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them cause of war. It is here, and in our free institutions, that they will assail us.
They will attack us because you sit beneath that canopy, and we are freely debating and deliberating upon the great interests of freemen, and dispensing the blessings of free governinent. They will strike, because we pass one of those bills on your table. The passage of the least of them, by our free authority, is more galling to despotic powers, than would be the adoption of this so much dreaded resolution. Pass it, and what do you do? You exercise an indisputable attribute of sovereignty, for which you are responsible to none of them. You do the same when you perform any other legislative function; no less. If the allies object to this measure, let them forbid us to take a vote in this house ; let them strip us of every attribute of independent government; let them disperse us.
Will gentlemen attempt to maintain that, on the principles of the law of nations, those allies would have cause of war? If there be any principle which has been settled for ages, any which is founded in the very nature of things, it is that every independent state has the clear right to judge of the fact of the existence of other sovereign powers. I admit that there may be a state of inchoate initiative sovereignty, in which a new government, just struggling into being, cannot be said yet perfectly to exist. But the premature recognition of such new government can give offence justly to no other than its ancient sovereign. The right of recognition comprehends the right to be informed; and the means of information must, of necessity, depend upon the sound discretion of the party seeking it. You may send out a commission of inquiry, and charge it with a provident attention to your own people and your own interests. Such will be the character of the proposed agency. It will not necessarily follow, that any public functionary will be appointed by the president. You merely grant the means by which the executive may act when he thinks proper. What does he tell you in his message? That Greece is conten independence; that all sympathize with her; and that no power has declared against her. Pass this resolution, and what is the reply which it conveys to him? • You have sent us grateful intelligence; we feel warmly for Greece, and we grant you money, that, when you shall think it proper, when the interests of this nation shall not be jeoparded, you may depute a commissioner or public agent to Greece. The whole responsibility is then left where the constitution puts it. A member in his place may make a speech or proposition, the house may even pass a vote, in respect to our foreign affairs, which the president, with the whole field lying full before him, would not deem it expedient to effectuate.
But, sir, it is not for Greece alone that I desire to see this measure adopted. It will give to her but little support, and that purely of a moral kind. It is principally for America, for the credit and
character of our common country, for our own unsullied name, that I hope to see it pass. Mr. Chairman, what appearance on the page of history would a record like this exhibit? In the month of January, in the year of our Lord and Saviour, 1824, while all European christendom beheld, with cold and unfeeling indifference, the unexampled wrongs and inexpressible misery of christian Greece, a proposition was made in the congress of the United States, almost the sole, the last, the greatest depository of human hope and human freedom, the representatives of a gallant nation, containing a million of freemen ready to fly to arms, while the people of that nation were spontaneously expressing its deep-toned feeling, and the whole continent, by one simultaneous emotion, was rising, and solemnly and anxiously supplicating and invoking high heaven to spare and succor Greece, and to invigorate her arms in her glorious cause, whilst temples and senate houses were alike resounding with one burst of generous and holy sympathy; in the year of our Lord and Saviour, that Saviour of Greece and of us; a proposition was offered in the American congress to send a messenger to Greece, to inquire into her state and condition, with a kind expression of our good wishes and our sympathies — and it was rejected! Go home, if you can; go home, if you dare, to your constituents, and tell them that you voted it down; meet, if you can, the appalling countenances of those who sent you here, and tell them that you shrank from the declaration of your own sentiments; that you cannot tell how, but that some unknown dread, soine indescribable apprehension, some indefinable danger, drove you from your purpose; that the spectres of cimiters, and crowns, and crescents, gleamed before you and alarmed you; and that you suppressed all the noble feelings prompted by religion, by liberty, by national independence, and by humanity. I cannot bring myself to believe, that such will be the feeling of a majority of the committee. But, for myself, though every friend of the cause should desert it, and I be left to stand alone with the gentleman from Massachusetts, I will give to his resolution the poor sanction of my unqualified approbation.
ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MARCH 30 AND 31, 1824.
[The tariff of 1824, as it passed both houses of congress and became a law, was avowedly adopted as a measure to protect American industry. The bill was reported by the commitiee on manufactures, of which Mr Tod of Pennsylvania was chair.
While under discussion in committee of the whole, Mr. Clay (speaker) made the following elaborate argument in support of an AMERICAN SYSTEM for the protection of American industry. On this occasion he met and replied to the ablest opponents of the system, which at that time included Mr. Webster. The latter subsequently changed his opinion and became a supporter of protection.]
The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Barbour) has embraced the occasion produced by the proposition of the gentleman from Tennessee to strike out the minimum price in the bill on cotton fabrics, to express his sentiments at large on the policy of the pending measure; and it is scarcely necessary for me to say that he has evinced his usual good temper, ability, and decorum. ' The parts of the bill are so intermingled and interwoven together, that there can be no doubt of the fitness of this occasion to exhibit its merits or its defects. It is my intention, with the permission of the committee, to avail myself also of this opportunity, to present to its consideration those general views, as they appear to me, of the true policy of this country, which imperiously demand the passage of this bill
. I am deeply sensible, Mr. Chairman, of the high responsibility of my present situation. But that responsibility inspires me with no other apprehension than that I shall be unable to fulfil my duty; with no other solicitude than that I may, at least, in some small degree, contribute to recall my country from the pursuit of a fatal policy, which appears to me inevitably to lead to its impoverishment and ruin. I do feel most awfully this responsibility. And, if it were allowable for us, at the present day, to imitate ancient examples, I would invoke the aid of the Most High. I would anxiously and fervently implore His divine assistance; that He would be graciously pleased to shower on my country His richest blessings, and that He would sustain, on this interesting occasion, the humble individual who stands before Him, and lend him the power, moral and physical, to perform the solemn duties which now belong to his public station.
Two classes of politicians divide the people of the United States. According to the system of one, the produce of foreign industry should be subjected to no other impost than such as may be necessary to provide a public revenue; and the produce of American industry should be left to sustain itself, if it can, with no other than that incidental protection, in its competition, at home as well as abroad, with rival foreign articles. According to the system of the other class, whilst they agree that the imposts should be mainly, and may under any modification be safely, relied on as a fit and convenient source of public revenue, they would so adjust and arrange the duties on foreign fabrics as to afford a gradual but adequate protection to American industry, and lessen our dependence on foreign nations, by securing a certain and ultimately a cheaper and better supply of our own wants from our own abundant resources. Both classes are equally sincere in their respective opinions, equally honest, equally patriotic, and desirous of advancing the prosperity of the country. In the discussion and consideration of these opposite opinions, for the purpose of ascertaining which has the support of truth and reason, we should, therefore, exercise every indulgence, and the greatest spirit of mutual moderation and forbearance. And, in our deliberations on this great question, we should look fearlessly and truly at the actual condition of the country, retrace the causes which have brought us into it, and snatch, if possible, a view of the future. We should, above all, consult experience — the experience of other nations, as well as our own - as our truest and most unerring guide.
In casting our eyes around us, the most prominent circumstance which fixes our attention, and challenges our deepest regret, is the general distress which pervades the whole country. It is forced upon us by numerous facts of the most incontestable character. It is indicated by the diminished exports of native produce; by the depressed and reduced state of our foreign navigation ; by our diminished commerce ; by successive unthrashed crops of grain, perishing in our barns and barn-yards for the want of a market; by the alarming diminution of the circulating medium; by the numerous bankruptcies, not limited to the trading classes, but extending to all orders of society; by a universal complaint of the want of employment, and a consequent reduction of ihe wages of labor; by the ravenous pursuit after public situations, not for the sake of their honors and the performance of their public duties, but as a means of private subsistence; by the reluctant resort to the perilous use of paper money; by the intervention of legislation in ihe delicate relation between debtor and creditor ; and, above all, by the low and depressed state of the value of almost every description of the whole mass of the property of the nation, which has, on an average, sunk not less than about fifty per centuin within a few years. This distress pervades every part of the union, every
class of society; all feel it, though it may be felt, at different places, in different degrees. It is like the atmosphere which surrounds us — all must inhale it, and none can escape it. In some places it has burst upon our people, without a single mitigating circuinstance to temper its severity. In others, more fortunate, slight alleviations have been experienced in the expenditure of the public revenue, and in other favoring causes. A few years ago, the planting interest consoled itself with its happy exemptions, but it has now reached this interest also, which experiences, though with less severity, the general suffering. It is most painful to me to attempt to sketch or to dwell on the gloom of this picture. But I have exaggerated nothing. Perfect fidelity to the original would have authorized me to have thrown on deeper and darker hues. And it is the duty of the statesman, no less than that of the physician, to survey, with a penetrating, steady, and undismayed eye, the actual condition of the subject on which he would operate; to probe to the bottom the diseases of the body politic, if he would apply efficacious remedies. We have not, thank God, suffered in any great degree for food. But distress, resulting from the absence of a supply of the mere physical wants of our nature, is not the only nor perhaps the keenest distress, to which we may be exposed. Moral and pecuniary suffering is, if possible, more poignant. It plunges its victim into hopeless despair. It poisons, it paralyses, the spring and source of all useful exertion. Its unsparing action is collateral as well as direct. It falls with inexorable force at the same time
upon the wretched family of embarrassment and insolvency, and upon its head. They are a faithful mirror, reflecting back upon him, at once, his own frightful image, and that, no less appalling, of the dearest objects of his affection. What is the CAUSE of this wide-spreading distress, of this deep depression, which we behold stamped on the public countenance ? We are the same people.
We have the same country. We cannot arraign the bounty of Providence. The showers still fall in the same grateful abundance. The sun still casts his genial and vivifying influence upon the land; and the land, fertile and diversified in its soils as ever, yields to the industrious cultivator, in boundless profusion, its accustomed fruits, its richest treasures. Our vigor is unimpaired. Our industry has not relaxed. If ever the accusation of wasteful extravagance could be made against our people, it cannot now be justly preferred. They, on the contrary, for the few last years, at least, have been practicing the most rigid economy. The causes, then, of our present aflliction, whatever they may be, are human causes, and human causes not chargeable upon the people, in their private and individual relations.
What, again I would ask, is the CAUSE of the unhappy condition of our country, which I have faintly depicted ? It is to be found in the fact that, during almost the whole existence of this govern