Imágenes de páginas

masters, but as their servants, and to that august tribunal are we responsible for the fidelity with which we execute the trust confided to us. Political power, then, being in the great body of the people, it cannot be definitely apportioned among the states, but each state possesses weight proportionate to its numbers. If, for instance, two thirds of the population of Virginia should remove to the Mississippi territory, which they have a perfect right to do, the influence of Virginia in the national councils, in point of representation, would be two thirds less than at present, and it might with equal justice be said, that a state, inferior in political power, at the time the compact was entered into, should remain in that situation ad infinitum, as to contend that a number of citizens, residing in a territory belonging to the United States, should not be admitted to the enjoyment of those political rights, to which from their numbers they are entitled. It results from the very nature of our government, that political influence fluctuates in proportion to the augmentation or diminution of population, in the various sections of the country. The addition of fifty thousand inhabitants to the whole people of the United States, increases the political weight of the whole, just in the same ratio that a similar addition to an army would increase its physical strength. If, as the gentleman has alleged, the proportions of political power, in the several states, is an “ unalienable, essential, intangible right, it must forever remain the same, like a chartered privilege, let the weight of population rest where it may. Such a principle is inconsistent with the genius of a free government, and incompatible with the sovereign authority of the people.

Mr. Speaker, on all the great questions which have been discussed in this House for the last four years, , war with England, and a separation of the eastern states from the union, have been constantly thrown in the way to obstruct the measures of the administration. Why these subjects have gone hand in hand, I

leave gentlemen, who are in the secret, to explain. It ought not to be forgotten that, on a proposition to repeal the embargo, at a time when its effects were severely felt both in Great Britain and her colonies, the gentleman from Massachusetts told us, that the people of New England were prepared for insurrection and revolt, unless that measure of resistance to the aggressing belligerents was relinquished. And contemporaneously with these opinions, uttered on the floor of the House of Representatives, the British minister, resident in the United States, made a confidential communication to his government, in which a dissolution of the union was deemed a probable event, should the commercial embarrassments of this country continue. From whom that minister received his information, no gentleman, acquainted with the history of that transaction, can doubt. He who deliberately wields the “ mischief-meditating” hand of civil commotion, will seldom hesitate as to the means which he employs to accomplish a favorite object. The mind, which once resolves on political parricide, can never be restored to a sense of moral virtue and integrity. And wretched, indeed, would be the fate of this country, were its destinies committed to those who openly avow that intention. The notorious conspiracy of Aaron Burr had for its basis the detestable project of dismembering the union. And what, sir, was the fate of that infatuated individual ? Exiled from his native country, in which he once held a distinguished place, not only in the administration of its government, but also in the affections of the people; a beggar in Paris, and a fit instrument to be used by foreign courts to bring distress and ruin on the country, from which his crimes have expelled him. And yet that man did not dare to go the lengths which the gentleman from Massachusetts has been permitted to go within these walls. Did Aaron Burr, in all the ramifications of his treasonable projects ever declare to an assembly of citizens, that the states were free from their moral

obligations— And that as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some to prepare definitely for a separation, peaceably if they can, violently if they must?" No, sir. Had such expressions been established, by the evidence on his trial, I hazard an opinion that it would have produced a very different result. Perhaps, sir, instead of exile, he would have been consigned to a gibbet. For it cannot be concealed that the language of the gentleman from Massachusetts, if accompanied by an overt act, to carry the threat which it contains into execution, would amount to treason, according to its literal and technical definition in the constitution and laws of the United States. The fate of Aaron Burrought to be a salutary warning against treasonable machinations; and if others, having the same views, do not share a similar fate, it will not be because they do not deserve it. Sir, the gentleman from Massachusetts, unfortunately for himself, has referred to the opinions of the present minister in Russia. Comparisons are, indeed, odious; but on this occasion, the gentleman has invited the contrast. In the memorable discussion on the Louisiana treaty, Mr. Adams said, “ I consider the object as of the highest advantage to us; and the gentleman from Kentucky himself, (Mr. Breckenridge,) who has displayed with so much eloquence the immense importance to this union of the possession of the ceded country, cannot carry his ideas on that subject further than I do.” And on a subsequent occasion, when called upon to decide the delicate question, whether a member of the senate of the United States should be expelled from that body for treason and misdemeanor, with which he was charged, Mr. Adams, in his able report to the senate on that subject, uses the following strong and perspicuous language :“ If the ingenuity of a demon were tasked to weave into one composition all the great moral and political evils which could be inflicted on the people of these states, it would produce nothing more than a texture of war, dismemberment and depotism.” These are

the sentiments and feelings of that distinguished citizen who is now our minister at the court of St. Petersburg. They breathe the spirit of an American who “ cherishes the constitution, under which we are assembled, as the chief stay of his hope; as the light which is destined to gladden his own day by the prospect it sheds over his children.” Let us examine whether the gentleman from Massachusetts falls“ not behind him in such sentiments." The inhabitants of the country which our minister in Russia declared to be of such immense importance to this union are about to be admitted to a participation of those rights which belong to every American citizen, and the country itself incorporated into the United States. Compare, I beseech you, sir, the language of the gentleman from Massachusetts, with that used by the Russian minister. “ If this bill passes, (says the gentleman,) it will justify a revolution in this country; the union will be virtually dissolved; civil war will become sanctified as a matter of right in each of the states, if they are not permitted to separate peaceably; political jealousy is inculcated between the eastern and western states; every circumstance which is calculated in the remotest degree to excite discord and divisions, is studiously adverted to. The inhabitants of Louisiana are represented as wild and uncovered, in the woods, and dependent on the eastern states for clothes to cover their nakedness; they are called at one time the wild men of Missouri, and at another, the Anglo-Hispano-Gallo-Americans, who bask on the sands in the mouth of the Mississippi; and to cap

the climax, we are alarmed with the apprehension, that six new states are to be formed in the west, which are to swallow up the power of the original partners to the constitution, and control the nation. . Are these the suggestions of a mind which “yields to none in its attachments to the constitution ?" Sir, they are the ebullitions of political drunkenness, designed to produce internal “ war, dismemberment and despotism.” I do not think the gentleman from Massachusetts has any

reason to congratulate himself on the reference which he made to the opinions of the Russian minister. On the one hand, we discern nothing but patriotism and union; and on the other, political jealousy, revolution, disunion, and the inseparable associate of these, despotism. But, Mr. Speaker, the people of the eastern states will never give their 'assent to a dissolution of the union. They are bound to the western country by the inseparable ties of nature and of interest. The hardy and adventurous sons of New England will, in a short time, compose a large proportion of the population on the waters of the Mississippi, and, I undertake to assure the gentleman from Massachusetts, that they will never return to break into his house, or the houses of his friends, to filch their children's clothes in order to cover their nakedness." In that new and fertile region, the hand of industry is rewarded with a rich return of the comforts of life, which the liberality of its inhabitants distributes with benevolence and hospitality. Besides these natural bonds, which are every day increasing between the eastern and western portions of the United States, there is a reciprocal advantage in the intercourse which is preserved between them. The western country is peculiarly adapted to the pursuits of agriculture, and the river Mississippi is the great highway, through which their bulky articles are conveyed to a suitable and profitable market.

The eastern states have long been, and will long continue to be, the carriers of these surplus products to the sea-port cities of the United States, to the West Indies and to Europe. Is it not, then, the interest of those, who are engaged in the carrying trade, to give encouragement to agriculture? There are mutual benefits in this interchange of labor, which tends to promote the welfare of each section of the union. No collision of interest can ever exist between the growers of hemp, flour, cotton, tobacco and sugar, and the carrier, who finds employment in their transportation to the countries in which they are consumed. If any



« AnteriorContinuar »