David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 4) online

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Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 4) → online text (page 4 of 39)
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and the inference just, that we are to be indifferent to their
fate. All the writers of the most established authority, Depons,
Humboldt, and others, concur in assigning to the people of Span-
ish America great quickness, genius, and particular aptitude for
the acquisition of the exact sciences, and others which they have
been allowed to cultivate. In astronomy, geology, mmersdogy,
chemistry, botany, and so forth, they are allowed to make distin-
guished proficiency. They justly boast of their Abzate, Velas-
ques, and Gama, and other illustrious contributors to science.


They have nine universities, and in the City of Mexico, it is
affirmed by Humboldt, there are more solid scientific estab-
lishments than in any city even of North America. I would
refer to the message of the supreme director of La Plata, which
I shall hereafter have occasion to use for another purpose, as a
model of fine composition of a State paper, challenging a com-
parison with any, the most celebrated, that ever issued from the
pens of Jefferson or Madison. Gentlemen will egregiously err,
if they form their opinions of the present condition of Spanish
America from what it was under the debasing system of Spain.
The eight years' revolution in which it has been engaged has
already produced a powerful effect. Education has been attended
to, and genius developed.

*As soon as the project of the revolution arose on the shores of
the La Plata, genius and talent exhibited their influence; the capac-
ity of the people became manifest, and the means of acquiring
knowledge were soon made the favorite pursuit of the youth. As far
as the wants or the inevitable interruption of affairs were allowed,
everything has been done to disseminate useful information. The
liberty of the press has indeed met with some occasional checks; but
in Buenos Ayres alone, as many periodical works weekly issue from
the press as in Spain and Portugal put together. *>

It is not therefore true, that the imputed ignorance exists;
but, if it do, I repeat, I dispute the inference. It is the doc-
trine of thrones, that man is too ignorant to govern himself.
Their partisans assert his incapacity, in reference to all nations;
if they cannot command universal assent to the proposition, it is
then demanded to particular nations; and our pride and our
presumption too often make converts of us. I contend, that it is
to arraign the dispositions of Providence himself, to suppose that
he has created beings incapable of governing themselves, and to
be trampled on by kings. Self-government is the natural gov-
ernment of man, and for proof I refer to the aborigines of our
own land. Were I to speculate in hypotheses unfavorable to
human liberty, my speculations should be founded rather upon
the vices, refinements, or density of population. Crowded to-
gether in compact masses, even if they were philosophers, the
contagion of the passions is communicated and caught, and the
effect too often, I admit, is the overthrow of liberty. Dispersed
over such an immense space as that on which the people of


Spanish America are spread, their physical, and I believe also
their moral condition, both favor their liberty.

With regard to their superstition, they worship the same God
with us. Their prayers are offered up in their temples to the
same Redeemer whose intercession we expect to save us. Nor
is there anything in the Catholic religion unfavorable to freedom.
All religions united with government are more or less inimical
to liberty. All, separated from government, are compatible with
liberty. If the people of Spanish America have not already
gone as far in religious toleration as we have, the difference in
their condition from ours should not be forgotten. Everything
is progressive; and, in time, I hope to see them imitating in this
respect our example. But grant that the people of Spanish
America are ignorant and incompetent for free government, to
whom is that ignorance to be ascribed ? Is it not to the exe-
crable system of Spain, which she seeks again to establish and to
perpetuate ? So far from chilling our hearts, it ought to increase
our solicitude for our unfortunate brethren. It ought to animate
us to desire the redemption of the minds and the bodies of un-
born millions from the brutifying effects of a system whose ten-
dency is to stifle the faculties of the soul and to degrade man to
the level of beasts. I would invoke the spirits of our departed
fathers. Was it for yourselves only that you nobly fought ? No,
no! It was the chains that were forging for your posterity that
made you fly to arms, and, scattering the elements of these
chains to the winds, you transmitted to us the rich inheritance of


(Delivered in the United States Senate, February 2d, 1832 — Given by Benton

as an Unabridged Report)

EIGHT years ago it was my painful duty to present to the
House of Congress an unexaggerated picture of the gen-
eral distress pervading the whole land. We must all yet
remember some of its frightful features. We all know that the
people were then oppressed and borne down by an enormous
load of debt; that the value of property was at the lowest point
of depression; that ruinous sales and sacrifices were everywhere
made of real estate; that stop laws and relief laws and paper



money were adopted to save the people from impending destruc-
tion; that a deficit in the public revenue existed, which com-
pelled the Government to seize upon, and divert from its legiti-
mate object, the appropriation to the sinking fund, to redeem
the national debt; and that our commerce and navigation were
threatened with a complete paralysis. In short, sir, if I were
to select any term of seven years since the adoption of the
present Constitution, which exhibited a scene of the most wide-
spread dismay and desolation, it would be exactly that term of
seven years which immediately preceded the establishment of the
tariff of 1824.

I have now to perform the more pleasing task of exhibiting
an imperfect sketch of the existing state of the unparalleled
prosperity of the country. On a general survey, we behold cul-
tivation extended, the arts flourishing, the face of the country
improved, our people fully and profitably employed, and the
public countenance exhibiting tranquillity, contentment, and hap-
piness. And, if we descend into particulars, we have the agree-
able contemplation of a people out of debt; land rising slowly
in value, but in a secure and salutary degree; a ready, though
not extravagant market for all the surplus productions of our
industry; innumerable flocks and herds browsing and gamboling
on ten thousand hills and plains, covered with rich and verdant
grasses; our cities expanded, and whole villages springing up, as
it were, by enchantment; our exports and imports increased and
increasing; our tonnage, foreign and coastwise, swelling and fully
occupied; the rivers of our interior animated by the perpetual
thunder and lightning of countless steamboats; the currency sound
and abundant; the public debt of two wars nearly redeemed;
and, to crown all, the public treasury overflowing, embarrassing
Congress, not to find subjects of taxation, but to select the ob-
jects which shall be liberated from the impost. If the term
of seven years were to be selected of the greatest prosperity
which this people have enjoyed since the establishment of their
present Constitution, it would be exactly that period of seven
years which immediately followed the passage of the tariff of

This transformation of the condition of the country from
gloom and distress to brightness and prosperity has been mainly
the work of American legislation, fostering American industry,
instead of allowing it to be controlled by foreign legislation, cher-



ishing foreign industry. The foes of the American system, in
1824, with great boldness and confidence, predicted: ist. The ruin
of the public revenue, and the creation of a necessity to resort
to- direct taxation. The gentleman from South Carolina [Mr.
Hayne], I believe, thought that the tariff of 1824 would operate
a reduction of revenue to the large amount of eight millions of
dollars. 2d. The destruction of our navigation. 3d. The desola-
tion of commercial cities. And 4th. The augmentation of the
price of objects of consumption, and further decHne in that of
the articles of our exports. Every prediction which they made
has failed — utterly failed. Instead of the ruin of the pubHc
revenue, with which they then sought to deter us from the adop-
tion of the American system, we are now threatened with its
subversion, by the vast amount of the public revenue produced
by that system. Every branch of our navigation has increased.
As to the desolation of our cities, let us take, as an example,
the condition of the largest and most commercial of all of them,
the great northern capital. I have in my hands the assessed
value of real estate in the city of New York, from 181 7 to 1831.
This value is canvassed, contested, scrutinized, and adjudged, by
the proper sworn authorities. It is, therefore, entitled to full
credence. During the first term, commencing with 181 7, and
ending in the year of the passage of the tariff of 1824, the
amount of the value of real estate was, the first year, $57,799,-
435, and, after various fluctuations in the intermediate period,
it settled down at $52,019,730, exhibiting a decrease, in seven
years, of $5,779,705. During the year 1825, after the passage
of the tariff, it rose, and, gradually ascending throughout the
whole of the latter period of seven years, it finally, in 1831,
reached the astonishing height of $95,716,485! Now, if it be
said that this rapid growth of the city of New York was the
effect of foreign commerce, then it was not correctly predicted,
in 1824, that the tariff would destroy foreign commerce and deso-
late our commercial cities. If, on the contrary, it be the effect
of internal trade, then internal trade cannot be justly chargeable
with the evil consequences imputed to it. The truth is, it is the
joint effect of both principles, the domestic industry nourishing
the foreign trade, and the foreign commerce, in turn, nourishing
the domestic industry. Nowhere more than in New York is the
combination of both principles so completely developed. In
the progress of my argument I will consider the effect upon the


price of commodities produced by the American system, and
show that the very reverse of the prediction of its foes, in 1824,
has actually happened.

Whilst thus we behold the entire failure of all that was fore-
told against the system, it is a subject of just felicitation to its
friends, that all their anticipations of its benefits have been ful-
filled, or are in progress of fulfillment. The honorable gentleman
from South Carolina has made allusion to a speech made by me,
in 1824, in the other house, in support of the tariff, and to
which, otherwise, I should not have particularly referred. But I
would ask any one, who could now command the courage to pe-
ruse that long production, what principle there laid down is not
true ? what prediction then made has been falsified by practical
experience ?

It is now proposed to abolish the system to which we owe so
much of the public prosperity, and it is urged that the arrival of
the period of the redemption of the public debt has been confi-
dently looked to as presenting a suitable occasion to rid the
country of the evils with which the system is alleged to be
fraught. Not an inattentive observer of passing events, I have
been aware that, among those who were most eagerly pressing
the payment of the public debt, and, upon that ground, were op-
posing appropriations to other great interests, there were some
who cared less about the debt than the accomplishment of other
objects. But the people of the United States have not coupled
the payment of their public debt with the destruction of the
protection of their industry, against foreign laws and foreign in-
dustry. They have been accustomed to regard the extinction of
the public debt as relief from a burden, and not as the infliction
of a curse. If it is to be attended or followed by the subversion
of the American system, and the exposure of our establishments
and our productions to the unguarded consequences of the selfish
policy of foreign powers, the payment of the public debt will be
the bitterest of curses. Its fruit will be like the fruit

^< Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe.
With loss of Eden.»




fFrom the Speech of January i6th, 1824, in the House of Representatives on

the Cumberland Road)

IT IS said by the President that the power to regulate commerce
merely authorizes the laying of imposts and duties. But

Congress has no power to lay imposts and duties on the
trade among the several States. The grant must mean, there-
fore, something else. What is it ? The power to regulate com-
merce among the several States, if it has any meaning, implies
authority to foster it, to promote it, to bestow upon it facilities
similar to those which have been conceded to our foreign trade.
It cannot mean only an empty authority to adopt regulations,
without the capacity to give practical effect to them. All the
powers of this Government should be interpreted in reference to
its first, its best, its greatest object, the union of these States,
And is not that union best invigorated by an intimate social and
commercial connection between all the parts of the confederacy ?
Can that be accomplished, that is, can the federative objects of
this Government be attained but by the application of federative
resources ?

Of all the powers bestowed on this Government, I think none
are more clearly vested than that to regulate the distribution of
the intelligence, private and official, of the country; to regulate
the distribution of its commerce; and to regulate the distribution
of the physical force of the Union, In the execution of the
high and solemn trust which these beneficial powers imply, we
must look to the great ends which the framers of our admirable
Constitution had in view. We must reject as wholly incompat-
ible with their enlightened and beneficent intentions that con-
struction of these powers which would resuscitate all the debility
and inefiticiency of the ancient confederacy. In the vicissitudes
of human affairs who can foresee all the possible cases in which
it may be necessary to apply the public force, within or without
the Union ? This Government is charged with the use of it to
repel invasions, to suppress insurrections, to enforce the laws of
the Union; in short for all the unknown and undefinable pur-
poses of war, foreign or intestine, wherever and however it may
rage. During its existence may not Government, for its effect


ual prosecution, order a road to be made, or a canal to be cut,
to relieve, for example, an exposed point of the Union ? If, when
the emergency comes, there is a power to provide for it, that
power must exist in the Constitution, and not in the emergency.
A wise, precautionary, and parental policy, anticipating danger,
will provide beforehand for the hour of need. Roads and canals
are in the nature of fortifications, since, if .not the deposits of
military resources, they enable you to bring into rapid action
the military resources of the country, whatever they may be.
They are better than any fortifications, because they serve the
double purposes of peace and war. They dispense, in a great
degree, with fortifications, since they have all the effect of that
concentration at which fortifications aim. I appeal from the pre-
cepts of the President to the practice of the President. While
he denies to Congress the power in question, he does not scruple,
upon his sole authority, as numerous instances in the statute
book will testify, to order at pleasure the opening of roads by
the military, and then come here to ask us to pay for them.

But, Mr. Chairman, if there be any part of this Union more
likely than all others to be benefited by the adoption of the gen-
tleman's principle, regulating the public expenditure, it is the
west. There is a perpetual drain from that embarrassed and
highly distressed portion of our country, of its circulating medium
to the east. There, but few and inconsiderable expenditures of
the public money take place. There we have none of those pub-
lic works, no magnificent edifices, forts, armories, arsenals, dock-
yards, etc., which more or less are to be found in every Atlantic
State. In at least seven States beyond the Alleghany, not one
solitary public work of this Government is to be found. If, by
one of those awful and terrible dispensations of Providence,
which sometimes occur, this Government should be unhappily an-
nihilated, everywhere on the seaboard traces of its former exist-
ence would be found, whilst we should not have, in the west, a
single monument remaining on which to pour out our affections
and our regrets. Yet, sir, we do not complain. No portion of
your population is more loyal to the Union than the hardy free-
men of the west. Nothing can weaken or eradicate their ardent
desire for its lasting preservation. None are more prompt to
vindicate the interests and rights of the nation from all foreign
aggression. Need I remind you of the glorious scenes in which


they participated, during the late war — a war in which they had
no peculiar or direct interest, waged for no commerce, no sea-
men of theirs. But it was enough for them that it was a wai
demanded by the character and the honor of the nation. They
did not stop to calculate its cost of blood, or of treasure. They
flew to arms; they rushed down the valley of the Mississippi,
with all the impetuosity of that noble river. They sought the
enemy. They found him at the beach. They fought; they bled;
they covered themselves and their country with immortal glory.
They enthusiastically shared in all the transports occasioned by
our victories, whether won on the ocean or on the land. They
felt, with the keenest distress, whatever disaster befell us. No,
sir, I repeat it, neglect, injury itself, cannot alienate the affec-
tions of the west from this government. They cling to it,
as to their best, their greatest, their last hope. You may im-
poverish them, reduce them to ruin, by the mistakes of your
policy, yet you cannot drive them from you. They do not com-
plain of the expenditure of the public money, where the public
exigencies require its disbursement. But, I put it to your can-
dor, if you ought not, by a generous and national policy, to
mitigate, if not prevent, the evils resulting from the perpetual
transfer of the circulating medium from the west to the east.
One million and a half of dollars annually is transferred for the
public lands alone, and almost every dollar goes, like him who
goes to death — to a bourne from which no traveler returns. In
ten years it will amount to fifteen millions; in twenty to —
but I will not pursue the appalling results of arithmetic. Gen-
tlemen who believe that these vast sums are supplied by emi-
grants from the east labor under great error. There was a time
when the tide of emigration from the east bore along with it the
means to effect the purchase of the public domain. But that
tide has, in a great measure, now stopped. And as population
advances farther and farther west, it will entirely cease. The
greatest migrating States in the Union, at this time, are Ken-
tucky first, Ohio next, and Tennessee. The emigrants from those
States carry with them, to the States and territories lying beyond
them, the circulating medium, which, being invested in the pur-
chase of the public land, is transmitted to the points where the
wants of government require it. If this debilitating and ex-
hausting process were inevitable, it must be borne with manly
fortitude. But we think that a fit exertion of the powers of this


Government would mitigate the evil. We believe that the Gov-
ernment incontestably possesses the constitutional power to ex-
ecute such internal improvements as are called for by the good
of the whole. And we appeal to your equity, to your parental
regard, to your enlightened policy, to perform the high and
beneficial trust thus sacredly reposed. I am sensible of the deli-
cacy of the topic to which I have reluctantly adverted, in con-
sequence of the observations of the honorable gentleman from
Virginia. And I hope there will be no misconception of my
motives in dwelling upon it. A wise and considerate govern-
ment should anticipate and prevent, rather than wait for the
operation of causes of discontent.

Let me ask, Mr. Chairman, What has this Government done
on the great subject of internal improvements, after so many
years of its existence, and with such an inviting field before it?
You have made the Cumberland road, only. Gentlemen appear
to have considered that a western road. They ought to recollect
that not one stone has yet been broken, not one spade of earth
has yet been removed in any western State. The road begins in
Maryland and it terminates at Wheeling. It passes through the
States of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. All the direct
benefit of the expenditure of the public money on that road has
accrued to those three States. Not one cent in any western
State. And yet we have had to beg, entreat, supplicate you,
session after session, to grant the necessary appropriations to
complete the road. I myself have toiled until my powers have
been exhausted and prostrated, to prevail on you to make the
grant. We were actuated to make these exertions for the sake
of the collateral benefit only to the west; that we might have a
way by which we should be able to continue and maintain an
affectionate intercourse with our friends and brethren; that we
might have a way to reach the capital of our country, and to
bring our counsels, humble as they may be, to consult and
mingle with yours in the advancement of the national pros-

Yes, sir, the Cumberland road has only reached the margin
of a western State; and, from some indications which have been
given during this session, I should apprehend it would there
pause forever, if my confidence in you were not unbounded, if
I had not before witnessed that appeals were never unsuccessful
to your justice, to your magnanimity, to your fraternal affection.


But, sir, the bill on your table is no western bill. It is em-
phatically a national bill, comprehending all, looking to the inter-
ests of the whole. The people of the west never thought of,
never desired, never asked, for a system exclusively for their
benefit. The system contemplated by this bill looks to great na-
tional objects, and proposes the ultimate application to their ac-
complishment of the only means by which they can be effected,
the means of the nation — means which, if they be withheld
from such objects, the Union, I do most solemnly believe, of
these now happy and promising States, may, at some distant (I
trust a far, far distant) day, be endangered and shaken at its


(From a Speech on the War of 1812. Delivered in the House of Representa-
tives, January 8th, 1813)

NEXT to the notice which the opposition has found itself called
upon to bestow upon the French Emperor, a distinguished
citizen of Virginia, formerly President of the United States,
has never for a moment failed to receive their kindest and most
respectful attention. An honorable gentleman from Massachu-
setts, Mr. Quincy, of whom, I am sorry to say, it becomes neces-
sary for me, in the course of my remarks, to take some notice,
has alluded to him in a remarkable manner. Neither his retire-
ment from public office, his eminent services, nor his advanced
age, can exempt this patriot from the coarse assaults of party
malevolence. No, sir, in 1801 he snatched from the rude hand
of usurpation the violated Constitution of his country, and that is
his crime. He preserved that instrument in form and substance
and spirit, a precious inheritance for generations to come, and for
this he can never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party
rage directed against such a man ! He is not more elevated by
his lofty residence upon the summit of his own favorite mount-

Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 4) → online text (page 4 of 39)