Графични страници
PDF файл


and grew by your neglect of them. So soon as you began to care for them, you showed your care by sending persons to spy out their liberties, misrepresent their character, prey upon them, and eat out their substance."

And does this honorable gentleman mean to maintain that language like this is applicable to the conduct of the government of the United States towards the western emigrants, or to any representation given by me of that conduct? Were the settlers in the west driven thither by our oppression ? Have they flourished only by our neglect of them? Has, the government done nothing but prey upon them, and eat out their substance? Šir, this fervid eloquence of the British speaker, just when and where it was uttered, and fit to remain an exercise for the schools, is not a little out of place, when it was brought thence to be applied here, to the conduct of our own country towards her own citizens. From America to England it may be true; from Americans to their own government it would be strange language. Let us leave it to be recited and declaimed by our boys against a foreign nation; not introduce it here, to recite and declaim ourselves against our own. TBut I come to the point of the alleged contradiction. In my remarks on Wednesday, I contended that we could not give away gratuitously all the public lands; that we held them in trust; that the government had solemnly pledged itself to dispose of them as a common fund for the common benefit

, and to sell and settle them as its discretion should dictate. Now, sir, what contradiction does the gentleman find to this sentiment in the speech of 1825 ? He quotes me as having then said, that we ought not to hug these lands as a very great treasure. Very well

, sir; supposing me to be accurately reported in that expression, what is the contradiction? I have not now said, that we should hug. these lands as a favorite source of pecuniary income. No such thing. It is not my view. What I have said, and what I do say, is, that Chey are a common fund — to be disposed of for the common benefit to be sold at low prices, for the accommodation of settlers, keeping the object of settling the lands as much in view as that of raising money from them. This I say now, and this I have always said. Is this hugging them as a favorite treasure ? Is there no difference between hugging and hoarding this fund, on the one hand as a great treasure, and on the other of disposing of it at low prices, placing the proceeds in the general treasury of the Union ? My opinion is, that as much is to be made of the land, as fair and reasonably may be, selling it all the while at such rates as to give the fullest effect to settlement. This is not giving it all away to the states, as the gentleman would propose; nor is it hugging the fund closely and tenaciously, as a favorite treasure; but it is, in my judgment, a just and wise policy, perfectly according with all the various duties which rest on government.

So much for my contradiction. And what is it? Where is the ground of the gentleman's triumph? What inconsistency, in word or doctrine, has he been able to detect ? Sir, if this be a sample of that discomfiture with which the honorable gentleman threatened me, commend me to the word discomfiture for the rest of my life. +

But, after all, this is not the point of the debate; and I must bring the gentleman back to that which is the point.

The real question between me and him is, Where has the doctrine been advanced, at the south or the east, that the population of the west should be retarded, or, at least, need not be hastened, on account of its effect to drain off the people from the Atlantic States? Is this doctrine, as has been alleged, of eastern origin? That is the question. Has the gentleman found anything by

which he can make good his accusation? I submit to the Senate, that he has entirely failed; and as far as this debate has shown, the only person who has advanced such sentiments is a gentleman from South Carolina, and a friend to the honorable member himself. This honorable gentleman has given no answer to this; there is none which can be given. This simple fact, while it requires no comment to enforce it, defies all argument to refute it. I could refer to the speeches of another southern gentlemen, in years before, of the same general character, and to the same effect, as that which has been quoted;

but I will not consume the time of the Senate by the reading of them. *

So then, sir, New England is guiltless of the policy of retarding wester population, and of all envy and jealousy of the growth of the new states. Whatever there be of that policy in the country, no part of it is hers. If it has a local habitation, the honorable member has probably seen, by this time,

where he is to look for it; and if it now has received a name, he himself has,

christened it. - We approach, at length, sir, to a more important part of the honorable gentleman's observations. Since it does not accord with my views of justice and policy, to vote away the public lands altogether, as mere matter of gratuity, I am asked, by the honorable gentleman, on what ground it is that I consent to give them away in particular instances. How, he inquires, do I reooncile with these professed sentiments my support of measures appropriating portions of the lands to particular roads, particular canals, particular rivers, and particular institutions of education in the west? This leads, sir, to the real and wide difference in political opinions between the honorable gentleman and myself. On my part, I look upon all these objects as connected with the common good, fairly embraced in its objects and its terms; he, on the contrary, deems them all, if good at all, only local good. This is our difference. The interrogatory which he proceeded to put, at once explains this difference. “What interest.” asks he, “has South Carolina in a canal in Ohio?” Sir, this very question is full of significance. It develops the gentleman's whole political system; and its answer expounds mine. Here we differ toto coelo. I look upon a road over the Alleghany, a canal round the falls of the Ohio, or a canal or railway from the Atlantic to the western waters, as being objects large and extensive enough to be fairly said to be for the common benefit. The gentleman thinks otherwise, and this is the key to open his construction of the powers of the government. He may well ask, upon his system, What interest has South Carolina in a canal in Ohio? On that system, it is true, she has no interest. On that system, Ohio and Carolina are different governments and different countries, connected here, it is true, by some slight and ill-defined bond of union, but in all main respects separate and diverse. On that system, Carolina has no more interest in a canal in Ohio than in Mexico. The gentleman, therefore, only follows out his own principles; he does no more than arrive at the natural conclusions of his own doctrines; he only announces the true results of that creed which he has adopted himself, and would persuade others to adopt, when he thus declares that South Carolina has no interest in a public work in Ohio. Sir, we narrow-minded people of New England do not reason thus. Our notion of things is entirely different. We look upon the states, not as separated, but as united. We love to dwell on that Union, and on the mutual happiness which it has so much promoted, and the common renown which it has so greatly contributed to acquire! In our contemplation, Carolina and Ohio are parts of the same country—states united under the same general government, having interests common, associated, intermingled.

[ocr errors]

In whatever is within the proper sphere of the constitutional power of this government, we look upon the states as one. We do not impose geographical limits to our patriotic feeling or regard; we do not follow rivers, and mountains, and lines of latitude, to find boundaries beyond which public improve ments do not benefit us. We, who come here as agents and representatives of those narrow-minded and selfish men of New England, consider ourselves as bound to regard, with equal eye, the good of the whole, in whatever is within our power of legislation. § if a railroad or canal, beginning in Sout Carolina, appeared to me to be of national importance and national magni ‘tude, believing as I do that the power of government extends to the encouragement of works of that description, if I were to stand up here and ask, “What interest has Massachusetts in a railroad in South Carolina?” I should not be willing to face my constituents. These same narrow-minded men would tell me that they had sent me to act for the whole country, and that one who possessed too little comprehension, either of intellect or feeling— one who was not large enough, in mind and heart, to embrace the whole, - was not fit to be intrusted with the interest of any part.W Sir, I do not desire to enlarge the powers of government by unjustifiable donstruction, nor to exercise any not within a fair interpretation. But when it is believed that a power does exist, then it is, in my judgment, to be exercised for the general benefit of the whole: so far as respects the exercise of such a power, the states are one. It was the very great object of the constitution to create unity of interests to the extent of the powers of the general government. In war and peace we are one; in commerce one; because the authority of the general so reaches to war and peace, and to the regulation of commerce. I ave never seen any more difficulty in erecting lighthouses on the lakes than on the ocean; in improving the harbors of inland seas, than if they were within the ebb and flow of the tide; or of removing obstructions in the vast streams of the west, more than in any work to facilitate commerce on the Atlantic coast. If there be power for one, there is power also for the other; and they are all and equally for the country. There are other objects, apparently more local, or the benefit of which is less general, towards which, nevertheless, I have concurred with others to give aid by donations of land. It is proposed to construct a road in or through one of the new states in which the government possesses large quantities of land. Have the United States no right, as a great and untaxed proprietor— are they under no obligation — to contribute to an object thus calculated to promote the common good of all the proprietors, themselves included ? And even with respect to education, which is the extreme case, let the question be considered. In the first place, as we have seen, it was made matter of compact with these states that they should do their part to promote education. In the next place, our whole system of land laws proceeds on the idea that education is for the common good; because, in every division, a certain portion is uniformly reserved and appropriated for the use of schools. And, finally have not these new states singularly strong claims, founded on the ground already stated, that the government is a great untaxed proprietor in the ownership of the soil? It is a consideration of great importance that probably there is in no part of the country, or of the world, so great a call for the means of education as in those new states, owing to the vast number of persons within those ages in which education and instruction are usually received, if received at all. This is the natural consequence of recency of settlement and rapid increase. The census of these states shows how great a proportion of the whole population occupies the classes between infancy and childhood. These are the wide fields, and here is the deep and quick soil for the seeds of knowledge and virtue; and this is the favored season, the spring time for sowing them. Let them be disseminated without stint. Let them be scattered with a bountiful broadcast. Whatever the government can fairly do towards these objects, in my opinion, ought to be done. z” These, sir, are the grounds succinctly stated, on which my votes for grants of lands for particular objects rest, while I maintain, at the same time, that it is all a common fund, for the common benefit. And reasons like these, I presume, have influenced the votes of other gentlemen from New England. Those who have a different view of the powers of the government, of course, come to different conclusions on these as on other questions. I observed, when speaking on this subject before, that if we looked to any measure, whether for a road, a canal, or any thing else intended for the improvement of the west, it would be found, that if the New England ayes were struck out of the list of votes, the southern noes would always have rejected the measure. The truth of this has not been denied, and cannot be denied. In stating this, I thought it just to ascribe it to the constitutional scruples of the south, rather than to any other less favorable or less charitable cause. But no sooner had I done this, than the honorable gentleman asks if I reproach him and his friends with their constitutional scruples. Sir, I reproach nobody. I stated a fact, and gave the most respectful reason for it that occurred to me. The gentleman cannot deny the fact—he may, if he choose, disclaim the reason. It is not long since I had occasion, in presenting a petition from his own state, to account for its being intrusted to my hands by saying, that the constitutional opinions of the gentleman and his worthy colleague prevented them from supporting it. Sir, did I state this as a matter of reproach Far from it. Did I attempt to find any other cause than an honest one for these scruples? Sir, I did not. It did not become me to doubt, nor to insinuate that the gentleman had either changed his sentiments, or that he had made up a set of constitutional opinions, accommodated to any particular combination of political occurrences. Had I done so, I should have felt, that while I was entitled to little respect in thus questioning other people's motives, I justified the whole world in suspecting my own. But how has the gentleman returned this respect for others' opinions? His own candor and justice, how have they been exhibited towards the motives of others, while he has been at so much pains to maintain — what nobody has disputed — the purity of his own Why, sir, he has asked when, and how, and why New England votes were found going for measures favorable to the west; he has demanded to be informed whether all this did not begin in 1825, and while the election of President was still pending. Sir, to these questions retort would be justified; and it is both cogent and at hand. Nevertheless, I will answer the inquiry not by retort, but by facts. I will tell the gentleman when, and how, and why New England has supported measures favorable to the west. I have already referred to the early history of the government—to the first acquisition of the lands—to the original laws for disposing of them and for governing the territories where they lie; and have shown the influence of New England men and New England principles in all these leading measures. I should not be pardoned were I to go over that ground again. Coming to more recent times, and to measures of a less general character, I have endeavored to prove that every thing of this kind designed for western improvement has depended on the votes of New England. All this is true beyond the power of contradiction.

And now, sir, there are two measures to which I will refer, not so ancient as to belong to the early history of the public lands and not so recent as to be on this side of the period when the gentleman charitably imagines a new direction may have been given to New England feeling and New England votes. These measures, and the New England votes in support of them, may be taken as samples and specimens of all the rest. In 1820, (observe, Mr. President, in 1820,) the people of the west besought Congress for a reduction in the price of lands. In favor of that reduction, New England, with a delegation of forty members in the other house, gave thirty-three votes, and one only against it

. The four Southern States, with fifty members, gave thirtytwo votes for it, and seven against it. Again, in 1821, (observe again, sir, the time) the law passed for the relief of the purchasers of the public lands. This was a measure of vital importance to the west, and more especially to the south-west. It authorized the relinquishment of contracts for lands, which had been entered into at high prices, and a reduction, in other cases, of not . less than 377 per cent. on the purchase money. Many millions of dollars, six or seven I believe, at least, probably much more, - were relinquished by this law. On this bill New England, with her forty members, gave more affirmative votes than the four Southern States with their fifty-two or three members. These two are far the most important measures respecting the public lands which have been adopted within the last twenty years. They took place in 1820 and 1821. That is the time when. And as to the manner how, the gentleman already sees that it was by voting, in solid column, for the required relief; and lastly, as to the cause why, I tell the gentleman, it was because the members from New England thought the measures just and salutary; because they entertained towards the west neither envy, hatred, nor malice; because they deemed it becoming them, as just and enlightened public men, to meet the exigency which had arisen in the west with the appropriate measure of relief; because they felt it due to their own characters of their New England predecessors in this government, to act towards the new states in the spirit of a liberal, patronizing, magnanimous policy. So much, sir, for the cause why; and I hope that by this time, sir, the honorable gentleman is satisfied; if not, I do not know when, or how, or why, he ever will be

Having recurred to these two important measures, in answer to the gentleman's inquiries, I must now beg permission to go back to a period still something earlier, for the purpose still further of showing how much, or rather how little reason there is for the gentleman's insinuation that political hopes, or fears, or party associations, were the grounds of these New England votes. And after what has been said, I hope it may be forgiven me if I allude to some political opinions and votes of my own, of very little public importance, certainly, but which, from the time at which they were given and expressed, may pass for good witnesses on this occasion.

This government, Mr. President, from its origin to the peace of 1815, had been too much engrossed with various other important concerns to be able to turn its thoughts inward, and look to the development of its vast internal re

In the early part of President Washington's administration, it was fully occupied with organizing the government, providing for the public debt. defending the frontiers, and maintaining domestic peace. Before the termination of that administration, the fires of the French revolution blazed forth, as frożn a new opened volcano, and the whole breadth of the ocean did not extirely secure us from its effects. The smoke and the cinders reached us, thougb


« ПредишнаНапред »