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DELIVERED ATA MEETING OF CITIZENs of Boston, HELD IN FAN. EUIL HALL, ON THE EVENING OF APRIL 3d, 1825, PREPARATORY TO THE GENERAL ELECTION IN MASSACHUSETTS.
MR.Webster said, he was quite unaccustomed to appear in that place; having, on no occasion, addressed his fellow citizens there, either to recommend or to oppose the support of any candidates for public office. He had long been of opinion, that to preserve the distinction, and the hostility, of political parties, was not consistent with the highest degree of public good. At the same time he did not find fault with the conduct, nor question the motives, of those who thought otherwise. But, entertaining this opinion, he had abstained from attending on those occasions, in which the merits of public men, and of candidates for office, were discussed, necessarily, with more or less reference to party attachment, and party organiZation. The present was a different occasion. The sentiment which had called this meeting together, was a sentiment of union and conciliation; a sentiment so congenial to his own feelings, and to his opinion of the public interest, that he could not resist the inclination to be present, and to express his entire and hearty approbation. He should forbear, Mr. W.-said, from all remarks upon the particular names, which had been recommended by the committee. They had been selected, he must presume, fairly; and with due consideration, by those who were appointed for that purpose. In cases of this sort every one cannot expect to find everything precisely as he might wish it; but those who concurred in the general sentiment would naturally allow that sentiment to prevail, as far as possible, over particular objections. On the general question he would make a few remarks, begging the indulgence of the meeting, if he should say anything which might with more propriety, proceed from others. He hardly conceived how well disposed and intelligent, minds could differ, as to the question, whether party contest, and party strife, organized, systematic, and continued, were of themselves desirable ingredients in the composition of society.—Difference of opinion, on political subjects, honorable competition, and emulous
in relation to the gentlemen holding the highest appointment in the Executive Department, under, the President, he would tuke this opportunity to say, that having been a member of the House of Representatives For six years, during the far greater part of which time Mr. Clav had presided in that House, he was most happy in bemg able, in a manner less formal than by concurring in the usual vote of thanks, to express his own opinion of his liberality, independence, and honorable feeling. And he would take this occasion also to add, if his opinion could be of any value in such n case, that he thought nothing more unfounded than that that gentleman owed his present situation to any unworthy compromise or arrangement whatever. He owrd it to his talent, to his prominent standing in the community, to his course of public service, not now a short one, and to the high estimation in which he stands with that part of the country to which he belongs.
Remarks, Mr. Webster proceeded to say, had been made from the Chair, very kind and partial, as to the mauner in which he had discharged the duties which he owed to his constituents, in the House of Representatives. He wished to say, that if he had been able to render any, the humblest services, either to the public or his constituents, in that place, it was owing wholly to the liberal manner in which his efforts there had been received.
Haviu" alluded to the Inaugural Address, he did not mean in the slightest degree to detract from its merits, when he now said, that in his opinion, if either of the other candidates had succeeded in the election, he also would have adopted a liberal course of policy. Ho had no reason to believe that the sentiments of either of those gentlemen were, in this respect, narrow or contracted. He fully believed the contrary, in regard to both of them; but if they had been otherwise, he thought still, that expediency or necessity, would have controlled their inclinations.
I forbear, sHid Mr. W., from pursuing these remarks farther. I repeat, that I do not complain of those who have hitherto thought, or who still think, that.party organization is necessary to the public good. I do not question their motives; and I wish to be tolerant eren to those who think that toleration ought not to be indulged.
It m said, sir, that prosperity sometimes hardens the heart. Perhaps, also, it may sometimes have a contrary effect, and elevate and liberalize the feelings. If this can ever be the result of such a cause, there is certainly in the present condition of the country enough to inspire the most grateful and the kindest feelings. We bare a common stock both.of happiness and of distinction, of which we are all entitled as citizens of the country to partake. We may all rejoice in the general prosperity, in the peace and security which we enjoy, and in the brilliant success which has thus far attended our republican institutions. These are circumstances which may well excite in us all a noble pride. Our civil and political institutions, while they answer for us all the great ends designed by them, furnish at the same time an example to others, and diffuse blessings beyond our own limits.—In whatever part of the globe men are found contending for political liberty, they look to the United States
with a feeling of brotherhood, and put forth a claim of kindred. The South American States, especially, exhibit a most interesting spectacle. Let the great men who formed our constitutions of government, who still survive, and let the children of those who have gone to their graves console themselves with the reflection, that whether they have risen or fallen in the little contests of party, they have not only established the liberty and happiness of their own native land, but have conferred blessings beyond their own country, and beyond their own thoughts, on millions of men, and on successions of generations. Under the influence of these institutions, received and adopted in principle, from our example, the whole southern continent has shaken off its colonial subjection.—A new world, filled with fresh and interesting nations, has risen to our sight. America seems again discovered; not to geography, but to commerce, to social intercourse, to intelligence, to civilisation, and to liberty. Fifty years ago, some of those who now hear me, and the fathers of many others; listened in this place, to those mighty masters, Otis and Adams. When they then uttered the spirit stirring sounds of Independence and Liberty, there was not a foot of land on the continent inhabited by civilized man, that did not acknowledge the dominion of European power. Thank God, at this moment, from us to the south pole, and from sea to sea, there is hardly a foot that does.
And, sir, when these States, thus newly disenthralled and emancipated, assume the tone, and bear the port of independence, what language, and what ideas do we find associated, with their new acquired liberty? They speak, sir, of Constitutions', of Declarations of Rights, of the Liberty of the Press, of a Congress, and of Representative Government. Where, sir, did they learn these? And when they have applied, to their great leader, and the founder of their States, the language of praise and commendation, till they have exhausted it—when unsatisfied gratitude can express itself no otherwise, do they not call him their Washington? Sir, the Spirit of Continental Independence, the Genius of American Libertv, which in earlier times tried her infant voice in the halls and on the hills of New England, utters it now, with power that seems to wake the dead, on the plains of Mexico, and along the sides of the Andes.
"Her path, where'er the Goddess roves,
There is one other point of view, sir, in regard to which I will say a few words, though perhaps at some hazard of misinterpretation.
In the wonderful spirit of improvement and enterprise which animates the country, we may be assured that each quarter will naturally exert its power in favor of objects in which it is interested. This is natural and unavoidable. Each portion, therefore, will use its best means. If the West feels a strong interest in clearing the navigation of its mighty streams, and opening roads through its vast forests; if the South is equally zealous to push the production and augment the prices of its- great staples, it is reasonable to expect, that these objects will be pursued by the best means which offer. And it may therefore well deserve consideration, whether the commercial, and navigating, and manufacturing interests of the North do not call on us to aid and support them, by united counsels, and united efforts. But I abstain from enlarging on this topic. Let me rather say, sir, that in regard to the whole country, a new era has arisen. In a time of peace, the proper pursuits of peace engage society with a degree of enterprise, and an intenseness of application, heretofore unknown. New objects are opening, and new resources developed, on everv side. We tread on a broader theatre; and if instead of acting our parts, according to the novelty and importance of the scene, we waste our strength in mutual crimination and recrimination about the past, we shall resemble those navigators, who having escaped from some crooked and narrow river to the sea, now that the whole ocean is before them, should, nevertheless, occupy themselves wiith the differences which happened as they passed along among the rocks and the shallows, instead of opening their eyes to the wide horizon ai^nd them, spreading their sail to the propitious gale that woos it, raising their quadrant to the sun, and grasping the helm, with the conscious hand of a master.