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to hear the coming murmurs of an indignant and deceived people; but I sincerely pray that he may live to see (and, living, he will see) how proudly that noble and gallant State will resume her position among the Republican States, faithful and devoted as she was at the moment when her most illustrious citizen retired from the toils and labors of public life to repose beneath the shade of her majestic forests. Sir, I but glance at these things. I refer to and comment on the Gwinn and Shelbyville letters, because they constitute a part of the history of this bill, the original pretext for its introduction.
I have no disposition to revive them unnecessarily in the public remembrance, but a reference to them is indispensible, to show that the original pretext was as groundless as the present necessity for it, under this Administration, is notoriously insufficient.
Mr. Speaker, I desire now to reply to some of the complaints made by one of my colleagues (Mr. Bell) against the Democratic party of our State, in his speech on the Cumberland road bill. On that bill, scarcely noticing the merits of the question, its constitutionality or expediency, he took occasion to denounce the past and present administrations “as a standing fraud on the country.” A standing fraud in having professed to be opposed to internal improvements; when, in truth and in fact, it only pretended and feigned such an opposition just before an election. By means of this fraud the Democratic party of his own State had been imposed upon and had read him out of the church as a heretic and unbeliever. I might take issue with him on all these points. I might demand the proofs of these bold assertions; but they are stale charges which have been often refuted, and would lead me off from the alleged imposition on the Democracy of Tennessee. Sir, from the day of the veto message of President Jackson on the Maysville road bill, the people of our State have understood that subject well. In her primary assemblies, in her legislature, and in her convention of 1835, Tennessee approved that message. All her public men, with no remembered exception, then paid homage to its principles and doctrines. I do not understand my honorable colleague as now questioning its propriety, but as resting his complaints on the ground that he has been excommunicated, not for any vote given, or speech made
here in favor of internal improvements, but because his political associations in this House were with those who were opposed to that message. I fear that the gentleman has in some degree mistaken the grounds of his excommunication. It was because, professing to be opposed to the whole scheme of internal improvements himself, he enlisted under the banner and became the warm and zealous advocate of those who were in favor of them; exerting his great talents and influence to transfer the power of this Government to hands which he knew would engage in these wasteful and extravagant expenditures. There, sir, was the true point of his offending. He became the advocate of the father of the whole system, and it will surely lend nothing to his restoration to his old political church, that he is now ranged under the banner of General Harrison, who stands committed, by his votes, his speeches, and his letters, to carry out the same policy. Of what avail was it, then, that the gentleman took his pilgrimage over the Ohio, ranging about in search of some Democrat whose peculiar opinions and position in reference to the Cumberland road, would seem to save him from the imputation of evil associations? In that pilgrimage he happened to come across my excellent friend from Indiana (Mr. Howard,) and instantly exclaimed, “Behold what good Democratic society I am in !" Sir, it is not from one or two associations that we judge men; it is from their general intercourse, their common walk and conversation, that we judge them. If the gentleman had never taken up Mr. Clay; if he will now surrender General Harrison; if he will come out from among the ancient and bitter enemies of Gen: eral Jackson and his doctrines; "if he will come out from among them as not being of them,” then he may expect forgiveness and restoration to his ancient church. I repeat, to his ancient church. I remember when, twenty years ago, we were both youthful and zealous members of the same church; admiring the same men, and advocating the same doctrines of Democracy. Soon after we commenced our career, the gentleman passed by me, as in merit he should have done, and rose upward and higher in public observance and approbation, until the Democracy of Tennessee claimed him as one of her proudest and noblest sons. She had no treasures which she
did not open to him, and no honors which she did not gladly confer. In this early and high career, the gentleman had no rival in the esteem, and confidence, and admiration of the people of Tennessee—no rival save one. Not that one whose fame and achievements had made him the common property of the nation; (and when I except him, none can be at a loss to know to whom I allude.) I know that the actions and especially the motives of public men are often subjected to unjust misrepresentation and censure. I will not, therefore, even allude to those that have been so often attributed to the gentleman, further than to say, that from the period of his last unsuccessful competition here for the honors which you now enjoy, suspicion followed suspicion like the shadows of the passing cloud, until the Democracy of Tennessee was forced into the reluctant belief that the ardor of the gentleman had greatly abated, if his affections were not totally estranged from her. His separation was the work of time—not accomplished at once by any sudden and overt act of defection. But though gradual, it was nevertheless complete, thorough, undeniable, and final. It was, on that very account, the more prejudical. There never was an hour when the Democracy of our State could not have given up the gentleman and half a score of others like him, and still have moved onward unchecked and unharmed by the loss. But by this slow and gradual process he carried off with him hundreds and thousands of confiding friends, who would have sacrificed any thing sooner than suspect his devotion to the true and genuine principles of Democracy.
Here may be found the true cause of those dreadful disasters and defeats which the gentleman and his friends sustained in the last summer's election. A generous and confiding people had followed the gentleman into the support of Judge White for the Presidency; they had returned members to the General Assembly to help out in the accomplishment of that object; they had sent here almost an entire representation favorable to his wishes. So ingenious and artful was the gentleman's withdrawal from the Republican ranks, that before the people were aware of it they were enlisted in their primary assemblies, in their Legislature, in the halls of Congress, in fact every where, in accomplishing the political purposes of the gentleman and his friends.
But, sir, all these precautions and preparations would not do. In spite of them, Judge White's pretensions weakened as the election approached. When it was over, the failure was so great, the discomfiture so complete, that the people of Tennessee began seriously to inquire why and how it was they had been so much deceived. They had voted for Judge White, as a Republican or Democrat—as a Jackson man-a better Jackson man than Mr. Van Buren. In giving that vote, she stood undaunted at the polls, ready to deny, in the face of the whole world, that she intended either to desert her principles, or to separate herself from the other Democratic States of the Union. Proud in the consciousness of these truths, when that vote 'was afterward challenged, she looked to those leaders who had instigated her to the act to stand forth and vindicate her before the world. But, sir, what was her surprise, her deep mortification, when those leaders refused to do so when those very leaders proclaimed that she had changed--that she had left Jackson and his doctrines—that she had separated herself from the other Democratic States of the Union.
When they went even farther than this—when they called on her not to recede; that she had gone too far; that retreat was impossible, and that henceforward she must range herself under the banner, the so often rejected banner, of Henry Clay, of Kentucky! Sir, the annunciation was astounding. What had only been suspected, was now openly avowed! What was at first only hinted at, in obscure and misty prophecy, now stood forth in full and undoubted fulfilment!
(Here Mr. C. H. WILLIAMS rose and denied that Judge White had ever changed his opinions on any important political principles, and called on his colleague to point them out, if he meant to impute them to that distinguished individual, now no more.
Mr. Brown replied, he was not then discussing the political opinions of Judge White, but endeavoring to explain and adjust certain charges of his other colleague (Mr. Bell,) against the Democracy of Tennessee; his business was, therefore, with the living, and not with the dead. Beside this, Mr. BROWN said he did not mean to allow this debate to take any direction which would enable that gentleman to raise a false issue in the case, and represent him as disturbing the repose and invading the sanctity
of the grave. He hoped he was too well acquainted with his business to be taken in that way.]
From the hour when the gentleman (Mr. Bell,) about five miles south of Nashville, at a dinner occasion, admitted that he was in favor of Mr. Clay, the people of Tennessee began to take the alarm. Many of them, like my honorable colleague from the Bedford district, began to suspect that they had been betrayed; betrayed by men, too, in whose political and personal fidelity they would have intrusted their lives. My colleague (Mr. WATTERSON) first came into public life when he was scarcely eligible to its honors, and when the excitement in our State in favor of Judge White was at its highest pitch. Young, ardent, and confiding, he never permitted himself to distrust the assurances given by the friends of Judge White, that he and Mr. Van Buren were of the same political party; and that all that was stable in principle, or honorable and consistent in character, must be lost, before either could join the opposition. Under these assurances he united himself to the White party, and it was not until he saw the flag of Mr. Clay “floating aloft in the breeze," and borne lustily by those very men on whose assurances he had relied, that he abandoned that party, and returned to his position in the Jackson ranks. Under the explanation which he has just given, the rebuke of my colleague (Mr. GENTRY) fell harmless at his feet.
The same explanation belongs to hundreds and thousands of others in Tennessee, who, like him, refused to leave the Jackson party, and to go over to the arms of the opposition; an opposition then headed by John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay; I say then, not now. These great leaders of the opposition no longer bear about them the insignia of command. They have fallen back as mere subalterns in the ranks of Federalism, giving up the command to what they know to be feebler, but hope may prove more available hands. This, I believe, is conformable to what was at one period the Roman practice; not to select their ablest generals to command their armies, but rather to choose those who had proved themselves most fortunate. But, sir, it is not my purpose to complain of this strange selection of a commander-in-chief for the opposition; but to inform my honorable colleague that it was the