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WHIG CONVENTION AT RICHMOND.”
VIRGINIANs, – The wisdom of our fathers has established for us a Constitution of government which enables me to appear before you to-day, and to address you as my fellow-citizens; and half a century of experience has shown how favorable to our common interest, how conducive to our common renown and glory, is that Constitution by which we are thus united. I desire to pay due honor to those illustrious men who made us, the children of those who fell at Bunker Hill and Yorktown, members of the same political family, bound together by the same common destiny, and awaiting the same common prosperity, or common adversity, in all time to come. It is the extraordinary nature of the times, together with a long-cherished desire to visit Virginia, which has procured me the pleasure I enjoy of being in the midst of you all to-day. I have come more for the purpose of seeing and hearing you than of speaking to you myself. I have come to mingle myself among you, to listen to the words of your wise and patriotic men, that I may improve my own patriotic feeling by communication with the chivalrous spirits of this Ancient Dominion. But, inasmuch as there are, or may be, some questions of national policy, or of constitutional power, on which you and I differ, there are some amiable persons who are so very considerate of your reputation, and of my reputation, as to signify that they esteem it a great breach of propriety that you should invite me to come here, or that I should accept your invitation. Let us hope that these amiable persons will allay their fears.
If there be any question or questions on which you and I differ in opinion, those questions are not to be the topics of discussion to-day. No! We are not quite soft enough for that. While in the presence of a common enemy, who is armed to the teeth against us both, and putting forth as many hands as Briareus to destroy what we think it most important to preserve, does he imagine that, at such a moment, we shall be carrying on our family controversies 2 that we are going to give ourselves those blows which are due to him 7 No! Regarding him as the enemy of our country, we mean to pursue him till we bring him to capitulation or to flight; and when we have done that, if there are any differences of opinion among us, we will try to settle them ourselves, without his advice or assistance; and we will settle them in a spirit of conciliation and mutual kindness. If we do differ in any of our views, we must settle that difference, not in a spirit of exasperation, but with moderation, with forbearance, in a temper of amity and brotherhood. It is an era in my life to find myself on the soil of Virginia addressing such an assemblage as is now before me; I feel it to be such; I deeply feel the responsibility of the part which has this day been thrown upon me. But, although it is the first time I have addressed an assembly of my fellow-citizens upon the soil of Virginia, I hope I am not altogether unacquainted with the history, character, and sentiments of this venerable State. The topics which are now agitating the country, and which have brought us all here to-day, have no relation whatever with those on which I differ from the opinions she has ever entertained. The grievances and the misgovernment which have roused the country pertain to that class of subjects which especially and peculiarly belong to Virginia, and have from the very beginning of our history. I know something of the community amidst which I stand, its distinguished and ardent attachment to civil liberty, and its habits of political disquisition. I know that the landholders of Virginia are competent, from their education and their leisure, to discuss political questions in their elements, and to look at government in its tendencies, as well as in the measures it may at present pursue. There is a sleepless suspicion, a vigilant jealousy of power, especially of executive power, which for three quarters of a century has marked the character of the people of the Old Dominion; and if I have any right conception of the evils of the time, or of the true objection to the measures of the present administration, it
* A Speech delivered on the 5th of October, 1840, in the Capitol Square at Richmond, Virginia, before the Whig Convention.