« FöregåendeFortsätt »
known, and this cant about petition, not to redress the grievances of the petitioners, but to create a grievance elsewhere, be put down.
[After some discussion, in which Messrs. Brown, Tallmadge, Buchanan, Webster, Smith, and Clay took part, Mr. Calhoun rejoined :-)
I rise to say that I have heard the remarks of the Senator who has just concluded (Mr. Clay) with deep regret. I make no impeachment of motive, but am compelled to say that what he has said, and the course he so strongly recommends in regard to these petitions, are calculated, especially at this moment, to do much harm. If we should have the folly to adopt it, to receive these slanderous and incendiary petitions, to take jurisdiction over the subject, and to argue the case with their authors, as the Senator advises, it would, in the end, prove fatal to us. I know this question to the bottom. I have viewed it under every possible aspect. There is no safety but in prompt, determined, and uncompromising defence of our rights—to meet the danger on the frontier. There all rights are strongest, and more especially this. The moral is like the physical world. Nature has incrusted the exterior of all organic life, for its safety. Let that be broken through, and it is all weakness within. So in the moral and political world. It is on the extreme limits of right that all wrong and encroachments are the most sensibly felt and easily resisted. I have acted on this principle throughout, in this great contest. I took my lessons from the patriots of the Revolution. They met wrong promptly, and defended right against the first encroachment. To sit here, and hear ourselves and constituents, and their rights and institutions (essential to their safety), assailed from day to day—denounced by every epithet calculated to degrade and render us odious; and to meet all this in silence, or, still worse, to reason with the foul slanderers, would eventually destroy every feeling of pride and dignity,
If we go
and sink us, in feelings, to the condition of the slaves they would emancipate. And this the Senator advises us to do. Adopt it, and the two Houses would be converted into halls to debate our rights to our property, and whether, in holding it, we were not thieves, robbers, and kidnappers; and we are to submit to this in order to quiet the North! I tell the Senator that our Union, and our high moral tone of feeling on this subject at the South, are infinitely more important to us than any possible effect that his course could have at the North ; and that, if we could have the weakness to adopt his advice, it would even fail to effect the object intended.
It is proper to speak out. If this question is left to itself, unresisted by us, it cannot but terminate fatally to us. Our safety and honor are in the opposite direction—to take the highest ground, and maintain it resolutely. The North will always take position below us, be ours high or low. They will yield all that we will, and something more. for rejection, they will at first insist on receiving, on the ground of respect for petition. If we yield that point, and receive petitions, they will go for reference, on the ground that it is absurd to receive and not to act, as it truly is. If we go for that, they will next insist on reporting and discussing; and, if that, the next step will be to make concession —to yield the point of abolition in this district; and so on, till the whole process is consummated, each succeeding step proving more easy than its predecessor. The reason is obvious. The abolitionists understand their game. They throw their votes to the party most disposed to favor them. Now, Sir, in the hot contest of party in the Northern section, on which the ascendency in their several States and the General Government may depend, all the passions are roused to the greatest height in the violent struggle, and aid sought in every quarter. They would forget us in the heat of battle ; yes, the success of the el on, for the would be more important than our safety, unless we, by our determined
stand on our rights, cause our weight to be felt, and satisfy both parties that they have nothing to gain by courting those who aim at our destruction. As far as this Government is concerned, that is our only remedy. If we yield that, if we lower our stand to permit partisans to woo the aid of those who are striking at our interests, we shall commence a descent, in which there is no stopping place short of total abolition, and with it our destruction.
A word in answer to the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. 5.12: Webster). He attempted to show that the right of petition
was peculiar to free governments. So far is the assertion from being true, that it is more appropriately the right of despotic governments; and the more so, the more absolute and austere. So far from being peculiar, or congenial, to free popular states, it degenerates under them, necessarily, into an instrument, not of redress for the grievances of the petitioners, but, as has been remarked, of assault on the rights of others, as in this case. That I am right in making the asser- 1 tion, I put it to the Senator-have we not a right, under the constitution, to our property in our slaves ? Would it not be a violation of the constitution to divest us of that right ? Have we not a right to enjoy, under the constitution, peaceably and quietly, our acknowledged rights guaranteed by it, without annoyance? The Senator assents. He does but justice to his candor and intelligence. Now, I ask him, how can he assent to receive petitions, whose object is to annoy and disturb our right, and, of course, in direct infraction of the constitution ?
The Senator from Ohio (Mr. Tappan), in refusing to present these incendiary and unconstitutional petitions, has adopted a course truly constitutional and patriotic, and, in my opinion, the only one that is so. I deeply regret that it has not been followed by the Senator from Kentucky in the present instance. Nothing short of it can put a stop to the mischief, and do justice to one-half of the States of the Union.
If adopted by others, we shall soon hear no more of abolition. The responsibility of keeping alive this agitation, must rest on those who may refuse to follow so noble an example.
On the Motion of Mr. Benton to print certain docu
ments connected with the Manufacture of Salt,
[Mr. Benton from the Committee on Finance, to which had been referred the following documents connected with the duties on salt and fishing bounties :
1. Thirty queries on the salt trade, and salt manufacture in the West, addressed to his constituents by Mr. Benton of Missouri, with their answers thereto, showing the monopoly, adulteration, deficient bushel, restricted allowance, stinted quantity, and extortionate price of salt in Missouri, and the necessity of the free admission of foreign salt.
2. A communication from the Democratic State Convention in Missouri; from the IIon. Mr. Miller of Missouri; from the Hon. Mr. Chapman of Iowa; from Judge King of Missouri, showing the monopoly, adulteration, extortionate price, and other abuses in the salt trade; and the connection of several banks with the said monopoly and abuses.
3. A general statement of the salt manufactories in the United States and their products, and cost of their salt at their works; with a particular account of the salt works in New England, in New-York, at the Kanawha, and on the Holston, in Virginia, and of the import of foreign salt at New Orleans.
4. Statistics of salt, showing its localities, diffusion, abundance, and universality; its various forms, both liquid and solid; its different qualities; its manufacture; its cheapness of first cost; its uses in the animal economy, in agriculture, in different branches of rural economy, and in the useful arts; its vast consumption; the tendency of monarchical governments to tax it oppressively, both in ancient and in modern times; the repugnance of the people to the tax in all ages; its final abolition in many countries; compiled from English, French, and American Encyclopedias, and other authentic sources.
On this motion a debate arose, which was marked by great excitement, and in which a large number of Senators participated. Mr. Calhoun near the close of the discussion rose and said : -]
That as the question was about to be put, he desired to make a few remarks on the motion, before he gave his vote. In the first place, he wished to know from the Chairman of the Committee of Finance (Mr. Wright) whether the proposition to print these papers at this time, is intended to have any practical bearing; or, in other words, is it the intention of that committee to report the bill now before it, to repeal the duty on salt, for the action of the Senate this session ?
[The answer of Mr. Wright not being very definite, Mr. C. continued :)
I understood from the declaration of the Senator who introduced the bill (Mr. Benton), that it was intended to press the passage of the bill this session.
[Mr. Benton said, yes.]
Well, then, I shall vote against the printing, because, among other reasons, I am opposed to the repeal, or any other action on the subject, at this time. According to my view of your finances, we shall have not a cent to spare. The most rigid economy will scarcely be sufficient to carry us through the year without borrowing, or what is the same in effect, resorting to our own credit ; and if the duty on salt should be repealed, the deficit would have to be made up by laying a corresponding duty on something else, or borrowing money to make good the deficit, to either of which I am opposed. I ask the Chairman if my impression as to the state of the treasury, and what must be the consequence of a repeal of the duty, is not correct ?
[Mr. Wright assented.] I now ask the Senators from that portion of the Union,