« AnteriorContinuar »
If parties in a republic are necessary to secure a degree of vigilance sufficient to keep the public functionaries within the bounds of law and duty, at that point their usefulness ends. Beyond that, they become destructive of public virtue, the parents of a spirit antagonist to that of liberty, and, eventually, its inevitable conqueror. We have examples of republics, where the love of country and of liberty at one time were the dominant passions of the whole mass of citizens. And yet, with the continuance of the name and form of free government, not a vestige of these qualities remained in the bosom of any one of its citizens. It was the beautiful remark of a distinguished English writer, that “in the Roman senate, Octavius had a party, Anthony a party, but the Commonwealth had none.” Yet the senate continued to meet in the Temple of Liberty, and to talk of the sacredness and beauty of the commonwealth, and gaze at the statues of the elder Brutus, and of the Curtii and Decii. And the people assembled in the forum, not, as in the days of Camillus and the Scipios, to cast their free votes for annual magistrates, or pass upon the acts of the senate, but to receive from the hands of the leaders of the respective parties their share of the spoils, and to shout for one or the other, as those collected in Gaul, or Egypt, and the Lesser Asia, would furnish the larger dividend. The spirit of liberty had fled, and, avoiding the abodes of civilized man, had sought protection in the wilds of Scythia or Scandinavia; and so, under the operation of the same causes and influences, it will fly from our capitol and our forums. A calamity so awful, not only to our country, but to the world, must be deprecated by every patriot; and every tendency to a state of things likely to produce it, immediately checked. Such a tendency has existed — does exist. Always the friend of my countrymen, never their flatterer, it becomes my duty to say to them, from this high place, to which their partiality has exalted me, that there exists in the land a spirit hostile to their best interests — hostile to liberty itself. It is a spirit contracted in its views, and selfish in its object. It looks to the aggrandizement of a few, even to the destruction of the interests of the whole. The entire remedy is with the people. Something, however, may be effected by the means which they have placed in my hands.
It is union that we want, not of a party for the sake of that party, but of the whole country for the sake of the whole country — for the defence of its interests and its honor against foreign aggression, for the defence of those principles for which our ancestors so gloriously contended. As far as it depends upon me it shall be accomplished. All the influence which I possess shall be exerted to prevent the formation at least of an executive party in the halls of the legislative body. I wish for the support of no member of that body to any measure of mine that does not satisfy his judgment and his sense of duty to those from whom he holds his appointment; nor any confidence in advance from the people, but that asked by Mr. Jefferson, “to give firmness and effect to the legal administration of their affairs.”
I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion, and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility, are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gift of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers, and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in servently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time.
Fellow-citizens— Being fully invested with that high office to which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my exalted station according to the best of my ability; and I shall enter upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just and generous people,
TYLER's ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE.
In just one month after entering upon his duties as President of the United States, William Henry Harrison died—the first that has died in office since the formation of the government. Consequently it became the duty of the Vice-President, John Tyler, to assume the presidential chair; on which occasion he published the following
ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE U. STATES.
Fellow-Citizens: Before my arrival at the seat of government, the painful communication was made to you by the officers presiding over the several departments, of the deeply-regretted death of William Henry Harrison, President of the United States. Upon him you had conferred your gift, and had selected him as your chosen instrument to correct and reform all such errors and abuses as had manifested themselves from time to time in the practical operation of the government. While standing at the threshold of this great work, he has, by the dispensation of Providence, been removed from us, and by the provisions of the constitution the efforts to be directed to the accomplishment of this vitally-important task have devolved upon myself. The same occurrence has subjected the wisdom and sufficiency of our institutions to a new test. For the first time in our history, the person elected to the vice-presidency of the United States, by the happening of a contingency provided for in the constitution, has had devolved upon him the presidential office. The spirit of faction, which is directly opposed to the spirit of a lofty patriotism, may find in this, occasion for assaults upon my administration. And in succeeding, under circumstances so sudden and unexpected, and to responsibilities so greatly augmented, to the administration of public affairs, I shall place in the intelligence and patriotism of the people my only sure reliance. My earnest prayer shall be constantly addressed to the all-wise and all-powerful Being who made me, and by whose dispensation I am called to the high office of President of this confederacy, that I may be enabled understandingly to carry out the principles of that constitution which I have sworn to “protect, preserve, and defend.” The usual opportunity which is afforded a chief magistrate, upon his induction to office, of presenting to his countrymen an exposition of the policy which would guide his administration, in the form of an inaugural address, not having, under the peculiar circumstances which have brought me to the discharge of the high duties of President of the United States, been offered to me, a brief exposition of the principles which will govern me in the general course of my administration of public affairs, would seem due as well to myself as to you. In regard to foreign nations, the groundwork of my policy will be justice on our part to all, submitting to injustice from none. While I shall sedulously cultivate the relation of peace and amity with one and all, it will be my most imperative duty to see that the honor of the country shall sustain no blemish. With a view to this, the condition of our military defences will become a matter of anxious solicitude. The army, which has in other days covered itself with renown, and the navy, not inappropriately termed the right hand of the public defence, which has spread a light of glory over the American standard in all the waters of the earth, should be rendered replete with efficiency. In view of the fact, well avouched by history, that the tendency of all human institutions is to concentrate power in the hands of a single man, and that their ultimate downfall has proceeded from this cause, I deem it of the most essential importance that a complete separation should take place between the sword and the purse. No matter where or how the public moneys shall be deposited, so long as the President can exert the power of appointing and removing, at his pleasure, the agents selected for their custody, the commander-in-chief of the army and navy is in fact the treasurer. A permanent and radical change should therefore be decreed. The patronage incident to the presidential office, already great, is constantly increas. ing. Such increase is destined to keep pace with the
growth of our population, until, without a figure of speech, an army of office-holders may be spread over the land. The unrestrained power exerted by a selfishly ambitious man, in order either to perpetuate his authority or to hand it over to some favorite as his successor, may lead to the employment of all the means within his control to accomplish his object.
The right to remove from office, while subjected to no restraint, is inevitably destined to produce a spirit of crouching servility with the official corps, which, in order to uphold the hand which feeds them, would lead to direct and active interference in the elections, both state and federal, thereby subjecting the course of state legislation to the dictation of the chief executive officer; and making the will of that officer absolute and supreme. I will, at a proper time, invoke the action of Congress upon this subject, and shall readily acquiesce in the adoption of all proper measures which are calculated to arrest these evils, so full of danger in their tendency.
I will remove no incumbent from office who has faithfully and honestly acquitted himself of the duties of his office, except in cases where such officer has been guilty of an active partisanship, or by secret means — the less manly, and therefore the more objectionable—has given his official influence to the purposes of party, thereby bringing the patronage of the government in conflict with the freedom of elections. Numerous removals may become necessary under this rule. These will be made by me through no acerbity of feeling. I have had no cause to cherish or indulge unkind feelings towards any, but my conduct will be regulated by a profound sense of what is due to the country and its institutions; nor shall I neglect to apply the same unbending rule to those of my appointment. Freedom of opinion will be tolerated, the right of suffrage will be maintained as the birthright of every American citizen, but I say emphatically to the official corps, “Thus far, and no farther.”
I have dwelt the longer upon this subject, because removals from office are likely often to arise, and I would have my countrymen to understand the principle of executive action.