« AnteriorContinuar »
It is the first step that costs. After this open disregard of the ele mentary rules of law and justice, it should create no surprise that, pending the labors of a Committee especially appointed to ascertain who were duly elected, a set of men calling themselves Representatives of the people of New Jersey, who had no certificates from the chief magistrate of the State, or according to the laws of the State, were voted into their seats, under silence imposed by the previous question, and afterwards gave their votes for the passage of the subÍreasury law. We call most solemnly upon all who, with us, believe that these proceedings alike invade the rights of the States, and dishonor the cause of popular government and free institutions, to supply an efficient and decisive remedy, by the unsparing application of the elective franchise.
We protest against the plan of the Administration respecting the training and disciplining of the militia. The President now admits it to be unconstitutional; and it is plainly so, on the face of it, for the training of the militia is by the Constitution expressly reserved to the States. If it were not unconstitutional, it would yet be unnecessary, burdensome, entailing enormous expense, and placing dangerous powers in Executive hands. It belongs to the prolific family of Executive projects, and it is a consolation to find that at least one of its projects has been so scorched by public rebuke and reprobation, that no man raises his hand or opens his mouth in its favor.
It was during the progress of the late Administration, and under the well-known auspices of the present Chief Magistrate, that the declaration was made in the Senate, that, in regard to public office, the spoils of victory belonged to the conquerors ; thus boldly proclaiming, as the creed of the party, that political contests are rightfully struggles for office and emolument. We protest against doctrines which thus regard offices as created for the sake of incumbents, and stimulate the basest passions to the pursuit of high public trusts.
We protest against the repeated instances of disregarding judicial decisions, by officers of Government, and others enjoying its countenance; thus setting up Executive interpretation over the solemn adjudications of courts and juries, and showing marked disrespect for the usual and constitutional interpretation and execution of the laws.
This misgovernment and maladministration would have been the more tolerable, if it had not been committed, in most instances, in direct contradiction to the warmest professions and the most solemn assurances. Promises of a better currency, for example, have ended in the destruction of all national and uniform currency; assurances of the strictest economy have been but preludes to the most waste ful excess; even the Florida war bas been conducted under loud
pretences of severe frugality; and the most open, unblushing, and notorious interference with State elections has been systematically practised by the paid agents of an Administration, which, in the full freshness of its oath of office, declared that one of its leading objects should be, to accomplish that task of reform, which particularly required the correction of those abuses, which brought the patronage of the federal government into conflict with the freedom of elections.
In the teeth of this solemn assurance, it has been proved that United States officers have been assessed, in sums bearing proportion to the whole amount they receive from the treasury, for The purpose of supporting their partisans even in State and municipal elections.
Whatever, in short, has been most professed, has been least practised; and it seems to have been taken for granted that the American people would be satisfied with pretence, and a full-toned assurance of patriotic purpose. The history of the last twelve years has been but the history of broken promises and disappointed hopes. At every successive period of this history, an enchanting, rose-colored futurity has been spread out before the people, especially in regard to the great concerns of revenue, finance, and currency. But these colors have faded, as the object has been approached. Prospects of abundant revenue have resulted in the necessity of borrowing ; the brilliant hopes of a better currency end in general derangement, stagnation, and distress; and while the whole country is roused to an unprecedented excitement by the pressure of the times, every state paper from the Cabinet at Washington comes forth fraught with congratulations on that happy state of things which the judicious policy of the Administration is alleged to have brought about! Judged by the tone of these papers, every present movement of the people is quite unreasonable; and all attempts at change, only so many ungrateful returns for the wise and successful administration of public affairs !
There is yet another subject of complaint to which we feel bound to advert, by our veneration for the illustrious dead, by our respect for truth, by our love for the honor of our country, and by our own wounded pride as American citizens. We feel that the country has been dishonored, and we desire to free ourselves from all imputation of acquiescence in the parricidal act. The late President, in a communication to Congress, more than intimates that some of the earliest and most important measures of Washington's administration were the offspring of personal motives and private interests. His successor has repeated and extended this accusation, and given to it, we are compelled to say, a greater degree of offensiveness and grossness. No man, with an American heart in his bosom, can endure this without feeling the deepest humiliation, as well as the most burning VOL. III. 64
scorn. The fame of Washington and his immediate associates is of the richest treasures of the country. His is that name which an American may utter with pride in every part of the world, and which, wherever uttered, is shouted to the skies by the voices of all true lovers of human liberty. Imputations which assail his measures so rudely, while they are abominable violations of the truth of history, are an insult to the country, and an offence against the moral sentiments of civilized mankind. Miserable, miserable indeed, must be that cause which cannot support its party predominance, its ruinous schemes and senseless experiments, without thus attempting to poison the fountains of truth, and to prove the Government of our country disgracefully, corrupt, even in its very cradle. Our hearts would sink within us, if we believed that such efforts could succeed ; but they must be impotent. Neither the recent nor the present President was born to cast a sbade on the character of Washington or his associates. The destiny of both has been, rather, to illustrate, by contrast, that wisdom and those virtues which they have not imitated, and to hurl blows, which the affectionate veneration of American citizens, and the general justice of the civilized world, will render harmless to others, and powerful only in their recoil upon themselves. If this language be strong, so also is that feeling of indignation which has suggested it; and on an occasion like this, we could not leave this consecrated spot, without the consciousness of having omitted an indispensable duty, bad we not thus given utterance to the fulness of our hearts, and marked with our severest rebuke, and most thorough reprobation and scorn, a labored effort to fix a deep and enduring stain on the early history of the Government.
Finally, on this spot, the fame of which began with our liberty, and can only end with it, in the presence of these multitudes, of the whole country, and of the world, we declare our conscientious convictions, that the present Administration has proved itself incapable of conducting the public affairs of the nation in such a manner as shall preserve the Constitution, maintain the public liberty, and secure general prosperity. We declare, with the utmost sincerity, that we believe its main purpose to have been, to continue its own power, influence, and popularity ; that to this end it has abandoned indispensable but highly responsible constitutional duties; that it has trifled with the great concerns of finance and currency ; that it has used the most reprehensible means for influencing public opinion; that it has countenanced the application of public money to party purposes; that it endeavors to consolidate and strengthen party by every form of public patronage ; that it laboriously seeks to conceal the truth from the people on subjects of great interest; that it has shown itself to be selfish in its ends, and corrupt in its means; and that, if it should be able to maintain itself in power through another term, there is the most imminent danger that it will plunge the country in
still further difficulty, bring on still greater disorder and distress, and undermine at once the foundations of the public prosperity and the institutions of the country.
Men thus false to their own professions, false to the principles of the Constitution, false to the interests of the people, and false to the highest honor of their country, are unfit to be the Rulers of this Republic.
The People of the United States have a right to good government. They have a right to an honest and faithful exercise of all the powers of the Constitution, as understood and practised in the best days of the Republic for the general good. They have an inalienable right to all the blessings of that Liberty which their Fathers achieved, and all the benefits of that Union which their Fathers established.
And standing here, this day, with the memory of those Fathers fresh on our hearts, and with the fields of their glory and the monuments of their fame full in our view, — with Bunker Hill beneathi us, and Concord, and Lexington, and Dorchester Heights, and Faneuil Hall, all around us, — we here, as a part of the people, pledge ourselves to each other and to our Country, to spare no lawful and honorable efforts to vindicate and maintain these rights, and to remove from the high places of the nation, men who have thus contemned and violated them.
And we earnestly and solemnly invoke all good men and true patriots throughout the Union, foregoing all consideration of party, and forgetting all distinction of State or section, to rally once more, as our Fathers did in '75, against the common oppressors of our country, and to unite with us in restoring our glorious Constitution to its true interpretation, its practical administration, and its just supremacy.
In such a cause, principles are every thing; individuals nothing. Yet we cannot forget that we have worthy, honest, capable candidates for the offices from which we hope to remove the present incumbents.
Those who desire a change, throughout the whole country, have agreed, with extraordinary unaniinity, to support General William Henry Harrison for the office of President. We believe him to be an honest and faithful citizen, who has served his country successfully, in divers civil trusts; and we believe him a veteran soldier, whose honor and bravery cannot be questioned. We give him our unhesitating confidence; and in that confidence we shall support him, and the distinguished citizen of Virginia, who has been nominated for the Vice-Presidency, with all our efforts and all our hearts, through the present contest; convinced that by their election the true spirit of the Constitution will be restored, the prosperity of the people revived, the stability of our free institutions reassured, and the blessings of Union and Liberty secured to ourselves and our posterity. SPEECH
AT THE MERCHANTS' MEETING IN WALL STREET, NEW YORK.
SEPTEMBER 28, 1840.
I am duly sensible, fellow-citizens, both of the honor, and of the responsibility, of the present occasion : an honor it certainly is, to be requested to address a body of Merchants, such as I behold before me, as intelligent, as enterprising, and respectable, as any in the world. A responsible undertaking it is, to address such an assembly, and on a subject which many of you understand scientifically, and in its elements at least as well as I do, and with which most of you have more or less of practical acquaintance. The currency of a country is a subject always important, and in some measure complex ; but it has become the great leading question of our time. I have not shrunk from the expression of my opinions, since I have been in public life, nor shall I now, especially since on this question another great political question seems likely to turn, viz., the question whether one Administration is about to go out of power, and another Administration to come into power. Under this state of circumstances, it becomes me to premise what I have now to say, by remarking, in the first place, that I propose to speak for nobody but myself. · My general opinions on the subject of the currency have been well known; and as it has now become highly probable that those who have opposed all that has recently been done by the Government on that subject, will be called on to propose some remedies of their own for the existing state of things, it is the more incumbent on me to notify to all who hear me, that what I now say, I say for myself alone; for, in regard to the sentiments of the distinguished individual whom it is your purpose to support as a candidate for the Presidency, I have no more authority to speak than any of yourselves, nor any means of knowing his opinions more than is possessed by you, and by all the country.
I will, in the first place, state a few general propositions, which I believe to be founded on true principles of good, practical political economy, as understood in their application to the condition of a country like ours.
And first; I hold the opinion that a mixed currency, composed partly of gold and silver, and partly of good paper, redeemable, and steadily redeemed in specie, on demand, is the most useful and con