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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 exercise of 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 OUTCRIES.”
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 warm 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
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 busimess. 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 invidious and inflammatory appeals to popular passion and prejudice. The severe rebuke administered by Webster was well deserved, and it is, I think, his high. cst strain of what may be termed angry eloquence.
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 every thing ; 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 the cause of self-government, by attempting any longer to exercise 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? Ilet 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 cther 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,
artisan, and labourer, in every city in the country, -I would say to every man, everywhere, who wishes, by honest means, to gain an honest living, “Deware of wolves in sheep's clothing! Whoever attempts, under whatever popular cry, to shake the stability of the public currency, bring on distress in money matters, and drive the country into paper money, stabs your interest, and your happiness to the heart.” The herd of hungry wolves who live on other men's earnings will rejoice in such a state of things. A system which absorbs into their pockets the fruits of other men's industry is the very system for them. A government that produces or countenances uncertainty, fluctuations, violent risings and fallings in prices, and, finally, paper money, is a government exactly after their own heart. Hence these men are always for change. They will never let well enough alone. A condition of public affairs in which property is safe, industry certain of its reward, and every man secure in his own hard-earned gains, is no paradise for them. Give them just the reverse of this state of things; bring on change, and change after change; let it not be known to-day what will be the value of property to-morrow ; let no man be able to say whether the money in his pockets at night will be money or worthless rags in the morning; and depress labour till double work shall earn but half a living,-give them this state of things, and you give them the consummation of their earthly bliss. Sir, the great interest of this country, the producing cause of all its prosperity, is labour! labour! labour! We are a labouring community. A vast majority of us all live by industry and actual occupation in some of their forms. The Constitution was made to protect this industry, to give it both encouragement and security; but, above all, security. To that very end, and with that precise object in view, power was given to Congress over the currency, and over the money system of the country. In forty years' experience, we have found nothing at all adequate to the beneficial execution of this trust but a well-conducted national bank. That has been tried, returned to, tried again, and always found successful. If it be not the proper thing for us, let it be soberly argued against; let something better be proposed; let the country examine the matter coolly, and decide for itself. But whoever shall attempt to carry a question of this kind by clamour and violence and prejudice; whoever would rouse the people by appeals, false and fraudulent appeals, to their love of independence, to resist the establishment of a useful institution, because it is a bank, and deals in money, and who artfully urges these appeals wherever he thinks there is more of honest feeling than of enlightened judgment,-means nothing but deception. And whoever has the wickedness to conceive, and the hardihood to avow, a purpose to break down what has been found, in forty years' experience, essential to the protection of all interests, by arraying one class against another, and by acting on such a principle as that the poor always hate the rich, shows himself the reckless enemy of all. An enemy to his whole country, to all classes, and to every man in it, he deserves to be marked especially as the poor man's curse!
THE POSITION OF MER. CALHOUN.8
MR. PRESIDENT: The gentleman from South Carolina has admonished us to be mindful of the opinions of those who shall come after us. We must take our chance, Sir, as to the light in which posterity will regard us. I do not decline its judgment, nor withhold myself from its scrutiny. Feeling that I am performing my public duty with singleness of heart and to the best of my ability, I fearlessly trust myself to the country, now and hereafter, and leave both my motives and my character to its decision.
The gentleman has terminated his speech in a tone of threat and defiance towards this bill, even should it become a law of the land, altogether unusual in the halls of Congress. But I shall not suffer myself to be excited into warmth by his denunciation of the measure which I support. Among the feelings which at this moment fill my breast, not the least is that of regret at the position in which the gentleman has placed himself. Sir, he does himself no justice. The cause which he has espoused finds no basis in the Constitution, no succour from
3 This short piece and the one next following are from a speech in the Senate, February 16, 1833. The proper title of the speech is, “The Constitution not a Compact between Sovereign States.” In November, 1832, the people of South Carolina had met, by their delegates, in convention, and settled the principles of resistance to the National government. Pursuant to an ordinance adopted by that body, the legislature of the State had, afterwards, passed laws organizing such resistance, especially in the matter of the tariff. President Jackson, whatever errors of policy he had fallen into touching other questions, was just the man for that business; and his motto then was, “The UNION,- it must be preserved.” He called upon Congress for such further legislation as would enable him to meet the exigency. In response to this call, a bill was introduced, “further to provide for the Collection of Duties on Imports,” commonly called “the Force Bill.” Calhoun opposed the bill in one of his ablest speeches, bringing his whole armament of nullification philosophy to bear against it. Webster's speech was in reply to Calhoun, and in support of the bill.