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Constitutional Records of Congress, in order to appease the wrath and conciliate the countenance of censured sovereignty and that we ought not to waste them upon such paltry matters as the prosperity and property of the whole people ; — but now, Sir, that this remonstrance is destined to reach Congress, as no one can doubt it is, I cannot believe that they will deny their assent to its principles, or their vote to its passage.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WHIGS OF NEW YORK.
A SPEECH DELIVERED AT MASONIC HALL, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 22, 1837.
MR. MAYOR AND GENTLEMEN, –
I STAND before you as the organ of a delegation from the Whigs of Boston, to offer you their congratulations on the event which has given occasion to this festival. I might well wish, with the gentleman from Rhode Island, who has just taken his seat. and much better wish it than he now could, since he has already performed his own part so honorably — that this duty had fallen upon stronger shoulders. Pressed into the service, as I
was, at short notice, and with no opportunity for preparation at home, and tossed upon the Sound, as I have been until within an hour past, ever since I left home, with no source of inspiration at hand but the fog through which we were groping, I feel myself no fit representative either of those who have sent me here, or of those by whom I am accompanied. Much less do I feel competent to answer the expectations, or to do justice to the deserts, of those whom I address. But I have at least this consolation, Sir,—that, a thousand times better qualified for the position which I have the honor to hold, as are many of those whom we have left behind us, and many too, let me add, of those whom we have brought with us, no one, no one of them all, whether present or absent, could do entire and perfect justice to this occasion. Human language is adapted to the description of ordinary events, and to the expression of ordinary emotions. But its strongest terms seem weak, and its choicest phrases sound common, and its warmest figures fall cold and frozen from our lips, when we are called upon to deal with an
event of such startling character, of such momentous consequence, as that which you are assembled to celebrate. And that tongue has never found a place in mortal mouth, that voice has never vibrated on earthly air, that language has never been reduced within the compass of human sounds or human signs, which can express, with any approach to justice, the triumphant thrill of joy which that event produced in the bosom of every Boston Whig. In the name of every Boston Whig, then, I congratulate you on its occurrence, and from the bottom of all their hearts, I thank you for the exertions by which it was brought about.
What is that event, Sir? Is it the election of a handful of Whig Senators or a hundred of Whig Representatives to the Legislature of New York? What possible interest could the Whigs of Boston have in such a result? The jurisdiction of those magistrates could never extend, either for good or for evil, one inch beyond the boundaries of your own Commonwealth ;no, Sir, not even were they to stretch and strain their prerogative to the full dimensions and stature of the most approved democratic standards. Is it the mere success of a few thousand political friends, and the consequent defeat of a few thousand political foes? Why, Sir, such things have happened before since the world was made, and, thank Heaven, they have been getting to be pretty frequent within the last few months. But though the Whigs of Boston have always been rejoiced to hear of them, they have never regarded it as altogether indispensable, or, indeed, as anywise important, to despatch an embassy hundreds of miles over sea and land to say so. Is it the downright rejection and reprobation by a great majority of that very people who, above all others, were relied on for its approbation and adoption, of a financial policy which has already brought embarrassment and bankruptcy upon half the country, and which seemed destined in its further progress and final consummation to crush every energy and cripple every industry it had hitherto spared ? Not even this definition, Sir, just and true as it is as far as it
goes, conveys any adequate idea of the event, which, in the eyes of the Whigs of Boston, you are now engaged in celebrating. Embarrassment and bankruptcy, indeed, we have all seen and
suffered enough of. The people for whom I speak, have not merely sympathized with them elsewhere; they have shared them at home.
And their share, you well know, Sir, has been neither light nor inconsiderable. But had it been ten times greater than it was, had it pleased Heaven to steep them in poverty to the very lips, so it had really been the work of Heaven, so it had resulted from their own rashness or mismanagement, so no wilful and wanton act of authority in other men had produced it, so any advantage, so even no detriment, were thereby accruing to the Republic and its liberties, they would have borne it all, and more than all, patiently and cheerfully. Massachusetts Whigs have learned of their Pilgrim Fathers to murmur at no dispensation of an overruling Providence. And they have learned, too, of their Patriot Fathers, neither to gainsay nor to grudge any amount of costs and charges which the maintenance of their rights and liberties may require; and that, Sir, whether payment be demanded in gold and silver, or whether it may only be rendered in the harder coinage of their hearts, or in the purer currency of their blood.
It is then, Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen, in no spirit of mere party triumph; it is with no feeling of mere pecuniary relief; it is not to make merry with victorious friends; it is not- certainly, certainly, it is not — to exult over vanquished enemies; nor is it only to testify our exceeding joy that the rash and ruinous policy of the national administration has received a blow from which it can never rise, and never in any degree recover, that we have come all the way from Faneuil Hall to offer you our hands, and to open to you our hearts on this occasion. The Whigs of Boston have felt that something more than all this has been accomplished; that something more worthy of the illuminations and bonfires and bell-ringings, and all the signs and modes and shows of a people's joy, to which this whole day and this whole City is devoted, has been achieved. We have come, Sir, to congratulate you on a Constitution restored to supremacy, on the interests of a whole people redeemed from oppression, on the rights of a whole people rescued from overthrow, on this great and glorious Republic, with all its appurtenances and all its attributes, checked, arrested, stopped — I do not say on the brink, but — midway down the steep of a fatal chasm, and raised up and replaced in safety on that old straightforward, constitutional, track of Liberty and Law, for which alone it was first constructed, and along which it has run with unmatched speed for more than forty years !
Such, Sir, it has seemed to us, is the event you this day celebrate. Such and so great — if New York be but true to herself hereafter, and who shall dare to suggest that she will ever again be false ? —such and so great will be the results of her late unexampled achievement.
Sir, this is neither the time nor the place for an argument. But no argument can be needed to sustain any thing that is expressed or any thing that is implied in the view we have taken of your victory. We all know that not only the prosperity, but the liberty of this country has, for eight years past, been overshadowed by an arbitrary and despotic power, and the rights of the people trampled in the dust by the iron heel of a usurping military favorite. We have all heard the will of one man proclaimed absolute throughout the land. We have all seen that single will guiding, governing, controlling, every thing, vetoing laws proposed, nullifying laws passed, dictating the proceedings of one branch of the legislature, expunging the records of the other, overleaping treaty obligations, denying the validity of judicial decisions, defying the very precepts of the Constitution, crushing old institutions, creating new institutions, remov. ing everybody that could in any way be removed, appointing everybody that was in any way to be appointed, yes, Sir, up even to the successor to that exalted station, which, fortunately for the nation, it could itself no longer hold, as the vantageground of its own unsatiated dominion.
And that successor - what have we seen or known of him? I will not speak of him as a man. I will say nothing of his political character or personal qualities. I leave all these consi. derations to New York justice — to the justice of those who have seen him most, and who know him best — to that justice of which the venerable gentleman from Dutchess County has already given us a fair sample, if not a full measure. But what has he done as President of this Republic? What has he promised, pro