Imágenes de páginas

and might be established as a means of executing grown up during the non-importation periods of a granted power, to wit, the power of making the embargo, and of hostilities with Great Briwar. That war terminated well; and the bank tain, and under the temporary double duties having been established in the mean time, got which ensued the war, and which were laid for the credit of having furnished its “sinews." revenue. They had grown up to be a large The war of 1812 languished under the state of interest, and a new one, classing in importance the finances and the currency, no national bank after agriculture and commerce. The want of existing; and this want seemed to all to be the articles necessary to national defence, and of cause of its difficulties, and to show the necessi-others essential to individual comfort-then ty for a bank. The second national bank was neither imported nor made at home—had been then established-many of its old, most able, felt during the interruption of commerce occaand conscientious opponents giving in to it, Mr. sioned by the war; and the advantage of a Madison at their head. Thus the question of a domestic supply was brought home to the connational bank again grew up-grew up out of viction of the public mind. The question of the events of the war—and was decided against protection for the sake of protection was brought the strict construction of the constitution—to forward, and carried (in the year 1816); and the weakening of a principle which was funda- very unequivocally in the minimum provision in mental in the working of the government, and to relation to duties on cotton goods. This reversed the damage of the party which stood upon the the old course of legislation-made protection doctrine of a strict construction of the constitu- the object instead of the incident, and revenue tion. But in the course of the “ Thirty Years” the incident instead of the object; and was of which it is proposed to take a “ View," some of another instance of constitutional construction the younger generation became impressed with being made dependent, not upon its own words, the belief that the constitutional currency had but upon extrinsic, accidental and transient cir not had a fair trial in that war of 1812! that, in cumstances. It introduced a new and a large fact, it had had no trial at all! that it was not question of constitutional law, and of national even in the field! not even present at the time expediency, fraught with many and great consewhen it was supposed to have failed! and that quences, which fell upon the period of the it was entitled to a trial before it was condemned. Thirty Years' View to settle, or to .grapple That trial has been obtained The second nation-with. al bank was left to expire upon its own limita- 4. The question of internal improvement tion. The gold currency and the independent within the States, by the federal government, treasury were established. The Mexican war took a new and large development after the war. tried them. They triumphed. And thus a na- The want of facilities of transportation had been tional bank was shown to be “unnecessary,” felt in our military operations. Roads were bad, and therefore unconstitutional. And thus a and canals few; and the question of their congreat question of constitutional construction, and struction became a prominent topic in Congress: of party division, three times decided by the common turnpike roads—for railways had not events of war, and twice against the constitution then been invented, nor had MacAdam yet given and the strict constructionists, was decided the his name to the class of roads which has since last time in their favor; and is entitled to stand, borne it. The power was claimed as an incident being the last, and the only one in which the to the granted powers—as a means of doing constitutional currency had a trial.

what was authorized—as a means of accomplish3. The protection of American industry, as a ing an end: and the word “necessary” at the substantive object, independent of the object of end of the enumerated powers, was the phrase revenue, was a third question growing out of the in which this incidental power was claimed to war. Its incidental protection, under the reve- have been found. It was the same derivation nue clause in the constitution, had been always which was found for the creation of a national acknowledged, and granted; but protection as a bank, and involved very nearly the same division substantive object was a new question growing of parties. It greatly complicated the national out of the state of things produced by the war. legislation from 1820 to 1850, bringing the two Domestic manufactures had taken root and parts of our double system of government-State


and Federal—into serious disagreement, and city, but especially the House, as the great threatening to compromise their harmonious constitutional depository of the legislative power, action. Grappled with by a strong hand, it becomes its natural guardian and defender, and seemed at one time to have been settled, and is entitled to deference, in the event of a differconsistently with the rights of the States; but ence of opinion between the two branches of the sometimes returns to vex the deliberations of government. The discussions in Congress beCongress. To territories the question did not tween 1815 and 1820 greatly elucidated this extend. They have no political rights under the question; and while leaving unimpugned the constitution, and are governed by Congress obligation of the House to carry into effect a according to its discretion, under that clause treaty duly made by the President and Senate which authorizes it to “dispose of and make all within the limits of the treaty making powerneedful rules and regulations respecting the ter- upon matters subject to treaty regulation-yet ritory or other property belonging to the United it belongs to the House to judge when these States.” The improvement of rivers and har- limits have been transcended, and to preserve bòrs, was a branch of the internal improvement inviolate the field of legislation which the constiquestion, but resting on a different clause in tution has intrusted to the immediate representhe constitution—the commercial and revenue tatives of the people. clause—and became complex and difficult from 6. The doctrine of secession-the right of a its extension to small and local objects. The State, or a combination of States, to withdraw party of strict construction contend for its from the Union, was born of that war. It was restriction to national objects-rivers of national repugnant to the New England States, and character, and harbors yielding revenue. opposed by them, not with arms, but with argu

5. The boundaries between the treaty-mak- ment and remonstrance, and refusal to vote ing and the legislative departments of the supplies. They had a convention, famous under government, became a subject of examination the name of Hartford, to which the design of after the war, and gave rise to questions deeply secession was imputed. That design was never affecting the working of these two departments. avowed by the convention, or authentically A treaty is the supreme law of the land, and as admitted by any leading member; nor is it the such it becomes obligatory on the House of intent of this reference to decide upon the fact Representatives to vote the money which it stipu- of that design. The only intent is to show that lates, and to co-operate in forming the laws the existence of that convention raised the quesnecessary to carry it into effect. That is the tion of secession, and presented the first instance broad proposition. The qualification is in the of the greatest danger in the working of the question whether the treaty is confined to the double form of our government—that of a colbusiness of the treaty-making power ? to the lision between a part of the States and the subjects which fall under its jurisdiction ? and federal government. This question, and this does not encroach upon the legislative power of danger, first arose then-grew out of the war of Congress ? This is the qualification, and a vital 1812—and were hushed by its sudden terminaone: for if the President and Senate, by a treaty tion; but they have reappeared in a different with a foreign power, or a tribe of Indians, could quarter, and will come in to swell the objects of exercise ordinary legislation, and make it su- the Thirty YEARS' View. At the time of its preme, a double injury would have been done, first appearance the right of secession was reand to the prejudice of that branch of the pulsed and repudiated by the democracy genegovernment which lies closest to the people, and rally, and in a large degree by the federal emanates most directly from them. Confine- party—the difference between a Union and a ment to their separate jurisdictions is the duty LEAGUE being better understood at that time of each ; but if encroachments take place, which when so many of the fathers of the new governis to judge? If the President and Senate invade ment were still alive. The leading language in the legislative field of Congress, which is to respect to it south of the Potomac was, that no judge ? or who is to judge between them ? or is State had a right to withdraw from the Unioneach to judge for itself? The House of Repre- that it required the same power to dissolve as sentatives, and the Senate in its legislative capa- to form the Union—and that any attempt to


[ocr errors]

dissolve it, or to obstruct the action of constitu- 8. The war had created a debt, which, added tional laws, was treason. If, since that time, to a balance of that of the Revolution, the purpolitical parties and sectional localities, have chase of Louisiana, and some other items, still exchanged attitudes on this question, it cannot amounted to ninety-two millions of dollars at alter the question of right, and may receive some the period of the commencement of this “View;" interest from the development of causes which and the problem was to be solved, whether a produce sach changes. Secession, a question of national debt could be paid and extinguished in a speculation during the war of 1812, has become season of peace, leaving a nation wholly free a practical question (almost) during the Thirty from that encumbrance; or whether it was to go Years; and thus far has been compromised," on increasing, a burthen in itself, and absorbing not settled.

with its interest and changes an annual portion 7. Slavery agitation took its rise during this of the public revenues. That problem was time (1819–20), in the form of attempted solved, contrary to the experience of the world, restriction on the State of Missouri—a prohibi- and the debt paid; and the practical benefit tion to hold slaves, to be placed upon her as a added to the moral, of a corresponding reduction condition of her admission into the Union, and in the public taxes. to be binding upon her afterwards. This agita- 9. Public distress was a prominent feature tion came from the North, and under a federal of the times to be embraced in this PRELIMINARY lead, and soon swept both parties into its vortex. View. The Bank of the United States was It was quieted, so far as that form of the ques-chartered in 1816, and before 1820 had performtion was concerned, by admitting the State ed one of its cycles of delusive and bubble proswithout restriction, and imposing it on the perity, followed by actual and wide-spread remainder of the Louisiana territory north and calamity. The whole paper system, of which it west of that State, and above the parallel of 36 was the head and the citadel, after a vast expandegrees, 30 minutes; which is the prolongation sion, had suddenly collapsed, spreading desolaof the southern boundary line of Virginia and tion over the land, and carrying ruin to debtors. Kentucky. This was called a “compromise,” The years 1819 and '20 were a period of gloom and was all clear gain to the antislavery side and agony. No money, either gold or silver: no of the question, and was done under the lead of paper convertible into specie: no measure, or the united slave state vote in the Senate, the standard of value, left remaining. The local majority of that vote in the House of Represen- banks (all but those of New England), after a tatives, and the undivided sanction of a Southern brief resumption of specie payments, again sank administration. It was a Southern measure, and into a state of suspension. The Bank of the divided free and slave soil far more favorably to United States, created as a remedy for all those the North than the ordinance of 1787. That evils, now at the head of the evil, prostrate and divided about equally: this of 1820 gave about helpless, with no power left but that of suing its all to the North. It abolished slavery over an debtors, and selling their property, and purchasimmense extent of territory where it might then ing for itself at its own nominal price. No price legally exist, over nearly the whole of Louisiana, for property, or produce. No sales but those of left it only in Florida and Arkansas territory, and the sheriff and the marshal. No purchasers at opened no new territory to its existence. It execution sales but the creditor, or some hoarder was an immense concession to the non-slave- of money. No employment for industry—no holding States; but the genius of slavery agita- demand for labor—no sale for the product of the tion was not laid. It reappeared, and under farm-no sound of the hammer, but that of the different forms, first from the North, in the shape auctioneer, knocking down property. Stop of petitions to Congress to influence legislation laws-property laws—replevin laws-stay laws on the subject; then from the South, as a means —loan office laws—the intervention of the legisof exciting one half the Union against the other, lator between the creditor and the debtor: this and laying the foundation for a Southern confede was the business of legislation in three-fourths racy. With this new question, in all its forms, of the States of the Union—of all south and the men of the new generation have had to grap- west of New England. No medium of exchange ple for the whole period of the “ Thirty Years." I but depreciated paper: no change even, but

[ocr errors]

little bits of foul paper, marked so many cents, rages to which we had been subject. No more and signed by some tradesman, barber, or inn- impressments: no more searching our ships: no keeper: exchanges deranged to the extent of more killing: no more carrying off to be forced fifty or one hundred per cent. DISTRESS, the to serve on British ships against their own coununiversal cry

of the people: RELIEF, the univer- try. The national flag became respected. It sal demand thundered at the doors of all legisla- became the Ægis of those who were under it. The tures, State and federal. It was at the moment national character appeared in a new light when this distress had reached its maximum abroad. We were no longer considered as a 1820–21—and had come with its accumulated people so addicted to commerce as to be insensiforce upon the machine of the federal govern- ble to insult: and we reaped all the advantages, ment, that this “View" of its working begins. social, political, commercial, of this auspicious It is a doleful starting point, and may furnish change. It was a war necessary to the honor and great matter for contrast, or comparison, at its interest of the United States, and was bravely concluding period in 1850.

fought, and honorably concluded, and makes & Such were some of the questions growing out proud era in our history. I was not in public life of the war of 1812, or immediately ensuing' its at the time it was declared, but have understood termination. That war Brought some difficul- from those who were, that, except for the exerties to the new generation, but also great advan- tions of two men (Mr. Monroe in the Cabinet, tages, at the head of them the elevation of the and. Mr. Clay in Congress), the declaration of national character throughout the world. It war could not have heen obtained. Honor to immensely elevated the national character, and, their memories ! as a consequence, put an end to insults and out




William Pinkney and Governor Edward Lloyd;

from New Jersey, Mr. Samuel L. Southard ; PERSONAL ASPECT OF THE GOVERNMENT.

Colonel John Williams, of Tennessee ; William

R. King and Judge Walker, from Alabama; All the departments of the government appear- and many others of later date, afterwards beed to great advantage in the personal character coming eminent, and who will be noted in their of their administrators at the time of my arrival places. In the House of Representatives there as Senator at Washington. Mr. Monroe was was a great array of distinguished and of busiPresident; Governor Tompkins, Vice-President; ness talent. Mr. Clay, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Mr. John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State;

Lowndes were there. Mr. Henry Baldwin and Mr. William H. Crawford, Secretary of the Mr. John Sergeant, from Pennsylvania ; Mr. Treasury; Mr. John C. Calhoun, Secretary at John W. Taylor, Speaker, and Henry Storrs, War; Mr. Smith Thompson, of New-York, Sec- from New-York; Dr. Eustis, of revolutionary retary of the Navy; Mr. John McLean, Post- memory, and Nathaniel Silsbee, of Massachumaster General; William Wirt, Esq., Attorney setts ; Mr. Louis McLane, from Delaware ; GenGeneral. These constituted the Executive De- eral Samuel Smith, from Maryland ; Mr. William partment, and it would be difficult to find in S. Archer, Mr. Philip P. Barbour, General John any government, in any country, at any time, Floyd, General Alexander Smythe, Mr. John more talent and experience, more dignity and Tyler, Charles Fenton Mercer, George Tucker, decorum, more purity of private life, a larger from Virginia; Mr. Lewis Williams, who mass of information, and more addiction to busi- entered the House young, and remained long ness, than was comprised in this list of celebrated enough to be called its “Father," Thomas H. names. The legislative department was equally Hall, Weldon N. Edwards, Governor Hutchins impressive. The Senate presented a long list of G. Burton, from North Carolina ; Governor eminent men who had become known by their Earle and Mr. Charles Pinckney, from South services in the federal or State governments, Carolina; Mr. Thomas W. Cobb and Governor and some of them connected with its earliest George Gilmer, from Georgia ; Messrs. Richard history. From New-York there were Mr. Rufus C. Anderson, Jr., David Trimble, George RobertKing and Nathan Sanford; from Massachusetts, son, Benjamin Hardin, and Governor Metcalfe, Mr. Harrison Gray Otis; from North Carolina, from Kentucky; Mr. John Rhea, of revolutionMr. Macon and Governor Stokes ; from Virginia, ary service, Governor Newton Cannon, Francis the two Governors, James Barbour and James Jones, General John Cocke, from Tennessee ; Pleasants; from South Carolina, Mr. John Messrs. John W. Campbell, John Sloan and Gaillard, so often and so long President, pro Henry Bush, from Obio; Mr. William Hentempore, of the Senate, and Judge William dricks, from Indiana; Thomas Butler, from Smith; from Rhode Island, Mr. William Hun- Louisiana ; Daniel P. Cook, from Illinois; John ter ; from Kentucky, Colonel Richard M. John- Crowell, from Alabama ; Mr. Christopher Ranson; from Louisiana, Mr. James Brown and kin, from Mississippi ; and a great many other Governor Henry Johnson ; from Maryland, Mr. business men of worth and character from the

« AnteriorContinuar »