« ÎnapoiContinuați »
On the return of Mr. Webster from the session in which he had particularly signalized himself by the delivery of his masterly speeches on the sub-treasury bill, and in reply to Mr. Calhoun (contained in a subsequent volume of this collection), a large number of his fellow-citizens of Boston could not be restrained from manifesting their sense of his extraordinary efforts, in exhibiting the true character of the odious subtreasury project, and in procuring its ultimate rejection by Congress. He was accordingly invited to meet them at a public dinner, on the 24th of July, 1838. More than fifteen hundred persons attended it, every ticket having been eagerly taken as soon as issued. Every portion of the Hall, floor and galleries, was filled. The Governor of the Commonwealth (Hon. Edward Everett) presided at the table, and the spirit of the occasion and of the company may be gathered from the following remarks with which he introduced Mr. Webster to the assembly:
" And now,
fellow-citizens,” said he, “I rise to discharge the most pleasing part of my duty, which I fear you will think I have too long postponed; the duty which devolves on me, as the 1
feel. ings toward our distinguished guest, the senior Senator of the Commonwealth. And yet, fellow-citizens, I appeal to you, that I have approached this duty through the succession of ideas which most naturally conducts our minds and hearts to the grateful topic. I have proposed to you, Our country and its prosperity. Who among the great men, his contemporaries, has more widely surveyed and comprehended the various interests of all its parts ? I have proposed, The Union of the States. What public man is there living, whose political course has been more steadily consecrated to its perpetuity? I have proposed to you, The Constitution. And who of our statesmen, from the time of its framers, has more profoundly investigated, more clearly expounded, more powerfully vindicated and sustained it? But these topics I may pass over. They are matters which have been long familiar to you; they need not any comment from me.
“ The events of the last year, and of the last session of Congress, and the present state of the country, invite our attention more particularly to
the recent efforts of our distinguished guest on the subject of THE CURRENCY. I know not but some persons may think that undue importance has been attached to the questions which have divided parties on this subject; that these questions are not so vital to liberty as they have been represented. But such an opinion would be erroneous. Undoubtedly there are countries, not free ones, in which money questions, as connected with the government, are of minor consequence. In China, in Turkey, in Persia, I presume they are very little discussed. I
In these countries the great question is, whether a man's head at night will be found in the same pleasing and convenient proximity to his shoulders that it was in the morning; and this is a kind of previous question, which, if decided against him, cuts off all others. Under those arbitrary governments of Europe, where the prince takes what he pleases, and when he pleases, it is of
very little moment where he deposits it, on its way from the pockets of the people to his own. But it was remarked by Edmund Burke, more than seventy years ago, that in England, (and a fortiori in the United States, that is, under constitutional governments,) the great struggles for liberty had been almost always money questions, and on this ground he excused the Americans for the stand they took in opposition to a paltry tax. But, most certainly, the money question, as it has been agitated among us, is vastly more important, more intimately connected with constitutional liberty, than that which brought on the Revolution. The question with our fathers was one of a small tax; ours, of the entire currency. Theirs concerned three pence per pound on tea, illegally levied ; ours, the entire currency illegally disposed of, the entire medium of circulation deranged, and for a period annihilated, the whole business of the country, in all its great branches, brought under the control of the treasury. The noble stand, therefore, taken by our distinguished Sena. tor in this controversy has been upon points which concern the dearest interests of the people, and the elemental principles of the government.
“In fact, I know not that a policy can be imagined more at war with the true character of the government, than that which he has been called to combat. The past and present administrations, relying too confi. dently on the popular delusions which brought them into office, have systematically defeated one of the great original objects for which the Union was framed, that of a uniform medium of commerce. Nor has the manner of their policy been less objectionable than its design. They have crowded experiment upon experiment, with the fatal recklessness of the rash engineer who urges the fires in his furnaces till some noble steamer bursts in an awful explosion.* Our Senators and Representatives, and their associates, could they have forgotten that a revered Constitution and a beloved country were the chief victims, might well have folded their arms, and left the authors of the calamity to extricate them. selves, as best they might, from the ruin. But not thus have they understood their duty; and we have seen them with admiration, in the last days of the session, gallantly putting out in the life-boat of the Constitution, with an eye of fire at the top, and an arm of iron at the helm, to
The disaster of the Pulaski occurred about the time of the delivery of these remarks,