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It legislates over subjects; and over those subjects which are within its power, its legislation is supreme, and necessarily overrules all inconsistent or repugnant State legislation. If Congress were to pass an act expressly revoking or annulling, in whole or in part, this New York grant, such an act would be wholly useless and inoperative. If the New York grant be opposed to, or inconsistent with, any constitutional power which Congress has exercised, then, so far as the incompatibility exists, the grant is nugatory and void, necessarily, and by reason of the supremacy of the law of Congress. But if the grant be not inconsistent with any exercise of the powers of Congress, then, certainly, Congress has no authority to revoke or annul it. Such an act of Congress, therefore, would be either unconstitutional or supererogatory. The laws of Congress need no non obstante clause. The Constitution makes them supreme, when State laws come into opposition to them. So that in these cases there is no question except this; whether there be, or be not, a repugnancy or hostility between the law of Congress and the law of the State. Nor is it at all material, in this view, whether the law of the State be a law regulating commerce, or a law of police, nor by what other name or character it may be designated. If its provisions be inconsistent with an act of Congress, they are void, so far as that inconsistency extends. The whole argument, therefore, is substantially and effectually given up, when it is admitted that Congress might, by express terms, abrogate the State grant, or declare that it should not stand in the way of its own legislation; because such express terms would add nothing to the effect and operation of an act of Congress. I contend, therefore, upon the whole of this point, that a case of actual collision has been made out between the State grant and the act of Congress; and as the act of Congress is entirely unexceptionable, and clearly in pursuance of its constitutional powers, the State grant must yield.
There are other provisions of the Constitution of the United States, which have more or less bearing on this question. “No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage.” Under color of grants like this, that prohibition might be wholly evaded. This grant authorizes Messrs. Livingston and Fulton to license navigation in the waters of New York. They, of course, license it on their own terms. They may require a pecuniary consideration, ascertained by the tonnage of the vessel, or in any other manner. Probably, in fact, they govern themselves, in this respect, by the size or tonnage of the vessels to which they grant licenses. Now, what is this but substantially a tonnage duty, under the law of the State? Or does it make any difference, whether the receipts go directly into her own treasury, or into the hands of those to whom she has made the grant?
There is, lastly, that provision of the Constitution which gives Congress power to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing to authors and inventors, for a limited time, an exclusive right to their own writings and discoveries. Congress has exercised this power, and made all the provisions which it deemed useful or necessary. The States may, indeed, like munificent individuals, exercise their own bounty towards authors and inventors, at their own discretion. But to confer reward by exclusive grants, even if it were but a part of the use of the writing or invention, is not supposed to be a power properly to be exercised by the States. Much less can they, under the notion of conferring rewards in such cases, grant monopolies, the enjoyment of which is essentially incompatible with the exercise of rights possessed under the laws of the United States. I shall insist, however, the less on these points, as they are open to counsel who will come after me on the same side, and as I have said so much upon what appears to me the more important and interesting part of the argument.
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE LAYING OF THE CORNER-STONE OF THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT AT CHARLESTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS, ON THE
17th OF JUNE, 1825.
[As early as 1776, some steps were taken toward the commemoration of the battle of Bunker Hill and the fall of General Warren, who was buried upon the hill the day after the action. The Massachusetts Lodge of Masons, over which he presided, applied to the provisional government of Massachusetts, for permission to take up his remains and to bury them with the usual solemnities. The Council granted this request, on condition that it should be carried into effect in such a manner that the government of the Colony might have an opportunity to erect a monument to his memory. A funeral procession was had, and a Eulogy on General Warren was delivered by Perez Morton, but no measures were taken toward building a monument. A resolution was adopted by the Congress of the United States on the 8th of April, 1777, directing that monuments should be erected to the memory of General Warren, in Boston, and of General Mercer, at Fredericksburg; but this resolution has remained to the present time unexecuted. On the 11th of November, 1794, a committee was appointed ly King Solomon's Lodge, at Charlestown," to take measures for the erection of a monument to the memory of General Joseph Warren at the expense of the Lodge. This resolution was promptly carried into effect. The land for this purpose was presented to the Lodge by the Hon. James Russell, of Charlestown, and it was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on the 2d of December, 1794. It was a wooden pillar of the Tuscan order, eighteen feet in height, raised on a pedestal eight feet square, and of an elevation of ten feet from the ground. The pillar was surmounted by a gilt urn. An appropriate inscription was placed on the south side of the pedestal. In February, 1818, a committee of the
! General Warren, at the time of his decease, was Grand Master of the Masonic Lodges in America.
legislature of Massachusetts was appointed to consider the expediency of building a monument of American marble of the memory of General Warren, but this proposal was not carried into effect. As the half-century from the date of the battle drew toward a close, a stronger feeling of the duty of commèmorating it began to be awakened in the community. Among those who from the first manifested the greatest interest in the subject, was the late William Tudor, Esq. He expressed the wish, in a letter still preserved, to see upon the battle-ground “the noblest monument in the world,” and he was so ardent and persevering in urging the project, that it has been stated that he first conceived the idea of it. The steps taken in execution of the project, from the earliest private conferences among the gentlemen first engaged in it to its final completion, are accurately sketched by Mr. Richard Frothingham, Jr., in his valuable History of the Siege of Boston. All the material facts contained in this note are derived from his chapter on the Bunker Hill Monument. After giving an account of the organization of the society, the measures adopted for the collection of funds, and the deliberations on the form of the monument, Mr. Frothingham proceeds as follows:–
“It was at this stage of the enterprise that the directors proposed to lay the corner-stone of the monument, and ground was broken (June 7th) for this purpose. As a mark of respect to the liberality and patriotism of King Solomon's Lodge, they invited the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to perform the ceremony. They also invited General Lafayette to accompany the President of the Association, Hon. Daniel Webster, and assist in it.
“This celebration was unequalled in magnificence by any thing of the kind that had been seen in New England. The morning proved propitious. The air was cool, the sky was clear, and timely showers the previous day had brightened the vesture of nature into its loveliest hue. Delighted thousands flocked into Boston to bear a part in the proceedings, or to witness the spectacle. At about ten o'clock a
rocession moved from the State House towards
Sunker Hill. The military, in their fine uniforms, formed the van. About two hundred veterans of the Revolution, of whom forty were survivors of the battle, rode in barouches next to the escort. These venerable men, the relics of a past generation, with emaciated frames, tottering limbs, and trembling voices, constituted a touching spectacle. Some wore, as honorable decorations, their old fighting equipments, and some bore the scars of still more honorable wounds. Glistening eyes constituted their answer to the enthusiastic cheers of the grateful multitudes who lined their pathway and cheered their progress. To this patriot band succeeded the Bunker Hill Monument Association. Then the Masonic fraternity, in their splendid regalia, thousands in number. Then Lafayette, continually welcomed by tokens of love and gratitude, and the invited guests. Then a long array of societies, with their various badges and banners. It was a splendid procession, and of such length that the front nearly reached Charlestown Bridge ere the rear had left Boston Common. It proceeded to Breed's Hill, where the Grand Master of the Freemasons, the President of the Monument Association, and General Lafayette. performed the ceremony of laying the corner-stone, in the presence of a vast concourse of people.”
The procession then moved to a spacious amphitheatre on the northern declivity of the hill, when the following address was delivered by Mr. Webster, in the presence of as great a multitude as was ever perhaps assembled within the sound of a human voice.]
This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude turned reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have made a deep impression on our hearts.
If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to affect the mind of man, we meed not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us here. We are among the sepulchres of our fathers. We are on ground, distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th
of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to enjoy and suffer the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny
before many of us were born, and set
tled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to men on earth. . * We do not read even of the discovery of this continent, without feeling something of a personal interest in the event; without being reminded how much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It would be still more unnatural for us, therefore, than for others, to contemplate with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say that
most touching and pathetic scene, when
the great discoverer of America stood on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man sleeping ; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own troubled thoughts; extending forward his harassed frame, straining westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture and ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of the unknown world. Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and therefore still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the settlement of our own country by colonists from England. We cherish every memorial of these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience and fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise ; we teaeh our children to venerate their piety; and we are justly proud of being descended from men who have set the world an example of found
ing civil institutions on the great and united principles of human freedom and human knowledge. To us, their children, the story of their labors and sufferings can never be without its interest. We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in another early and ancient Colony forget the place of its first establishment, till their river shall cease to flow by it.** No vigor of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended. But the great event in the history of the continent, which we are now met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American Revolution. In a day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honor, distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion.
*An interesting account of the voyage of the early emigrants to the Maryland Colony, and of its settlement, is given in the official report of Father White, written probably within the first month after the landing at St. Mary's. The original Latin manuscript is still preserved among the archives of the Jesuits at Rome. The “Ark” and the “Dove" are remembered with scarcely less interest by the descendants of the sister colony, than is the “Mayflower" in New England, which thirteen years earlier, at the same season of the year, bore thither the Pilgrim Fathers.
*Mr. Webster was at this time President of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, chosen on the decease of Governor John Brooks, the first President.
than the anniversary of the battle which was here fought. The foundation of that monument we have now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for his blessing, and in the midst of this cloud of witnesses, we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted, and that, springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity and unadorned grandeur, it may remain as long as Heaven permits the works of man to last, a fit emblem, both of the events in memory of which it is raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it. -\ We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know, that if we could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reached the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain but part of that which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread over the earth, and which history charges itself with making known to all future times. We know that no inscription on entablatures less broad than the earth itself can carry information of the events we commemorate where it has not already gone; and that no structure, which shall not outlive the duration of letters and knowledge among men, can prolong the memorial. But our object is, by this edifice, to show our own deep sense of the value and importance of the achievements of our ancestors; and, by presenting this work of gratitude to the eye, to keep alive similar sentiments, and to foster a constant regard for the principles of the Revolution. Human beings are composed, not of reason only, but of imagination also, and sentiment; and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper springs of feeling in the heart. Let it not be supposed that our object is to perpetuate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere military spirit. It is higher, purer, nobler. We consecrate our work
to the spirit of national independence,
and we wish that the light of peace may rest upon it for ever. We rear a memorial of our conviction of that unmeasured benefit which has been conferred on our own land, and of the happy influences which have been produced, by the same events, on the general interests of mankind. We come, as Americans, to mark a spot which must for ever be dear to us and our posterity. We wish that whosoever, in all coming time, shall turn his eye hither, may behold that the place is not undistinguished where the first great battle of the Revolution was fought. We wish that this structure may proclaim the magnitude and importance of that event to every class and every age. We wish that infancy may learn the purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and that weary and withered age may behold it, and be solaced by the recollections which it suggests. We wish that labor may look up here, and be proud, in the midst of its toil. We wish that, in those days of disaster, which, as they come upon all nations, must be expected to come upon us also, desponding patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward, and be assured that the foundations of our national power are still strong. We wish that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce, in all minds, a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally, that the last object to the sight of him who leaves his native shore, and the first to gladden his who revisits it, may be something which shall remind him of the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it rise let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and parting da
linger and play on its summit.
We live in a most extraordinary age. Events so various and so important that they might crowd and distinguish centuries are, in our times, compressed within the compass of a single life. When has it happened that history has had so much to record, in the same term of years, as since the 17th of June, 1775?
Our own Revolution, which, under other circumstances, might itself have been expected to occasion a war of half a century, has been achieved; twenty-four sovereign and independent States erected; and a general government established over them, so safe, so wise, so free, so practical, that we might well wonder its establishment should have been accomplished so soon, were it not far the greater wonder that it should have been established at all. Two or three millions of people have been augmented to twelve, the great forests of the West prostrated beneath the arm of successful industry, and the dwellers on the banks of the Ohio and the Mississippi become the fellow-citizens and neighbors of those who cultivate the hills of New England.” We have a commerce, that leaves no sea unexplored; navies, which take no law from superior force; revenues, adequate to all the exigencies of government, almost without taxation; and peace with all nations, founded on equal rights and mutual respect. * Europe, within the same period, has been agitated by a mighty revolution, which, while it has been felt in the individual condition and happiness of almost every man, has shaken to the centre her political fabric, and dashed against one another thrones which had stood tranquil for ages. On this, our continent, our own example has been followed, and colonies have sprung up to be nations. Unaccustomed sounds of liberty and free government have reached us from beyond the track of the sun; and at this moment the dominion of European power in this continent, from the place where we stand to the south pole, is annihilated for ever. In the mean time, both in Europe and
1 That which was spoken of figuratively in 1825 has, in the lapse of a quarter of a century, by the introduction of railroads and telegraphic lines, become a reality. It is an interesting circumstance, that the first railroad on the Western Continent was constructed for the purpose of accelerating the erection of this monument.
* See President Monroe's Message to Congress in 1823, and Mr. Webster's speech on the Panama Mission, in 1826.