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ment, submitted by Mr. Webster at the close of his first speech, prevailed, and thus the whole discussion ended.
It may be worthy of remark, that Mr. Webster's speech was taken in short-hand by Mr. Gales, the veteran editor of the National Intelligencer, a stenographer of great experience and skill. It was written out in common hand by a member of his family, and sent to Mr. Webster for correction. It remained in his hands for that purpose a part of one day, and then went to
A young and gifted American artist,* whose talents had been largely put in requisition by King Louis Philippe to adorn the walls of Versailles, conceived a few years ago the happy idea of a grand historical picture of this debate. On a canvas of the largest size he has nobly delineated the person of the principal individual in the act of replying to Mr. Hayne, with those of his colleagues in the Senate. The passages and galleries of the Senate-Chamber are filled with attentive listeners of both sexes. Above a hundred accurate studies from life give authenticity to a work in which posterity will find the sensible presentment of this great intellectual effort.
* Mr. Geo. P. A. Healey.
General Character of President Jackson's Administrations. — Speedy Discord among
the Parties which had united for his Elevation. - Mr. Webster's Relations to the Administration. — Veto of the Bank. — Rise and Progress of Nullification in South Carolina. - The Force Bill, and the Reliance of General Jackson's Administration on Mr. Webster's Aid. - His Speech in Defence of the Bill, and in Opposition to Mr. Calhoun's Resolutions. – Mr. Madison's Letter on Secession. — The Removal of the Deposits. — Motives for that Measure. The Resolution of the Senate disapproving it. — The President's Protest. — Mr. Webster's Speech on the Subject of the Protest. – Opinions of Chancellor Kent and Mr. Tazewell. — The Expunging Resolution. — Mr. Webster's Protest against it. — Mr. Van Buren's Election. – The Financial Crisis and the Extra Session of Congress. — The Government Plan of Finance supported by Mr. Calhoun and opposed by Mr. Webster. - Personalities.- Mr. Webster's Visit to Europe and distinguished Reception. — The Presi. dential Canvass of 1840. — Election of General Harrison.
It would require a volume of ample dimensions to relate the history of Mr. Webster's Senatorial career from this time till the accession of General Harrison to the Presidency, in 1841. In this interval the government was administered for two successive terms by General Jackson, and for a single term by Mr. Van Buren. It was a period filled with incidents of great im. portance in various departments of the government, often of a startling character at the time, and not less frequently exerting a permanent influence on the condition of the country. It may be stated as the general characteristic of the political tendencies of this period, that there was a decided weakening of respect for constitutional restraint. Vague ideas of executive discretion prevailed on the one hand in the interpretation of the Constitution, and of popular sovereignty on the other, as represented by a President elevated to office by overwhelming majorities of the people. The expulsion of the Indian tribes from the Southern States, in violation of the faith of treaties and in open disregard of the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States as to their obligation; the claim of a right on the part of a State to nullify an act of the general government; the violation of the charter of the bank, and the Presidential veto of the act of Congress rechartering it; the deposit of the public money in the selected State banks with a view to its safe keeping and for the greater encouragement of trade by the loan of the public funds; the explosion of this system, and the adoption of one directly opposed to it, which rejected wholly the aid of the banks and denied the right of the government to employ the public funds for any but fiscal purposes; the executive menaces of war against France; the unsuccessful attempt of Mr. Van Buren's administration to carry on the government upon General Jackson's system; the panic of 1837, succeeded by the general uprising of the country and the universal demand for a change of men and measures, - these are the leading incidents in the chronicle of the period in question. Most of the events referred to are discussed in the following volumes. On some of them Mr. Webster put forth all his power. The questions pertaining to the construction of the Constitution, to the bank, to the veto power, to the currency, to the constitutionality of the tariff, to the right of removal from office, and to the finances, were discussed in almost every conceivable form, and with every variety of argument and illustration.
It has already been observed, that General Jackson was brought into power by a somewhat ill-compacted alliance between his original friends and a portion of the friends of the other candidates of 1824. As far as Mr. Calhoun and his followers were concerned, the cordiality of the union was gone before the inauguration of the new President. There was not only on the list of the cabinet to be appointed no adequate representative of the Vice-President, but his rival candidate for the succession (Mr. Van Buren) was placed at the head of the administration. There is reason to suppose
that General Jackson, who, though his policy tended greatly to impair the strength of the Union, was in feeling a warm Unionist, witnessed with no dissatisfaction the result of the great constitutional debate and its influence upon the country.
But the effect of this debate on the friendly relations of Mr. Webster with the administration was in some degree neutralized by the incidents of the second session of the Twentyfirst Congress. Mr. Van Buren had retreated before the embarrassments of the position in which he found himself in the Department of State, and had accepted the mission to Eng. land. The instructions which he had given to Mr. McLane in 1829, in reference to the adjustment of the question relative to the colonial trade, were deemed highly objectionable by a majority of the Senate, as bringing the relations of our domestic parties to the notice of a foreign government, and founding upon a change of administration an argument for the concession of what was deemed and called “a boon” by the British government. In order to mark the spirit of these instructions with the disapprobation of the Senate, the nomination of Mr. Van Buren as Minister to England was negatived by a major. ity of that body. While the subject was under discussion, Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster, and Mr. Calhoun took the same view of this delicate question. It will be found treated in the speech of Mr. Webster of the 24th of January, 1832, with all the gravity, temper, and moderation which its importance demanded.
In the Twenty-second Congress (the second of General Jackson's administration) the bank question became prominent. General Jackson had in his first message called the attention of Congress to the subject of the bank. No doubt of its constitutionality was then intimated by him. In the course of a year or two an attempt was made, on the part of the executive, to control the appointment of the officers of one of the Eastern branches. This attempt was resisted by the bank, and from that time forward a state of warfare, at first partially disguised, but finally open and flagrant, existed between the government and the directors of the institution. In the first
. session of the Twenty-second Congress (1831 – 32), a bill was introduced by Mr. Dallas, and passed the two houses, to renew the charter of the bank. This measure was supported by Mr. Webster, on the ground of the importance of a national bank to the fiscal operations of the government, and to the currency, exchange, and general business of the country. No specific complaints of mismanagement had then been made, nor were any abuses alleged to exist. The bank was, almost without exception, popular at that time with the business interests of the country, and particularly at the South and West. Its credit in England was solid; its bills and drafts on London took the place of specie for remittances to India and China. Its convenience and usefulness were recognized in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. McLane), at the same time that its constitutionality was questioned and its existence threatened by the President. So completely, however, was the policy of General Jackson's administration the impulse of his
own feelings and individual impressions, and so imperfectly had these been disclosed on the present occasion, that the fate of the bill for rechartering the bank was a matter of uncertainty on the part both of adherents and opponents. Many persons on both sides of the two houses were taken by surprise by the veto. When the same question was to be decided by General Washington, he took the opinion in writing of every member of the Cabinet.
But events of a different complexion soon occurred, and gave a new direction to the thoughts of men throughout the country. The opposition of South Carolina to the protective policy had been pushed to a point of excitement at which it was beyond the control of party leaders. Although, as we have seen, that policy had in 1816 been established by the aid of distinguished statesmen of South Carolina, who saw in the success of American cotton manufactures a new market for the staple of the South, in which it would take the place of the cotton of India, the protective policy at a later period had come to be generally considered unconstitutional at the South. A change of opinion some. what similar had taken place in New England, which had been originally opposed to this policy, as adverse to the commercial and navigating interests. Experience gradually showed that such was not the case. The enactment of the law of 1824 was considered as establishing the general principle of protection as the policy of the country. It was known to be the policy of the great central States. The capital of the North was to some extent forced into new channels. Some branches of manufactures flourished, as skill was acquired and improvements in machinery made. The coarse cotton fabrics which had enjoyed the protection of the minimum duty prospered, manufacturing villages grew up, the price of the fabric fell, and as competition increased the tariff did little more than protect the domestic manufacturer from fraudulent invoices and the fluctuation of foreign markets. Thus all parties were benefited, not excepting the South, which gained a new customer for her staple. These changes in the condition of things led Mr. Webster, as we have remarked in a former chapter, to modify his course on the tariff question.
Unfortunately, no manufactures had been established at the South. The vast quantities of new and fertile land opened in the west of Georgia, in Alabama, and Mississippi, injured the