Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Democratic creed in the present posture of our public affairs. Give back the land money, thereby enabling us to exempt from taxation the three great necessaries of life; reduce your expenditures to the standard of strict and necessary economy; and then you can leave unviolated that glorious treaty of amity and peace which was so solemnly ratified in 1833.

Mr. Chairman, I assume another position, for which I bespeak the serious attention of this committe. Your commerce is now in the most depressed, not to say paralyzed, condition. It can bear no increased burdens. What it wants is, to be rendered more free and unencumbered. The condition of the currency in most other countries, and the general embarrassment of all, would seem to require that very weight should be removed, and the freest interchange of commodities should be encouraged. It is under such convictions as these that the wisest statesmen of England are relaxing their restrictions, and removing their prohibitions. The general range of Engfish duties is now being reduced, on an average, nearly one hundred per cent. This is a great concession to free and unrestricted commerce between her and the other nations of the earth—a concession forced upon her by the accumulated experience of ages. Shall the United States, at such a moment as this, recede from the great principles of free trade, which she proclaimed to the States and to the world in 1833 ? She then proclaimed that she would impose no other fetters on her commerce with the world than such as were absolutely necessary for the support of her Government when economically administered. This bright and beneficent example has been held up to the other nations for imitation. It has produced, and is producing, wonderful effects, in England especially—that country with which we have the greatest and most profitable intercourse. At such a moment as this, I repeat, shall we put out the light of our own glorious example? No, I trust we shall not. If we shall but steadily adhere to it, we shall soon reap a harvest of national and individual prosperity, which has never been surpassed :--not that hollow and deceptive progperity by which we were lately so much elated; but prosperity as lasting and solid as those great principles of equality and justice by which it will be acquired-prosperity which, in two or three years, at most, will yield you an income, not of twenty, but of thirty millions at least. Yes, sir; it is only of the first year of the compromise act that any man need doubt the sufficiency of your revenue. The second, third, and future

years, under a reanimated and reinvigorated commerce, will give you enough, and more than enough, for every reasonable demand on a plain, economical, and republican Government like ours. Beyond that, let no one here desire to go. Let no American statesman ever consent to impose heavy and unjust taxation on the people, in order that this Government may rival the luxury and grandeur of the Old World,

SPEECH

Against receiving, referring, or reporting Abolition Petitions;

delivered in the House of Representatives, Junuary 10, 1844.

The unfinished business of the morning hour being the Report of the Se.

lect Committee on the Rules, and Mr. DROMGOOLE's motion to recommit

the Report to the Select Committee. Which motion Mr. Black, of Georgia, had moved to amend, by adding In

structions to the Committee to report the Rule commonly known as the 21st: (i. e. which excludes Abolition Petitions.)

Mr. A. V. Brown, who was entitled to the floor, resumed his remarks of a preceding day, and continued them during the remainder of his hour.

The Committee on Rules had reported to this House, (he said,) and in that report they had furnished no rule whatsoever for its government in relation to abolition petitions. He had already, in his remarks on Saturday last, offered every complaint upon this subject which he intended to offer. But, having reported no rules at all, what would be the condition of this House with reference to this matter? There were three courses, one of which must be adopted. The first was, according to one motion now pending, that the 21st rule should be reported by the committee; that was, in other words, that these abolition petitions should not be received. Another course, provided for by the instructions which had been offered, was, that they should be received, but laid on the table without reference, without report, without debate, or any other action whatever. The third proposition was, according to the report of the committee, that these petitions should not only be received, but be referred, reported, and acted on, like the ordinary business of legislation. Now, some one of these three modes must be embraced by this House, and be decided on by the question now pending before the House.

Mr. B. did not hesitate to be in favor of the 21st rule. He had often voted for that rule; he was prepared to vote for it again; and not only was he prepared to vote for it, but he was ready here in his place to stand up in vindication of that rule against the arguments by which it had been assailed. What had they heard against the 21st rule ? Every body knew what they had heard from the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Adams) and the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr.Giddings.] He asked not what they had heard from them, for they knew it well. Nor did he ask what they had heard against that rule from the raving fanatics of the day. He would rather enquire what they had heard from gentlemen in this House during this session. What had they heard from gentlemen here in their places, and especially from the gentleman from New York, [Mr. BEARDSLEY ?] Why, they had been told that the 21st rule was a violation of the great constitutional right of petition. The gentleman from New York had told them so; the gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. Clingman,] coming from a region greatly interested in this subject, had told them so. Mr. B. denied it. The gentleman said that it not only violated the great constitutional right of petition, but had driven the petitioners out of this Hall; that it had driven them from their door with scorn and contempt. Mr. B. denied it, and defied gentlemen-(the word “ defy" seemed well understood on the other side of the House, but its use, a few days since, had not seemed so well understood on this side of the House)-he defied these gentlemen, one and all, to the proof. Where was the proof upon the subject? It was on their journal, and lying on their tables; and he defied gentlemen to the proof upon this subject. They might take what petition they pleased; they might take the one said to have been signed by fifty thousand petitioners, presented some sessions since by the gentlea man from Massachusetts, (Mr. Adams,] or that other one which had, at the last session, been brought in on a great reel and set upon the table of the gentleman from Massachusetts for ornament to it; or they might take the one presented by him for the dissolution of the Union, or that one presented at this session of Congress from citizens of New York, asking to be forever separated from the institution of slavery. They might take any one or all of these petitions, and he would appeal to the record to settle the question, whether in any of these cases we had violated the great constitutional right of petition; whether we had turned the petitioners out of this Hall; whether we had driven them with scorn and contempt from our doors.

What had been the proceedings of these and all similar cases? What had been the practice under the 21st rule? The petitioners in any and in all those cases had “peaceably assembled.” Had the 21st rule prevented that? When they had assembled, they had petitioned this House. Did the 21st rule prevent that? They had, as the next step, sent their petitions to their chosen and selected agent. Did we prevent that by the 21st rule? We did not. What was next? That agent, in every one of these cases, had brought their petitions here within these walls. Did the 21st rule prevent that? No. What next? The gentleman from Massachusetts rose in his place; all eyes were fixed upon him, and all ears were opened to his voice. What did he do?

What did he do? He presented these petitions : he stated distinctly to the House what they contained, where the petitioners resided, what were the grievances complained of, how they reasoned upon the subject, and, finally, made known to this House what was the redress they prayed for. That was the precise process. The record showed the fact. And now the question was, whether we had abridged or in anywise violated the great right of petition in this course of proceeding? The petitioners had been heard. By themselves ? No; for they had not come here to be heard; they had been heard by their own selected agent, who came within these walls, presented their petitions, and made known their prayers. Would it, then, be pretended that we had violated their rights, or treated them with scorn when we had heard their own agent speaking for them, and stating what grievances they prayed to have redressed?

The question now which he wished to put to the gentleman from New York and others who seemed disposed to object to this 21st rule was, whether, in fact, under that rule, we had

« AnteriorContinuar »