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foot its laws, compromising its honour, and involving it in the most serious embarrassment with a foreign and friendly nation. It is, indeed, lamentable to reflect that such men, under such circumstances, may hazard the peace of the country.
If they were to come out in array against their own government, the consequences to it would be far less serious. In such an effort they could not involve it in much bloodshed, or in a heavy expenditure; nor would its commerce and general business be materially injured. But, a war with a powerful nation, with whom we have the most extensive relations, commercial and social, would bring down upon our country the heaviest calamity. It would dry up the sources of its prosperity and deluge it in blood.
The great principles of our republican institutions cannot be propagated by the sword. This can be done by moral force, and not physical.
If we desire the political regeneration of oppressed nations, we must show them the simplicity, the grandeur, and the freedom of our own government. We must recommend it to the intelligence and virtue of other nations by its
elevated and enlightened action, its purity, its justice, and the protection it affords to all its citizens, and the liberty they enjoy. And if, in this respect, we shall be faithful to the high bequests of our fathers, to ourselves, and to posterity, we shall do more to liberalize other governments and emancipate their subjects, than could be accomplished by millions of bayonets.
This moral power is what tyrants have most cause to dread. It addresses itself to the thoughts and the judgments of men. No physical force can arrest its progress. Its approaches are unseen, but its consequences are deeply felt. It enters garrisons most strongly fortified, and operates in the palaces of kings and emperors.
We should cherish this power as essential to the preservation of our own government; and as the most efficient means of ameliorating the political condition of our race. And this can only be done by a reverence for the laws, and by the exercise of an elevated patriotism.
But if we trample under our feet the laws of our country; if we disregard the faith of treaties, and our citizens engage without restraint in
military enterprises against the peace of other governments, we shall be considered and treated, and justly too, as a nation of pirates.
Punishments, under the law, can only be inflicted through the instrumentality of the judicial department of the government. The federal executive has shown a zeal worthy of the highest commendation in his endeavour to check the career of these enemies of social order. He has very properly employed a part of the military force of the country in this service; and he has solemnly warned and admonished these deluded citizens, who seem ready to carry devastation into the neighbouring province of a foreign and friendly power. These efforts of the president are in aid of the civil power, which, I trust, will not be found wanting on this, or any other emergency, in the discharge of the great duties which have been devolved upon it by the constitution and laws. But in vain will the civil authority be exerted unless it shall be aided by the moral force of the country. If the hands of the ministers of justice were not strengthened by public sentiment, how ineffectually would they be raised for the suppres
sion of crime. If the open violator of the law be cherished by society, he may, with impunity, set at defiance the organs of the law. The statute book which contains the catalogue of offences would then become a dead letter, and would be a standing monument of deeply seated corruption in the public.
I invoke, in behalf of the tribunals of justice, the moral power of society. I ask it to aid them in suppressing a combination of deluded or abandoned citizens, which imminently threatens the peace and prosperity of the country. And I have no fears, that when public attention shall be roused on this deeply important subject; when the laws are understood, and the duties of the government; and when the danger is seen, and properly appreciated, there will be an expression so potent from an enlightened and patriotic people, as to suppress all combinations in violation of the laws, and which threaten the peace of the country,
THE HONOURABLE DANIEL WEBSTER,
MEMBER OF THE SENATE FOR MASSACHUSETTS,
THE HONOURABLE RUFUS CHOAT,
It was to my extreme regret that Mr. Webster, whose powerful eloquence has so frequently been, in my own country, the theme of applause, both from the lips of Englishmen and of Americans, did not once, during my stay in Washington, speak in the Senate; and only once, for a very short time, in the Supreme Court; and he was even at that time suffering from a severe attack of indisposition. His speeches on the Oregon Question, and on Free, or rather on Fettered, Trade, were delivered, unhappily for me, after I had left the City. I was able, however, from the short specimen I heard in the Patent Case,* to form
* Mr. Webster was associated with Mr. Seward in the Patent Case. An extract from Seward's brief is given at page 55.