Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

General Government, their own local interests, to the injury of those of others. It is easy enough, I admit, to conceive a state of things, in which such apprehensions might be well founded. They are not, like the preceding, imaginary in their very nature. Suppose that the true and essential interests of the different sections of our country were, as you affirm, naturally and irreconcileably opposed to each other—so that the advancement of the one must involve, in a greater or less degree, the sacrifice of the other; then, I allow, your apprehensions would be any thing but chimerical. Then I should say, there was no exaggeration in the picture you have drawn, dark as the shading is, and terrible the features. The only wonder, in that case, would be, that the same picture had not, long ago, presented itself to every eye. No new light has burst upon the scene. The canvass has been spread before our eyes half a century. How is it that these forms of terror have never started forth to view until now? In plain language, the course of the General Government has been uniform for a series of years, at least. Itspolicy, in regard to the protection of domestic industry, was as fully developed in 1816, as it is now. Yet years of tranquillity have since rolled away. Our most vigilant sentinels have slumbered on their posts—the very geese of the capitol have not aroused us with their cackling, until now that it bursts upon our ears with a stunning vehemence. In this long period full of indications, which even the blind might see, of the fixed policy of the Government, many of our own statesmen have lent all the weight of their influence to strengthen and confirm this policy, and urge the Government forward in its course of “usurpation and tyranny.” “Et tu quoque, Brute”—not a word has escaped your lips in this whole period of peril and misrule. How is this 2 Where have slept the thunders of the South 2 Was it that the political cauldron was not sufficiently heated to receive the crowning charm 2 Strange, that only after the lapse of fifty years, a secret should have been revealed, hidden hitherto from “prophets and wise men”—from the patriots and sages of the Revolution, as well as their descendants, to the present time—“that the interests of the North and West, are diametrically opposed to those of the South ;” and that there is, if the thing be possible, a still stronger opposition of feelings than of interests.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I have admitted, that if it be indeed true, that the vital interests of of the Northern and Southern sections of our country are essentially opposite to each other—or, to use your own language, if “the people of the North and the South are influenced by interests and feelings as opposite in their character as the poles are asunder”—if they can approximate only for conflict and collision”—then is their good ground of apprehension ; then may the alarm you are attempting to sound be regarded, perhaps, as a reasonable warning. I say “perhaps’ for even in this case, it is incumbent on you, I think, to show how the impending mischief may be shunned—else, I see no good reason for disturbing the public tranquillity. The mere pleasure of being terrified, is at least, an equivocal advantage. Were a patient labouring under a mortal disease, it would argue little humanity in his surgeon, to urge him to submit to a painful operation, which could not prolong his life; and as little wisdom in the patient, to consent to the measure, for the mere purpose of showing his spirit.

I shall probably return to this topic hereafter: and I shall, I think,

make it apparent, that, allowing our condition to be such as you represent it, the remedies you propose can bring us no relief. “Our final h". must in this case, be ‘flat despair.’ But is this our true condition? Is it true, that the real interests of the South and of the North, are thus repugnant and incompatible? Do these deep feelings of mutual hostility pervade the general mass of the citizens, in these different sections of the country And, if they do, have they any adequate foundation in the nature of things 2 Do they grow out of relations that are and must be permanent 2 Or are they, in their nature, temporary and factitious ; the result of mutual misapprehension, exasperated by mutual misrepresentation and mutual calumny I remark, in the first place, that your representations on this subject, are sustained by no facts ; nor are your positions fortified by any arguments. You have not pointed out wherein this hostility of interest exists. That the interests of the various sections of a country so extensive, and embracing so great a variety of soil and climate as ours, should be, in a greater or less degree, different from each other, were naturally to be expected. That they are so, in point of fact, is unquestionably true. But surely it does not follow, that because they are dissimilar, they should therefore be hostile. On the contrary, it is this very variety of interests and pursuits, giving birth to mutual wants, and mutual dependence that binds men together in the intercourse of society, imparting harmony and strength to the whole. It is, proverbially, those pursuing the same interests who are apt to clash. The merchant and the farmer, the professional man and the artisan, have each his different pursuit, each his peculiar interest. But it were a strange doctrine, truly, to inculcate on these different classes of men the necessity of an ever-living “jealousy" and suspicion of each other, on the ground of a natural and irreconcileable hostility between their interests. Yet wherein would such a doctrine differ from yours ? In the forms of enunciation alone. In substance, they are both the same. Unless, indeed, you are prepared to show that the principles which regulate the intercourse and relations of men within a given area, must cease to be applicable if that area be extended. No mutual interest is stronger, more direct, more palpable, and less liable to be affected by caprice or misunderstanding, that that which subsists between the buyer and the seller; between the grower and the consumer; between the agriculturist and the merchant. And the remark is equally true when applied to countries or sections of country, as when applied to individuals. The only qualification called for, at any rate, is in regard to countries thus situated, and which are subject to different governments. In this case, political considerations will sometimes intervene, to check or pervert the natural course of affairs. But this is a qualification of which you cannot avail yourself.

[ocr errors]

Now it is self-evident, that these which I have enumerated, are pre

cisely the relations which subsist between the different quarters of this our common country. The one part furnishes what the other is in want of The rich staples of our soil, are in extensive and increasing demand in the Northern and Eastern States; and they, in return, have naval skill and enterprise, and commercial capital, which enable them to be in part the purchasers for their own, and in part the carriers, and the cheapest carriers, of our produce, to foreign markets. Is there nothing of mutual benefit and mutual sympathy, I pray you, resulting from all this?. To my mind, it speaks of any thing but opposition of interests; and leads, one would think, or ought to lead, to any thing rather than hostility of feeling. Hostility of feeling? Do the shoemakers and wheelwrights, the manufacturers of soap, of paper and of nails; the whale oil and spermaceti men of Nantucket and New-Bedford—do all these men feel no community of interest with the South? Is it in their nature to cherish an abhorrence towards good customers?

Would this country, think you, be better adapted to the cultivation of a .

cordial and permanent union, if, through its wide extent, one single interest prevailed? Would the interests of this Union, and the hope of its durability, be better secured, were the broad savannahs of the South spread out to the Bay of Fundy, and the frontiers of Canada, one long succession of Rice and Cotton fields; or if, on the contrary, these were to give place to the bleak hills of New-England, or the wheat fields of Pennsylvania and New-York? No, sir, it is this very variety of soil and climate, of character and pursuit, which binds our interests together. It is, and ought to be so regarded, one of the choicest blessings which a beneficent Providence has poured into our lap. You have not adduced a single fact or argument, leading to a contrary conclusion. Nor can you do so. You seem to assume this “opposition of interests,’ as a point conceded; as a matter not admitting debate. You speak of it as a fact so certain and incontrovertible, as to furnish a just foundation for measures of the most serious and decisive import. You represent this opposition of interests as so radical, so vital in its character, as to forbid the expectation that the union of the States can be preserved, without entailing utter ruin on the South. It is this opposition of interests, you maintain distinctly, which has shaped the bias of the General Government, and is now urging it onward in its career of usurpation; you aver, again and again, that to persist in this course, will infallibly produce a dissolution of the union; and you solemnly warn your fellow-citizens, that any hope of effectually checking this course, “must, in the end, prove utterly fallacious.” Such is the prospect you hold out to our view. Now, these statements, if admitted, show a great deal too much. They evince, not only that the Union cannot be preserved; but, that it ought never to have been formed. The attempt to amalgamate such materials, ought to have been regarded as hopeless, from the first. A beneficial union might as well have been expected between a pair of Samson's foxes, fastened by the tail, with a burning torch between them. Had these views originally prevailed—and, if correct, it is impossible they should not have prevailed; for truths of this nature do not lie at the bottom of the well—the Union never could have been formed; or if formed, must long since have been severed. The very same causes which are now

expected to work this effect, must inevitably have produced it years ago. It is among the number of impossible things, to hold together in toluntary union, those whose interests and whose passions are engaged in perpetual conflict. Nature is more powerful than any artificial regulations; and if this natural repugnance did, in reality, exist, it would not have been left for our day to prove the futility of these. For you expressly preclude the idea that this opposition is of recent date; or grows out of accidental or adventitious circumstances. To prove that it was felt, and its consequences foreseen to be pregnant with danger, from the first, you quote a remark of Mr. MADison in the Convention: that “the great danger to the General Government, was the great Southern and Northern interests being opposed to each other.” I am persuaded that you misapprehend the purport of this remark. Mr. MADison is not here speaking of any danger to be apprehended from a real opposition in the nature of these interests. He is expressing his fears, that the very use might be made of this topic, which we, at this moment, witness—that these interests might be factitiously arrayed against each other, for the purpose of creating mutual distrust and suspicion. To show that his apprehensions were well founded, he appeals to the records of Congress, as containing evidences of such a tendency in the minds of the delegates. “Most of the votes,” says he, “stand divided by the geography of the country,” &c. But the votes in Congress, unfortunately for Mr. MADIsoN’s position, show no such thing. They show directly the contrary. I have looked over a series of decisions by yeas and nays, taken in chronological order, to the number of eighty-one; and I find, that of these eighty-one decisions, Massachusetts and Virginia, which I selected as the representatives, respectively, of the Northern and Southern interests, voted together fifty-one times; in opposition thirty times. So much for Mr. MADison’s authority on this point. But, suppose the facts had been as he stated; and that it were certain that Mr. MADison regarded these interests as more or less opposed to each other; and suppose, too, that I had not authority to throw into the opposite scale—the authority, to mention no other, of the first name in our, or in any, history—then I say, that the opinion of no man on earth, ought to weigh a feather against the testimony of ea perience. You have heard of the sophist who demonstrated the impossibility of motion. The answer of the philosopher, was, to get up and walk. The Union of these States has existed in its present form, near forty years. The great vital interests of the whole, and of the respective parts, in all this period, have undergone no material change. The relations subsisting between the North and the South, are the same now, that they were when our political course began. If there be an essential hostility between our interests now, the same hostility has existed and operated from the first. Yet, who has witnessed its effects? Have they manifested themselves in the National Legislature? Have the measures of the Government been marked by the operation of this principle? (I recollect but a single question of any moment, that can fairly be quoted as a case in point; and even in this case, the limits were by no means distinctly drawn.) Have the great political parties that have divided the country, been marked by geographical characteristics? Where, then, are the effects of this “ diametrical opposition” to be found? The truth is, they are not to be w found; they have no existence, save in imaginations, which suspicion, or alarm, has rendered creative.

The operations of the Government have gone on with a fair degree of harmony. No internal commotions have disturbed our domestic *. The course of justice has never, for a moment, been impeded.

e have passed the ordeal of a war, both offensive and defensive— calling for great sacrifices and exertions, with all our essential resources untouched. During this whole period every part of our country has advanced in wealth and improvement, with a rapidity absolutely without a parallel in the history of man. Cast back your eye to 1787 —see what the Southern States then were, and compare it with their present condition. One would think, this, of itself, were sufficient to show, that the Union cannot be that unnatural and mischievous thing you represent it to be; and which it must of necessity be, were the interests of the various parts thus opposite and conflicting in their nature.

[ocr errors][merged small]

It cannot be requisite to dwell longer on this subject. It is nothing more nor less than a political truism. The union of incompatible things, is as impossible in politics as in physics. Yet the union of these States has subsisted for half a century, through the alternations of peace and war; and this ‘opposition of interests,” so irreconcileable and so vital, has never betrayed itself until now. It has not appeared in the general course of our legislation. It has not stamped the character of our political divisions. It has not checked the march of national or local prosperity. . It has not, thus far at least, impaired the value of our staple productions. The measures to which it has impelled the Government, have not yet compelled us to sell cheap and buy dear. It is an unquestionable truth, that, all our Tariff laws notwithstanding, the price of manufactured articles, both foreign and domestic, has been, if not uniformly, yet on the whole, declining for a series of years past. How is it possible, that these strong facts should have been thus overlooked, or studiously kept out of sight, by writers on your side of the question?

I will not now enter on the discussion of either the constitutionality, or expediency of the protective system, as it is called, and which you allege as the practical proof of this opposition. Let this apple of discord rest for the present. But thus much it is pertinent to my present purpose, to state: that if it be inexpedient for us, it must likewise be inexpedient, in a greater or less degree, for our brethren of the North. If we have good grounds for our opposition to it, as injurious to our interes, it ought, on the same grounds, to be opposed by the commercial and agricultural classes in the Northern and Eastern States. For, it must, as I intend to show hereafter, produce the same effects, in kind, if not in degree, on their interests, as on ours.

This system grows, you maintain, naturally and necessarily, out of the actual condition and interests of the North and West, and must, therefore, be expected to be pursued with the steadiness of a great natural law. Be it so—still its operation, I maintain, will be checked by

« AnteriorContinuar »