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increase his stores of party abuse and frothy violence, if he has a determined proclivity to such pursuits, there are treasures of that sort south of the Potomac, much to his taste, yet untouched. I shall not touch them. The parties which divided the country, at the commencement of the late war, were violent. But, then, there was violence on both sides, and violence in every state. Minorities and majorities were equally violent. There was no more violence against the war in New England than in other states; nor any more appearance of violence, except that, owing to a dense population, greater facility for assembling, and more presses, there may have been more, in quantity, spoken and printed there than in some other places. In the article of sermons, too, New England is somewhat more abundant than South Carolina; and for that reason, the chance of finding here and there an exceptionable one may be greater. I hope too, there are more good ones. Opposition may have been more formidable in New England, as it embraced a larger portion of the whole population; but it was no more unrestrained in its principle, or violent in manner. The minorities dealt quite as harshly with their own state governments as the majorities dealt with the administration here. . There were presses on both sides, popular meetings on both sides, ay, and pulpits on both sides, also. The gentleman's purveyors have only catered for him among the productions of one side. I certainly shall not supply the deficiency by furnishing samples of the other. I leave to him, and to them, the whole concern. It is enough for me to say, that if, in any part of this, their grateful occupation—if in all their researches—they find anything in the history of Massachusetts, or New England, or in the proceedings of any legislative or other public body, disloyal to the Union, speaking slightly of its value, proposing to break it up, or recommending non-intercourse with neighboring states, on account of difference of political opinion, then, sir, I give them all up to the honorable gentleman's unrestrained rebuke; expecting, however, that he will extend his buffetings, in like manner, to all similar proceedings, wherever else found. The gentleman, sir, has spoken at large of former parties, now no longer in g, by their received appellations, and has undertaken to instruct us, not in the knowledge of their principles, but of their respective pedigrees also. * has ascended to their origin, and run out their genealogies. With most 7 exemplary modesty, he speaks of the party to which he professes to have belonged himself, as the true, pure, the only honest, patriotic party, derived by regular descent, from father to son, from the time of the virtuous Romans ! Spreading before us the family tree of political parties, he takes especial care to show himself snugly perched on a popular bough He is wakeful to the expediency of adopting such rules of descent, for political parties, as shall bring him in, in exclusion of others, as an heir to the inheritance of all public virtue, and all true political principles. His doxy is always orthodoxy. Heterodoxy - is confined to his opponents. He spoke, sir, of the federalists, and I thought I l saw some eyes begin to open and stare a little, when he ventured on that | |
ground. I expected he would draw his sketches rather lightly, when he looked on the circle round him, and especially if he should cast his thoughts to the high places out of the Senate, Nevertheless, he went back to Rome, ad annum urbiscondita, and found the fathers of the federalists in the primeval aristocrats of that renowned empire! He traced the flow of federal blood down through successive ages and centuries, till he got into the veins of the American tories, (of whom, by the way, there were twenty in the Carolinas for one in Massachusetts.) From the tories, he followed it to the federalists; and as the federal party was broken up, and there was no possibility of transmitting it farther on this side of the Atlantic, he seems to have discovered that it has gone off, collaterally, though against all the canons of descent, into the ultras of France, and finally became extinguished, like exploded gas, among the adherents of Don Miguel. This, sir, is an abstract of the gentleman's history of federalism. I am not about to controvert it. It is not, at present, worth the pains of refutation, because, sir, if at this day one feels the sin of federalism lying heavily on his conscience, he can easily obtain remission. . He may even have an indulgence, if he is desirous of repeating the transgression. It is an affair of no difficulty to get into this same right line of patriotic descent. A man, nowadays, is at liberty to choose his political parentage. He may elect his own father. Federalist or not, he may, if he choose, claim to belong to the favored stock, and his claim will be allowed. He may carry back his pretensions just as far as the honorable gentleman himself; nay, he may make himself out the honorable gentleman's cousin, and prove satisfactorily that he is descended from the same political great-grandfather. All this is allowable. We all know a process, sir, by which the whole Essex Junto could, in one hour, be all washed white from their ancient federalism, and come out every one of them, an original democrat, dyed in the wool! Some of them have actually undergone the operation, and they say it is quite easy. The only inconvenience it occasions, as they tell us, is a slight tendency of the blood to the face, a soft suffusion, which, however, is very transient, since nothing is said calculated to deepen the red on the cheek, but a prudent silence observed in regard to all the past. Indeed, sir, some smiles of approbation have been bestowed, and some crumbs of comfort have fallen, not a thousand miles from the door of the Hartford Convention itself. And if the author of the ordinance of 1787 possessed the other requisite qualifications, there is no knowing, notwithstanding his federalism, to what heights of favor he might not yet attain. Mr. President, in carrying his warfare, such as it was, into New England, the honorable gentleman all along professes to be acting on the defensive. desires to consider me as having assailed South Carolina, and insists th comes forth only as her champion, and in her defence. Sir, I do not a that I made any attack whatever on South Carolina. Nothing like it. honorable member, in his first ‘. expressed opinions, in regard to revenue, \ and some other topics, which I heard both with pain and surprise. I told the gentleman that I was aware that such sentiments were entertained out of the government, but had not expected to find them advanced in it; that I knew there were persons in the south who speak of our Union with indifference, or doubt, taking pains to magnify its evils, and to say nothing of its benefits; that the honorable member himself, I was sure, could never be one of these; and I regretted the expression of such opinions as he had avowed, because I thought their obvious tendency was to encourage feelings of disrespect to the Union, and to weaken its connection. This, sir, is the sum and substance of all I said on the subject. And this constitutes the attack which called on the chivalry of the gentleman, in his opinion, to harry us with such a forage among the party pamphlets and party proceedings of Massachusetts. . If he means that I spoke with dissatisfaction or disrespect of the ebullitions of individuals in South Carolina, it is true. But, if he means that I had assailed the char. acter of the state, her honor, or patriotism, that I had reflected on her history or her conduct, he had not the slightest ground for any such assumption. I did not even refer, I think, in my observations, to any collection of individuals.
I said nothing of the recent conventions. I spoke in the most guarded and careful manner, and only expressed my regret for the publication of opinions which I presumed the honorable member disapproved as much as myself. In this, it seems, I was mistaken. I do not remember that the gentleman has disclaimed any sentiment, or any opinion, of a supposed anti-Union tendency, which on all or any of the recent occasions has been expressed. The whole drift of his speech has been rather to prove, that, in divers times and manners, sentiments equally liable to objection have been promulgated in New England. And one would suppose that his object, in this reference to Massachusetts, was to find a precedent to justify proceedings in the south, were it not for the reproach and contumely with which he labors, all along, to load his precedents. By way of defending South Carolina from what he chooses to think an attack on her, he first quotes the example of Massachusetts, and then denounces that example, in good set terms. This twofold purpose, not very consistent with itself, one would think, was exhibited more than once in the course of his speech. He referred, for instance, to the Hartford Convention. Did he do this for authority, or for a topic of reproach? Apparently for both; for he told us that he should find no fault with the mere fact of holding such a convention, and considering and discussing such questions as he supposes were then and there discussed; but what rendered it obnoxious was the time it was holden, and the circumstances of the country then existing. We were in a war, he said, and the country needed all our aid; the hand of government required to be strengthened, not weakened; and patriotism should have postponed such proceedings to another day. The thing itself, then, is a precedent: the time and manner of it, only, subject of censure. Now, sir, I go much farther, on this point, than the honorable member. Supposing, as the gentleman seems to, that the Hartford Convention assembled for any such purpose as breaking up the Union, because they thought unconstitutional laws had been passed, or to concert on that subject, or to calculate the value of the Union; supposing this to be their purpose, or any part of it, then I say the meeting itself was disloyal, and obnoxious to censure, whether held in time of peace, or time of war, or under whatever circumstances. The material matter is the object. Is dissolution the object? If it be, external circumstances may make it a more or less aggravated case, but cannot affect the principle. I do not hold, therefore, that the Hartford Convention \ was pardonable, even to the extent of the gentleman's admission, if its objects were really such as have been imputed to it. Sir, there never was a time, , under any degree of excitement, in which the Hartford Convention, or any other convention, could maintain itself one moment in New England, if assembled for any such purpose as the gentleman says would have been an allowable purpose. To hold conventions to decide questions of constitutional law to try the validity of statutes, by votes in a convention! Sir, the Hartford Convention, I presume, would not desire that the honorable gentleman should be their defender or advocate, if he puts their case upon such untenable and extravagant grounds. Then, sir, the gentleman has no fault to find with these recently-promulgated South Carolina opinions. And, certainly, he need have none; for his own sentiments, as now advanced, and advanced on reflection, as far as I have been , able to comprehend them, go the full length of all these opinions. I propose, sir, to say something on these, and to consider how far they are just and con
stitutional. Before doing that, however, let me observe, that the eulogium
mouth! Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections; let me indulge in refresh
ing remembrance of the past; let me remind you that in early times no states
gather around it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the proudest | monuments of its glory, and on the very spot of its origin. CF5 yet remains to BETTIOTTGT, Mr. President, by Tar HGTOST grave and important duty; which I feel to be devolved on me by this occasion. It is to state, and to defend, what I conceive to be the true principles of the constitution under which we are here assembled. I might well have desired that so weighty a task should have fallen into other and abler hands. I could have wished that it should have been executed by those whose character and experience give weight and influence to their opinions, such as cannot possibly belong to mine. But, sir, I have met the occasion, not sought it; and I shall proceed to state my own sentiments, without challenging for them any particular regard, with studied plainness and as much precision as possible. I understand the honorable gentleman" from South Carolina to maintain that it is a right of the state legislatures to interfere, whenever, in their judgment, this government transcends its constitutional limits, and to arrest the operation of its laws. I understand him to maintain this right as a right existing under the constitution, not as a right to overthrow it, on the ground of extreme necessity, such as would justify violent revolution. I understand him to maintain an authority, on the part of the states, thus to interfere, for the purpose of correcting the exercise of power by the general government, of checking it, and of compelling it to conform to their opinion of the extent of its power. I understand him to maintain that the ultimate power of judging of the constitutional extent of its own authority is not lodged exclusively in the general government or any branch of it; but that, on the contrary, the states may lawfully decide for themselves, and each state for itself, whether, in a given case, the act of the general government transcends its OWer. p I undertand him to insist that, if the exigency of the case, in the opinion of any state government, require it, such state government may, by its own sovereign authority, annul an act of the general government which it deems plainly and palpably unconstitutional. This is the sum of what I understand from him to be the South Carolina doctrine. I propose to consider it, and to compare it with the constitution. Allow me to say, as a preliminary remark, that I call this the South Carolina doctrine, only because the gentleman himself has so denominated it. I do not feel at liberty to say that South Carolina, as a state, has ever advanced these sentiments. I hope she has not, and never may. That a great majority of her people are opposed to the tariff laws is doubtless true. That a majority ty, somewhat less than that just mentioned, conscientiously believe these laws unconstitutional, may probably be also true. But that any majority holds to the right of direct state interference, at state discretion, the right of nullifying acts of Congress by acts of state legislation, is more than I know, and what I shall be slow to believe. That there are individuals, besides the honorable gentleman, who do maintain these opinions, is quite certain. I recollect the recent expression of a sentiment which circumstances attending its utterance and publication justify us in supposing was not unpremeditated —“The sovereignty of the state; never to be controlled, construed, or decided on, but by her own feelings of honorable justice.”