to our neighbors of
Salem. Yet Salem was precisely the place where this miserable proffer was
spurned, in a tone of the most lofty self-respect and the most indignant
patriotism. "We are deeply affected," said its inhabitants, "with the
sense of our public calamities; but the miseries that are now rapidly
hastening on our brethren in the capital of the Province greatly excite
our commiseration. By shutting up the port of Boston, some imagine that
the course of trade might be turned hither and to our benefit; but we must
be dead to every idea of justice, lost to all feelings of humanity, could
we indulge a thought to seize on wealth and raise our fortunes on the ruin
of our suffering neighbors." These noble sentiments were not confined to
our immediate vicinity. In that day of general affection and brotherhood,
the blow given to Boston smote on every patriotic heart from one end of
the country to the other. Virginia and the Carolinas, as well as
Connecticut and New Hampshire, felt and proclaimed the cause to be their
own. The Continental Congress, then holding its first session in
Philadelphia, expressed its sympathy for the suffering inhabitants of
Boston, and addresses were received from all quarters, assuring them that
the cause was a common one, and should be met by common efforts and common
sacrifices. The Congress of Massachusetts responded to these assurances;
and in an address to the Congress at Philadelphia, bearing the official
signature, perhaps among the last, of the immortal Warren, notwithstanding
the severity of its suffering and the magnitude of the dangers which
threatened it, it was declared, that this Colony "is ready, at all times,
to spend and to be spent in the cause of America."

But the hour drew nigh which was to put professions to the proof, and to
determine whether the authors of these mutual pledges were ready to seal
them in blood. The tidings of Lexington and Concord had no sooner spread,
than it was universally felt that the time was at last come for action. A
spirit pervaded all ranks, not transient, not boisterous, but deep,
solemn, determined,

  "totamque infusa per artus
   Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet." [10]

War, on their own soil and at their own doors, was, indeed, a strange work
to the yeomanry of New England; but their consciences were convinced of
its necessity, their country called them to it, and they did not withhold
themselves from the perilous trial. The ordinary occupations of life were
abandoned; the plough was staid in the unfinished furrow; wives gave up
their husbands, and mothers gave up their sons, to the battles of a civil
war. Death might come, in honor, on the field; it might come, in disgrace,
on the scaffold. For either and for both they were prepared. The sentiment
of Quincy was full in their hearts. "Blandishments," said that
distinguished son of genius and patriotism, "will not fascinate us, nor
will threats of a halter intimidate; for, under God, we are determined
that, wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our
exit, we will die free men."

The 17th of June saw the four New England Colonies standing here, side by
side, to triumph or to fall together; and there was with them from that
moment to the end of the war, what I hope will remain with them forever:
one cause, one country, one heart.

The battle of Bunker Hill was attended with the most important effects
beyond its immediate results as a military engagement. It created at once
a state of open, public war. There could now be no longer a question of
proceeding against individuals, as guilty of treason or rebellion. That
fearful crisis was past. The appeal lay to the sword, and the only
question was, whether the spirit and the resources of the people would
hold out, till the object should be accomplished. Nor were its general
consequences confined to our own country. The previous proceedings of the
Colonies, their appeals, resolutions, and addresses, had made their cause
known to Europe. Without boasting, we may say, that in no age or country
has the public cause been maintained with more force of argument, more
power of illustration, or more of that persuasion which excited feeling
and elevated principle can alone bestow, than the Revolutionary state
papers exhibit. These papers will forever deserve to be studied, not only
for the spirit which they breathe, but for the ability with which they
were written. [11]

To this able vindication of their cause, the Colonies had now added a
practical and severe proof of their own true devotion to it, and given
evidence also of the power which they could bring to its support. All now
saw, that if America fell, she would not fall without a struggle. Men felt
sympathy and regard, as well as surprise, when they beheld these infant
states, remote, unknown, unaided, encounter the power of England, and, in
the first considerable battle, leave more of their enemies dead on the
field, in proportion to the number of combatants, than had been recently
known to fall in the wars of Europe.

Information of these events, circulating throughout the world, at length
reached the ears of one who now hears me.[12]

He has not forgotten the emotion which the fame of Bunker Hill, and the
name of Warren, excited in his youthful breast.

Sir, we are assembled to commemorate the establishment of great public
principles of liberty, and to do honor to the distinguished dead. The
occasion is too severe for eulogy of the living. But, Sir, your
interesting relation to this country, the peculiar circumstances which
surround you and surround us, call on me to express the happiness which we
derive from your presence and aid in this solemn commemoration.

Fortunate, fortunate man! with what measure of devotion will you not thank
God for the circumstances of your extraordinary life! You are connected
with both hemispheres and with two generations. Heaven saw fit to ordain,
that the electric spark of liberty should be conducted, through you, from
the New World to the Old; and we, who are now here to perform this duty of
patriotism, have all of us long ago received it in charge from our fathers
to cherish your name and your virtues. You will account it an instance of
your good fortune, Sir, that you crossed the seas to visit us at a time
which enables you to be present at this solemnity. You now behold the
field, the renown of which reached you in the heart of France, and caused
a thrill in your ardent bosom. You see the lines of the little redoubt
thrown up by the incredible diligence of Prescott; defended, to the last
extremity, by his lion-hearted valor; and within which the corner-stone of
our monument has now taken its position. You see where Warren fell, and
where Parker, Gardner, McCleary, Moore, and other early patriots, fell
with him. Those who survived that day, and whose lives have been prolonged
to the present hour, are now around you. Some of them you have known in
the trying scenes of the war. Behold! they now stretch forth their feeble
arms to embrace you. Behold! they raise their trembling voices to invoke
the blessing of God on you and yours forever!

Sir, you have assisted us in laying the foundation of this structure. You
have heard us rehearse, with our feeble commendation, the names of
departed patriots. Monuments and eulogy belong to the dead. We give them
this day to Warren and his associates. On other occasions they have been
given to your more immediate companions in arms, to Washington, to Greene,
to Gates, to Sullivan, and to Lincoln. We have become reluctant to grant
these, our highest and last honors, further. We would gladly hold them yet
back from the little remnant of that immortal band. _Serus in coelum
redeas_. Illustrious as are your merits, yet far, O very far distant be
the day, when any inscription shall bear your name, or any tongue
pronounce its eulogy!

The leading reflection to which this occasion seems to invite us, respects
the great changes which have happened in the fifty years since the battle
of Bunker Hill was fought. And it peculiarly marks the character of the
present age, that, in looking at these changes, and in estimating their
effect on our condition, we are obliged to consider, not what has been
done in our own country only, but in others also. In these interesting
times, while nations are making separate and individual advances in
improvement, they make, too, a common progress; like vessels on a common
tide, propelled by the gales at different rates, according to their
several structure and management, but all moved forward by one mighty
current, strong enough to bear onward whatever does not sink beneath it.

A chief distinction of the present day is a community of opinions and
knowledge amongst men in different nations, existing in a degree
heretofore unknown. Knowledge has, in our time, triumphed, and is
triumphing, over distance, over difference of languages, over diversity of
habits, over prejudice, and over bigotry. The civilized and Christian
world is fast learning the great lesson, that difference of nation does
not imply necessary hostility, and that all contact need not be war. The
whole world is becoming a common field for intellect to act in. Energy of
mind, genius, power, wheresoever it exists, may speak out in any tongue,
and the _world_ will hear it. A great cord of sentiment and feeling
runs through two continents, and vibrates over both. Every breeze wafts
intelligence from country to country; every wave rolls it; all give it
forth, and all in turn receive it. There is a vast commerce of ideas;
there are marts and exchanges for intellectual discoveries, and a
wonderful fellowship of those individual intelligences which make up the
mind and opinion of the age. Mind is the great lever of all things; human
thought is the process by which human ends are ultimately answered; and
the diffusion of knowledge, so astonishing in the last half-century, has
rendered innumerable minds, variously gifted by nature, competent to be
competitors or fellow-workers on the theatre of intellectual operation.

From these causes important improvements have taken place in the personal
condition of individuals. Generally speaking, mankind are not only better
fed and better clothed, but they are able also to enjoy more leisure; they
possess more refinement and more self-respect. A superior tone of
education, manners, and habits prevails. This remark, most true in its
application to our own country, is also partly true when applied
elsewhere. It is proved by the vastly augmented consumption of those
articles of manufacture and of commerce which contribute to the comforts
and the decencies of life; an augmentation which has far outrun the
progress of population. And while the unexampled and almost incredible use
of machinery would seem to supply the place of labor, labor still finds
its occupation and its reward; so wisely has Providence adjusted men's
wants and desires to their condition and their capacity.

Any adequate survey, however, of the progress made during the last half-
century in the polite and the mechanic arts, in machinery and
manufactures, in commerce and agriculture, in letters and in science,
would require volumes. I must abstain wholly from these subjects, and turn
for a moment to the contemplation of what has been done on the great
question of politics and government. This is the master topic of the age;
and during the whole fifty years it has intensely occupied the thoughts of
men. The nature of civil government, its ends and uses, have been
canvassed and investigated; ancient opinions attacked and defended; new
ideas recommended and resisted, by whatever power the mind of man could
bring to the controversy. From the closet and the public halls the debate
has been transferred to the field; and the world has been shaken by wars
of unexampled magnitude, and the greatest variety of fortune. A day of
peace has at length succeeded; and now that the strife has subsided, and
the smoke cleared away, we may begin to see what has actually been done,
permanently changing the state and condition of human society. And,
without dwelling on particular circumstances, it is most apparent, that,
from the before-mentioned causes of augmented knowledge and improved
individual condition, a real, substantial, and important change has taken
place, and is taking place, highly favorable, on the whole, to human
liberty and human happiness.

The great wheel of political revolution began to move in America. Here its
rotation was guarded, regular, and safe. Transferred to the other
continent, from unfortunate but natural causes, it received an irregular
and violent impulse; it whirled along with a fearful celerity; till at
length, like the chariot-wheels in the races of antiquity, it took fire
from the rapidity of its own motion, and blazed onward, spreading
conflagration and terror around.

We learn from the result of this experiment, how fortunate was our own
condition, and how admirably the character of our people was calculated
for setting the great example of popular governments. The possession of
power did not turn the heads of the American people, for they had long
been in the habit of exercising a great degree of self-control. Although
the paramount authority of the parent state existed over them, yet a large
field of legislation had always been open to our Colonial assemblies. They
were accustomed to representative bodies and the forms of free government;
they understood the doctrine of the division of power among different
branches, and the necessity of checks on each. The character of our
countrymen, moreover, was sober, moral, and religious; and there was
little in the change to shock their feelings of justice and humanity, or
even to disturb an honest prejudice. We had no domestic throne to
overturn, no privileged orders to cast down, no violent changes of
property to encounter. In the American Revolution, no man sought or wished
for more than to defend and enjoy his own. None hoped for plunder or for
spoil. Rapacity was unknown to it; the axe was not among the instruments
of its accomplishment; and we all know that it could not have lived a
single day under any well-founded imputation of possessing a tendency
adverse to the Christian religion.

It need not surprise us, that, under circumstances less auspicious,
political revolutions elsewhere, even when well intended, have terminated
differently. It is, indeed, a great achievement, it is the master-work of
the world, to establish governments entirely popular on lasting
foundations; nor is it easy, indeed, to introduce the popular principle at
all into governments to which it has been altogether a stranger. It cannot
be doubted, however, that Europe has come out of the contest, in which she
has been so long engaged, with greatly superior knowledge, and, in many
respects, in a highly improved condition. Whatever benefit has been
acquired is likely to be retained, for it consists mainly in the
acquisition of more enlightened ideas. And although kingdoms and provinces
may be wrested from the hands that hold them, in the same manner they were
obtained; although ordinary and vulgar power may, in human affairs, be
lost as it has been won; yet it is the glorious prerogative of the empire
of knowledge, that what it gains it never loses. On the contrary, it
increases by the multiple of its own power; all its ends become means; all
its attainments, helps to new conquests. Its whole abundant harvest is but
so much seed wheat, and nothing has limited, and nothing can limit, the
amount of ultimate product.

Under the influence of this rapidly increasing knowledge, the people have
begun, in forms of government, to think and to reason, on affairs of
state. Regarding government as an institution for the public good, they
demand a knowledge of its operations, and a participation in its exercise.
A call for the representative system, wherever it is not enjoyed, and
where there is already intelligence enough to estimate its value, is
perseveringly made. Where men may speak out, they demand it; where the
bayonet is at their throats, they pray for it.

When Louis the Fourteenth said: "I am the state," he expressed the essence
of the doctrine of unlimited power. By the rules of that system, the
people are disconnected from the state; they are its subjects; it is their
lord. These ideas, founded in the love of power, and long supported by the
excess and the abuse of it, are yielding, in our age, to other opinions;
and the civilized world seems at last to be proceeding to the conviction
of that fundamental and manifest truth, that the powers of government are
but a trust, and that they cannot be lawfully exercised but for the good
of the community. As knowledge is more and more extended, this conviction
becomes more and more general. Knowledge, in truth, is the great sun in
the firmament. Life and power are scattered with all its beams. The prayer
of the Grecian champion, when enveloped in unnatural clouds and darkness,
is the appropriate political supplication for the people of every country
not yet blessed with free institutions:--

  "Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore,
   Give me TO SEE,--and Ajax asks no more." [13]

We may hope that the glowing influence of enlightened sentiment will
promote the permanent peace of the world. Wars to maintain family
alliances, to uphold or to cast down dynasties, and to regulate
successions to thrones, which have occupied so much room in the history of
modern times, if not less likely to happen at all, will be less likely to
become general and involve many nations, as the great principle shall be
more and more established, that the interest of the world is peace, and
its first great statute, that every nation possesses the power of
establishing a government for itself. But public opinion has attained also
an influence over governments which do not admit the popular principle
into their organization. A necessary respect for the judgment of the world
operates, in some measure, as a control over the most unlimited forms of
authority. It is owing, perhaps, to this truth, that the interesting
struggle of the Greeks has been suffered to go on so long, without a
direct interference, either to wrest that country from its present
masters, or to execute the system of pacification by force, and, with
united strength, lay the neck of Christian and civilized Greek at the foot
of the barbarian Turk. [14] Let us thank God that we live in an age when
something has influence besides the bayonet, and when the sternest
authority does not venture to encounter the scorching power of public
reproach. Any attempt of the kind I have mentioned should be met by one
universal burst of indignation; the air of the civilized world ought to be
made too warm to be comfortably breathed by any one who would hazard it.

It is, indeed, a touching reflection, that, while, in the fulness of our
country's happiness, we rear this monument to her honor, we look for
instruction in our undertaking to a country which is now in fearful
contest, not for works of art or memorials of glory, but for her own
existence. Let her be assured that she is not forgotten in the world; that
her efforts are applauded, and that constant prayers ascend for her
success. And let us cherish a confident hope for her final triumph. If the
true spark of religious and civil liberty be kindled, it will burn. Human
agency cannot extinguish it. Like the earth's central fire, it may be
smothered for a time; the ocean may overwhelm it; mountains may press it
down; but its inherent and unconquerable force will heave both the ocean
and the land, and at some time or other, in some place or other, the
volcano will break out and flame up to heaven.

Among the great events of the half-century, we must reckon, certainly, the
revolution of South America; and we are not likely to overrate the
importance of that revolution, either to the people of the country itself
or to the rest of the world. The late Spanish colonies, now independent
states, under circumstances less favorable, doubtless, than attended our
own revolution, have yet successfully commenced their national existence.
They have accomplished the great object of establishing their
independence; they are known and acknowledged in the world; and although
in regard to their systems of government, their sentiments on religious
toleration, and their provisions for public instruction, they may have yet
much to learn, it must be admitted that they have risen to the condition
of settled and established states more rapidly than could have been
reasonably anticipated. They already furnish an exhilarating example of
the difference between free governments and despotic misrule. Their
commerce, at this moment, creates a new activity in all the great marts of
the world. They show themselves able, by an exchange of commodities, to
bear a useful part in the intercourse of nations.

A new spirit of enterprise and industry begins to prevail; all the great
interests of society receive a salutary impulse; and the progress of
information not only testifies to an improved condition, but itself
constitutes the highest and most essential improvement.

When the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought, the existence of South America
was scarcely felt in the civilized world. The thirteen little Colonies of
North America habitually called themselves the "Continent." Borne down by
colonial subjugation, monopoly, and bigotry, these vast regions of the
South were hardly visible above the horizon. But in our day there has
been, as it were, a new creation. The southern hemisphere emerges from the
sea. Its lofty mountains begin to lift themselves into the light of
heaven; its broad and fertile plains stretch out, in beauty, to the eye of
civilized man, and at the mighty bidding of the voice of political liberty
the waters of darkness retire.

And now, let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of the
benefit which the example of our country has produced, and is likely to
produce, on human freedom and human happiness. Let us endeavor to
comprehend in all its magnitude, and to feel in all its importance, the
part assigned to us in the great drama of human affairs. We are placed at
the head of the system of representative and popular governments. Thus far
our example shows that such governments are compatible, not only with
respectability and power, but with repose, with peace, with security of
personal rights, with good laws, and a just administration.

We are not propagandists. Wherever other systems are preferred, either as
being thought better in themselves, or as better suited to existing
condition, we leave the preference to be enjoyed. Our history hitherto
proves, however, that the popular form is practicable, and that with
wisdom and knowledge men may govern themselves; and the duty incumbent on
us is, to preserve the consistency of this cheering example, and take care
that nothing may weaken its authority with the world. If, in our case, the
representative system ultimately fail, popular governments must be
pronounced impossible. No combination of circumstances more favorable to
the experiment can ever be expected to occur. The last hopes of mankind,
therefore, rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed, that our example
had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular
liberty would be sounded throughout the earth.

These are excitements to duty; but they are not suggestions of doubt. Our
history and our condition, all that is gone before us, and all that
surrounds us, authorize the belief, that popular governments, though
subject to occasional variations, in form perhaps not always for the
better, may yet, in their general character, be as durable and permanent
as other systems. We know, indeed, that in our country any other is
impossible. The _principle_ of free governments adheres to the
American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains.

And let the sacred obligations which have devolved on this generation, and
on us, sink deep into our hearts. Those who established our liberty and
our government are daily dropping from among us. The great trust now
descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to that which is presented
to us, as our appropriate object. We can win no laurels in a war for
independence. Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are
there places for us by the side of Solon, and Alfred, and other founders
of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great
duty of defence and preservation; and there is opened to us, also, a noble
pursuit, to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us. Our proper
business is improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement. In a day
of peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us
develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its
institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in
our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.
Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing the great
objects which our condition points out to us, let us act under a settled
conviction, and an habitual feeling, that these twenty-four States are one
country. Let our conceptions be enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let
us extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field in which we are
called to act. Let our object be, OUR COUNTRY, OUR WHOLE COUNTRY, AND
NOTHING BUT OUR COUNTRY. And, by the blessing of God, may that country
itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror,
but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze
with admiration forever!




The Reply to Hayne.



Mr. President,--When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick
weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first
pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude,
and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his true course.
Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther on the waves of
this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at
least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for the reading of the
resolution before the Senate. [1]

The Secretary read the resolution, as follows:--

"Resolved, That the Committee on Public Lands be instructed to inquire and
report the quantity of public lands remaining unsold within each State and
Territory, and whether it be expedient to limit for a certain period the
sales of the public lands to such lands only as have heretofore been
offered for sale, and are now subject to entry at the minimum price. And,
also, whether the office of Surveyor-General, and some of the land
offices, may not be abolished without detriment to the public interest; or
whether it be expedient to adopt measures to hasten the sales and extend
more rapidly the surveys of the public lands."

We have thus heard, Sir, what the resolution is which is actually before
us for consideration; and it will readily occur to every one, that it is
almost the only subject about which something has not been said in the
speech, running through two days, by which the Senate has been entertained
by the gentleman from South Carolina. Every topic in the wide range of our
public affairs, whether past or present,--every thing, general or local,
whether belonging to national politics or party politics,--seems to have
attracted more or less of the honorable member's attention, save only the
resolution before the Senate. He has spoken of every thing but the public
lands; they have escaped his notice. To that subject, in all his
excursions, he has not paid even the cold respect of a passing glance.

When this debate, Sir, was to be resumed, on Thursday morning, it so
happened that it would have been convenient for me to be elsewhere. The
honorable member, however, did not incline to put off the discussion to
another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and he wished to discharge
it. That shot, Sir, which he thus kindly informed us was coming, that we
might stand out of the way, or prepare ourselves to fall by it and die
with decency, has now been received. Under all advantages, and with
expectation awakened by the tone which preceded it, it has been
discharged, and has spent its force. It may become me to say no more of
its effect, than that, if nobody is found, after all, either killed or
wounded, it is not the first time, in the history of human affairs, that
the vigor and success of the war have not quite come up to the lofty and
sounding phrase of the manifesto. [2]

The gentleman, Sir, in declining to postpone the debate, told the Senate,
with the emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that there was something
rankling _here_, which he wished to relieve. [Mr. Hayne rose, and
disclaimed having used the word _rankling_.] It would not, Mr.
President, be safe for the honorable member to appeal to those around him,
upon the question whether he did in fact make use of that word. But he may
have been unconscious of it. At any rate, it is enough that he disclaims
it. But still, with or without the use of that particular word, he had yet
something _here_, he said, of which he wished to rid himself by an
immediate reply. In this respect, Sir, I have a great advantage over the
honorable gentleman. There is nothing _here_, Sir, which gives me the
slightest uneasiness; neither fear, nor anger, nor that which is sometimes
more troublesome than either, the consciousness of having been in the
wrong. There is nothing, either originating _here_, or now received
_here_ by the gentleman's shot. Nothing originating here, for I had
not the slightest feeling of unkindness towards the honorable member. Some
passages, it is true, had occurred since our acquaintance in this body,
which I could have wished might have been otherwise; but I had used
philosophy and forgotten them. I paid the honorable member the attention
of listening with respect to his first speech; and when he sat down,
though surprised, and I must even say astonished, at some of his opinions,
nothing was farther from my intention than to commence any personal
warfare. Through the whole of the few remarks I made in answer, I avoided,
studiously and carefully, every thing which I thought possible to be
construed into disrespect. And, Sir, while there is thus nothing
originating _here_ which I have wished at any time, or now wish, to
discharge, I must repeat, also, that nothing has been received _here_
which _rankles_, or in any way gives me annoyance. I will not accuse
the honorable member of violating the rules of civilized war; I will not
say, that he poisoned his arrows. But whether his shafts were, or were
not, dipped in that which would have caused rankling if they had reached
their destination, there was not, as it happened, quite strength enough in
the bow to bring them to their mark. If he wishes now to gather up those
shafts, he must look for them elsewhere; they will not be found fixed and
quivering in the object at which they were aimed. [3]

The honorable member complained that I had slept on his speech. I must
have slept on it, or not slept at all. The moment the honorable member sat
down, his friend from Missouri rose, [4] and, with much honeyed
commendation of the speech, suggested that the impressions which it had
produced were too charming and delightful to be disturbed by other
sentiments or other sounds, and proposed that the Senate should adjourn.
Would it have been quite amiable in me, Sir, to interrupt this excellent
good feeling? Must I not have been absolutely malicious, is; I could have
thrust myself forward, to destroy sensations thus pleasing? Was it not
much better and kinder, both to sleep upon them myself, and to allow
others also the pleasure of sleeping upon them? But if it be meant, by
sleeping upon his speech, that I took time to prepare a reply to it, it is
quite a mistake. Owing to other engagements, I could not employ even the
interval between the adjournment of the Senate and its meeting the next
morning, in attention to the subject of this debate. [5] Nevertheless,
Sir, the mere matter of fact is undoubtedly true. I did sleep on the
gentleman's speech, and slept soundly. And I slept equally well on his
speech of yesterday, to which I am now replying. It is quite possible that
in this respect, also, I possess some advantage over the honorable member,
attributable, doubtless, to a cooler temperament on my part; for, in
truth, I slept upon his speeches remarkably well.

But the gentleman inquires why _he_ was made the object of such a
reply. Why was _he_ singled out? If an attack has been made on the
East, he, he assures us, did not begin it; it was made by the gentleman
from Missouri. Sir, I answered the gentleman's speech because I happened
to hear it; and because, also, I chose to give an answer to that speech,
which, if unanswered, I thought most likely to produce injurious
impressions. I did not stop to inquire who was the original drawer of the
bill. I found a responsible indorser before me, and it was my purpose to
hold him liable, and to bring him to his just responsibility, without
delay. But, Sir, this interrogatory of the honorable member was only
introductory to another. He proceeded to ask me whether I had turned upon
him, in this debate, from the consciousness that I should find an
overmatch, if I ventured on a contest with his friend from Missouri. If,
Sir, the honorable member, _modestiae gratia_, had chosen thus to
defer to his friend, and to pay him a compliment, without intentional
disparagement to others, it would have been quite according to the
friendly courtesies of debate, and not at all ungrateful to my own
feelings. I am not one of those, Sir, who esteem any tribute of regard,
whether light and occasional, or more serious and deliberate, which may be
bestowed on others, as so much unjustly withholden from themselves. But
the tone and manner of the gentleman's question forbid me thus to
interpret it. I am not at liberty to consider it as nothing more than a
civility to his friend. It had an air of taunt and disparagement,
something of the loftiness of asserted superiority, which does not allow
me to pass it over without notice. It was put as a question for me to
answer, and so put as if it were difficult for me to answer, whether I
deemed the member from Missouri an overmatch for myself in debate here. It
seems to me, Sir, that this is extraordinary language, and an
extraordinary tone, for the discussions of this body.

Matches and overmatches! Those terms are more applicable elsewhere than
here, and fitter for other assemblies than this. Sir, the gentleman seems
to forget where and what we are. This is a Senate, a Senate of equals, of
men of individual honor and personal character, and of absolute
independence. We know no masters, we acknowledge no dictators. This is a
hall for mutual consultation and discussion; not an arena for the
exhibition of champions. I offer myself, Sir, as a match for no man; I
throw the challenge of debate at no man's feet. But then, Sir, since the
honorable member has put the question in a manner that calls for an
answer, I will give him an answer; and I tell him, that, holding myself to
be the humblest of the members here, I yet know nothing in the arm of his
friend from Missouri, either alone or when aided by the arm of _his_
friend from South Carolina, that need deter even me from espousing
whatever opinions I may choose to espouse, from debating whenever I may
choose to debate, or from speaking whatever I may see fit to say, on the
floor of the Senate. Sir, when uttered as matter of commendation or
compliment, I should dissent from nothing which the honorable member might
say of his friend. Still less do I put forth any pretensions of my own.
But when put to me as matter of taunt, I throw it back, and say to the
gentleman, that he could possibly say nothing less [6] likely than such a
comparison to wound my pride of personal character. The anger of its tone
rescued the remark from intentional irony, which otherwise, probably,
would have been its general acceptation. But, Sir, if it be imagined that
by this mutual quotation and commendation; if it be supposed that, by
casting the characters of the drama, assigning to each his part, to one
the attack, to another the cry of onset; or if it be thought that, by a
loud and empty vaunt of anticipated victory, any laurels are to be won
here; if it be imagined, especially, that any or all these things will
shake any purpose of mine,--I can tell the honorable member, once for all,
that he is greatly mistaken, and that he is dealing with one of whose
temper and character he has yet much to learn. Sir, I shall not allow
myself, on this occasion, I hope on no occasion, to be betrayed into any
loss of temper; but if provoked, as I trust I never shall be, into
crimination and recrimination, the honorable member may perhaps find,
that, in that contest, there will be blows to take as well as blows to
give; that others can state comparisons as significant, at least, as his
own, and that his impunity may possibly demand of him whatever powers of
taunt and sarcasm he may possess. I commend him to a prudent husbandry of
his resources.

But, Sir, the Coalition! [7] The Coalition! Ay, "the murdered Coalition!"
The gentleman asks, if I were led or frighted into this debate by the
spectre of the Coalition. "Was it the ghost of the murdered Coalition," he
exclaims, "which haunted the member from Massachusetts; and which, like
the ghost of Banquo, would never down?"

"The murdered Coalition!" Sir, this charge of a coalition, in reference to
the late administration, is not original with the honorable member. It did
not spring up in the Senate. Whether as a fact, as an argument, or as an
embellishment, it is all borrowed. He adopts it, indeed, from a very low
origin, and a still lower present condition. It is one of the thousand
calumnies with which the press teemed, during an excited political
canvass. It was a charge, of which there was not only no proof or
probability, but which was in itself wholly impossible to be true. No man
of common information ever believed a syllable of it. Yet it was of that
class of falsehoods, which, by continued repetition, through all the
organs of detraction and abuse, are capable of misleading those who are
already far misled, and of further fanning passion already kindling into
flame. Doubtless it served in its day, and in greater or less degree, the
end designed by it. Having done that, it has sunk into the general mass of
stale and loathed calumnies. It is the very cast-off slough of a polluted
and shameless press. Incapable of further mischief, it lies in the sewer,
lifeless and despised. It is not now, Sir, in the power of the honorable
member to give it dignity or decency, by attempting to elevate it, and to
introduce it into the Senate. He cannot change it from what it is, an
object of general disgust and scorn. On the contrary, the contact, if he
choose to touch it, is more likely to drag him down, down, to the place
where it lies itself.

But, Sir, the honorable member was not, for other reasons, entirely happy
in his allusion to the story of Banquo's murder and Banquo's ghost. It was
not, I think, the friends, but the enemies of the murdered Banquo, at
whose bidding his spirit would not _down_. The honorable gentleman is
fresh in his reading of the English classics, and can put me right if I am
wrong; but, according to my poor recollection, it was at those who had
begun with caresses and ended with foul and treacherous murder that the
gory locks were shaken. The ghost of Banquo, like that of Hamlet, was an
honest ghost. It disturbed no innocent man. It knew where its appearance
would strike terror, and who would cry out, A ghost! It made itself
visible in the right quarter, and compelled the guilty and the conscience-
smitten, and none others, to start, with,

  "Pr'ythee, see there! behold!--look! lo,
   If I stand here, I saw him!"

Their eyeballs were seared (was it not so, Sir?) who had thought to shield
themselves by concealing their own hand, and laying the imputation of the
crime on a low and hireling agency in wickedness; who had vainly attempted
to stifle the workings of their own coward consciences by ejaculating
through white lips and chattering teeth, "Thou canst not say I did it!" I
have misread the great poet if those who had no way partaken in the deed
of the death, either found that they were, or _feared that they should
be_, pushed from their stools by the ghost of the slain, or exclaimed
to a spectre created by their own fears and their own remorse, "Avaunt!
and quit our sight!"

There is another particular, Sir, in which the honorable member's quick
perception of resemblances might, I should think, have seen something in
the story of Banquo, making it not altogether a subject of the most
pleasant contemplation. Those who murdered Banquo, what did they win by
it? Substantial good? Permanent power? Or disappointment, rather, and sore
mortification,--dust and ashes, the common fate of vaulting ambition
overleaping itself? Did not even-handed justice erelong commend the
poisoned chalice to their own lips? Did they not soon find that for
another they had "filed their mind"? that their ambition, though
apparently for the moment successful, had but put a barren sceptre in
their grasp? [8] Ay, Sir,

  "a barren sceptre in their gripe,
   _Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
   No son of theirs succeeding_."

Sir, I need pursue the allusion no farther. I leave the honorable
gentleman to run it out at his leisure, and to derive from it all the
gratification it is calculated to administer. If he finds himself pleased
with the associations, and prepared to be quite satisfied, though the
parallel should be entirely completed, I had almost said, I am satisfied
also; but that I shall think of. Yes, Sir, I will think of that.

In the course of my observations the other day, Mr. President, I paid a
passing tribute of respect to a very worthy man, Mr. Dane of
Massachusetts. It so happened that he drew the Ordinance of 1787, for the
government of the Northwestern Territory. A man of so much ability, and so
little pretence; of so great a capacity to do good, and so unmixed a
disposition to do it for its own sake; a gentleman who had acted an
important part, forty years ago, in a measure the influence of which is
still deeply felt in the very matter which was the subject of debate,--
might, I thought, receive from me a commendatory recognition. But the
honorable member was inclined to be facetious on the subject. He was
rather disposed to make it matter of ridicule, that I had introduced into
the debate the name of one Nathan Dane, of whom he assures us he had never
before heard. Sir, if the honorable member had never before heard of Mr.
Dane, I am sorry for it. It shows him less acquainted with the public men
of the country than I had supposed. Let me tell him, however, that a sneer
from him at the mention of the name of Mr. Dane is in bad taste. It may
well be a high mark of ambition, Sir, either with the honorable gentleman
or myself, to accomplish as much to make our names known to advantage, and
remembered with gratitude, as Mr. Dane has accomplished. But the truth is,
Sir, I suspect, that Mr. Dane lives a little too far north. He is of
Massachusetts, and too near the north star to be reached by the honorable
gentleman's telescope. If his sphere had happened to range south of Mason
and Dixon's line, he might, probably, have come within the scope of his
vision.

I spoke, Sir, of the Ordinance of 1787, which prohibits slavery, in all
future times, northwest of the Ohio, as a measure of great wisdom and
foresight, and one which had been attended with highly beneficial and
permanent consequences. I supposed that, on this point, no two gentlemen
in the Senate could entertain different opinions. But the simple
expression of this sentiment has led the gentleman, not only into a
labored defence of slavery, in the abstract, and on principle, but also
into a warm accusation against me, as having attacked the system of
domestic slavery now existing in the Southern States. For all this, there
was not the slightest foundation, in anything said or intimated by me. I
did not utter a single word which any ingenuity could torture into an
attack on the slavery of the South. I said, only, that it was highly wise
and useful, in legislating for the Northwestern country while it was yet a
wilderness, to prohibit the introduction of slaves; and I added, that I
presumed there was no reflecting and intelligent person, in the
neighboring State of Kentucky, who would doubt that, if the same
prohibition had been extended, at the same early period, over that
commonwealth, her strength and population would, at this day, have been
far greater than they are. If these opinions be thought doubtful, they are
nevertheless, I trust, neither extraordinary nor disrespectful. They
attack nobody and menace nobody. And yet, Sir, the gentleman's optics have
discovered, even in the mere expression of this sentiment, what he calls
the very spirit of the Missouri question! [9] He represents me as making
an onset on the whole South, and manifesting a spirit which would
interfere with, and disturb, their domestic condition!

Sir, this injustice no otherwise surprises me, than as it is committed
here, and committed without the slightest pretence of ground for it. I say
it only surprises me as being done here; for I know full well, that it is,
and has been, the settled policy of some persons in the South, for years,
to represent the people of the North as disposed to interfere with them in
their own exclusive and peculiar concerns. This is a delicate and
sensitive point in Southern feeling; and of late years it has always been
touched, and generally with effect, whenever the object has been to unite
the whole South against Northern men or Northern measures. This feeling,
always carefully kept alive, and maintained at too intense a heat to admit
discrimination or reflection, is a lever of great power in our political
machine. It moves vast bodies, and gives to them one and the same
direction. But it is without adequate cause, and the suspicion which
exists is wholly groundless. There is not, and never has been, a
disposition in the North to interfere with these interests of the South.
Such interference has never been supposed to be within the power of
government; nor has it been in any way attempted. The slavery of the South
has always been regarded as a matter of domestic policy, left with the
States themselves, and with which the Federal government had nothing to
do. Certainly, Sir, I am, and ever have been, of that opinion. The
gentleman, indeed, argues that slavery, in the abstract, is no evil. Most
assuredly I need not say I differ with him, altogether and most widely, on
that point. I regard domestic slavery as one of the greatest evils, both
moral and political. But whether it be a malady, and whether it be
curable, and if so, by what means; or, on the other hand, whether it be
the _vulnus immedicabile_ of the social system, I leave it to those
whose right and duty it is to inquire and to decide. And this I believe,
Sir, is, and uniformly has been, the sentiment of the North.

When it became necessary, or was thought so, by some political persons, to
find an unvarying ground for the exclusion of Northern men from confidence
and from lead in the affairs of the republic, then, and not till then, the
cry was raised, and the feeling industriously excited, that the influence
of Northern men in the public counsels would endanger the relation of
master and slave. For myself, I claim no other merit than that this gross
and enormous injustice towards the whole North has not wrought upon me to
change my opinions or my political conduct. I hope I am above violating my
principles, even under the smart of injury and false imputations. Unjust
suspicions and undeserved reproach, whatever pain I may experience from
them, will not induce me, I trust, to overstep the limits of
constitutional duty, or to encroach on the rights of others. The domestic
slavery of the Southern States I leave where I find it,--in the hands of
their own governments. It is their affair, not mine. Nor do I complain of
the peculiar effect which the magnitude of that population has had in the
distribution of power under this Federal government. We know, Sir, that
the representation of the States in the other house is not equal. We know
that great advantage in that respect is enjoyed by the slave-holding
States; and we know, too, that the intended equivalent for that advantage,
that is to say, the imposition of direct taxes in the same ratio, has
become merely nominal, the habit of the government being almost invariably
to collect its revenue from other sources and in other modes.
Nevertheless, I do not complain; nor would I countenance any movement to
alter this arrangement of representation. It is the original bargain, the
compact; let it stand; let the advantage of it be fully enjoyed. The Union
itself is too full of benefit to be hazarded in propositions for changing
its original basis. I go for the Constitution as it is, and for the Union
as it is. But I am resolved not to submit in silence to accusations,
either against myself individually or against the North, wholly unfounded
and unjust,--accusations which impute to us a disposition to evade the
constitutional compact, and to extend the power of the government over the
internal laws and domestic condition of the States. All such accusations,
wherever and whenever made, all insinuations of the existence of any such
purposes, I know and feel to be groundless and injurious. And we must
confide in Southern gentlemen themselves; we must trust to those whose
integrity of heart and magnanimity of feeling will lead them to a desire
to maintain and disseminate truth, and who possess the means of its
diffusion with the Southern public; we must leave it to them to disabuse
that public of its prejudices. But in the mean time, for my own part, I
shall continue to act justly, whether those towards whom justice is
exercised receive it with candor or with contumely.

Having had occasion to recur to the Ordinance of 1787, in order to defend
myself against the inferences which the honorable member has chosen to
draw from my former observations on that subject, I am not willing now
entirely to take leave of it without another remark. It need hardly be
said, that that paper expresses just sentiments on the great subject of
civil and religious liberty. Such sentiments were common, and abound in
all our state papers of that day. But this Ordinance did that which was
not so common, and which is not even now universal; that is, it set forth
and declared it to be a high and binding duty of government itself to
support schools and advance the means of education, on the plain reason
that religion, morality, and knowledge are necessary to good government,
and to the happiness of mankind. One observation further. The important
provision incorporated into the Constitution of the United States, and
into several of those of the States, and recently, as we have seen,
adopted into the reformed constitution of Virginia, restraining
legislative power in questions of private right, and from impairing the
obligation of contracts, is first introduced and established, as far as I
am informed, as matter of express written constitutional law, in this
Ordinance of 1787. And I must add, also, in regard to the author of the
Ordinance, who has not had the happiness to attract the gentleman's notice
heretofore, nor to avoid his sarcasm now, that he was chairman of that
select committee of the old Congress, whose report first expressed the
strong sense of that body, that the old Confederation was not adequate to
the exigencies of the country, and recommended to the States to send
delegates to the convention which formed the present Constitution.

An attempt has been made to transfer from the North to the South the honor
of this exclusion of slavery from the Northwestern Territory. The journal,
without argument or comment, refutes such attempts. The cession by
Virginia was made in March, 1784. On the 19th of April following, a
committee, consisting of Messrs. Jefferson, Chase, and Howell, reported a
plan for a temporary government of the territory, in which was this
article: "That, after the year 1800, there shall be neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude in any of the said States, otherwise than in
punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been convicted." Mr.
Spaight of North Carolina moved to strike out this paragraph. The question
was put, according to the form then practised, "Shall these words stand as
a part of the plan?" New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, seven States, voted
in the affirmative; Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, in the
negative. North Carolina was divided. As the consent of nine States was
necessary, the words could not stand, and were struck out accordingly. Mr.
Jefferson voted for the clause, but was overruled by his colleagues.

In March of the next year (1785), Mr. King of Massachusetts, seconded by
Mr. Ellery of Rhode Island, proposed the formerly rejected article, with
this addition: "And that this regulation shall be an article of compact,
and remain a fundamental principle of the constitutions between the
thirteen original States, and each of the States described in the
resolve." On this clause, which provided the adequate and thorough
security, the eight Northern States at that time voted affirmatively, and
the four Southern States negatively. The votes of nine States were not yet
obtained, and thus the provision was again rejected by the Southern
States. The perseverance of the North held out, and two years afterwards
the object was attained. It is no derogation from the credit, whatever
that may be, of drawing the Ordinance, that its principles had before been
prepared and discussed, in the form of resolutions. If one should reason
in that way, what would become of the distinguished honor of the author of
the Declaration of Independence? There is not a sentiment in that paper
which had not been voted and resolved in the assemblies, and other popular
bodies in the country, over and over again.

But the honorable member has now found out that this gentleman, Mr. Dane,
was a member of the Hartford Convention. [10] However uninformed the
honorable member may be of characters and occurrences at the North, it
would seem that he has at his elbow, on this occasion, some highminded and
lofty spirit, some magnanimous and true-hearted monitor, possessing the
means of local knowledge, and ready to supply the honorable member with
every thing, down even to forgotten and moth-eaten two-penny pamphlets,
which may be used to the disadvantage of his own country. But as to the
Hartford Convention, Sir, allow me to say, that the proceedings of that
body seem now to be less read and studied in New England than farther
South. They appear to be looked to, not in New England, but elsewhere, for
the purpose of seeing how far they may serve as a precedent. But they will
not answer the purpose, they are quite too tame. The latitude in which
they originated was too cold. Other conventions, of more recent existence,
have gone a whole bar's length beyond it. The learned doctors of Colleton
and Abbeville have pushed their commentaries on the Hartford collect so
far, that the original text-writers are thrown entirely into the shade. I
have nothing to do, Sir, with the Hartford Convention. Its journal, which
the gentleman has quoted, I never read. So far as the honorable member may
discover in its proceedings a spirit in any degree resembling that which
was avowed and justified in those other conventions to which I have
alluded, or so far as those proceedings can be shown to be disloyal to the
Constitution, or tending to disunion, as far I shall be as ready as any
one to bestow on them reprehension and censure.

Having dwelt long on this convention, and other occurrences of that day,
in the hope, probably, (which will not be gratified), that I should leave
the course of this debate to follow him at length in those excursions, the
honorable member returned, and attempted another object. He referred to a
speech of mine in the other house, the same which I had occasion to allude
to myself, the other day; and has quoted a passage or two from it, with a
bold, though uneasy and laboring, air of confidence, as if he had detected
in me an inconsistency. Judging from the gentleman's manner, a stranger to
the course of the debate and to the point in discussion would have
imagined, from so triumphant a tone, that the honorable member was about
to overwhelm me with a manifest contradiction. Any one who heard him, and
who had not heard what I had, in fact, previously said, must have thought
me routed and discomfited, as the gentleman had promised. Sir, a breath
blows all this triumph away. There is not the slightest difference in the
purport of my remarks on the two occasions. What I said here on Wednesday
is in exact accordance with the opinion expressed by me in the other house
in 1825. Though the gentleman had the metaphysics of Hudibras, though he
were able

    "to sever and divide
     A hair 'twixt north and northwest side,"

he could yet not insert his metaphysical scissors between the fair reading
of my remarks in 1825, and what I said here last week. There is not only
no contradiction, no difference, but, in truth, too exact a similarity,
both in thought and language, to be entirely in just taste. I had myself
quoted the same speech; had recurred to it, and spoke with it open before
me; and much of what I said was little more than a repetition from it.

I need not repeat at large the general topics of the honorable gentleman's
speech. When he said yesterday that he did not attack the Eastern States,
he certainly must have forgotten, not only particular remarks, but the
whole drift and tenor of his speech; unless he means by not attacking,
that he did not commence hostilities, but that another had preceded him in
the attack. He, in the first place, disapproved of the whole course of the
government, for forty years, in regard to its disposition of the public
lands; and then, turning northward and eastward, and fancying he had found
a cause for alleged narrowness and niggardliness in the "accursed policy"
of the tariff, to which he represented the people of New England as
wedded, he went on for a full hour with remarks, the whole scope of which
was to exhibit the results of this policy, in feelings and in measures
unfavorable to the West. I thought his opinions unfounded and erroneous,
as to the general course of the government, and ventured to reply to them.

The gentleman had remarked on the analogy of other cases, and quoted the
conduct of European governments towards their own subjects settling on
this continent, as in point, to show that we had been harsh and rigid in
selling, when we should have given the public lands to settlers without
price. I thought the honorable member had suffered his judgment to be
betrayed by a false analogy; that he was struck with an appearance of
resemblance where there was no real similitude. I think so still. The
first settlers of North America were enterprising spirits, engaged in
private adventure, or fleeing from tyranny at home. When arrived here,
they were forgotten by the mother country, or remembered only to be
oppressed. Carried away again by the appearance of anology, or struck with
the eloquence of the passage, the honorable member yesterday observed,
that the conduct of government towards the Western emigrants, or my
representation of it, brought to his mind a celebrated speech in the
British Parliament. It was, Sir, the speech of Colonel Barre. On the
question of the stamp act, or tea tax, I forget which, Colonel Barre had
heard a member on the treasury bench argue, that the people of the United
States, being British colonists, planted by the maternal care, nourished
by the indulgence, and protected by the arms of England, would not grudge
their mite to relieve the mother country from the heavy burden under which
she groaned. The language of Colonel Barre, in reply to this, was: "They
planted by your care? Your oppression planted them in America. They fled
from your tyranny, and grew by your neglect of them. So soon as you began
to care for them, you showed your care by sending persons to spy out their
liberties, misrepresent their character, prey upon them, and eat out their
substance."

And how does the honorable gentleman mean to maintain, that language like
this is applicable to the conduct of the government of the United States
towards the Western emigrants, or to any representation given by me of
that conduct? Were the settlers in the West driven thither by our
oppression? Have they flourished only by our neglect of them? Has the
government done nothing but prey upon them, and eat out their substance?
Sir, this fervid eloquence of the British speaker, just when and where it
was uttered, and fit to remain an exercise for the schools, is not a
little out of place, when it is brought thence to be applied here to the
conduct of our own country towards her own citizens. From America to
England, it may be true; from Americans to their own government, it would
be strange language. Let us leave it, to be recited and declaimed by our
boys against a foreign nation; not introduce it here, to recite and
declaim ourselves against our own.

But I come to the point of the alleged contradiction. In my remarks on
Wednesday, I contended that we could not give away gratuitously all the
public lands; that we held them in trust; that the government had solemnly
pledged itself to dispose of them as a common fund for the common benefit,
and to sell and settle them as its discretion should dictate. Now, Sir,
what contradiction does the gentleman find to this sentiment in the speech
of 1825? He quotes me as having then said, that we ought not to hug these
lands as a very great treasure. Very well, Sir, supposing me to be
accurately reported in that expression, what is the contradiction? I have
not now said, that we should hug these lands as a favorite source of
pecuniary income. No such thing. It is not my view. What I have said, and
what I do say, is, that they are a common fund, to be disposed of for the
common benefit, to be sold at low prices for the accommodation of
settlers, keeping the object of settling the lands as much in view as that
of raising money from them. This I say now, and this I have always said.
Is this hugging them as a favorite treasure? Is there no difference
between hugging and hoarding this fund, on the one hand, as a great
treasure, and, on the other, of disposing of it at low prices, placing the
proceeds in the general treasury of the Union? My opinion is, that as much
is to be made of the land as fairly and reasonably may be, selling it all
the while at such rates as to give the fullest effect to settlement. This
is not giving it all away to the States, as the gentleman would propose;
nor is it hugging the fund closely and tenaciously, as a favorite
treasure; but it is, in my judgment, a just and wise policy, perfectly
according with all the various duties which rest on government. So much
for my contradiction. And what is it? Where is the ground of the
gentleman's triumph? What inconsistency in word or doctrine has he been
able to detect? Sir, if this be a sample of that discomfiture with which
the honorable gentleman threatened me, commend me to the word
_discomfiture_ for the rest of my life.

We approach, at length, Sir, to a more important part of the honorable
gentleman's observations. Since it does not accord with my views of
justice and policy to give away the public lands altogether, as a mere
matter of gratuity, I am asked by the honorable gentleman on what ground
it is that I consent to vote them away in particular instances. How, he
inquires, do I reconcile with these professed sentiments, my support of
measures appropriating portions of the lands to particular roads,
particular canals, particular rivers, and particular institutions of
education in the West? This leads, Sir, to the real and wide difference in
political opinion between the honorable gentleman and myself. On my part,
I look upon all these objects as connected with the common good, fairly
embraced in its object and its terms; he, on the contrary, deems them all,
if good at all, only local good. This is our difference. The interrogatory
which he proceeded to put at once explains this difference. "What
interest," asks he, "has South Carolina in a canal in Ohio?" Sir, this
very question is full of significance. It develops the gentleman's whole
political system; and its answer expounds mine. Here we differ. I look
upon a road over the Alleghenies, a canal round the falls of the Ohio, or
a canal or railway from the Atlantic to the Western waters, as being an
object large and extensive enough to be fairly said to be for the common
benefit. The gentleman thinks otherwise, and this is the key to his
construction of the powers of the government. He may well ask what
interest has South Carolina in a canal in Ohio. On his system, it is true,
she has no interest. On that system, Ohio and Carolina are different
governments, and different countries; connected here, it is true, by some
slight and ill-defined bond of union, but in all main respects separate
and diverse. On that system, Carolina has no more interest in a canal in
Ohio than in Mexico. The gentleman, therefore, only follows out his own
principles; he does no more than arrive at the natural conclusions of his
own doctrines; he only announces the true results of that creed which he
has adopted himself, and would persuade others to adopt, when he thus
declares that South Carolina has no interest in a public work in Ohio.

Sir, we narrow-minded people of New England do not reason thus. Our
_notion_ of things is entirely different. We look upon the States,
not as separated, but as united. We love to dwell on that union, and on
the mutual happiness which it has so much promoted, and the common renown
which it has so greatly contributed to acquire. In our contemplation,
Carolina and Ohio are parts of the same country; States, united under the
same general government, having interests, common, associated,
intermingled. In whatever is within the proper sphere of the
constitutional power of this government, we look upon the States as one.
We do not impose geographical limits to our patriotic feeling or regard;
we do not follow rivers and mountains, and lines of latitude, to find
boundaries, beyond which public improvements do not benefit us. We who
come here, as agents and representatives of these narrow-minded and
selfish men of New England, consider ourselves as bound to regard with an
equal eye the good of the whole, in whatever is within our powers of
legislation. Sir, if a railroad or canal beginning in South Carolina and
ending in South Carolina, appeared to me to be of national importance and
national magnitude, believing, as I do, that the power of government
extends to the encouragement of works of that description, if I were to
stand up here and ask, What interest has Massachusetts in a railroad in
South Carolina? I should not be willing to face my constituents. [11]
These same narrow-minded men would tell me, that they had sent me to act
for the whole country, and that one who possessed too little
comprehension, either of intellect or feeling, one one who was not large
enough, both in mind and in heart, to embrace the whole, was not fit to be
intrusted with the interest of any part.

Sir, I do not desire to enlarge the powers of the government by
unjustifiable construction, nor to exercise any not within a fair
interpretation. But when it is believed that a power does exist, then it
is, in my judgment, to be exercised for the general benefit of the whole.
So far as respects the exercise of such a. power, the States are one. It
was the very object of the Constitution to create unity of interests to
the extent of the powers of the general government. In war and peace we
are one; in commerce, one; because the authority of the general government
reaches to war and peace, and to the regulation of commerce. I have never
seen any more difficulty in erecting light-houses on the lakes, than on
the ocean; in improving the harbors of inland seas, than if they were
within the ebb and flow of the tide; or in removing obstructions in the
vast streams of the West, more than in any work to facilitate commerce on
the Atlantic coast. If there be any power for one, there is power also for
the other; and they are all and equally for the common good of the
country.

There are other objects, apparently more local, or the benefit of which is
less general, towards which, nevertheless, I have concurred with others,
to give aid by donations of land. It is proposed to construct a road, in
or through one of the new States, in which this government possesses large
quantities of land. Have the United States no right, or, as a great and
untaxed proprietor, are they under no obligation to contribute to an
object thus calculated to promote the common good of all the proprietors,
themselves included? And even with respect to education, which is the
extreme case, let the question be considered. In the first place, as we
have seen, it was made matter of compact with these States, that they
should do their part to promote education. In the next place, our whole
system of land laws proceeds on the idea that education is for the common
good; because, in every division, a certain portion is uniformly reserved
and appropriated for the use of schools. And, finally, have not these new
States singularly strong claims, founded on the ground already stated,
that the government is a great untaxed proprietor, in the ownership of the
soil? It is a consideration of great importance, that probably there is in
no part of the country, or of the world, so great call for the means of
education, as in these new States, owing to the vast number's of persons
within those ages in which education and instruction are usually received,
if received at all. This is the natural consequence of recency of
settlement and rapid increase. The census of these States shows how great
a proportion of the whole population occupies the classes between infancy
and manhood. These are the wide fields, and here is the deep and quick
soil for the seeds of knowledge and virtue; and this is the favored
season, the very spring-time for sowing them. Let them be disseminated
without stint. Let them be scattered with a bountiful hand, broadcast.
Whatever the government can fairly do towards these objects, in my
opinion, ought to be done.

These, Sir, are the grounds, succinctly stated, on which my votes for
grants of lands for particular objects rest; while I maintain, at the same
time, that it is all a common fund, for the common benefit. And reasons
like these, I presume, have influenced the votes of other gentlemen from
New England. Those who have a different view of the powers of the
government, of course, come to different conclusions, on these, as on
other questions. I observed, when speaking on this subject before, that if
we looked to any measure, whether for a road, a canal, or any thing else,
intended for the improvement of the West, it would be found that, if the
New England _ayes_ were struck out of the lists of votes, the
Southern _noes_ would always have rejected the measure. The truth of
this has not been denied, and cannot be denied. In stating this, I thought
it just to ascribe it to the constitutional scruples of the South, rather
than to any other less favorable or less charitable cause. But no sooner
had I done this, than the honorable gentleman asks if I reproach him and
his friends with their constitutional scruples. Sir, I reproach nobody. I
stated a fact, and gave the most respectful reason for it that occurred to
me. The gentleman cannot deny the fact; he may, if he choose, disclaim the
reason. It is not long since I had occasion, in presenting a petition from
his own State, to account for its being intrusted to my hands, by saying,
that the constitutional opinions of the gentleman and his worthy colleague
prevented them from supporting it. Sir, did I state this as matter of
reproach? Far from it. Did I attempt to find any other cause than an
honest one for these scruples? Sir, I did not. It did not become me to
doubt or to insinuate that the gentleman had either changed his
sentiments, or that he had made up a set of constitutional opinions
accommodated to any particular combination of political occurrences. Had I
done so, I should have felt, that, while I was entitled to little credit
in thus questioning other people's motives, I justified the whole world in
suspecting my own. But how has the gentleman returned this respect for
others' opinions? His own candor and justice, how have they been exhibited
towards the motives of others, while he has been at so much pains to
maintain, what nobody has disputed, the purity of his own? Why, Sir, he
has asked _when_, and _how_, and _why_ New England votes were
found going for measures favorable to the West. He has demanded to be
informed whether all this did not begin in 1825, and while the election of
President was still pending.

Sir, to these questions retort would be justified; and it is both cogent
and at hand. Nevertheless, I will answer the inquiry, not by retort, but
by facts. I will tell the gentleman when, and how, and why New England has
supported measures favorable to the West. I have already referred to the
early history of the government, to the first acquisition of the lands, to
the original laws for disposing of them, and for governing the territories
where they lie; and have shown the influence of New England men and New
England principles in all these leading measures. I should not be pardoned
were I to go over that ground again. Coming to more recent times, and to
measures of a less general character, I have endeavored to prove that
every thing of this kind, designed for Western improvement, has depended
on the votes of New England; all this is true beyond the power of
contradiction. And now, Sir, there are two measures to which I will refer,
not so ancient as to belong to the early history of the public lands, and
not so recent as to be on this side of the period when the gentleman
charitably imagines a new direction may have been given to New England
feeling and New England votes. These measures, and the New England votes
in support of them, may be taken as samples and specimens of all the rest.

In 1820 (observe, Mr. President, in 1820) the people of the West besought
Congress for a reduction in the price of lands. In favor of that
reduction, New England, with a delegation of forty members in the other
house, gave thirty-three votes, and one only against it. The four Southern
States, with more than fifty members, gave thirty-two votes for it, and
seven against it. Again, in 1821, (observe again, Sir, the time,) the law
passed for the relief of the purchasers of the public lands. This was a
measure of vital importance to the West, and more especially to the
Southwest. It authorized the relinquishment of contracts for lands which
had been entered into at high prices, and a reduction in other cases of
not less than thirty-seven and a half per cent on the purchase-money. Many
millions of dollars, six or seven, I believe, probably much more, were
relinquished by this law. On this bill, New England, with her forty
members, gave more affirmative votes than the four Southern States, with
their fifty-two or fifty-three members. These two are far the most
important general measures respecting the public lands which have been
adopted within the last twenty years. They took place in 1820 and 1821.
That is the time _when_.

As to the manner _how_, the gentleman already sees that it was by
voting in solid column for the required relief; and, lastly, as to the
cause _why_, I tell the gentleman it was because the members from New
England thought the measures just and salutary; because they entertained
towards the West neither envy, hatred, nor malice; because they deemed it
becoming them, as just and enlightened public men, to meet the exigency
which had arisen in the West with the appropriate measure of relief;
because they felt it due to their own characters, and the characters of
their New England predecessors in this government, to act towards the new
States in the spirit of a liberal, patronizing, magnanimous policy. So
much, Sir, for the cause _why_; and I hope that by this time, Sir,
the honorable gentleman is satisfied; if not, I do not know _when_,
or _how_, or _why_ he ever will be. Having recurred to these two
important measures, in answer to the gentleman's inquiries, I must now beg
permission to go back to a period somewhat earlier, for the purpose of
still further showing how much, or rather how little, reason there is for
the gentleman's insinuation that political hopes or fears, or party
associations, were the grounds of these New England votes. And after what
has been said, I hope it may be forgiven me if I allude to some political
opinions and votes of my own, of very little public importance certainly,
but which, from the time at which they were given and expressed, may pass
for good witnesses on this occasion.

This government, Mr. President, from its origin to the peace of 1815, had
been too much engrossed with various other important concerns to be able
to turn its thoughts inward, and look to the development of its vast
internal resources. In the early part of President Washington's
administration, it was fully occupied with completing its own
organization, providing for the public debt, defending the frontiers, and
maintaining domestic peace. Before the termination of that administration,
the fires of the French Revolution blazed forth, as from a new-opened
volcano, and the whole breadth of the ocean did not secure us from its
effects. The smoke and the cinders reached us, though not the burning
lava. Difficult and agitating questions, embarrassing to government and
dividing public opinion, sprung out of the new state of our foreign
relations, and were succeeded by others, and yet again by others, equally
embarrassing and equally exciting division and discord, through the long
series of twenty years, till they finally issued in the war with England.
Down to the close of that war, no distinct, marked, and deliberate
attention had been given, or could have been given, to the internal
condition of the country, its capacities of improvement, or the
constitutional power of the government in regard to objects connected with
such improvement.

The peace, Mr. President, brought about an entirely new and a most
interesting state of things; it opened to us other prospects and suggested
other duties. We ourselves were changed, and the whole world was changed.
The pacification of Europe, after June, 1815, assumed a firm and permanent
aspect. The nations evidently manifested that they were disposed for
peace. Some agitation of the waves might be expected, even after the storm
had subsided; but the tendency was, strongly and rapidly, towards settled
repose.

It so happened, Sir, that I was at that time a member of Congress, and,
like others, naturally turned my thoughts to the contemplation of the
recently altered condition of the country and of the world. It appeared
plainly enough to me, as well as to wiser and more experienced men, that
the policy of the government would naturally take a start in a new
direction; because new directions would necessarily be given to the
pursuits and occupations of the people. We had pushed our commerce far and
fast, under the advantage of a neutral flag. But there were now no longer
flags, either neutral or belligerent. The harvest of neutrality had been
great, but we had gathered it all. With the peace of Europe, it was
obvious there would spring up in her circle of nations a revived and
invigorated spirit of trade, and a new activity in all the business and
objects of civilized life. Hereafter, our commercial gains were to be
earned only by success in a close and intense competition. Other nations
would produce for themselves, and carry for themselves, and manufacture
for themselves, to the full extent of their abilities. The crops of our
plains would no longer sustain European armies, nor our ships longer
supply those whom war had rendered unable to supply themselves. It was
obvious, that, under these circumstances, the country would begin to
survey itself, and to estimate its own capacity of improvement.

And this improvement,--how was it to be accomplished, and who was to
accomplish it? We were ten or twelve millions of people, spread over
almost half a world. We were more than twenty States, some stretching
along the same seaboard, some along the same line of inland frontier, and
others on opposite banks of the same vast rivers. Two considerations at
once presented themselves with great force, in looking at this state of
things. One was, that that great branch of improvement which consisted in
furnishing new facilities of intercourse necessarily ran into different
States in every leading instance, and would benefit the citizens of all
such States. No one State, therefore, in such cases, would assume the
whole expense, nor was the co-operation of several States to be expected.
Take the instance of the Delaware breakwater. It will cost several
millions of money. Would Pennsylvania alone ever have constructed it?
Certainly never, while this Union lasts, because it is not for her sole
benefit. Would Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware have united to
accomplish it at their joint expense? Certainly not, for the same reason.
It could not be done, therefore, but by the general government. The same
may be said of the large inland undertakings, except that, in them,
government, instead of bearing the whole expense, co-operates with others
who bear a part. The other consideration is, that the United States have
the means. They enjoy the revenues derived from commerce, and the States
have no abundant and easy sources of public income. The custom-houses fill
the general treasury, while the States have scanty resources, except by
resort to heavy direct taxes.

Under this view of things, I thought it necessary to settle, at least for
myself, some definite notions with respect to the powers of the government
in regard to internal affairs. It may not savor too much of self-
commendation to remark, that, with this object, I considered the
Constitution, its judicial construction, its contemporaneous exposition,
and the whole history of the legislation of Congress under it; and I
arrived at the conclusion, that government had power to accomplish sundry
objects, or aid in their accomplishment, which are now commonly spoken of
as INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS. That conclusion, Sir, may have been right, or it
may have been wrong. I am not about to argue the grounds of it at large. I
say only, that it was adopted and acted on even so early as in 1816. Yes,
Mr. President, I made up my opinion, and determined on my intended course
of political conduct, on these subjects, in the Fourteenth Congress, in
1816. And now, Mr. President, I have further to say, that I made up these
opinions, and entered on this course of political conduct, _Teucro
duce_. [12] Yes, Sir, I pursued in all this a South Carolina track on
the doctrines of internal improvement. South Carolina, as she was then
represented in the other house, set forth in 1816 under a fresh and
leading breeze, and I was among the followers. But if my leader sees new
lights and turns a sharp corner, unless I see new lights also, I keep
straight on in the same path. I repeat, that leading gentlemen from South
Carolina were first and foremost in behalf of the doctrines of internal
improvements, when those doctrines came first to be considered and acted
upon in Congress. The debate on the bank question, on the tariff of 1816,
and on the direct tax, will show who was who, and what was what, at that
time.

The tariff of 1816, (one of the plain cases of oppression and usurpation,
from which, if the government does not recede, individual States may
justly secede from the government,) is, Sir, in truth, a South Carolina
tariff, supported by South Carolina votes. But for those votes, it could
not have passed in the form in which it did pass; whereas, if it had
depended on Massachusetts votes, it would have been lost. Does not the
honorable gentleman well know all this? There are certainly those who do,
full well, know it all. I do not say this to reproach South Carolina. I
only state the fact; and I think it will appear to be true, that among the
earliest and boldest advocates of the tariff, as a measure of protection,
and on the express ground of protection, were leading gentlemen of South
Carolina in Congress. I did not then, and cannot now, understand their
language in any other sense. While this tariff of 1816 was under
discussion in the House of Representatives, an honorable gentleman from
Georgia, [13] now of this house, moved to reduce the proposed duty on
cotton. He failed, by four votes, South Carolina giving three votes
(enough to have turned the scale) against his motion. The act, Sir, then
passed, and received on its passage the support of a majority of the
Representatives of South Carolina present and voting. This act is the
first in the order of those now denounced as plain usurpations. We see it
daily in the list, by the side of those of 1824 and 1828, as a case of
manifest oppression, justifying disunion. I put it home to the honorable
member from South Carolina, that his own State was not only "art and part"
in this measure, but the _causa causans_. Without her aid, this
seminal principle of mischief, this root of Upas, could not have been
planted. I have already said, and it is true, that this act proceeded on
the ground of protection. It interfered directly with existing interests
of great value and amount. It cut up the Calcutta cotton trade by the
roots; but it passed, nevertheless, and it passed on the principle of
protecting manufactures, on the principle against free trade, on the
principle opposed to that _which lets us alone_. [14]

Such, Mr. President, were the opinions of important and leading gentlemen
from South Carolina, on the subject of internal improvement, in 1816. I
went out of Congress the next year, and, returning again in 1823, thought
I found South Carolina where I had left her. I really supposed that all
things remained as they were, and that the South Carolina doctrine of
internal improvements would be defended by the same eloquent voices, and
the same strong arms, as formerly. In the lapse of these six years, it is
true, political associations had assumed a new aspect and new divisions. A
strong party had arisen in the South hostile to the doctrine of internal
improvements. Anti-consolidation was the flag under which this party
fought; and its supporters inveighed against internal improvements, much
after the manner in which the honorable gentleman has now inveighed
against them, as part and parcel of the system of consolidation. Whether
this party arose in South Carolina itself, or in the neighborhood, is more
than I know. I think the latter. However that may have been, there were
those found in South Carolina ready to make war upon it, and who did make
intrepid war upon it. Names being regarded as things in such
controversies, they bestowed on the anti-improvement gentlemen the
appellation of Radicals. Yes, Sir, the appellation of Radicals, as a term
of distinction applicable and applied to those who denied the liberal
doctrines of internal improvement, originated, according to the best of my
recollection, somewhere between North Carolina and Georgia. Well, Sir,
these mischievous Radicals were to be put down, and the strong arm of
South Carolina was stretched out to put them down. About this time I
returned to Congress. The battle with the Radicals had been fought, and
our South Carolina champions of the doctrines of internal improvement had
nobly maintained their ground, and were understood to have achieved a
victory. We looked upon them as conquerors. They had driven back the enemy
with discomfiture, a thing, by the way, Sir, which is not always performed
when it is promised. A gentleman to whom I have already referred in this
debate had come into Congress, during my absence from it, from South
Carolina, and had brought with him a high reputation for ability. He came
from a school with which we had been acquainted, _et noscitur a
sociis_. I hold in my hand, Sir, a printed speech of this distinguished
gentleman,[15] "ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS," delivered about the period to
which I now refer, and printed with a few introductory remarks upon
_consolidation_; in which, Sir, I think he quite consolidated the
arguments of his opponents, the Radicals, if to _crush_ be to
consolidate. I give you a short but significant quotation from these
remarks. He is speaking of a pamphlet, then recently published, entitled
"Consolidation"; and, having alluded to the question of renewing the
charter of the former Bank of the United States, he says:--

"Moreover, in the early history of parties, and when Mr. Crawford
advocated a renewal of the old charter, it was considered a Federal
measure; which internal improvement never was, as this author erroneously
states. This latter measure originated in the administration of Mr.
Jefferson, with the appropriation for the Cumberland Road; and was first
proposed, _as a system_, by Mr. Calhoun, and carried through the
House of Representatives by a large majority of the Republicans, including
almost every one of the leading men who carried us through the late war."

So, then, internal improvement is not one of the Federal heresies.

When I took my seat there as a member from Massachusetts in 1823, we had a
bill before us, and passed it in that house, entitled, "An Act to procure
the necessary surveys, plans, and estimates upon the subject of roads and
canals." It authorized the President to cause surveys and estimates to be
made of the routes of such roads and canals as he might deem of national
importance in a commercial or military point of view, or for the
transportation of the mail, and appropriated thirty thousand dollars out
of the treasury to defray the expense. This act, though preliminary in its
nature, covered the whole ground. It took for granted the complete power
of internal improvement, as far as any of its advocates had ever contended
for it. Having passed the other house, the bill came up to the Senate, and
was here considered and debated in April, 1824. The honorable member from
South Carolina was a member of the Senate at that time. While the bill was
under consideration here, a motion was made to add the following proviso:
"_Provided_, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to
affirm _or admit_ a power in Congress, on their own authority, to
make roads or canals within any of the States of the Union." The yeas and
nays were taken on this proviso, and the honorable member voted _in the
negative!_ The proviso failed.

A motion was then made to add this proviso, viz.: "_Provided_, That
the faith of the United States is hereby pledged, that no money shall ever
be expended for roads or canals, except it shall be among the several
States, and in the same proportion as direct taxes are laid and assessed
by the provisions of the Constitution." The honorable member voted
_against this proviso_ also, and it failed. The bill was then put on
its passage, and the honorable member voted _for it_, and it passed,
and became a law.

Now, it strikes me, Sir, that there is no maintaining these votes, but
upon the power of internal improvement, in its broadest sense. In truth,
these bills for surveys and estimates have always been considered as test
questions; they show who is for and who against internal improvement. This
law itself went the whole length, and assumed the full and complete power.
The gentleman's votes sustained that power, in every form in which the
various propositions to amend presented it. He went for the entire and
unrestrained authority, without consulting the States, and without
agreeing to any proportionate distribution. And now suffer me to remind
you, Mr. President, that it is this very same power, thus sanctioned, in
every form, by the gentleman's own opinion, which is so plain and manifest
a usurpation, that the State of South Carolina is supposed to be justified
in refusing submission to any laws carrying the power into effect. Truly,
Sir, is not this a little too hard? May we not crave some mercy, under
favor and protection of the gentleman's own authority? Admitting that a
road, or a canal, must be written down flat usurpation as was ever
committed, may we find no mitigation in our respect for his place, and his
vote, as one that knows the law?

The tariff, which South Carolina had an efficient hand in establishing, in
1816, and this asserted power of internal improvement, advanced by her in
the same year, and, as we have seen, approved and sanctioned by her
Representatives in 1824,--these two measures are the great grounds on
which she is now thought to be justified in breaking up the Union, if she
sees fit to break it up!

I may now safely say, I think, that we have had the authority of leading
and distinguished gentlemen from South Carolina in support of the doctrine
of internal improvement. I repeat, that, up to 1824, I for one followed
South Carolina; but when that star, in its ascension, veered off in an
unexpected direction, I relied on its light no longer. I have thus, Sir,
perhaps not without some tediousness of detail, shown, if I am in error on
the subject of internal improvement, how, and in what company, I fell into
that error. If I am wrong, it is apparent who misled me.

I go to other remarks of the honorable member; and I have to complain of
an entire misapprehension of what I said on the subject of the national
debt, though I can hardly perceive how any one could misunderstand me.
What I said was, not that I wished to put off the payment of the debt,
but, on the contrary, that I had always voted for every measure for its
reduction, as uniformly as the gentleman himself. He seems to claim the
exclusive merit of a disposition to reduce the public charge. I do not
allow it to him. As a debt, I was, I am for paying it, because it is a
charge on our finances, and on the industry of the country. But I
observed, that I thought I perceived a morbid fervor on that subject, an
excessive anxiety to pay off the debt, not so much because it is a debt
simply, as because, while it lasts, it furnishes one objection to
disunion. It is, while it continues, a tie of common interest. I did not
impute such motives to the honorable member himself, but that there is
such an opinion in existence I have not a particle of doubt. The most I
said was, that, if one effect of the debt was to strengthen our Union,
that effect itself was not regretted by me, however much others might
regret it. The gentleman has not seen how to reply to this, otherwise than
by supposing me to have advanced the doctrine that a national debt is a
national blessing. Others, I must hope, will find much less difficulty in
understanding me. I distinctly and pointedly cautioned the honorable
member not to understand me as expressing an opinion favorable to the
continuance of the debt. I repeated this caution, and repeated it more
than once; but it was thrown away.

On yet another point, I was still more unaccountably misunderstood. The
gentleman had harangued against "consolidation." I told him, in reply,
that there was one kind of consolidation to which I was attached, and that
was the consolidation of our Union; that this was precisely that
consolidation to which I feared others were not attached, and that such
consolidation was the very end of the Constitution, the leading object, as
they had informed us themselves, which its framers had kept in view. I
turned to their communication,[16] and read their very words, "the
consolidation of the Union," and expressed my devotion to this sort of
consolidation. I said, in terms, that I wished not in the slightest degree
to augment the powers of this government; that my object was to preserve,
not to enlarge; and that by consolidating the Union I understood no more
than the strengthening of the Union, and perpetuating it. Having been thus
explicit, having thus read from the printed book the precise words which I
adopted, as expressing my own sentiments, it passes comprehension how any
man could understand me as contending for an extension of the powers of
the government, or for consolidation in that odious sense in which it
means an accumulation, in the federal government, of the powers properly
belonging to the States.

I repeat, Sir, that, in adopting the sentiment of the framers of the
Constitution, I read their language audibly, and word for word; and I
pointed out the distinction, just as fully as I have now done, between the
consolidation of the Union and that other obnoxious consolidation which I
disclaimed. And yet the honorable member misunderstood me. The gentleman
had said that he wished for no fixed revenue,--not a shilling. If by a
word he could convert the Capitol into gold, he would not do it. Why all
this fear of revenue? Why, Sir, because, as the gentleman told us, it
tends to consolidation. Now this can mean neither more nor less than, that
a common revenue is a common interest, and that all common interests tend
to preserve the union of the States. I confess I like that tendency; if
the gentleman dislikes it, he is right in deprecating a shilling of fixed
revenue. So much, Sir, for consolidation.

As well as I recollect the course of his remarks, the honorable gentleman
next recurred to the subject of the tariff. He did not doubt the word must
be of unpleasant sound to me, and proceeded, with an effort neither new
nor attended with new success, to involve me and my votes in inconsistency
and contradiction. I am happy the honorable gentleman has furnished me an
opportunity of a timely remark or two on that subject. I was glad he
approached it, for it is a question I enter upon without fear from
anybody. The strenuous toil of the gentleman has been to raise an
inconsistency between my dissent to the tariff in 1824, and my vote in
1828. It is labor lost. He pays undeserved compliment to my speech in
1824; but this is to raise me high, that my fall, as he would have it, in
1828, may be more signal. Sir, there was no fall. Between the ground I
stood on in 1824 and that I took in 1828, there was not only no precipice,
but no declivity. It was a change of position to meet new circumstances,
but on the same level. A plain tale explains the whole matter. In 1816 I
had not acquiesced in the tariff, then supported by South Carolina. To
some parts of it, especially, I felt and expressed great repugnance. I
held the same opinions in 1820, at the meeting in Faneuil Hall, to which
the gentleman has alluded.

With a great majority of the Representatives of Massachusetts, I voted
against the tariff of 1824.[17] My reasons were then given, and I will not
now repeat them. But, notwithstanding our dissent, the great States of New
York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky went for the bill, in almost
unbroken column, and it passed. Congress and the President sanctioned it,
and it became the law of the land. What, then, were we to do? Our only
option was, either to fall in with this settled course of public policy,
and accommodate ourselves to it as well as we could, or to embrace the
South Carolina doctrine, and talk of nullifying the statute by State
interference.

This last alternative did not suit our principles, and of course we
adopted the former. In 1827, the subject came again before Congress, on a
proposition to afford some relief to the branch of wool and woollens. We
looked upon the system of protection as being fixed and settled. The law
of 1824 remained. It had gone into full operation, and, in regard to some
objects intended by it, perhaps most of them, had produced all its
expected effects. No man proposed to repeal it; no man attempted to renew
the general contest on its principle. But, owing to subsequent and
unforeseen occurrences, the benefit intended by it to wool and woollen
fabrics had not been realized. Events not known here when the law passed
had taken place, which defeated its object in that particular respect. A
measure was accordingly brought forward to meet this precise deficiency,
to remedy this particular defect. It was limited to wool and woollens. Was
ever anything more reasonable? If the policy of the tariff laws had become
established in principle, as the permanent policy of the government,
should they not be revised and amended, and made equal, like other laws,
as exigencies should arise, or justice require? Because we had doubted
about adopting the system, were we to refuse to cure its manifest defects,
after it had been adopted, and when no one attempted its repeal? And this,
Sir, is the inconsistency so much bruited. I had voted against the tariff
of 1824, but it passed; and in 1827 and 1828 I voted to amend it, in a
point essential to the interest of my constituents. Where is the
inconsistency? Could I do otherwise? Sir, does political consistency
consist in always giving negative votes? Does it require of a public man
to refuse to concur in amending laws, because they passed against his
consent? Having voted against the tariff originally, does consistency
demand that I should do all in my power to maintain an unequal tariff,
burdensome to my own constituents in many respects, favorable in none? To
consistency of that sort, I lay no claim. And there is another sort to
which I lay as little, and that is, a kind of consistency by which persons
feel themselves as much bound to oppose a proposition after it has become
a law of the land as before.

Sir, as to the general subject of the tariff, I have little now to say.
Another opportunity may be presented. I remarked the other day, that this
policy did not begin with us in New England; and yet, Sir, New England is
charged with vehemence as being favorable, or charged with equal vehemence
as being unfavorable, to the tariff policy, just as best suits the time,
place, and occasion for making some charge against her. The credulity of
the public has been put to its extreme capacity of false impression
relative to her conduct in this particular. Through all the South, during
the late contest, it was New England policy and a New England
administration that were afflicting the country with a tariff beyond all
endurance; while on the other side of the Alleghanies even the act of 1828
itself, the very sublimated essence of oppression, according to Southern
opinions, was pronounced to be one of those blessings for which the West
was indebted to the "generous South."

With large investments in manufacturing establishments, and many and
various interests connected with and dependent on them, it is not to be
expected that New England, any more than other portions of the country,
will now consent to any measure destructive or highly dangerous. The duty
of the government, at the present moment, would seem to be to preserve,
not to destroy; to maintain the position which it has assumed; and, for
one, I shall feel it an indispensable obligation to hold it steady, as far
as in my power, to that degree of protection which it has undertaken to
bestow. No more of the tariff.

Professing to be provoked by what he chose to consider a charge made by me
against South Carolina, the honorable member, Mr. President, has taken up
a new crusade against New England. Leaving altogether the subject of the
public lands, in which his success, perhaps, had been neither
distinguished nor satisfactory, and letting go, also, of the topic of the
tariff, he sallied forth in a general assault on the opinions, politics,
and parties of New England, as they have been exhibited in the last thirty
years. This is natural. The "narrow policy" of the public lands had proved
a legal settlement in South Carolina, and was not to be removed. The
"accursed policy" of the tariff, also, had established the fact of its
birth and parentage in the same State. No wonder, therefore, the gentleman
wished to carry the war, as he expressed it, into the enemy's country.
Prudently willing to quit these subjects, he was, doubtless, desirous of
fastening on others, which could not be transferred south of Mason and
Dixon's line. The politics of New England became his theme; and it was in
this part of his speech, I think, that he menaced me with such sore
discomfiture. Discomfiture! Why, Sir, when he attacks anything which I
maintain, and overthrows it, when he turns the right or left of any
position which I take up, when he drives me from any ground I choose to
occupy, he may then talk of discomfiture, but not till that distant day.
What has he done? Has he maintained his own charges? Has he proved what he
alleged? Has he sustained himself in his attack on the government, and on
the history of the North, in the matter of the public lands? Has he
disproved a fact, refuted a proposition, weakened an argument, maintained
by me? Has he come within beat of drum of any position of mine? O, no; but
he has "carried the war into the enemy's country"! Carried the war into
the enemy's country! Yes, Sir, and what sort of a war has he made of it?
Why, Sir, he has stretched a drag-net over the whole surface of perished
pamphlets, indiscreet sermons, frothy paragraphs, and fuming popular
addresses,--over whatever the pulpit in its moments of alarm, the press
in its heats, and parties in their extravagance, have severally thrown off
in times of general excitement and violence. He has thus swept together a
mass of such things as, but that they are now old and cold, the public
health would have required him rather to leave in their state of
dispersion. For a good long hour or two, we had the unbroken pleasure of
listening to the honorable member, while he recited with his usual grace
and spirit, and with evident high gusto, speeches, pamphlets, addresses,
and all the _et caeteras_ of the political press, such as warm heads
produce in warm times; and such as it would be "discomfiture" indeed for
any one, whose taste did not delight in that sort of reading, to be
obliged to peruse. This is his war. This it is to carry the war into the
enemy's country. It is in an invasion of this sort, that he flatters
himself with the expectation of gaining laurels fit to adorn a Senator's
brow!

Mr. President, I shall not, it will not, I trust, be expected that I
should, either now or at any time, separate this farrago into parts, and
answer and examine its components. I shall barely bestow upon it all a
general remark or two. In the run of forty years, Sir, under this
Constitution, we have experienced sundry successive violent party
contests. Party arose, indeed, with the Constitution itself, and, in some
form or other, has attended it through the greater part of its history.
Whether any other constitution than the old Articles of Confederation was
desirable, was itself a question on which parties divided; if a new
constitution were framed, what powers should be given to it was another
question; and when it had been formed, what was, in fact, the just extent
of the powers actually conferred was a third. Parties, as we know, existed
under the first administration, as distinctly marked as those which have
manifested themselves at any subsequent period. The contest immediately
preceding the political change in 1801, and that, again, which existed at
the commencement of the late war, are other instances of party excitement,
of something more than usual strength and intensity. In all these
conflicts there was, no doubt, much of violence on both and all sides. It
would be impossible, if one had a fancy for such employment, to adjust the
relative _quantum_ of violence between these contending parties.
There was enough in each, as must always be expected in popular
governments. With a great deal of popular and decorous discussion, there
was mingled a great deal, also, of declamation, virulence, crimination,
and abuse. In regard to any party, probably, at one of the leading epochs
in the history of parties, enough may be found to make out another
inflamed exhibition, not unlike that with which the honorable member has
edified us. For myself, Sir, I shall not rake among the rubbish of bygone
times, to see what I can find, or whether I cannot find something by which
I can fix a blot on the escutcheon of any State, any party, or any part of
the country. General Washington's administration was steadily and
zealously maintained, as we all know, by New England. It was violently
opposed elsewhere. We know in what quarter he had the most earnest,
constant, and persevering support, in all his great and leading measures.
We know where his private and personal character was held in the highest
degree of attachment and veneration; and we know, too, where his measures
were opposed, his services slighted, and his character vilified. We know,
or we might know, if we turned to the journals, who expressed respect,
gratitude, and regret, when he retired from the chief magistracy, and who
refused to express either respect, gratitude, or regret. I shall not open
those journals. Publications more abusive or scurrilous never saw the
light, than were sent forth against Washington, and all his leading
measures, from presses south of New England. But I shall not look them up.
I employ no scavengers, no one is in attendance on me, furnishing such
means of retaliation; and if there were, with an ass's load of them, with
a bulk as huge as that which the gentleman himself has produced, I would
not touch one of them. I see enough of the violence of our own times, to
be no way anxious to rescue from forgetfulness the extravagances of times
past.

Besides, what is all this to the present purpose? It has nothing to do
with the public lands, in regard to which the attack was begun; and it has
nothing to do with those sentiments and opinions which, I have thought,
tend to disunion and all of which the honorable member seems to have
adopted himself, and undertaken to defend. New England has, at times, so
argues the gentleman, held opinions as dangerous as those which he now
holds. Suppose this were so; why should _he_ therefore abuse New
England? If he finds himself countenanced by acts of hers, how is it that,
while he relies on these acts, he covers, or seeks to cover, their authors
with reproach? But, Sir, if, in the course of forty years, there have been
undue effervescences of party in New England, has the same thing happened
nowhere else? Party animosity and party outrage, not in New England, but
elsewhere, denounced President Washington, not only as a Federalist, but
as a Tory, a British agent, a man who, in his high office, sanctioned
corruption. But does the honorable member suppose, if I had a tender here
who should put such an effusion of wickedness and folly into my hand, that
I would stand up and read it against the South? Parties ran into great
heats again in 1799 and 1800. What was said, Sir, or rather what was not
said, in those years, against John Adams, one of the committee that
drafted the Declaration of Independence, and its admitted ablest defender
on the floor of Congress? If the gentleman wishes to increase his stores
of party abuse and frothy violence, if he has a determined proclivity to
such pursuits, there are treasures of that sort south of the Potomac, much
to his taste, yet untouched. I shall not touch them.

The parties which divided the country at the commencement of the late war
were violent. But then there was violence on both sides, and violence in
every State. Minorities and majorities were equally violent. There was no
more violence against the war in New England, than in other States; nor
any more appearance of violence, except that, owing to a dense population,
greater facility of assembling, and more presses, there may have been more
in quantity spoken and printed there than in some other places. In the
article of sermons, too, New England is somewhat more abundant than South
Carolina; and for that reason the chance of finding here and there an
exceptionable one may be greater. I hope, too, there are more good ones.
Opposition may have been more formidable in New England, as it embraced a
larger portion of the whole population; but it was no more unrestrained in
principle, or violent in manner. The minorities dealt quite as harshly
with their own State governments as the majorities dealt with the
administration here. There were presses on both sides, popular meetings on
both sides, ay, and pulpits on both sides also. The gentleman's purveyors
have only catered for him among the productions of one side. I certainly
shall not supply the deficiency by furnishing samples of the other. I
leave to him, and to them, the whole concern.

It is enough for me to say, that if, in any part of this their grateful
occupation, if, in all their researches, they find anything in the history
of Massachusetts, or New England, or in the proceedings of any legislative
or other public body, disloyal to the Union, speaking slightingly of its
value, proposing to break it up, or recommending non-intercourse with
neighboring States, on account of difference of political opinion, then,
Sir, I give them all up to the honorable gentleman's unrestrained rebuke;
expecting, however, that he will extend his buffetings in like manner
_to all similar proceedings, wherever else found_.

The gentleman, Sir, has spoken at large of former parties, now no longer
in being, by their received appellations, and has undertaken to instruct
us, not only in the knowledge of their principles, but of their respective
pedigrees also. He has ascended to their origin, and run out their
genealogies. With most exemplary modesty, he speaks of the party to which
he professes to have himself belonged, as the true Pure, the only honest,
patriotic party, derived by regular descent, from father to son, from the
time of the virtuous Romans! Spreading before us the _family tree_ of
political parties, he takes especial care to show himself snugly perched
on a popular bough! He is wakeful to the expediency of adopting such rules
of descent as shall bring him in, to the exclusion of others, as an heir
to the inheritance of all public virtue, and all true political principle.
His party and his opinions are sure to be orthodox; heterodoxy is confined
to his opponents. He spoke, Sir, of the Federalists, and I thought I saw
some eyes begin to open and stare a little, when he ventured on that
ground. I expected he would draw his sketches rather lightly, when he
looked on the circle round him, and especially if he should cast his
thoughts to the high places out of the Senate. [18] Nevertheless, he went
back to Rome, _ad annum urbis condita_, and found the fathers of the
Federalists in the primeval aristocrats of that renowned--city! He traced
the flow of Federal blood down through successive ages and centuries, till
he brought it into the veins of the American Tories, of whom, by the way,
there were twenty in the Carolinas for one in Massachusetts. From the
Tories he followed it to the Federalists; and, as the Federal party was
broken up, and there was no possibility of transmitting it further on this
side the Atlantic, he seems to have discovered that it has gone off
collaterally, though against all the canons of descent, into the Ultras of
France, and finally become extinguished, like exploded gas, among the
adherents of Don Miguel! [19]

This, Sir, is an abstract of the gentleman's history of Federalism. I am
not about to controvert it. It is not, at present, worth the pains of
refutation; because, Sir, if at this day any one feels the sin of
Federalism lying heavily on his conscience, he can easily procure
remission. He may even obtain an indulgence, if he be desirous of
repeating the same transgression. It is an affair of no difficulty to get
into this same right line of patriotic descent. A man now-a-days is at
liberty to choose his political parentage. He may elect his own father.
Federalist or not, he may, if he choose, claim to belong to the favored
stock, and his claim will be allowed. He may carry back his pretensions
just as far as the honorable gentleman himself; nay, he may make himself
out the honorable gentleman's cousin, and prove, satisfactorily, that he
is descended from the same political great-grandfather. All this is
allowable. We all know a process, Sir, by which the whole Essex Junto
[Footnote:20] could, in one hour, be all washed white from their ancient
Federalism, and come out, every one of them, original Democrats, dyed in
the wool! Some of them have actually undergone the operation, and they say
it is quite easy. The only inconvenience it occasions, as they tell us, is
a slight tendency of the blood to the face, a soft suffusion, which,
however, is very transient, since nothing is said by those whom they join
calculated to deepen the red on the cheek, but a prudent silence is
observed in regard to all the past. Indeed, Sir, some smiles of
approbation have been bestowed, and some crumbs of comfort have fallen,
not a thousand miles from the door of the Hartford Convention itself. And
if the author of the Ordinance of 1787 possessed the other requisite
qualifications, there is no knowing, notwithstanding his Federalism, to
what heights of favor he might not yet attain.

Mr. President, in carrying his warfare, such as it is, into New England,
the honorable gentleman all along professes to be acting on the defensive.
He chooses to consider me as having assailed South Carolina, and insists
that he comes forth only as her champion, and in her defence. Sir, I do
not admit that I made any attack whatever on South Carolina. Nothing like
it. The honorable member, in his first speech, expressed opinions, in
regard to revenue and some other topics, which I heard both with pain and
with surprise. I told the gentleman I was aware that such sentiments were
entertained _out_ of the government, but had not expected to find
them advanced in it; that I knew there were persons in the South who speak
of our Union with indifference or doubt, taking pains to magnify its
evils, and to say nothing of its benefits; that the honorable member
himself, I was sure, could never be one of these; and I regretted the
expression of such opinions as he had avowed, because I thought their
obvious tendency was to encourage feelings of disrespect to the Union, and
to impair its strength. This, Sir, is the sum and substance of all I said
on the subject. And this constitutes the attack which called on the
chivalry of the gentleman, in his own opinion, to harry us with such a
foray among the party pamphlets and party proceedings of Massachusetts! If
he means that I spoke with dissatisfaction or disrespect of the
ebullitions of individuals in South Carolina, it is true. But if he means
that I assailed the character of the State, her honor, or patriotism, that
I reflected on her history or her conduct, he has not the slightest ground
for any such assumption. I did not even refer, I think, in my
observations, to any collection of individuals. I said nothing of the
recent conventions. I spoke in the most guarded and careful manner, and
only expressed my regret for the publication of opinions, which I presumed
the honorable member disapproved as much as myself. In this, it seems, I
was mistaken. I do not remember that the gentleman has disclaimed any
sentiment, or any opinion, of a supposed anti-union tendency, which on all
or any of the recent occasions has been expressed. [21] The whole drift of
his speech has been rather to prove, that, in divers times and manners,
sentiments equally liable to my objection have been avowed in New England.
And one would suppose that his object, in this reference to Massachusetts,
was to find a precedent to justify proceedings in the South, were it not
for the reproach and contumely with which he labors, all along, to load
these his own chosen precedents. By way of defending South Carolina from
what he chooses to think an attack on her, he first quotes the example of
Massachusetts, and then denounces that example in good set terms. This
twofold purpose, not very consistent, one would think, with itself, was
exhibited more than once in the course of his speech. He referred, for
instance, to the Hartford Convention. Did he do this for authority, or for
a topic of reproach? Apparently for both, for he told us that he should
find no fault with the mere fact of holding such a convention, and
considering and discussing such questions as he supposes were then and
there discussed; but what rendered it obnoxious was its being held at the
time, and under the circumstances of the country then existing. We were in
a war, he said, and the country needed all our aid; the hand of government
required to be strengthened, not weakened; and patriotism should have
postponed such proceedings to another day. The thing itself, then, is a
precedent; the time and manner of it only, a subject of censure.

Now, Sir, I go much further, on this point, than the honorable member.
Supposing, as the gentleman seems to do, that the Hartford Convention
assembled for any such purpose as breaking up the Union, because they
thought unconstitutional laws had been passed, or to consult on that
subject, or _to calculate the value of the Union_; supposing this to
be their purpose, or any part of it, then I say the meeting itself was
disloyal, and was obnoxious to censure, whether held in time of peace or
time of war, or under whatever circumstances. The material question is the
_object_. Is dissolution the _object_? If it be, external
circumstances may make it a more or less aggravated case, but cannot
affect the principle. I do not hold, therefore, Sir, that the Hartford
Convention was pardonable, even to the extent of the gentleman's
admission, if its objects were really such as have been imputed to it.
Sir, there never was a time, under any degree of excitement, in which the
Hartford Convention, or any other convention, could have maintained itself
one moment in New England, if assembled for any such purpose as the
gentleman says would have been an allowable purpose. To hold conventions
to decide constitutional law! To try the binding validity of statutes by
votes in a convention! Sir, the Hartford Convention, I presume, would not
desire that the honorable gentleman should be their defender or advocate,
if he puts their case upon such untenable and extravagant grounds.

Then, Sir, the gentleman has no fault to find with these recently
promulgated South Carolina opinions. And certainly he need have none; for
his own sentiments, as now advanced, and advanced on reflection, as far as
I have been able to comprehend them, go the full length of all these
opinions. I propose, Sir, to say something on these, and to consider how
far they are just and constitutional. Before doing that, however, let me
observe that the eulogium pronounced by the honorable gentleman on the
character of the State of South Carolina, for her Revolutionary and other
merits, meets my hearty concurrence. I shall not acknowledge that the
honorable member goes before me in regard for whatever of distinguished
talent, or distinguished character, South Carolina has produced. I claim
part of the honor, I partake in the pride, of her great names. I claim
them for countrymen, one and all, the Laurenses, the Rutledges, the
Pinckneys, the Sumpters, the Marions, Americans all, whose fame is no more
to be hemmed in by State lines, than their talents and patriotism were
capable of being circumscribed within the same narrow limits. In their day
and generation, they served and honored the country, and the whole
country; and their renown is of the treasures of the whole country. Him
whose honored name the gentleman himself bears,--does he esteem me less
capable of gratitude for his patriotism, or sympathy for his sufferings,
than if his eyes had first opened upon the light of Massachusetts, instead
of South Carolina? Sir, does he suppose it in his power to exhibit a
Carolina name so bright as to produce envy in my bosom? No, Sir, increased
gratification and delight, rather. I thank God, that, if I am gifted with
little of the spirit which is able to raise mortals to the skies, I have
yet none, as I trust, of that other spirit, which would drag angels down.
When I shall be found, Sir, in my place here in the Senate, or elsewhere,
to sneer at public merit, because it happens to spring up beyond the
little limits of my own State or neighborhood; when I refuse, for any such
cause or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to elevated
patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or, if I see
an uncommon endowment of Heaven, if I see extraordinary capacity and
virtue, in any son of the South, and if, moved by local prejudice or
gangrened by State jealousy, I get up here to abate the tithe of a hair
from his just character and just fame, may my tongue cleave to the roof of
my mouth!

Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections; let me indulge in refreshing
remembrance of the past; let me remind you that, in early times, no States
cherished greater harmony, both of principle and feeling, than
Massachusetts and South Carolina. Would to God that harmony might again
return! Shoulder to shoulder they went through the Revolution, hand in
hand they stood round the administration of Washington, and felt his own
great arm lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it exist,
alienation, and distrust are the growth, unnatural to such soils, of false
principles since sown. They are weeds, the seeds of which that same great
arm never scattered.

Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs
none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her
history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There
is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there they
will remain for ever. The bones of her sons, falling in the great struggle
for Independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every State from New
England to Georgia; and there they will lie for ever. And, Sir, where
American Liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was nurtured
and sustained, there it still lives, in the strength of its manhood and
full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall wound it, if
party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it, if folly and
madness, if uneasiness under salutary and necessary restraint, shall
succeed in separating it from that Union, by which alone its existence is
made sure, it will stand, in the end, by the side of that cradle in which
its infancy was rocked; it will stretch forth its arm with whatever of
vigor it may still retain over the friends who gather round it; and it
will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the proudest monuments of its
own glory, and on the very spot of its origin. [22]

There yet remains to be performed, Mr. President, by far the most grave
and important duty, which I feel to be devolved on me by this occasion. It
is to state, and to defend, what I conceive to be the true principles of
the Constitution under which we are here assembled. I might well have
desired that so weighty a task should have fallen into other and abler
hands. I could have wished that it should have been executed by those
whose character and experience give weight and influence to their
opinions, such as cannot possibly belong to mine. But, Sir, I have met the
occasion, not sought it; and I shall proceed to state my own sentiments,
without challenging for them any particular regard, with studied
plainness, and as much precision as possible.

I understand the honorable gentleman from South Carolina to maintain, that
it is a right of the State legislatures to interfere, whenever, in their
judgment, this government transcends its constitutional limits, and to
arrest the operation of its laws.

I understand him to maintain this right, as a right existing _under_
the Constitution, not as a right to overthrow it on the ground of extreme
necessity, such as would justify violent revolution.

I understand him to maintain an authority, on the part of the States, thus
to interfere, for the purpose of correcting the exercise of power by the
general government, of checking it, and of compelling it to conform to
their opinion of the extent of its powers.

I understand him to maintain, that the ultimate power of judging of the
constitutional extent of its own authority is not lodged exclusively in
the general government, or any branch of it; but that, on the contrary,
the States may lawfully decide for themselves, and each State for itself,
whether, in a given case, the act of the general government transcends its
power.

I understand him to insist, that, if the exigency of the case, in the
opinion of any State government, require it, such State government may, by
its own sovereign authority, annul an act of the general government which
it deems plainly and palpably unconstitutional.

This is the sum of what I understand from him to be the South Carolina
doctrine, and the doctrine which he maintains. I propose to consider it,
and compare it with the Constitution. Allow me to say, as a preliminary
remark, that I call this the South Carolina doctrine only because the
gentleman himself has so denominated it. I do not feel at liberty to say
that South Carolina, as a State, has ever advanced these sentiments. I
hope she has not, and never may. That a great majority of her people are
opposed to the tariff laws, is doubtless true. That a majority, somewhat
less than that just mentioned, conscientiously believe these laws
unconstitutional, may probably also be true. But that any majority holds
to the right of direct State interference at State discretion, the right
of nullifying acts of Congress by acts of State legislation, is more than
I know, and what I shall be slow to believe.

That there are individuals besides the honorable gentleman who do maintain
these opinions, is quite certain. I recollect the recent expression of a
sentiment, which circumstances attending its utterance and publication
justify us in supposing was not unpremeditated. "The sovereignty of the
State,--never to be controlled, construed, or decided on, but by her own
feelings of honorable justice." [23]

We all know that civil institutions are established for the public
benefit, and that when they cease to answer the ends of their existence
they may be changed. But I do not understand the doctrine now contended
for to be that, which, for the sake of distinction, we may call the right
of revolution. I understand the gentleman to maintain, that it is
constitutional to interrupt the administration of the Constitution itself,
in the hands of those who are chosen and sworn to administer it, by the
direct interference, in form of law, of the States, in virtue of their
sovereign capacity. The inherent right in the people to reform their
government I do not deny; and they have another right, and that is, to
resist unconstitutional laws, without overturning the government. It is no
doctrine of mine that unconstitutional laws bind the people. The great
question is, Whose prerogative is it to decide on the constitutionality or
unconstitutionality of the laws? On that, the main debate hinges. The
proposition, that, in case of a supposed violation of the Constitution by
Congress, the States have a constitutional right to interfere and annul
the law of Congress, is the proposition of the gentleman. I do not admit
it. If the gentleman had intended no more than to assert the right of
revolution for justifiable cause, he would have said only what all agree
to. But I cannot conceive that there can be a middle course, between
submission to the laws, when regularly pronounced constitutional, on the
one hand, and open resistance, which is revolution or rebellion, on the
other.

This leads us to inquire into the origin of this government and the source
of its power. Whose agent is it? Is it the creature of the State
legislatures, or the creature of the people? If the government of the
United States be the agent of the State governments, then they may control
it, provided they can agree in the manner of controlling it; if it be the
agent of the people, then the people alone can control it, restrain it,
modify, or reform it. It is observable enough, that the doctrine for which
the honorable gentleman contends leads him to the necessity of
maintaining, not only that this general government is the creature of the
States, but that it is the creature of each of the States severally, so
that each may assert the power for itself of determining whether it acts
within the limits of its authority. It is the servant of four-and-twenty
masters, of different wills and different purposes, and yet bound to obey
all. This absurdity (for it seems no less) arises from a misconception as
to the origin of this government and its true character. It is, Sir, the
people's Constitution, the people's government, made for the people, made
by the people, and answerable to the people. The people of the United
States have declared that this Constitution shall be the supreme law. We
must either admit the proposition, or dispute their authority. The States
are, unquestionably, sovereign, so far as their sovereignty is not
affected by the supreme law. But the State legislatures, as political
bodies, however sovereign, are yet not sovereign over the people. So far
as the people have given power to the general government, so far the grant
is unquestionably good, and the government holds of the people, and not of
the State governments. We are all agents of the same supreme power, the
people. The general government and the State governments derive their
authority from the same source. Neither can, in relation to the other, be
called primary, though one is definite and restricted, and the other
general and residuary. The national government possesses those powers
which it can be shown the people have conferred on it, and no more. All
the rest belongs to the State governments, or to the people themselves. So
far as the people have restrained State sovereignty, by the expression of
their will, in the Constitution of the United States, so far, it must be
admitted, State sovereignty is effectually controlled. I do not contend
that it is, or ought to be, controlled farther. The sentiment to which I
have referred propounds that State sovereignty is only to be controlled by
its own "feeling of justice"; that is to say, it is not to be controlled
at all, for one who is to follow his own feelings is under no legal
control. Now, however men may think this ought to be, the fact is, that
the people of the United States have chosen to impose control on State
sovereignties. There are those, doubtless, who wish they had been left
without restraint; but the Constitution has ordered the matter
differently. To make war, for instance, is an exercise of sovereignty; but
the Constitution declares that no State shall make war. To coin money is
another exercise of sovereign power; but no State is at liberty to coin
money. Again, the Constitution says that no sovereign State shall be so
sovereign as to make a treaty. These prohibitions, it must be confessed,
are a control on the State sovereignty of South Carolina, as well as of
the other States, which does not arise "from her own feelings of honorable
justice." The opinion referred to, therefore, is in defiance of the
plainest provisions of the Constitution.

There are other proceedings of public bodies which have already been
alluded to, and to which I refer again for the purpose of ascertaining
more fully what is the length and breadth of that doctrine, denominated
the Carolina doctrine, which the honorable member has now stood up on this
floor to maintain. In one of them I find it resolved, that "the tariff of
1828, and every other tariff designed to promote one branch of industry at
the expense of others, is contrary to the meaning and intention of the
federal compact; and such a dangerous, palpable, and deliberate usurpation
of power, by a determined majority, wielding the general government beyond
the limits of its delegated powers, as calls upon the States which compose
the suffering minority, in their sovereign capacity, to exercise the
powers which, as sovereigns, necessarily devolve upon them, when their
compact is violated."

Observe, Sir, that this resolution holds the tariff of 1828, and every
other tariff designed to promote one branch of industry at the expense of
another, to be such a dangerous, palpable, and deliberate usurpation of
power, as calls upon the States, in their sovereign capacity, to interfere
by their own authority. This denunciation, Mr. President, you will please
to observe, includes our old tariff of 1816, as well as all others;
because that was established to promote the interest of the manufacturers
of cotton, to the manifest and admitted injury of the Calcutta cotton
trade. Observe, again, that all the qualifications are here rehearsed and
charged upon the tariff, which are necessary to bring the case within the
gentleman's proposition. The tariff is a usurpation; it is a dangerous
usurpation; it is a palpable usurpation; it is a deliberate usurpation. It
is such a usurpation, therefore, as calls upon the States to exercise
their right of interference. Here is a case, then, within the gentleman's
principles, and all his qualifications of his principles. It is a case for
action. The Constitution is plainly, dangerously, palpably, and
deliberately violated; and the States must interpose their own authority
to arrest the law. Let us suppose the State of South Carolina to express
this same opinion, by the voice of her legislature. That would be very
imposing; but what then? Is the voice of one State conclusive? It so
happens that, at the very moment when South Carolina resolves that the
tariff laws are unconstitutional, Pennsylvania and Kentucky resolve
exactly the reverse. _They_ hold those laws to be both highly proper
and strictly constitutional. And now, Sir, how does the honorable member
propose to deal with this case? How does he relieve us from this
difficulty, upon any principle of his? His construction gets us into it;
how does he propose to get us out?

In Carolina, the tariff is a palpable, deliberate usurpation; Carolina,
therefore, may nullify it, and refuse to pay the duties. In Pennsylvania,
it is both clearly constitutional and highly expedient; and there the
duties are to be paid. And yet we live under a government of uniform laws,
and under a Constitution too, which contains an express provision, as it
happens, that all duties shall be equal in all the States. Does not this
approach absurdity?

If there be no power to settle such questions, independent of either of
the States, is not the whole Union a rope of sand? Are we not thrown back
again, precisely, upon the old Confederation?

It is too plain to be argued. Four-and-twenty interpreters of
constitutional law, each with a power to decide for itself, and none with
authority to bind anybody else, and this constitutional law the only bond
of their union! What is such a state of things but a mere connection
during pleasure, or, to use the phraseology of the times, _during
feeling_? And that feeling, too, not the feeling of the people, who
established the Constitution, but the feeling of the State governments.

In another of the South Carolina addresses, having premised that the
crisis requires "all the concentrated energy of passion," an attitude of
open resistance to the laws of the Union is advised. Open resistance to
the laws, then, is the constitutional remedy, the conservative power of
the State, which the South Carolina doctrines teach for the redress of
political evils, real or imaginary. And its authors further say, that,
appealing with confidence to the Constitution itself, to justify their
opinions, they cannot consent to try their accuracy by the courts of
justice. In one sense, indeed, Sir, this is assuming an attitude of open
resistance in favor of liberty. But what sort of liberty? The liberty of
establishing their own opinions, in defiance of the opinions of all
others; the liberty of judging and of deciding exclusively themselves, in
a matter in which others have as much right to judge and decide as they;
the liberty of placing their own opinions above the judgment of all
others, above the laws, and above the Constitution. This is their liberty,
and this is the fair result of the proposition contended for by the
honorable gentleman. Or, it may be more properly said, it is identical
with it, rather than a result from it.

Resolutions, Sir, have been recently passed by the legislature of South
Carolina. I need not refer to them; they go no farther than the honorable
gentleman himself has gone, and I hope not so far. I content myself,
therefore, with debating the matter with him.

And now, Sir, what I have first to say on this subject is, that at no
time, and under no circumstances, has New England, or any State in New
England, or any respectable body of persons in New England, or any public
man of standing in New England, put forth such a doctrine as this Carolina
doctrine.

The gentleman has found no case, he can find none, to support his own
opinions by New England authority. New England has studied the
Constitution in other schools, and under other teachers. She looks upon it
with other regards, and deems more highly and reverently both of its just
authority and its utility and excellence. The history of her legislative
proceedings may be traced. The ephemeral effusions of temporary bodies,
called together by the excitement of the occasion, may be hunted up; they
have been hunted up. The opinions and votes of her public men, in and out
of Congress, may be explored. It will all be in vain. The Carolina
doctrine can derive from her neither countenance nor support. She rejects
it now; she always did reject it; and till she loses her senses, she
always will reject it. The honorable member has referred to expressions on
the subject of the embargo law, made in this place, by an honorable and
venerable gentleman, now favoring us with his presence. [24] He quotes
that distinguished Senator as saying, that, in his judgment, the embargo
law was unconstitutional, and that therefore, in his opinion, the people
were not bound to obey it. That, Sir, is perfectly constitutional
language. An unconstitutional law is not binding; _but then it does not
rest with a resolution or a law of a State legislature to decide whether
an act of Congress be or be not constitutional_. An unconstitutional
act of Congress would not bind the people of this District, although they
have no legislature to interfere in their behalf; and, on the other hand,
a constitutional law of Congress does bind the citizens of every State,
although all their legislatures should undertake to annul it by act or
resolution. The venerable Connecticut Senator is a constitutional lawyer,
of sound principles and enlarged knowledge; a statesman practised and
experienced, bred in the company of Washington, and holding just views
upon the nature of our governments. He believed the embargo
unconstitutional, and so did others; but what then? Who did he suppose was
to decide that question? The State legislatures? Certainly not. No such
sentiment ever escaped his lips.

Let us follow up, Sir, this New England opposition to the embargo laws;
let us trace it, till we discern the principle which controlled and
governed New England throughout the whole course of that opposition. We
shall then see what similarity there is between the New England school of
constitutional opinions, and this modern Carolina school. The gentleman, I
think, read a petition from some single individual addressed to the
legislature of Massachusetts, asserting the Carolina doctrine; that is,
the right of State interference to arrest the laws of the Union. The fate
of that petition shows the sentiment of the legislature. It met no favor.
The opinions of Massachusetts were very different. They had been expressed
in 1798, in answer to the resolutions of Virginia, and she did not depart
from them, nor bend them to the times. Misgoverned, wronged, oppressed, as
she felt herself to be, she still held fast her integrity to the Union.
The gentleman may find in her proceedings much evidence of dissatisfaction
with the measures of government, and great and deep dislike to the
embargo; all this makes the case so much the stronger for her; for,
notwithstanding all this dissatisfaction and dislike, she still claimed no
right to sever the bonds of the Union. There was heat, and there was anger
in her political feeling. Be it so; but neither her heat nor her anger
betrayed, her into infidelity to the government. The gentleman labors to
prove that she disliked the embargo as much as South Carolina dislikes the
tariff, and expressed her dislike as strongly. Be it so; but did she
propose the Carolina remedy? did she threaten to interfere, by State
authority, to annul the laws of the Union? That is the question for the
gentleman's consideration.

No doubt, Sir, a great majority of the people of New England
conscientiously believed the embargo law of 1807 unconstitutional; [25] as
conscientiously, certainly, as the people of South Carolina hold that
opinion of the tariff. They reasoned thus: Congress has power to regulate
commerce; but here is a law, they said, stopping all commerce, and
stopping it indefinitely. The law is perpetual; that is, it is not limited
in point of time, and must of course continue until it shall be repealed
by some other law. It is as perpetual, therefore, as the law against
treason or murder. Now, is this regulating commerce, or destroying it? Is
it guiding, controlling, giving the rule to commerce, as a subsisting
thing or is it putting an end to it altogether? Nothing is more certain,
than that a majority in New England deemed this law a violation of the
Constitution. The very case required by the gentleman to justify State
interference had then arisen. Massachusetts believed this law to be "a
deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of a power not granted by the
Constitution." Deliberate it was, for it was long continued; palpable she
thought it, as no words in the Constitution gave the power, and only a
construction, in her opinion most violent, raised it; dangerous it was,
since it threatened utter ruin to her most important interests. Here,
then, was a Carolina case. How did Massachusetts deal with it? It was, as
she thought, a plain, manifest, palpable violation of the Constitution,
and it brought ruin to her doors. Thousands of families, and hundreds of
thousands of individuals, were beggared by it. While she saw and felt all
this, she saw and felt also, that, as a measure of national policy, it was
perfectly futile; that the country was no way benefited by that which
caused so much individual distress; that it was efficient only for the
production of evil, and all that evil inflicted on ourselves. In such a
case, under such circumstances, how did Massachusetts demean herself? Sir,
she remonstrated, she memorialized, she addressed herself to the general
government, not exactly "with the concentrated energy of passion," but
with her own strong sense, and the energy of sober conviction. But she did
not interpose the arm of her own power to arrest the law, and break the
embargo. Far from it. Her principles bound her to two things; and she
followed her principles, lead where they might. First, to submit to every
constitutional law of Congress, and secondly, if the constitutional
validity of the law be doubted, to refer that question to the decision of
the proper tribunals. The first principle is vain and ineffectual without
the second. A majority of us in New England believed the embargo law
unconstitutional; but the great question was, and always will be in such
cases, Who is to decide this? Who is to judge between the people and the
government? And, Sir, it is quite plain, that the Constitution of the
United States confers on the government itself, to be exercised by its
appropriate department, and under its own responsibility to the people,
this power of deciding ultimately and conclusively upon the just extent of
its own authority. If this had not been done, we should not have advanced
a single step beyond the old Confederation.

Being fully of the opinion that the embargo law was unconstitutional, the
people of New England were yet equally clear in the opinion, (it was a
matter they did doubt upon,) that the question, after all, must be decided
by the judicial tribunals of the United States. Before those tribunals,
therefore, they brought the question. Under the provisions of the law,
they had given bonds to millions in amount, and which were alleged to be
forfeited. They suffered the bonds to be sued, and thus raised the
question. In the old-fashioned way of settling disputes, they went to law.
The case came to hearing and solemn argument; and he who espoused their
cause, and stood up for them against the validity of the embargo act, was
none other than that great man, of whom the gentleman has made honorable
mention, Samuel Dexter. He was then, Sir, in the fulness of his knowledge,
and the maturity of his strength. He had retired from long and
distinguished public service here, to the renewed pursuit of professional
duties, carrying with him all that enlargement and expansion, all the new
strength and force, which an acquaintance with the more general subjects
discussed in the national councils is capable of adding to professional
attainment, in a mind of true greatness and comprehension. He was a
lawyer, and he was also a statesman. He had studied the Constitution, when
he filled public station, that he might defend it; he had examined its
principles that he might maintain them. More than all men, or at least as
much as any man, he was attached to the general government and to the
union of the States. His feelings and opinions all ran in that direction.
A question of constitutional law, too, was, of all subjects, that one
which was best suited to his talents and learning. Aloof from
technicality, and unfettered by artificial rule, such a question gave
opportunity for that deep and clear analysis, that mighty grasp of
principle, which so much distinguished his higher efforts. His very
statement was argument; his inference seemed demonstration. The
earnestness of his own conviction wrought conviction in others. One was
convinced, and believed, and assented, because it was gratifying,
delightful, to think, and feel, and believe, in unison with an intellect
of such evident superiority.

Mr. Dexter, Sir, such as I have described him, argued the New England
cause. He put into his effort his whole heart, as well as all the powers
of his understanding; for he had avowed, in the most public manner, his
entire concurrence with his neighbors on the point in dispute. He argued
the cause; it was lost, and New England submitted. The established
tribunals pronounced the law constitutional, and New England acquiesced.
Now, Sir, is not this the exact opposite of the doctrine of the gentleman
from South Carolina? According to him, instead of referring to the
judicial tribunals, we should have broken up the embargo by laws of our
own; we should have repealed it, _quoad_ New England; for we had a
strong, palpable, and oppressive case. Sir, we believed the embargo
unconstitutional; but still that was matter of opinion, and who was to
decide it? We thought it a clear case; but, nevertheless, we did not take
the law into our own hands, because we did not wish to bring about a
revolution, nor to break up the Union; for I maintain, that between
submission to the decision of the constituted tribunals, and revolution,
or disunion, there is no middle ground; there is no ambiguous condition,
half allegiance and half rebellion. And, Sir, how futile, how very futile
it is, to admit the right of State interference, and then attempt to save
it from the character of unlawful resistance, by adding terms of
qualification to the causes and occasions, leaving all these
qualifications, like the case itself, in the discretion of the State
governments. It must be a clear case, it is said, a deliberate case, a
palpable case, a dangerous case. But then the State is still left at
liberty to decide for herself what is clear, what is deliberate, what is
palpable, what is dangerous. Do adjectives and epithets avail any thing?

Sir, the human mind is so constituted, that the merits of both sides of a
controversy appear very clear, and very palpable, to those who
respectively espouse them; and both sides usually grow clearer as the
controversy advances. South Carolina sees unconstitutionality in the
tariff; she sees oppression there also, and she sees danger. Pennsylvania,
with a vision not less sharp, looks at the same tariff, and sees no such
thing in it; she sees it all constitutional, all useful, all safe. The
faith of South Carolina is strengthened by opposition, and she now not
only sees, but _resolves_, that the tariff is palpably unconstitutional,
oppressive, and dangerous; but Pennsylvania, not to be behind her
neighbors, and equally willing to strengthen her own faith by a confident
asseveration, _resolves_, also, and gives to every warm affirmative of
South Carolina, a plain, downright, Pennsylvania negative. South Carolina,
to show the strength and unity of her opinion, brings her assembly to a
unanimity, within seven voices; Pennsylvania, not to be outdone in this
respect any more than in others, reduces her dissentient fraction to a
single vote. Now, Sir, again, I ask the gentleman, What is to be done?
Are these States both right? Is he bound to consider them both right?
If not, which is in the wrong? or rather, which has the best right to
decide? And if he, and if I, are not to know what the Constitution
means, and what it is, till those two State legislatures, and the twenty-
two others, shall agree in its construction, what have we sworn to, when
we have sworn to maintain it? I was forcibly struck, Sir, with one
reflection, as the gentleman went on in his speech. He quoted Mr.
Madison's resolutions, to prove that a State may interfere, in a case of
deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of a power not granted. The
honorable member supposes the tariff law to be such an exercise of power;
and that consequently a case has arisen in which the State may, if it see
fit, interfere by its own law. Now it so happens, nevertheless, that Mr.
Madison deems this same tariff law quite constitutional. Instead of a
clear and palpable violation, it is, in his judgment, no violation at all.
So that, while they use his authority for a hypothetical case, they reject
it in the very case before them. All this, Sir, shows the inherent
futility, I had almost used a stronger word, of conceding this power of
inference to the State, and then attempting to secure it from abuse by
imposing qualifications of which the States themselves are to judge. One
of two things is true; either the laws of the Union are beyond the
discretion and beyond the control of the States; or else we have no
constitution of general government, and are thrust back again to the days
of the Confederation.

Let me here say, Sir, that if the gentleman's doctrine had been received
and acted upon in New England, in the times of the embargo and non-
intercourse, we should probably not now have been here. The government
would very likely have gone to pieces, and crumbled into dust. No stronger
case can ever arise than existed under those laws; no States can ever
entertain a clearer conviction than the New England States then
entertained; and if they had been under the influence of that heresy of
opinion, as I must call it, which the honorable member espouses, this
Union would, in all probability, have been scattered to the four winds. I
ask the gentleman, therefore, to apply his principles to that case; I ask
him to come forth and declare, whether, in his opinion, the New England
States would have been justified in interfering to break up the embargo
system under the conscientious opinions which they held upon it? Had they
a right to annul that law? Does he admit or deny? If what is thought
palpably unconstitutional in South Carolina justifies that State in
arresting the progress of the law, tell me whether that which was thought
palpably unconstitutional also in Massachusetts would have justified her
in doing the same thing? Sir, I deny the whole doctrine. It has not a foot
of ground in the Constitution to stand on. No public man of reputation
ever advanced it in Massachusetts in the warmest times, or could maintain
himself upon it there at any time.

I must now beg to ask, Sir, Whence is this supposed right of the States
derived? Where do they find the power to interfere with the laws of the
Union? Sir, the opinion which the honorable gentleman maintains is a
notion founded in a total misapprehension, in my judgment, of the origin
of this government, and of the foundation on which it stands. I hold it to
be a popular government, erected by the people; those who administer it,
responsible to the people; and itself capable of being amended and
modified, just as the people may choose it should be. It is as popular,
just as truly emanating from the people, as the State governments. It is
created for one purpose; the State governments for another. It has its own
powers; they have theirs. There is no more authority with them to arrest
the operation of a law of Congress, than with Congress to arrest the
operation of their laws. We are here to administer a Constitution
emanating immediately from the people, and trusted by them to our
administration. It is not the creature of the State governments. It is of
no moment to the argument, that certain acts of the State legislatures are
necessary to fill our seats in this body. That is not one of their
original State powers, a part of the sovereignty of the State. It is a
duty which the people, by the Constitution itself, have imposed on the
State legislatures; and which they might have left to be performed
elsewhere, if they had seen fit. So they have left the choice of President
with electors; but all this does not affect the proposition that this
whole government, President, Senate, and House of Representatives, is a
popular government. It leaves it still all its popular character. The
governor of a State (in some of the States) is chosen, not directly by the
people, but by those who are chosen by the people, for the purpose of
performing, among other duties, that of electing a governor. Is the
government of the State, on that account, not a popular government? This
government, Sir, is the independent offspring of the popular will. It is
not the creature of State legislatures; nay, more, if the whole truth must
be told, the people brought it into existence, established it, and have
hitherto supported it, for the very purpose, amongst others, of imposing
certain salutary restraints on State sovereignties. The States cannot now
make war; they cannot contract alliances; they cannot make, each for
itself, separate regulations of commerce; they cannot lay imposts; they
cannot coin money. If this Constitution, Sir, be the creature of State
legislatures, it must be admitted that it has obtained a strange control
over the volitions of its creators.

The people, then, Sir, erected this government. They gave it a
Constitution, and in that Constitution they have enumerated the powers
which they bestow on it. They have made it a limited government. They have
defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of such
powers as are granted; and all others, they declare, are reserved to the
States or the people. But, Sir, they have not stopped here. If they had,
they would have accomplished but half their work. No definition can be so
clear, as to avoid possibility of doubt; no limitation so precise as to
exclude all uncertainty. Who, then, shall construe this grant of the
people? Who shall interpret their will, where it may be supposed they have
left it doubtful? With whom do they repose this ultimate right of deciding
on the powers of the government? Sir, they have settled all this in the
fullest manner. They have left it with the government itself, in its
appropriate branches. Sir, the very chief end, the main design, for which
the whole Constitution was framed and adopted, was to establish a
government that should not be obliged to act through State agency, or
depend on State opinion and State discretion. The people had had quite
enough of that kind of government under the Confederation. Under that
system, the legal action, the application of law to individuals, belonged
exclusively to the States. Congress could only recommend; their acts were
not of binding force, till the States had adopted and sanctioned them. Are
we in that condition still? Are we yet at the mercy of State discretion
and State construction? Sir, if we are, then vain will be our attempt to
maintain the Constitution under which we sit.

But, Sir, the people have wisely provided, in the Constitution itself, a
proper, suitable mode and tribunal for settling questions of
constitutional law. There are in the Constitution grants of powers to
Congress, and restrictions on these powers. There are, also, prohibitions
on the States. Some authority must, therefore, necessarily exist, having
the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the interpretation of these
grants, restrictions, and prohibitions. The Constitution has itself
pointed out, ordained, and established that authority. How has it
accomplished this great and essential end? By declaring, Sir, that "_the
Constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof,
shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws
of any State to the contrary notwithstanding_."

This, Sir, was the first great step. By this the supremacy of the
Constitution and laws of the United States is declared. The people so will
it. No State law is to be valid which comes in conflict with the
Constitution, or any law of the United States passed in pursuance of it.
But who shall decide this question of interference? To whom lies the last
appeal? This, Sir, the Constitution itself decides also, 25 by declaring,
"_that the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the
Constitution and laws of the United States_." These two provisions
cover the whole ground. They are, in truth, the keystone of the arch! With
these it is a government; without them it is a confederation. In pursuance
of these clear and express provisions, Congress established, at its very
first session, in the judicial act, a mode for carrying them into full
effect, and for bringing all questions of constitutional power to the
final decision of the Supreme Court. It then, Sir, became a government. It
then had the means of self-protection; and but for this, it would, in all
probability, have been now among things which are past. Having constituted
the government, and declared its powers, the people have further said,
that, since somebody must decide on the extent of these powers, the
government shall itself decide; subject, always, like other popular
governments, to its responsibility to the people. And now, Sir, I repeat,
how is it that a State legislature acquires any power to interfere? Who,
or what, gives them the right to say to the people, "We, who are your
agents and servants for one purpose, will undertake to decide, that your
other agents and servants, appointed by you for another purpose, have
transcended the authority you gave them!" The reply would be, I think, not
impertinent, "Who made you a judge over another's servants? To their own
masters they stand or fall."

Sir, I deny this power of State legislatures altogether. It cannot stand
the test of examination. Gentlemen may say, that, in an extreme case, a
State government might protect the people from intolerable oppression.
Sir, in such a case, the people might protect themselves, without the aid
of the State governments. Such a case warrants revolution. It must make,
when it comes, a law for itself. A nullifying act of a State legislature
cannot alter the case, nor make resistance any more lawful. In maintaining
these sentiments, Sir, I am but asserting the rights of the people. I
state what they have declared, and insist on their right to declare it.
They have chosen to repose this power in the general government, and I
think it my duty to support it, like other constitutional powers.

For myself, Sir, I do not admit the competency of South Carolina, or any
other State, to prescribe my constitutional duty; or to settle, between me
and the people, the validity of laws of Congress for which I have voted. I
decline her umpirage. I have not sworn to support the Constitution
according to her construction of its clauses. I have not stipulated, by my
oath of office or otherwise, to come under any responsibility, except to
the people, and those whom they have appointed to pass upon the question,
whether laws, supported by my votes, conform to the Constitution of the
country. And, Sir, if we look to the general nature of the case, could
anything have been more preposterous, than to make a government for the
whole Union, and yet leave its powers subject, not to one interpretation,
but to thirteen or twenty-four interpretations? Instead of one tribunal,
established by all, responsible to all, with power to decide for all,
shall constitutional questions be left to four-and-twenty popular bodies,
each at liberty to decide for itself, and none bound to respect the
decisions of others,--and each at liberty, too, to give a new
construction on every new election of its own members? Would anything,
with such a principle in it, or rather with such a destitution of all
principle, be fit to be called a government? No, Sir. It should not be
denominated a Constitution. It should be called, rather, a collection of
topics for everlasting controversy; heads of debate for a disputatious
people. It would not be a government. It would not be adequate to any
practical good, or fit for any country to live under.

To avoid all possibility of being misunderstood, allow me to repeat again,
in the fullest manner, that I claim no powers for the government by forced
or unfair construction. I admit that it is a government of strictly
limited powers; of enumerated, specified, and particularized powers; and
that whatsoever is not granted, is withheld. But notwithstanding all this,
and however the grant of powers may be expressed, its limit and extent may
yet, in some cases, admit of doubt; and the general government would be
good for nothing, it would be incapable of long existing, if some mode had
not been provided in which those doubts, as they should arise, might be
peaceably, but authoritatively, solved.

And now, Mr. President, let me run the honorable gentleman's doctrine a
little into its practical application. Let us look at his probable
_modus operandi_. If a thing can be done, an ingenious man can tell
how it is to be done, and I wish to be informed how this State
interference is to be put in practice, without violence, bloodshed, and
rebellion. We will take the existing case of the tariff law. South
Carolina is said to have made up her opinion upon it. If we do not repeal
it, (as we probably shall not,) she will then apply to the case the remedy
of her doctrine. She will, we must suppose, pass a law of her legislature,
declaring the several acts of Congress usually called the tariff laws null
and void, so far as they respect South Carolina, or the citizens thereof.
So far, all is a paper transaction, and easy enough. But the collector at
Charleston is collecting the duties imposed by these tariff laws. He,
therefore, must be stopped. The collector will seize the goods if the
tariff duties are not paid. The State authorities will undertake their
rescue, the marshal, with his posse, will come to the collector's aid, and
here the contest begins. The militia of the State will be called out to
sustain the nullifying act. They will march, Sir, under a very gallant
leader; for I believe the honorable member himself commands the militia of
that part of the State. He will raise the NULLIFYING ACT on his standard,
and spread it out as his banner! It will have a preamble, setting forth
that the tariff laws are palpable, deliberate, and dangerous violations of
the Constitution! He will proceed, with this banner flying, to the custom-
house in Charleston,

  "All the while
   Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds." [26]

Arrived at the custom-house, he will tell the collector that he must
collect no more duties under any of the tariff laws. This he will be
somewhat puzzled to say, by the way, with a grave countenance, considering
what hand South Carolina herself had in that of 1816. But, Sir, the
collector would not, probably, desist, at his bidding. He would show him
the law of Congress, the treasury instruction, and his own oath of office.
He would say, he should perform his duty, come what come might.

Here would ensue a pause; for they say that a certain stillness precedes
the tempest. The trumpeter would hold his breath awhile, and before all
this military array should fall on the custom-house, collector, clerks,
and all, it is very probable some of those composing it would request of
their gallant commander-in-chief to be informed a little upon the point of
law; for they have, doubtless, a just respect for his opinions as a
lawyer, as well as for his bravery as a soldier. They know he has read
Blackstone and the Constitution, as well as Turenne and Vauban. They would
ask him, therefore, something concerning their rights in this matter. They
would inquire, whether it was not somewhat dangerous to resist a law of
the United States. What would be the nature of their offence, they would
wish to learn, if they, by military force and array, resisted the
execution in Carolina of a law of the United States, and it should turn
out, after all, that the law _was constitutional_? He would answer,
of course, Treason. No lawyer could give any other answer. John Fries,[27]
he would tell them, had learned that, some years ago. How, then, they
would ask, do you propose to defend us? We are not afraid of bullets, but
treason has a way of taking people off that we do not much relish. How do
you propose to defend us? "Look at my floating banner," he would reply;
"see there the _nullifying law!_" Is it your opinion, gallant
commander, they would then say, that, if we should be indicted for
treason, that same floating banner of yours would make a good plea in bar?
"South Carolina is a sovereign state," he would reply. That is true; but
would the judge admit our plea? "These tariff laws," he would repeat, "are
unconstitutional, palpably, deliberately, dangerously." That may all be
so; but if the tribunal should not happen to be of that opinion, shall we
swing for it? We are ready to die for our country, but it is rather an
awkward business, this dying without touching the ground! After all, that
is a sort of hemp tax worse than any part of the tariff.

Mr. President, the honorable gentleman would be in a dilemma, like that of
another great general. He would have a knot before him which he could not
untie. He must cut it with his sword. He must say to his followers,
"Defend yourselves with your bayonets"; and this is war,--civil war.

Direct collision, therefore, between force and force, is the unavoidable
result of that remedy for the revision of unconstitutional laws which the
gentleman contends for. It must happen in the very first case to which it
is applied. Is not this the plain result? To resist by force the execution
of a law, generally, is treason. Can the courts of the United States take
notice of the indulgence of a State to commit treason? The common saying,
that a State cannot commit treason herself, is nothing to the purpose. Can
she authorize others to do it? If John Fries had produced an act of
Pennsylvania, annulling the law of Congress, would it have helped his
case? Talk about it as we will, these doctrines go the length of
revolution. They are incompatible with any peaceable administration of the
government. They lead directly to disunion and civil commotion; and
therefore it is, that at their commencement, when they are first found to
be maintained by respectable men, and in a tangible form, I enter my
public protest against them all.

The honorable gentleman argues, that, if this government be the sole judge
of the extent of its own powers, whether that right of judging be in
Congress or the Supreme Court, it equally subverts State sovereignty. This
the gentleman sees, or thinks he sees, although he cannot perceive how the
right of judging, in this matter, if left to the exercise of State
legislatures, has any tendency to subvert the government of the Union. The
gentleman's opinion may be, that the right ought not to have been lodged
with the general government; he may like better such a constitution as we
should have under the right of State interference; but I ask him to meet
me on the plain matter of fact. I ask him to meet me on the Constitution
itself. I ask him if the power is not found there, clearly and visibly
found there? But, Sir, what is this danger, and what are the grounds of
it? Let it be remembered, that the Constitution of the United States is
not unalterable. It is to continue in its present form no longer than the
people who established it shall choose to continue it. If they shall
become convinced that they have made an injudicious or inexpedient
partition and distribution of power between the State governments and the
general government, they can alter that distribution at will.

If anything be found in the national Constitution, either by original
provision or subsequent interpretation, which ought not to be in it, the
people know how to get rid of it. If any construction, unacceptable to
them, be established, so as to become practically a part of the
Constitution, they will amend it at their own sovereign pleasure. But
while the people choose to maintain it as it is, while they are satisfied
with it, and refuse to change it, who has given, or who can give, to the
State legislatures a right to alter it, either by interference,
construction, or otherwise? Gentlemen do not seem to recollect that the
people have any power to do anything for themselves. They imagine there is
no safety for them, any longer than they are under the close guardianship
of the State legislatures. Sir, the people have not trusted their safety
in regard to the general Constitution to these hands. They have required
other security, and taken other bonds. They have chosen to trust
themselves, first, to the plain words of the instrument, and to such
construction as the government themselves, in doubtful cases, should put
on their own powers, under their oaths of office, and subject to their
responsibility to them; just as the people of a State trust their own
State governments with a similar power. Secondly, they have reposed their
trust in the efficacy of frequent elections, and in their own power to
remove their own servants and agents whenever they see cause. Thirdly,
they have reposed trust in the judicial power, which, in order that it
might be trustworthy, they have made as respectable, as disinterested, and
as independent as was practicable. Fourthly, they have seen fit to rely,
in case of necessity, or high expediency, on their known and admitted
power to alter or amend the Constitution, peaceably and quietly, whenever
experience shall point out defects or imperfections. And, finally, the
people of the United States have at no time, in no way, directly or
indirectly, authorized any State legislature to construe or interpret
_their_ high instrument of government; much less to interfere, by
their own power, to arrest its course and operation.

If, Sir, the people in these respects had done otherwise than they have
done, their Constitution could neither have been preserved, nor would it
have been worth preserving. And if its plain provisions shall now be
disregarded, and these new doctrines interpolated in it, it will become as
feeble and helpless a being as its enemies, whether early or more recent,
could possibly desire. It will exist in every State but as a poor
dependent on State permission. It must borrow leave to be; and will be, no
longer than State pleasure, or State discretion, sees fit to grant the
indulgence, and to prolong its poor existence.

But, Sir, although there are fears, there are hopes also. The people have
preserved this, their own chosen Constitution, for forty years, and have
seen their happiness, prosperity, and renown grow with its growth, and
strengthen with its strength. They are now, generally, strongly attached
to it. Overthrown by direct assault, it cannot be; evaded, undermined,
NULLIFIED, it will not be, if we and those who shall succeed us here as
agents and representatives of the people shall conscientiously and
vigilantly discharge the two great branches of our public trust,
faithfully to preserve, and wisely to administer it.

Mr. President, I have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the
doctrines which have been advanced and maintained. I am conscious of
having detained you and the Senate much too long. I was drawn into the
debate with no previous deliberation, such as is suited to the discussion
of so grave and important a subject. But it is a subject of which my heart
is full, and I have not been willing to suppress the utterance of its
spontaneous sentiments. I cannot, even now, persuade myself to relinquish
it, without expressing once more my deep conviction, that, since it
respects nothing less than the Union of the States, it is of most vital
and essential importance to the public happiness. I profess, Sir, in my
career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of
the whole country, and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to
that Union we owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity
abroad. It is to that Union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever
makes us most proud of our country. That Union we reached only by the
discipline of our virtues in the severe school of adversity. It had its
origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and
ruined credit. Under its benign influences, these great interests
immediately awoke, as from the dead, and sprang forth with newness of
life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its
utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out
wider and wider, and our population spread farther and farther, they have
not outrun its protection or its benefits. It has been to us all a copious
fountain of national, social, and personal happiness.

I have not allowed myself, Sir, to look beyond the Union, to see what
might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the
chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall
be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice
of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth
of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counsellor in the
affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on
considering, not how the Union may be best preserved, but how tolerable
might be the condition of the people when it should be broken up and
destroyed. While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying
prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I
seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day, at least, that
curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what
lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the
sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored
fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant,
belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in
fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold
the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the
earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their
original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star
obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as "What
is all this worth?" nor those other words of delusion and folly, "Liberty
first and Union afterwards"; but everywhere, spread all over in characters
of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the
sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that
other sentiment, dear to every true American heart,--Liberty _and_
Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable! [28]




The Murder of Captain Joseph White.



I am little accustomed, Gentlemen, to the part which I am now attempting
to perform. Hardly more than once or twice has it happened to me to be
concerned on the side of the government in any criminal prosecution
whatever; and never, until the present occasion, in any case affecting
life.

But I very much regret that it should have been thought necessary to
suggest to you that I am brought here to "hurry you against the law and
beyond the evidence." I hope I have too much regard for justice, and too
much respect for my own character, to attempt either; and 10 were I to
make such attempt, I am sure that in this court nothing can be carried
against the law, and that gentlemen, intelligent and just as you are, are
not, by any power, to be hurried beyond the evidence. Though I could well
have wished to shun this occasion, I have not felt at liberty to withhold
my professional assistance, when it is supposed that I may be in some
degree useful in investigating and discovering the truth respecting this
most extraordinary murder. It has seemed to be a duty incumbent on me, as
on every other citizen, to do my best and my utmost to bring to light the
perpetrators of this crime. Against the prisoner at the bar, as an
individual, I cannot have the slightest prejudice. I would not do him the
smallest injury or injustice. But I do not affect to be indifferent to the
discovery and the punishment of this deep guilt. I cheerfully share in the
opprobrium, how great soever it may be, which is cast on those who feel
and manifest an anxious concern that all who had a part in planning, or a
hand in executing, this deed of midnight assassination, may be brought to
answer for their enormous crime at the bar of public justice.

Gentlemen, it is a most extraordinary case. In some respects, it has
hardly a precedent anywhere; certainly none in our New England history.
This bloody drama exhibited no suddenly excited, ungovernable rage. The
actors in it were not surprised by any lion-like temptation springing upon
their virtue, and overcoming it, before resistance could begin. Nor did
they do the deed to glut savage vengeance, or satiate long-settled and
deadly hate. It was a cool, calculating, money-making murder. It was all
"hire and salary, not revenge." It was the weighing of money against life;
the counting out of so many pieces of silver against so many ounces of
blood.

An aged man, without an enemy in the world, in his own house, and in his
own bed, is made the victim of a butcherly murder, for mere pay. Truly,
here is a new lesson for painters and poets. Whoever shall hereafter draw
the portrait of murder, if he will show it as it has been exhibited, where
such example was last to have been looked for, in the very bosom of our
New England society, let him not give it the grim visage of Moloch, the
brow knitted by revenge, the face black with settled hate, and the
bloodshot eye emitting livid fires of malice. Let him draw, rather, a
decorous, smooth-faced, bloodless demon; a picture in repose, rather than
in action; not so much an example of human nature in its depravity, and in
its paroxysms of crime, as an infernal being, a fiend, in the ordinary
display and development of his character.

The deed was executed with a degree of self-possession and steadiness
equal to the wickedness with which it was planned. The circumstances now
clearly in evidence spread out the whole scene before us. Deep sleep had
fallen on the destined victim, and on all beneath his roof. A healthful
old man, to whom sleep was sweet, the first sound slumbers of the night
held him in their soft but strong embrace. The assassin enters, through
the window already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With noiseless
foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he winds up the
ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chamber. Of this, he
moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns on its
hinges without noise; and he enters, and beholds his victim before him.
The room is uncommonly open to the admission of light. The face of the
innocent sleeper is turned from the murderer, and the beams of the moon,
resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, show him where to strike.
The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without a struggle or a
motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death! It is the
assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he plies the dagger, though it
is obvious that life has been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon. He
even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart,
and replaces it again over the wounds of the poinard! To finish the
picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! He feels for it, and
ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished. The deed is done.
He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out through it as he
came in, and escapes. He has done the murder. No eye has seen him, no ear
has heard him. The secret is his own, and it is safe!

Ah! Gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe
nowhere. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner where the
guilty can bestow it, and say it is safe. Not to speak of that eye which
pierces all disguises, and beholds every thing as in the splendor of noon,
such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by men. True it
is, generally speaking, that "murder will out." True it is, that
Providence hath so ordained, and doth so govern things, that those who
break the great law of Heaven by shedding man's blood seldom succeed in
avoiding discovery. Especially, in a case exciting so much attention as
this, discovery must come, and will come, sooner or later. A thousand eyes
turn at once to explore every man, every thing, every circumstance,
connected with the time and place; a thousand ears catch every whisper; a
thousand excited minds intensely dwell on the scene, shedding all their
light, and ready to kindle the slightest circumstance into a blaze of
discovery. Meantime the guilty soul cannot keep its own secret. It is
false to itself; or rather it feels an irresistible impulse of conscience
to be true to itself. It labors under its guilty possession, and knows not
what to do with it. The human heart was not made for the residence of such
an inhabitant. It finds itself preyed on by a torment, which it dares not
acknowledge to God or man. A vulture is devouring it, and it can ask no
sympathy or assistance, either from heaven or earth. The secret which the
murderer possesses soon comes to possess him; and, like the evil spirits
of which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whithersoever it will.
He feels it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding
disclosure. He thinks the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his
eyes, and almost hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts.
It has become his master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his
courage, it conquers his prudence. When suspicions from without begin to
embarrass him, and the net of circumstances to entangle him, the fatal
secret struggles with still greater violence to burst forth. It must be
confessed, it will be confessed; there is no refuge from confession but
suicide, and suicide is confession.[1]

Much has been said, on this occasion, of the excitement which has existed,
and still exists, and of the extraordinary measures taken to discover and
punish the guilty. No doubt there has been, and is, much excitement, and
strange indeed it would be had it been otherwise. Should not all the
peaceable and well-disposed naturally feel concerned, and naturally exert
themselves to bring to punishment the authors of this secret
assassination? Was it a thing to be slept upon or forgotten? Did you,
Gentlemen, sleep quite as quietly in your beds after this murder as
before? Was it not a case for rewards, for meetings, for committees, for
the united efforts of all the good, to find out a band of murderous
conspirators, of midnight ruffians, and to bring them to the bar of
justice and law? If this be excitement, is it an unnatural or an improper
excitement?

It seems to me, Gentlemen, that there are appearances of another feeling,
of a very different nature and character; not very extensive, I would
hope, but still there is too much evidence of its existence. Such is human
nature, that some persons lose their abhorrence of crime in their
admiration of its magnificent exhibitions. Ordinary vice is reprobated by
them, but extraordinary guilt, exquisite wickedness, the high flights and
poetry of crime, seize on the imagination, and lead them to forget the
depths of the guilt, in admiration of the excellence of the performance,
or the unequalled atrocity of the purpose. There are those in our day who
have made great use of this infirmity of our nature, and by means of it
done infinite injury to the cause of good morals. They have affected not
only the taste, but I fear also the principles, of the young, the
heedless, and the imaginative, by the exhibition of interesting and
beautiful monsters. They render depravity attractive, sometimes by the
polish of its manners, and sometimes by its very extravagance; and study
to show off crime under all the advantages of cleverness and dexterity.
Gentlemen, this is an extraordinary murder, but it is still a murder. We
are not to lose ourselves in wonder at its origin, or in gazing on its
cool and skilful execution. We are to detect and to punish it; and while
we proceed with caution against the prisoner, and are to be sure that we
do not visit on his head the offences of others, we are yet to consider
that we are dealing with a case of most atrocious crime, which has not the
slightest circumstance about it to soften its enormity. It is murder;
deliberate, concerted, malicious murder.

Although the interest of this case may have diminished by the repeated
investigation of the facts; still, the additional labor which it imposes
upon all concerned is not to be regretted, if it should result in removing
all doubts of the guilt of the prisoner.

The learned counsel for the prisoner has said truly, that it is your
individual duty to judge the prisoner; that it is your individual duty to
determine his guilt or innocence; and that you are to weigh the testimony
with candor and fairness. But much at the same time has been said, which,
though it would seem to have no distinct bearing on the trial, cannot be
passed over without some notice.

A tone of complaint so peculiar has been indulged, as would almost lead us
to doubt whether the prisoner at the bar, or the managers of this
prosecution, are now on trial. Great pains have been taken to complain of
the manner of the prosecution. We hear of getting up a case; of setting in
motion trains of machinery; of foul testimony; of combinations to
overwhelm the prisoner; of private prosecutors; that the prisoner is
hunted, persecuted, driven to his trial; that everybody is against him;
and various other complaints, as if those who would bring to punishment
the authors of this murder were almost as bad as they who committed it.

In the course of my whole life, I have never heard before so much said
about the particular counsel who happen to be employed; as if it were
extraordinary that other counsel than the usual officers of the government
should assist in the management of a case on the part of the
government.[2] In one of the last criminal trials in this county, that of
Jackman for the "Goodridge robbery" (so called), I remember that the
learned head of the Suffolk Bar, Mr. Prescott, came down in aid of the
officers of the government. This was regarded as neither strange nor
improper. The counsel for the prisoner, in that case, contented themselves
with answering his arguments, as far as they were able, instead of carping
at his presence.

Complaint is made that rewards were offered, in this case, and temptations
held out to obtain testimony. Are not rewards always offered, when great
and secret offences are committed? Rewards were offered in the case to
which I have alluded; and every other means taken to discover the
offenders, that ingenuity or the most persevering vigilance could suggest.
The learned counsel have suffered their zeal to lead them into a strain of
complaint at the manner in which the perpetrators of this crime were
detected, almost indicating that they regard it as a positive injury to
them to have found but their guilt. Since no man witnessed it, since they
do not now confess it, attempts to discover it are half esteemed as
officious intermeddling and impertinent inquiry.

It is said, that here even a Committee of Vigilance was appointed. This is
a subject of reiterated remark. This committee are pointed at, as though
they had been officiously intermeddling with the administration of
justice. They are said to have been "laboring for months" against the
prisoner. Gentlemen, what must we do in such a case? Are people to be dumb
and still, through fear of overdoing? Is it come to this, that an effort
cannot be made, a hand cannot be lifted, to discover the guilty, without
its being said there is a combination to overwhelm innocence? Has the
community lost all moral sense? Certainly, a community that would not be
roused to action upon an occasion such as this was, a community which
should not deny sleep to their eyes, and slumber to their eyelids, till
they had exhausted all the means of discovery and detection, must indeed
be lost to all moral sense, and would scarcely deserve protection from the
laws. The learned counsel have endeavored to persuade you, that there
exists a prejudice against the persons accused of this murder. They would
have you understand that it is not confined to this vicinity alone; but
that even the legislature have caught this spirit. That through the
procurement of the gentleman here styled private prosecutor, who is a
member of the Senate, a special session of this court was appointed for
the trial of these offenders. That the ordinary movements of the wheels of
justice were too slow for the purposes devised. But does not everybody see
and know, that it was matter of absolute necessity to have a special
session of the court? When or how could the prisoners have been tried
without a special session? In the ordinary arrangement of the courts, but
one week in a year is allotted for the whole court to sit in this county.
In the trial of all capital offences a majority of the court, at least, is
required to be present. In the trial of the present case alone, three
weeks have already been taken up. Without such special session, then,
three years would not have been sufficient for the purpose. It is answer
sufficient to all complaints on this subject to say, that the law was
drawn by the late Chief Justice [3] himself, to enable the court to
accomplish its duties, and to afford the persons accused an opportunity
for trial without delay.

Again, it is said that it was not thought of making Francis Knapp, the
prisoner at the bar, a PRINCIPAL till after the death of Richard
Crowningshield, Jr.; that the present indictment is an afterthought; that
"testimony was got up" for the occasion. It is not so. There is no
authority for this suggestion. The case of the Knapps had not then been
before the grand jury. The officers of the government did not know what
the testimony would be against them. They could not, therefore, have
determined what course they should pursue. They intended to arraign all as
principals who should appear to have been principals, and all as
accessories who should appear to have been accessories. All this could be
known only when the evidence should be produced. But the learned counsel
for the defendant take a somewhat loftier flight still. They are more
concerned, they assure us, for the law itself, than even for their client.
Your decision in this case, they say, will stand as a precedent.
Gentlemen, we hope it will. We hope it will be a precedent both of candor
and intelligence, of fairness and of firmness; a precedent of good sense
and honest purpose pursuing their investigation discreetly, rejecting
loose generalities, exploring all the circumstances, weighing each, in
search of truth, and embracing and declaring the truth when found.

It is said, that "laws are made, not for the punishment of the guilty, but
for the protection of the innocent." This is not quite accurate, perhaps,
but if so, we hope they will be so administered as to give that
protection. But who are the innocent whom the law would protect?
Gentlemen, Joseph White was innocent. They are innocent who, having lived
in the fear of God through the day, wish to sleep in his peace through the
night, in their own beds. The law is established that those who live
quietly may sleep quietly; that they who do no harm may feel none. The
gentleman can think of none that are innocent except the prisoner at the
bar, not yet convicted. Is a proved conspirator to murder innocent? Are
the Crowningshields and the Knapps innocent? What is innocence? How deep
stained with blood, how reckless in crime, how deep in depravity may it
be, and yet remain innocence? The law is made, if we would speak with
entire accuracy, to protect the innocent by punishing the guilty. But
there are those innocent out of a court, as well as in; innocent citizens
not suspected of crime, as well as innocent prisoners at the bar.

The criminal law is not founded in a principle of vengeance. It does not
punish that it may inflict suffering. The humanity of the law feels and
regrets every pain it causes, every hour of restraint it imposes, and more
deeply still every life it forfeits. But it uses evil as the means of
preventing greater evil. It seeks to deter from crime by the example of
punishment. This is its true, and only true main object. It restrains the
liberty of the few offenders, that the many who do not offend may enjoy
their liberty. It takes the life of the murderer, that other murders may
not be committed. The law might open the jails, and at once set free all
persons accused of offences, and it ought to do so if it could be made
certain that no other offences would hereafter be committed, because it
punishes, not to satisfy any desire to inflict pain, but simply to prevent
the repetition of crimes. When the guilty, therefore, are not punished,
the law has so far failed of its purpose; the safety of the innocent is so
far endangered. Every unpunished murder takes away something from the
security of every man's life. Whenever a jury, through whimsical and ill-
founded scruples, suffer the guilty to escape, they make themselves
answerable for the augmented danger of the innocent.

We wish nothing to be strained against this defendant. Why, then, all this
alarm? Why all this complaint against the manner in which the crime is
discovered? The prisoner's counsel catch at supposed flaws of evidence, or
bad character of witnesses, without meeting the case. Do they mean to deny
the conspiracy? Do they mean to deny that the two Crowningshields and the
two Knapps were conspirators? Why do they rail against Palmer, while they
do not disprove, and hardly dispute, the truth of any one fact sworn to by
him? Instead of this, it is made matter of sentimentality that Palmer has
been prevailed upon to betray his bosom companions and to violate the
sanctity of friendship. Again I ask, Why do they not meet the case? If the
fact is out, why not meet it? Do they mean to deny that Captain White is
dead? One would have almost supposed even that, from some remarks that
have been made. Do they mean to deny the conspiracy? Or, admitting a
conspiracy, do they mean to deny only that Frank Knapp, the prisoner at
the bar, was abetting in the murder, being present, and so deny that he
was a principal? If a conspiracy is proved, it bears closely upon every
subsequent subject of inquiry. Why do they not come to the fact? Here the
defence is wholly indistinct. The counsel neither take the ground, nor
abandon it. They neither fly, nor light. They hover. But they must come to
a closer mode of contest. They must meet the facts, and either deny or
admit them. Had the prisoner at the bar, then, a knowledge of this
conspiracy or not? This is the question. Instead of laying out their
strength in complaining of the _manner_ in which the deed is
discovered, of the extraordinary pains taken to bring the prisoner's guilt
to light, would it not be better to show there was no guilt? Would it not
be better to show his innocence? They say, and they complain, that the
community feel a great desire that he should be punished for his crimes.
Would it not be better to convince you that he has committed no crime?

Gentlemen, let us now come to the case. Your first inquiry, on the
evidence, will be, Was Captain White murdered in pursuance of a
conspiracy, and was the defendant one of this conspiracy? If so, the
second inquiry is, Was he so connected with the murder itself as that he
is liable to be convicted as a _principal_? The defendant is indicted
as a _principal_. If not guilty _as such_, you cannot convict
him. The indictment contains three distinct classes of counts. In the
first, he is charged as having done the deed with his own hand; in the
second, as an aider and abettor to Richard Crowningshield, Jr., who did
the deed; in the third, as an aider and abettor to some person unknown. If
you believe him guilty on either of these counts, or in either of these
ways, you must convict him.

It may be proper to say, as a preliminary remark, that there are two
extraordinary circumstances attending this trial. One is, that Richard
Crowningshield, Jr., the supposed immediate perpetrator of the murder,
since his arrest, has committed suicide. He has gone to answer before a
tribunal of perfect infallibility. The other is, that Joseph Knapp, the
supposed originator and planner of the murder, having once made a full
disclosure of the facts, under a promise of indemnity, is, nevertheless,
not now a witness. Notwithstanding his disclosure and his promise of
indemnity, he now refuses to testify. He chooses to return to his original
state, and now stands answerable himself, when the time shall come for his
trial. These circumstances it is fit you should remember, in your
investigation of the case.

Your decision may affect more than the life of this defendant. If he be
not convicted as principal, no one can be. Nor can any one be convicted of
a participation in the crime as accessory. The Knapps and George
Crowningshield will be again on the community. This shows the importance
of the duty you have to perform, and serves to remind you of the care and
wisdom necessary to be exercised in its performance. But certainly these
considerations do not render the prisoner's guilt any clearer, nor enhance
the weight of the evidence against him. No one desires you to regard
consequences in that light. No one wishes any thing to be strained, or too
far pressed against the prisoner. Still, it is fit you should see the full
importance of the duty which devolves upon you.[4] . . .

Gentlemen, your whole concern should be to do your duty, and leave
consequences to take care of themselves. You will receive the law from the
court. Your verdict, it is true, may endanger the prisoner's life, but
then it is to save other lives. If the prisoner's guilt has been shown and
proved beyond all reasonable doubt, you will convict him. If such
reasonable doubts of guilt still remain, you will acquit him. You are the
judges of the whole case. You owe a duty to the public, as well as to the
prisoner at the bar. You cannot presume to be wiser than the law. Your
duty is a plain, straightforward one. Doubtless we would all judge him in
mercy. Towards him, as an individual, the law inculcates no hostility; but
towards him, if proved to be a murderer, the law, and the oaths you have
taken, and public justice, demand that you do your duty.

With consciences satisfied with the discharge of duty, no consequences can
harm you. There is no evil that we cannot either face or fly from, but the
consciousness of duty disregarded. A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is
omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed, or
duty violated, is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we
say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our
obligations are yet with us. We cannot escape their power, nor fly from
their presence. They are with us in this life, will be with us at its
close; and in that scene of inconceivable solemnity, which lies yet
further onward, we shall still find ourselves surrounded by the
consciousness of duty, to pain us wherever it has been violated, and to
console us so far as God may have given us grace to perform it.

THE CONSTITUTION NOT A COMPACT BETWEEN SOVEREIGN STATES.

Mr. President,-The gentleman from South Carolina has admonished us to be
mindful of the opinions of those who shall come after us. We must take our
chance, Sir, as to the light in which posterity will regard us. I do not
decline its judgment, nor withhold myself from its scrutiny. Feeling that
I am performing my public duty with singleness of heart and to the best of
my ability, I fearlessly trust myself to the country, now and hereafter,
and leave both my motives and my character to its decision.

The gentleman has terminated his speech in a tone of threat and defiance
towards this bill, even should it become a law of the land, altogether
unusual in the halls of Congress. But I shall not suffer myself to be
excited into warmth by his denunciation of the measure which I support.
Among the feelings which at this moment fill my breast, not the least is
that of regret at the position in which the gentleman has placed himself.
Sir, he does himself no justice. The cause which he has espoused finds no
basis in the Constitution, no succor from public sympathy, no cheering
from a patriotic community. He has no foothold on which to stand while he
might display the powers of his acknowledged talents. Every thing beneath
his feet is hollow and treacherous. He is like a strong man struggling in
a morass: every effort to extricate himself only sinks him deeper and
deeper. And I fear the resemblance may be carried still farther; I fear
that no friend can safely come to his relief, that no one can approach
near enough to hold out a helping hand, without danger of going down
himself, also, into the bottomless depths of this Serbonian bog.

The honorable gentleman has declared, that on the decision of the question
now in debate may depend the cause of liberty itself. I am of the same
opinion; but then, Sir, the liberty which I think is staked on the contest
is not political liberty, in any general and undefined character, but our
own well-understood and long-enjoyed _American_ liberty,

Sir, I love Liberty no less ardently than the gentleman himself, in
whatever form she may have appeared in the progress of human history. As
exhibited in the master states of antiquity, as breaking out again from
amidst the darkness of the Middle Ages, and beaming on the formation of
new communities in modern Europe, she has, always and everywhere, charms
for me. Yet, Sir, it is our own liberty, guarded by constitutions and
secured by union, it is that liberty which is our paternal inheritance, it
is our established, dear-bought, peculiar American liberty, to which I am
chiefly devoted, and the cause of which I now mean, to the utmost of my
power, to maintain and defend.

Mr. President, if I considered the constitutional question now before us
as doubtful as it is important, and if I supposed that its decision,
either in the Senate or by the country, was likely to be in any degree
influenced by the manner in which I might now discuss it, this would be to
me a moment of deep solicitude. Such a moment has once existed. There has
been a time, when, rising in this place, on the same question, I felt, I
must confess, that something for good or evil to the Constitution of the
country might depend on an effort of mine. But circumstances are changed.
Since that day, Sir, the public opinion has become awakened to this great
question; it has grasped it; it has reasoned upon it, as becomes an
intelligent and patriotic community, and has settled it, or now seems in
the progress of settling it, by an authority which none can disobey, the
authority of the people themselves.

I shall not, Mr. President, follow the gentleman, step by step, through
the course of his speech. Much of what he has said he has deemed necessary
to the just explanation and defence of his own political character and
conduct. On this I shall offer no comment. Much, too, has consisted of
philosophical remark upon the general nature of political liberty, and the
history of free institutions; and upon other topics, so general in their
nature as to possess, in my opinion, only a remote bearing on the
immediate subject of this debate.

But the gentleman's speech made some days ago, upon introducing his
resolutions, those resolutions themselves, and parts of the speech now
just concluded, may, I presume, be justly regarded as containing the whole
South Carolina doctrine. That doctrine it is my purpose now to examine,
and to compare it with the Constitution of the United States. I shall not
consent, Sir, to make any new constitution, or to establish another form
of government. I will not undertake to say what a constitution for these
United States ought to be. That question the people have decided for
themselves; and I shall take the instrument as they have established it,
and shall endeavor to maintain it, in its plain sense and meaning, against
opinions and notions, which, in my judgment, threaten its subversion.

The resolutions introduced by the gentleman were apparently drawn up with
care, and brought forward upon deliberation. I shall not be in danger,
therefore, of misunderstanding him, or those who agree with him, if I
proceed at once to these resolutions, and consider them as an authentic
statement of those opinions upon the great constitutional question by
which the recent proceedings in South Carolina are attempted to be
justified.

These resolutions are three in number.

The third seems intended to enumerate, and to deny, the several opinions
expressed in the President's proclamation, respecting the nature and
powers of this government. Of this third resolution, I purpose, at
present, to take no particular notice.

The first two resolutions of the honorable member affirm these
propositions, viz.:--

1. That the political system under which we live, and under which Congress
is now assembled, is a _compact_, to which the people of the several
States, as separate and sovereign communities, are _the parties_.

2. That these sovereign parties have a right to judge, each for itself, of
any alleged violation of the Constitution by Congress; and, in case of
such violation, to choose, each for itself, its own mode and measure of
redress.

It is true, Sir, that the honorable member calls this a "constitutional"
compact; but still he affirms it to be a compact between sovereign States.
What precise meaning, then, does he attach to the term _constitutional_?
When applied to compacts between sovereign States, the term
_constitutional_ affixes to the word _compact_ no definite idea. Were we
to hear of a constitutional league or treaty between England and France,
or a constitutional convention between Austria and Russia, we should not
understand what could be intended by such a league, such a treaty, or such
a convention. In these connections, the word is void of all meaning; and
yet, Sir, it is easy, quite easy, to see why the honorable gentleman has
used it in these resolutions. He cannot open the book, and look upon our
written frame of government, without seeing that it is called a
_constitution_. This may well be appalling to him. It threatens his whole
doctrine of compact, and its darling derivatives, nullification and
secession, with instant confutation. Because, if he admits our instrument
of government to be a _constitution_, then, for that very reason, it is
not a compact between sovereigns; a constitution of government and a
compact between sovereign powers being things essentially unlike in their
very natures, and incapable of ever being the same. Yet the word
_constitution_ is on the very front of the instrument. He cannot
overlook it. He seeks, therefore, to compromise the matter, and to sink
all the substantial sense of the word, while he retains a resemblance of
its sound. He introduces a new word of his own, viz. _compact_, as
importing the principal idea, and designed to play the principal part,
and degrades _constitution_ into an insignificant, idle epithet, attached
to _compact_. The whole then stands as a _"constitutional compact"!_
And in this way he hopes to pass off a plausible gloss, as satisfying the
words of the instrument. But he will find himself disappointed. Sir, I must
say to the honorable gentleman, that, in our American political grammar,
CONSTITUTION is a noun substantive; it imports a distinct and clear idea
of itself; and it is not to lose its importance and dignity, it is not to
be turned into a poor, ambiguous, senseless, unmeaning adjective, for the
purpose of accommodating any new set of political notions. Sir, we reject
his new rules of syntax altogether. We will not give up our forms of
political speech to the grammarians of the school of nullification. By
the Constitution, we mean, not a "constitutional compact," but, simply
and directly, the Constitution, the fundamental law; and if there be one
word in the language which the people of the United States understand,
this is that word. We know no more of a constitutional compact between
sovereign powers, than we know of a _constitutional_ indenture of
copartnership, a _constitutional_ deed of conveyance, or a
_constitutional_ bill of exchange. But we know what the _Constitution_
is; we know what the plainly written fundamental law is; we know what
the bond of our Union and the security of our liberties is; and we mean
to maintain and to defend it, in its plain sense and unsophisticated
meaning.

The sense of the gentleman's proposition, therefore, is not at all
affected, one way or the other, by the use of this word. That proposition
still is, that our system of government is but a _compact_ between
the people of separate and sovereign States.

Was it Mirabeau, Mr. President, or some other master of the human
passions, who has told us that words are things? They are indeed things,
and things of mighty influence, not only in addresses to the passions and
high-wrought feelings of mankind, but in the discussion of legal and
political questions also; because a just conclusion is often avoided, or a
false one reached, by the adroit substitution of one phrase, or one word,
for another. Of this we have, I think, another example in the resolutions
before us.

The first resolution declares that the people of the several States
_"acceded"_ to the Constitution, or to the constitutional compact, as
it is called. This word "accede," not found either in the Constitution
itself, or in the ratification of it by any one of the States, has been
chosen for use here, doubtless, not without a well-considered purpose.

The natural converse of _accession_ is _secession_; and,
therefore, when it is stated that the people of the States acceded to the
Union, it may be more plausibly argued that they may secede from it. If,
in adopting the Constitution, nothing was done but acceding to a compact,
nothing would seem necessary, in order to break it up, but to secede from
the same compact. But the term is wholly out of place. _Accession_,
as a word applied to political associations, implies coming into a league,
treaty, or confederacy, by one hitherto a stranger to it; and
_secession_ implies departing from such league or confederacy. The
people of the United States have used no such form of expression in
establishing the present government. They do not say that they
_accede_ to a league, but they declare that they _ordain_ and
_establish_ a Constitution. Such are the very words of the instrument
itself; and in all the States, without an exception, the language used by
their conventions was, that they "_ratified the Constitution_"; some
of them employing the additional words "assented to" and "adopted," but
all of them "ratifying."

There is more importance than may, at first sight, appear, in the
introduction of this new word, by the honorable mover of these
resolutions. Its adoption and use are indispensable to maintain those
premises from which his main conclusion is to be afterwards drawn. But
before showing that, allow me to remark, that this phraseology tends to
keep out of sight the just view of a previous political history, as well
as to suggest wrong ideas as to what was actually done when the present
Constitution was agreed to. In 1789, and before this Constitution was
adopted, the United States had already been in a union, more or less
close, for fifteen years. At least as far back as the meeting of the first
Congress, in 1774, they had been in some measure, and for some national
purposes, united together. Before the Confederation of 1781, they had
declared independence jointly, and had carried on the war jointly, both by
sea and land; and this not as separate States, but as one people. When,
therefore, they formed that Confederation, and adopted its articles as
articles of perpetual union, they did not come together for the first
time; and therefore they did not speak of the States as _acceding_ to
the Confederation, although it was a league, and nothing but a league, and
rested on nothing but plighted faith for its performance. Yet, even then,
the States were not strangers to each other; there was a bond of union
already subsisting between them; they were associated, united States; and
the object of the Confederation was to make a stronger and better bond of
union. Their representatives deliberated together on these proposed
Articles of Confederation, and being authorized by their respective
States, finally "_ratified and confirmed_" them. Inasmuch as they
were already in union, they did not speak of _acceding_ to the new
Articles of Confederation, but of _ratifying_ and _confirming_
them; and this language was not used inadvertently, because, in the same
instrument, _accession_ is used in its proper sense, when applied to
Canada, which was altogether a stranger to the existing union. "Canada,"
says the eleventh article, "_acceding_ to this Confederation, and
joining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into the
Union."

Having thus used the terms _ratify_ and _confirm_, even in
regard to the old Confederation, it would have been strange indeed, if the
people of the United States, after its formation, and when they came to
establish the present Constitution, had spoken of the States, or the
people of the States, as _acceding_ to this constitution. Such
language would have been ill-suited to the occasion. It would have implied
an existing separation or disunion among the States, such as never has
existed since 1774. No such language, therefore, was used. The language
actually employed is, _adopt, ratify, ordain, establish_.

Therefore, Sir, since any State, before she can prove her right to
dissolve the Union, must show her authority to undo what has been done, no
State is at liberty to _secede_, on the ground that she and other
States have done nothing but _accede_. She must show that she has a
right to _reverse_ what has been _ordained_, to _unsettle_
and _overthrow_ what has been _established_, to _reject_
what the people have _adopted_, and to breakup what have
_ratified_; because these are the terms which express the
transactions which have actually taken place. In other words, she must
show her right to make a revolution.

If, Mr. President, in drawing these resolutions, the honorable member and
confined himself to the use of constitutional language, there would have
been a wide and awful _hiatus_ between his premises and his
conclusion. Leaving out the two words _compact_ and _accession_,
which are not constitutional modes of expression, and stating the matter
precisely as the truth is, his first resolution would have affirmed that
_the people of the several States ratified this Constitution, or form of
government_. These are the very words of South Carolina herself, in her
act of ratification. Let, then, his first resolution tell the exact truth;
let it state the fact precisely as it exists; let it say that the people
of the several States ratified a constitution, or form of government, and
then, Sir, what will become of his inference in his second resolution,
which is in these words, viz. "that, as in all other cases of compact
among sovereign parties, each has an equal right to judge for itself, as
well of the infraction as of the mode and measure of redress"? It is
obvious, is it not, Sir? that this conclusion requires for its support
quite other premises; it requires premises which speak of _accession_
and of _compact_ between sovereign powers; and, without such
premises, it is altogether unmeaning.

Mr. President, if the honorable member will truly state what the people
did in forming this Constitution, and then state what they must do if they
would now undo what they then did, he will unavoidably state a case of
revolution.

Let us see if it be not so. He must state, in the first place, that the
people of the several States adopted and ratified this Constitution, or
form of government; and, in the next place, he must state that they have a
right to undo this; that is to say, that they have a right to discard the
form of government which they have adopted, and to break up the
Constitution which they have ratified. Now, Sir, this is neither more nor
less than saying that they have a right to make a revolution. To reject an
established government, to break up a political constitution, is
revolution.

I deny that any man can state accurately what was done by the people, in
establishing the present Constitution, and then state accurately what the
people, or any part of them, must now do to get rid of its obligations,
without stating an undeniable case of the overthrow of government. I
admit, of course, that the people may, if they choose, overthrow the
government. But, then, that is revolution. The doctrine how contended for
is, that, by _nullification_, or _secession_, the obligations
and authority of the government may be set aside or rejected, without
revolution. But that is what I deny; and what I say is, that no man can
state the case with historical accuracy, and in constitutional language,
without showing that the honorable gentleman's right, as asserted in his
conclusion, is a revolutionary right merely; that it does not and cannot
exist under the Constitution, or agreeably to the Constitution, but can
come into existence only when the Constitution is overthrown. This is the
reason, Sir, which makes it necessary to abandon the use of constitutional
language for a new vocabulary, and to substitute, in the place of plain
historical facts, a series of assumptions. This is the reason why it is
necessary to give new names to things, to speak of the Constitution, not
as a constitution, but as a compact, and of the ratifications by the
people, not as ratifications, but as acts of accession.

Sir, I intend to hold the gentlemen to the written record. In the
discussion of a constitutional question, I intend to impose upon him the
restraints of constitutional language. The people have ordained a
Constitution; can they reject it without revolution? They have established
a form of government; can they overthrow it without revolution? These are
the true questions.

Allow me now, Mr. President, to inquire further into the extent of the
propositions contained in the resolutions, and their necessary
consequences.

Where sovereign communities are parties, there is no essential difference
between a compact, a confederation, and a league. They all equally rest on
the plighted faith of the sovereign party. A league, or confederacy, is
but a subsisting or continuing treaty.

The gentleman's resolutions, then, affirm, in effect, that these twenty-
four United States are held together only by a subsisting treaty, resting
for its fulfilment and continuance on no inherent power of its own, but on
the plighted faith of each State; or, in other words, that our Union is
but a league; and, as a consequence from this proposition, they further
affirm that, as sovereigns are subject to no superior power, the States
must judge, each for itself, of any alleged violation of the league; and
if such violation be supposed to have occurred, each may adopt any mode or
measure of redress which it shall think proper.

Other consequences naturally follow, too, from the main proposition. If a
league between sovereign powers have no limitation as to the time of its
duration, and contain nothing making it perpetual, it subsists only during
the good pleasure of the parties, although no violation be complained of.
If, in the opinion of either party, it be violated, such party may say
that he will no longer fulfil its obligations on his part, but will
consider the whole league or compact at an end, although it might be one
of its stipulations that it should be perpetual. Upon this principle, the
Congress of the United States, in 1798, declared null and void the treaty
of alliance between the United States and France, though it professed to
be a perpetual alliance.

If the violation of the league be accompanied with serious injuries, the
suffering party, being sole judge of his own mode and measure of redress,
has a right to indemnify himself by reprisals on the offending members of
the league; and reprisals, if the circumstances of the case require it,
may be followed by direct, avowed, and public war.

The necessary import of the resolution, therefore, is that the United
States are connected only by a league; that it is in the good pleasure of
every State to decide how long she will choose to remain a member of this
league; that any State may determine the extent of her own obligations
under it, and accept or reject what shall be decided by the whole; that
she may also determine whether her rights have been violated, what is the
extent of the injury done her, and what mode and measure of redress her
wrongs may make it fit and expedient for her to adopt. The result of the
whole is, that any State may secede at pleasure; that any State may resist
a law which she herself may choose to say exceeds the power of Congress;
and that, as a sovereign power, she may redress her own grievances, by her
own arm, at her own discretion. She may make reprisals; she may cruise
against the property of other members of the league; she may authorize
captures, and make open war.

If, Sir, this be our political condition, it is time the people of the
United States understood it. Let us look for a moment to the practical
consequences of these opinions. One State, holding an embargo law
unconstitutional, may declare her opinion, and withdraw from the Union.
_She_ secedes. Another, forming and expressing the same judgment on a
law laying duties on imports, may withdraw also. _She_ secedes. And
as, in her opinion, money has been taken out of the pockets of her
citizens illegally, under pretence of this law, and as she has power to
redress their wrongs, she may demand satisfaction; and, if refused, she
may take it with a strong hand. The gentleman has himself pronounced the
collection of duties, under existing laws, to be nothing but robbery.
Robbers, of course, may be rightfully dispossessed of the fruits of their
flagitious crimes; and therefore, reprisals, impositions on the commerce
of other States, foreign alliances against them, or open war, are all
modes of redress justly open to the discretion and choice of South
Carolina; for she is to judge of her own rights, and to seek satisfaction
for her own wrongs, in her own way.

But, Sir, a _third_ State is of opinion, not only that these laws of
imposts are constitutional, but that it is the absolute duty of Congress
to pass and to maintain such laws; and that, by omitting to pass and
maintain them, its constitutional obligations would be grossly
disregarded. She herself relinquished the power of protection, she might
allege, and allege truly, and gave it up to Congress, on the faith that
Congress would exercise it. If Congress now refuse to exercise it,
Congress does, as she may insist, break the condition of the grant, and
thus manifestly violate the Constitution; and for this violation of the
Constitution, _she_ may threaten to secede also. Virginia may secede,
and hold the fortresses in the Chesapeake. The Western States may secede,
and take to their own use the public lands. Louisiana may secede, if she
choose, form a foreign alliance, and hold the mouth of the Mississippi. If
one State may secede, ten may do so, twenty may do so, twenty-three may do
so. Sir, as these secessions go on, one after another, what is to
constitute the United States? Whose will be the army? Whose the navy? Who
will pay the debts? Who fulfil the public treaties? Who perform the
constitutional guaranties? Who govern this District and the Territories?
Who retain the public property?

Mr. President, every man must see that these are all questions which can
arise only _after a revolution_. They presuppose the breaking up of
the government. While the Constitution lasts, they are repressed; they
spring up to annoy and startle us only from its grave.

The Constitution does not provide for events which must be preceded by its
own destruction. SECESSION, therefore, since it must bring these
consequences with it, is REVOLUTIONARY, and NULLIFICATION is equally
REVOLUTIONARY. What is revolution? Why, Sir, that is revolution which
overturns, or controls, or successfully resists, the existing public
authority; that which arrests the exercise of the supreme power; that
which introduces a new paramount authority into the rule of the State.
Now, Sir, this is the precise object of nullification. It attempts to
supersede the supreme legislative authority. It arrests the arm of the
executive magistrate. It interrupts the exercise of the accustomed
judicial power. Under the name of an ordinance, it declares null and void,
within the State, all the revenue laws of the United States. Is not this
revolutionary? Sir, so soon as this ordinance shall be carried into
effect, a _revolution_ will have commenced in South Carolina. She
will have thrown off the authority to which her citizens have heretofore
been subject. She will have declared her own opinions and her own will to
be above the laws and above the power of those who are intrusted with
their administration. If she makes good these declarations, she is
revolutionized. As to her, it is as distinctly a change of the supreme
power as the American Revolution of 1776. That revolution did not subvert
government in all its forms. It did not subvert local laws and municipal
administrations. It only threw off the dominion of a power claiming to be
superior, and to have a right, in many important respects, to exercise
legislative authority. Thinking this authority to have been usurped or
abused, the American Colonies, now the United States, bade it defiance,
and freed themselves from it by means of a revolution. But that revolution
left them with their own municipal laws still, and the forms of local
government. If Carolina now shall effectually resist the laws of Congress;
if she shall be her own judge, take her remedy into her own hands, obey
the laws of the Union when she pleases and disobey them when she pleases,
she will relieve herself from a paramount power as distinctly as the
American Colonies did the same thing in 1776. In other words, she will
achieve, as to herself, a revolution.

But, Sir, while practical nullification in South Carolina would be, as to
herself, actual and distinct revolution, its necessary tendency must also
be to spread revolution, and to break up the Constitution, as to all the
other States. It strikes a deadly blow at the vital principle of the whole
Union. To allow State resistance to the laws of Congress to be rightful
and proper, to admit nullification in some States, and yet not expect to
see a dismemberment of the entire government, appears to me the wildest
illusion, and the most extravagant folly. The gentleman seems not
conscious of the direction or the rapidity of his own course. The current
of his opinions sweeps him along, he knows not whither. To begin with
nullification, with the avowed intent, nevertheless, not to proceed to
secession, dismemberment, and general revolution, is as if one were to
take the plunge of Niagara, and cry out that he would stop half-way down.
In the one case, as in the other, the rash adventurer must go to the
bottom of the dark abyss below, were it not that that abyss has no
discovered bottom.

Nullification, if successful, arrests the power of the law, absolves
citizens from their duty, subverts the foundation both of protection and
obedience, dispenses with oaths and obligations of allegiance, and
elevates another authority to supreme command. Is not this revolution? And
it raises to supreme command four-and-twenty distinct powers, each
professing to be under a general government, and yet each setting its laws
at defiance at pleasure. Is not this anarchy, as well as revolution? Sir,
the Constitution of the United States was received as a whole, and for the
whole country. If it cannot stand altogether, it cannot stand in parts;
and if the laws cannot be executed everywhere, they cannot long be
executed anywhere. The gentleman very well knows that all duties and
imposts must be uniform throughout the country. He knows that we cannot
have one rule or one law for South Carolina, and another for other States.
He must see, therefore, and does see, and every man sees, that the only
alternative is a repeal of the laws throughout the whole Union, or their
execution in Carolina as well as elsewhere. And this repeal is demanded
because a single State interposes her veto, and threatens resistance! The
result of the gentleman's opinion, or rather the very text of his
doctrine, is, that no act of Congress can bind all the States, the
constitutionality of which is not admitted by all; or, in other words,
that no single State is bound, against its own dissent, by a law of
imposts. This is precisely the evil experienced under the old
Confederation, and for remedy of which this Constitution was adopted. The
leading object in establishing this government, an object forced on the
country by the conditions of the times and the absolute necessity of the
law, was to give to Congress power to lay and collect imposts _without
the consent of particular States_. The Revolutionary debt remained
unpaid; the national treasury was bankrupt; the country was destitute of
credit; Congress issued its requisitions on the States, and the States
neglected them; there was no power of coercion but war, Congress could not
lay imposts, or other taxes, by its own authority; the whole general
government, therefore, was little more than a name. The Articles of
Confederation, as to purposes of revenue and finance, were nearly a dead
letter. The country sought to escape from this condition, at once feeble
and disgraceful, by constituting a government which should have power, of
itself, to lay duties and taxes, and to pay the public debt, and provide
for the general welfare; and to lay these duties and taxes in all the
States, without asking the consent of the State governments. This was the
very power on which the new Constitution was to depend for all its ability
to do good; and without it, it can be no government, now or at any time.
Yet, Sir, it is precisely against this power, so absolutely indispensable
to the very being of the government, that South Carolina directs her
ordinance. She attacks the government in its authority to raise revenue,
the very mainspring of the whole system; and if she succeed, every
movement of that system must inevitably cease. It is of no avail that she
declares that she does not resist the law as a revenue law, but as a law
for protecting manufacturers. It is a revenue law; it is the very law by
force of which the revenue is collected; if it be arrested in any State,
the revenue ceases in that State; it is, in a word, the sole reliance of
the government for the means of maintaining itself and performing its
duties.

Mr. President, the alleged right of a State to decide constitutional
questions for herself necessarily leads to force because other States must
have the same right, and because different States will decide differently;
and when these questions arise between States, if there be no superior
power, they can be decided only by the law of force. On entering into the
Union, the people of each State gave up a part of their own power to make
laws for themselves, in consideration, that, as to common objects, they
should have a part in making laws for other States. In other words, the
people of all the States agreed to create a common government, to be
conducted by common counsels. Pennsylvania, for example, yielded the right
of laying imposts in her own ports, in consideration that the new
government, in which she was to have a share, should possess the power of
laying imposts on all the States. If South Carolina now refuses to submit
to this power, she breaks the condition on which other States entered into
the Union. She partakes of the common counsels, and therein assists to
bind others, while she refuses to be bound herself. It makes no difference
in the case whether she does all this without reason or pretext, or
whether she sets up as a reason, that, in her judgment, the acts
complained of are unconstitutional. In the judgment of other States, they
are not so. It is nothing to them that she offers some reason or some
apology for her conduct, if it be one which they do not admit. It is not
to be expected that any State will violate her duty without some plausible
pretext. That would be too rash a defiance of the opinion of mankind. But
if it be a pretext which lies in her own breast, if it be no more than an
opinion which she says she has formed, how can other States be satisfied
with this? How can they allow her to be judge of her own obligations? Or,
if she may judge of her obligations, may they not judge of their rights
also? May not the twenty-three entertain an opinion as well as the twenty-
fourth? And if it be their right, in their own opinion, as expressed in
the common council, to enforce the law against her, how is she to say that
her right and her opinion are to be every thing, and their right and their
opinion nothing?

Mr. President, if we are to receive the Constitution as the text, and then
to lay down in its margin the contradictory commentaries which have been,
and which may be, made by different States, the whole page would be a
polyglot indeed. It would speak with as many tongues as the builders of
Babel, and in dialects as much confused, and mutually as unintelligible.
The very instance now before us presents a practical illustration. The law
of the last session is declared unconstitutional in South Carolina, and in
obedience to it is refused. In other States, it is admitted to be strictly
constitutional. You walk over the limit of its authority, therefore, when
you pass a State line. On one side it is law, on the other side a nullity;
and yet it is passed by a common government, having the same authority in
all the States.

Such, Sir, are the inevitable results of this doctrine. Beginning with the
original error, that the Constitution of the United States is nothing but
a compact between sovereign States; asserting, in the next step, that each
State has a right to be its own sole judge of the extent of its own
obligations, and consequently of the constitutionality of laws of
Congress; and, in the next, that it may oppose whatever it sees fit to
declare unconstitutional, and that it decides for itself on the mode and
measure of redress,--the argument arrives at once at the conclusion, that
what a State dissents from, it may nullify; what it opposes, it may oppose
by force; what it decides for itself, it may execute by its own power; and
that, in short, it is itself supreme over the legislation of Congress, and
supreme over the decisions of the national judicature; supreme over the
constitution of the country, supreme over the supreme law of the land.
However it seeks to protect itself against these plain inferences, by
saying that an unconstitutional law is no law, and that it only opposes
such laws as are unconstitutional, yet this does not in the slightest
degree vary the result; since it insists on deciding this question for
itself; and, in opposition to reason and argument, in opposition to
practice and experience, in opposition to the judgment of others, having
an equal right to judge, it says, only, "Such is my opinion, and my
opinion shall be my law, and I will support it by my own strong hand. I
denounce the law; I declare it unconstitutional; that is enough; it shall
not be executed. Men in arms are ready to resist its execution. An attempt
to enforce it shall cover the land with blood. Elsewhere it may be
binding; but here it is trampled under foot." This, Sir, is practical
nullification.

And now, Sir, against all these theories and opinions, I maintain,--

1. That the Constitution of the United States is not a league,
confederacy, or compact between the people of the several States in their
sovereign capacities; but a government proper, founded on the adoption of
the people, and creating direct relations between itself and individuals.

2. That no State authority has power to dissolve these relations; that
nothing can dissolve them but revolution; and that, consequently, there
can be no such thing as secession without revolution.

3. That there is a supreme law, consisting of the Constitution of the
United States, and acts of Congress passed in pursuance of it, and
treaties; and that, in cases not capable of assuming the character of a
suit in law or equity, Congress must judge of, and finally interpret, this
supreme law so often as it has occasion to pass acts of legislation; and
in cases capable of assuming, and actually assuming, the character of a
suit, the Supreme Court of the United States is the final interpreter.

4. That an attempt by a State to abrogate, annul, or nullify an act of
Congress, or to arrest its operation within her limits, on the ground
that, in her opinion, such law is unconstitutional, is a direct usurpation
on the just powers of the general government, and on the equal rights of
other States; a plain violation of the Constitution, and a proceeding
essentially revolutionary in its character and tendency.

Whether the Constitution be a compact between States in their sovereign
capacities, is a question which must be mainly argued from what is
contained in the instrument itself. We all agree that it is an instrument
which has been in some way clothed with power. We all admit that it speaks
with authority. The first question then is, What does it say of itself?
What does it purport to be? Does it style itself a league, confederacy, or
compact between sovereign States? It is to be remembered, Sir, that the
Constitution began to speak only after its adoption. Until it was ratified
by nine States, it was but a proposal, the mere draught of an instrument.
It was like a deed drawn, but not executed. The Convention had framed it;
sent it to Congress, then sitting under the Confederation; Congress had
transmitted it to the State legislatures; and by these last it was laid
before conventions of the people in the several States. All this while it
was inoperative paper. It had received no stamp of authority, no sanction;
it spoke no language. But when ratified by the people in their respective
conventions, then it had a voice, and spoke authentically. Every word in
it had then received the sanction of the popular will, and was to be
received as the expression of that will. What the Constitution says of
itself, therefore, is as conclusive as what it says on any other point.
Does it call itself a "compact"? Certainly not. It uses the word
_compact_ but once, and that is when it declares that the States
shall enter into no compact. Does it call itself a "league," a
"confederacy," a "subsisting treaty between the States"? Certainly not.
There is not a particle of such language in all its pages. But it declares
itself a CONSTITUTION. What is a _constitution_? Certainly not a
league, compact, or confederacy, but a _fundamental law_. That
fundamental regulation which determines the manner in which the public
authority is to be executed, is what forms the _constitution_ of a
state. Those primary rules which concern the body itself, and the very
being of the political society, the form of government, and the manner in
which power is to be exercised,--all, in a word, which form together the
_constitution of a state_,--these are the fundamental laws. This,
Sir, is the language of the public writers. But do we need to be informed,
in this country, what a _constitution_ is? Is it not an idea
perfectly familiar, definite, and settled? We are at no loss to understand
what is meant by the constitution of one of the States; and the
Constitution of the United States speaks of itself as being an instrument
of the same nature. It says this _Constitution_ shall be the law of
the land, anything in any State _constitution_ to the contrary
notwithstanding. And it speaks of itself, too, in plain contradistinction
from a confederation; for it says that all debts contracted, and all
engagements entered into, by the United States, shall be as valid under
this _Constitution_ as under the _Confederation_. It does not
say, as valid under this _compact_, or this league, or this
confederation, as under the former confederation, but as valid under this
_Constitution_.

This, then, Sir, is declared to be a _constitution_. A constitution
is the fundamental law of the state; and this is expressly declared to be
the supreme law. It is as if the people had said, "We prescribe this
fundamental law," or "this supreme law," for they do say that they
establish this Constitution, and that it shall be the supreme law. They
say that they _ordain and establish_ it. Now, Sir, what is the common
application of these words? We do not speak of ordaining leagues and
compacts. If this was intended to be a compact or league, and the States
to be parties to it, why was it not so said? Why is there found no one
expression in the whole instrument indicating such intent? The old
Confederation was expressly called a _league_, and into this league
it was declared that the States, as States, severally entered. Why was not
similar language used in the Constitution, if a similar intention had
existed? Why was it not said, "the States enter into this new league,"
"the States form this new confederation," or "the States agree to this new
compact"? Or why was it not said, in the language of the gentleman's
resolution, that the people of the several States acceded to this compact
in their sovereign capacities? What reason is there for supposing that the
framers of the Constitution rejected expressions appropriate to their own
meaning, and adopted others wholly at war with that meaning?

Again, Sir, the Constitution speaks of that political system which is
established as "the government of the United States." Is it not doing
strange violence to language to call a league or a compact between
sovereign powers a _government_? The government of a state is that
organization in which the political power resides. It is the political
being created by the constitution or fundamental law. The broad and clear
difference between a government and a league or compact is, that a
government is a body politic; it has a will of its own; and it possesses
powers and faculties to execute its own purposes. Every compact looks to
some power to enforce its stipulations. Even in a compact between
sovereign communities, there always exists this ultimate reference to a
power to insure its execution; although, in such case, this power is but
the force of one party against the force of another; that is to say, the
power of war. But a _government_ executes its decisions by its own
supreme authority. Its use of force in compelling obedience to its own
enactments is not war. It contemplates no opposing party having a right of
resistance. It rests on its own power to enforce its own will; and when it
ceases to possess this power, it is no longer a government.

Mr. President, I concur so generally to the very able speech of the
gentleman from Virginia near me [1], that it is not without diffidence and
regret that I venture to differ with him on any point. His opinions, Sir,
are redolent of the doctrines of a very distinguished school, for which I
have the highest regard, of whose doctrines I can say, what I can also say
of the gentleman's speech, that, while I concur in the results, I must be
permitted to hesitate about some of the premises. I do not agree that the
Constitution is a compact between States in their sovereign capacities. I
do not agree, that, in strictness of language, it is a compact at all. But
I do agree that it is founded on consent or agreement, or on compact, if
the gentleman prefers that word, and means no more by it than voluntary
consent or agreement. The Constitution, Sir, is not a contract, but the
result of a contract; meaning by contract no more than assent. Founded on
consent, it is a government proper. Adopted by the agreement of the people
of the United States, when adopted, it has become a Constitution. The
people have agreed to make a Constitution; but when made, that
Constitution becomes what its name imports. It is no longer a mere
agreement. Our laws, Sir, have their foundation in the agreement or
consent of the two houses of Congress. We say, habitually, that one house
proposes a bill, and the other agrees to it; but the result of this
agreement is not a compact, but a law. The law, the statute, is not the
agreement, but something created by the agreement; and something which,
when created, has a new character, and acts by its own authority. So the
Constitution of the United States, founded in or on the consent of the
people, may be said to rest on compact or consent; but it is not itself
the compact, but its result. When the people agree to erect a government,
and actually erect it, the thing is done, and the agreement is at an end.
The compact is executed, and the end designed by it attained. Henceforth,
the fruit of the agreement exists, but the agreement itself is merged in
its own accomplishment; since there can be no longer a subsisting
agreement or compact _to form_ a constitution or government, after
that constitution or government has been actually formed and established.

It appears to me, Mr. President, that the plainest account of the
establishment of this government presents the most just and philosophical
view of its foundation. The people of the several States had their
separate State governments; and between the States there also existed a
Confederation. With this condition of things the people were not
satisfied, as the Confederation had been found not to fulfil its intended
objects. It was _proposed_, therefore, to erect a new, common
government, which should possess certain definite powers, such as regarded
the prosperity of the people of all the States, and to be formed upon the
general model of American constitutions. This proposal was assented to,
and an instrument was presented to the people of the several States for
their consideration. They approved it, and agreed to adopt it, as a
Constitution. They executed that agreement; they adopted the Constitution
as a Constitution, and henceforth it must stand as a Constitution until it
shall be altogether destroyed. Now, Sir, is not this the truth of the
whole matter? And is not all that we have heard of compact between
sovereign States the mere effect of a theoretical and artificial mode of
reasoning upon the subject? a mode of reasoning which disregards plain
facts for the sake of hypothesis?

Mr. President, the nature of sovereignty or sovereign power has been
extensively discussed by gentlemen on this occasion, as it generally is
when the origin of our government is debated. But I confess myself not
entirely satisfied with arguments and illustrations drawn from that topic.
The sovereignty of government is an idea belonging to the other side of
the Atlantic. No such thing is known in North America. Our governments are
all limited. In Europe, sovereignty is of feudal origin, and imports no
more than the state of the sovereign. It comprises his rights, duties,
exemptions, prerogatives, and powers. But with us, all power is with the
people. They alone are sovereign; and they erect what governments they
please, and confer on them such powers as they please. None of these
governments is sovereign, in the European sense of the word, all being
restrained by written constitutions. It seems to me, therefore, that we
only perplex ourselves when we attempt to explain the relations existing
between the general government and the several State governments according
to those ideas of sovereignty which prevail under systems essentially
different from our own.

But, Sir, to return to the Constitution itself; let me inquire what it
relies upon for its own continuance and support. I hear it often
suggested, that the States, by refusing to appoint Senators and Electors,
might bring this government to an end. Perhaps that is true; but the same
may be said of the State governments themselves. Suppose the legislature
of a State, having the power to appoint the governor and the judges,
should omit that duty, would not the State government remain unorganized?
No doubt, all elective governments may be broken up by a general
abandonment on the part of those intrusted with political powers of their
appropriate duties. But one popular government has, in this respect, as
much security as another. The maintenance of this Constitution does not
depend on the plighted faith of the States, as States, to support it; and
this again shows that it is not a league. It relies on individual duty and
obligation.

The Constitution of the United States creates direct relations between
this government and individuals. This government may punish individuals
for treason, and all other crimes in the code, when committed against the
United States. It has power also to tax individuals, in any mode and to
any extent; and it possesses the further power of demanding from
individuals military service. Nothing, certainly, can more clearly
distinguish a government from a confederation of states than the
possession of these powers. No closer relations can exist between
individuals and any government.

On the other hand, the government owes high and solemn duties to every
citizen of the country. It is bound to protect him in his most important
rights and interests. It makes war for his protection, and no other
government in the country can make war. It makes peace for his protection,
and no other government can make peace. It maintains armies and navies for
his defence and security, and no other government is allowed to maintain
them. He goes abroad beneath its flag, and carries over all the earth a
national character imparted to him by this government, and which no other
government can impart. In whatever relates to war, to peace, to commerce,
he knows no other government. All these, Sir, are connections as dear and
as sacred as can bind individuals to any government on earth. It is not,
therefore, a compact between States, but a government proper, operating
directly upon individuals, yielding to them protection on the one hand,
and demanding from them obedience on the other.

There is no language in the whole Constitution applicable to a
confederation of States. If the States be parties, as States, what are
their rights, and what their respective covenants and stipulations? And
where are their rights, covenants, and stipulations expressed? The States
engage for nothing, they promise nothing. In the Articles of
Confederation, they did make promises, and did enter into engagements, and
did plight the faith of each State for their fulfilment; but In the
Constitution there is nothing of that kind. The reason is, that, in the
Constitution, it is the _people_ who speak, and not the States. The
people ordain the Constitution, and therein address themselves to the
States, and to the legislatures of the States, in the language of
injunction and prohibition. The Constitution utters its behests in the
name and by authority of the people, and it does not exact from States any
plighted public faith to maintain it. On the contrary, it makes its own
preservation depend on individual duty and individual obligation. Sir, the
States cannot omit to appoint Senators and Electors. It is not a matter
resting in State discretion or State pleasure. The Constitution has taken
better care of its own preservation. It lays its hand on individual
conscience and individual duty. It incapacitates any man to sit in the
legislature of a State who shall not first have taken his solemn oath to
support the Constitution of the United States. From the obligation of this
oath no State power can discharge him. All the members of all the State
legislatures are as religiously bound to support the Constitution of the
United States as they are to support their own State constitution. Nay,
Sir, they are as solemnly sworn to support it as we ourselves are, who are
members of Congress.

No member of a State legislature can refuse to proceed, at the proper
time, to elect Senators to Congress, or to provide for the choice of
Electors of President and Vice-President, any more than the members of
this Senate can refuse, when the appointed day arrives, to meet the
members of the other house, to count the votes for those officers, and
ascertain who are chosen. In both cases, the duty binds, and with equal
strength, the conscience of the individual member, and it is imposed on
all by an oath in the same words. Let it then never be said, Sir, that it
is a matter of discretion with the States whether they will continue the
government, or break it up by refusing to appoint Senators and to elect
Electors. They have no discretion in the matter. The members of their
legislatures cannot avoid doing either, so often as the time arrives,
without a direct violation of their duty and their oaths; such a violation
as would break up any other government.

Looking still further to the provisions of the Constitution itself, in
order to learn its true character, we find its great apparent purpose to
be, to unite the people of all the States under one general government,
for certain definite objects, and, to the extent of this union, to
restrain the separate authority of the States. Congress only can declare
war; therefore, when one State is at war with a foreign nation, all must
be at war. The President and the Senate only can make peace; when peace is
made for one State, therefore, it must be made for all.

Can anything be conceived more preposterous, than that any State should
have power to nullify the proceedings of the general government respecting
peace and war? When war is declared by a law of Congress, can a single
State nullify that law, and remain at peace? And yet she may nullify that
law as well as any other. If the President and Senate make peace, may one
State, nevertheless, continue the war? And yet, if she can nullify a law,
she may quite as well nullify a treaty.

The truth is, Mr. President, and no ingenuity of argument, no subtilty of
distinction can evade it, that, as to certain purposes, the people of the
United States are one people. They are one in making war, and one in
making peace; they are one in regulating commerce, and one in laying
duties of imposts. The very end and purpose of the Constitution was, to
make them one people in these particulars; and it has effectually
accomplished its object. All this is apparent on the face of the
Constitution itself. I have already said, Sir, that to obtain a power of
direct legislation over the people, especially in regard to imposts, was
always prominent as a reason for getting rid of the Confederation, and
forming a new Constitution. Among innumerable proofs of this, before the
assembling of the Convention, allow me to refer only to the report of the
committee of the old Congress, July, 1785.

But, Sir, let us go to the actual formation of the Constitution; let us
open the journal of the Convention itself, and we shall see that the very
first resolution which the Convention adopted was, "That a national
government ought to be established, consisting of a supreme legislature,
judiciary, and executive."

This itself completely negatives all idea of league, and compact, and
confederation. Terms could not be chosen more fit to express an intention
to establish a national government, and to banish for ever all notion of a
compact between sovereign States.

This resolution was adopted on the 30th of May, 1787. Afterwards, the
style was altered, and, instead of being called a national government, it
was called the government of the United States; but the substance of this
resolution was retained, and was at the head of that list of resolutions
which was afterwards sent to the committee who were to frame the
instrument.

It is true, there were gentlemen in the Convention, who were for retaining
the Confederation, and amending its Articles; but the majority was against
this, and was for a national government. Mr. Patterson's propositions,
which were for continuing the Articles of Confederation with additional
powers, were submitted to the Convention on the 15th of June, and referred
to the committee of the whole. The resolutions forming the basis of a
national government, which had once been agreed to in the committee of the
whole, and reported, were recommitted to the same committee, on the same
day. The Convention, then, in committee of the whole, on the 19th of June,
had both these plans before them; that is to say, the plan of a
confederacy, or compact, between States, and the plan of a national
government. Both these plans were considered and debated, and the
committee reported, "That they do not agree to the propositions offered by
the honorable Mr. Patterson, but that they again submit the resolutions
formerly reported." If, Sir, any historical fact in the world be plain and
undeniable, it is that the Convention deliberated on the expediency of
continuing the Confederation, with some amendments, and rejected that
scheme, and adopted the plan of a national government, with a
legislature, an executive, and a judiciary of its own. They were asked to
preserve the league; they rejected the proposition. They were asked to
continue the existing compact between States; they rejected it. They
rejected compact, league, and confederation, and set themselves about
framing the constitution of a national government; and they accomplished
what they undertook.

If men will open their eyes fairly to the lights of history, it is
impossible to be deceived on this point. The great object was to supersede
the Confederation by a regular government; because, under the
Confederation, Congress had power only to make requisitions on States; and
if States declined compliance, as they did, there was no remedy but war
against such delinquent States. It would seem, from Mr. Jefferson's
correspondence, in 1786 and 1787, that he was of opinion that even this
remedy ought to be tried. "There will be no money in the treasury," said
he, "till the confederacy shows its teeth"; and he suggests that a single
frigate would soon levy, on the commerce of a delinquent State, the
deficiency of its contribution. But this would be war; and it was evident
that a confederacy could not long hold together, which should be at war
with its members. The Constitution was adopted to avoid this necessity. It
was adopted that there might be a government which should act directly on
individuals, without borrowing aid from the State governments. This is
clear as light itself on the very face of the provisions of the
Constitution, and its whole history tends to the same conclusion. Its
framers gave this very reason for their work in the most distinct terms.
Allow me to quote but one or two proofs, out of hundreds. That State, so
small in territory, but so distinguished for learning and talent,
Connecticut, had sent to the general Convention, among other members,
Samuel Johnston and Oliver Ellsworth. The Constitution having been framed,
it was submitted to a convention of the people of Connecticut for
ratification on the part of that State; and Mr. Johnston and Mr. Ellsworth
were also members of this convention. On the first day of the debates,
being called on to explain the reasons which led the Convention at
Philadelphia to recommend such a Constitution, after showing the
insufficiency of the existing confederacy, inasmuch as it applied to
States, as States, Mr. Johnston proceeded to say:--

"The Convention saw this imperfection in attempting to legislate for
States in their political capacity, that the coercion of law can be
exercised by nothing but a military force. They have, therefore, gone upon
entirely new ground. They have formed one new nation out of the individual
States. The Constitution vests in the general legislature a power to make
laws in matters of national concern; to appoint judges to decide upon
these laws; and to appoint officers to carry them into execution. This
excludes the idea of an armed force. The power which is to enforce these
laws is to be a legal power, vested in proper magistrates. The force which
is to be employed is the energy of law; and this force is to operate only
upon individuals who fail in their duty to their country. This is the
peculiar glory of the Constitution, that it depends upon the mild and
equal energy of the magistracy for the execution of the laws."

In the further course of the debate, Mr. Ellsworth said:--

"In republics, it is a fundamental principle, that the majority govern,
and that the minority comply with the general voice. How contrary, then,
to republican principles, how humiliating, is our present situation! A
single State can rise up, and put a veto upon the most important public
measures. We have seen this actually take place; a single State has
controlled the general voice of the Union; a minority, a very small
minority, has governed us. So far is this from being consistent with
republican principles, that it is, in effect, the worst species of
monarchy.

"Hence we see how necessary for the Union is a coercive principle. No man
pretends the contrary. We all see and feel this necessity. The only
question is, Shall it be a coercion of law, or a coercion of arms? There
is no other possible alternative. Where will those who oppose a coercion
of law come out? Where will they end? A necessary consequence of their
principles is a war of the States one against another. I am for coercion
by law; that coercion which acts only upon delinquent individuals. This
Constitution does not attempt to coerce sovereign bodies, States, in their
political capacity. No coercion is applicable to such bodies, but that of
an armed force. If we should attempt to execute the laws of the Union by
sending an armed force against a delinquent State, it would involve the
good and bad, the innocent and guilty, in the same calamity. But this
legal coercion singles out the guilty individual, and punishes him for
breaking the laws of the Union."

Indeed, Sir, if we look to all contemporary history, to the numbers of the
Federalist, to the debates in the conventions, to the publications of
friends and foes, they all agree, that a change had been made from a
confederacy of States to a different system; they all agree, that the
Convention had formed a Constitution for a national government. With this
result some were satisfied, and some were dissatisfied; but all admitted
that the thing had been done. In none of these various productions and
publications did any one intimate that the new Constitution was but
another compact between States in their sovereign capacities. I do not
find such an opinion advanced in a single instance. Everywhere, the people
were told that the old Confederation was to be abandoned, and a new system
to be tried; that a proper government was proposed, to be founded in the
name of the people, and to have a regular organization of its own.
Everywhere, the people were told that it was to be a government with
direct powers to make laws over individuals, and to lay taxes and imposts
without the consent of the States. Everywhere, it was understood to be a
popular Constitution. It came to the people for their adoption, and was to
rest on the same deep foundation as the State constitutions themselves.
Its most distinguished advocates, who had been themselves members of the
Convention, declared that the very object of submitting the Constitution
to the people was, to preclude the possibility of its being regarded as a
mere compact. "However gross a heresy," say the writers of the Federalist,
"it may be to maintain that a party to a _compact_ has a right to
revoke that _compact_, the doctrine itself has had respectable
advocates. The possibility of a question of this nature proves the
necessity of laying the foundations of our national government deeper than
in the mere sanction of delegated authority. The fabric of American empire
ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE."

Such is the language, Sir, addressed to the people, while they yet had the
Constitution under consideration.  The powers conferred on the new
government were perfectly well understood to be conferred, not by any
State, or the people of any State, but by the people of the United States.
Virginia is more explicit, perhaps, in this particular, than any other
State. Her convention, assembled to ratify the Constitution, "in the name
and behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the
powers granted under the Constitution, _being derived from the people of
the United States_, may be resumed by them whenever the same shall be
perverted to their injury or oppression."

Is this language which describes the formation of a compact between
States? or language describing the grant of powers to a new government, by
the whole people of the United States?

Among all the other ratifications, there is not one which speaks of the
Constitution as a compact between States. Those of Massachusetts and New
Hampshire express the transaction, in my opinion, with sufficient
accuracy. They recognize the Divine goodness "in affording THE PEOPLE OF
THE UNITED STATES an opportunity of entering into an explicit and solemn
compact with each other _by assenting to and ratifying a new
Constitution_." You will observe, Sir, that it is the PEOPLE, and not
the States, who have entered into this compact; and it is the PEOPLE of
all the United States. These conventions, by this form of expression,
meant merely to say, that the people of the United States had, by the
blessing of Providence, enjoyed the opportunity of establishing a new
Constitution, _founded in the consent of the people_. This consent of
the people has been called, by European writers, the _social
compact_; and, in conformity to this common mode of expression, these
conventions speak of that assent, on which the new Constitution was to
rest, as an explicit and solemn compact, not which the States had entered
into with each other, but which the _people_ of the United States had
entered into.

Finally, Sir, how can any man get over the words of the Constitution
itself?--"WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, DO ORDAIN AND ESTABLISH
THIS CONSTITUTION." These words must cease to be a part of the
Constitution, they must be obliterated from the parchment on which they
are written, before any human ingenuity or human argument can remove the
popular basis on which that Constitution rests, and turn the instrument
into a mere compact between sovereign States.

The second proposition, Sir, which I propose to maintain, is, that no
State authority can dissolve the relations subsisting between the
government of the United States and individuals; that nothing can dissolve
these relations but revolution; and that, therefore, there can be no such
thing as _secession_ without revolution. All this follows, as it
seems to me, as a just consequence, if it be first proved that the
Constitution of the United States is a government proper, owing protection
to individuals, and entitled to their obedience.

The people, Sir, in every State, live under two governments. They owe
obedience to both. These governments, though distinct, are not adverse.
Each has its separate sphere, and its peculiar powers and duties. It is
not a contest between two sovereigns for the same power, like the wars of
the rival houses of England; nor is it a dispute between a government
_de facto_ and a government _de jure_. It is the case of a
division of powers between two governments, made by the people, to whom
both are responsible. Neither can dispense with the duty which individuals
owe to the other; neither can call itself master of the other; the people
are masters of both. This division of power, it is true, is in a great
measure unknown in Europe. It is the peculiar system of America; and,
though new and singular, it is not incomprehensible. The State
constitutions are established by the people of the States. This
Constitution is established by the people of all the States. How, then,
can a State secede? How can a State undo what the whole people have done?
How can she absolve her citizens from their obedience to the laws of the
United States? How can she annul their obligations and oaths? How can the
members of her legislature renounce their own oaths? Sir, secession, as a
revolutionary right, is intelligible; as a right to be proclaimed in the
midst of civil commotions, and asserted at the head of armies, I can
understand it. But as a practical right, existing under the Constitution,
and in conformity with its provisions, it seems to me to be nothing but a
plain absurdity; for it supposes resistance to government, under the
authority of government itself; it supposes dismemberment, without
violating the principles of union; it supposes opposition to law, without
crime; it supposes the violation of oaths, without responsibility; it
supposes the total overthrow of government, without revolution. The
Constitution, Sir, regards itself as perpetual and immortal. It seeks to
establish a union among the people of the States, which shall last through
all time. Or, if the common fate of things human must be expected at some
period to happen to it, yet that catastrophe is not anticipated.

The instrument contains ample provisions for its amendment, at all times;
none for its abandonment at any time. It declares that new States may come
into the Union, but it does not declare that old States may go out. The
Union is not a temporary partnership of States. It is the association of
the people, under a constitution of government, uniting their power,
joining together their highest interests, cementing their present
enjoyments, and blending, in one indivisible mass, all their hopes for the
future. Whatsoever is steadfast in just political principles; whatsoever
is permanent in the structure of human society; whatsoever there is which
can derive an enduring character from being founded on deep-laid
principles of constitutional liberty and on the broad foundations of the
public will,--all these unite to entitle this instrument to be regarded as
a permanent constitution of government.

In the next place, Mr. President, I contend that there is a supreme law of
the land, consisting of the Constitution, acts of Congress passed in
pursuance of it, and the public treaties. This will not be denied, because
such are the very words of the Constitution. But I contend, further, that
it rightfully belongs to Congress, and to the courts of the United States,
to settle the construction of this supreme law, in doubtful cases. This is
denied; and here arises the great practical question, _Who is to
construe finally the Constitution of the United States_? We all agree
that the Constitution is the supreme law; but who shall interpret that law?
In our system of the division of powers between different governments,
controversies will necessarily sometimes arise, respecting the extent of
the powers of each. Who shall decide these controversies? Does it rest with
the general government, in all or any of its departments, to exercise the
office of final interpreter? Or may each of the States, as well as the
general government, claim this right of ultimate decision? The practical
result of this whole debate turns on this point. The gentleman contends
that each State may judge for itself of any alleged violation of the
Constitution, and may finally decide for itself, and may execute its own
decisions by its own power. All the recent proceedings in South Carolina
are founded on this claim of right. Her convention has pronounced the
revenue laws of the United States unconstitutional; and this decision she
does not allow any authority of the United States to overrule or reverse.
Of course she rejects the authority of Congress, because the very object
of the ordinance is to reverse the decision of Congress; and she rejects,
too, the authority of the courts of the United States, because she
expressly prohibits all appeal to those courts. It is in order to sustain
this asserted right of being her own judge, that she pronounces the
Constitution of the United States to be but a compact, to which she is a
party, and a sovereign party. If this be established, then the inference
is supposed to follow, that, being sovereign, there is no power to control
her decision; and her own judgment on her own compact is, and must be,
conclusive.

I have already endeavored, Sir, to point out the practical consequences of
this doctrine, and to show how utterly inconsistent it is with all ideas
of regular government, and how soon its adoption would involve the whole
country in revolution and absolute anarchy. I hope it is easy now to show,
Sir, that a doctrine bringing such consequences with it is not well
founded; that it has nothing to stand on but theory and assumption; and
that it is refuted by plain and express constitutional provisions. I think
the government of the United States does possess, in its appropriate
departments, the authority of final decision on questions of disputed
power. I think it possesses this authority, both by necessary implication
and by express grant.

It will not be denied, Sir, that this authority naturally belongs to all
governments. They all exercise it from necessity, and as a consequence of
the exercise of other powers. The State governments themselves possess it,
except in that class of questions which may arise between them and the
general government, and in regard to which they have surrendered it, as
well by the nature of the case as by clear constitutional provisions. In
other and ordinary cases, whether a particular law be in conformity to the
constitution of the State is a question which the State legislature or the
State judiciary must determine. We all know that these questions arise
daily in the State governments, and are decided by those governments; and
I know no government which does not exercise a similar power.

Upon general principles, then, the government of the United States
possesses this authority; and this would hardly be denied were it not that
there are other governments. But since there are State governments, and
since these, like other governments, ordinarily construe their own powers,
if the government of the United States construes its own powers also,
which construction is to prevail in the case of opposite constructions?
And again, as in the case now actually before us, the State governments
may undertake, not only to construe their own powers, but to decide
directly on the extent of the powers of Congress. Congress has passed a
law as being within its just powers; South Carolina denies that this law
is within its just powers, and insists that she has the right so to decide
this point, and that her decision is final. How are these questions to be
settled?

In my opinion, Sir, even if the Constitution of the United States had made
no express provision for such cases, it would yet be difficult to
maintain, that, in a Constitution existing over four-and-twenty States,
with equal authority over all, one could claim a right of construing it
for the whole. This would seem a manifest impropriety; indeed, an
absurdity. If the Constitution is a government existing over all the
States, though with limited powers, it necessarily follows, that, to the
extent of those powers, it must be supreme. If it be not superior to the
authority of a particular State, it is not a national government. But as
it is a government, as it has a legislative power of its own, and a
judicial power coextensive with the legislative, the inference is
irresistible that this government, thus created _by_ the whole and
_for_ the whole, must have an authority superior to that of the
particular government of any one part. Congress is the legislature of all
the people of the United States; the judiciary of the general government
is the judiciary of all the people of the United States. To hold,
therefore, that this legislature and this judiciary are subordinate in
authority to the legislature and judiciary of a single State, is doing
violence to all common sense, and overturning all established principles.
Congress must judge of the extent of its own powers so often as it is
called on to exercise them, or it cannot act at all; and it must also act
independent of State control, or it cannot act at all.

The right of State interposition strikes at the very foundation of the
legislative power of Congress. It possesses no effective legislative
power, if such right of State interposition exists; because it can pass no
law not subject to abrogation. It cannot make laws for the Union, if any
part of the Union may pronounce its enactments void and of no effect. Its
forms of legislation would be an idle ceremony, if, after all, any one of
four-and-twenty States might bid defiance to its authority. Without
express provision in the Constitution, therefore, Sir, this whole question
is necessarily decided by those provisions which create a legislative
power and a judicial power. If these exist in a government intended for
the whole, the inevitable consequence is, that the laws of this
legislative power and the decisions of this judicial power must be binding
on and over the whole. No man can form the conception of a government
existing over four-and-twenty States, with a regular legislative and
judicial power, and of the existence at the same time of an authority,
residing elsewhere, to resist, at pleasure or discretion, the enactments
and the decisions of such a government. I maintain, therefore, Sir, that,
from the nature of the case, and as an inference wholly unavoidable, the
acts of Congress and the decisions of the national courts must be of
higher authority than State laws and State decisions. If this be not so,
there is, there can be, no general government.

But, Mr. President, the Constitution has not left this cardinal point
without full and explicit provisions. First, as to the authority of
Congress. Having enumerated the specific powers conferred on Congress, the
Constitution adds, as a distinct and substantive clause, the following,
viz.: "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying
into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this
Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department
or officer thereof." If this means anything, it means that Congress may
judge of the true extent and just interpretation of the specific powers
granted to it, and may judge also of what is necessary and proper for
executing those powers. If Congress is to judge of what is necessary for
the execution of its powers, it must, of necessity, judge of the extent
and interpretation of those powers.

And in regard, Sir, to the judiciary, the Constitution is still more
express and emphatic. It declares that the judicial power shall extend to
all _cases_ in law or equity arising under the Constitution, laws of
the United States, and treaties; that there shall be _one_ Supreme
Court, and that this Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction of
all these cases, subject to such exceptions as Congress may make. It is
impossible to escape from the generality of these words. If a case arises
under the Constitution, that is, if a case arises depending on the
construction of the Constitution, the judicial power of the United States
extends to it. It reaches _the case, the question_; it attaches the
power of the national judicature to the _case_ itself, in whatever
court it may arise or exist; and in this _case_ the Supreme Court has
appellate jurisdiction over all courts whatever. No language could provide
with more effect and precision than is here done, for subjecting
constitutional questions to the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court.
And, Sir, this is exactly what the Convention found it necessary to
provide for, and intended to provide for. It is, too, exactly what the
people were universally told was done when they adopted the Constitution.
One of the first resolutions adopted by the Convention was in these words,
viz.: "That the jurisdiction of the national judiciary shall extend to
cases which respect _the collection of the national revenue_, and
questions which involve the national peace and harmony." Now, Sir, this
either had no sensible meaning at all, or else it meant that the
jurisdiction of the national judiciary should extend to these questions,
_with a paramount authority_. It is not to be supposed that the
Convention intended that the power of the national judiciary should extend
to these questions, and that the power of the judicatures of the States
should also extend to them, _with equal power of final decision_.
This would be to defeat the whole object of the provision. There were
thirteen judicatures already in existence. The evil complained of, or the
danger to be guarded against, was contradiction and repugnance in the
decisions of these judicatures. If the framers of the Constitution meant
to create a fourteenth, and yet not to give it power to revise and control
the decisions of the existing thirteen, then they only intended to augment
the existing evil and the apprehended danger by increasing still further
the chances of discordant judgments. Why, Sir, has it become a settled
axiom in politics that every government must have a judicial power
coextensive with its legislative power? Certainly, there is only this
reason, namely, that the laws may receive a uniform interpretation and a
uniform execution. This object cannot be otherwise attained. A statute is
what it is judicially interpreted to be; and if it be construed one way in
New Hampshire, and another way in Georgia, there is no uniform law. One
supreme court, with appellate and final jurisdiction, is the natural and
only adequate means, in any government, to secure this uniformity. The
Convention saw all this clearly; and the resolution which I have quoted,
never afterwards rescinded, passed through various modifications, till it
finally received the form which the article now bears in the Constitution.

It is undeniably true, then, that the framers of the Constitution intended
to create a national judicial power, which should be paramount on national
subjects. And after the Constitution was framed, and while the whole
country was engaged in discussing its merits, one of its most
distinguished advocates, Mr. Madison, told the people that it _was true,
that, in controversies relating to the boundary between the two
jurisdictions, the tribunal which is ultimately to decide is to be
established under the general government_. Mr. Martin, who had been a
member of the Convention, asserted the same thing to be the legislature of
Maryland, and urged it as a reason for rejecting the Constitution. Mr.
Pinckney, himself also a leading member of the Convention, declared it to
the people of South Carolina. Everywhere it was admitted, by friends and
foes, that this power was in the Constitution. By some it was thought
dangerous, by most it was thought necessary; but by all it was agreed to
be a power actually contained in the instrument. The Convention saw the
absolute necessity of some control in the national government over State
laws. Different modes of establishing this control were suggested and
considered. At one time, it was proposed that the laws of the States
should, from time to time, be laid before Congress, and that Congress
should possess a negative over them. But this was thought inexpedient and
inadmissible; and in its place, and expressly as a substitute for it, the
existing provision was introduced; that is to say, a provision by which
the federal courts should have authority to overrule such State laws as
might be in manifest contravention of the Constitution. The writers of the
Federalist, in explaining the Constitution, while it was yet pending
before the people, and still unadopted, give this account of the matter in
terms, and assign this reason for the article as it now stands. By this
provision Congress escaped the necessity of any revision of State laws,
left the whole sphere of State legislation quite untouched, and yet
obtained a security against any infringement of the constitutional power
of the general government. Indeed, Sir, allow me to ask again, if the
national judiciary was not to exercise a power of revision on
constitutional questions over the judicatures of the States, why was any
national judicature erected at all? Can any man give a sensible reason for
having a judicial power in this government, unless it be for the sake of
maintaining a uniformity of decision on questions arising under the
Constitution and laws of Congress, and insuring its execution? And does
not this very idea of uniformity necessarily imply that the construction
given by the national courts is to be the prevailing construction? How
else, Sir, is it possible that uniformity can be preserved?

Gentlemen appear to me, Sir, to look at but one side of the question. They
regard only the supposed danger of trusting a government with the
interpretation of its own powers. But will they view the question in its
other aspect? Will they show us how it is possible for a government to get
along with four-and-twenty interpreters of its laws and powers? Gentlemen
argue, too, as if, in these cases, the State would be always right, and
the general government always wrong. But suppose the reverse,--suppose the
State wrong (and, since they differ, some of them must be wrong),--are the
most important and essential operations of the government to be
embarrassed and arrested, because one State holds the contrary opinion?
Mr. President, every argument which refers the constitutionality of acts
of Congress to State decision appeals from the majority to the minority;
it appeals from the common interest to a particular interest; from the
counsels of all to the counsel of one; and endeavors to supersede the
judgment of the whole by the judgment of a part.

I think it is clear, Sir, that the Constitution, by express provision, by
definite and unequivocal words, as well as by necessary implication, has
constituted the Supreme Court of the United States the appellate tribunal
in all cases of a constitutional nature which assume the shape of a suit,
in law or equity. And I think I cannot do better than to leave this part
of the subject by reading the remarks made upon it in the convention of
Connecticut, by Mr. Ellsworth; a gentleman, Sir, who has left behind him,
on the records of the government of his country, proofs of the clearest
intelligence and the deepest sagacity, as well as of the utmost purity and
integrity of character. "This Constitution," says he, "defines the extent
of the powers of the general government. If the general legislature
should, at any time, overleap their limits, the judicial department is a
constitutional check. If the United States go beyond their powers, if they
make a law which the Constitution does not authorize, it is void; and the
judiciary power, the national judges, who, to secure their impartiality,
are to be made independent, will declare it to be void. On the other hand,
if the States go beyond their limits, if they make a law which is a
usurpation upon the general government, the law is void; and upright,
independent judges will declare it to be so." Nor did this remain merely
matter of private opinion. In the very first session of the first
Congress, with all these well-known objects, both of the Convention and
the people, full and fresh in his mind, Mr. Ellsworth, as is generally
understood, reported the bill for the organization of the judicial
department, and in that bill made provision for the exercise of this
appellate power of the Supreme Court, in all the proper cases, in
whatsoever court arising; and this appellate power has now been exercised
for more than forty years, without interruption, and without doubt.

As to the cases, Sir, which do not come before the courts, those political
questions which terminate with the enactments of Congress, it is of
necessity that these should be ultimately decided by Congress itself. Like
other legislatures, it must be trusted with this power. The members of
Congress are chosen by the people, and they are answerable to the people;
like other public agents, they are bound by oath to support the
Constitution. These are the securities that they will not violate their
duty, nor transcend their powers. They are the same securities that
prevail in other popular governments; nor is it easy to see how grants of
power can be more safely guarded, without rendering them nugatory. If the
case cannot come before the courts, and if Congress be not trusted with
its decision, who shall decide it? The gentleman says, each State is to
decide it for herself. If so, then, as I have already urged, what is law
in one State is not law in another. Or, if the resistance of one State
compels an entire repeal of the law, then a minority, and that a small
one, governs the whole country.

Sir, those who espouse the doctrines of nullification reject, as it seems
to me, the first great principle of all republican liberty; that is, that
the majority _must_ govern. In matters of common concern, the
judgment of a majority _must_ stand as the judgment of the whole.
This is a law imposed on us by the absolute necessity of the case; and if
we do not act upon it, there is no possibility of maintaining any
government but despotism. We hear loud and repeated denunciations against
what is called _majority government_. It is declared, with much
warmth, that a majority government cannot be maintained in the United
States. What, then, do gentlemen wish? Do they wish to establish a
_minority_ government? Do they wish to subject the will of the many
to the will of the few? The honorable gentleman from South Carolina has
spoken of absolute majorities and majorities concurrent; language wholly
unknown to our Constitution, and to which it is not easy to affix definite
ideas. As far as I understand it, it would teach us that the absolute
majority may be found in Congress, but the majority concurrent must be
looked for in the States; that is to say, Sir, stripping the matter of
this novelty of phrase, that the dissent of one or more States, as States,
renders void the decision of a majority of Congress, so far as that State
is concerned. And so this doctrine, running but a short career, like other
dogmas of the day, terminates in nullification.

If this vehement invective against _majorities_ meant no more than
that, in the construction of government, it is wise to provide checks and
balances, so that there should be various limitations on the power of the
mere majority, it would only mean what the Constitution of the United
States has already abundantly provided. It is full of such checks and
balances. In its very organization, it adopts a broad and most effective
principle in restraint of the power of mere majorities. A majority of the
people elects the House of Representatives, but it does not elect the
Senate. The Senate is elected by the States, each State having, in this
respect, an equal power. No law, therefore, can pass, without the assent
of the representatives of the people, and a majority of the
representatives of the States also. A majority of the representatives of
the people must concur, and a majority of the States must concur, in every
act of Congress; and the President is elected on a plan compounded of both
these principles. But having composed one house of representatives chosen
by the people in each State, according to their numbers, and the other of
an equal number of members from every State, whether larger or smaller,
the Constitution gives to majorities in these houses thus constituted the
full and entire power of passing laws, subject always to the
constitutional restrictions and to the approval of the President. To
subject them to any other power is clear usurpation. The majority of one
house may be controlled by the majority of the other; and both may be
restrained by the President's negative. These are checks and balances
provided by the Constitution, existing in the government itself, and
wisely intended to secure deliberation and caution in legislative
proceedings. But to resist the will of the majority in both houses, thus
constitutionally exercised; to insist on the lawfulness of interposition
by an extraneous power; to claim the right of defeating the will of
Congress, by setting up against it the will of a single State,--is neither
more nor less, as it strikes me, than a plain attempt to overthrow the
government. The constituted authorities of the United States are no longer
a government, if they be not masters of their own will; they are no longer
a government, if an external power may arrest their proceedings; they are
no longer a government, if acts passed by both houses, and approved by the
President, may be nullified by State vetoes or State ordinances. Does any
one suppose it could make any difference, as to the binding authority of
an act of Congress, and of the duty of a State to respect it, whether it
passed by a mere majority of both houses, or by three fourths of each, or
the unanimous vote of each? Within the limits and restrictions of the
Constitution, the government of the United States, like all other popular
governments, acts by majorities. It can act no otherwise. Whoever,
therefore, denounces the government of majorities, denounces the
government of his own country, and denounces all free governments. And
whoever would restrain these majorities, while acting within their
constitutional limits, by an external power, whatever he may intend,
asserts principles which, if adopted, can lead to nothing else than the
destruction of the government itself.

Does not the gentleman perceive, Sir, how his argument against majorities
might here be retorted upon him? Does he not see how cogently he might be
asked, whether it be the character of nullification to practise what it
preaches? Look to South Carolina, at the present moment. How far are the
rights of minorities there respected? I confess, sir, I have not known, in
peaceable times, the power of the majority carried with a higher hand, or
upheld with more relentless disregard of the rights, feelings, and
principles of the minority;--a minority embracing, as the gentleman
himself will admit, a large portion of the worth and respectability of the
state;--a minority comprehending in its numbers men who have been
associated with him, and with us, in these halls of legislation; men who
have served their country at home and honored it abroad; men who would
cheerfully lay down their lives for their native state, in any cause which
they could regard as the cause of honor and duty; men above fear, and
above reproach, whose deepest grief and distress spring from the
conviction, that the present proceedings of the state must ultimately
reflect discredit upon her. How is this minority, how are these men,
regarded? They are enthralled and disfranchised by ordinances and acts of
legislation; subjected to tests and oaths incompatible, as they
conscientiously think, with oaths already taken, and obligations already
assumed; they are proscribed and denounced as recreants to duty and
patriotism, and slaves to a foreign power. Both the spirit which pursues
them, and the positive measures which emanate from that spirit, are harsh
and proscriptive beyond all precedent within my knowledge, except in
periods of professed revolution.

It is not, sir, one would think, for those who approve these proceedings
to complain of the power of majorities.

Mr. President, all popular governments rest on two principles, or two
assumptions:--

First, That there is so far a common interest among those over whom the
government extends, as that it may provide for the defence, protection,
and good government of the whole, without injustice or oppression to
parts; and

Secondly, That the representatives of the people, and especially the
people themselves, are secure against general corruption, and may be
trusted, therefore, with the exercise of power.

Whoever argues against these principles argues against the practicability
of all free governments. And whoever admits these, must admit, or cannot
deny, that power is as safe in the hands of Congress as in those of other
representative bodies. Congress is not irresponsible. Its members are
agents of the people, elected by them, answerable to them, and liable to
be displaced or superseded, at their pleasure; and they possess as fair a
claim to the confidence of the people, while they continue to deserve it,
as any other public political agents.

If, then, Sir, the manifest intention of the Convention, and the
contemporary admission of both friends and foes, prove anything; if the
plain text of the instrument itself, as well as the necessary implication
from other provisions, prove anything; if the early legislation of
Congress, the course of judicial decisions, acquiesced in by all the
States for forty years, prove any thing,--then it is proved that there is
a supreme law, and a final interpreter.

My fourth and last proposition, Mr. President, was, that any attempt by a
State to abrogate or nullify acts of Congress is a usurpation on the
powers of the general government and on the equal rights of other States,
a violation of the Constitution, and a proceeding essentially
revolutionary. This is undoubtedly true, if the preceding propositions be
regarded as proved. If the government of the United States be trusted with
the duty, in any department, of declaring the extent of its own powers,
then a State ordinance, or act of legislation, authorizing resistance to
an act of Congress, on the alleged ground of its unconstitutionality, is
manifestly a usurpation upon its powers. If the States have equal rights
in matters concerning the whole, then for one State to set up her judgment
against the judgment of the rest, and to insist on executing that judgment
by force, is also a manifest usurpation on the rights of other States. If
the Constitution of the United States be a government proper, with
authority to pass laws, and to give them a uniform interpretation and
execution, then the interposition of a State, to enforce her own
construction, and to resist, as to herself, that law which binds the other
States, is a violation of the Constitution.

If that be revolutionary which arrests the legislative, executive, and
judicial power of government, dispenses with existing oaths and
obligations of obedience, and elevates another power to supreme dominion,
then nullification is revolutionary. Or if that be revolutionary the
natural tendency and practical effect of which are to break the Union into
fragments, to sever all connection among the people of the respective
States, and to prostrate this general government in the dust, then
nullification is revolutionary.

Nullification, Sir, is as distinctly revolutionary as secession; but I
cannot say that the revolution which it seeks is one of so respectable a
character. Secession would, it is true, abandon the Constitution
altogether; but then it would profess to abandon it. Whatever other
inconsistencies it might run into, one, at least, it would avoid. It would
not belong to a government, while it rejected its authority. It would not
repel the burden, and continue to enjoy the benefits. It would not aid in
passing laws which others are to obey, and yet reject their authority as
to itself. It would not undertake to reconcile obedience to public
authority with an asserted right of command over that same authority. It
would not be in the government, and above the government, at the same
time. But though secession may be a more respectable mode of attaining the
object than nullification, it is not more truly revolutionary. Each, and
both, resist the constitutional authorities; each, and both, would sever
the Union and subvert the government.

Mr. President, having detained the Senate so long already, I will not now
examine at length the ordinance and laws of South Carolina. These papers
are well drawn for their purpose. Their authors understood their own
objects. They are called a peaceable remedy, and we have been told that
South Carolina, after all, intends nothing but a lawsuit. A very few
words, Sir, will show the nature of this peaceable remedy, and of the
lawsuit which South Carolina contemplates.

In the first place, the ordinance declares the law of last July, and all
other laws of the United States laying duties, to be absolutely null and
void, and makes it unlawful for the constituted authorities of the United
States to enforce the payment of such duties. It is therefore, Sir, an
indictable offence, at this moment, in South Carolina, for any person to
be concerned in collecting revenue under the laws of the United States. It
being declared, by what is considered a fundamental law of the State,
unlawful to collect these duties, an indictment lies, of course, against
any one concerned in such collection; and he is, on general principles,
liable to be punished by fine and imprisonment. The terms, it is true,
are, that it is unlawful "to enforce the payment of duties"; but every
custom-house officer enforces payment while he detains the goods in order
to obtain such payment. The ordinance, therefore, reaches everybody
concerned in the collection of the duties.

This is the first step in the prosecution of the peaceable remedy. The
second is more decisive. By the act commonly called _replevin_ law,
any person whose goods are seized or detained by the collector for the
payment of duties may sue out a writ of replevin, and, by virtue of that
writ, the goods are to be restored to him. A writ of replevin is a writ
which the sheriff is bound to execute, and for the execution of which he
is bound to employ force, if necessary. He may call out the _posse_,
and must do so, if resistance be made. This _posse_ may be armed or
unarmed. It may come forth with military array, and under the lead of
military men. Whatever number of troops may be assembled in Charleston,
they may be summoned, with the governor, or commander-in-chief, at their
head, to come in aid of the sheriff. It is evident, then, Sir, that the
whole military power of the State is to be employed, if necessary, in
dispossessing the custom-house officers, and in seizing and holding the
goods, without paying the duties. This is the second step in the peaceable
remedy.

Sir, whatever pretences may be set up to the contrary, this is the direct
application of force, and of military force. It is unlawful, in itself, to
replevy goods in the custody of the collectors. But this unlawful act is
to be done, and it is to be done by force. Here is a plain interposition,
by physical force, to resist the laws of the Union. The legal mode of
collecting duties is to detain the goods till such duties are paid or
secured. But force comes, and overpowers the collector and his assistants,
and takes away the goods, leaving the duties unpaid. There cannot be a
clearer case of forcible resistance to law. And it is provided that the
goods thus seized shall be held against any attempt to retake them, by the
same force which seized them.

Having thus dispossessed the officers of the government of the goods,
without payment of duties, and seized and secured them by the strong arm
of the State, only one thing more remains to be done, and that is, to cut
off all possibility of legal redress; and that, too, is accomplished, or
thought to be accomplished. The ordinance declares, _that all judicial
proceedings founded on the revenue laws_ (including, of course,
proceedings in the courts of the United States), _shall be null and
void_. This nullifies the judicial power of the United States. Then
comes the test-oath act. This requires all State judges and jurors in the
State courts to swear that they will execute the ordinance, and all acts
of the legislature passed in pursuance thereof. The ordinance declares,
that no appeal shall be allowed from the decision of the State courts to
the Supreme Court of the United States; and the replevin act makes it an
indictable offence for any clerk to furnish a copy of the record, for the
purpose of such appeal.

The two principal provisions on which South Carolina relies, to resist the
laws of the United States, and nullify the authority of this government,
are, therefore, these:--

1. A forcible seizure of goods, before duties are paid or secured, by the
power of the State, civil and military.

2. The taking away, by the most effectual means in her power, of all legal
redress in the courts of the United States; the confining of judicial
proceedings to her own State tribunals; and the compelling of her judges
and jurors of these her own courts to take an oath, beforehand, that they
will decide all cases according to the ordinance, and the acts passed
under it; that is, that they will decide the cause one way. They do not
swear to _try_ it, on its own merits; they only swear to
_decide_ it as nullification requires.

The character, Sir, of these provisions defies comment. Their object is as
plain as their means are extraordinary. They propose direct resistance, by
the whole power of the State, to laws of Congress, and cut off, by methods
deemed adequate, any redress by legal and judicial authority. They arrest
legislation, defy the executive, and banish the judicial power of this
government. They authorize and command acts to be done, and done by force,
both of numbers and of arms, which, if done, and done by force, are
clearly acts of rebellion and treason.

Such, Sir, are the laws of South Carolina; such, Sir, is the peaceable
remedy of nullification. Has not nullification reached, Sir, even thus
early, that point of direct and forcible resistance to law to which I
intimated, three years ago, it plainly tended?

And now, Mr. President, what is the reason for passing laws like these?
What are the oppressions experienced under the Union, calling for measures
which thus threaten to sever and destroy it? What invasions of public
liberty, what ruin to private happiness, what long list of rights
violated, or wrongs unredressed, is to justify to the country, to
posterity, and to the world, this assault upon the free Constitution of
the United States, this great and glorious work of our fathers? At this
very moment, Sir, the whole land smiles in peace, and rejoices in plenty.
A general and a high prosperity pervades the country; and, judging by the
common standard, by increase of population and wealth, or judging by the
opinions of that portion of her people not embarked in these dangerous and
desperate measures, this prosperity overspreads South Carolina herself.

Thus happy at home, our country, at the same time, holds high the
character of her institutions, her power, her rapid growth, and her future
destiny, in the eyes of all foreign states. One danger only creates
hesitation; one doubt only exists, to darken the otherwise unclouded
brightness of that aspect which she exhibits to the view and to the
admiration of the world. Need I say, that that doubt respects the
permanency of our Union? and need I say, that that doubt is now caused,
more than any thing else, by these very proceedings of South Carolina?
Sir, all Europe is, at this moment, beholding us, and looking for the
issue of this controversy; those who hate free institutions, with
malignant hope; those who love them, with deep anxiety and shivering fear.

The cause, then, Sir, the cause! Let the world know the cause which has
thus induced one State of the Union to bid defiance to the power of the
whole, and openly to talk secession. Sir, the world will scarcely believe
that this whole controversy, and all the desperate measures which its
support requires, have no other foundation than a difference of opinion
upon a provision of the Constitution, between a majority of the people of
South Carolina, on one side, and a vast majority of the whole people of
the United States, on the other. It will not credit the fact, it will not
admit the possibility, that, in an enlightened age, in a free, popular
republic, under a constitution where the people govern, as they must
always govern under such systems, by majorities, at a time of
unprecedented prosperity, without practical oppression, without evils such
as may not only be pretended, but felt and experienced,--evils not slight
or temporary, but deep, permanent, and intolerable,--a single State should
rush into conflict with all the rest, attempt to put down the power of the
Union by her own laws, and to support those laws by her military power,
and thus break up and destroy the world's last hope. And well the world
may be incredulous. We, who see and hear it, can ourselves hardly yet
believe it. Even after all that had preceded it this ordinance struck the
country with amazement. It was incredible and inconceivable that South
Carolina should plunge headlong into resistance to the laws on a matter of
opinion and on a question in which the preponderance of opinion, both of
the present day and of all past time, was so overwhelmingly against her.
The ordinance declares that Congress has exceeded its just power by laying
duties on imports, intended for the protection of manufactures. This is
the opinion of South Carolina; and on the strength of that opinion she
nullifies the laws. Yet has the rest of the country no right to its
opinion also? Is one State to sit sole arbitress? She maintains that those
laws are plain, deliberate, and palpable violations of the Constitution;
that she has a sovereign right to decide this matter; and that, having so
decided, she is authorized to resist their execution by her own sovereign
power; and she declares that she will resist it, though such resistance
should shatter the Union into atoms.

Mr. President, I do not intend to discuss the propriety of these laws at
large; but I will ask, How are they shown to be thus plainly and palpably
unconstitutional? Have they no countenance at all in the Constitution
itself? Are they quite new in the history of the government? Are they a
sudden and violent usurpation on the rights of the States? Sir, what will
the civilized world say, what will posterity say, when they learn that
similar laws have existed from the very foundation of the government, that
for thirty years the power was never questioned, and that no State in the
Union has more freely and unequivocally admitted it than South Carolina
herself?

To lay and collect duties and imposts is an _express power_ granted
by the Constitution to Congress. It is, also, an _exclusive power_;
for the Constitution as expressly prohibits all the States from exercising
it themselves. This express and exclusive power is unlimited in the terms
of the grant, but is attended with two specific restrictions: first, that
all duties and imposts shall be equal in all the States; second, that no
duties shall be laid on exports. The power, then, being granted, and being
attended with these two restrictions, and no more, who is to impose a
third restriction on the general words of the grant? If the power to lay
duties, as known among all other nations, and as known in all our history,
and as it was perfectly understood when the Constitution was adopted,
includes a right of discriminating while exercising the power, and of
laying some duties heavier and some lighter, for the sake of encouraging
our own domestic products, what authority is there for giving to the words
used in the Constitution a new, narrow, and unusual meaning? All the
limitations which the Constitution intended, it has expressed; and what it
has left unrestricted is as much a part of its will as the restraints
which it has imposed.

But these laws, it is said, are unconstitutional on account of the
_motive_. How, Sir, can a law be examined on any such ground? How is
the motive to be ascertained? One house, or one member, may have one
motive; the other house, or another member, another. One motive may
operate to-day, and another to-morrow. Upon any such mode of reasoning as
this, one law might be unconstitutional now, and another law, in exactly
the same words, perfectly constitutional next year. Besides, articles may
not only be taxed for the purpose of protecting home products, but other
articles may be left free, for the same purpose and with the same motive.
A law, therefore, would become unconstitutional from what it omitted, as
well as from what it contained. Mr. President, it is a settled principle,
acknowledged in all legislative halls, recognized before all tribunals,
sanctioned by the general sense and understanding of mankind, that there
can be no inquiry into the motives of those who pass laws, for the purpose
of determining on their validity. If the law be within the fair meaning of
the words in the grant of the power, its authority must be admitted until
it is repealed. This rule, everywhere acknowledged, everywhere admitted,
is so universal and so completely without exception, that even an
allegation of fraud, in the majority of a legislature, is not allowed as a
ground to set aside a law.

But, Sir, is it true that the motive for these laws is such as is stated?
I think not. The great object of all these laws is, unquestionably,
revenue. If there were no occasion for revenue, the laws would not have
been passed; and it is notorious that almost the entire revenue of the
country is derived from them. And as yet we have collected none too much
revenue. The treasury has not been more reduced for many years than it is
at the present moment. All that South Carolina can say is, that, in
passing the laws which she now undertakes to nullify, _particular
imparted articles were taxed, from a regard to the protection of certain
articles of domestic manufacture, higher than they would have been had no
such regard been entertained_. And she insists, that, according to the
Constitution, no such discrimination can be allowed; that duties should be
laid for revenue, and revenue only; and that it is unlawful to have
reference, in any case, to protection. In other words, she denies the
power of DISCRIMINATION. She does not, and cannot, complain of excessive
taxation; on the contrary, she professes to be willing to pay any amount
for revenue, merely as revenue; and up to the present moment there is no
surplus of revenue. Her grievance, then, that plain and palpable violation
of the Constitution which she insists has taken place, is simply the
exercise of the power of DISCRIMINATION. Now, Sir, is the exercise of this
power of discrimination plainly and palpably unconstitutional?

I have already said, the power to lay duties is given by the Constitution
in broad and general terms. There is also conferred on Congress the whole
power of regulating commerce, in another distinct provision. Is it clear
and palpable, Sir, can any man say it is a case beyond doubt, that, under
these two powers, Congress may not justly _discriminate_, in laying
duties, _for the purpose of countervailing the policy of foreign
nations, or of favoring our own home productions?_ Sir, what ought to
conclude this question for ever, as it would seem to me, is, that the
regulation of commerce and the imposition of duties are, in all commercial
nations, powers avowedly and constantly exercised for this very end. That
undeniable truth ought to settle the question; because the Constitution
ought to be considered, when it uses well-known language, as using it in
its well-known sense. But it is equally undeniable, that it has been, from
the very first, fully believed that this power of discrimination was
conferred on Congress; and the Constitution was itself recommended, urged
upon the people, and enthusiastically insisted on in some of the States,
for that very reason. Not that, at that time, the country was extensively
engaged in manufactures, especially of the kinds now existing. But the
trades and crafts of the seaport towns, the business of the artisans and
manual laborers,--those employments, the work in which supplies so great a
portion of the daily wants of all classes,--all these looked to the new
Constitution as a source of relief from the severe distress which followed
the war. It would, Sir, be unpardonable, at so late an hour, to go into
details on this point; but the truth is as I have stated. The papers of
the day, the resolutions of public meetings, the debates in the
conventions, all that we open our eyes upon in the history of the times,
prove it.

Sir, the honorable gentleman from South Carolina has referred to two
incidents connected with the proceedings of the Convention at
Philadelphia, which he thinks are evidence to show that the power of
protecting manufactures by laying duties, and by commercial regulations,
was not intended to be given to Congress. The first is, as he says, that a
power to protect manufactures was expressly proposed, but not granted. I
think, Sir, the gentleman is quite mistaken in relation to this part of
the proceedings of the Convention. The whole history of the occurrence to
which he alludes is simply this. Towards the conclusion of the Convention,
after the provisions of the Constitution had been mainly agreed upon,
after the power to lay duties and the power to regulate commerce had both
been granted, a long list of propositions was made and referred to the
committee, containing various miscellaneous powers, some or all of which
it was thought might be properly vested in Congress. Among these was a
power to establish a university; to grant charters of incorporation; to
regulate stage-coaches on the post-roads; and also the power to which the
gentleman refers, and which is expressed in these words: "To establish
public institutions, rewards, and immunities, for the promotion of
agriculture, commerce, trades, and manufactures." The committee made no
report on this or various other propositions in the same list. But the
only inference from this omission is, that neither the committee nor the
Convention thought it proper to authorize Congress "to establish public
institutions, rewards, and immunities," for the promotion of manufactures,
and other interests. The Convention supposed it had done enough,--at any
rate, it had done all it intended,--when it had given to Congress, in
general terms, the power to lay imposts and the power to regulate trade.
It is not to be argued, from its omission to give more, that it meant to
take back what it had already given. It had given the impost power; it had
given the regulation of trade; and it did not deem it necessary to give
the further and distinct power of establishing public institutions.

The other fact, Sir, on which the gentleman relies, is the declaration of
Mr. Martin to the legislature of Maryland. The gentleman supposes Mr.
Martin to have urged against the Constitution, that it did not contain the
power of protection. But if the gentleman will look again at what Mr.
Martin said, he will find, I think, that what Mr. Martin complained of
was, that the Constitution, by its prohibitions on the States, had taken
away from the States themselves the power of protecting their own
manufactures by duties on imports. This is undoubtedly true; but I find no
expression of Mr. Martin intimating that the Constitution had not
conferred on Congress the same power which it had thus taken from the
States.

But, Sir, let us go to the first Congress; let us look in upon this and
the other house, at the first session of their organization.

We see, in both houses, men distinguished among the framers, friends, and
advocates of the Constitution. We see in both, those who had drawn,
discussed, and matured the instrument in the Convention, explained and
defended it before the people, and were now elected members of Congress,
to put the new government into motion, and to carry the powers of the
Constitution into beneficial execution. At the head of the government was
WASHINGTON himself, who had been President of the Convention; and in his
cabinet were others most thoroughly acquainted with the history of the
Constitution, and distinguished for the part taken in its discussion. If
these persons were not acquainted with the meaning of the Constitution, if
they did not undergo stand the work of their own hands, who can understand
it, or who shall now interpret it to us?

Sir, the volume which records the proceedings and debates of the first
session of the House of Representatives lies before me. I open it, and I
find that, having provided for the administration of the necessary oaths,
the very first measure proposed for consideration is, the laying of
imposts; and in the very first committee of the whole into which the House
of Representatives ever resolved itself, on this its earliest subject, and
in this its very first debate, the duty of so laying the imposts as to
encourage manufactures was advanced and enlarged upon by almost every
speaker, and doubted or denied by none. The first gentleman who suggests
this as the clear duty of Congress, and as an object necessary to be
attended to, is Mr. Fitzsimons, of Pennsylvania; the second, Mr. White, of
Virginia; the third, Mr. Tucker, of South Carolina.

But the great leader, Sir, on this occasion, was Mr. Madison. Was
_he_ likely to know the intentions of the Convention and the people?
Was _he_ likely to understand the Constitution? At the second sitting
of the committee, Mr. Madison explained his own opinions of the duty of
Congress, fully and explicitly. I must not detain you, Sir, with more than
a few short extracts from these opinions, but they are such as are clear,
intelligible, and decisive. "The States," says he, "that are most advanced
in population, and ripe for manufacturers, ought to have their particular
interest attended to, in some degree. While these States retained the
power of making regulations of trade, they had the power to cherish such
institutions. By adopting the present Constitution, they have thrown the
exercise of this power into other hands; they must have done this with an
expectation that those interests would not be neglected here." In another
report of the same speech, Mr. Madison is represented as using still
stronger language; as saying that, the Constitution having taken this
power away from the States and conferred it on Congress, it would be a
_fraud_ on the States and on the people were Congress to refuse to
exercise it.

Mr. Madison argues, Sir, on this early and interesting occasion, very
justly and liberally, in favor of the general principles of unrestricted
commerce. But he argues, also, with equal force and clearness, for certain
important exceptions to these general principles. The first, Sir, respects
those manufactures which had been brought forward under encouragement by
the State governments. "It would be cruel," says Mr. Madison, "to neglect
them, and to divert their industry into other channels; for it is not
possible for the hand of man to shift from one employment to another
without being injured by the change." Again: "There may be some
manufactures which, being once formed, can advance towards perfection
without any adventitious aid; while others, for want of the fostering hand
of government, will be unable to go on at all. Legislative provision,
therefore, will be necessary to collect the proper objects for this
purpose; and this will form another exception to my general principle."
And again: "The next exception that occurs is one on which great stress is
laid by some well-informed men, and this with great plausibility; that
each nation should have, within itself, the means of defence, independent
of foreign supplies; that, in whatever relates to the operations of war,
no State ought to depend upon a precarious supply from any part of the
world. There may be some truth in this remark; and therefore it is proper
for legislative attention."

In the same debate, Sir, Mr. Burk, from South Carolina, supported a duty
on hemp, for the express purpose of encouraging its growth on the strong
lands of South Carolina. "Cotton," he said, "was also in contemplation
among them, and, if good seed could be procured, he hoped might succeed."
Afterwards, Sir, the cotton was obtained, its culture was protected, and
it did succeed. Mr. Smith, a very distinguished member from the same
state, observed: "It has been said, and justly, that the States which
adopted this Constitution expected its administration would be conducted
with a favorable hand. The manufacturing States wished the encouragement
of manufactures, the maritime States the encouragement of shipbuilding,
and the agricultural States the encouragement of agriculture."

Sir, I will detain the Senate by reading no more extracts from these
debates. I have already shown a majority of the members of South Carolina,
in this very first session, acknowledging this power of protection, voting
for its exercise, and proposing its extension to their own products.
Similar propositions came from Virginia; and, indeed, Sir, in the whole
debate, at whatever page you open the volume, you find the power admitted,
and you find it applied to the protection of particular articles, or not
applied, according to the discretion of Congress. No man denied the power,
no man doubted it; the only questions were, in regard to the several
articles proposed to be taxed, whether they were fit subjects for
protection, and what the amount of that protection ought to be. Will
gentlemen, Sir, now answer the argument drawn from these proceedings of
the first Congress? Will they undertake to deny that that Congress did act
on the avowed principle of protection? Or, if they admit it, will they
tell us how those who framed the Constitution fell, thus early, into this
great mistake about its meaning? Will they tell us how it should happen
that they had so soon forgotten their own sentiments and their own
purposes? I confess I have seen no answer to this argument, nor any
respectable attempt to answer it. And, Sir, how did this debate terminate?
What law was passed? There it stands, Sir, among the statutes, the second
law in the book. It has a _preamble_, and that preamble expressly
recites, that the duties which it imposes are laid "for the support of
government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and
_the encouragement and protection of manufactures_." Until, Sir, this
early legislation, thus coeval with the Constitution itself, thus full and
explicit, can be explained away, no man can doubt of the meaning of that
instrument in this respect.

Mr. President, this power of _discrimination_, thus admitted, avowed,
and practised upon in the first revenue act, has never been denied or
doubted until within a few years past. It was not at all doubted in 1816,
when it became necessary to adjust the revenue to a state of peace. On the
contrary, the power was then exercised, not without opposition as to its
expediency, but, as far as I remember or have understood, without the
slightest opposition founded on any supposed want of constitutional
authority. Certainly, South Carolina did not doubt it. The tariff of 1816
was introduced, carried through, and established, under the lead of South
Carolina. Even the minimum policy is of South Carolina origin. The
honorable gentleman himself supported, and ably supported, the tariff of
1816. He has informed us, Sir, that his speech on that occasion was sudden
and off-hand, he being called up by the request of a friend. I am sure the
gentleman so remembers it, and that it was so; but there is, nevertheless,
much method, arrangement, and clear exposition in that extempore speech.
It is very able, very, very much to the point, and very decisive. And in
another speech, delivered two months earlier, on the proposition to repeal
the internal taxes, the honorable gentleman had touched the same subject,
and had declared "_that a certain encouragement ought to be extended at
least to our woollen and cotton manufactures_." I do not quote these
speeches, Sir, for the purpose of showing that the honorable gentleman has
changed his opinion: my object is other and higher. I do it for the sake
of saying that that cannot be so plainly and palpably unconstitutional as
to warrant resistance to law, nullification, and revolution, which the
honorable gentleman and his friends have heretofore agreed to and acted
upon without doubt and without hesitation. Sir, it is no answer to say
that the tariff of 1816 was a revenue bill. So are they all revenue bills.
The point is, and the truth is, that the tariff of 1816, like the rest,
_did discriminate_; it did distinguish one article from another; it
did lay duties for protection. Look to the case of coarse cottons under
the minimum calculation: the duty on these was from sixty to eighty per
cent. Something beside revenue, certainly, was intended in this; and, in
fact, the law cut up our whole commerce with India in that article.

It is, Sir, only within a few years that Carolina has denied the
constitutionality of these protective laws. The gentleman himself has
narrated to us the true history of her proceedings on this point. He says,
that, after the passing of the law of 1828, despairing then of being able
to abolish the system of protection, political men went forth among the
people, and set up the doctrine that the system was unconstitutional.
"_And the people_," says the honorable gentleman, "_received the
doctrine_." This, I believe, is true, Sir. The people did then receive
the doctrine; they had never entertained it before. Down to that period,
the constitutionality of these laws had been no more doubted in South
Carolina than elsewhere. And I suspect it is true, Sir, and I deem it a
great misfortune, that, to the present moment, a great portion of the
people of the State have never yet seen more than one side of the
argument. I believe that thousands of honest men are involved in scenes
now passing, led away by one-sided views of the question, and following
their leaders by the impulses of an unlimited confidence. Depend upon it,
Sir, if we can avoid the shock of arms, a day for reconsideration and
reflection will come; truth and reason will act with their accustomed
force, and the public opinion of South Carolina will be restored to its
usual constitutional and patriotic tone.

But, Sir, I hold South Carolina to her ancient, her cool, her
uninfluenced, her deliberate opinions. I hold her to her own admissions,
nay, to her own claims and pretensions, in 1789, in the first Congress,
and to her acknowledgments and avowed sentiments through a long series of
succeeding years. I hold her to the principles on which she led Congress
to act in 1816; or, if she have changed her own opinions, I claim some
respect for those who still retain the same opinions. I say she is
precluded from asserting that doctrines, which she has herself so long and
so ably sustained, are plain, palpable, and dangerous violations of the
Constitution. Mr. President, if the friends of nullification should be
able to propagate their opinions, and give them practical effect, they
would, in my judgment, prove themselves the most skilful "architects of
ruin," the most effectual extinguishers of high-raised expectation, the
greatest blasters of human hopes, that any age has produced. They would
stand up to proclaim, in tones which would pierce the ears of half the
human race, that the last great experiment of representative government
had failed. They would send forth sounds, at the hearing of which the
doctrine of the divine right of kings would feel, even in its grave, a
returning sensation of vitality and resuscitation. Millions of eyes, of
those who now feed their inherent love of liberty on the success of the
American example, would turn away from beholding our dismemberment, and
find no place on earth whereon to rest their gratified sight. Amidst the
incantations and orgies of nullification, secession, disunion, and
revolution, would be celebrated the funeral rites of constitutional and
republican liberty.

But, Sir, if the government do its duty, if it act with firmness and with
moderation, these opinions cannot prevail. Be assured, Sir, be assured,
that, among the political sentiments of this people, the love of union is
still uppermost. They will stand fast by the Constitution, and by those
who defend it. I rely on no temporary expedients, on no political
combination; but I rely on the true American feeling, the genuine
patriotism of the people, and the imperative decision of the public voice.
Disorder and confusion, indeed, may arise; scenes of commotion and contest
are threatened, and perhaps may come. With my whole heart, I pray for the
continuance of the domestic peace and quiet of the country.

I desire, most ardently, the restoration of affection and harmony to all
its parts. I desire that every citizen of the whole country may look to
this government with no other sentiments than those of grateful respect
and attachment. But I cannot yield even to kind feelings the cause of the
Constitution, the true glory of the country, and the great trust which we
hold in our hands for succeeding ages. If the Constitution cannot be
maintained without meeting these scenes of commotion and contest, however
unwelcome, they must come. We cannot, we must not, we dare not, omit to do
that which, in our judgment, the safety of the Union requires. Not
regardless of consequences, we must yet meet consequences; seeing the
hazards which surround the discharge of public duty, it must yet be
discharged. For myself, Sir, I shun no responsibility justly devolving on
me, here or elsewhere, in attempting to maintain the cause. I am bound to
it by indissoluble ties of affection and duty, and I shall cheerfully
partake in its fortunes and its fate. I am ready to perform my own
appropriate part, whenever and wherever the occasion may call on me, and
to take my chance among those upon whom blows may fall first and fall
thickest. I shall exert every faculty I possess in aiding to prevent the
Constitution from being nullified, destroyed, or impaired; and even should
I see it fall, I will still, with a voice feeble, perhaps, but earnest as
ever issued from human lips, and with fidelity and zeal which nothing
shall extinguish, call on the PEOPLE to come to its rescue. [2]

SPEECH AT SARATOGA.

We are, my friends, in the midst of a great movement of the people. That a
revolution in public sentiment on some important questions of public
policy has begun, and is in progress, it is vain to attempt to conceal,
and folly to deny. What will be the extent of this revolution, what its
immediate effects upon political men and political measures, what ultimate
influence it may have on the integrity of the Constitution, and the
permanent prosperity of the country, remains to be seen. Meantime, no one
can deny that an extraordinary excitement exists in the country, such as
has not been witnessed for more than half a century; not local, nor
confined to any two, or three, or ten States, but pervading the whole,
from north to south, and from east to west, with equal force and
intensity. For an effect so general, a cause of equal extent must exist.
No cause, local or partial, can produce consequences so general and
universal. In some parts of the country, indeed, local causes may in some
degree add to the flame; but no local cause, nor any number of local
causes, can account for the generally excited state of the public mind.

In portions of the country devoted to agriculture and manufactures, we
hear complaints of want of market and low prices. Yet there are other
portions of the country, which are consumers, and not producers, of food
and manufactures; and, as purchasers, they should, it would seem, be
satisfied with the low prices of which the sellers complain; but in these
portions, too, of the country, there are dissatisfaction and discontent.
Everywhere we find complaining and a desire for change.

There are those who think that this excitement among the people will prove
transitory and evanescent. I am not of that opinion. So far as I can
judge, attention to public affairs among the people of the United States,
has increased, is increasing, and is not likely to be diminished; and this
not in one part of the country, but all over it. This certainly is the
fact, if we may judge from recent information. The breeze of popular
excitement is blowing everywhere. It fans the air in Alabama and the
Carolinas; and I am of opinion, that, when it shall cross the Potomac, and
range along the Northern Alleghanies, it will grow stronger and stronger,
until, mingling with the gales of the Empire State, and the mountain
blasts of New England, it will blow a perfect hurricane.

There are those, again, who think these vast popular meetings are got up
by effort; but I say that no effort could get them up, and no effort can
keep them down. There must, then, be some general cause that animates the
whole country. What is that cause? It is upon this point I propose to give
my opinion to-day. I have no design to offend the feelings of any, but I
mean in perfect plainness to express my views to the vast multitude
assembled around. I know there are among them many who from first to last
supported General Jackson. I know there are many who, if conscience and
patriotism permitted, would support his successor; and I should ill repay
the attention with which they may honor me by any reviling or
denunciation. Again, I come to play no part of oratory before you. If
there have been times and occasions in my life when I might be supposed
anxious to exhibit myself in such a light, that period has passed, and
this is not one of the occasions. I come to dictate and prescribe to no
man. If my experience, not now short, in the affairs of government,
entitle my opinions to any respect, those opinions are at the service of
my fellow-citizens. What I shall state as facts, I hold myself and my
character responsible for; what I shall state as opinions, all are alike
at liberty to reject or to receive. I ask such consideration for them only
as the fairness and sincerity with which they are uttered may claim.

What, then, has excited the whole land, from Maine to Georgia, and gives
us assurance, that, while we are meeting here in New York in such vast
numbers, other like meetings are holding throughout all the States? That
this cause must be general is certain, for it agitates the whole country,
and not parts only.

When that fluid in the human system indispensable to life becomes
disordered, corrupted, or obstructed in its circulation, not the head or
the heart alone suffers; but the whole body--head, heart, and hand, all
the members, and all the extremities--is affected with debility,
paralysis, numbness, and death. The analogy between the human system and
the social and political system is complete; and what the lifeblood is to
the former, circulation, money, currency, is to the latter; and if that be
disordered or corrupted, paralysis must fall on the system.

The original, leading, main cause, then, of all our difficulties and
disasters, is the disordered state of the circulation. This is, perhaps,
not a perfectly obvious truth; and yet it is one susceptible of easy
demonstration. In order to explain this the more readily, I wish to bring
your minds to the consideration of the internal condition, and the vast
domestic trade, of the United States. Our country is not a small province
or canton, but an empire, extending over a large and diversified surface,
with a population of various conditions and pursuits. It is in this
variety that consists its prosperity; for the different parts become
useful one to the other, not by identity, but by difference, of
production, and thus each by interchange contributes to the interest of
the other. Hence, our internal trade, that which carries on this exchange
of the products and industry of the different portions of the United
States, is one of our most important interests, I had almost said the most
important. Its operations are easy and silent, not always perceptible, but
diffusing health and life throughout the system by the intercourse thus
promoted, from neighborhood to neighborhood, and from State to State.

This circuit of trade, in a country of such great extent as ours, demands,
more than in any country under heaven, a uniform currency for the whole
people; that what is money in Carolina shall be so elsewhere; that what
the Kentucky drover receives, what the planter of Alabama sells for, what
the laborer in New York gets in pay for his work, and carries home to
support his family, shall be of ascertained and uniform value.

This is not the time nor the occasion for an essay or dissertation on
money; but I mean distinctly to express the opinion, that until the
general government shall take in hand the currency of the country, until
that government shall devise some means, I say not what, of raising the
whole currency to the level of gold and silver, there can be no
prosperity.

Let us retrace briefly the history of the currency question in this
country, a most important branch of the commercial question. I appeal to
all who have studied the history of the times, and of the Constitution,
whether our fathers, in framing the Constitution which should unite us in
common rights and a common glory, had not also among their chief objects
to provide a uniform system of commerce, including a uniform system of
currency for the whole country. I especially invite the ingenuous youth of
the country to go back to the history of those times, and particularly to
the Virginia resolutions of 1786, and to the proceedings of the convention
at Annapolis, and they will there find that the prevailing motive for
forming a general government was, to secure a uniform system of commerce,
of customhouse duties, and a general regulation of the trade, external and
internal, of the whole country. It was no longer to be the commerce of New
York, or of Massachusetts, but of the United States, to be carried on
under that star-spangled banner, which was to bear to every shore, and
over every sea, the glorious motto, _E Pluribus Unum_.

At the second session, of the first Congress, the United States Bank was
established. From the incorporation of the bank to the expiration of its
charter,[1] embracing a period of great commercial and political
vicissitudes, the currency furnished by that bank was never objected to:
it, indeed, surpassed the hopes and equalled the desires of everybody.

Of the hundreds here, possibly, who supported General Jackson, not one
dreamed that he was elected to put down established institutions and
overthrow the currency of the country. Who, among all those that, in the
honest convictions of their hearts, cried, Hurrah for Jackson! believed or
expected or desired that he would interfere with the Bank of the United
States, or destroy the circulating medium of the country? [Here there
arose a cry from the crowd, "None! None!"] I stand here upon the fact, and
defy contradiction from any quarter, that there was no complaint then,
anywhere, of the bank. There never before was a country, of equal extent,
where exchanges and circulation were carried on so cheaply, so
conveniently, and so securely. General Jackson was inaugurated in March,
1829, and pronounced an address upon that occasion, which I heard, as I
did the oath which he took to support the Constitution. In that address
were enumerated various objects, requiring, as he said, reform; but among
them was not the Bank of the United States, nor the currency. This was in
March, 1829. In December, 1829, General Jackson came out with the
declaration (than which none I have ever heard surprised me more), that
"the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States might be well
questioned," and that it had failed to furnish a sound and uniform
currency to the country.

What produced this change of views? Down to March of the same year,
nothing of this sort was indicated or threatened. What, then, induced the
change? [A voice from the crowd said, "Martin Van Buren."] If that be so,
it was the production of mighty consequences by a cause not at all
proportioned. I will state, in connection with, and in elucidation of,
this subject, certain transactions, which constitute one of those
contingencies in human affairs, in which casual circumstances, acting upon
the peculiar temper and character of a man of very decided temper and
character, affect the fate of nations. A movement was made in the summer
of 1829, for the purpose of effecting a change of certain officers of the
branch of the Bank of the United States in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Mr.
Woodbury, then a Senator from New Hampshire, transmitted to the president
of the bank at Philadelphia a request; purporting to proceed from
merchants and men of business of all parties, asking the removal of the
president of that branch, _not on political grounds_, but as
acceptable and advantageous to the business community. At the same time,
Mr. Woodbury addressed a letter to the then Secretary of the Treasury, Mr.
Ingham, suggesting that his department should, on _political
grounds_, obtain from the mother bank the removal of the branch
president. This letter was transmitted to the president of the mother
bank, and reached him about the same time with the other, so that, looking
upon this picture and upon that, upon one letter, which urged the removal
on political grounds, and upon the other, which denied that political
considerations entered into the matter at all, he concluded to let things
remain as they were. Appeals were then artfully made to the President of
the United States. His feelings were enlisted, and it is well known that,
when he had an object in view, his character was to go ahead.[2] I mean to
speak no evil nor disrespect of General Jackson. He has passed off the
stage to his retirement at the Hermitage, which it would be as well,
perhaps, that friends should not disturb, and where I sincerely wish he
may, in tranquillity, pass the residue of his days. But General Jackson's
character was imperious; he took the back track never; and however his
friends might differ, or whether they concurred or dissented, they were
fain always to submit. General Jackson put forth the pretension, that
appointments by the bank should have regard to the wishes of the treasury;
the matter was formally submitted to the directors of the bank, and they
as formally determined that the treasury could not rightly or properly
have any thing to say in the matter. A long and somewhat angry
correspondence ensued; for General Jackson found in the president of the
bank a man who had something of his own quality. The result was that the
bank resisted, and refused the required acquiescence in the dictation of
the treasury.

This happened in the summer and autumn of 1829, and in December we had the
message in which, for the first time, the bank was arraigned and
denounced. Then came the application of the bank for re-incorporation, the
passage of a bill for that purpose through both houses, and the
Presidential veto.[3] The Bank of the United States being thus put down, a
multitude of new State banks sprang up; and next came a law, adopting some
of these as deposit banks. Now, what I have to say in regard to General
Jackson in this matter is this: he said he could establish a better
currency; and, whether successful or not in this, it is at least to be
said in his favor and praise, that he never did renounce the obligation of
the federal government to take care of the currency, paper as well as
metallic, of the people. It was in furtherance of this duty, which he felt
called on to discharge, of "providing a better currency," that he
recommended the prohibition of small bills. Why? Because, as it was
argued, it would improve the general mixed currency of the country; and
although he did not as distinctly as Mr. Madison admit and urge the duty
of the federal government to provide a currency for the people, _he
never renounced it_, but, on the contrary, in his message of December,
1835, held this explicit language:--

"By the use of the State banks, which do not derive their charters from
the general government, and are not controlled by its authority, it is
ascertained that the moneys of the United States can be collected and
distributed without loss or inconvenience, and that all the wants of the
community, in relation to exchange and currency, are supplied as well as
they have ever been before."

It is not here a question whether these banks did, or did not, effect the
purpose which General Jackson takes so much praise to himself for
accomplishing through their agency, that of supplying the country with as
good a currency as it ever enjoyed. But why, if this was not a duty of the
federal government, is it mentioned at all?

Two months only after General Jackson had retired, and when his vigorous
hand was no longer there to uphold it, the league of State banks fell, and
crumbled into atoms; and when Mr. Van Buren had been only three months
President, he convoked a special session of Congress for the ensuing
September. The country was in wide-spread confusion, paralyzed in its
commerce, its currency utterly deranged.[4] What was to be done? What
would Mr. Van Buren recommend? He could not go back to the Bank of the
United States, for he had committed himself against its constitutionality;
nor could he, with any great prospect of success, undertake to reconstruct
the league of deposit banks; for it had recently failed, and the country
had lost confidence in it. What, then, was to be done? He could go neither
backward nor forward. What did he do? I mean not to speak disrespectfully,
but I say he--_escaped!_ Afraid to touch the fragments of the broken
banks, unable to touch the United States Bank, he folded up his arms, and
said, The government has nothing to do with providing a currency for the
people. That I may do him no wrong, I will read his own language. His
predecessors had all said, We _will not_ turn our backs upon this
duty of government to provide a uniform currency; his language is, We
_will_ turn our backs on this duty. He proposes nothing for the
country, nothing for the relief of commerce, or the regulation of
exchanges, but simply the means of getting money into the treasury without
loss. In his first message to Congress, he thus expresses himself:--

"It is not the province of our government to aid individuals in the
transfer of their funds, otherwise than through the facilities of the
Post-Office Department. As justly might it be called on to provide for the
transportation of their merchandise.

"If, therefore, I refrain from suggesting to Congress any specific plan
for regulating the exchanges or the currency, relieving mercantile
embarrassments, or interfering with the ordinary operations of foreign or
domestic commerce, it is from a conviction that such are not within the
constitutional province of the general government, and that their adoption
would not promote the real and permanent welfare of those they might be
designed to aid."

I put it to you, my friends, if this is a statesman's argument. You can
transport your merchandise yourselves; you can build ships, and make your
own wagons; but can you make a currency? Can you say what shall be money,
and what shall not be money, and determine its value here and elsewhere?
Why, it would be as reasonable to say, that the people make war for
themselves, and peace for themselves, as to say that they may exercise
this other not less exclusive attribute of sovereignty, of making a
currency for themselves. He insists that Congress has no power to regulate
currency or exchanges, none to mitigate the embarrassments of the country,
none to relieve its prostrate industry, and even if the power did exist,
it would be unwise, in his opinion, to exercise it!

Let us compare this declaration with that of one now numbered with the
mighty dead; of one who has left behind a reputation excelled by that of
no other man, as understanding thoroughly the Constitution; of one taking
a leading part in its inception, and closing his public career by
administering its highest office; I need not name JAMES MADISON.[5]

In his message to Congress, in December, 1815, when the war had closed,
and the country was laboring under the disordered currency of that period,
the President thus spoke:--

"It is essential to every modification of the finances, that the benefits
of a uniform national currency should be restored to the community. The
absence of the precious metals will, it is believed, be a temporary evil;
but until they can again be rendered the general medium of exchange, it
devolves on the wisdom of Congress to provide a substitute, which shall
equally engage the confidence and accommodate the wants of the citizens
throughout the Union."

The new doctrine which the administration had set up is one vitally
affecting the business and pursuits of the people at large, extending its
efforts to the interests of every family, and of every individual; and you
must determine for yourselves if it shall be the doctrine of the country.
But, before determining, look well at the Constitution, weigh all the
precedents, and if names and authority are to be appealed to, contrast
those of President Van Buren with those of the dead patriarch whose words
I have just read to you, and decide accordingly.

But Mr. Van Buren's message contains a principle,--one altogether
erroneous as a doctrine, and fatal in its operations,--the principle that
the government has nothing to do with providing a currency for the
country; in other words, proposing a separation between the money of the
government and the money of the people. This is the great error, which
cannot be compromised with, which is susceptible of no amelioration or
modification, like a disease which admits no remedy and no palliative but
the caustic which shall totally eradicate it.

Do we not know that there must always be bank paper? Is there a man here
who expects that he, or his children, or his children's children, shall
see the day when only gold coin, glittering through silk purses, will be
the currency of the country, to the entire exclusion of bank notes? Not
one. But we are told that the value of these notes is questionable. It is
the neglect of government to perform its duties that makes them so. You
here, in New York, have sound bank paper, redeemable in coin; and if you
were surrounded by a Chinese wall, it might be indifferent to you whether
government looked after the currency elsewhere or not. But you have daily
business relations with Pennsylvania, and with the West, and East, and
South, and you have a direct interest that their currency too shall be
sound; for otherwise the very superiority of yours is, to a certain
degree, an injury and loss to you, since you pay in the equivalent of
specie for what you buy, and you sell for such money as may circulate in
the States with which you deal. But New York cannot affect the general
restoration of the currency, nor any one State, nor any number of States
short of the whole, and hence the duty of the general government to
superintend this interest.

But what does the sub-treasury propose? [6] Its basis is a separation of
the concerns of the treasury from those of the people. It directs that
there shall be certain vaults, and safes, and rooms for deposit of the
money of the government. But it has not been for want of adequate vaults
and rooms that we have lost our money, but owing to the hands to which we
have intrusted the keys. It is in the character of the officers, and not
in the strength of bars and vaults, that we must look for the security of
the public treasure. There are no securities under this new system of
keeping the public moneys that we had not before; while many that did
exist, in the personal character, high trusts, and diversified duties of
the officers and directors of banks are removed. Moreover, the number of
receiving and disbursing officers is increased, and the danger to the
public treasure is increased in proportion.  The next provision is, that
money once received into the treasury is not to be lent out. Yet the
practice of this government hitherto has always been opposed to this
policy of locking up the money of the people, when and while it is not
required for the public service. Until this time the public deposits, like
private deposits, were used by the banks in which they were placed, as
some compensation for the trouble of safe-keeping, and in furtherance of
the general convenience. The next provision is that requiring, after 1843,
all dues to the government to be paid in gold and silver. But what are we
promised as the equivalent for all this inconvenience and oppression? Why,
that the government in its turn will pay its debts in specie, and that
thus what it receives with one hand it will pay out with the other, and a
metallic circulation will be established. I undertake to say, that no
greater fallacy than this was ever uttered; the thing is impossible, and
for this plain reason. The dues which the government collects come from
individuals; each pays for himself. But it is far otherwise with the
disbursements of government. They do not go down to individuals, and,
seeking out the workmen and the laborers, pay to each his dues. Government
pays in large sums, to large contractors, and to these it may pay gold and
silver. But do the gold and silver reach those whom the contractor
employs? On the contrary, the contractors deal as they see fit, with those
whom they employ, or of whom they purchase. I speak of what is in proof. A
contractor came to Washington last winter, and received a draft of
$180,000 on a specie-paying bank in New York. This he sold at ten per cent
premium, and with the avails purchased funds in the West, with which he
paid the producer, the farmer, the laborer. This is the operation of
specie payments. It gives to the government hard money, to the rich
contractor hard money; but to the producer and the laborer it gives paper,
and bad paper only. And yet this system is recommended as specially
favoring the poor man, rather than the rich, and credit is claimed for
this administration as the poor man's friend.

Let us look a little more nearly at this matter, and see whom, in truth,
it does favor. Who are the rich in this country? There is very little
hereditary wealth among us; and large capitalists are not numerous. But
some there are, nevertheless, who live upon the interest of their money;
and these, certainly, do not suffer by this new doctrine; for their
revenues are increased in amount, while the means of living are reduced in
value. There is the money-lender, too, who suffers not by the reduction of
prices all around him. Who else are the rich in this country? Why, the
holders of office. He who has a fixed salary of from $2,500 to $5,000
finds prices falling; but does his salary fall? On the contrary, three
fourths of that salary will now purchase more than the whole of it would
purchase before; and he, therefore, is not dissatisfied with this new
state of things.

I live on the sea-coast of New England, and one of my nearest neighbors is
the largest ship-owner, probably, in the United States. During the past
year, he has made what might suffice for two or three fortunes of moderate
size; and how has he made it? He sends his ships to Alabama, Louisiana,
Mississippi, to take freights of cotton. This staple, whatever may be the
price abroad, cannot be suffered to rot at home; and therefore it is
shipped. My friend tells his captain to provision his ship at Natchez, for
instance, where he buys flour and stores in the currency of that region,
which is so depreciated that he is able to sell his bills on Boston at
forty-eight per cent premium! Here, at once, it will be seen, he gets his
provisions for half price, because prices do not always rise suddenly, as
money depreciates. He delivers his freight in Europe, and gets paid for it
in good money. The disordered currency of the country to which he belongs
does not follow and afflict him abroad. He gets his freight in good money,
places it in the hands of his owner's banker, who again draws at a premium
for it. The ship-owner, then, makes money, when all others are suffering,
_because he can escape from the influence of the bad laws and bad
currency of his own country_.

Now, I will contrast the story of this neighbor with that of another of my
neighbors, not rich. He is a New England mechanic, hard-working, sober,
and intelligent, a tool-maker by trade, who wields his own sledge-hammer.
His particular business is the making of augers for the South and
Southwest. He has for years employed many hands, and been the support
thereby of many families around him, himself, meanwhile, moderately
prosperous until these evil times came on. Annually, however, for some
years, he has been going backwards. Not less industrious, not less frugal,
he has yet found, that, however good nominally the prices he might receive
at the South and Southwest for his tools, the cost of converting his
Southern or Western funds into money current in New England was ruinous.
He has persevered, however, always hoping for some change for the better,
and contracting gradually the circle of his work and the number of his
workmen, until at length, the little earnings of the past wasted, and the
condition of the currency becoming worse and worse, he is reduced to
bankruptcy; and he, and the twenty families that he supported, are
beggared by no fault of their own. What was his difficulty? He _could
not escape_ from the evils of bad laws and bad currency at home; and
while his rich neighbor, who could and did, is made richer by these very
causes, he, the honest and industrious mechanic, is crushed to the earth;
and yet we are told that this is a system for promoting the interests of
the poor!

This leads me naturally to the great subject of _American labor_,
which has hardly been considered or discussed as carefully as it deserves.
What is _American labor_? It is best described by saying, _it is
not_ European labor. Nine tenths of the whole labor of this country is
performed by those who cultivate the land they or their fathers own, or
who, in their workshops, employ some little capital of their own, and mix
it up with their manual toil. No such thing exists in other countries.
Look at the different departments of industry, whether agricultural,
manufacturing, or mechanical, and you will find that, in almost all, the
laborers mix up some little capital with the work of their hands. The
laborer of the United States is the United States. Strike out the laborers
of the United States, including therein all who in some way or other
belong to the industrious and working classes, and you reduce the
population of the United States from sixteen millions to one million. The
American laborer is expected to have a comfortable home, decent though
frugal living, and to be able to clothe and educate his children, to
qualify them to take part, as all are called to do, in the political
affairs and government of their country. Can this be said of any European
laborer? Does he take any share in the government of his country, or feel
it an obligation to educate his children? In most parts of Europe, nine
tenths of the laborers have no interest in the soil they cultivate, nor in
the fabrics they produce; no hope, under any circumstances, of rising
themselves, or of raising their children, above the condition of a day-
laborer at wages; and only know the government under which they live by
the sense of its burdens, which they have no voice in mitigating.

To compare such a state of labor with the labor of this country, or to
reason from that to ours, is preposterous. And yet the doctrine now is,
not of individuals only, but of the administration, that the wages of
American labor must be brought down to the level of those of Europe.

I have said this is not the doctrine of a few individuals; and on that
head I think injustice has been done to a Senator from Pennsylvania, who
has been made to bear a large share of the responsibility of suggesting
such a policy. If I mistake not, the same idea is thrown out in the
President's message at the commencement of the last session, and in the
treasury report. Hear what Mr. Woodbury says:--

"Should the States not speedily suspend more of their undertakings which
are unproductive, but, by new loans or otherwise, find means to employ
armies of laborers in consuming rather than raising crops, and should
prices thus continue in many cases to be unnaturally inflated, as they
have been of late years, in the face of a contracting currency, the effect
of it on our finances would be still more to lessen exports, and,
consequently, the prosperity and revenue of our foreign trade."

He is for turning off from the public works these "armies of laborers,"
who consume without producing crops, and thus bring down prices, both of
crops and labor. Diminish the mouths that consume, and multiply the arms
that produce, and you have the treasury prescription for mitigating
distress and raising prices! How would that operate in this great State?
You have, perhaps, some fifteen thousand men employed on your public
works, works of the kind that the Secretary calls "unproductive"; and,
even with such a demand as they must produce for provisions, prices are
very low. The Secretary's remedy is to set them to raise provisions
themselves, and thus augment the supply, while they diminish the demand.
In this way, the wages of labor are to be reduced, as well as the prices
of agricultural productions. But this is not all. I have in my hand an
extract from a speech in the House of Representatives of a zealous
supporter, as it appears, of the administration, who maintains that, other
things being reduced in proportion, you may reduce the wages of labor,
without evil consequences. And where does he seek this example? On the
shores of the Mediterranean. He fixes upon Corsica and Sardinia. But what
is the Corsican laborer, that he should be the model upon which American
labor is to be formed? Does he know any thing himself? Has he any
education, or does he give any to his children? Has he a home, a freehold,
and the comforts of life around him? No: with a crust of bread and a
handful of olives, his daily wants are satisfied. And yet, from such a
state of society, the laborer of New England, the laborer of the United
States, is to be taught submission to low wages. The extract before me
states that the wages of Corsica are,

  "For the male laborer, 24 cents a day;
   And the female do. 11 cents do.";--

both, I presume, finding their own food. And the honorable gentleman
argues, that, owing to the greater cheapness of other articles, this is
relatively as much as the American laborer gets; and he illustrates the
fact by this bill of clothing for a Corsican laborer:--

  "Jacket,   lasting 24 months, 8 francs;
  Cap,           do. 24     do. 2 do.
  Waistcoat,     do. 36     do. 4 do.
  Pantaloons,    do. 18     do. 5 do.
  Shirt,         do. 12     do. 3 do.
  Pair of shoes, do. 6      do. 6 do.
                              ---
                               28 francs."

Eight francs are equal to one dollar and sixty cents, and five francs to
one dollar. Now, what say you, my friends? What will the farmer of New
York, of Pennsylvania, or of New England say to the idea of walking on
Sunday to church, at the head of his family, in his jacket _two years
old?_ What will the young man say, when, his work ended, he desires to
visit the families of his neighbors, to the one pair of pantaloons, not
quite two years old, indeed, but, as the farmers say of a colt, "coming
two next grass," and which, for eighteen months, have every day done
yeoman's service? Away with it all! Away with this plan of humbling and
degrading the free, intelligent, well-educated, and well-paid laborer of
the United States to the level of the almost brute laborer of Europe!

There is not much danger that schemes and doctrines such as these shall
find favor with the people. They understand their own interest too well
for that. Gentlemen, I am a farmer, on the sea-shore, [7] and have, of
course, occasion to employ some degree of agricultural labor. I am
sometimes also rowed out to sea, being, like other New England men, fond
of occasionally catching a fish, and finding health and recreation, in
warm weather, from the air of the ocean. For the few months during which I
am able to enjoy this retreat from labor, public or professional, I do not
often trouble my neighbors, or they me, with conversation on politics. It
happened, however, about three weeks ago, that, on such an excursion as I
have mentioned, with one man only with me, I mentioned this doctrine of
the reduction of prices, and asked him his opinion of it. He said he did
not like it. I replied, "The wages of labor, it is true, are reduced; but
then flour and beef, and perhaps clothing, all of which you buy, are
reduced also. What, then, can be your objections?" "Why," said he, "it is
true that flour is now low; but then it is an article that may rise
suddenly, by means of a scanty crop in England, or at home; and if it
should rise from five dollars to ten, I do not know for certain that it
would fetch the price of my labor up with it. But while wages are high,
then I am safe; and if produce chances to fall, so much the better for me.
But there is another thing. I have but one thing to sell, that is, my
labor; but I must buy many things, not only flour, and meat, and clothing,
but also some articles that come from other countries,--a little sugar, a
little coffee, a little tea, a little of the common spices, and such like.
Now, I do not see how these foreign articles will be brought down by
reducing wages at home; and before the price is brought down of the only
thing I have to sell, I want to be sure that the prices will fall also,
not of a part, but of all the things which I must buy."

Now, Gentlemen, though he will be astonished, or amused, that I should
tell the story before such a vast and respectable assemblage as this, I
will place the argument of _Seth Peterson_, sometimes farmer and
sometimes fisherman on the coast of Massachusetts, stated to me while
pulling an oar with each hand, and with the sleeves of his red shirt
rolled up above his elbows, against the reasonings, the theories, and the
speeches of the administration and all its friends, in or out of Congress,
and take the verdict of the country, and of the civilized world, whether
he has not the best of the argument.

Since I have adverted to this conversation, Gentlemen, allow me to say
that this neighbor of mine is a man fifty years of age, one of several
sons of a poor man; that by his labor he has obtained some few acres, his
own unencumbered freehold, has a comfortable dwelling, and plenty of the
poor man's blessings. Of these, I have known six, decently and cleanly
clad, each with the book, the slate, and the map proper to its age, all
going at the same time daily to enjoy the blessing of that which is the
great glory of New England, the common free school. Who can contemplate
this, and thousands of other cases like it, not as pictures, but as common
facts, without feeling how much our free institutions, and the policy
hitherto pursued, have done for the comfort and happiness of the great
mass of our citizens? Where in Europe, where in any part of the world out
of our own country, shall we find labor thus rewarded, and the general
condition of the people so good? Nowhere; nowhere! Away, then, with the
injustice and the folly of reducing the cost of productions with us to
what is called the common standard of the world! Away, then, away at once
and for ever, with the miserable policy which would bring the condition of
a laborer in the United States to that of a laborer in Russia or Sweden,
in France or Germany, in Italy or Corsica! Instead of following these
examples, let us hold up our own, which all nations may well envy, and
which, unhappily, in most parts of the earth, it is easier to envy than to
imitate.

But it is the cry and effort of the times to stimulate those who are
called poor against those who are called rich; and yet, among those who
urge this cry, and seek to profit by it, there is betrayed sometimes an
occasional sneer at whatever savors of humble life. Witness the reproach
against a candidate now before the people for their highest honors, that a
log cabin, with plenty of hard cider, is good enough for him!

It appears to some persons, that a great deal too much use is made of the
symbol of the log cabin. No man of sense supposes, certainly, that the
having lived in a log cabin is any further proof of qualification for the
Presidency, than as it creates a presumption that any one who, rising from
humble condition, or under unfavorable circumstances, has been able to
attract a considerable degree of public attention, is possessed of
reputable qualities, moral and intellectual.

But it is to be remembered, that this matter of the log cabin originated,
not with the friends of the Whig candidate, but with his enemies. Soon
after his nomination at Harrisburg, a writer for one of the leading
administration papers spoke of his "log cabin," and his use of "hard
cider," by way of sneer and reproach. As might have been expected, (for
pretenders are apt to be thrown off their guard,) this taunt at humble
life proceeded from the party which claims a monopoly of the purest
democracy. The whole party appeared to enjoy it, or, at least, they
countenanced it by silent acquiescence; for I do not know that, to this
day, any eminent individual or any leading newspaper attached to the
administration has rebuked this scornful jeering at the supposed humble
condition or circumstances in life, past or present, of a worthy man and a
war-worn soldier. But it touched a tender point in the public feeling. It
naturally roused indignation. What was intended as reproach was
immediately seized on as merit. "Be it so! Be it so!" was the instant
burst of the public voice. "Let him be the log cabin candidate. What you
say in scorn, we will shout with all our lungs. From this day forward, we
have our cry of rally; and we shall see whether he who has dwelt in one of
the rude abodes of the West may not become the best house in the country!"

All this is natural, and springs from sources of just feeling. Other
things, Gentlemen, have had a similar origin. We all know that the term
"Whig" was bestowed in derision, two hundred years ago, on those who were
thought too fond of liberty; and our national air of "Yankee Doodle" was
composed by British officers, in ridicule of the American troops. Yet, ere
long, the last of the British armies laid down its arms at Yorktown, while
this same air was playing in the ears of officers and men. Gentlemen, it
is only shallow-minded pretenders who either make distinguished origin
matter of personal merit, or obscure origin matter of personal reproach.
Taunt and scoffing at the humble condition of early life affect nobody, in
this country, but those who are foolish enough to indulge in them, and
they are generally sufficiently punished by public rebuke. A man who is
not ashamed of himself need not be ashamed of his early condition.

Gentlemen, it did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin; but my elder
brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, raised amid the snow-drifts
of New Hampshire, at a period so early that, when the smoke first rose
from its rude chimney, and curled over the frozen hills, there was no
similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the
settlements on the rivers of Canada. Its remains still exist. I make to it
an annual visit. I carry my children to it, to teach them the hardships
endured by the generations which have gone before them. I love to dwell on
the tender recollections, the kindred ties, the early affections, and the
touching narratives and incidents, which mingle with all I know of this
primitive family abode. I weep to think that none of those who inhabited
it are now among the living; and if ever I am ashamed of it, or if I ever
fail in affectionate veneration for him who reared it, and defended it
against savage violence and destruction, cherished all the domestic
virtues beneath its roof, and, through the fire and blood of a seven
years' revolutionary war, shrunk from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice, to
serve his country, and to raise his children to a condition better than
his own, may my name and the name of my posterity be blotted for ever from
the memory of mankind!

I have now frankly stated my opinions as to the nature of the present
excitement, and have answered the question I propounded as to the causes
of the revolution in public sentiment now in progress. Will this
revolution succeed? Does it move the masses, or is it an ebullition merely
on the surface? And who is it that opposes the change which seems to be
going forward? [Here some one in the crowd cried out, "None, hardly, but
the office-holders, oppose it."] I hear one say that the office-holders
oppose it; and that is true. If they were quiet, in my opinion, a change
would take place almost by common consent. I have heard of an anecdote,
perhaps hardly suited to the sobriety and dignity of this occasion, but
which confirms the answer which my friend in the crowd has given to my
question. It happened to a farmer's son, that his load of hay was blown
over by a sudden gust, on an exposed plain. Those near him, seeing him
manifest a degree of distress, which such an accident would not usually
occasion, asked him the reason; he said he should not _take on_ so
much about it, only father was under the load. I think it very probable,
Gentlemen, that there are many now very active and zealous friends, who
would not care much whether the wagon of the administration were blown
over or not, if it were not for the fear that father, or son, or uncle, or
brother, might be found under the load. Indeed, it is remarkable how
frequently the fire of patriotism glows in the breast of the holders of
office. A thousand favored contractors shake with horrid fear, lest the
proposed change should put the interests of the public in great danger.
Ten thousand post-offices, moved by the same apprehension, join in the cry
of alarm, while a perfect earthquake of disinterested remonstrance
proceeds from the custom-houses. Patronage and favoritism tremble and
quake, through every limb and every nerve, lest the people should be found
in favor of a change, which might endanger the liberties of the country,
or at least break down its present eminent and distinguished prosperity,
by abandoning the measures, so wise, so beneficent, so successful, and so
popular, which the present administration has pursued!

Fellow-citizens, we have all sober and important duties to perform. I have
not addressed you to-day for the purpose of joining in a premature note of
triumph, or raising a shout for anticipated victories. We are in the
controversy, not through it. It is our duty to spare no pains to circulate
information, and to spread the truth far and wide. Let us persuade those
who differ from us, if we can, to hear both sides. Let us remind them that
we are all embarked together, with a common interest and a common fate.
And let us, without rebuke or unkindness, beseech them to consider what
the good of the whole requires, what is best for them and for us.

There are two causes which keep back thousands of honest men from joining
those who wish for a change. The first of these is the fear of reproach
from former associates, and the pain which party denunciation is capable
of inflicting. But, surely, the manliness of the American character is
superior to this! Surely, no American citizen will feel himself chained to
the wheels of any party, nor bound to follow it, against his conscience
and his sense of the interest of the country. Resolution and decision
ought to dissipate such restraints, and to leave men free at once to act
upon their own convictions. Unless this can be done, party has entailed
upon us a miserable slavery, by compelling us to act against our
consciences on questions of the greatest importance.

The other cause is the constant cry that the party of the administration
is the true democratic party, or the more popular party in the government
and in the country. The falsity of this claim has not been sufficiently
exposed. It should have been met, and should be now met, not only by
denial, but by proof. If they mean the new democracy,--the cry against
credit, against industry, against labor, against a man's right to leave
his own earnings to his own children,--why, then, doubtless, they are
right; all this sort of democracy is theirs. But if by democracy they mean
a conscientious and stern adherence to the true popular principles of the
Constitution and the government, then I think they have very little claim
to it. Is the augmentation of executive power a democratic principle? Is
the separation of the currency of the government from the currency of the
people a democratic principle? Is the imbodying a large military force, in
time of peace, a democratic principle?

Let us entreat honest men not to take names for things, nor pretences for
proofs. If democracy, in any constitutional sense, belongs to our
adversaries, let them show their title and produce their evidence. Let the
question be examined; and let not intelligent and well-meaning citizens be
kept to the support of measures which in their hearts and consciences they
disapprove, because their authors put forth such loud claims to the sole
possession of regard for the people.

Fellow-citizens of the County of Saratoga, in taking leave of you, I
cannot but remind you how distinguished a place your county occupies in
the history of the country. I cannot be ignorant, that in the midst of you
are many, at this moment, who saw in this neighborhood the triumph of
republican arms in the surrender of General Burgoyne. I cannot doubt that
a fervent spirit of patriotism burns in their breasts and in the breasts
of their children. They helped to save their country amidst the storms of
war; they will help to save it, I am fully persuaded, in the present
severe civil crisis. I verily believe it is true, that, of all that are
left to us from the Revolution, nine tenths are with us in the existing
contest. If there be living a Revolutionary officer, or soldier, who has
joined in the attacks upon General Harrison's military character, I have
not met with him. It is not, therefore, in the county of Saratoga, that a
cause sustained by such means is likely to prevail.

Fellow-citizens, the great question is now before the country. If, with
the experience of the past, the American people think proper to confirm
power in the hands which now hold it, and thereby sanction the leading
policy of the administration, it will be your duty and mine to bow, with
submission, to the public will; but, for myself, I shall not believe it
possible for me to be of service to the country, in any department of
public life. I shall look on, with no less love of country than ever, but
with fearful forebodings of what may be near at hand.

But I do not at all expect that result. I fully believe the change is
coming. If we all do our duty, we shall restore the government to its
former policy, and the country to its former prosperity. And let us here,
to-day, fellow-citizens, with full resolution and patriotic purpose of
heart, give and take pledges, that, until this great controversy be ended,
our time, our talents, our efforts, are all due, and shall all be
faithfully given, to OUR COUNTRY.




Mr. Justice Story.



Your solemn announcement, Mr. Chief Justice, has confirmed the sad
intelligence which had already reached us, through the public channels of
information, and deeply afflicted us all.

Joseph Story, one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the
United States, and for many years the presiding judge of this Circuit,
died on Wednesday evening last, at his house in Cambridge, wanting only a
few days for the completion of the sixty-sixth year of his age.

This most mournful and lamentable event has called together the whole Bar
of Suffolk, and all connected with the courts of law or the profession. It
has brought you, Mr. Chief Justice, and your associates of the Bench of
the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, into the midst of us; and you have
done us the honor, out of respect to the occasion, to consent to preside
over us, while we deliberate on what is due, as well to our own afflicted
and smitten feelings, as to the exalted character and eminent distinction
of the deceased judge. The occasion has drawn from his retirement, also,
that venerable man, whom we all so much respect and honor, (Judge Davis,)
who was, for thirty years, the associate of the deceased upon the same
Bench. It has called hither another judicial personage, now in retirement,
(Judge Putnam,) but long an ornament of that Bench of which you are now
the head, and whose marked good fortune it is to have been the
professional teacher of Mr. Justice Story, and the director of his early
studies. He also is present to whom this blow comes near; I mean, the
learned judge (Judge Sprague) from whose side it has struck away a friend
and a highly venerated official associate. The members of the Law School
at Cambridge, to which the deceased was so much attached, and who returned
that attachment with all the ingenuousness and enthusiasm of educated and
ardent youthful minds, are here also, to manifest their sense of their own
severe deprivation, as well as their admiration of the bright and shining
professional example which they have so loved to contemplate,--an example,
let me say to them, and let me say to all, as a solace in the midst of
their sorrows, which death hath not touched and which time cannot obscure.

Mr. Chief Justice, one sentiment pervades us all. It is that of the most
profound and penetrating grief, mixed, nevertheless, with an assured
conviction, that the great man whom we deplore is yet with us and in the
midst of us. He hath not wholly died. He lives in the affections of
friends and kindred, and in the high regard of the community. He lives in
our remembrance of his social virtues, his warm and steady friendships,
and the vivacity and richness of his conversation. He lives, and will live
still more permanently, by his words of written wisdom, by the results of
his vast researches and attainments, by his imperishable legal judgments,
and by those juridical disquisitions which have stamped his name, all over
the civilized world, with the character of a commanding authority. "Vivit,
enim, vivetque semper; atque etiam latius in memoria hominum et sermone
versabitur, postquam ab oculis recessit."

Mr. Chief Justice, there are consolations which arise to mitigate our
loss, and shed the influence of resignation over unfeigned and heart-felt
sorrow. We are all penetrated with gratitude to God that the deceased
lived so long; that he did so much for himself, his friends, the country,
and the world; that his lamp went out, at last, without unsteadiness or
flickering. He continued to exercise every power of his mind without
dimness or obscuration, and every affection of his heart with no abatement
of energy or warmth, till death drew an impenetrable veil between us and
him. Indeed, he seems to us now, as in truth he is, not extinguished or
ceasing to be, but only withdrawn; as the clear sun goes down at its
setting, not darkened, but only no longer seen.

This calamity, Mr. Chief Justice, is not confined to the bar or the courts
of this Commonwealth. It will be felt by every bar throughout the land, by
every court, and indeed by every intelligent and well informed man in or
out of the profession. It will be felt still more widely, for his
reputation had a still wider range. In the High Court of Parliament, in
every tribunal in Westminster Hall, in the judicatories of Paris and
Berlin, of Stockholm and St. Petersburg, in the learned universities of
Germany, Italy, and Spain, by every eminent jurist in the civilized world,
it will be acknowledged that a great luminary has fallen from the
firmament of public jurisprudence.[1]

Sir, there is no purer pride of country than that in which we may indulge
when we see America paying back the great debt of civilization, learning,
and science to Europe. In this high return of light for light and mind for
mind, in this august reckoning and accounting between the intellects of
nations, Joseph Story was destined by Providence to act, and did act, an
important part. Acknowledging, as we all acknowledge, our obligations to
the original sources of English law, as well as of civil liberty, we have
seen in our generation copious and salutary streams turning and running
backward, replenishing their original fountains, and giving a fresher and
a brighter green to the fields of English jurisprudence. By a sort of
reversed hereditary transmission, the mother, without envy or humiliation,
acknowledges that she has received a valuable and cherished inheritance
from the daughter. The profession in England admits with frankness and
candor, and with no feeling but that of respect and admiration, that he
whose voice we have so recently heard within these walls, but shall now
hear no more, was of all men who have yet appeared, most fitted by the
comprehensiveness of his mind, and the vast extent and accuracy of his
attainments, to compare the codes of nations, to trace their differences
to difference of origin, climate, or religious or political institutions,
and to exhibit, nevertheless, their concurrence in those great principles
upon which the system of human civilization rests.

Justice, Sir, is the great interest of man on earth. It is the ligament
which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together. Wherever her
temple stands, and so long as it is duly honored, there is a foundation
for social security, general happiness, and the improvement and progress
of our race. And whoever labors on this edifice with usefulness and
distinction, whoever clears its foundations, strengthens its pillars,
adorns its entablatures, or contributes to raise its august dome still
higher in the skies, connects himself, in name, and fame, and character,
with that which is and must be as durable as the frame of human society.

All know, Mr. Chief Justice, the pure love of country which animated the
deceased, and the zeal, as well as the talent, with which he explained and
defended her institutions. His work on the Constitution of the United
States is one of his most eminently successful labors. But all his
writings, and all his judgments, all his opinions, and the whole influence
of his character, public and private, leaned strongly and always to the
support of sound principles, to the restraint of illegal power, and to the
discouragement and rebuke of licentious and disorganizing sentiments. "Ad
rempublicam firmandam, et ad stabiliendas vires, et sanandum populum,
omnis ejus pergebat institutio."

But this is not the occasion, Sir, nor is it for me to consider and
discuss at length the character and merits of Mr. Justice Story, as a
writer or a judge. The performance of that duty, with which this Bar will
no doubt charge itself, must be deferred to another opportunity, and will
be committed to abler hands. But in the homage paid to his memory, one
part may come with peculiar propriety and emphasis from ourselves. We have
known him in private life. We have seen him descend from the bench, and
mingle in our friendly circles. We have known his manner of life, from his
youth up. We can bear witness to the strict uprightness and purity of his
character, his simplicity and unostentatious habits, the ease and
affability of his intercourse, his remarkable vivacity amidst severe
labors, the cheerful and animating tones of his conversation, and his fast
fidelity to friends. Some of us, also, can testify to his large and
liberal charities, not ostentatious or casual, but systematic and silent,
--dispensed almost without showing the hand, and falling and distilling
comfort and happiness, like the dews of heaven. But we can testify, also,
that in all his pursuits and employments, in all his recreations, in all
his commerce with the world, and in his intercourse with the circle of his
friends, the predominance of his judicial character was manifest. He never
forgot the ermine which he wore. The judge, the judge, the useful and
distinguished judge, was the great picture which he kept constantly before
his eyes, and to a resemblance of which all his efforts, all his thoughts,
all his life, were devoted. We may go the world over, without finding a
man who shall present a more striking realization of the beautiful
conception of D'Aguesseau: "C'est en vain que l'on cherche a distinguer en
lui la personne privee et la personne publique; un meme esprit les anime,
un meme objet les reunit; l'homme, le pere de famille, le citoyen, tout
est en lui consacre a la gloire du magistrat."

Mr. Chief Justice, one may live as a conqueror, a king, or a magistrate;
but he must die as a man. The bed of death brings every human being to his
pure individuality; to the intense contemplation of that deepest and most
solemn of all relations, the relation between the creature and his
Creator. Here it is that fame and renown cannot assist us; that all
external things must fail to aid us; that even friends, affection, and
human love and devotedness, cannot succor us. This relation, the true
foundation of all duty, a relation perceived and felt by conscience and
confirmed by revelation, our illustrious friend, now deceased, always
acknowledged.

He reverenced the Scriptures of truth, honored the pure morality which
they teach, and clung to the hopes of future life which they impart. He
beheld enough in nature, in himself, and in all that can be known of
things seen, to feel assured that there is a Supreme Power, without whose
providence not a sparrow falleth to the ground. To this gracious being he
entrusted himself for time and for eternity; and the last words of his
lips ever heard by mortal ears were a fervent supplication to his Maker to
take him to himself. [2]




Biographical.



First Period: Law and Politics in New Hampshire.

1782 Born at Salisbury, New Hampshire, January 18.
     Early Education.
1797 Enters Dartmouth College.
1805 Admitted to the Bar,
1805.
     Practises in Boscawen.
1807 Removes to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
1813 Elected to Congress from Portsmouth.
1814-15 The Hartford Convention.


Second Period: Leader at the Bar and in the Forum.

1816 Removes to Boston, Massachusetts.
1817 "The Defence of the Kennistons."
1818 "The Dartmouth College Case."
1820 Massachusetts Convention.


Third Period: Expounder and Defender of the Constitution.

1827 Elected to the Senate from Massachusetts.
1830 "The Reply to Hayne."
1833 "The  Constitution not a Compact between Sovereign States."
1833-34 Removal of the Deposits from the United States Bank.
     Rise of the Whig Party.
1835 Nominated to the Presidency by the Whigs of Massachusetts.
1837 Reception in New York.
1839 Visits England.
1840 Presidential Canvass.
1840-43 Secretary of State.
     Ashburton Treaty.
     Resigns the Department of State.
1844 Re-elected to the Senate from Massachusetts.
1845 "Eulogy on Justice Story."
     Annexation of Texas.
1846 Banquet in Philadelphia.
1850 Seventh of March Speech.
     Secretary of State under President Fillmore.
1852 Public Reception in Boston.
     Last Illness and Death.




Notes.


_DEFENCE OF THE KENNISTONS_

April, 1817.

Mr. Webster had been elected to Congress from Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
in 1813, and his term expired in March, 1816. In August of that year
(1816) he removed his family to Boston, and decided to devote himself
exclusively to the profession of the law. He had won a high position both
in law and politics in New Hampshire. The change of residence marks an era
in the life of Mr. Webster. Mr. Lodge says that there is a tradition that
the worthies of the Puritan city were disposed at first to treat the
newcomer somewhat cavalierly, but that they soon learned that it was worse
than useless to attempt such a course with a man whose magnificent
physical and intellectual bearing won the admiration of all who met him.

He now began a career of great professional distinction, and took a place
at the Boston bar even more conspicuous than his friends had anticipated--
that of an equal of the most famous of its members. His cases called him
before the Massachusetts Supreme Court, the Circuit Court of the United
States, and the United States Supreme Court. Among the first cases which
came to him on his retirement from political life was the Goodridge
Robbery Case, the argument in which was addressed to the jury at the term
of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held at Ipswich in April,
1817.

The singularly dramatic story of the prosecutor, the almost universal
belief in the guilt of the accused, both by the public and by the members
of the Essex bar, and the impossibility of accounting for the motive
(self-robbery) assumed by the defence, make this exhibition of Mr.
Webster's "acute, penetrating, and terrifying" power of cross-
examination,--by which such a complicated and ingenious story was
unravelled,--one of the most memorable in the history of the

Massachusetts bar. It is a model of close, simple, unadorned argument,
adapted to the minds of the jurymen. In it there are no attempts to carry
the jury off their feet by lofty appeals to their sense of justice, nor to
cover the weak points in the case by fine oratory. The oft-repeated, "It
is for the jury to determine," illustrates Mr. Webster's respect for the
common sense of the jurymen before him and his reliance upon evidence to
win the case. The following are the facts relating to the case:--Major
Goodridge of Bangor, Maine, professed to have been robbed of a large sum
of money at nine o'clock on the night of Dec. 19, 1816, while travelling
on horseback, near the bridge between Exeter and Newburyport. In the
encounter with the robbers he received a pistol wound in his left hand; he
was then dragged from his horse into a field, beaten until insensible, and
robbed. On recovering, he procured the assistance of several persons, and
with a lantern returned to the place of the robbery and found his watch
and some papers. The next day he went to Newburyport, and remained ill for
several weeks, suffering from delirium caused by the shock. When he
recovered he set about the discovery of the robbers. His story seemed so
probable that he had the sympathy of all the country-folk. He at once
charged with the crime Levi and Laban Kenniston, two poor men, who lived
in an obscure part of the town of Newmarket, New Hampshire, and finding
some of his money (which he had previously marked) in their cellar, he had
them arrested, and held for trial. By and by a few of the people began to
doubt the story of Goodridge; this led him to renewed efforts, and he
arrested the toll gatherer, Mr. Pearson, in whose house, by the aid of a
conjurer, he found some of his money. On examination by the magistrate,
Pearson was discharged. It now became necessary to find some accomplice of
the Kennistons, and he arrested one Taber of Boston, whom he had seen (he
said) on his way up, and from whom he had obtained his information against
the Kennistons. In Taber's house was found some of the money; he was
accordingly bound over for trial with the Kennistons. As none of these men
lived near the scene of the robbery, Mr. Jackman, who, soon after the
robbery, had gone to New York, was arrested, his house searched, and some
of the money found in the garret. The guilt of these men seemed so
conclusive that no eminent member of the Essex bar would undertake their
defence. A few of those who mistrusted Goodridge determined to send to
Suffolk County for counsel.

Mr. Webster had been well known in New Hampshire, and his services were at
once secured; without having time to examine any of the details of the
case--as he had arrived at Ipswich on the night before the trial--he at
once undertook the defence of the Kennistons and secured their acquittal.
The indictment against Taber was _nol prossed_. Later, he defended
Jackman and secured his acquittal. Mr. Pearson brought action against
Goodridge for malicious prosecution, and was awarded $2000, but Goodridge
took the poor debtor's oath and left the State.

Cf. Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Ch. VIII.; Everett's _Memoir of
Webster_, in Vol. I. of Webster's Works.

       *       *       *       *       *

_THE DARTMOUTH COLLEGE CASE_.

March, 1818.

Within a year after the defence of the Kennistons, Mr. Webster was called
upon to defend his Alma Mater against the acts of the Legislature of his
native State.

The case was one of the most interesting ever argued before the Supreme
Court of the United States, because there were involved in it certain
constitutional questions which had never been tested. "Mr. Webster by his
management of this case," says Edward Everett, "took the lead in
establishing what might almost be called a new school of constitutional
law." Not until within a few years has the complete history of the case
been accessible. In 1879, a volume of "Dartmouth College Causes" was
published by Mr. John M. Shirley, and in it we have, for the first time, a
clear statement of all the points relating to the origin and development
of the case.

Dartmouth College was originally a charity school, and was founded by
Eleazor Wheelock at Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1754. Afterwards private
subscriptions were solicited in England, and the Earl of Dartmouth was a
large donor and became one of the trustees. The site was soon moved to
Hanover, New Hampshire, where large grants of land had been made by the
proprietors. It was chartered by the Crown in 1769, and was created a
perpetual corporation, with Dr. Wheelock as founder and President; he was
empowered to name his own successor subject to the approval of the
trustees, to whom was given power to fill vacancies in their own body and
to make laws for the College subject to the Crown.

It seems that in his early days Dr. Wheelock had a controversy on
religious matters with Dr. Bellamy. These men were graduates of Yale; the
former was a Presbyterian, and the latter a Congregationalist. This
religious war was carried on by the successors of these men, the son of
Dr. Wheelock, and President of the College, and a pupil of Dr. Bellamy,
who had been elected a trustee; it soon, however, became a political
contest between factions of the trustees, one of which objected to what it
called the "family dynasty." In 1809 this faction became a majority and
opposed the other so vigorously that in 1815 the Wheelock party set forth
its case in a lengthy pamphlet. Much ink was shed upon both sides as a
result. Wheelock then sent a memorial to the Legislature charging the
trustees with violation of trust and religious intolerance, and prayed for
an investigation by a committee of the Legislature. The trustees were
Federalists and Congregationalists, the ruling power in State and Church.
Mr. Mason, Mr. Webster's old antagonist at the New Hampshire bar, was
secured as counsel for the trustees. The Wheelock party made advances to
Mr. Webster, but he saw that the case was fast assuming a political tone,
and he declined the offer. Contrary to Mr. Mason's advice, the trustees
removed President Wheelock, and appointed Rev. Francis Brown in his place.
As a result all the Democrats and all religious orders, other than the
Congregational, united against the trustees--and the political die was
cast.

At the next election the Democrats carried the State, and the Governor in
his message took occasion to declare against the trustees. The
Legislature, in June, 1816, passed an act to reorganize the College, and
under this law the new trustees were chosen; thus the College became a
State institution. Woodward, the Secretary of the old board, had been
removed, and became the Secretary of the newly constituted board. Suit was
brought against him by the old board, for the College seal and other
property, and the case in charge of Mr. Mason and Judge Smith came up for
trial in May, 1817; it was argued and then went over to the September term
of the same year at Exeter. It was at this stage of the proceedings that
Mr. Webster joined the counsel for the College. He made the closing
argument of such force and pathos as to draw tears from the crowd in the
court-room. The decision was against the College.

In Mr. Mason's brief we find that there were three points made against the
Acts of the Legislature: (1) that they were not within the power of that
body; (2) that they violated the Constitution of New Hampshire; and (3)
that they violated the Constitution of the United States, or the right of
private contracts. The third point was not, however, pressed by the
counsel, and was not considered as very important; they based their case
mostly upon the first point: that the College was founded by private
parties, for special purposes, and that any quarrel of the trustees was a
question for the courts to settle, and not for the Legislature. When it
was decided against them, they removed the case to the Supreme Court of
the United States on this one point, that the acts impaired the obligation
of contracts. The friends of the College now desired Mr. Webster to take
entire charge of the case; he consented, and selected as his assistant,
Mr. Hopkinson, of Philadelphia. Mr. Holmes of Maine and Mr. Wirt conducted
the defence.

The case was heard on March 10, 1818, and was opened by Mr. Webster. With
the notes and minutes of the previous counsel Mr. Webster was familiar,
and he said that the credit of the legal points and theories he set forth
was due to them; he was only the arranger and reciter of what they had
prepared. Mr. Webster had a remarkable power of selecting and using the
material of other men, but he was always ready to give them the credit
due.

With a skill and judgment which Chief Justice Marshall said he never saw
equalled, Mr. Webster outlined the question at issue, and by his
marvellous adroitness in arranging, and clearness in presenting the facts,
together with that wealth of legal and historical illustration with which
he was always so well endowed, he seemed to carry with him every man in
the court-room. Such was the ease, grace, and fascination of his argument,
that Justice Story, who sat, pen in hand, to take notes, was completely
absorbed and forgot his pen and paper.

[1]P. 58, l. 15. I. Here, the argument being ended, Mr. Webster stood
still for some time before the court, while every eye was fixed upon him,
and then addressing the Chief Justice, he proceeded with that noble
peroration which has become one of the masterpieces of eloquence, and
which is an expansion of the closing argument which he delivered at the
previous trial in New Hampshire. This does not appear in the printed
argument; I have added it from the report of Dr. Goodrich.

[2]P. 59, l. 5. 1. I give the beautiful description which Dr. Goodrich
wrote to Mr. Choate in 1853. "Here the feelings, which he had thus far
succeeded in keeping down, broke forth. His lips quivered; his firm cheeks
trembled with emotion; his eyes were filled with tears; his voice choked,
and he seemed struggling to the utmost simply to gain that mastery over
himself which might save him from an unmanly burst of feeling. I will not
attempt to give you the few broken words of tenderness in which he went on
to speak of his attachment for the college. The whole seemed to be mingled
throughout with recollections of father, mother, brother, and all the
privations and trials through which he had made his way into life. Every
one saw that it was wholly unpremeditated, a pressure on his heart, which
sought relief in words and tears." The court-room during these two or
three minutes presented an extraordinary spectacle. Chief Justice
Marshall, with his tall and gaunt figure, bent over as if to catch the
slightest whisper, the deep furrows of his cheek expanded with emotion,
and his eyes suffused with tears; Mr. Justice Washington at his side, with
his small and emaciated frame, and countenance more like marble than I
ever saw on any other human being--leaning forward with an eager troubled
look; and the remainder of the Court at the two extremities, pressing, as
it were, toward a single point, while the audience below were wrapping
themselves around in closer folds beneath the bench, to catch each look
and every feature of the speaker's face. If a painter could give us the
scene on canvas,--those forms and countenances, and Daniel Webster as he
there stood in their midst,--it would be one of the most touching pictures
in the history of eloquence. One thing it taught me, that the
_pathetic_ depends not merely on the words uttered, but still more on
the estimate we put upon him who utters them. There was not one among the
strong-minded men of that assembly who could think it unmanly to weep,
when he saw standing before him the man who had made such an argument,
melted into the tenderness of a child. Mr. Webster had now recovered his
composure, and, fixing his keen eye on the Chief Justice, in that deep
tone with which he sometimes thrilled the heart of an audience,
continued."[3] L. 10. 2. When Mr. Webster sat down, there was a stillness
as of death in the court-room, and when the audience had slowly recovered
itself the replies of the opposing counsel were made, but seemed weak
indeed in comparison to what had just been heard. On the conclusion of the
arguments, the Chief Justice announced that the Court could not agree, and
that the case must be continued to the next term. During the interim, the
utmost effort was used by the friends of the College, the press, and the
Federalists, to bring the matter before the public, and to impress the
judges with the condition of the public mind. The defence prepared to
renew the contest, and able counsel was secured. At the next term,
however, the Chief Justice ruled that the Acts of the Legislature were
void, as they impaired the right of private contract. Of this argument Mr.
Justice Story said: "For the first hour we listened with perfect
astonishment; for the second hour with perfect delight; and for the third
hour with perfect conviction."

Mr. Lodge says: "From the day when it was announced, to the present time,
the Doctrine of Marshall in the Dartmouth College Case has continued to
exert an enormous influence."

After the trial Mr. Hopkinson wrote to the President of the College and
said: "I would have an inscription over the door of your building:
'Founded by Eleazor Wheelock, Refounded by Daniel Webster.'"

Cf. Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Ch. VIII.; Lodge's _Webster_,
Ch. III.; Everett's _Memoir_, in Vol. I. of Webster's Works;
Shirley's _Dartmouth College Causes; Correspondence of Webster_, Vol.
I., pp. 266-70; Magruder's _Life of John Marshall_.

       *       *       *       *       *

_FIRST SETTLEMENT OF NEW ENGLAND_.

December, 1820.

The "Old Colony Club," formed for social intercourse in 1769, was the
first to celebrate Forefathers' Day. Although the club was dissolved in
1773, the anniversary celebrations were continued until 1780; between this
time and 1820, when the "Pilgrim Society" was founded, they were held with
but few interruptions.

The foundation of the "Pilgrim Society" in 1820 gave a new impetus to the
celebrations, and in that year Mr. Webster was chosen to give the address.

[1]P. 64, l. 17. 1. The allusion is to the painting by Sargent; it was
presented by him to the Society in 1824.

[2]L. 22. 2. Cf. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

[3]L. 30. 3. Cf. the report of the Pilgrim Society on the correct date of
the landing of the Pilgrims. The 21st is now considered to be the date.

[4]P. 66, l. 31. 1. Cf. _Herodotus_, Ch. VI., S 109.

[5]P. 70, l. 23. 1. Cf. "The Start from Delfshaven," by Rev. D. Van Pelt,
in the _New England Magazine_, November, 1891. For a through
treatment of the whole subject read Chapter II., "The Puritan Exodus" in
_Beginnings of New England_, by John Fiske.

[6]P. 77, l. 13. 1. Cf. _Beginnings of New England_, by John Fiske,
pp. 12-20, "The Roman Method of Nation-Making."

[7]P. 81, l. 18. 1. Cf. _Beginnings of New England_, pp. 20-49, "The
English Method of Nation-Making."

[8]P. 82, l. 30. 1. Cf. Hutchinson's _History_, Vol. II., App. I.
"The men who wrote in the cabin of the _Mayflower_ the first charter
of freedom, were a little band of protestants against every form of
injustice and tyranny. The leaven of their principles made possible the
Declaration of Independence, liberated the slaves, and founded the free
Commonwealths which form the Republic of the United States."--C. M. DEPEW,
Columbian oration.

[9]P. 83, l. 15. 1. Cf. _Germanic Origin of New England Towns_, H. B.
Adams.

[10]P. 108, l. 7. 1. Cf. Cicero's _Oratio pro Flacco_, S 7.

[11]L. 29. 2. The first free public school established by law in Plymouth
Colony was in 1670.

[12]P. 111, l. 17. 1. Cf. _Beginnings of New England_, p. 110,
"Founding of Harvard College." Lowell's "Harvard Anniversary."

In 1647 the Colony of Massachusetts Bay passed the law requiring every
town of one hundred families to set up a grammar school which should
prepare youth for the university.

If Mr. Webster by his handling of the Dartmouth College Case founded a new
school of constitutional law, by the Plymouth Oration he founded a new
school of oratory. This field of occasional oratory was a new and peculiar
one for him. He had never before spoken upon a great historical subject
demanding not only wealth of imagination, but the peculiar quality of mind
and heart which unites dignity and depth of thought with ease and grace of
manner. But he was equal to the task. The simplicity and beauty of the
thought, the grand and inspiring manner of presentation, gave evidence of
commanding genius, and gave Mr. Webster a place in the front rank of
orators and stylists.

"I never saw him," says Mr. Ticknor, "when he seemed to me to be more
conscious of his own powers, or to have a more true and natural enjoyment
from their possession."

John Adams, who had heard Pitt and Fox, Burke and Sheridan, says: "It is
the effort of a great mind, richly stored with every species of
information. If there be an American who can read it without tears, I am
not that American. Mr. Burke is no longer entitled to the praise--the most
consummate orator of modern times. What can I say of what regards myself?
To my humble name '_Exegisti monumentum are perennius_.' The oration
ought to be read at the end of every century."

"It is doubtful," says Edward Everett, "whether any extra-professional
literary effort by a public man has attained equal celebrity."

Cf. Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Ch. IX.; Lodge's _Webster_, Ch.
IV.; De Tocqueville's _Democracy in America_, Vol. I.; Whipple's
_American Literature_, "Webster as a Master of English Style";
Bancroft's _History of the United States_, Vol. I., Chs. XII., XIII.,
XIV.; Burke's _Orations on the American War_, edited by A. J. George;
Fiske's _Beginnings of New England_.

       *       *       *       *       *

_THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT._

June, 1825.

As early as 1776, the Massachusetts Lodge of Masons, over which General
Warren had presided, asked the Government of Massachusetts for permission
to take up his remains, which were buried on the hill the day after the
battle, and bury them with the usual solemnities. The request was granted
on condition that the government of the colony should be permitted to
erect a monument to his memory.

The ceremonies of burial were performed, but no steps were taken to build
the monument. General Warren was, at the time of his death, Grand Master
of the Masonic Lodges of America, and as nothing had been done toward
erecting a memorial, King Solomon's Lodge of Charlestown voted to erect a
monument. The land was purchased, and a monument dedicated by the Lodge
Dec. 2, 1794. It was a wooden pillar of Tuscan order, eighteen feet high,
raised on a pedestal ten feet in height. The pillar was surmounted by a
gilt urn. An appropriate inscription was placed on the south side of the
pedestal.

The half-century from the date of the battle was at hand, and, despite a
resolution of Congress and the efforts of a committee of the Legislature
of Massachusetts, no suitable monument had been erected by the people. It
was then that, at the suggestion of William Tudor, the matter was taken up
in earnest and an association was formed known as the Bunker Hill Monument
Association. Ground was broken for the monument June 7, 1825. On the
morning of the 17th of June, 1825, the ceremonies of laying the corner-
stone of the monument took place. It was a typical June day, and thousands
flocked to see the pageant and to hear the greatest orator in the land.

The procession started from the State House at ten o'clock. The military
led the van. About two hundred veterans of the Revolution rode in
carriages, and among them were forty survivors of the battle. Some wore
their old uniform, others various decorations of their service, and some
bore the scars of honorable wounds. Following the patriots came the
Monument Association, and then the Masonic fraternity to the number of
thousands. Then came the noble Frenchman, Lafayette, the admiration of all
eyes. Following him were numerous societies with banners and music. The
head of the procession touched Charlestown Bridge before the rear had left
the State House, and the march was a continual ovation. Arriving at
Breed's Hill, the Grand Master of the Masons, Lafayette, and the President
of the Monument Association laid the corner-stone, and then moved to the
spacious amphitheatre on the northern side of the hill, where the address
was delivered by Mr. Webster.

[1]P. 122, l. 7. 1. An account of the voyage of the emigrants to the
Maryland Colony is given by the report of Father White, written soon after
the landing at St. Mary's. The original in Latin is still preserved by the
Jesuits at Rome.

The _Ark_ and the _Dove_ occupy the same place of interest in
the memory of the descendants of the colony as does the _Mayflower_
with us.

[2]L. 18. 2. Mr. Webster was at this time President of the Monument
Association.

[3]P. 125, l. 13. 1. Even the poetical nature of Webster would not have
been equal to the conception, that within the century the number would
reach sixty million.

[4]L. 16. 2. "The first railroad on the continent was constructed for the
purpose of accelerating the erection of this monument."--EVERETT.

[5]P. 127, l. 15. 1. The allusion is, of course, to the ships about the
Charlestown Navy Yard, which is located at the base of Breed's Hill. [6]L.
21. 2. This magnificent address to the "Venerable Men" was composed while
Mr. Webster was fishing in Marshpee brook.

[7]P. 128, l. 4. 1. Milton's _Paradise Lost_, V.

[8]L. 17. 2. Cf. Bancroft's _History of the United States_, Vol. IV.,
p. 133. A prelude to Warren's patriotism at Bunker Hill is well
illustrated in his oration at the old South Meeting House, commemorating
the Boston Massacre; in the presence of British soldiers he said: "Our
streets are again filled with armed men, our harbour is crowded with ships
of war; but these cannot intimidate us; my fellow-citizens, you will
maintain your rights or perish in the generous struggle."

[9]P. 130, l. 9. 1. Cf. Burke's _Orations on the American War_,
edited by A. J. George.

[10]P. 131, l. 32. 1. Virgil's _Aeneid_, VI. 726. Compare Burke's use
of this same quotation in his speech on American Taxation, page 13, line
13. Edited by A. J. George.

[11]P. 133, l. 9. 1. Cf. Bancroft's _History of the United States_,
Vol. IV., Ch. XIV.

[12]L. 22. 2. General Lafayette had arranged his progress through the
other States so that he might be present on the 17th.

[13]P. 140, l. 22. 1. Homer's _Iliad_, Book XVII.

[14]P. 141, l. 13. 1. Cf. account of Webster's speech on the Revolution in
Greece, made on the 19th of January, 1824, in Everett's _Memoir_,
Vol. I. of Webster's Works.

Great as the Plymouth Oration was acknowledged by all to be, the Bunker
Hill Address was a distinct advance upon it, both in the scope of the
ideas and in the skill with which they are wrought into an organic whole.
It is more compact, more picturesque, more vigorous, more finished. In
this field of oratory he probably has never had any equal in the English-
speaking world.

Mr. Everett said of the Address: "From such an orator as Mr. Webster, on
such a platform, on such a theme, in the flower of his age, and the
maturity of his faculties, discoursing upon an occasion of transcendent
interest, and kindling with the enthusiasm of the day and the spot, it
might well be regarded as an intellectual treat of the highest order.
Happy the eyes that saw that most glorious gathering! Happy the ears that
heard that heart-stirring strain!"

Lafayette wrote to Webster on the 28th of December, 1825, from La Grange,
saying: "Your Bunker Hill has been translated into French, and other
languages, to the very great profit of European readers."

Mr. Hillard, in his Eulogy on Webster, says: "His occasional discourses
rise above the rest of their class, as the Bunker Hill Monument soars
above the objects around it."

Mr. Choate, in his address to the students of Dartmouth College in 1853,
in that sublime paragraph in which he reviews the history of oratory and
contrasts the eloquence of despair with the eloquence of hope, says: "Let
the downward age of America find its orators, and poets, and artists, to
erect its spirit, or grace and soothe its dying; be it ours to go up with
Webster to the rock, the monument, the capitol, and bid the distant
generations hail."

Cf. Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Ch. XI.; Everett's _Memoir_, in
Vol. I. of Webster's Works; Lodge's _Webster_, Ch. IV.; Memorial of
Webster; Mr. Hillard's and Mr. Choate's Address; J. Fiske's _The
American Revolution_.

        *       *       *       *       *

_THE REPLY TO HAYNE_.

January, 1830.

The third period of Mr. Webster's life and work may be said to begin with
his new honor--his election to the United States Senate in 1827, and his
changed attitude toward the question of the tariff as seen in his great
speech on the tariff of 1828.

To understand Mr. Webster's position on the question of the tariff, one
must remember that he insisted upon the principle that the question of the
tariff was purely a business question, and that it was to be determined by
the conditions affecting business. Up to this time Webster had opposed
Protection, but now as the business of New England required assistance, he
boldly stood forth as the champion of a Protective Tariff. It was in
connection with the tariff legislation of 1816, 1824, and 1828 that the
monster Nullification--carefully disguised until 1830--had its birth. In
this year it was found stalking abroad, and in the halls of Congress
menacing the bulwark of our liberties--the Constitution of the country. It
fell to the lot of Mr. Webster to grapple with this monster and to
strangle it in his giant grasp.

On the 29th of December, 1829, Senator Foot of Connecticut moved a
resolution in regard to the Public Lands, and a long and weary discussion
followed until Mr. Hayne, a Senator from South Carolina, on June 19, 1830,
took part and introduced a new element into the discussion by making an
elaborate attack on the New England States. Mr. Webster had taken no
special interest in the question, and on the day in which Mr. Hayne began
his speech he was engaged in the Supreme Court, but came into the Senate
in season to hear the closing paragraphs. Thinking that such an attack
upon New England required a reply, Mr. Webster at once rose, but yielded
to a motion to adjourn. On the next day, the 20th, Mr. Webster proceeded
with his reply, in which he showed the absurdity of Hayne's accusations
and by which he completely shattered his whole elaborate argument. There
was hardly an allusion in Mr. Webster's speech to the question of the
tariff as it concerned South Carolina, but so aroused was Hayne by
Webster's defence of New England, that on the following day he spoke a
second time and in a tone of even greater severity and bitterness than
that which marked his previous speech; he indulged in personal allusion to
Mr. Webster, and strove to bring odium upon him and the State which he
represented; he openly espoused the cause of Nullification and declared
war upon the tariff. Before he concluded the Senate adjourned until the
25th, when he completed his speech; Mr. Webster immediately rose to reply,
but as it was late yielded to a motion to adjourn. Mr. Hayne's speech had
caused the greatest alarm throughout the North; many were afraid that it
was unanswerable. This was an evidence that the true nature of the
Constitution was not thoroughly understood. "It is a critical moment,"
said Mr. Bell of New Hampshire to Mr. Webster on the morning of the 26th,
"and it is time, it is high time, that the people of this country should
know what this Constitution _is_." "Then," said Mr. Webster, "by the
blessing of Heaven, they shall learn, this day, before the sun goes down,
what I understand it to be." With this utterance upon his lips, he entered
the Senate Chamber, which was already crowded. Every seat on the floor and
in the galleries was occupied; the House of Representatives was deserted;
the lobbies and staircases were packed. The vast audience was composed, on
the one hand, of those who feared and trembled lest the rushing tide of
hostility to the Constitution and the Union should sweep over the country;
and on the other, of those who believed that New England had no champion
strong enough to stand in the breach. This scene in the Senate Chamber is
rivalled only by that in the House of Commons, when Burke, in 1774, stood
forth as the defender of the American colonies. Such was the anxiety to
hear the speech that all the ordinary preliminaries of senatorial action
were postponed, and Mr. Webster began his "Second Speech on Foot's
Resolution," better known as "The Reply to Hayne."

[1]P. 146, l. 10. 1. Mr. Webster rose with great calmness, and in the
majesty of that personal presence which could cause the English navvy to
shout as he saw him, "By Jove, there goes a king!" with a confidence in
his own resources which was the result of experience, in a clear, calm,
and firm tone pronounced this magnificent exordium which was such a piece
of consummate art that its effect was electric; all who feared, and all
who hated, knew that he was master of the situation.

[ 2] P. 147, l. 27. 1. When on the 21st Mr. Chambers asked that there be a
delay to enable Mr. Webster, who had engagements out of the house, to be
present, Mr. Hayne was unwilling to grant the request, saying that the
gentleman (Mr. Webster) has discharged his fire in the presence of the
Senate, and he wanted an opportunity to return it. Mr. Webster said, "Let
the discussion proceed: I am ready now to receive the gentleman's fire."

[3] P. 149, l. 8. 1. The notes, covering only five sheets of ordinary
letter paper, from which Webster developed the entire speech of seventy
pages, contain no hint of the exordium, but begin with

"No man hurt. If his 'rankling' is relieved, glad of it."

"I have no 'rankling' fear, anger, consciousness of refutation."

"No 'rankling,' original, or received--bow not strong enough."

[4]L. 12. 2. Mr. Benton.

[5]L. 27. 3. Mr. Webster's preparation for this reply lay in the nature of
his thought and reading from his first entrance into public life, and
especially from the nature of the constitutional questions which he has
argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

[6]P. 152, l. 1. 1. Should not this be "_more_"?

[7]L. 24. 2. This was a political cry raised against President Adams, who
was elected by the House of Representatives. Clay had been a candidate,
and because Adams gave him a seat in his Cabinet, a cry went up that they
had made a bargain, by which Mr. Clay's friends were to vote for Adams in
the House, and in return Clay was to receive a Cabinet position. This was
a piece of political clap-trap. Cf. _American Politics_, Johnston,
Ch. XI.

[8]P. 155, l. 5. 1. If there had been a coalition and it was killed, it
was killed by Calhoun, who threw all his influence against Adams and for
Jackson. But at the time of this speech Calhoun was treated somewhat
cavalierly by Jackson, and had not much reward in party succession.

[9]P. 157, l. 13. 1. "The Missouri Compromise." Cf. _American
Politics_, Johnston, Ch. VIII.

[10]P. 162, l. 22. 1. This Convention of 1814 was composed of men of the
old Federal party, strongly opposed to war with Great Britain. Cf.
_American Politics_, Johnston, Ch. VIII.

[11]P. 170, l. 3. 1. The "South Carolina Canal & Railroad Company" had on
Jan. 9, 1830, asked Mr. Webster to present its claims to government
assistance.

[12]P. 179, l. 5. 1. Calhoun, Vice-President, and President of Senate.

[13]P. 180, l. 5. 1. Mr. Forsyth.

[14]L. 25. 2. Cf. Calhoun's speech in the House of Representatives in
April, 1816.

[15]P. 182, l. 6. 1. Mr. McDuffie.

[16]P. 186, l. 12. 1. Letter of the Federal Convention to the Congress of
the Confederation transmitting the plan of the Constitution.

[17]P. 188, l. 4. 1. Cf. Lodge's _Webster_, Ch. VI.

[18]P. 197, l. 1. 1. President Jackson, who had been an avowed Federalist
all his life.

[19]L. 15. 2. A Portuguese prince, who led the revolutionists against the
constitutional government.

[20]P. 198, l. 1. 1. A body of Federalists in Essex County, Massachusetts,
strongly opposing the Embargo of 1807, and the War of 1812.

[21]P. 199, l. 24. 1. After the passage of the Tariff of 1828, the
legislature of South Carolina set forth a "Protest" asserting the
principle of Nullification.

[22]P. 203, l. 29. 1. "At the conclusion of this paragraph there was
scarcely a dry eye in the Senate, the Massachusetts men shed tears like
girls," _Reminiscence of Congress_, March.

[23]P. 205, l. 28. 1. A toast proposed at a Democratic dinner, April 30,
1830, in New York, in honor of Jefferson's birthday.

[24]P. 212, l. 16. 1. Senator Hillhouse of Connecticut.

[25]P. 214, l. 8. 1. The purpose of this Embargo was to retaliate on both
Great Britain and France. In the commercial war waged by those two
countries, the foreign trade of the United States was cut off. The Embargo
fell with crushing weight upon New England.

[26]P. 227, l. 11. 1. _Paradise Lost_, Bk. I., l. 540.

[27]P. 228, l. 9. 1. The leader of the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania.

[28]P. 234, l. 9. 1. This celebrated peroration was entirely
unpremeditated, there is no allusion to it in the "notes" of Mr. Webster.
Mr. March says, "The exulting rush of feeling with which he went through
the peroration threw a glow over his countenance like inspiration. Eye,
brow, each feature, every line of the face, seemed touched as with
celestial fire.... His voice penetrated every recess or corner of the
Senate,--penetrated even the anterooms and stairways." Mr. Webster himself
said: "I never spoke in the presence of an audience so eager and so
sympathetic." Mr. Everett says: "Of the effectiveness of Mr. Webster's
manner in many parts, it would be in vain to attempt to give any one not
present the faintest idea. It has been my fortune to hear some of the
ablest speeches of the greatest living orators on both sides of the water,
but I must confess I never heard anything which so completely realized my
conception of what Demosthenes was when he delivered the Oration for the
Crown."

Mr. Lodge in his excellent review of the speech says: "The speech as a
whole has all the qualities which made Mr. Webster a great orator. An
analysis of the Reply to Hayne, therefore, gives us all the conditions
necessary to forming a correct idea of Mr. Webster's eloquence, of its
characteristics, and its value." Cf. Ch. VI., _Webster_, American
Statesman Series. This book should be a constant companion of the student
while reading these selections.

Dr. Francis Lieber wrote: "To test Webster's oratory, I read a portion of
my favorite speeches of Demosthenes, and then read, always aloud, parts of
Webster; then returned to the Athenian; and Webster stood the test." As a
result of this great effort, Mr. Webster was overwhelmed with
congratulations from all parts of the land. The speech was the universal
theme of conversation, and there was a general demand for the printed
copy. Probably no speech in history has had so many readers as the Reply
to Hayne.

Cf. Healey's historical painting of the scene of this great debate, in
Faneuil Hall; Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Ch. XVI.; Everett's
_Memoir_, Vol. I. of Webster's Works; _Correspondence of
Webster_, Vol. I., p. 488.

         *       *       *       *       *

_THE MURDER OF CAPTAIN JOSEPH WHITE_.

August, 1830.

Almost immediately after the Reply to Hayne, Mr. Webster was engaged with
the Attorney-General of Massachusetts in one of the most remarkable
criminal cases on record, and on August 3d made the argument in the trial
of John Francis Knapp for the murder of Captain Joseph White.

The following is a summary of the facts: On the night of the 6th of April,
1830, the town of Salem was visited by a desperado who entered the house
of Joseph White, a wealthy and respectable citizen, and murdered him in
his bed. The citizens formed a vigilance committee and worked without
avail until there came a rumor that a prisoner in the New Bedford jail
knew something of the affair. He was accordingly brought up before the
grand jury, and on his testimony Richard Crowningshield, of Danvers, was
indicted. A few weeks later Captain Joseph Knapp, a shipmaster of good
character, received a strange note from Belfast, Maine, which was signed
by Charles Grant, Jr. This note threatened exposure unless money was
forwarded. Knapp could not understand it. He showed it to his sons,
Francis and Joseph, Jr., who resided in Wenham. The wife of the latter was
a niece of the late Mr. White, and was his housekeeper prior to the
murder. When Joseph saw the letter he said it contained trash, and told
his father to hand it to the vigilance committee. When they received the
letter they sent to Belfast to find the writer. This proved to be one
Palmer, who had been in state prison and who was intimate with
Crowningshield. He said he saw, on the 2nd of April, Frank Knapp and a
man, Allen, in company with Crowningshield, and that he heard the latter
say that Frank Knapp wished them to kill Mr. White, and that Joseph Knapp
would pay them one thousand dollars.

After the murder the Knapps reported that, on the 27th of April, they had
been attacked by robbers on their way from Salem to Wenham. The purpose of
this will be seen in what follows. On the testimony of Palmer the Knapps
were held for investigation, and on the third day Joseph made a full
confession of the murder and of the fabrication of the robbery story. He
had found that Mr. White intended to leave his (Knapp's) wife but fifteen
thousand dollars by will, and he thought that if he died intestate she
would come in for one-half of the estate, as the sole representative of
Mr. White's sister. Under this impression he determined to destroy the
will. Frank agreed to hire the assassin, and he (Joseph) was to pay one
thousand dollars for the deed. Crowningshield was hired; he entered the
house by a window and committed the murder. So cool was he that, as he
said, he paused to feel the pulse of the old man to be sure he was dead.
Frank was waiting the issue, while Joseph, who had got the will, was in
Wenham at his home. When Crowningshield heard that the Knapps were in
custody, and that Joseph had confessed, he committed suicide in his cell.

At a special term of the Supreme Court at Salem, July 20th, indictments
for murder were found against Francis Knapp as principal, and Joseph Knapp
and George Crowningshield (a companion of Richard) as accessories. The
trial of Francis took place August 3d, with Mr. Franklin Dexter and Mr. W.
H. Gardner for the defence, and Mr. Webster assisting the Attorney-General
in the prosecution.

[1]P. 239, l. 13. 1. Mr. Lodge says that this account of the murder and
analysis of the workings of a mind, haunted with the remembrance of the
horrid crime, must be placed among the very finest masterpieces of modern
oratory. "I have studied this famous exordium," he says, "with extreme
care, and I have sought diligently in the works of all the great modern
orators, and of some of the ancient as well, for similar passages of
higher merit. My quest has been in vain."

[2]P. 241, l. 23. 1. Mr. Webster's appearance for the prosecution gave
rise to some complaints on the part of the defence, who intimated that he
was in the interest of Mr. Stephen White, a residuary legatee of the
murdered man. The fact was that both the Attorney-General and the
Solicitor-General were old men, and had asked for Mr. Webster's
assistance.

[3]P. 243, l. 20. 1. Chief Justice Parker.

[4]P. 248, l. 10. 1. Mr. Webster's presentation of the evidence is
omitted. Cf. Webster's Complete Works, Vol. VI., p. 61.

Knapp was convicted as principal and sentenced to death. At the November
term Joseph was convicted as accessory and sentenced to share the same
fate. George Crowningshield proved an _alibi_, and was acquitted. The
argument in the Goodridge case stands in marked contrast to this; and it
must be conceded that, as a presentation of the law and the evidence, with
no attempt to work upon the feelings of the jurymen, it is a work of
higher quality. As a specimen of eloquence, of dramatic setting forth of
the horror of such a deed, of the experiences of the criminal, and of the
certainty that "murder will out," the argument has no equal in the
language.

For a remarkable analysis of Mr. Webster's career as a lawyer, see Rufus
Choate's address before the students of Dartmouth College in 1853 in
"Memorial of Daniel Webster from the City of Boston."

       *       *       *       *       *

_THE CONSTITUTION NOT A COMPACT_.

February, 1833.

Mr. Webster had intimated in his Reply to Hayne that South Carolina was
playing a high game. There were some at that time who thought that he had
sounded the note of alarm in too loud a strain; but when in November,
1832, the State Convention, assembled at Columbia, South Carolina, adopted
an ordinance declaring the revenue laws of the United States null and
void, the voice of the croakers ceased to be heard in the general
excitement that filled the country. The Legislature assembled on the 27th,
and the governor in his message said that "the die has been at last cast,"
and that the Legislature was called upon to make "such enactments as would
make it utterly impossible to collect within our limits the duties imposed
by the protective tariffs thus nullified." The Legislature passed acts
providing that any one who should attempt to collect the revenue should be
punished, and made it lawful to use the military force of the State to
resist any attempt of the United States to enforce the tariff laws. Mr.
Webster now had a very difficult and delicate task before him; he was
bound to criticise the general tone of the administration of Jackson, for
he believed that it had not met the needs of the country, and yet he was
equally bound not to put himself in such antagonism as to prevent him from
aiding the administration, should his aid be sought, against those who
were determined to destroy the laws of the land. In the then impending
presidental canvass he took the ground that President Jackson was in
hostility to the idea of protection, and that therefore he could not be
safely trusted with the executive power. But President Jackson, whatever
had been his record on the question of the tariff, showed that he had no
desire to shirk his duty, for he at once issued a proclamation, which
embodied the principles maintained by Mr. Webster in his Reply to Hayne,
and warned the authorities of South Carolina that all opposition to the
laws of the United States would be put down. He thus served notice that
treason was not to win by default of the President. Calhoun had resigned
the vice-presidency and had taken his seat in the Senate, and it was known
that such an act meant the attempt to raise the flag of nullification high
in the Senate-chamber.

Mr. Webster was on his way to Washington when he heard of the prompt and
decisive action of the President. At Philadelphia he met Mr. Clay, who
told him that he had a plan for settling the difficulty by gradually
reducing the tariff, and for levying duties "without regard to protection
or encouragement of any branch of domestic industry." When Mr. Clay
brought in his bill, it was not so strong as the one he had submitted to
Mr. Webster a short time before, but yet Mr. Webster could not think of
taking any step at such a time that would look like concession. The first
thing to be done was to enforce the existing laws and sustain the
administration by suitable legislation. There was to be no surrender of
constitutional power. At the opening of the session the President asked
Congress for the power to use the land and naval forces if necessary to
enforce the laws. The committee to which the message was referred reported
what is known as the "Force Bill," which granted the President the powers
asked for. Some of the senators doubted that the President had such
"daring effrontery" as to ask for such power. Mr. Webster said, "I will
tell you gentlemen that the President _has_ had the 'daring
effrontery' to ask for these powers, no matter how high may be the
offence."

President Jackson had used very strong language against the leaders of
Nullification, and this made many of the (Southern) administration
senators hostile to the measures of the "Force Bill." When it was found
that the President had called for the assistance of Mr. Webster, Mr.
Calhoun became very uneasy, and at once sought for Mr. Clay, who promised
to bring in his bill for reducing the tariff. On the 8th of February, Mr.
Clay introduced the measure and claimed that its purpose was to save the
tariff, which he considered to be in imminent danger. Mr. Webster, as was
expected, opposed the bill and introduced a series of resolutions. On the
two following days he was prevented from addressing the Senate on his
resolutions because of the discussion of the "Force Bill," when Mr.
Calhoun took the opportunity to expound the theory and practice of
Nullification. The speech was in Mr. Calhoun's very best style of close,
logical argument, with but little that made for eloquence. Calhoun was a
master of logical method, and such was his skill in dovetailing together
the elements of his speculations that he was a powerful antagonist. He had
waited until most of the senators in opposition had spoken and then broke
upon them and tore their arguments into shreds. It was an able supplement
to the speech of Hayne and was likely to produce quite as much alarm,
unless its position could be turned. Here were sown the seeds of secession
which grew into that frightful civil war. By establishing the principle of
the Union as but a confederacy of States the right of secession was
assured.

Mr. Webster felt the importance of the occasion; he saw clearly the
direction in which such appeals were sure to lead the people, and he at
once determined to throw himself into the conflict. The doctrines which he
had maintained in the Reply to Hayne had now taken strong hold of the
people of the Central and Western States, and of many of the strongest
public men of both parties; it was from this vantage ground that (on the
16th) he began his great speech known as "The Constitution not a Compact
between Sovereign States."

[1]P. 275, l. 9. 1. Mr. Rives.

[2]P. 326, l. 27. 1. "The vital question went to the great popular jury.
The world knows what the verdict was, and will never forget that it was
largely due to the splendid eloquence of Daniel Webster when he defended
the cause of nationality against the slave-holding separatists of South
Carolina."--HENRY CABOT LODGE.

"Whoever," says Mr. Curtis, "would understand that theory of the
Constitution of the United States which regards it as the enactment of a
fundamental law must go to this speech to find the best and clearest
exposition."

"Then and there," says Dr. Hudson, "it was that real battles of the Union
were fought and won. For the cause had to be tried in the courts of
legislative reason before it could come to trial on field of battle."

This speech is much less rhetorical than the Reply to Hayne. The subject
was not a new one, nor was the condition of the public mind so feverish as
in 1830; consequently the case required not so much an appeal to the
emotions as to the reason. It has always been considered as the most
compact, close, logical, and convincing of all Mr. Webster's speeches. The
people have relied upon it from that day to this to teach them the
principles of the Constitution: in it they find the origin, the history,
and the purpose of our great national fabric. By this speech Webster
placed himself upon the highest pinnacle of fame, and added to his title
of first orator that of the greatest statesman of his time, winning the
proud distinction of "Expounder, Commentator, and Defender of the
Constitution." On the 12th of October, 1835, the citizens of Boston
presented to Mr. Webster a massive silver vase in testimony of their
gratitude for his services in defence of the Constitution against South
Carolina Nullification.

It contained the following inscription:--

            PRESENTED TO
           DANIEL WEBSTER,
   The Defender of the Constitution,
     BY THE CITIZENS OF BOSTON,
           Oct. 12, 1835.

In reply to the address of presentation Mr. Webster said:--

"In one respect, Gentlemen, your present oppresses me. It assigns to me a
character of which I feel I am not worthy. 'The Defender of the
Constitution' is a title quite too high for me. He who shall prove himself
the ablest among the able men of the country, he who shall serve it
longest among those who may serve it long, he on whose labors all the
stars of benignant fortune shall shed their selectest influence, will have
praise enough, and reward enough, if, at the end of his political and
earthly career, though that career may have been as bright as the track of
the sun across the sky, the marble under which he sleeps, and that much
better record, the grateful breasts of his living countrymen, shall
pronounce him 'the Defender of the Constitution.' It is enough for me,
Gentlemen, to be connected, in the most humble manner, with the defence
and maintenance of this great wonder of modern times, and this certain
wonder of all future times. It is enough for me to stand in the ranks, and
only to be counted as one of its defenders."

Cf. Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Ch. XIX.; Lodge's _Webster_, Ch.
VII.; Address of Dr. Hudson on the Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of
Daniel Webster, June 18, 1882.

       *       *       *       *       *

_SPEECH AT SARATOGA_.

August, 1840.

Mr. Webster had been in almost continual public service since 1813, and
during that period the two great questions which demanded the attention of
statesmen were the tariff and the currency. The history of the former is
to be found in the Reply to Hayne and the Reply to Calhoun; the history of
the latter, in that memorable series of speeches during the session of
1831-1833 on the policy of President Jackson regarding the United States
Bank. Out of this great controversy the Whig party arose, and its first
nominee for the presidency was William Henry Harrison in 1835, but the
friends of Jackson were strong, and Van Buren was elected. He continued
the financial policy of his predecessor, or at least made no effort to
remedy the evils which it had brought upon the country. Mr. Webster gave
himself to the task of exposing the financial heresies of the
administration and of preventing further injurious legislation. In the
summer of 1839 he visited England for rest, and was everywhere received
with the honor due to his high position and his distinguished attainments;
he received courtesies usually confined to ambassadors and foreign
ministers. On his return he found that the Whigs had again nominated
Harrison. Although he had reason to expect his own nomination, for this
was the desire of _the people_, he at once threw himself into the
campaign in support of the nominee. The people from all sections of the
country wished to hear and see the man who had done such noble service for
them in Congress. His speeches during this campaign are a fit supplement
to those which he had just completed on the subject of the bank. The theme
was essentially the same, but the audience was in many respects a more
difficult one to reach. In the familiarity with financial questions Mr.
Webster had shown himself second only to Hamilton himself, and in
presenting the subject to a popular audience he reached the high-water
mark of political oratory; there is no cant, no bluster, no personal
abuse, but the dignity and simplicity of the simple and dignified friend
of the people.

On the 19th of August, 1840, he addressed the citizens of New York in a
mass meeting at Saratoga. Of all the great speeches of this campaign this
best represents the mind and art of Mr. Webster, and is especially
interesting in this year (1892) when essentially the same questions--the
tariff and the currency--are before the people, and when the nominee of
the party, which is the child of the old Whig party, is Benjamin Harrison.

[1]P. 331, l. 28. 1. The history of banking in the United States is
interesting as a chapter in the general history of banking. It began with
that great financier, Alexander Hamilton. When Secretary of the Treasury
he conceived the plan of a great national bank, which should take charge
of the disbursement of the revenues, and which should furnish a paper
circulation,--founded on national resources,--which should be current all
over the country. After a prolonged opposition by the Anti-federalists,
who claimed that the establishment of such a bank would be
unconstitutional, he prevailed upon Washington to sign the bill of
incorporation, and in 1791 the bank began its work. It continued its
existence until 1811, when the Anti-federalists refused to recharter it.
Owing to the disordered currency resulting from the War of 1812, Mr.
Madison brought the matter before Congress in his message, and in 1816 the
second Bank of the United States was established.

[2]P. 333, l. 27. 1. Cf. Sumner's _Life of Andrew Jackson_, Chs.
XIII., XIV.

[3]P. 334, l. 20. 1. In the session of 1831-1832 the bank applied for a
new charter, and here began the great struggle with President Jackson. The
bill to recharter the bank passed both Houses in 1832, and was vetoed by
the President. Mr. Webster made a notable speech against the veto, and at
once took the lead as an authority on questions of finance. The following
year the President struck his hardest blow against the bank, by ordering
the removal of the deposits. The Senate passed resolutions condemning the
act, and Mr. Webster, on presenting resolutions to the same effect from
Boston, made a most powerful speech in which he depicted the great
commercial distress resulting from the removal and from the institution of
State banks. Between the time of this speech and the close of the session
he spoke on the subject of the bank and national finance over sixty times.
No other such exhibition of intellectual power and grasp of intricate
problems, united with commanding eloquence, has ever been made in our
history. As a result of the censure by the Senate, the President sent a
protest in which he argued that the Senate had exceeded its power. Mr.
Webster replied to this in what is now considered the greatest of all his
speeches during the great struggle.

[4]P. 335, l. 26. 1. After the removal of the deposits, effected by
Jackson, State banks were formed in large numbers, and certain of these
became deposit banks. The notes of State banks were used for the purchase
of public lands from the United States, and the treasury was thus
accumulating paper currency of doubtful value. The Secretary of the
Treasury (1836) issued the so-called "Specie Circular," ordering the
government agents to receive in future only gold and silver. Only those
banks which held government revenue deposits could furnish coin, and
widespread bankruptcy was the result.

[5]P. 337, l. 17. 1. Cf. Gay's _Life of James Madison_.

[6]P. 339, l. 9, 1. Jackson had never questioned the right of the
government to regulate the currency, but had asserted it when he made
certain State banks banks of deposit. Van Buren was obliged either to
return to the policy of a national bank, or to renounce all rights of the
Government to regulate the currency. He chose the latter, and by means of
the "Sub-Treasury Scheme" completed the separation of "bank and State."
The speech of Mr. Webster on the "Sub-Treasury" is the most complete and
convincing of all his speeches on the right of the Government to regulate
the currency.

[7]P. 346, l. 24. 1. Mr. Webster was living at this time at Marshfield,
Massachusetts.

Cf. Curtis's _Life of Webster_, Chs. XIX.-XXIII.; Lodge's
_Webster_, Ch. VII.; _Works of Daniel Webster_, Vols. III., IV.;
_Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster_, Vol. II., p. 83.

        *       *       *       *       *

_MR. JUSTICE STORY_.

September, 1845.

Of the many friends of Webster during his long political career, there was
no one more constant in his attentions, more sympathetic in his judgments,
or more helpful in his counsels than was Mr. Justice Story. Ever since
they had acted together in the Massachusetts Convention in 1820 they had
maintained for each other's character and attainments the most generous
and cordial enthusiasm. The death of Mr. Story on the 10th of September,
1845, was a great affliction to Mr. Webster, and cast a gloom over his
Marshfield home, where they had passed so many delightful hours together.

At a meeting of the Suffolk Bar held in the Circuit Court Room, on the
morning of the 12th of September, the day of the funeral, Chief Justice
Shaw having taken the chair and announced the object of the meeting, Mr.
Webster pronounced the following noble and beautiful eulogium.

The following letter of dedication to the mother of Judge Story
accompanied these remarks in the original edition:--

"BOSTON, September 15, 1845.

"Venerable Madam,--I pray you to allow me to present to you the brief
remarks which I made before the Suffolk Bar, on the 12 instant, at a
meeting occasioned by the sudden and afflicting death of your
distinguished son. I trust, dear Madam, that as you enjoyed through his
whole life constant proofs of his profound respect and ardent filial
affection, so you may yet live long to enjoy the remembrance of his virtue
and his exalted reputation.

"I am with very great regard, your obedient servant,

"DANIEL WEBSTER.

"To Madam Story."

[1]P. 358, l. 28. 1. Cf. _Life and Works of Judge Story_.

[2]P. 362, l. 10. 1. The following inscription, which Mr. Webster wrote
with his own hand a short time before his death, and which he desired to
have placed on his monument, is interesting in connection with these
closing words of the eulogy:--

                  "LORD, I BELIEVE; HELP THOU
                        MINE UNBELIEF."

                         Philosophical
                      argument, especially
                that drawn from the vastness of
             the Universe, in comparison with the
       apparent insignificance of this globe, has some-
     times shaken my reason for the faith which is in me;
  but my heart has always assured and reassured me, that the
     Gospel of Jesus Christ must be a Divine Reality. The
         Sermon on the Mount cannot be a merely human
            production. This belief enters into the
                   very depth of my conscience.
                     The whole history of man
                             proves it.

                                                        DANIEL WEBSTER.

When he wrote the above, he said to a friend: "If I get well and write a
book on Christianity, about which we have talked, we can attend more fully
to this matter; but if I should be taken away suddenly, I do not wish to
leave any duty of this kind unperformed. I want to leave somewhere a
declaration of my belief in Christianity."

It was not Mr. Webster's custom to make a parade of his religious beliefs;
he was simple, sincere, and unaffected in his religious life. That he was
a lover and student of our English Bible, no one familiar with his thought
and style needs to be told. Mr. Choate, in speaking of Webster's models in
the matter of style, mentions Cicero, Virgil, our English Bible,
Shakespeare, Addison, and Burke.

For the latest estimates of Webster's work the student should consult the
following:

The Proceedings of the Webster Centennial, Dartmouth College (1902).

Address of Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge at the unveiling of the Webster Memorial
in Washington, in the volume _The Fighting Frigate_ and other essays.

John B. McMaster's Life of Daniel Webster.





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