View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

J

t\

SPEECH
OF

HENRY CLAY;
DELIVERED AT THE GREAT

BARBECUE AT LEXINGTON, (KENTUCKY,)
June

1842.

9,

'

T;'

In reply to a very eloquent and complimentary address, with a toast from the Hon.

Robertson,

Clay

President

of

George

the Meeting, Mr.

arose and spoke as follows

was given

my

:

to

throw into my voice, its
As I cannot do that, I
hope I shall be excused for such a use of my
lungs as is practicable and not inconsistent
aid,

and

to

loudest thunders.

with the preservation of my health.
And I
feel that it is our first duty to express our
obligations to a kind and bountiful Providence, for the copious and genial showers
with which he has just blessed our land
refreshment of which it stood much in need.

—

For one,

I offer to

Him my humble and
1

The inconvenience

sum of good which

very

slight,

to us,

on

while the

these timely rains will

very great and encouraging.
Fellow-citizens, I find myself now in a

our countryman, Franklin, to bring down
the lightning from
Heaven. To enable me to be heard by this
immense multitude, I should have to invoke
to

thanks.

this festive occasion, is

produce

:

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen
It

ful

duti.

situation

is

somewhat

like

one

in

which

I

was

a few years ago when travelling
through the State of Indiana, from which

placed

my

friend (Mr. Rariden) near me comes.—
stopped at a village containing some four
or five hundred inhabitants, and I had
scarcely alighted before I found myself surI

rounded

in the

bar-room by every adult nmle

After a while, I observed a group consulting together in one
corner of the room, and shortly after, I was
diffidently approached by one of them, a tall,
lank, lean, but sedate and sober looking person, with a long face and high cheek bones,
who, addressing me, said he was commissioned by his neighbors to request that I
resident of the place.

—

Why, my
would say a few words to them.
good friend, said I, I should be very happy to
do any thing gratifying to yourself and
neighbors, but 1 am very much fatigued and
hungry and thirsty, and I do not think the
I
occasion is exactly suitable for a speech
wish you would excuse me to your triends.
Well, says he, Mr. Clay, I confess I thought
so myself, especially as we have no wine to
offer you to drink
Now if the worthy citizen of Indiana was
right in supposing that a glass of wine was
a necessary preliminary and precedent condition to the delivery of a speech, you have
no just right to expect one from me at this
time
for during the sumptuous repast from
which we have just risen, you offered me
nothing to drink but cold water excellent
water, it is true, from the classic fountain of
our lamented friend, Mr. Maxwell, which has
so often regaled us on celebrations of our
[Great laughter.]
great anniversary.
I protest against any inference of my being inimical to the Temperance Cause.
On the contrary, I think it an admirable
cause that has done great good, and will
continue to do good as long as legal coercion is not employed, and it rests exclusively upon persuasion and its own intrinsic
;

!

;

—

merits.

have a great and growing repugnance
speaking in the open air to a large assemblage.
But whilst the faculty of speech remains to me, I can never feel that repugnance,
never feel other than grateful sensations, in
making my acknowledgments under such
circumstances as those which have brought
us together.
Not that I am so presumptuous as to believe that I have been the occaI

to

sion solely of collecting this vast multitude.
the inducements, I cannot help

Among

thinking that the

my

fat

white virgin

heifer of

Mr. Berryman, that cost $600,
which has just been served up, and the other good things which have been so liberally
spread before us, exerted some influence in
friend

swelling this unprecedentedly large meeting.

[Great laughter.]
I cannot but feel, Mr. President, in offering

my

respectful

honors done me,

acknowledgments
in

the

for the

address
and in the

eloquent

which you have just delivered,
sentiment with which you concluded it, that
your warm partiality, and the fervent friendship which has so long existed between us,

;

and

my

neighbors and
prompted an exaggerated description, in too giowing colors,
of my public services and my poor abilities.
kindness of

the

friends around me, have

opportunity to present my
whole people of Kentucky, for all the high honors and distinguished favors which I have received, during a long residence with them, at their
hands; from the liberal patronage which I
have received from them in my professional
I

seize

the

heartfelt thanks to the

pursuit

;

eminent

for the

places

me

in

which

reach ;
for the generous and unbounded confidence
which they have bestowed upon me, at all
for the gallant and unswerving fideltimes
ity and attachment with which they stood
by me, throughout all the trials and vicissitudes of an eventful and arduous life ; and
above all, for the scornful indignation with
which they repelled an infamous calumny
directed against my name and fame at a momentous period of my public career. In
recalling to our memory the circumstances
of that period, one cannot but be filled with
astonishment at the indefatigability with
which the calumny was propagated and the
zealous partisan use to which it was applied, not only without evidence, but in the face
Under
of a full and complete refutation.
whatever deception, delusion or ignorance,
with you, my
it was received elsewhere,
friends and neighbors, and with the good
people of Kentucky, it received no countenance ; but in proportion to the venom and
malevolence of its circulation was the vigor
and magnanimity with which I was generUpheld by a consciousously supported.
ness of the injustice of the charge, I
should have borne myself with becoming fortitude, if I had been abandoned
by you as I was by so large a portion of
my countrymen but to have been sustained and vindicated as I was by the people of
they have put me, or enabled

to

;

;

my own State, by you who know me best
and whom 1 had so many reasons to love
and esteem, greatly cheered and encouraged
me in my onward progress. Eternal gratitude and thanks are due from me.
I thank you, my friends and fellow-citizens, for your distinguished and enthusiasand for the
tic reception of me this day
excellence and abundance of the Barbecue
;

that has been

ment.

And

I

provided for our entertainthank, from the bottom of my

—

heart, my fair countrywomen for honoring
and gracing and adding brilliancy to this
occasion by their numerous attendance. If
the delicacy and refinement of their sex
will not allow them to mix in the rougher

human

we may be

sure that
whenever, by their presence their smiles and
approbation are bestowed, it is no ordinary

scenes of

life,

That presence is always an
occurrence.
absolute guaranty of order, decorum and
take the greatest pleasure in
I
respect.
bearing testimony to their value and their
virtue.
I have ever found in them true and
steadfast friends generously sympathizing in
distress, and, by their courageous fortitude
in bearing themselves, encouraged us to imitate their

example.

remember how, as
fully aid

And we

all

in 1840, they

know and
can power-

a great and good cause, without
the propriety or dignity

any departure from

of their sex.
In looking back upon my origin and
progress through life, I have great reasons
My father died in 1781,
to be thankful.
leaving me an infant of too tender years to
retain any recollection of his smiles or endearments, my surviving parent removed to
this State in 1792, leaving me, a boy of fifteen years of age, in the office of the High
Court of Chancery, in the City of Rich-

mond. without a guardian, without pecuniary means of support, to steer my course as
I

might or could.

A

neglected education

was improved by my own

irregular exertions,

without the benefit of systematic instruction.
I studied law principally in the of
fice of a lamented friend, the late Governor
Brooke, then Attorney General of Virginia, and also under the auspices of the
venerable and lamented Chancellor Wythe,
I
for whom I had acted as an amanuensis.
obtained a license to practice in the profession from the Judges of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and established myself in
Lexington in 1797, without patrons, without
the favor or countenance of the great or
opulent, without the means of paying my
weekly board, and in the midst of a Bar
uncommonly distinguished by its members.
I remember how comfortably I thought I
should be, if I could make £100 Virginia
money per year, and with what delight I
received the

first

fifteen shilling fee.

hopes were more than realized.

I

My

immedi-

ately rushed into a successful and lucrative

practice.

Afterwards, when I was absent from the
County of Fayette, at the Olympian Springs,

without my knowledge or previous consent,
1 was brought forward as a candidate and
elected to the General Assembly of this
State.
I served in that body several years,
and was then transferred to the Senate, and
afterwards to the House of Reprentatives
I will not now dwell
of the United States.
on the subsequent events of my political
life, or enumerate the offices which I have
During my public career, I have
filled.
had bitter, implacable, reckless enemies.
But if I have been the object of misrepresentation and unmerited calumny, no man
has been beloved or honored by more devoI have
ted, faithful and enthusiastic friends.
no reproaches none to make towards my
country, which has distinguished and elevated me far beyond what I had any right to
expect.
I forgive my enemies, and hope
they may live to obtain the forgiveness of

—

their

own

—

hearts.

would neither be fitting, nor is it my
purpose to pass judgment on all the acts of
my public life but I hope I shall be excused for one or two observations, which the
It

;

occasion appears to me to authorize.
I never but once changed my opinion on
any great measure of National policy, or
on any great principle of construction of
In early life,
the National Constitution.
on deliberate consideration, I adopted the
principles of interpreting the Federal Constitution which had been so ably developed
and enforced by Mr. Madison, in his memorable report to the Virginia legislature, and
to them, as I understood them, I have conUpon the question com.
stantly adhered.
ing up in the Senate of the United States to
recharter the first Bank of the United
States thirty years ago, I opposed the recharter upon convictions which I honestly
The experience of the War,
entertained.
which shortly followed, the condition into
which the currency of the country was
thrown, without a Bank, and I may now

and more disastrous experience,
me I was wrong. I publicly stated to my constituents, in a speech in Lexington, (that which I had made in the House
of Representatives of the United States not

add, later

convinced

—

—

having been reported,) my reasons for that
change, and they are preserved in the archives of the country.

cord

;

and

I

am

and hereafter by

I

appeal to that

willing to be judged

re-

now

their validity.

I do not advert to the fact of this solitary instance of change of opinion as implying any personal merit, but because it is a
fact.
I will, however, say that I think it
very perilous to the utility of any public
man to make frequent changes of opinion,
or any change, but upon grounds so suffi-

cient and palpable that the public can clear-

and approve them. If we could look
through a window into the human breast,
and there discover the causes which lead to
changes of opinion, they might be made
without hazard.
But as it is impossible to
penetrate the human heart, and distinguish
between the sinister and honest motives
which prompt it, any public man that changes- his opinion, once deliberately formed
and promulgated, tinder other circumstances than those which I have stated, draws
around him distrusts, impairs the public confidence, and lessens his capacity to serve his
country.
I will take this occasion now to say, that
I am and have been long satisfied, that it
would have been wiser and more politic in
me to have declined accepting the office of
Secretary of State in 1825.
Not that my
motives were not as pure and patriotic as
ever carried any man into public office
ly see

not that the calumny which was applied to
the fact was not as gross and as unfounded
as any that was ever propagated.
[Here somebody cried out that Mr. Carter Beverly, who had been made the organ
of announcing it, had recently borne testimony to its being unfounded. Mr. Clay
said it was true that he had voluntarily
borne such testimony.
But with great earnestness and emphasis, Mr. Clay said, I
want no testimony here here here
(repeatedly touching his heart, amidst tre-

mendous cheers)

—

—

:

—

here is the best of all witinnocence.]
Not that valued friends and highly esteemed opponents did not unite in urging my
acceptance of the office
not that the administration of Mr. Adams will not, I sincerely believe, advantageously compare with
that of any of his predecessors, in economy, purity, prudence and wisdom not that
nesses of

my

;

;

Mr. Adams was himself wanting in any of
those high qualifications and upright and
patriotic intentions which were suited to the

Of that extraordinary man, of rare
and varied attainments, whatever diversity
of opinion may exist as to his recent course
in the House of Representatives, (and candor obliges me to say that there are some
things in it which I deeply regret,) it is
with no less truth than pleasure that I declare, that during the whole period of hia
administration, annoyed, assailed and assaulted as it was, no man could have shown
a more devoted attachment to the Union
and all its great interests a more ardent
desire faithfully to discharge his whole duty, or brought to his aid more useful experience and knowledge than he did.
1 never
office.

;

transacted business with >any man in my
with more ease, satisfaction and advantage than I did with that most able and indefatigable gentleman, as President of the

life

United States.
And I will add that more
harmony never prevailed in any Cabinet
than in his.
But my error, in accepting the office,
arose out of my underrating the power of
detraction and the force of ignorance, and
abiding, with too sure a confidence in the
conscious integrity and uprightness of my

own

motives.
Of that ignorance I had a
remarkable and laughable example on an occasion which I will relate. I was travelling,

was Spottsylto Washwith
some young

in 1829, through, I believe

vania in Virginia, on
ington,

in

company

We

my

it

return

halted at night at a tavern,
kept by an aged gentleman, who, I quickly
perceived, from the disorder and confusion
which reigned, had not the happiness to
have a wife.
After a hurried and bad supper, the old gentleman sat down by me, and
without hearing my name, but understand,
ing that I was from Kentucky, remarked
that he had four sons in that State, and that
he was very sorry they were divided in politics, two being for Adams and two for
Jackson ; he wished they were all for Jackson.
Why ? I asked him. Because, he
said, that fellow Clay, and Adams, had cheated Jackson out of the Presidency.
Have
you ever seen any evidence, my old friend,
said I, of that ?
No, he replied, none, and
he wanted to see none. But, I observed,
looking him directly and steadily in the
friends.

—
face, suppose Mr. Clay were to come here
and assure you upon his honor, that it was
ail a vile calumny, and not a word of truth
No, replied
in it, would you believe him ?
the old gentleman promptly and emphatically.
I said to him, in conclusion, will you
be good enough to show me to bed, and bid
him good night. The next morning, having in the interval learnt my name, he came
to me full of apologies, but I at once put
him at his ease, by assuring him that I did

not feel in the slightest degree
fended with him.

hurt or

of-

Mr. President, I have been accused of
ambition, often accused of ambition.
I believe, however, that my accusers will be generally found to be political opponents, or
the friends of aspirants in whose way I was
supposed to stand, and it was thought therefore necessary to shove me aside.
I defy
my enemies to point out any act or instance
of my life, in which I have sought the attainment of office by dishonorable or unworthy means. Did I display inordinate
ambition when, under the administration of
Mr. Madison, I declined a foreign mission
of the first grade, and an Executive Department, both of which he successively kindly
tendered to me ?
When, under that of his
successor, Mr. Monroe, I was first importuned (as no one knows better than that
sterling

now

old

patriot,

Jonathan Roberts,

tell us, with
expulsion from an office which was never
filled with more honesty and uprightness,
because he declines to be a servile instrument,) to accept a Secretaryship, and was
afterwards offered a carte blanche of all the
foreign missions 1
At the epoch of the
election of 1825, I believe no one doubted
at Washington, that, if I had felt it my duty to vote for Gen. Jackson, he would have
invited me to take charge of a Department.
And such undoubtedly Mr. Crawford would have done, if he had been elec-

threatened, as the papers

When

Convention assembled, the general expectation was that
the nomination would be given to me.
It
was given to the lamented Harrison. Did
ambition, when,
I exhibit extraordinary
cheerfully acquiescing, I threw myself into
the canvass, and made every exertion in my
power to insure it success ? Was it evidence of unchastened ambition in me to reted.

the Harrisburg

sign, as I recently did,

my

seat in the Sen-

—

with which
had so kindly invested me, and
come home to the quiet walks of private
ate

my

to resign the Dictatorship,

e nemies

life ?

But I am ambitious because some of
countrymen have seen fit to associate

my
my

name with

the succession for the PresidenDo those who prefer the charge
know what I have done, or not done, in connexion with that object? Have they given
tial office.

themselves the trouble to inquire at all into
any agency of mine in respect to it ? I
believe not.
It is a subject which I ap.
proach with all the delicacy which belongs
to it, and with a due regard to the dignity
of the exalted station ; but on which I shall
at the same time, speak to you, my friends
and neighbors, without reserve, and with
the utmost candor.
I have prompted none of those movements
among the people of which we have seen
accounts.
As far as I am concerned, they
are altogether spontaneous, and not only
without concert with me, but most generally without any sort of previous knowledge
on my part. That I am thankful and grateful
profoundly grateful
for those manifestations of confidence and attachment, I
will not conceal nor deny.
But I have
been, and mean to remain a passive, if not
an indifferent spectator.
I have reached a
time of life, and seen enough of high official stations to enable me justly to appre-

—

—

ciate their value, their cares, their responsibilities, their ceasely duties. That estimate
of their worth, in a personal point of view,
would restrain me from seeking to fill any
one, the highest of them, in a scramble of
doubtful issue with political opponents, much
less with political friends.
That I should
feel greatly honored by a call from a majority of the People of this country to the
highest office within their gift, I shall not

my

deny
might

I feel

mons

so authoritative and

;

But

nor, if

health were preserved,

liberty

at

decline

to

a sum-

commanding.

most solemnly, that I have
moment, determined whether

I declare,

not, up to this

I will consent to the use of my name or not
as a candidate for the Chief Magistracy.

That is a grave question, which should be
decided by all attainable lights, which, I
think, is not necessary yet to be decided,
and a decision of which I reserve to myself,

as far as I

can reserve

it,

until the peri-

—

—
;

6
od arrives when it ought to be solved. That
period has not, as I think, yet arrived.

When

does,

it

an impartial survey of the

whole ground should

be taken, the state of

public opinion properly considered, and one's

personal condition, physical and intellectuduly examined and weighed.
In thus
announcing a course of conduct for myself,
it is hardly necessary
to remark that it is
no part of my purpose to condemn, or express any opinion whatever upon those popal,

ular

movements which have been made, or

may

be contemplated, in respect to the next
election of a President of the United States.
If to have served my country, during a
long series of years, with fervent zeal and

unshaken

fidelity, in seasons of peace and
war, at home and abroad, in the Legislative
Halls and in an Executive Department
if

—

have labored most sedulously to avert the
embarrassment and distress which now overspread this Union
and when they came,
to have exerted myself anxiously, at the Extra Session, and at this, to devise healing
remedies
if to
have desired to introduce
economy and reform in the general administration, curtail enormous Executive power, and amply provide, at the same time, for
the wants of the Government and the wants
of the People by a Tariff which would give
it revenue and them protection
if to have
earnestly sought to establish the bright but
too rare example of a party in power, faith,
ful to its promises and pledges made when
out of power
if these services, exertions
and endeavors justify the accusation of ambition, I must plead guilty to the charge.
I have wished the good
opinion of the
world
but I defv the most malignant of
D
my enemies to show that I have attempted
to gain it by any low or grovelling arts, by
any mean or unworthy sacrifices, by the
violation of any of the obligations of honor, or by a breach of any of the duties which
I owed to my country.
I turn, Sir, from these personal allusions
and reminiscences, to the vastly more imto

;

;

;

—

;

•

ri

touch with freedom and independence upon
the past as well as the present,

and upon tha

conduct, spirit and principles of parties.
In doing this I assure my democratic brethren and fellow-citizens, of whom I am told
there are many here present, (and I tender
them my cordial thanks for the honor done
me by their attendance here this day, with
as much sincerity and gratitude as if they
agreed with me in political sentiment,) that
nothing is further from my intention than to

say one single word that ought to wound
their feelings or give offence to them.
But
surely, if there ever were a period in the
progress of any people when all were called
upon, with calmness and candor, to consider
thoroughly the present posture of public and
private affairs, and deliberately to inquire
into the causes and remedies of this unpropitious state of things, we have arrived at
that period in the United States.
And if
ever a people stood bound by the highest duties to themselves and to their posterity, to

upon the altar of their country,
cherished prejudices and party predilections
and antipathies, we are now called upon to
make the sacrifice, if necessary,
What is our actual condition? It is one
of unexampled distress and embarrassment,
as universal as it is intense, pervading the
whole community, and sparing none. Property of all kinds, and every where, fallen
and falling in value agricultural produce
of every description at the most reduced prices ; money unsound and at the same time
scarce, and becoming more scarce by preparations, of doubtful and uncertain issue,
to increase its soundness
all the departments of business inactive and stagnant
exchanges extravagantly high and constant,
ly fluctuating; credit, public and private, at
the lowest ebb, and confidence lost ; and a
feeling of general discouragement and desacrifice

;

;

And what darkens the gloom
which hangs over the country, no one can
discern any termination of this sad state of
pression.

things, nor see in the future

portant subject of the present actual condiuon of this country. If they could ever be
justifiable or excusable, it would be on such
an occasion as this, when I am addressing
those to whom I am l:ound by so many

intimate and friendly ties.
In speaking of the present state of the
country, it will be necessary for me to

any glimpse of

light or hope.

too highly colored.

Is not this a faithful, although appalling,
picture of the United States in 1842?
I
appeal to all present, Whigs and Democrats,

Ladies and Gentlemen, to say

Now

let

us see what

if

was our

tion only the short time

it

be at

all

real condi-

often years ago.—-

—
I had occasion, in February, 1832, in the
Senate of the United States, when I was defending the American System against the
late Col. Hayne of South Carolina, to deand I refer to this description as
scribe it
evidence of what I believed to be the state of
That it conformthe country at that time.
ed to the truth of the case, I appeal with
On that
confidence to those now present.
;

occasion,

among

"I have now

other things,

I

said

:

perform the more pleasing task of exhibiting
an imperfect sketch of ihe existing state of the unparalleled
prosperity of the country. On a general survey, we behold
cultivation extended, the arts flourishing, the face of the country improved, our people fully and profitably employed, and
the public countenance exhibiting tranquility, contentment and
happiness. And, if we descend into particulars, we have the
agreeable contemplation of a people out of debt, land rising
slowly in value, but in a secure and salutary degree a ready,
though not extravagant, market for all the surplus productions
of our industry; innumerable flocks and herds browsing and
gamboling on ten thousand hills and plains, covered with rich
and verdant grasses our cities expanded, and whole villages
springing up, as it were, by enchantment our exports and our
imports increased and increasing our tonnage, foreign and
coastwise, swelling and fully occupied the rivers of our interior animated by the perpetual thunder and lightning of countthe currency sound and abundant; the public
less steamboats
debt of two wars nearly redeemed and, to crown all, the public treasury overflowing, embarrassing Congress, not to find
subjects of taxation, hut to select the objects which shall be liberated fiom the impost. If the term of seven years were to be
to

:

with impartiality and in a spirit of genuine
patriotism.

has been said by those in high authorPeople are to blame and not the
Government
that the distresses of the
country have proceeded from speculation
and overtrading.
The people have been
even reproached for expecting too much
from Government, and not relying sufficiently upon their own exertions.
And they
have been reminded that the highest duty
of the Government is to take care of itself,
leaving the People to shift for themselves
as well as they can.
Accordingly we have
seen the Government retreating from the
storm which, it will be seen in the sequel,
itself created, and taking shelter under tho
It

ity, that the

;

Sub-Treasury.

That there may have been some specula-

;

;

;

;

;

and overtrading may be true ; but all
have not speculated and overtraded whilst
tion

;

the distress reaches, if not in the

same

de-

;

selected, of the greatest prosperity which this people have enjoyed, since the establishment of their present Constitution, it
would be exactly that period of seven years which immediately followed the passage of the Taiitf of 1824."

and the prudent, as well
as the enterprising and adventurous.
The
error of the argument consists in mistaking
the effect for the cause.
What produced
the overtrading ?
What was the cause of
speculation ?
How were the people tempted to abandon the industrious and secura
pursuits of lite, and embark in doubtful and
perilous, but seducing enterprizes ?
That
gree, the cautious

And that period embraced the whole term
of the administration of Mr. John Q. Adams,
which has been so unjustly abused
The contrast in the state of the country,
at the two periods of 1832 and 1842, is most
What has precipremarkable and startling.
itated us from that great height of enviable
prosperity down to the lowest depths of pecuniary embarrassment? What has occasioned the wonderful change?
No foreign
foe has invaded and desolated the country.
We have had neither famine norearthquakes.
That there exists a cause there can be no
doubt; and I think it equally clear that the
cause, whatever it may be. must be a general
one; for nothing but a general cause could
have produced such wide spread ruin; and

think they a» e to be fairly attributed to the
action of the Executive branch of the Fede-

everywhere we behold the same or similar

ral

!

effects,

every interest affected, every section

of the Union suffering, all descriptions of
produce and property depressed in value.
And whilst I endeavor to find out that cause,
and to trace to their true source the disastrous effects which we witness and feel, and
lament, I entreat the Democratic portion of
my audience, especially, to listen with patience and candor, and dismissing for a mo.
ment party biases and prejudices, to decide

is

the important question.

Now,

fellow. citizens, I take

show

that the people have been far less to

to

upon myself

blame than the General Government, and
that whatever of error
they committed,
was the natural and inevitable consequence
of the unwise policy of their rulers.
To
the action of Government is mainly to be
ascribed the disorders, embarrassment and
distress which all have now so much reason
to deplore.
And, to be yet more specific, I
f

Government.
Three facts or events, all happening
about the same time, if their immediate effects are duly considered, will afford a clear

and satisfactory solution of all the pecuniary evils which now unhappily afflict this
country.

The first was the veto of the re-charter of
Bank of the United States the second
was the removal of the deposites of the United States, from that Bank to local banks.—
the

;

—
;

•

8
the third was the refusal of the President
of the United States, by an arbitrary stretch
of power, to sanction the passage of the Land
Bill.
These events all occurred, in quick
succession, in 1832-33, and each of them

And

deserves particular consideration.
1. When the Bank of the United States
had fully recovered from its early administration, and at the period when it was proposed to re-charter it, it furnished the best
currency that ever existed, possessing not

merely unbounded confidence in the United
States, but throughout the whole commer-

No institution was ever more
cial world.
popular, and the utility of a bank of the
United States was acknowledged by President Jackson in his Veto Message, in which
he expressly stated, that he could have suggested to Congress the plan of an unexceptionable charter, if application had been
made to him. And I state as a fact, what
sure, will here remember and
many,
sustain, that during the canvass then going
on for the Presidency, many of his friends
in this State gave assurances, that, in the
event of his re-election, a Bank of the Uni-

lam

would be established.
was held out to the people, that a better currency should be supplied, and a more
safe and faithful execution of the fiscal duties towards the Government would be performed by the local banks, than by the
ted States
It

Bank of the United States.
What was the immediate

effect

of the

overthrow of that institution ? The establishment of innumerable local banks, which
sprung up everywhere with a rapidity to
which we cannot look back without amazement.
A respectable document which I

now

hold in

my

states, that " in

hand,

I

believe correctly

1830 the aggregate banking capital of the Union was $145,190,268.
Within two years after the removal of the
deposites, the banking capital had swollen
to $331,250,337, and in 1837 it reached
While the United States
440,195,710.
Bank was in existence, the local banks, not
aspiring to the regulation of the currency,
were chartered with small capitals, as occasion and business required.
After 1833,
they were chartered without necessity, and
multiplied beyond example.
In December,
1837, there were no less than 709 State
banks.
Nearly four hundred banks sprung
up upon the ruins of the United States

Bank, and $250,000,000 of capital was in.
corporated, to supplv the uses formerly discharged by the $35,000,000 capital of the
Bank of the United States. The impulse
given to extravagance and speculation by
this enormous increase of banking capital
was quickened by the circulars of the Treasury Department to these pet State banks
that were made the custodiers of the Na-

Revenue."

tional

A
more

vast

new banks,

proportion of these

believe than

were charLegislatures in which the Democratic party had the undisputed ascendanI

four-fifths,

tered in

cy.
I well remember that, in this State the
presses of that party made a grave charge

against me of being inimical to the establishment here of State banks ; and I was
opposed to their establishment, until all
prospect vanished of getting a Bank of the

United States.

The effect upon the country of this sudden increase, to such an immense amount,
of the banking capital of the country, could
not fail to be very great, if not disastrous.
It threw out, in the utmost profusion, Bank
accommodations in all the variety of forms,
ordinary Bank notes, post notes, checks>
The currency thus put
drafts, bills, &c.
forth, the people had been assured was better than that supplied by the Bank of the
United States and, after the removal of
the deposites, the Local Banks were urged
and stimulated, by the Secretary of the
Treasury, freely to discount and accommodate upon the basis of those deposites.
Flooded as the country was, by these means
and in this way, with all species of bank
;

—

money and

facilities, is it surprising that
they should have rushed into speculation,
and freely adventured in the most desperate

?
It would have been better to
have avoided them it would have been
better that the people should have been wi.
ser and more prudent than the Government
but who is most to blame, they who yielded
they
to temptntion so thrown before them

enterprises

;

—

who

yielded confidence to their rulers
they who could not see when this inordinate issue of money was to cease, or to be-

come
ed,

vitiated

;

or Government, that tempt-

seduced and betrayed them

And now,

fellow. citizens,

?

do

let

us,

in

calmness and candor, revert for a moment
to some of the means which were employ*

;

down the bank of the United
and to inflict upon the country all
the sad consequences which ensued.
I
so to break

sylvania, in which his

States,

trolled

shall not stop to

expose the motives of the

upon that institution, and to show
that it was because it refused to make itself
basely and servilely instrumental to the promotion of political views and objects.
The Bank was denounced as a monster,
aiming as was declared, to rob the people
of their liberties, and to subvert the gov.
The Bank to
ernment of the country.
assault

Why, how could
subvert the Government
the Bank continue to exist after the overthrow of that Government to which it was
indebted for its existence, and in virtue of
whose authority it could alone successfully
Convulsions, revolutions, civil
operate ?
wars, are not the social conditions most favorable to Bank prosperity ; but they flour!

ish

most when order, law, regularity, puncand successful business prevail.

tuality,

And
Rob the people of their liberties
pray what would it do with them after the
robbery was perpetrated ? It could not put
them in its vaults, or make interest or profit
upon them, the leading, if not sole object of
And how could it destroy the liba Bank.
erties of the people, without, at the same
!

time destroying the liberties of all persons
interested or concerned in the Bank ? What
It is a corporation, the aggreis a bank 1
gate of whose capital is contributed by individual shareholders, and employed in pe.
cuniary operations, under the management
of President, Directors, Cashier, Teller, and
Now, all these persons are usually
Clerks.
citizens of the United States, just as much
interested in the preservation of the liberties of the country, as any other citizens.
What earthly motive could prompt them to
seek the destruction of the liberty of their
fellow. citizens, and with it their own ?
The fate of the Bank of the United States
clearly demonstrated where the real danger
to the public liberty exists.
It was not in
Its popularity had been great,
the bank.
and the conviction of its utility strong and
general up to the period of the Bank Veto.
Unbounded as was the influence of President Jackson, and undisguised as his hostility was to the Bank, he could not prevent
the passage through Congress of a bill to
re-charter it.
In such favor and esteem
was it held, that the Legislature of Penn2

friends hid unconsway, almost unanimously recotn*
mended the recharter. But his Veto came
he blew his whistle for its destruction ; it
was necessary to sustain his party, which
could only be done by sustaining him, and
instantly, and everywhere down with the
Bank and huzza for the Veto, became the
watchwords and the rallying cry of his
partizans.
That same Legislature of Pennsylvania, now, with equal unanimity, approved the destruction of an institution which
they had believed to be so indispensable to
the public prosperity, and deluded people
felt as if they had
fortunately escaped a
great National calamity
The Veto notwithstanding, the House of
Representatives, by a large majority, resolved that the public deposites were safe in
the custody of the Bank of the United
States, where they were placed under the
sanction and by the command of the law }
and it was well known at Washington, that
!

this resolution was passed in anticipation
and to prevent the possibility of their re*
moval.
In the face and in contempt of this

decision of the Representatives of the Peo*
pie, and in violation of a positive law, the

removal was ordered by the President a few
months after, the Secretary of the Treasury having been previously himself removed
to accomplish the object.
And this brings
me to consider the effect produced upon the
business and interests of the country by the
second event to which I have alluded.
It
is well known to be the usage of Banks, to
act upon the standing average amount of
deposites as upon a permanent fund.
The
Bank of the United States had so regulated
its

transactions upon

the deposites of the

United States, and had granted accommodations and extended facilities as far as could
be safely done on that basis.
The deposites
were removed and dispersed among various
local banks, which were urged by an authority not likely to

be disregarded, especially
it did their own pecuniary interests, to discount and accommodate
freely on them.
They did so and thus
these deposites performed a double office, by
being the basis of the Bank facilities of the
United States, and afterwards in the possession of the local banks.
A vast addition
to the circulation of the country ensued, adding to that already so copiously put forth

when seconding,

as

;

10
by the multitude of new Banks, which were
That specuspringing up like mushrooms.
lation and over-trading should have followed were to have been naturally expected. It
is surprising that there were not more. Prices
rose enormously, as another consequence ;
and thousands were tempted, as is always
the case in an advancing market, to hold on
or to make purchases, under the hope of
prices rising still higher.
A rush of speculators

was made upon the public

lands,

and

money

invested in their purchase, coming back to the deposite banks, was again
and again loaned out to the same or other
the

speculators, to

make

other and other pur-

chases.

Who was

to

artificial state

blame

for

of things

?

this

inflated

Who

and

for the spe-

culation which was its natural offspring?
The policy of Government which produced
it, or the people ?
The seducer, or the seduced ? The People, who only used the

means

so abundantly supplied in virtue ofthe

whose unwise policy tempted them into ruinous spe-

public authority, or our rulers,

culation

1

There was a measure, the passage of
which would have greatly mitigated this un.natural state of things.
It was not difficult
to foresee after the Veto of the Bank, some
of the consequences that would follow. The
multiplication of Banks, a superabundant
currency, rash and inordinate speculation,
and probable ultimate suspension of specie
payments.
And the public domain was too
brilliant and tempting a prize not to be
among the first objects that would attract
speculation.
In March, 1833, a bill passed
both Houses of Congress to distribute among
3.

the States the proceeds of sales of the publie lands.

It

was a measure of strict jusand one of sound policy

tice to the States,

as it respects the revenue of the United
States ; but the view I now propose to take
of it applies altogether to the influence
which it would have exerted upon circulation and speculation.
It was the constitutional duty of the President to

have returned the bill to Congress with his objections,
if he were opposed to it ; but the bill fell by
his arbitrarily withholding it from Congress.
Let us here pause and consider what
would have been the operation of that most
timely and salutary measure, if it had not
been arrested.
The bill passed in 1838,

and

in

a short time after,

public lands were

made

the sales of the

an unpreceden.
insomuch, that in one year they
amounted to about $25,000,000, and in a few
years to an aggregate of about $50,000,000.

ted extent

to

;

was manifest that, if this fund, so rapidly
accumulating, remained in the custody of
the local banks, in conformity with the
Treasury Circular, and with their interests,
it would be made the basis of new loans, new
It

accommodations, and fresh bank facilities.
was manifest that the same identical sum
of money might, as it in fact did, purchase
many tracts of land, by making the circuit
from the land offices to the banks, and from
the banks to the land offices, besides stimuIt

lating speculation in other forms.

Under

the operation ofthe measuresofthe

would have been
semi-annually returned to the States, and
would have been applied, under the direction
of their respective Legislatures, to various
domestic and useful purposes.
It would
have fallen upon the land, like the rain of
heaven, in gentle, genial and general showers, passing through a thousand rills, and
fertilizing and beautifying the country.
In.
stead of being employed in purposes of speculation, it would have been applied to the
common benefit of the whole people. Finally, when the fund had accumulated and
was accumulating in an alarming degree, it
was distributed among the States by the deposite act, but so suddenly distributed, in
such large masses, and in a manner so totally in violation of all the laws and rules of
finance, that the crisis of suspension in 1837
distribution, that great fund

was greatly accelerated.
This would have
been postponed, if not altogether avoided, if
the land bill of 1833 had been approved and
executed.
To these three causes, fellow citizens, the
Veto of the Bank of the United States, with
the consequent creation of innumerable local
banks, the removal of the deposites of the
United States from the Bank of the United
States, and their subsequent free use, and
the failure ofthe land bill of 1833,1 verily
believe, all, or nearly all of the pecuniary
embarrassments of the country are plainly
attributable.
If the bank had been rechartered, the public deposites suffered to remain
undisturbed where the law required them to
be made, and the land bill gone into operation,

it

is

my

firm conviction that

we

should

11
have had no more individual
in than

is

common,

times, to a trading

in

distress

and

ru-

ordinary and regular

and commercial commu-

nity.

And do just now

take a

rapid review of

a circulation in Bank notes amounting to
about two millions and a half, founded upon
specie in their vaults amounting to about one
million and a quarter, half the actual circu-

Have we

lation.

no

currency was to be supplied by the local
banks and in the first stages of the experiment, after the removal of the deposites, they
were highly commended from high authority, for their beneficial and extensive operations in exchange, the financial facilities
which they afforded to the Government,

money

;

dec &c.
But the day of trouble and difficulty
which had been predicted, for the want of a
They could
United States Bank, came.
not stand the shock, but gave way, and the
Then what
suspension of 1837 took place.
was the course of those same rulers? They
had denounced and put down the Bank of
the United States. It was a monster. They
had extolled and lavished praises on the local banks.

Now, they turned round against
own creation and com.

the objects of their

Now they were a brood of lit.
monsters, corrupt, and corrupting, with
separate privileges, preying upon the vitals
of the State.
They vehemently call out
for a divorce of State and Bank, and meanly
retreating under the Sub-Treasury, from the
storm which themselves had raised, leaving
the people to suffer under all its pelting and
pitiless rage they add insult to injury, by telling them that they unreasonably expect too
much from Government, that they must take
care of themselves, and that it is the highest
and most patriotic duty of a free Government, to take care of itself, without regard to
the sufferings and distresses of the peomendalion.
tie

ple

!

They began

with the best currency, promised a better, and end with giving none
For we might as well resort to the costumes
of our original parents in the garden of Eden, as attempt in this enlightened age,
with the example of the whole commercial
world before us, to cramp this energetic and
enterprising people by a circulation exclusively of the precious metals.
Let us see
how the matter stands with us here in Ken.
!

tucky, and I believe we stand as well as the
people do in most of the States.
have

We

too

much money

[No

?

S

exclaimed many voices.] If all the
Banks were put down, and all bank paper
annihilated, we should have just half the

They began
the experiments of our rulers.
with incontestibly the best currency in the
That better
world, and promised a better.

!

that

we now

that one of the

have.

I

am

quite sure

immediate causes

of our
present difficulties, is a defect in quantity
as well as quality of our circulating medium. And it would be impossible, if we were
reduced to such a regimen as is proposed by
the hard-moneyed theorists, to avoid stop
laws, relief laws, re-pudiation, bankruptcies

and perhaps civil commotion.
I have traced the principal causes of the
present embarrassed condition of the coun.
try, I hope with candor and fairness, and
without giving offence to any of my fellowcitizens, who may have differed in political
opinion from me.
It would have been far
more agreeable to my feelings to have dwelt,
as I did in 1832, during the third year of
the first term of President Jackson's Ad.
ministration, upon bright and cheering pros,
it
pects of general prosperity.
I thought
contrast that period with the
useful to

present one,

and

causes

to inquire into the

which have brought upon us such a sad
and dismal reverse. A much more important object remains to me to attempt, and
that

is,

to point out

remedies

for existing

and disorders.
And the first I would suggest requires the
co-operation of the Government and the
and frugality strict
it is economy
People
and persevering economy, both in public and
evils

—

;

Government should incur
private affairs.
or continue no expense that can be justly
and honorably avoided, and individuals
The prosperity of the
should do the same.
country has been impaired by causes operating throughout several years, and it will
not be restored in a year, perhaps not in a
period less than it has taken to destroy it.
But we must not only be economical, we
must be industrious, indefatigably industrious.
An immense amount of capital has
been wasted and squandered in visionary or
unprofitable enterprises, public and private.
can be reproduced by labor and saving.
The second remedy which I would sug-

It

gest,

and that without which

all

others must

12
prove abortive or ineffectual, is a sound currency, of uniform value throughout the Union, and redeemable in specie upon the demand of the holder. I know of but one
mode in which that object can be accom.
plished, and that has stood the test of time
and practical experience. If any other can
be devised than a Bank of the United States,
which should be safe and certain and free
from the influence of Government, and especially not under the control of the Exec*
utive department, IshoulJ for one, gladly see
it embraced.
I am not exclusively wedded
to a Bank of the United iSiatrs, nor do I desire
to see one established against the will and
But all
without the consent of the people.
my observation and reflection have served
to strengthen and confirm my conviction,
that such an institution, emanating from the
authority of the General Government, properly restricted and guarded, with such improvements as experience has pointed out,
can alone supply a reliable currency.
Accordingly, at the Extra Session, a bill
passed both houses of Congress, which in
my opinion, contained an excellent charter,
with one or two slight defects, which it was
intended to cure by a supplemental bill, if
That
the veto had not been exercised.
charter contained two new, and I think adone was to separate the
mirable features
operation of issuing a circulation from that
of banking, confiding these faculties to different boards ; and the other was to limit
the dividends of the bank, bringing the excess, beyond the prescribed amount, into the
In the preparation of the
public treasury.
that
charter, every sacrifice was made
eould be made to accommodate it, especially in regard to the branching power, to the
But inreputed opinions of the President.
stead of meeting us in a mutual spirit of conciliation, he fired, as was aptly said by a
Virginia editor, upon the flag of truce sent
;

from the capitol.
Congress, anxious to fulfil the expectation
of the people, another bank bill was prepared, in conformity with the plan of a Bank
sketched by the acting President in his Veto measure, after a previous consultation
between him and some distinguished memhers of Congress, and two leading members
of his Cabinet. The bill was shaped in
precise conformity to his views, as communicated by those members of the CabineJ,

and as communicated

to others,

and was

submitted to his inspection after it was so
and he gave assurances that he
prepared
would approve such a bill. I was no party
to the transaction, but I do not entertain a
doubt of what I state.
The bill passed
both Houses of Congress without any alteration or amendment whatever, and the
Veto was again employed.
It is painful for me to advert to a grave
occurrence, marked by such dishonor and
bad faith. Although the President, through
his recognized organ, derides and denoun.
ces the Whigs, and disowns being one
although he administers the Executive branch
of the Government in contempt of their
feelings and in violation of their principles;
and although all whom he chooses to have
;

;

denominated as ultra Whigs, that r is to say,
the great body of the Whig party, have
come under his ban, and those of them in
with his expulsion, I
wish not to say of him one word that is not
due to truth and to the country.
I will,
however, say that in my opinion, the Whigs
cannot justly be held responsible for his administration of the Executive department,
for the measures he may recommend, or for
his failure to recommend others, nor especially for the manner in which he distributes the public patronage.
They will do
their duty, I hope, towards the country, and
render all good and proper support to Gov.
ernment but they ougnt not to be held ac
countable for his conduct.
They elected
him, it is true, but for another office, and he
came into the present one by a lamentable
visitation of Providence.
There had been
no such instance occurring under the Gov.
emment. If the Whigs were bound to
scrutinize his opinions, in reference to an
office which no one ever anticipated he
would fill, he was bound in honor and good
fiith to decline the Harrisburgh nomination,
if he could not conscientiously co. operate
with them in sustaining the principles that
Had the President
brought him into office.
who was elected lived, had that honest and
office are threatened

;

good man, on whose

face, in that

picture,

we now

gaze, been spared, I feel perfectly
confident that all the measures which the
principles of the Whigs authorized the
country to expect, including a Bank of the.
United States, would have been carried.
But it may be said that a sound currency,

'

—
13
such as I have described, is unattainable
during the administration of Mr. Tyler. It
will be, if it can only be obtained, through
the instrumentality of a Bank of the United States, unless he changes his opinion, as
he has done> in regard to the land bill.
Unfortunately, our Chief Magistrate possesses more power, in some respects, than a
King or Queen of England. The crown is
never separated from the nation, but is obliIf the Ministry
ged to conform to its will.
holds opinions adverse to the nation, and is
thrown into minority in the House of Commons, the crown is constrained to dismiss
the Ministry, and appoint one whose opinThis, Queen
ions coincide with the nation.
Victoria has recently been obliged to do
and not merely to change the Ministry, but
to dismiss the official attendants upon her
person.
But here, if the President holds
opinions adverse to that of Congress and
the nation upon important public measures,
there is no remedy but upon the periodical
return of the rights of the ballot box.
Another remedy, powerfully demanded by the
necessities of the times, and requisite to maintaining the currency in a sound state, is a Tariff,
which will lessen importations from abroad, and
;

tend to increase supplies at home from domestic
industry.
I have so often expressed my views
on this subject, and so recently in the Senate of
the United States, that I do not think there is
any occasion for my enlarging upon it at this
time. I do not think that a high tariff is necessary, but one that shall insure an adequate revenue and reasonable protection and it so happens
that the interests of the Treasury and the wants
of the people now perfectly coincide.
Union is
our highest and greatest interest. No one can
look beyond its dissolution without horror and
dismay. Harmony is essential to the preservation of the Union.
It was the leading, although
not the only motive, in proposing the compromise
act, to preserve that harmony.
The power of
protecting the interests of our own country can
never be surrendered to foreign nations, without
a culpable dereliction of duty.
Of this truth, all
parts of the nation are every day becoming more
;

and more sensible.

In the meantime, this indis-

pensable power should be exercised with a discretion and moderation, and in a form least calculated to revive prejudices, or to check the progress of reform now going on in public opinion.

In connection with a system of remedial measures, I shall only allude without stopping to
dwell on the distribution bill, that just and equitable settlement of a great National question,
which sprung up during the Revolutionary War,

which has seriously agitated the coontry, and
which it is deeply to be regretted had not been
settled ten years ago, as then proposed.
Independent of all other considerations, the fluctua-

tion in the receipts from sales of the public lands
so great atid constant, that it is a resource on

is

which the General Government ought not to
rely for revenue.
It is far better that the advice
of a Democratic land Committee of the Senate,
at the head of which was the experienced and

distinguished Mr. King of Alabama, given some
years ago, should be follow, that the Federal
Treasury be replenished with duties on imports,
without bringing into it any part of the land
fund.
I have thus suggested measures of relief adapted to the present state of the country, and I
have noticed some of the differences which un-

fortunately exist between the two leading parties
into which our people are unhappily divided.
In
considering the question whether the counsels
of the one or the other of these parties are
wisest, and best calculated to advance the interests, the honor, and the prosperity of thenation, which every citizen ought to do,
we
should discard all passion and prejudice, and'
exercise, as far as possible, a perfect impartiality.
And we should not confine our
attention merely to
the particular measures
which
parties
those
respectively
espouse
or oppose, but extend it to their general course
and conduct, and to the spirits and purposes by
which they are animated.
should anxiously*
enquire whither shall we be led following in the
lead of the one or the other of those parties
shall we be carried to the achievement of th©
glorious destiny, which patriots here, and the
liberal portion of mankind every where, have
fondly hoped awaiisus] or shall we ingloriously terminate our career, by adding another melancholy example of the instability of human affairs, and the folly with which self-government

We

is

administered]

do not arrogate to myself more impartiality,
or greater freedom from party bias, than belong
to other men ; but unless I deceive myself, I
think I have reached a time of life, and am now
in a position of retirement, from which I can
look back with calmness, and speak, I hope, with
candor and justice. I do not intend a general contrast between the two parties, as to their course,
doctrines and spirit. That would be too extenI

sive and laborious an undertaking for this occapurpose to specify a few recent instances, in which, I think, our political opponents
have exhibited a spirit and bearing, disorganizing
and dangerous to the permanency and stability
of our institutions, and I invoke the serious and
sion, but I

sober attention to them, of all who are here as-sembled.
The first I would notice is the manner in
which Territories have been lately admitted, as

—

—
14
States, into the Union. The early and regular
practice of the Government was for Congress to
pass previously a law authorizing a Convention,
regulating the appointment of members to it,
specifying the qualification of voters, &c. In
that way most of the States were received.
Of
late, without any previous sanction or authority
from Congress, several Territories have proceeded of themselves to call Conventions, form
Constitutions and demand admission into the
Union ; and they were admitted. I do not
deny 'that their population and condition
entitled them
admission; but I insist
to
that it should have been done in the regular
and established mode.
In the case of Michigan, aliens were allowed to vote, as aliens have
been allowed to become pre-cmptioners in the
public lands. And a majority in Congress sanctioned the proceeding.
When foreigners are
naturalized and incorporated, as citizens, in our
community, they are entitled to all the privileges, within the limits of the Constitution, which
belong to a native born citizen ; and, if necessary, they should be protected, at home and abroad
the thunder of our artillery should roar as loud
and effectually in their defence, as if their birth

—

were upon American soil. But I cannot but
think it wrong and hazardous, to allow aliens,

who have just landed upon our shores, who have
not yet renounced their allegiance to Foreign
potentates, nor sworn fidelity to our constitution,
with all the influences of monarchy and anarchy
about them, to participate in our elections, and
affect our legislation.

—

2. The New- Jersey Election
the great seal of
the State and the decision of the local authorities
were put aside by the tfowse o! Representatives,and
a majority thus secured to the Democratic party.
3 Nullification, which is nothing more nor less
than an assumption of ons State to abrogate within
its limits a law passed by the twenty-six States in
Congress assembled.
4.
ate revolutionary attempt in Maryland to
subvert the existing Government, without any authority of law.
5. The refusal of a minority in the Legislature
of Tennessee to co-operate with the majority ("their
Constitution requiring the presence of two-thirds
of the members) to execute a positive injunction of
the Constitution of the United Stotes to appoint two
United States Senators. In principle, that refusal
was equivalent to announcing the willingness of
that minority to dissolve the Union.
For if 13 or
14 of the 26 States were to refuse altogether to elect
Senators, a dissolution of the Union would be the
consequence. That minority^ for weeks together,
and time after time, deliberately refused to enter upon the election. And, if the Union is not in fact
dissolved, it is not because the principle involved
would not lead to a dissolution, but because 1\J or
13 other States have not like themselves refused to
perform a high constitutional duty. And why did
they refuse? Simply because they apprehended
the election to the Senate of political opponents.
The seals of the two Tennessee Senators in the
;

A

I

U. S. Senate are now vacant, and Tennessee ha*
no voice in that branch of Congress in the general
legislation. One of the highest compliments which 1
ever received was to have been appointed, at a popular meeting in Tennessee, one of her Senators, in
conjunction with a distinguished Senator from South
Carolina, with all the authority that such an appointment could bestow. I repeat here an expression of my acknowledgments for the honor, which
I most ambitiously resigned when I gave up my
dictatorship and my seat as a Kentucky Senator.

[A

general laugh ]
Then there is repudiation, that foul stain upon
the American character, cast chiefly by ihe Democrats of Mississippi, and which it will require years
to efface from our bright escutcheon.
7. The support given to Executive usurpation,
and the expunging the records of the Senate of the
6.

United Stales.
8. The recent refusal of State legislatures to pass
laws to carry into effect the Act of Distribution.-rAn Act of Congress, pass 'd according to all the
forms of the Constitution, after ample discussion
and deliberate consideration, and after the lapse of
It
ten years from the period it was first proposed.
is the duty of all to submit to the laws regularly
passed.
Thev may attempt to get them repealed ;
they have a right to test their validity before the
Judiciary
but whilst the laws remain in force, unrepealed, and without any decision against their
constitutional validity, snbmisston to them is not
merely a constitutional and legal, but a moral duty.
In this case it is true that those who refuse to abide
by them only bile their own noses. But it i3 the
principle of the refusal to which I call your attention. If a minority may refuse compliance wiih one
law, what is to prevent minorities from disregarding
Is this any thing but a modification of
all law 1
nullification 1
What right have the servants of the
people (the Legislative bodies,) to withhold from
their masters their assigned quotas of a great public fund 1
9. The last, though not the least, instance of the
manifestation of disorganization which I shall notice, is the recent convulsion in Rhode Island.
That little but gallant and patriotic State had a
Charter derived from a British King, in operation
between one and two hundred years. There had
been engrafted upon it laws and usages, from time
to time, and altogether a practical Constitution
sprung up, which carried the State, as one of the
glorious thirteen, through the Revolution, and
brought her safelv into the Union. Under it her
Greens and Perrys and other distinguished men,
were born and rose to eminence. The Legislature
had called a Convention to remedy whatever defects it had, and to adapt it to the progressive improvements of the age. In that work of reform the
Dorr party might h.«ve co-operated but, not choosing to co-operate, and in wanton defiance of all es«
tablished authority, they undertook, subsequently,
The result was two
to call another Convention.
Constitutions, not essentially differing on the principal point of controversy, the right of suffrage.
;

;

Upon submitting to the People that which was
formed by the regular Convention, a small majority voted against it, produced by a union in casting votes, between tne Dorr party, and some of the

15
Charter who were opposed to
other Constitution being also
submitted to the people, an apparent majority voted
for it, made up of every description of votes legal
and illegal, by proxy and otherwise, taken in the
most irregular kind unauthorized manner.
The Dorr party proceeded to put their Constitufriends of the

any change.

old

The

by electing him as the Governor

tion in operation,

of the State, members to the mock Legislature and
other officers. But thpy did not stop here they
proceeded to collect, to drill and to marshal a mili;

tary force, and pointed their cannon against the Arsenal of the State.
The President was called upon to interpose the
power of the Union to preserve the peace of the
State in conformity with an express provision of
the Federal Constitution. And I have as much
fileasure in expressing my opinion that he faiihfuly performed his duty in responding to that call, as
it gave me pain to be obliged to animadvert on other parts of his conduct.
The leading presses of the Democratic party at

Washington, Albany, New- York and Richmond,
and elsewhere, came out in support of the Dorr
party, encouraging them in their work of Rebellion
and Treason. And when matters had got to a crisis and the two parties were preparing for civil war,
and every hour it was expected to blaze out, a great
Tammany meeting was held in the City of NewYork, headed by the leading men of the party, the
Cambrelengs, the Vanderpools, the Aliens, &c
with a perfect knowledge that the military power of
the Union was to be employed, if necessary, to suppress the insurrection, and, notwithstanding, they
passed resolutions tending to awe the President,
a«d to countenance and cheer the treason.
Fortunately, numbers of the Dorr party abandoned their Chief he fled, and Rhode-Island, unaided by any actual force of the Federal authority,
proved herself able alone to maintain law, order
and government within her borders.
I do not attribute to mv fellow-citizens here assembled, from whom I differ in opinion, any disposition to countenance the revolutionary proceedings
I do not believe that they apin Rhode-Island.
prove of it. I do not believe that their party generally could approve it, nor some of the other examples of a spirit of disorganization which I have
enumerated but the misfortune is, in time of high
party excitement, that the leaders commit themselves, and finally commit the body of their party,
who perceive that, unless they stand by and sustain
their leaders, a division, and perhaps destruction of
Of all the
the party would be the consequence.
springs of human action, party ties are perhaps the
most powerful. Interest has been supposed to be
;

;

more

so, but party ties are

more

influential, unless

they are regarded as a modification of imaginary
Under their sway we have seen not only
individuals but whole communities abandon their
long cherished interests and principles and turn
round and oppose them with violence.
Did not the rebellion in Rhode Island find for its
support a precedent established by the majority in
Congress, in the irregular admission of Territories
as States, into the Union, to which I have heretoIs there not reason to fear that the
fore alluded 1
example which Congress had previously presented
encouraged the Rhode-Island rebellion'?
interest.

It

has been attempted to defend that rebellion

upon the doctrines of the American Declaration of
Independence, but no countenance to it can be fairfrom them. That declaration asserts, it

ly derived

is true, that whenever a Government becomes destructive of the ends of life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness, for the security of which it was instituted, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and institute a new government
and so undoubtedly it is. But this is a right only to De exer" Prudence incised in grave and extreme cases.
deed will dictate," says that venerated instrument,
" that Governments long established should not be
changed for light and transient causes." " But
•,

when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same oi j' ct, evinces a design
to reduce them under an adsolute despotism, it is
their right, their duty; to throw off such Government."
Will it be pretended that the actual Government
of Rhode Island is destructive of life, liberty, or the
pursuit of happiness 1 That it has perpetrated a long
train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing the same
invariable object^ to reduce the people under absoOr that any other cause of comlute despotism'?
plaint existed but such as might be peacefully remedied, without violence and without blood 1 Such as,
in point of tact, the legitimate Government had regularly summoned a Convention to redress, but for
the results of whose deliberations the restless spirit
of disorder and rebellion had not the patience to
wait! Why, fellow-citizens, little Rhody (God
bless and preserve her) is one of the most prosperous, enterprising, and enlightened States in this
whole Union. Nowhere is life, liberty, and property more perfectly secure.
is this right of the People to abolish an existing Government, and to set up a new one, to be
practically exercised 1
Our Revolutionary ancestors did not tell us by worc!s, but they proclaimed it
by gallant and noble deeds.
are the People.
that are to tear up the whole fabric of human society, whenever and as often as caprice or passion

How

Who

may prompt them 1 When all he arrangements
and ordinances of existing and organized society
are prostrated and subverted, as must be supposed
in such a lawless and irregular movement as that in
Rhode Island, the established privileges and distinctions between the sexes, between the colors, between the ages, between natives and foreigners, be*
tween the sane and insane, and between the innocent and the gui'ty convict, all the offspring of positive institutions, are cast down and abolished, and
society is thrown into one heterogeneous and unregulated mass. And is it contended that the major
I

part of this Babel congregation is invested with the
right to build up, at its pleasure, a new government 1 That as often, and whenever society can
be drummed up and thrown into such a shapeless
mass, the major part of it may establish another and
another new Government in endless succession %
this would overturn all social organization, make
revolutions
the extreme and last resort of an oppressed people— the commonest occurrences of human life, and the standing order of the day.
such a principle would operate in a certain section
of this Union, with a peculiar population, you will
readily conceive. No community could endure such
an intolerable state of things any where, and all

—

Why

—

How

—

16
would, sooner or

take refuge from such ceasecalm repose of absolute despo-

later,

less agitation, in the

tism.
I know of no mode by which an existing Government can be overthrown and put aside, and a new
•one erected in its place but by tlie consent of that
Government, express or implied, or by forcible resis-

is Revolution.
Fellow-Citizens 1 have enumerated these examples of a dangerous spirit of disorganization and
disregard of law, with no purpose of giving offence,
or exciting bitter and unkind feelings, here or elsewhere; but to illustrate the principles, character
and tendency of the two great parties into which
In all of those examples,
this country is divided.

tance, that

:

the Democratic party, as it calls itself, (a denomination to which I respectfully thiuk it has not the least
just pretension,) or large portions of that party, extending to whole States, united with apparent corTo all of them the Whig party was condiality.

-And now let me ask
stantly and firmly opposed.
you, in all candor and sincerity, to say truly and
impartially to which of ihese two parlies can the
interests, the happiness, and the destinies of tliis
great people be most safely confided 1 I appeal especially, and with perfect confidence, to the candor
of the real, the ancient and long-t:it:d Democracy—
that old Republican party, with whom I stood side
by side, during some of the darkest days of the Republic, in seasons of both War and Peace.
The present sitFellow-citizens of all parties!
uation of our country is one of unexampled distress
and difficulty ; but there is no occasion for any dekind and bountiful Providence has
spondency.
never deserted us—punished us he, perhaps, has

A

and our misdeeds.—
a genial climate
and free institutions. Our whole land is covered,
in profusion, wilh the means of subsistence and the
for our neglect of his blessings

We

have a varied and

fertile soil,

life.
Our gallant Ship, it is unfortunately true, lies helpless, tossed on a tempestuous
sea, amidst the conflicting billows of contending
parties, without a rudder and without a faithful piBut that Ship is our country, embodying all
lot.
our past glory, all our future hopes. Its crew is our
whole people, by whatever political denomination
they are known. If she goes down, we all go
down together. Let us remember the dying words

comforts of

—

of the gallantand lamented Lawrence " Don't «ive
up the Ship." The glorious banner of o'ir country,
wilh i's Stars and Stripes, still proudly floats at its
masthead. With stout hearts and strong arms we
can surmount all difficulties. Let us all all rally
around lhat Banner, and firmly resolve to perpetuate our liberties and regain our lost prosperity.
Whigs! arouse from the ignoble supinene-s which
encompasses you awake from the lethargy in which

— —

—
—

—

you lie bound castfrom you that unwonhy apathy
which seems to make you indifferent to the fate of
your country arouse, awake shake off the dewdrops that glider on your garments, and once more
You have been
march to Buttle and to Victory
disappointed, deceived, betrayed— shamefully deceived and betraved. But will you therefore also
prove fdse and faithless to your country, or obey
!

!

the impulses of a just and patriotic indignation 1

As

for

Captain Tyler,

in the pan
peck your
rifles again.
;

E. G.

hie

is

a mere snap

Whig

flints

and

— a flash
try your

SUTHERLAND, PUBLISHER,
Sixo Bins, New-York.