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reasonable to contend that some indefinite idea of State sovereignty overrides all these stipulations, and makes the lands the property of the States, against the provisions and conditions of their own Constitution, and the Constitution of the United States, than it would be, that a similar doctrine entitled the State of New York to the moneys collected at the Custom-House in this City; since it is no more inconsistent with sovereignty that one Government should hold lands, for the purpose of sale, within the territory of another, than it is that it should lay and collect taxes and duties within such Territory. Whatever extravagant pretensions may have been set up, heretofore, there was not, I suppose, an enlightened man in the whole West, who insisted on any such right in the States, when the proposition to cede the lands to the States was made, in the late session of Congress. The public lands being, therefore, the common property of all the people of all the States, I shall never consent to give them away to particular States, or to dispose of them otherwise than for the general good, and the general use of the whole Country.
I felt bound, therefore, on the occasion just alluded to, to resist, at the threshold, a proposition, to cede the public lands to the States in which they lie on certain conditions.
I very much regretted the introduction of such a measure, as its effect must be, I fear, only to agitate what was well settled, and to disturb that course of proceeding in regard to the public lands, which forty years of experience have shown to be so wise, and so satisfactory in its operation, both to the People of the old States, and to those of the new.
But, Gentlemen, although the public lands are not to be given away, or ceded to particular States, a very liberal policy in regard to them ought undoubtedly to prevail. Such a policy has prevailed, and I have steadily supported it, and shall continue to support it so long as I may remain in public life. The main object, in regard to these lands, is undoubtedly to settle them, so fast as the growth of our population, and its augmentation by emigration may enable us to settle them.
The lands, therefore, should be sold, at a low price; and, for one, I have never doubted the right or expediency of granting portions of the lands themselves, or of making grants of money, for objects of Internal improvements, connected with them.
I have always supported liberal appropriations for the purpose of opening communications, to and through these lands, by common Roads, Canals, and Rail Roads; and where lands of little value have been long in market, and on account of their indifferent quality are not likely to command the common price, I know no objection to a reduction of price, as to such lands, so that they may pass into private ownership. Nor do I feel any objections, to remove those restraints which prevent the States from taxing the lands, for five years after they are sold. Hut while in these and all other respects, I am not only reconciled to a liberal policy, but espouse it and support it, and have constantly done so, I bold, still, the national domain to be the general property of the Country, confided to the care of Congress, and which Congress is solemnly bound to protect and preserve, for the common good.
The benefit derived from the public lands, after all, is, and must be, in the greatest degree, enjoyed by those w ho buy them and settle upon them. The original price paid to Government constitutes but a small part of their actual value. Their immediate rise in value, in the hands of the settler, gives him competence. He exercises a power of selection, over a vast region of fertile territory, all on sale at the same price, and that price an exceedingly low one. Selection is no sooner made, cultivation is no sooner begun, and the first furrow turned, than he already finds himself a man of property. These are the advantages of western emigrants, and western settlers; and they are such, certainlv, as no country on earth ever before afforded to her Citizens. This opportunity of purchase and settlement, this certainty of enhanced value, these sure means of immediate competence and ultimate wcultb, all these are the rights and the blessings of the people of the West, and they have my hearty wishes for their full and perfect enjoyment.
I desire to see the public lands cultivated and occupied. I desire the growth and prosi>erity of the West, and the fullest development of its vast and extraordinary resources. 1 wish to bring it near to us, by every species of useful communication. I see, not without admiration and amazement, but yet without envy or jealousy, States of recent origin already containing more people than Massachusetts. These people I know to be part of ourselves; they have proceeded from the midst of us, and we may trust that they are not likely to separate themselves, in interest or in feeling, from their kindred, whom they have left on the farms and around the hearths of their common fathers.
A liberal policy, a sympathy with its interests, an enlightened and generous feeling of participation in its prosperity, are due to the West, and will be met, I doubt not, by a return of sentiments equally cordial and equally patriotic.
Gentlemen, the general question of revenue is very much connected with this subject of the public lands, and 1 w ill therefore, in a very few words, express my opimons on that point.
The revenue involves, not only the supply of the Treasury with money, but the question of protection to manufactures. On these connected subjects, therefore, gentlemen, as I have promised to keep nothing back, I will state my opinions plainly, but very shortly.
I am in favor of such a revenue as shall be equal to all the just and reasonable wants of the Government; and I am decidedly opposed to all collection, or accumulation of revenue, beyond this point. An extravagant government expenditure and unnecessary accumulation in the Treasury, are both, of all things else, to be most studiously avoided.
I am in favor of protecting American industry and labor, not only as employed in large manufactories, but also, and more especially, as employed in the various mechanic arts, carried on by persons acting on small capitals, and living by the earnings of their own personal industry. Every City in the Union, and none more than this, would feel severely the consequences of departing from the' ancient and continued policy of the Government, respecting this last branch of protection. If duties were to be abolished on hats, boots, shoes, and other articles of leather, and on the articles fabricated of brass, tin, and iron, and on ready-made clothes, carriages, furniture, and many similar articles, thousands of persons would be immediately thrown out of employment in this City, and in other parts of the Union. Protection, in this respect, of our own labor, against the cheaper, ill paid, half fed, and pauper labor of Europe,' is, in my opinion, a duty, which the Country owes to its own citizens. I am, therefore, decidedly, for protecting our own industry, and our own labor.
In the next place, Gentlemen, I am of opinion that with no more than usual skill, in the application of the well-tried principles of discriminating and specific duties, all the branches of National Industry may be protected without imposing such duties on imports, ?s shall overcharge the Treasury.
And as to the Revenues, arising from the sales of the public lands, I am of opinion that they ought to be set apart for the use of the States. The States need the money. The Government of the United States does not need it. Many of the States have contracted large debts, for objects of Internal improvement; and others of them have important objects, which they would wish to accomplish. The lands were originally granted for the use of the several States; and now that their proceeds are not necessary for the purposes of the General Government, I am of opinion that they should go to the States, and to the people of the States, upon an equal principle. Set apart, then, the proceeds of the public lands for the use of the States; supply the Treasury from duties on imports; apply to these duties a just and careful discrimination, in favor of articles produced at home, by our own labor, and thus support, to a fair extent, our own Manufactures. These, Gentlemen, appear to me to be the general outlines of that policy, which the present condition of the country requires us to adopt.
Gentlemen, proposing to express opinions on the principal subjects of interest, at the present moment, it is impossible to overlook the delicate question, which has arisen, from events which have happened in the late Mexican Province of Texas. The Independence of that Province ha* now been recognized by the Government of the United States. The Congress pave the President the means, to be used when he saw fit, of opening a diplomatic intercourse with its Government, and the late President immediately made use of those means.
I saw no objection, under the circumstances, to voting an a|>propriation to be used when the President should think the proper time had come; and he deemed, certainly very promptly, that the time had already arrived. Certainly, Gentlemen, the history of Texas is not a little wonderful. A very few people, in a very short time, have established a Government for themselves, against the authority of the parent State; and which Government, it is generally supposed, there is little probability, at the present moment, of the parent State being able to overturn.
This Government is, in form, a copy of our own. It is an American Constitution, substantially after the great American model. We all, therefore, must wish it success; and there is no one who will more heartily rejoice than I shall, to sec an independent community, intelligent, industrious, and friendly towards us, springing up, and rising into happiness, distinction, and power, upon our own principles of Liberty and Government.
But it cannot be disguised, Gentlemen, that a desire, or an intention, is already manifested to annex Texas to the United States. On a subject of such mighty magnitude as this, and at a moment when the public attention is drawn to it, I should feel myself wanting in candor, if I did not express my opinion; since all must suppose, that on such a question, it is impossible I should be without some opinion.
I say then, Gentlemen, in all frankness, that I see objections, I think insurmountable objections, to the annexation of Texas to the United States. When the Constitution was formed, it is not probable that either its framers, or the people, ever looked to the admission of any States into the Union, except such as then already existed, and such as should be formed out of territories then already belonging to the United States. Fifteen years after the adoption of the Constitution, lmwever, the case of Louisiana arose. Louisiana was obtained by Treaty with France; who had recently obtained it from Spain; but the object of this acquisition, certainly, was not mere extension of Territory. Other great political interests were connected with it. Spain, while she possessed Louisiana, had held the mouths of the great rivers which rise in the Western States, and flow into the Gulf of Mexico. She had disputed our use of these rivers, already, and with a powerful nation in possession of these outlets to the sea, it is obvious that the commerce of all the West was in danger of perpetual vexation. The command of these Rivers to the sea, was, therefore, the great object aimed at in the acquisition of Louisiana. But that acquisition necessarily brought Territory along with it, and three States now exist, formed out of that ancient province.
A similar policy, and a similar necessity, though perhaps not entirely so urgent, led to the acquisition of Florida.
Now, no such necessity, no such policy, requires the annexation of Texas. The accession of Texas to our Territory, is not necessary to the full and complete enjoyment of all which we already possess. Her case therefore stands entirely different from that of Louisiana and Florida. There being then no necessity for extending the limits of the Union, in that direction, we ought, I think, for numerous and powerful reasons, to be content with our present boundaries.
Gentlemen, we all see, that by whomsoever possessed, Texas is likely to be a slave-holding country; and I frankly avow my entire unwillingness to do any thing which shall extend the Slavery of the African race, on this Continent, or add other slaveholding States to the Union. When I say that I regard slavery in itself as a great moral, social, and political evil, I only use language which has been adopted, by distinguished men, themselves citizens of slave-holding States. I shall do nothing, therefore, to favor or encourage its further extension. We have slavery, already, amongst us. The Constitution found it among us; it recognized it, and gave it solemn guaranties. To the full extent of these guaranties we are all bound, in honor, injustice, and by the Constitution. All the stipulations, contained in the Constitution, in favor of the slave-holding States which are already in the Union, ought to be fulfilled, and so far as depends on me, shall be fulfilled, in the fulness of their spirit, and to the exactness of their letter. Slavery, as it exists in the States, is beyond the reach of Congress. It is a concern of the States themselves; they have never submitted it to Congress, and Congress has no rightful power over it. I shall concur therefore in no act, no measure, no menace, no indication of purpose, which shall interfere, or threaten to interfere, with the exclusive authority of the several States, over the subject of Slavery, as it exists within their respective limits. All this appears to me to be matter of plain and imperative duty.
But when we come to speak of admitting new States, the subject assumes an entirely different aspect. Our rights and our duties are then both different.
The free States, and all the States, are then at liberty to accept, or to reject. When it is proposed to bring new members into