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It is doubtless known to all of you, that the great
question which has agitated our country for twelve months past, was
that Benjamin Watkins Leigh was,
settled on the 29th of January
on that day, chosen by the legislature of Virginia to represent this
commonwealth in the senate of the United States.
Justice to myself, as well as a proper respect for your opinions, require, that I should freely and candidly lay before your view, the
course which I pursued in this important matter as your represen;


In doing this, I might, with much propriety, call your attention to
the delicate, the difficult, and the highly painful situation in which I
was placed. I might place before your view the angry temperament
of two political parties, standing, as Scylla and Charybdis, upon my
right and upon my left, both of which it was impossible to please, and
each watching, with an eagle's eye, every step of my progress, and prepared, witli bittcrj deiiunciatioiio, Cui anticlpaieil trespasses upon their
sacred rights.
This 1 say, fellow-citizens, I might with propriety do,
and I might then appeal with confidence to the tender feelings of your
hearts, to the noble sympathies which animate your bosoms.
But this,
permit me to say, and I say it with the utmost respect for you, I disdain to do.
I can never invoke your sympathies, whilst I have, as I
conceive, the strongest claim upon your justice.
All that I ask of
you is, a fair and dispassionate consideration of the facts which I shall
lay before you.
This I have the indubitable right to claim at your

hands; and

if after




condemn me,

I trust I shall


with resignation to your decision.
It is well known to all of you, that previous to the election last
spring, I openly and freely proclaimed that I had insuperable objections to Mr. Rives as our next senator.
My decided preference for
Mr. Leigh was equally notorious. Each voter, when he exercised the
right of suffrage, was well acquainted with my opinions and my wishes
upon this subject. I put this question home to the conscience of each
of you, and ask a candid answer
Suppose that the legislature had
convened the day after the election in Caroline closed, and had proceeded at once to the choice of a senator Is there a single individual
in the county who would have expected me to support the pretensions
of Mr. Rives? Would not every one have said, without hesitation,
our delegate will vote for Mr. Leigh ?
I only ask a candid, a concientious reply to these questions, and I know it must be an acknow:



1 he election of senator was made the leading question on
which our
county election turned. The political opinion!
and principles of LeLh
and Rives were brought fully into discussion
before the people
fact the characters of these men
were, as it were, personated by
county candidates; and in giving his suffrage
for the latter,

was only indicating

his choice

the Voter

between the former

How then, I ask you, could I regard my election,
under such circumstances, otherwise than as an indication
of the public will given
the most solemn manner, and imposing upon
me the hiehest obli»
gation to support


Mr. Leigh ?
you will say is entirely hypothetical. It will
be said
that the legislature did not convene till many
months after the election, and that the people had the right
to give another indication


this case

their wishes.
With all this I entirely concur. I maintain that
people possess the right to change their opinions
as often as they please
and that they have an equal right to control their
agent, and to make
him reflect their will in all the mutations through
which they may

Not long after the spring elections closed, it was
proclaimed by the
subsidized presses of the land, that a reaction
had taken place— that
the people had been deceived at the polls,
and that instructions must
be gotten up to reverse the decisions so
recently and solemnly made
Uur county did not escape the mania— I was called upon
to say whether 1 would obey instructions.
I unhesitatingly admitted the right
ot the people to instruct, and
acknowledged my obligation to conform
to the will of my COnetUucnto upon all and cvory eubjcot
I did not, as I have been unjustly charged, pretend to"'dictate
to the
people the manner in which they should proceed to exercise this right.
I admitted openly the right, as well as the manner of
its exercise" to

reside exclusively

in the people, and expressed my determination
reflect their fairly ascertained will, no matter in what way
It is true, that in my address, published in the Arena in
last, I suggested the safest and most satisfactory manner
to be, by a

public meeting
and I requested the adoption of this mode— but in
the same address, I disclaimed any intention of dictating a course to

them. The request, to settle the question by a public meeting, was
not complied with
a different method was pursued.
So sacred'do I
consider the right of instruction, that I promised to be controlled by
the public will obtained in this way, provided it was fairly shewn
thereby that a majority of the lawful voters were opposed to Mr.
On the 2Sth November, I left my residence for Richmond, and on
the 1st of December, took my seat in the legislature.
Before I left
Caroline, I suggested to one of the gentlemen who had taken an active part in the business of instruction, the propriety
of furnishing
me with the instructions before my departure, in order that I might
examine them. The request was refused, though he had them inliis
possession, and I was only permitted to look at them for
a few minutes.


few days after the session commenced, a resolution was
December for the
the object of which was to fix upon the 12th of
My vote stands recorded against that resolution,
election of senator.
which I have
whilst nearly every other member of the party with
I had not at this time received the expected macted, voted for it.
believe they
structions from my constituents— but I had reason to
would be forwarded to me. I was therefore in favour of postpoinng
their wishes.
the election, until my constituents had full time to develop
passed the house, and was sent to the senate




December," and
the senate amended it, by striking out "the 12th of
Thus amended by
inserting in lieu thereof, " the 12tii of February."
mothe senate, it was returned to the house; and on being read, a
" the 12th
tion was made to amend the amendment, by striking out
of February," and inserting in lieu thereof, "the 12th of January."
On this motion, I voted again in the negative. The motion, how-

and the resolution was again sent to the senate. The
senate again amended it, by striking out " the 12th of January," and
For the resolution thus amended,
inserting " the 27th of January."
I voted, and it was concurred in by the house.
I have been thus particular, fellow-citizens, in giving you a detailed
account of this whole proceeding, in order that you may perceive the
You will observe, that
course which I pursued in relation to it.
throughout the whole of this preliminary step to the election of a
senator, I was found in the ranks of my political opponents, and op-

ever, prevailed,

posed to the party which desired the election of Mr. Leigh. I went
throughout for the remotest day, and my object was to give those of
my constituents, who wished to instruct me, full time to speak their
If I had been regardless of your wishes, I should have voted
for hurrying into the election before your letter of instructions reached
me. The letter of instructions, together with a letter from the committee acting on behalf of the instructionists, was put in my possession
on the 12th of December.
In my reply to the letter of the committee, which bears date the
13th of December, after acknowledging the receipt of the instructions,
I say, " maintaining as I ever have, and as I trust I ever shall, that
the people are the only source of political power, and that they have
the right to control their agents in the exercise of any part of it which
they may confer upon them, I receive these papers with a determina-

them that respectful consideration to which every commuI beg leave to assure those
nication from such a source is entitled.
of my constituents who have undertaken to instruct me, that if after
the most impartial investigation of the documents sent me by the committee, of which I am capable, I shall be satisfied that they contain
the will of a majority of the lawful voters of the county, fairly obtained, I shall either yield obedience to them, or adopt a course equally,
tion to give

not more agreeable to them."
now proceed, fellow -citizens, to give you the result of the
investigation, and if that result shall not be so agreeable to many of
you as you had been led to anticipate, I trust you will not hesitate to
acknowledge that I have fully redeemed the pledge given in the foreif

I shall

going extract from



The letter of instructions was signed by 507 persons,
may be added, afterwards received by me, making the


which two



of instructionists 509.
The committee appointed by the instructionists to scrutinize the
list, and to communicate with me upon the subject, certified to me
that only 475 of the signers were lawful voters.
They also certified
the whole number of votes polled at the last spring election to be 695,
which they add is the largest number polled for the last 15 years and
they further say that 475 constitute a large majority of the lawful
voters of the county.
What the intention of the committee was in
making these statements, I do not know the only reasonable infer1st. That G95 being the largest
ence to my mind seems to be this
number of votes polled in Caroline for 15 years, it is, therefore, the
whole vote of the county and 475 being a large majority of C95, our
delegate is therefore validly instructed, by a majority of the lawful
voters of the county.
From these facts the mind involuntarily forms a sylogism which is
perfectly conclusive in favor of the instructionists, and which no sophistry, however refined, can resist, provided the facts which support
But in them the committee was deceived.
it be founded in truth.
The facts are erroneous, and the conclusions drawn from them conseIt is true that 095 votes were polled at the spring elecquently false.
tion, but of those voters only about 240 instructed me, some others
who had signed the letter of instructions having recanted. 240 deducted from 095, will leave 455, a large and clear majority against
the instructions, on this view of the subject.
Again The Jackson committee state that 095 persons voted last
They also state that 475 signers lo ihe letter of instructions
Only 263 of these signers voted last spring, which
are lawful voters.
taken from 475, will leave 212 who did not vote. These added to
695, will make, according to the committee's shewing, 907 lawful
The majority of 907 is 454. From 475
voters in Caroline county.
deduct 37 recantations, and there will remain 438, which is 16 less
than the majority of 907. Under this other view of the subject, it is
equally manifest that if I had obeyed, I should have represented the
wishes of a minority in opposition to a majority.
I beg you, fellow-citizens, to bear in mind that the foregoing views
are based solely upon the facts and evidences furnished me by the inSupposing all their statements to be strictly
structionists themselves.
true, they prove clearly, and without doubt, that a majority of the law;





of Caroline had not united in the effort to instruct me, and
consequently, that I was left unfettered and free to exercise my own
I appeal to your candour to say,
discretion in the choice of senator.
Would every one of you, as impartial jurors, acting
is it not so?
upon oath, deliberately consider the facts, I would be content to
I should not hesirest the matter upon the foregoing statement.
But, fellowtate to claim a triumphant verdict at your hands.
citizens, in times of high party excitement like the present, abounding as they are, with factious demagogues, and self-constituted guardians of the people's rights, moved alone by the unholy desire of
self-promotion, and ready, with the weapons of detraction and misful voters

which may stand in the
admonisiied by experience
to omit no view of this subject which is calculated to prevent
a forfeiture of the confidence with which you have honoured me.
shall therefore ask your attention to another view of this subject.
have repeatedly acknowledged the right of instruction, and I have
as often promised to obey the fairly ascertained will of my constituents.
By my constituents, I mean all the lawful voters of the county. In
an enquiry, then, into the validity of the instructions sent me, the

representation, to demolish every

way of

own advancement,





most proper and reasonable course appeared to me to be, to ascertain
first, the number of lawful voters in the county; and secondly, the
number of lawful voters on the letter of instructions. It must be evident to you, that neither myself, nor any one man in the county, was
competent to give the desired information. To whom, then, could I
apply with as much propriety as to the clerk, and sheriffs, and comTo them I did apply; and after a dilimissioners of the revenue?
gent examination of the land and tax books, and the records of the
clerk's office, they furnished me with a list of 1038 lawful voters of
our county. They also examined the list of instructionists, and struck
therefrom the names of 110, who are not entitled to the right of sufThese, deducted from 509, the whole number of instrucfrage.
tionists, will leave 399 lawful voters, 37 of whom have recanted.
this view, then, the matter will stand thus
Whole number of lawful voters in Caroline,
Whole number of lawful instructionists,


Deduct recantations,

no republican will say, that under this, the only proTo say I was, would be to
per view of the subject, I was instructed.
deny the truth of the great republican principle, that the majority
must govern.
It is well known to you all, fellow-citizens, that throughout the
whole of the last spring canvass, I only sought your support upon
what little merit I possessed, and upon the orthodoxy of my politcal
If my adversaries had faults, no one can charge me with
having exposed them to public view. I hope I shall ever scorn to obtain political advancement at the expense of the private feelings or reputation of my opponents.
I am a public man, and am acting for the
public good, and if in the defence of my conduct, and the great inI trust that


keeping, I shall be forced to disclose
I hope it will be attributed
to a proper desire to discharge a public duty, and not to a personal

terests, entrusted in part to



would gladly have concealed,

disrespect to any
It is




in existence.

as before stated, that throughout the


declared my uncompromising political
hostility to William C. Rives, and my determination to support Benjamin W. Leigh as our next United States senator. Elected with
these views, and after these declarations, I hoped that my way was
clear before me, and little dreamed of the difficulties which have since

canvass of the

last election, I

As a representative, my end was your interest,
determined to seek in your wishes, when clearly indicated, or in the absence of such indication, in the suggestions of my
own humble reason. It was here that difficulties awaited me, in presenting for my investigation, a complicated question of fact, as to
your wishes, in relation to the senatorial election. Instructions were
gotten up for the purpose of ascertaining the wishes of the people of
arisen in


and the guide


Caroline in relation to this election.
These instructions, with the
to them, were forwarded to me sometime after I had left the county, by four gentlemen, acting as a committee on behalf of the instructionists. Upon examining them, 1 found
them unaccompanied by any evidence to satisfy me of their genuineness or authenticity.
The committee do not even say, that they believe them to be genuine
on the contrary, tney informed me, that
they made out one consolidated list from many other lists obtained
from other persons and they do not inform me who those other persons were.
From which it is to be inferred, that the committee itself
did not know whether the signatures to the various letters of instrucI have no doubt but the committee thought
tion were genuine or not.
they were genuine but they did not think proper to assume the responsibility, which the expression of their belief on this subject would
impose upon them. The undivided responsibility of the whole subject was thrown upon me, then engaged in my official duties, and distant from the only persons from whom I might obtain satisfactory information.
A short time after the reception of the instructions, directing me to vote for Mr. Rives, other letters of instructions began
to reach me from some of the persons whose names were signed on
the first, cancelling the instructions to vote for Rives, and directing me
Some of these writers state, that they were into vote as I pleased.
duced to sign the instructions by improper representations; and others
say that they never signed them at all, and that they did not authorize
any person to sign for them. Here, fellow-citizens, arose a fresh and
The instructionists were attacking the validity
perplexing difficulty.
of their own act and deed, which attack, was no less than a direct impeachment of its correctness, and I was forced to act the part of an
Now, fellow-citizens, I beg of
unwilling umpire in their disputes.

names of many persons signed



you to consider this whole subject under this view.
Bear in mind that the state of parties in our county, as indicated
by the election, was nearly equal. Recollect that I received nearly
one-half of the largest number of votes polled for 15 years, against
two candidates. Remember also, that this vote was given me on my
Think of
express declaration, that I would not vote for Mr. Rives.
Was the letter
these things I say, and then answer me this question
of instructions sent to me by the committee, unofficial and unattested
as it was as to its authenticity, and followed, as was the case, by
charges of serious import, from some of the very men whose names
appeared upon it was such a document I say, sufficient to justify me
in going directly counter to the high obligations imposed by the foregoing considerations upon me ? From the considerate, the temperate,
and all such as respect that golden precept, " do as you would be done
From the thoughtless and
by," I can readily anticipate an answer.


I never entertained the hope of
impetuous, I look for no quarter.
pleasing such by any conceivable vote I could give.
Before I leave this subject, permit me to remind you that I have
made no charge against the instructions sent to me, nor against any
I have only
of the persons who had an agency in getting them up.
informed you, as it was my duty to do, of the charges made by others

and these charges, bear in mind, come not from my political friends,
but from some of the instructionists themselves.
I have laid it
I have now, fellow-citizens, done with this subject,
It now rests with you to censure or approve, to confully before you.
demn or to sustain. Be your decision what it may, it can never deprive me of the high satisfaction which I shall derive from the conThe current
sideration, that I have done what I believed to be right.
of party spirit is running high, and all of us are, more or less, subjected
I cannot expect, under such circumstances,
But this state
motives will be duly appreciated.
The questions which now distract us,
of things cannot last always.
will soon cease to exist, and our present commotions will ere long be
When that happy state
supplanted by a state of placid tranquillity.
shall arrive, then will my conduct be viewed through the medium of
reason and judgment, and then shall I expect to meet in your approbation, an ample remuneration for all the punishment which passion
to its potent influence.



acts or


and prejudice can now


upon me.

Before I conclude this address, permit me, fellow-citizens, to ask
your attention, whilst I endeavour to expose the misrepresentations
which have been practised upon you concerning the political opinions
Every pflTort which ingenuity could devise
of Benjamin W. Leigh.
lias been made to excite your prejudices against this worthy son of
Up to the last session of congress, no man, save Washington, ever occupied a higher place in the confidence and affections of
the people of Virginia, than Benjamin Watkins Leigh.
As a gentleman, a lawyer, or a statesman of the true republican faith, he stood
His meritorious and faithful public services in various
stations, and more particularly in the convention which framed our
present constitution, had secured to him the gratitude of his countrymen of every class and condition. In February 1833, the legislature
was about to go into the election of a senator, to represent this commonwealth in the senate of the United States. Mr. Leigh was requested to permit himself to be put in nomination.
He refused, on the
ground that his engagements required his whole attention at home, and
stated that he could not accept the office on any terms.
however, to his wishes, some of his friends determined to put him in
Colonel Joseph Watkins, the present leader of the Jackson party in the legislature, brought his name before the house, and
accompanied the nomination with the following merited eulogy
Mr. Watkins of Goochland said, that as he could not vote for Mr.
Tyler, he rose with the deepest sensibility, to bring forward a master
spirit of the age, Benjamin Watkins Leigh.
He would not insult a
name with which every attribute of honour and devotion to country
was associated, by attempting a detail of meritorious services so well
knowu to every member of the house. He knew that letters would

be quoted to shew, tliat in case of Mr. Leigh's election, he would not
consent to serve. Perhaps it would be asking too much, to insist upon
his serving the full term of six years
but he thought Mr. Leigh would
not refuse his services in the present emergency, even should he resign after the next session of congress.
He was a true patriot, and


Mr. Watkins believed would not refuse his exertions at the call of his
country in times like these
and he trusted, that before that period
arrived, Mr. Leigh's exertions would have made "glorious summer
of the winter of our discontent."
He should vote for Mr. Leigh,
whether he was sustained by the house or not. Mr. Watkins was followed by Mr. Jefferson Randolph, another leading Jackson man of
the present legislature, who supported the claims of Mr. Leigh in a
strain almost as complimentary as Mr. Watkins.
You will bear in mind, fellow-citizens, that these two witnesses,
who testified so highly to the merits of Mr. Leigh, spoke truly the
universal voice and feelings of Virginia at that time.
They claimed
that themselves, as well as Mr. Leigh, were genuine republicans of
the old school.
I now ask, and I ask it with boldness, what has Mr.
Leigh since done to forfeit the high claim which he then had to the
confidence and esteem of his countrymen ?
What has he done to
incur the charge of having deserted the republican ranks 1
His enemies will answer, that he has opposed the administration of general
Jackson, He advocates the re-charter of the United States bank.
Examine with me, for one moment, into the truth of these charges
1st. He has opposed the present administration. I have always thought
that the best evidence of a genuine republican was found in his opposition to the growth of federal or executive power.
Mr. Jefferson and
his followers opposed the usurpations of the elder Adams, and ihe_y
Mr. Leigh, in
therefore became entitled to the name of republicans.
the same manner, has, by his zealous opposition to executive encroachBut
ments, proved himself to be a true disciple of the same school.
I do not intend at this time to enter into an examination of the acts*
For the sake of argument, I will admit
of the present administration.
that Mr. Leigh has been wholly wrong in his opposition to the present
administration of the federal government and I will even then demonstrate to every reasonable man, that he is not accountable for his
You will" recollect, that on the opening of the last session
of congress, a resolution of censure was introduced into the senate,
upon the course pursued by the president concerning the deposites.
Mr, Rives, then a senator, opposed the resolution, and advocated the
conduct of the president. The legislature of Virginia, then in session, took the subject into consideration, and by a majority of more



than two

to one,

passed the following resolutions:


the Deposites



Bank of

the United States,

adopted February 8th, 1834.

" Whereas, the general assembly of Virginia, deem it of the utmost importance,
that the power to control the public revenue should be made to abide, in practice,
where it has been invested by the constitution, in the immediate representatives
of the people, and of the states, in congress assembled and all experience of the
practical operation of governments has proved, that arbitrary assumptions of power

by them, or any officer of them, if silently acquiesced in, become precedents for
further and still greater acts of usurpation
" 1. Resolved by the general assembly, That the recent act of the president of
the United States, exerting a control over the public deposites, by causing them
to be withheld and withdrawn, on his own responsibility, from the United States
bank in which they had been ordered to be placed by the act of congress charterinij the said bank, is, in the judgment of the general assembly, a dangerous and
alarming assumption of power by that officer, which cannot be too strongly con:

" 2. Resolved, That while the general assembly will ever be ready to sustain
the president in the exercise of all such powers as the constitution has confided
to him, they, nevertheless, cannot but regard with apprejiension and distrust, the
disposition to extend his official authority beyond its just and proper limits, which
he has so clearly manifested in his recent interference with the treasury department of the federal government, in the exercise of a sound discretion which congress has confided to the head of that department alone.
" 3. Resolved, That our senators in congress be instructed, and our representatives requested, to use their best exertions to procure the adoption, by congress, of
proper measures for restoring the public moneys to the bank of the United States,
or, at least, for causing them to be deposited therein for the future, according to
the direction and stipulation of the act of congress chartering the said bank ; if
at the time of their action on the subject, the said bank be in their opinion, a safe
depository of the public treasure.
" 4. Resolved, That the general assembly cannot recognize as constitutional the
power which has been claimed by congress (o establish a United States bank, because, in the opinion of the general assembly, as they have heretofore solemnly
declared, that power is not given to congress by the constitution of the United



Resolved, That the general assembly do not intend by the declaration of

their opinion in regard to the unconstitutionality of the bank of the United States,
to qualify, or in any manner to impair the force of their disapprobation of the

withholding and withdrawing of the public deposites.
" 6. Resolved, That the governor of the commonwealth be requested to transmit a copy of these resolutions to each of our senators and representatives in the
congress of the United States."


resolutions contain the deliberate sense of the legislature.

They charge

the president with unlawful assumptions of power, and
with a disposition to extend his authority beyond the limits prescribed
by the constitution and they were sent on as instructions to control
the action of our senators. Mr. Rives received them* and rather than
obey them, he resigned his seat. On the resignation of Mr. Rives,
Mr. Leigh was appointed to succeed him. He entered the senate
then, completely fettered by his constituents in relation to the deposite
question, and all subjects connected therewith.
Whatever his private
opinions might have been, he had no discretion in their exercise. The
course to be pursued was clearly chalked out by his constituents and
as a good republican, he reflected their will.
I ask you now, fellow-citizens, even supposing he was in error, is
he responsible for that error? Those who maintain that he is, must
cease to profess a regard for the right of instruction.
But this is not
the only subject upon which Mr. Leigh has opposed the present administration.
You all know, that when general Jackson was elevated
to the presidency, the honourable John M'Lean presided over the postoflice department
and you likewise know the flourishing condition
in which that faithful officer left the financial affairs of that department.
What is its condition now? Totally bankrupt. Under the
administration of William T. Barry, its immense income has been di-




verted ffom its proper objects, and squandered with a lavish hand upon
the idolatrous supporters of the powers that be.
An institution that

was intended

for the convenience of the people, and to scatter useful
information throughout the land, has been converted into the most corrupt political machine that was ever seen in any age or country.
whole resources have been sunk and by a lawless and unconstitutional act, the post master general has saddled it with a debt to the
extent of several hundred thousand dollars beyond its ability to pay.
I do not blame the president for the appointment of Mr. Barry
surely there can be 'no excuse offered for his continuing a man in
office, who has shewn so little capacity for conducting the concerns of
his department. Twelve months ago, the senate, by a unanimous vote,
declared that the post master general had violated the laws and conand yet, in the face of this unanimous declarastitution of the land
tion, the president still continues this unworthy officer in power.
Which of you, fellow-citizens, can approve such conduct? and who
can blame Mr. Leigh for disapproving it?
few words, now, upon the second charge. You have been
told that Mr. Leigh is an advocate of a re-charter of the United States
bank and a paragraph of his speech of the 18th March last, has
been referred to as authority for the charge. Fellow-citizens, have any
of those who made the charge, ever shown you the speech? No, they
dare not do it.
They know it would convict them of misrepresentation.
I will now lay that part of it before you, which his enemies
have perverted to suit their purposes. Bear in mind, that Mr. Webster had introduced a resolution into the senate to re-charter the bank
for six years,
Upon this resolution, Mr. Leigh rose and said:






" He hoped the senate would indulge him, if he took this early opportunity to
indicate, frankly and distinctly, the opinion he entertained on this important subIndeed, some remarks
ject, and the course he should pursue in regard to it.
which had fallen from the gentleman from Massachusetts, if he rightly understood the allusions they imported, seemed to render such an explanation from him
" It is known to the senr.te, said he, that among the resolutions adopted by the
general assembly of Virginia, during its last session, which have heretofore been
laid before both houses of congress, there was one declaring the opinion that the
federal government had no constitutional authority to incorporate a national bank:
it contains, indeed, no positive instruction to the senators representing the state
in this house, but it is a deliberate, solemn expression of the sense of the legislature, and, I have no doubt, of the general sense of the people of Virginia on the
subject and this with reference to the question of the renewal of the charter of
the present bank of the United States. It is known to the senate, too, that 1
must have accepted the trust which a place in this body imposes, with full knowledge of the resolution to which I have adverted. Under these circumstances
knowing what was expected of me when I was elected, representing the sovereignty of the state, and informed, as I am, of her opinion and her will, even if I
entertained a different opinion, 1 slwuld he incapahle of so far misrepresenting her,
as to vote for a re-charter of the Bank of the United States, for any length of time,
But, in truth, 1 concur in the
hoioever short, or with any modificalioiis whatever.
opinion oj my constituents on the constitutional question, and that entirely and exactly.
I have examined the arguments for the constitutionality of such a corporation, over and over again, deliberately, and, I hope, impartially—;-I think I understand them— and I am quite sure that the opinion 1 have formed is the result of


best judgment."

" But though the people of Virginia do entertain the opinion, and liave uniformly
maintained it, and I think upon just grounds, that this government has no constitutional authority to charter a national bank, the deveFopments of the present
year, now in rapid progress, may serve to convince them, that the renewal of the
charter of the present bank, with such modifications, and for such a term as exEerience has shewn or shall dictate to be proper, may be the only means which
uman wisdom can devise, to avert or to correct measures far more unconstitutional, more abhorrent in principle from their opinions, and more dangerous and
baleful in their consequences. The alternatives but too likely to be presented to
us, are indeed awful."

In the foregoing extract, the opposition of Mr. Leigh to a re-charter
of the bank, under any circumstances whatever, is so clearly set forth,

The man who
a single comment upon it.
Mr. Leigh a bank man, either charges him
with stating a deliberate falsehood, or he must himself be under the
influence of such a hallucination of intellect as to render him incaRather than inpable of understanding his own vernacular tongue.
cur the imputation of vanity in attempting to convince such an one, I
will leave him to the enjoyment of all the pleasure he can derive from a
Up to the time
pertinacious adherence to his pre-conceived opinions.
that Mr. Leigh was first elected to the senate, I have shewn, by the
evidence of his present enemies, that he possessed the confidence and
esteem of his countrymen, that he was "a patriot, a master spirit of
the age."
I have shewn that he went into the senate with his hands
tied by his constituents, as to the course he was to pursue towards the
present administration.
He has faithfully, and with ability, obeyed
the instructions of his constituents.
What man, I again ask, can in
conscience condemn him? It is a remarkable fact, that some of the
very men who voted for the resolutions of instruction to Mr. Leigh,
are now most violent in their denunciations against him.
The inconsistency of such can only be accounted for upon the supposition, that
that I shall forbear to

can read


and then


they claim for the minority the right to control the majority.
If this
supposition be not correct, I am at a loss to determine how it is, that
the same men can censure Mr. Leigh for obeying, and myself for diso-

beying instructions.
Fellow-citizens, I have already swelled this address to a much
larger size than I intended
but long as it is, I cannot conclude without briefly adverting to two subjects upon which I understand attempts

have been made


first is

to injure me.
the subject of enclosures.

On my way




December, a petition was put into my hands by a citizen of Caroline,
signed by 112 persons, with directions that I should present it to the
I presented it, as it was my duty to do, early in the session, and had it referred to the committee on agriculture.
Some time
since, I was notified that the committee would consider the subject of
the petition on a certain day, and they wished me to be present.
attended, but no member of the committee appeared but the chairman. Another day was appointed, and I again attended, and found
the chairman only at his post.
I then stated to the chairman my
views upon the subject, as follow, and requested him to make them
known to the committee when it should meet. I told him that I could
not advocate the views of the petitioners, if I consulted

my own


ment, and that however


titioners, I did not think the

change desired by the


might respect the opinions of the pe-



sufficient to control

might be proper


that the

at a future day, but

at this time, to make a change in the laws
which would suddenly uproot a custom as old
as the government itself, and which would bear very heavily upon the
He replied that his views
people generally, and particularly the poor.
accorded precisely with mine, and that he would report accordingly.
Thus the subject ended. The committee has not yet reported, and
This is all that I have said or done
probably will not at this session.
upon this subject. You will now see that the charge against me, that
I was supporting the views of the petitioners, is wholly groundless.
A few words now upon the other subject. I understand that I am
charged with telling the people in the canvass of last spring, that the
measures of the president in relation to the United States bank, if
persisted in, would ruin the country, destroy the currency, paralyze
the industry and enterprise of our citizens, and in fact bring about a
ruinous depreciation of property, and a stagnation of business and
I at once plead guilty to the
that this prediction was not verified.
I acknowledge I told the people all this, and I assure you I
honestly and conscientiously believed it too; and if there had been no
good grounds on which to base such unhappy anticipations, with what
other imputation do I stand chargeable than that of having yielded

that I thought



relating to enclosures,


having been in
such were the case, I might here adopt
the system of recrimination pursued by my adversaries, and balance
T might triumphantly ask wliere is the realizathe account at once.
tion of the golden dreams, the metallic visions which rung so sweetly
Where is the Jackson money, the Benin your ears in March last.
ton yellow jackets, the specie currency, which in eight or nine months
from that time, were to inundate the land? When was that golden
age revived, in which, before this time, " every substantial citizen
will have a long silken purse of fine open net work, through the
insterstices of which the yellow gold will shine and glitter; every
substantial man's wife and daughter will travel upon gold."
of you I ask, fellow-citizens, has seen a realization of these golden
In eight or nine months all these beautiful prophecies were
auguries ?
to be fulfilled, and bank rags were no more to be seen in our land.
fear that none of you can say these prophecies have been verified in
a single instance and if so, it will appear there are other false proBut, fellow-citizens, I am not conphets in the land besides myself
tent to adopt this improper mode of argument, used so much by my
adversaries.' I have never relied upon the demerits of my opponents
I have told you nothing for
to sustain me in any thing I have said.
which I cannot give a good and substantial reason. If I cannot stand
upon the strength of my own cause let me sink, rather than take advantage of the weakness of that of my enemies. I did tell you in the
canvass, as before stated, that awful and gloomy times were overhangThe same things
ing our before happy and prosperous countrymen.
were told to the people every where, to awaken them to a sense of the


to the suggestions of a timid imagination, of

fact a false prophet






impending ruin, and

to these predictions alone, are they indebted for

their escape.

Let us now take a short retrospect of our situation at the period a
At no time in our expreceding this gloomy era in our history.
istence as a nation, have the enterprise and industry of our countrymen been so richly rewarded as in the year 1833. Blessed with an
unusual degree of tranquillity at home, we were at peace with all the
Agriculture, the mechanic arts and commerce
nations of the earth.
were all flourishing to an extent before unprecedented. With that
confidence and enterprise which such a state of prosperity never fails
to excite, every citizen in our country had stretched his credit to its
To supply the capital necessary to meet the demands
fullest extent.
of such a spirit of enterprise, numberless banking institutions sprung
into existence, which, in many instances, flooded the country with
forty times as much of their paper as they had specie to redeem. Yet
numberless as they were, and as little specie as they had, their paper
was unusually current. At this time there was comparatively but little
specie in the United States bank paper was almost the only money
we had. At this critical moment, the president suddenly and unnecessarily, as his best friends have admitted, determined to strike a
blow at the bank of the United States, to which nearly all the rest
were largely indebted. With a vindictiveness, never surpassed by the
most rancorous personal hatred, he swore an exterminating warfare
against it; he proclaimed to the world, that the institution was rotten
and insolvent, and an unsafe keeper of the public money; that he had
his foot upon the neck of the monster, and was determined to crush
Did you believe him my countrymen 1 Yes every man in the
country who held any of its paper believed, that if not already insolvent, the president would soon make it so, and he pressed upon it with
its paper in order to exchange it for specie.
In this way a heavy run
was made against the bank, without its having received any notice to
prepare for it. To meet this unexpected demand for specie, the United
States bank was necessarily compelled to call upon its debtors, amongst
which the state banks were the largest. The public now became
alarmed for their safety; the rush was now turned upon them. Every
man who held much of their paper, hastened with it to the bank, to
exchange it for specie. Many of them were unable to withstand the
and every man in the nation, of every party,
shock, and exploded
There is no trait in the nature of
expected a universal explosion.
man, more strongly characteristic, than to forget dangers and perils,
through which he has passed unhurt.
You, fellow-citizens, are an
agricultural people.
Your property consisted of land and slaves, and,
therefore, you escaped the ruin which overwhelmed thousands of your
worthy countrymen of other avocations. Go to your commercial cities,
and enquire of your merchants, mechanics and manufacturers, and see
how many useful and enterprising men, with their families, were reduced from a state of prosperity and plenty, to one of indigence.
And though your pursuits in life, warded off the blow which prostrated
thousands, were you free from danger?
Imagine to yourself the
state of our finances as before described
imagine to yourselves, a
nation of enterprising people carrying on their business, with a curlittle





rency of near 500,000,000 of paper dollars, and but little specie imagine
and then if
the whole of this money on the eve of utter annihilation
you admit that money is necessary to carry on the ordinary transactions between man and man, you cannot fail to be sensible of the danI state it as a fact which is susceptible of
gers you have escaped.
positive proof, that the United States bank had it in its power, through
the whole of the last winter and spring, to blow up every bank in Vir;


moment it pleased. Why was
The people, roused to a

power not exercised ?
sense of their impending
ruin, went to the polls last spring, and by their votes, rebuked the
president for his improper interference with the currency of the counToo obstinate to retrace his steps, he yet feared to wage further
his warfare against the bank. Not long before the elections, he stated,
that he had the checks of the bank, to the amount of $ 7,000,000,
If this demand had been
for which he meant to demand the specie.
made, I have no doubt but the prostration of every bank in the Union
would have ensued. But the threat was not executed and why 1 Because you stopped him at the polls. And now, permit me to ask, if
the people had not thus interposed, at the elections, and denounced, as
freemen, this unnatural warfare, is it not reasonable to suppose, that
my predictions would have been fully realized 1
ginia at any








have now, fellow-citizens, answered, I trust

satisfactorily, this

upon my adversaries to explain the prophetic
golden visions, that were sounded so sweetly in your ears last spring.
Let them tell you on what ground they then told you that paper money
was to be banished from the country, and a hard money currency was
They told you, " elect us, and wp, will give you Jackto succeed it.
son money." Have they made an effort to redeem their promise?
Yes they have. Whilst the Jackson party were preaching up golden
times in Virginia, the same party was establishing new banks in the
Has any attempt to banish paper
state of New York and elsewhere.
money been made in Virginia? Oh yes; a bold eifort was made in the
legislature a few days ago, to banish paper rags, and to introduce the
long looked for golden age, by establishing a new bank in the county
of Botetourt. This bank was concocted and introduced into the house,
and carried through by Jackson men, aided principally by the same
Read the speech of colonel Watkins on the occasion. He
was the only one of the golden number who raised his voice against




He boldly charged his party with having electhe infant monster.
tioneered with the people upon the hard money currency, and now
His party continued to bethey were the first to violate the promise.
lieve, that the best way to rid the country of bank paper, was to esNow, this New
tablish another bank, and therefore passed the bill.
York plan of diminishing paper money by increasing it, may be a good
one, but I think the advocates of a hard money currency ought to have
explained it to the people last spring. I could not, however, see into
against it.
it, and therefore voted
Fellow-citizens, I have now given you a faithful account of my conduct upon such subjects as you have felt much interest in. Such difficulties and embarrassments have been thrown in the path of my offiall.
cial duties, as to render it utterly impossible to give satisfaction to

conceivable course which I could have pursued, would have offended many. Under such painful and perplexing circumstances, I
might in ordinary times expect my conduct to be viewed with feelings
But the events
of moderation and forbearance, if not of approbation.
of a short time past, have taught me to expect no quarter, to look for
no forbearance. I already foresee, with much regret, the approach of
an angry and animated canvass, in which all the combustible elements
of our nature are to be roused into active operation ; the principles of
decorum trampled under foot, and the sacred obligations of private
friendship sacrificed at the shrine of partizan warfare.
If my political aspirations had their origin in an unworthy feeling
if self advancement was the object of my pursuit, I
of ambition
should look with satisfaction at the violent proceedings of my enemies
against me, and regard them as most efficient auxiliaries in advancing
such unworthy desires for all experience proves, that unmerited and
violent denunciation has ever benefitted the object against which it
was hurled. But, fellow-citizens, if I am acquainted with the feelings of my own heart, I can say with truth, that no such unworthy
My sole object has been, to
desires have ever had a residence there.
preserve and perpetuate those great principles of constitutional government for which our fathers fought, and on which our liberties, our
In the part which I may
lives, and our happiness as a nation depend.
be destined to act in the approaching scene, I trust that no act of mine
If I shall
will tend to increase the present unhappy excitement.
again be selected by my county to represent her in the next legislature, I wish that selection to be made by her reason, and not her pasIf it be the
I have therefore no desire to excite the latter.
wish of my countymen to renounce the republican doctrines of '98 ;
to support the federal principles contained in the proclamation of
1833 to hasten on the rapid march of the federal government to consolidation
to advocate the alarming abases of executive patronage,
and to hasten the concentration of all power in the hands of a single
man and whether right or wrong, to give a blind support to the acts
of that man then let me tell you, my fellow-citizens, that I am an
unfit organ through which to make your wishes known.
I hope in
that case your choice may fall upon some other.
Constitutional principles no less important than those just stated, are involved in the approaching contest, and I hope, fellow-citizens, that, laying aside all
feeling and passion, you may enter upon their investigation with that
deliberation and calmness which should ever characterize the acts of
a people whose government is based upon the great principle, that prudent and virtuous men can govern themselves.













obedient servant,









368 4
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