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this exalted station, at a crisis so important, to the honor and welfare of the nation.
I have now presented to your consideration all the subjects which I desire to present before you, and close this communication with the sincere and confident hope that your deliberations may be distinguished for their harmony, and may result in the advancement of the best interests and welfare of the State.
I have the honor to be,
AARON V. BROWN.
Of Ex-Gov. Aaron V. Brown, delivered October, 1817.
Gentlemen of the Senate
and of the House of Representatives : I present myself before you to-day, that I may lay down, in your presence, all the power and authority appertaining to the Executive office of the State-to lay them down at the feet of the Constitution, that you may presently confer them, in due form, on my honorable successor. Such has been the declared will of my fellow-citizens, and to their decision I bow, without murmur or regret.
In the two years, during which I have filled the exalted office from which I am now retiring, events of the greatest magnitude have been crowding upon us. The annexation of Texas, although commencing before, has been consummated, adding an empire to the republic; an empire, large as modern France, with a soil rich as that of Egypt, and a climate soft and delicious as that of enchanting Italy. The settlement of the Oregon question confirmed our title to another empire, larger than the first, and extended the now undisputed boundaries of the republic to the shores of the Pacific. When these two great events are contemplated together, what an amazing spectacle of territorial grandeur does our country at this day exhibit !!
At first we had but thirteen States, stretching in narrow, but dazzling brightness, all along the shores of the Atlantic. In a few years, our population scaled the eastern mountains
poured itself into the great valley of the Mississippi, felling its ancient and unbroken forest, building up towns and cities, rearing halls of science, and temples of religion, until what in the old world would have required a long succession of ages for its accomplishment, is here presented as the magic work of a single generation.
But, in addition to all this, what do we now behold? Yet another empire, large as Texas and Oregon both put together, subdued by our arms, subjected by the law of nations to our military government, and destined, as I believe, and hope, ere long, to constitute an integral portion of our great republic. Wonderful nation!! Stretching from ocean to ocean, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the great inland Seas of the north!! Millions yet unborn, the sons and daughters of freedom, who are hereafter to inhabit this continent, will bless and honor the memories of those illustrious statesmen and patriots who have made or confirmed these amazing accessions to our country.
But it is not the physical grandeur of our country alone, which should challenge our patriotic emotions. After a long period of profound peace, when her old and renowned warriors, who used to adorn her camps and her history, had all been “gathered to their fathers," she has raised and set forth a new race of heroes, whose gallant deeds at Monterey, at Buena Vista, at Vera Cruz, at Cerro Gordo, and at the late great battles before the City of Mexico, have filled America with joy, and the world with admiration.
Nor yet is it her amazing expansion, nor the heroic deeds of her warriors, that should challenge our highest degree of patriotic ardor. No, it is not these, great and dazzling as they may be,-it is from our sacred Constitution, securing to us our civil and religious liberties, and from our glorious Union, protecting us in their enjoyment against all foreign enemies, that the patriot should draw his deepest and holiest emotions. By these he should be chiefly inspired, humbly to supplicate that they might last and endure forever
“ Till wrapt in flames the realms of ether glow,
Turning from this bright and animating picture of national greatness, let us look to the no less cheering and happy condition of our own beloved and honored Tennessee.
You and I (turning to the Governor elect) have lately traversed her in all her borders; we have scaled her eastern mountains; we have penetrated her rich, luxuriant valleys; we have reposed on the banks of that mighty river which marks her western boundary; everywhere we have seen a contented, happy, and patriotic people—a people exempt from debt-their industry crowned with abundance their institutions of learning crowded with the votaries of science; whilst religion is ministering to them her consolations in all her consecrated temples. Such are the people, and such their condition at the moment when you are called to preside over their destinies. I congratulate my fellow-citizens that such is their condition, in despite of all the prophetic annunciations of approaching ruin. The ocean and the lakes have become no vast solitudes. The husbandman has not been driven from his home by the stench of the rotting productions of his farm. The industrious manufacturer has not been doomed to abandon his loom and his work-shop for the already too much crowded pursuits of agriculture. No. Thanks to a kind and overruling Providence. Thanks to the industry, sobriety, and enterprise of our people. Thanks to the wisdom and patriotism of our rulers, however much they have been reviled and persecuted.
Thanks to all these, that prosperity, like an angel, is still hovering and smiling over our State and nation.
I should have rejoiced, gentlemen, if, on my retiring from office, I could have congratulated you and my fellow-citizens at large on the return of peace.
That beautiful goddess is yet standing on the confines of Mexico, holding out the olive branch to our deluded and obstinate enemy. Our victorious arms have wrested from her city after city, and province after province, until our star-spangled banner is this day proudly waving over the halls of the Montezumas. But let it be ever recorded, let all christendom know, that not a gun has been fired, not a city has been taken, not a province has been invaded, without our having first tendered to her the terms of a just and honorable peace.
“ These terms were indemnity for the past and security for the future”-indemnity for the millions due to our citizens—indemnity for the millions which we have expended in the prosecution of a war which she was the first to declare, and the first to commence security against any further invasion of territory, which has been made a part of our Union under all the forms of the Constitution, and to which she has no shadow of right, by the solemn declaration of every civilized nation in the world. This indemnity and security we will have. She may fly from her capital !o her mountains, but our victorious eagles will pursue her to their loftiest summit, and the thunder of our cannon will extort it from her.
With the return of peace with Mexico, with no cause of future irritation with any foreign nation, with all the elements essential to national greatness, what prophetic spirit can anticipate the future growth and progress of our nation--all that the heart can desire--all that the imagination can conceive of lies before us. How brilliant, how animating the prospect! If we are true to ourselves, true to the Constitution, true to our bright and glorious Union, earth has no happiness, Heaven has no blessings, which may not belong to the people of the United States.
But, gentlemen, pleasing and delightful as are these meditations, I must not and will not forget that the chief honors and ceremonies of this occasion are intended for another, I therefore conclude, by tendering, to you all, the homage of my profound respect.