Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

uphold every interest of the whole country- I shall still be found. Intrusted with some part in the administration of that constitution, I intend to act in its spirit, and in the spirit of those who framed it. Yes, sir, I would act as if our fathers, who formed it for us, and who bequeathed it to us, were looking on me - as if I could see their venerable forms, bending down to behold us from the abodes above. I would act, too, as if the eye of posterity was gazing on me..

Standing thus, as in the full gaze of our ancestors and our posterity, having received this inheritance from the former, to be transmitted to the latter, and feeling that, if I am born for any good, in my day and generation, it is for the good of the whole country, no local policy, or local feeling, no temporary impulse, shall induce me to yield my foothold on the Constitution and the Union. I move off under no banner not known to the whole American people, and to their constitution and laws. No, sir; these walls, these columns

fly
From their firm base as soon as I.”

I came into public life, sir, in the service of the United States. On that broad altar, my earliest, and all my public vows, have been made. I propose to serve no other master. So far as depends on any agency of mine, they shall continue united States; united in interest and in affection; united in every thing in regard to which the constitution has decreed their union; united in war, for the common defence, the common renown, and the common glory; and united, compacted, knit firmly together in peace, for the common prosperity and happiness of ourselves and our children.

SPEECH

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, IN ANSWER TO

MR. CALHOUN, MARCH 22, 1838.

On Thursday, the 22d of March, Mr. CALHOUN spoke at length in answer to Mr. WEBSTER's Speech of March 12.

When he had concluded, Mr. WEBSTER immediately rose, and addressed the Senate as follows:

MR. PRESIDENT: I came rather late to the Senate this morning, and happening to meet a friend on the avenue, I was admonished by him to hasten my steps, as “the war was to be carried into Africa," and I was expected to be annihilated. I lost no time in following the advice, sir, since it would be awkward for one to be annihilated without knowing any thing about it.

Well, sir, the war has been brought into Africa. The honorable member has made an expedition into regions as remote from the subject of this debate as the orb of Jupiter from that of our earth. He has spoken of the tariff, of slavery, and of the late war. Of all this I do not complain. On the contrary, if it be his pleasure to allude to all, or any of these topics, for any purpose whatever, I am ready at all times to hear him.

Sir, this carrying the war into Africa, which has become so common a phrase among us, is, indeed, imitating a great example; but it is an example which is not always followed by success. In the first place, sir, every man, though he be a man of talent and genius, is not a Scipio; and in the next place, as I recollect this part of Roman and Carthaginian history, - the gentleman may be more accurate, - but as I recollect it, when Scipio resolved upon carrying the war into Africa, Hannibal was not at home. Now, sir, I am very little like Hannibal, but I am at home ; and when Scipio Africanus South Carolinaensis brings the war into my territories, I shall not leave their defence to Asdrubal, nor Syphax, nor any body else. I meet him on the shore, at his landing, and propose but one contest.

“Concurritur ;

Aut cita mors, aut victoria læta." Mr. President, I had made up my mind that if the honorable gentleman should confine himself to a reply, in the ordinary way, I

would not say another syllable. But he bas not done so. He has gone off into topics quite remote from all connection with revenue, commerce, finance, or sub-treasuries, and invites to a discussion which, however uninteresting to the public at the present moment, is too personal to be declined by me.

He says, sir, that I had undertaken to compare my political character and conduct with his. Far from it. I attempted no such thing. I compared the gentleman's political opinions at different times with one another, and expressed decided opposition to those which he now holds. And I did, certainly, advert to the general tone and drift of the gentleman's sentiments and expressions, for some years past, in their bearing on the Union, with such remarks as I thought they deserved ; but I instituted no comparison between him and myself. He may institute one, is he pleases, and when he pleases. Seeking nothing of this kind, I avoid nothing. Let it be remembered, that the gentleman began the debate, by attempting to exhibit a contrast between the present opinions and conduct of my friends and myself, and our recent opinions and conduct. Here is the first charge of inconsistency ; let the public judge, whether he has made it good. He says, sir, that on several questions I have taken different sides, at different times : let him show it. If he shows any change of opinion, I shall be called on to give a reason, and to account for it. I leave it to the country to say whether, as yet, he has shown any such thing.'

But, sir, before attempting that, he has something else to say. He had prepared, it seems, to draw comparisons himself. He had intended to say something, if time had allowed, upon our respective opinions and conduct in regard to the war. If time had allowed ! Sir, time does allow — time must allow. (A general remark of that kind ought not to be, cannot be, left to produce its effect, when that effect is obviously intended to be unfavorable.) Why did the gentleman allude to my votes, or my opinions, respecting the war, at all, unless he had something to say? Does he wish to leave an undefined impression that something was done, or something said, by me, not now capable of defence or justification ? something not reconcilable with true patriotism ? He means that, or nothing. And now, sir, let him bring the matter forth : let him take the responsibility of the accusation : let him state his facts. I am here to answer: I am here, this day, to answer. Now is the time, and now the hour. ( I think we read, sir, that one of the good spirits would not bring against the arch enemy of mankind a railing accusation ; and what is railing, but general reproach - an imputation, without fact, time, or circumstance ? ) Sir, I call for particulars. The gentleman knows my whole conduct well: indeed, the journals show it all, from the moment I came into Congress till the peace. If I have done, then, sir, any thing unpatriotic — any thing which, as far as

CC*

love to country goes, will not bear comparison with his, or any man's conduct — let it now be stated. Give me the fact, the time, the manner. He speaks of the war; that which we call the late war, though it is now twenty-five years since it terminated. He would leave an impression that I opposed it. How? I was not in Congress when war was declared, nor in public life, any where. I was pursuing my profession, keeping company with judges and jurors, and plaintiffs and defendants. If I had been in Congress, and had enjoyed the benefit of hearing the honorable gentleman's speeches, for all I can say, I might have concurred with hin. But I was not in public life. I never had been, for a single hour; and was in no situation, therefore, to oppose or to support the declaration of war. I am speaking to the fact, sir; and if the gentleman has any fact, let us know it.

Well, sir, I came into Congress during the war. I found it waged, and raging. And what did I do here to oppose it? Look to the journals. Let the honorable gentleman tax bis memory. Bring up any thing, if there be any thing to bring up - not showing error of opinion, but showing want of loyalty or fidelity to the country. I did not agree to all that was proposed, nor did the honorable member. I did not approve of every measure, nor did he.

The war had been preceded by the restrictive system, and the embargo. As a private individual, I certainly did not think well of these measures. It appeared to me the embargo annoyed ourselves as much as our enemies, while it destroyed the business, and cramped the spirits, of the people.

In this opinion I may bave been right or wrong, but the gentleman was himself of the same opinion. He told us, the other day, as a proof of his independence of party, on great questions, that be differed with his friends on the subject of the embargo. He was decidedly and unalterably opposed to it. It furnishes, in his judgment, therefore, no imputation either on my patriotism, or the soundness of my political opinions, that I was opposed to it also. I mean opposed in opinion; for I was not in Congress, and had nothing to do with the act creating the embargo. And as to opposition to measures for carrying on the war, after I came into Congress, I again say, let the gentleman specify — let him lay his finger on any thing, calling for an answer, and he shall bave an answer.

Mr. President, you were yourself in the House during a considerable part of this time. The honorable gentleman may make a witness of you. He may make a witness of any body else. He may be his own witness. Give us but some fact, some charge, something capable in itself either of being proved or disproved. Prove any thing, state any thing, not consistent with honorable and

patriotic conduct, and I am ready to answer it. Sir, I am glad this subject has been alluded to, in a manner which justifies me in taking public notice of it; because I am well aware that, for ten years past, infinite pains have been taken to find something, in the range of these topics, which might create prejudice against me in the country. The journals have all been pored over, and the reports ransacked, and scraps of paragraphs and half sentences have been collected, put together in the falsest manner, and then made to flare out, as if there had been some discovery. But all this failed. The next resort was to supposed correspondence. My letters were sought for, to learn if, in the confidence of private friendship, I had never said any thing which an enemy could make use of. With this view, the vicinity of my former residence has been searched, as with a lighted candle. New Hampshire has been explored, from the mouth of the Merrimack to the White Hills. In one instance a gentleman had left the State, gone five hundred miles off, and died. His papers were examined — a letter was found, and I have understood it was brought to Washington — a conclave was held to consider it, and the result was, that if there was nothing else against Mr. Webster, the matter had better be let alone. Sir, I hope to make every body of that opinion who brings against me à charge of want of patriotism. Errors of opinion can be found, doubtless, on many subjects ; but as conduct flows from the feelimgs which animate the heart, I know that no act of my life has had its origin in the want of ardent love of country.

Sir, when I came to Congress, I found the honorable gentleman a leading member of the House of Representatives. Well, sir, in what did we differ? One of the first measures of magnitude, after I came here, was Mr. Dallas's proposition for a bank. It was a war measure. It was urged as being absolutely necessary to enable Government to carry on the war. Government wanted revenue — such a bank, it was hoped, would furnish it; and on that account it was most warmly pressed and urged on Congress. You remember all this, Mr. President. You remember how much some persons supposed the success of the war and the salvation of the country depended on carrying that measure. Yet the honorable member from South Carolina opposed this bill. He now takes to himself a good deal of merit — none too much, but still a good deal of merit, for having defeated it. Well, sir, I agreed with him. It was a mere paper bank -a mere machine for fabricating irredeemable paper. It was a new form for paper money ; and instead of benefiting the country, I thought it would plunge it deeper and deeper in difficulty. I made a speech on the subject: it has often been quoted.' There it is ; let whoever pleases, read and examine it. I am not proud of it, for any ability it exhibits ; on the other hand, I am not ashamed of it, for the spirit which

I thou speeche per

« AnteriorContinuar »