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But whatever they may anticipate as the next measure of prudence and safety, they have explained nothing to the house. After rejecting the treaty, what is to be the next step? They must have foreseen what ought to be done; they have doubtless resolved what to propose. Why then are they silent? Dare they not now avow their plan of conduct, or do they wait until our progress towards confusion shall guide them in forming it?
Let me cheer the mind, weary no doubt and ready to despond on this prospect, by presenting another which it is yet in our power to realize. Is it possible for a real American to look at the prosperity of this country, without some desire for its continuance, without some respect for the measures which, many will say, produced, and all will confess have preserved it? Will he not feel some dread, that a change of system will reverse the scene? The well grounded fears of our citizens, in 1794, were removed by the treaty, but are not forgotten. Then they deemed war nearly inevitable, and would not this adjustment have been considered at that day as a happy escape from the calamity? The great interest and the general desire of our people was to enjoy the advantages of neutrality. This instrument, however misrepresented, affords America that inestimable security. The causes of our disputes are either cut up by the roots, or referred to a new negotiation, after the end of the European war. This was gaining every thing, because it confirmed our neutrality, by which our citizens are gaining every thing. This alone would justify the engagements of the government. For, when the fiery vapours of the war lowered in the skirts of our horizon, all our wishes were concentred in this one, that we might escape the desolation of the storm. This treaty, like a rainbow on the edge of the cloud, marked to our eyes the space where it was raging, and afforded at the same time the sure prognostic of fair
weather. If we reject it, the vivid colours will grow pale, it will be a baleful meteor portending tempest and war.
Let us not hesitate then to agree to the appropriation to carry it into faithful execution. Thus we shall save the faith of our nation, secure its peace, and diffuse the spirit of confidence and enterprise that will augment its prosperity. The progress of wealth and improvement is wonderful, and some will think, too rapid. The field for exertion is fruitful and vast, and if peace and good government should be preserved, the acquisitions of our citizens are not so pleasing as the proofs of their industry, as the instruments of their future success. The rewards of exertion go to augment its power. Profit is every hour becoming capital. The vast crop of our neutrality is all seed wheat, and is sown again, to swell, almost beyond calculation, the future harvest of prosperity. In this progress what seems to be fiction is found to fall short of experience.
I rose to speak under impressions that I would have resisted if I could. Those who see me will believe, that the reduced state of my health has unfitted me, almost equally, for much exertion of body or mind. Unprepared for debate by careful reflection in my retirement, or by long attention here, I thought the resolution I had taken, to sit silent, was imposed by necessity, and would cost me no effort to maintain. With a mind thus vacant of ideas, and sinking, as I really am, under a sense of weakness, I imagined the very desire of speaking was extinguished by the persuasion that I had nothing to say. Yet when I come to the moment of deciding the vote, I start back with dread from the edge of the pit into which we are plunging. In my view, even the minutes I have spent in expostulation have their value, because they protract the crisis, and the short period in which alone we may resolve to escape it.
I have thus been led by my feelings to speak more at length than I had intended. Yet I have perhaps as little personal interest in the event as any one here. There is, I believe, no member, who will not think his chance to be a witness of the consequences greater than mine. If, however, the vote should pass to reject, and a spirit should rise, as it will, with the public disorders to make “confusion worse confounded,” even I, slender and almost broken as my hold upon life is, may outlive the government and constitution of my country.
SPEECH OF MR. MORRIS.
ON THE JUDICIARY ESTABLISILMENT.
DURING the presidency of Mr. Adams, several tribunals of the United States were established, under the denomination of Circuit Courts. The succeeding administration, deeming these courts unnecessary, proposed to suppress them, and a bill was accordingly brought in for that purpose. The federalists in general considered the measure dangerous and unconstitutional. Their opinion was strenuously contested. Interesting debates ensued; and the following speeches may afford a favorable speci. men of the eloquence of both parties on this important occasion.
I had fostered the hope that some gentleman who thinks with me, would have taken upon himself the task of replying to the observations made yesterday and this morning in favour of the motion on your table. But since no gentleman has gone so fully into the subject as it seems to require, I am compelled to request your attention.
We were told yesterday, by the honourable member from Virginia, that our objections were calculated for the bye standers, and made with a view to produce an effect upon the people at large. I know not for whom this charge is intended. I certainly recollect no such observations. As I was personally charged with making a play upon words, it may have been intended for me. But surely, sir, it will be recollected that I declined that paltry game, and declared that I considered the verbal criticism which had been relied on, as irrelevant. If I can recollect what I said, from recollecting well what I thought, and meant to say, sure I am, that I uttered nothing in the style of an appeal to the people. I hope no member of this house has so poor a sense of its dignity as to make such an appeal. As to myself, it is now thirty years since I was called into public office. During that period I have fre. quently been the servant of the people, always their friend; but at no moment of my life their flatterer, and God for. bid that I ever should be. When the honourable gentleman considers the course we have taken, he must see that the observations he has thus pointed can light on no object. I trust that it did not flow from a consciousness of his own intentions. He, I hope, had no view of this sort. If he had, he was much, very much, mistaken. Had he looked round upon those who honour us with their attendance, he would have seen that the splendid flashes of his wit excited no approbatory smile. The countenances of those by whom we were surrounded presented a different spectacle. They were impressed with the dignity of this house; they perceived in it the dignity of the American people, and felt with high and manly sentiment their own participation.
We have been told, sir, by the honourable gentleman from Virginia, that there is no independent part of this government. That in popular governments the form of
every department, as well as the government itself, must depend upon popular opinion. And the honourable member from North Carolina has informed us that there is no check for the overbearing powers of the legislature but the public opinion; and he has been pleased to notice a sentiment I had uttered;—a sentiment which not only fell from my lips, but which flowed from my heart. It has, however, been misunderstood and misapplied. After reminding the house of the dangers to which popular governments are exposed from the influence of designing demagogues upon popular passion, I took the liberty to say, that we, we the senate of the United States, are assembled here to save the people from their most dangerous enemy, to save them from themselves; to guard them against the baneful effects of their own precipitation; their passion, their misguided zeal. 'Tis but for these purposes that all our constitutional checks are devised. If this be not the language of the constitution, the constitution is all nonsense. For why are the senators chosen by communities, and the representatives directly by the people? Why are the one chosen for a longer term than the other? Why give one branch of the legislature a negative upon the acts of the other? Why give the president a right to arrest the proceedings of both till two-thirds of each should concur? Why all these multiplied precautions, unless to check and control that iniquitous spirit, that headlong torrent of opinion, which has swept away every popular government that ever existed?
With most respectful attention I heard the declaration of the gentleman from Virginia, of his own sentiment: “ Whatever,” said he, “ may be my opinion of the constitution, I hold myself bound to respect it.” He disdained, sir, to profess an affection he did not feel, and I accept his candour as a pledge for the performance of his duty. But he will admit this necessary inference from that