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private, no service, civil or military, was of power to resist the relentless greediness of proscription. Soldiers of the late war, soldiers of the Revolutionary war, the very contemporaries of the liberties of the country, all lost their situations. No office was too high, and none too low; for office was the spoil, and all the spoils, it is said, belong to the victors! If a man, holding an office necessary for his daily support, had presented himself covered with the scars of wounds received in every battle, from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, these would not have protected him against this reckless rapacity. Nay, Sir, if Warren himself had been among the living, and had possessed any office under government, high or low, he would not have been suffered to hold it a single hour, unless he could show that he had strictly complied with the party statutes, and had put a well-marked party collar round his own neck. Look, Sir, to the case of the late venerable Major Melville. He was a personification of the spirit of 1776, one of the very first to venture in the cause of liberty. He was of the Tea-Party; one of the very first to expose himself to British power. And his whole life was consonant with this its beginning. Always ardent in the cause of liberty; always a zealous friend to his country; always acting with the party which he supposed cherished the genuine republican spirit most fervently; always estimable and respectable in private life, he seemed armed against this miserable petty tyranny of party as far as man could be. Dut he felt its blow, and he fell. He held an office in the custom-house, and had held it for a long course of years; and he was deprived of it, as if unworthy to serve the country which he loved, and for whose liberties, in the vigour of his early manhood, he had thrust himself into the very jaws of its enemies. There was no mistake in the matter. His character, his standing, his Revolutionary services, were all well known ; but they were known to no purpose ; they weighed not one feather against party pretensions. It cost no pains to remove him ; it cost no compunction to wring his aged heart with this retribution from his country for his services, his zeal, and his sidelity. Sir, you will bear witness that,” when his successor was nominated to the Senate, and the Senate was told who it was that had been removed to make way for that nomination, its members were struck with horror. They had not conceived the administration to be capable of such a thing; and yet, they said, What can we do? The man is removed; we cannot recall him ; we can only act upon the nomination before us? Sir, you and I thought otherwise;
1 The Hon. Nathaniel Silsbee, Webster's colleague in the Senate at the time referred to, was President of the Worcester Convention.
and I rejoice that we did think otherwise. We thought it our duty to resist the nomination to a vacancy thus created. We thought it our duty to oppose this proscription when, and where, and as, we constitutionally could. We besought the Senate to go with us, and to take a stand before the country on this great question. We invoked them to try the deliberate sense of the people ; to trust themselves before the tribunal of public opinion; to resist at first, to resist at last, to resist al ways, the introduction of this unsocial, this mischievous, this dangerous, this belligerent principle, into the practice of the government. Mr. President, as far as I know, there is no civilized country on Earth, in which, on a change of rulers, there is such an inquisition for spoil as we have witnessed in this free republic. The Inaugural Address of 1829 spoke of a searching operation of government. The most searching operation, Sir, of the present administration has been its search for office and place. When, Sir, did any English Minister, Whig or Tory, ever make such an inquest? When did he ever go down to low-water mark, to make an ousting of tide-waiters? When did he ever take away the daily bread of weighers, and gaugers, and measurers? Or when did he go into the villages, to disturb the little post-offices, the mail contracts, and any thing else, in the remotest degree connected with government? Sir, a British Minister who should do this, and should afterwards show his head in a British House of Commons, would be received by a universal hiss. I have little to say of the selections made to fill vacancies thus created. It is true, however,- and it is a natural consequence of the system which has been acted on,<-that, within the last three years, more nominations have been rejected on the ground of unfitness than in all the preceding forty years of the government. And these nominations, you know, Sir, could not have been rejected but by votes of the President's own friends. The cases were too strong to be resisted. Even party attachment could not stand them. In some, not a third of the Senate, in others not ten votes, and in others not a single vote, could be obtained; and this for no particular reason known only to the Senate, but on general grounds of the want of character and qualifications; on grounds known to everybody else, as well as to the Senate. All this, Sir, is perfectly natural and consistent. The same party selfishness which drives good men out of office will push bad men in. Political proscription leads necessarily to the filling of offices with incompetent persons, and to a consequent mal-execution of official duties. And in my opinion, Sir, this principle of claiming a monopoly of office by the right of conquest, unless the public shall effectually rebuke and
restrain it, will entirely change the character of our government. It elevates party above country; it forgets the common weal in the pursuit of personal emolument; it tends to form, it does form, we see that it has formed, a political combination, united by no common principles or opinions among its members, either upon the powers of the government or the true policy of the country; but held together simply as an association, under the charm of a popular head, seeking to maintain possession of the government by a vigorous eacercise Qf its patronage; and for this purpose agitating, and alarming, and distressing social life by the exercise of a tyrannical party proscription. Sir, if this course of things cannot be checked, good men will grow tired of the exercise of political privileges. They will have nothing to do with popular elections. They will see that such elections are but a mere selfish contest for office ; and they will abandon the government to the scramble of the bold, the daring, and the desperate.
FRAUDULENT PARTY OUTORIES.”
SIR, there is one other subject on which I wish to raise my voice. There is a topic which I perceive is to become the general war-cry of party, on which I take the liberty to warn the country against delusion. Sir, the cry is to be raised that this is a question between the poor and the rich. I know, Sir, it has been proclaimed, that one thing was certain,-that there was always a hatred on a part of the poor toward the rich; and that this hatred would support the late measures, and the putting down of the bank. Sir, I will not be silent at the threat of such a detestable fraud on public opinion. If but ten men, or one man, in the nation will hear my voice, I will still warn them against this attempted imposition.
Mr. President, this is an eventful moment. On the great questions which occupy us, we all look for some decisive movement of public opinion. As I wish that movement to be free, intelligent, and unbiased, the true manifestation of the public will, I desire to prepare the country for another appeal, which I perceive is about to be made to popular prejudice, another attempt to obscure all distinct views of the public good, to overwhelm all patriotism and all enlightened self-interest, by loud cries against false danger, and by exciting the passions of one class against another. I am not mistaken in the omen; I see the magazine whence the weapons of this warfare are to be drawn. I already hear the din of the hammering of arms preparatory to the combat. They may be such arms, perhaps, as reason and justice and honest patriotism cannot resist. Every effort at resistance, it is possible, may be feeble and powerless; but, for one, I shall make an effort, an effort to be begun now, and to be carried on and continued, with untiring zeal, till the end of the contest comes. Sir, I see, in those vehicles which carry to the people sentiments from high places, plain declarations that the present controversy is but a strife between one part of the community and another. I hear it boasted as the unfailing security, the solid ground, never to be shaken, on which recent measures rest, that the poor naturally hate the rich. I know that, under the cover of the roofs of the Capitol, within the last twenty-four hours, among men sent here to devise means for the public safety and the public good, it has been vaunted forth, as matter of boast and triumph, that one cause existed powerful enough to support every thing, and to defend everything ; and that was, the natural hatred of the poor to the rich. Sir, I pronounce the author of such sentiments to be guilty of attempting a detestable fraud on the community; a double fraud; a fraud which is to cheat men out of their property and out of the earnings of their labour, by first cheating them out of their understandings. “The natural hatred of the poor to the rich!” Sir, it shall not be till the last moment of my existence,—it shall be only when I am drawn to the verge of oblivion, when I shall cease to have respect or affection for any thing on earth, that I will believe the people of the United States capable of being effectually deluded, cajoled, and driven about in herds, by such abominable frauds as this. If they shall sink to that point; if they so far cease to be men, thinking men, intelligent men, as to yield to such pretences and such clamour, -they will be slaves already; slaves to their own passions, slaves to the fraud and knavery of pretended friends. They will deserve to be blotted out of all the records of freedom; they ought not to dishonour
2. From a speech made in the Senate, January 31, 1834. At that time, as Webster had clearly foreseen and predicted, the Presidential war against the Bank of the United States had occasioned a total derangement of the finances of the country, and brought on a crisis of unexampled depression and distress in business. In consequence of this, Congress was slooded with memorials from all parts of the country, disapproving the course of the government, and imploring measures of relief. In order to tide themselves over the crisis, the partisans of the administration, both in and out of Congress, fell upon a course of invid. ious and inflammatory appeals to popular passion and prejudice. The severe rebuke administered by Webster was well deserved, and it is, I think, his high. est strain of what may be termed angry eloquence.
the cause of self-government, by attempting any longer to exer. cise it; they ought to keep their unworthy hands entirely off from the cause of republican liberty, if they are capable of being the victims of artifices so shallow, of tricks so stale, so threadbare, so often practised, so much worn out, on serfs and slaves. “The natural hatred of the poor against the rich!” “The danger of a moneyed aristocracy!” “A power as great and dangerous as that resisted by the Revolution!” “A call to a new Declaration of Independence!” Sir, I admonish the people against the objects of outcries like these. I admonish every industrious labourer in the country to be on his guard against such delusion. I tell him the attempt is to play off his passions against his interests, and to prevail on him, in the name of liberty, to destroy all the fruits of liberty; in the name of patriotism, to injure and afflict his country; and, in the name of his own independence, to destroy that very independence, and make him a beggar and a slave. Has he a dollar? He is advised to do that which will destroy half its value. Has he hands to labour? Let him rather fold them, and sit still, than be pushed on, by fraud and artifice, to support measures which will render his labour useless and hopeless. Sir, the very man, of all others, who has the deepest interest in a sound currency, and who suffers most by mischievous legislation in money matters, is the man who earns his daily bread by his daily toil. A depreciated currency, sudden changes of prices, paper money falling between morning and noon, and falling still lower between noon and night, these things constitute the very harvest-time of speculators, and of the whole race of those who are at once idle and crafty; and of that other race, too, the Catilines of all times, marked, so as to be known for ever by one stroke of the historian's pen, those greedy of other men's property and prodigal of their own. Capitalists, too, may outlive such times. They may either prey on the earnings of labour, by their cent. per cent., or they may hoard. But the labouring man, what can he hoard? Preying on nobody, he becomes the prey of all. His property is in his hands. His reliance, his fund, his productive freehold, his all, is his labour. Whether he work on his own small capital or another's, his living is still earned by his industry; and when the money of the country becomes depreciated and debased, whether it be adulterated coin or paper without credit, that industry is robbed of its reward. He then labours for a country whose laws cheat him out of his bread. I would say to every owner of every quarter section of land in the West, I would say to every man in the East who follows his own plough, and to every mechanic,