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ing. His enunciation is slow, but distinct and fluent. The same accurate logical precision characterizes his language and his thoughts. He is the most perfectly calm, methodical and logical speaker that we have ever listened to. His opinions are habitually marked by moderation-by a constant regard to the results of actual experience, as well as the dictates of an enlarged reason-by a fixed determination to be practical, at the same time that he is giving scope to the broadest general views. In his speeches there is nothing of the never-ceasing labors and ponderous energy of Benton; nothing of the abstractions, the rapid and grand generalization, the intellectual exuberance, the eagerness and fiery breath, of Calhoun; nothing of the silver tones, the splendid amplification, of Clay; nor the rapid thoughts. the wit and pleasantry, of CrittendenThe eloquence of Wright bears the stamp of deep reflection, of firm counsels; and over every sentence which he utters, there breathes a profound knowledge of the principles which he maintains. He states the question to be examined, as well as the positions which he assumes, with a clearness and force which gain the admiration
adversaries; and when he replies, he makes his approaches like a skilful artillerist, who covers himself by a parapet or a casemate when he is about to demolish the fortress of the enemy.
Of Mr. Wright's senatorial career it is needless to speak. There has been no individual in that high legislative body of whom the sentiment has been more universally felt by the Democratic party throughout the country, that he could not under any circumstances be spared from his seat there. The Committee on Finance has been his chief post of labor, at the same time that he has been a frequent, and always a powerfully influential speaker on the floor. It may safely be said, that no man has ever discharged all the duties of that elevated position with more indefatigable industry or greater ability.
In his private life Mr. Wright is as simple and frugal, as in his public capacity he is dignified and great. There is a genuine homespun plainness about him, which is at the same time finely contrasted and finely consistent with
attentive, because they knew that he possessed the entire confidence of the Executive, and therefore that whatever revelations he might make were to be regarded as authentic and conclusive. It was evident, in a few moments after he had risen, that he had prepared himself fully, and that he would be able to present the truth with simplicity-without hesitation or the least affectation. During the two hours that he occupied the floor, he invoked the aid of no rhetorical figures, nor was there in a single sentence that fell from him the slightest tinge of passion or prejudice, or embittered feeling. Whilst his adversaries had spoken to the throng within and without the Senate, the young Senator spoke to it, and through it to the whole nation. It was curious to observe with what coolness, energy and effect, combined with the most unruffled courtesy, the orator dispelled, one after another, the delusions under which the Opposition had been laboring; and when he at last announced that the Executive was content to appeal from any sentence which they might pronounce, back to the people from whom he and they alike derived their respective powers, the effect was wholly irresistible. It forewarned the Federal members, and truly too, that the tempestuous passions of the Senate chamber would soon be quelled by the solemn judgment of their constituents. Mr. Wright passed through this memora ble contest as became one of his rare gifts. Even his opponents confessed with admiration the skill and ingenuity of the speaker's logic, and placed him at once in the very front rank of the friends of the Administration, side by side with the best and foremost; while many have been accustomed to assign him the first place, as the Administration "leader" in the Senate, for weight, soundness, discretion, and eloquence.
It will be asked if Mr. Wright is an orator. In the common sense of the term, he is not. We have never known him excited beyond his usual level of cool equanimity. He never delaims, he never addresses the passions, nor attempts to charm the imagination with the figures or embellishments of rhetoric. His voice is not melodious, though after listening to it for a short time it becomes not unpleas
the most gentlemanly courtesy and kindliness. A poor man, after so long a possession of a position which could at any time have commanded the most lucrative political patronage in the gift of the Government, he is as pure and sterling as the gold which he despises. Devoted to his principles, his party and his friends, because in them he sees the true highest interests of his country, he is, as we firmly believe, the most perfectly free from all personal ambition or interestedness, of all the public men of the day.
The following little glimpse of the great statesman at home, was related by the late General Macomb, after his return, in 1838, from a tour of inspection along the line of the northern frontier, during the troubles of that period:
"I had occasion to visit Canton in October, and as soon as I arrived, I inquired for the residence of Mr. Wright. I was directed to a small neat cottage, whither I made my way; and on approaching it I saw a man with his coat off, wheeling a wheelbarrow along one of the walks of a very large garden which was attached to the house. As I came near, I discovered that the laborer was my friend Wright. He received me with great cordiality; said that his garden was cultivated mainly by his own hands, and that he was putting away his winter vegetables, and preparing to depart for Washington towards the last of the coming month. He further said, with the greatest apparent satisfaction, that he had recently purchased a farm, and intended to extend his agricultural operations. He was asked how large the farm was that he had purchased,
-to which he said, twenty acres !—that either from natural inclination, or the effect of early habits, he was much devoted to the pure and simple pursuits and pleasures of the country."
It will be seen from the above that Mr. Wright is yet in the flower of his age, being only in his forty-eighth year. We look forward to a glorious continuance and eventual consummation of the high political career along which we have thus slightly traced
his strong and steady footsteps. His last act, indeed, it is unnecessary for us, after the extreme anti-tariff doctrines already advocated in this Review, to say that we witnessed with profound regret. But we are far from presuming to censure, even when we may most decidedly differ from such a man as Wright. The responsibility of his position was of a character not easily to be appreciated by any person not actually in the midst of all its delicate difficulties. He had fully signalized his opposition to the bill of abominations which was crammed down the throat of Congress and the country by the dominant Whig majority, in his votes and remarks during its progress through the Senate; the strong reprobation of the bill freely expressed by Mr. Van Buren, the object of Mr. Wright's high personal and political attachment, was well known; and the speech with which Mr. Wright accompanied his final vote on its pasreluctant necessity, to carry on the very sage amply explained the grounds of government of the country, on which he felt compelled to the course he pursued-on his own single independent consultation responsibility, without with any friend either present or absent. He will undoubtedly, at the earliest moment at which it will be practicable, be found one of the most strenuous to urge the radical reform of the present tariff down to the standard to which we all consent, namely, a bona fide undiscriminating revenue tariff, adjusted to the most economical scale of public expenditure. It is well, perhaps, that it has been allowed to
come into existence, as its failure will serve to make more complete and final the settlement of this long vexed question of Protection, now, we trust, near at hand. Yet we cannot close without again expressing our regret, that it should have been by the vote of one who at the same time possesses and deserves in so high a degree the confidence and attachment of the Democracy of the Union, as SILAS WRIGHT.
MR. COST JOHNSON'S FORLORN HOPE.
WHEN an assault is about to be made upon a difficult fortification, the besieging commander usually selects, from the volunteers, a little band of the bravest to lead the way, perchance to die in the breach. Such parties are termed, in military phrase, "forlorn hopes." Peace hath these parties as well as war. Mr. Cost Johnson has undertaken to lead the forlorn hope in this last and worst assault upon the Constitution. A forlorn hope indeed, we opine, both he and his allies, at home and abroad, avowed and secret, will find it to be.
Here is a notable scheme for giving away our vast national domain! Not that we are asked to give all of it at once. Oh, no, the modest request extends only to two hundred millions worth. But it is easy to see, that if two hundred millions are given away to-day, they who do it, will find another reason for giving away as much to-morrow; and thus, in a few years, we shall have nothing more to give.
The apparent disfavor with which this project of an eminent Whig is received by his Whig brethren should not deceive us. The Democratic party cannot, without abandoning their first principles, consent to any such measure; and if it ever meet with any favor or success, it can come only from that heterogeneous party, now designated by the general name of Whigs. At present, no doubt most of them are against it; but we fear that many of their leaders are for it; and from certain indications which we perceive, we think it quite possible that it may yet be taken up by the Whigs, as a party, and made a prominent part of their policy. It is because we think so, that we take this early opportunity to call the attention of the people to the subject, and to sound the alarm, as if there were danger at hand.
What is the time chosen for this demonstration? The finances of the federal government are disordered beyond anything we have ever known in a time of peace. Its credit has
been shaken. Its expenditures have exceeded its revenues considerably; and it has succeeded in meeting its payments only by successive issues of Treasury Notes. It is in this condition of its credit and its finances that a proposition is brought forward to create by one act a larger debt than any hitherto known in our history! Should it, can it, receive any favor?
That it should not, we think perfectly clear, for many reasons; suffice it here to point out three:
1. Its breach of the conditions on which the lands derived from the States were ceded to the Union.
2. Its perversion of the powers of Congress.
3. Its pernicious consequences to the purity of the government and the peace of the country.
When the Union was formed it had no domain. The lands at the West, this side the Mississippi, and north of Florida, belonged to different States; principally to Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. They were ceded to the Union at the urgent solicitation of Congress, and always upon certain conditions, all having the same general tenor. That in the grant of Virginia, for instance, was to the effect that the lands should
be considered a common fund for the use and benefit of the States, according to their respective proportions in the general charge and expenditure, and be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever." Massachusetts ceded her lands "to the United States for their benefit." New York and South Carolina did the same. Connecticut made her grant "for the common use and benefit of the said States, Connecticut inclusive." North Carolina stipulated that the lands should "be considered as a common fund, for the use and benefit of the United States, and be faithfully disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever." Georgia made the same condition in nearly the same words. Congress had re
peatedly asked the States to make these cessions for the purpose of aiding the United States in sustaining their credit, paying their debts, and to promote the harmony of the Union; and the other States demanded them, because the lands were defended by the blood and treasure of all.
Now considering the request of Congress and the acts of cession, it seems quite clear that no use ought to be made of the lands for the particular benefit of any of the States. The equal benefit of all is the only object to which this common fund can be appropriated, consistently with the fair interpretation of the grants. Is the present such an one? It will not do to say that it is for the advantage of all, that no State should be embarrassed. According to this view, any particular benefit is a general benefit. The common use of all the States is the same thing as the special use of a few indebted States. The condition might as well have been left out, for this construction makes it useless.
Would anybody ever have thought of this plan of distributing two hundred millions of government stock, issued on account of the public lands, if some of the States had not been indebted? The occasion is the embarrassment of a few States that want the money to pay their debts; the motive is the relief of those States. Do not the occasion and the motive explain the "use and purpose" of this proposed appropriation, to be something else than the "common use and benefit" of ALL the States?
THEN, IN THE SECOND PLACE, would it not be a perversion, to use no harsher word, of the powers of Congress under the Constitution? That instrument confers on Congress "the power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory or other property of the United States, and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State." Now it may be conceded, that the power of Congress to dispose of the national domain is unlimited, so much so, that what they might do in that respect could not be questioned in any court. But the right is another matter. Suppose our legislators, at the Capitol, were to parcel out a mil
lion of acres among themselves. It might be, that the grants made in pursuance of such an act, could not be set aside as null in the courts of law; and yet the whole world would pronounce it a monstrous abuse of power. Congress is the trustee for all the people of the country of this rich inheritance. If it despoils it or encumbers it, or alienates it, it is a faithless guardian, a dishonest trustee. The legislators, whom we send to Washington, have no right to use this "common fund," this tract of innumerable acres, for any purpose other than that for which they may use the money in the treasury. The property of the Union, in the shape of lands, can no more be misapplied to the State debts, than the property in the shape of money, which may have been received from the customs, or collected by direct taxation.
The parallel that has been drawn between this measure and that of Hamilton in 1790 for assuming the debts of the States, is fallacious. Without stopping to consider how much, even if the parallel existed, the argument would prove, it is enough at present to show that it does not exist.
The State debts then assumed had been incurred chiefly in the war of the Revolution, either in the general defence, or the defence of the particular State. Hamilton himself said, of both the State debts and the debts of the United States, "the objects for which both descriptions of the debt were contracted are in the main the same. Indeed, a great part of the particular debts of the States has arisen from assumptions by them, on account of the Union. And it is most equitable that there should be the same measure of retribution to all."
There had been accounts of long standing between the Union and the States. These had yet to be settled on principles of equity, requiring great moderation. The debts assumed were charged to the States in account with the Federal government, and even then it was supposed, that upon crediting them with all their expenditures during the war, there would appear balances in favor of all of them against the United States.
The State debts then existing had been incurred while the States still possessed the amplest powers of laying
duties on imports. When they adopt ed the Constitution, they surrendered to the Union these productive sources of revenue. There was some reason for their claim, that the Union having taken their revenues, should take also the debts which those revenues might have paid.
IN THE THIRD PLACE, if this plan could be adopted, without a violation of faith and an abuse of power, it would still be unwise. A debt of $200,000,000 created in a moment, without a dollar of expenditure, and without making any provision for future exigencies! Suppose a war were to follow on the heels of this grand experiment. What would then be the condition of our finances? Would they be ready for a war expenditure? The first effect of this measure would be to deprive the government of the means of carrying on any operations requiring a sound credit or ample revenues.
What would be its next effect? To encourage the State legislatures in a course of wasteful expenditure. The law, according to which extravagance is followed and punished by embarrassment, is one of the safeguards of society. Remove its restraints from individuals or States, and you do much to unsettle the moral order of the world. Once admit that the debts of the States may be paid out of the national domain, and the State legis latures, if perchance at any time they fall into the hands of needy adventurers, will have an additional encouragement placed at their doors, to engage in all sorts of schemes and outlays. What is done to-day may be repeated to-morrow; and if a reason be wanting, the same may be given on all occasions.
Allow the State debts to be paid by the Union, and you place the whole country at the mercy of three or four States. They may involve themselves in debts to any amount, and we must pay them; while, at the same time, we are utterly powerless to prevent them. We must answer for them, but we cannot control them. While we are in no wise responsible for their acts, we are made responsible for the consequences. Was there ever so unequal an alliance before? If we must needs fulfil their obligations, let us, at least, have the means of taking part
in their creation, and let us refrain from relieving them of the consequences of past extravagance, till we have some guaranty against the like extravagance in future.
And its effect upon the morals of Congress, what is that to be? Are there not already temptations enough in the paths of our Senators and Representatives? Shall we make them besides distributors of the public lands among the needy or unfortunate; a body of commissioners, to divide the real estate of the nation among the holders of State bonds? Who shall answer for the virtue of Congress, when the holders of $200,000,000 of State debts, besiege the Capitol with their applications for payment, ready to sacrifice one-quarter or one-half to obtain the rest? Legislators are but men, and if we allow them to take under their charge not only the finances of the nation, but the finances of the States, the temptations that will be thrown in their way may be too strong for human nature to resist.
There is no way to keep this government pure, but to confine it to its few, appropriate duties. The Constitution has enumerated the purposes for which it was established. The list is a short one, and easily understood. If Congress is restrained from going beyond that, if it is allowed to take little by construction, and made to interpret language in its natural sense, the Union may last for ever, and the people live under it prosperous and happy. But if Congress gives way to extreme constructions of the Constitution, if it resorts often to doubtful powers, or uses admitted powers for doubtful ends, the nation cannot last. Her legislative body will become corrupt, the States will resist it, and the government be broken in pieces.
Suppose that this plan of relieving the indebted States were once adopted by majorities in the two Houses, how will the solvent States bear it? How will Massachusetts, and Virginia, and Connecticut, and South Carolina, bear the alienation of that rich inheritance, which they parted with only for the common benefit of those whose blood and treasure had been spent in its defence? Will great and populous States remain quiet, and see their patrimony squandered by the faithless trustees into whose hands they had placed it?