Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

did so.

when other gentlemen, his colleagues in the cabinet, retired. But there was as little reason in charging him with having held on to his commission from the mere love of office, as there would be in charging them with having resigned for the mere hate of office. These gentlemen, for whom I have always entertained and expressed the highest possible regard and respect, felt that it was due to their own honor to withdraw from the cabinet. They

And, though there were some of their friends who would have preferred that they should have remained, and put the President to his removing power, if he desired to get rid of them, yet all, all, acquiesced in their decision, and in their own right to make that decision for themselves. Mr. Webster, on the contrary, felt it consistent with his honor to stay, and carry on that great work of negotiation with Great Britain, upon which he had just entered. My venerable colleague (Mr. Adams) has recently told his constituents and the country that he advised him to stay, at least until that negotiation was concluded. * Thinking I was in a post where I was in the service of the country,” says Mr. Webster, himself, in this Faneuil Hall speech, 6 and could do it good, I staid there. I leave it to you, to-day, to say, I leave it to my country to say, whether the country would have been better off if I had left also. I have no attachment to office. I have tasted of its sweets, but I have tasted of its bitterness. I am content with what I have achieved; I am more ready to rest satisfied with what is gained than to run the risk of doubtful efforts for new acquisitions." Who doubts, Sir, that Mr. Webster has tasted of the bitterness of office as well as of its sweets? Who doubts that he has had his perplexities and provocations, during the political hurly-burly of the last two years, as well as we ours? And who denies that, amid them all, he has discharged the peculiar and most responsible duties of his post, with unsurpassed ability and success? He has ren. dered great services to his country, — services which will prevent the present administration, unfortunate and odious as it may have been in many respects, from being quite so mere a parenthesis on the page of history as was at one time suggested. The treaty of Washington can never be passed over, in the future perusal of our annals, “ without destroying the sense.” It

may not catch the eye of the cursory reader, indeed, so quickly, as if it were written in letters of blood; nor may it occupy so large a space as the dread alternative it has averted; but it will be inscribed in characters which will rivet, as with a charm, the attention and admiration of every thoughtful patriot and every true philanthropist, and which will continually acquire fresh lustre with the advancing progress of civilization and Christianity. The light which flashes from the sword of the successful warrior

may dazzle for a day, or even for an age; but a far more enduring radiance will encircle the names of those who have reconciled the proud and angry spirits of two mighty nations, and have honorably secured for them both the unspeakable blessing of Peace.

Mr. Webster has been charged with great and glaring inconsistencies on the subject of the currency and the Constitution; and this Exchequer project is declared to be in direct contradiction to the doctrines of his whole previous political life. Now, Sir, I am not going to argue this point. I have no idea that I could argue it to anybody's satisfaction, if I should try. I will not pretend to say that this plan does not, in my own opinion, contain provisions which Mr. Webster has opposed and condemned in other connections, and under other circumstances. But this I will say, that the great and leading idea of almost all his speeches against the Sub-Treasury system was, that it was an entire abandonment of the power and duty of the General Government to regulate the currency and the exchanges. Wherever he addressed the people, in Wall street or in State street, at Saratoga or at Bunker Hill, this was the burden of his argument. And, so far as this argument is concerned, he is entirely consistent in advocating the Exchequer plan. But if it were not so, Mr. Speaker, I confess that I have yet to see evidence that, when arraigned, in reference to this project, on the mere score of consistency, Mr. Webster might not avail himself of the answer of an Athenian orator on a similar occasion, and say, “ I may have acted contrary to myself, but I have not acted contrary to the Republic.” The merits of this measure, if it has any, are certainly independent of any man's consistency. It has been devised under circumstances unlike any which ever

existed before in the history of this country, and unlike, as I heartily hope, any which will ever exist again. It has been brought forward, as I believe, in good faith, and with an honest purpose for the public welfare. If any part of it, or if the whole of it, be regarded as unwise, inexpedient, or unsafe, by this House or by the country; if it be really "the terrible machine" which the report declares it to be, which would "overwhelm the Treasury with bankruptcy, corrupt the government, and lay a foundation for the most dangerous political favoritism and universal corruption ;” and if it be really “incapable of any modification which would justify its adoption;" — let it be rejected. These opinions of the committee, however, as I have before suggested, appear to me exceedingly extravagant. I have seen no occasion for such a hue-and-cry against the plan, nor for such reproaches upon its author; and I have accordingly felt bound to say so, in utter disregard of any imputations to which such a course may subject me.

THE

CREDIT OF MASSACHUSETTS VINDICATEI).

A SPEECH DELIVERED AT FANEUIL HALL, AT A MEETING OF THE WHIGS

OF BOSTON, OCTOBER 12, 1843.

It is a pleasant sight, Mr. Chairman, to see the Whigs of Boston once more assembled in such good numbers, and in such good spirits, to consult together for the renewed vindication of their long-cherished principles. It is grateful to reflect, too, that there is so much in the circumstances and signs of the times to justify the animation which seems to pervade this meeting. The tidings which have come to us during the past week, from our friends in other parts of the country, are certainly of the most encouraging and cheering character. They have come upon us with something of the suddenness of an electric shock; and as the spark has coursed along our veins, and vibrated upon our heart-strings, we have felt a fresh assurance that the bonds which have so long united the Whigs of the Union as brethren, are not

I trust that these tidings will have an influence beyond this hour and beyond these walls. I trust that the great principles of the Whig party will be commended anew to the consideration of every citizen in the Commonwealth ; that they will be pondered afresh and more deeply than ever before, in the field and in the counting-room, over the plough and over the spindle and at the fireside, in view of every thing that concerns the business or comes home to the hearts of the people; and that the second Monday of November will find not only city responding to city, Boston to Baltimore, - but State answering to State, Massachusetts giving assurance to Maryland and to Georgia, that in the North and East, as well as in the South

yet broken.

and centre, the old Whig watch-fires are once more kindledthe old Whig spirit once more roused!

The resolutions which have just been read, relate almost exclusively to the politics of Massachusetts; and it has been thought best, by those who have been selected to conduct the affairs of the Whig party during the present year, and to whose peculiar province it belongs to draw up the plan of our annual campaign, that the contest for which we are assembled to prepare, should be conducted mainly with reference to the administration of our own Commonwealth. There is a great and manifest propriety in this course. It is a plan of proceeding entirely reasonable and eminently seasonable. The present year affords us a peculiarly fit and favorable opportunity for attending to the affairs of our own Commonwealth, and one which may not soon occur again. The approaching election is exclusively a State election. In some few of the districts, it is true, the people will be called on to make fresh trials for the election of Representatives in Congress, owing to their unfortunate failures to effect a choice at the regular period. But here, certainly, — and I may take occasion to express my deep gratitude for any thing of personal confidence or kindness which may in any humble degree have contributed to the result, — here we have no such failures to retrieve. The Whigs of Boston may sometimes be reproached for not making their majority large enough to counterbalance the minorities of their neighbors, in the general returns of the State, –a reproach which I trust they will not subject themselves to again this year, - but they rarely fail to do up their own work fairly and fully on the regular day. In Boston, therefore, and in this part of the Commonwealth generally, the people will be called on, at the ensuing election, to vote exclusively for State officers. Next year, as I need hardly remind you, we shall enjoy no such unmixed opportunity of expressing our minds as to the administration of our State affairs. Next year, the great quadrennial contest of the Presidency will be upon us. I will not anticipate its arrival. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." But this I may safely predict of it, — that it will come back to us under circumstances which inore, even, than ever before, will absorb all our thoughts and engross our whole attention.

There will be no chance for looking after local politics, in the

« AnteriorContinuar »