« PreviousContinue »
It is easy
steadfast and glittering summits of the world; a feeling that we are surrounded and attended by a noble, historical group of competitors and rivals, the other nations of the earth, all of whom we hope to overtake and even to distance — such a sentiment as this exists perhaps in the character of this people. And this I do not discourage; I do not condemn. It is to ridicule it. But “grand swelling sentiments” of patriotism no wise man will despise. They have their uses. They help to give a great heart to a nation; to animate it for the various conflict of its lot; to assist it to work out for itself a more exceeding weight and to fill a larger measure of glory. But, Sir, that among these useful and beautiful sentiments, predominant among them, there exists a temper of hostility towards this one particular nation, to such a degree as to amount to a habit, a trait, a national passion, to amount to a state of feeling which “is to be regretted,” and which really threatens another war — this I earnestly and confidently deny. I would not hear your enemy say this.
Sir, the indulgence of such a sentiment by the people supposes them to have forgotten one of the counsels of Washing
Call to mind the ever seasonable wisdom of the Farewell Address :
“The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury; to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation prompted by ill-will and resentment sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts, through passion, what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty of nations, has been the victim."
No, Sir. No, Sir. We are above all this. Let the Highland clansman, half naked, half civilized, half blinded by the peat smoke of his cavern, have his hereditary enemy and his hereditary enmity, and keep the keen, deep, and precious
hatred, set on fire of hell, alive if he can ; let the North American Indian have his, and hand it down from father to son, by Heaven knows what symbols of alligators and rattlesnakes and war-clubs smeared with vermilion and entwined with scarlet ; let such a country as Poland, cloven to the earth, the armed heel on the radiant forehead, her body dead, her soul incapable to die, — let her “remember the wrongs of days long past; let the lost and wandering tribes of Israel remember theirs, the manliness and the sympathy of the world may allow or pardon this to them ; but shall America, young, free, prosperous, just setting out on the highway of heaven, “ decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just begins to move in, glittering like the morning star, full of life and joy,”—shall she be supposed to be polluting and corroding her noble and happy heart, by moping over old stories of Stamp Act, and tea tax, and the firing of The Leopard upon The Chesapeake in a time of peace ? No, Sir; no, Sir; a thousand times no! Why, I protest I thought all that had been settled. I thought two wars had settled it all. What else was so much good blood shed for on so many more than classical fields of Revolutionary glory? For what was so much good blood more lately shed at Lundy's Lane, at Fort Erie, before and behind the lines at New Orleans, on the deck of The Constitution, on the deck of The Java, on the lakes, on the sea, but to settle exactly these “ wrongs of past days ”? And have we come back sulky and sullen, from the very field of honor ? For my country I deny it. The Senator says that our people still remember these “ former scenes of wrong with perhaps too deep” a sensibility; and that, as I interpret him, they nourish a “ too extensive ” national enmity. How so? If the feeling he attributes to them is moral, manly, creditable, how comes it to be too deep; and if it is immoral, unmanly, and unworthy, why is it charged on them at all? Is there a member of this body, who would stand up in any educated, in any intelligent and right-minded circle which he respected, and avow, that for his part he must acknowledge, that, looking back through the glories and the atonements of two wars, his veins were full of ill blood to England ; that in peace he could not help being her enemy; that he could not pluck out the deep-wrought convictions and the immortal hate” of the old times ? Certainly,
not one. And then, Sir, that which we feel would do no honor to ourselves, shall we confess for our country
? Mr. President, let me say, that in my judgment this notion of a national enmity of feeling towards Great Britain belongs to a past age of our history. My younger countrymen are unconscious of it. They disavow it. That generation in whose opinions and feelings the actions and the destiny of the next age are enfolded, as the tree in the germ, do not at all comprehend your meaning, nor your fears, nor your regrets. We are born to happier feelings. We look on England as we look on France. We look on them, from our new world, not unrenowned, yet a new world still; and the blood mounts to our cheeks; our eyes swim ; our voices are stifled with emulousness of so much glory; their trophies will not let us sleep; but there is no hatred at all; no hatred; all for honor, nothing for hate!
We have, we can have no barbarian memory of wrongs, for which brave men have made the last expiation to the brave.
No, Sir; if public men, or any one public man, think it their duty to make a war or cultivate the dispositions of war towards any nation, let them perform the duty, and have done with it. But do not say that there is an unfortunate, morbid, impracticable popular temper on the subject, which you desire to resist, but are afraid you shall not be able to resist. If will answer for the politicians, I think I will venture to answer for the people.
SPEECH UPON THE SUBJECT OF PROTECTING AMERI
CAN LABOR BY DUTIES ON IMPORTS.
DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, APRIL 12 AND 15, 1844.
[The Senator from South Carolina (Mr. McDuffie] had introduced, on leave, the following bill :A BILL to revive the act of the second of March, one thousand eight hundred
and thirty-three, usually called the “Compromise Act," and to modify the existing duties upon foreign imports in conformity to its provisions. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That so much of the existing law imposing duties upon foreign imports as provides that duties ad valorem on certain commodities shall be assessed upon an assumed minimum value, be, and the same is hereby, repealed, and that said duties be hereafter assessed on the true value of such commodities.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That in all cases in which the existing duty upon any imported commodity exceeds thirty per centum on the value thereof, such duty shall be hereafter reduced to thirty per centum ad valorem.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That from and after the thirty-first day of December next, all duties upon foreign imports shall be reduced to twentyfive per centum; and from and after the thirty-first of December, one thousand eight hundred and forty-four, to twenty per centum ad valorem.
And the committee on finance of the senate had reported resolutions recommending its indefinite postponement. The debate arose upon those resolutions.]
It is not my purpose, and never has been, to engage in' a general discussion of this subject. In the actual circumstances, no consideration could induce me to do so. Good taste, if nothing else, ought to prevent it. In my hands, such a discussion could retain neither interest nor usefulness. There is literally nothing at all left to be said or to be refuted. Truths, threadbare and worn to tatters, or novel
ties, empty, false, sounding, and mischievous, are at least all that is left. It has come to be preëminently that case in which “true things are not new things, and new things are not true things."
Besides, Sir, for the maintenance of the doctrines to which I am devoted, and with the steady and constant practice of which the comfort, the prosperity, and the greatness of the American people, are inseparably intertwined, more general discussion is needless. The defence of the system
protection is made. It has been made before and elsewhere, by ten thousand tongues and pens, and by that which is more eloquent and more persuasive than any tongue or pen, — the teachings of experience, — the lapse of time,—the revelations of events, - the
present of our own country, and of all countries. It has been made, here and now, by the Senators from Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Georgia, and by my friend and colleague, [Messrs. Evans, Huntington, Phelps, Simmons, Berrien, and Bates, with a fulness and ability that leaves nothing to be desired and nothing to be added. If this Troy of ours can be defended ; if these daily and indispensable employments of our people can be preserved to them; if these fields and shops of useful, honest, and respectable labor — labor which at once elevates and blesses the individual operative, by hundreds of thousands, and, in its larger results, contributes to fill the measure of the nation's glory - if these can be defended, their hands will have been sufficient to make the defence. If theirs are not, my feeble efforts can avail nothing.
There is another reason, Mr. President, on which I decline that larger and more elementary discussion that has occupied so much of this debate, on which, without the least disrespect to any one, I desire to say a word: and that is, that, for myself, I cannot consent to regard this matter of protection as at all that open question which it might seem to have been regarded by senators on all sides. Sir, I presume to prescribe no rule of debate to others ; nor to criticise, or even to observe upon their course ; but I shall not allow myself to treat this question as open to the extent, and for the objects that have been assumed and contended for. No doubt, there is a sense and an extent in which it may, under proper limitations, be