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Pittsburgh, July 5th, 1833. GENTLEMEN: I hardly know how to express my thanks for the hospitable and cordial welcome with which the citizens of Pittsburgh are disposed to receive me on this my first visit to their city. The terms in which you express their sentiments, in your letter of yesterday, far transcend all merits of mine, and can have their origin only in spontaneous kindness and good feeling. I tender to you, Gentlemen, and to the meeting which you represent, my warmest acknowledgments. I rejoice sincerely to find the health of the city so satisfactory; and I reciprocate with all the people of Pittsburgh the most sincere and hearty good wishes for their prosperity and happiness. Long may it continue what it now is—an abode of comfort and hospitality, a refuge for the well-deserving from all nations, a model of industry, and an honor to the country.
It is my purpose, Gentlemen, to stay a day or two among you, to see such of your manufactories and public institutions, as it may be in my power to visit. I most respectfully pray leave to decline a public dinner, but shall have great pleasure in meeting such of your fellow-citizens as may desire it, in the most friendly and unceremonious manner. I am, Gentlemen, with very true regard, yours,
DANIEL WEBSTER. To Hon. JAMES ROSS and others,
Gentlemen of the Committee.
In deference to Mr. Webster's wishes, the idea of a formal dinner was abandoned; but, as there was a general desire for some collective expression of public esteem, it was decided to invite him to meet the citizens at a spacious grove, at 4 o'clock, on the afternoon of the eighth. Refreshments of a plain kind were spread around, under the charge of the committee; but the tables could serve only as a nucleus to the multitude. His honor, the Mayor, called the company to order, and addressed them as follows:
I HAVE to ask, Gentlemen, your attention for a few moments.
We are met here to mark our sense of the extraordinary merits of a distinguished statesman and public benefactor. At his particular request, every thing like parade or ceremonial has been waived; and, in consequence, he has been the better enabled to receive, and to reciprocate, the hearty and spontaneous expression of your good will. I am now desired to attempt, in your name, to give utterance to the universal feeling around me.
Gentlemen, we are this day citizens of the United States. The Union is safe. Not a star has fallen from that proud banner around which our affections have so long rallied. And when, with this delightful assurance, we cast our eyes back upon the eventful history of the last year,—when we recall the gloomy apprehensions, and perhaps hopeless despondency, which came over us, who, Gentlemen, can learn, without a glow of enthusiasm, that the great champion of the Constitution—that DANIEL Webster-is now in the midst of us. To his mighty intellect, the nation, with one voice, confided its cause-of life or death. Shall there be withheld from the triumphant advocate of the nation a nation's gratitude ?
Ours, Gentlemen, is a government not of force, but of opinion. The reason of the people must be satisfied before a call to arms. The mass of our peaceful and conscientious citizens cannot, and ought not except in a clear case,-to be urged to abandon the implements of industry for the sword and the bayonet. This consideration it is that imparts to intellectual preëminence in the service of truth, its incalculable value. And hence the preciousness of that admirable and unanswerable exposition, which has put down, once and forever, the artful sophisms of nullification.
If, Gentlemen, we turn to other portions of the public history of our distinguished guest, it will be found, that his claims to grateful acknowledgment are not less imposing. The cause of Domestic Industry, of Internal Improvement, of Education, of whatever, in short, is calculated to render us a prosperous, united, and happy people, has found in him a watchful and efficient advocate. Nor is it the least of his merits, that, to our gallant Navy, Mr. Webster has been an early, far-sighted, and persevering friend. Our interior position cannot render us cold and unobservant on this point, whilst the victory of Perry yet supplies to us a proud and inspiring anniversary. And such is the wonderful chain of mutual dependence which binds our Union, that, in the remotest corner of the West, the exchangeable value of every product must depend on the security with which the ocean can be traversed.
Gentlemen, I have detained you too long; yet I will add one word. I do but echo the language of the throngs that have crowded round Mr. Webster, in declaring, that the frank and manly simplicity of his character and manners has created a feeling of personal regard which no mere intellectual ascendancy could have secured. We approached him with admiration for the achievements of his public career-never supposing, for a moment, that our hearts could have aught to do in the matter; we shall part as from a valued friend, the recollections of whose virtues cannot pass away.
MR. MAYOR AND GENTLEMEN : I rise, Fellow-citizens, with unaffected sensibility, to give you my thanks for the hospitable manner in which you have been kind enough to receive me, on this my first visit to Pittsburgh, and to make all due acknowledgments to your worthy Mayor, for the sentiments which he has now seen fit to express.
Although, Gentlemen, it has been my fortune to be personally acquainted with very few of you, I feel, at this moment, that we are not strangers. We are fellow-countrymen, fellow-citizens, bound together by a thousand ties of interest, of sympathy, of duty; united, I hope I may add, by bonds of mutual regard. We are bound together, for good or for evil, in our great political interests. I know that I am addressing Americans, every one of whom has a true American heart in his bosom; and I feel that I have also an American heart in my bosom. I address you, then, Gentlemen, with the same fervent good wishes for your happiness, the same brotherly affection, and the same tokens of regard and esteem, as if, instead of being upon the borders of the Ohio, I stood by the Connecticut or the Merrimac. As citizens, countrymen, and neighbors, I give you my hearty good wishes, and thank you, over and over again, for your abundant hospitality.
Gentlemen, the Mayor has been pleased to advert, in terms beyond all expectation or merit of my own, to my services in defence of the glorious Constitution under which we live, and which makes you and me all that we are, and all that we desire to be. He has done much more than justice to my efforts ; but he has not overstated the importance of that occasion in which those efforts were made.
Gentlemen, it is but a few short months since dark and portentous clouds did hang over our heavens, and did shut out, as it were, the sun in his glory. A new and perilous crisis was upon us. Dangers, novel in their character, and fearful in their aspect, menaced both the peace of the country and the integrity of the Constitution. For forty years our Government had gone on, I need hardly say how prosperously and gloriously, meeting, it is true, with occasional dissatisfaction, and, in one or two instances, with ill-concerted resistance to law. Through all these trials it had successfully passed. But now a time had come when the authority of law was opposed by authority of law,—when the power of the General Government was resisted by the arms of State Government, and when organized military force, under all the sanctions of State Conventions, and State laws, was ready to resist the collection of the public revenues, and hurl defiance at the statutes of Congress.
Gentlemen, this was an alarming moment. In common with all good citizens, I felt it to be such. A general anxiety pervaded the breasts of all, who were at home, partaking in the prosperity, honor and happiness which the country had enjoyed. And how was it abroad? Why, Gentlemen, every intelligent friend of human liberty, throughout the world, looked, with amazement, at the spectacle which we exhibited. In a day of unparalleled prosperity, after a half century's most happy experience of the blessings of our Union,—when we had already become the wonder of all the liberal part of the world, and the envy of the illiberal,---when the Constitution had so amply falsified the predictions of its enemies, and more than fulfilled all the hopes of its friends,-in a time of peace, with an overflowing treasury,—when both the population and the improvement of the country had outrun the most sanguine anticipations ;-it was at this moment, that we showed ourselves to the whole civilized world, as being, apparently, on the eve of disunion and anarchy,—at the very point of dissolving, once and forever, that Union which had made us so prosperous and so great. It was at that moment that those
appeared among us who seemed ready to break up the National Constitution, and to scatter the twenty-four States into twenty-four unconnected communities.
Gentlemen, the President of the United States was, as it seemed to me, at this eventful crisis, true to his duty. He comprehended and understood the case, and met it as it was proper to meet it. While I am as willing as others to admit that the President has, on other occasions, rendered important services to the country, and especially on that occasion which has given him so much military renown, I yet think the ability and decision with which he resisted the disorganizing doctrines of nullification, create a claim, than which he has none higher, to the gratitude of the country, and the respect of posterity. The issuing of the Proclamation of the 10th December inspired me, I confess, with new hopes for the duration of the republic. I regarded it as
just, patriotic, able, and imperiously demanded by the condition of the country. I would not be understood to speak of particular clauses and phrases in the Proclamation; but its great and leading doctrines I regard as the true and only true doctrines of the Constitution. They constitute the sole ground on which dismemberment can be resisted. Nothing else, in my opinion, can hold us together. While these opinions are maintained, the Union will last; when they shall be generally rejected and abandoned, that Union will be at the mercy of a temporary majority in any one of the States.
I speak, Gentlemen, on this subject, without reserve. I have not intended heretofore, and elsewhere, and do not now intend here, to stint my commendation of the conduct of the President, in regard to the Proclamation, and the subsequent measures. I have differed with the President, as all know, who know any thing of so humble an individual as myself, on many questions of great general interest and importance. I differ with him in respect to the Constitutional power of internal improvements; I differ with him in respect to the re-chartering of the Bank, and I dissent, especially, from the grounds and reasons on which he refused his assent to the bill passed by Congress for that purpose; I differ with him, also, probably, in the degree of protection which ought to be afforded to our agriculture and manufactures, and in the manner in which it may be proper to dispose of the public lands. But all these differences afforded, in my judgment, not the slightest reason for opposing him, in a measure of paramount importance, and at a moment of great public exigency. I sought to take counsel of nothing but patriotism, to feel no impulse but that of duty, and to yield not a lame and hesitating, but a vigorous and cordial support to measures which, in my conscience, I believed essential to the preservation of the Constitu
tion. It is true, doubtless, that if myself and others had surrendered ourselves to a spirit of opposition, we might have embarrassed, and, probably, defeated the measures of the Administration. But, in so doing, we should, in my opinion, have been false to our own characters, false to our duty, and false to our country. It gives me the highest satisfaction to know, that, in regard to this subject, the general voice of the country does not disapprove my conduct.
I ought to add, Gentlemen, that, in whatever I may have done, or attempted, in this respect, I only share a common merit. A vast majority of both Houses of Congress cordially concurred in the measures. Your own great State was seen in her just position on that occasion, and your own immediate Representatives were found among the most zealous and efficient friends of the Union.
Gentlemen, I hope that the result of thai experiment may prove salutary, in its consequences, to our Government, and to the interests of the community. I hope that the signal and decisive manifestation of public opinion, which has, for the time at least, put down the despotism of nullification, may produce permanent good effects. I know full well that popular topics may be urged against the Proclamation. I know it may be said, in regard to the laws of the last session, that if such laws are to be maintained, Congress may pass what laws they please, and enforce them. But may it not be said, on the other side, that, if a State may nullify one law, she may nullify any other law also. and, therefore, that the principle strikes at the whole power of Congress ? And when it is said, that, if the power of State interposition be denied, Congress may pass and enforce what laws it pleases, is it meant to be contended or insisted, that the Constitution has placed Congress under the guardianship and control of the State Legislatures ? Those who argue against the power of Congress, from the possibility of its abuse, entirely forget, that, if the power of State interposition be allowed, that power may be abused also; but, what is more material, they forget the will of the people, as they have plainly expressed it in the Constitution ; they forget that the people have chosen to give Congress a power of legislation, independent of State control ; they forget that the Confederation has ceased, and that a Constitution—a Government -has taken its place; they forget that this Government is a popular Government,—that members of Congress are but agents and servants of the people, chosen for short periods, periodically removable by the people, as much subservient, as much dependent, as willingly obedient, as any other of their agents and servants. This dependence on the people is the security that they will not act wrong. This is the security which the people