Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Have we one common language, and are we united under one head? In this also there was a strong resemblance. But by their divisions, they became at first victims to the ambition of Philip, and were at length swallowed up in the Roman empire. Are we to form an exception to the general principles of human nature, and to all the examples of history? And are the maxims of experience to become false when applied to our fate?

Some, indeed, flatter themselves, that our destiny will be like that of Rome. Such indeed it might be, if we had the same wise, but vile aristocracy, under whose guidance they became the masters of the world. But we have not that strong aristocratic arm, which can seize a wretched citizen, scourged almost to death by a remorseless creditor, turn him into the ranks, and bid him, as a soldier, bear our eagle in triumph round the globe! I hope to God we shall never have such an abominable institution. But what, I ask, will be the situation of these states, (organized as they now are,) if, by the dissolution of our national compact, they be left to themselves ? What is the probable result? We shall either be the victims of foreign intrigue, and split into factions, fall under the domination of a foreign power, or else, after the misery and torment of civil war, become the subjects of an usurping military despot. What but this compact, what but this specific part of it, can save us from ruin? The judicial power, that fortress of the constitution, is now to be overturned. Yes, with honest Ajax, I would not only throw a shield before it, I would build around it a wall of brass. But I am too weak to defend the rampart against the host of assailants. I must call to my assistance their good sense, their patriotism and their virtue. Do not, gentlemen, suffer the rage

of passion to drive reason from her seat. If this law be indeed bad, let us join to remedy the defects. Has it been passed in a manner which wounded your pride, or roused your resentment? Have, I conjure you, the

magnanimity to pardon that offence. I entreat, I implore you, to sacrifice those angry passions to the interests of our country. Pour out this pride of opinion on the altar of patriotism. Let it be an expiatory libation for the weal of America. Do not, for God's sake, do not suffer that pride to plunge us all into the abyss of ruin. Indeed, indeed, it will be but of little, very little avail, whether one opinion or the other be right or wrong; it will heal no wounds, it will pay no debts, it will rebuild no ravaged towns. Do not rely! on that popular will, which has brought us frail beings into political existence. That opinion is but a changeable thing. It will soon change. This very measure will change it. You will be deceived. Do not, I beseech you, in reliance on a foundation so frail

, commit the dignity, the harmony, the existence of our nation to the wild wind. Trust not your treasure to the waves. Throw not your compass and your charts into the ocean. Do not believe that its billows will waft you into port. Indeed, indeed, you will be deceived. Cast not away this only anchor of our safety. I have seen its progress. I know the difficulties through which it was obtained : I stand in the presence of Almighty God, and of the world; and I declare to you, that if you lose this charter, never! no, never will you get another! We are now, perhaps, arrived at the parting point. Here, even here, we stand on the brink of fate. Pause-Pause-For Heaven's sake, Pause!!

VOL. II.

SPEECH OF WILLIAM B. GILES,

ON

THE JUDICIARY BILL,

DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED

STATES, FEBRUARY 18, 1802.

The bill proposed, that “ the act of Congress, passed on the 13th of

February, 1801, entitled an act to provide for the more convenient organization of the courts of the United States," and also, an act passed on the 3d of March, 1801, for altering the times and places of holding certain courts therein mentioned, and for other purposes,” should be repealed. It also provided, that all the acts in force before the passage of the aforesaid acts, and which, by the same, were either amended, explained, altered or repealed, should be revised. The bill contained further provision for the disposition of the actions, writs, &c. then pending in any of the courts of the United States, which

were established by the aforesaid act of Congress of 1801. In committee of the whole, Mr. Giles spoke as follows:

MR. CHAIRMAN, I FEEL some degree of apprehension, that in the course I deem it necessary to take in the discussion of this question, some observations may fall from me which may not be in strict harmony with the feelings of some gentlemen of the committee. I shall regret, however, if a compliance with a sense of duty shall duce this effect. “I wish, therefore, to apprise gentlemen, that I intend to direct my observations, as much as possible, to the effects and tendencies of ineasures ; and that when I am constrained to speak of the views of gentlemen, it will be with respect to what I conceive to be their opinions in relation to the general interests, and not to private gratifications. It is natural that

pro

men should differ in the choice of means to produce a given end, and more natural that they should differ in the choice of political means than any other; because the subject presents more complicated and variable objects, out of which to make a choice. Accordingly, a great portion of the human mind has been at all times directed towards monarchy, as the best form of government to enforce obedience and ensure the general happiness; whereas, another portion of the human mind has given a preference to the republican form, as best calculated to produce the same end: and there is no reason for applying improper motives to individuals who give a preference to either of the principles, provided in doing so they follow the honest dictates of their own judgments. It must be obvious to the most common observer, that from the commencement of the government of the United States, and perhaps before it, a difference of opinion existed among the citizens, having more or less reference to these two extreme fundamental points, and that it manifested itself in the modification or administration of the government as soon as it was put in operation. On one side it was contended, that in the organization of the constitution, a due apportionment of authority had not been made among the several departments; that the legislature was too powerful for the executive department; and to create and preserve a proper equipoise, it was necessary to infuse into the executive department, by legislation, all artificial powers compatible with the constitution, upon which the most diffusive construction was given; or, in other words, to place in executive hands all the patronage it was possible to create, for the purpose of protecting the President against the full force of his constitutional responsibility to the people. On the other side, it was contended, that the doctrine of patronage was repugnant to the opinions and feelings of the people; that it was unnecessary, expensive and oppressive, and that the highest energy the government could possess, would flow from the confidence of the mass of the people, founded upon their own sense of their common interests. Hence, what is called party in the United States, grew up from a division of opinion respecting these two great characteristic principles-patronage, or the creation of partial interest for the protection and support of government, on the one side; on the other side, to effect the same end, a fair responsibility of all representatives to the people; an adherence to the general interests, and a reliance on the confidence of the people at large, resulting from a sense of their common interests. A variety of circumstances existed in the United States, at the commencement of the government, and a great number of favorable incidents continued afterwards to arise, which gave the patronage system the preponderancy, during the first three presidential terms of election; notwithstanding it was evident, that the system was adopted and pursued in direct hostility to the feelings and opinions of a great portion of the American people. The government was ushered into operation under a vast excitement of federal fervor, flowing from its recent triumph on the question of adopting the constitution. At that time, a considerable debt was afloat in the United States, which had grown out of the revolutionary war. This debt was of two kinds: the debt proper of the United States, or engagements made by the United States, in their federal capacity; the other, the state debts, or engagements entered into by the respective states for the support of the common cause.

The favorers of the patronage system readily availed themselves of these materials for erecting a monied interest; gave to it a stability, or qualified perpetuity, and calculated upon its certain support in all their measures of irresponsibility. This was done not only by funding the debt proper of the United States, but by assuming the payment of the state debts, and funding them also; and it is believed, extending the assumption beyond the actual engagements of the states.

« PředchozíPokračovat »