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and of zeal, on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked, amid the conflicting elements of a troubled world.
During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the animation of discussion and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely, and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the constitution, all will of course arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All too will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possesses their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate, would be oppression. Let us then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind, let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection, without which liberty, and even life itself, are but dreary things. And let us reflect, that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little, if we countenance a political intolerance, as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others; that this should divide opinions as to measures of safety; but every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans; we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. I know indeed that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough. But would the honest patriot in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the world's best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself? I trust not.
I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the laws, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
Let us then, with courage and confidence, pursue our own federal and republican principles; our attachment to our union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandeth and thousandeth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed indeed and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which, by all its dispensations, proves that it delights in the happiness of man here, and his greater happiness hereafter; with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens—a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter, fellow citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend every thing dear and valuable to you, it is proper that you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political: peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none: the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for all our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies: the
preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad: a jealous care of the right of election by the people; a mild and safe corrective of abuses, which are lopped by the sword of revolution, where peaceable remedies are unprovided: absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principal and immediate parent of despotism: a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them: the supremacy of the civil over the military authority: economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened: the honest payment of our debts, and sacred preservation of the public faith: encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid: the diffusion of information, and arrangement of all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press; and freedom of person, under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trials by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages, and blood of our heroes, have been devoted to their attainment: they should be the creed of our political faith; the text of civil instruction; the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
I repair then, fellow citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you repose in our first and great revolutionary character, whose pre-eminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love, and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional; and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not, if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage is a
consolation to me for the past; and my future solicitude will be, to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.
Relying then on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choices it is in your power to make. And may that infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.
BIOGRAPHY OF THE PRESIDENTS.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, "The Father of his Country," and first President of the United States, was born at Bridges Creek, in the county of Westmoreland, Virginia, on the 22d of February, 1732. He was elected President in 1789, which office he held eight years. He died at Mount Vernon on the 14th of December, 1799, at the age of 68 years.
JOHN ADAMS, the second President of the United States, was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, October 19, 1735. He was chosen President in 1797-continued in office four years. Died 4th of July, 1826, aged 91 years.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, the third President of the United States, and author of the Declaration of Independence, was born at Shadwell, Albemarle county, Virginia, April 2, 1743. He was elected President, 1801-continued in office eight years. Died on the 4th of July, 1826, aged 83 years.
JAMES MADISON, the fourth President of the United States, was born March 5, 1751, in Orange county, Virginia. He was elected President in 1809-continued in office eight years. Died on the 28th of June, 1837, at the age of 86 years.
JAMES MONROE, the fifth President of the United States, was born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, on the 28th of April, 1758. He was chosen President in 1817-continued in office eight years. Died July 4th, 1831, at the age of 73 years.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, the sixth President of the United States, was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1767. He was elected President in 1825-continued in office four
ANDREW JACKSON, seventh President of the United States, was born on the 15th of March, 1767, at Waxsaw, South Carolina, inaugurated President in 1829-continued in office eight years.
MARTIN VAN BUREN, the eighth President of the United States, was born on the 5th of December, 1782, at Kinderhook, Columbia county, New-York. He was elected President in 1837.
AMERICAN COAT OF ARMS.
THE device for an armorial Achievement and Reverse of a great seal for the United States in Congress assembled is as follows:
"ARMS.-Paleways of thirteen pieces, argent and gules, a chief azure; the escutcheon on the breast of the American bald eagle displayed proper, holding in his dexter talon an olive branch, and in his sinister a bundle of thirteen arrows, all proper; and in his beak a scroll inscribed with this motto, 'E pluribus unum.'
"FOR THE CREST.-Over the head of the eagle, which appears above the escutcheon, a glory, or, breaking through a cloud proper, and surrounding thirteen stars forming a constellation, argent, or an azure field.
"REVERSE.-A pyramid unfinished.
"In the zenith an eye in the triangle surrounded with a glory, proper. Over the eye these words, Annuit Coptis.'
"On the base of the pyramid, the numerical letters MDCCLXXVI, and underneath the following motto, Novus ordo seclorum.'
"REMARKS AND EXPLANATIONS OF THE DEVICE. -The escutcheon is composed of the chief and pale, the two most honorable ordinaries. The thirteen pieces paly represent the several states in the union, all joined in old solid compact, entire, supporting a chief which unites the whole, and represents Congress. The motto alludes to this union.
"The pales in the arms are kept closely united by the chief, and the chief depends on that union, and the strength resulting from it for its support, to denote the confederacy of the United States, and the preservation of the Union through Congress.
"The colors of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America. White signifies purity and innocence, red hardiness and valor, and blue, the color of the chief, signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace and war, which is exclusively vested in Congress.
"The crest or constellation denotes a new state taking its place or rank among other sovereign powers.
"The escutcheon borne on the breast of an American eagle, without any other supporters, to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own virtue.
"The pyramid on the reverse signifies strength and duration. "The eye over it, and the motto (annuit cœptis,' he prospers our endeavors,') allude to the many signal interpositions of Providence in favor of the American cause.
"The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence, and the words under it signify the beginning of the New American Era, which commences from that date."