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A Statement of the annual gain or loss, by Exchange, under the operations of the Conmis
sioners of the Sinking Fund.
See Report Commissioners Sinking Fund, 3d February, 1804
1805 Statement D.
D. 1806 35,697 77 Do.
1811 1811 56,726 14
$ 54,193 72
$ 129,640 66
ON THE MISSOURI QUESTION, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE 8TH AND 9TH OF FEBRUARY, 1820.
This speech was delivered while the House of Representatives was in com
mittee of the whole, on the bill for the admission of Missouri into the union. The debate in committee commenced on the 26th January, 1820, on the following amendment, proposed by Mr. Taylor of New York, to the bill : “ And shill ordain and establish that there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said state, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labour or service is lawfully claimed in any other state, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labour or service as aforesaid. And provided also, that the said provision shall not be construed to alter the condition or civil rights of any person now held to service or labour in the said territory."
The important question now before the committee, has already engaged the best talents, and commanded the deepest attention of the nation. What the people strongly feel, it is natural that they should freely express; and whether this is done by pamphlets and essays, by the resolutions of meetings of citizens, or by the votes of state legislatures, it is equally legitimate, and entitled to respect, as the voice of the public, upon a great and interesting public measure. The free expression of opinion, is one of the rights guaranteed by the constitution, and in a government like ours, it is an invaluable right. It has not, therefore, been without some surprize and concern, that I have heard it complained of, and even censured in this debate.
One member suggests to us, that in the excitement which prevails, he discerns the efforts of what he has termed an "expiring party,” aiming to re-establish itself in the possession of power, and has spoken of a “juggler behind the scene.” He surely has not reflected upon the magnitude of the principle contended for, or he would have perceived at once the utter insignificance of all objects of factious and party contest, when compared with the mighty interests it involves. It concerns ages to come, and millions to be born. We, who are here, our dissentions and conflicts, are nothing, absolutely nothing, in the comparison : and I cannot well conceive, that any man who is capable of raising his view to the clevation of this great question, could suddenly bring it down to the low and paltry consideration of party interests and party motives.
Another member, (Mr. M‘Lane) taking indeed a more liberal ground, has warned us against ambitious and designing men, who, he thinks, will always be ready to avail themselves of occasions of popular excitement, to mount into power upon the ruin of our government, and the destruction of our liberties. Sir, I am not afraid of what is called popular excitement-all history teaches us, that revolutions are not the work of men, but of time and circumstances, and a long train of preparation. Men do not produce them: they are brought on by corruption—they are generated in the quiet and stillness of apathy, and to my mind, nothing could present a more frightful indication, than public indifference to such a question as this. It is not by vigorously maintaining great moral and political principles, in their purity, that we incur the danger. If gentlemen are sincerely desirous to perpetuate the blessings of that free constitution under which we live, I would advise them to apply their exertions to the preservation of public and private virtue, upon which its existence, I had almost said, entirely depends. As long as this is preserved, we have nothing to fear. When this shall be lost, when
luxury and vice and corruption, shall have usurped its place, then, indeed, a government resting upon the people for its support, must totter and decay, or yield to the designs of ambitious and aspiring men.
Another member, the gentleman to whom the committee lately listened with so much attention, (Mr. Clay,) after depicting forcibly and eloquently, what he deemed the probable consequences of the proposed amendment, appealed emphatically to Pennsylvania ; "the unambitious Pennsylvania, the keystone of the federal arch,” whether she would concur in a measure calculated to disturb the peace of the union. Sir, this was a single arch; it is rapidly becoming a combination of arches, and where the centre now is, whether in Kentucky or Pennsylvania, or where at any given time it will be, might be very difficult to tell. Pennsylvania may indeed be styled “ unambitious," for she has not been anxious for what are commonly deemed honours and distinctions, nor eager to display her weight and importance in the affairs of the nation.
She has, nevertheless, felt, and still does feel, her responsibility to the union, and under a just sense of her duty, has always been faithful to its interests, under every vicissitude, and in every exigency. But Pennsylvania feels also a high responsibility to a great moral principle, which she has long ago adopted with the most impressive solemnity, for the rule of her own conduct, and which she stands bound to assert and maintain, wherever her influence and power can be applied, without injury to the just rights of her sister states.- It is this principle, and this alone, that now governs her conduct. She holds it too sacred to suffer it to be debased by association with any party or factious views, and she will pursue it with the singleness of heart, and with the firm but unoffending temper which belong to a conscientious discharge of duty, and which, I hope I may say, have characterized her conduct in all her relations. If any one desire to know what this principle is, he shall hear it in