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IMPORTANCE OF THE NAVY.
THE gentleman says, and says truly, that at the commencement of the war the navy was unpopular. It was unpopular with his friends, who then controlled the politics of the country. But he says he differed with his friends: in this respect he resisted party influence and party connection, and was the friend and advocate of the navy. Sir, I commend him for it. He showed his wisdom. That gallant little navy soon fought itself into favour, and no man who had placed reliance on it was disappointed.
I do not know when my opinion of the importance of a naval force to the United States had its origin. I can give no date to my present sentiments on this subject, because I never entertained different sentiments. I remember, Sir, that immediately after coming into my profession, at a period when the navy was most unpopular, when it was called by all sorts of hard names and designated by many coarse epithets, on one of those occasions on which young men address their neighbours, I ventured to put forth a boy's hand in defence of the navy. I insisted on its importance, its adaptation to our circumstances and to our national character, and its indispensable necessity, if ye intended to maintain and extend our commerce. These opinions and sentiments I brought into Congress; and the first time in which I presumed to speak on the topics of the day, I attempted to urge on the House a greater attention to the naval service. There were divers modes of prosecuting the war. On these modes, or on the degree of attention and expense which should be bestowed on each, different men held different opinions. I confess I looked with most hope to the results of naval warfare, and therefore I invoked government to invigorate and strengthen that arm of the national defence. I invoked it to seek its enemy upon the seas, to go where every auspicious indication pointed, and where the whole heart and soul of the country would go with it.
Sir, we were at war with the greatest maritime power on Earth. England had gained an ascendency on the seas over all the combined powers of Europe. She had been at war twenty years. She had tried her fortunes on the Continent, but generally with no success. At one time the whole Continent had been closed against her. A long line of armed exterior, an unbroken hostile array frowned upon her from the Gulf of Archangel, round the promontory of Spain and Portugal, to the extreme point of Italy. There was not a port which an English ship could enter. Everywhere on the land the genius of her great enemy had triumphed. He haël defeated armies, crushed coalitions, and overturned throness; he was unconquerable only while he touched the land. On the ocean he was powerless. That field of fame was his adverary's, and her meteor flag was sfreaming in triumph over its §: extent. o
To her maritime ascendency England owed everything, and ne of the most charming of
we were now at war with her. her poets had said of her, “Her march is on the mountain wave, her home is on the deep.” Now, Sir, since we were at
war with her, I was for intercepting this march ;) I was for calling upon her, and paying our respects to her, at home; I was for giving her to know that we, too, had a right of way over the seas, and that our marine officers and our sailors were not entire strangers on the bosom of the deep. I was for doing something more with our navy than keeping it on.our own shores, for the protection of our coasts and harbours: I was for giving play to its gallant and burning spirit; for allowing it to go forth upon the seas, and to encounter, on an open and equal field, whatever the proudest or the bravest of the enemy could bring against it. I knew the character of its officers and the spirit of its seamen; and I knew that, in their hands, thqugh the flag of the country might go down to the bottom, yet, while defended by them, it could never be dishonoured or disgraced.
Since she was our enemy, and a most powerful enemy, I was for touching her, if we could, in the very apple of her eye; for reaching the highest feather in her cap; for clutching at the very brightest jewel in her crown. There seemed to me to be a peculiar propriety in all this, as the war was undertaken for the redress of maritime injuries alone. It was a war declared for free trade and sailors' rights. The ocean, therefore, was the proper theatre for deciding this controversy with our enemy; and on that theatre it was my ardent wish that our own power should be concentrated to the utmost.—Speech in Ireply to Calhown, March 22d, 1838.
THE LOG CABIN.
IT is the cry and effort of the times to stimulate those who are called poor against those who are called rich ; and yet, among those who urge this cry, and seek to profit by it, there is betrayed sometimes an occasional sneer at whatever savours of humble life. Witness the reproach against a candidate now be
fore the people for their highest honours, that a log cabin, with plenty of hard cider, is good enough for him 1 It appears to some persons that a great deal too much use is made of the symbol of the log cabin." But it is to be remembered that this matter of the log cabin originated, not with the friends of the Whig candidate, but with his enemies. Soon after his nomination at Harrisburg, a writer in one of the leading administration papers spoke of his “log cabin,” and his use of “hard cider,” by way of sneer and reproach. As might have been expected, (for pretenders are apt to be thrown off their guard,) this taunt at humble life proceeded from the party which claims a monopoly of the purest democracy. The whole party appeared to enjoy it, or at least they countenanced it by silent acquiescence; for I do not know that, to this day, any eminent individual or any leading newspaper attached to the administration has rebuked this scornful jeering at the supposed humble condition or circumstances in life, past or present, of a worthy man and a war-worn soldier. But it touched a tender point in the public feeling. It naturally roused indignation. What was intended as reproach was immediately seized on as merit. “Be it so I Be it so !” was the instant burst of the public voice. “Let him be the log-cabin candidate. What you say in scorn, we will shout with all our lungs. From this day forward, we have our cry of rally; and we shall see whether he who has dwelt in one of the rude abodes of the West may not become the best house in the country.” All this is natural, and springs from sources of just feeling. Other things, Gentlemen, have had a similar origin. We all know that the term Whig was bestowed in derision, two hundred years ago, on those who were thought too fond of liberty; and our national air of Yankee Doodle was composed by British officers, in ridicule of the American troops. Yet, ere long, the last of the British armies laid down its arms at Yorktown, while this same air was playing in the ears of officers and men. Gentlemen, it is only shallow-minded pretenders who either make distinguished origin matter of personal merit, or obscure origin matter of personal reproach. Taunt and scoffing at the humble condition of early life affect nobody, in this country,
7. The Presidential canvass of 1840 was carried on by the Whigs with prodig. ious enthusiasm; and miniature log cabins were every where made use of to feed that enthusiasm, and as the most effective appeals to popular intelligence. I was then in the last year of my college course; and the “college boys” made many a night vocal with the electioneering song of “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” at tho same time drinking whatever “hard cider” they could get. It was in the battle of Tippecanoc that General IIarrison won his chief military laurels.
but those who are foolish enough to indulge in them; and they are generally sufficiently punished by public rebuke. A man who is not ashamed of himself need not be ashamed of his early condition. Gentlemen, it did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin; but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, raised amid the snow-drifts of New Hampshire, at a period so early that, when the smoke rose from its rude chimney, and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada. Its remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit. I carry my children to it, to teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have gone before them. I love to dwell on the tender recollections, the kindred ties, the early affections and the touching narratives and incidents, which mingle with all I know of this primitive family abode. I weep to think that none of those who inhabited it are now among the living ; and if ever I am ashamed of it, or if I ever fail in affectionate veneration for him who reared it, and defended it against savage violence and destruction, cherished all the domestic virtues beneath its roof, and, through the fire and blood of a seven years' revolutionary war, shrunk from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice, to serve his country, and to raise his children to a condition better than his own, may my name and the name of my posterity be blotted for ever from the memory of mankind l—Speech at Saratoga, August 19, 1840,
SPEAKING FOR THE UNION.
MR. PRESIDENT: I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own digmity and its own high responsibilities; and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions and government. The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South combine to throw the whole sea into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and to disclose its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or as fit to hold, the helm in this combat with the political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of existing dangers, but not without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety; for I am looking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must be ; but for the good of the whole, and the preservation of all ; and there is that which will keep me to my duty during this struggle, whether the Sun and the stars shall appear, or shall not appear for many days. I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. “Hear me for my cause.” I speak to-day, out of a solicitous and anxious heart, for the restoration to the country of that quiet and that harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich, and so dear to us all. These are the topics that I propose to myself to discuss; these are the motives, and the sole motives, that influence me in the wish to communicate my opinions to the Senate and the country; and if I can do anything, however little, for the promotion of these ends, I shall have accomplished all that I expect.— Speech of March 7, 1850.
OBEDIENCE TO INSTRUCTIONS.8
IT has become, in my opinion, quite too common, — and if the legislatures of the States do not like that opinion, they have a great deal more power to put it down than I have to uphold it, it has become, in my opinion, quite too common a practice for the State legislatures to present resolutions here on all subjects, and to instruct us on all subjects. There is no public man that requires instruction more than I do, or who requires information more than I do, or desires it more heartily; but I do not like to have it in too imperative a shape. I took notice, with pleasure, of some remarks made upon this subject, the other day, in the Senate of Massachusetts, by a young man of talent and character, of whom the best hopes may be entertained. I mean Mr.
8 The doctrine that members of Congress are bound to follow implicitly the instructions of their particular constituents was for many years pushed so hard, that it threatened to overthrow all manly firmness and independence of judgment in our national legislators. In several cases, grave members of Congress became so weak-kneed under this pressure as to dishonour themselves by arguing on one side of a given question, and then voting on the other. The doctrine is indeed highly flattering to popular folly, for which cause political demagogues favour it, of course. Perhaps the best utterance ever made on the subject is Burke's, which will be found on page 113 of this volume, But this of Webster's is not unworthy of a place beside that.