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or the effusion of mere good-will. If that which is granted be not always granted on the ground of absolute right, it does not follow that it is granted merely from an arbitrary preference, or capricious beneficence. In most cases of this sort, mixed considerations prevail, and ought to prevail. Some consideration is due to the claim of right; much to that of merit and service; and more to that of personal necessity. If I knew that all the persons to be benefited by this bill were in circumstances of comfort and competency, I should not support it. But this I know to be otherwise. I cannot dwell with propriety or delicacy on this part of the case; but I feel its force, and I yield to it. A single instance of affluence, or a few cases where want does not tread close on those who are themselves treading close on the borders of the grave, does not affect the general propriety and necessity of the measure. I would not draw this reason for the bill into too much prominence. We all know it exists; and we may, I think, safely act upon it, without so discussing it as to wound, in old, but sensitive and still throbbing bosoms, feelings which education inspired, the habits of military life cherished, and a just self-respect is still desirous to entertain. I confess I meet this claim, not only with a desire to do something in favor of these officers, but to do it in a manner indicative, not only of decorum, but of deep respect, — that respect which years, age, public service, patriotism, and broken fortune, command to spring up in every manly breast.
It is, then, Sir, a mixed claim of faith and public gratitude, of justice and honorable bounty, of merit and benevolence. It stands on the same foundation as that grant, which no one regrets, of which all are proud, made to the illustrious foreigner, who showed himself so early, and has proved himself so constantly and zealously, a friend to our country.
Then, again, it is objected, that the militia have a claim upon us; that they fought at the side of the regular soldiers, and ought to share in the country's remembrance. But it is known to be impossible to carry the measure to such an extent as to embrace the militia; and it is plain, too, that the cases are different. The bill, as I have already said, confines itself to those who served not occasionally, not temporarily, but permanently; who allowed themselves to be counted on as men who were to see the contest through, last as long as it might; and who have made the phrase “ 'listing during the war” a proverbial expression, signifying unalterable devotion to our cause, through good fortune and ill fortune, till it reaches its close. This is a plain distinction; and although, perhaps, I might wish to do more, I see good ground to stop here for the present, if we must stop anywhere. The militia who fought at Concord, at Lexington, and at Bunker's Hill, have been alluded to, in the course of this debate, in terms of well-deserved praise. Be assured, Sir, there could with difficulty be found a man who drew his sword, or carried his musket, at Concord, at Lexington, or Bunker's Hill, who would wish you to reject this bill. They might ask you to do more, but never to refrain from doing this. Would to God they were assembled here, and had the fate of the bill in their own hands! Would to God the question of its passage were to be put to them! They would affirm it, with a unity of acclamation that would rend the roof of the Capitol.
I support the measure, then, Mr. President, because I think it a proper and judicious exercise of well-merited national bounty. I think, too, the general sentiment of my own constituents, and of the country, is in favor of it. I believe the member from North Carolina himself admitted, that an increasing desire that something should be done for the Revolutionary officers manifested itself in the community. The bill will make no immediate or great draught on the treasury. It will not derange the finances. If I had supposed that the state of the treasury would have been urged against the passage of this bill, I should not have voted for the Delaware breakwater, because that might have been commenced next year; nor for the whole of the sums which have been granted for fortifications; for their advancement with a little more or a little less of rapidity is not of the first necessity. But the present case is urgent. What we do should be done quickly.
Mr. President, allow me to repeat, that neither the subject nor the occasion is an ordinary one. Our own fellow-citizens do not so consider it; the world will not so regard it. A few deserving soldiers are before us, who served their country faithfully through a seven years' war. That war was a civil war. commenced on principle, and sustained by every sacrifice, on the great ground of civil liberty. They fought bravely, and bled freely. The cause succeeded, and the country triumphed. But
the condition of things did not allow that country, sensible as it was to their services and merits, to do them the full justice which it desired. It could not entirely fulfil its engagements. The army was to be disbanded; but it was unpaid. It was to lay down its own power; but there was no government with adequate power to perform what had been promised to it. In this critical moment, what is its conduct? Does it disgrace its high character ? Is temptation able to seduce it? Does it speak of righting itself ?. Does it undertake to redress its own wrongs by its own sword? Does it lose its patriotism in its deep sense of injury and injustice? Does military ambition cause its integrity to swerve? Far, far otherwise.
It had faithfully served and saved the country; and to that country it now referred, with unhesitating confidence, its claim and its complaints. It laid down its arms with alacrity; it mingled itself with the mass of the community; and it waited till, in better times, and under a new government, its services might be rewarded, and the promises made to it fulfilled. Sir, this example is worth more, far more, to the cause of civil liberty, than this bill will cost us. We can hardly recur to it too often, or dwell on it too much, for the honor of our country and of its defenders. Allow me to say, again, that meritorious service in civil war is worthy of peculiar consideration; not only because there is, in such wars, usually less power to restrain irregularities, but because, also, they expose all prominent actors in them to different kinds of danger. It is rebellion as well as war. Those who engage in it must look, not only to the dangers of the field, but to confiscation also, and attainder, and ignominious death. With no efficient and settled government, either to sustain or to control them, and with every sort of danger before them, it is great merit to have conducted themselves with fidelity to the country, under every discouragement on the one hand, and with unconquerable bravery towards the common enemy on the other. Such, Sir, was the conduct of the officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary army.
I would not, and do not, underrate the services or the sufferings of others. I know well, that in the Revolutionary contest all made sacrifices, and all endured sufferings; as well those who paid for service, as those who performed it. I know that, in the records of all the little municipalities of New England, abundant proof exists of the zeal with which the cause was espoused, and . the sacrifices with which it was cheerfully maintained. I have often there read, with absolute astonishment, of the taxes, the contributions, the heavy subscriptions, sometimes provided for by disposing of the absolute necessaries of life, by which enlistments were procured, and food and clothing furnished. It would be, Sir, to these same municipalities, to these same little patriotic councils of Revolutionary times, that I should now look, with most assured confidence, for a hearty support of what this bill proposes. There, the scale of Revolutionary merit stands high. There are still those living who speak of the 19th of April, and the 17th of June, without thinking it necessary to add the year. These men, one and all, would rejoice to find that those who stood by the country bravely, through the doubtful and perilous struggle which conducted it to independence and glory, had not been forgotten in the decline and close of life.
The objects, then, Sir, of the proposed bounty, are most worthy and deserving objects. The services which they rendered were in the highest degree useful and important. The country to which they rendered them is great and prosperous. They have lived to see it glorious; let them not live to see it unkind. For me, I can give them but my vote and my prayers; and I give them both with my whole heart.
SECOND SPEECH ON THE TARIFF.*
MR. PRESIDENT, — This subject is surrounded with embarrassments on all sides. Of itself, however wisely or temperately treated, it is full of difficulties; and these difficulties have not been diminished by the particular frame of this bill, nor by the manner hitherto pursued of proceeding with it. A diversity of interests exists, or is supposed to exist, in different parts of the country; this is one source of difficulty. Different opinions are entertained as to the constitutional power of Congress; this is another. And then, again, different members of the Senate have instructions which they feel bound to obey, and which clash with one another. We have this morning seen an honorable member from New York, an important motion being under consideration, lay his instructions on the table, and point to them as his power of attorney, and as containing the directions for his vote.
Those who intend to oppose this bill, under all circumstances, and in any or all forms, care not how objectionable it now is, or how bad it may be made. Others, finding their own leading objects satisfactorily secured by it, naturally enough press forward, without staying to consider deliberately how injuriously other interests may be affected. All these causes create embarrassments, and inspire just fears that a wise and useful result is hardly to be expected. There seems a strange disposition to run the hazard of extremes; and to forget that, in cases of this kind, measure, proportion, and degree are objects of inquiry, and the true rules of judgment. I have not had the slightest wish
Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 9th of May, 1828, on the Tariff Bill.