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the revolution, there came on a period of depression and distress, on the Atlantic coast, such as the people had hardly felt during the sharpest crisis of the war itself. Ship-owners, ship-builders, mechanics, artisans, all were destitute of employment, and some of them destitute of bread. British ships came freely, and British goods came plentifully ; while, to American ships, and American products, there was neither protection on the one side, nor the equivalent of reciprocal free trade on the other. The cheaper labor of England supplied the inhabitants of the Atlantic shores with every thing. Ready-made clothes, among the rest, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, were for sale in every city. All these things came free from any general system of imposts. Some of the States attempted to establish their own partial systems, but they failed. Voluntary association was resorted to, but that failed also. A memorable instance of this mode of attempting protection occurred in Boston. The ship-owners, seeing that British vessels came and went freely, while their own ships were rotting at the wharves, raised a committee to address the people, recommending to them, in the strongest manner, not to buy or use any articles imported in British ships. The chairman of this committee was no less distinguished a character than the immortal John Hancock. The committee performed its duty powerfully and eloquently. It set forth strong and persuasive reasons, why the people should not buy or use British goods, imported in British ships. The ship-owners and merchants having thus proceeded, the mechanics of Boston took up the subject also. They answered the merchants' committee. They agreed with them, cordially, that British goods, imported in British vessels, ought not to be bought, or consumed; but then they took the liberty of going a step farther, and of insisting, that such goods ought not to be bought or consumed at all. (Great applause.) “For," said they, “Mr. Hancock, what difference does it make to us, whether hats, shoes, boots, shirts, handkerchiefs, tin-ware, brass-ware, cutlery, and every other article, come in British ships, or come in your ships ; since, in whatever ships they come, they take away our means of living?"
Gentlemen, it is a historical truth, manifested in a thousand ways by the public proceedings and public meetings of the times, that the necessity of a general and uniform impost system, which, while it should provide revenue to pay the public debt, and foster the commerce of the country, should also encourage and sustain domestic manufactures, was the leading cause in producing the present national Constitution. No class of persons was more zealous for the new Constitution, than the handicraftsmen, artisans, and manufacturers. There were then, it is true, no large manufacturing establishments. There were no manufactories in the in
terior, for there were no inhabitants. Here was Fort Pitt-it had a place on the map-but here were no people, or only a very few. But in the cities and towns on the Atlantic, the full importance, indeed the absolute necessity, of a new form of government, and a general system of imposts, was deeply felt.
It so happened, Gentlemen, that, at that time, much was thought to depend on Massachusetts ; several States had already agreed to the Constitution : if her Convention adopted it, it was likely to go into operation. This gave to the proceedings of that Convention an intense interest, and the country looked, with trembling anxiety, for the result. That result was for a long time doubtful. The Convention was known to be nearly equally divided; and down to the very day and hour of the final vote, no one could predict, with any certainty, which side would preponderate. It was under these circumstances, Gentlemen, and at this crisis, that the tradesmen of the town of Boston, in January, 1788, assembled at the Green Dragon, the place where the whigs of the revolution, in its ancient stages, had been accustomed to assemble. They resolved, that, in their opinion, if the Constitution should be adopted, “trade and navigation would revive and increase, and employ and subsistence afforded to many of their townsmen, then suffering for the want of the necessaries of life;" and that, on the other hand, should it be rejected, “the small remains of commerce yet left would be annihilated; the various trades and handicrafts dependent thereon decay; the poor be increased, and many worthy and skilful mechanics compelled to seek employ and subsistence in strange lands." These resolutions were carried to the Boston delegates in the Convention, and presented to the hand of Samuel Adams. That great and distinguished friend of American liberty, it was feared, might have doubts about the new Constitution. Naturally cautious, and sagacious, it was apprehended he might fear the practicability, or the safety, of a General Government. He received the resolutions from the bands of Paul Revere, a brass-founder by occupation, a man of sense and character, and of high public spirit, whom the mechanics of Boston ought never to forget. “How many mechanics," said Mr. Adams, “were at the Green Dragon when these resolutions were passed ?” “More, sir," was the reply, “than the Green Dragon could hold." “ And where were the rest, Mr. Revere?” “In the streets, sir.” " And how many were in the streets ? ” “ More, sir, than there are stars in the sky." This is an instance, only, among many, to prove, what is indisputably true, that the tradesmen and mechanics of the country did look to the new Constitution for encouragement and protection in their respective occupations. Under these circumstances, it is not to be expected that they will abandon the principle, in its application to their own employments, any more than
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in its application to the commercial and shipping interests. They believe the power is in the Constitution ; and doubtless they mean, so far as depends on them, to keep it there. Desirous of no extravagant measure of protection; desirous of oppressing or burdening nobody, seeking nothing as a substitute for honest industry and hard work; as a part of the American family, having the same interests as other parts,-they will continue their attachment to the Union and the Constitution, and to all the great and leading interests of the country.
Gentlemen, your worthy mayor has alluded to the subject of internal improvements. Having no doubt of the power of the General Government over various objects comprised in that denomination, I confess I have felt great pleasure in forwarding them, to the extent of my ability, by means of reasonable Government aid. It has seemed strange to me, that, in the progress of human knowledge and human virtue (for I have no doubt that both are making progress), the objects of Government should so long have been principally confined to external affairs, and to the enactment of the general laws, without considering how much may be done by Government, which cannot be done without it, for the improvement of the condition of the people. There are many objects, of great value to man, which cannot be attained, by unconnected individuals, but must be attained, if attained at all, by association. For many of them, Government seems the most natural and the most efficient association. Voluntary association has done much, but it cannot do all. To the great honor and advantage of your own State, she has been forward in applying the agency of Government to great objects of internal utility. But even States cannot do every thing. There are some things which belong to all the States; and, if done at all, must be done by all the States. At the conclusion of the late war, it appeared to me that the time had come for the Government to turn its attention inward ; to survey the condition of the country, and particularly the vast Western Country; to take a comprehensive view of the whole; and to adopt a liberal system of internal improvements. There are objects not naturally within the sphere of any one State, which yet seemed of great importance, as calculated to unite the different parts of the country, to open a better and shorter way between the producer and consumer, to be also of the highest advantage to Government itself, in any exigency. It is true, Gentlemen, that the local theatre for such improvement is not mainly in the East. The East is old, pretty fully peopled, and small. The West is new, vast, and thinly peopled. Our rivers can be measured-yours cannot. We are bounded—you are boundless. The West was, therefore, most deeply interested in this system, though, certainly, not alone interested, even in such works as had a western locality. To clear her rivers was to clear them for the commerce of the whole country; to construct harbors, and clear entrances to existing harbors, whether on the Gulf of Mexico or on the lakes, was for the advantage of that whole commerce. And if this were not so, he is but a poor public man, whose patriotism is governed by the cardinal points; who is for or against a proposed measure, according to its indication by compass, or as it may happen to tend farther from, or come nearer to, his own immediate connections. And look at the West-look at these rivers—look at the lakes-look especially at Lake Erie, and see what a moderate expenditure has done for the safety of human life, and the preservation of property, in the navigation of that lake; and done, let me add, in the face of a fixed and ardent opposition.
I rejoice, sincerely, Gentlemen, in the general progress of internal improvement, and in the completion of so many objects near you, and connected with your prosperity. Your own canal and rail-road unite you with the Atlantic. Near you is the Ohio Canal, which does so much credit to a younger state, and with which your city will doubtless one day have a direct connection. On the south and east approaches the Baltimore and Ohio Rail-road, a great and spirited enterprise, which I always thought entitled to the aid of Government, and a branch of which, it may be hoped, will yet reach the head of the Ohio.
I will only add, Gentlemen, that for what I have done, in the cause of internal improvement, I claim no particular merit, having only acted with others, and discharged, conscientiously and fairly, what I regarded as my duty to the whole country.
Gentlemen, the Mayor has spoken of the importance and necessity of education. And can any one doubt, that to man—as a social and an immortal being, as interested in the world that is, and vastly more concerned for that which is to be-education, that is to say, the culture of the mind and the heart, is an object of infinite importance? So far as we can discern the designs of Providence, the formation of the mind and character, by instruction in knowledge, and instruction in righteousness, is a main end of human being. Among the new impulses which society has received, none is more gratifying than the awakened attention to public education. That object begins to exhibit itself to the minds of men, in its just magnitude, and to possess its due share of regard. It is but in a limited degree, and indirectly only, that the powers of the General Government have been exercised in the promotion of this object. So far as these powers extend, I have concurred in their exercise with great pleasure. The Western States, from their recency of settlement, from the great proportion of their population which are children, and from other circumstances, which must, in all new countries, more or less, curtail individual means, have appeared to me to have peculiar claims to regard; and in all cases, where I have thought the power clear, I have most heartily concurred in measures designed for their benefit, in this respect. And, amidst all our efforts for education, literary, moral, or religious, be it always remembered, that we leave opinion and conscience free. And Heaven grant, that it may be the glory of the United States, to have established two great truths, of the highest importance to the whole human race ;—first, that an enlightened community is capable of self-government; and, second, that the toleration of all sects does not necessarily produce indifference to religion.
But I have already detained you too long. My Friends, Fellowcitizens, and Countrymen, I take a respectful leave of you. The time I have passed on this side the Alleghany has been a succession of happy days. I have seen much to instruct and much to delight me. I return you, again and again, my unfeigned thanks for the frankness and hospitality with which you have made me welcome; and, wherever I may go, or wherever I may be, I pray you to believe I shall not lose the recollection of your kindness.