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A HIGHWAY TO THE PACIFIC.
six hundred thousand men. They fled, they froze, — they per-2. ished.
And now the mighty Napoleon, who had resolved on universal dominion, he, too, is summoned to answer for the violation of that ancient law, “Thou shalt not covet any thing which is thy neighbor's. How is the mighty fallen! He, beneath whose proud footstep Europe trembled, he is now an exile at Elba, and now, finally, a prisoner on the rock of St. Helena,
and there, on a barren island, in an unfrequented sea, in the crater of an extinguished volcano, there is the death-bed of the mighty conqueror. All his annexations have come to that! His last hour is now at hand; and he, the man of destiny, he who had rocked 3. the world as with the throes of an earthquake, is now powerless, still, -even as the beggar, so he died.
On the wings of a tempest that raged with unwonted fury, up to the throne of the only Power that controlled him while he lived, went the fiery soul of that wonderful warrior, another witness to the existence of that eternal decree, that they who do not rule in righteousness shall perish from the earth. He has found room,” at last.
And France, she too has found “ Her eagles” now no longer scream along the banks of the Danube, the Po, and the Borys'thenes. They have returned home, to their old aërie, between the Alps, the Rhine, and the Pyrenees.
So shall it be with yours. You may carry them to the loftiest peaks of the Cordilleras; they may wave, with insolent triumph, in the halls of the Montezumas; the armed men of Mexico may quail before them: but the weakest hand in Mexico, uplifted in prayer to the God of Justice, may call down against you a Power in the presence of which the iron hearts of your warriors shall be turned into ashes !
XXI. - $ HIGHWAY TO THE PACIFIC. MR. PRESIDENT, I go for a national highway from the Mississippi to the Pacific. And I go against all schemes of individuals or of companies, and especially those who come here and ask of the Congress of the United States to give themselves and their assigns the means of making a road and taxing the people for the use of it. If they should make it, they are to tax us for the use of it - tax the people eight or ten millions a year for using the road which their own money built. A fine scheme, that! But they would never build it, neither themselves nor their assigns. It would all end in stockjobbing. I repudiate the whole idea, sir. I go for a national highway — 10 stockjobbing.
We find all the localities of the country precisely such as a national central road would require. The bay of San Francisco, the finest in the world, is in the center of the western coast of North America ; it is central, and without a rival. It will accommodate the commerce of that coast, both north and south, up to the frozen regions, and down to the torrid zone. It is central in that respect. The commerce of the broad Pacific Ocean will center there. The commerce of Asia will center there. Follow the same latitude across the country, and it strikes the center of the valley of the Mississippi. It strikes the Mississippi near the confluence of all the great waters which concen’trate in the valley of the Mississippi. It comes to the center of the valley. It comes to St. Louis. Follow the prolongation of that central line, and you find it cutting the heart of the great States between the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, a part of Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, — they are all traversed or touched by that great central line.
We own the country, from sea to sea, - from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and upon a breadth equal to the length of the Mississippi, and embracing the whole temperate zone. Three thousand miles across, and half that breadth, is the magnificent parallelogram of our domain. We can run a national central road through and through the whole distance, under our flag and under our laws. Military reasons require us to make it ; for troops and munitions must go there. Political reasons require us to make it; it will be a chain of union between the Atlantic and Pacific States. Commercial reasons demand it from us; and here I touch a boundless field, dazzling and bewildering the imagination from its vastness and importance. The trade of the Pacific Ocean, of the western coast of North America, and of eastern Asia, will all take its track; and not only for ourselves, but for posterity.
Sir, in no instance has the great Asiatic trade failed to carry the nation or the people which possessed it to the highest pinnacle of wealth and power, and with it to the highest attainments of letters, art, and science. And so will it continue to be. An American road to India, through the heart of our country, will
its line all the wonders of which we have read, and eclipse them. The western wilderness, from the Pacific to the Mississippi, will spring into life under its touch. A long line of cities will grow up. Existing cities will
take a new start. The state of the world calls for a new road to India, and it is our destiny to give it — the last and greatest. Let us act up to the great
THE CAPITOL OR THE CONSTITUTION.
ness of the occasion, and show ourselves worthy of the extraordinary circumstances in which we are placed, by securing while we can an American road to India, central and national, for ourselves and our posterity, now and hereafter, for thousands of years to come.
T. H, BENTON.
XXII. - THE CAPITOL OR THE CONSTITUTION. Sir, the senator from Massachusetts has expressed a preference for the constitution to the capitol of his country. He has dared to declare that he prized the magna charta * of American liberty — the sacred bond of our union, the tie which binds together twelve millions of freemen-above the stones and mortar which compose the crumbling mass within whose walls we are assembled. « The
head and front of his offending hath this extent; no more.” Now, grant, sir, that in his judgment, as well as that of many here, the very existence of our liberties is involved in the surrender of the principle he contended for; grant that the concentration of legislative and executive power in the hands of a single man is the death-blow to the constitution, and that the senator was right in considering the proposed appropriation as ('stablishing the very principle which gave that fatal blow; and who is he that, thus believing, would support that proposition because the
guns of the enemy were battering at the walls of the capitol ?
Where, sir, is the coward - where is the traitor who would not rather see the capitol than the constitution of his country in ruins? or who would lend himself to the establishment of a despotism among us, with a view to save this building for the despot to revel in ? Sir, in the days when Themis'to-clés led the Athenians to victory at Salamis, he advised them to surrender their capitol for the preservation of the constitution of their country. That gallant people rose under the impulse of patriotism as one man, and with a stern resolution to yield life itself rather than abandon their liberties, and surrender the proud privilege of legislating for themselves to the delegate of a Persian despot, who offered them "all their own dominions, together with an accession of territory ample as their wishes, upon the single condition that they should receive law and suffer him to preside in Greece." At that eventful period of their history, Crys'ilus alone proposed the surrender of their constitution to save the capitol; and they stoned him to death. The public indignation was not yet satisfied; for the Athenian matrons then rose and inflicted the same punishment on his wife. Leaving their capitol and their noble city, rich as it was in the productions of every art, and glittering all over with the proudest trophies and the most splendid temples in the world ; deserting, in the cause of free government, the very land that gave them birth, they embarked on board their ships, and fought that battle, the name of which has made the bosoms of freemen to thrill with sympathy in all succeeding ages, and shall cause the patriot's heart to beat higher with emotion through countless ages to come.
* Pronounced majna karta.
JOIN M. CLAYTON.
XXIII. - PEACEABLE SECESSION IMPOSSIBLE.
Mr. PRESIDENT, I should much prefer to have heard from every member on this floor declarations of opinion that this Union could never be dissolved, than the declaration of opinion by any body that, in any case, under the pressure of any circumstances, such a dissolution was possible. I hear with distress and anguish the word “secession,” especially when it falls from the lips of those who are patriotic, and known to the country, and known all over the world for their political services.
Secession! Peaceable secession ! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country without convulsion ! The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep without ruffling the surface ! Who is so foolish - I beg everybody's pardon —as to expect to see any such thing?
Sir, he who sees these States now revolving in harmony around a common center, and expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion, may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their spheres, and jostle against each other in the realms of space, without causing the crush of the universe. There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility. Is the great corstitution under which we live, covering this whole country, is it to be thawed and melted away by secession, as the snows on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun, disappear almost unobserved, and run off? No, sir! No, sir! I will not state what might produce the disruption of the Union; but, sir, I see as plainly as I see the sun in heaven, what that disruption itself must produce; I see that it must produce war, and such a war as I will not describe, in its two-fold character.
PERMANENCY OF STATES.
XXIV. – PERMANENCY OF STATES.
MR. PRESIDENT, it has always seemed to me to be a grateful reflection, that, however short and transient may be the lives of individuals, States. may be permanent. The great corporations that embrace the government of mankind, protect their liberties, and secure their happiness, may have something of perpetuity, and, as I might say, of earthly immortality. For my part, sir, I gratify myself by contemplating what in the future will be the condition of that generous State which has done me the honor to keep me in the counsels of the country for so many years. I see nothing about her in prospect less than that which encircles her
I feel that when I and all those that now hear me shall have gone to our last home, and afterwards, when mould may have gathered upon our memories, as it will have done upon our tombs, that State, so early to take her part in the great contest of the Revolution, will stand, as she has stood and now stands, like that column which, near her capital, perpetuates the memory of the first great battle of the Revolution, firm, erect, and immovable.
I believe, sir, that if commotion shall shake the country, there will be one rock for ever, as solid as the granite of her hills, for the Union to repose upon.
I believe that, if disasters arise, bringing clouds which shall obscure the ensign now over her and over us, there will be one star that will but burn the brighter amid the darkness of that night; and I believe that, if in the remotest ages (I trust they will be infinitely remote !) an occasion shall occur when the sternest duties of patriotism are demanded and to be performed, Massachusetts will imitate her own example; and that, as at the breaking out of the Revolution she was the first to offer the outpouring of her blood and her treasure in the struggle for liberty, so she will be hereafter ready, when the emergency arises, to repeat and renew that offer, with a thousand times as nfany warm hearts, and a thousand times as many strong hands !
XXV. - LIBERTY OF SPEECH.
IMPORTANT, sir, as I deem it to discuss, on all proper occasions, the policy of the measures at present pursued, it is still more important to maintain the right of such discussion in its full and just extent. Sentiments lately sprung up, and now growing fashionable, make it necessary to be explicit on this point. The more I perceive a disposition to check the frecdom