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which we have heard so much. We have before us the certainty of inflicting deep injury upon ourselves, without the slightest prospect of benefiting others. Misfortunes may come upon us all; dishonor attaches only to the unworthy. A nation may be conquered, trodden down, -her living sons in chains, her dead the prey of vultures, –and still leave a bright example, a glorious history, to after times. But when folly and wickedness have ruled the hour, - when disaster is the legitimate child of error and weakness, the page that records it is but a record of infamy, and pity for misfortune becomes a crime against justice. Sir, I do not love that word “destiny,”—“manifest” or not “manifest.” Men and nations make their own destinies, –
“Our acts our angels are, or good, or ill, -
The future of this Republic is in our hands; and it is for us to determine whether we will launch the ship of State upon a wild and stormy sea, above whose blackened waters no sunshine beams, no star shines out, and where not a ray is seen but what is caught from the lurid lightning in its fiery path. This, Senators, is the mighty question we have to solve; and, let me add, if the freedom of one contiment, and the hopes of four, shall sink beneath that inky flood, ours will be the guilt, — ours the deep damnation.
Shall I be told these are idle fears? That, in a war with Russia, no matter for what cause waged, we must be the victors? That, in short, all Europe combined could not blot this Union from the map of nations 2 Ah, Sir, that is not all I fear. I fear success even more than defeat. The Senator from Michigan was right when he said that our fears were to be found at home. I do fear ourselves. Commit our people once to unnecessary foreign wars, – let victory encourage the military spirit, already too prevalent among them,-and Roman history will have no chapter bloody enough to be transmitted to posterity side by side with ours. In a brief period we shall have reenacted, on a grander scale, the same scenes which marked her decline. The veteran soldier, who has followed a victorious leader from clime to clime, will forget his love of country in his love for his commander; and the bayonets you send abroad to conquer a kingdom will be brought back to destroy the rights of the citizen, and prop the throne of an Emperor.
190. HAZARDS OF OUR NATIONAL PROSPERITY, 1851. – W. R. Smith, of Alabama.
EvKRYBody knows, Mr. Speaker, what has been the policy of this Government with respect to the concerns of Europe, up to the present time. And what, I ask, has been the result of that policy 3 Why, from the small beginning of three millions of inhabitants, we have grown to twenty-three millions; from a small number of States, we are
now over thirty. But Kossuth says that we may depart from that policy now; that it was wise when we were young, but that now we have grown up to be a giant, and may abandon it. Ah, Sir, we can all resist adversity!
We know the uses and sweet are they — of adversity. It is the crucible of fortune. It is the iron key that unlocks the golden gates of prosperity. I say, God bless adversity, when it is properly understood ! But the rock upon which men and upon which Nations split is PROSPERITY. This man says that we have grown to be a giant, and that we may depart from the wisdom of our youth. But I say that now is the time to take care ; we are great enough ; let us be satisfied ; prevent the growth of our ambition, to prevent our pride from swelling, and hold on to what we have got.
Do you remember the story of the old Governor, who had been raised from rags ? His King discovered in him merit and integrity, and appointed him a Satrap, a ruler over many provinces. He came to be great, and it was his custom to be escorted throughout the country several times during the year, in order to see and be seen. He was received and acknowledged everywhere as a great man and a great Governor. But he carried about with him a mysterious chest, and every now and then he would look into it, and let nobody else see what it contained. There was a great deal of curiosity excited by this chest ; and finally he was prevailed upon, by some of his friends, to let them look into it. Well, he permitted it, and what did they see? They saw an old, ragged and torn suit of clothes, the clothes that he used to wear in his humility and in his poverty; and he said that he carried them about with him in order that, when his heart began to swell, and his ambition to rise, and his pride to dilate, he could look on the rags that reminded him of what he had been, and thereby be enabled to resist the temptations of prosperity. Let us see whether this can illustrate anything in our history. Raise the veil, if there is one, which conceals the poverty of this Union, when there were but thirteen States ! Raise the veil that conceals the rags of our soldiers of the Revolution! Lift the lid of the chest which contains the poverty of our beginning, in order that you may be reminded, like this old Satrap, of the days of your poverty, and be enabled to resist the advice of this man, who tells you that you were wise in your youth, but that now you are a giant, and may depart from that wisdom. Remember the use of adversity, and let us take advantage of it, and be benefited by it; for great is the man, and greater is the Nation, that can resist the enchanting smiles of prosperity!
200. AGAINST FLOGGING IN THE NAVY, 1852. — R. F. Stockton. There is one broad proposition upon which I stand. It is this: That an American sailor is an American citizen, and that no American citizen shall, with my consent, be subjected to the infamous punishment of the lash. If, when a citizen enters into the service of his country, he is to forego the protection of those laws for the preservation of which he is willing to risk his life, he is entitled, in all justice,
humanity and gratitude, to all the protection that can be extended to him, in his peculiar circumstances. He ought, certainly, to be protected from the infliction of a punishment which stands condemned by the almost universal sentiment of his fellow-citizens; a punishment which is proscribed in the best prison-government, proscribed in the school-house, and proscribed in the best government on earth— that of parental domestic affection. Yes, Sir, expelled from the social circle, from the school-house, the prison-house, and the Army, it finds defenders and champions nowhere but in the Navy: Look to your history, - that part of it which the world knows by heart, — and you will find on its brightest page the glorious achievements of the American sailor. Whatever his country has done to disgrace him, and break his spirit, he has never disgraced her; he has always been ready to serve her; he always has served her faithfully and effectually. He has often been weighed in the balance, and never found wanting. The only fault ever found with him is, that he sometimes fights ahead of his orders. The world has no match for him, man for man; and he asks no odds, and he cares for no odds, when the cause of humanity, or the glory of his country, calls him to fight. Who, in the darkest days of our Revolution, carried your flag into the very chops of the British Channel, bearded the lion in his den, and woke the echoes of old Albion's hills by the thunders of his cannon, and the shouts of his triumph : It was the American sailor. And the names of John Paul Jones, and the Bon Homme Richard, will go down the annals of time forever. Who struck the first blow that humbled the Barbary flag, which, for a hundred years, had been the terror of Christendom, drove it from the Mediterranean, and put an end to the infamous tribute it had been accustomed to extort 2 It was the American sailor. And the name of Decatur and his gallant companions will be as lasting as monumental brass. In your war of 1812, when your arms on shore were covered by disaster, — when Winchester had been defeated, when the Army of the North-west had surrendered, and when the gloom of despondency hung like a cloud over the land,—who first relit the fires of national glory, and made the welkin ring with the shouts of victory ! It was the American sailor. And the names of Hull and the Constitution will be remembered, as long as we have left anything worth remembering. That was no small event. The wand of Mexican prowess was broken on the Rio Grande. The wand of British invincibility was broken when the flag of the Guerrière came down. That one event was worth more to the Republic than all the money which has ever been expended for the Navy. Since that day, the Navy has had no stain upon its escutcheon, but has been cherished as your pride and glory. And the American sailor has established a reputation throughout the world, -in peace and in war, in storm and in battle, – for heroism and prowess unsurpassed. He shrinks from no danger, he dreads no foe, and yields to no superior. No shoals are too dangerous, no seas too boisterous, no climate too rigorous, for him. The burning sun of the tropics cannot make him
effeminate, nor can the eternal winter of the polar seas paralyze his energies. Foster, cherish, develop these characteristics, by a generous and paternal government. Excite his emulation, and stimulate his ambition, by rewards. But, above all, save him, save him from the brutalizing lash, and inspire him with love and confidence for your service! and then there is no achievement so arduous, no conflict so desperate, in which his actions will not shed glory upon his country. And, when the final struggle comes, as soon it will come, for the empire of the seas, you may rest with entire confidence in the persuasion that victory will be yours.
201. ON GOVERNMENT EXTRAVAGANCE, 1838. — John J. Crittenden. The bill under consideration is intended to authorize the Treasury Department to issue ten millions of Treasury Notes, to be applied to the discharge of the expenses of Government. Habits of extravagance, it seems, are hard to change. They constitute a disease; ay, Sir, a very dangerous one. That of the present Administration came to a crisis about eight months ago, and it cost the patient ten millions of Treasury Notes to get round the corner. And now it is as bad as ever! Another crisis has come, and the doctors ask for ten millions more. The disease is desperate. Money or death! They say, if the bill is rejected, Government must “stop.” What must stop? The laws? The judicial tribunals? The Legislative bodies? The institutions of the country? No, no, Sir! all these will remain, and go on. What stops, then? Its own extravagance, - that must stop, and “ there is the rub!” Besides, Sir, I must really be permitted to say, that, if to keep this Administration on its feet is to cost ten millions of extraordinary supply, every six or eight months, why, Mr. President, the sooner its fate is recorded in the bills of mortality, the better. Let me know how this money is to be applied. I never will vote a dollar on the mere cry of “exigency!” crisis !” I will be behind no man in meeting the real necessities of my country, but I will not blindly, or heedlessly, vote away the money of the People, or involve them in debt. If the Government wants money, let it borrow it. If extravagance or necessity shall bring a national debt upon us, let it come openly, and not steal upon us in the disguise of Treasury Notes. “0! but it is no debt,” say gentlemen ; “it is only issuing a few notes, to meet a crisis." Well, Sir, whether it be a national debt, I will not say. This I know, it will be followed, whatever it is, with the serious and substantial consequence, that the people of the United States will have to pay it, every cent of it, and with interest. Sir, I desire to see this experimenting Administration forced to make some experiments in economy. It is almost the only sort of experiment to which it seems averse. Its cry is still for money, money, money! But, for one, I say to it, " Take physic, Pomp !" Lay aside your extravagance. Too much money has been your bane. And I do not feel myself required, by any duty, to grant you more, at present. If I did, it would not be in the form proposed by the bill.
PART FOUR TH.
FORENSIC AND JUDICIAL.
9. THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, 1794. - John Philpot Curran. What, then, remains ? The liberty of the Press, only,— that sacred palladium, which no influence, no power, no minister, no Government, which nothing but the depravity or folly or corruption of a jury, can ever destroy. And what calamities are the People saved from, by having public communication left open to them? I will tell you, Gentlemen, what they are saved from, and what the Government is saved from; I will tell you, also, to what both are exposed, by shutting up that communication. In one case, sedition speaks aloud, and walks abroad; the demagogue goes forth, — the public eye
is upon him, - he frets his busy hour upon the stage ; but soon either weariness, or bribe, or punishment, or disappointment, bears him down, or drives him off, and he appears no more. In the other case, how does the work of sedition go forward ? Night after night, the muffled rebel steals forth in the dark, and casts another and another brand upon the pile, to which, when the hour of fatal maturity shall arrive, he will apply the torch. In that awful moment of a Nation's travail, of the last gasp
of tyranny, and the first breath of freedom, how pregnant is the example! The Press extinguished, the People enslaved, and the Prince undone ! As the advocate of society, therefore, of peace, of domestic liberty, and the lasting union of the two countries, I conjure you to guard the liberty of the Press, that great sentinel of the State, that grand detector of public imposture! Guard it, because, when it sinks, there sinks with it, in one common grave, the liberty of the subject, and the secursity of the Crown !
2. DESCRIPTION OF MR. ROWAN, 1794. - John Philpot Curran. GENTLEMEN, if you still have any doubt as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant, give me leave to suggest to you what circumstances you ought to consider, in order to found your verdict. You should consider the character of the person accused ; and in this your task is easy. I will venture to say there is not a man in this Nation more known than the gentleman who is the subject of this prosecution; not only by the part he has taken in public concerns, and which he has taken in common with many, but still more so by that extraordinary sympathy for human affliction, which, I am sorry to think, he shares