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This, of itself, was a conclusive objection with me; I said so then, have often said so since, and say so now. I said, then, that I, for one, should not be bound by that law more than by any other law, ex. cept that, as it was a law passed on a very important and agitating subject, I should not be disposed to interfere with it, until a case of clear necessity should arise. On this principle I have acted since. When that case of necessity shall arise, however, should I be in public life, I shall concur in any alteration of that act, which such necessity may require. That such an occasion may come, I more than fear. I entertain something stronger than a doubt upon the possibility of maintaining the manufactures and industry of this country, upon such a system as the compromise act will leave us, when it shall have gone through its processes of reduction. All this, however, I leave to the future.
Having had occasion, Mr. President, to speak of Nullification and the Nullifiers, I beg leave to say, that I have not done so for any purpose of reproach. Certainly, sir, I see no possible connexion, myself, between their principles or opinions, and the support of this measure. They, however, must speak for themselves. They may have intrusted the bearing of their standard, for aught I know, to the hands of the honorable member from South Carolina ; and I perceived last session, what I perceive now, that in his opinion there is a connexion between these projects of Government and the doctrines of Nullification. I can only say, sir, that it will be marvellous to me if that banner, though it be said to be tattered and torn, shall yet be lowered in obeisance, and laid at the footstool of Executive power. To the sustaining of that power, the passage of this bill is of the utmost importance. The Administration will regard its success as being to them, what Cromwell said the battle of Worcester was to him—“a crowning mercy.” Whether gentlemen, who have distinguished themselves so much by their extreme jealousy of this Government, shall now find it consistent with their principles to give their aid in accomplishing this consummation, remains to be seen.
The next exposition of the honorable gentleman's sentiments and opinions, is his letter of November 3d.
This letter, sir, is a curiosity. As a paper, describing political movements, and exhibiting political opinions, it is without a parallel. Its phrase is altogether military. It reads like a despatch, or a bulletin from headquarters. It is full of attacks, assaults, and repulses. It recounts movements and counter-movements; speaks of occupying one position, falling back upon another, and advancing to a third; it has positions to cover enemies, and positions to hold allies in check. Meantime, the celerity of all these operations reminds one of the rapidity of the military actions of the King of Prussia, in the seven years' war. Yesterday he was in the South, giving battle to the Austrian-to-day he is in Saxony, or Silesia ; instantly he is found to have traversed the Electorate, and is facing the Russian and the Swede on
his Northern frontier. If you look for his place on the map, before you find it he has quitted it. He is always marching, flying, falling back, wheeling, attacking, defending, surprising; fighting everywhere, and fighting all the time. In one particular, however, the campaigns, described in this letter, differ from the manner in which those of the great Frederick were conducted. I think we nowhere read, in the narrative of Frederick's achievements, of his taking a position to cover an enemy, or a position to hold an ally in check. These refinements, in the science of tactics and of war, are of more recent discovery.
Mr. President, public men must certainly be allowed to change their opinions, and their associations, whenever they see fit. No one doubts this. Men may have grown wiser, they may have attained to better and more correct views of great public subjects. It would be unfortunate, if there were any code which should oblige men, in public or private life, to adhere to opinions once entertained, in spite of experience and better knowledge, and against their own convictions of their erroneous character. Nevertheless, sir, it must be acknowledged, that what appears to be a sudden, as well as a great change, naturally produces a shock. I confess, for one, I was shocked, when the honorable gentleman, at the last session, espoused this bill of the Administration. And when I first read this letter of November, and, in the short space of a column and a half, ran through such a succession of political movements, all terminating in placing the honorable member in the ranks of our opponents, and entitling him to take his seat, as he has done, among them, if not at their head, I confess I felt still greater surprise. All this seemed a good deal too abrupt. Sudden movements of the affections, whether personal or political, are a little out of nature.
Several years ago, sir, some of the wits of England wrote a mock play, intended to ridicule the unnatural and false feeling, the sentimentality, of a certain German school of literature. In this play, , two strangers are brought together at an inn. While they are warming themselves at the fire, and before their acquaintance is yet five minutes old, one springs up and exclaims to the other, “ A sudden thought strikes me! Let us swear an eternal friendship !"
This affectionate offer was instantly accepted, and the friendship duly sworn, unchangeable and eternal ! Now, sir, how long this eternal friendship lasted, or in what manner it ended, those who wish to know, may learn by referring to the play.
But it seems to me, sir, that the honorable member has carried his political sentimentality a good deal higher than the flight of the German school ; for he appears to have fallen suddenly in love, not with strangers, but with opponents.
Here we all had been, sir, contending against the progress of Executive power, and more particularly, and most strenuously, against the projects and experiments of the Administration, upon the currency. The honorable member stood among us, not only as
iti, the which
an associate, but as a leader. We thought we were making some headway. The people appeared to be coming to our support and our assistance. The country had been roused; every successive election weakening the strength of the adversary, and increasing our
We were in this career of success carried strongly forward by the current of public opinion, and only needed to hear the cheering voice of the honorable member,
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more !" and we should have prostrated, forever, this anti-constitutional, anticommercial, anti-republican, and anti-American policy of the Administration. But, instead of these encouraging and animating accents, behold! in the very crisis of our affairs, on the very eve of victory, the honorable member cries out-to the enemy--not to us, his allies--but to the enemy—“ Holloa! A sudden thought strikes me! I abandon my allies! Now I think of it, they have always been my oppressors! I abandon them, and now let you and me swear an eternal friendship!”
Such a proposition, from such a quarter, sir, was not likely to be long withstood. The other party was a little coy, but, upon the whole, nothing loath. After proper hesitation, and a little decorous blushing, it owned the soft impeachment, admitted an equally-sudden sympathetic impulse on its own side; and, since few words are wanted where hearts are already known, the honorable gentleman takes his place among his new friends, amidst greetings and caresses, and is already. enjoying the sweets of an eternal friendship.
In this letter, Mr. President, the writer says, in substance, that he saw, at the commencement of the last session, that affairs had reached the point, when he and his friends, according to the course they should take, would reap the full harvest of their long and arduous struggle, against the encroachments and abuses of the General Government, or lose the fruits of all their labors.
At that time, he says, State interposition (viz. Nullification) had overthrown the protecting tariff and the American system, and put a stop to Congressional usurpation ; that he had previously been united with the National Republicans ; and that their joint attacks had brought down the power of the Executive; but that, in joining such allies, he was not insensible to the embarrassment of his position; that, with them, victory itself was dangerous; and that therefore he had been waiting for events; that now, (that is to say, in September last, the joint attacks of the allies had brought down Ex
that the Administration had become divested of power and influence, and that it had become clear that the combined attacks of the allied forces would utterly overthrow and demolish it. All this he saw.
But he saw, too, as he says, that in that case the victory would enure, not to him or his cause, but to his allies and their cause. I do not mean to say that he spoke of personal victories, or alluded to personal objects, at all. He spoke of his cause.
He proceeds to say, then, that never was there before, and never,
ecutive power ;
probably, will there be again, so fair an opportunity for himself and his friends to carry out their own principles and policy, and to reap the fruits of their long and arduous struggle. These principles and this policy, sir, be it remembered, he represents, all along, as identified with the principles and policy of nullification. And he makes use of this glorious opportunity, by refusing to join his late allies in any further attack on those in power, rallying anew the old State Rights party to hold in check their old opponents, the National Republican party. This, he says, would enable him to prevent the complete ascendancy of his allies, and to compel the Southern division of the Administration party to occupy the ground of which he proposes to take possession, to wit, the ground of the old State-rights party. They will have, he says, no other alternative.
Mr. President, stripped of its military language, what is the amount of all this, but that, finding the Administration weak, and likely to be overthrown, if the opposition continued with undiminished force, he went over to it, to join it; to act, himself, upon nullification principles ; and to compel the Southern members of the Administration to meet him on those principles ?--in other words, to make a nullification Administration, and to take such part in it as should belong to him and his friends. He confesses, sir, that in thus abandoning his allies, and taking a position to cover those in power, he perceived a shock would be created, which would require some degree of resolution and firmness. In this he was right. A shock, sir, has been created; yet there he is.
This Administration, sir, is represented as succeeding to the last, by an inheritance of principle. It professes to tread in the footsteps of its illustrious predecessor. It adopts, generally, the sentiments, principles, and opinions, of General Jackson-Proclamation and all : and yet, though he be the very prince of Nullifiers, and but lately regarded as the chiefest of sinners, it receives the honorable gentleman with the utmost complacency ; to all appearance the delight is mutual; they find him an able leader, he finds them complying followers. But, sir, in all this movement, he understands himself. He means to go ahead, and to take them along. He is in the engine-car; he controls the locomotive. His hand regulates the steam, to increase or retard speed, at his own discretion. And as to the occupants of the passenger-cars, sir, they are as happy a set of gentlemen as one might desire to see, of a summer's day. They feel that they are in progress; they hope they shall not be run off the track; and when they reach the end of their journey, they desire to be thankful !
The arduous struggle is now all over. Its richest fruits are all reaped ; Nullification embraces the Sub-Treasuries, and oppression and usurpation will be heard of no more.
On the broad surface of the country, sir, there is a spot called “ the Hermitage.” In that residence is an occupant very well known, and not a little remarkable both in person and character. Suppose, sir, the occupant of the Hermitage were now to open that door, enter the
Senate, walk forward, and look over the Chamber to the seats on the other side. Be not frightened, gentlemen, it is but fancy's sketch. Suppose he should thus come in among us, sir, and see into whose hands has fallen the chief support of that Administration, which was, in so great a degree, appointed by himself, and which he fondly re. lied on to maintain the principles of his own. If gentlemen were now to see his steady military step, his erect posture, his compressed lips, his firmly knitted brow, and his eye full of fire, I cannot help thinking, sir, they would all feel somewhat queer. There would be, I imagine, not a little awkward moving, and shifting in their seats. They would expect soon to hear the roar of the lion, even if they did not feel his paw.
I proceed, sir, to the speech of the honorable member, delivered on the 15th of February last, in which he announces propositions, respecting the constitutional power of Congress, which, if they can be maintained, must necessarily give a new direction to our legislation, and would go far towards showing the necessity of the present bill.
The honorable member, sir, insists that Congress has no right to make general deposites of the public revenue in banks; and he denies, too, that it can authorize the reception of any thing but gold and silver in the payment of debts and dues to the Government.
These questions, sir, are questions of magnitude, certainly, and since they have been raised, ought to be answered. They may be considered together. Allow me in the first place, however, to clear them from some extraneous matter. The honorable member puts the first question thus: Have we the right to make deposites in the banks, in order to bestow confidence in them, with a view to enable them to resume specie payments ? And, by way of illustration, asks the further question, Whether Government could constitutionally bestow on individuals, or a private association, the same advantages, in order to enable them to pay their debts? But this I take not to be the ques. tion. The true inquiry is, May not Congress authorize the public rev. enue, in the intervening time between its receipt and its expenditure, to be deposited in banks, for the general purpose of safe-keeping, in the same way as individuals deposite their own money? And if this inode of safe-keeping be attended with incidental advantages, of considerable importance to the community, is not that a reason which may properly govern the discretion of Congress in the case ? To benefit the banks, or to benefit the community, is, in this case, not the main object; it is only the incident; and as to the case put for illustration, it would not be expected of Congress, certainly, to make deposites with individuals with a view, principally, of enabling such individuals to pay their debts: it might, nevertheless, be very competent to Congress, in some cases, and a very proper exercise of its power, to deposite money, even with individuals, in sich manner as that it might be advantageous to the depositary. This incidental or consequential advantage results, often, from the nature of the transaction, and is inseparable from it. It may always be