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THE CITY OF WASHINGTON.
A SPEECH MADE AT A COMPLIMENTARY DINNER GIVEN BY CITIZENS OF
WASHINGTON TO MEMBERS OF THE THIRTIETH CONGRESS, DECEMBER 20, 1848.
[In reply to the following toast, proposed by the Honorable W. W. Seaton, Mayor of the City, — "The Thirtieth Congress : Honor and harmony to its counsels ; - happiness and prosperity to its members."]
I Am greatly honored, Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen, in being called on to respond, in the presence of so many older and abler public servants, to the sentiment just proposed. I thank you, personally, for the privilege of participating in these agreeable festivities; and I thank you, officially, for the compliment which you
have offered to the two branches of the National Legislature. I am sincerely glad that this thirtieth Congress of the United States, however distinguished or undistinguished it may have been in other respects, has been prompted to do so much that is liberal and acceptable for the District of Columbia. You are very little indebted for these appropriations to one, who, under all ordinary circumstances of legislation, is deprived both of voice and vote; but I can truly say that there are no appropriations to which I have affixed that attesting signature, which is all that is left to me, with a truer satisfaction.
I do not know, however, that members of Congress are entitled to any very high commendation for their liberality to this District. It is a liberality which costs them nothing. They can afford to be generous — they can certainly afford to be just - with other people's money; and more especially when it comes to them in such ample streams as now, under the auspices of the honorable Secretary at your side, (Hon. R. J. Walker.) They have, moreover, the strongest personal interest in promoting the welfare and prosperity of this particular part of the District. The presence of the distinguished Senator from Missouri (Mr. Benton) reminds us, that to many of them this city is their home for no inconsiderable part of their lives. And many more of them, we know, would be glad to make it their home for a much longer period than they do, if they could only succeed in securing the unbroken confidence and support of their constituents, as he has done, for a term of thirty years. Not a few of us live here, and not a few of us, I am sorry to say, die here. We partake of all your advantages and of all your disadvantages. If your streets are rough and out of repair, our bones are shaken, as well as yours, and our necks are liable to be broken. If they are badly lighted at night, we are as likely as you to stumble and fall into the ditch. And if you have no good schools, our children, as well as your own, may be deprived of a seasonable and satisfactory education.
But apart altogether, Mr. Mayor, from any selfish considerations of this sort, we all ought to take a pride, and I trust that we all do take a pride, as Americans and as patriots, in the prosperity and welfare of the capital of the Republic. Most heartily do I respond to the sentiment expressed by the Secretary of the Treasury, in his letter, published this morning, communicating to Congress the annual report of the Land Office, and in which the patronage of the National Government is invoked for the public schools of this District. Most cordially do I concur with him in the idea which he suggests, that this city should be made a fit representative of the civilization and refinement and true greatness of our country. It already, perhaps, furnishes a pretty fair sample of the country in one respect. As a city of “magnificent distances,” it admirably illustrates the almost immeasurable extents over which the Republic is so rapidly reaching. But it should portray in miniature something of what our country ought to be, and of what, by the blessing of God, it is to be, morally as well as physically. Its arts and sciences, its literature and learning, should have their emblems and illustrations here. Here should be the model schools, the model charities, the model libraries, the model prisons of our land; the model institutions of every sort, for education, benevolence, reformation, and government. Whatever American architecture can do, should be exhibited in our public buildings. Whatever American painting and sculpture can do, should be displayed in commemorating here the great deeds and the great men of our history.
This, Sir, was evidently the spirit in which your city was originally laid out and founded by the Father of his Country and his illustrious compeers. We see it in the length and breadth of your avenues, in the noble squares which they reserved for public purposes, and in the fine proportions and ample dimen. sions of the Capitol and the Executive Mansion. We know it, too, from their own predictions. They looked forward to the time when this city should be a kind of American Zion,- beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, - to which all the tribes should annually come up, and find fresh impulses to patriotism, and fresh incentives to Union, in the beauty and grandeur of a common temple. They looked forward to the day, when all men should find here a City worthy of the great objects to which it has been dedicated, and not altogether unworthy of the incomparable name by which it has been called.
We all rejoice, I am sure, in witnessing some first approaches to a realization of this idea, in the improvements which have marked your progress during a few years past, — in the erection of a National Observatory, in the foundation of a National Museum, in the commencement of a National Monument, and in the establishment of the National and the Smithsonian Institutes. I cannot name the Smithsonian Institute, however, without expressing the hope that, if the capital of this Republic is ever to be the seat of a great institution of learning and science, – if this long-cherished wish of Washington is at length to be accomplished - it may not be wholly owing to the dying bequest of a munificent foreigner. I have no objection to the importation of a little foreign patronage for such an object, but I trust that even the Secretary of the Treasury himself, will regard it as a venial violation of his free-trade principles, if I advocate the encouragement of the domestic article also.
Once more let me thank you, Sir, in the name of the members of Congress around me, for the hospitalities of this occa
sion, and for the many other hospitalities and kindnesses, public and private, which we have all received at your hands in time past; and let me relieve your patience, without further delay, by proposing to the company as a sentiment,
"The City of Washington, and its accomplished and excellent Mayor, Mr. Seaton."
REPLY TO A VOTE OF THANKS.
A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
UNITED STATES, ON THE FINAL ADJOURNMENT OF THE THIRTIETE CONGRESS, MARCII, 4, 1849.
GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, –
The hour has arrived which terminates our relations to the country, and our relations to each other, as members of the Thirtieth Congress; and you have already pronounced the word which puts an end at once to my vocation and to your own.
But neither the usage of the occasion, nor my own feelings will allow me to leave the Chair, without a word of acknow. ledgment, and a word of farewell, to those with whom I have been so long associated, and by whom I have been so highly honored.
Certainly, gentlemen, I should subject myself to a charge of great ingratitude, were I not to thank you for the Resolution in reference to my official services, which you have placed upon the records within a few hours past.
Such a resolution, I need not say, is the most precious testimonial which any presiding officer can receive, and affords the richest remuneration for any labors which it may have cost.
It did not require, however, this formal tribute at your hands, to furnish me with an occasion of grateful acknowledgment to you all. I am deeply sensible, that no intentions, however honest, and no efforts, however earnest, could have carried me safely and successfully through with the duties which have been imposed upon me, had I not been seconded and sustained, from first to last, by your kind coöperation and friendly forbearance.
I beg you, then, to receive my most hearty thanks, not merely for so generous an appreciation of my services, but for the uni