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the Constitution, and that you have bravely spiked the cannon. Tell them that, henceforward, no matter what daring or outrageous act any President may perform, you have forever hermetically sealed the mouth of the Senate. Tell them that he may fearlessly assume what power he pleases, – snatch from its lawful custody the Public Purse, command a military detachment to enter the halls of the Capitol, overawe Congress, trample down the Constitution, and raze every bulwark of freedom, -but that the Senate must stand mute, in silent submission, and not dare to lift an opposing voice; that it must wait until a House of Representatives, humbled and subdued like itself, and a majority of it composed of the partisans of the President, shall prefer articles of impeachment. Tell them, finally, that you have restored the glorious doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance; and, when you have told them this, if the People do not sweep you from your places with their indignation, I have yet to learn the character of American freemen
169. ON RECOGNIZING THE INDEPENDENCE OF GREECE, 1824. — Clay.
ARE we so low, so base, so despicable, that we may not express our horror, articulate our detestation, of the most brutal and atrocious war that ever stained earth, or shocked high Heaven, with the ferocious deeds of a brutal soldiery, set on by the clergy and followers of a fanatical and inimical religion, rioting in excess of blood and butchery, at the mere details of which the heart sickens? If the great mass of Christendom can look coolly and calmly on, while all this is perpetrated on a Christian People, in their own vicinity, in their very presence, let us, at least, show that, in this distant extremity, there is still some sensibility and sympathy for Christian wrongs and sufferings; that there are still feelings which can kindle into indignation at the oppression of a People endeared to us by every ancient recollection, and every modern tie! But, Sir, it is not first and chiefly for Greece that I wish to see this measure adopted. It will give them but little aid, - that aid purely of a moral kind. It is, indeed, soothing and solacing, in distress, to hear the accents of a friendly voice. We know this as a People. But, Sir, it is principally and mainly for America herself, for the credit and character of our common country, that I hope to see this resolution pass; it is for our own unsullied name that I feel.
What appearance, Sir, on the page of history, would a record like this make : —“In the month of January, in the year of our Lord and Saviour 1824, while all European Christendom beheld with cold, unfeeling apathy the unexampled wrongs and inexpressible misery of Christian Greece, a proposition was made in the Congress of the United States, –almost the sole, the last, the greatest repository of human hope and of human freedom, the representatives of a Nation capable of bringing into the field a million of bayonets, – while the freemen of that Nation were spontaneously expressing its deep-toned feeling, its fervent prayer, for Grecian success; while the whole Continent was rising, by one simultaneous motion, solemnly and anxiously supplicating and invoking the aid of Heaven to spare Greece, and to invigorate her arms; while temples and senate-houses were all resounding with one burst of generous sympathy; — in the year of our Lord and Saviour, – that Saviour alike of Christian Greece and of us, – a proposition was offered in the American Congress, to send a messenger to Greece, to inquire into her state and condition, with an expression of our good wishes and our sympathies; —and it was rejected : " Go home, if you dare, go home, if you can,—to your constituents, and tell them that you voted it down! Meet, if you dare, the appalling countenances of those who sent you here, and tell them that you shrank from the declaration of your own sentiments; that, you cannot tell how, but that some unknown dread, some indescribable apprehension, some indefinable danger, affrighted you; that the spectres of cimeters, and crowns, and crescents, gleamed before you, and alarmed you; and, that you suppressed all the noble feelings prompted by religion, by liberty, by National independence, and by humanity! I cannot bring myself to believe that such will be the feeling of a majority of this House. —o
170. ON THE PROSPECT OF WAR, 1811. – John C. Calhoun. Born, 1782; died, 1850.
We are told of the danger of war. We are ready to acknowledge its hazard and misfortune, but I cannot think that we have any extraordinary danger to apprehend, -at least, none to warrant an acquiescence in the injuries we have received. On the contrary, I believe no war would be less dangerous to internal peace, or the safety of the country.
In speaking of Canada, the gentleman from Virginia introduced the name of Montgomery with much feeling and interest. Sir, there is danger in that name to the gentleman's argument. It is sacred to heroism . It is indignant of submission! It calls our memory back to the time of our Revolution,--to the Congress of 1774 and 1775. Suppose a speaker of that day had risen and urged all the arguments which we have heard on this occasion: had told that Congress, “Your contest is about the right of laying a tax; the attempt on Canada has nothing to do with it; the war will be expensive; danger and devastation will overspread our country, and the power of Great Britain is irresistible”? With what sentiment, think you, would such doctrines have been received Happy for us, they had no force at that period of our country's glory. Had such been acted on, this hall would never have witnessed a great People convened to deliberate for the general good; a mighty Empire, with prouder prospects than any Nation the sun ever shone on, would not have risen in the West. No! we would have been vile, subjected Colonies; governed by that imperious rod which Britain holds over her distant Provinces.
The Gentleman is at a loss to account for what he calls our hatred to England. He asks, How can we hate the country of Locke, of
Newton, Hampden and Chatham; a country having the same language and customs with ourselves, and descended from a common ancestry? Sir, the laws of human affections are steady and uniform. If we have so much to attach us to that country, powerful, indeed, must be the cause which has overpowered it. Yes, Sir; there is a cause strong enough. Not that occult, courtly affection which he has supposed to be entertained for France; but continued and unprovoked insult and injury, -a cause so manifest, that the Gentleman had to exert much ingenuity to overlook it. But, in his eager admiration of that country, he has not been sufficiently guarded in his argument. Has he reflected on the cause of that admiration ? Has he examined the reasons of our high regard for her Chatham : It is his ardent patriotism; his heroic courage, which could not brook the least insult or injury offered to his country, but thought that her interest and honor ought to be vindicated, be the hazard and expense what they might. I hope, when we are called on to admire, we shall also be asked to imitate.
171. AGAINST THE FORCE BILL, 1833. – John C. Calhoun.
It is said that the bill ought to pass, because the law must be enforced. The law must be enforced / The imperial edict must be executed It is under such sophistry, couched in general terms, without looking to the limitations which must ever exist in the practical exercise of power, that the most cruel and despotic acts ever have been covered. It was such sophistry as this that cast Daniel into the lions' den, and the three Innocents into the fiery furnace. Under the same sophistry the bloody edicts of Nero and Caligüla were executed. The law must be enforced! Yes, the act imposing the tea-tax “must be executed.” This was the very argument which impelled Lord North and his administration in that mad career which forever separated us from the British Crown. Under a similar sophistry, “that religion must be protected,” how many massacres have been perpetrated, and how many martyrs have been tied to the stake! What! acting on this vague abstraction, are you prepared to enforce a law, without considering whether it be just or unjust, constitutional or unconstitutional 2 Will you collect money when it is acknowledged that it is not wanted He who earns the money, who digs it from the earth with the sweat of his brow, has a just title to it, against the universe. No one has a right to touch it without his consent, except his government, and that only to the extent of its legitimate wants; — to take more is robbery; and you propose by this bill to enforce robbery by murder. Yes! to this result you must come, by this miserable sophistry, this vague abstraction of enforcing the law, without a regard to the fact whether the law be just or unjust, constitutional or unconstitutional'
In the same spirit we are told that the Union must be preserved, without regard to the means. And how is it proposed to preserve the Union? By force. Does any man, in his senses, believe that this beautiful structure, this harmonious aggregate of States, produced by the joint consent of all, can be preserved by force? Its very introduction would be the certain destruction of this Federal Union. No, no! You cannot keep the States united in their constitutional and federal bonds by force. Has reason fled from our borders ? Have we ceased to reflect? It is madness to suppose that the Union can be preserved by force. I tell you, plainly, that the Bill, should it pass, cannot be enforced. It will prove only a blot upon your statute-book, a reproach to the year, and a disgrace to the American Senate. I repeat that it will not be executed; it will rouse the dormant spirit of the People, and open their eyes to the approach of despotism. The country has sunk into avarice and political corruption, from which nothing can arouse it but some measure on the part of the Government, of folly and madness, such as that now under consideration.
172. THE PURSE AND THE SWORD, 1836. —John C. Calhoun.
THERE was a time, in the better days of the Republic, when, to show what ought to be done, was to insure the adoption of the measure. Those days have passed away, I fear, forever. A power has risen up in the Government greater than the People themselves, consisting of many, and various, and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks. This mighty combination will be opposed to any change; and it is to be feared that, such is its influence, no measure to which it is opposed can become a law, however expedient and necessary; and that the public money will remain in their possession, to be disposed of, not as the public interest, but as theirs, may dictate. The time, indeed, seems fast approaching, when no law can pass, nor any honor can be conferred, from the Chief Magistrate to the tide-waiter, without the assent of this powerful and interested combination, which is steadily becoming the Government itself, to the utter subversion of the authority of the People. Nay, I fear we are in the midst of it; and I look with anxiety to the fate of this measure, as the test whether we are or not.
If nothing should be done, – if the money which justly belongs to the People be left where it is, with the many and overwhelming objections to it, - the fact will prove that a great and radical change has been effected; that the Government is subverted; that the authority of the People is suppressed by a union of the banks and the Executive, – a union a hundred times more dangerous than that of Church and State, against which the Constitution has so jealously guarded. It would be the announcement of a state of things, from which, it is to be feared, there can be no recovery, -a state of boundless corruption, and the lowest and basest subserviency. It seems to be the order of Providence that, with the exception of these, a People may recover from any other evil. Piracy, robbery, and violence of every description, may, as history proves, be succeeded by virtue, patriotism, and national greatness; but where is the example to be found of a degenerate, corrupt, and subservient People, who have ever recovered their virtue and patriotism 2 Their doom has ever been the lowest state of wretchedness and misery: scorned, trodden down, and obliterated forever from the list of nations ! May Heaven grant that such may never be our doom
173. LIBERTY THE MEED OF INTELLIGENCE, 1848. —John C. Calhoun.
SoCIETY can no more exist without Government, in one form or another, than man without society. It is the political, then, which includes the social, that is his natural state. It is the one for which his Creator formed him, into which he is impelled irresistibly, and in which only his race can exist, and all his faculties be fully developed. Such being the case, it follows that any, the worst form of Government, is better than anarchy; and that individual liberty, or freedom, must be subordinate to whatever power may be necessary to protect society against anarchy within, or destruction from without; for the safety and well-being of society are as paramount to individual liberty, as the safety and well-being of the race is to that of individuals; and, in the same proportion, the power necessary for the safety of society is paramount to individual liberty. On the contrary, Government has no right to control individual liberty, beyond what is necessary to the safety and well-being of society. Such is the boundary which separates the power of Government, and the liberty of the citizen, or subject, in the political state, which, as I have shown, is the natural state of man, – the only one in which his race can exist, and the one in which he is born, lives, and dies.
It follows, from all this, that the quantum of power on the part of the Government, and of liberty on that of individuals, instead of being equal in all cases, must, necessarily, be very unequal among different people, according to their different conditions. For, just in proportion as a People are ignorant, stupid, debased, corrupt, exposed to violence within and danger without, the power necessary for Government to possess, in order to preserve society against anarchy and destruction, becomes greater and greater, and individual liberty less and less, until the lowest condition is reached, when absolute and despotic power becomes necessary on the part of the Government, and individual liberty extinct. So, on the contrary, just as a People rise in the scale of intelligence, virtue and patriotism, and the more perfectly they become acquainted with the nature of Government, the ends for which it was ordered, and how it ought to be administered, and the less the tendency to violence and disorder within and danger from abroad, the power necessary for Government becomes less and less, and individual liberty greater and greater. Instead, then, of all men having the same right to liberty and equality, as is claimed by those who hold that they are all born free and equal, liberty is the noble and highest reward bestowed on mental and moral development, combined