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exceeded my expectations; to have received and not acknowledge how sensible I am of them, would seem an affectation of concealing feelings, which I ought to rejoice in possessing, and which justice to myself, as well as to those who bestow this kindness, requires of me to avow.
Ere I landed on your shores, your welcome and congratulations came to meet me; and they came too the more welcome, because I saw commingling around me, citizens, who, though at variance on political subjects, do not suffer their differences to interfere with the claims, which, as friends and as countrymen, they have on each other; and if I have done aught deserving their approbation as well as their censure, believe me, in that I have done, I have acted in view of the interest and happiness of our cor country.
There is nothing in life half so delightful to the heart, as to know, that, notwithstanding all the conflicts that arise among men, yet there comes a time when their passions and prejudices shall slumber, and that the stranger guest shall be cheered in seeing, that whatever differences
may arise among them, yet there are moments when they shall cease from troubling, and when all that is turbulent and distrustful among them, shall be sacrificed to the generous and social dictates of their nature; and it would be to me a source of great satisfaction to think, that a recollection of the present would act as a mediator, and soften the asperities of your divisions, as circumstances and events may renew them.
The gentleman who sits at the head of this festive board, and near whose person your kind consideration and courtesy has placed me, was the companion of my early days; and neither time nor distance have weakened in him the feelings which began with our youth, the strong and bright evidences of which are shown in the narration he has given of my public services. But I fear that he has rather conceived me to be what his wishes would have me; and that to these, more than to my own deservings, must I attribute his flattering notice of me.
He then adverted to that part of judge Turner's address which spoke of Mr. Clay as the decided advocate of the late war. We cannot attempt to draw even the outlines of his observations, or to portray the feelings he discovered while depicting the part which Kentucky acted in the war; of the volunteers she sent forth to battle, of the privations she suffered, of the money expended, and of the blood that flowed from her sons, in supporting the nation in the defence of her rights and independence. The expression of his eye, his attitude, and gestures, evinced how deeply the subject affected him. The people of Kentucky, he said, acted nobly throughout the whole contest; and whether in defeat or in victory, she still showed the determination to sustain the American character, and to maintain American independence; and it would be only to repeat, what was a common observation among the people of his state, to say, that their countrymen of Mississippi, acted with a spirit during the war worthy the best days of the revolution.
In speaking of the invasion of Louisiana, and of the battle of New Orleans, his feelings and his voice seemed to rise with the subject. The encomiums he passed upon the hero who had achieved the victory, though said in a few words, were such as might be expected from a statesman so great in honor, and so exalted in patriotisin as Mr. Clay. He concluded this part of his speech, by saying, that, although by the negotiations at Ghent, none of the objects for which the nation went to war, were guarantied by the treaiy of peace; yet they were secured to us by a power much stronger than any treaty stipulations could give; the influence of our arms, the resources and power of the republic, as brought forth and shown in the contest.
He now spoke of the apprehensions entertained by many, that the union would be dissolved; but he considered all apprehensions of this kind, as arising more from our fears that such a misfortune should visit the country, than from any substantial reasons to justify them. Rumors, he said, had gone abroad ever since the adoption of the present constitution, that the republic would be dismembered. Whenever any iinportant question arose, in which the passions and prejudices of party, rather than the reason of the people, was brought to bear on the discussion, the cry would be heard, that the union would fall in the conflict; to-day, the disposition to separate would be charged on the west; to-morrow, against the north or the east; and then it would be returned back again to the south; but as long as I have lived, said Mr. Clay, I have seen nothing to give me any serious fears that such an evil could befall us. First, the people were divided into democrats and federalists; then we had the funding system, and the bank of the United States; then came the Missouri question, and last the tariff. On this question my partial friend has honored me with the appellation of the advocate of domestic industry. I am, indeed, from conscientious convictions, the friend of that system of public policy, which has been called the American system; and here, among those who honestly differ with me on this question, I would be indulged, by this magnanimous people, in offering a few remarks on this subject
It has been objected to this policy by a distinguished statesman in congress, that our country was too extended, the lands too cheap and fertile, and our population too sparse to admit of the manufacturing system; that our people were physically incapable of that confined degree of labor, necessary to excellence in manufactures; but experience has surely disproved these positions. We are by nature inferior to no people, physically or mentally, and time has proved and will continue to prove it.
I am aware that the people of this quarter of the union conscientiously believe, that the tariff bears heavily on them; yet I feel also well assured, from a retrospect of the past, that if the laws on this subject were even more severe in their operation than I believe them to be, this patriotic people would endure them patiently. Yes, if the independence of the country, the interests, and above all the cause of the union required heavy sacrifices, they would endure them. But whilst claiming no immunity from error, I feel the most sincere, the deepest conviction, that the tariff, so far from having proved injurious to the peculiar interests of this section of country, has been eminently beneficial. I ask leave to put two questions to those interested in your great staple. I would take the common operations of sale and of purchase ; has the operation of the tariff lowered the price of what you sell? The price of every article must be regulated mainly by the demand; has, then, the consumption of cotton diminished since the tariff of 1924, or 1828? No, it has increased, greatly increased; and why? Because the protection extended by this policy, has created a new customer in the American manufacturer, who takes two hundred thousand bales, without having lessened the demand for the European market.
British merchants have found new markets for their cotton fabrics, and the competition, thus created, while it has reduced the price of the manufactured article, has increased the consumption of the raw material. Again, has the tariff increased the price of what you buy? Take the article of domestic cottons, for example; has not the American manufacturer, since the adoption of this system, afforded you a better article and at less price than before? Take a familiar instance, one in which having some personal interest, I ought to be acquainted with ; take the article manufactured in my own state, for the covering of your cotton bales; take any period, say six years before and six years since the tariff of 1824 ; has the average price of cotton bagging increased or diminished, in that period? I think I can appeal confidently to those around me, for the reply. We afford you a better article than the European, and at a greatly reduced price. But, I am permitting myself to be carried away by the subject; I will obtrude no longer on the indulgence of this generous people. I feel my inability to express my profound and heartfelt gratitude, for the too flattering reception you have given me, and for the sentiments you bave been pleased to honor me with, an humble individual in private life. ' I ask permission to offer a sentiment.
'The health and prosperity of the people of the state of Mississippi.'
ON THE REDUCTION OF DUTIES ON IMPORTS.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, JANUARY 11, 1832.
[The following resolution, previously offered by Mr. Clay, was taken up for consideration :
* Resolved, that the existing duties upon articles imported from foreign countries, and not coming into competition with similar articles made or produced within the United States, ought to be forthwith abolished, except the duties upon wines and silks, and that those ought to be reduced. And that the committee on finance be instructed to report a bill accordingly.'
To meet the approaching crisis of the extinguishment of the national debt, and to endeavor to allay the hostility to a protective tariff
, then existing in the southern states, Mr. Clay offered the above proposition, which he supported in the following speech. The discussion of the subject, in the senate, led to a debate which was not terminated until late in the month of March, when the resolution was referred to the committee on manufactures. Mr. Clay having given his views in part in this opening of the debate, followed it up in February by a more elaborate speech in defence of the American system (as will be seen by the one which we have given under that head). The resolution having been read, Mr. Clay rose and addressed the senate as follows.1
I have a few observations, Mr. President, and only a few, to submit to the senate, on the measure now before you, in doing which I have 10 ask all your indulgence. I am getting old; I feel but too sensibly and unaffectedly the effects of approaching age, and I have been for some years very little in the habit of addressing deliberative assemblies. I an told that I have been the cause the most unwilling cause, if I have been - of exciting expectations, the evidence of which is around us. I regret it; for, however the subject on which I am to speak, in other hands, might be treated, 10 gratify or to reward the presence and attention now given in mine, I have nothing but a plain, unvarnished, and unambitious exposition to make.
It forms no part of my present purpose to enter into a consideration of the established policy of protection. Strong in the convictions and deeply seated in the affections of a large majority of the people of the United States, it stands self-vindicated in the general prosperity, in the rich fruits which it has scattered over the land, in the experience of all prosperous and powerful nations, present and past, and now in that of our own. Nor do I think it necessary to discuss that policy on this resolution. Other gentlemen may think differently, and may choose to argue and assail it. If they do, I have no doubt that in all parts of the senate, members more competent than I am, will be ready to support and defend it.
My object now is to limit myself to a presentation of certain views and principles connected with the present financial condition of the country.
A consideration of the state of the public revenue has become necessary in consequence of the near approach of the entire extinction of the public debt; and I concur with you, sir, in believing that no season could be more appropriate than the present session of congress, to endeavor to make a satisfactory adjustment of the tariff. The public debt chiefly arose out of the late war, justly denominated the second contest for national independence. An act, commonly called the sinking fund act, was passed by congress nearly fifteen years ago, providing for its reimbursement. That act was prepared by a friend of yours and mine, and proposed by him, whose premature death was not a loss merely to his native state, of which he was one of its brightest ornaments, but to the whole nation. No man with whom I ever had the honor to be associated in the legislative councils, combined more extensive and useful information, with more firmness of judgment, and blandness of manner, than did the lamented Mr. Lowndes. And when in the prime of life, by the dispensation of an all-wise Providence, he was taken from us, his country had reason to anticipate the greatest benefits from his wisdom and discretion. By that act an annual appropriation was made, of ten millions of dollars, towards the payment of the principal and interest of the public debt, and also any excess which might yearly be in the treasury, beyond two millions of dollars, which it was thought prudent to reserve for unforeseen exigences.
But this system of regular and periodical application of public revenue to the payment of the public debt, would have been unavailing if congress had neglected to provide the necessary ways and means. Congress did not, however, neglect the performance of that duty. By various acts, and more especially by the tariff of 1824 — the abused tariff of 1824 — the public coffers were amply replenished, and we have been enabled to reach our present proud eminence of financial prosperity. After congress had thus abundantly provided funds, and directed their systematical application, the duty remaining to be performed by the executive was one simply ministerial. And no executive, and no administration, can justly claim for itself any other merit in the discharge of the public debt, than that of a faithful execution of the laws; no other merit than that similar one to which it is entitled, for directing a regular payment of what is due from time to time to the army and navy, or to the officers of the civil government, for their salaries.
The operation of the sinking fund 'act commenced with the