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des Mother ted here with an
er 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 seed 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 ship-building; 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 coëval with the Constitution itself, thus full and explicit, can be explained away, no man can doubt of the meaning of that instrument.
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 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, which 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 but 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 unweicome, 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 elsewbere, in attempting to maintain the cause. I am tied to it by indissoluble bands 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.