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tion, what is there in the nature of the government established by it, which renders it so improbable that the power of regulating commerce, for the development of native capacity and industry, should be given to it, that you must abridge, by supposition, an apparently express grant of that very power ? I say, Sir, that the Constitution, in conferring this power on this government, has been true to itself; it has acted like itself; it has acted in conformity with its peculiar structure, and its grand aims. What is the power, after all ? Nothing more and nothing less than a means of defending American industry against foreign instruments of annoyance. Foreign governments, or foreign subjects, pour in upon us importations of articles which make us poor, or make us idle, or make us diseased, or make us vicious. No government that ever stood one hundred years on the earth but had the power of defending itself against aggression so deleterious, although in form pacific. To which of the governments in our system, the State or the National, should the power belong? Reasoning on the nature of our system, and a priori, which should possess it? Should it not be that which possesses the treatymaking power, the war- and peace-making power, the power of regulating all foreign intercourse? Should the States retain it? Was not the Constitution framed in great measure, because they were totally unequal to its effective administration ?
In a still larger view, Sir, of the offices and the powers of the national government, under the Constitution, you ought to have this power of protecting the labor of your country. The means, the ends, the principles of determination, pertain appropriately to the imperial and grand trust with which you are clothed. The means is the regulation of foreign intercourse, which all belongs to you. The ends are the independence and the happiness of America. The principles of determination are the most interesting phenomena of the social and political world, the truths of the first of practical sciences, the loftiest and most comprehensive sentiments and aspirations of statesmanship and patriotism. What is it that you do when you exercise this power ? Why, Sir, you determine by what system of foreign intercourse our vast capacities of growth and
best be developed ; the unsightly but precious ele
mental material that sleeps beneath our soil be transfigured into forms of beauty and use; the children of labor in all their fields be trained through labor to competence, comfort, and consideration ; " our agriculture be made to grow, and our commerce to expand ;” the golden chain of union be strengthened ; our vast destinies unfolded and fulfilled. This is what you do. And I say the means you work by, the ends you aim at, and the policy you proceed on, are just such as such a system as ours should commit to you.
But, Sir, to advance from these less certain reasonings to indisputable facts, which, indeed, I have partially anticipated. I hold it to be susceptible of as rigorous moral demonstration as any truth of history, first, that, before the Constitution was presented to them, the people of this country, generally, demanded a government which should have power to mould their whole foreign intercourse into the most beneficial form, and, among other things, should have power to mould it into such form as might bring out American labor, agricultural, mechanical, manufacturing, navigating, and commercial, into its completest development, and for that end to make discriminating tariffs ; secondly, that when, at length, the doors of the convention were thrown open, and the Constitution, the object of so many hopes, of so much solicitude, was presented to their eager view, they believed that they found in it just the power they had looked for so long, and they adopted it in that confidence; thirdly, that every member of the convention itself supposed it to contain the power; and fourthly, that the new government, from its first organization, proceeded to execute it vigorously and usefully by a broad policy of protection openly avowed, protection of agriculture, protection of navigation, protection of manufactures; and that, although particular exertions of the policy were vehemently resisted on grounds of expediency, and although other national legislation was denied to be authorized by the Constitution, the power to push this policy to the utmost limit of congressional discretion was never called in question for more than thirty, or certainly more than twenty years.
Sir, if this be so, and yet the Constitution contains no such power, vain is the search after moral truth ; idle the attempt to embody the ideas of a people in the frame of their government, and in the language of their fundamental law. You
were as wisely employed in writing them upon the clouds of the summer-evening western sky, in the dream of seeing them carried round the world in the train of the next day's sun.
Well, is it not so? I have shown you already that the country demanded, and expected beforehand, a government which should possess this power ; that it had done so for years; that the events of every hour, from the peace to the rising of the convention, only increased the urgency of the demand, and the confidence of the expectation. I proceed to show, in the next place, that when at last the Constitution was given to the longing sight of the people, and they threw themselves upon it as a famished host upon miraculous bread, their faculties sharpened and prepared by so many years of discus- • sions, and by the more instructive discipline of suffering, stimulated to read by hope and fear and jealousy and curiosity, then they thought they found in it this power. There it was, in the very language familiar to them from childhood ; language associated, fast and imperishably, with the story of the long wrongs of England, the resistance of America, the great names of heroes and wise men, the living and the dead, with liberty and with glory.
See if the fact is not so, and then see how resistless it is as evidence that the power really was there. Look into the press of that day, — that day when men were great, and events were great, — look into the newspaper press, and tell me if you find, anywhere, a whisper of complaint of any deficiency of power in this regard in the new Constitution. You have heard, in the selections I have read, something of what the people expected ; do you find, by looking farther into the same source of evidence, that they were disappointed in their expectations ? Fears there were, sickly fears, patriotic fears, and loudly uttered, that the Constitution was too strong,—too strong for liberty. But who said that, in its protecting energy, it was too weak ? Who complained that he did not find it clothed with the whole power of defence against other nations, — defence against their arms, their policy, their pernicious trade, their extorted and pauper labor? I can only say that I have found no trace of such an objection.
But see the affirmative evidence of a general belief that the Constitution did contain the power. Look at the long proces
sions of the trades, where the whole mechanical and manufacturing industry of the country assembled to celebrate, as a jubilee, the establishment of a government by which their interests might at length hope to be cherished. Is it not as if the universal heart of the people was throbbing with the sudden acquisition of a second and a real independence? Hear the debates in the conventions of the States, deliberating upon the Constitution. In that of Massachusetts, one of its advocates, urging the importance of making the entire grant of power to congress which it contemplated, said:
“ Our manufactures are another great subject which has received no encouragement by national duties on foreign manufactures, and they never can by any authority in the old confederation. Besides this, the very face of our country leads to manufactures; our numerous falls of water, and places for mills, where paper, snuff, gunpowder, iron-works, and numerous other articles are prepared, these will save us immense sums of money that would otherwise go to Europe. The question is, have these been encouraged ? Has congress been able, by national laws, to prevent the importation of such foreign commodities as are made from such raw materials as we ourselves raise? It is alleged that the citizens of the United States have contracted debts within the last three years, with the subjects of Great Britain, for the amount of near six millions of dollars, and that consequently our lands are mortgaged for that sum. So Corsica was once mortgaged to the Genoese merchants for articles which her inhabitants did not want, or which they could have made themselves; and she was afterwards sold to a foreign power. If we wish to encourage our own manufactures, to preserve our own commerce, to raise the value of our lands, we must give congress the powers in question.” Elliot's Debates, vol. i., page 76.
And again :
“Our agriculture has not been encouraged by the imposition of material duties on rival produce, nor can it be, so long as the several States may make contradictory laws." - Page 74.
And an opponent, Mr. Widgery, was annoyed by so much earnest repetition and enforcement of this very topic in favor of the new government. It is perfectly plain that he felt it to be the effective and decisive consideration by which the masses were moved.
“ All we hear is,” he says, “ that the merchant and farmer will flourish, and the mechanic and tradesman make their fortunes directly.
The debates of other States the most interested in this species of industry are imperfectly preserved; but nowhere,
as Mr. Madison has well said, do you find a particle of evidence that a doubt on the power was entertained. general objects of the Union,” said Mr. Davie, in the Convention of North Carolina, “are, 1st, to protect us against foreign invasion ; 2d, to defend us against internal commotions and insurrections; 3d, to promote the commerce, agriculture, and manufactures of America.” — Elliot's Debates, vol. iii. p. 31.
Read the memorials in which the mechanics and manufacturers of the large towns, immediately upon the organization of congress, invoked an exertion of this power; and see how confidently its existence is assumed, and its prompt and beneficial exercise relied on. Familiar as they are to you,
familiar to everybody who has examined this question at all, they embody in such vivid and comprehensive expression the grand, popular want and conviction in which the Constitution had its birth, and its instantaneous and universal interpretation, that I venture to call your attention again to passages from three of them. They were all presented during the pending of the first revenue and protecting law of congress, and they contributed, I have no doubt, to determine its policy and to shape its details. Hear the “ tradesmen and mechanics of Baltimore.”
“ Setting forth” (I use the condensed summary of the reporter) “ that, since the close of the late war and the completion of the Revolution, they have observed with serious regret the manufacturing and the trading interest of the country rapidly declining, and the attempts of the State legislatures to remedy the evil failing of their object; that, in the present melancholy state of our country, the number of poor increasing for want of employment, foreign debts accumulating, houses and land depreciating in value, and trade and manufactures languishing and expiring, they look up to the supreme legislature of the United States as the guardians of the whole empire, and from their united wisdom and patriotism and ardent love of their country, expect to derive that aid and assistance which alone can dissipate their just apprehensions, and animate them with hopes of success in future, by imposing on all foreign articles which can be made in America, such duties as will give a just and decided preference to their labors, discountenancing that trade which tends so materially to injure them and impoverish their country, measures which, in their consequences, may also contribute to the discharge of the national debt and the due support of government; that they have annexed a list of such articles as are or can be manufactured amongst them, and humbly trust in the wisdom of the legislature to grant them, in common with the other mechanics and manufacturers of the United States, that relief which may appear proper." VOL. II.