Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

stated them, abstractly, as probable results from those laws."]

The gentleman is correct in his statement. I mean to be understood, as stating his observations in that way. It cannot escape observation, however, Mr. President, that this is the practical process now going on in the state, the gentleman has the honor to represent.

It is submitted to the patriotism and good sense of those gentlemen to determine whether mentioning these circumstances, even in that way, may not have some tendency to produce effects, which must be so much deprecated by all; and permit me to hope, sir, by none more than by those gentlemen : and whether, sir, they are not calculated to keep up the delusions in foreign nations, which, I believe in God, to be the principal causes of our present embarrassments. These circumstances were the less to be expected from gentlemen, who, a few years ago, arrogated to themselves the exclusive appellation of lovers of order and good government, whilst their political opponents were denounced as anarchists and disorganizers, and not even possessing virtue and honesty enough to be trusted with the public treasury. This, sir, was an imposing appellation; and as long as its sincerity was confided in, it preserved these gentlemen in the dominion of the United States. It was hardly to have been expected, that these

gentlemen would now be found the first to sound the alarm in favor of anarchy and confusion; nor was it to have been expected, sir, that the eastern states, which were the first to press the constitution upon us, and which have reaped a golden harvest from its operations, should be the first to wish to absolve themselves from its sacred obligation.

But, Mr. President, I believe this government does possess power sufficient to enforce the embargo laws. The real character of our government seems to be entirely misunderstood by foreigners, and not fully appreciated by some of our own citizens. It has all the strength of execution, with the most despotic governments upon earth. It is aided too, by the knowledge of every citizen ; that when its will is pronounced, it is the fair expression of the will of the majority. The checks of this government are exclusively upon its deliberations, not upon its powers of execution. So far from it, that the constitution has expressly provided, that the government should possess all means necessary and proper for executing its specified powers. There is no limitation, whatever, upon the means for executing the general will, when fairly and deliberately pronounced. Nothing could be more absurd than to suppose, that after so many checks had been imposed upon deliberation in pronouncing the public will, after that will was thus pronounced, that any means, whatever, for its execution should be withheld.

Again, sir, the fundamental principle of our government is, that the majority shall govern : the principle is known and respected by every citizen, and

by none more than the people of Massachusetts. They are taught to respect it from the cradle to manhood: first in their town-meetings, then in their legislature, and finally in the general government. They know too well the fatal consequences of resisting it. I have perfect confidence, therefore, in the people of Massachusetts; and if their electioneering leaders and partizans, should unfortunately stimulate some of them into insurrection, I have no doubt but that the militia of that state, when lawfully called on, will obey the call, and do their duty. Such a movement would share the fate of all similar attempts, which have preceded it; and its only consequences would be, that its authors, as they would be the first to merit the fate, so they would become the first victims of it. But, sir, I have but little apprehension from these threats of insurrection and rebellion, for other reasons.

The peculiar interests of the people of Massachusetts, forbid the attempt. A few leaders may, perhaps, postpone their interests to their love of

power. But few, however, could enjoy the power under any new order of things, and the people at large would soon see, that their interests were sacrificed to the indulgence of this infatuated ambition of the few.

Let this subject, Mr. President, be a little further examined in reference to the local interests of the eastern states, as members of this union. Potomac may be considered as the boundary line between the commercial and agricultural states.

When our first difficulties with the belligerents occurred, it respected merely a commercial right. What

the conduct of the merchants, and commercial states upon the subject? You have heard, sir, their memorials read, calling upon the government, in a voice too loud to be suppressed, to protect them in their commercial rights; the call was obeyed. As I think this part of the subject ought to be well understood, I beg the indulgence of the senate to read their own proceedings thereupon.

[Mr. Giles here read the proceedings in the senate upon the memorials mentioned above; from which it appeared, that a resolution passed the senate, requesting the President of the United States, to demand of Great Britain restoration of captured property, and indemnification for the losses of American citizens. He then proceeded.]

At this time, the question involved only a commercial right. What was the conduct of the merchants then? They came forward and pledged their lives and fortunes to support the government in any measures for its protection. The question is now changed. To the original question, is added a question of national sovereignty and independence. What is now the conduct of these same merchants ? They tell you, sir, to tread back your steps, give up the contest and disgrace your country. These merchants too, threaten you with insurrection and rebellion, unless you yield implicit obedience to their mandates.

Again, sir, I have little apprehension from these threats, for the following reasons : first, many of the individuals, engaged in these excitements, I am told, are gentlemen of property and families. They are, therefore, now in the enjoyment of every political and domestic blessing; their infatuated passions to the contrary notwithstanding. I think persons of this description will pause, before they hazard all these blessings; and a moment's impartial reflection, will be sufficient to check their career. In the next place, there are many local advantages accruing to the people of the eastern states from the operation of the general government. They consist, principally, of the following, although there are others: first, the protection, afforded to their carrying trade, by discriminating duties, both on tonnage and merchandize: second, protection and facility afforded to the coasting trade: third, protection to their fisheries by duties on foreign fish: fourth, affording a good market for their surplus manufactures and other articles : fifth, payment of the public debt at par, which was bought up at very low rates : sixth, as a result from all these advantages, the protection of their population on the sea-board, by lessening the inducements to emigration.

Permit me, sir, to remind the gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Lloyd, that these advantages are not to be trifled with.

But, sir, I have heard it intimated, that these advantages could be compensated by a connexion with Great Britain. Indulge me, sir, with an examination of this idea. A connexion between New England and Old England, could only be for the benefit of the latter. They are essentially rivals in every occupation: first, in navigation; second, in exports. The exports of New England are principally fish and beef. It would be a great object with Old England, utterly to destroy the New England fish market; and the Irish beef would come into an advantageous competition with the export of that article.

These are permanent points of competition, unalterably fixed in the nature of things; they cannot be altered, nor destroyed by any sudden ebullition of

passion, nor by any connexion resulting therefrom.

Again, sir, what would be the effect of such a connexion, upon the rest of the United States. In that case, the discriminating duties, now in favor of the New England states, would be turned against them, and would probably be given to the middle states; and thus New England would be effectually excluded from carrying the bulky and heavy productions of the southern states. Discrimination might even be made in favor of British ships. It is a matter of no consequence to the agriculturist, whether his produce is carried to market in a New England or Old England ship. The only interest, he has in the transaction, is the price of his produce; and that could always be driven to its highest point by the competition of British tonnage and British capital alone, without taking into the estimate the tonnage and capital of the middle states. The people of the southern states are perfectly sensible of the local advantages their eastern brethren enjoy from the operation of the general government. But they envy them not; they rejoice in their prosperity; and the southern people are pleased with the recollection, that they contribute to this prosperity ; they find, in return, their compensation in the general safety and protection. I do not mean safety and protection against any internal movements; upon that point I would agree with our eastern brethren upon a reciprocal absolution from all obligation; I mean safety and protection against foreign aggression. Under this plain and obvious view of this part of the subject, Mr. President, I should be disposed to think, that our eastern brethren would be the last to desire to absolve themselves from the sacred obligations of the constitution.

In the southern states, we feel no resentments nor jealousies against our eastern friends. There are no

« PředchozíPokračovat »