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have, it is true, prostrated her interests, and will soon involve the whole South in irretrievable ruin.
But even this evil, great as it is, is not the chief 110 ground of our complaints. It is the principle involved in the contest – a principle, which, substituting the discretion of Congress for the limitations of the Constitution, brings the States and the people to the feet of the federal government, and leaves them nothing 115 they can call their own. Sir, if the measures of the federal government were less oppressive, we should still strive against this usurpation.
The South is acting on a principle she has always held sacred — resistance to unauthorized taxation. 120 These, sir, are the principles which induced the immortal Hampdenb to resist the payment of a tax of twenty shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined his fortune? No! but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle on which it was demanded, 125 would have made him a slave. Sir, if in acting on these high motives — if animated by that ardent love of liberty which has always been the most prominent trait in the Southern character - we should be hurried beyond the bounds of a cold and calculating 130 prudence, who is there, with one noble and generous sentiment in his bosom, that would not be disposed, in the language of Burke, to exclaim, “You must pardon something to the spirit of liberty!"
ROBERT YOUNG HAYNE.
1 Irretrievable, beyond remedy.
QUESTIONS FOR STUDY
For what is Hayne arguing? What are his chief arguments against federal control of the States?
Explain the references (a), page 532, and (b), page 535.
“It is perhaps impossible to decide which orator of ancient and modern times has been in all respects the greatest of all.
“ After making all allowances, however, it is at least highly probable that Webster, when he made that speech in reply to Hayne, was, then and there, the greatest of all orators living and dead.”
Webster was born at Salisbury, New Hampshire, on January 18, 1782. He got his earliest instruction from his mother, and his family, by rigid economy, were able to send him to Exeter Academy and Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1801. As a boy he had found it difficult to “speak pieces” in school; and it was not until he made a Fourth of July oration in Dartmouth that any one supposed he had the possibility of oratory in him.
In 1813 he was elected to Congress; in 1827, to the United States Senate. In 1841 he was appointed Secretary of State, and was again elected to the Senate in 1845. Five years later he again became Secretary of State. He died at Mansfield, Massachusetts, October 24, 1852.
The manner in which the debate between Webster and Hayne arose has often been told. A resolution of inquiry as to sales and surveys of Western lands had called into question the interpretation of the Constitution on the point of the limits of State sovereignty; and Webster's speech, replying to Hayne's contention that the State was all powerful in matters concerning itself, maintained the supreme rule of the Union. Hayne's speech had been so clever that it was doubted whether an effective rejoinder could be made. There was an immense concourse of people to hear the speech, the importance of which, indeed, could hardly be exaggerated.
WEBSTER'S REPLY TO HAYNE
In the speech from which the following is taken, Mr. Webster replies to the argument of Hayne. He speaks for the country as a whole as opposed to the independence of each State, advocated by Mr. Hayne. The two orators were doubtless equally sincere.
The people, sir, erected this government. They gave it a constitution, and in that constitution they have enumerated the powers which they bestow upon it. They have made it a limited government. They have defined its authority. They have re-5 strained it to the exercise of such powers as are granted; and all others, they declare, are reserved to the States, or the people. But, sir, they have not stopped here. If they had, they would have accomplished but half their work. No definition 10 can be so clear as to avoid possibility of doubt; no limitation so precise, as to exclude all uncertainty. Who, then, shall construe this grant of the people ? Who shall interpret their will, where it may be supposed they have left it doubtful ? With whom do 15 they repose this ultimate 1 right of deciding on the powers of the government ? Sir, they have settled all this in the fullest manner. They have left it, with the government itself, in its appropriate branches. Sir, the very chief end, the main design, 20 for which the whole Constitution was framed and adopted, was to establish a government that should not be obliged to act through State Agency, or depend on State opinion and State discretion. The people had had quite enough of that kind of govern- 25
1 Ultimate, final.