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they care not about the execution of those of their warriors who are taken captive. They are considered as disgraced by the very circumstance of their captivity, and it is often mercy to the unhappy captive to deprive him of his existence. The poet evinced a profound knowledge of the Indian character, when he put into the mouth of the son of a distinguished chief, about to be led to the stake and tortured by his victorious enemy, the words
• Begin, ye tormentors ! your threats are in vain :
“ I will not trespass much longer upon the time of the Committee; but I trust I shall be indulged with some few reflections upon the danger of permitting the conduct on which it has been my painful duty to animadvert, to pass without a solemn expression of the disapprobation of this House. Recall to your recollection the free nations which have
before us. Where are they now?
'Gone glimmering through the dream of things that were,
And how have they lost their liberties? If we could transport ourselves back to the ages when
Greece and Rome flourished in their greatest prosperity, and, mingling in the throng, should ask a Grecian, if he did not fear that some daring military chieftain, covered with glory, some Philip or Alexander, would one day overthrow the liberties of his country, the confident and indignant Grecian would exclaim, “No! no! we have nothing to fear from our heroes; our liberties will be eternal.' If a Roman citizen had been asked, if he did not fear that the conqueror of Gaul might establish a throne upon the ruins of public liberty, he would have instantly repelled the unjust insinuation. Yet Greece fell; Cæsar passed the Rubicon, and the patriotic arm even of Brutus could not preserve the liberties of his devoted country! The celebrated Madame de Stael, in her last and perhaps her best work, has said, that in the very year, almost the very month, when the President of the Directory declared that monarchy would never more show its frightful head in France, Buonaparte, with his grenadiers, entered the palace of St. Cloud, and dispersing, with the bayonet, the Deputies of the People, deliberating on the affairs of the state, laid the foundation of that vast
fabric of despotism which overshadowed all Europe. I hope not to be misunderstood. I am far from intimating that General Jackson cherishes any designs inimical to the liberties of the country. I believe his intentions to be pure and patriotic. I thank God that he would not, but I thank him still more that he could not, if he would, overturn the liberties of the republic. But precedents, if bad, are fraught with the most dangerous consequences.
Man has been described, by some of those who have treated of his nature, as a bundle of habits. The definition is much truer when applied to Governments. Precedents are their habits. There is one important difference between the formation of habits by an individual and by Governments. He contracts it only after frequent repetition. A single instance fixes the habit and determines the direction of Governments. Against the alarming doctrine of unlimited discretion in our military commanders when applied even to prisoners of war, I must enter my protest. It begins upon them; it will end on us. I hope our happy form of Government is to be perpetual. But, if it is to be preserved, it must be by the
practice of virtue, by justice, by moderation, by magnanimity, by greatness of soul, by keeping a watchful and steady eye on the executive; and, above all, by holding to a strict accountability the military branch of the public force.
“We are fighting a great moral battle, for the benefit, not only of our country, but of all mankind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed attention upon us. One, and the largest portion of it, is gazing with contempt, with jealousy, and with envy.; the other portion, with hope, with confidence, and with affection. Everywhere the black cloud of legitimacy is suspended over the world, save only one bright spot, which breaks out from the political hemisphere of the west, to enlighten, and animate, and gladden the human heart. Obscure that, by the downfall of liberty here, and all mankind are enshrouded in a pall of universal darkness. To you, Mr. Chairman, belongs the high privilege of transmitting, unimpaired, to posterity, the fair character and liberty of our country. Do you expect to execute this high trust, by trampling, or suffering to be trampled down, law, justice, the Constitution, and
the rights of the People ? by exhibiting examples of inhumanity, and cruelty, and ambition? When the minions of despotism heard, in Europe, of the seizure of Pensacola, how did they chuckle, and chide the admirers of our institutions, tauntingly pointing to the demonstration of a spirit of injustice and aggrandizement made by our country, in the midst of an amicable negociation. Behold, said they, the conduct of those who are constantly reproaching kings. You saw how those admirers were astounded and hung their heads. You saw, too, when that illustrious man, who presides over us, adopted his pacific, moderate, and just course, how they once more lifted up their heads with exultation, and delight beaming in their countenances. And you saw how those minions themselves were finally compelled to unite in the general praises bestowed upon our Government. Beware how you forfeit this exalted character. Beware how you give a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our Republic, scarcely yet two score years old, to military insubordination. Remember that Greece had her Alexander, Rome her Cæsar, England her Cromwell, France her Buonaparte,