Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

then, ready to say that Government cannot discharge its duty to itself and its duty to the people, unless the capitalists of the country will take stock in a bank? We who refuse to make any part of our fiscal system dependent on the assent of the States, are we ready to make that system entirely dependent on the assent of individual citizens? If not, why should we not do now, that which we should be willing to do in the case I have supposed? The same exigency now exists, though arising from a different cause. The impracticability of obtaining a bank at this moment is as clearly determined, by the refusal of the President to subscribe his name to its charter, as it would be by the refusal of capitalists to subscribe their names to its stock list. And though there may be much more right to complain in one case than in the other, the emergency is the same in both, and our responsibilities in both are alike and identical.

One word, Sir, in reference to another suggestion of the report, before I proceed to the resolution with which it concludes. A provision is contained in the President's plan of an Exchequer, and is improved upon, I believe, in the bills both of the Senate and House, to limit the removing power of the Executive in relation to the commissioners and other officers of the board. Such a provision undoubtedly does away many of the dangers of the system. But the report pronounces all this unconstitutional. It declares that Congress possesses no such power, and that any fancied security, built upon such a hypothesis, must prove fallacious. Now this was not the doctrine of the Whig Senate of the United States in days when a Whig Senate was all we had to rely upon. On the contrary, the Whig Senators of those days, with Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster in perfect harmony at their head, went strongly for the right and for the duty of such limitations. Some of them, indeed, went very much further than this bill proposes to go, and declared themselves in favor of reversing the decision of 1789; but none of them, I believe, made any question that limitations of some kind might be, and ought to be, made.

The report under consideration concludes with a resolution " that the plan of an Exchequer, presented to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury at the last session, entitled “a bill, amendatory of the several acts establishing the Treasury department,' ought not to be adopted.” This resolution is immediately preceded by the remark, that the committee deem the plan to be

essentially defective, and incapable of any modification, at least without an amendment of the Constitution, that could justify its adoption.” I am told, however, that the resolution may be adopted without any reference to the report, and that it is not intended to reach beyond the precise bill which was furnished by the Secretary of the Treasury; and some of my colleagues and friends, from whom I do not differ materially in opinion, will vote for it, I am aware, with this understanding. But the common mind will not so construe the resolution. Nor does it seem reasonable, that we should be held to the precise provisions, phraseology, and punctuation of a particular bill, to which there has been no opportunity for amendment, and be compelled to declare affirmatively or negatively upon a resolution for its rejection. Why should such a resolution be pressed to a vote? Why not lay it on the table, as you do all other adverse reports? Why waste the time and temper of the House in discussing mere abstract opinions, instead of going into committee of the whole, and acting on the bill to which those opinions relate? I have no doubt, Sir, that the resolution was introduced into the House in a proper spirit, and with no unbecoming motives. I concur in no imputations on the Committee of Ways and Means. But there is not a little sensitiveness in many quarters, as to the movements of the present Congress upon this, and, indeed, upon every other subject. Every thing out of the common course, as this certainly is, will be imputed to sinister designs. Pass this resolution by an overwhelming vote, as I doubt not you will, if you insist on taking the vote in this form, and it will be regarded as an act of mere hostility to the Presi. dent, and of mere retaliation for his bank vetoes. It would be regarded as intended to stamp something of peculiar reproach and unaccustomed reprobation on this measure and its author. It will look as if you desired the triumph of holding up this bill to the scorn and derision of the country, and saying, - here is Mr. Tyler's and Mr. Webster's famous fiscal project, with hardly one man so poor as to do it reverence. Now, Sir, I am not dis.

a

upon us.”

posed to shrink from any just or necessary act of legislation, for fear of misconstruction, or to save appearances.

But on a mere amateur proceeding of this sort, I would give no vote which can be so misconstrued. “ A thousand false

eyes

are stuck Let us not again gratify their malicious gaze. Let us disappoint, for once, their eager search for subjects of mystification and perversion. For myself, Sir, as I have already intimated, if a vote is insisted upon, I shall vote against the resolution ; both because I am opposed to the policy and propriety of such a proceeding, and because I am unwilling to foreclose all direct consideration of the subject, and to cut myself off from voting for the whole or any part of the Exchequer plan, now or hereafter. I shall give such a vote with the less reluctance, from the consideration that, in differing from great numbers of my political friends, I shall differ from, perhaps, an equal number of my political opponents. There were no party lines on this resolution in committee, and it is plain that there will be none in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot feel justified in resigning the floor, as my hour has not quite yet expired, without alluding to a course of remark which has been persisted in, for some weeks past, in relation to the supposed author of this Exchequer plan. I am not here, sir, as the champion of the Secretary of State. Heaven help him, if he has not a more tried and trustworthy arm than mine to look to, if he shall ever require any other than his own! He will, doubtless, say amen to this aspiration ; for I have no idea that he will thank me for many of the remarks which I have already made, or for many of those which I am about to make. He is, indeed, one of my most distinguished constituents. I might appeal, however, to the gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. Marshall,) who counts among his constituents the great and gallant statesman of the West, to bear witness with me, that such a relation does not necessarily involve any thing of peculiar cordiality or confidence; though, certainly, it cannot imply any thing of the reverse. But, at any rate, holding, as I do, that great injustice has been done to Mr. Webster, on more than one occasion, by gentlemen who have gone out of their way to introduce his name into the debate, no fear, either of personal imputation or of political misconstruction, shall make me shrink from saying so. I should be unworthy of sitting here as the Representative of Faneuil Hall, and should hardly dare to look those who are accustomed to meet there in the face, were I to listen longer, without a word of protest, to the wholesale reproaches which have been cast upon one, who has so long been associated with their fortunes and their fame.

Sir, I was not at Faneuil Hall when Mr. Webster made the speech which has been the subject of such frequent allusion. I have read that speech, however, more than once; and, as I do not intend to be charged with any non-committal or concealment, I have no hesitation in saying that it contains many opinions which I deeply regret were ever expressed, and from which I entirely dissent. The idea, which seems to be implied in one part of the speech, that the Whigs of Massachusetts, in declaring "a full and final separation” from President Tyler, designed to commit themselves to an indiscriminate opposition to all the measures of his administration, good, bad, and indifferent, was certainly unwarranted by any thing which they had ever done at home, or which their representatives had ever done here. The opinion which seems to be conveyed in another part of the speech, that the Whig party in Congress deserved no particular credit for the recent passage of a protecting tariff; that, because twenty or thirty Whigs, in one branch or the other, voted against the tariff, and ten or a dozen of their opponents voted for it, while the great body of the Whigs had, from first to last, devoted their most strenuous efforts to its adoption, and the great body of the Van Buren party had labored incessantly to defeat and reject it; that, therefore, there was no party element in the proceeding, and no party credit for the result, was, to my mind, equally indesensible. It was confounding the rule and the exception, and placing both upon equal terms. The denial of the authority of the State Convention, also, to act upon matters which every Massachusetts Whig Convention, for ten years before, had been accustomed to act upon without qualification or question, was any thing but reasonable. But, Sir, there are other passages of this speech, upon which constructions have been put, which are utterly ungenerous and unjust. The idea, which has more than once been advanced in this House, that Mr. Webster's exclamation on that occasion,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ where do they mean to place me? where am I to fall ?” instead of being applied, as it was, simply and solely to his relations to the Whigs of Massachusetts, with whom he had stood so long on terms of confidence and respect, such as few other men ever before enjoyed — was an expression of a corrupt, base, unprincipled lust for office, or of an abject, craven, cringing fear of being turned out of office, is as unfounded as it is gross. It is wholly unsustained by the spirit or by the letter of the speech. The very next sentence to that in which these questions are contained, destroys all apology for such a construction. “If I choose to remain in the President's councils, do these gentlemen mean to say that I cease to be a Massachusetts Whig ?”. This is the sum and substance of both the interrogatories which have been rung through these balls with so much scorn, and which have formed the foundation of this infamous charge of servility and corruption. The question, as to the collectors, attorneys, postmasters and marshals, is fairly susceptible of no other interpretation. And so, also, with that in relation to my excellent and distinguished friend, (Mr. Everett,) the present Minister to England. The inquiry, as to all of them, was whether, by this full and final separation from Mr. Tyler, the Whigs of Massachusetts meant to say that they intended to discard and denounce so many of their eminent brother Whigs who then were holding office, unless they either resigned or were turned out. And this is the detestable doctrine” which has so disgraced Daniel Webster, and so desecrated Faneuil Hall! The questions may all have been uncalled for; but if they imply a love for any thing, it is a love of party and not of place; if a fear of any thing, it is a fear of being abandoned by friends, rather than of being turned out of office.

Sir, it would have been better, far better, for all concerned, if this little family jar in Massachusetts had not been meddled with by strangers, and if the parties to it had been left to scold it out among themselves. But I utterly protest against such an exaggeration of its details and history, and such a misrepresentation of the language which was used on the occasion. As to Mr. Webster's love of office, there is no evidence that this love is stronger in him than in many other gentlemen who are justly esteemed and honored in the land. He retained office, indeed,

« AnteriorContinuar »