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Southern independence, with a recital, in substance, of the causes set forth in the preamble to the declaration of 1776? But let us consider, a little more particularly, the probabilities of a Southern Union to resist the laws and overturn the Government. I am not aware that any one has ever undertaken to place the right of secession, or nullification, upon slighter ground than that of a “deliberate, palpable, and dangerous violation of the constitution;” not an infraction which is to be proved by hair-splitting, but one that is deliberate, palpable, and dangerous. Now, sir, what is the pretended violation of the constitution in the present case? The exercise of a power to regulate commerce, so as to give encouragement and protection to domestic industry; a power which, as I have before observed, was distinctly claimed and excrcised by the first Congress, and which has received the explicit sanction of every President, and of almost every Congress, from that time to this; a power, whose existence has not, in fact, been so much as questioned until within the last ten years. Such is the power whose exercise is now to be treated as a violation of the constitution, so palpable and dangerous as to justify nullification and secession; in fact, revolution. What a severe reproach is this upon the illustrious men who passed from the convention, that formed the constitution, into the first Congress; upon all our chief magistrates, and upon the whole country, including its most distinguished statesmen, of every political faith. It is against this overwhelming current of authority that South Carolina stands up, buckles on her armor, and calls upon the whole South to sustain her! Will she, can she, be sustained But there will, we are told, be a strong sympathy in the cause of South Carolina, oppressed South Carolina. How is that sympathy to be excited? By what means is the flame, which has been kindled in that State, to be spread throughout the Southern section of the Union? Is it expected that the theory that exports pay the duties, is to bewilder the whole South, as it has a majority of the people in Carolina? Sir, this delusion has had its day, and met with the fate of thousands which have gone before it. It has, indeed, done its work in South Carolina; but that it is capable of so perverting the judgment, and exciting the passions of the great mass of the Southern population, as to bring them up to the point of revolution, I am not prepared to believe. If, sir, we will dismiss unmanly apprehension, and look at this subject coolly, I think we shall be slow in coming to the conclusion to which some alarmists would carry us. By what process, let me ask, are the Southern States to arrive at the fatal point of dissolving this Union? By none, certainly, which will not include the agency of State conventions. Now, let me suppose a convention to be called, for example, in Virginia. I am not at liberty to suppose that it will come to the resolution of seceding, without ample discussion and patient deliberation. And how may we suppose the friends of Union would , meet the proposition to unite with South Carolina in resisting the laws and dissolving the Union? would they not press, with irresistible force, the fact, that South Carolina had unnecessarily precipitated this crisis? that she had assumed an attitude of armed resistance at the mo. ment of relief from a considerable portion of her alleged burdens?, Sir, do you believe that Virginia is going to join in rebellion at the moment of experiencing the bênefits of the law of last July, which abolishes the minimum valuation of woollens, of which she has complained, and admits nearly the entire consumption of her negro population almost free of duty? Did the law which, besides embracing these provisions, made large reductions" on "Averaging about 50 per cent.
nearly fifty protected articles, which enter more or less into the consumption of the South, evince no disposition to listen to its complaints? It is true that law did not surrender the principle of protection. But is Virginia prepared to demand that surrender at the point of the bayonet? Impossible! She cannot become so infatuated as to forget the origin and history of the protective policy. She cannot, if she would, obliterate from the records of that history the votes and opinions of her most distinguished statesmen. I will not repeat the abundant evidence which has been brought forward on this point. But I will ask the indulgence of the committee while I advert to one piece of testimony, which has not, I believe, been alluded to in this discussion. On the 7th of June, 1809, the following resolution was adopted by the House of Representatives of the United States: “Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to prepare and report to this House, at their next
session, a plan for the application of such means as are
within the power of Congress, for the purpose of protecting and fostering the manufactures of the United States; together with a statement of the several manufacturing establishments which have been commenced; the progress which has been made in them, and the success with which they have been attended; and such other information as, in the opinion of the Secretary, may be material in cxhibiting a general view of the manufactures of the United States.” Upon this resolution for “protecting and fostering the manufactures of the United States,” the votes of the four Southern Atlantic States, in this body, stood as follows: Virginia, yeas 12, nay 9; North Carolina, yeas 8, nays 3; South Carolina, yeas 6, nay 1; Georgia, yea 1, nays 3. Total, yeas 27, nays 16. This resolution, I need hardly say, is in perfect accordance with the general current of public opinion at the South during the first thirty years of this Government; with the recommendation of “protecting duties and prohibitions,” by Mr. Jefferson; and the subsequent recommendation of manufactures by Mr. Madison, to “the prompt and constant guardianship of Congress;” and let me add, has been, since, most fully and unequivocally sustained by a distinguished son of South Carolina, who is, at this moment, pressing opposition to the protecting system, to the fearful alternative of its total abandonment, or a dissolution of the Union. Permit me, sir, to trouble the committee with a few extracts from his recorded opinions on this subject. In his speech on the tariff bill of 1816, Mr. Calhoun said: “What is more necessary to the defence of a country than its currency and finance? Circumstanced as our country is, can these stand the shock of war? Behold the effect of the late war on them. When our manufactures are grown to a certain perfection, as they soon will, under the fostering care of Government, we will no longer experience these evils. The farmer will find a ready market for his surplus produce; and, what is almost of equal consequence, a certain and cheap supply of all his wants.” - + * + * “To this distressing state of things there are two remedies, and only two; one in our power, immediately, the other requiring much time and exertion, but both constituting, in his opinion, the essential policy of this country; he meant the navy and domestic manufactures. By the former, we could open the way to our markets; by the latter, we bring them from beyond the ocean, and naturalize them in our own soil.” “Manufactures produce an interest strictly American, as much so as agriculture. In this it had the decided advantage of commerce and navigation; and the country will, from it, derive much advantage. It is calculated to bind together more closely our widely spread republic.
JAN. 29, 1853.]
It will greatly increase our mutual dependence and intercourse, and will, as a necessary consequence, excite an increased attention to internal improvement, a subject every way so intimately connected with the ultimate attainment of national strength, and the perfection of our political institutions. He regarded the |. that it would make the parts adhere more closely, and that it would form a new and most powerful cement, as far outweighing any political objections that might be urged against the system.” “In regard to the question how far manufactures ought to be fostered, Mr. C. said that it was the duty of this country, as a means of defence, to encourage the domestic industry of the country; more especially that part of it which provides the necessary materials for clothing and defence. * * * The question relating to manufactures must not depend on the abstract principle that industry, left to pursue its own course, will find, in its own interest, all the encouragement that is necessary.” I might multiply extracts of the same import, but I forbear. Suffer me, however, to advert for a moment to the opinions of another distinguished statesman of South Carolina, now on this floor," in regard to the right of nullification. They are embraced in a series of numbers published in 1821, and accompanied by the explicit recommendation of another .# individual, who is now President of the nullifying convention.f I will detain the committee with but two or three extracts: “The General Government is truly the Government of the whole people, as a State Government is of a part of the people. Its constitution, in the language of its preanble, was ordained and established by the people of the United States.” “A man who will contend that our Government is a confederacy of independent States, whose independent sovereignty was never, in any degree, renounced, and that it may be controlled or annulled at the will of the several independent States or sovereignties, can scarcely be regarded as belonging to the present generation. The several independent sovereign States control the General Government! This is anarchy itself.” “The States, as political bodies, have no original inherent rights. That they have such rights, is a false, dangerous, and anti-republican assumption, which lurks at the bottom of all the reasoning in favor of State rights.” “If, after the National Judiciary have solemnly affirmed the constitutionality of a law, it is still to be resisted by the State rulers, the constitution is, literally, at an end; a revolution of the Government is already accomplished; and anarchy waves its horrid sceptre over the broken altars of this happy Union.” Now, Mr. Chairman, permit me to return to the supposed Virginia convention, and ask if it be possible that it can breast this current of Southern acts and Southern opinions, and solemnly decide that the laws shall be resisted, and the Union dissolved, upon the assumption that a protecting tariff is palpably unconstitutional. Sir, the thing is impossible. Justice, honor, consistency--all forbid it. Should Virginia do it, the very marble which bears the images of her illustrious dead, would break forth in indignant rebuke of her madness. Such madness, I know, exists in Virginia as well as Carolina. But that it can ever take possession of a majority of her statesmen, or her people, I will not admit to be possible. But suppose I am mistaken; and that Virginia, disregarding the opinions of those she has been accustomed to reverence, and reckless of her own consistency, should seem ready to take the fatal step. Is there no other obstacle? Are there not peculiar hazards to be encountered in Virginia, as well as in all the South,’ which
may well make the stoutest hearts tremble? Is the power of our arms the only power to be feared? But, sir, there are other reasons why this Union will not be dissolved. There is, after all, every where, a deep and pervading conviction of its inestimable value. There may be moments of madness, indeed, when this conviction may almost cease to exert its power. The surface of the waters may be, for a while, disturbed by the tempests of passion. But the fountains of the great deep are not so easily broken up. There exists beneath the troubled surface a strong and steady current of patriotic feeling—of attachment to the Union: an attachment strengthened by a recollection of common dangers and sufferings, and a conscious enjoyment of common blessings, too precious to be lightly put at hazard. . I do not, for I need not dwell upon the power of this Government to overcome resistance to its laws. That power exists. It can, and must, and will be exerted, in the last resort. Its existence or its capacity need not, however, be vaunted in this argument. But there is a moral power in the sound intelligence and sober judgment of this great community, which is more formidable than an army with banners. It finds no place, indeed, in the battle field, amid the strife of arms, and the fiercer strife of human passions. But it enters the abodes of peace. Its whispers are heard upon the midnight pillow. It penetrates the secret chambers of the soul. It takes hold of the conscience—moulds the judgment—subdues the heart...And may we not hope that Carolina, even Carolina, will yet be redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by its resistless power? A few words, Mr. Chairman, upon the consequences of yielding to the menaces of South Carolina. In the first place, sir, it is surrendering the protecting system; and this, not altogether by the reductions of duties for which this bill provides, but by the power which the act of submission gives to nullification to control all future legislation on this subject. But the protecting system is not the only sacrifice. We yield something of more value than the tariff. We, in effect, sanction a principle, whose inevitable tendency is to work an entire change in the character of this Government, to subvert its very foundations, and prostrate it at the feet of unlimited State sovereignty. I will not, on this occasion, and especially at this late hour, detain the committee with an attempt to go over the broad field of discussion which this subject presents. But with your permission, sir, I will suggest, very briefly, one or two views connected with it. The great principle which lies at the foundation of all our political institutions is, that the people are sovereign —that is, that they possess, individually, the right of selfgovernment. Now, it is contended that the constitution of the United States is the creature of this original, indi. vidual sovereignty, and not of State sovereignty. What, sir, is State sovereignty? It consists, essentially, in the right of a community, associated for the purposes of government, to make laws which shall bind every member of that community. This right has no existence, antecedently to the act of association. It is a corporate right, derived through, and entirely dependent upon, the constitution. Without the existence of such constitution, in some form, there can, indeed, be no such thing as a State, or State sovereignty; and no act can be regarded as emanating from that source, which is not done under, or in virtue of such constitution. Now, no State constitution conferred, either on the Government, or the people of any State, the right of ordaining and establishing the constitution of the United States. The act of doing this was, from its nature, an act of primary sovereignty-–the same as that by which the people originally formed the State constitutions, and constituted the State sovereignties. Instead of being
done under the State constitutions, it was in defiance of them; being a resumption, by the people, of a portion of the powers which, in virtue of those constitutions, had entered into, and made part of the State sovereignties. It was, therefore, in the highest sense, the act of “the people.” And in performing it, moreover, the minority were not, as in the case of an act done for State purposes, in pursuance of a State constitution, necessarily bound by the decision of the majority. There was no existing obligation to that effect. In reference to this investment of power, their assent—the basis of free Government— had been neither expressed in the State constitutions, nor implied in their acquiescence in them, because those constitutions contemplated no such investment. Looking, then, at the origin, only, of the constitution of the United States, it would seem to be, in the highest sense, a popular Government, and not a league of sovereign States. But the correctness of this position, it seems to me, is rendered still more apparent, by a reference to the nature of the powers conferred by that constitution. The “people of the United States,” by that instrument, vested legislative power in a Senate and House of Representatives; executive power in a President; and judicial power in a Supreme Court. Now, do not these powers appropriately, and exclusively, belong to any Government, in the popular acceptation of that term? Who ever heard of a league between sovereign States, which made provision for the exercise of such powers in such terms? The constitution is, moreover, in respect to the distribution of these powers, and the terms in which they are described, in precise analogy to the State constitutions; and, to the extent of the objects in regard to which it is provided they shall be exercised, are of precisely the same nature, and bear to each other the same relation. Without examining further the question whether these powers were conferred by the people in their original sovereign capacity, or by the States, it is sufficient to say, that if the constitution, which provides for their exercise, has any binding force, and the grant of them any intelligible meaning, they must, of necessity, be supreme. The constitution expressly provides that “this constitution, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in the laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” To maintain that the laws of the United States are supreme, the laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding, and yet that they may be controlled and nullified by “any State,” is a paipable absurdity. They are, in fact, supreme, the laws of all the States to the contrary notwithstanding. The concurrent enactments of every Legislature in the Union cannot make them void. The power that made them can alone unmake them. It is assumed, however, that certain pretended laws are not laws, because not made in pursuance of the constitution; and that, therefore, a State may declare them void and resist them. But who is to give to that assumption the force of authority? In other words, how is it to be rendered legally or constitutionally certain that what is assumed to be true is true? Until that certainty is produced, it remains a mere assumption, to which no more importance is to be attached, when made by a State, than when made by an individual. Whose decision, then, is
to give authoritative certainty to the assumption? Obviously, the right to make such decision can exist—except upon the ground of revolution—nowhere but with the
power, wherever it be, which gave existence to the constitution. The supremacy of the laws made under it,
would be but a mere shadow, if either a single individual or a single State possessed the right to deny their authority, and obstruct their execution. If “the people of the United States,” who ordained and established the constitution, had provided no tribunal which could, in the
exercise of its appropriate functions, decide upon the validity of the questioned enactment, then must it, of necessity, stand as law, until they decide that it exceeds the powers conferred by them. Such tribunal, however, they have provided. The constitution vests “the judicial power of the United States in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as Congress may, from time to time, ordain and cstablish.” Now is it not an essential attribute of judicial power, that its decisions are final, and conclusive to the full extent of its jurisdiction? Does it not cease to be a judicial power the moment it ceases to possess the right of determining and settling what the law is? Is it credible that, if the framers of the constitution had intended that this ordinary judicial prerogative should be restricted, they would not have perceived the necessity of expressly imposing such restriction? Having failed to do this, by what authority can we define judicial power to mean one thing in the constitution of the United States, and another and a very different thing in the State constitutions? Such, then, being the nature of the judicial power in question, and the constitution having provided that it “shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under the constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made under their authority,” the question arises—does the same constitution either confer upon, or admit to exist in, every State in the Union, the same power? If it does, then are we involved in the absurdity of having cotemporaneous and authoritative decisions of a precisely opposite character; and which, instead of sustaining, or nullifying the law, would only nullify each other. The truth is, the judiciary is, in this Government, what it is in State Governments—a constituent branch of the supreme power. There may be a league, but there can be no Government, acting as does this, upon individuals, without it, existing either in a separate department, or united with some other. If, then, a State may nullify the laws, it may nullify the decisions of the judiciary upon them, and, by necessary consequence, the judiciary itself —and, of course, the Government. The supreme power, instead of being in the United States, will be in each and every one of the twenty-four States; while the nullifying ordinance of a single State will become the “supreme law of the land,” instead of the constitution of the United States, and the laws enacted by its Legislature, and expounded by its judiciary. If this is not what I have asserted nullification to be, a subversion of the Government, then has revolution no meaning and no power. Mr. Chairman, will you sanction a doctrine fraught with such consequences? Better, far better, yield to the power of an ordinary insurrection. In that case, indeed, you submit to force; but in this, you add to that submission the sanction of a principle which will, henceforth, form a fixed rallying point for revolutionary efforts. You, in fact, legalize rebellion, under the deceptive and dangerous guise of State authority, and incorporate in your very constitution the absurd and impracticable principle that a minority shall govern. Such, sir, must be the consequences of the passage of this bill, or of any bill, under circumstances which will compel the judgment of the world to pronounce it an act of submission to South Carolina. If the protecting policy is, indeed, wrong, abandon it. If your laws are so framed as to make its operations unequal, alter them. If your revenue must be reduced, reduce it. And if that reduction must necessarily impair protection, impair it. But yield to no nullifying threats, unless you intend to arm nullification with tenfold energy; unless you are prepared to change the whole structure and action of this Government, to see it divested of its moral power, and become the scorn and derision of the world. But, Mr. Chairman, will our yielding to the menace of
JAN. 30, 1833.]
South Carolina, and passing this bill, settle this vexed question. We may, indeed, procure by it a temporary peace. South Carolina will, of course, be quiet, if we yield to her demands. But is this such an adjustment of the question of protection as will permanently satisfy the great body of the people of the United States? Gentlemen talk of the passage of this bill as a compromise, which is to settle the question and give quiet to the country. Now, sir, who ever heard of a compromise when one of the parties was mute? And what do we hear from South Carolina? Who has spoken for her on this floor? Who of her delegation here has condescended to tell us that this bill will satisfy her?—that she will not, in fact, make its passage the occasion of urging demands of a still more humiliating character? She nullifies our laws; arrays her whole military strength to resist them; demands the entire and unqualified abandonment of the protecting system; and, in a tone of proud and insulting defiance, says that if we will comply with her demands, “in due time,” and with a “becoming spirit,” she will be satisfied. Beyond this, she is silent! And yet this bill, instead of being called by its right name—a surrender at discretion —is denominated a compromise! But, sir, if South Carolina should consent to accept of this, and make it a compromise, would it settle the question? Do gentlemen believe that an arrangement forced upon us, extorted by insulting menace, can be permanent? Does not all history admonish us that it will become the prolific parent of future contentions? Sir, nothing but a free expression of the public sentiment, resulting from a deliberate examination by the people of the protecting policy, can really settle this question. It is utterly inconsistent with the genius of our Government that it should. The carrying, by a ruse de guerre, a measure affecting, so vitally as this does, the interests of the great body of the people, though it may serve a momentary purpose, cannot, will not satisfy them, unless they are prepared to abandon their high prerogative of governing, and submit to be governed. No, sir; if we really desire to have this question settled, we shall at once dismiss the consideration of this bill, and submit the whole to the judgment of the people. There will be ample time for them to deliberate, and full opportunity to exert their influence upon the councils of our successors. I am not afraid of their decision. Various causes may, indeed, contribute to make it what I should not altogether desire. But the decision, whatever it may be, will be their decision. They have a right to make it. Their interests are to be affected by it, either for good or for evil; and with it, if we will give them an opportunity of deliberating and acting like freemen, they will be satisfied. Mr. S., after the expiration of the first hour of his speech, gave way to a motion by Mr. PEAnck that the committee rise: Yeas 40, nays 53. There being no quorum, the committee rose, and reported that fact to the House. The SPEAKER, having counted the members present, announced that a quorum was then in attendance, when Mr. WAYNE resumed the chair in committee. Mr. PEARCE now renewed the motion that the committee rise, which was negatived: Yeas 46, nays 68. Mr. SLADE then resumed his remarks, and, after speaking an hour and a quarter, he gave way to a motion by Mr. III estER that the committee rise, which was netived: Yeas 45, nays 72. Mr. SLA1) E then continued and concluded his remarks a quarter before 8 o’clock, having occupied the floor nearly five hours. Mr. I. C. BATES then rose, and said: The question immediately before the committee, the policy of reducing the duties on tea in the manner proposed by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, he did not intend to
cut, [Mr. HUNTINgtoN,) to strike the whole duties on tea
WEDNEs DAY, JANUARY 30.
Mr. ADAMS presented to the House a memorial and sundry resolutions from the Legislature of Massachusetts; strongly expressive of its dissent to the passage of the bill before the House to reduce the tariff.
The memorial was read, and referred to a Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union.
NEW YORK CONVENTION MEMORIAL.
Mr. ADAMS inquired of the SPEAKER whether he had received a memorial addressed to the House by the tariff convention of New York, with a request to present it.
The SPEAKER replying in the affirmative,
Mr. ADAMS asked the consent of the House that it might be presented. The House having assented, The SPEAKER laid before the House a memorial from a permanent committee appointed by the New York Tariff Convention in opposition to the same bill. Mr. ADAMS called for the reading of the memorial. This was objected to by Mr. WILDE and Mr. CLAYTON, of Georgia; but the CHAIR decided it to be right, and the memorial was read accordingly, at the Clerk's table. The reading having proceeded some time, the further reading was, on motion of Mr. ADAMS, dispensed with; and the memorial was referred to a Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, and ordered to be printed. At a subsequent point of the morning business, Mr. WILDE moved to reconsider this vote of reserence, so far as it included not only the resolutions adopted by the Massachusetts Legislature, but also the report of the convention who had draughted those resolutions. He perceived that, in that report, the Committee of ways and Means were charged with having reported a bill as one thing, which they knew perfectly to be, in reality, another thing, and a very different thing. The further discussion of this motion was cut off, for to-day, by the expiration of the hour assigned to resolutions. The House then proceeded to the orders of the day, and resumed the consideration of the
Mr. BATES, of Massachusetts, who had the floor, gave way, for a moment, to Mr. ADAMS, who gave notice that, after his friends had had opportunity to express their views respecting the bill, and to offer their respective amendments, he should move to strike out the enacting clause. Mr. BATES, of Massachusetts, then rose, and address ed the committee in opposition to the bill, as follows: I observed last evening, said Mr. B., that I consider the
debate; but the motion of the gentleman from Connecti
question arising upon the motion of my friend from Con
necticut, [Mr. HUNTINgtoN,) as a test question, decisive of the protective system, and of more importance, consequently, than any question that has cone before the House, or is likely to come before it, a question of peace or war not excepted. It was on this account I was desirous of addressing the committee, at this stage, in the progress of the bill. And while I am up, I shall take the liberty to make a few remarks upon one or two measures connected with the bill, upon the general tendency and bearing of the bill, and its purpose and object. The lit, the health and strength which I bring into this debate, will be a sufficient guaranty that I shall not detain the committee long. When, during the last session, we were encountering the cholera, and neglecting our own affairs and families to midsummer, I little thought that our attention would be so soon recalled to this angry and disturbing subject. I should have thought that, in the transition from one condition of things to another, in our financial affairs, by which great national interests are to be affected, any Government, deserving the name of a paternal Government, would have been content to feel its way, carefully and cautiously, to see what those interests can bear, and not, by one audacious leap, put them all in jeopardy. The Committee of Ways and Means, however, have presented this bill to us, and we must meet it as well as we can. I am opposed to it in all its forms. I was opposed to the bill of 1832, because I thought it was not so good as it ought to have been. I am opposed to this, because it is incomparably worse than that. This, it seems to me, is ground broad enough, and firm enough, and open enough, for a man to stand erect upon, without being subject to any injurious imputation. And while my friend from Maryland [Mr. How ARD3 reverses by his vote today his decision of yesterday, nothing is more natural than that the idea of inconsistency should be the first idea that should occur to him, he will permit me to express my surprise that it is not the last he should wish to talk about. The Committee of Ways and Means, when they presented their bill, accompanied it with a report upon which it is founded, in which they sensibly and justly remark, that “it is vitally important to all engaged in any of those numerous commercial, manufacturing, or agricultural enterprises, which are affected by changes in the
rates of impost, now to know the intention and policy of
this Government in regard to their several interests.” Now, sir, if there be any one point of policy upon which the intention of this Government had been indicated, more distinctly than upon any other, and upon every other, from the foundation of the Government down to the close of the war, it is this, that the agricultural, manufacturing, and navigating interests of the country are to be protected against the rivalry and competition of foreign nations. The last war put the country upon its resources, and developed them, and was followed by the act of 1816, which
was for the purpose of protecting the new creation of the
war, and of the measures antecedent to it. That again was followed by the act of 1818; then came the act of 1824, then the act of 1828, and, finally, the act of 1832. By this act of 1832, it was established that the revenue of the Government was to be reduced to the wants of the Government; that it was to be derived from the duties imposed for protection, so far as those duties should be required for that purpose, and, therefore, you struck from that bill the duty upon tea and coffee. Many who hear me, will recollect that the chief difficulty, if not the only one we had, was in the apportionment ef the duties. The policy of the Government was not only thus established by that act, but the intention of the Government was indicated in all the forms of legal enactment, sanctioned, of course, by the President himself. The Committee of Ways and Means seem to forget that it is necessary the
policy of the Government should have a reach somewhat longer than a man's arm, and that the great interests of the country are not nimble, and cannot change their position oftener than the sun crosses the line. And if the honorable chairman of that committee complains that his bill fares worse at our hands than the weather did at the hands of Dean Swift, it is because his bill is more changeable than the weather, if not, in itself, more changing in its effect, and more chilling, malign, and deadly in its influence. If we are to have a new system oftener than twice a year, or at the commencement of every presidential term, we shall have systems enough, and we shall have nothing but systems. In this same paragraph the committee very justly remark again, “that uncertainty is worse than error in legislationi.” What a commentary this upon their bill!—the commentary of the committee upon their own act! It was only six months from the time this bill was reported, nay, not so much, not six, that you passed the act of 1832. How many voyages have been projected, and are in progress of execution, how much capital has been invested under the faith of that act, or how capital has been modified to accommodate itself to that act, no man can tell. And now, as has been well remarked, before the ink is dry upon the parchment of that act, “before the funeral bake-meats are cold,” I will not say you have committed murder and matrimony, or that you have committed the one that you might commit the other, or contract any unnatural or unhallowed alliance, but you have reported this bill, which, if it has not the turpitude of murder in it, has death enough—death enough to satisfy the grave. You cannot produce an instance in the history of the deliberate legislation of the world to parallel this. In other countries, whatever commotions arise, and however stormy they are, the great interests of the people are held steadily to one course, and are comparatively but little affected by them. A British minister, who should present himself to the House of Commons in the attitude of the Committee of Ways and Means to this House, would be found in the minority upon the first vote, unless the men of Lancashire should happen to be in the field, and then I suppose Parliament would have to give up. I desire to ask the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means whether he does not call this “uncertainty” in legislation. And if he does not, I will thank him, with his philological knowledge, to tell me what uncertainty stands for in his report. Sir, it is uncertainty with a vengeance, and error too. + I have said that there is death enough in this bill— death to the great interests of the country—and I will proceed to show it. But it is not incumbent on the opposition to the bill to show this. The committee who propose the bill ought to show that it is consistent with, and promotive of, these interests, or it should have no friends here. Have they shown it? No, sir, nor attempted it: for what they have done does not deserve to be dignified with the name of an attempt. If they allege that their commission is financial, why, then, has not this bill been sent to the Committee on Manufactures for their examination, report, and judgment upon it? Or why has not the progress of it been arrested until the evidence which was taken at the last session, at much expense, could be printed, that we might have the benefit of it? Why was the bill urged on to its passage without even notice to those interested in it, and to be affected by it, of its pendency? I have many a constituent, who had rather be scourged at the post, or put in a pillory, or shut up in a jail, than that you should pass this bill, because, in the one case, he alone would suffer, and, in the other, he and his family will be involved in a common ruin. It is no answer to say that the people now have notice of the pendency of the bill. The time that has been allowed them has been extorted from the committee, and not conceded by them.