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with favorable circumstances. Instead, then, of liberty and equality being born with man, - instead of all men, and all classes and descriptions, being equally entitled to them, — they are high prizes to be won ; and are, in their most perfect state, not only the highest reward that can be bestowed on our race, but the most difficult to be won, and, when won, the most difficult to be preserved.
174. POPULAR INTEREST IN ELECTIONS. — Geo. McDuffie. George McDuffie, a distinguished citizen of South Carolina, studied law with John C. Calhoun, and entered Congress in 1821, where he gained great reputation as a Speaker. His style of elocution was passionate and impetuous. lle died in 1851.
We have been frequently told that the farmer should attend to his plough, and the mechanic to his handicraft, during the canvass for the Presidency. Sir, a more dangerous doctrine could not be inculcated. If there is any spectacle from the contemplation of which I would shrink with peculiar horror, it would be that of the great mass of the American People sunk into a profound apathy on the subject of their highest political interests. Such a spectacle would be more portentous, to the eye of intelligent patriotism, than all the monsters of the earth, and fiery signs of the Heavens, to the eye of trembling superstition. If the People could be indifferent to the fate of a contest for the Presidency, they would be unworthy of freedom.
“ Keep the People quiet! Peace! Peace!" Such are the whispers by which the People are to be lulled to sleep, in the very crisis of their highest concerns. you make a solitude, and call it peace!” Peace ? 'T is death! Take away all interest from the People in the election of their Chief Ruler, and liberty is no more. What, Sir, is to be the consequence? If the People do not elect the President, somebody must. There is no special Providence to decide the question. Who, then, is to make the election, and how will it operate? Make the People indifferent, destroy their legitimate influence, and you communicate a morbid violence to the efforts of those who are ever ready to assume the control of such affairs, the mercenary intriguers and interested office-hunters of the country. Tell me not, Sir, of popular violence! Show me a hundred political factionists, men who look to the election of a President as a means of gratifying their high or their low ambition, — and I will show you the very materials for a mob, ready for any desperate adventure, connected with their common fortunes. The People can have no such motives ; they look only to the interest and glory of the country.
There was a law of Athens, which subjected every citizen to punishment, who refused to take sides in the political parties which divided the Republic. It was founded in the deepest wisdom. The ambitious few will inevitably acquire the ascendency, in the conduct of human affairs, if the patriotic many, the People, are not stimulated and roused to a proper activity and effort. Sir, no Nation on earth has ever exerted so extensive an influence on human affairs as this will
certainly exercise, if we preserve our glorious system of Government in its purity. The liberty of this country is a sacred depository -- a vestal fire, which Providence has committed to us for the general benefit of mankind. It is the world's last hope. Extinguish it, and the earth will be covered with eternal darkness. But once put out that fire, and I “ know not where is the Promethean heat which can that light relume."
173. MILITARY QUALIFICATIONS DISTINCT FROM CIVIL, 1828. — John Sergeant.
It has been maintained that the genius which constitutes a great military man is a very high quality, and may be equally useful in the Cabinet and in the field; that it has a sort of universality equally applicable to all affairs. We have seen, undoubtedly, instances of a rare and wonderful combination of civil and military qualifications both of the highest order. That the greatest civil qualifications may be found united with the highest military talents, is what no one will deny who thinks of Washington. But that such a combination is rare and extraordinary, the fame of Washington sufficiently attests. If it were common, why was he so illustrious ?
I would ask, what did Cromwell, with all his military genius, do for England ? He overthrew the Monarchy, and he established Dictatorial power in his own person. And what happened next? Another soldier overthrew the Dictatorship, and restored the Monarchy. The sword effected both. Cromwell made one revolution ; and Monk another. And what did the People of England gain by it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing! The rights and liberties of Englishmen, as they now exist, were settled and established at the Revolution in 1688. Now, mark the difference ! By whom was that Revolution begun and conducted ? Was it by soldiers ? by military genius ? by the sword ? No! It was the work of statesmen and of eminent lawyers, - men never distinguished for military exploits. The faculty —the dormant faculty — may have existed. That is what no one can affirm or deny. But it would have been thought an absurd and extravagant thing to propose, in reliance upon this possible dormant faculty, that one of those eminent statesmen and lawyers should be sent, instead of the Duke of Marlborough, to command the English forces on the Continent!
Who achieved the freedom and the independence of this our own country? Washington effected much in the field ; but where were the Franklins, the Adamses, the Hancocks, the Jeffersons, and the Lees, the band of sages and patriots, whose memory we revere? They were assembled in Council. The heart of the Revolution beat in the Hall of Congress. There was the power which, beginning with appeals to the King and to the British Nation, at length made an irresistible appeal to the world, and consummated the Revolution by the Declaration of Independence, which Washington established with their authority, and, bearing their commission, supported by
arms. And what has this band of patriots, of sages, and of statesmen, given to us? Not what Caesar gave to Rome; not what Cromwell gave to England, or Napoleon to France: they established for us the great principles of civil, political, and religious liberty, upon the strong foundations on which they have hitherto stood. There may have been military capacity in Congress; but can any one deny that it is to the wisdom of sages, Washington being one, we are indebted for the signal blessings we enjoy
ALL the evils which afflict the country are imputed to opposition. It is said to be owing to opposition that the war became necessary, and owing to opposition, also, that it has been prosecuted with no better success. This, Sir, is no new strain. It has been sung a thousand times. It is the constant tune of every weak and wicked administration. What minister ever yet acknowledged that the evils which fell on his country were the necessary consequences of his own incapacity, his own folly, or his own corruption ? What possessor of political power ever yet failed to charge the mischiefs resulting from his own measures upon those who had uniformly opposed those measures? The people of the United States may well remember the administration of Lord North. He lost America to his country, yet he could find pretences for throwing the odium upon his opponents. He could throw it upon those who had forewarned him of consequences, and who had opposed him, at every stage of his disastrous policy, with all the force of truth, reason and talent. It was not his own weakness, his own ambition, his own love of arbitrary power, that disaffected the Colonies. It was not the Tea Act, the Stamp Act, the Boston Port Bill, that severed the empire of Britain. O, no! It was owing to no fault of Administration. It was the work of Opposition. It was the impertinent boldness of Chatham, the idle declamation of Fox, the unseasonable sarcasm of Barré. These men, and men like them, would not join the minister in his American war. They would not give the name and character of wisdom to what they believed to be the extreme of folly. They would not pronounce those measures just and honorable which their principles led them to condemn. They declared the minister's war to be wanton. They foresaw its end, and pointed it out plainly, both to the minister and to the country. He declared their opposition to be selfish and factious. He persisted in his course; and the result is in history.
Important as I deem it, Sir, to discuss, on all proper occasions, the policy of the measures at present pursued, it is still more important to maintain the right of such discussion in its full and just extent. Sentiments lately sprung up, and now growing popular, render it necessary to be explicit on this point. It is the ancient and constitutional right of this people to canvass public measures, and the merits of public men. It is a home-bred right, a fireside privilege. It has ever been enjoyed in every house, cottage and cabin, in the Nation. It is not to be drawn into controversy. It is as undoubted as the right of breathing the air and walking on the earth. Belonging to private life as a right, it belongs to public life as a duty; and it is the last duty which those whose representative I am shall find me to abandon. This high constitutional privilege I shall defend and exercise within this House, and without this House, and in all places; in time of war, in time of peace, and at all times. Living, I will assert it; dying, I will assert it; and, should I leave no other legacy to my children, by the blessing of God I will leave them the inheritance of free principles, and the example of a manly, independent, and constitutional defence of them :
177. MQRAL FORCE AGAINST PHYSICAL, JAN. 19, 1823. – Webster.
THE time has been, Sir, indeed, when fleets, and armies, and subsidies, were the principal reliances, even in the best cause. But, happily for mankind, there has come a great change in this respect. Moral causes come into consideration, in proportion as the progress of knowledge is advanced; and the public opinion of the civilized world is rapidly gaining an ascendency over mere brutal force. It is already able to oppose the most formidable obstruction to the progress of injustice and oppression; and, as it grows more intelligent, and more intense, it will be more and more formidable. It may be silenced by military power, but it cannot be conquered. It is elastic, irrepressible, and invulnerable to the weapons of ordinary warfare. It is that impassable, unextinguishable enemy of mere violence and arbitrary rule, which, like Milton's angels,
“Vital in every part,
Until this be propitiated or satisfied, it is in vain for power to talk either of triumphs or of repose. No matter what fields are desolated, what fortresses surrendered, what armies subdued, or what provinces overrun. In the history of the year that has passed by us, and in the instance of unhappy Spain, we have seen the vanity of all triumphs, in a cause which violates the general sense of justice of the civilized world. It is nothing that the troops of France have passed from the Pyrenees to Cadiz ; it is nothing that an unhappy and prostrate Nation has fallen before them; it is nothing that arrests, and confiscation, and execution, sweep away the little remnant of national existence. There is an enemy that still exists, to check the glory of these triumphs. It follows the conqueror back to the very scene of his ovations; it calls upon him to take notice that Europe, though silent, is yet indignant; it shows him that the sceptre of his victory is a barren sceptre, — that it shall confer neither joy nor honor, but shall moulder to dry ashes in his grasp. In the midst of his exulta
tion, it pierces his car with the cry of injured justice; it denounces against him the indignation of an enlightened and civilized age; it turns to bitterness the cup of his rejoicing, and wounds him with the sting which belongs to the consciousness of having outraged the opinions of mankind.
178. SYMPATHY WITH SOUTH-AMERICAN REPUBLICANISM, 1826. – Webster.
We are told that the country is deluded and deceived by cabalistic words. Cabalistic words! If we express an emotion of pleasure at the results of this great action of the spirit of political liberty; if we rejoice at the birth of new republican Nations, and express our joy by the common terms of regard and sympathy; if we feel and signify high gratification, that, throughout this whole Continent, men are now likely to be blessed by free and popular institutions; and if, in the uttering of these sentiments, we happen to speak of sister Republics, of the great American family of Nations, or of the political systems and forms of Government of this hemisphere, — then, indeed, it seems, we deal in senseless jargon, or impose on the judgment and feeling of the community by cabalistic words! Sir, what is meant by this? Is it intended that the People of the United States ought to be totally indifferent to the fortunes of these new neighbors? Is no change, in the lights in which we are to view them, to be wrought, by their having thrown off foreign dominion, established independence, and instituted, on our very borders, republican Governments, essentially after our own example?
Sir, I do not wish to overrate — I do not overrate — the progress of these new States, in the great work of establishing a well-secured popular liberty. I know that to be a great attainment, and I know they are but pupils in the school. But, thank God, they are in the school! They are called to meet difficulties such as neither we nor our fathers encountered. For these we ought to make large allowances. What have we ever known like the colonial vassalage of these States? Sir, we sprang from another stock. We belong to another race. We have known nothing—we have felt nothing—of the political despotism of Spain, nor of the heat of her fires of intolerance. No rational man expects that the South can run the same rapid career as the North, or that an insurgent province of Spain is in the same condition as the English Colonies when they first asserted their independence. There is, doubtless, much more to be done in the first than in the last case. But, on that account, the honor of the attempt is not less; and, if all difficulties shall be, in time, surmounted, it will be greater. The work may be more arduous, – it is not less noble, – because there may be more of ignorance to enlighten, more of bigotry to subdue, more of prejudice to eradicate. If it be a weakness to feel a strong interest in the success of these great revolutions, I confess myself guilty of that weakness. If it be weak to feel that I am an American, – to think that recent events have not only opened new