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may be upheld, our free institutions be unimpaired, and the happiness of the nation be continued and increased.
While I am prompted by an ardent devotion to the welfare of my country, sincerely to express this hope, I make no pledges, no promises, no threats, and I must add, I have no confidence. My public life, I trust, furnishes the best guarantee for my faithful adherence to those great principles of external and internal policy, to which it has been hitherto zealously dedicated. Whether I shall ever hereafter take any part in the public councils or not, depends upon circumstances beyond my control. Holding the principle that a citizen, as long as a single pulsation remains, is under an obligation to exert his utmost energies in the service of his country, if necessary, whether in private or public station, my friends, here and every where, may rest assured that, in either condition, I shall stand erect, with a spirit unconquered, whilst life endures, ready to second their exertions in the cause of liberty, the union, and the national prosperity.
Before I sit down, I avail myself with pleasure of this opportunity to make my grateful acknowledgments, for the courtesies and friendly attentions which I have uniformly experienced from the inhabitants of this city. A free and social intercourse with them, during a period of more than twenty years, is about to terminate, without any recollection on my part of a single painful collision, and without leaving behind me, as far as I know, a solitary personal enemy. If, in the sentiment with which I am about to conclude, I do not give a particular expression to the feelings inspired by the interchange of civilities and friendly offices, I hope the citizens of Washington will be assured that their individual happiness and the growth and prosperity of this city will ever be objects of my fervent wishes. In the sentiment which I shall presently offer, they are indeed comprehended. For the welfare of this city is indissolubly associated with that of our union, and the preservation of our liberty. I request permission to propose,
LET US NEVER DESPAIR OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC.
ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF JACKSON'S
AT FOWLER'S GARDEN, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, MAY 16, 1829.
[After the election of general Jackson as president of the United States, Mr. Clar, having retired to private life at his former residence in Kentucky, was occasionaliy invited to meet his frienils and neighbors ist public entertainments, where large concourses always assembled to manifest for him their continued regird and confidence. On one of these occasions he mue the following speech, in which he contrasts the proscriptive course of Jackson's administration in remov zis from offire, with that adopted and pursued by previous presidents. He also alludes 10 other subjects of prominent public interest.)
TOAST. Our distinguished guest, friend, and neighbor. HENRY Clay. With increased proofs of his wrth, we delighi to renew the assurance of our contidence in his patriotism, talents, and incorruptibility. May health and happiness aitend him in retirement, and a grateful nation do justice to his virtues.
After the above, Mr. Clay rose and addressed the immense assemblage of people present, as follows:
I fear, friends and fellow-citizens, that if I could find language to express the feelings which now animate me, I could not be heard throughout ibis vast assembly. My voice, once strong and powerful, has had its vigor impaired by delicate health and advancing age. You must have been separated, as I have been, for four years past, from some of your best and dearest friends, with whom during the greater part of your lives, you had associated in the most intimate friendly intercourse; you must have been traduced, as I have been, after exerting with zeal and fidelity the utmost of your powers to promoie the welfare of our country; and you must have returned among those warin-hearted friends, and been greeted and welcomed and honored by them, as I have recently been; before you could estimate the degree of sensibility which I now feel, or conceive how utterly inadequate ail human language is to portray the grateful emotions of my heart. I behold gathered here, as I have seen in other instances since my return among you, sires far advanced in years, endeared to me by an interchange of friendly office and sympathetic feeling, beginning more than thirty years ago. Their sons, grown up during my absence in the public councils, accompanying them; and all, proinpted by ardent attachment, affectionarely surrounding and saluting me, as if I belonged to their own household. Considering the multitude here assembled, their standing and respectability, and the distance which many have come personally 10 see me, and to testify their respect and confidence, I consider this day and this occasion as the proudest of my life. The tribute, thus rendered by my friends, neighbors, and fellow-citizens, flows spontaneously from their hearis, as it penetrates the inmost recesses of mine. Tendered in no servile spirit, it does not aiin to propitiate one in authority. Power could not buy or coerce it. The offspring of enlightened and independent freemen, it is addressed to a beloved fellowcitizen in private life, without office, and who can present nothing in return, but his hearty thanks. I pray all of you, genilenien, to accept these. They are due to every one of you for the sentiment just pronounced, and for the proceedings of this day. And I owe a particular expression of them to that portion of my friends, who, although I had the misfortune to differ from them in the late contest, have honored me by their attendance here.
I have no reproaches to make them. Regrets I have; but I give, as I have received from them, the hand of friendship as cordially as it is extended to any of my friends. It is highly gratifying to me to know, that they, and thousands of others who cooperated with them in producing the late political change, were unaffected towards me by the prejudice attempted to be excited against me. I entertain too high respect for the inestimable privilege of freely exercising one's independent judgment on public affairs, to draw in question the right of any of my fellow-citizens to form and to act upon their opinions in opposition to mine. The best and wisest among us are, at best, but weak anıl fallible human beings. And no man onght to set up his own judgment as an unerring standard, by which the correctness of all others is to be tested and tried.
It cannot be doubted that, with individual exceptions, the great body of every political party that has hitherto appeared in this conntry, has been honest in its intentions, and patriotic in its aims. Whole parties may have been sometimes deceived and deluded, but without being conscious of it; they no doubt sought to advance the relfare of the country. Where such a contest has existed as that which we have recently witnessed, there will be prejudices on the one side, and predilections on the other. If, during its progress, we cannot calm the passions, and permit truth and reason to have their undisturbed sway, we ongbt, at least, after it has terminated, to own their empire. Judging of public men and public measures in a spirit of candor, we should strive to eradicate every bjas, and to banish from our ininds every consideration not connected with the good of our country.
I do not pretend to be, more than other men, exempt from the influence of prejudice and predilection. But I declare most sincerely, that I have sought, in reference to the present adminis. tration, and shall continue to strive, to discard all prejudices, and to judge its acts and measures as they appear to me to affect the interests of our country.
A large portion of my friends and fellow-citizens, from whom I diflered on the late occasion, did not disagree with me as to the foreign or domestic policy of government. We only differed in the selection of agents to carry that policy into effect. Experience can alone determine who was right. If that policy continues to be pursued under the new administration, it shall have as cordial support from me, as if its care had been confided to agents of my choice. If, on the contrary, it shall be neglected or abandoned, the friends to whom I now reler will be bound by all the obligations of patriotism and consistency to adhere to the policy.
We take a new commencement from the fourth of March last. After that day, those who supported the election of the present chief magistrate were left as free to judge of the conduct of his administration, as those who opposed it. It will be no more inconsistent in them, if it disappoint their expectations, to disapprove his administration, than it will be to support it, if, disappointing ours, he should preserve the established policy of the nation, and introduce no new principles of alarming tendency.
They bestowed their suffrages upon the supposition that the government would be well adıninistered; that public pledges would be redeemed, solemn professions be fulfilled, and the rights and liberties of the people be protected and maintained. If they shall find themselves deceived in any of these respects; should principles avowed during the canvass be violated during the presidency, and new principles of dangerous import, neither avowed to nor anticipated by them, be put forth, they will have been betrayed; the distinguished individual for whom they votrd will have failed 10 preserve his identity, and they will be urged by the most sacred of duties to apply the proper corrective.
Government is a trust, and the officers of government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people. Official incumbents are bound, therefore, to administer the trust, not for their own private or individual benefits, but so as to promote the prosperity of the people. This is the vital principle of a republic. If a different principle prevail, and a government be so adıninistered as to gratify the passions or 10 promote the interests of a particular individual, the forms of free institutions may remain, but that government is essentially a monarchy. The great difference between the two forms of government is, that in a republic all power and authority and all public offices and honors emanate from the people, and are exercised and held for their
benefit. In a monarchy, all power and authority, all offices and honors, proceed from the inonarch. His interests, his caprices and his passions, influence and control the destinies of the kingdom. In a republic, the people are every thing, and a particular individual nothing. In a monarchy, the monarch is every thing, and the people nothing. And the true character of the government is stamped, not by the forms of the appointment to office alone, but by its practical operation. If in one, norninally free, the chief magistrate, as soon as he is clothed with power, proceeds to exercise it, so as to minister to his passions, and to gratify his favorites, and systematically distributes his rewards and punishments, in the application of the power of patronage, with which he is invested for the good of the whole, upon the principle of devotion and attachment to him, and not according to the ability and fidelity with which the people are or may be served, that chief magistrate, for the time being, and within the scope of his discretionary powers, is in fact, if not in form, a monarch.
It was objected to the late administration, that it adopted and enforced a system of proscription. During the whole period of it, not a solitary officer of the government, from Maine to Louisiana, within my knowledge, was dismissed on account of his political opinions. It was well known to the late president, that many officers, who held their places subject to the power of dismission, were opposed to his reëlection, and were actively employed in behalf of his competitor. Yet not one was discharged from that cause. In the commencement and early part of his administration, appointments were promiscuously made from all the parties in the previous canvass. And this course was pursued until an opposition was organized, which denounced all appointments from its ranks as being made for impure purposes.
I am aware that it may be urged, that a change was made in some of the publishers of the laws. There are about eighty annually designated. Of these, during the four years of the late administration, about twelve or fifteen were changed. Some of the changes were made from geographical or other local considerations. In several instances one friend was substituted for another. In others, one opponent for another.
Several papers, among the most influential in the opposition, but otherwise conducted with decorum, were retained. Of the entire number of changes, not more than four or five were made because of the scurrilous character of their papers, and not on account of the political sentiments of the editors. deemed injurjous to the respect and moral influence, which the laws should always command, that they should be promulgated in the columns of a public paper, parallel with which were other columns, in the same paper, of the grossest abuse of the government and its functionaries.