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tem of protection Ist go down. He saw it in the deadly blows which President Jackson was dealing upon it-he saw it in the solemn protestations of every southern State in the Union
- he saw it in the determined spirit of resistance in South Carolina-and, more than all, he both saw and felt it in the then recent elections, which had all gone against him and his friends. Under this thorough conviction, (so thorough, that no argument of Mr. Webster, his great compeer in establishing the system, could shake or remove it,) Mr. Clay came forward with the compromise.
I pause here, Mr. Chairman, in order that you may consider the position of the two great parties of this country at that eventful moment. The one was insisting on the permanent continuance of the protective system; the other was boldly demanding its instant repeal and total abandonment. Now, the compromise was to reconcile these hostile parties—to find some middle ground on which both could stand, and the Union be preserved. Mr. Clay himself remarked on the occasion : “I am anxious to find out some principle of mutual accommodation, to satisfy, as far as practicable, both parties ; to increase the stability of our legislation ; and, at some distant day, (but not too distant, when we take into view the magnitude of the interests which are involved,) to bring down the rate of duties to that revenue standard for which our opponents had so long contended."
Here, sir, is an open and distinct avowal of the objects and purposes of the compromise. That it was intended by him to be a permanent settlement, not of the details, but of the great principles of the future tariff legislation of the country, I refer, for further illustration, to his arguments addressed to his manufacturing friends in favor of its adoption:
“ The most that can be objected to the bill by those with whom he had co-operated to support the protective system was, that, in consideration of nine and one-half years of peace, certainty, and stability, the manufacturers relinquished some advantages which they now enjoy. What was the principle which had always been contended for in this, and in the other House ? That, after the accumulation of capital and skill, the manufacturers would be able to stand alone, unaided by the Government, in competition with branch, will sustain themselves against foreign competition. If we can-ee our way clearly for nine years to come, we can safely leave posterity to provide for the rest. If the tariff be overthrown, (as may be the case at the next session,) the country will be plunged into extreme distress and agitation. I (said Mr., Clay) want harmony; I wish to see the restoration of those ties which have carried us triumphantly through two wars ; I de. light not in this perpetual turmoil. Let us have peace, and become once more united as a band of brothers."
Sir, I have made these extracts and references in order to remind this Ilouse, and this country, of the true object and extent of this compromise. It was accepted. When he, (Mr. Calioun,] who had as strenuously opposed, as Mr. Clay had supported the system, rose up in his place in the Senate chamber and accepted it, the galleries responded in tumultuous approbation. The whole nation responded with joy and acclamation. The assent of Congress, and the approbation of the President, soon crowned this noble act of concession on both sides, and the process of reduction commenced. It has progressed through all the stages of the law, until we are now within a few days of its entire completion. Yes, sir; and when the 30th of this month shall have arrived, the whole South and Southwest can rise up as one man, and proudly boast that, although their burdens were great, and the process of alleviation slow and tedious, yet they have adhered to the covenant, not only in the spirit, but to the very letter of it.
But, sir, when that day shall come, and this bill shall have been passed, what can the North say? Can she point to the same preservation of her plighted faith in vestal purity and honor? No. I repeat, if this bill be passed, she can do no such thing. The bill itself would wring from her inmost soul the reluctant confession, that she had adhered to the compromise only whilst it was profitable, and cast it off the moment when the other party was to have entered on its enjoyment.
The present distinguished Governor of Massachusetts seems to have contemplated the possibility of something of this sort.
“Suppose, then," (said he, in the House of Representatives,) " that South Carolina should abide by the compromise, whilst she supposes it shall close, the friends of protection shall then propose to re-establish the system: what honorable man who votes for this bill would sustain such a measure ? Would not South Carolina say, You have no right to change this law-it was founded on compromise; you have had the benefit of your side of the bargain, and now I demand mine? Who could answer such a declaration? If, under such circumstances, you were to proceed to abolish the law, would not South Carolina have much more just cause of complaint and disaffection than she now has ?"
What Governor Davis, then a Representative in Congress, said and asked in relation to South Carolina, might have been said and asked of all the other, anti-tariff States. It was no compromise between individuals it was one between large sections of the Union. It was a compromise between opposing interests; and neither can abandon it with honor, until each has enjoyed it for at least an equal period of time. Sir, I repeat, (because the sentiment has left an indelible impression on my mind,) that the North cannot repudiate this contract, after having pocketed millions upon millions under it. Mr. Clay himself, whatever he may do now, could not then submit to the degrading anticipation. In the speech which ushered the compromise act before the world, he said:
“But if the measure should be carried by the common consent of both parties, we shall have all security. History will faithfully record the transactin-narrate under what circumstances the bill was passed; that it was a pacifying measure ; that it was as oil poured from the vessel of the Union, to restore peace and harmony to the country. When all this was known, what Congress, what Legislature would mar the guaranty? who is entitled to deserve the character of an American statesman, would stand up in his place, in either House of Congress, and disturb the treaty of peace and amity ?”
Mír. Chairman, I know not how this bill can escape the stern and withering rebuke contained in these extracts, but by the denial that it does revive the protective system, so distinctly and solemnly renounced by the compromise. True, it is not expressly revived, in terms, on the fuce of the bill. Its advocates, like those who originally established it, are too sagacious thus to label its unconstitutionality on its front. Like them, they hide its protective character from judical detection. Still, sir, no man can doubt the fact, who will look either at the origin of the bill, the evidence on which it was prepared, or the
it in all these particulars.
In the first place, it was prepared and reported by the Committee on Manufactures and not by the Committee of Ways and Means. It is the peculiar business of the latter committee to look after the condition of the treasury, and to see that it is kept in condition to meet all the appropriations made by law ; but the Committee on Manufactures, as its very name imports, has no such duties assigned to it. Its whole structure, for a long series of years, evinces no purpose connected with the revenues of the country. Look at the constitution of the present committee. Massachusetts has one, Vermont one, New York one, New Jersey one, Pennsylvania one, and even little Rhode Island one ; whilst there were only three from the whole Union beside. Now, sir, why this amazing disproportion in favor of the Northern States? Evidently because they were manufacturing States, deeply interested in the deliberations of the committee. The States of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama, were agricultural States, and therefore were supplied only with two members; whilst the whole Westmall the ten or twelve States lying on the majestic Mississippi and its noble tributaries—had only one member of the committee. No one here, I hope, will be so ungracious as to suppose that the Speaker ever constituted such a committee with the slighest reference to the raising of revenue. No, sir, the Speaker could never have had such purpose. But the tariff party of this House, ever watchful of such things, looked over the committees, after their appointment, and found, in the structure of that on manufactures, one more favorable to their views than the Committee of Ways and Means.
By the closest concert of action, they wrested the President's messaye from the Committee of Ways and Means, to whom it rightfully belonged, and transferred it to the Committee on Manufactures. So much for the geographical structure of the committee. I now ask, upon whose and what sort of evidence was this bill prepared? Was it on the oral or written statements of the Secretary of the Treasury, of the wants and condition of the treasury now, or for years to come? No, sir; we heard not a word from him. Was any witness called, or
port of the majority of the committee glances but slightly over the subject of revenue, barely saying enough about it to save even a decent appearance. Sir, the information on which this bill was prepared, was derived wholly from the manufacturers-several of them the same persons who were here in 1828. The majority of the committee have complained of the House on the subject of testimony. I now complain of them. The House refused to give them the power to send for witnesses: they determined they would have them without sending after them. The House refused to give them power to qualify witnesses in the case: they determined to take their testimony without oath. Nay, more: the House amended their application, by saying that none but disinterested witnesses should be examined, and then laid their proposition, so amended, on the table. In the face of this solemn decision of the House-made by ayes and noes-the majority of the committee determined they would examine witnesses directly interested in the cases-men whose daily bread or annual profits on their capital depended on the answers which they were to give. Was anything like this ever heard of in the proceedings of any of the courts of this country—to receive testimony from those directly interested? Sir, it was never before heard of in any investigation where truth was to be obtained, or justice to be administered. Let me not be told--as I was on a former occasion, when I had no opportunity to replythat none can know the facts as well as the manufacturers themselves. True; and it often happens that no one knows some material fact so well as the plaintiff or defendant in a cival action : and yet you would never examine either of them to prove such fact in his own favor. So, in criminal cases, none know the facts as well as the culprit himself; but yet you never examine him on trial for his own justification. But I go beyond these analogies, and maintain that this country is filled with persons who have discontinued or retired from manufacturing establishments, or who are otherwise well-informed and impartial on all the subjects within the range of our investigation. So far from having called on such as these, not a single