Abbildungen der Seite

liable to be in the hands of the Judges. Is it not our great interest to place our Judges upon such high ground that no fear can intimidate, no hope seduce them : The present measure humbles them in the dust. It prostrates them at the feet of faction. It renders them the tool of every dominant party. It is this effect which I deprecate. It is this consequence which I deeply deplore. What does reason, what does argument avail, when party spirit presides : Subject your Bench to the influence of this spirit, and justice bids a final adieu to your tribunals. We are asked, Sir, if the Judges are to be independent of the People 2 The question presents a false and delusive view. We are all the People. We are, and as long as we enjoy our freedom, we shall be, divided into parties. The true question is, Shall the Judiciary be permanent, or fluctuate with the tide of public opinion ? I beg, I implore gentlemen to consider the magnitude and value of the principle which they are about to annihilate. If your Judges are independent of political changes, they may have their preferences, but they will not enter into the spirit of party. But, let their existence depend upon the support of a certain set of men, and they cannot be impartial. Justice will be trodden under foot. Your Courts will lose all public confidence and respect. We are standing on the brink of that revolutionary torrent which deluged in blood one of the fairest countries in Europe. France had her National Assembly, more numerous and equally popular with our own. She had her tribuuals of justice, and her juries. But the Legislature and her Courts were but the instruments of her destruction. Acts of proscription, and sentences of banishment and death, were passed in the Cabinet of a tyrant. Prostrate your Judges at the feet of party, and you break down the mounds which defend you from this torrent Are gentlemen disposed to risk the consequences !


146. ON THE JUDICIARY ACT, 1802. – Gouverneur Morris.

Gouverneur Morris, born at Morrisania, New York, January 31st, 1752, died November 6th, 1818. He was a Delegate to the Continental Congress from New York, and subsequently represented that State in the Senate of the United States, before which body the following speeches were delivered. He was, for some time, minister from the United States to France, and during his residence in Europe formed the acquaintance of many historical personages, concerning whom he has given interesting facts, in his published diary and letters. WHAT will be the situation of these States, organized as they now are, if by the dissolution of our national compact, they be left to themselves? What is the probable result 2 We shall either be the victims of foreign intrigue, and, split into factions, fall under the domination of a foreign power, or else, after the misery and torment of a civil war, become the subjects of an usurping military despot. What but this compact, what but this specific part of it, can save us from ruin The judicial power, that fortress of the Constitution, is now to be overturned. With honest Ajax, I would not only throw a shield before it, — I would build around it a wall of brass. But I am too weak to defend the rampart against the host of assailants. I must call to my assistance their good sense, their patriotism, and their virtue. Do not, Gentlemen, suffer the rage of passion to drive reason from her seat ' If this law be indeed bad, let us join to remedy the defects. Has it been passed in a manner which wounded your pride, or roused your resentment? Have, I conjure you, the magnanimity to pardon that offence : I entreat, I implore you, to sacrifice those angry passions to the interests of our country. Pour out this pride of opinion on the altar of patriotism. Let it be an expiating libation for the weal of America. Do not, for God's sake, do not suffer that pride to plunge us all into the abyss of ruin!

Indeed, indeed, it will be but of little, very little, avail, whether one opinion or the other be right or wrong; it will heal no wounds, it will pay no debts, it will rebuild no ravaged towns. Do not rely on that popular will which has brought us frail beings into political existence. That opinion is but a changeable thing. It will soon change. This very measure will change it. You will be deceived. Do not, I beseech you, in a reliance on a foundation so frail, commit the dignity, the harmony, the existence of our Nation, to the wild wind Trust not your treasure to the waves. Throw not your compass and your charts into the ocean. Do not believe that its billows will waft you into port. Indeed, indeed, you will be deceived Cast not away this only anchor of our safety. I have seen its progress. I know the difficulties through which it was obtained: I stand in the presence of Almighty God, and of the world; and I declare to you, that, if you lose this charter, never, — no, never will you get another We are now, perhaps, arrived at the parting point. Here, even here, we stand on the brink of fate. Pause — pause! — for Heaven's sake, pause !

147. FREE NAVIGATION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, 1803. – Gouverneur Morris.

SIR, I wish for peace; I wish the negotiation may succeed; and, therefore, I strongly urge you to adopt these resolutions. But, though you should adopt them, they alone will not insure success. I have no hesitation in saying that you ought to have taken possession of New Orleans and the Floridas, the instant your treaty was violated. You ought to do it now. Your rights are invaded: confidence in negotiation is vain; there is, therefore, no alternative but force. You are exposed to imminent present danger: you have the prospect of great future advantage: you are justified by the clearest principles of right: you are urged by the strongest motives of policy: you are commanded by every sentiment of national dignity. Look at the conduct of America in her infant years. When there was no actual invasion of right, but only a claim to invade, she resisted the claim, she spurned the insult. Did we then hesitate? Did we then wait for foreign alliance? No, -animated with the spirit, warmed with the soul of freedom, we threw our oaths of allegiance in the face of our sovereign, and committed our fortunes and our fate to the God of battles. We then were subjects. We had not then attained to the dignity of an independent Republic. We then had no rank among the Nations of the earth. But we had the spirit which deserved that elevated station. And, now that we have gained it, shall we fall from our honor Sir, I repeat to you, that I wish for peace, — real, lasting, honorable peace. To obtain and secure this blessing, let us, by a bold and decisive conduct, convince the Powers of Europe that we are determined to defend our rights, - that we will not submit to insult, that we will not bear degradation. This is the conduct which becomes a generous People. This conduct will command the respect of the world. Nay, Sir, it may rouse all Europe to a proper sense of their situation.

148. AGAINST FOREIGN CONQUEST. – De Witt Clinton. Born, 1769; died, 1828. In 1802, De Witt Clinton was elected to the Senate of the United States from New York. In the month of February, 1803, a debate arose in that body on certain resolutions authorizing the President to take immediate possession of New Orleans, and empowering him to call out thirty thousand militia to effect that object. The following is an extract from Clinton's speech on the occasion. If I were called upon to prescribe a course of policy most important for this country to pursue, it would be to avoid European connections and wars. The time must arrive when we will have to contend with some of the great powers of Europe; but let that period be put off as long as possible. It is our interest and our duty to cultivate peace, with sincerity and good faith. As a young Nation, pursuing industry in every channel, and adventuring commerce in every sea, it is highly important that we should not only have a pacific character, but that we should really deserve it. If we manifest an unwarrantable ambition, and a rage for conquest, we unite all the great powers of Europe against us. The security of all the European possessions in our vicinity will eternally depend, not upon their strength, but upon our moderation and justice. Look at the Canadas; at the Spanish territories to the South; at the British, Spanish, French, Danish and Dutch West India Islands; at the vast countries to the West, as far as where the Pacific rolls its waves. Consider well the eventful consequences that would result, if we were possessed by a spirit of conquest. Consider well the impression which a manifestation of that spirit will make upon those who would be affected by it. If we are to rush at once into the territory of a neighboring Nation, with fire and sword, for the misconduct of a subordinate officer, will not our national character be greatly injured 2 Will we not be classed with the robbers and destroyers of mankind? Will not the Nations of Europe perceive in this conduct the germ of a lofty spirit, and an enterprising ambition, which will level them to the earth, when age has matured our strength, and expanded our powers of annoyance, unless they combine to cripple us in our infancy 2 May not the consequences be, that we must look out for a naval force to protect our commerce 2 that a close alliance will result 2 that we will be thrown at once into the ocean of European politics, where every wave that rolls, and every wind that blows, will agitate our bark? Is this a desirable state of things? Will the People of this country be seduced into it by all the colorings of rhetoric, and all the arts of sophistry; by vehement appeals to their pride, and artful addresses to their cupidity No, Sir! Three-fourths of the American People—I assert it boldly, and without fear of contradiction—are opposed to this measure! And would you take up arms with a mill-stone hanging round your neck How would you bear up, not only against the force of the enemy, but against the irresistible current of public opinion ? The thing, Sir, is impossible; the measure is worse than madness: it is wicked beyond the powers of description :

149. AMERICAN INNOVATIONS. James Madison. Born, 1751; died, 1836.

James Madison, who served two terms as President of the United States, was a Virginian by birth. As a writer and a statesman, he stands among the first of his times.

Why is the experiment of an extended Republic to be rejected, merely because it may comprise what is new : Is it not the glory of the People of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other Nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lesson of their own experience : To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness. Had no important step been taken by the leaders of the Revolution, for which a precedent could not be discovered, – no Government established, of which an exact model did not present itself, - the People of the United States might, at this moment, have been numbered among the melancholy victims of misguided councils; must, at best, have been laboring under the weight of some of those forms which have crushed the liberties of the rest of mankind. Happily for America, – happily, we trust, for the whole human race, — they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a Revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabric of Governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate. If their works betray imperfections, we wonder at the fewness of them. If they erred most in the structure of the Union, this was the most difficult to be executed ; this is the work which has been new-modelled by the act of your Convention, and it is that act on which you are now to deliberate and to decide.


150. INTEMPERANCE OF PARTY, 1815. – Wm. Gaston. Born, 1778; died, 1844.

INTEMPERANCE of party, wherever found, never will meet with an advocate in me. It is a most calamitous scourge to our country; the bane of social enjoyment, of individual justice, and of public virtue; unfriendly to the best pursuits of man, his interest and his duty. Seek to uphold your measures by the force of argument, not of denunciation. Stigmatize not opposition to your notions with offensive epithets. These prove nothing but your anger or your weakness; and they are sure to generate a spirit of moral resistance, not easily to be checked or tamed. Give to Presidential views Constitutional respect; but suffer them not to supersede the exercise of independent inquiry. Encourage instead of suppressing fair discussion, so that those who approve not may at least have a respectful hearing. Thus, without derogating a particle from the energy of your measures, you will impart a tone to political dissensions which will deprive them of their acrimony, and render them harmless to the Nation. The nominal party distinctions, Sir, have become mere cabalistic terms. It is no longer a question whether, according to the theory of our Constitution, there is more danger of the Federal encroaching on the State Governments, or the Democracy of the State Governments paralyzing the arm of Federal power. Federalism and Democracy have lost their meaning. It is now a question of commerce, peace and Union of the States. On this question, unless the honesty and intelligence of the Nation shall confederate into one great American party, disdaining petty office-keeping and office-hunting views, defying alike the insolence of party prints, the prejudices of faction, and the dominion of Executive influence, I fear a decision will be pronounced fatal to the hopes, fatal to the existence, of the Nation.

151. AGAINST THE EMBARGO, 1808. Josiah Quincy.

I Ask, in what page of the Constitution you find the power of laying an embargo. Directly given, it is nowhere. Never before did society witness a total prohibition of all intercourse like this, in a commercial Nation. But it has been asked in debate, “Will not Massachusetts, the cradle of liberty, submit to such privations 2° An embargo liberty was never cradled in Massachusetts. Our liberty was not so much a mountain nymph as a sea nymph. She was free as air. She could swim, or she could run. The ocean was her cradle. Our fathers met her as she came, like the goddess of beauty, from the waves. They caught her as she was sporting on the beach. They courted her while she was spreading her nets upon the rocks. But an embargo liberty, a hand-cuffed liberty, liberty in fetters, a liberty traversing between the four sides of a prison and beating her head against the walls, is none of our offspring. We abjure the monster Its parentage is all inland.

Is embargo independence? Deceive not yourselves It is palpable submission Gentlemen exclaim, “Great Britain smites us on one cheek'." And what does Administration ? “It turns the other, also.” Gentlemen say, “Great Britain is a robber; she takes our cloak.” And what says Administration ? “Let her take our coat, also.” France and Great Britain require you to relinquish a part of your commerce, and you yield it entirely . At every corner of this great city we meet some gentlemen of the majority wringing their hands, and exclaiming,

« ZurückWeiter »