« ZurückWeiter »
modes of intercourse, but have created, also, new grounds of regard and sympathy, between ourselves and our neighbors; if it be weak to feel that the South, in her present state, is somewhat more emphatically a part of America than when she lay, obscure, oppressed, and unknown, under the grinding bondage of a foreign power; if it be weak to rejoice when, even in any corner of the earth, human beings are able to get up from beneath oppression, — to erect themselves, and to enjoy the proper happiness of their intelligent nature, — if this be weak, it is a weakness from which I claim no exemption.
179. HATRED OF THE POOR TO THE RICH, 1834. – Webster.
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 shade 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 everything 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 labor, by first cheating them out of their understandInoS. †T. 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 anything 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 clamor, — 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 dishonor 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 1” “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 laborer in the country to be on his guard against such delusions. 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!
180. ON SUDDEN POLITICAL CONVERSIONS, 1838. – Webster.
MR. PRESIDENT, public men must certainly be allowed to change their opinions, and their associations, whenever they see fit. No one doubts this. Men may have grown wiser, — they may have attained to better and more correct views of great public subjects. Nevertheless, Sir, it must be acknowledged, that what appears to be a sudden, as well as a great change, naturally produces a shock. I confess, for one, I was shocked, when the honorable gentleman," at the last session, espoused this billf of the Administration. Sudden movements of the affections, whether personal or political, are a little out of nature. Several years ago, Sir, some of the wits of England wrote a mock play, intended to ridicule the unnatural and false feeling—the sentimentality—of a certain German school of literature. In this play, two strangers are brought together at an inn. While they are warming themselves at the fire, and before their acquaintance is yet five minutes old, one springs up, and exclaims to the other, “A sudden thought strikes me! — Let us swear an eternal friendship!”
This affectionate offer was instantly accepted, and the friendship duly sworn, unchangeable and eternal Now, Sir, how long this eternal friendship lasted, or in what manner it ended, those who wish to know may learn by referring to the play. But it seems to me, Sir, that the honorable member has carried his political sentimentality a good deal higher than the flight of the German school; for he appears to have fallen suddenly in love, not with strangers, but with opponents. Here we all had been, Sir, contending against the progress of Executive power, and more particularly, and most strenuously, against the projects and experiments of the Administration upon the currency. The honorable member stood among us, not only as an associate, but as a leader. We thought we were making some headway. The People appeared to be coming to our support and our assistance. The country had been roused; every successive election weakening the strength of the adversary, and increasing our own. We were in this career of success, carried strongly forward by the current of public opinion, and only needed to hear the cheering voice of the honorable member, —
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more . * and we should have prostrated, forever, this anti-constitutional, anticommercial, anti-republican, and anti-American policy of the Administration. But, instead of these encouraging and animating accents, * Mr. Calhoun. # The Sub-treasury bill.
behold! in the very crisis of our affairs, on the very eve of victory, the honorable member cries out to the enemy, - not to us, his allies, but to the enemy, - “Holloa' a sudden thought strikes me' — I abandon my allies! Now I think of it, they have always been my oppressors! I abandon them; and now let you and me swear an eternal friendship!” Such a proposition, from such a quarter, Sir, was not likely to be long withstood. The other party was a little coy, but, upon the whole, nothing loath. After proper hesitation, and a little decorous blushing, it owned the soft impeachment, admitted an equally sudden sympathetic impulse on its own side; and, since few words are wanted where hearts are already known, the honorable gentleman takes his place among his new friends, amidst greetings and caresses, and is already enjoying the sweets of an eternal friendship.
181. THE PLATFORM OF THE CONSTITUTION, 1838. – Webster. A PRINCIPAL object, in his late political movements, the gentleman himself tells us, was to unite the entire South; and against whom, or against what, does he wish to unite the entire South 2 Is not this the very essence of local feeling and local regard 2 Is it not the acknowledgment of a wish and object to create political strength, by uniting political opinions geographically While the gentleman wishes to unite the entire South, I pray to know, Sir, if he expects me to turn toward the polar-star, and, acting on the same principle, to utter a cry of Rally to the whole North Heaven forbid! To the day of my death, neither he nor others shall hear such a cry from me. Finally, the honorable member declares that he shall now march off, under the banner of State rights March off from whom ? March off from what? We have been contending for great principles. We have been struggling to maintain the liberty and to restore the prosperity of the country; we have made these struggles here, in the national councils, with the old flag—the true American flag, the Eagle and the Stars and Stripes—waving over the Chamber in which we sit. He now tells us, however, that he marches off under the State-rights banners Let him go. I remain. I am, where I ever have been, and ever mean to be. Here, standing on the platform of the general Constitution, — a platform broad enough, and firm enough, to uphold every interest of the whole country, I shall still be found. Intrusted with some part in the administration of that Constitution, I intend to act in its spirit, and in the spirit of those who framed it. Yes, Sir. I would act as if our fathers, who formed it for us, and who bequeathed it to us, were looking on me, – as if I could see their venerable forms, bending down to behold us from the abodes above: I would act, too, as if the eye of posterity was gazing on me. Standing thus, as in the full gaze of our ancestors and our posterity, having received this inheritance from the former to be transmitted to the latter, and feeling that, if I am born for any good, in my day and generation, it is for the good of the whole country, -nolocal policy, no local feeling, no temporary impulse, shall induce me to yield my foothold on the Constitution and the Union. I move off under no banner not known to the whole American People, and to their Constitution and laws. No, Sir! these walls, these columns, From their firm base as soon ..o.
I came into public life, Sir, in the service of the United States. On that broad altar my earliest and all my public vows have been made. I propose to serve no other master. So far as depends on any agency of mine, they shall continue united States; — united in interest and in affection; united in everything in regard to which the Constitution has decreed their union; united in war, for the common defence, the common renown, and the common glory; and united, compacted, knit firmly together, in peace, for the common prosperity and happiness of ourselves and our children'
182. RESISTANCE TO OPPRESSION IN ITS RUDIMENTS. – Daniel Webster.
EveRy encroachment, great or small, is important enough to awaken the attention of those who are intrusted with the preservation of a Constitutional Government. We are not to wait till great public mischiefs come, till the government is overthrown, or liberty itself put in extreme jeopardy. We should not be worthy sons of our fathers, were we so to regard great questions affecting the general freedom. Those fathers accomplished the Revolution on a strict question of principle. The Parliament of Great Britain asserted a right to tax the Colonies in all cases whatsoever; and it was precisely on this question that they made the Revolution turn. The amount of taxation was trifling, but the claim itself was inconsistent with liberty; and that was, in their eyes, enough. It was against the recital of an act of Parliament, rather than against any suffering under its enactments, that they took up arms. They went to war against a preamble. They fought seven years against a declaration. They poured out their treasures and their blood like water, in a contest, in opposition to an assertion, which those less sagacious and not so well schooled in the principles of civil liberty would have regarded as barren phraseology, or mere parade of words. They saw in the claim of the British Parliament a seminal principle of mischief, the germ of unjust power; they detected it, dragged it forth from underneath its plausible disguises, struck at it, nor did it elude either their steady eye, or their well-directed blow, till they had extirpated and destroyed it, to the smallest fibre. On this question of principle, while actual suffering was yet afar off, they raised their flag against a power to which, for purposes of foreign conquest and subjugation, Rome, in the height of her glory, is not to be compared; a power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts; whose morning drum-beat, following the sun, and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth daily with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England.
183. PEACEABLE SECESSION, 1850. – Webster.
SIR, he who sees these States now revolving in harmony around a common centre, and expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion, may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their spheres, and jostle against each other in the realms of space, without causing the crush of the universe. There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility. Is the great Constitution under which we live, covering this whole country, is it to be thawed and melted away by secession, as the snows on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun, disappear almost unobserved, and run off? No, Sir No, Sir! I will not state what might produce the disruption of the Union: but, Sir, I see, as plainly as I see the sun in Heaven, what that disruption itself must produce; I see that it must produce war, and such a war as I will not describe, in its two-fold character.
Peaceable secession!— peaceable secession The concurrent agreement of all the members of this great Republic to separate: A voluntary separation, with alimony on one side and on the other. Why, what would be the result 2 Where is the line to be drawn 2 What States are to secede? What is to remain American 2 What am I to be 2 An American no longer? Am I to become a sectional man, a local man, a separatist, with no country in common with the gentlemen who sit around me here, or who fill the other House of Congress 2 Heaven forbid! Where is the flag of the Republic to remain Where is the eagle still to tower —or is he to cower, and shrink, and fall to the ground Why, Sir, our ancestors— our fathers and our grandfathers, those of them that are yet living amongst us, with prolonged lives— would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and our grandchildren would cry out shame upon us, if we, of this generation, should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the Government and the harmony of that Union, which is every day felt among us with so much joy and gratitude. What is to become of the army What is to become of the navy 2 What is to become of the public lands ! How is any one of the thirty States to defend itself?
Sir, we could not sit down here to-day, and draw a line of separation that would satisfy any five men in the country. There are natural causes that would keep and tie us together; and there are social and domestic relations which we could not break if we would, and which we should not if we could.
184. ON MR. CLAY'S RESOLUTIONS, MARCH 7, 1850. – Webster.
AND now, Mr. President, instead of speaking of the possibility or utility of secession, instead of dwelling in these caverns of darkness, instead of groping with those ideas so full of all that is horrid and horrible, let us come out into the light of day; let us enjoy the fresh air of Liberty and Union; let us cherish those hopes which belong to us; let us devote ourselves to those great objects that are fit for our