Abbildungen der Seite

the same reasoning, General Washington's and a considerable share of Mr. Adams's should not also be included. But, it is very hard to credit that any well-informed and reflecting American, could ever, in the hottest frenzy of political excitement, have persuaded himself for a moment that this course would have been for the true interest of his country. We built no great navy. We bore the brunt of subsequent war as best we might. We suffered calamities, and what some esteemed disgraces. Nearly all the European kingdoms, including those which have ground their own people into the dust for ages to prepare them to defend themselves against other nations, have been invaded, and their capitals have been in possession of an enemy within the present century. We, a comparative handful of population scattered over a surface equalling half Europe, suffered the same “disgrace.” But after attaching all possible importance to the real and the imaginary inflictions of the war of 1812, does any intelligent person doubt that we are stronger to-day by the mere force of increased growth, than we should have been had we steadily pursued the policy of preparing for war, and especially the policy of preparing to cope with England on the seaso Preparation for war requires expenditure, and renders all the capital it absorbs unproductive for other objects. To the extent of that absorption, means of development and improvement are sacrificed. These effects extend even to populational increase. Where means to open the road, bridge the river, and repel the savage are wanting, population does not spread so rapidly over territorial surfaces. Where governmental exactions fall heavily and chillingly on industry, early marriage and rapid and healthy increase are materially checked, even though actual physical want is not produced. Population only springs lush and vigorous to the maximum of increase where plenty, and free and smiling plenty, abounds. We are now proportionably as unarmed on sea and land as in 1804. “Jefferson's peace policy” as it was contemptuously styled by that party who remained intellectually and politically European colonists—Jefferson’s policy of GRowING instead of ARMING—prevailed until it became thoroughly incorporated into and the very corner-stone of our national policy. It may be properly called the American system. And what has been the result 2 We will not ask the fields of Mexico to answer. We will not ask the colonized and blossoming wilderness—the farm-homes within the shadows of the Rocky Mountains—our banner floating on the shores of the Pacific—to make answer. But we will ask any occasional representative and remnant of the old European colonial party, if there is at this day a power on earth that has spent centuries in arming, that we either fear, or that could be induced, on any slight occasion, to provoke a war with the United States? We resume our historic narrative. The gunboat bill passed Congress in the session of 1804-5. A stringent law was enacted for the apprehension by civil process (supported if necessary by military force) of violators of our neutrality, on board foreign armed vessels. If resistance took place and death ensued, it was made punishable as felonious homicide. The President was authorized to permit or interdict the entrance of foreign vessels into our waters, to prohibit supplies to them, and to remove them by force if necessary. Stringent enactments were made, at the President's suggestion, to prevent armed American merchant ships from forcing a contraband trade, as they were officially charged with doing, in the West Indies. A new territorial act was passed for Orleans, conforming its government generally to that of Mississippi, and preparing for its admission as a State when it should contain sixty thousand free inhabitants. Louisiana was erected into a territorial government of the second class. Michigan was detached from Indiana and also erected into a territorial government of the second class. The President's correspondence, during the session, embraced few topics of present interest. In quoting some of his former remarks about the degradation of morals among mechanical operatives, we stated that he lived to retract those opinions. A letter to Mr. Lithson, January 4th, 1805, contains that retraction in the most ample terms.' 1 we will make room for the directly pertinent part of this letter, and the reader will doubtless keep in mind that it was not written during an election contest, but after its author had received the last offee he would accept from the hands of his countrymen. ... Your letter of December 4th [he wrote Mr. Lithson] has been duly received. Mr. Duane informed me that he meant to publish a new edition of the notes on Virginia, and I had in contemplation some particular alterations which would require little time to make. My occupations by no means permit me at this time to revise the text, and make those changes in it which I should now do. I should in that case certainly qualify several expressions in the nineteenth chapter, which have been construed differently from what

they were intended. I had under my eye, when writing, the manufacturers of the great cities in the old countries, at the time present, with whom the want of food and clothing

The following letter to Colonel John Taylor of Caroline (January 6th) shows the firm determination of the President to retire at the close of his second term, though the importunate entreaties of friends had thus far prevented any public announcement of that fact.

“My opinion originally was that the President of the United States should have been elected for seven years, and forever ineligible afterwards. I have since become sensible that seven years is too long to be irremovable, and that there should be a peaceable way of withdrawing a man in midway who is doing wrong. The service for eight years, with a power to remove at the end of the first four, comes nearly to my principle as corrected by experience; and it is in adherence to that, that I determine to withdraw at the end of my second term. The danger is that the indulgence and attachments of the people will keep a man in the chair after he becomes a dotard, that reëlection through life shall become habitual, and election for life follow that. General Washington set the example of voluntary retirement after eight years. I shall follow it. And a few more precedents will oppose the obstacle of habit to any one after awhile who shall endeavor to extend his term. Perhaps it may beget a disposition to establish it by an amendment of the Constitution. I believe I am doing right therefore in pursuing my principle. I had determined to declare my intention, but I have consented to be silent on the opinion of friends, who think it best not to put a continuance out of my power in defiance of all circumstances. There is, however, but one circumstance which could engage my acquiescence in another election; to wit, such a division about a successor, as might bring in a monarchist. But that circumstance is impossible. While, therefore, I shall make no formal declaration to the public of my purpose, I have freely let it be understood in private conversation. In this I am persuaded yourself and my friends generally will approve of my views. And should I, at the end of a second term, carry into retirement all the favor which the first has acquired, I shall feel the consolation of having done all the good in my power, and expect with more than composure the termination of a life no longer valuable to others or of importance to myself.”

The President's second inauguration took place on the 4th of March, 1805, in the sixty-second year of his age. His speech on the occasion was longer than his former one, and much less ornately written. He declared that “his conscience told him that he had, on every occasion, acted up to ” the declaration of his first inaugural address, “according to its obvious import and to the understanding of every candid mind.” Allud

necessary to sustain life, has begotten a depravity of morals, a dependence and corruption, which renders them an undesirable accession to a country whose morals are sound. My expressions looked forward to the time when our own great cities would get into the same state. But they have been quoted as if meant for the present time here. As yet our manufacturers are as much at their ease, as independent and moral, as our agricultural inhabitants, and they will continue so as long as there are vacant lands for them to resort to ; because whenever it shall be attempted by the other classes to reduce them to the minimum of subsistence, they will quit th&ir trades and go to laboring the earth.”

- o

ing to the fortunate state of our foreign relations, he said: “We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals, our interests soundly calculated, will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties; and history bears witness to the fact, that a just nation is taken on its word, when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others.” After stating our overflowing income, he, in suggesting what applications might be made of it, after extinguishing the public debt and meeting all other necessary objects, mentioned that it might be disposed of by “a just repartition among the States, and [by] a corresponding amendment of the Constitution, be applied, in time of peace, to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other objects within each State.” In time of war, it might be made to meet all the expenses of war, “without encroaching on the rights of future generations, by burdening them with the debts of the past.” In regard to the acquisition of Louisiana, he said:

“I know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disapproved of by some, from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its Union. But who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively 2 The larger our association, the less will it be shaken by local passions; and, in any view, is it not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should be settled by our own brethren and children, than by strangers of another family { With which shall we be most likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse?”

Two clauses in the address pertain to the Indians. The first exhibits his deep humanity for that unfortunate race. The second, while exposing some of the most prominent causes of their continuous decline, is evidently intended as a hit at a class of white men. It is as follows:

“But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with the change of circumstances, have powerful obstacles to encounter; they are combated by the habits of their bodies, prejudice of their minds, ignorance, pride, and the influence of interested and crafty individuals among them, who feel themselves something in the present order of things, and fear to become nothing in any other. These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did, must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel, in their physical, moral, or political condition, is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being safety, and knowledge full of danger; in short, my friends, among them is seen the action and counteraction of good sense

"and bigotry; they, too, have their anti-philosophers," who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendency of habit over the duty of improving our reason, and obeying its mandates.”

He stated that “the artillery of the press had been levelled against” the Administration, “charged with whatever its licentiousness could devise or dare.” These abuses might have been corrected and punished under State laws. But he considered it important to know “whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, was not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth—whether a Government conducting itself in the true spirit of its Constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation.” The experiment, he said, had been tried : the verdict of the people “had been honorable to those who served them, and consolatory to the friend of man, who believed he might be intrusted with his own affairs.”

He contemplated “the union of sentiment now manifested so generally, as auguring harmony and happiness to our future course:” correct principles were extending ; a kindly and patient toleration should be shown to the dissentients.

The following is the concluding paragraph:

“I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow citizens have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those principles which they have approved. I fear not that any motives of interest may lead me astray; I am sensible of no passion which could seduce me knowingly from the path of justice; but the weakness of human nature, and the limits of my own understanding, will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests. I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence I have heretofore experienced—the want of it will certainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life ; who has covered or infancy with his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.”

Some changes in the Cabinet took place at the period of the President's entrance on his second term. Mr. Lincoln, the At

* The italicization of this word is, of course, ours.

« ZurückWeiter »