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pleasure, there is ordinarily little security for personal independence of character. The power of giving office thus affects the fears of all who are in, and the hopes of all who are out. Those who are out endeavour to distinguish themselves by active political friendship, by warm personal devotion, by clamorous support of men in whose hands is the power of reward; while those who are in ordinarily take care that others shall not Surpass them in such qualities or such conduct as is most likely to secure favour. They resolve not to be outdone in any of the Works of partisanship. The consequence of all this is obvious. A competition ensues, not of patriotic labours; not of rough and severe toils for the public good; not of manliness, independence, and public spirit; but of complaisance, of indiscriminate support of executive measures, of pliant subserviency and gross adulation. All throng and rush together to the altar of man-worship; and there they offer sacrifices, and pour out libations, till the thick fumes of their incense turn their own heads, and turn, also, the head of him who is the object of their idolatry.
The existence of parties in popular governments is not to be avoided ; and if they are formed on constitutional questions, or in regard to great measures of public policy, and do not run to excessive length, it may be admitted that, on the whole, they do no great harm. But the patronage of office, the power of bestowing place and emoluments, creates parties, not upon any principle or any measure, but upon the single ground of perSonal interest. Under the direct influence of this motive, they form round a leader, and they go for “the spoils of victory.” And if the party chieftain becomes the national chieftain, he is
still but too apt to consider all who have opposed him as ene
mies to be punished, and all who have supported him as friends to be rewarded. Blind devotion to party, and to the head of a party, thus takes the place of the sentiments of generous patriotism and a high and exalted sense of public duty.—Speech on the Appointing and Itemoving Power, Feb., 1835.
PHILANTHROPIC LOVE OF POWER.
I BELIEVE the power of the executive has increased, is increasing, and ought now to be brought back within its ancient constitutional limits.” I have nothing to do with the motives
5 This is a paraphrase of a famous resolution moved by Mr. Dunning in the House of Commons. See page 136, note 3.
that have led to those acts which I believe to have transcended the boundaries of the Constitution. Good motives may always be assumed, as bad motives may always be imputed. Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of power; but they cannot justify it, even if we were sure that they existed. It is hardly too strong to say, that the Constitution was made, to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions, real or pretended. When bad intentions are boldly avowed, the people will promptly take care of themselves. On the other hand, they will always be asked why they should resist or question that exercise of power which is so fair in its object, so plausible and patriotic in appearance, and which has the public good alone confessedly in view. Human beings, we may be assured, will generally exercise power when they can get it; and they will exercise it most undoubtedly, in popular governments, under pretences of public safety or high public interest. It may be very possible that good intentions do really sometimes exist when constitutional restraints are disregarded. There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but they mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters. They think there need be but little restraint upon themselves. Their notion of the public interest is apt to be quite closely connected with their own exercise of authority. They may not, indeed, always understand their own motives. The love of power may sink too deep in their own hearts even for their own scrutiny, and may pass with themselves for mere patriotism and benevolence. A character has been drawn of a very eminent citizen of Massachusetts, of the last age, which, though I think it does not entirely belong to him, yet very well describes a certain class of public men. It was said of this distinguished son of Massachusetts, that in matters of politics and government he cherished the most kind and benevolent feelings towards the whole Earth. He earnestly desired to see all nations well governed : and to bring about this happy result, he wished that the United States might govern all the rest of the world; that Massachusetts might govern the United States; that Boston might govern Massachusetts; and as for himself, his own humble ambition would be satisfied by governing the little town of Boston.—Speech at Niblo's Saloon, New York, March 15, 1837.
THE SPIRIT OF DISUNION.6
THE spirit of union is particularly liable to temptation and Seduction in moments of peace and prosperity. In war, this spirit is strengthened by a sense of common danger, and by a thousand recollections of ancient efforts and ancient glory in a common cause. But in the calms of a long peace, and in the absence of all apparent causes of alarm, things near gain the ascendency over things remote. Local interests and feelings overshadow national sentiments. Our attention, our regard, and our attachment are every moment solicited to what touches us closest, and we feel less and less the attraction of a distant orb. Such tendencies we are bound by true patriotism and by Our love of union to resist. This is our duty; and the moment, in my judgment, has arrived, when that duty should be performed. We hear, every day, sentiments and arguments which would become a meeting of envoys, employed by separate governments, more than they become the common legislature of a united country. Constant appeals are made to local interests, to geographical distinctions, and to the policy and pride of particular States. It would sometimes appear as if it were a settled purpose to convince the people that our Union is nothing
6 The following piece is the conclusion of Webster's second speech on the Sub-Treasury, delivered March 12, 1838. Calhoun, after a concurrence of several years with Webster in opposing the financial policy of the government, had unexpectedly espoused the Sub-Treasury scheme, partly as a means of uniting the South against the North. In the course of the speech aforesaid, Webster pursues Calhoun in a strain of rather caustic though good-humoured satire. This drew from Calhoun a most elaborate and searching review of Webster’s political course. I have elsewhere remarked that Webster had an intense aversion to political metaphysics. Herein he differed in toto from Calhoun, who, it seems to me, was rather a great political metaphysician than a statesman, in the right sense of the term. I must add that, all through his Congressional life, Webster stood on terms of cordial friendliness with Calhoun. The two men had indeed a profound respect for each other. Webster admired the genius of Calhoun, and honoured him for his high personal worth. Though they dealt many a hard blow upon each other in the Senate, each seemed always the more drawn to the other for the perfect manliness and dignity with which the “hard pounding” was done. But Webster never would go along at all with the noble Southerner in those speculative intricacies where men “find no end, in wandering mazes lost.” In reply to Calhoun's searching review aforesaid, Webster made another speech, on the 22d of March. In this speech, after referring to certain questions wherein Calhoun had quite shifted off from his original ground, he has the fol. lowing: “The honourable member now takes these questions with him into the upper heights of metaphysics, into the region of those refinements and subtile arguments which he rejected with so much decision in 1817. He quits his old ground of common sense, experience, and the general understanding of the country, for a flight among theories and ethereal abstractions.”—See Sketch of Webster's Life, page 332.
but a jumble of different and discordant interests, which must, ere long, be all resolved into their original state of separate existence; as if, therefore, it was of no great value while it should last, and was not likely to last long. The process of disintegration begins by urging as a fact the existence of different interests. Sir, is not the end to which all this leads us obvious? Who does not see that, if convictions of this kind take possession of the public mind, our Union can hereafter be nothing, while it remains, but a connection without harmony; a bond without affection ; a theatre for the angry contests of local feelings, local objects, and local jealousies? Even while it continues to exist in name, it may by these means become nothing but the mere form of a united government. My children, and the children of those who sit around me, may meet, perhaps, in this chamber, in the next generation; but if tendencies now but too obvious be not checked, they will meet as strangers and aliens. They will feel no sense of common interest or common country; they will cherish no common object of patriotic love. If the same Saxon language shall fall from their lips, it may be the chief proof that they belong to the same nation. Its vital principle exhausted and gone, its power of doing good terminated, the Union itself, become productive only of strife and contention, must ultimately fall, dishonoured, and unlamented. The honourable member from South Carolina himself habitually indulges in charges of usurpation and oppression against the government of his country. IHe daily denounces its important measures, in the language in which our Revolutionary fathers spoke of the oppressions of the mother country. Not merely against executive usurpation, either real or supposed, does he utter these sentiments; but against laws of Congress, laws passed by large majorities, laws sanctioned for a course of years by the people. These laws he proclaims, every hour, to be but a series of acts of oppression. He speaks of them as if it were an admitted fact that such is their true character. This is the language he utters, these are the sentiments he expresses, to the rising generation around him. Are they sentiments and language which are likely to inspire our children with the love of union, to enlarge their patriotism, or to teach them, and to make them feel, that their destiny has made them common citizens of one great and glorious republic? A principal object in his late political movements, the gentleman himself tells us, was to unite the entire South; and against whom, or against what, does he wish to unite the entire South 2 Is not this the very essence of local feeling and local regard? Is it not the acknowledgment of a wish and object to create political strength by uniting political opinions geographically? While the gentleman thus wishes to unite the entire South, I pray to know, Sir, if he expects me to turn toward the polar star, and, acting on the same principle, to utter the cry of Rally 1 to the whole North? Heaven forbid To the day of my death, neither he nor others shall hear such a cry from me. Finally, the honourable member declares that he shall now march off under the banner of State rights. March off from whom? March off from what? We have been contending for great principles. We have been struggling to maintain the liberty and to restore the prosperity of the country; we have made these struggles here, in the national councils, with the old flag, the true American flag,-the Eagle, and the Stars and Stripes,— waving over the chamber in which we sit. He tells us, however, that he marches off under the State-rights banner! Let him go. I remain. I am where I ever have been, and ever mean to be. Here, standing on the platform of the general Constitution, a platform broad enough and firm enough to uphold every interest of the whole country, I shall still be found. Intrusted with some part in the administration of that Constitution, I intend to act in its spirit, and in the spirit of those who framed it. Yes, Sir, I would act as if our fathers, who formed it for us, and who bequeathed it to us, were looking on me; as if I could see their venerable forms bending down to behold us from the abodes above. I would act, too, as if the eye of posterity were gazing on me. Standing thus, as in the full gaze of our ancestors and our posterity, having received this inheritance from the former, to be transmitted to the latter, and feeling that, if I am born for any good in my day and generation, it is for the good of the whole country, no local policy or local feeling, no temporary inpulse, shall induce me to yield my foothold on the Constitution of the Union. I move off under no banner not known to the whole American people, and to their Constitution and laws. No, Sir; these walls, these columns “shall fly from their firm base as soon as I.” I came into public life, Sir, in the service of the United States. On that broad altar my earliest and all my public vows have been made. I propose to serve no other master. So far as depends on any agency of mine, they shall continue united States; united in interest and in affection ; united in every thing in regard to which the Constitution has decreed their union; united in war, for the common defence, the common renown, and the common glory; and united, compacted, knit firmly together in peace, for the common prosperity and happiness of ourselves and our children.