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and an unconquerable spirit of free inquiry, and by a diffusion of knowledge through the community, such as has been before altogether unknown and unheard of. America, America, our country, fellow citizens, our own dear and native land, is inseparably connected, fast bound up, in fortune and by fate, with these great interests. If they fall, we fall with them; if they stand, it will be because we have upholden them. Let us contemplate, then, this connexion, which binds the prosperity of others to our own; and let us manfully discharge all the duties which it imposes. If we cherish the virtues and the principles of our fathers, Heaven will assist us to carry on the work of human liberty and human happiness. Auspicious omens cheer us. Great examples are before us. Our own firmament now shines brightly upon our path. Washington is in the clear upper sky. These other stars have now joined the American constellation; they circle round their centre, and the heavens beam with new light. Beneath this illumination, let us walk the course of life, and at its close devoutly commend our beloved country, the common parent of us all, to the Divine Benignity.
DELIVERED AT A MEETING OF CITIZENS OF BOSTON, HELD IN FAN.
EUIL HALL, ON THE EVENING OF APRIL 3d, 1825, PREPARATORY TO THE GENERAL ELECTION IN MASSACHUSETTS.
Mr.Webster said, he was quite unaccustomed to appear in that place; having, on no occasion, addressed his fellow citizens there, either to recommend or to oppose the support of any candidates for public office. He had long been of opinion, that to preserve the distinction, and the hostility, of political parties, was not consistent with the highest degree of public good. . At the same time he did not find fault with the conduct, nor question the motives, of those who thought otherwise. But, entertaining this opinion, he had abstained from attending on those occasions, in which the merits of public men, and of candidates for office, were discussed, necessarily, with more or less reference to party attachment, and party organization,
The present was a different occasion. The sentiment which had called this meeting together, was a sentiment of union and conciliation; a sentiment so congenial to his own feelings, and to his opinion of the public interest, that he could not resist the inclination to be present, and to express his entire and hearty approbation. He should forbear, Mr. W. said, from all remarks upon the
particular names which had been recommended by the committee. They had been selected, he must presume, fairly, and with due consideration, by those who were appointed for that purpose. In cases of this sort every one cannot expect to find everything precisely as he might wish it; but those who concurred in the general sentiment would naturally allow that sentiment to prevail, as far as possible, over particular objections.
On the general question he would make a few remarks, begging the indulgence of the meeting, if he should say anything which might with more propriety, proceed from others.
He hardly conceived how well disposed and intelligent minds could differ, as to the question, whether party contest, and party strife, organized, systematic, and continued, were of themselves desirable ingredients in the composition of society.-Difference of opinion, on political subjects, honorable competition, and emulous
rivalry, may, indeed, be useful. But these are very different things from organized and systematic party combinations. He admitted, even, that party associations were sometimes unavoidable, and perhaps necessary, to the accomplishment of other ends and
purposes. -But this did not prove that, of themselves, they were good; or that they should be continued and preserved for their own sake, when there had ceased to be any object to be effected by them.
But there were those who supposed, that whether political party distinctions were, or were not, useful, it was impossible to abolish them. Now he thought, on the contrary, that under present circumstances, it was quite impossible to continue them. New parties, indeed, might arise, growing out of new events, or new questions; but as to those old parties, which had sprung from controversies now no longer pending, or from feelings which time and other causes had now changed, or greatly allayed, he did not believe that they could long remain. Efforts, indeed, made to that end, with zeal and perseverance, might delay their extinction, but, he thought, could not prevent it. There was nothing to keep alive these distinctions, in the interests and objects which now engage society. New questions and new objects arise, having no connexion with the subjects of past controversies, and present interest overcomes or absorbs the recollection of former controversies. All that are united on these existing questions, and present interests, are not likely to weaken their efforts to promote them by angry reflections on past differences. If there were nothing, in things, to divide about, he thought the people not likely to maintain systematic controversies about men. They have no interest in so doing. Associations formed to support principles, may be called parties; but if they have no bond of union but adherence to particular men they become factions.
The people, in his opinion, were at present grateful to all parties, for whatever of good they had accomplished, and indulgent to all for whatever of error they had committed; and, with these feelings, were now mainly intent on the great objects which affected their present interests. There might be exceptions to this remark; he was afraid there were; but nevertheless, such appeared to him to be the general feeling in the country, It was natural that some prejudices should remain longer than their causes, as the waves lash the shore, for a time, after the storm has subsided; but the tendency of the elements was to repose.-Monopolies of all sorts were getting out of fashion, they were yielding to liberal ideas, and to the obvious justice and expediency of fair competition.
An administration of the general government, which had been, in general, highly satisfactory to the country, had now closed. He was not aware that it could with propriety be said that that administration had been either supported, or opposed by any party associations, or on any party principles. Certain it was, that as far as there had been any organized opposition to the administration, it had had nothing to do with former parties. A new administration had now commenced, and he need hardly say that the most liberal and conciliatory principles had been avowed. It could not be doubted, that it would conform to those principles. Thus far, he believed, its course had given general satisfaction. After what they all had seen,
in relation to the gentlemen holding the highest appointment in the Executive Department, under the President, he would take this opportunity to say, that having been a member of the House of Representatives for six years, during the far greater part of which time Mr. Clay had presided in that House, he was most happy in being able, in a manner less formal than by concurring in the usual vote of thanks, to express his own opinion of his liberality, independence, and honorable feeling. And he would take this occasion also to add, if his opinion could be of any value in such a case, that he thought nothing more unfounded than that that gentleman owed his present situation to any unworthy compromise or arrangement whatever. He owed it to his talent, to his prominent standing in the community, to his course of public service, not now a short one, and to the high estimation in which he stands with that part of the country to which he belongs.
Remarks, Mr. Webster proceeded to say, had been made from the Chair, very kind and partial, as to the manner in which he had discharged the duties which he owed to his constituents, in the House of Representatives. He wished to say, that if he had been able to render any, the humblest services, either to the public or his constituents, in that place, it was owing wholly to the liberal manner in which his efforts there had been received.
Having alluded to the Inaugural Address, he did not mean in the slightest degree to detract from its merits, when he now said, that in his opinion, if either of the other candidates had succeeded in the election, he also would have adopted a liberal course of policy. He had no reason to believe that the sentiments of either of those gentlemen were, in this respect, narrow or contracted. He fully believed the contrary, in regard to both of them; but if they had been otherwise, he thought still, that expediency or necessity, would have controlled their inclinations.
I forbear, said Mr. W., from pursuing these remarks farther. I repeat, that I do not complain of those who have hitherto thought, or who still think, that party organization is necessary to the public good. I do not question their motives; and I wish to be tolerant even to those who think that toleration ought not to be indulged.
It is said, sir, that prosperity sometimes hardens the heart. Perhaps, also, it may sometimes have a contrary effect, and elevate and liberalize the feelings. If this can ever be the result of such a cause, there is certainly in the present condition of the country enough to inspire the most grateful and the kindest feelings. We bave a common stock both of happiness and of distinction, of which we are all entitled as citizens of the country to partake. We may all rejoice in the general prosperity, in the peace and security which we enjoy, and in the brilliant success which has thus far attended our republican institutions. These are circumstances which may well excite in us all a noble pride. Our civil and political institutions, while they answer for us all the great ends designed by them, furnish at the same time an example to others, and diffuse blessings beyond our own limits.-In whatever part of the globe men are found contending for political liberty, they look to the United States
with a feeling of brotherhood, and put forth a claim of kindred. The South American States, especially, exhibit a most interesting spectacle. Let the great men who formed our constitutions of government, who still survive, and let the children of those who have gone to their graves console themselves with the reflection, that whether they have risen or fallen in the little contests of party, they have not only established the liberty and happiness of their own native land, but have conferred blessings beyond their own country, and beyond their own thoughts, on millions of men, and on successions of generations. Under the influence of these institutions, received and adopted in principle, from our example, the whole southern continent has shaken off its colonial subjection.-A new world, filled with fresh and interesting nations, has risen to our sight. America seems again discovered; not to geography, but to commerce, to social intercourse, to intelligence, to civilisation, and to liberty. Fifty years ago, some of those who now hear me, and the fathers of many others; listened in this place, to those mighty masters, Otis and Adams. When they then uttered the spirit stirring sounds of Independence and Liberty, there was not a foot of land on the continent inhabited by civilized man, that did not acknowledge the dominion of European power. Thank God, at this moment, from us to the south pole, and from sea to sea, there is hardly a foot that does.
And, sir, when these States, thus newly disenthralled and emancipated, assume the tone, and bear the port of independence, what language, and what ideas do we find associated, with their new acquired liberty? They speak, sir, of Constitutions, of Declarations of Rights, of the Liberty of the Press, of a Congress, and of Representative Government. Where, sir, did they learn these? And when they have applied, to their great leader, and the founder of their States, the language of praise and commendation, till they have exhausted it—when unsatisfied gratitude can express itself no otherwise, do they not call him their Washington? Sir, the Spirit of Continental Independence, the Genius of American Liberty, which in earlier times tried her insant voice in the halls and on the hills of New England, uiters it now, with power that seems to wake the dead, on the plains of Mexico, and along the sides of the Andes.
“ Her path, where'er the Goddess roves,
The unconquerable niind, and Freedom's holy flame.” There is one other point of view, sir, in regard to which I will say a few words, though perhaps at some hazard of misinterpretation.
In the wonderful spirit of improvement and enterprise which animates the country, we may be assured that each quarter will naturally exert its power in favor of objects in which it is interested. This is natural and unavoidable. Each portion, therefore, will use its best means. If the West feels a strong interest in clearing the navigation of its mighty streams, and opening roads through its vast forests; if the South is equally zealous to push the production and