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And we must confide in Southern gentlemen themselves; we must trust to those whose integrity of heart and magnanimity of feeling will lead them to a desire to maintain and disseminate truth, and who possess the means of its diffusion with the Southern public; we must leave it to 5 them to disabuse that public of its prejudices. But in the mean time, for my own part, I shall continue to act justly, whether those towards whom justice is exercised receive it with candor or with contumely.
[Mr. Webster next refutes the charge of inconsistency between 10 his present position regarding the public lands and that taken by him in 1825.]
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 15 give 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 vote them away in particular instances. How, he inquires, do I reconcile with these professed sentiments, my support of measures 20 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 opinion, between the honorable gentleman and myself. On my part, I 25 look
upon all these objects as connected with the common good, fairly embraced in its object 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 differ- 30
“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.
I look upon a road over the Alleghanies, a canal round the falls of che Ohio, or a canal or railway from the Atlantic to the Western waters, as being an object large and extensive enough to be fairly said to be for the com5 mon benefit. The gentleman thinks otherwise, and this is the key to his construction of the powers of the government. He may well ask what interest has South Carolina in a canal in Ohio. On his system, it is true,
she has no interest. On that system Ohio and Carolina 10 are different governments and different countries; con
nected 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 15 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 20 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 hap25 piness 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, inter30 mingled. 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 boun35 daries beyond which public improvements do not benefit
We who come here as agents and representatives of these narrow-minded and selfish men of New England, consider ourselves as bound to regard with an equal eye the good of the whole, in whatever is within our powers of legislation. Sir, if a railroad or canal, beginning in 5 South Carolina and ending in South Carolina, appeared to me to be of national importance and national magnitude, 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 10 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 15 feeling, one who was not large enough, both in mind and in heart, to embrace the whole, was not fit to be intrusted with the interest of any part.
Sir, I do not desire to enlarge the powers of the government by unjustifiable construction, nor to exercise 20 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
It was the very object of the Constitution to 25 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 government reaches to war and peace, and to the regulation of commerce. I have never seen any more difficulty 30 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 in removing obstructions in the vast streams of the West, more than in any work to facilitate commerce on the Atlantic coast. 35 If there be any power
there is power also for the other; and they are all and equally for the common good of the country.
There are other objects, apparently more local, or the 5 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 this govern
ment possesses large quantities of land. Have the 10 United States no right, or, 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 15 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 com20 mon 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 25 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 call for the means of education, as in these new States; owing to the vast
number of persons within those ages in which education 30 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 manhood. These are the 35 wide fields, and here is the deep and quick soil for the
seeds of knowledge and virtue; and this is the favored season, the very spring-time for sowing them. Let them be disseminated without stint. Let them be scattered with a bountiful hand, broadcast. Whatever the government can fairly do towards these objects, in my 5 opinion, ought to be done.
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 10 these, I presume, have influenced the votes of other gentlemen of 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 15 we looked to any measure, whether for a road, a canal, or anything else, intended for the improvement of the West, it would be found that, if the New England ayes were struck out of the lists of votes, the Southern noes would always have rejected the measure. The truth of 20 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 25 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
The gentleman cannot deny the fact; he may, if he choose, disclaim the reason. It is not long since I had 30 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 matter of reproach ? Far from it. 35