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there is at times much difficulty in distinguishing the false from the true spirit, a calm and dispassionate investigation will detect the counterfeit, as well by the character of its operations, as the results that are produced. The true spirit of liberty, although devoted, persevering, bold, and uncompromising in principle—that secured—is mild, and tolerant, and scrupulous as to the means it employs: whilst the spirit of party, assuming to be that of liberty, is harsh, vindictive and intolerant, and totally reckless as to the character of the allies which it brings to the aid oi 'ts cause. When the genuine spirit of liberty animates the body of a people to a thorough examination of their affairs, it leads to the excision of every excrescence which may have fastened itself upon any of the departments of the Government, and restores the system to its pristine health and beauty. But the reign of an intolerant spirit of party, amongst a free people, seldom fails to result in a dangerous accession to the Executive power—introduced and established amidst unusual professions of devotion to democracy.
The foregoing remarks relate, almost exclusively, to matters connected with our domestic concerns. It may be proper, however, that I should give some indications to my fellow-citizens of my proposed course of conduct in the management of our foreign relations. I assure them, therefore, that it is my intention to use every means in my power to preserve the friendly intercourse which now so happily subsists with every foreign nation. And that although, of course, not well informed as to the state of pending negotiations with any of them, I see, in the personal characters of their sovereigns, as well as in the mutual interests of our own, and of the governments with which our relations are most intimate, a pleasing guaranty that the harmony so important to the interests of their subjects, as well as of our citizens, will not be interrupted by the advancement of any claim or pretension upon their part to which our honor would not permit us to yield.— Long the defender of my country's rights in the field, I trust that my fellow citizens will not see, in my earnest desire to preserve peace with foreign powers, apy indication that their rights will ever be sacrificed, or the honor of the nation tarnished, by any admission on the , part of their Chief Magistrate, unworthy of their former glory. In our intercourse with our aboriginal neighbours, the same liberality and justice which marked the course prescribed to me by two of my illustrious predecessors, when acting under their direction in the discharge of the duties of Superintendent and Commissioner, shall bp strictly observed. I can conceive of no more sublime spectacle—none more likely to propitiate an impartial and common Creator—than a rigid adherence to the principles of justice, on the part of a powerful nation, in its transaction with a weaker and uncivilized people,whom circumstances have placed at its disposal.
Before concluding, fellow, citizens, I must say something to you on the subject of the parties at this time existing in our country. To me it appears perfectly clear that the interest of that country requires that the violence of the spirit by which those parties are at this time governed, must be greatly mitigated, if not entirely extinguished or consequences will ensue which are apalling to be thought of.
If parties in a Republic are necessary to secure a degree of vigilance sufficient to keep the public functionaries within the bounds of law and duty, at that point their usefulness ends: beyond that, they become destructive of public virtue, the parent of a spirit antagonist to that of liberty, and eventually its inevitable conqueror. We have examples of republics, where the love of country and of liberty at one time were the dominant passions of the whole mass of citizens, and yet, with the continuance of the name and forms of free government, not a vestige of these qualities remaining in the bosoms of any one of its citizens. It was the beautiful remark of a distinguished English writer, that "In the Roman Senate, Octavius had a party, and Anthony a party, but the Commonwealth had none." Yet the Senate con tinued to meet in the Temple of Liberty, to talk of the sacredness and beauty of the Commonwealth, and gaze at the statues of the elder Brutus and of the Curtii and Decii; and the people assembled in the forum, not as in the days of Camillus and the Scipios, to cast their free votes for annual magistrates, or pass upon the acts of the Senate, but to receive from the hands of the loaders of the respective paties their share of the spoils, and to shout for one or the other, as those collected in Gaul or Egypt and the lesser Asia would furnish the larger dividend. The. spirit of liberty had fled, and avoiding the abodes of civilized man had sought protection in the wilds of Scythia Scandinavia. And so under the operation of the same causes and influences it will fly from our Capital and our forums. A calamity so awful, not only to our country, but to the world, must be deprecated by every patriot, and every tendency to a state of things likely to produce it immediately checked. Such a tendency has existed— does exist. Always the friend of my countrymen, never dieir flatterer, it becomes my duty to say to them, from this high place to which their partiality has exalted me, that there exists in the land a spirit hostile to their best interests—hostile to liberty itself. It is a spirit contracted in its views—selfish in its objects. It looks to the aggrandizement of a few even to the destruction of the interest of the whole.
The entire remedy is with the people. Something, however, may be effected, by the means which they have placed in my hands. It is union that we want, not of a party for the sake of that party, but a union of the whole country, for the sake of the whole country. For the defence of its interests and its honor against foreign aggression—for ihe defence of those principles for which our ancestors so gloriously contended. As far as it depends upon me, it shall be accomplished. All the influence that I possess shall be exerted to prevent the formation at least of an Executive party in the halls of the legislative body. I wish for the support of no member of that body to any measure of mine that does not satisfy his judgment and his sense of duty to those from whom he holds his appointment. Nor any confidence in advance from the people but that asked for by Mr. Jefferson, " to give firmness and effect to the legal administration of their affairs."
I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion, and s thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility, are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness. And to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom—who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers, and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time. [Oath administered.]
Fellow-citizens: Being fufly invested with that high office to which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given, to discharge all the high duties of my exalted station according to the best of my ability; and I shall enter upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just and generous people.
April 9, 1841.
Before my arrival at the seat of Government, the painful communication was made to you by the officers presiding over the several Departments, of the deeply regretted death of William Henry.Harrison, late President of the United States. Upon him you had conferred your suffrages for the first office in your gift, and had selected him as your chosen instrument to correct and reform all such errors and abuses as had manifested themselves from time to time in the practical operation of the Government. While standing at the threshold of this great work, he has, by the dispensation of an all-wise Providence, been removed from amongst us, and by the provisions of the Constitution the efforts to be directed to the