Слике страница
PDF
ePub

ces.

great financial abilities, sustained and supported the wise men of the country in council, and the brave men of the country in the field of battle? Nor are there wanting more recent instanI have the pleasure to see near me, and near my

friend who proposed this sentiment, the son of an eminent merchant of New England (Mr. Goodhue), an early member of the Senate of the United States, always consulted, always respected, in whatever belonged to the duty and the means of putting in operation the financial and commercial system of the country; and this mention of the father of my friend brings to my mind th memory of his great colleague, the early associate of Hamilton and of Ames, trusted and beloved by Washington, consulted on all occasions connected with the administration of the finances, the establishment of the treasury department, the imposition of the first rates of duty, and with every thing that belonged to the commercial system of the United States, - George Cabot, of Massachusetts.

I will take this occasion to say, Gentlemen, that there is no truth better developed and established in the history of the United States, from the formation of the Constitution to the present time, than this, - that the mercantile classes, the great commercial masses of the country, whose affairs connect them strongly with every State in the Union and with all the nations of the earth, whose business and profession give a sort of nationality to their character, — that no class of men among us, from the beginning, have shown a stronger and firmer devotion to whatsoever has been designed, or to whatever has tended, to preserve the union of these States and the stability of the free government under which we live. The Constitution of the United States, in regard to the various municipal regulations and local interests, has left the States individual, disconnected, isolated. It has left them their own codes of criminal law; it has left them their own system of municipal regulations. But there was one great interest, one great concern, which, from the very nature of the case, was no longer to be left under the regulations of the then thirteen, afterwards twenty, and now twenty-six States, but was committed, necessarily committed, to the care, the protection, and the regulation of one government; and this was that great unit, as it has been called, the commerce of the United States. There is no commerce of New York, no commerce of

18

VOL. II.

Massachusetts, none of Georgia, none of Alabama or Louisiana. All and singular, in the aggregate and in all its parts, is the commerce of the United States, regulated at home by a uniform system of laws under the authority of the general government, and protected abroad under the flag of our government, the glorious E Pluribus Unum, and guarded, if need be, by the power of the general government all over the world. There is, therefore, Gentlemen, nothing more cementing, nothing that makes us more cohesive, nothing that more repels all tendencies to separation and dismemberment, than this great, this common, I may say this overwhelming interest of one commerce, one general system of trade and navigation, one everywhere and with every nation of the globe. There is no flag of any particular American State seen in the Pacific seas, or in the Baltic, or in the Indian Ocean. Who knows, or who hears, there of your proud State, or of my proud State? Who knows, or who hears, of any thing, at the extremest north or south, or at the antipodes,

- in the remotest regions of the Eastern or Western Sea,-who ever hears, or knows, of any thing but an American ship, or of any American enterprise of a commercial character that does not bear the impression of the American Union with it?

It would be a presumption of which I cannot be guilty, Gentlemen, for me to imagine for a moment, that, among the gifts which New England has made to our common country, I am any thing more than one of the most inconsiderable. I readily bring to mind the great men, not only with whom I have met, but those of the generation before me, who now sleep with their fathers, distinguished in the Revolution, distinguished in the formation of the Constitution and in the early administration of the government, always and everywhere distinguished; and I shrink in just and conscious humiliation before their established character and established renown; and all that I venture to say, and all that I venture to hope may be thought true, in the sentiment proposed, is, that, so far as mind and purpose, so far as intention and will, are concerned, I may be found among those who are capable of embracing the whole country of which they are members in a proper, comprehensive, and patriotic regard. We all know that the objects which are nearest are the objects which are dearest; family affections, neighborhood affections, social relations, these in truth are nearest and dearest to us all:

but whosoever shall be able rightly to adjust the graduation of his affections, and to love his friends and his neighbors, and his country, as he ought to love them, merits the commendation pronounced by the philosophic poet upon him

“Qui didicit patriæ quid debeat, et quid amicis." Gentlemen, it has been my fortune, in the little part which I have acted in public life, for good or for evil to the community, to be connected entirely with that government which, within the limits of constitutional power, exercises jurisdiction over all the States and all the people. My friend at the end of the table on my left has spoken pleasantly to us to-night of the reputed miracles of tutelar saints. In a sober sense, in a sense of deep conviction, I say that the emergence of this country from British domination, and its union under its present form of government beneath the general Constitution of the country, if not a miracle, is, I do not say the most, but one of the most fortunate, the most admirable, the most auspicious occurrences, which have ever fallen to the lot of man. Circumstances have wrought out for us a state of things which, in other times and other regions, philosophy has dreamed of, and theory has proposed, and speculation has suggested, but which man has never been able to accomplish. I mean the government of a great nation over a vastly extended portion of the surface of the earth, by means of local institutions for local purposes, and general institutions for general purposes. I know of nothing in the history of the world, notwithstanding the great league of Grecian states, notwithstanding the success of the Roman system, (and certainly there is no exception to the remark in modern history,) — I know of nothing so suitable on the whole for the great interests of a great people spread over a large portion of the globe, as the provision of local legislation for local and municipal purposes, with, not a confederacy, nor a loose binding together of separate parts, but a limited, positive general government for positive general purposes, over the whole. We may derive eminent proofs of this truth from the past and the present. What see we to-day in the agitations on the other side of the Atlantic? I speak of them, of course without expressing any opinion on questions of politics in a foreign country; but I speak of them as an occurrence which shows the great expediency, the utility, I may say

the necessity, of local legislation. If, in a country on the other side of the water (Ireland), there be some who desire a severance of one part of the empire from another, under a proposition of repeal, there are others who propose a continuance of the existing relation under a federative system: and what is this? No more, and no less, than an approximation to that system under which we live, which for local, municipal purposes shall have a local legislature, and for general purposes a general legislature.

This becomes the more important when we consider that the United States stretch over so many degrees of latitude, - that they embrace such a variety of climate, — that various conditions and relations of society naturally call for different laws and regulations. Let me ask whether the legislature of New York could wisely pass laws for the government of Louisiana, or whether the legislature of Louisiana could wisely pass laws for Pennsylvania or New York ? Every body will say, "No." And yet the interests of New York and Pennsylvania and Lou. isiana, in whatever concerns their relations between themselves and their general relations with all the states of the world, are found to be perfectly well provided for, and adjusted with perfect congruity, by committing these general interests to one common government, the result of popular general elections among them all.

I confess, Gentlemen, that having been, as I have said, in my humble career in public life, employed in that portion of the public service which is connected with the general government, I have contemplated, as the great object of every proceeding, not only the particular benefit of the moment, or the exigency of the occasion, but the preservation of this system; for I do consider it so much the result of circumstances, and that so much of it is due to fortunate concurrence, as well as to the sagacity of the great men acting upon those occasions, - that it is an experiment of such remarkable and renowned success, that he is a fool or a madman who would wish to try that experiment a second time. I see to-day, and we all see, that the descendants of the Puritans who landed upon the Rock of Plymouth; the followers of Raleigh, who settled Virginia and North Carolina; he who lives where the truncheon of empire, so to speak, was borne by Smith; the inhabitants of Georgia; he who settled under the auspices of France at the mouth of

the Mississippi ; the Swede on the Delaware, the Quaker of Pennsylvania, - all find, at this day, their common interest, their common protection, their common glory, under the united gove ernment, which leaves them all, nevertheless, in the administration of their own municipal and local affairs, to be Frenchmen, or Swedes, or Quakers, or whatever they choose. And when one considers that this system of government, I will not say has produced, because God and nature and circumstances have had an agency in it, – but when it is considered that this system has not prevented, but has rather encouraged, the growth of the people of this country from three millions, on the glorious 4th of July, 1776, to seventeen millions now, who is there that will say, upon this hemisphere, - nay, who is there that will stand up in any hemisphere, who is there in any part of the world, that will say that the great experiment of a united republic has failed in America ? And yet I know, Gentlemen, I feel, that this united system is held together by strong tendencies to union, at the same time that it is kept from too much leaning toward consolidation by a strong tendency in the several States to support each its own power and consideration. In the physical world it is said, that

“ All nature's difference keeps all nature's peace,”

and there is in the political world this same harmonious difference, this regular play of the positive and negative powers (if I may so say), which, at least for one glorious half-century, has kept us as we have been kept, and made us what we are.

But, Gentlemen, I must not allow myself to pursue this topic. It is a sentiment so commonly repeated by me upon all public occasions, and upon all private occasions, and everywhere, that I forbear to dwell upon it now. It is the union of these States, it is the system of government under which we live, beneath the Constitution of the United States, happily framed, wisely adopted, successfully administered for fifty years, – it is mainly this, I say, that gives us power at home and credit abroad. And, for one, I never stop to consider the power or wealth or greatness of a State. I tell you, Mr. Chairman, I care nothing for your Empire State as such. Delaware and Rhode Island are as high in my regard as New York. In population, in power, in the government over us, you have a greater share. You would have

« ПретходнаНастави »