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away, no man can doubt of the meaning of that instrument in this respect. Mr. President, this power of discrimination, thus admitted, avowed, and practiced upon in the first revenue act, has never becn denied or doubted until within a few years past. It was not at all doubted in 1816, when it became necessary to adjust the revenue to a state of peace. On the contrary, the power was then exercised, not without opposition as to its expediency, but, as far as I remember or have understood, without the slightest opposition founded on any supposed want of constitutional authority. Certainly, South Carolina did not doubt it. The tariff of 1816 was introduced, carried through, and established, under the lead of South Carolina. Even the minimum policy is of South Carolina origin. The .honorable gentleman himself supported, and ably supported, the tariff of 1816. He has informed us, sir, that his speech on that occasion was sudden and off-hand, he being called up by the request of a friend. I am sure the gentleman so remembers it, and that it was so; but there is, nevertheless, much method, arrangement, and clear exposition in that extempore speech. It is very able, very, very much to the point, and very decisive. And in another speech, delivered two months earlier, on the proposition to repeal the internal taxes, the honorable gentleman had touched the same subject, and had declared “that a certain encouragement ought to be extended at least to our woollen and cotton manufactures.” I do not quote these
speeches, sir, for the purpose of showing that the honorable
gentleman has changed his opinion: my object is other and higher. I do it for the sake of saying that that cannot be so plainly and palpably unconstitutional as to warrant resistance to law, nullification, and revolution, which the honorable gentleman and his friends have heretofore agreed to and acted upon without doubt and without hesitation. Sir, it is no answer to say that the tariff of 1816 was a revenue bill. So are they all revenue bills. The point is, and the truth is, that the tariff of 1816, like the rest, did discriminate; it did distinguish one article from another; it did lay duties for protection. Look to the case of coarse cottons under the minimum calculation: the duty on these was from sixty to eighty per cent. Something besides revenue, certainly, was intended in this; and, in fact, the law cut up our whole commerce with India in that article. It is, sir, only within a few years that Carolina has denied the constitutionality of these protective laws. The gentleman himself has narrated to us the true history of her proceedings on this point. He says, that, after the passing of the law of 1828, despairing then of being able to abolish the system of protection, political men went forth among the people, and set up the doctrine that the system was unconstitutional. “And the people,” says the honorable gentleman, “received the doctrine.” This, I believe, is true, sir. The people did then receive the doctrine; they had never entertained it before. Down to that period, the constitutionality of these laws had been no more doubted in South Carolina than elsewhere. And I suspect it is true, sir, and I deem it a great misfortune, that, to the present moment, a great portion of the people of the State have never yet seen more than one side of the argument. I believe that thousands of honest men are involved in scenes now passing, led away by one-sided views of the question, and following their leaders by the impulses of an unlimited confidence. Depend upon it, sir, if we can avoid the shock of arms, a day for reconsideration and reflection will come; truth and reason will act with their accustomed force, and the public opinion of South Carolina will be restored to its usual constitutional and patriotic tone. But, sir, I hold South Carolina to her ancient, her cool, her uninfluenced, her deliberate opinions. I hold her to her own admissions, nay to her own claims and pretensions, in 1789, in the first Congress, and to her acknowledgments and avowed sentiments through a long series of succeeding years. I hold her to the principles on which she led Congress to act in 1816; or, if she have changed her own opinions, I claim some respect for those who still retain the same opinions. I say she is precluded from asserting that doctrines, which she has herself so long and so ably sus. tained, are plain, palpable, and dangerous violations of the Constitution. Mr. President, if the friends of nullification should be able to propagate their opinions, and give them practical effect, they would, in my judgment, prove themselves the most skilful “architects of ruin,” the most effectual extinguishers of high-raised expectation, the greatest blasters of human hopes, that any age has produced. They would stand up to proclaim, in tones which would pierce the ears of half the human race, that the last great experiment of representative government had failed. They would send forth sounds, at the hearing of which the doctrine of the divine right of kings would feel, even in its grave, a returning sensation of vitality and resuscitation. Millions of eyes, of those who now feed their inherent love of liberty on the success of the American example, would turn away from beholding our dismemberment, and find no place on earth whereon to rest their gratified sight. Amid the incantations and orgies of nullification, secession, disunion, and revolution, would be celebrated the funeral rites of constitutional and republican liberty. But, sir, if the government do its duty, if it act with firmness and with moderation, these opinions cannot prevail. Be assured, sir, be assured, that, among the political sentiments of this people, the love of union is still uppermost. They will stand fast by the Constitution, and by those who defend it. I rely on no temporary expedients, on no political combination; but I rely on the true American feeling, the genuine patriotism of the people, and the imperative decision of the public voice. Disorder and confusion, indeed, may arise; scenes of commotion and contest are threatened, and perhaps may come. With my whole heart I pray for the continuance of the domestic peace and quiet of the country. I desire, most ardently, the restoration of affection and harmony to all its parts. I desire that every citizen of the whole country may look to this government with no other sentiments than those of grateful respect and attachment. But I cannot yield even to kind feelings the cause of the Constitution, the true glory of the country, and the great trust which we hold in our hands for succeeding ages. If the Constitution cannot be maintained without meeting these scenes of commotion and contest, ... however unwelcome, they must come. We cannot, we must not, we dare not, omit to do that which, in our judgment, the safety of the Union requires. Not regardless of consequences, we must yet meet consequences; seeing the hazards which surround the discharge of public duty, it must yet be discharged. For myself, sir, I shun no responsibility justly devolving on me, here or elsewhere, in attempting to maintain the cause. I am bound to it by indissoluble ties of affection and duty, and I shall cheerfully partake in its fortunes and its fate. I am ready to perform my own appropriate part, whenever and wherever the occasion may call on me, and to take my chance among those upon whom blows may fall first and fall thickest. I shall exert every faculty I possess in aiding to prevent the Constitution from being nullified, destroyed, or impaired; and even should I see it fall, I will still, with a voice feeble, perhaps, but earnest as ever issued from human lips, and with fidelity and zeal which nothing shall extinguish, call on the people to come to its rescue.
THE CONSTITUTION AND THE UNION
A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE SEVENTH OF MARCH, 1850 Mr. President :
WISH to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions and government. The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South combine to throw the whole sea into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and disclose its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or as fit to hold, the helm in this combat with the political