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it is to fix a time. The great object is to settle the question, that our legal currency is to be preserved, and that we are not about to embark on the ocean of paper money. The State banks, if they consult their own interest, or the interest of the community, will dispose of their government stocks, and prepare themselves to redeem their paper and fulfil their contracts. If they should not adopt this course, there will be time for the people to be informed that the paper of such institutions will not answer the demands of government, and that duties and taxes must be paid in the manner provided by law.
I cannot say, indeed, that this measure will certainly produce the desired effect. It
fail. Its success, as is obvious, must essentially depend on the course pursued by the treasury department. But its tendency, I think, will be to produce good. It will, I hope, be a proof that Congress is not regardless of its duty. It will be evidence that this great subject has not passed without notice. It will record our determination to resist the introduction of a most destructive and miserable policy into our system; and if there be any sanction or authority in the Constitution and the law, if there be any regard for justice and equality, if there be any care for the national revenue, or any concern for the public interest, let gentlemen consider whether they will relinquish their seat here before this or some other measure be adopted.
THE REVOLUTION IN GREECE.*
The rise and progress of the revolution in Greece attracted great attention in the United States. Many obvious causes contributed to this effect, and their influence was seconded by the direct appeal made to the people of America, by the first political body organized in Greece after the breaking out of the revolution, viz. “ The Messenian Senate of Calamata.” A formal address was made by that body to the people of the United States, and forwarded by their committee (of which the celebrated Koray was chairman), to a friend and correspondent in this country. This address was translated and widely circulated; but it was not to be expected that any great degree of confidence should be at once generally felt in a movement undertaken against such formidable odds.
The progress of events, however, in 1822 and 1823, was such as to create an impression that the revolution in Greece had a substantial foundation in the state of affairs, in the awakened spirit of that country, and in the condition of public opinion throughout Christendom. The interest felt in the struggle rapidly increased in the United States. Local committees were formed, animated appeals were made, and funds collected, with a view to the relief of the victims of the war.
On the assembling of Congress, in December, 1823, President Mon. roe made the revolution in Greece the subject of a paragraph in his annual message, and on the 8th of December Mr. Webster moved the following resolution in the House of Representatives :
“ Resolved, That provision ought to be made, by law, for defraying the expense incident to the appointment of an Agent or Commissioner to Greece, whenever the President shall deem it expedient to make such appointment.”
These, it is believed, are the first official expressions favorable to the independence of Greece uttered by any of the governments of Christendom, and no doubt contributed powerfully towards the creation of that feeling throughout the civilized world which eventually led to the battle
* A Speech delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, on the 19th of January, 1824.
of Navarino, and the liberation of a portion of Greece from the Turkish yoke.
The House of Representatives having, on the 19th of January, resolves itself into a committee of the whole, and this resolution being taken into consideration, Mr. Webster spoke to the following effect.
I am afraid, Mr. Chairman, that, so far as my part in this discussion is concerned, those expectations which the public excitement existing on the subject, and certain associations easily suggested by it, have conspired to raise, may be disappointed. An occasion which calls the attention to a spot so distinguished, so connected with interesting recollections, as Greece, may naturally create something of warmth and enthusiasm. In a grave, political discussion, however, it is necessary that those feelings should be chastised. I shall endeavor properly to repress them, although it is impossible that they should be altogether extinguished. We must, indeed, fly beyond the civilized world; we
the dominion of law and the boundaries of knowledge; we must, more especially, withdraw ourselves from this place, and the scenes and objects which here surround us, - if we would separate ourselves entirely from the influence of all those memorials of herself which ancient Greece has transmitted for the admiration and the benefit of mankind. This free form of government, this popular assembly, the common council held for the common good, — where have we contemplated its earliest models? This practice of free debate and public discussion, the contest of mind with mind, and that popular eloquence, which, if it were now here, on a subject like this, would move the stones of the Capitol, — whose was the language in which all these were first exhibited ? Even the edifice in which we assemble, these proportioned columns, this ornamented architecture, all remind us that Greece has existed, and that we, like the rest of mankind, are greatly her debtors.*
But I have not introduced this motion in the vain hope of discharging any thing of this accumulated debt of centuries. I have not acted upon the expectation, that we, who have inherited this obligation from our ancestors, should now attempt to pay it to those who may seem to have inherited from their an
The interior of the hall of the House of Representatives is surrounded by a magnificent colonnade of the composite order. VOL. III.
cestors a right to receive payment. My object is nearer and more immediate. I wish to take occasion of the struggle of an interesting and gallant people, in the cause of liberty and Christianity, to draw the attention of the House to the circumstances which have accompanied that struggle, and to the principles which appear to have governed the conduct of the great states of Europe in regard to it; and to the effects and consequences of these principles upon the independence of nations, and especially upon the institutions of free governments. What I have to say of Greece, therefore, concerns the modern, not the ancient; the .
ing, and not the dead. It regards her, not as she exists in history, triumphant over time, and tyranny, and ignorance; but as she now is, contending, against fearful odds, for being, and for the common privileges of human nature.
As it is never difficult to recite commonplace remarks and trite aphorisms, so it may be easy, I am aware, on this occasion, to remind me of the wisdom which dictates to men a care of their own affairs, and admonishes them, instead of searching for adventures abroad, to leave other men's concerns in their own hands. It may be easy to call this resolution Quixotic, the emanation of a crusading or propagandist spirit. All this, and more, may be readily said; but all this, and more, will not be allowed to fix a character upon this proceeding, until that is proved which it takes for granted. Let it first be shown, that in this question there is nothing which can affect the interest, the character, or the duty of this country. Let it be proved, that we are not called upon, by either of these considerations, to express an opinion on the subject to which the resolution relates. Let this be proved, and then it will indeed be made out, that neither ought this resolution to pass, nor ought the subject of it to have been mentioned in the communication of the President to us. But, in my opinion, this cannot be shown. In my judgment, the subject is interesting to the people and the government of this country, and we are called upon, by considerations of great weight and moment, to express our opinions upon it. These considerations, I think, spring from a sense of our own duty, our character, and our own interest. I wish to treat the subject on such grounds, exclusively, as are truly American; but then, in considering it as an American question, I cannot forget the age in which we live, the prevailing spirit of the age, the in
teresting questions which agitate it, and our own peculiar relation in regard to these interesting questions. Let this be, then, and as far as I am concerned I hope it will be, purely an American discussion; but let it embrace, nevertheless, every thing that fairly concerns America. Let it comprehend, not merely her present advantage, but her permanent interest, her elevated character as one of the free states of the world, and her duty towards those great principles which have hitherto maintained the relative independence of nations, and which have, more especially, made her what she is.
At the commencement of the session, the President, in the discharge of the high duties of his office, called our attention to the subject to which this resolution refers. “ A strong hope," says that communication, “has been long entertained, founded on the heroic struggle of the Greeks, that they would succeed in their contest, and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that the whole civilized world takes a deep interest in their welfare. Although no power has de clared in their favor, yet none, according to our information, has taken part against them. Their cause and their name have protected them from dangers which might ere this have overwhelmed any other people. The ordinary calculations of interest, and of acquisition with a view to aggrandizement, which mingle so much in the transactions of nations, seem to have had no effect in regard to them. From the facts which have come to our knowledge, there is good cause to believe that their enemy has lost for ever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an independent nation."
It has appeared to me that the House should adopt some resolution reciprocating these sentiments, so far as it shall approve them. More than twenty years have elapsed since Congress first ceased to receive such a communication from the President as could properly be made the subject of a general answer. I do not mean to find fault with this relinquishment of a former and an ancient practice. It may have been attended with inconveniences which justified its abolition. But, certainly, there was one advantage belonging to it; and that is, that it furnished a fit opportunity for the expression of the opinion of the houses of Congress upon those topics in the executive communication which were not expected to be made the immediate