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both foreseen, and seen, the regular progress of things under it, from inconvenience and embarrassment, to pressure, loss of confidence, disorder, and bankruptcies.
Gentlemen, I mean, on this occasion, to speak my sentiments freely, on the great topics of the day. I have nothing to conceal, and shall therefore conceal nothing. In regard to political sentiments, purposes, or objects, there is nothing in my heart, which I am ashamed of; I shall throw it all open, therefore, to you, and to all men. [That is right, said some one in the crowd — let us have it—with no non-committal.] Yes, my friend (continued Mr. W.) without non-committal or evasion, without barren generalities or empty phrase, without if, or but, without a single touch, in all I say, bearing the oracular character of an Inaugural, 1 shall, on this occasion, speak my mind plainly, freely, and independently, to men who are just as free to concur, or not to concur, in my sentiments, as I am to utter them. I think you are entitled to hear my opinions freely and frankly spoken; but I freely acknowledge that you are still more clearly entitled to retain, and maintain, your own opinions, however they may differ, or agree with mine.
It is true, Gentlemen, that I have contemplated the relinquishment of my seat in the Senate, for the residue of the term, now two years, for which I was chosen. This resolution was not taken from disgust, or discouragement, although some things have certainly happened which might excite both those feelings. But in popular Governments, men must not suffer themselves to be permanently disgusted, by occasional exhibitions of political hariequinism, or deeply discouraged, although their efforts to awaken the people to what they deem the dangerous tendency of public measures, be not crowned with immediate success. It was altogether from other causes, and other considerations, that after an uninterrupted service of fourteen or fifteen years, I naturally desired a respite. But those, whose opinions 1 am bound to respect, saw objections to a present withdrawal from Congress; and I have yielded my own strong desire to their convictions of what the public good requires.
Gentlemen, in speaking here on the subjects which now so much interest the Community, 1 wish, in the outset, to disclaim all personal disrespect towards individuals. He whose character and fortune have exercised such a derisive influence on our politics for eight years, has now retired from public station. I pursue him with no personal reflections, no reproaches. Between him and myself, there has always existed a respectful personal intercourse. Moments have existed, indeed, critical, and decisive upon the general success of his Administration, in which he has been pleased to regard my aid, as not altogether unimportant. I now speak of him, respectfully, as a distinguished soldier, as one, who, in that character, has done the State much service; as a man, too, of strong and decided character, of unsubdued resolution and perseverance, in whatever he undertakes. In speaking of his civil administration, I speak without censoriousness, or harsh imputation of motives; I wish him health and happiness in his retirement; but I must still speak as I think, of his public measures, and of their general beariug ano) tendency, not only on the present interests of the country, but also on the well-being and security of the Government itself.
There are, however, some topics of a less urgent present application and importance, upon which I wish to say a few words, before 1 advert to those, which are more immediately connected with the present distressed state of things.
My learned and highly-valued friend, (Mr. Ogden,) who has addressed me in your behalf, has been kindly pleased to speak of my political career, as being marked by a freedom from local interests and prejudices, and a devotion to liberal and comprehensive views of public policy.
I will not say that this compliment is deserved. I will only say, that I have earnestly endeavored to deserve it. Gentlemen, the General Government, to the extent of its power, is national. It is not consolidated, it does not embrace all powers of government. On the contrary, it is delegated, restrained, strictly limited.
But what powers it does possess, it possesses for the general, not for any partial or local good. It extends over a vast territory, embracing now-six and-twenty States, with interests various, but not irreconcilable, infinitely diversified, but capable of being all blended into political harmony.
He, however, who would produce this harmony must survey the whole field, as if all parts were as interesting to himself, as they are to others, and with that generous, patriotic feeling, prompter and better than the mere dictates of cool reason, which leads him to embrace the whole, with affectionate regard, as constituting, altogether, that object which he is so much bound to respect, to defend, and to love,—his Country. We have around us, and more or less within the influence and protection of the General Government, all the great interests of Agriculture, Navigation, Commerce, Manufactures, the Fisheries, and the Mechanic Arts. The duties of the Government, then, certainly extend over all this territory, and embrace all these vast interests. We have a maritime frontier, a sea-coast, of many thousand miles; and while no one doubts that it is the duty of Government to defend this coast, by suitable military preparations, there are those who yet suppose that the powers of Government stop at this point; and that as to works of peace, and works of improvement, they are beyond our Constitutional limits. I have ever thought otherwise. Congress has a right, no doubt, to declare war, and to raise armies and navies; and it has necessarily the right to build fortifications and batteries, to protect the coast from the effects of war. But Congress has authority also, and it is its duty, to regulate Commerce, and it has the whole power of collecting duties on imports and tonnage. It must have ports and harbors, and dock-yards, also, for its navies. Very early in the history of the Government, it was decided by Congress, on the report of a highly-respectable committee, that the transfer by the States to Congress of the power of collecting tonna»e and other duties, and the grant of the authority to regulate Commerce, charged Congress, necessarily, with the duty of maintaining such piers, and wharves, and light-houses, and of making such improvements, as might have been expected to be done by the States, if they had retained the usual means, by retaining the power of collecting duties on imports. The States, it was admitted, had parted with this power; and the duty of protecting and facilitating Commerce by these means, had passed, along with this power, into other hands. 1 have never hesitated, therefore, when the state of the Treasury would admit, to vote for reasonable appropriations, for Break-Waters, Light-Houses, Piers, Harbors, and similar improvements on any part of the whole Atlantic Coast, or the Gulf of Mexico, from Maine to Ix>uisiana.
But how stands the inland frontier? How is it, along the vast Lakes, and the mighty Rivers of the North and West? Do our Constitutional rights and duties terminate when the water ceases to be salt? or do they exist, in full vigor, on the shores of these Inland Seas? I never could doubt about this; and yet, Gentlemen, I remember even to have participated in a warm debate, in the Senate, some years ago, upon the Constitutional right of Congress to make an appropriation for a Pier, in the Harbor of Buffalo. What 1 make a Harbor at Buffalo, where nature never made any, an<f where therefore it was never intended any ever should be made? Take money from the People, to run out piers from the sandy shores of Lake Erie, or deepen the channels of her shallow Rivers? Where was the Constitutional authority for this? Where would such strides of power stop? How long would the States have any power at all left, if their territory might be ruthlessly invaded for such unhallowed purposes, or how long would the People have any money in their pockets, if the Government of the Lnitcd States might tax them, at pleasure, for such extravagant projects as these? Piers, wharves, harbors, and break-waters in the Lakes! These arguments, Gentlemen, however earnestly put forth, heretofore, do not strike us with great power, at the present day, if we stand on the shores of Lake Erie, and see hundreds of vessels, with valuable cargoes, and thousands of valuable lives, moving on its waters, with few shelters from the storm, but havens created, or made useful, by the aid of Government. These great Lakes, stretching away many thousands of miles, not in a straight line, but with
turns and deflections, as if designed to reach, by water communication, the greatest possible number of important points, through a region of vast extent, cannot but arrest the attention of any one, who looks upon the map. They lie connected, but variously placed; and interspersed, as if with studied variety of form and direction, over that part of the country. They were made for man, and admirably adapted for his use and convenience. Looking, Gentlemen, over our whole country, comprehending in our survey the Atlantic coast, with its thick population, advanced agriculture, its extended commerce, its manufactures and mechanic arts, its varieties of communication, its wealth, and its general improvements; and looking, then, to the interior, to tlie immense tracts of fresh, fertile, and cheap lands, bounded by so many lakes, and watered by so many magnificent rivers, let me ask if such a Map was ever before presented to the eye of any Statesman, as the theatre for the exercise of his wisdom and patriotism? And let me ask, too, if any man is fit to act a part, on such a theatre, who does not comprehend the whole of it, within the scope of his policy, and embrace it all, as his country?
Again, Gentlemen, we are one, in respect to the glorious Constitution under which we live. We are all united in the great brotherhood of American Liberty. Descending from the same ancestors, bred in the same school, taught, in infancy, to imbibe the same general political sentiments, Americans all, by birth, education, and principle, what but a narrow mind, or woful ignorance, or besotted selfishness, or prejudice, ten times ten times blinded, can lead any of us to regard the citizens of any part of the country as strangers and aliens?
The solemn truth, moreover, is before us, that a common political fate attends us all.
Under the present Constitution, wisely and conscientiously administered, all are safe, happy, and renowned. The measure of our Country's fame may fill all our breasts. It is fame enough for us all to partake in her glory, if we will carry her character onward to its true destiny. But if the system is broken, its fragments must fall alike on all. Not only the cause of American Liberty, but the grand cause of Liberty throughout the whole earth, depends, in a great measure, on upholding the Constitution and Union of these States. If shattered and destroyed, no matter by what cause, the peculiar and cherished idea of United American Liberty will be no more forever. There may be free States, it is possible, when there shall be separate States. There may be many loose, and feeble, and hostile confederacies, where there is now one great and united Confederacy. But the noble idea of United American Liberty, of our Liberty, such as our Fathers established it, will be extinguished forever. Fragments and severed columns of the edifice may be
VOL. III. 18 L*
found remaining; and melancholy and mournful ruins will they he; the August Temple itself will be prostrate in the dust. Gentlemen, the Citizens of this Republic cannot sever tlieir fortunes. A common fate awaits us. In the honor of upholding, or in the disgrace of undermining the Constitution, wc shall all necessarily partake. Let us then stand by the Constitution, as it is, and by our Country, as it is, one, united, and entire; let it be a truth engraven on our hearts; let it be borne on the flag under which we rally, in every exigency, that we have One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny.
Gentlemen, of our interior administration, the public lands constitute a highly-important part. This is a subject of great interest, and it ought to attract much more attention than it has hitherto received, especially from the People of the Atlantic States. The public lands are public property. They belong to the People of all the States. A vast portion of them is composed of territories, which were ceded, by individual States, to the United States, after the close of the Revolutionary War, and before the adoption of the present Constitution. The history of these sessions, and the reasons for making them, arc familiar. Some of the Old Thirteen possessed large tracts of unsettled lands within their chartered limits. The Revolution had established their title to these lands, and as the Revolution had been brought about by the common treasure and the common blood of all the Colonies, it was thought not unreasonable that these unsettled lands should be transferred to the United States, to pay the debt created by the War, and afterwards to remain as a fund for the use of all the States. This is the wellknown origin of the title possessed by the United States to lands north-west of the River Ohio.
By Treaties with France aud Spain, Louisiana and Florida, many millions of acres of public unsold land, have been since acquired. The cost of these acquisitions was paid, of course, by the General Government, and was thus a charge upon the whole people. The public lands, therefore, all and singular, are national property; granted to the United States, purchased by the United States, paid for by all the People of the United States.
The idea, that when a new State is created, the public lands lying within her Territory become the property of such new State in consequence of her sovereignty, is too preposterous for serious refutation. Such notions have heretofore been advanced in Congress, but nobody has sustained them. They were rejected and abandoned, although one cannot say whether they may not be revived in consequence of recent propositions, which have been made in the Senate. The new States are admitted on express conditions, recognizing, to the fullest extent, the right of the United States to the public lands within their borders; and it is no more