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their ascendency over all the sons and daughters of freedom, who are through fùture time to control the destinies of the republic! In the enlargement and improvement of our present partial system of education, I here offer freely, and with all my heart, my humble and unceasing co-operation.
The present seems to be a suitable occasion to offer you my congratulations on the recent annexation of the republic of Texas to the United States. It has been accomplished by no invasion on the rights of Mexico, and in a manner which can give no just cause of offence to any other nation. It has been effected not by the sword, but a simple covenant or contract between coterminous nations, speaking the same language, accustomed to the same political institutions, and whose common object was more effectually to secure to themselves all the blessings of civil and religious liberty. It ought to be regarded by the friends of freedom every-where but as another triumph of rational liberty and representative government over the degrading despotisms of the old world.
All the forebodings of evil to our country, as likely to occur from the consummation of the deed, have been signally disappointed. As yet we can discover no sign of the displeasure of Heaven in consequence of it. The earth is still putting forth its verdure, and blessing the husbandman with the rich abundance of its fruits, whilst peace, and health, and general prosperity are everywhere smiling upon a great and prosperous people. Our bright and glorious Union, too, whose shattered and broken fragments were everywhere to have met the eye of the heart-stricken patriot, still bespans the continent, stretching, like the rainbow of hope and of promise, from the great inland seas of the North to the Gulf of Mexico in the South. The incredible prophesy, that a convention was to be held in this beautiful city, in order to accomplish the work of national destruction, has failed of its fulfillment, and the illustrious citizen who was to have presided over the guilty assembly has gone down to the grave with his last prayer trembling on his lips for the Union and his country.
With the acquisition of Texas and the successful maintenance of our title to Oregon, the United States will present a spectacle of territorial grandeur and magnificence unequaled in the world. In those who have charge of our negotiations in relation to the latter country, I have unbounded confidence; and I believe they would not retain more of it, if they could, than we are fairly entitled to. I am equally certain they will never surrender one square acre of it to the unjust demand of any nation on the earth. Far distant as it may now seem to be, every revolving year will increase its importance to the hundred millions of freemen, who, at no distant day, will inhabit our continent. In the order of Providence, America may become the last asylum of liberty to the human family. Here then let us rear her loftiest temple. Let us lay its foundations deep and wide for the millions who in after ages may worship at her altars.
I turn now from the contemplation of our wonderful and increasing magnificence, in order to remind you of a great and sad calamity which has befallen our common country since you were last assembled on an occasion like this. But a few months have passed away since you in particular, and the people of the United States generally, were called upon to mourn the departure from our midst of our most illustrious citizen.The immortal spirit of Andrew Jackson, the patriot, the soldier and the statesman, has passed from time to eternity-devoted, until he breathed his last breath, to the best interests of his country, which he had defended with heroic fortitude and courage, and served with a zeal more fervid with increasing years, he finished the great work which a wise Providence had chosen him to perform, and accomplished his destiny. Clinging to the faith and the hope which sustain the Christian whilst he is “passing through the dark valley of the shadow of death,” he died at peace with the world, leaving behind him a bright and enduring example, worthy the imitation of future generations. Hereafter, the song of the poet will be heard in praise of his memory—the pen of the historian will chronicle the deeds which he achieved, whilst the painter and the engraver will transmit his image to admiring millions.
Let Tennessee, his own adopted State—Tennessee, whose armies he has so often covered with glory_Tennessee, whom he honored, and loved, and served so long and so faithfullyTennessee, beneath whose green and hallowed sod his mortal
remains have been deposited-let Tennessee rear him a monument lasting as time-let it be planted in or near one of her most beautiful cities, on the bank of the noblest river in the world, where the millions who will pass for ages and ages to come, may pause and gaze upon it with wonder and admiration.
Of Gov. Aaron V. Brown, Delivered to the General Assembly
Nov. 7th, 1845.
Gentlemen of the Senate
and House of Representatives : In the 11th section of the 3rd article of the Constitution, it is made the duty of the Executive, from time to time, “to give the General Assembly information of the state of the government and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge expedient.” The performance of the duty by my predecessor at the commencement of your pressent session, seems not, in the former practice of the State, to supersede the necessity of a similar communication from me. Whilst it was the evident policy of those who engrafted this provision into the Constitution to establish the utmost freedom in the interchange of opinion, it wisely left the legislature at full liberty finally to adopt or reject the recommendations of the Executive
This fact greatly diminishes the responsibility of the present communication, made at a period so early in my administration, as to furnish ample apology for any errors which it may be found to contain. It has often been found in the history of all popular governments, that every party succeeding to power is too anxious to signalize its triumph by some bold and novel policy calculated to attract attention, but not always to advance the permanent interests and welfare of the people. Human government, whether of families or communities, should, however, in my opinion, be in few things more distinguished than in its uniformity and stability. It is not within the competency of government to effect such great and sudden, , and at the same time, salutary improvements in the condition of the people, as many vainly imagine. These are the products of time and experience, aided by all the lights which the history of our race can shed upon the science of jurisprudence. Guided by these lights in the legislation of our own beloved commonwealth, I would especially recommend to you to pass no laws in the rash spirit of adventure, and to overturn no settled policy of the State but on full and mature conviction of its propriety.
One of the subjects of settled policy in the State I consider to be, the almost entire abolition of the punishment of death. It is one which I have long advocated under the most solemn convictions of its propriety, and should witness, with infinite pain, any attempt to recede from the enlightened humanity of the age. The gradual amelioration of the criminal code of Tennessee, effected as it has been, through slow degrees for many years, has added another proof to those drawn from other countries in favor of the abolition of capital punishment. Instead of weakening it has evidently increased the actual strength of the government, by drawing around it the rational approbation of society, and by the explosion of those ancient barbarities, which are now justly regarded with the deepest abhorence. Nor has this relaxation tended in the slighest degree to the increase of crimes. The long continued confinements of the prison house and the degradation of becoming the humble vassals of the turnkey that nightly locks them in their solitary cell, has done more in deterring from the commission of crimes than the fear of death, which men always behold in distant obscurity. In all cases authorized by law and justified by their circumstances, I shall, with the greatest pleasure, commute the punishment from death to imprisonment for life in the penitentiary. Closely connected with this subject is the condition and management of our State prison. Of these, it is probable you are already informed by the report of those having charge of the institution, if not by the personal inspection of one of your committees. I have heard much complaint