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landholders constitute the best part of the population, yet it is observable that in every instance the subordinate principle advanced as the groundwork of each separate recommendation, is, by the terms of the Message, so qualified in the theory as scarcely, if at all, to differ from the views and opinions entertained by the friends of the interest which the recommendation itself is adopted to destroy. Thus, for example, in the recommendation to abandon all future appropriations of the public moneys for purposes of internal improvement, the only principle avowed is “that the Constitution does not warrant the application of the funds of the general government to objects of internal improvement, which are not national in their character." From this position the most ardent and most liberal friend of internal improvement will not dissent. No appropriation ever has been asked; there is not the shadow of a danger that any appropriations of funds ever will be asked, but for objects alleged to be of a national character; and of their legitimate title to that character, the representatives of the whole people, and of all the state legislatures in Congress assembled, under the control of a qualified negative by the chief magistrate of the Union, all acting under a constant responsibility to their constituents, are qualified and competent judges. That there will be, as there have been, diversities of opinion, whether any specified object of internal improvement is or is not of a national character, may be freely admitted ; and that in all cases where it may be reasonably doubted, the wise and prudent policy of the constituted authorities will induce them rather to withhold than grant the appropriation, is a conclusion deducible not less from the experience of the past than from the confidence due to the moral character of the delegated representatives of the nation. That in the great majority of applications for appropriations in aid of internal improvements, which have been made to Congress, the objects for which they were solicited have been of a national character, could not be, and was not, doubted. Of the appropriations made, the subscribers confidently affirm that none can be pointed out which are not unquestionably of that character. If there has been error in the administration of the government, in the application or appropriations to these objects, it has been an error of parsimony, and not of profusion; a refusal of the public money where it ought to have been granted, and not a bestowal where it ought to have been denied. In the sober and honest discretion of the legislature, under the vigilant supervision of the executive chief, å guard, amply sufficient for the protection of the public resources against wasteful or improvident expenditures, has been provided by the Constitution.
It is, then, with sentiments of deep mortification and of unqualified dissent, that the subscribers have observed the earnest recommendations to Congress, in the Message, to abandon the whole system of appropriations for internal improvements which has hitherto been pursued; which was in the full tide of successful experiment, and which, for a long series of years, has been contributing to increase the comforts, to multiply the enjoyments, and to consolidate the strength and happiness of the American people. To abandon them all, for in no other light can they consider the extraordinary though vague and indefinite commendations of simplicity as the suitable characteristic for the government of a nation of swarming millions of human beings; the intensely urgent exhortations to Congress to refrain from the exercise of all beneficent powers, which one twentieth part of the people may carp and cavil at as doubtful — the incomprehensible argument that harmony and union are to be promoted by stilling the firm and manly voice of nineteen twentieths of our constituents, to satisfy the brainsick doubts or appease the menacing clamors of less than one twentieth ; and, finally, the direct recommendation to Congress to dispose of all stocks now held by the general government in corporations, whether created by the general or state governments, and to place the proceeds in the treasury.
In these recommendations, and in the spirit with which they are pressed upon the consideration of Congress, the subscribers can discern nothing less than a proposed revolution of government in this Union a revolution the avowed purpose of which is to reduce the general government to a simple machine. A simple machine ? The universe in which we daily revolve, and which seems to our vision daily to revolve round us, is a simple machine under the guidance of an omnipotent hand. The president of the United States, one of the functionaries provided by the Constitution for the ordinary management of the affairs of the government, but not intrusted even with the power of action upon any proposed alteration or amendment to the Constitution, undertakes to reduce the general government to a simple machine, the simplicity of which shall consist of universal beneficence in preserving peace, affording a uniform currency, maintaining the inviolability of contracts, diffusing intelligence, and discharging, unfelt, its other (nameless, unenumerated, and undefined) superintending functions. Truly, this simplicity may be aptly compared with that of the government of the universe ; needing only an omnipotent hand to guide and regulate its movements, and differing from it, as would seem, only in the self-denial of all power to improve the condition or promote the general welfare of the community, by and for whom this simple machine was ordained. To the subscribers it appears that of all the attributes of government among men, simplicity is the last that deserves commendation. The simplest of all governments is an absolute despotism, and it may confidently be affirmed that in proportion as a government approaches to simplicity will always be its approaches to arbitrary power. It is by the complication of government alone that the freedom of mankind can be secured; simplicity is the essential characteristic in the condition of all slavery; and if the people of these United States enjoy a greater share of liberty than any other nation upon earth, it is because, of all the governments upon earth, theirs is the most complicated. The simplicity to which the recommendations of the Message would reduce the machine of government is a simplicity of impotence, an abdication of the power to do good, a divestment of all power in this confederated people to improve their own condition.
The subscribers believe that this great confederated Union is a union of the people, a union of states, a union of great national interests; a union of all classes, conditions, and occupations of men; a union co-extensive with our territorial dominions ; a union for successive ages, without limitation of time. They read in the preamble to the Constitution, that it was ordained and established by the people of the United States, among other great and noble purposes, to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. As sovereign states have no posterity, they are incompetent to enter into any such compact. The people of the United States, in ordaining the Constitution, expressly bound to its observance their posterity as well as themselves. Their posterity — that is, the whole people of the United States - are the only power on earth competent to dissolve peaceably that compact. It cannot otherwise be dissolved but by force. But to make it perpetual, the first and transcendent duty of all who at any time are called to participate in the councils of its government, is to harmonize, and not to divide, to co-operate, and not to conflict.
JOSIAH QUINCY. Josiah Quincy, the son of the famous orator of the revolution, Josiah Quincy, Jr., was born in Boston, February 4, 1772. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1790, and commenced the study of law with Judge Tudor; but he was soon engaged in political affairs, and was, during the whole of his long life, in the noblest sense a public man. He was a member of Congress from 1805 to 1813, a state senator from 1813 to 1821, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1821, judge of the municipal court in 1822, second mayor of Boston, from 1823 to 1828, and president of Harvard College from 1829 to 1845, when he retired from office and from active pursuits to enjoy his deserved repose. He was an ardent Federalist, aggressive and uncompromising in temper, spotless in personal character, and possessing the rare combination of brilliant parts and varied learning with eminent.y practical abilities. He died July 1, 1864, leaving a reputation for integrity and high-mindedness that may be likened to the fame of the noblest historic Romans. His published works are a Life of Josiah Quincy, Jr., The History of Harvard University, The Journals of Major Samuel Shaw, first American Consul at Canton, with a Life of the Author, History of the Boston Athenæum, The Municipal History of the Town and City of Boston during Two Centuries, The Life of John Quincy Adams, besides numerous speeches and addresses. His life, written by his son, Edmund Quincy, has been published in one vol., 12mo. (Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co.).
The extracts here given are from a speech delivered in Congress upon the embargo that preceded the last war with Great Britain.
WHEN I enter on the subject of the embargo, I am struck with wonder at the very threshold. I know not with what words to express my astonishment. At the time I departed from Massachusetts, if there was an impression which I thought universal, it was that, at the commencement of this session, an end would be put to this measure. The opinion was not so much that it would be terminated as that it was then at an end. Sir, the prevailing sentiment, according to my apprehension, was stronger than this even that the pressure was so great that it could not possibly be long endured; that it would soon be absolutely insupportable. And this opinion, as I then had reason to believe, was not confined to any one class, or description, or party : even those who were friends of the existing administration, and unwilling to abandon it, were yet satisfied that a sufficient trial had been given to this measure. With these impressions I arrive in this city. I hear the incantations of the great enchanter; I feel his spell. I see the legislative machinery begin to move. The scene opens, and I am commanded to forget all my recollections, to disbelieve the evidence of my senses, to contradict what I have seen, and heard, and felt. I hear that all this discontent was mere party clamor, electioneering artifice; that the people of New England are able and willing to endure this embargo for an indefinite, unlimited period, — some say for six months, some a year, some two years. The gentleman from North Carolina [Mr. Macon] told us that he preferred three years of embargo to a war. And the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Clopton) said expressly that he hoped we should never allow our vessels to go upon the ocean again until the Orders and Decrees of the belligerents were rescinded. In plain English, until France and Great Britain should, in their great condescension, permit. Good Heavens ! Mr. Chairman, are men mad? Is this house touched with that insanity which is the never-failing precursor of the intention of Heaven to destroy? The people of New England, after eleven months' deprivation of the ocean, to be commanded still longer to abandon it for an undefined period, to hold their unalienable rights at the tenure of the will of Britain or of Bonaparte ! A people commercial in all aspects, in all their relations, in all their hopes, in all their recollections of the past, in all their prospects of the future; a people whose first love was the ocean, the choice of their childhood, the approbation of their manly years, the most precious inheritance of their fathers; in the midst of their success, in the moment of the most exquisite perception of commercial prosperity, — to be commanded to abandon it, not for a time limited, but for a time unlimited; not until they can be prepared to defend themselves there (for that is not pretended), but until their rivals recede from it; not until their necessities require, but until foreign nations permit! I am lost in astonishment, Mr. Chairman. I have not words to express the matchless absurdity of this attempt. I have no tongue to express the swift and headlong destruction which a blind perseverance in such a system must bring upon this nation.
Mr. Chairman, other gentlemen must take their responsibilities; I shall take mine. This embargo must be repealed. You cannot enforce it for any important period of time longer. When I speak of your inability to enforce this law, let not gentlemen misunderstand me. I mean not to intimate insurrections or open defiances of them, although it is impossible to foresee in what acts that “
“oppression will finally terminate, which, we are told, “makes wise men mad.” I speak of an inability resulting from very different causes.
The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Macon] exclaimed the other day, in a strain of patriotic ardor, “What! shall not our laws be executed ? Shall their authority be defied ? I am for enforcing them at every hazard.” I honor that gentleman's zeal, and I mean no deviation from that true respect I entertain for him when I tell him that, in this instance, “his zeal is not according to knowledge.”