Page images

is felt as an obstacle, doubtless the first opportunity, and every opportunity, will be embraced, to give it less and less the character of an obstacle. Sir, without pursuing these suggestions, I only say that the country must prepare itself for any change in the Judicial Department, such as it shall deliberately sanction in other departments.

But, Sir, what is the prospect of change? Is there any hope, that the national sentiment will recover its accustomed tone, and restore to the Government a just and efficient administration ?

Sir, if there be something of doubt on this point, there is also something, perhaps much, of hope. The popularity of the present Chief Magistrate, springing from causes not connected with his adıninistration of the Government, has been great. Public gratitude for military service has remained fast to him, in defiance of many things, in his civil administration, calculated to weaken its hold. At length, there are indications, not to be denied, of new sentiments and new impressions. At length, a conviction of danger to important interests, and to the security of the Government, has made its lodgment in the public mind. At length, public sentiment begins to bave its free course, and to produce its just effects. I fully believe, Sir, that a great majority of the nation desire a change in the Administration; and that it will be difficult for party organization, or party denunciation, to suppress the effective utterance of that general wish. There are unhappy differences, it is true, about the fit person to be successor to the present incumbent, in the Chief Magistracy; and it is possible, that this disunion may, in the end, defeat the will of the majority. But, so far as we agree together, let us act together. Wherever our sentiments concur, let our hands coöperate. If we cannot, at present, agree who should be President, we are at least agreed who ought not to be. I fully believe, Sir, that gratifying intelligence is already on the wing. While we are yet deliberating in Massachusetts, Penn, sylvania is voting. This week, she elects her members to the next Congress. I doubt not the result of that election will show an important change in public sentiment in that State ; nor can I doubt that the great States adjoining her, holding similar Constitutional principles, and having similar interests, will feel the impulse of the same causes which affect her. The people of the United States, by a vast and countless majority, are attached to the Constitution. If they shall be convinced that it is in danger, they will come to its rescue, and will save it. It cannot be destroyed, even now, if they will undertake its guardianship and protection.

But suppose, Sir, there was less hope than there is, would that consideration weaken the force of our obligations ? Are we at a post which we are at liberty to desert when it becomes difficult to hold it? May we fly at the approach of danger? Does our





On the 21st of January, 1833, Mr. WILKINS, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill further to provide for the collection of duties.

On the 22d day of the same month, Mr. Calhoun submitted the following resolutions :

Resolved, That the people of the several States composing these United States are united as parties to a constitutional compact, to which the people of each State acceded as a separate sovereign community, each binding itself by its own particular ratification; and that the union, of which the said compact is the bond, is union between the States ratifying the same.

Resolved, That the people of the several States, thus united by the constitutional compact, in forming that instrument, and in creating a General Government, to carry into effect the objects for which they were formed, delegated to that Government, for that purpose, certain definite powers, to be exercised jointly, reserving, at the same time, each State to itself, the residuary mass of powers, to be exercised by its own separate Government; and that whenever the General Government assumes the exercise of powers not delegated by the compact, its acts are unauthorized, and are of no effect; and that the same Government is not made the final judge of the powers delegated to it, since that would make its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among sovereign parties, without any common judge, each has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of the infraction as of the mode and measure of redress.

Resolved, That the assertions that the people of these United States, taken collectively as individuals, are now, or ever have been, united on the principle of the social compact, and, as such, are now formed into one nation or people, or that they have ever been so united in any one stage of their political existence; that the people of the several States composing the Union have not, as members thereof, retained their sovereignty; that the allegiance of their citizens has been transferred to the General Government; that they have parted with the right of punishing treason through their respective State Governments ; and that they have not the right of judging in the last resort as to the extent of the powers reserved, and of consequence of those delegated ;-are not only without foundation in truth, but are contrary to the most certain and plain historical facts, and the clearest deductions of reason; and that all exercise of power on the part of the General Government, or any of its departments, claiming

authority from such erroneous assumptions, must of nece tutional-must tend, directly and inevitably, to subvert t the States, to destroy the federal character of the Union its ruins a consolidated Government, without Constitution tation, and which must necessarily terminate in the loss (

On Saturday, the 16th of February, Mr. Calhoun spoke the bill. Mr. WEBSTER followed him.

le MR. PRESIDENT: The gentleman from South Carolina has admonished us to be mindful of the opinions of those who shall come after us. We must take our chance, Sir, as to the light in which posterity will regard us. I do not decline its judgment, nor withhold myself from its scrutiny. Feeling that I am performing my public duty with singleness of heart, and to the best of my ability, I fearlessly trust myself to the country, now and hereafter, and leave both my motives and my character to its decision.

The gentleman has terminated his speech in a tone of threat and defiance towards this bill, even should it become a law of the land, altogether unusual in the halls of Congress. But I shall not suffer myself to be excited into warmth by his denunciation of the measure which I support. Among the feelings which at this moment fill my breast, not the least is that of regret at the position in which the gentleman has placed himself. Sir, he does himself no justice. The cause which he has espoused finds no basis in the Constitution, no succor from public sympathy, no cheering from a patriotic community. He has no foothold on which to stand, while he might display the powers of his acknowledged talents. Every thing beneath his feet is hollow and treacherous. He is like a strong man struggling in a morass : every effort to extricate himself only sinks him deeper and deeper. And I fear the resemblance may be carried still farther ; I fear that no friend can safely come to his relief, that no one can approach near enough to hold out a helping hand, without danger of going down himself, also, into the bottomless depths of this Serbonian bog

The honorable gentleman has declared that on the decision of the question now in debate, may depend the cause of liberty itself. I am of the same opinion ; but then, Sir, the liberty which I think is staked on the contest, is not political liberty, in any general and undefined character, but our own, well-understood, and long-enjoyed American liberty.

Sir, I love Liberty no less ardently than the gentleman, in whatever form she may have appeared in the progress of human history As exhibited in the master states of antiquity, as breaking out again from amidst the darkness of the middle ages, VOL. II.


« PreviousContinue »