« FöregåendeFortsätt »
protection, high taxes, or any other artificial cause, it is the evidence of the very reverse, and always indicates something wrong, and a tendency to derangement and decay.
Having arrived at this conclusion, I will now hazard the assertion, that in no country on earth is labor, taking it all in all, more effective than ours; and especially in the Northern and Eastern portions. What people can excel our Northern and New England brethren in skill, invention, activity, energy, perseverance, and enterprise ? In what portion of the globe will you find a position more favorable to a free ingress and egress, and facility of intercourse, external and internal, through the broad limits of our wide-spread country—a region surpassed by none, taking into consideration extent and fertility ? Where will you find such an abundant supply of natural capital, the gift of a kind Providence ; lands cheap, plenty and fertile ; water power unlimited ; and the supply of fuel, and the most useful of metals, iron, almost without stint. It is true, in accumulated capital, the fruits of past labor, through a long succession of ages, not equal to some other countries, but even in that, far from being deficient, and to whatever extent deficient, would be more than compensated by the absence of all restrictions, and the lightness of the burden imposed on labor, should our Government, State and General, wisely avail itself of the advantages of our situation. If these views be correct, there is no country where labor, if left to itself, free from restriction, would be more effective, and where it would command greater abundance of every necessary and comfort, or higher wages; and where, of course, protection is less needed. Instead of an advantage, it must, in fact, prove an impediment. It is high time, then, that the shackles should be thrown off industry, and its burden lightened, as far as the just wants of the Government may possibly admit. We have arrived at the manhood of our vigor. Open the wayremove all restraints—take off the swaddling-cloth that bound the limbs of infancy, and let the hardy, intelligent and enterprising sons of New England, march forth fearlessly to meet the world in competition, and she will prove, in a few years, the successful rival of Old England. The foreign market once commanded, all conflicts between the different sections and industry of the country would cease.
It is better for us and you, that our cotton should go out in yarn and goods, than in the raw state ; and when that is done, the interests of all the parts of this great Confederacy–North, East, South, and West—with every variety of its pursuits, would be harmonized; but not till then.
If the course of policy I advocate be wise as applied to manufacturers, how much more strikingly so must it be when applied to the other two great interests of that section, commerce and navigation ? I pass the former, and shall conclude what I intended to say on this point with a few remarks applicable to the latter. Navigation (I mean that employed in our foreign trade) is essentially our outside interest, exposed to the open competition of all the world. It has met, and met successfully, the competition of the lowest wages, not only without protection, but with heavy burdens on almost every article that enters into the outfit, the rigging, and construction of our noble vessels, the timber excepted. If, with such onerous burdens, it has met in successful rivalry the navigation of all other countries, what an impulse it would receive if the load that bears down its springs were removed ! and what immense additions that increased impulse would give, not only to our wealth, but to the means of national influence and safety, where only we can be felt, and in the quarter from which only external danger is to be apprehended !
I have now, Mr. President, concluded what I proposed to say, when I arose to address the Senate. I have limited my remarks to the prominent consequences, in a pecuniary and fiscal view, which would result, should the scheme of assumption be adopted. There are higher, and still more important consequences, which I have not attempted to trace; I mean the effects, morally and politically, as resulting from those which I have traced, and presented to the Senate. This, I hope, may be done by some other Senator, in the course of the discussion. But I have said enough to show that the scheme which these resolutions are intended to condemn, ought to be avoided as the most fatal poison, and the most deadly pestilence. It is, in reality, but a scheme of plunder. Let blood be lapped, and the appetite will be insatiable.
But the States are deeply in debt, and it may be asked what shall be done? I know that they are in debt-deeply in debt. I deplore it. Yes, in debt, I am not afraid to assert it, in many instances, for the most idle projects, got up and pursued in the most thoughtless manner. Nor am I ignorant how deep pecuniary embarrassments, whether of States or individuals, blunt every feeling of honest pride, and deaden the sense of justice; but I do trust, that there is not a member of this great and proud Confederacy, so lost to every feeling of self-respect and sense of justice, as to desire to charge its individual debts on the common fund of the Union, or to impose them on the shoulders of its more prudent associates; or, let me add, to dishonor itself, and the name of an American, by refusing to pay the foreigner what it justly owes. Let the indebted States remember in time, that there is but one honest mode of paying their debts; stop all further increase, and impose taxes, to discharge what they owe. There is not a State, even the most indebted, with the smallest resources, that has not ample resources to meet its engagements. For one, I pledge myself ; South Carolina is also in debt. She has spent her thousands in wasteful extravagance on one of the most visionary schemes that ever entered into the head of a thinking man. I dare
say this even of her; I, who on this floor stood up to defend her almost
alone against those who threatened her with fire and sword, but who now are so squeamish about State Rights, as to be shocked to hear it asserted that a State is capable of extravagant and wasteful expenditures. Yes, I pledge myself that she will pay punctually every dollar she owes, should it take the last cent, without inquiring whether it was spent wisely or foolishly. Should I in this be by possibility mistaken—should she tarnish her unsullied honor, and bring discredit on our common country, by refusing to redeem her plighted faith (which I hold impossible), deep as is my devotion to her, and mother as she is to me, I would disown her.
On the Right of Petition, delivered in the Senate,
February 13th, 1840.
[MR. CLAY of Kentucky, having presented an abolition petition, signed by a single individual, and accompanied its presentation with some remarks-]
Mr. Calhoun said he rose to express the pleasure he felt at the evidence which the remarks of the Senator from Kentucky furnished of the progress of truth on the subject of abolition. He had spoken, with strong approbation, of the principle laid down in a recent pamphlet, that two races, of different character and origin, could not coexist in the same country, without the subordination of the one to the other. He was gratified to hear the Senator give assent to so important a principle, in application to the condition of the South. He had himself, several years since, stated the same, in more specific terms; that it was impossible for two races, so dissimilar in every respect as the European and African, that inhabit the Southern portion of this Union, to exist together in nearly equal numbers, in any other relation than that which existed there. He also added, that experience had shown that they could so exist in peace and happiness there, certainly to the great benefit of the inferior race; and that to destroy it, was to doom the latter to destruction. But he attered these important truths then in vain, as far as the side to which the Senator belongs is concerned.
He trusted the progress of truth would not, however, stop at the point to which it has arrived with the Senator, and that it will make some progress in regard to what is called the right of petition. Never was a right so much mystified and magnified. To listen to the discussion, here and elsewhere, you would suppose it to be the most essential and important right : so far from it, he undertook to aver that, under our free and popular system, it was among the least of all our political rights. It had been superseded, in a great degree, by the far higher right of general suffrage, and by the practice, now so common, of instruction. There could be no local grievance but what could be reached by these, except it might be the grievance, affecting a minority, which could be no more redressed by petition than by them. The truth is, that the right of petition could scarcely be said to be the right of a freeman. It belongs to despotic governments more properly, and might be said to be the last right of slaves. Who ever heard of petition in the free states of antiquity ? We had borrowed our notions in regard to it from our British ancestors, with whom it had a value, for their imperfect representation, far greater than it has with us; and it is owing to that it has a place at all in our constitution. The truth is, that the right has been so far superseded, in a political point of view, that it has ceased to be what the constitution contemplated it to be a shield to protect