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MR. PRESIDENT, I rise to ask leave to introduce a bill to appropriate, for a limited time, the pro'ceeds of the sales of the public lands of the United States, and for granting lands to certain States. Sir, I have ever regarded with feelings of the profoundest regret the decision which the President of the United States felt himself induced to make on the bill of 1833. If that bill had passed, about twenty millions of dollars would have been, during the last three years, in the hands of the several States, applicable by them to the beneficent purposes of internal improvement, education, or colonization. What immense benefits might not have been diffused throughout the land by the active employment of that large sum ! What new channels of commerce and communication might not have been opened ! What industry stimulated, what labor rewarded! How many youthful minds might have received the blessings of education and knowledge, and been rescued from ignorance, vice, and ruin ! How many descendants of Africa might have been transported from a country where they never can enjoy political or social equality, to the native land of their fathers, where no impediment exists to their attainment of the highest degree of elevation, intellectual, social, and political — where they might have been successful instruments, in the hands of God, to spread the religion of his Son, and to lay the foundation of civil liberty!
But, although we have lost three precious years, the Secretary of the Treasury tells us that the principal of this vast sum is yet safe; and much good may still be achieved with it. The spirit of improvement pervades the land in every variety of form, active, vigorous, and enterprising, wanting pecuniary aid as well as intelligent direction. The States are strengthening the Union by various lines of communication thrown across and through the mountains. As the general government withholds all direct agency from these truly national works, and from all new objects of internal improvement, ought it not to yield to the States, what is their own, the amount received from the public lands? It would thus but execute faithfully a trust expressly created by the original deeds of cession, or resulting from the treaties of acquisition. With this ample resource, every desirable object of improvement, in every part of our extensive country, may in due time be accomplished.' Placing this exhaustless fund in the hands of the several members of the confederacy, their common federal head may address them in the glowing language of the British bard, and
THE PERMANENCE OF AMERICAN LIBERTY.
“ Bid harbors open, public ways extend,
Bid temples worthier of our God ascend.
XVIII. — THE PERMANENCE OF AMERICAN LIBERTY.
The election of a chief magistrate by the mass of the people of an extensive community was, to the most enlightened nations of antiquity, a political impossibility. Destitute of the art of printing, they could not have introduced the representative principle into their political systems, even if they had understood it. In the very nature of things, that principle can only be coëxtensive with popular intelligence. In this respect, the art of printing, more than any invention since the creation of man, is destined to change and elevate the political condition of society. It has given a new impulse to the energies of the human mind, and opens new and brilliant destinies to modern republics, which were utterly unattainable by the ancients.
The existence of a country population, scattered over a vast extent of territory, as intelligent as the population of the cities, is a phenomenon which was utterly and necessarily unknown to the free states of antiquity. All the intelligence which controlled the destiny and upheld the dominion of republican Rome was confined to the walls of the great city. Even when her dominion extended beyond Italy to the utmost known limits of the inhabited world, the city was the exclusive seat both of intelligence and empire. Without the art of printing, and the consequent advantages of a free press, that habitual and incessant action of mind upon mind, which is essential to all human improvement, could no more exist among a numerous and scattered population, than the commerce of disconnected continents could traverse the ocean without the art of navigation.
Here, then, is the source of our superiority, and our just pride as a nation. The statesmen of the remotest extremes of the Union can converse together, like the philosophers of Athens in the same portico, or the politicians of Rome in the same forum. Distance is overcome, and the citizens of Georgia and of Maine can be brought to coöperate in the same great object, with as perfect a community of views and feelings as actuated the tribes of Rome in the assemblies of the people. It is obvious that liberty has a more extensive and durable foundation in the United States By the
than it ever has had in any other age or country.
representative principle, — a principle unknown and impracticable among the ancients, the whole mass of society is brought to operate in constraining the action of power, and in the conservation of public liberty.
XIX. - OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. SIR, I propose to hold a plain talk to-day; and I say that, according to my best judgment, the object of this bill is patronage, office, the gratification of friends. This very measure for raising ten regiments creates four or five hundred officers, colonels, subalterns; and not them only, — for all these I feel some respect, but there are also paymasters, contractors, persons engaged in the transportation service, commissaries, even down to sutlers, et id omne genus, people who handle the public money without facing the foe, one and all of whom are true descendants, or, if not, true representatives of Ancient Pistol, who said,
" I shall sutler be Unto the camp, and profits will accrue.” Sir, I hope, with no disrespect for the applicants and the aspirants, and the patriots (and among them are some sincere patriots) who would fighử for their country, and those others who are not ready to fight, but who are willing to be paid, — with due respect for all of them according to their several degrees and their merits, I hope they will all be disappointed. I hope that, as the pleasant season advances, the whole may find it for their interest to place themselves, of mild mornings, in the cars, and take their destination to their respective places of honorable private occupation and of civil employment. They have my good wishes that they may find the way to their homes from the Avenue and the Capitol, and from the purlieus of the President's house, in good health themselves, and that they may find their families all very happy to receive them.
But, sir, to speak more seriously, this war was waged for the object of creating new States on the southern frontier of the United States out of Mexican territory, and with such population as could be found resident thereupon. I have opposed this object. I am against all accessions of territory to form new States. And this is no matter of sentimentality, which I am to parade before mass-meetings or before my constituents at home. It is not a matter with me of declamation or of regret, or of expressed repugnance. It is a matter of firm, unchangeable purpose. I
UNJUST NATIONAL ACQUISITIONS.
yield nothing to the force of circumstances that have occurred, or that I can consider as likely to occur.
And therefore I say, sir, that if I were asked to-day whether, for the sake of peace,
I would take a treaty for adding two new States to the Union on our southern border, I would say No!— distinctly, No! And I wish every man in the United States to understand that to be
my judgment and my purpose.
I said upon our southern border, because the present proposition takes that locality. I would say the same of the western the north-eastern, or of any other border. I resist to-day, and for ever, and to the end, any proposition to add any foreign territory, south or west, north or east, to the States of this Union as they are constituted and held together under the constitution. Sir, I see well enough all the adverse indications. But I am sustained by a deep and a conscientious sense of duty; and while supported by that feeling, and while such great interests are at stake, I defy auguries, and ask
my country's cause!
- UNJUST NATIONAL ACQUISITIONS.
MR. PRESIDENT, the uneasy desire to augment our territory has depraved the moral sense and blighted the otherwise keen sagacity of our people. Sad, very sad, are the lessons which Time has written for us. Through and in them all I see nothing but the inflexible execution of that old law which ordains, as eternal, the cardinal rule, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods, nor any thing which is his. Since I have lately heard so much about the dismemberment of Mexico, I have looked back to see how, in the course of events, which some call “ Providence,” it has fared with other nations who engaged in this work of dismemberment.
I see that in the latter half of the eighteenth century, three powerful nations, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, united in the dismemberment of Poland. They said, too, as you say, “It is our destiny.” They “wanted room.” Doubtless each of these thought, with his share of Poland, his power was too strong ever to fear invasion, or even insult. (One had his California, another his New Mexico, and the third his Vera Cruz. Did they remain untouched and incapable of harm? Alas!
-far, very far, from it. Retrib'utive justice must fulfill its destiny too. A very few years pass off, and we hear of a new man, a Corsican lieutenant, the self-named “armed soldier of
Democracy," Napoleon. He ravages Austria, covers her land with blood, drives the Northern Cæsar from his capital, and sleeps in his palace. Austria may now remember how her power trampled upon Poland. Did she not pay dear, very dear, for her California ?
But has Prussia no atonement to make ? You see this same Napoleon, the blind instrument of Providence, at work there. The thunders of his cannon at Jena * proclaim the work of retribution for Poland's wrongs; and the successors of the Great Frederick, the drill-sergeant of Europe, are seen flying across the sandy plains that surround their capital, right glad if they may escape captivity and death. But how fares it with the Autocrat of Russia ?
Is he secure in his share of the spoils of Poland ? No. Suddenly we see, sir, six hundred thousand armed men marching to Moscow. Does his Vera Cruz protect him now ? Far from it. Blood, slaughter, desolation, spread abroad over the land ; and, finally, the conflagration of the old commercial metropolis of Russia closes the retribution : she must pay for her share in the dismemberment of her impotent neighbor.
MR. PRESIDENT, a mind more prone to look for the judgments of Heaven in the doings of men than mine can not fail, in all unjust acquisitions of territory, to see the providence of God. When Moscow burned, it seemed as if the earth was lighted up, that the nations might behold the scene. As that mighty sea of fire gathered and heaved and rolled upward, and yet higher, till its flames licked the stars, and fired the whole heavens, it did seem as though the God of the nations was writing, in characters of flame, on the front of His throne, that doom that shall fall upon the strong nation which tramples in scorn upon the weak.
And what fortune awaits him, the appointed executor of this, work, when it was all done? He, too, conceived the notion that his destiny pointed onward to universal dominion. France was too small, - Europe he thought should bow down before him. But as soon as this idea takes possession of his soul, he too becomes powerless. His Terminus must recede too. Right there, while he witnessed the humiliation, and, doubtless, meditated the subjugation of Russia, He who holds the winds in His fist, gathered the snows of the North, and blew them upon his
* Pronounced Ya'na.