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RECEPTION AT BUFFALO.*
In the summer of 1833, Mr. Webster made a visit to the State of Ohio. On his way thither, while at Buffalo, New York, he was invited by the citizens of that place to attend a public dinner, which his engagements, and the necessity of an early departure, compelled him to decline. He accepted, however, an invitation to be present at the launching of a steam. boat, to which the proprietors had given the name of DANIEL WEBSTER, and, in reply to an address from one of them, made the following remarks:
I avail myself gladly of this opportunity of making my acknowledgments to the proprietors of this vessel, for the honor conferred upon me by allowing her to bear my name.
Such a token of regard, had it proceeded from my immediate friends and neighbors, could not but have excited feelings of gratitude. It is more calculated to awaken these sentiments, when coming from gentlemen of character and worth with whom I have not had the pleasure of personal acquaintance, and whose motive, I may flatter myself, is to be found in an indulgent opinion towards well-intentioned services in a public situation.
It gives me great pleasure, also, on the occasion of so large an assembly of the people of Buffalo, to express to them my thanks for the kindness and hospitality with which I have been received in this young, but growing and interesting city. The launching of another vessel on these inland seas is but a fresh occasion of congratulation on the rapid growth, the great active prosperity, and the animating prospects of this city. Eight years ago, fellow-citizens, I enjoyed the pleasure of a short visit to this place. There was then but one steamboat on Lake
* Remarks made to the Citizens of Buffalo, June, 1833.
Erie; it made its passage once in ten or fifteen days only; and I remember that persons in my own vicinity, intending to travel to the Far West by that conveyance, wrote to their friends here to learn the day of the commencement of the contemplated voyage. I understand that there are now eighteen steamboats plying on the lake, all finding full employment; and that a boat leaves Buffalo twice every day for Detroit and the ports in Ohio. The population of Buffalo, now four times as large as it was then, has kept pace with the augmentation of its commercial business. This rapid progress is an indication, in a single instance, of what is likely to be the rate of the future progress of the city. So many circumstances incline to favor its advancement, that it is difficult to estimate the rate by which it may hereafter proceed. It will probably not be long before the products of the fisheries of the East, the importations of the Atlantic frontier, the productions, mineral and vegetable, of all the Northwestern States, and the sugars of Louisiana, will find their way hither by inland water communication. Much of this, indeed, has already taken place, and is of daily occurrence. Many, who remember the competition between Buffalo and Black Rock for the site of the city, will doubtless live to see the city spread over both. This singular prosperity, fellow-citizens, so gratifying for the present, and accompanied with such high hopes for the future, is due to your own industry and enterprise, to your favored position, and to the flourishing condition of the internal commerce of the country; and the blessings and the riches of that internal commerce, be it ever remembered, are the fruits of a united government, and one general, common commercial system.
It is not only the trade of New York, of Ohio, of New Eng. land, of Indiana, or of Michigan, but it is a part of the great aggregate of the trade of all the States, in which you so largely and so successfully partake. Who does not see that the advantages here enjoyed spring from a general government and a uniform code? Who does not see, that, if these States had remained severed, and each had existed with a system of imposts and commercial regulations of its own, all excluding and repelling, rather than inviting, the intercourse of the rest, the place could hardly have hoped to be more than a respectable frontier post? Or can any man look to the one and to the other side
of this beautiful lake and river, and not see, in their different conditions, the plain and manifest results of different political institutions and commercial regulations?
It would be pleasant, fellow-citizens, to dwell on these topics, so worthy at all times of regard and reflection; and especially so fit to engage attention at the present moment. But this is not the proper moment to pursue them; and, tendering to you once more my thanks and good wishes, I take my leave of you by expressing my hope for the continued success of that great interest, so essential to your happiness, — THE COMMERCE OF THE LAKES, A NEW-DISCOVERED SOURCE OF NATIONAL PROSPERITY, AND A NEW BOND OF NATIONAL UNION.
An address was also made to Mr. Webster in behalf of the mechanics and manufacturers of Buffalo, to which he returned the following reply :
I NEED hardly say, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, that it gives me much satisfaction to receive this mark of approbation of my public conduct from the manufacturers and mechanics of Buffalo. Those who are the most immediately affected by the measures of the government are naturally the earliest to perceive their operation, and to foresee their final results. Allow me to say, Gentlemen, that the confidence expressed by you in my continuance in the general course which I have pursued must rest, and may rest safely, I trust, on the history of the past. Desiring always to avoid extremes, and to observe a prudent moderation in regard to the protective system, I yet hold stead
I iness and perseverance, in maintaining what has been established, to be essential to the public prosperity. Nothing can be worse than that laws concerning the daily labor and the daily bread of whole classes of the people should be subject to frequent and violent changes. It were far better not to move at all than to move forward and then fall back again.
My sentiments, Gentlemen, on the tariff question, are generally known. In my opinion, a just and a leading object in the whole system is the encouragement and protection of American manual labor. I confess, that every day's experience convinces me more and more of the high propriety of regarding this object. Our government is made for all, not for a few. Its object is to promote the greatest good of the whole; and this ought to be kept constantly in view in its administration. The far greater number of those who maintain the government belong
to what may be called the industrious or productive classes of the community. With us labor is not depressed, ignorant, and unintelligent. On the contrary, it is active, spirited, enterprising, seeking its own rewards, and laying up for its own competence and its own support. The motive to labor is the great stimulus to our whole society; and no system is wise or just which does not afford this stimulus, as far as it may. The protection of American labor against the injurious competition of foreign labor, so far, at least, as respects general handicraft productions, is known historically to have been one end designed to be obtained by establishing the Constitution; and this object, and the constitutional power to accomplish it, ought never in any degree to be surrendered or compromised.
Our political institutions, Gentlemen, place power in the hands of all the people; and to make the exercise of this power, in such hands, salutary, it is indispensable that all the people should enjoy, first, the means of education, and, second, the reasonable certainty of procuring a competent livelihood by industry and labor. These institutions are neither designed for, nor suited to, a nation of ignorant paupers. To disseminate knowledge, then, universally, and to secure to labor and industry their just rewards, is the duty both of the general and the State governments, each in the exercise of its appropriate powers. To be free, the people must be intelligently free; to be substantially independent, they must be able to secure themselves against want, by sobriety and industry; to be safe depositaries of political power, they must be able to comprehend and understand the general interests of the community, and must themselves have a stake in the welfare of that community. The interest of labor, therefore, has an importance, in our system, beyond what belongs to it as a mere question of political economy. It is connected with our forms of government, and our whole social system. The activity and prosperity which at present prevail among us, as every one must notice, are produced by the excitement of compensating prices to labor; and it is fervently to be hoped that no unpropitious circumstances and no unwise policy may counteract this efficient cause of general competency and public happiness.
I pray you, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, to receive personally my thanks for the manner in which you have communicated to me the sentiments of the meeting which you represent.