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THE



W O R K S



OF



DANIEL WEBSTER



V O L U M E V .



H O S T O N :
CHARLES C. LITTLE AM) JAMES BROWX.









Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1831, l>y

GEORGE YV. Goitnoy AND JAMES "\V. PAIGE,
in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.



CA M BRIDGE:
STEREOTYPED BY METCALF AND COMPANY,

PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
PRINTED BY HOTOHTON AND IIAYWOOU



D E D I C A T I X

OF THE FIFTH VOLUME.
T

J. W. PAIGE. ESQ.

Mv DLAH SIR :

THE friendship which has subsisted so long between us, springs not
more from our close family connection, than from similarity of opin
ions and sentiments.

I count it among the advantages and pleasures of my life ; and I
pray you to allow me, as a slight, but, grateful token of my estimate
of it, to dedicate to you this volume of my Speeches.

DANIEL WEBSTER.



CONTENTS



OF THE FIFTH VOLUME.



SPEECHES IN CONGRESS-

PAGE

A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY ..... 3

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 1 8th of May,
1840, on the proposed Amendment to the Bill establishing a Uniform Sys
tem of Bankruptcy.

A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY . . 26

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 5th of June,
1840, on Mr. Clay s Motion to strike out the Compulsory Part of the
Bankrupt Bill.

STATE OF THE FINANCES IN 1840 ...... 40

Remarks upon that Part of the President s Message which relates to the Reve
nue and Finances, delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the
16th and 17th of December, 1840.

THE ADMISSION OF TEXAS 55

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 22d of December,

1845, on the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union.

OREGON .... 60

Remarks on the Resolutions moved by General Cass, made in the Senate of
the United States, on the 15th of December, 1845, directing Inquiry into
the Condition of the Military Defences of the Country.

OREGON 63

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 26th of February,

1846, on the various Propositions before the Senate relative to giving
Notice to the British Government of the Intention of the Government of



vi CONTENTS.

the United States to put an End to the Convemk n for the Joint Occupa
tion of the Oregon Territory.

OREGON 70

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 30th of March,
1846, on a Resolution moved by Mr. Clayton of Delaware, on the 3d in
stant, calling upon the President for such Portions of the Correspondence
between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, as had
not already been communicated.

DEFENCE OF THE TREATY OF WASHINGTON .... 78

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 6th and 7th
of April, 1846.

ORGANIZATION OF THE VOLUNTEER FORCE .... 151

Remarks made in the Senate, on the 24th of June. 1846, on "A Bill to pro
vide for the Organization of the Volunteer Force brought into the Service
of the United States."

THE TARIFF 161

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 25th and 27th
of July, 1846, on the Bill " to reduce the Duties on Imports, and for other
Purposes."

THE TARIFF 236

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 28th of July,
1846, on a Motion to discharge the Committee of Finance from the further
Consideration of the Subject.

THE SUB-TREASURY 244

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 1st of August,

1846, on the Third Reading of the Bill "to provide for the Better Organi
zation of the Treasury, and for the Collection, Safe-keeping, Transfer, and
Disbursement of the Public Revenue."

V THE MEXICAN WAR .253

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 1st of March,

1847, on the Bill commonly called the " Three Million Bill," by which that
Sum of Money was appropriated for the Purpose of discharging any extra
ordinary Expenses which might be incurred in bringing the War to a Con
clusion.

THE TEN REGIMENT BILL ....... 262

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 17th of March,

1 848, on the Bill to raise for a limited Time an additional Military Force,
commonly called the i; Ten Regiment Bill."



CONTENTS. vii

OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR . . . . . .271

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 23d of March,
1848, on the Bill from the House of Representatives for raising a Loan of
Sixteen Millions of Dollars.

EXCLUSION OF SLAVERY FROM THE TERRITORIES . . . 302

Kemarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 12th of August,

1848.

THE PANAMA RAILROAD . . . . *. . 313

Eemarks in the Senate, on the 31st of January, 1849, on the Motion submit
ted by Mr. Allen of Ohio, to postpone indefinitely the Bill making an Ap
propriation for the Transportation of the United States Mails by Railroad
across the Isthmus of Panama, and further Remarks on the same Subject,
made on the 6th of February.

THE CONSTITUTION AND THE UNION ..... 324

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 7th of March,
1850.

TRIBUTE TO MR. CALHOUN 368

Eemarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 1st of April,
1850, on Occasion of the Decease of Hon. John Caldwell Calhoun, Sen
ator from South Carolina.

TRIBUTE TO MR. ELMORE . . . . . . .371

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 30th of May,
1850, on Occasion of the Decease of Hon. Franklin Harper Ehnore.

FUGITIVE SLAVE BILL 373

Remarks made on the 3d of June, 1850, in presenting to the Senate "A Bill
amendatory of An Act respecting Fugitives from Justice, and Persons
escaping from the Service of their Masters, " approved February 12th,
1793.

{/ THE BOUNDARIES OF TEXAS ....... 375

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 13th of June,
1850, on a Motion to strike out the Thirty -ninth Section of ;t The Compro
mise Bill, being the Section relative to the Boundaries of Texas.

(/ THE COMPROMISE BILL 381

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 17th of June,
1850.

^/CALIFORNIA PUBLIC LANDS AND BOUNDARIES . . . 386

Remarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 27th of June,
1850, the Amendment moved by Mr. Soule being under Consideration.



viii CONTENTS.

LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH OF GENERAL TAYLOR . . . 406

Kemarks made in the Senate of the United States, on the 9th and 10th of
July, 1850.

V THE COMPROMISE MEASURES . . . . . 412

A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 17th of July,
1850, on the Bill reported by the Committee of Thirteen, commonly called
" The Compromise Bill."



LEGAL AKGUMENTS AND SPEECHES TO THE JUEY.

/ DEFENCE OF THE KENNISTONS 441

An Argument addressed to the Jury, at the Term of the Supreme Judicial
Court of Massachusetts held at Ipswich in April, 1817.

r- THE DARTMOUTH COLLEGE CASE .... . 462

Argument before the Supreme Court of the United States, at Washington,
on the 10th of March, 1818.

, DEFENCE OF JUDGE JAMES PRESCOTT . 502

Argument on the Impeachment of James Prcscott. before the Senate of
Massachusetts, on the 24th of April, 1821.



SPEECHES IN CONGRESS.

(CONTINUED.)



VOL. v.



A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY.*



ON the 1st of April, 1840, Mr. Webster obtained leave of the Senate
to introduce a bill to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy, which
was referred to the Standing Committee on the Judiciary. On the 3d
of April, another bill for the same purpose was introduced, on leave, by
Mr. Tallmadge of New York, and referred in like manner to the Judi
ciary Committee. These bills on the 18th of the same month were
reported back to the Senate, without amendment. On the 22d of
April, Mr. Clayton of Delaware, a member of the Judiciary Committee,
reported a bill on the same subject ; and on the same day, Mr. Wall
of New Jersey, chairman of the committee, and on behalf of a minor
ity, submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to the original
bill introduced by Mr. Webster. The subject thus brought before the
Senate was discussed for many successive days, principally in reference
to the amendment proposed by the minority of the committee to Mr.
Webster s bill. The character of the bill and of the amendment will
sufficiently appear from the following speech.

I FEEL a deep and anxious concern for the success of this bill,
and, in rising to address the Senate, my only motive is a sincere
desire to answer objections which have been made to it, so far
as I may be able, and to urge the necessity and importance of
its passage. Fortunately, it is a subject which does not connect
itself with any of the party contests of the day ; and although
it would not become me to admonish others, yet I have pre
scribed it as a rule to myself, that, in attempting to forward the
measure, and to bring it to a successful termination, I shall seek
no party ends, no party influence, no party advancement. The

* A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 18th of May,
1840, on the proposed Amendment to the Bill establishing a Uniform System of
Bankruptcy.



4 A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY.

subject, so far as I am concerned, shall be sacred from the intru
sion of all such objects and purposes. I wish to treat this occa
sion, and this highly important question, as a green spot in the
midst of the fiery deserts of party strife, on which all may meet
harmoniously and amicably, and hold common counsel for the
common good.

The power of Congress over the subject of bankruptcies, the
most useful mode of exercising the power under the present cir
cumstances of the country, and the duty of exercising it, are the
points to which attention is naturally called by every one who
addresses the Senate.

In the first place, as to the power. It is fortunately not an
inferred or constructive power, but one of the express grants of
the Constitution. " Congress shall have power to establish uni
form laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United
States." These are the words of the grant ; there may be ques
tions about the extent of the power, but there can be none of its
existence.

The bill which has been reported by the committee provides
for voluntary bankruptcies only. It contains no provisions by
which creditors, on an alleged act of bankruptcy, may proceed
against their debtors, with a view to subject them and their prop
erty to the operation of the law. It looks to no coercion by a
creditor to make his debtor a subject of the law against his will.
This is the first characteristic of the bill, and in this respect it
certainly differs from the former bankrupt laws of the United
States, and from the English bankrupt laws.

The bill, too, extends its provisions, not only to those who,
either in fact or in contemplation of law, are traders, but to all
persons who declare themselves insolvent, or unable to pay their
debts and meet their engagements, and who desire to assign
their property for the benefit of their creditors. In this respect,
also, it differs from the former law, and from the law of Eng
land.

The questions, then, are two: 1st. Can Congress constitu
tionally pass a bankrupt law which shall include other persons
besides traders ? 2d. Can it pass a law providing for voluntary
cases only, that is, cases in which the proceedings originate only
with the debtor himself?

The consideration of both these questions is necessarily in-



A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY. 5

volved in the discussion of the present bill, inasmuch as it has
been denied that Congress has power to extend bankrupt laws
farther than to merchants and traders, or to make them applica
ble to voluntary cases only. This limitation of the power of
Congress is asserted on the idea that the framers of the Consti
tution, in conferring the power of establishing bankrupt laws,
must be presumed to have had reference to the bankrupt laws
of England, as then existing; and that the laws of England
then existing embraced none but merchants and traders, and
provided only for involuntary or coercive bankruptcies.

Now, Sir, in the first place, allow me to remark, that the power
is granted to Congress in the most general and comprehensive
terms. It has one limitation only, which is, that laws on the
subject of bankruptcies shall be uniform throughout the United
States. With this qualification, the whole subject is placed
within the discretion and under the legislation of Congress.
The Constitution does not say that Congress shall have power
to pass a bankrupt law, nor to introduce the system of bankrupt
cies. It declares that Congress shah! have power to " establish
uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the
United States." This is the whole clause; nor is there any
limitation or restriction imposed by any other clause.

What, then, is " the subject of bankruptcies " ? or, in other
words, what are " bankruptcies " ? It is to be remembered that
the Constitution grants powers to Congress by particular or spe
cific enumeration ; and, in making this enumeration, it mentions
bankruptcies as a head of legislation, or as one of the sub
jects over which Congress is to possess authority. Bankrupt
cies are the subject, and the word is most certainly to be taken
in its common and popular sense ; in that sense in which the
people may be supposed to have understood it, when they rati
fied the Constitution. This is the true rule of interpretation.
And I may remark, that it is always a little dangerous, in con
struing the Constitution, to search for the opinions or under
standing of members of the Convention in any other sources
than the Constitution itself, because the Constitution owes its
whole force and authority to its ratification by the people, and
the people judged of it by the meaning most apparent on its
face. How particular members may have understood its provis
ions, if it could be ascertained, would not be conclusive. The



6 A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY.

question would still be, How did the people understand it?
And this can be decided only by giving their usual acceptation
to all words not evidently used in a technical sense, and by in
quiring, in any case, what was the interpretation or exposition
presented to the people when the subject was under considera
tion.

Bankruptcies, in the general use and acceptation of the term,
mean no more than failures. A bankruptcy is a fact. It is an
occurrence in the life and fortunes of an individual. When a
man cannot pay his debts, we say he has become a bankrupt,
or has failed. Bankruptcy is not merely the condition of a man
who is insolvent, and on whom a bankrupt law is already act
ing. This would be quite too technical an interpretation. Ac
cording to this, there never could be bankrupt laws, because
every law, if this were the meaning, would suppose the existence
of a previous law. Whenever a man s means are insufficient to
meet his engagements and pay his debts, the fact of bankruptcy
has taken place ; a case of bankruptcy has arisen, whether there
be a law providing for it or not.

There may be bankruptcies, or cases of bankruptcy, where
there are no bankrupt laws existing. Or bankrupt laws may
exist, which shall extend to some bankruptcies, or some cases of
bankruptcy, and not to others. We constantly speak of bank
ruptcies happening among individuals, without reference to ex
isting laws. Bankruptcies, as facts, or occurrences, or cases for
which Congress is authorized to make provision, are failures.
A learned judge has said that a law on the subject of bankrupt
cies, in the sense of the Constitution, is a law making provision
for persons failing to pay their debts. Over the whole subject
of these bankruptcies, or these failures, the power of Congress,
as it stands on the face of the Constitution, is full and complete.

And now, let us see how it is that this broad and general
power is, or can be, limited by a supposed reference to the Eng
lish system. The argument is this. The members of the Con
vention which framed the Constitution, in conferring this power
on Congress, must be supposed to have had reference to the
bankrupt laws of England ; and the bankrupt laws of England,
as then existing, embraced only merchants and traders, and were
only applied to debtors at the instance of their creditors ; there
fore the inference is said to be, that traders only should be re-



A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY. 7

garded as subjects of any bankrupt law to be passed by Con
gress, and that no such law should give the debtor himself a
right to become bankrupt, at his own request ; or at least, that
every such law should give a right to the creditor to proceed
against his debtor. But is this the just analogy ? Is this the
point of view in which a general resemblance of our system and
the English system may be supposed to have been contem
plated ? Clear] y not, in my opinion. Let it be admitted that
the framers of the Constitution looked to England for a general
example ; they must be supposed, nevertheless, to have looked
to the power of Parliament, and not to the particular mode in
which that power had been exercised, or the particular law then
actually existing. The true analogy is, as it seems to me, be
tween power and power ; the power of Parliament and the power
of Congress ; and not between the power of Congress and any
actually existing British statute, which might be, perhaps, in
many respects, quite unsuitable to our condition.

The members of the Convention did not study the British
statutes, nor examine judicial decisions, to ascertain the precise
nature of the actually existing system of bankruptcy in Eng
land. Still less did the people of the United States trouble
themselves with such inquiries. All saw that Parliament pos
sessed and exercised a power of passing bankrupt laws, and of
altering and amending them, from time to time, according to its
own discretion, and the necessities of the case. This power
they intended to confer on Congress, as largely, for aught that
appears, as they saw it held by Parliament. The early British
statutes were not confined to traders; later statutes were so
confined ; and more recently, again, changes have been made,
which bring in very numerous classes of persons who were not
esteemed traders, in England, at the time of the adoption of the
Constitution of the United States. I may add that bankrupt
laws, properly so called, or laws providing for the cessio bonorum,
on the continent of Europe, and in Scotland, were never confined
to traders ; and while the members of the Convention may be
supposed to have looked to the example of England, it is by
no means improbable that they contemplated also the example
and institutions of other countries. There is no reason to sup
pose that it was intended to tie up the hands of Congress to
the establishment of that particular bankrupt system which ex-



8 A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY.

isted in England in 1789, and to deny to it all power of future
modification and amendment. It would be just as reasonable
to say that the United States laws of copyright, of patents for
inventions, and many others, could only be mere transcripts of
such British statutes on the same subjects as existed in 1789.

The great object was to authorize Congress to establish a
uniform system throughout all the States. No State could of
itself establish such a system ; it could only establish a system
for itself; and the diversities, inconsistencies, and interferences
of the several State systems had been subjects of much well-
grounded complaint. It was intended to give Congress the
power to establish uniformity in this respect ; and if the Eng
lish example was regarded, it was regarded in its general char
acter of a power in Parliament to pass laws on the subject, to
repeal them, and pass others, in its discretion, and to deal with
the whole subject, from time to time, as experience of the exi
gencies of the public should suggest or require. The bankrupt
system of England, as it existed in 1789, was not the same
which had previously existed, nor the same as that which after
wards existed, or that which now exists. At first, the system
was coercive, and the law a sort of criminal law, extending to
all persons, as well as traders. But changes had taken place
before 1789, and other changes, and very important changes,
have taken place since. The system is now greatly simplified and
improved, and it is also made much more extensive as to those
whom it embraces. It is hardly too much to say, that it is pre
posterous to contend, not only that we are to refuse to ourselves
the light of our own experience, and all regard to our own
peculiar situation, but that we are also to exclude from our
regard and notice all modem English improvements, and con
fine ourselves to the English bankrupt laws as they existed in
1789. The power of Congress is given in the fuUest manner,
and by the largest and most comprehensive terms and forms of
expression ; and it cannot be limited by vague presumptions of
a reference to other existing codes, or loose conjectures about
the intents of its framers, nowhere expressed or intimated in the
instrument itself, or any contemporaneous exposition.

I think, then, that Congress may pass a law which shall in
clude persons not traders, and which shall include voluntary
cases only. And I think, further, that the amendment proposed



A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY. 9

by the honorable member from New Jersey is, in effect, exactly
against his own argument. I think it admits all that he con
tends against. In the first place, he admits voluntary bank
ruptcies, and there were none such in England in 1789. This
is clear. And in the next place, he admits any one who will
say that he has been concerned in trade ; and he maintains, and
has asserted, that in this country any body may say that. Any
body, then, may come in under the bill. The only difference is,
unless he is bond fide a trader, he must come in under a dis
guise, or in an assumed character. Whatever be his employ
ment, occupation, or pursuit, he must come in as a trader, or as
one who has been concerned or engaged in trade. The honora
ble member attempts a distinction between the traders and those
who can say that they have been engaged in trade. I cannot
see the difference. It is too fine for me. A trader is one con
cerned in trade, and to be concerned in trade is to be a trader.
What is the difference ? But if persons may be concerned in
trade, and yet not be traders, still such persons were not em
braced in the English statutes, which apply to traders by name ;
and therefore the gentleman s bill would embrace persons not
within those statutes as they stood in 1789.

The gentleman s real object is, not to confine the bill to
traders, but to embrace every body ; and yet he deems it neces
sary for every person applying to state, and to swear, that he has
been engaged in trade. This seems to me to be both superflu
ous and objectionable ; superfluous, because, if we have a right
to bring in persons under one name, we may bring in the same
persons under another name, or by a general description ; objec
tionable, because it requires men to state what may very much
resemble a falsehood, and to make oath to it. Suppose a farmer
or mechanic to fail; can he take an oath that he has been
engaged in trade? If the objection to bring in others than
traders is well founded in the Constitution, surely mere form
cannot remove it. Words cannot alter things. The Constitu
tion says nothing about traders. Yet the honorable gentleman s
amendment requires all applicants to declare themselves traders ;
and if they will but say so, and swear so, it shall be so received,
and nobody shall contradict it. In other words, a fiction, not
very innocent, shall be allowed to overcome an unconstitutional
objection. The gentleman has been misled by a false analogy.



10 A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF BANKRUPTCY.

He has adopted an example which does not apply to the case,
and which he yet does not follow out. The British statutes are
confined to traders. But then they contain a long list of per
sons who, it is declared, shall be deemed and taken to be traders
within the acts. This list they extend, from time to time ; and
whenever any one included within the list becomes a voluntary
bankrupt, lie avers, in substance, that he is a trader, within the
act of Parliament. If it had been necessary, as it is not, to
follow this example at all, the gentleman s bill should have
declared all persons traders for the purposes of this act, and then
every body could have made the declaration without impro
priety, as in England the applicant only states that which the



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