Sidor som bilder

I replied that it was not impossible ; but the result has proved that I under-estimated the intelligence and patriotism of my virtuous and noble State. I ask her pardon for the distrust implied in my answer; but I ask, with assurance it will be granted, on the grounds I shall put it—that, in being prepared to sacrifice her confidence, as dear to me as light and life, rather than disobey, on this great question, the dictates of my judgment and conscience, I proved myself not unworthy of being her representative.

But if the Senator, in attributing to me stern fidelity, meant, not devotion to principle, but to party, and especially the party of which he is so prominent a member, my answer is, that I never belonged to his party, nor owed it any fidelity; and, of course, could forfeit, in reference to it, no character for fidelity. It is true, we acted in concert against what we believed to be the usurpations of the Executive ; and it is true that, during the time, I saw much to esteem in those with whom I acted, and contracted friendly relations with many, which I shall not be the first to forget. It is also true that a common party designation was applied to the opposition in the aggregate, not, however, with my approbation; but it is no less true that it was universally known that it consisted of two distinct parties, dissimilar in principle and policy, except in relation to the object for which they had united : the National Republican party, and the portion of the State Rights party which had separated from the administration, on the ground that it had departed from the true principles of the original party. That I belonged exclusively to that detached portion, and to neither the opposition nor administration party, I prove by my explicit declaration, contained in one of the extracts read from my speech on the currency in 1834. That the party generally, and the State which I represent in part, stood aloof from both of the parties, may be established from the fact that they refused to mingle in the party and political contests of the day. My State withheld her electoral vote in two successive presidential elections; and, rather than bestow it on either the Senator from Kentucky, or the distinguished citizen whom he opposed, in the first of those elections, she threw her vote on a patriotic citizen of Virginia, since deceased, of her own politics, but who was not a candidate; and, in the last, she refused to give it to the worthy Senator from Tennessee near me (Judge White), though his principles and views of policy approached so much nearer to hers than that of the party to which the Senator from Kentucky belongs. But, suppose the fact was otherwise, and that the two parties had blended so as to form one, and that I owed to the united party as much fidelity as I do to that to which I exclusively belonged ; even on that supposition, no conception of party fidelity could have controlled my course on the present occasion. I am not among those who pay no regard to party obligations ; on the contrary, I place fidelity to party among the political virtues, but I assign to it a limited sphere. I confine it to matters of detail and arrangement, and to minor questions of policy. Beyond that, on all questions involving principles, or measures calculated to affect materially the permanent interests of the country, I look only to God and my country.

And here, Mr. President, I avail myself of the opportunity to declare my present political position, so that there may be no mistake hereafter. I belong to the old Republican State Rights party of 1798. To that, and that alone, I owe fidelity, and by that I shall stand through every change, and in spite of every difficulty. Its creed is to be found in the Kentucky Resolutions, and Virginia Resolutions and Report ; and its policy is to confine the action of this Government within the narrowest limits compatible with the peace and security of these States, and the objects for which the Union was expressly formed. I, as one of the party, shall support all who support its principles and policy, and oppose all who oppose them. I have given, and shall continue to give, the administration a hearty and sincere support on the great question now under discussion; because I regard it as in strict conformity with our creed and policy, and shall do every thing in my power to sustain them under the great responsibility which they have assumed. But let me tell those who are more interested in sustaining them than myself, that the danger which threatens them lies not here, but in another quarter. This measure will tend to uphold them, if they stand fast and adhere to it with fidelity. But, if they wish to know where the danger is, let them look to the fiscal department of the Government. I said, years ago, that we were committing an error the reverse of the great and dangerous one that was committed in 1828, and to which we owe our present difficulties, and all we have since experienced. Then, we raised the revenue greatly, when the expenditures were about to be reduced by the discharge of the public debt; and now, we have doubled the disbursements, when the revenue is rapidly decreasing: an error, which, although probably not so fatal to the country, will prove, if immediate and vigorous measures be not adopted, far more so to those in power. The country will not, and ought not, to bear the creation of a new debt beyond what may be temporarily necessary to meet the present embarrassment; and any attempt to increase the duties must and ought to prove fatal to those who make it, so long as the expenditures may, by economy and accountability, be brought within the limits of the revenue.

But the Senator did not confine his attack to my conduct and motives in reference to the present question. In his eagerness to weaken the cause I support, by destroying confidence in me, he made an indiscriminate attack on my intellectual faculties, which he characterized as metaphysical, eccentric, too much of genius, and too little common sense, and, of course, wanting a sound and practical judgment.

Mr. President, according to my opinion, there is nothing of

VOL. II.-18

which those who are endowed with superior mental faculties ought to be more cautious than to reproach those with their deficiency to whom Providence has been less liberal. The faculties of our mind are the immediate gift of our Creator, for which we are no further responsible than for their proper cultivation, according to our opportunities, and their proper application to control and regulate our actions. Thus thinking, I trust I shall be the last to assume superiority on my part, or reproach any one with inferiority on his; but those who do not regard the rule when applied to others, cannot expect it to be observed when applied to themselves. The critic must expect to be criticized, and he who points out the faults of others, to have his own pointed out.

I cannot retort on the Senator the charge of being metaphysical. I cannot accuse him of possessing the powers of analysis and generalization, those higher faculties of the mind (called metaphysical by those who do not possess them) which decompose and resolve into their elements the complex masses of ideas that exist in the world of mind, as chemistry does the bodies that surround us in the material world ; and without which those deep and hidden causes which are in constant action, and producing such mighty changes in the condition of society, would operate unseen and undetected. The absence of these higher qualities of mind is conspicuous throughout the whole course of the Senator's public life. To this it may be traced that he prefers the specious to the solid, and the plausible to the true. To the same cause, combined with an ardent temperament, it is owing that we ever find him mounted on some popular and favorite measure, which he whips along, cheered by the shouts of the multitude, and never dismounts till he has ridden it down. Thus, at one time we find him mounted on the protective system, which he rode down; at another, on internal improvement; and now he is mounted on a bank, which will surely share the same fate, unless those who are immediately


interested shall stop him in his headlong career. It is the fault of his mind to seize on a few prominent and striking advantages, and to pursue them eagerly, without looking to consequences. Thus, in the case of the protective system, he was struck with the advantages of manufactures; and, believing that high duties was the proper mode of protecting them, he pushed forward the system, without seeing that he was enriching one portion of the country at the expense of the other ; corrupting the one and alienating the other ; and, finally, dividing the community into two great hostile interests, which terminated in the overthrow of the system itself. So, now, he looks only to an uniform currency, and a bank as a means of securing it, without once reflecting how far the banking system has progressed, and the difficulties that impede its further progress ; that banking and politics are running together, to their mutual destruction ; and that the only possible mode of saving his favorite system is to separate it from the Government.

To the defects of understanding which the Senator attributes to me, I make no reply. It is for others, and not me, to determine what portion of understanding it has pleased the Author of my being to bestow on me. It is, however, fortunate for me, that the standard by which I shall be judged is not the false, prejudiced, and, as I have shown, unfounded opinion which the Senator has expressed, but my acts. They furnish materials, neither few nor scant, to form a just estimate of my mental faculties. I have now been more than twenty-six years continuously in the service of this Government, in various stations, and have taken part in almost all the great questions which have agitated this country during this long and important period. Throughout the whole I have never followed events, but have taken my stand in advance, openly and freely, avowing my opinions on all questions, and leaving it to time and experience to condemn or approve my course. Thus acting, I have often, and on

« FöregåendeFortsätt »