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ster's friends in Boston published a pamphlet edition of the speeches of Mr. Hayne and Mr. Webster. It is no exaggeration to say, that throughout the country Mr. Webster's speech was regarded, not only as a brilliant and successful personal defence and a triumphant vindication of New England, but as a complete overthrow of the dangerous constitutional heresies which had menaced the stability of the Union.
In this light it was looked upon by a large number of the most distinguished citizens of New York, who took occasion to offer Mr. Webster the compliment of a public dinner the following winter. Circumstances delayed the execution of their purpose till some time had elapsed from the delivery of the speech, but the recollection of it was vivid, and it was referred to by Chancellor Kent, the president of the day, as the service especially demanding the grateful recognition of the country. After alluding to the debate on Foot's resolution and to the character of Mr. Webster's speech, the venerable Chancellor added :
“ The consequences of that discussion have been extremely benefi. cial. It turned the attention of the public to the great doctrines of national rights and national union. Constitutional law ceased to remain wrapped up in the breasts, and taught only by the responses, of the living oracles of the law. Socrates was said to have drawn down philosophy from the skies, and scattered it among the schools. It may with equal truth be said that constitutional law, by means of those senatorial discussions and the master genius that guided them, was rescued from the archives of our tribunals and the libraries of our lawyers, and placed under the eye and submitted to the judgment of the American people. Their verdict is with us, and from it there lies no appeal.” *
With respect to Mr. Foot's resolution it may be observed, that it continued before the Senate a long time, a standing subject of discussion. One half at least of the members of the Senate took part in the debate, which daily assumed a wider range and wandered farther from the starting-point. Many speeches were made which, under other circumstances, would have attracted notice, but the interest of the controversy expired with the great effort of the 26th and 27th of January. At length, on the 21st of May, a motion for indefinite postpone.
Chancellor Kent's remarks are given entire in the introduction to Mr. Webster's Speech at the New York Dinner, Vol. I. p. 194.
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.
Ir 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 importance 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 lead. ing 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 fol. lowers 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 England. 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 ma
jority 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 majority 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