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SPEECH AT NEW YORK.
DELIVERED AT NIBLO'S SALOON, ON THE 15TH DAY OF MARCH, 1837.
MR. CHAIRMAN, AND Fellow-CITIZENS :-It would be idle in me to affect to be indifferent to the circumstances under which I have now the honor of addressing you.
-- I find myself in the commercial metropolis of the continent, in the midst of a vast assembly of intelligent men, drawn from all the classes, professions, and pursuits of life.
And you have been pleased, gentlemen, to meet me, in this imposing manner, and to offer me a warm and cordial welcome to your city. thank you. I feel the full force and importance of this manifestation of your regard. In the highly flattering resolutions which invited me here, in the respectability of this vast multitude of my fellow-citizens, and in the approbation and hearty good-will which you have here manifested, I feel cause for profound and grateful acknowledgment.
To every individual of this meeting, therefore, I would now most respectfully make that acknowledgment; and with every one, as with hands joined in mutual greeting, I reciprocate friendly salutation, respect, and good wishes.
But, gentlemen, although I am well assured of your personal regard, I cannot fail to know, that the times, the political and commercial condition of thinys which exists among us, and an intelligent spirit, awakened to new activity and a new degree of anxiety, have mainly contributed to fill these avenues and crowd these halls. At a moment of difficulty, and of much alarm, you come here as whigs of New York, to meet one
whom you suppose to be bound to you by common principles and common sentiments, and pursuing, with you, a common object. Gentlemen, I am proud to admit this community of our principles, and this identity of our objects. You are for the constitution of the country ; so am I. You are for the union of the states; so am I. You are for equal laws, for the equal rights of all men, for constitutional and just restraints on power, for the substance and not the shadowy image only of popular institutions, for a government which has liberty for its spirit and soul, as well as in its forms; and sc am I. You feel that if, in warm party times, the executive power is in hands distinguished for boldness, for great success, for perseverance, and other qualities which strike men's minds strongly, there is danger of derangement of the powers of government, danger of a new division of those powers, in which the executive is likely to obtain the lion's part; and danger of a state of things in which the more popular branches of the government, instead of being guards and sentinels against any encroachments from the executive, seek, rather, support from its patronage, safety against the complaints of the people in its ample and all-protecting favor, and refuge in its power; and so I feel, and so I have felt for eight long and anxious years.
You believe that a very efficient and powerful cause in the production of the evils which now fall on the industrious and commercial classes of the community, is the derangement of
the destruction of the exchanges, and the unnatural and unnecessary misplacement of the specie of the country, by unauthorized and illegal treasury orders. So do I believe. I predicted all this from the beginning, and from before the beginning. I predicted it all, last spring, when that was attempted to be done by law which was afterward done by executive authority; and from the moment of the exercise of that executive authority to the present time, I have both foreseen and seen the regular progress of things under it, from inconvenience
and embarrassment, to pressure, loss of confidence, disorder, and bankruptcies.
Gentlemen, I mean, on this occasion, to speak my sentiments freely on the great topics of the day. I have nothing to conceal, and shall therefore conceal nothing. In regard to political sentiments, purposes, or objects, there is nothing in my heart which I am ashamed of; I shall throw it all open, therefore, to you, and to all men. [That is right, said some one in the crowd ; let us have it, with no non-committal.] Yes, my friend, without non-committal or evasion, without barren generalities or empty phrase, without if or but, without a single touch, in all I say, bearing the oracular character of an inaugural, I shall, on this occasion, speak my mind plainly, freely and independently, to men who are just as free to concur or not to concur in my sentiments, as I am to utter them. I think you are entitled to hear my opinions freely and frankly spoken; but I freely acknowledge that you are still more clearly entitled to retain, and maintain, your own opinions, however they may differ or agree with mine.
It is true, gentlemen, that I have contemplated the relinquishment of my seat in the senate for the residue of the term, now two years, for which I was chosen. This resolution was not taken from disgust or discouragement, although some things have certainly happened which might excite both those feelings. But in popular governments, men must not suffer themselves to be permanently disgusted by occasional exhibitions of political harlequinism, or deeply discouraged, although their efforts to awaken the people to what they deem the dangerous tendency of public measures be not crowned with immediate success. It was altogether from other causes, and other considerations, that, after an uninterrupted service of fourteen or fifteen years, I naturally desired a respite. But those whose opinions I am bound to respect saw objections to a present withdrawal from congress; and I have yielded my own strong desire to their con victions of what the public good requires.
Gentlemen, in speaking here on the subjects which now so much interest the community, I wish in the outset to disclaim all personal disrespect toward individuals. He whose character and fortune have exercised such a decisive influence on our politics for eight years, has now retired from public station. I pursue him with no personal reflections, no reproaches. Be tween him and myself, there has always existed a respectful personal intercourse. Moments have existed, indeed, critical and decisive upon the general success of his administration, in which he has been pleased to regard my aid as not altogether unimportant. I now speak of him respectfully, as a distinguished soldier, as one who, in that character, has done the state much service; as a man, too, of strong and decided character, of unsubdued resolution and perseverance in whatever he undertakes. In speaking of his civil administration, I speak without censoriousness, or harsh imputation of motives; I wish him health and happiness in his retirement; but I must still speak as I think of his public measures, and of their general bearing and tendency, not only on the present interests of the country, but also on the well-being and security of the government itself.
There are, however, some topics of a less urgent present application and importance, upon which I wish to say a few words, before
advert to those which are more immediately connected with the present distressed state of things.
My learned and highly valued friend (Mr. Ogden) who has addressed me in your behalf, has been kindly pleased to speak of my political career as being marked by a freedom from local interests and prejudices, and a devotion to liberal and comprehensive views of public policy.
I will not say that this compliment is deserved. I will only say, that I have earnestly endeavored to deserve it. Gentle
men; the general government, to the extent of its power, is national. It is not consolidated, it does not embrace all powers of government. On the contrary, it is delegated, restrained, strictly limited.
But what powers it does possess, it possesses for the general, not for any partial or local good. It extends over a vast terri. tory, embracing now six-and-twenty states, with interests various, but not irreconcilable, infinitely diversified, but capable of being all blended into political harmony.
He, however, who would produce this harmony must survey the whole field, as if all parts were as interesting to himself as they are to others, and with that generous, patriotic feeling, prompter and better than the mere dictates of cool reason, which leads him to embrace the whole with affectionate regard, as constituting, altogether, that object which he is so much bound to respect, to defend, and to love-his country. We have around us, and more or less within the influence and pro tection of the general government, all the great interests of agriculture, navigation, commerce, manufactures, the fisheries, and the mechanic arts. The duties of the government, then, cer. tainly extend over all this territory, and embrace all these vast interests. We have a maritime frontier, a sea coast, of many thousand miles; and while no one doubts that it is the duty of government to defend this coast by suitable military preparations, there are those who yet suppose that the powers of gov. ernment stop at this point; and that as to works of peace and works of improvement, they are beyond our constitutional limits. I have ever thought otherwise. Congress has a right, no doubt, to declare war, and to raise armies and navies; and it has necessarily the right to build fortifications and batteries, to protect the coast from the effects of war. But congress has authority also, and it is its duty, to regulate commerce, and it has the whole power of collecting duties on imports and tonnage. It must have ports and harbors, and dock-yards also, for