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To resist the downward tendency of things, the great Whig party are united to a man now, as they have ever been, against the extension of executive power. As a means of effecting its reduction to proper limits, they are for a single Presidential term, for the modification of the veto power, for the separation of the purse and the sword, for the reduction of patronage, for the non-interference of government officers in elections, and for the rigid supervision of all executive officers by Congress.

We have been taught, however, by bitter experience, that principles, however good, will not execute themselves. There is a man whose whole life has connected him with these great principles. For nearly forty years his time and talents have been devoted, in our legislative halls, to their propagation. Once, too, in an executive station he had an opportunity, to some extent, of testing his sincerity, and his conduct there was in accordance with his declarations elsewhere. I may be pardoned for saying that the administration with which he was connected as Secretary of State deserves to hold the highest place in public estimation, when considered with reference to its rigid economy in expenditure, its freedom from all usurpation of power, all attempts to exercise its patronage improperly, and total abstinence from proscription for opinion's sake. The individual to whom I allude filled a large space in the public eye during the last war with Great Britain. There was a peace party in that day, such as the gentleman from Ohio spoke of, and that party selected De Witt Clinton as its candidate for the Presidency, against James Madison, the war candidate; and Martin Van Buren, the gentleman's favorite, was an active and most zealous supporter of Clinton. He to whom I allude was not of this party. On the contrary, he was the most ardent advocate of that war, and proclaimed, in trumpet tones, that sooner than submit to British wrongs, he would prefer to see the American people expire in a common struggle for "free trade and sailors' rights." Not such free trade as some advocate in our day, the allowing foreigners to sell their productions here without being obliged to pay duties, while their governments impose burdens on us. No, sir; it was for the privilege of carrying our own goods in our own ships across the ocean, without having those ships seized, searched and plundered, and our seamen impressed into the British navy. Sir, being the most active of all our public men, he had originated more great measures than all others of his time. Often were they deemed bold, hazardous and inexpedient by his compeers, but his eagle-eyed sagacity, and enlarged patriotism did not fail to select that course which the matured judgment of the nation approved. Sometimes he stood almost alone; yet when his position has seemed most critical, such has been the fertility of his invention and the extent of his resources, that he has then ever achieved the greatest triumphs.

For instances, let me refer you to his course in relation to the acknowledgment of South American independence, to the origin of the land distribution scheme, to his conduct in relation to our difficulties with France, and to the introduction of the compromise bill in 1833. I will advert, more particularly, to one event of his life, which has by

some been thought rash, because there was once a diversity of opinion in relation to it, and because it illustrates, in my view, same traits in his character. He was one of the five commissioners at Ghent, who closed the war with England by treaty. The British commissioners insisted that we should cede to Great Britain the right to the free navigation of the Mississippi river. After much argument, a majority of our commissioners all highly patriotic individuals, determined to concede the demand. He, thereupon, with a full knowledge of the fact that Great Britain, having just terminated her war successfully with Napoleon, was prepared to turn all her arms against us, declared that he would affix his name to no such treaty, and that he would take upon himself the sole responsibility of defeating it and continuing the war. Circumstances did not render this course necessary on his part, but no one doubted that he would, if it had been necessary, have executed this determination. Was this rashness on his part? Great Britain allowed us no such privilege on her rivers. He placed a high estimate on the value of national character; he felt that, to protect it from the slightest shade, it was well to expend much toil and treasure, and the lives of brave men; and he knew that such a provision would, by the world, be regarded as an acknowledgment on our part of a superiority which Great Britain had not been able to obtain in a war of more than two years. Our brave soldiers and seamen had successfully maintained our national honor on land and on the ocean, against the red cross of England, and he could not think of breaking their spirits by any concession of superiority to her. How would the news of such a treaty have been received by them? What would have been the feelings of Harrison, who captured Upper Canada from England? What those of Scott, Ripley, Brown, Perry and McDonough? What would Jackson have said, who was then defending the Mississippi itself? How would this have fallen on the ear of Decatur, that "Bayard of the ocean," as he was bearing your flag over the seas? Was this rashness on the part of that distinguished individual? If so, it was like the rashness of Leonidas at the pass of Thermopyla. He had been sent far in advance of the rest of his countrymen, to show an example, to receive the first shock of the Persian invasion, and to protect his country's territory safe from the impress of a hostile foot. And when he found that he would be overpowered by numbers and treachery, instead of retreating, he held on to that pass with a firm foothold, and won a name which time has only rendered more illustrious. Was this rashness on his part? It was the height of prudence. Leonidas knew well that the dying of his little band on that lone sea beach, in the face of the world, would be worth more to the liberties of Greece. that ten thousand lives. Actions like this give a nation character, and elevate the minds of her sons to such a pitch, that they have spirit and energy to overcome all obstacles.

It is the province of a great genius, when common minds are bewildered and made dizzy by the contemplation of a chaos of dangers, to point the path to safety. It was in an emergency like this that another great Greek, Themistocles, when the allied navy was about to be separated and disbanded, by a bold stratagem brought on the sea fight at

Salamis, and preserved his country. But to the fertile genius, vast sagacity and large patriotism of Themistocles, Henry Clay has added the justice of his rival, Aristides, the frankness of Cato, the daring of Cæsar, the eloquence of Tully. He never failed a friend or fled a foe. When the storm was wildest, his voice had been heard loudest. When the battle was hottest, he has ever stood in the front of the column. His path has led him through many a difficulty and danger. At times, he might have complained of ingratitude and obloquy. Once it seemed as if he was destined to go down to his grave with a cloud on his fame.

But, for all this, he never wavered or hesitated for one moment in his onward course. Ever bearing a high heart under adversity, he has stood erect in the darkest hours of the Republic, and kept alive the spirit of liberty, and of resistance to tyranny and oppression. Many of those who started with him at the outset of his career have fainted by the way-side, or wandered away from their principles; but he has been Faithful found,

Among the faithless,

* *

* *

* * * * * * unmoved,

Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified:

His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal,

*

Nor number nor example with him wrought,

To swerve from truth or change his constant mind.

He has now grown gray in the public service, and, in the nature of things, cannot remain much longer on the stage of action. And will you permit him to go down into his grave without bestowing on him the highest honors in the gift of the nation? Will you retain the memorials of his great spirit, in the shape of countless benefits, and turn your back on the giver? From present indications, should Providence permit him to live, we shall not long bear such a reproach. Sir, men have lived perhaps, who were as much admired, who excited as much enthusiasm among their contemporaries, but they were men. who had won renown in camps. Their laurels were stained with blood. The red glare of battles was on them. No mere civic chieftain ever before excited such enthusiastic ardor in the minds of his countrymen. It is a compliment to the genius of this age, which prefers the civil virtues to mere military glory. And, with such principles and such a man, what have we to dread?

The gentleman from Ohio tells the Democracy to fear not; that they will carry nineteen States. From the account which he gives us of their defeat in 1840, I take this to be a most extravagant boast on his part. But he complains of our having used new and extraordinary means in the contest. We brought to bear against them, it seems, a novel invention of modern warfare, the log cabin. Sir, I have heard of troops that could not resist a charge of the bayonet, and of some that could not stand fire at all; but the gentleman's Democrats were really a peculiar set of soldiers. We did not use against them Paixhan guns, or even torpedoes. The rattling of a coon skin put them-to flight. According to the gentleman, they stood arrayed like the Mace

donian phalanx, but a cup of hard cider was presented, and they went down before it.

The gentleman, I do not question, has good reason to complain of and denounce this last weapon, as many of his allies have doubtless fallen under it. I will put à question to the gentleman, the answer to which I hope he will calculate in figures. If his army of Democrats were totally defeated in 1840, by log cabins, hard cider and coon skins, used against them by one who, according to the gentleman's own declarations at that time, was an old dotard, kept in a cage, who was so great a coward that he ran away from every battle that he ever heard of, and whose most appropriate dress was a flannel petticoat, how long will that army be able to stand up against the strength and spirit of the great Whig party of this day, led on by the first man of the age? Upon what does the gentleman build his hope of success? Ah, but he says British gold was used to buy up votes. Well, sir, I perceive, from the newspapers, that money is unusually plenty in England at this time, and I have no doubt that his Democrats want it just as much now as they did four years ago. But we used log cabins; and will our forests not furnish us with materials to build them this year? Then there were coon skins in 1840. Yes, and the requisite number can be procured again. Worst of all, however, was the hard cider. I tell him it will flow like water this year, and it will become very hard to Democratic palates by next November.

To be serious, however, Mr. Speaker, let me tell the member from Ohio, that he does great injustice to his party, when he says it was thus defeated. I have no doubt but that he is extremely anxious to create the impression that nothing more serious could be brought against it, and that its overthrow was entirely owing to these means. No, sir; you might as well say that Niagara's current owes its power and rapidity to the bubbles that float on its surface. All these things were but emblems, borne upon the vast popular current. The large expenditures of that administration, its profligacy, its keeping defaulters in its bosom for years after their crimes were known, its patronage, and proscription, its army bill, its sub-treasury, giving the president the money power of the nation, and grinding the people in the dust under its hard money system, its general contempt of the will of the people, these things beat the gentleman's party, and they will beat it again. Yes, sir, they will beat it again. Already dismay begins to be visible in the faces of the members of the party here, and some of them are attributing the strong current against them to Mr. Van Buren's unpopularity. I have heard it suggested in some quarters that that has happened to him which frequently occurs to old horses: that, after having been once distanced, have been off the turf a long while, that he has broken down in his second training. If it be, then, true that he is off his legs, select another horse. We are not very particular as to who may be our antagonist. I regard Mr. Van Buren as a quiet, rather timid man, of little will of his own, and inclined to go with the current of his party. These features in his character make him the worst man of all, if elected. He is the instrument of an irresponsible body of

men, that always has less moderation, less fairness, and less conscience, than a single individual, whatever may be his disposition naturally, feels bound, by a regard for public opinion, to manifest. Mr. Calhoun, if elected, would be, in many respects, vastly superior. He has talents, strength of will, and pride of character, and feeling conscious that the eye of the nation was fixed on him, we should have less to dread. If, however, rumor is to be credited, he was, a few weeks since, bartered away by his partizans in Virginia, with the concurrence of some elsewhere, to Mr. Van Buren, for a share, in prospect, of the spoils of the next presidential canvass. Being strongly tempted by the glittering bait, it seems they came to the conclusion that they could make the most of him by such a sale. In contemplating these individuals, one is irresistibly forced to think of the Swiss soldiers of the middle ages, who changed sides as often as a better bid was offered.

By means of the caucus system, the partisans of Mr. Van Buren have killed off all the other prominent men of the party, and it is now too late to select another leader. When we are charging you at the point of the bayonet, you will have no time to change commanders. If you think you can, try it. We care not who is your leader; we shall have the same principles and the same men to contend against, and we shall be at you far more easily than we did before. The nation, relieved from your disastrous measures, and aided by a partial adoption of ours, is recovering from its former ruinous condition, and it never will consent to come under your dominion again. Talk of the campaign of 1840, as if it had exhausted our energies! Our ancestors struggled through seven campaigns, to achieve our independence, and we, their descendants, taught that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, can, if necessary, go through seventy more campaigns like that of 1840. But we are taunted, from time to time, with our small nunbers on this floor. Sir, the organization of this House affords no index of the popular sentiment of the nation. North Carolina is represented by a majority of Democrats here; but let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, the Whig majority in my district is large enough, if it had been distributed over the State at the last election, to have given us an unanimous representation on this floor. And, still, there is another district in North Carolina stronger even in Whigism than the one I am so proud to represent. Though in this House we are but as one man, out of it we are a thousand. The bone and sinew of the country, the strength and spirit of the nation are with us. We have the gray-haired veteran to plan, the generous youth to execute, and the smiles of the fair ladies to cheer us on; and shall we not conquer? The noble banner we have raised we shall maintain at all hazards. We shall bear it high above the tumult, above the dust, and out of danger. And, with the favor of Providence, under its folds we shall win another victory not less brilliant and glorious than that of 1840, and I trust far richer in its benefits to the country.

NOTE.

The course of the Whigs on this bill of Duncan's shows with how little wisdom men often act. Because Duncan, a Democrat, offered it, the Whigs resisted and defeated it. Had it then been passed, it is almost certain that

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