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in manner. The minorities dealt quite as harshly with their own State governments as the majorities dealt with the administration here. There were presses on both sides, popular meetings on both sides, ay, and pulpits on both sides also. The gentleman's purveyors have only catered for him among the productions of one side. I certainly shall not supply the defi. ciency by furnishing samples of the other. I leave to him, and to them, the whole concern. It is enough for me to say, that if, in any part of this their grateful occupation, if, in all their researches, they find any thing in the history of Massachusetts, or New England, or in the proceedings of any legislative or other public body, disloyal to the Union, speaking slightly of its value, proposing to break it up, or recommending non-intercourse with neighbouring States, on account of difference of political opinion, then, Sir, I give them all up to the honourable gentleman's unrestrained rebuke; expecting, however, that he will extend his buffetings in like manner to all similar proceedings, wherever else found. The gentleman, Sir, has spoken at large of former parties, now no longer in being, by their received appellations, and has undertaken to instruct us, not only in the knowledge of their principles, but of their respective pedigrees also. He has ascended to their origin, and run out their genealogies. With most exemplary modesty, he speaks of the party to which he professes to have himself belonged, as the true Pure, the only honest, patriotic party, derived by regular descent, from father to son, from the time of the virtuous Romans ! Spreading before us the family tree of political parties, he takes especial care to show himself snugly perched on a popular bough He is Wakeful to the expediency of adopting such rules of descent as shall bring him in, to the exclusion of others, as an heir to the inheritance of all public virtue and all true political principle. His party and his opinions are sure to be orthodox; heterodoxy is confined to his opponents. He spoke, Sir, of the Federalists, and I thought I saw some eyes begin to open and stare a little, When he ventured on that ground. I expected he would draw his sketches rather lightly, when he looked on the circle round him, and especially if he should cast his thoughts to the high places out of the Senate.” Nevertheless he went back to Rome, ad annum urbis conditae, and found the fathers of the Federalists
9 The allusion is to President Jackson, who had been an avowed Federalist all his life, and whom, for that reason, Jefferson, the father of the old Democratic party, had greatly disliked. Nor was Jackson by any means the only leader in the new Democratic party of that time, who had grown up in the po. litical creed of Federalism. What here follows, in reference to the course of parties, is in Webster's happiest vein of satire.
in the primeval aristocrats of that renowned empire He traced the flow of Federal blood down through successive ages and centuries, till he brought it into the veins of the American Tories, of whom, by the way, there were twenty in the Carolinas for one in Massachusetts. From the Tories he followed it to the Federalists; and, as the Federal party was broken up, and there was no possibility of transmitting it further on this side the Atlantic, he seems to have discovered that it has gone off collaterally, though against all the canons of descent, into the Ultras of France, and finally become extinguished, like exploded gas, among the adherents of Don Miguel 11 This, Sir, is an abstract of the gentleman’s history of Federalism. I am not about to controvert it. It is not, at present, worth the pains of refutation; because, Sir, if at this day any one feels the sin of Federalism lying heavily on his conscience, he can easily procure remission. He may even obtain an indulgence, if he be desirous of repeating the same transgression. It is an affair of no difficulty to get into this same right line of patriotic descent. A man now-a-days is at liberty to choose his political parentage. He may elect his own father. Federalist or not, he may, if he choose, claim to belong to the favoured stock, and his claim will be allowed. He may carry back his pretensions just as far as the honourable gentleman himself; nay, he may make himself out the honourable gentleman’s cousin, and prove, satisfactorily, that he is descended from the same political great-grandfather. All this is allowable. We all know a process, Sir, by which the whole Essex Junto could, in one hour, be all washed white from their ancient Federalism, and come out, every one of them, original Democrats, dyed in the wool 1* Some of them have actually undergone the operation, and they say it is quite easy. The only inconvenience it occasions, as they tell us, is a slight tendency of the blood to the face, a soft suffusion, which however is very transient, since nothing is said by those whom they join calculated to deepen the red on the cheek, but a prudent silence is observed in regard to all the past. Indeed, Sir, some smiles of approbation have been bestowed, and some crumbs of comfort have fallen, not a thousand miles from the door of the Hartford Convention itself. And if the author of the Ordinance of 1787 possessed the other requisite qualifications, there is no knowing, notwithstanding his Federalism, to what heights of favour he might not yet attain. Mr. President, in carrying his warfare, such as it was, into New England, the honourable gentleman all along professes to be acting on the defensive. He chooses to consider me as having assailed South Carolina, and insists that he comes forth only as her champion, and in her defence. Sir, I do not admit that I made any attack whatever on South Carolina. Nothing like it. The honourable member, in his first speech, expressed opinions in regard to revenue and some other topics, which I heard both with pain and with surprise. I told the gentleman I was aware that such sentiments were entertained out of the government, but had not expected to find them advanced in it; that I knew there were persons in the South who speak of our Union with indifference or doubt, taking pains to magnify its evils, and to say nothing of its benefits; that the honourable member himself, I was sure, could never be one of these ; and I regretted the expression of such opinions as he had avowed, because I thought their obvious tendency was to encourage feelings of disrespect to the Union, and to in pair its strength. This, Sir, is the sum and substance of all I said on the subject. And this constitutes the attack which called on the chivalry of the gentleman, in his own opinion, to harry us with such a foray among the party pamphlets and party proceedings of Massachusetts! If he means that I spoke with dissatisfaction or disrespect of the ebullitions of individuals in South Carolina, it is true. But if he means that I assailed the character of the State, her honour, or patriotism, that I reflected on her history or her conduct, he has not the slightest ground for any such assumption. I did not even refer, I think, in my observations, to any collection of individuals. I said nothing of the recent conventions. I spoke in the most guarded and careful manner, and only expressed my regret for the publication of opinions which I presumed the honourable member disapproved as much as myself. In this, it seems, I was mistaken. I do not remember that the gentleman has disclaimed any sentiment, or any opinion, of a supposed anti-union tendency, which on all or any of the recent occasions has been expressed.” The whole drift of his speech has been rather to prove that, in divers times and manners, sentiments equally liable to my objection have been avowed in New England. And one would suppose that his object, in this reference to Massachusetts, was to find a precedent to justify proceedings in the South, were it not for the reproach and contumely with which he labours, all along, to load these his own chosen precedents. By way of defending South Carolina from what he chooses to think an attack on her, he first quotes the example of Massachusetts, and then denounces that example in good set terms. This twofold purpose, not very consistent with itself, one would think, was exhibited more than once in the course of his speech. He referred, for instance, to the Hartford Convention. Did he do this for authority, or for a topic of reproach 2 Apparently for both ; for he told us that he should find no fault with the mere fact of holding such a convention, and considering and discussing such questions as he supposes were then and there discussed; but what rendered it obnoxious was its being held at the time, and under the circumstances of the country then existing. We were in a war, he said, and the country needed all our aid; the hand of government required to be strengthened, not weakened ; and patriotism should have postponed such proceedings to another day. The thing itself, then, is a precedent; the time and manner of it only, a subject of censure. Now, Sir, I go much further, on this point, than the honourable member. Supposing, as the gentleman seems to do, that the Hartford Convention assembled for any such purpose as breaking up the Union, because they thought unconstitutional laws had been passed, or to consult on that subject, or to calcutlate the value of the Union,—supposing this to be their purpose, or any part of it, then I say the meeting itself was disloyal, and was obnoxious to censure, whether held in time of peace or time of war, or under whatever circumstances. The material question is the object. Is dissolution the object # If it be, external circumstances may make it a more or less aggravated case, but cannot affect the principle. I do not hold, therefore, Sir, that the Hartford Convention was pardonable, even to the extent of the gentleman’s admission, if its objects were really such as have been imputed to it. Sir, there never was a time, under any degree of excitement, in which the Hartford Convention, or any other convention, could maintain itself one moment in New England, if assembled for any such purpose as the gentleman says would have been an allowable purpose. To hold conventions to decide constitutional law! To try the binding validity of statutes by votes in a convention! Sir, the Hartford Convention, I presume, would not desire that the honourable gentleman should be their defender or advocate, if he puts their case upon such untenable and extravagant grounds.
1 Don Miguel was a Portuguese Prince, and one of the claimants of the throne of Portugal. He was the leader of the Absolutist faction against the liberal and constitutional government established by his father, John the Sixth. He got possession of the crown in 1828, and, after a dreadful civil war, was overthrown in 1834.
2 The Essex Junto was a cluster of men in Essex county, Massachusetts, who were somewhat noted for their intense and demonstrative Federalism, and who made a special set-to against the embargo of 1807, and the war of 1812.
3 In the Fall of 1828, the legislature of South Carolina set forth an “Exposition and Protest,” formally asserting the doctrines which were thenceforth known as “Nullification.” In this instrument they expressly claimed, in be. half of the States, “a veto or control on the action of the General Government, 2n contested points of authority.” They also instanced the tariff of 1824 as a case that would justify a State in exercising this power of veto or control.
Then, Sir, the gentleman has no fault to find with these recently-promulgated South Carolina opinions. And certainly he need have none; for his own sentiments as now advanced, and advanced on reflection, as far as I have been able to comprehend them, go the full length of all these opinions. I propose, Sir, to say something on these, and to consider how far they are just and constitutional. Before doing that, however, let me observe, that the eulogium pronounced on the character of the State of South Carolina by the honourable gentleman, for her Revolutionary and other merits, meets my hearty concurrence. I shall not acknowledge that the honourable member goes before me in regard for whatever of distinguished talent, or distinguished character, South Carolina has produced. I claim part of the honour, I partake in the pride, of her great names. I claim them for countrymen, one and all; the Laurenses, the Rutledges, the Pinckneys, the Sumpters, the Marions, Americans all, whose fame is no more to be hemmed in by State lines, than their talents and patriotism were capable of being circumscribed within the same narrow limits. In their day and generation, they served and honoured the country, and the whole country; and their renown is of the treasures of the whole country. Him whose honoured name the gentleman himself bears, does he esteem me less capable of gratitude for his patriotism, or sympathy for his sufferings, than if his eyes had first opened upon the light of Massachusetts, instead of South Carolina? Sir, does he suppose it in his power to exhibit a Carolina name so bright as to produce envy in my bosom ? No, Sir, increased gratification and delight, rather. I thank God that, if I am gifted with little of the spirit which is able to raise mortals to the skies, I have yet none, as I trust, of that other spirit which would drag angels down. When I shall be found, Sir, in my place here in the Senate, or elsewhere, to sneer at public merit, because it happens to spring up beyond the little limits of my own State or neighbourhood; when I refuse, for any such cause, or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to elevated patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or, if I See an uncommon endowment of Heaven, if I see extraordinary capacity and virtue in any son of the South, and if, moved by local prejudice or gangrened by State jealousy, I get up here to abate the tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!