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Full text of "The works of Henry Clay.."


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FEDERAL EDITION 
Limited to 1000 signed and numbered sets. 



Ttie Collector's Edition of the Writings of Henry 

Clay is limited to six hundred signed and numbered 

sets, of which this is 

. f.'f r 
Number^-ll-^O-D- 

We guarantee that no lixnited, numbered edition, 
other than the Federal, shall be printed from these 
plates. 

The written number must correspond with the 
perforated number at the top of this page. 




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The Works of 



Henry Clay 

Comprising His Life, Correspondence 
and Speeches 



Edited by 

Calvin Colton, LL.D. 

With an Introduction by 
Thomas B. Reed 

And a History of Tariff Legislation, 1 8 12-1896 

by 

William McKinley 



f 



Ten Volumes 



G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York and London 

^be 'Sintcherbocf^er press 

1904 



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%0.D^ 



6 



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The Works of Henry Clay 

Volume Six 



Speeches 
Part One 



NOTE 



As originally printed, the Speeches were issued in two thick 
volumes. In this edition the material has been divided into 
four volumes. The paging is continuous through the first 
and second, and through the third and fourth. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

On Domestic Manufactures 7 

On the Line of the Perdido 13 

On Renewing the Charter of the First Bank op the United 

States 22 

On the Increase of the Army 34 

On the Increase of the Navy 42 

On the New Army Bill 53 

On Mr. Clay's Return from Ghent 71 

On the Bank Question 74 

On the Direct Tax and State of the Nation after the War of 

1812 81 

On the Bill for Enforcing Neutrality 100 

On Commercial Restrictions with the British West Indies . 103 

On Internal Improvement 108 

On the War between Spain and her Colonies . . . .111 

On Internal Improvement 115 

On Emancipation of the South American States .... 136 

On Emancipation of South America 163 

On the Seminole War 179 

On the Spanish Treaty 205 

On Protection of Home Industry 218 

On Sending a Minister to South America 238 

On the Greek Revolution 245 

On American Industry 254 

Reply to John Randolph 295 

Address to La Fayette 296 

Mr. Clay's Address to his Constituents 299 

On the Presidential Election of 1825 330 

On African Colonization 338 



SPEECHES 



or 



HENRY CLAY. 



ON DOMESTIC MANUFACTURES, 

IN SENATE, APRIL 6, 1810. 

[The speeches of Mr. Clay, before popular assemblies, for some 
dozen years after be removed to Kentucky, together with his 
forensic arguments and the part he took in the debates of the 
Legislature of that State for the same period, which laid the 
foundation of his reputation as a pubHc man, and which have 
been represented by those who heard them as among the finest 
specimens of his oratorical and argumentative powers, are not 
extant in any form worthy of being published. It would, in- 
deed, be most interesting, if we were able to display the fervid 
eloquence of Mr. Clay's youth, in company with the speeches of 
his riper years. We should then have before us some of the 
original elements of his fame. The press was not then able, as 
it is now, to send its reporters into the courts, to the hustings, 
and into legislative assemblies, to give to the public the speeches 
of gifted men. Even when Mr. Clay first appeared in the Senate 
of the United States, in 1806, and made several important 
speeches there, especially one on Internal Improvements, the 
press of the day failed to record them ; and it was not till his 
second appearance in that body, when the session of Congress 
was far advanced, that we have an imperfect report of his virgin 
speech on Domestic Manufactures, which is here presented. 
This theme, as is well known to the student of history, was one 
of the great studies of Mr. Clay's public life, which was never 
relaxed to his dying day. A careful attention to this short 
speech will show that it contains aU. the fundamental elements 



8 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

of the same argument which was afterward, during Mr. Clay's 
long public life, so much enlarged, so greatly diversified, so weU 
illustrated, and so eftectively enforced. In this speech we find 
the germ of all he ever said upon the subject. Mr. Clay's first 
conceptions of a great theme appertaining to state afiairs, were 
next to iiifallible. He had only occasion to dilate — never to 
change. Even on the bank question, as we shall see, he only 
changed with a change of circumstances. There was no incon- 
sistency. Like a skilLt'ul statesman, he had the frankness and 
the boldness to adapt himself to events which at one time were 
against the renewal of the charter, but which afterward rendered 
it imperative. Mr. Clay had previously and eloquently advo- 
cated domestic manufactures, while a member of the Legislature 
of Kentucky, as a State policy. In the Senate of the United 
States, on the 6th of April, 1810, the same subject being in de- 
bate before that body, Mr. Clay spoke as follows ;] 

Mr. Prksident — 

The local interest of the quarter of the country, which I have the 
honor to represent, will apologize for the trouble I may give you on this 
occasion. My colleague has proposed an amendment to the bill before 
you, instructing the Secretary of the Navy to provide supplies of cordage, 
sail-cloth, hemp, etc., and to give a preference to those of American 
growth and manufacture. It has been moved by the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Loyd) to strike out this part of the amendment ; and, 
in the course of the discussion which has arisen, remarks have been made 
on the general policy of promoting manufactm-es. The propriety of this 
policy is, perhaps, not very intimately connected with the subject before 
us; but it is, nevertheless, witiiin the legitimate and admissible scope of 
debate. Under this impression I offer my sentiments. 

In inculcating the advantages of domestic manufactures, it never en- 
tered the head, I presume, of any one, to change the habits of the nation 
from an agricultural to a manufacturing community. No one, I am per- 
Buaded, ever thought of converting the plowshare and the sickle into the 
Bpindle and the shuttle. And yet this is the delusive and erroneous view 
too often taken of the subject. The opponents of the manufacturing 
eyflt^m transport themselves to the establishments of Manchester and 
Birmingham, and, dwelling on the indigence, vice, and wretchedness pre- 
vailing tlierc, by pushing it to an extreme, argue that its introduction into 
this country will necessarily be attended by the same mischievous and 
dn-!ulful cunsequencea. But what is the fact? That England is the 
manufacturer of a great part of the world ; and that, even there, the num- 
bers thus employed bear an inconsiderable proportion to the whole mass 
of population. Were we to become the manufacturers of other nations. 



ON DOMESTIC MANUFACTURES. V 

effects of the same kind might result. But if we Umit our efforts, by our 
own wauts, the evils apprehended would be found to be chimerical. The 
invention and improvement of machinery, for which the present age is so 
remarkable, dispensing in a great degree with manual labor, and the em- 
ployment of those persons who, if we were engaged in the pursuit of 
agriculture alone, would be either unproductive, or exposed to indolence 
and immorality, will enable us to supply our wants without withdrawing 
our attention from agriculture, that first and gceatest sour(;e of national 
wealth and happiness. A judicious American farmer, in the household 
way, manufactures whatever is requisite for his family. He squanders but 
httle in the gewgaws of Europe. He presents, in epitome, what the nation 
ought to be in extenso. Their manufactories should bear the same pro- 
portion, and effect the same object, in relation to the whole community, 
which the part of his household employed in domestic manufactm-ing 
beai's to the whole family. It is certainly desirable that the exports of 
the country should continue to be the surplus production of tillage, and 
not become those of manufacturing establishments. But it is import 
ant to diminish our imports ; to furnish ourselves with clothing, made 
by our own industry ; and to cease to be dependent, for the very coats we 
wear, upon a foreign and, perhaps, inimical country. The nation that im- 
ports its clothing from abroad is but little less dependent than if it 
imported its bread. 

The fallacious course of reasoning urged against domestic manufactures, 
namely, the distress and servitude produced by those of England, would 
equally indicate the propriety of abandoning agiiculture itself. Were 
you to cast your eyes upon the miserable peasantry of Poland, and revert 
to the days of feudal vassalage, you might thence draw numerous argu- 
ments, of the kind now under consideration, against the pursuits of the 
husbandman ! What would become of commerce, the favorite theme of 
some gentlemen, if assailed with this sort of weapon ? The fraud, perjury, 
cupidity, and corruption, with which it is unhappily too often attended, 
would at once produce its overthrow. In short, sir, take the black side 
of the picture, and every human occupation will be found pregnant with 
fatal objections. 

The opposition to manufacturing institutions recalls to my recollection 
the case of a gentleman of whom I have heard. He had been in the 
habit of supplying his table from a neighboring cook and confectioner's 
shop, and proposed to his wife a reform in this particular. She revolted at 
the idea. The sight of a scullion was dreadful, and her delicate nerves 
could not bear the clattering of kitchen furniture. The gentleman per- 
sisted in his design ; his table was thenceforth cheaper and better supplied, 
and his neighbor, the confectioner, lost one of his best customers. In hke 
manner dame Commerce will oppose domestic manufactures. She is a 
flirting, flippant, noisy jade, and if we are governed by her fantasies, we 
shall never t)ut off the muslirm of India and the cloths of Europe. But I 



10 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

trust that the yeomanry of the country, the true and genuine landlords of this 
tenement, called the United States, disregarding her freaks, will persevere 
in reform, until the whole national family is furnished by itself with the 
clotliing necessary for its own use. 

It is a subject no less of curiosity than of interest, to trace the prejudices 
in favor of foreisrn febrics. In our colonial condition, we were in a com- 
plete state of dependence on the parent country, as it respected manu- 
factures, as well as commerce. For many years after the war, such was 
the partiality for her productions, in this country, that a gentleman's head 
could not withstand the influence of solar heat unless covered with a Lon- 
don hat ; his feet could not bear the pebbles, or frost, unless protected by 
London shoes ; and the comfort or ornament of his person was only 
consulted when his coat was cut out by the shears of a tailor "just from 
London." At length, however, the wondeiful discovery has been made, 
that it is not absolutely beyond the reach of American skill and ingenuity 
to provide these articles, combining with equal elegance greater durability. 
And I entertain no doubt that, in a short time, the no less important fact 
will be developed, that the domestic manufactories of the United States, 
fostered by government, and aided by household exertions, are fully com- 
petent to supply us with at least every necessary article of clothing. I 
therefore, sir, for one (to use the fashionable cant of the day), am in favor 
of encouraging them, not to the extent to which they are carried in En- 
gland, but to such an extent as will redeem us entirely fiom all dependence 
on foreign countries. Tliere is a pleasure — a pride (if I may be allowed 
the expression, and I pity those who can not feel the sentiment), in being 
clad in the productions of our own families. Others may prefer the cloths 
of Leeds and of London, but give me those of Himaphreysville. 

Aid may be given to native institutions in the form of bounties and of 
protecting duties. But against bounties it is urged that you tax the 
whole for the benefit of a part only of the community ; and in opposition 
to duties it is alleged, that you make the interest of one part, the con- 
sumer, bend to the interest of another part, the manufacturer. The suf- 
ficiency of the answer is not always admitted, that the sacrifice is merely 
temporary, being ultimately compensated by the greater abundance and 
superiority of the article produced by the stimulus. But, of all practical 
forms of encouragement, it might have been expected, that the one under 
consideration would escape opposition, if every thing proposed in Congress 
were not doomed to experience it. What is it ? The bill contains two 
provisions — one prospective, anticipating the appropriation for clothing for 
the army, and the amendment purposes extending it to naval supplies, for 
the year 1811 — and the other, directing a preference to be given to home 
manufactures and productions, whenever it can be done without material 
detriment to the public service. ITie object of the first is, to authorize 
oontriu:t8 to be made beforehand, with manufacturers, and by making ad- 
vances to tlii-m, under proper security, to enable them to supply the article* 



ON DOMESTIC MANUFACTURES. 11 

wanted in sufBcient quantity. When it is recollected that they are fre- 
quently men of limited capitals, it will be acknowledged that this kind of 
assistance, bestowed with prudence, will be productive of the best results. 
It is, in fact, only pursuing a principle long acted upon, of advancing to 
contractors with government, on account of the magnitude of their en- 
gagements. The appropriation contemplated to be made for the year 
1811, may be restricted to such a sum as, whether we have peace or war, 
we must necessarily expend. The discretion is proposed to be vested in 
oflBcers of high confidence, who will be responsible for its abuse, and 
who are enjoined to see that the public service receives no material detri- 
ment. It is stated that hemp is now very high, and that contracts, made 
under existing circumstances, will be injurious to government. But the 
amendment creates no obligation upon the Secretary of the Navy, to go 
into market at this precise moment. In fact, by enlarging his sphere of 
action, it admits of his taking advantage of a favorable fluctuation, and 
getting a supply below the accustomed price, if such a fall should occur 
prior to the usual annual appropriation. 

I consider the amendment, under consideration, of the first importance, 
in point of principle. It is evident, that whatever doubt may be enter- 
tained, as to the general policy of the manufactuiing system, none can 
exist as to the propriety of our being able to furnish ourselves with 
articles of the first necessity in time of war. Our maaitime operations 
ought not, in such a state, to depend upon the casualties of foreign supply. 
It is not necessary that they should. With very little encouragement 
from government, I believe we shall not want a pound of Russia hemp. 
The increase of the article in Kentucky has been rapidly great. Ten 
years ago there were but two rope manufactories in the State. Now there 
are about twenty, and between ten and fifteen of cotton bagging ; and the 
erection of new ones keeps pace with the annual augmentation of the quan- 
tity of hemp. Indeed, the western country, alone, is not only adequate to 
the supply of whatever of this article is requisite for our own consumption, 
but is capable of afibrding a surplus for foreign markets. The amendment 
proposed possesses the double recommendation of encouraging, at the 
same time, both the manufacture and the growth of hemp. For by increas- 
ing the demand for the wrought article, you also increase the demand for the 
raw material, and consequently present new incentives to its cultivator. 

The three great subjects that claim the attention of the national legisla- 
ture, are the interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures. We 
have had before us a proposition to afi'ord a manly protection to the 
rights of commerce, and how has it been treated ? Rejected 1 You have 
been solicited to promote agriculture, by increasing the facilities of internal 
commu I ication, through the means of canals and roads, and what bas been 
done ? Postponed ! We are now called upon to give a trifling support to 
our domestic manufactures, and shall we close the circle of congressional 
ineflSciency, by adding this also to the catalogue ? 



ON THE LINE OF THE PERDIDO. 

IN SENATE, DECEMBER 25, 1810. 

[Mr. Ci,ay appears in this speech in defense of Mr. Madison, 
President of the United States, against the opposition, who had 
arraigned the President for having taken possession of a terri- 
tory in dispute between the United States and Spain, extending 
from the Mississippi to the river and bay of the Perdido, which 
is now the western boundary of Florida, and consequently the 
eastern line of Alabama. Florida was originally a colony of 
Spain, and was settled by her. In 1763 it was ceded to Great 
Britain, and afterward receded to Spain in 1783. Louisiana had 
also repeatedly changed hands, first from France to Spain, after- 
ward from Spain to France, and it was sold to the United States 
in 1803, under the administration of Mr. Jefferson. Under all 
these changes, the Perdido had always been the recognized 
boundary between Florida and Louisiana, till Spain came in 
possession of both, when, for her own convenience of jurispru- 
dence, she incorporated with Florida the territory between the 
Perdido and the Mississippi. Hence the dispute between the 
United States and Spain, after the purchase of Louisiana by Mr. 
Jefferson. Mr, Madison, in concurrence with the advice of his 
Cabinet, thought pruper to put an end to this controversy by 
taking possession of the disputed territory, and the following 
rtl»eech was dehvered by Mr. Clay in vindication of this course. 
The Louisiana which France ceded to Spain was doubtlesB the 
same Louisiana which Spain receded to France, and which we 
bought of France ; and its eastern boundary was the Perdido. 
The patent granted by Louis XIV. to Crozat, referred to in this 
speech of Mr. Clay, represents Louisiana as bounded west '* by 
New Mexico," and east " by the lands of the English of Caro- 
lina." Although this last line is not very definite, in view of the 
present civil divisions of that country, it is e\adent enough that 
it cf)uld not extend to the Mississippi, nor further west than the 
Perdidi^ ; and this patent of Louis XIV. was the best authority 



ON THE LINE OF THE PEBDIDO. 13 

extant for deciding this question. The ground of Mr. Clay's 
argnment, therefore, may be regarded as impregnable. 

It is remarkable that Mr. Clay, while delivering this speech, 
looked forward to the time when Florida would become a part 
of the Um'ted States, and that he thought of the Canadas also 
as having a like probable destiny.] 

Mr. PRKSroKNT — 

It would have gratified me if some other gentleman had undertaken 
to reply to the ingenious argument, which you have just heard. (From 
Mr. Horsey, of Delaware.) But not perceiving any one disposed to do so, 
a sense of duty obliges me, though very unwell, to claim your indulgence, 
while I oflFer ray sentiments on this subject, so interesting to the Union at 
large, but especially to the western portion of it. Allow me, sir, to express 
my admiration at the more than Aristidean justice, which in a question of 
territorial title between the United States and a foreign nation, induces cer- 
tain gentlemen to espouse the pretensions of the foreign nation. Doubtless, 
in any future negotiations, she will have too much magnanimity to aval' 
herself of these spontaneous concessions in her favor, made on the floor of 
the Senate of the United States. 

It was to have been expected, that, in a question like the present, gentle- 
men, even on the same side, would have different views, and although 
arriving at a common conclusion, would do so by various arguments. 
And hence the honorable gentleman from Vermont entertains doubt with 
regard to our title against Spain, while he feels entirely satisfied of it 
against France. Believing, as I do, that our title against both powers is 
indisputable, under the treaty of St. Udefonso, between Spain and France, 
and the treaty between the French republic and the United States, I shall 
not inquire into the treachery, by which the King of Spain is alleged to 
have lost his crown ; nor shall I stop to discuss the question involved in 
the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy, and how far the power of Spain 
ought to be considered as merged in that of France. I shall leave the 
honorable gentleman from Delaware to mourn over the fortunes of the 
fallen Charles. I have no commiseration for princes. My sympathies are 
reserved for the great mass of mankind, and I ovra that the people of Spain 
have them most sincerely. 

I will adopt the course suggested by the nature of the subject, and 
pursued by other gentlemen, of examining into our title to the country 
lying between the Mississippi and the Rio Perdido (which, to avoid cir- 
cumlocution, I will call West Florida, although it is not the whole of it) 
and the propriety of the recent measures taken for the occupation of that 
Territory. Our title, then, depends, first, upon the limits of the province 
or colony of Louisiana, and, secondly, upon a just exposition of the treaties 
before mentioned. 



14 BPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Ou this occasion it is only necessary to fix the eastern boundary. It 
order to ascertaiu this, it will be proper to take a cursory view of the 
settlement of the country, because the basis of European title to colonies in 
America, is prior discovery, or prior occupancy. In 1682, La Salle mi- 
grated from Canada, then owned by France, descended the Mississippi, and 
named the country which it waters, Louisiana. About 1698, D'Iberville 
discovered, by sea, the mouth of the Mississippi, established a colony at the 
Isle of Dauphine, or Massacre, which lies at the mouth of the bay of Mo- 
bile, and one at the mouth of the river Mobile, and was appointed, by 
France, governor of the country. In the year 17 IV, the famous West 
India Company sent inhabitants to the Isle of Dauphine, and found some 
of those who had settled there under the auspices of D'Iberville. About 
the same period, Baloxi, near the Pascagoula, was settled. In 1*719, the 
city of New Orleans was laid ofi", and the seat of government of Louisiana 
was established there; and in 1736 the French erected a fort on Tombig- 
bee. These facts prove that France had the actual possession of the 
country as far east as the Mobile, at least. But the great instrument which 
ascertains, beyond all doubt, that the country in question is comprehended 
within the limits of Louisiana, is one of the most authentic and solemn 
character which the archives of a nation can furnish. I mean the patent 
granted in 1712, by Louis XIV., to Crozat. [Mr. C. read such parts of 
the patent as were applicable to his purpose.] According to this document, 
in describing the province or colony of Louisiana, it is declared to be 
bounded by Carolina on the east, and Old and New Mexico on the west. 
Under this high record evidence, it might be insisted that we have a fair 
claim to East as well as West Florida, against France, at least, unless she 
has, by some convention, or other obligatory act, restricted the eastern 
limit of the province. It has, indeed, been asserted, that, by a treaty be- 
tween France and Spain, concluded in the year 1719, the Perdido was 
expressly stipulated to be the boundary between their respective provinces 
of Florida on the east, and Louisiana on the west ; but as I have been un- 
able to find any such treaty, I am induced to doubt its existence. 

About the same period, to wit, toward the close of the seventeenth 
century, when France settled the Isle of Dauphine, and the Mobile, Spain 
erected a fort at Pensacola. But Spain never pushed her actual settle- 
ments, or conquests, further west than the bay of Pensacola, while those 
of the French were bounded on the east by the Mobile. Between these 
two points, a space of about thirteen or fourteen leagues, neither nation 
had the exclusive possession. The Rio Perdido, forming the bay of the 
same name, discharges itself into the Gulf of Mexico, between the Mobile 
and Pensacola, and, being a natural and the most notorious object between 
them, presented itself as a suitable boundary between the possessions of 
the two nations. It accordingly appears very early to have been adopt- 
ed as the boundary, by tacit if not expressed consent. The ancient charta 
and historians, therefore of the country, so represent it. Dupratz, one of 



ON THE LINE OF THE PERDIDO. 16 

the most accurate historians of the time, in point of fact and detail, whose 
work was published as early as 1768, iescribes the coast as being bounded 
on the east by the Rio Perdido. In truth, sir, no European nation what- 
ever, except France, ever occupied any portion of West Florida, prior to 
her cession of it to England, in 1762. The gentlemen on the other side 
do not, indeed, strongly controvert, if they do not expressly admit, that 
Louisiana, as held by the French anterior to the cession of it in 1762, ex- 
tended to the Perdido. The only observation made by the gentleman 
from Delaware to the contrary, to wit, that the island of New Orleans, be- 
ing particularly mentioned, could not, for that reason, constitute a part of 
Louisiana, is susceptible of a very satisfactory answer. That island was 
excepted out of the grant to England, and was the only part of the province 
east of the river that was so excepted. It formed in itself one of the 
most prominent and important objects of the cession to Spain originally, 
and was transferred to her with the portion of the province west of the 
Mississippi. It might with equal propriety be urged that St. Augustine is 
not in East Florida, because St. Augustine is expressly mentioned by Spain 
in her cession of that province to England. From this view of the 
subject, I think it results that the province of Louisiana comprised West 
Florida, previous to the year 1762. 

What was done with it at this epoch ? By a secret convention of the 
third of November, of that year, France ceded the country lying west of 
the Mississippi, and the island of New Orleans, to Spain ; and by a cotem- 
poraneous act, the articles preHminary to the definitive treaty of 1763, she 
transferred West Florida to England. Thus, at the same instant of time, 
she alienated the whole province. Posterior to this grant, Great Britain, 
having also acquired from Spain her possessions east of the Mississippi, 
erected the country into two provinces, East and West Florida. In this 
state of things it continued until the peace of 1 783, when Great Britain, 
in consequence of the events of the war, surrendered the country to Spain, 
who, for the first time, came into actual possession of West Florida. 
Well, sir, how does she dispose of it ? She reannexes it to the residue of 
Louisiana, extends the jurisdiction of that government to it, and sub- 
jects the governors, or commandants, of the districts of Baton Rouge, 
Feliciana, Mobile, and Pensacola, to the authority of the governor of Lou- 
isiana, residing at New Orleans; while the governor of East Florida, is 
placed wholly without his control, and is made amenable directly to the 
governor of the Havannah. Indeed, sir, I have been credibly informed, 
that all the concessions, or grants of land, made in West Florida, under 
the authority of Spain, run in the name of the government of Louisiana. 
You can not have forgotten that, about the period when we took posses- 
sion of New Orleans, under the treaty of cession from France, the whole 
country resounded with the nefarious speculations which were alleged to 
be making in that city with the connivance, if not actual participation, of 
the Spanish authorities, by the procurement of surreptitious grants of 



16 BPEECHEB OF HBNBY CLAY. 

land, particularly in the district of Feliciana. West Florida, then, not 
only as France had held it, but as it was in the hands of Spain, made a 
part of the province of Louisiana ; as much so as the jurisdiction or dis- 
trict of Baton Rouge constituted a part of West Florida. 

What, then, is the true construction of the treaties of St. Udefonso, and 
of April, 1803, from whence our title is derived? If an ambiguity exist 
in a grant, the interpretation most favorable to the grantee is preferred. 
It was the duty of the grantor to have expressed himself in plain and in- 
telligible terms. This is the doctrine, not of Coke only (whose dicta I 
admit have nothing to do with the question), but of the code of universal 
law. The doctrine is entitled to augmented force, when a clause only of 
the instrument is exhibited, in which clause the ambiguity lurks, and the 
residue of the instrument is kept back by the grantor. The entire conven- 
tion of 1762, by which France transferred Louisiana to Spain, is concealed, 
and the whole of the treaty of St. Ildefonso, except a solitary clause. We 
are thus deprived of the aid which a full view of both of those instru- 
ments would afford. But we have no occasion to resort to any rules of 
construction, however leasonable in themselves, to establish our title. A 
competent knowledge of the facts connected with the case, and a candid 
appeal to the treaties, are alone sufficient to manifest our right. The ne- 
gotiators of the treaty of 1803, having signed, with the same ceremony, 
two copies, one in English and the other in the French language, it has 
been contended, that in the English version the term ' cede' has been er- 
roneously used instead of ' retrocede,' which is the expression in the 
French copy. And it is argued, that we are bound by the phraseology of 
the French copy, because it is declared that the treaty was agreed to in 
that language. It would not be very imfair to inquire, if this is not Hke 
the common case in private hfe, where individuals enter into a contract of 
which each party retains a copy, duly executed. In such case, neither has 
tbe preference. We might as well say to France, we will cling by the 
English copy, as she could insist upon an adherence to the French copy ; 
and if she urged ignorance on the part of Mr. Marbois, her negotiator, of 
our language, we might with equal propriety plead ignorance, on the part 
of our negotiators, of her language. As this, however, is a disputable 
point, I do not avail myself of it ; gentlemen shall have the full benefit 
of the expressions in the French copy. According to this, then, in recit- 
ing the treaty of St. Ildefonso, it is declared by Spain, in 1800, that she 
retrocedes to France, the colony or prcvince of Louisiana, with the same 
extent which it then had in the hands of Spain, and which it had when 
France possessed it, and such as it should be after the treaties subsequently 
entered into between Spain and other states, lliis latter member of the 
description has been sufficietly explained by my colleague. 

It is said, that since France, in 17.82, ceded to Spain only Louisiana west 
of the Mississippi, and the Island of New Orleans, the retrocession com- 
prehended no more — that the retrocession ex vi termini was commensurate 



ON THE LINK OF THE PERDIDO. 17 

with and limited by the direct cession from France to Spain. If this were 
true, then the description, such as Spain held it, that is, in 1800, compris- 
ing West Florida, and such as France possessed it, that is, in 1762, prior 
to the several cessions, comprising also West Florida, would be totally in- 
operative. But the definition of the term retrocession contended for by 
the other side is denied. It does not exclude the instrumentality of a third 
party. It means restoration, or reconveyance of a thing originally ceded, 
and so the gentleman from Delaware acknowledged. I admit that the 
tiling restored must have come to the restoring party from the party to 
whom it is retroceded ; whether directly or indirectly is wholly inamaterial. 
In its passage it may have come through a dozen hands. The retroceding 
party must claim under and in virtue of the right originally possessed by 
the party to whom the retrocession takes place. Allow me to put a case. 
You own an estate called Louisiana. You convey one moiety of it to the 
gentleman from Delaware, and the other to me ; he conveys his moiety to 
me, and I thus become entitled to the whole. By a suitable instrument I 
reconvey, or retrocede the estate called Louisiana to you as I now hold it, 
and :is you held it ; what passes to you ? The whole estate or my moiety 
only ? Let me indulge another supposition, to wit : that the gentleman from 
Delaware, after he received from you his moiety, bestowed a new deuomin- 
tion upon it and called it West Florida ; — would that circumstance vary 
the operation of my act of retrocession to you? The case supposed, is, in 
truth, the real one between the United States and Spain. France, in 1762, 
transfers Louisiana, west of the Mississippi, to Spain, and at the same time 
conveys the eastern portion of it, exclusive of New Orleans, to Great 
Britain. Twenty-one years after, that is, in 1783, Great Britain cedes her 
part to Spain, who thus becomes possessed of the entire province; one 
portion by direct cession from France, and the residue by indirect cession. 
Spain, then, held the whole of Louisiana under France, and in virtue of 
the title of France. The whole moved or passed from France to her. 
When, therefore, in this state of things, she says, in the treaty of St. Ilde- 
fonso, that she retrocedes the province to France, can a doubt exist that 
she parts with, and gives back to France the entire colony ? To preclude 
the possibility of such a doubt, she adds, that she restores it, not in a mu- 
tilated condition, but in that precise condition in which France and she 
herself had possessed it. 

Having thus shown, as I conceive, a clear right in the United States to 
West Florida, I proceed to inquire, if the proclamation of the president 
directing the occupation of propeaty, which is thus fairly acquired by 
solemn treaty, be an unauthorized measure of war and of legislation, as has 
been contended ? 

The act of October, 1803, contains two sections, by one of which the 
president is authorized to occupy the territories ceded to us by France in 
the April preceding. The other empowers the president to estabUsh a 
provisional government there. The first section is unlimited in its dura- 

2 



18 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

tion ; the other is restricted to the expiration of the then session of Con- 
gress. The act, therefore, of March, 1804, declaring that the previous act 
of October should continue in force until the first of October, 1804, is ap- 
plicjible to the second aud not to the first section, and was intended to 
continue tlie provisional government of the president. By the act of 
24th February, 1804, for laying duties on goods imported into the ceded 
territories, the president is empowered, whenever he deems it expedient, to 
erect the bay and river Mobile, etc., into a separate district, and to estab- 
lish therein a port of entry and delivery. By this same act the Orleans 
teriitory is laid oft", and its boundaries are so defined, as to comprehend 
West Florida. By other acts the president is authorized to remove by 
force, under certain circumstances, persons settling on, or taking possession 
of lands ceded to the United States. 

These laws furnish a legislative construction of the treaty, corresponding 
with that given by the executive, and they indisputably vest in this branch 
of the general government the power to take possession of the country, 
whenever it might be proper in his discretion. The president has not, 
therefore, violated the constitution and usurped the war-making power, 
but he would have violated that provision which requires him to see that 
the laws are faithfully executed, if he had longer forborne to act. It is 
urged, that he has assumed powers belonging to Congress, in undertaking 
to annex the portion of West Florida, between the Mississippi and the 
Perdido, to the Orleans territory. But Congress, as has been shown, has 
already made this annexation, the limits of the Orleans territory, as pre- 
scribed by Congress, comprehending the country in question. The pres- 
ident, by his proclamation, has not made law, but has merely declared to 
the people of West Florida, what the law is. This is the oflSce of a proc- 
lamation, and it was highly proper that the people of that territory should 
be thus notified. By the act of occupying the country, the government 
de facto, whether of Spain, or the revolutionists, ceased to exist ; and the 
laws of the Orleans territory, applicable to the country, by the operation 
and force of law, attached to it. But this was a state of things which the 
people might not know, and which every dictate of justice and humanity, 
therefore, required should be proclaimed. I consider the bill before us 
merely in the light of a declaratory law. 

Never could a more propitious moment present itself for the exercise 
of the discretionary power placed in the president ; and, had he failed to 
embrace it, he would have been criminally inattentive to the dearest in 
terests of this country. It can not be too often repeated, that if Cuba on 
the one hand, and Florida on the otlier, are in the possession of a for- 
eign maritime power, the immense extent of country belonging to the 
United States, and watered by streams discharging themselves into the 
Gulf of Mexico — that is, one third, nay, more than two thirds of the 
United States, comprehending Louisiana, are placed at the mercy of that 
power. The possession of Florida is a guaranty absolutely necessary to 



ON THE LINE OF THE PKRDIDO. 19 

the ergoyment of the navigation of those streams. The gentleman from 
Delaware anticipates the most direful consequences from the occupation 
of the country. He supposes a sally from a Spanish garrison upon the 
American forces, and asks what is to be done ? We attempt a peaceful 
possession of the country to which we are fairly entitled. If the wrongful 
occupants, under the authority of Spain, assail our troops, I trust they 
will retrieve the lost honor of the nation, in the case of the Chesapeake. 
Suppose an attack upon any portion of the American army, within the 
acknowledged limits of the United States, by a Spanish force ? In such 
event, there would exist but a single honorable and manly course. The 
gentleman conceives it ungenerous that we should at this moment, when 
Spain is encompassed and pressed, on all sides, by the immense power 
of her enemy, occupy West Florida. Shall we sit by, passive spectators, 
and witness the interesting transactions of that country — transactions which 
tend, in the most imminent degree, to jeopardize our rights, without at- 
tempting to interfere ? Are you prepared to see a foreign power seize 
what belongs to us ? I have heard, in the most credible manner, that, 
about the period when the president took his measures in relation to that 
country, agents of a foreign power were intriguing with the people there, 
to induce them to come under his dominion ; but whether this be the fact 
or not, it can not be doubted, that if you neglect the present auspicious 
moment, if you reject the proffered boon, some other nation, profiting by 
your errors, will seize the occasion to get a fatal footing in your southern 
ft'ontier. I have no hesitation in saying, that if a parent country will not 
or can not maintain its authority, in a colony adjacent to us, and there 
exists in it a state of misrule and disorder, menacing our peace ; and if^ 
moreover, such colony, by passing into the hands of any other power, 
would become dangerous to the integrity of the Union, and manifestly 
tend to the subversion of our laws, we have a right, upon the eternal 
principles of self-preservation, to lay hold upon it. This principle alone, 
independent of any title, would warrant our occupation of West Florida, 
But it is not necessary to resort to it — our title being, in my judgment, 
incontestably good. We are told of the vengeance of resuscitated Spain. 
If Spain, under any modification of her government, choose to make war 
upon us, for the act under consideration, the nation, I have no doubt, 
will be willing to embark in such a contest. But the gentleman reminds 
us that Great Britain, the ally of Spain, may be obliged, by her connec- 
tion with that country, to take part with her against us, and to consider 
this measure of the president as justifying an appeal to arms. Sir, is the 
time never to arrive when we may manage our own affairs without the 
fear of insulting his Britannic majesty ? Is the rod of British power to be 
forever suspended over our heads ? Does Congress put on an embargo to 
shelter our rightful commerce against the piratical depredations committed 
upon it on the ocean ? We are immediately warned of the indignation 
of ofiended England. Is a law of non-intercourse proposed ? The whole 



20 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

navy of the haughty mistress of the seas is made to thunder in our e&n. 
Does the president refuse to continue a correspondence with a minister 
who violates the decorum belonging to his diplomatic character, by giving 
and deliberately repeating an affront to the whole nation ? We are hi- 
Btantly menaced with the chastisement which English pride will not fail to 
inflict. Whether we assert our rights by sea, or attempt their mainte- 
nance by land — whithersoever we turn ourselves, this phantom incessantly 
pursues us. Already has it had too much influence on the councils of 
tlie nation. It contributed to the repeal of the embargo — that dishonor- 
able repeal, which has so much tarnished the character of our govern- 
ment. Mr. President, I have before said on this floor, and now take 
occasion to remark, that I most sincerely desire peace and amity with En- 
gland; that I even prefer an adjustment of all difierences with her, before 
one with any other nation. But if she persists in a denial of justice to 
us, or if she avails herself of the occupation of West Floiida, to commence 
wai" upon us, I ti'ust and hope that all hearts will unite in a bold and 
vigorous vindication of our rights. I do not believe, however, in the pre- 
diction that war will be the effect of the measure in question. 

It is asked, why, some years ago, when the interruption of the right 
of deposit took place at New Orleans, the government did not declare 
war against Spain ? and how it has happened that there has been this 
long acquiescence in the Spanish possession of West Florida ? The an- 
swer is obvious. It consists in the genius of the nation, which is prone 
to peace ; in that desire to arrange, by friendly negotiation, our disputes 
with all nations, which has constantly influenced the present and preced- 
ing administratious ; and in the jealousy of armies, with which we have 
been inspired by the melancholy experience of free estates. But a new 
state of things has arisen : negotiation has become hopeless. The power 
with whom it was to be conducted, if not annihilated, is in a situation 
that precludes it ; and the subject-matter of it is in danger of being 
snatched forever from our power. Longer delay would be construed into 
a derehction of our right, and would amount to treachery to ourselves. 
May I ask, in my turn, why certain gentlemen, now so fearful of war, 
were so urgent for it with Spain, when she withheld the right of deposit ? 
and still later, when in 1805 or 6, this very subject of the actual limits of 
Louisiana, was before Congress ? I will not say, because I do not know 
that I am authorized to say, that the motive is to be found in the 
change of relation between Spain and other European powers, since 
those periods. 

Does the honorable gentleman from Delaware really believe, that he 
finds in St. Domingo a case parallel with that of West Florida ? and that 
our government, having interdicted an illicit commerce with the former, 
ought not to have interposed in relation to the latter ? It is scarcely nec- 
essary to consume your time by remarking, that we had no pretension to 
that island ; that it did not menace our repose, nor did the safety of the 



ON THE LINE OF THE PEBDIDO. 21 

United States require that they should occupy it. It became, therefore, 
our duty to attend to the just remonstrance of France, against American 
citizens' supplying the rebels with the means of resisting her power. 

I am not, sir, in favor of cherishing the passion of conquest. But I 
must be permitted, in conclusion, to indulge the hope of seeing, ere long, 
the new United States (if you will allow me the expression) embracing, 
not only the old thirteen States, but the entire country east of the Mis- 
sissippi, including East Florida, and some of the territories of the north 
of us also. 



ON RENEWING THE CHARTER OF THE FIRST 
BANK OF THE UNITED STATES. 

IN SENATE, 1811. 

[In the strifes of parties in Mr. Clay's time, his opponents 
never forgot to accuse him of changing his opinion on the con- 
stitutionality of a national bank, as if it were a reproach, or a 
grave political offense ; whereas he is a wise man who changes 
for sufficient reasons, and a bold man frankly to confess it. The 
change, however, in this case of Mr, Clay, was only apparent — 
certainly not inconsistent. When Mr. Clay opposed the re- 
charter of the bank of the United States in 1811, the country 
was prosperous, and the State banks in a sound and healthy 
condition. But the war of 1812 came on, during which most 
of the State banks suspended, and at the end of that war, the 
currency of the country was in a most deplorable condition. 
The General Government was without an authorised fiscal 
agent, and the commerce and trade of the country languished 
for lack of a uniform currency. Althougli the nation had acqui- 
esced in the decision of Congress, in 1811, not to re-charter the 
bank of the United States, in 1816 there was a universal demand 
for a national bank, and a bill being brought into Congress for 
that object, Mr. Clay advocated it. His speech not having been 
published, he afterward delivered an address to his constituents, 
in explanation of the reasons of his course as differing from that 
of 1811, when he opposed the re-charter of the bank, as set forth 
in the following speech. His reasons were, first, that in 1811 
he was instructed by the Legislature of Kentucky, to oppose the 
renewal of the charter, and that, in 1816, the voice of his con- 
stituents was in favor of a national bank. Next, in 1811, he 
had evidence that the bank had used its power to subserve the 
views of a political party, but the provisions of the new bill, in 1816, 
had sufficiently guarded against such an abuse of power ; and, 
lastly, that the necessity of a national bank was not apparent in 
1811, but that it had become so in 1816, and that it was thus 



ON THE BANK CHARTER. 23 

brought within the specified powers of the Constitution. In 
1816, therefore, all doubts as to the constitutionality of a national 
bank were removed, in which all parties were agreed. 

It could hardly be said, therefore, that Mr. Clay changed his 
opinion. He merely adopted a course indicated by the light of 
events. In 1811 he was guided by events. So in 1816. In 
statesmanship, as in the strategies of war, leaders are forced to 
change their position according to the change of circumstances. 
This is not necessarily a change of opinion on a specified ques- 
tion, when the question itself is modified by events, but a wise 
adaptation of pohcy to the new aspects of the question. The 
following are Mr. Clay's views in 1811. We shall see, by-and- 
by, what they were in 1816.] 

Mr. President — 

When the subject involved in the motion now under consideration was 
depending before the other branch of the Legislature, a disposition to ac 
quiesce in their decision was evinced. For although the committee who 
reported this bill, had been raised many weeks prior to the determination 
of that House, on the proposition to re-charter the bank, except the occa- 
sional reference to it of memorials and petitions, we scarcely ever heard of 
it. The rejection, it is true, of a measure brought before either branch of 
Congress, does not absolutely preclude the other from taking up the same 
proposition ; but the economy of our time, and a just deference for the 
opinion of others, would seem to recommend a delicate and cautious exer- 
cise of this power. As this subject, at the memorable period when the 
charter was granted, called forth the best talents of the nation, as it has, 
on various occasions, undergone the most thorough investigation, and as 
we can hardly expect that it is susceptible of receiving any further eluci- 
dation, it was to be hoped that we should have been spared useless debate. 
This was the more desirable, because there are, I conceive, much superior 
claims upon us for every hour of the small portion of the session yet 
remaining to us. Under the operation of these motives, I had resolved to 
give a silent vote, until I felt myself bound, by the defying manner of the 
arguments advanced in support of the renewal, to obey the paramount 
duties I owe my country and its Constitution, to make one efibrt, however 
feeble, to avert the passage of what appears to me a most unjustifiable law. 
After my honorable friend from Virginia (Mr. Giles) had instructed and 
amused us with the very able and ingenious argument which he delivered 
on yesterday, I should have still forborne to trespass on the Senate, but for 
the extraordinary character of his speech. He discussed both sides of the 
question, with great ability and eloquence, and certainly demonstrated, to 
the satisfaction of all who heard him, both that it was constitutional and 
unconstitutional, highly proper and improper, to prolong the charter of 



24 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the bank. The honorable gentleman appeared to me in the predicament 
in which the celebrated orator of Virginia, Patrick Henr^'^, is said to have 
been once placed. Engaged in a most extensive and lucrative practice of 
the law, he mistook, in one instance, the side of the cause in which he was 
retained, and addressed the court and jury in a very masterly and convin- 
cing speech, in behalf of his antagonist. His distracted client came up to 
him, while he was thus employed, and, interrupting him, bitterly ex- 
claimed, " You have undone me ! You have ruined me !" " Never mind, 
give yourself no concern," said the adroit advocate ; and turning to the 
court and jury, continued his argument, by observing, " May it please your 
honors, and you, gentlemen of the jury, I have been stating to you what 
I presume my adversary may urge on his side. I will now show you how 
fallacious his reasonings, and groundless his pretensions, are." The skill- 
ful orator proceeded, satisfactorily refuted every argument he had advanced, 
and gained his cause ! — a success with which I trust the exert' Dn of my 
honorable friend will on this occasion be crowned. 

It has been said, by the honorable gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Craw- 
ford) that this has been made a party question ; although the law incorporatr 
ing the bank was passed prior to the formation of parties, and when Congress 
was not biased by party prejudices. (Mr, Crawford explained. He did 
not mean, that it had been made a party question in the Senate. His 
allusion was elsewhere.) I did not think it altogether fair, to refer to the 
discussions in the House of Representatives, as gentlemen belonging to that 
body have no opportunity of defending themselves here. It is true that 
this law was not the effect, but it is no less true that it was one of the causes, 
of the political divisions in this country. And if, during the agitation 
of the present question, the renewal has, on one side, been opposed on 
party principles, let me ask if, on the other, it has not been advocated on 
similar principles. Where is the Macedonian phalanx, the opposition, in 
Congress 1 I believe, sir, I shall not incur the charge of presumptuous 
prophecy, when I predict we shall not pick up from its ranks one single 
straggler ! And if, on this occasion, my worthy friend from Georgia has 
gone over into the camp of the enemy, is it kind in him to look back upon 
his former friends, and rebuke them for the fidelity with which they adhere 
to their old principles ? 

I shall not stop to examine how far a representative is bound by the in- 
structions of his constituents. That is a question between the giver and 
receiver of the instructions. But I must be permitted to express my sur- 
prise at the pointed difference which has been made between the opinions 
and instructions of State Legislatures, and the opinions and details of the 
deputations with which we have been surrounded from Philadelphia. 
While the resolutions of those Legislatures — known, legitimate, constitu- 
tional, and deliberative bodies — have been thrown into the back-ground, and 
tlieir interference regarded as officious, these delegations from self-created 
•o<ieties, composed of nobody knows whom, have been received by the 



ON THE BANK CHARTER. 26 

committee, with the utmost complaisance. Their communications have 
been treasured up with the greatest diligence. Never did the Delphic 
priests collect with more holy care the frantic expressions of the agitated 
Pythia, or expound them with more solemnity to the astonished Grecians, 
than has the committee gathered the opinions and testimonies of these dep- 
uties, and, through the gentleman from Massachusetts, pompously detailed 
them to the Senate ! Philadelphia has her immediate representative, cap- 
able of expressing her wishes, upon the floor of the other House. If it be 
improper for States to obtrude upon Congress their sentiments, it is much 
more highly so for the unauthorized deputies of fortuitous congregations. 

The fii'st singular feature that attracts attention in this bill, is the new 
and unconstitutional veto which it establishes. The Constitution has re- 
quired only, that after bills have passed the House of Representatives and 
the Senate, they shall be presented to the president, for his approval or re- 
jection ; and his determination is to be made known in ten days. But 
this bill provides, that when all the constitutional sanctions are obtained, 
and when, according to the usual routine of legislation, it ought to be con- 
sidered as a law, it is to be submitted to a new branch of the Legislature, 
consisting of the president and twenty-four directors of the bank of the 
United States, holding their sessions in Philadelphia ; and if they please 
to approve it, why then it is to become a law ! And three months (the 
term allowed by our law of May last, to one of the great belligerents, for 
revoking his edicts, after the other shall have repealed his) are granted 
them, to decide whether an act of Congress shall be the law of the land 
or not ! — an act which is said to be indispensably necessary to our salva- 
tion, and without the passage of which, universal distress and bankruptcy 
are to pervade the country. Remember, sir, the honorable gentleman 
from Georgia, has contended that this charter is no contract. Does it, 
then, become the representatives of the nation, to leave the nation at the 
mercy of a corporation ? Ought the impending calamities to be left to the 
hazard of a contingent remedy ? 

This vagrant power to erect a bank, after having wandered throughout 
the whole Constitution in quest of some congenial spot to fasten upon, has 
been at length located by the gentleman from Georgia on that provision 
which authorizes Congress to lay and collect taxes, etc. In 1791, the 
power is referred to one part of the instrument; in 1811, to another. 
Sometimes it is alleged to be deducible from the power to regulate com- 
merce. Hard pressed here, it disappears, and shows itself under the grant 
to coin money. The sagacious Secretary of the Treasury, in 1791, pur- 
sued the wisest course ; he has taken shelter behind general high sound- 
ing and imposing terms. He has declared, in the preamble to the act 
establishing the bank, that it will be very conducive to the successful con- 
ducting of the national finances ; will tend to give facility to the obtaining 
of loans, and will be productive of considerable advantage to trade and 
industry in general No allusion is made to the collection of taxes. 



26 SPEEOHEg OF HENBY CLAY. 

What is the nature of this governmeut ? It is emphatically federal, vested 
with an aggregate of specified powers for general purposes, conceded by 
existing sovereignties, who have themselves retained what is not so con- 
ceded. It is said that there are cases in which it must act on implied 
powers. This is not controverted, but the implication must be necessary, 
and obviously flow from the enumerated power with which it is allied. 
The power to charter companies is not specified in the grant, and I con- 
tend is of a nature not transferable by mere implication. It is one of the 
most exalted attributes of sovereignty. In the exercise of this gigantic 
power we have seen an East India company created, which has carried 
dismay, desolation, and death, throughout one of the largest portions of 
the habitable world — a company which is, in itself, a sovereignty, whigh 
has subverted empires and set up new dynasties, and has not only made 
war, but war against its legitimate sovereign ! Under the influence of 
this power, we have seen arise a South Sea company, and a Mississippi 
company, that distracted and convulsed all Europe, and menaced a total 
overthrow of all credit and confidence, and universal bankruptcy. Is it 
to be imagined that a power so vast would have been left by the wisdom 
of the Constitution to doubtful inference? It has been alleged that there 
are many instances, in the Constitution, where powers in their nature inci- 
dental, and which would have necessarily been vested along with the prin- 
cipal, are nevertheless expressly enumerated ; and the power " to make 
rules and regulations for the government of the land and naval forces," 
which it is said is incidental to the power to raise armies and provide a 
navy, is given as an example. What does this prove ? How extremely 
cautious the convention were to leave as little as possible to implication. 
In all cases where incidental powers are acted upon, the principal and 
incidental ought to be congenial with each other, and partake of a com- 
mon nature. The incidental power ought to be strictly subordinate and 
limited to the end proposed to be attained by the specified power. In 
other words, under the name of accomplishing one object which is speci- 
fied, the power implied ought not to be made to embrace other objects, 
which are not specified in the Constitution. If, then, you could establish 
a bank, to collect and distribute the revenue, it ought to be expi'essly re- 
stricted to the purpose of such collection and distribution. It is mockery, 
worse than usurpation, to establish it for a lawful object, and then to ex- 
tend it to other objects which are not lawful. In deducing the power to 
crente corporations, such us I have described it, from the power to collect 
taxes, the relation and condition of principal and incident are prostrated 
and destroyed. The accessory is exalted above the principal. As well 
might it be said, that the great luminary of dyy is an accessory, a satel- 
lite, to the humblest star that twinkles forth its feeble light in the firma- 
ment of heaven ! 

Suppose the Constitution had been silent as to an individual department 
of this government, could you, under the power to lay and collect taxes 



ON THE BANK CHARTER. 27 

establish a judiciary ? I presume not ; but if you could derive the 
power by mere implication, could you vest it with any otlier authority 
than to enforce the collection of the revenue ? A bank is made for the 
ostensible purpose of aiding in the collection of the revenue, and while 
it is engaged in this, the most inferior and subordinate of all its func- 
tions, it is made to diffuse itself throughout society, and to influence all 
the great operations of credit, circulation, and commerce. Like the Vir- 
ginia justice, you tell the man whose turkey had been stolen, that your 
books of precedent furnish no form for his case, but that you will grant 
him a precept to search for a cow, and when looking for that he may 
possibly find his turkey ! You say to this corporation, we can not author- 
ize you to discount, to emit paper, to regulate commerce, etc. No ! Our 
book has no precedents of that kind. But then we can authorize you to 
collect the revenue, and, while occupied with that, you may do whatever 
else you please ! 

What is a corporation, such as the bill contemplates ? It is a splendid 
association of favored individuals, taken from the mass of society, and in- 
vested vrith exemptions and surrounded by immunities and privileges. 
The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lloyd) has said, that 
the original law, establishing the bank, was justly liable to the objection of 
vesting in that institution an exclusi've privilege, the faith of the govern- 
ment being pledged, that no other bank should be authorized during its 
existence. This objection, he supposes, is obviated by the bill under con- 
sideration ; but all corporations enjoy exclusive privileges ; that is, the 
corporators have privileges which no others possess ; if you create fifty 
corporations instead of one, you have only fifty privileged bodies instead 
of one. I contend that the States have the exclusive power to regulate 
contracts, to declare the capacities and incapacities to contract, and to 
provide as to the extent of responsibility of debtors to their creditors. If 
Congress have the power to erect an artificial body, and say it shall be 
endowed with the attributes of an individual ; if you can bestow on this 
object of your own creation the ability to contract, may you not, in con- 
travention of State rights, confer upon slaves, infants, and femes covert 
the ability to contract ? And if you have the power to say that an asso- 
ciation of individuals shall be responsible for their debts only in a certain 
limited degree, what is to prevent an extension of a similar exemption to 
individuals ? Where is the limitation upon this power to set up corpora- 
tions ? You establish one in the heart of a State, the basis of whose 
capital is money. You may erect others whose capital shall consist of 
land, slaves, and personal estates, and thus the whole property within the 
jurisdiction of a State might be absorbed by these political bodies. The 
existing bank contends that it is beyond the power of a State to tax it, and 
if this pretension be well founded, it is in the power of Congress, by chart- 
ering companies, to dry up all the sources of State revenue. Georgia has 
undertaken, it is true, to levy a tax on the branch within her jurisdiction, 



28 SPEECHES OF HBNRY CLAY. 

but til is law, now under a course of litigation, is considered as invalid. 
The United States own a great deal of land in the St;xte of Ohio ; can 
this government, for the purpose of creating an ability to purchase it, 
charter a company ? Aliens are forbidden, I believe, in that State, to 
hold real estate ; could you, in order to multiply purchasers, confer upon 
them the capacity to hold land, in derogation of the local law ? I im- 
agine this will be hardly insisted upon ; and yet there exists a more ob- 
vious connection between the undoubted power which is possessed by this 
government, to sell its laud, and the means of executing that power by 
increasing the demand in the market, than there is between this bank and 
the collection of a tax. This government has the power to levy taxes, to 
raise armies, provide a navy, make war, regulate commerce, coin money, 
etc., etc. It would not be difficult to show as intimate a connection be- 
tween a corporation, established for any purpose whatever, and some one 
or other of those great powers, as there is between the revenue and the 
bank of the United States. 

Let us inquire into the actual participation of this bank in the collection 
of the revenue. Prior to the passage of the act of 1800, requiring the 
collectors of those ports of entry, at which the principal bank, or any of 
its offices are situated, to deposit with them the custom-house bonds, it 
had not the smallest agency in the collection of the duties. During al- 
most one moiety of the period to which the existence of this institution 
was limited, it was nowise instrumental in the collection of that revenue 
to which it is now become indispensable ! The collection, previous to 
1 800, was made entirely by the collectors ; and even at present where 
there is oue port of entry, at which this bank is employed, there are 
eight or ten at which the collection is made as it was before 1800. And, 
sir, what does this bank or its branches, where resort is had to it ? It does 
not adjust with the merchant the amount of duty, nor take his bond ; 
nor, if the bond is not paid, coerce the payment by distress or otherwise. 
In fact, it has no active agency whatever in the collection. Its operation 
is merely passive ; that is, if the obligor, after his bond is placed in the 
bank, discharges it, all is very well. Such is the mighty aid afforded by 
this tax-gatherer, without which the government can not get along ! 
Again, it is not pretended that the very limited assistance which this in- 
stitution does in ti-uth render, extends to any other than a single species 
of tax, that is, duties. In the collection of the excise, the direct and other 
internal taxes, no aid was derived from any bank. It is true, in the col- 
lection of those taxes, the former did not obtain the same indulgence 
which the merchant receives in paying duties. But what obliges Congress 
to give credit at all ? Could it not demand prompt payment of the duties ? 
And, in fact, does it not so demand in many instances ? Whether credit 
is given or not is a matter merely of discretion. If it be a facility to mer- 
cantile operations (a.s I presume it is) it ought to be granted. But I deny 
the right to engraft upon it a bank, which you would not otherwise have 



ON THE BANK CHARTER. 29 

the power to erect. You can not create the necessity of a bank, and 
then plead that necessity for its establishment. In the administration of 
the finances, the bank acts simply as a payer and receiver. The Secretary 
of the Treasury has money in New York, and wants it iu Charleston ; the 
bank will furnish him with a check or bill, to make the remittance, which 
any merchant would do just as well. 

I will now proceed to show by fact, actual experience, not theoretic 
reasoning, but by the records of the treasury themselves, that the opera- 
tions of that department may be as well conducted without as with this 
bank. The delusion has consisted in the use of certain high-sounding 
phrases, dexterously used on the occasion ; " the collection of the revenue," 
"the administration of the finance," " the conducting of the fiscal affairs of 
the government," the usual language of the advocates of the bank, extort 
express assent, or awe into acquiescence, without inquiry or examination 
into its necessity. About the commencement of this year there appears, 
by the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, of the 7th of January, 
to have been a little upward of two million and four hundred thousand 
dollars in the treasury of the United States ; and more than one third of 
this whole sum was in the vaults of local banks. In several instances, 
where opportunities existed of selecting the bank, a preference has been 
given to the State bank, or at least a portion of the deposits has been made 
with it. In New York, for example, there were deposited with the Man- 
hattan bank one hundred and eighty-eight thousand six hundred and 
seventy dollars, although a branch bank is in that city. In this District, 
one hundred and fifteen thousand and eighty dollars were deposited with 
the bank of Columbia, although here also is a branch bank, and yet the 
State banks are utterly unsafe to be trusted ! If the money, after the bonds 
are collected, is thus placed with these banks, I presume there can be no 
difficulty in placing the bonds themselves there, if they must be deposited 
with some bank for collection, which I deny. 

Again, one of the most important and complicated branches of the 
treasury department, is the management of our landed system. The sales 
have, in some years, amounted to upward of half a million of dollars, and 
are generally made upon credit, and yet no bank whatever is made use of 
to facilitate the collection. After it is made, the amount, in some instances, 
has been deposited with banks, and, according to the Secretary's report, 
which I have before adverted to, the amount so deposited, was, in January, 
upward of three hundred thousand dollars, not one cent of which was in 
the vaults of the bank of the United States, or in any of its branches, but in 
the bank of Pennsylvania, its branch at Pittsburg, the Marietta bank, 
and the Kentucky bank. Upon the point of responsibility, I can not sub- 
scribe to the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury, if it is meant that 
the ability to pay the amount of any deposits which the government may 
make, under any exigency, is greater than that of the State banks ; that 
the accountability of a ramified institution, whose affairs are managed 



30 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

by a single head, responsible for all its members, is more simple than that 
of a number of independent and unconnected establishments, I shall not 
deny ; but, \vi:h regard to safety, I am strongly inclined to think it is on 
the side of the local banks. The corruption or misconduct of the parent, 
or any of its branches, may bankrupt or destroy the whole system, and 
the loss of the government in that event, will be of the deposits made 
with each ; whereas, in the failure of one State bunk, the loss will be 
confined to the dej)osit in the vault of that bank. It is said to have been 
a part of Burr's plan to seize on the branch bank, at New Orleans. At 
that period large sums, imported from La Vera Cruz, are alleged to have 
been deposited with it, and if the traitor had accomplished the design, the 
bank of the United States, if not actually bankrupt, might have been con- 
strained to stop payment. 

It is urged by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lloyd), that as 
this nation advances in commerce, wealth, and population, new energies 
will be unfolded, new wants and exigences will arise, and hence he infers 
that powers must be implied from the Constitution. But, sir, the question 
is, shall we stretch the instrument to embrace cases not fairly within its 
scope, or shall we resort to that remedy, by amendment, which the Consti- 
tudou prescribes ? 

Gentlemen contend, that the construction which they give to the Con- 
stitution has been acquiesced in by all parties and under all administra- 
tions; and they rely particularly on an act which passed in 1804, for 
extending a branch to New Orleans ; and another act of 1807, for punish- 
ing those who should forge or utter forged paper of the bank. With 
regard to the first law, passed, no doubt, upon the recommendation of the 
treasury depai-tment, I would remark, that it was the extension of a branch 
to a territory over which Congress possesses the power of legislation almost 
uncontrolled, and where, without any constitutional impediment, charters 
of incorporation may be granted. As to the other act, it was passed no 
less for the benefit of the community than the bank ; to protect the ignor- 
ant and unwary fiom counterfeit paper, purporting to have been emitted by 
the bank. When gentlemen are claiming the advantage supposed to 
be deducible from acquiescence, let me inquire what they would have had 
those to do who believed the establishment of a bank an encroachment 
upon State rights. "Were they to have resisted, and how? By force? 
Upon the change of parties in 1800, it must be well recollected, that the 
greatest calamities were predicted as a consequence of that event. Inten- 
tions were ascribed to the new occupants of power, of violating the public 
faith, and prostrating national credit. Under such circumstances, that 
they should act with great circumspection was quite natural. Thoy saw 
in full opt-ration a bank, chartered by a Congress who had as much right 
to judge of their constitutional powers as their successors. Had they re- 
voked the law which gave it existence, the institution would, in all proba- 
bility, have continued to transact business notwithstanding. The judiciary 



ON THE BANK CHARTEB. 31 

would have been appealed to, and fi'om the known opinions and predilec- 
tions of the judges then composing it, they would have pronounced the 
act of incorporation, as in the nature of a contract, beyoad the repealing 
power of any succeeding Legislature. And, sir, what a scene of con- 
fusion would such a state of things have presented : an act of Congress, 
which was law in the statute-book, and a nullity on the judicial records ! 
was it not the wisest to wait the natural dissolution of the corporation 
rather than accelerate that event by a repealing law involving so many 
delicate considerations ? 

When gentlemen attempt to carry this measure upon the ground of 
acquiescence or precedent, do they forget that we are not in Westminster 
Hall ? In courts of justice, the utility of uniform decision exacts of the 
judge a conformity to the adjudication of his predecessor. In the inter- 
pretation and administration of the law, this practice is wise and proper, 
and without it, every thing depending upon the caprice of the judge, we 
should have no security for our dearest rights. It is far otherwise when 
applied to the source of legislation. Here no rule exists but the Consti- 
tution, and to legislate upon the ground merely that our predecessors 
thought themselves authorized, under similar circumstances, to legislate, is 
to sanctify error and pei*petuate usurpation. But if we are to be subjected 
to the trammels of precedent, I claim, on the other hand, the benefit of the 
resti-ictions under which the intelligent judge cautiously receives them. It 
is an established rule, that to give to a previous adjudication any effect, the 
mind of the judge who pronounced it must have been awakened to the 
subject, and it must have been a deliberate opinion formed after fiill ar- 
gument. In technical language, it must not have been sub silentio. Now 
the acts of 1804 and 1807, relied upon as pledges for the re-chartering of 
this company, passed not only without any discussions whatever of the 
constitutional power of Congress to establish a bank, but, I venture to 
say, without a single member having had his attention drawn to this ques- 
tion. I had the honor of a seat in the Senate when the latter law passed, 
probably voted for it, and I declare, with the utmost sincerity, that I never 
once thought of that point, and I appeal confidently to every honorable 
member who was then present, to say if that was not his situation. 

This doctrine of precedents, applied to the Legislature, appears to me 
to be fraught with the most mischievous consequences. The great ad- 
vantage of our system of government over all others, is, that we have a 
written Constitution defining its limits and prescribing its authorities ; and 
that however for a time faction may convulse the nation, and passion and 
party prejudice sway its functionaries, the season of reflection will recur 
when, calmly retracing their deeds, all aberrations from fundamental prin- 
ciple will be corrected. But once substitute practice for principle ; the 
exposition of the Constitution for the text of the Constitution, and in vain 
shall we look for the instrument in the instrument itself! It will be as 
diffused and intangible as the pretended Constitution of England ; and 



32 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

must be sought for in the statute-book, in the fugitive journals of Con- 
gress, and in the reports of the Secretary of the Treasury ! What would 
be our condition if we were to take the interpretations given to that 
sacred book, which is, or ought to be, the criterion of our faith, for the 
book itself? We should find the Holy Bible buried beneath the inter- 
pretations, glosses, and comments of council, synods, and learned divines, 
which have produced swarms of intolerant and furious sects, partaking less 
of the mildness and meekness of their origin than of a vindictive spirit 
of hostility toward each other ! They ought to afford us a solemn warn- 
ing to make that Constitution, which we have sworn to support, our in- 
variable guide. 

I conceive, then, sir, that we were not empowered by the Constitution, 
nor bound by any practice under it, to renew the charter of this bank, 
and I might here rest the argument. But as there are strong objections 
to the renewal on the score of expediency, and as the distresses which will 
attend the dissolution of the bank have been greatly exaggerated, I will 
ask for your indulgence for a few moments longer. That some temporary 
inconvenience will arise, I shall not deny ; but most groundlessly have the 
recent failures in New York been attributed to the discontinuance of this 
bank. As well might you ascribe to that cause the failures of Amsterdam 
and Hamburg, of London and Liverpool. The embarrassments of com- 
merce, the sequestrations in France, the Danish captures ; in fine, the 
belligerent edicts, are the obvious sources of these failures. Their imme- 
diate cause is the return of bills upon London, drawn upon the faith of 
unproductive or unprofitable shipments. Yes, sir, the protest of the 
notaries of London, not those of New York, have occasioned these bank 
ruptcies. 

The power of a nation is said to consist in the sword and the purse. 
Perhaps, at last, all power is resolvable into that of the purse, for with 
it you may command almost every thing else. The specie circulation of 
the United States is fc'^'^imated by some calculators at ten millions of dol- 
lars, and if it be no more, one moiety is in the vaults of this bank. May 
not the time arrive when the concentration of such a vast portion of the 
circulating medium of the country, in the hands of any corporation, will 
be dangerous to our liberties ? By whom is this immense power wielded ? 
By a body that, in derogation of the great principle of aU our institutions, 
responsibiUty to the people, is amenable only to a few stockholders, and 
they chiefly foreigners. Suppose an attempt to subvert this government; 
would not the traitor first aim, by force or corruption, to acquire the treas- 
ure of this company ? Look at it in another aspect. Seven tenths of its 
capitjil are in tlie hands of foreigners, and these foreigners chiefly English 
Hubjec^ts. We are possibly on the eve of a rupture with that nation. 
Should such an event occur, do you apprehend that the English premier 
would experience any difficulty in obtaining the entire control of this in- 
stitution ? Republics, above all other governments, ought most seriously 



ON THE BANK CHARTER. 33 

to guard against foreign influence. All history proves that the internal 
dissensions excited by foreign intrigue have produced the downfall of al- 
most every free government that has hitherto existed ; and yet gentlemen 
contend that we are benefited by the possession of this foreign capital ! K 
we could have its use, without its attending abuse, I should be gratified 
also. But it is vain to expect the one without the other. Wealth is 
power, and, under whatsoever fonn it exists, its proprietor, whether he 
lives on this or the other side of the Atlantic, will have a proportionate in- 
fluence. It is argued that our possession of this English capital gives us 
a great influence over the British government. If this reasoning be 
sound, we had better revoke the interdiction as to aliens holding land, 
and invite foreigners to engross the whole property, real and personal, of 
the country. We had better at once exchange the condition of inde- 
pendent proprietors for that of stewards. We should then be able to gov- 
ern foreign nations, according to the reasoning of the gentlemen on the 
other side. But let us put aside this theory and appeal to the decisions 
of experience. Go to the other side of the Atlantic and see what has 
been achieved for us there, by Englishmen holding seven tenths of the 
capital of this bank. Has it released from galling and ignominious bond- 
age one solitary American seaman, bleeding under British oppression ? 
Did it prevent the immanly attack upon the Chesapeake'^ Did it arrest the 
promulgation, or has it abrogated the orders in council — those orders 
which have given birth to a new era in commerce ? In spite of all its 
boasted effect, are not the two nations brought to the very brink of war ? 
Are we quite sure that, on this side of the water, it has had no effect 
favorable to British interests ? It has often been stated, and although I do 
not know that it is susceptible of strict proof, I believe it to be a fact, 
tJiat this bank exercised its influence in support of Jay's treaty ; and may 
it not have contributed to blunt the public sentiment, or paralyze the ef- 
forts of this nation against British aggression ? 

The Duke of Northumberland is said to be the most considerable 
stockholder in the bank of the United States. A late lord chancellor of 
England, besides other noblemen, was a large stockholder. Suppose the 
Prince of Esshng, the Duke of Cadore, and other French dignitaries, 
owned seven eighths of the capital of this bank, should we witness the 
same exertions (I allude not to any made in the Senate) to re-charter it ? 
So far fi-om it, would not the danger of French influence be resounded 
throughout the nation ? 

I shall therefore, give my most hearty assent to the motion for striking 
out the first section of the bill. 



ON THE INCREASE OF MILITARY FORCE. 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DECEMBER 31, 1811. 

[We now find Mr. Clay in the House of Representatives, of 
which he was chosen Speaker by the first ballot ; and we find 
the country on the eve of a war with Great Britain, looking to 
Mr. Clay as the leader of the war party. Great as were the 
provocations to war, and inevitable as war seemed to be, there was, 
nevertheless, a strong and talented party against it, composed, 
chiefly of those designated by the name of Federalists. From 
the administration of John Adams down to this time, there was 
eminent talent in this party, and that must have been a strong 
administration which could stand up against such a powerful 
opposition, and stir up the nation to war. But the wrongs of 
Great Britain had roused the spirit of the American people. 
Mr. Clay, as will be seen, was, at this time, the popular leader of 
the Democratic party. He was never any other than a Demo- 
crat, from the beginning to the end of his career, though he be- 
came the head of a party which bore the name of Whig. It 
belongs to history to show that this party were the only true 
Democrats of the country. Mr. Clay never changed. His po- 
litical birth was in the Jefiersonian family, and he died a Jef- 
fersonian Democrat. In the following speech we find him 
enacting the part of the gallant chieftain of the Democratic 
ranks. The Jackson Democracy was mongrel, and like all 
broods of this category of races, it was doomed to degenerate, as 
it has done, till the last drop of Democratic blood has disap- 
peared. 

But here, in this speech of Mr. Clay, in which he began to 
rouse the nation to arms against Great Britain, we behold the 
unadulterated Democrat of the Madisonian era. By the advice 
of his political friends, Mr. Clay had left the Senate and gone 
into the House of Representatives, because he was wanted as 
leader in the popular branch of the government, and the first 
epeech we have on record from him in that place, is that which 



ON THE INCREASE OF MILITARY FORCE. 35 

follows. We need not say, for it will speak for itself, that it is 
manly, bold, and defiant, in presence of the British lion, which 
had roared and shaken his mane to intimidate the American 
people. It was in circumstances like these that Mr, Clay, in 
Committee of the Whole, opened this great and momentous 
debate, in support of a biU to augment the military force of the 
nation in preparation for war. Mr, Clay was now placed in the 
position which, of all men in the country, he was best qualified 
to fill ; and every body, the whole nation, felt that that was his 
place. On the eve of a war with the greatest maritime power 
in the world, the nation wanted a leader of recognized talent, of 
skill in affairs of state, of boldness and of prudence, of decision 
and of energy, and of lion-like courage — and Mr, Clay was that 
man.] 

Mr. Clay (in Committee of the Whole*) said, that when the subject 
of this bill was before the House in the abstract form of a resolution, 
proposed by the committee of foreign relations, it was the pleasure of the 
House to discuss it while he was in the chair. He did not complain of 
this course of proceeding, for he did not at any time wish the House, from 
considerations personal to him, to depart from that mode of transacting 
the public business which they thought best. He merely adverted to the 
circumstance as an apology for the trouble he was about to give the com- 
mittee. He was at all times disposed to take his share of the responsi- 
bility, and, under this impression, he felt that he owed it to his constitu- 
ents and to himself, before the committee rose, to submit to their attention 
a few observations. 

He saw with regret a diversity of opinion among those who had the 
happiness generally to act together, in relation to the quantum of force 
proposed to be raised. For his part, he thought it was too great for peace^ 
and he feared too smaP for war. He had been in favor of the number 
recommended by the Senate, and he would ask gentlemen, who had pre- 
ferred fifteen thousand, to take a candid and dispassionate view of the sub- 
ject. It was admitted, on all hands, that it was a force to be raised for 
the purposes of war, and to be kept up and used only in the event of war. 
It was further conceded, that its principal destination would be the prov- 
inces of our enemy. By the bill which had been passed, to complete the 
peace establishment, we had authorized the collection of a force of about 
six thousand men, exclusive of those now in service, which, with the 
twenty-five thousand provided for by this bill, will give an aggregate of new 

* "We are not aware of any parliamentary rule that the Speaker of the House 
should not vacate the chair, by putting another member in it when he wishes t£» 
make a speech ; but custom seema to have conceded that the Speaker should avaij 
himself of the Committee of the Whole for his own remarks. 



36 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

troops of thirty- one thousand men. Experience in military affairs has 
shown that, when any given number of men is authorized to be raised, 
you must, in counting upon the effective men which it will produce, de- 
duct one fourth or one third for desertion, sickness, and other incidents to 
which raw troops are peculiarly exposed. In measures relating to war, it 
is wisest, if you err at all, to err on the side of the largest force, and you 
will consequently put down your thirty-one thousand men at no more than 
an effective force, in the field, of about twenty-one thousand. This, with 
the four thousand now in service, will amount to tweuty-five thousand ef- 
fective men. The Secretary of War has stated in his report that, for the 
single purpose of manning your forts and garrisons on the sea-board, 
twelve thousand and six hundred men are necessaiy. Although the whole 
of that number will not be taken from the twenty-five thousand, a portion 
of it, probably, will be. We are told that, in Canada, there are between 
seven and eight thousand regular troops. If it is invaded the whole of 
that force will be concentrated in Quebec, and would you attempt that al- 
most impregnable fortress with less than double the force of the besieged ? 
(irentlemen who calculate upon volunteers as a substitute for regulars 
ought not to deceive themselves. No man appreciated higher than he did 
the spirit of the country. But, although volunteers were admirably 
adapted to the first operations of the war, to the making of a first impres- 
sion, he doubted their fitness for a regular siege, or for the manning and 
garrisoning of forts. He understood it was a rule in military affairs, never 
to leave in the rear a place of any strength undefended. Canada is invaded ; 
the upper part falls, and you proceed to Quebec. It is true there would be 
no European army behind to be apprehended : but the people of the coun- 
try might rise ; and he warned gentlemen who imagined that the aflections 
of the Canadians were with us against trusting too confidently on such a 
calculation, the basis of which was treason. He concluded, therefore, that 
a portion of the invading army would be distributed in the upper country, 
after its conquest, among the places susceptible of military strength and 
defense. The army, considerably reduced, sets itself down before Quebec. 
Suppose it falls. Here again will be required a number of men to hold 
an<J defend it. And if the war be prosecuted still further, and the lower 
country and Halifax be assailed, he conceived it obvious, that the whole 
force of twenty-five thousand men would not be too great. 

The difference between those who were for fifteen thousand, and those 
who were for twenty-five thousand men, appeared to him to resolve itself 
into the question, merely, of a short or protracted war ; a war of vigor, or 
a war of languor and imbecility. If a competent force be raised in the 
first instance, the war on the continent will be speedily terminated. He 
was aware that it might still rage on the ocean. But where the nation 
eould act with unquestionable success, he was in favor of the display of an 
energy correspondent to the feelings and spirit of the country. Suppose 
one third of the force he had mentioned (twenty-five thousand men) could 



ON THE INCREASE OF MILITARY FORCE. 37 

reduce the country, say in three years, and that the whole could accom- 
plish the same object in one year ; taking into view the great hazard of the 
repulsion and defeat of the small force, and every other consideration, do 
not wisdom and true economy equally decide in favor of the larger force, 
and thus prevent failure in consequence of inadequate means ? He begged 
gentlemen to recollect the immense extent of the United States ; our vast 
maritime frontier, vulnerable in almost all its parts to predatory incursions, 
and he was persuaded they would see that a regular force of twenty- 
five thousand men was not much too great during a period of war, if aii 
designs of invading the provinces of the enemy were abandoned. 

Mr. Clay proceeded next to examine the nature of the force contem- 
plated by the bill. It was a regular army, enlisted for a limited time, 
raised for the sole purpose of war, aiid to be disbanded on the return of 
peace. Against this army all our republican jealousies and apprehensions 
are attempted to be excited. He was not the advocate of standing armies ; 
but the standing armies which excite most his fears, are those which are 
kept up in time of peace. He confessed, he did not perceive any real 
source of danger in a military force of twenty-five thousand men in the 
United States, provided only for a state of war, even supposing it to be 
corrupted, and its arms turned, by the ambition of its leaders, against the 
freedom of the country. He saw abundant security against the success of 
any such treasonable attempt. The difiusion of political information 
among the great body of the people constituted a powerful safeguard. 
The American character has been much abused by the Europeans, whose 
tourists, whether on horse on foot, in verse and prose, have united in de- 
preciating it. It is true that we do not exhibit as many signal instances 
of scientific acquirement in this country as are furnished in the old world ; 
but he believed it undeniable, that the great mass of the people possessed 
u\ore intelligence than any other people on the globe. Such a people, con- 
sisting of upward of seven millions, affording a physical power of about a 
million of men capable of bearing arms, and ardently devoted to liberty, 
could not be subdued by an army of twenty-five thousand men. The wide 
extent of country over which we are spread was another security. In other 
countries, France and England for example, the fall of Paris or London is 
the fall of the nation. Here are no such dangerous aggregations of peo- 
ple. New York, and Philadelphia, and Boston, and every city on the 
Atlantic might be subdued by a usurper, and he would have made but a 
small advance in the accomplishment of his purpose. He would add a 
still more improbable supposition, that the country east of the Allegany, 
was to submit to the ambition of some daring chief, and he insisted that the 
liberty of the Union would be still uaconquered. It would find success- 
ful support from the West. We are not only in the situation just de- 
scribed, but a great portion of the militia — nearly the whole, he understood, 
of that of Massachusetts — have arms in their hands ; and he trusted in 
God that that great object would be persevered in, until every man in the 



38 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

nation could proudly shoulder the musket which was to defend his coun- 
try and himself. A people having, besides the benefit of one general gov- 
ernment, other local governments in full operation, capable of exerting and 
commanding great portions of the physical power, all of which must be 
prostrated before our Constitution is subverted. Such a people have noth- 
ing to fear from a petty contemptible force of twenty-five thousand 
regulars. 

Mr. Clay proceeded, more particularly, to inquire into the object of the 
force. That object he understood distinctly to be war, and war with Great 
Britain. It had been supposed, by some gentlemen, improper to discuss 
publicly so delicate a question. He did not feel the impropriety. It was 
a subject in its nature incapable of concealment. Even in countries where 
the powers of government were conducted by a single ruler, it was almost ira- 
posible for that ruler to conceal his intentions when he meditated war. The 
assembling of armies, the strenthenings of posts ; all the movements prepar- 
atory to war, and which it is impossible to disguise, unfolded the inten- 
tions of the sovereign. Does Russia or France intend war, the intention is 
almost invariably known before the war is commenced. If Congress were 
to pass a law, with closed doors, for raising an army for the purpose of 
war, its enlistment and organization, which could not be done in secret, 
would indicate the use to which it was to be applied ; and we can not sup- 
pose England would be so blind as not to see that she was aimed at. 
Nor could she, did she apprehend, injure us more by thus knowing our 
purposes, than if she were kept in ignorance of them. She may, indeed, 
anticipate us, and commence the war. But that is what she is in foct do- 
ing, and she can add but little to the injury which she is inflicting. If she 
choose to declare war in foim, let her do so, the responsibility will be with her. 

What are we to gain by war ? has been emphatically asked. In reply, 
he would ask, what are we not to lose by peace ? Commerce, character, 
a nation's best treasure, honor ! If pecuniary considerations alone are to 
govern, there is suiBcient motive for the war. Our revenue is reduced, by 
the operation of the belligerent edicts, to about six millions of dollars, ac- 
cording to the Secretary of the Treasury's report. The year preceding the 
embargo it was sixteen. Take away the orders in council, it will again 
mcnmt up to sixteen millions. By continuing, therefore, in peace (if the 
mongrel state in which we are deserve that denomination), we lose annually 
in revenue alone ten millions of dollars. Gentlemen will say, repeal the 
law of non-importation. He contended, that, if the United States were 
capable of that perfidy, the revenue would not be restored to its former state, 
Jie orders in council continuing. Without an export trade, which those 
orders prevent, inevitable ruin would ensue, if we imported as freely aa 
we did prior to the embargo. A nation that carries on an import trade, 
without an exj)ort trade to support it, must, in the end, be as certainly bank- 
rupt, as the individual, would be, who incurred an annual expenditure with- 
out an income. 



ON THE INCREASE OF MILITARY FORCE. 39 

He had no disposition to magnify or dwell upon the catalogue of 
injuries we had received from England. He could not, however, overlook 
the impressment of our seamen — an aggression upon which he never re- 
flected without feelings of indignation, which would not allow him appro- 
priate language to describe its enormity. Not content with seizing upon 
all our property which falls witliin her rapacious grasp, the personal rights 
of our countrymen — rights which forever ought to be sacred — are trampled 
upon and violated. The orders in council were pretended to have been 
reluctantly adopted, as a measure of retaliation. The French decrees, their 
alleged basis, are revoked. England resorts to the expedient of denying 
the fact of the revocation, and Sir William Scott, in the celebrated case of 
Fox and others, suspends judgment that proof may be adduced to it. At 
the same moment, when the British ministry, through that judge, is thus 
affecting to controvert that fact, and to place the release of our property 
upon its establishment, instructions are prepared for Mr. Foster, to meet at 
Washington the very revocation which they were contesting. And how 
does he meet it ? By fulfilling the engagement solemnly made to rescind 
the orders ? No, sir ; but demanding that we shall secure the introduc- 
tion, into the continent, of British manufactm-es ! 

England is said to be fighting for the world, and shall we, it is asked, 
attempt to weaken her exertions? If, indeed, the aim of the French 
emperor be universal dominion (and he was willing to allow it to the argu- 
ment), how much nobler a cause is presented to British valor ! But how 
is her philanthropic purpose to be achieved ? By a scrupulous observance 
of the rights of others, by respecting that code of public law which she 
professes to vindicate, and by abstaining from self-aggrandizement. Then 
would she command the sympathies of the world. What are we required 
to do by those who would engage our feelings and wishes in her behalf ? 
To bear the actual cuffs of her arrogance, that we may escape a chimerical 
French subjugation 1 We are invited, conjured to drink the potion of 
British poison, actually presented to our lips, that we may avoid the 
imperial dose prepared by perturbed imaginations. We are called upon 
to submit to debasement, dishonor, and disgrace; to bow the neck to 
royal insolence, as a course of preparation for manly resistance to GalUc 
invasion I What nation, what individual, was ever taught, in the schools 
of ignominious submission, these patriotic lessons of freedom and inde- 
pendence ? Let those who contend for this humiliating doctrine, read its 
refutation in the history of the very man against whose insatiable thirst of 
dominion we are warned. The experience of desolated Spain for the last 
fifteen years, is worth volumes. Did she find her repose and safety in sub- 
serviency to the will of that man ? Had she boldly stood forth and re- 
repelled the first attempt to dictate to her councils, her monarch would 
not be now a miserable captive in Marseilles. Let us come home to our 
own history ; it was not by submission that our fathers achieved our inde- 
pendence. The patriotic wisdom that placed you, Mr. Chairman, under 



40 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

that canopy, penetrated the designs oi a corrupt ministry, and nobly 
fronted encroachment on its first appearance. It saw, beyond th«s petty 
taxes with which it commenced, a long train of oppressive measures, ter- 
minating in the total annihilation of liberty, and, contemptible as they 
were, it did not hesitate to resist them. Take the experience of the last 
four or five years, which he was sorry to say exhibited, in appearance, at 
least, a different Mud of spirit. He did not wish to view the past, further 
than to guide us for the future. We were but yesterday contending for 
the indirect trade ; the right to export to Europe the coff'ee and sugar of 
the West Indies. To-day we are asserting our claim to the direct trade ; 
the right to export our cotton, tobacco, and other domestic produce, to 
market. Yield this point, and to-morrow intercourse between New York 
and New Orleans, between the planters on James river and Richmond, 
will be interdicted. For, sir, the career of encroachment is never arrested 
by submission. It will advance while there remains a single privilege on 
which it can operate. Gentlemen say that this government is unfit for 
any war but a war of invasion. What, is it not equivalent to invasion, if 
the mouths of our harbors and outlets are blocked up, and we are denied 
egress from our own waters ? Or, when the burglar is at our door, shall 
we bravely sally forth and repel his felonious entrance, or meanly skulk 
within the cells of the castle ? 

He contended, that the real cause of British aggression was, not to dis- 
tress an enemy, but to destroy a rival. A comparative view of our com- 
merce with that of England and the continent, would satisfy any one of 
the truth of this remark. Prior to the embargo, the balance of trade 
between this country and England was between eleven and fifteen mil- 
lions of dollars in favor of England. Our consumption of her manufactures 
was annually increasing, and had risen to nearly fifty millions of dollars. 
We exported to her what she most wanted, provisions and raw materials 
for her manufactures, and received in return what she was most desirous 
to sell. Our exports to France, Holland, Spain, and Italy, taking an ave- 
rage of the years 1802, 1803, and 1804, amounted to about twelve million 
dollars of domestic, and about eighteen million dollars of foreign produce. 
Our imports from the same countries amounted to about twenty-five mil- 
lion dollars. The foreign produce exported, consisted chiefly of luxuries, 
from the West Indies. It is apparent that this trade, the balance of which 
was in favor, not of France, but of the United States, was not of very vital 
consequence to the enemy of England. Would she, therefore, for the 
sole purpose of depri\'ing her adversaiy of this commerce, relinquish her 
valuable trade with this country, exhibiting the essential balance in her 
favor ; nay, more, hazard the peace of the country ? No, sir ; you must 
look for an explanation of her conduct in the jealousies of a rival. She 
sickens at your prosperity, and beholds, in your growth — your sails spread 
on every ocean, and your numerous seamen — the foundations of a power 
which, at no very distant day, is to make her tremble for her naval supe- 



ON THE INCREASE OF MILITARY FORCE. 41 

riority. He had omitted before to notice the loss of our seamen, if we 
continued in our present situation. What would become of the one hun- 
dred thousand (for he understood there was about that number) in the 
American service ? Would they not leave us and seek employment abroad, 
perhaps in the very country that injures us ? 

It is said, that the effect of the war at home, will be a change of those 
who administer the government, who will be replaced by others that will 
make a disgraceful peace. He did not believe it. Not a man in the na- 
tion could really doubt the sincerity with which those in power have 
sought, by all honorable and pacific means, to protect the interests of the 
country. When the people saw exercised toward both belligerents the 
utmost impartiality ; witnessed the same equal terms tendered to both ; and 
beheld the government successively embracing an accommodation with 
each, in exactly the same spirit of amity, he was fully persuaded, now that 
war was the only alternative left to us, by the injustice of one of the 
powers, that the support and confidence of the people would remain un- 
diminished. He was one, however, who was prepared (and he would not 
believe that he was more so than any other member of the committee) to 
march on in the road of his duty, at all hazards. What ! shall it be said, 
that our amor patrice is located at these desks ; that we pusillanimously 
cUng to our seats here, rather than boldly vindicate the most inestimable 
rights of the country ? While the heroic Daviess, and his gallant asso- 
ciates, exposed to all the dangers of treacherous savage warfare, are sacri- 
ficing themselves for the good of their country, shall we shrink from our 
duty? 

He concluded, by hoping that his remarks had tended to prove that the 
quantum of the force required was not too great, that in its nature it was 
free from the objections urged against it, and that the object of its appli- 
cation was one imperiously called for by the present peculiar crisis. 



ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAVY. 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 22, 1812. 

[Mr. Jefferson's gun-boat system was a fair subject of ridi- 
cule, and it was laughed out of existence. Nevertheless, this 
species of economy ran on for many years, and our navy was at a 
low ebb at the accession of Mr. Madison to the presidential 
chair. The United States were about to engage in war with a 
nation that floated the most formidable navy in the world, with- 
out any marine craft that would dare to leave our harbors and 
look the enemy in the face. The whole line of our seaboard, 
and our cities planted here and there upon it, would be exposed 
to the descent of British naval armaments. And yet, a proposal 
to build ten frigates was resisted by those in Congress who still 
adhered to the Jeffersonian policy. Mr. Clay, who a month pre- 
viously had so eloquently advocated the augmentation of the 
military force, and carried the measure, was now called upon to 
deliver one of his broadsides in behalf of the navy. Ten frigates 
to be put upon the stocks at once, and launched and armed with 
the greatest possible expedition, was an unheard-of bound of 
public policy. It was a daring and startling measure, and no 
man but Mr. Clay could overcome the difficulties which it had 
to encounter. We are not to judge of these difficulties by the 
facility of voting appropriations for the navy, since the navy has 
become the pride of the nation, and that, too, in consequence of 
the brilliant achievements of those veiy ships which were built 
in 1812. Mr. Clay saw, by his intuitive perceptions, what was 
necessary ; but it was no easy task to make Congi'ess see as he 
saw it. It was necessary that he should so transfer his own 
views to the mind of that body, that they should produce con- 
viction there, and be immediately carried into action. Such was 
the task, and such the triumphant result. The frigates were 
built, and the history of the war of 1812 will show what they 
achieved. From that time the navy became and has remained, 
without any abatement, but with a constant increase of affection. 



ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAVY. 45 

the pet arm of the public service. No nation in the world is so 
(veil served by an equal number of ships of the same class ; and 
such is the fame of our navy, that no nation would dare to en- 
counter it, with an equal force, ship for ship, and of the same 
rate. 

If we look for the causes of effects, we may, perhaps, find, in 
the following speech, the cause of this glory of our navy. True, 
Mr. Clay had his coadjutors ; but the dominant party then in 
Congress, were dead against this project when it was first pro- 
posed. They were startled by it as extravagant. But Mr. Clay 
was the recognized leader of that party, and they did not dare 
to vote against him. Probably they followed their own personal 
convictions, after they had heard him. This speech, therefore, 
may be regarded as occupying a momentously important place 
in the history of the country, and it should be read with pro- 
found interest on that account.] 

Mr. Clay (in Committee of the Whole), rose to present his views on 
the bill before the committee. He said, as he did not precisely agree in 
opinion with any gentleman who had spoken, he should take the Hberty 
of detaining the committee a few moments, while he offered to their at- 
tention some observations. He was highly gratified with the tem]>er and 
ability with which the discussion had hitherto been conducted. It was 
honorable to the House, and, he trusted, would continue to be manifested 
on many future occasions. 

On this interesting topic a diversity of opinion has existed almost ever 
since the adoption of the present government. On the one hand, there 
appeared to him to have been attempts made to precipitate the nation into 
all the evils of naval extravagance, which had been productive of so much 
mischief in other countries ; and, on the other, sti'ongly feeling this mis- 
chief, there has existed an unreasonable prejudice against providing such 
a competent naval protection, for our commercial and maritime rights, as 
is demanded by their importance, and as the increased resources of the 
country amply justify. 

The attention of Congress has been invited to this subject by the 
president, in his message delivered at the opening of the session. Indeed, 
had it been wholly neglected by the chief magistrate, from the critical 
situation of the country, and the nature of the rights proposed to be vin- 
dicated, it must have pressed itself upon our attention. But, said Mr. 
Clay, the president, in his message, observes : " your attention will, of 
course, be drawn to such provisions on the subject of our naval force as 
may be required for the service to which it is best adapted. I submit to 
Congress the seasonableness also of an authority to augment the stock of 
such materials as are imperishable in their nature, or may nou at once be 



44 8PEECHES OF HENRY OLAT. 

attainable." The president, by this recommendation, clearly intimates an 
opinion that the naval force of this country is capable of producing eflfect ; 
and the propriety of laying up imperishable materials was, no doubt, sug- 
gested for the purpose of making additions to the navy as convenience and 
exigences might direct. 

It appeared to Mr. Clay a little extraordinary that so much, as it seemed 
to him, unreasonable jealousy should exist against the naval establishment. 
If, said he, we look back to the period of the formation of the Constitution, 
it will be found that no such jealousy was then excited. In placing the 
physical force of the nation at the disposal of Congress, the Convention 
manifested much greater apprehension of abuse in the power given to raise 
armies than in that to provide a navy. In reference to the navy Congress 
is put under no restrictions; but with respect to the army, that description 
of force which has been so often employed to subvert the liberties of man- 
kind, they are subjected to limitations designed to prevent the abuse of 
this dangerous power. But it was not his intention to detain the com- 
mittee by a discussion on the comparative utility and safety of these two 
kinds of force. He would, however, be indulged in saying that he thought 
gentlemen had wholly failed in maintaining the position they had assumed, 
that the fall of maritime powers was attributable to their navies. They 
have told you, indeed, that Carthage, Genoa, Venice, and other nations 
had navies, and, notwithstanding, were finally destroyed. But have they 
shown, by a train of argimient, that their overthrow was, in any degree, at- 
tributable to their maritime greatness? Have they attempted even to 
show that there exists in the nature of this power a necessary tendency to 
destroy the nation using it 1 Assertion is substituted for argument ; in- 
ferences not authorized by historical facts are arbitrarily drawn ; things 
wholly unconnected with each other are associated together ; a very log- 
ical mode of reasoning it must be admitted ! In the same way he could 
demonstrate how idle and absurd our attachments are to freedom itself. 
He might say, for example, that Greece and Rome had forms of free gov- 
ernment, and that they no longer exist ; and, deducing their fall from their 
devotion to liberty, the conclusion in favor of despotism would very satis- 
factorily follow ! He demanded what there is in the nature and con- 
Btiuction of maritime power to excite the fears that have been indulged ? 
Do gentlemen really apprehend that a body of seamen will abandon their 
proper element, and, placing themselves under an aspiring chief, will erect 
a throne to his ambition ? Will they deign to listen to the voice of his- 
tory, and learn how chimerical are their apprehensions ? 

But the source of alarm is in ourselves. Gentlemen fear that if we 
provide a marine it will produce collisions with foreign nations ; plunge us 
into war, and ultimately overturn the Constitution of the country. Sir, if 
you wish to avoid foreign collision you had better abandon the ocean 
surrender all your commerce ; give up all your prosperity. It is the thing 
protected, not the instrument of protection that involves you in vrai 



ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAYT. 45 

Commerce engenders collision, collision war, and war, the argument sup- 
poses, leads to despotism. Would the counsels of that statesman be 
deemed wise who would recommend that the nation should be unarmed ; 
that the art of war, the martial spirit, and martial exercises should be pro- 
hibited ; who should declare in the language of Othello, that the nation 
must bid farewell to the neighing steed, and the shrill trump, the spirit- 
stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, and all the pride, pomp, and circum- 
stance of glorious war ; and that the great body of the people should be 
'.aught that national happiness was to be found in perpetual peace alone ? 
No, sir. And yet every argument in favor of a power of protection on 
land appUes, in some degree, to a power of protection on the sea. Un- 
doubtedly a commerce void of naval protection is more exposed to rapac- 
ity than a guarded commerce ; and if we wish to invite the continuance 
of the old, or the enactment of the new edicts, let us refrain from all ex- 
ertion upon that element where they must operate, and where, in the end, 
they must be resisted. 

For his part (Mr. Clay said) he did not allow himself to be alarmed 
by those apprehensions of maritime power which appeared to agitate 
other gentlemen. In the nature of our government he beheld abundant 
security against abuse. He would be unwilling to tax the land to support 
the rights of the sea, and was for drawing from the sea itself the resources 
with which its violated freedom should, at all times, be vindicated. 
While this principle is adhered to there will be no danger of running into 
the folly and extravagance which so much alarms gentlemen ; and when- 
ever it is abandoned — whenever Congress shall lay burdensome taxes to 
augment the navy beyond what may be authorized by the increased 
wealth, and demanded by the exigences of the country, the people will in- 
terpose, and, removing their unworthy representatives, apply the appro- 
priate corrective. Mr. Clay, then, could not see any just ground of dread 
in the nature of naval power. It was, on the contrary, free from the evils 
attendant upon standing armies. And the genius of our institutions — 
the great representative principle, in the practical enjoyment of which we 
are so eminently distinguished — afforded the best guaranty against the 
ambition and wasteful extravagance of government. What maritime 
strength is it expedient to provide for the United States ? In considering 
this subject three different degrees of naval power present themselves. 
In the first place, such a force as would be capable of contending with 
that which any other nation is able to bring on the ocean — a force that, 
boldly scouring every sea, would challenge to combat the fleets of other 
powers, however great. He admitted that it was impossible at this time, 
perhaps it never would be desirable, for this country to establish so ex- 
tensive a navy. Indeed, he should consider it as madness in the extreme 
in this govermnent to attempt to provide a navy able to cope with the 
fleets of Great Britain, wherever they might be met. 

The next species of naval power to which he would advert, is that which. 



46 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

without adventuring into distant seas, and keeping generally in our own 
harbors, and on our coasts, would be competent to beat off any squadron 
which might be attempted to be permanently stationed in our waters. His 
friends from South Carolina (Messrs. Cheves and Lowndes) had satisfac- 
torily shown, that, to effect this object, a force equivalent only to one third 
of that which the maintenance of such a squadron must require, would be 
suflaeient ; that if, for example, England should determine to station per- 
manently upon our coast a squadron of twelve ships of the line, it would 
require for this service thirty-six ships of the line ; one third in port, re- 
pairing, one third on the passage, and one third on the station. But that 
is a force which it has been shown that even England, with her boasted 
navy, could not spare for the American service, while she is engaged in 
the present contest. Mr. Clay said that he was desirous of seeing such a 
force as he had described ; that ia, twelve ships of the line and fifteen or 
twenty frigates, provided for the United States ; but he admitted that it 
was unattainable in the present situation of the finances of the country. 
He contended, however, that it was such as Congress ought to set about 
providing ; and he hoped, in less than ten years, to see it actually estab- 
lished. He was far from surveying the vast maritime power of Great 
Britain with the desponding eye with which other gentlemen beheld it. 
He could not allow himself to be discouraged at a prospect of even her 
thousand ships. This country only required resolution, and a proper ex- 
ertion of its immense resources, to command respect, and to vindicate 
every essential right. When we consider our remoteness from Europe, the 
expense, difficulty, and perils, to which any squadron would be exposed, 
while stationed off om* coasts, he entertained no doubt that the force to 
which he referred, would insure the command of our own seas. Such a 
force would avail itself of our extensive sea-board and numerous harbors, 
everywhere affording asylums to which it could safely retire from a su- 
perior fleet, or from which it could issue, for the purpose of annoyance. 
To the opinion of his colleague (Mr. McKee) who appeared to think that 
it was in vaiu for us to make any struggle on the ocean, he woidd oppose 
the sentiments of his distinguished connection, the heroic Daviess, who 
fell in the battle of Tippecanoe. 

The third description of force, worthy of consideration, is, that which 
would be able to prevent any single vessel, of whatever metal, from en- 
dangering our whole coasting trade, blocking up our harbors, and laying 
under contribution our cities — a force competent to punish the insolence 
of the commander of any single ship, and to preserve in our "jwn jurisdic- 
tion the inviolability of our peace and our laws. A force of this kind is 
entirely within the compass of our means, at this time. Is there a reflect- 
ing man in the nation, who would not charge Congress with a culpable 
neglect of its duty, if, for the want of such a force, a single ship were to 
b<Jinbard one of our cities ? Would not every honorable member of the 
committee inflict on himself the bitterest reproaches, if, by failing to make 



ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAVY. 47 

an inconsiderable addition to our little gallant navy, a single British vessel 
should place New York under contribution ? Yes, sir, when the city is in 
flames, its wretched inhabitants begin to repent of their neglect, in not 
providing engines and water-buckets. If, said Mr. Clay, we are not able 
to meet the wolves of the forest, shall we put up with the barking impu- 
dence of every petty cur that trips across our way ? Because we can not 
guard against every possible danger, shall we provide against none ? He 
hoped not. He had hardly expected that the instructing but humiliating 
lesson was so soon to be forgotten, which was taught us in the murder of 
Pierce, the attack on the Chesapeake, and the insult offered in the very 
harbor of Charleston, which the brave old fellow who commanded the fort 
in vain endeavored to chastise. It was a rule with Mr. Clay, when acting 
either in a public or private character, to attempt nothing more than what 
there existed a prospect of accomplishing. He was therefore not in favor 
of entering into any mad projects on this subject, but for deliberately and 
resolutely pursuing what he believed to be within the power of govern- 
ment. Gentlemen refer to the period of 1Y98, and we are reminded of 
the principles maintained by the opposition at that time. He had no 
doubt of the correctness of that opposition. The naval schemes of that 
day were premature, not warranted by the resources of the country, and 
were contemplated for an unnecessary war, into which the nation was 
about to be plunged. He always admired and approved the zeal and 
ability with which that opposition was conducted, by the distinguished 
gentleman now at the head of the treasury. But the state of things is 
totally altered. What was folly in 1798, may be wisdom now. At that 
time, we had a revenue only of about six millions. Our revenue now, 
upon a supposition that commerce is restored, is about sixteen millions. 
The population of the country, too, is greatly increased, nearly doubled, 
and the wealth of the nation is perhaps tripled. While our ability to 
constmct a navy is thus enhanced, the necessary maritime protection is 
proportionably augmented. Independent of the extension of our com- 
merce, since the year 1*798, we have had an addition of more than five 
hundred miles to our coast, from the bay of Perdido to the mouth 
of the Sabine — a weak and defenseless accession, requiring, more than any 
other part of our maritime frontier, the protecting arm of government. 

The groundless imputation, that those who were friendly to a navy, 
were espousing a principle inimical to freedom, should not terrify him. 
He was not ashamed when in such company as the illustrious author of 
the Notes on Virginia, whose opinion on the subject of a navy, contained 
in that work, contributed to the formation of his own. But the principle 
of a navy, Mr. Clay contended, was no longer open to controversy. It 
was decided when Mr. Jefferson came into power. With all the prejudices 
against a navy, which are alleged by some to have been then brought into 
the administration, with many honest prejudices, he admitted, the rash 
attempt was not made to destroy the establishment. It was reduced to 



48 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

only what was supposed to be within the financial capacity of the country 
If, ten years ago, when all those prejudices were to be combatted, even in 
time of peace, it was deemed proper, by the then administration, to retain 
in service ten frigates, he put it to the candor of gentlemen to say, if now, 
when we are on the eve of a war, and taking into view the actual growth 
of the country, and the acquisition of our coast on the Gulf of Mexico, 
we ought not to add to the establishment. 

Mr, Clay said, he had hitherto alluded more particularly to the exposed 
situation of certain parts of the Atlantic frontier. While he felt the deep- 
est solicitude for the safety of New York, and other cities on the coast, 
he would be pardoned by the committee, for referring to the interests of 
that section of the Union from which he came. If, said he, there be a 
point more than any other in the United States, demanding the aid of 
naval protection, that point is the mouth of the Mississippi. What is the 
population of the western country, dependent on this single outlet for its 
surplus productions ? Kentucky, according to the last enumeration, has 
four hundred and six thousand five hundred and eleven ; Tennessee, two 
hundred and sixty-one thousand seven hundred and twenty-seven ; and 
Ohio, two hundred and thirty thousand seven hundred and sixty. And 
when the population of the western parts of Virginia, and Pennsylvania, 
and the territories which are drained by the Mississippi or its waters, is 
added, it will form an aggregate equal to about one fifth of the whole pop- 
ulation of the United States, resting all their commercial hopes upon 
this solitary vent. The bulky articles of which their surplus productions 
consist, can be transported in no other way. They will not bear the ex- 
pense of a carriage up the Ohio and Tennessee, and across the mountains, 
and the circuitous voyage of the lakes is out of the question. While 
most other States have the option of numerous outlets, so that, if one be 
closed, resort can be had to others, this vast population has no alternative. 
Close the mouth of the Mississippi, and their export trade is annihilated. 
He called the attention of his western friends, especially his worthy 
Kentucky friends (from whom he felt himself, with regret, constrained to 
differ on this occasion), to the state of the public feeling in that quarter, 
while the navigation of the Mississippi was withheld by Spain ; and to the 
still more recent period, when the right of dep6t was violated. The whole 
countiy was in commotion, and, at the nod of government, would have 
fallen on Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and punished the treachei-y of a 
perfidious government. Abandon all idea of protecting, by maritime force, 
the mouth of the Mississippi, and we shall have the recurrence of many 
similar scenes. We shall hold the inestimable right of the navigation of 
that river, by the most precarious tenure. The whole commerce of the 
Mississippi — a commerce that is destined to be the richest that was ever 
borne by a single stream — is placed at the mercy of a single ship, lying 
off the Balize ! Again ; the convulsions of the new world, still more, per- 
haps, than those of Europe, challenge our attention. Whether the ancient 



ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAVY. 49 

dynasty of Spain is still to be upheld or subverted, is extremely uncertain, 
if the bonds connecting the parent-country with her colonies, are not for 
ever broken. What is to become of Cuba ? Will it assert independence, 
or remain the province of some European power ? In either case, the 
whole trade of the western country, which must pass almost within gun- 
shot of the Moro Castle, is exposed to danger. It was not, however, of 
Cuba he was afraid. He wished her independent. But suppose England 
gets possession of that valuable island. With Cuba on the south, and 
Hiilifax on the north — and the consequent means of favoring or annoying 
commerce, of particular sections of the country — he asked, if the most 
sanguine among us would not tremble for the integrity of the Union ? 
If, along with Cuba, Great Britain should acquire East Florida, she will 
have the absolute command of the Gulf of Mexico. Can gentlemen, par- 
ticularly gentlemen from the western country, contemplate such possible, 
nay, probable, events, without desiring to see at least the commencement 
of such a naval establishment as would effectually protect the Mississippi ? 
He entreated them to turn their attention to the defenseless situation of the 
Orleans Territory, and to the nature of its population. It is known, that, 
while under the Spanish government, they experienced the benefit of naval 
security. Satisfy them, that, under the government of the United States, 
they will enjoy less protection, and you disclose the most fatal secret. 

The general government receives annually, for the public lands, about 
six hundred thousand dollars. One of the sources whence the western 
people raise this sum, is the exportation of the surplus productions of that 
country. Shut up the Mississippi, and this source is, in a great measure, 
dried up. But suppose this government to look upon the occlusion of the 
Mississippi, without making an effort on that element, where alone it could 
be made successfully, to remove the blockading force, and, at the same time, 
to be vigorously pressing payment for the public lands ; he shuddered at the 
consequences. Deep-rooted as he knew the affections of the western peo- 
ple to be to the Union (and he would not admit their patriotism to be sur- 
passed by any other quarter of the country), if such a state of things were 
to last any considerable time, he should seriously apprehend a withdrawal 
of their confidence. Nor, sir, could we dreive any apology for the failure 
to afford this protection, from the want of the materials for naval archi- 
tecture. On the contrary, all the articles entering into the construction 
of a navy — iron, hemp, timber, pitch — abound in the greatest quantities 
on the waters of the Mississippi. Kentucky alone, he had no doubt, 
raised hemp enough the last year for the whole consumption of the United 
States. 

If, as he conceived, gentlemen had been unsuccessful in showing that 
the downfall of maritime nations was ascribable to their navies, they have 
been more fortunate in showing, by the instances to which they had re- 
ferred, that, without a marine, no foreign commerce could exist to any ex- 
tent It is the appropriate, the natural (if the term may be allowed) 

4 



50 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

connection of foreign commerce. The shepherd and his faithful dog are 
not more necessary to guard the flocks that browse and gambol on the 
neighboring mountain. He considered the prosperity of foreign commerce 
indissolubly allied to marine power. Neglect to provide the one and you 
must abandon the other. Suppose the expected war with England is com- 
menced, you enter and subjugate Canada, and she still refuses to do you 
justice ; what other possible mode wiU remain to operate on the enemy, 
but upon that element where alone you can then come in contact with 
him ? And if you do not prepare to protect there your own commerce, 
and to assail his, will he not sweep from the ocean every vessel bearing 
your flag, and destroy even the coasting trade ? But, from the argimients 
of gentlemen, it would seem to be questioned if foreign commerce is worth 
the kind of protection insisted upon. What is this foreign commerce 
that has suddenly become so inconsiderable ? It has, with very trifling aid 
from other sources, defrayed the expenses of government ever since the 
adoption of the present Constitution ; maintained an expensive and suc- 
cessful war with the Indians ; a war with the Barbary powers ; a quasi 
war with France ; sustained the charges of suppressing two insurrections, 
and extinguishing upward of forty-six millions of the public debt. In 
revenue it has, since the year 1Y89, yielded one hundred and ninety-one 
millions of dollars. During the first four years after the commencement 
of the present government the revenue averaged only about two millions 
annually ; during a subsequent period of four years it rose to an average 
of fifteen millions, annually, or became equivalent to a capital of two 
hundred and fifty millions of dollars, at an interest of six per centum 
per annum. And if our commerce is re-established, it will, in the course 
of time, net a sima for which we are scarcely furnished with figures in 
arithmetic. Taking the average of the last nine years (comprehending 
of course the season of the embargo), our exports average upward of thirty- 
seven millions of dollars, which is equivalent to a capital of more than six 
hundred millions of dollars, at six per centum interest ; all of which must 
be lost in the event of a destruction of foreign commerce. In the aban- 
donment of that commerce is also involved the sacrifice of our brave tars, 
who have engaged in the pursuit from which they derive subsistence and 
support, under the confidence that government would afibrd them that just 
protection which is due to all. They mil be driven into foreign employ- 
ment, for it is vain to expect that they will renounce their habits of life. 

The spirit of commercial enterprise, so strongly depicted by the gentle- 
man from New York (Mr. Mitchell) is diff'used throughout the country. 
It is a passion as unconquerable as any with which nature has endowed 
us. You may attempt, indeed, to regulate, but you can not destroy it. 
It exhibits itself as well on the waters of the western country as on the 
waters and shores of the Atlantic. Mr. Clay had heard of a vessel, built 
at Pittsburg, having crossed the Atlantic and entered a European port 
(he believed that of Leghorn). The master of the vessel laid his papers 



ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAVY. 51 

before the proper custom-house officer, which of course stated the place of 
her departure. The officer boldly denied the existence of any such Amer- 
ican port as Pittsburg, and threatened a seizure of the vessel as being 
furnished with forged papers. The affrighted master procured a map of 
the United States, and, pointing out the Gulf of Mexico, took the officer to 
the mouth of the Mississippi, traced the course of the Mississippi more 
than a thousand miles, to the mouth of the Ohio, and conducting him still 
a thousand miles higher, to the junction of the Alleghany and Mononga- 
hela — there, he exclaimed, stands Pittsburg, the port from which I sailed 1 
The custom-house officer, prior to the production of this evidence, would 
have as soon believed that the vessel had performed a voyage from the moon. 
In delivering the sentiments he had expressed, Mr. Clay considered him- 
self as conforming to a sacred constitutional duty. When the power to 
provide a navy was confided to Congress, it must have been the intention 
of the Convention to submit only to the discretion of that body the period 
when that power should be exercised. That period had, in his opinion, 
arrived, at least for making a respectable beginning. And while he thus 
discharged what he conceived to be his duty, he derived great pleasure 
from the reflection that he was supporting a measure calculated to impart 
additional strength to our happy Union. Diversified as are the interests of 
its various parts, how admirably do they harmonize and blend together ! 
We have only to make a proper use of the bounties spread before us to 
render us prosperous and powerful. Such a navy as he had contended 
for, will form a new bond of connection between the States, concentrating 
their hopes, their interests, and their affections. 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 8, 1813. 

[The war has commenced, and is now nearly eight months in 
progress. Our little navy, even against immense odds, by skill- 
ful maneuvering, and hard fighting, has covered itself with glory. 
But with few exceptions, enumerated by Mr. Clay in the follow- 
ing speech, the army has met with a series of mortifying dis- 
asters. Our attempts to take Canada have proved a failure. 
The army has been defeated and demoralized, and the country 
overshadowed with gloom. The administration is assailed with 
reproach by the opposition. The Hartford Convention has been 
in session, and disunion is threatened. 

Under these circumstances. Congress assembled in December, 
1812. On the 30th of August, General Harrison wrote to Mr. 
Clay, " In my opinion, your presence on the frontier of this State 
(Ohio) would be productive of great advantages. I can assure 
you, that your advice and assistance in determining the course 
of operations for the army (to the command of which I have 
been designated by your recommendation) will be highly useful. 
You are not only pledged in some manner for my conduct, but 
for the success of the war. For God's sake, then, come on to 
Piqua as quickly as possible, and let us endeavor to throw off 
from the administration that weight of reproach which the late 
disasters will heap upon them." Mr. Clay, however, could not 
go, his presence being required at Washington. This call of 
General Harrison, and the reasons assigned for it, would seem to 
justiiy Mr. Madison in the offer he made to Mr. Clay at this 
time, to give him the command of the army. But Mr. Clay 
could not be spared from his leadership in the House of Repre- 
sentatives. It is known, that Mr, Clay not only counseled war 
before it commenced, but that he had to screw up the courage 
of Mr. Madison and his Cabinet, while they hesitated. He, too, 
blew the same trumpet on the floor of Congress. On him, there- 
fore, rested, in no slight degree, the responsibility of the war. 



ON thp: new army bill. 53 

After the disasters on the frontier, and in Canada, there was no 
choice left but an increase of the array ; and soon after the 
meeting of Congress, a bill was brought in to raise twenty ad- 
ditional regiments. It was during the pending of this bill that 
the following speech was delivered ; and, as will be seen, Mr. 
Clay's chief attention was directed to the opponents of the war, 
who had embraced the opportunity of these misfortunes to fall 
upon the administration with the utmost virulence. It devolved 
on Mr. Clay to answer them. If we consider the position of the 
country, and the position of Mr. Clay himself, it can hardly be 
denied that he displayed on this occasion the greatest vigor of 
his character. He had two single aims, one to silence the oppo- 
sition, and the other to reanimate the country for a vigorous 
prosecution of the war to an honorable peace. Canada was the 
vulnerable point of the enemy, and Canada must be taken — 
though it never was taken. With the exception of the defense 
of New Orleans, by G-eneral Jackson, on the 8th of January, 
1815, our naval victories on the lakes and on the ocean, were the 
most brilliant achievements of the war.] 



Mr. Clay (in Committee of the Whole) said he was gratified yesterday 
by the recomtnitment of this bill to a committee of the whole House, from 
two considerations : one, since it afforded him a sHght relaxation from a 
most fatiguing situation ; and the other, because it furnished him with an 
opportunity of presenting to the committee his sentiments upon the im- 
portant topics which had been mingled in the debate. He regretted, how- 
ever, that the necessity under which the chairman had been placed, of 
putting the question, precluded the opportunity he had wished to enjoy, of 
rendering more acceptable to the committee any thing he might have to 
offer on the interesting points on which it was his duty to touch. Un- 
prepared, however, as he was to speak on this day, of which he was the 
more sensible from the ill state of his health, he would solicit the attention 
of the committee for a few moments. 

I was a little astonished, I confess, said Mr. Clay, when I found this bill 
permitted to pass silently through the Committee of the Whole, and not 
selected until the moment when the question was to be put for its third 
reading, as the subject on which gentlemen in the opposition chose to lay 
before the House their views of the interesting attitude in which the nation 
stands. It did appear to me that the loan bill, which will soon come 
before us, would have afforded a much more proper occasion, it being 
more essential, as providing the ways and means for the prosecution of the 
war. But the gentlemen had the right of selection, and having exercised 
it, no mattei? how improperly, I am gratified, whatever I may think of the 



54 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

character of some part of the debate, at the latitude in which, for once, 
they have been indulged. I claim only, in return, of gentlemen on the 
other side of the House, and of the committee, a like indulgence in ex- 
pressing my sentiments with the same imrestrained freedom. Perhaps, in 
the course of the remarks which I feel myself called upon to make, gentlemen 
may apprehend that they assume too harsh an aspect ; but I have only now 
to say that I shall speak of parties, measures, and things, as they strike my 
moral sense, protesting against the imputation of any intention on my part 
to wound the feelings of any gentleman. 

Considering the situation in which this country is now placed — a state 
of actual war with one of the most powerful nations on the earth — it may 
not be useless to take a view of the past, and of the various parties which 
have at different times appeared in this country, and to attend to the man- 
ner by which we have been driven from a peaceful posture to our present 
warlike attitude. Such an inquiry may assist in guiding us to that result, 
an honorable peace, which must be the sincere desire of every fiiend to 
America. The course of that opposition, by which the administration of 
the government had been unremittingly impeded for the last twelve years, 
was singular, and, I believe, unexampled in the history of any country. 
It has been alike the duty and the interest of the administration to pre- 
sene peace. It was their duty, because it is necessary to the growth of 
an infant people, to their genius, and to their habits. It was their interest, 
because a change of the condition of the nation brings along with it a 
danger of the loss of the affections of the people. The administration has 
not been forgetful of these solemn obligations. No art has been left un- 
essayed, no experiment, promising a favorable result, left untried to main- 
tain the peaceful relations of the country. When, some six or seven years 
ago, the affairs of the nation assumed a threatening aspect, a partial non- 
importation was adopted. As they grew more alarming, an embargo was 
imposed. It would have accomplished its purpose, but it was sacrificed 
upon the altar of conciliation. Vain and fruitless attempt to propitiate ! 
Then came along non-intercourse ; and a general non-importation fol- 
lowed in the train. In the mean time, any indications of a return to the 
public law and the path of justice, on the part of either belligerent, are 
seized upon with avidity by the administration. The arrangement with 
Mr. Erskine is concluded. It is first applauded, and then censured by 
the opposition. No matter with what unfeigned sincerity, with what real 
effort, the administration cultivates peace, the opposition insists that it 
alone is culpable for every breach that is made between the two countries. 
Because the president thought proper, in accepting the proffered repara- 
tion for the attack on a national vessel, to intimate that it would have 
better comported with the justice of the king (and who does not think 
60 ?) to punish the oflending oflBcer, the opposition, entering into the royal 
feelings, sees, in that imaginary insult, abundant cause for rejecting Mr. 
Erskine's arrangement. On another occasion, you can not have forgotten 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 55 

the hypocritical ingenuity which they displayed, to divest Mr. Jackson's 
correspondence of a premeditated insult to this country. K gentlemen 
would only reserve for their own government, half the sensibility which is 
indulged for that of Great Britain, they would find much less to condemn. 
Restriction after restriction has been tried ; negotiation has been resorted 
to, until further negotiation would have been disgraceful. While these 
peaceful experiments are undergoing a trial, what is the conduct of the 
opposition ? They are the champions of war — the proud — the spirited — 
the sole repository of the nation's honor — the men of exclusive vigor and 
energy. The administration, on the contrary, is weak, feeble, and pusil- 
lanimous — " incapable of being kicked into a war." The maxim, " not a 
cent for tribute, millions for defense," is loudly proclaimed. Is the admin- 
istration for negotiation ? The opposition is tired, sick, disgusted with 
negotiation. They want to draw the sword, and avenge the nation's 
wrono-s. When, however, foreign nations, perhaps emboldened by the 
very opposition here made, refuse to listen to the amicable appeals, which 
have been repeated and reiterated by the administration, to their justice 
and to their interest — when, in fact, war with one of them has become 
identified with our independence and our sovereignty, and to abstain Irom 
it was no longer possible, behold the opposition veering round and be- 
comino- the friends of peace and commerce. They tell you of the calam- 
ities of war, its tragical events, the squandering away of your resources, 
the waste of the public treasure, and the spilling of innocent blood. 
" Gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire." They tell you that honor is an il- 
illusion ! Now, we see them exhibiting the terrific forms of the roaring 
king of the forest. Now the meekness and humility of the lamb ! They 
are for war and no restrictions, when the administration is for peace. They 
are for peace and restrictions, when the administration is for war. You 
find them, sir, tacking with every gale, displaying the colors of every party, 
and of all nations, steady only in one unalterable purpose — ^to steer, if 
possible, into the haven of power. 

During all this time, the parasites of opposition do not fail, by cunning 
sarcasm, or sly inuendo, to throw out the idea of French influence, which 
is known to be false, which ought to be met in one manner only, and that 
is by the lie direct. The administration of this country devoted to foreign 
influence ! The administration of this country subservient to France 1 
Great God ! what a charge ! how is it so influenced ? By what ligament, 
on what basis, on what possible foundation does it rest ? Is it similarity 
of language ? No ! we speak different tongues, we speak the English lan- 
guage. On the resemblance of our laws ? No ! the sources of our juris- 
prudence spring from another and a difierent country. On commercial 
intercourse ? No ! we have comparatively none with France. Is it from 
the correspondence in the genius of the two governments ? No ! here 
alone is the liberty of man secure from the inexorable despotism which 
everywhere else tramples it under foot. Where, then, is the ground of 



56 SrEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

such an influence ? But, sir, I am insulting you by arguing on such a 
subject. Yet, preposterous and ridiculous as the insinuation is, it is prop- 
agated with 80 much industry, that there are persons found foolish and 
credulous enough to believe it. You will, no doubt, think it incredible 
(but I have nevertheless been told it as a fact) that an honorable member 
of this House, now in my eye, recently lost his election by the circulation 
of a silly story in his district that he was the first cousin of the Emperor 
Napoleon, The proof of the charge rested on the statement of facts, 
which was xmdoubtedly true. The gentleman in question, it was alleged, 
had married a connection of the lady of the President of the United 
States, who was the intimate friend of Thomas Jefferson, late President of 
the United States, who, some years ago, was in the habit of wearing red 
French breeches. Now, taking these premises as established, you, Mr. 
Chairman, are too good a logician not to see that the conclusion neces- 
sarily follows. 

Throughout the period he had been speaking of, the opposition has 
been distinguished, amid all its veerings and changes, by another inflex- 
ible feature — the application to Bonaparte of every vile and opprobious 
epithet our language, copious as it is in terms of vituperation, affords. He 
has been compared to every hideous monster, and beast, fiom that men- 
tioned in the Revelations, down to the most insignificant quadruped. He 
has been called the scourge of mankind, the destroyer of Europe, the great 
robber, the infidel, the modern Attila, and heaven knows by what other 
names. Really, gentlemen remind me of an obscure lady, in a city not 
very far oflT, who also took it into her head, in conversation with an ac- 
complished French gentleman, to talk of the aff'airs of Europe. She, too, 
spoke of the destruction of the balance of power ; stormed and raged 
about the insatiable ambition of the emperor ; called him the curse of man- 
kind, the destroyer of Europe. The Frenchman listened to her with per- 
fect patience, and when she had ceased, said to her, with inefi'able pohte- 
ness, " Madame, it would give my master, the emperor, infinite pain, if he 
knew how hardly you thought of him." Sir, gentlemen appear to me to 
forget, that they stand on American soil ; that they are not in the British 
House of Commons, but in the chamber of the House of Representatives 
of the United States ; that we have nothing to do with the affairs of 
Europe, the partition of territory and sovereignty there, except so far as 
these things affect the interests of our own country. Gentlemen transform 
themselves into the Burkes, Chathams, and Pitts, of another country, and 
forgetting, from honest zeal, the interests of America, engage with Eu- 
ropean sensibility in the discussion of European interests. If gentlemen 
ask me whether I do not view with regret and hoiTor the concentration of 
such vast power in the hands of Bonaparte, I reply, that I do. I regret to 
see the Emperor of China holding such immense sway over the fortunes 
of millions of our species. I regret to see Great Britain possessing so un- 
controlled a command over all the waters of our globe. K I had the 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 57 

ability to distribute among the nations of Europe their several portions of 
power and of sovereignty, I would say that Holland should be resuscitated, 
and given the weight she enjoyed in the days of her De Witts. I would 
confine France within her natural boundaries, the Alps, Pyrenees, and the 
Rhine, and make her a secondary naval power only. I would abridge the 
British maritime power, raise Prussia and Austiia to their original condi- 
tion, and preserve the integrity of the empire of Russia. But these are 
speculations. I look at the political transactions of Europe, with the single 
exception of their possible bearing upon us, as I do at the history of other 
countries, or other times. I do not survey them with half the interest that 
I do the movements in South America. Our poHtical relation with them 
is much less importjmt than it is supposed to be. I have no fears of French 
or English subjugation. If we are imited we are too powerful for the 
mightiest nation in Europe, or all Europe combined. If we are separated 
and torn asunder, we shall become an easy prey to the weakest of them. In 
the latter dreadful contingency, our country wiU not be worth preserving. 
Next to the notice which the opposition has found itself called upon to 
bestow upon the French emperor, a distinguished citizen of Virginia for- 
merly President of the United States, has never for a moment failed to 
receive their kindest and most respectful attention. An honorable gentle- 
man from Massachusetts (Mr. Quincy), of whom I am sorry to say it be- 
comes necessary for me, in the course of my remarks, to take some notice, 
has alluded to him in a remarkable manner. Neither his retirement from 
public oflBce, his eminent services, nor his advanced age, can exempt this 
patriot from the coarse assaults of party malevolence. No, sir, in 1801, 
he snatched from the rude hand of usurpation the violated Constitution of 
his country, and that is his crime. He preserved that instrument in form, 
and substance, and spirit, a precious inheritance for generations to come, 
and for this he can never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party 
rage directed against such a man ! He is not more elevated by his lofty 
residence upon the summit of his own favorite moimtaiu, than he is lifted, 
by the serenity of his mind and the consciousness of a well-spent life, above 
tlie malignant passions and bitter feelings of the day. No ! his own be- 
loved Monticello is not more moved by the storms that beat against its 
sides, than is this illustrious man by the bowlings of the whole British 
pack, set loose from the Essex kennel ! When the gentleman, to whom I 
have been compelled to allude, shall have mingled his dust with that of his 
abused ancestors, when he shall have been consigned to oblivion, or, if he 
lives at all, shall live only in the treasonable annals of a certain junto, the 
name of Jefferson will be hailed with gratitude, his memory honored and 
cherished as the second founder of the liberties of the people, and the 
period of his administration will be iooked back to as one of the happiest 
and brightest epochs of American histoiy — an oasis in the midst of a 
sandy desert. But I beg the gentleman's pardon ; he has, indeed, secured 
to himself a more imperishable fame than I had supposed ; I think it was 



58 SPEECHES OF HENRY OLAY. 

about four years ago that he submitted to the House of Representatives an 
initiative proposition for an impeachment of Mr. Jefferson. The House 
condescended to consider it. The gentleman debated it with his usual 
temper, moderation, and urbanity. The House decided upon it in the most 
solemn manner, and, although the gentleman had some how obtained a 
second, the final vote stood, one for, and one hundred and seventeen 
against the proposition. 

In one respect there is a remarkable difference between the administra- 
tion and the opposition: it is in a sacred regard for personal liberty. 
When out of power my political friends condemned the surrender of 
Jonathan Robbins ; they opposed the violation of the freedom of the press 
in the sedition law ; they opposed the more insidious attack upon the free- 
dom of the person, under the imposing garb of an alien law. The party 
now in opposition, then in power, advocated the sacrifice of the untappy 
Robbins, and passed those two laws. True to our principles, we are now 
struggling for the liberty of our seamen against foreign oppression. True 
to theirs, they oppose a war undertaken for this object. They have, in- 
deed, lately affected a tender solicitude for the liberties of the people, and 
talk of the danger of standing armies, and the burden of the taxes. But 
it must be evident to you, Mr. Chairman, that they speak in a foreign 
idiom. Their brogue evinces that it is not their vernacular tongue. 
What ! the opposition who, in 1798 and 1Y99, could raise a useless army 
to fight an enemy three thousand miles distant from us, alarmed at the ex- 
istence of one raised for a known and specified object — the attack of the 
adjoining provinces of the enemy ! What ! the gentleman from Massachu- 
setts, who assisted by his vote to raise the army of twenty-five thousand, 
alarmed at the danger of our liberties from this very army ! 

But, sir, I must speak of another subject which I never think of but 
with feelings of the deepest awe. The gentleman from Massachusetts, in 
imitation of some of his predecessors of 1799, has entertained us with a 
picture of cabinet plots, presidential plots, and all sorts of plots, which have 
been engendered by the diseased state of the gentleman's imagination. I 
wish, sir, that another plot of a much more serious and alarming character 
— a plot that aims at the dismemberment of our Union — ^had only the 
same imaginary existence. But no man who has paid any attention to 
the tone of certain prints, and to transactions in a particular quarter of the 
Union, for several years past, can doubt the existence of such a plot. It 
was far, very far from my intention to charge the opposition with such a 
design. No, I believe them generally incapable of it. But I can not say 
as much for some, who have been unworthily associated with them in the 
quarter of the Union to which I have referred. The gentleman can not 
have forgotten his own sentiments, uttered even on the floor of this House, 
" peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must," nearly at the very time 
Henry's mission to Boston was undertaken. The flagitiousness of that 
embassy had been attempted to be concealed by directing the public at-- 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 59 

tention to the price which, the gentleman says, was given for the dis- 
closure. As if any price could change the atrociousness of the attempt on 
the part of Great Britain, or could extenuate, in the slightest degree, the 
offense of those citizens who entertained and deliberated upon a proposition 
so infamous and unnatural ! There was a most remarkable coincidence 
between some of the things which that man states, and certain events in the 
quarter alluded to. In the contingency of war with Great Britain, it will 
be recollected that the neutrality and eventual separation of that section 
of the Union was to be brought about. How, sir, has it happened, since 
the declaration of war, that British officers in Canada have asserted to 
American officers, that this very neutrality would take place ? That they 
have so asserted can be established beyond controversy. The project is 
not brought forward openly with a direct avowal of the intention. No, 
the stock of good sense and patriotism in that portion of the country is too 
great to be undisguisedly encountered. It is assailed from the masked 
batteries of friendship, of peace and commerce on the one side, and by the 
groundless imputation of opposite propensities on the other. The affec- 
tions of the people there are gradually to be undermined. The project is 
suggested or withdrawn ; the diabolical dramatis personce in this criming 
tragedy make their appearance or exit as the audience, to whom they ad- 
dress themselves, applaud or condemn. I was astonished, sir, in reading 
lately a letter, or pretended letter, published in a prominent print in that 
quarter, and written, not in the fervor of party zeal, but coolly and dispas- 
sionately, to find that the writer affected to reason about a separation, and 
attempted to demonstrate its advantages to the different portions of the 
Union, deploring the existence now of what he terms prejudices against it, 
but hoping for the arrival of the period when they shall be eradicated. 
But, sir, I will quit this unpleasant subject ; I will turn from one whom no 
sense of decency or propriety could restrain from soiling the carpet on 
which he treads, to gentlemen who have not forgotten what is due to 
themselves, to the place in which we are assembled, or to those by whom 
they are opposed. The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Pearson), 
from Connecticut (Mr. Pitkin), and from New York (Mr. Bleeker), have, 
with their usual decorum, contended that the war would not have been 
declared, had it not been for the duplicity of France in withholding an 
authentic instrument repealing the decrees of Berlin and Milan ; that upon 
the exhibition of such an instrument the revocation of the Orders in 
Council took place ; that this main cause of the war, but for which it 
would not have been declared, being removed, the administration ought to 
seek for the restoration of peace ; and that upon its sincerely doing so, 
terms compatible with the honor and interest of this country might be ob- 
tained. It is my pui-pose, said Mr, Clay, to examine, first, into the cir- 
cumstances under which the war was declared ; secondly, into the causes 
of continuing it ; and lastly, into the means which have been taken, or 
ought to be taken to procure peace ; but, sir, I am really so exhausted 



60 SPEECHES OP HENRY CLAT. 

that, little as I am in the habit of asking of the House an indulgence of 
tliis kind, I feel I must trespass on their goodness. 

[Here Mr. Clay sat down. Mr. Newton moved that the committee rise, 
report progress, and ask leave to sit again, which was done. On the nert 
day he proceeded.] 

I am sensible, Mr. Chairman, that some part of the debate, to which 
this bill has given rise, has been attended by circumstances much to be re- 
gretted, not usual in this House, and of which it is to be hoped, there will 
be no repetition. The gentleman from Boston had so absolved himself 
ft'om every rule of decorum and propriety, had so outraged aJl decency, 
that I have found it impossible to suppress the feelings excited on the oc- 
casion. His colleague, whom I have the honor to follow, (Mr. Wlieaton), 
whatever else he might not have proved, in his very learned, ingenious, 
and original exposition of the powers of this government — an exposition in 
which he has sought, where nobody before him has, and nobody after him 
will look, for a grant of our powers, I mean the preamble to the Constitu- 
tion — ^has clearly shown, to the satisfaction of all who heard him, that the 
power of defensive war is conferred. I claim the benefit of a similar prin 
ciple, in behalf of my political friends, against the gentlemen from Boston. 
I demand only the exercise of the right of repulsion. No one is more 
anxious than I am to preserve the dignity and the freedom of debate ; no 
member is more responsible for its abuse, and, if, on this occasion, its just 
limits have been violated, let him, who has been the unprovoked aggressor, 
appropriate to himself, exclusively, the consequences. 

I omitted yesterday, sir, when speaking of a delicate and painful sub- 
ject, to notice a powerful engine which the conspirators against the integ- 
rity of the Union employ, to efiect their nefarious puipose : I mean 
southern influence. The true friend to his country, knowing that our 
Constitution was the work of compromise, in which interests apparently 
conflicting were attempted to be reconciled, aims to extinguish or allay 
prejudices. But this patriotic exertion does not suit the views of those 
who are urged on by diabolical ambition. They find it convenient, to 
imagine the existence of certain improper influences, and to propagate 
with their utmost industry a belief of them. Hence the idea of southern 
preponderance, Virginia influenc^e, the yoking of the respectable yeomanry 
of the North with negro slaves to the car of southern nabobs. If Virginia 
really cherished a reprehensible ambition, an aim to monopolize the chief 
magistracy of the country, how was such a purpose to be accomplished ? 
Virginia, alone, can not elect a president, whose elevation depends upon a 
plurality of electoral votes, and a consequent concurrence of many States. 
Would Vermont, disinterested Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, independent 
Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, all consent to become the 
tools of inordinate ambition ? But the present incumbent was designated 
to the ofiice before his predecessor had retired. How ? By public sen- 
timent — public sentiment, which grew out of his known virtues, his illustri- 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 61 

ouB services, and his distinguished abilities. Would the gentleman crush 
this public sentiment ? Is he prepared to admit that he would arrest the 
progress of opinion ? 

The war was declared, because Great Britain arrogated to herself the 
pretension of regulating our foreign trade, under the delusive name of 
retaliatory orders in council — a pretension by which she undertook to 
proclaim to American enterprise, " thus far shalt thou go, and no further" 
— orders which she refused to revoke, after the alleged cause of their enact- 
ment had ceased; because she persisted in the practice of impressing 
American seamen ; because she had instigated the Indians to commit hos- 
tilities against us ; and because she refused indemnity for her past injuries 
upon our commerce. I throw out of the question other wrongs. The 
war in fact was announced, on our part, to meet the war which she was 
waging on her part. So undeniable were the causes of the war, so pow- 
erfully did they address themselves to the feeling of the whole American 
people, that when the bill W£is pending before this House, gentlemen in the 
opposition, although provoked to debate, would not, or could not, utter one 
syllable against it. It is true, they wrapped themselves up in sullen silence, 
pretending they did not choose to debate such a question in secret session. 
While speaking of the proceedings on that occasion, I beg to be permitted 
to advert to another fact which transpired — an important fact, material for 
the nation to know, and which I have often regretted had not been spread 
upon our journals. 

My honorable colleague (Mr. McKee) moved, in Committee of the 
Whole, to comprehend France in the war ; and when the question was 
taken upon the proposition, there appeared but ten votes in support of it, 
of which, seven belonged to this side of the House, and three only to the 
other ! It is said that we were inveigled into the war by the perfidy of 
France ; and that, had she furnished the document in time, which was 
first published in England, in May last, it would have been prevented. I 
will concede to gentlemen every thing they ask about the injustice of 
France toward this country. I wish to God that our abiUty was equal to 
our disposition, to make her feel the sense that we entertain of that in- 
justice. The manner of the publication of the paper in question was, un- 
doubtedly, extremely exceptionable. But I maintain that, had it made its 
appearance earlier, it would not have had the efiect supposed ; and the 
proof lies in the unequivocal declarations of the British goveniment. I 
will trouble you, sir, with going no further back than to the letters of the 
British minister, addressed to the Secretary of State, just before the expira- 
tion of his diplomatic function. It will be recollected by the committee, 
that he exhibited to this government a dispatch, from Lord Castlereagh, in 
which the principle was distinctly avowed, that, to produce the effect of 
a repeal of the orders in council, the French decrees must be absolutely 
and entirely revoked as to all the world, and not as to America alone. A 
copy of that dispatch was demanded of him, and he very awkwardly 



62 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

evaded it. But on the 10th of June, after the bill declariug war had 
actually passed this House, and was pending before the Senate (and which, 
I have no doubt, was known to him), in a letter to Mr. Monroe, he says : 
" I have no hesitation, sir, in saying, that Great Britain, as the case has 
hitherto stood, never did, and never could, engage, without the greatest 
injustice to herself and her allies, as well as to other neutral nations, 
to repeal her orders as affecting America alone, leaving them in force 
against other states, upon condition that France would except, singly 
and specially, America from the operation of her decrees." On the 14th 
of the same mouth, the bill still pending before the Senate, he repeats : 
" I will now say that I feel entirely authorized to assure you that if you 
can, at any time, produce a full and unconditional repeal of the French 
decrees, as you have a right ro demand it, in your character of a neutral 
nation, and that it be disengaged from any question concerning our mar- 
itime rights, we shall be ready to meet you with a revocation of the 
orders in council. Previously to your producmg such an instrument, which 
I am sorry to see you regard as unnecessary, you can not expect of us to 
give up our orders in council." Thus, sir, you see that the British govern- 
ment would not be content with a repeal of the French decrees, as to us 
only. But the French paper in question was such a repeal. It could not, 
therefore, satisfy the British government. It could not, therefore, have in- 
duced that government, had it been earlier promulgated, to repeal the 
orders in council. It could not, therefore, have averted the war. The 
withholding of it did not occasion the war, and the promulgation of it 
would not have prevented the war. But gentlemen have contended that, 
in point of fact, it did produce a repeal of the orders in council. This I 
deny. After it made its appearance in England, it was declared by one 
of the British ministry, in Parliament, not to be satisfactory. And all the 
world knows that the repeal of the orders in council resulted from the in- 
quiry, reluctantly acceded to by the ministry, into the effect upon their 
manufacturing establishments, of our non-importation law, or to the war- 
like attitude assumed by this government, or to both. But it is said, that 
the orders in council are withdrawn, no matter from what cause ; and that 
having been the sole motive for declaring the war, the relations of peace 
ought to be restored. This brings me to the examination of the grounds 
for continuing the present hostiUties between this country and Great 
Britain, 

I am far from acknowledging that, had the orders in council been re- 
pealed, as they have been, before the war was declared, the declaration of 
hostilities would of course have been prevented. In a body so numerous 
as this is, from which the declaration emanated, it is impossible to say, 
with any degree of certainty, what would have been the effect of such a 
repeal. Each member must answer for himself. As to myself, I have no 
hesitation in saying, that I have always considered the impressment of 
American seamen as much the most serious aggression. But, sir, how 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 63 

have those orders at last been repealed ? Great Britain, it is true, has 
intimated a willingness to suspend their practical operation, but she still 
arrogates to herself the right to revive them upon certain contingencies, 
of vfhich she constitutes herself the sole judge. She waives the temporary 
tise of the rod, but she suspends it in terrorem over our heads. Supposing 
it to be conceded to, gentlemen, that such a repeal of the orders in 
council as took place on the 23d of June last, exceptionable as it is, being 
known before the war was proclaimed, would have prevented it ; does it 
follow that it ought to induce us to lay down our arms, without the redress 
of any other injury of which we complain ? 

Does it follow, in all cases, that what would in the first instance have 
prevented would also terminate the war ? By no means. It requires a 
strong and powerful effort in a nation, prone to peace as this is, to burst 
through its habits, and encounter the difficulties and privations of war. 
Such a nation ought but seldom to embark in a belligerent contest ; but 
when it does, it should be for obvious and essential rights alone, and should 
firmly resolve to extort, at all hazards their recognition. The war of the 
Revolution is an example of a war begun for one object and prosecuted for 
another. It was waged, in its commencement, against the right asserted 
by the parent country to tax the colonies. Then no one thought of abso- 
lute independence. The idea of independence was repelled. But the 
British government would have relinquished the principle of taxation. 
The founders of om- liberties saw, however, that there was no security short 
of independence, and they achieved that independence. When nations are 
engaged in war, those rights in controversy, which are not acknowledged 
by the treaty of peace, are abandoned. And who is prepared to say, that 
American seamen shall be surrendered as victims to the English principle 
of impressment ? And, sir, what is this principle ? She contends, that 
she has a right to the services of her own subjects ; and that, in the exer- 
cise of this right, she may lawfully impress them, even although she finds 
them in American vessels, upon the high seas, without her jurisdiction. 
Now I deny that she has any right, beyond her jurisdiction, to come on 
board our vessels, upon the high seas, for any other purpose than in the 
pursuit of enemies, or their goods, or goods contraband of war. But she 
further contends, that her subjects can not renounce their allegiance to h-er, 
and contract a new obligation to other sovereigns. I do not mean to go 
into the general question of the right of expatriation. If, as is contended, 
all nations deny it, all nations at the same time admit and practice the 
right of naturalization. Great Britain herself does this. Great Britain, in 
the very case of foreign seamen, imposes, perhaps, fewer restraints upon 
naturalization than any other nation. Then, if subjects can not break their 
original allegiance, they may, according to universal usage, contract a new 
allegiance. What is the effect of this double obligation ? Undoubtedly, 
that the sovereign, having possession of the subject, would have the right 
to the services of the subject. If he return within the jurisdiction of hif 



64 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

primitive sovereign he may resume his right to his services, of which the 
subject, by his own act, could not divest himself. But his primitive sove- 
reign can have no right to go in quest of him, out of his own jurisdiction, 
into the jurisdiction of another sovereign, or upon the high seas, where 
there exists either no jurisdiction, or it is possessed by the nation owning 
the ship navigating them. But, sir, this discussion is altogether useless. 
It is not to the British principle, objoctionable as it is, that we are alone to 
look ; it is to her practice, no matter what guise she puts on. It is in 
vain to assert the inviolability of the obligation of allegiance. It is in 
vain to set up the plea of necessity, and to allege that she can not exist, 
without the impressment of hek seamen. The naked truth is, she comes, 
by her press-gangs, on board of our vessels, seizes our native as well as 
naturahzed seamen, and drags them into her service. It is the case, then, 
of the assertion of an erroneous principle, and of a practice not conform- 
able to the asserted principle — a principle, which, if it were theoretically 
right, must be forever practically wrong — a practice which can obtain 
countenance from no principle whatever, and to submit to which, on our 
part, would betray the most abject degradation. We are told, by gentle- 
men in the opposition, that government has not done all that was incum- 
bent on it to do, to avoid just cause of complaint on the part of Great 
Britain ; that, in particular, the certificates of protection, authorized by the 
act of 1796, are fraudulently used. Sir, government has done too much 
in granting those paper protections. I can never think of them without 
being shocked. They resemble the passes which the master grants to his 
negro slave — " Let the bearer, Mungo, pass and repass without molesta- 
tion." What do they imply ? That Great Britain has a right to seize all 
who are not provided with them. From their very nature, they must be 
liable to abuse on both sides. If Great Britain desires a mark, by which 
she can know her own subjects, let her give them an ear mark. The colors 
that float from the mast-head should be the credentials of our seamen. 
There is no safety to us, and the gentlemen have shown it, but in the 
rule, that all who sail under the flag (not being enemies) are protected by 
the flag. It is impossible, that this country should ever abandon the gal- 
lant tars who have won for us such splendid trophies. Let me suppose 
that the genias of Columbia should visit one of them in his oppressor's 
prison, and attempt to reconcile him to his forlorn and wretched condition. 
She would say to him, in the language of gentlemen on the other side, 
'* Great Britain intends you no harm ; she did not mean to impress you, 
but one of her own subjects; having taken you by mistake, I will remon- 
strate, and try to prevail upon her, by peaceable means, to release you ; but 
I can not, my son, fight for you." If he did not consider this mere mock- 
eiy, the poor tar would arldi'ess her judgment, and say, " You owe me, my 
country, protection ; I owe you, in return, obedience. I am no British 
subject, I am a native of old Massachusetts, where lived my aged father, 
cay wife, my children. I have faithfully discharged my duty. Will you 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 65 

refuse to do yours ?" Appealing to her passions, he would continue : " I 
lost this eye in fighting under Truxton, with the Insurgente ; I got this 
•car before Tripoli ; I broke this leg on board the Constitution, when the 
Guerriere struck." K she remained still unmoved, he would break out, in 
the accents of mingled distress and despair, 

' ' Hard, hard is my fate ! once I freedom enjoyed, 
Was as happy as happy could be I 
Oh! how hard is my fate, how galUng these chains !'• 

I will not imagine the dreadful catastrophe to which he would be driven 
by an abandonment of him to his oppressor. It will not be, it can not be, 
that his country will refuse him protection. 

It is said that Great Britain has been always willing to make a satis- 
factory arrangement of the subject of impressment ; and that Mr. King 
had nearly concluded one, prior to his departure from that country. Let 
us hear what that minister says upon his return to America. In this letter, 
dated at New York in July, 1803, after giving an account of his attempt 
to form an arrangement for the protection of our seamen, and his inter- 
views to this end with Lords Hawkesbury and St. Vincent ; and stating 
that, when he had supposed the terms of a convention were agreed upon, 
a new pretension was set up (the mare clausum), he concludes : " I regret 
to have been unable to put this business on a satisfactory footing, knowing, 
as I do, its very great importance to both parties ; but I flatter myself that 
I have not misjudged the interests of our own country, in refusing to sanc- 
tion a principle that might be productive of more extensive evils than 
those it was our aim to prevent." The sequel of his negotiation on this 
aflair is more fully given in the recent conversation between Mr. Russell 
and Lord Castlereagh, communicated to Congress during its present ses- 
sion. Lord Castlereagh says to Mr. Russell : 

" Indeed, there has evidently been much misapprehension on this sub- 
ject ; an erroneous belief entertained that an arrangement, in regard to it, 
has been nearer an accomplishment than the facts will waraant. Even our 
friends in Congress, I mean those who are opposed to going to war with us, 
have been so confident in this mistake, that they have ascribed the failuie 
of such an arrangement solely to the misconduct of the American govern- 
ment. This error probably originated with Mr. King ; for, being nmch 
esteemed here, and always well received by the persons in power, he seems 
to have misconstrued their readiness to listen to his representations, and 
their warm professions of a disposition to remove the complaints of Amer- 
ica, in relation to impressment, into a supposed conviction, on their part, 
of the propriety of adopting the plan which he had proposed. But Lord 
St. Vincent, whom he might have thought he had brought over to his 
opinions, appears never for a moment to have ceased to regard all arrange- 

* The effect of the above hypothetical dialogue, ending with these lines, is said 
to have been prodigious. — Editor. 

a 



t)6 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ments on the subject, to be attended with formidable if not insurmountable 
obstacles. This is obvious, from a letter which his lordship addressed 
to Sir William Scott at the time." Here Lord Castlereagh read a letter, 
contained in the records before him, in which Lord St. Vincent states to Sir 
William Scott the zeal with which Mr. King had assailed him on this 
subject of impressment ; confesses his own perplexity, and total incompe- 
tency to discover any practical project for the safe discontinuance of that 
practice, and asks for counsel and advice. " Thus you see," proceeded 
Lord Castlereagh, " that the confidence of Mr. King, on this subject, was 
entirely unfounded." 

Thus it is apparent, that at no time has the enemy been willing to place 
this subject on a satisfactory footing. I will speak hereafter of the over- 
tures made by the administration since the war. 

The honorable gentleman from New York (Mr. Bleeker), in the very 
sensible speech with which he favored the committee, made one observa- 
tion which did not comport with his usual liberal and enlarged views. It 
was, that those who are most interested against the practice of impress- 
ment, did not desire a continuance of the war on account of it ; while 
those (the southern and western members) who had no interest in it, were 
the zealous advocates of American seamen. It was a provincial sentiment 
unworthy of that gentleman. It was one which, in a change of con- 
dition, he would not express, because I know he could not feel it. Does 
not that gentleman feel for the unhappy victims of the tomahawk in the 
western wilds, although his quarter of the Union may be exempted from 
similar barbarities ? I am sure he does. If there be a description of 
rights which, more than any other, should unite all parties in all quarters 
of the LTnion, it is unquestionably the rights of the person. No matter 
what his vocation ; whether he seeks subsistence amid the dangers of the 
deep, or draws them from the bowels of the earth, or from the humblest 
occupations of mechanic life ; wherever the sacred rights of an American 
freeman are assailed, all hearts ought to unite, and every arm should be 
braced to vindicate his cause. 

The gentleman from Delaware sees in Canada no object worthy of con- 
quest. According to him it is a cold, sterile, and inhospitable region. 
And yet such are the allurements which it ofiers, that the same gentleman 
apprehends that if it be annexed to the United States, already too much 
weakened by an extension of territory, the people of New England will 
rush over the line and depopulate that section of the Union ! That gen- 
tleman considers it honest to hold Canada as a kind of hostage, to regard 
it as a sort of bond for the good behavior of the enemy. But he will not 
enforce the bond. The actual conquest of that country would, according 
to him, make no impression upon the enemy ; and yet the very apprehen- 
sion only of such a conquest would, at all times, have a powerful operation 
upon him ! Other gentlemen consider the invasion of that country as 
wicked and unjustifiable. Its inhabitants are represented as harmless and 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 67 

unoffending ; as connected with those of the bordering States by a thou- 
sand tender ties, interchanging acts of kindness, and all the oflSces of good 
neighborhood. Canada, said Mr. Clay, innocent ! Canada unoffending ! 
Is it not in Canada that the tomahawk of the savage has been molded into 
its death-like form ? Has it not been from Canadian magazines, Maiden 
and others, that those supplies have been issued which nourish and con- 
tinue the Indian hostilities — supplies which have enabled the savage 
hordes to butcher the garrison of Chicago, and to commit other horrible 
excesses and murders ? Was it not by the joint co-operation of Canadians 
and Indians that a remote American fort, Michilimackiiuic, was assailed 
and reduced while in ignorance of a state of war ? But, sir, how soon 
have the opposition changed their tone ! When the administration was 
striving, by the operation of peaceful measures, to bring Great Britain 
back to a sense of justice, they were for old-fashioned war. And now they 
have got old-fashioned war their sensibilities are cruelly shocked, and all 
their sympathies lavished upon the harmless inhabitants of the adjoining 
provinces. What does a state of war present ? The united energies of 
one people arrayed against the combined energies of another ; a conflict 
in which each party aims to inflict all the injury it can, by sea and land, 
upon the territories, property, and citizens of an other ; subject only to 
the rules of mitigated war practiced by civilized nations. The gentlemen 
would not touch the continental provinces of the enemy, nor, I presume, 
for the same reason, her possessions in the West Indies. The same hu- 
mane spirit would spare the seamen and soldiers of the enemy. The sa- 
cred person of his majesty must not be attacked ; for the learned gentlemen 
on the other side are quite familiar with the maxim, that the king can do 
no wrong. Indeed, sir, I know of no person on whom we may make war 
upon the principles of the honorable gentlemen but Mr. Stephen, the cele- 
brated author of the orders in council, or the Board of Admiralty who au- 
thorize and regulate the practice of impressment ! 

The disasters of the war admonish us, we are told, of the necessity of 
terminating the contest. If our achievements by land have been less 
splendid than those of our intrepid seamen by water, it is not because the 
American soldier is less brave. On the one element, organization, discip- 
line, and a thorough knowledge of their duties, exist, on the part of the 
oflBcers and their men. On the other, almost every thing is yet to be ac- 
quired. We have, however, the consolation that our country abounds with 
the richest materials, and that in no instance, when engaged in action, 
have our arms been tarnished. At Brownstown and at Queenstown the 
valor of veterans was displayed, and acts of the noblest heroism were per- 
formed. It is true that the disgrace of Detroit remains to be wiped off. 
That is a subject on which I can not trust my feelings ; it is not fitting I 
should speak. But this much I will say, it was an event which no human 
foresight could have anticipated, and for which the administration can not 
be justly censured. It was the parent of all the misfortunes we have ex- 



68 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

perienced on land. But for it the Indian war would have been, in a great 
measure, prevented or terminated ; the ascendency on lake Erie acquired, 
and the war pushed on, perhaps, to Montreal. With the exception of that 
event, the war, even upon the land, has been attended by a series of the 
most brilliant exploits, which, whatever interest they may inspire on this 
side of the mountains, have given the greatest pleasure on the other. 
The expedition, under the command of Governor Edwards and Colonel 
Russell, to lake Pioria, on the Dlinois, was completely successful. So was 
that of Captain Craig, who, it is said, ascended that river still higher. 
General Hopkins destroyed the prophet's town. We have just received 
intelligence of the gallant enterprise of Colonel Campbell. In short, sir, 
the Indian towns have been swept from the mouth to the source of the 
Wabash ; and a hostile country has been penetrated far beyond the 
most daring incursions of any campaign, during the former Indian 
war. Never was more cool, deliberate bravery displayed, than that 
by Newman's party, from Georgia. And the capture of the Detroit, and 
the destruction of the Caledonia (whether placed to a maritime or land 
account), for judgment, skill, and courage, on the part of Lieutenant 
Ellliott, have never been surpassed. 

It is alleged that the elections in England are in favor of the ministry, 
and that those in this country are against the war. If, in such a cause 
(saying nothing of the impurity of their elections) the people of that coun- 
try have rallied round their government, it aflfords a salutary lesson to the 
people here ; who, at all hazards, ought to support theirs, struggling as it 
is to maintain our just rights. But the people here have not been false 
to themselves ; a great majority approve the war, as is evinced by the re- 
cent re-election of the chief magistrate. Suppose it were even true, that 
an entire section of the Union were opposed to the war ; that section 
being a minority, is the will of the majority to be relinquished ? In that 
section the real strength of the opposition had been greatly exaggerated. 
Vermont has, by two successive expressions of her opinion, approved the 
declaration of war. In New Hampshire, parties are so nearly equipoised, 
that out of thirty or thirty-five thousand votes, those who approved and 
are for supporting it, lost the election by only one thousand or one thou- 
sand five hundred. lu Massachusetts alone have they obtained any con- 
siderable accession. If we come to New York, we shall find that other 
and local causes have influenced her elections. 

What cause, Mr. Chairman, which existed for declaring the war, has 
been removed % We sought indenmity for the past, and security for the 
future. The orders in council are suspended, not revoked ; no compensa- 
tion for spoliations ; Indian hostilities, which were before secretly insti- 
gated, are now openly encom'aged ; and the practice of impressment unre- 
mittingly persevered in and insisted upon. Yet the administration has 
given the strongest demonstrations of its love of peace. On the 29th 
of June, less than ten days after the declaration of war, the Secretary of 



ON THE NEW ARMY BILL. 69 

State writes to Mr. Russell, authorizing him to agree to an armistice, upon 
two conditions only, and what are they? That the orders in council 
should be repealed, and the practice of impressing American seamen cease, 
those already impi-essed being released. The proposition was for nothing 
more than a real truce ; that the war should in fact cease on both sides. 
Again, on the 27th of July, one month later, anticipating a possible ob- 
jection to these terms, reasonable as they are, Mr. Monroe empowers 
Mr. Russell to stipulate in general terms for an armistice, having only a 
formal understanding on these points. In return, the enemy is offered a 
prohibition of the employment of his seamen in our service, thus remov- 
ing entirely all pretext for the practice of impressment. The very propo- 
sition which the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Pitkin) contends ought 
to be made, has been made. How are these pacific advances met by the 
other party? Rejected as absolutely inadmissible; cavils are indulged 
about the inadequacy of Mr. Russell's powers, and the want of an act of 
Congress is intimated. And yet the constant usage of nations, I believe, 
is, where the legislation of one party is necessary to carry into effect a 
given stipulation, to leave it to the contracting party to provide the re- 
quisite laws. If he fail to do so, it is a breach of good faith, and becomes 
the subject of subsequent remonstrance by the injured party. When Mr. 
Russell renews the overture, in what was intended as a more agreeable form 
to the British government. Lord Castlereagh is not content with a simple 
rejection, but clothes it in the language of insult. Afterward, in conver- 
sation with Mr. Russell, the moderation of our government is mismter- 
preted, and made the occasion of a sneer, that we are tired of the war. 
The proposition of Admiral Warren is submitted in a spirit not more pa- 
cific. He is instructed, he tells us, to propose, that the government of 
the United States shall instantly recall their letters of marque and reprisal 
against British ships, together with all orders and instructions for any acts 
of hostility whatever, against the territories of his majesty, or the persons 
or property of his subjects. That small affair being settled, he is further 
authorized to arrange as to the revocation of the laws which interdict the 
commerce and ships of war of his majesty from the harbors and waters 
of the United States. This messenger of peace comes with one qualified 
concession in his pocket, not made to the justice of om- demands, and is 
fully empowered to receive our homage, a contrite retraction of all our 
measures adopted against his master ! And, in default, he does not fail to 
assure us, the orders in council are to be forthwith revived. The admin- 
istration, still anxious to terminate the war, suppresses the indignation which 
such a proposal ought to have created, and, in its answer, concludes by 
informing Admiral Warren, " that if there be no objection to an accommo- 
dation of the difference relating to impressment, in the mode proposed, 
other than the suspension of the British claim to impressment during the 
armistice, there can be none to proceeding, without the armistice, to an 
immediate discussion and arrangement of an article on that subject." 



70 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Thus it has left the door of negotiation unclosed, and it remains to be 
seen, if the enemy will accept the invitation tendered to him. The hon- 
orable gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Pearson) supposes, that if 
Concrress would pass a law, prohibiting the employment of British seamen 
in our service, upon condition of a like prohibition on their part, and re- 
peal the act of non-importation, peace would immediately follow. Sir, I 
have no doubt, if such a law were to pass, with all the requisite solem- 
uities, and the repeal to take place. Lord Castlereagh would laugh at our 
simplicity. No, sir, the administration has en-ed in the steps which it has 
taken to restore peace, but its error has been not in doing too little, but 
in betraying too great a solicitude for that event. An honorable peace 
is attainable only by an efficient war. My plan would be, to call out the 
ample resources of the country, give them a judicious dii'ection, prosecute 
the war with the utmost vigor, strike wherever we can reach the enemy, 
at sea or on land, and negotiate the terms of a peace at Quebec or at 
Halifax. We are told that England is a proud and lofty nation, which, 
disdaining to wait for danger, meets it half way. Haughty as she is, 
we once triumphed over her, and, if we do not listen to the counsels of 
timidity and despair, we shall again prevail. In such a cause, with the 
aid of Providence, we must come out crowned with success ; but if we 
fail, let us fail like men, lash ourselves to our gallant tars, and expire 
together in one common struggle, fighting for free trade and seamen's 

RIGHTS. 



ON MR. CLAY'S RETURN FROM GHENT. 

DBLIYBRBD AT A PUBLIC DINNER AT LEXINGTON, GIVEN IN HONOB 
OF MR. CLAY, OCTOBER 7, 1815. 

[Mr. Clay, who had been the chief prompter of the war with 
Great Britain, was appointed one of the Commissioners to nego- 
tiate a peace, and, as has ever been conceded, was greatly influ- 
ential in determining the conditions. Christopher Hughes, the 
Secretary of that Commission, in a private letter to Mr. Clay, 
dated November, 27, 1844, at London, says : " You did more at 
that Congress than any of its members, by your tact, your dis- 
cretion, your moderation, your self-command, and your incom- 
parable manner— more, I say, than any other, to bestow this 
most blessed boon (of peace) among men." Mr. Clay's friends at 
Lexington, including the people of all parties, were justly proud, 
not only of the part he had enacted in the war, but especially of 
his instrumentahty in making peace ; and on his return, they 
gave him a public dinner. One of the toasts was as follows : 
" Our negotiators at Ghent : their talents at diplomacy have 
kept pace with the valor of our arms, in demonstrating to the 
enemy that these States will be free." Another toast was : " Our 
guest, Henry Clay : we welcome his return to that country 
whose rights and interests he has so ably maintained at home 
and abroad." To the first of these toasts Mr. Clay made the 
following reply :] 

I FEEL myself called on, by the sentiment just expressed, to return my 
thanks, in behalf of my colleagues and myself. I do not, and am quite sure 
they do not, feel, that, in the service alluded to, they are at all entitled to 
the compliment which has been paid them. We could not do otherwise 
than reject the demand made by the other party ; and if our labors finally 
terminated in an honorable peace, it was owing to causes on this side of 
the Atlantic, and not to any exertion of ours. Whatever diversity of 
opinion may have existed as to the declaration of the war, there are some 
points on which all may look back with proud satisfaction. The first re- 



72 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

lates to the time of the conclusion of the peace. Had it been ina 1^^ im- 
mediately after the treaty of Paris, we should have retired humiliated from 
the contest, believing that we had escaped the severe chastisement with 
which we were threatened, and that we owed to the generosity and mag- 
nanimity of the enemy, what we were incapable of commanding by our 
arms. That magnanimity would have been the theme of every tongue, 
and of every press, abroad and at home. We shuuld have retired, uncon- 
scious of our own strength, and unconscious of the utter inability of the 
enemy, with his whole undivided force, to make any serious impression 
upon us. Our military character, then in the lowest state of degradation, 
would have been unretrieved. Fortimately for us. Great Britain chose 
to try the issue of the last campaign. And the issue of the last campaign 
has demonstrated, in the repulse before Baltimore, the retreat from Platts- 
burg, the hard-fought action on the Niagara frontier, and in that most 
glorious day, the eighth of January, that we have always possessed the finest 
elements of military composition, and that a proper use of them, only, was 
necessary, to insure for the army and militia a fame as imperishable as that 
which the navy had previously acquired. 

Another point which appears to me to afford the highest consolation is, 
that we fought the most powerful nation, perhaps, in existence, single- 
handed and alone, without any sort of alliance. More than thirty years 
has Great Britain been maturing her physical means, which she had ren- 
dered as eflficacious as possible, by skill, by discipline, and by actual serv- 
ice. Proudly boasting of the conquest of Europe, she vainly flattered 
herself with the easy conquest of America also. Her veterans were put 
to flight or defeated, while all Europe — I mean the governments of Europe 
— was gazing with cold indifference, or sentiments of positive hatred of 
us, upon the arduous contest. Hereafter no monarch can assert claims of 
gratitude upon us, for assistance rendered in the hour of danger. 

There is another view of which the subject of the war is fairly suscept- 
ible. From the moment that Great Britain came forward at Ghent with 
her extravagant demands, the war totally changed its character. It be- 
came, as it were, a new war. It was no longer an American war, prose- 
cuted for redress of British aggressions upon American rights, but became 
a British war, prosecuted for objects of British ambition, to be accompanied 
by American sacrifices. And what were those demands ? Here, in the 
immediate neighborhood of a sister State and territories, which were to be 
made in part the victims, they must have been felt, and their enormity 
justly appreciated. They consisted of the erection of a barrier between 
Canada and the United States, to be formed by cutting off from Ohio and 
some of the territories a country more extensive than Great Britain, con- 
taining thousands of freemen, who were to be abandoned to their fate, and 
creating a new power, totally unknown upon the continent of America ; 
of the dismantling of our fortresses, and naval power on the lakes, with 
the surrender of the military occupation of those waters to the enemy, and 



ON HIS RETURN FROM GHENT. 73 

of an arrondissement for two British provinces. These demands, boldlj 
asserted, and one of them declared to be a sine qua non, were finally re- 
linquished. Taking this view of the subject, if there be loss of reputation 
by either party, in the terms of peace, who has sustained it ? 

The effects of the war are highly satisfactory. Abroad, our character, 
which at the time of its declaration was in the lowest state of degradation, 
is raised to the highest point of elevation. It is impossible for any Amer- 
ican to visit Europe, without being sensible of this agreeable change, in the 
personal attentions which he receives, in the praises which are bestowed 
on our past exertions, and the predictions which are made as to our future 
prospects. At home, a goveniment, which, at its formation, was appre- 
hended by its best friends, and pronounced by its enemies to be incapable 
of standing the shock, is found to answer all the purposes of its institution. 
In spite of the errors which have been committed (and errors have undoubt- 
edly been committed), aided by the spirit and patriotism of the people, it 
is demonstrated to be as competent to the objects of effective war, as it 
has been before proved to be to the concerns of a season of peace. 
Government has thus acquired strength and confidence. Our prospects 
for the future, are of the brightest kind. With every reason to count on 
the permanence of peace, it remains only for the Government to determine 
upon military and naval establishments adapted to the growth and exten- 
sion of our country and its rising importance, keeping in view a gradual 
but not burdensome increase of the navy ; to provide for the payment of 
the interest, and the redemption of the public debt, and for the current ex- 
penses of Government. For all these objects, the existing sources of the 
revenue promise not only to be abundantly sufficient, but will probably leave 
ample scope to the exercise of the judgment of Congress, in selecting for 
repeal, modification, or abolitiou, those which may be found most oppress- 
ive, inconvenient, or improductive. 

[In reply to the second toast, as given above, Mr. Clay said :] 

My friends, I must again thank you for your kind and affectionate attention. 
My reception has been more like that of a brother than a common friend 
or acquaintance, and I am utterly incapable of finding words to express my 
gratitude. My situation is like that of a Swedish gentleman, at a dinner 
given in England by the Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress. A 
toast having been given complimentary to his country, it was expected, as 
is usual on such occasions, that he would rise and address the company. 
The gentleman, not understanding the English language, rose under great 
embarassment, and said, " Sir, I wish you to consider me a foreigner in 
distress." I wish you, gentlemen, to consider me a friend in distress. 



ON THE BANK QUESTION. 

MR. CLAY'S ADDRESS TO HIS CONSTITUENTS, LEXINGTON, JUNE 3, 1816. 

[Mb. Clay's speech in the House of Representatives, 1816, in 
favor of the re-incorporation of the Bank of the United States, 
was not published ; and as he had spoken and voted against the 
hill for the re-charter of the Bank in 1811, it seemed quite 
proper, and necessary to his polititical consistency, that he 
should avail himself of some opportunity to give his reasons for 
this apparent change of opinion. In our introduction to his 
speech on this subject, in 1811, we have endeavored to show, 
that there was really no change of opinion, but simply an adapta- 
tion of policy to a change of circumstances in the financial and 
commercial condition of the nation. In 1811, the State banks 
were in a good condition, and competent, if required, to transact 
the financial affairs of the general government ; whereas, the 
national bank, as then administered, did not work satisfactorily. 
It could be dispensed with, if the State banks had continued 
sound. But the war of 1812 gave such a severe trial to the State 
bank system, as nearly to break it down, and at the close of the 
war, the country was left without a sound currency. Commerce, 
trade, and the government, were equally embarrassed for proper 
and safe financial agents. The currency had utterly failed to 
furnish an agency for these indispensable purposes, and the uni- 
versal cry was for a national bank. What could a wise and 
practical statesman do in such a case ? K he could see that it 
was merely a present popular demand, soon to pass over, ho 
might risk opposition to the measure ; but if the demand was 
well founded, and likely to become louder and stronger from the 
necessities of the country, opposition would have been an act 
of folly. The success of the bank for twenty years from 1816, 
proved the wisdom of the measure. It executed all the financial 
business of the government without charge, receiving for its com- 
pensation the use of the public deposits ; it operated as a salu- 
tary regulator of the currency by its check on unsound State 



ON THE BANK QUESTION. 75 

banks ; and no party or person ever suffered the loss of a penny 
by this bank. Nicholas Biddle, when he established the United 
States Bank of Pennsylvania, committed the injustice, it might 
be called a fraud, by continuing the same name — " United States 
Bank" — to this State institution ; whereas it was no more a na- 
tional institution than a hotel or oyster-cellar called by that 
name, of which there are specimens in every city of the United 
States ; and when Nicholas Biddle's State bank, wearing this 
name, like a seventy-four gun ship floating in a mill-pond, failed, 
it was alleged by the party opposed to a national bank, to be a 
national bank ; and to this day more than half of the people of 
the United States think it was the same national bank which 
served the nation and the commercial public so well, tiU General 
Jackson, in 1836, vetoed the bill to re-charter it. Biddle's bank 
failed, because, in the use of its credit and funds, he entered into 
commercial speculations, which never could have been done, if the 
same capital had been in a national bank, as it would have had 
full employment as a national institution. The Committee of 
Congress, also, appointed for a periodical inspection of the affairs 
of the national bank, was ever an effectual check on such a per- 
version of its faculties. But the State of Pennsylvania, which 
conferred the charter on Nicholas Biddle's bank, had provided no 
such check. With a capital of thirty-six millions, in a State 
bank, which must be employed some way, Nicholas Biddle 
launched forth into his wild speculations, and hence the ruin of 
the bank. The following address is a lucid exposition of Mr. 
Clay's reasons for opposing the re-charter of the bank in 1811, 
and for advocating the bill in 1816.] 

On one subject, that of the Bank of the United States, to which at the 
late session of Congress he gave his humble support, Mr. Clay felt par- 
ticularly anxious to explain the grounds on which he had acted. This ex- 
planation, if not due to his own character, the State, and the district to 
which he belonged, had a right to demand. It would have been unneces- 
sary if his observations addressed to the House of Representatives, pend- 
ing the measure, had been published ; but they were not published, and 
why they were not published he was unadvised. 

When he was a member of the Senate of the United States, he was in- 
duced to •jppose the renewal of the charter to the old Bank of the United 
States by three general considerations. The first was that he was in- 
structed to oppose it by the Legislature of the State. What were the 
reasons that operated with the Legislature in giving the instruction he did 
not know. He has understood from members of that body, at the time it 



76 BPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

■was given, that a clause, declaring that Congress had no power to grant 
the charter, was stricken out ; from which it might be inferred, either that 
the Legislature did not believe a bank to be imconstitutional, or that it had 
formed no opiuiou on that point. This inference derives additional strength 
from the fact that, although the two late senators from this State, as well 
as the present senators, voted for a national bank, the Legislature, which 
must have been well apprised that such a measure was in contemplation, 
did not again interpose, either to protest against the measure itself or to 
censure the conduct of those senators. From this silence on the part of 
a body which has ever fixed a watchful eye upon the proceedings of the 
general government, he had a right to believe that the Legislature of Ken- 
tucky saw, without dissatisfaction, the proposal to establish a national bank ; 
and that its opposition to the former one was upon grounds of expediency, 
applicable to that corporation alone, or no longer existing. But when, at 
tlie last session, the question came up as to the establishment of a national 
bank, being a member of the House of Representatives, the point of in- 
quiry with him was, not so much what was the opinion of the Legislature 
— although undoubtedly the opinion of a body so respectable would have 
great weight with him under any circumstances — as what were the senti- 
ments of his immediate constituents. These he believed to be in favor of 
such an institution from the following circumstances : In the first place, 
his predecessor (Mr. Hawkins) voted for a national bank, without the 
slightest murmur of discontent. Secondly, during the last fall, when he 
was in his distinct, he conversed freely with many of his constituents upon 
that subject, then the most common topic of conversation, and all, with- 
out a single exception, as far as he recollected, agreed that it was a desir- 
able if not the only efficient remedy for the alarming evils in the currency 
of the country. And lastly, during the session, he received many letters 
from his constituents, prior to the passage of the bill, all of which con- 
curred, he believed without a solitary exception, in advising the measure. 
So fer, then, from being instructed by his district to oppose the bank, he 
had what was, perhaps, tantamount to an instruction to support it — the 
acquiescence of his constituents in the vote of their former representative, 
and the communications, oral, and written, of the opinions of many of 
them in favor of a bank. 

The next consideration which induced him to oppose the renewal of the 
old charter was, that he believed the corporation had, during a portion of 
the period of its existence, abused its powers, and had sought to subserve 
the views of a political party. Instances of its oppression, for that pur- 
pose, were asserted to have occurred at Philadelphia and at Charleston ; 
and, although denied in Congress by the friends of the institution, during 
the discussions on the application for the renewal of the charter, they 
were, in his judgment, satisfactorily made out. This oppression, indeed, 
was admitted in the House of Representatives, in the debate on the present 
bank, by a distinguished member of that party which had so warmly 



ON THE BANK QUESTION. 77 

espoused the renewal of the old charter. It may be said, what security is 
there that the new bank will not imitate this example of oppression? He 
answered, the fate of the old bank, warning all similar institutions to shun 
politics, with which they ought not to have any concern ; the existence of 
abundant competition, arising from the great multiplication of banks ; and 
the precautious which are to be found in the details of the present bill. 

A third consideration upon which he acted in 1811, was, that as the 
power to create a corporation, such as was proposed to be continued, was 
not specifically granted in the Constitution, and did not then appear to 
him to be necessary to carry into effect any of the powers which were 
specifically granted, Congress was not authorized to continue the bank. 
The Constitution, he said, contained powers delegate<i and prohibitory, 
pow ers expressed and constructive. It vests in Congress all powers neces- 
sary to give effect to the enumerated powers — all that may be necessary to 
put in motion and activity the machine of government which it constructs. 
The powers that may be so necessary are deducible by construction. They 
are not defined in the Constitution. They are, from their nature, indefin- 
able. When the question is in relation to one of these powers, the point 
of inquiry should be, is its exertion necessary to carry into effect any of 
the enumerated powers and objects of the general government ? With 
regard to the degree of necessity vaiious rules have been, at different 
times, laid down ; but, perhaps, at last, there is no other than a sound and 
honest judgment, exercised under the ohecks and control which belong to 
the Constitution and to the people. 

The constructive powers being auxiliary to the specifically granted 
powers, and depending for their sanction and existence upon a necessity to 
give effect to the latter, which necessity is to be sought for and ascertained 
by a sound and honest discretion, it is manifest that this necessity may 
not be perceived, at one time under one state of things, when it is per- 
ceived, at another time, under a different state of things. The Constitution, 
it is true, never changes ; it is always the same ; but the force of cir- 
cumstances and the lights of experience may evolve to the fallible persons 
charged with its administration, the fitness and necessity of a particular 
exercise of constructive power to-day, which they did not see at a former 
period. 

Mr. Clay proceeded to remark, that when the application was made to 
renew the old charter of the Bank of the United States, such an institu- 
tion did not appear to him to be so necessary to the fulfillment of any 
of the objects specially enumerated in the Constitution, as to justify Con- 
gress in assuming, by construction, a power to establish it. It was sup- 
ported mainly upon the ground that it was indispensable to the treasury 
operations. But the local institutions in the several States were, at that 
time, in prosperous existence, confided in by the community, having a con- 
fidence in each other, and maintaining an intercourse and connection the 
most intimate. Many of them were actually employed by the treasury to 



78 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

aid that departmeut in a part of its fiscal arrangements ; and they appeared 
to him to be fully capable of affording to it all the facility that it ought 
to desire in all of them. They superseded, in his judgment, the necessity 
of a national institution. But how stood the case in 1816, when he was 
called upon again to examine the power of the general government to 
incorporate a national bank ? A total change of circumstances was pre- 
sented ; events of the utmost magnitude had intervened. 

A general suspension of specie payments had taken place, and this 
had led to a train of consequences of the most alarming nature. He 
beheld, dispersed over the immense extent of the United States, about 
three hundred banking institutions, enjoying in different degrees the con- 
fidence of the pubHc, shaken as to them all, under no direct control of the 
general government, and subject to no actual responsibility to the State 
authorities. These institutions were emitting the actual currency of the 
United States ; a currency consisting of a paper, on which they neither 
paid interest nor principal, while it was exchanged for the paper of the 
community, on which both were paid. He saw these institutions in fact 
exercising what had been considered, at all times, and in all countries, one 
of the highest attributes of sovereignty, the regulation of the current me- 
dium of the country. They were no longer competent to assist the treas- 
ury in either of the great operations of collection, deposit, or distribution, 
of the public revenues. In fact, the paper which they emitted, and which 
the treasury, from the force of events, found itself constrained to receive, 
was constantly obstructing the operations of that department. For it 
would accumulate where it was not wanted, and could not be used where it 
was wanted for the purposes of government, without a ruinous and arbitrary 
brokerage. Every man who paid or received from the government, paid 
or received as much less than he ought to have done as was the difference 
between the medium in which the payment was effected and specie. 
Taxes were no longer uniform. In New England, where specie payments 
have not been suspended, the people were called upon to pay larger con- 
tributions than where they were suspended. In Kentucky as much more 
was paid by the people in their taxes than was paid, for example, in the 
State of Ohio, as Kentucky paper was worth more than Ohio paper. 

It appeared to Mr. Clay, that, in this condition of things, the general 
government could depend no longer upon these local institutions, multi- 
plied and multiplying daily ; coming into existence by the breath of eight- 
een State sovereignties, some of which by a single act of volition had 
created twenty or thirty at a time. Even if the resumption of specie pay- 
ments could have been anticipated, the general government remaining 
passive, it did not seem to him that the general government ought longer 
to depend upon these local institutions exclusively for aid in its operations. 
But he did not believe it could be justly so anticipated. It was not the 
interest of all of them that the renewal of specie payments should take 
place, and yet, without concert between all or most of them it could not be 



ON THE BANK QUESTION. 79 

eflFected. With regard to those disposed to return to a reguhir state of 
things, gieat difficulties might arise as to the time of its commencement. 

Considering, then, that the state of the currency was such that no think- 
ing man could contemplate it without the most serious alarm ; that it 
threatened general distress, if it did not ultimately lead to convulsion and 
subversion of the government ; it appeared to him to be the duty of Con- 
gress to apply a remedy, if a remedy could be devised. A national bank, 
with other auxiliary measures, was proposed as that remedy. Mr. Clay 
said, he determined to examine the question with as little prejudice as 
possible arising from his former opinion. He knew that the safest course 
to him, if he pursued a cold, calculating prudence, was to adhere to that 
opinion, right or wrong. He was perfectly aware that if he changed, or 
seemed to change it, he should expose himself to some censure. But 
looking at the subject with the light shed upon it by events happening 
since the commencement of the war, he could no longer doubt. A bank 
appeared to him not only necessary, but indispensably necessary, in connec- 
tion with another measure, to remedy the evils of which all were but too 
sensible. He preferred to the suggestions of the pride of consistency the 
evident interests of the community, and determined to throw himself upon 
their candor and justice. That which appeared to him in 1811, under 
the state of things then existing, not to be necessary to the general gov- 
ernment, seemed now to be necessary, under the present state of things. 
Had he then foreseen what now exists, and no objection had lain against 
the renewal of the charter other than that derived from the Constitution, 
he should have voted for the renewal. 

Other provisions of the Constitution, but little noticed, if noticed at all, 
in the discussions in Congress in 1811, would seem to urge that body to 
exert all its powers to restore to a sound state the money of the country. 
Ihat instrument confers upon Congress the power to coin money, and to 
regulate the value of foreign coins ; and the States are prohibited to coin 
money, to emit bills of credit, or to make any thing but gold and silver 
coin a tender in payment of debts. The plain inference is, that the sub- 
ject of the general currency was intended to be submitted exclusively to 
the general government. In point of fact, however, the regulation of the 
general currency is in the hands of the State governments, or, which is 
the same thing, of the banks created by them. Their paper has every 
quality of money, except that of being made a tender, and even this is 
imparted to it by some States, in the law by which a creditor must re- 
ceive it, or submit to a ruinous suspension of the payment of his debt. 
It was incumbent upon Congress to recover the control which it had lost 
over the general currency. The remedy called for, was one of caution 
and moderation, but of firmness. Whether a remedy directly acting upon 
the banks and their paper thrown into circulation, was in the power of 
the general government or not, neither Congress nor the community were 
prepared for the applicatioa of such a remedy. An indirect remedy, of 



80 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

a milder character, seemed to be furnished by a national bank. Going 
into operation, with the powerful aid of the treasury of the United 
States, he believed it would be highly instrumental in the renewal of 
specie payments. Coupled with the other measure adopted by Congress 
for that object, he believed the remedy effectual. The local banks must 
follow the example which the national bank would set them, of redeem- 
ino- their notes by the payment of specie, or their not^s will be discredited 
and put down. 

K the Constitution, then, warranted the establishment of a bank, other 
considerations, beside those already mentioned, strongly urged it. The 
want of a general medium is everywhere felt. Exchange varies con- 
tinually, not only between different paiis of the Union, but between dif- 
ferent parts of the same city. If the paper of a national bank were not 
redeemed in specie, it would be much better than the current paper, 
since, although its value in comparison with specie might fluctuate, it 
would afford a uniform standard. 

If political power be incidental to banking corporations, there ought, 
perhaps, to be in the general government some counterpoise to that which 
is exerted by the States. Such a counterpoise might not indeed be so nec- 
essary, if the States exercised the power to incorporate banks equally, or 
in proportion to their respective populations. But that is not the case. A 
single State has a banking capital equivalent, or nearly so, to one fifth of 
the whole banking capital of the United States. Four States combined, 
have the major part of the banking capital of the United States. In the 
event of any convulsion, in which the distribution of banking institutions 
might be important, it may be urged, that the mischief would not be 
alleviated by the creation of a national bank, since its location must be 
within one of the States. But in this respect the location of the bank is 
extremely favorable, being in one of the middle States, not likely ft-om its 
position, as well as its loyalty, to concur in any scheme for subverting the 
government. And a sufficient security against such contingency is to be 
found in the distribution of branches in different States, acting and react- 
ing upon the parent institution, and upon each other. 



ON THE DIRECT TAX, AND THE STATE OF THE 
NATION AFTER THE WAR OF 1812. 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY, 1816. 

[After the war of 1812, the revenue of the government from 
the customs, and a small demand for the public lands, were found 
insufficient for the public expenditures, and to pay the interest 
on the public debt — a striking contrast to that plethoric con- 
dition of the national treasury which has characterized its con- 
dition of late years, since the difficulty has been, not to obtain a 
revenue, but how to employ it. A direct tax for national pur- 
poses, is always a delicate and obnoxious measure. But after 
the war of 1812, it became necessary ; hence a renewed attack 
by the opposition on the administration, for the war and the 
consequent increase of the public debt, the interest on which, at 
least, must be provided for by a prudent government. The 
terms of the peace, too, were assailed by the opposition. In this 
argument, Mr. Clay found himself assailed, as one of the Com- 
missioners at Ghent. We had gained nothing by the war, it was 
said — not even the abandonment, on the part of G-reat Britain, 
of the right of impressment, for which practice the war had been 
declared and prosecuted. For this reason, it was contended, we 
had gained nothing but disgrace and the war debt. It will be 
seen that these attacks of the opposition opened the broad 
question of the state of the country, and called on Mr. Clay to 
vindicate the results of the Commission at Ghent. The bugbear 
of a standing army, was also brought into the arena, although it 
was not proposed to have more than ten thousand men for all 
our forts and frontiers. It was proposed by the opposition to 
reduce the army to four or five thousand. This Mr. Clay thought 
altogether inadequate. The variety of important questions dis- 
cussed in the following speech, growing out of the circumstances 
of the country at that time, and the bold and statesmanlike 
manner in which they are treated, constitute an historical epit- 
ome of great interest. We are instructed by it in these affairs, 

6 



82 SPEECHES OF HENRY OLAY. 

and the speech casts a light upon them which can nowhere else 
be found. Mr. Clay never speaks without shedding the light of 
his own peculiar and practical views on the topics which he 
handles. We do not find much about taxes in this speech ; but 
we find a state of the country disclosed which would make the 
people content with the burden ; and that was the most im- 
portant practical result. It was important to give satisfactory 
reasons of silence as to the British claim of impressment ; and 
the result, down to this time, has shown that Mr, Clay was 
right. That claim has never been re-asserted, and never will be. 
It is dead. For all practical purposes, therefore, the main pur- 
pose of the war was achieved. To require a formal abandon- 
ment of the claim, which Great Britain had already ceased to 
exercise, since she had found that this country would never en- 
dure it, and which for the same reason she would never presume 
to attempt again, as was understood by the parties engaged in 
the negotiation, would have been supreme folly, considering the 
state of Europe at that time, when Great Britain, disengaged 
from her war on the Continent, was prepared to send all her 
forces, naval and military, against us. Her national pride, and 
perhaps her power, were concerned in maintaining the principle, 
though she never intended to reduce it to practice in relation to 
us. The Commissioners, therefore, wisely concluded to waive 
the question, knowing very well that we should never hear from 
it again, as we have not. It can not be denied, that Mr. Clay's 
vindication of the Commissioners was triumphant ; and so of the 
poHcy of the war. 

Mr. Clay strongly hints, in this speech, at that policy of pro- 
tecting Americn manufactures, of which he afterward became the 
leading advocate ; and he turns a sympathizing eye on the Spanish 
American Colonies, struggling for independence, suggesting that 
it might yet be the policy of the United States to aid them more 
effectually than by mere sympathy. Two years afterward he 
began to advocate a recognition of their independence. 

Internal improvements, by means of roads running through the 
entire line of the States, North and South, East and West, are 
also distinctly advocated in this speech — a project which after- 
ward so eminently distinguished Mr. Clay's political career. The 
net-work of railways, which now overlie the country, was not 
then foreseen. It was such works as the Cumberland road 
which Mr. Clay at this time had in his eye, and which was after- 
ward achieved by his sole influence in the national councils.] 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. 83 

Mr. Clay (in Committee of the Whole), said, the course had been pur- 
sued, ever since he had the honor of a seat on this floor, to select some 
subject during the early part of the session, on which, by a general under- 
standing, gentlemen were allowed to indulge themselves in remarks on the 
existing state of public affairs. The practice was a very good one, he said, 
and there could be no occasion more proper than that of a proposition to 
lay a direct tax. 

Those who have for fifteen years past administered the affairs of this 
government, have conducted this nation to an honorable point of eleva- 
tion, at which they may justly pause, challenge a retrospect, and invite 
attention to the bright field of prosperity which lies before us. 

The great objects of the Committee of Finance, in the report imder con- 
sideration, are, in the first place, to provide for the payment of the public 
debts, and in the second, to provide for the support of the government, 
and the payment of such expenses as should be authorized by Congress. 
The greater part of the debt, Mr. Clay admitted, had grown out of the late 
war ; yet a considerable portion of it consisted of that contracted in the 
former war for independence, and a portion of it, perhaps, of that which 
arose out of the wars with Tripoli and Algiers. Gentlemen had, on this 
occasion, therefore, fairly a right to examine into the course of administra- 
tion heretofore, to demonstrate the impolicy of those wars, and the inju- 
diciousness of the public expenditures generally. In the cursory view 
which he should take of this subject, he must be allowed to say, he should 
pay no particular attention to what had passed before, in debate. 

An honorable colleague (Mr. Hardin) who spoke the other day, like 
another gentleman who preceded him in debate, had taken occasion to 
refer to his (Mr. Clay's) late absence from this country on public business ; 
but Mr. Clay said, he trusted, among the fruits of that absence were a 
greater respect for the institutions which distinguish this happy country, a 
greater confidence in them, and an increased disposition to cling to them. 
Yes, sir, I was in the neighborhood of the battle of Waterloo, and some 
lessons I did derive fi-om it ; but they were lessons which satisfied me, that 
national independence was only to be maintained by national resistance 
against foreign encroachments, by cherishing the interests of the people, 
and giving to the whole physical power of the country an interest in the 
preservation of the nation. I have been taught that lesson •, that we 
should never lose sight of the possibility that a combination of despots, 
of men unfriendly to liberty, propagating what, in their opinion, constitutes 
the principle of legitimacy, might reach our haf py land, and subject us 
to that tyranny and degradation which seems to be one of their objects in 
another country. The result of my reflections is, the determination to aid 
with my vote in providing my country with all the means to protect its 
Uberties, and guard them even from serious menace. Motives of delicacy 
which the committee would be able to understand and appreciate, pre- 
vented him from noticing some of his colleague's (Mr. Hardin's) remarks ; 



84 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

but he would take the occasion to give him one admonition — that when he 
next favored the House vnth an exhibition of his talent for wit, with a dis- 
play of those elegant implements, for his possession of which the gentle- 
man from Virginia had so handsomely complimented him — that he would 
recollect that it is bought, and not borrowed wit which the adage recom- 
mends as best. With regard to the late war with Great Britain, history, 
in deciding upon the justice and policy of that war, will determine the 
question according to the state of things which existed when that war 
was declared. I gave a vote for the declaration of war. I exerted all 
the little influence and talents T could command to make the war. The 
war was made ; it is terminated ; and I declare with perfect sincerity, if 
it had been j)ermitted me to lift the vail of futurity, and to have foreseen 
the precise series of events which has occurred, my vote would have been 
unchanged. The policy of the war, as it regarded our state of preparation, 
must be determined with reference to the state of things at the time that 
war was declared. He need not take up the time of the House in demon- 
strating that we had cause suflScient for war. We had been insulted, and 
outraged, and spoliated upon by almost all Europe — by Great Britain, by 
France, Spain, Denmark, Naples, and, to cap the climax, by the little, 
oontemptible power of Algiers. We had submitted too long and too 
much. We had become the scorn of foreign powers, and the contempt 
of our own citizens. The question of the policy of declaring war at the 
particular time when it was commenced is best determined by applying to 
the enemy himself ; and what said he? That of all the circumstances 
attending its declaration, none was so aggravating as that we should have 
selected the moment which, of all others, was most inconvenient to him, 
when he was struggling for self-existence in a last efitbrt against the 
gigantic power of France ! The question of the state of preparation for 
war, at any time, is a relative question — relative to our own means, the 
condition of the other power, and the state of the world at the time of 
declaring it. We could not expect, for instance, that a war against Al- 
giers would require the same means or extent of preparation as a war 
against Great Britain ; and if it was to be waged against one of the 
primaiy powers of Europe, at peace with all the rest of the world, and 
therefore all her force at command, it could not be commenced with so 
little preparation as if her whole force were employed in another quarter. 
It is not necessary again to repel the stale, ridiculous, false story of French 
influence, originating in Great Britain, and echoed here. I now contend, 
as I have always done, that we had a right to take advantage of the con- 
dition of the world, at the time war was declared. If Great Britain were 
engaged in war, we had a light to act on the knowledge of the fact, that 
her means of annoyance, as to us, were diminished ; and we had a right 
to obtain all the collateral aid we could, from the operations of other 
powers against her, without entering into those connections which are for- 
bidden by the genius of our government. liut it was rather hke disturb 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. 85 

ing the ashes of the dead, now to discuss the questions of the justice or 
expediency of the war. They were questions long since settled, and on 
which the public opinion was decisively made up in favor of the adminis- 
tration. 

He proceeded to examine the conditions of the peace and the fruits of 
the war — questions of more recent date, and more immediately applicable 
to the present discussion. The terms of the peace must be determined by the 
same rule that was applicable to the declaration of war — that rule which was 
furnished by the state of the world at the time the peace was made ; and 
even if it were true that all the sanguine expectations which might have 
been formed at the time of the declaration of war, were not realized by 
the tenns of the subsequent peace, it did not follow that the war was im- 
properly declared, or the peace dishonorable, unless the condition of the 
parties, in relation to other powers, remained substantially the same 
throughout the struggle, and at the time of the termination of the war, as 
it was at the commencement of it. At the termination of the war France 
was annihilated — blotted out of the map of Europe ; the vast power 
wielded by Bonapaite existed no longer. Let it be admitted that states- 
meu, in laying their course, are to look at probable events ; that their con- 
duct is to be examined with reference to the course of events which, in all 
human probability, might have been anticipated ; and is there a man in 
this House, in existence, who can say, that on the 18th day of Jime, 1812, 
when the war was declared, it would have been anticipated that Great 
Britain, by the circumstance of a general peace, resulting from the over- 
throw of a power whose basements were supposed to be deeper laid, more 
ramified, and more extended than those of any power ever were before, 
would be placed in the attitude in which she stood in December, 1814? 
Would any one say that this government could have anticipated such a 
state of things, and ought to have been governed in its conduct accord- 
ingly ? Great Britain, Russia, Germany, did not expect — not a power in 
Europe believed — as late even as January, 1814, that in the ensuing 
March, Bonaparte would abdicate, and the restoration of the Bourbons 
would follow. What then was the actual condition of Europe when peace 
was concluded? A perfect tranquillity reigned throughout ; for as late as 
the 1st of March, the idea of Napoleon's reappearing in France was as 
little entertained as that of a man's coming from the moon to take upon 
himself the government of the country. In December, 1814, a profound 
and apparently a permanent peace existed ; Great Britain was left to dis- 
pose of the vast force, the accumulation of twenty-five years, the work of 
an immense system of finance and protracted war ; she was at liberty to 
employ that imdivided force against this country. Under such circum- 
stances it did not follow, according to the rules laid down, either that the 
war ought not to have been made, or that peace on such terms ought not 
to have been concluded. 

What, then, were the terms of the peace ? The regular opposition in 



8b SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

this country, the gentlemen on the other side of the House, had not come 
out to challenge an investigation of the terms of the peace, although they 
had several times given a sidewipe at the ti-eaty, on occasions with which 
it had no necessary connection. It had been sometimes said, that we had 
gained nothing by the war, that the fisheries were lost, etc. How, he 
asked, did this question of the fisheries really stand ? By the first part of 
the third article of the treaty of 1783, the right was recognized in the 
people of the United States to take fish of every kind on the Grand Bank, 
and on all the other banks of Newfoundland; also in the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence, and at all other places in the sea, where the inhabitants of both 
coimtries used at any time to fish. This right was a necessary incident to 
our sovereignty, although it is denied to some of the powers of Europe. 
It was not contested at Ghent ; it has never been drawn in question by 
Great Britain. But by the same third article it was further stipulated, 
that the inhabitants of the United States shall have " liberty to take fish 
of every kind on such part of the coast of Newfoimdland as British fisher- 
men shall use (but not to dry or cure the same on that island), and also 
on the coasts, bays, and creeks, of all other of his Britannic Majesty's 
dominions in America ; and that the American fishermen shall have liberty 
to dry and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbors, and creeks of Nova 
Scotia, Magdalen Islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain 
unsettled ; but so soon as the same or either of them shall be settled, it 
shall not be lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure fish at such settle- 
ment, without a previous agreement for that purpose with the inhabitants, 
proprietors, or possessors of the ground." The British Commissioners, 
assuming that these liberties had expired by the war between the two 
countries, at an early period of the negotiation declared that they would 
not be revived without an equivalent. Whether the treaty of 1783 does 
not form an exception to the general rule, according to which treaties are 
vacated by a war breaking out between the parties, is a question on which 
he did not mean to express an opinion. The first article of that treaty, by 
which the King of Great Britain acknowledges the sovereignty of the 
United States, certainly was not abrogated by the war ; that all the other 
parts of the same instrument, which define the limits, privileges, and 
liberties attaching to that sovereignty, were equally unaffected by the war, 
might be contended for with at least much plausibility. K we detennined 
to offer them the equivalent required, the question was, what should it be ? 
When the British Commissioners demanded, in their proj'et, a renewal to 
Great Britain of the right to the navigation of the Mississippi, secured by 
the treaty of 1783, a bare majority of the American Commissioners offered 
to renew it, upon the condition that the liberties in question were renewed 
to us. He was not one of that majority. He would not trouble the com- 
mittee with his reasons for being opposed to the offer. A majority of his 
colleagues, actuated he believed by the best motives, made, however, the 
offer, and it was refused by the British Commissioners. 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. ^7 

If the British iuterpretation of the treaty of 1783 be correct, we have 
lost the liberties in question. What the value of them really is, he had 
not been able to meet with any two gentlemen who agreed. The great 
value of the whole mass of our fishery interests, as connected with our 
navigation and trade, was suflBciently demonstrated by the tonnage em- 
ployed ; but of what was the relative importance of these liberties, there 
was great contrariety of statements. They were liberties to be exercised 
within a foreign jurisdiction, and some of them were liable to be destroyed 
by the contingency of settlement. He did not believe, that much import- 
ance attached to such liberties. And, supposing them to be lost, we are, 
perhaps, suflBciently indemnified by the redemption of the British mort- 
gage upon the navigation of the Mississippi. This great stream, on that 
supposition, is placed where it ought to be, in the same independent con- 
dition with the Hudson, or any other river in the United States. 

If, on the contrary, the opposite construction of the treaty of 1783 be 
the tnie one, these liberties remain to us, and the right to the naviga- 
tion of the Mississippi, as secured to Great Britain by that instrument, 
continues with her. 

But he was surprised to hear a gentleman from the western country 
(Mr. Hardin) exclaim, that we had gained nothing by the war. Great 
Britain acquired, by the treaty negotiated by Mr. Jay, the right to trade 
with the Indians within our territories. It was a right upon which 
she placed great value, and from the pursuit of which she did not desist 
without great reluctance. It had been exercised by her agents in a 
manner to excite the greatest sensibility in the western country. This 
right was clearly lost by the war ; for, whatever may be the true opinion 
as to the treaty of 1783, there can be no doubt that the stipulations of that 
of 1794 no longer exist. 

It had been said, that the great object in the continuation of the war, 
had been to secure our mariners against impressment, and that peace waa 
made without accomplishing it. With regard to the opposition, he pre- 
sumed that they would not urge any such argument. For, if their opinion 
was to be inferred (though he hoped in this case it was not) from that of 
an influential and distinguished member of the opposition, we had reason 
to believe that they did not think the British doctrines wrong on this 
subject. He alluded to a letter said to be written by a gentleman of 
great consideration, residing in an adjoining State, to a member of this 
House, in which the writer states that he conceives the British claim to 
be right, and expresses his hope that the president, however he might 
kick at it, would be compelled to swallow the bitter pill. If the peace 
had really given up the American doctrine, it would have been, according 
to that opinion, merely yielding to the force of the British right. In that 
view of the subject, the error of the administration would have been in 
contending for too much in behalf of this country ; for he presumed 
there was no doubt that, whether right or wrong, it would be an important 



88 BPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

principle gained to secure our seamen **^ainst British impressment. And 
he trusted in God that all future administrations would rather err on the 
side of contending for too much than too little for America. 

But he was willing to admit, that the conduct of the administration 
ought to be tried by their own opinions, and not those of the opposition. 
One of the great causes of the war, and of its continuance, was the prac- 
tice of impressment exercised by Great Britain, and if this claim has been 
admitted, by necessary implication or express stipulation, the administra- 
tion has abandoned the rights of our seamen. It was with utter aston- 
ishment that he heard that it had been contended in this country, that 
because our right of exemption from the practice had not been expressly 
secured in the treaty, it was therefore given up ! It was impossible that 
Buch an argument could be advanced on the floor. No member who re- 
gai-ded his reputation would have dared advance such an argument here. 

Had the war terminated, the practice continuing, he admitted that such 
might be a fair inference ; and on some former occasion he had laid down 
the principle, which he thought correct, that if the United States did not 
make peace with Great Britain, the war in Europe continuing, and there- 
fore she continuing the exercise of the practice, without any stipulation to 
secure us against its effects, the plain inference would be, that we had sur- 
rendered the right. But what is the fact ? At the time of the conclusion 
of the treaty of peace. Great Britain had ceased the practice of impress- 
ment ; she was not only at peace with all the powers of Europe, but there 
was every prospect of a permanent and durable peace. The treaty being 
silent on the subject of impressment, the only plain rational result was, 
that neither party had conceded its rights, but they were left totally un- 
affected by it. He recollected to have heard in the British House of Com- 
mons, while he was in Europe, the very reverse of the doctrine advanced 
here on this subject. The British ministry were charged by a member of 
the opposition with having surrendered their right of impressment, and 
the same course of reasoning was employed to prove it, as, he understood, 
was employed in this country to prove our acquiescence in that practice. 
The argument was this : the war was made on the professed ground of 
resistance of the practice of impressment; the peace having been made 
without a recognition of the right of America, the treaty being silent on 
the subject, the inference was that the British authorities had surrendered 
the right — that they had failed to secure it, and, having done so, had in 
effect yielded it. The member of the opposition in England was just as 
wrong as any member of this House would be, who should contend that 
the right of impressment is surrendered to the British government. The 
fact was, neither party had surrendered its rights ; things remain as though 
the war had never been made — both parties are in possession of all the 
rights they had anterior to the war. Lest it might be deduced that his 
sentiments on the subject of impressment had undergone a change, he took 
the opportunity to say, that, although he desired to preserve peace between 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. 89 

Great Britain and the United States, and to maintain between them that 
good understanding calcuhited to promote the interest of each, yet, when- 
ever Great Britain should give satisfactory evidence of her design to ap- 
ply her doctrine of impressment as heretofore, he was, for one, ready to 
take up arms again to oppose her. The fact was, that the two nations 
had been placed in a state of hostility as to a practice growing out of 
the war in Europe. The war ceasing between Great Britain and the rest 
of Europe, left England and America engaged in a contest on an aggres- 
sion which had also practically ceased. The question had then presented 
itself whether the United States should be kept in war, to gain an aban- 
donment of what had become a mere abstract principle; or, looking at 
the results, and relying on the good sense and sound discretion of both 
countries, we should not recommend the termination of the war. When 
no practical evil could result from the suspension of hostilities, and there 
was no more than a possibility of the renewal of the practice of impress- 
ment, I, as one of the mission, consented with sincere pleasure to the 
peace, satisfied that we gave up no right, sacrificed no honor, compromitted 
no important principle. He said, then, applying the rule of the actual 
state of things, as that by which to judge of the peace, there was nothing 
in the conditions or terms of the peace that was dishonorable, nothing for 
reproach, nothing for regret. 

Gentlemen have complained that we had lost the islands in the bay of 
Passamaquoddy. Have they examined into that question, and do they 
know the grounds on which it stands ? Prior to the war we occupied 
Moose Island, the British, Grand Menan. Each party claimed both islands ; 
America, because they are within the limits of the United States, as defined 
by the treaty of 1783 ; and Great Britain, because, as she alleges, they 
were in the exception contained in the second article of that treaty as to 
islands within the limits of the province of Nova Scotia. All the infor- 
mation which he had received concurred in representing Grand Menan as 
the most valuable island. Does the treaty, in stipulating for an amicable 
and equitable mode of settling this controversy, yield one foot of the ter- 
ritory of the United States ? If our title to Moose Island is drawn in 
question, that of Great Britain to Grand Menan is equally so. If we may 
lose the one, she may the other. The treaty, it was true, contained a pro- 
vision that the party in possession, at the time of its ratification, may hold 
on until the question of right is decided. The committee would observe, 
that this stipulation, as to possession, was not limited to the moment of 
the signature, but looked to the period of the ratification of the treaty. 
The American Commissioners had thought they might safely rely on the 
valor of Massachusetts, or the arms of the United States, to drive the in- 
vader from our soil ; and had also hoped that we might obtain possession 
of Grand Menan. It is true, they have been disappointed in the successful 
application of the force of that State and of that of the Union. But it is not 
true that we have parted with the right. It is fair to presume that Great 



90 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

Britain will, with good faith, co-operate in carrying the stipulations into 
effect ; and she has, iu fact, already promptly proceeded to the appointment 
of commissioners under the treaty. 

What have we gained by the war ? He had shown we had lost nothing 
in rights, territory, or honor ; nothing for which we ought to have con- 
tended, according to the principles of the gentlemen on the other side, or 
according to our own. Have we gained nothing by the war ? Let any 
man look at the degraded condition of this country before the war — the 
scorn of the universe, the contempt of ourselves — and tell me, if we have 
gained nothing by the war ? What is our present situation f Respectabil- 
ity and character abroad ; security and confidence at home. If we have 
not obtained, in the opinion of some, the fiill measure of retribution, our 
character and Constitution are placed on a solid basis, never to be shaken. 
The glory acquired by our gallant tars, by our Jacksons and our Browns on 
the land, is that nothing ? True, we have had our vicissitudes — that there 
were humiliating events which the patriot could not review without 
deep regret. But the great account, when it came to be balanced, 
thank God, would be found vastly in our favor. Is there a man, he 
asked, who would have obliterated from the pages of our history the 
brilliant achievements of Jackson, Brown, Scott, and the host of heroes 
on land and sea whom he would not enumerate ? Is there a man who 
could not desire a participation in the national glory acquired by the 
war 3 — yes, national glory ; which, however the expression may be con- 
demned by some, must be cherished by every genuine patriot. What 
do I mean by national glory ? Glory such as Hull, of the Constitution. 
Jackson, Lawrence, Perry, have acquired. And are gentlemen insensible 
to their deeds ? to the value of them, iu animating the country in the 
hour of peril hereafter 1 Did the battle of Thermopylae preserve Greece 
but once ? While the Mississippi continues to bear the tributes of the Iron 
mountains, and the AUeghauy to her delta and to the Gulf of Mexico, the 
8th of January shall be remembered, and the glory of that day shall 
stimulate future patriots, and nerve the arms of unborn freemen, in driving 
the presumptuous invader from our country's soil. Gentlemen may boast 
of their insensibility to feelings inspired by the contemplation of such 
events. But he would ask, does the recollection of Bunker's hill, of Sar- 
atoga, of Yorktown, afford them no pleasure ? Every act of noble sacri- 
fice to the country — every instance of patriotic devotion to her cause — has 
its beneficial influence. A nation's character is the sum of its splendid 
deeds. They constitute one common patrimony — the nation's inheritance. 
They awe foreign powers. They arouse and animate our own people. Do 
gentlemen derive no pleasure from the recent transactions in the Mediterra- 
nean ? Can they regard unmoved the honorable issue of a war, in sup- 
port of our national rights, declared, prosecuted, and determined by a 
treaty in which the enemy submitted to a carte-blanche, in the short period 
of forty days ! The days of chivalry are not gone. They have been re- 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. Sfl 

vived in the person of Commodore Deeatur, who, in releasing from infidel 
bondage Christian captives — the subjects of a foreign power — and restor- 
ing them to their country and their friends, has placed himself beside the 
most renowned knights of former times. I love true glory. It is this 
sentiment which ought to be cherished ; and in spite of cavils and sneers 
and attempts to put it down, it will finally conduct this nation to that 
height to which God and nature have destined it. Three wars, those who 
at the present administer this government may say, and say with proud 
satisfaction, they have safely conducted us through. Two with powers, 
which, though otherwise contemptible, have laid almost all Europe under 
tribute — a tribute from which we are exonerated. The third, with one of 
the most gigantic powers that the world ever saw. These struggles have 
not been without their sacrifices, nor without their lessons. They have 
created, or rather greatly increased, the public debt. They have thought, 
that, to preserve the character we have established, preparation for war is 
necessary. 

The public debt exists. However contracted, the faith of the nation is 
pledged for its redemption. It can only be paid by providing an excess 
of revenue beyond expenditure, or by retrenchment. Did gentlemen con- 
tend that the results of the report were inaccurate — that the proceeds of 
the revenue would be greater, or the public expense less than the estimate ? 
On these subjects he believed it would be presumption in him, when the 
defense of the report was in such able hands (Mr. Lowndes's), to attempt 
its vindication. Leaving the task to that gentleman, he should assume, 
for the present, its accuracy. He would lay down a general rule,^rom 
which there ought never to be a departure without absolute necessity — 
that the expenses of the year ought to be met by the revenue of the 
year. If in time of war it were impossible to observe this rule, we 
ought, in time of peace, to provide for as speedy a discharge of the debt 
contracted in the preceding war as possible. This can only be done by 
an effective sinking-fund, based upon an excess of revenue beyond ex- 
penditure, and a protraction of the period of peace. If in England the 
sinking-fund had not fulfilled what was promised, it was because of a fail- 
ure to provide such a revenue, and because the intervals of peace in that 
country had been too few and too short. From the Revolution to 1812, a 
period of one hundred and twenty-four years, there had been sixty-three 
years of war, and only sixty-one of peace ; and there had been contracted 
£638,129,577 of debt, and discharged only £39,594,305. The national 
debt at the peace of Utretcht amounted to £52,681,076, and during the 
peace which followed, being about twenty-seven years, from 1714 to 1740, 
there was discharged only £7,231,503. When the operations of our sink- 
ing-fund were contrasted with those of Great Britain, they would be 
found to present the most gratifying results. Our public debt, existing on 
the 1st day of Januaiy, 1802, amounted to $78,754,568, 70 ; and on the Ist 
of January, 1815, we had extinguished $33,873,463 98. Thus in thirteen 



92 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

years, one half the period of peace that followed the treaty of Utrecht, we 
had discharged more public debt than Great Britain did during that period. 
In twenty-six years she did not pay much more than a seventh of her debt. 
In thirteen years we paid more than a third of ours. If, then, a public 
debt, contracted in a manner, he trusted, satisfactory to the country, im- 
posed upon us a duty to provide for its payment ; if we were encouraged, 
by past experience, to persevere in the application of an effective sinking- 
fund, he would again repeat, that the only alternatives were the adoption 
of a system of taxation producing the revenue estimated by the Committee 
of Ways and Means, or by great retrenchment of the public expenses. 

In what respect can a reduction of the public expenses be effected ? 
Gentlemen who assailed the report on this ground have, by the in- 
definite nature of the attack, great advantage on their side. Instead of 
contenting themselves with crying out retrenchment ! retrenchment ! a 
theme always plausible, an object always proper when the public interest 
will admit of it, let them point the attention of the House to some speci- 
fied subject. If they really think a reduction of the army and navy, or 
either of them, be proper, let them lay a resolution upon the table to that 
effect. They had generally, it is true, singled out, in discussing this re- 
port (and he had no objection to meet them in this way, though he thought 
the other the fairest course), the military establishment. He was glad 
that the navy had fought itself into favor, and that no one appeared dis- 
posed to move its reduction or to oppose its gradual augmentation. But 
the "standing army" is the great object of gentlemen's apprehensions. 
And those who can bravely set at defiance hobgoblins, the creatures of their 
own fertile imaginations, are trembling for the liberties of the people en- 
dangered by a standing army of ten thousand men. Those who can 
courageously vote against taxes are alarmed for the safety of the Constitu- 
tion and the country at such a force scattered over our extensive territory ! 
This could not have been expected, at least in the honorable gentleman 
(Mr. Ross), who, if he had been storming a fort, could not have displayed 
more cool, collected courage than he did, when he declared that he would 
show to Pennsylvania that she had one faithful representative bold and 
independent enough to vote against a tax ! 

He had happened, very incidentally, the other day, and in a manner 
which he had supposed could not attract particular attention, to state, that 
the general condition of the world admonished us to shape our measures 
with a view to the possible conflicts into which we might be drawn ; and 
he said, he did not know when he should cease of witness the attacks 
made upon him in consequence of tliat general remark ; when he should 
cease to hear the cry of " standing army," " national glory," etc., etc. 
From the tenor of gentlemen's observations, it would seem as if, for the 
first time iu the history of this government, it was now proposed, that a 
certain regular force should constitute a portion of the public defense. 
But from the administration of General Washington, down to this time, 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. 93 

a regular force, a standing army (if gentlemen please), had existed, and 
the only question about it, at any time, had been, what should be the 
amount. Gentlemen themselves, who most loudly decry this establish- 
ment, did not propose an entire disbandment of it ; and the question, ever 
with them is, not whether a regular for-ce be necessary, but whether a 
regular force of this or that amount be called for by the actual state 
of our affairs. 

The question is not, on any side of the House, as to the nature, but 
the quantum of the force. He maintained the position, that if there was the 
most profound peace that ever existed, if we had no fears from any quarter 
whatever, if all the world was in a state of the most profound and absolute 
repose, a regular force of ten thousand men was not too great for the 
purposes of this government. We knew too much, he said, of the vicis- 
situdes of human affairs, and the uncertainty of all our calculations, not 
to know that even in the most profound tranquillity, some tempest may 
suddenly arise, and bring us into a state requiring the exertion of military 
force, which can not be created in a moment, but requires time for its col- 
lection, organization, and discipline. When gentlemen talked of the force 
which was deemed suflScient some twenty years ago, what did they mean ? 
That this force was not to be progressive ? That the full-grown man 
ought to wear the clothes and habits of his infancy ? That the establish- 
ment maintained by this government, when its population amounted to four 
or five millions only, should be the standard by which our measures should 
be regulated, in all subsequent states of the country ? If gentlemen meant 
this, as it seemed to him they did, he and they should not agree. He con- 
tended that establishments ought to be comminensurate with the actual 
state of the countiy, should grow with its growth, and keep pace with its 
progress. Look at that map (said he, pointing to the large map of the 
United States, which hangs in the hall of Representatives) — at the vast 
extent of that country which stretches from the Lake of the Woods, in 
the north-west, to the Bay of Fundy, in the east. Look at the vast extent 
of our maritime coast ; recollect we have Indians and powerful nations 
coterminous on the whole frontier ; and that we know not at what mo- 
ment the savage enemy, or Great Britain herself, may seek to make war 
with us. Ought the force of the country to be graduated by the scale 
of our exposure, or are we to be uninfluenced by the increase of our lia- 
bility to war ? Have we forgotten that the power of Fiance, as a coun- 
terpoise to that of Great Britain, is annihilated — gone, never to rise again, 
I beheve, under the weak, unhappy, and imbecile race who now sway her 
destinies? Any individual must, I think, come to the same conclusion 
with myself, who takes these considerations into view, and reflects on our 
growth, the state of our defenses, the situation of the nations of the world, 
and above all, of that nation with whom we are most likely to come into 
collision ; for it is in vain to conceal it : this country must have many a 
hard and desperate tug with Great Britain, let the two governments be 



94 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

administered how and by whom they may. That man nmst be blind to 
the indications of the future, who can not see that we are destined to have 
war after war with Great Britain, until, if one of the two nations be not 
crushed, all grounds of collision shall have ceased between us. I repeat, 
if the condition of France were that of perfect repose, instead of that of 
a volcano, ready to burst out again with a desolating eruption ; if with 
Spain our difierences were settled ; if the dreadful war raging in South 
America were terminated ; if the marines of all the powers of Europe were 
resuscitated as they stood prior to the revolution of France ; if there was 
universal repose, and profound tranquillity among all the nations of the 
earth ; considering the actual growth of our country, in my judgment, the 
force of ten thousand men would not be too great for its exigences. Do 
gentleruen ask, if I rely on the regular force entirely for the defense of the 
country ? I answer, it is for garrisoning and keeping in order our forti- 
fications, for the preservation of the national arms, for something like a safe 
depository of military science and skill, to which we may recur in time of 
danger, that I desire to maintain an adequate regular force. I know that 
in the hour of peril, om' great rehance must be on the whole physical force 
of the country, and that no detachment of it can be exclusively depended 
on. History proves that no nation, not destitute of the military art, whose 
people were united in its defense, ever was conquered. It is true, that in 
countries where standing armies have been entirely relied on, the armies 
have been subdued, and the subjugation of the nation has been the con- 
sequence of it ; but no example is to be found of a united people being 
conquered, who possessed an adequate degree of military knowledge. 
Look at the Grecian republics, struggling successfully against the over- 
whelming force of Persia ; look more recently at Spain. I have great 
confidence in the militia, and I would go with my honorable colleague 
(Mr, M'Kee), whose views I know are honest, hand in hand, in arming, 
disci^jlining, and rendering eflective, the militia. I am for providing the 
nation with every possible means of resistance. I ask my honorable col- 
league, after I have gone bhus far with hi*n, to go a step further with me, 
and let us retain the force we now have for the purposes I have already 
described. I ask gentlemen who propose to reduce the army, if they have 
examined in detail the number and extent of the posts and garrisons on 
our maritime and interior frontier ? If they have not gone through this 
process of reasoning, how shall we arrive at the result that we can reduce 
the army with safety ? There is not one of our forts adequately gar- 
risoned at this moment ; and there is nearly one fourth of them that have 
not one solitary man. I said the other day that I would rather vote for 
t-h« augmentation than the reduction of the army. When returning to 
my country from its foreign service, and looking at this question, it ap- 
peared to me that the maximum was twenty thousand, the mininmm ten 
thousand of the force we ought to retain. And I again say, that rather 
than reduce I would vote to increase the present force. 



0^ THE DIRECT TAX. 95 

A standing army had been deemed necessary from the commencement 
of the government to the present time. The question was only as to the 
quantum of force, aud not whether it should exist. No man who regards 
his political reputation would place himself before the people on a proposi- 
tion for its absolute disbandment. He admitted a question as to quantum 
might be carried so far as to rise into a question of principle. If we were 
to propose to retain an army of thirty, or forty, or fifty thousand men, 
then truly the question would present itself, whether our rights were not 
in some danger ft-om such a standing army ; whether reliance was to be 
placed altogether on a standing army, or on that natural safe defense 
which, according to the habits of the country and the principles of our 
government, is considered the bulwark of our liberties. But between five 
and ten thousand men, or any number under ten thousand, it could not be 
a question of principle ; for unless gentlemen were afraid of specters, it 
was utterly impossible that any danger could be apprehended from ten 
thousand men dispersed on a frontier of many thousand miles ; here twenty 
or thirty, there a hundred, and the largest amount, at Detroit, not exceed- 
ing a thin regiment. And yet, brave gentlemen — gentlemen who are not 
alaimed at hobgoblins — who can intrepidly vote even against taxes — are 
alarmed by a force of this extent ! What, he asked, was the amount of 
the army in the time of Mr. Jefierson — a time, the orthodoxy of which 
had been so ostentatiously proclaimed ? It was true when that gentleman 
came into power it was with a determination to retrench, as far as practic- 
able. Under the full influence of these notions, in 1802, the bold step of 
wholly disbanding the army never was thought of. The military peace 
establishment was then fixed at about four thousand men. But, before Mr. 
Jeffersou went out of power, what was done — that is, in April, 1808 ? In 
addition to the then existing peace establishment, eight regiments, amounts 
ing to between five and six thousand men, were authorized, making a total 
force precisely equal to the present peace establishment. It was true that 
all this force had never been actually enlisted and embodied ; that the re- 
cruiting service had been suspended ; and that at the commencement of 
the war we had far from this number ; and we have not now actually ten 
thousand men — being at least two thousand deficient of that number. 
He adverted to what had been said on this and other occasions of Mr. 
Jefierson's not having seized the favorable moment for war, which was af- 
forded b^ the attack on the Chesapeake. He had always entertained the 
opinion, he said, that Mr. Jefi'erson, on that occasion, took the correct, 
manly, and frank course, in saying to the British government, your oflBcers 
have done this ; it is an enormous aggression ; do you approve the act ? 
do you make it your cause, or not ? That government did not sanction 
the act ; it disclaimed it, and promptly, too ; and although they, for a 
long time, withheld the due redress, it was ultimately tendered. If Mr. 
Jefierson had used his power to carry the country into a war at that period, 
it might have been supported by public opinion, during the moment of 



96 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

fever, but it would soon abate, and the people would begin to ask, why 
this war had been made without understanding wliether the British gov- 
ernment avowed the conduct of its officers, and so forth. If the threaten- 
ing aspect of our relations with England had entered into the considera- 
tion which had caused the increase of the army at that time, there were 
considerations equally strong at this time, with our augmented population, 
for retaining our present force. If, however, there were no threatenings 
from any quarter ; if the relative force of European nations, and the gen- 
eral balance of power existing before the French Revolution were restored ; 
if South America had not made the attempt, in which he trusted in God 
she would succeed, to achieve her independence ; if our affairs with Spain 
were settled, he would repeat, that ten thousand men would not be too 
great a force for the necessities of the country, and with a view to fu- 
ture emergences. 

He had taken the hberty, the other day, to make some observations 
which he might now repeat as furnishing auxiliary considerations for 
adopting a course of prudence and precaution. He had then said, that our 
affairs with Spain were not settled ; that the Spanish minister was re- 
ported to have made some inadmissible demands of our government. The 
fact turned out as he had presented it. It appeared that what was then 
rumor was now a fact ; and Spain had taken the ground, not only that 
there must be a discussion of our title to that part of Louisiana, formerly 
called West Florida (which it might be doubted whether it ought to take 
place), but had required that we must surrender the territory first, and dis- 
cuss the right to it afterward. Besides this unsettled state of our relations 
with Spain, he said, there were otTier rumors, and he wished to God we 
had the same means of ascertaining their correctness as we had found of 
ascertaining the truth of the rumor just noticed : it was rumored that the 
Spanish province of Florida had been ceded, with all her pretensions, to 
Great Britain. Would gentlemen tell him, then, that this was a time when 
any statesman would pursue the hazardous policy of disarming entirely, of 
quietly smoking our pipes by our firesides regardless of impending dan- 
ger ? It might be a palatable doctrine to some, but he was persuaded 
was coudemned by the rules of conduct in private life, by those maxims 
of sound precaution by which individuals would regulate their private af- 
fairs. He did not here mean to take up the question in relation to South 
America. Still it was impossible not to see that, in the progress of things, 
we might be called on to decide the question, whether we would or would 
not lend them our aid. This opinion he boldly declared, and lie enter- 
tained it, not in any pursuit of vain glory, but from a deliberate conviction 
of its being conformable to the best interests of the country ; that hawng 
a proper understanding with foreign powers — that understanding which 
prudence and a just precaution recommended — it would undoubtedly be 
good policy to take part with the patriots of South America. He believed 
it could be shown that, on the stiictest principles of public law, we have 



ON THE DIRSGT TAX. 97 

a right to take part with them, that it is to our interest to take part with 
them, and that our intei^position in their favor would be effectual. But he 
confessed, with infinite regret, that he saw a supineness on this int<^ testing 
subject throughout our country, which left him almost without hope that 
what he believed the correct policy of the country would be pursued. 
He considered the release of any part of America from the dominion o^ 
the Old World as adding to the general security of the New. He coold 
not contemplate the exertions of the people of South America without wish- 
ing that they might triumph, and nobly triumph. He believed the cause 
of humanity would be promoted by the interposition of any foreign power 
which should terminate the contest between the friends and enemies of in- 
dependence iu that quarter, for a more bloody and cruel war never had 
been carried on since the days of Adam, than that which is now raging 
in South America ; in which not the least regard is paid to the laws of 
wai-, to the rights of capitulation, to the rights of prisoners, nor even to 
the rights of kindred. I do not offer these views expecting to influence 
the opinions of others ; they are opinions of my own. But, on the ques- 
tion of general policy, whether or not we shall interfere iu the war in 
South America, it may turn out that, whether we will or will not choose 
to interfere in their behalf^ we shall be drawn into the contest in the 
course of its progress. Among other demands by the minister of Spain is 
the exclusion of the flag of Buenos Ayres, and other parts of South Amer- 
ica from our ports. Our government has taken a ground on this subject, 
of which I think no gentleman can disapprove — that all parties shall be 
admitted and hospitably treated in our ports, provided they conform to our 
laws while among us. What course Spain may take on this subject it 
was impossible now to say. Although I would not uige this as an ar- 
gument for increasing our force, I would place it among those consider- 
ations which ought to have weight, with every enlightened mind, in de- 
termining upon the propriety of its reduction. It is asserted that Great 
Britain has strengthened and is strengthening herself in the provinces adjoin- 
ing us. Is this a moment when, in prudence, we ought to disaim ? No, sir. 
Preserve your existing force. It would be extreme indiscretioii to lessen it. 
Mr. Clay here made some observations, to show that a reduction of the 
army to from four to five thousand men, as had been suggested, would not 
occasion such a diminution of expense as to authorize the rejection of the 
report, or any essential alteration in the amount of revenue, which the sys- 
tem proposes to raise from internal taxes, and his colleague (Mr. M'Kee) 
appeared equally hostile to all of them. Having, however, shown that we 
can not in safety reduce the army, he would leave the details of the report in 
the abler hands of the honorable chairman (Mr. Lowndes), who, he had no 
doubt, could demonstrate, that with all the retrenchments which had been 
recommended, the government would be bankrupt in less than three years, 
if most of these taxes were not continued. He would now hasten to that 

7 



98 SPEECHES OF HENBT CLAY. 

conclusion, at which the committee could not regret more than he did, that 
he had not long since arrived. 

As to the attitude in which this country should be placed, the duty of 
Congress could not be mistaken. My policy is to preserve the present 
force, naval and military ; to provide for the augmentation of the navy ; 
and, if the danger of war should increase, to increase the army also. Arm 
the militia, and give it the most eflfective character of which it is suscep- 
tible. Provide in the most ample manner, and place in proper dep6ts, all 
the munitions and instruments of war. Fortify and strengthen the weak 
and vulnerable points indicated by experience. Construct military roads 
and canals, particularly from the Miami of the Ohio to the Miami of Erie ; 
from the Sciota to the bay of Sandusky ; from the Hudson to Ontario ; 
that the facilities of transportation may exist, of the men and means of 
the country, to points where they may be wanted. I would employ on 
this subject a part of the army, which should also be employed on our 
line of frontier, territorial and maritime, in strengthening the works of de- 
fense. I would provide steam batteries for the Mississippi, for Borgne and 
Ponchartrain, and for the Chesapeake, and for any part of the North or 
East, where they might be beneficially employed. In short, I would act 
seriously, effectively act, on the principle, that in peace we ought to pre- 
pare for war ; for I repeat, again and again, that, in spite of all the pru- 
dence exerted by the government, and the forbearance of others, the hour 
of trial will come. These halcyon days of peace, this calm will yield to 
the storm of war, and when that comes, I am for being prepared to breast 
it. Has not the government been reproached for the want of preparation 
at the commencement of the late war ? And yet the same gentlemen who 
utter these reproaches, instead of taking counsel from experience, would 
leave the country in an unprepared condition. 

He would as earnestly commence the great work, too long delayed, of 
internal improvement. He desired to see a chain of turnpike roads and 
canals, from Passamaquoddy to N-ew Orleans ; and other similar roads in- 
tersecting the mountains, to faciliate intercourse between all parts of the 
country, and to bind and connect us together. He would also effectually 
protect our manufactories. We had given, at least, an implied pledge to 
do so, by the course of administration. He would afford them protection, 
not so much for the sake of the manufacturers themselves, as for the gen- 
eral interest. We should thus have our wants supplied, when foreign re- 
sources are cut off, and we should also lay the basis of a system of taxation, 
to be resorted to when the revenue from imports is stopped by war. Such, 
Mr. Chairman, is a rapid sketch of the policy which it seems to me it be- 
comes us to pursue. It is for you now to decide whether we shall draw 
wisdom from the past, or, neglecting the lessons of recent experience, we 
shall go on headlong without foresight, meriting and receiving the re- 
proaches of the community. I trust, sir, notwithstanding the unpromising 
appearances sometimes presenting themselves, during the present session 



ON THE DIRECT TAX. 99 

we shall yet do our duty. I appeal to the friends around me, with 
whom I have been associated for years in public life; who nobly, 
manfully vindicated the national character by a war, waged by a 
young people, unskilled in arms, single-handed, against a veteran 
power — a war which the nation has emerged from, covered with 
laurels ; let us now do something to ameliorate the internal condition 
of the country ; let us show that objects of domestic, no less than 
those of foreign policy, receive our attention ; let us fulfill the just 
expectations of the public, whose eyes are anxiously directed toward 
this session of Congress ; let us, by a liberal and enlightened policy, 
entitle ourselves, upon our return home, to that best of all rewards, 
the grateful exclamation, "Well done, thou good and faithful 
servant." 



ON THE BILL FOR ENFORCING NEUTRALITY. 

m THE HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 24, 1817. 

[This short speech is chiefly remarkable as Mr. Clay's debut for 
the independence of the American Spanish Colonies. The object 
of the bill before Congress was to prevent the building of armed 
vessels in our ports, and selling them to the South American 
States, which were then striving for independence. It was con- 
tended that this was a violation of our neutrality in relation to 
the parties in contest. Mr. Clay's sympathies were powerfully 
enlisted for these oppressed colonies of Spain, and although he 
would not advocate a violation of neutrality, he contended that 
our people had as good a right to build armed vessels to order, as 
to engage in any other foreign trade, and we were not responsible 
for the use that might be made of them. Such seems to have 
been the practice of our people from that time to this. It must 
be confessed, however, that this is not a perfectly clear question. 
If Mr. Clay's sympathies ever overpowered his judgment in plead- 
ing the cause of the oppressed, this, perhaps, was an instance. 
His heart, certainly, was in the right place.] 

Mr. Clay (in Coinmitt<ie of the Whole), said : As long as the govern- 
ment abstained from taking any part in the contest now carrying on in the 
southern part of this continent, it was unquestionably its duty to maintain 
a strict neutrality. On that point there was and could be no difference of 
opinion. It ought not, however, to be overlooked, that the two parties 
stood with this government on unequal ground. One of them had an ac- 
credited minister here, to watch over its interests, and to remonstrate 
against any acts of which it might complain ; while the other, being wholly 
unrepresented, had no organ through which to communicate its grievances. 
This inequality of condition in the contending parties, imposed upon ua 
the duty of great circumspection and prudence in what we might do. 

Whenever a war exists, whether between two independent states or be- 
tween parts of a common empire, he knew of but two relations in which 
other powers could stand toward the belligerents ; the one was that of 
neutrality, and the other that of a belligerent. 



ON THE BILL FOR ENFOBCING NEUTRALITY. 101 

Being then in a state of neutrality respecting the contest, and bound to 
maintain it, the question was, whether the provisions of the bill were nec- 
essary to the performance of that duty ? It will be recollected that we 
have an existing law, diiected against armaments, such as are described in 
the bill. That law was passed in 1794. It was intended to preserve our 
neutrality in the contest between France and her enemies. The circum- 
stances under which it was passed, must be yet fresh in our recollection. 
The French revolution had excited a universal enthusiasm in the cause of 
liberty. The flame reached this country, and spread with electric rapidity 
throughout the continent. There was not a State, county, city or village, 
exempted from it. An ardent disposition to enter into the conflict, on the 
side of France, was everywheie felt. General Washington thought it 
the interest of this country to remain neutral, and the law of 1794 was 
enacted, to restrain our citizens from taking part in the contest. If that 
law had been effectual to preserve the neutrality of this country, during 
the stormy period of the French revolution, we ought to pause before we 
assent to the adoption of new penalties and provisions. If the law did not 
reach the case (which he understood to be doubtful from some judicial de- 
cisions), he was willing to legislate so far as to make it comprehend it. 
Further than that, as at present advised, he was not willing to go. 

But the present bill not only went further, but, in his judgment, con- 
tained provisions not demanded of us by our neutral duties. It contained 
two principles not embraced by the law of 1794. The first was, the requisi- 
tion of a boud from the owners of armed vessels, that persons, to whom 
they might sell these vessels, should not use them in the contest. The sec- 
ond was, the power vested in the collectors to seize and detain, under cer- 
tain circumstances, any such vessels. Now, with regard to the first pro- 
vision, it is not denied that an armed vessel may be lawfully sold by an 
American citizen to a foreign subject, other than a subject of Spain. But 
on what ground is it possible, then, to maintain, that it is the duty of the 
American citizen to become responsible for the subsequent use which may 
be made of such vessel by the foraign subject ? We are bound to take 
caxe that our own citizens do not violate our neutrality, but we are under 
no such obligation as it respects the subjects of foreign powers. It is the 
business of those foreign powers to guard the conduct of their own sub- 
jects. If it be true, as he heard it asserted, that Fell's Point exhibits an 
activity in hostile preparation, not surpassed during the late war, we had 
enough to do with our own citizens. It was not incumbent upon us, as a 
neutral power, to provide, after a legal sale had been made of an armed 
vessel to a foreign subject, against any illegal use of the vessel. 

Gentlemen have contended, that this bill ought to be considered s*} in- 
tended merely to enforce our own laws ; as a municipal regulation, having 
no relation to the war now existing. It was impossible to deceive our- 
selves, as to the true character of the measure. Bestow on it what denom- 
ination you please, disguise it as you may, it is a law, and will be under- 



102 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

stood by the whole world as a law, to discountenance any aid being given 
to the South American colonies in a state of revolution against the parent 
country. With respect to the nature of that struggle, he had now, for 
the first time, to express his opinion and his wishes. An honorable gen- 
tleman from Virginia (Mr. Shefiey) had said, the people of South America 
were incapable, from the ignorance and superstition which prevail among 
them, of achieving independence or enjoying liberty. And to what cause 
is that ignorance and superstition owing ? Was it not to the vices of their 
government ? to the tyranny and oppression, hierarchical and political, 
under which they groaned ? If Spain succeeded in riveting their chains 
upon them, would not that ignorance and superstition be perpetuated ? In 
the event of that success, he feared the time would never arrive, when the 
good wishes of the honorable gentleman from Virginia would be conciliated 
in behalf of that oppressed and suffering people. For his part, he wished 
their independence. It was the first step toward improving their condi- 
tion. Let them have free government, if they be capable of enjoying it ; 
but let them have, at all events, independence. Yes, from the inmost re- 
cesses of my soul, I wish them independence. I may be accused of an 
imprudent utterance of my feelings, on this occasion. I care not ; when 
the independence, the happiness, the liberty of a whole people, is at stake, 
and that people our neighbors, our brethren, occupying a portion of the 
same continent, imitating our example, and participating of the same sym- 
pathies with ourselves, I will boldly avow my feelings and my wishes in 
their behalf, even at the hazard of such an imputation. 

But, notwithstanding the feelings which he cherished on this subject, 
Mr. Clay admitted that it became us not to exhibit the spectacle of a peo- 
ple at war and a government at peace. We ought to perform our neutral 
duties, while we are neutral, without regard to the unredressed injuries in- 
flicted upon us by old Spain on the one hand, or to the glorious object of 
the struggle of the South American patriots on the other. We ought to 
render strict justice, and no more. If the bill on the table was limited to 
that object, he would vote for it. But he thought it went fiirther ; that it 
assumed obligations which we were not bound to incur, and, thinking so, 
he could not, in its present shape, give to it his assent. 



ON COMMERCIAL RESTRICTIONS WITH THE 
BRITISH WEST INDIES 

IN THE HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 30, 1817. 

[A COMMERCIAL Convention between Great Britain and the 
United States, had been so carelessly agreed to on our part, that 
Great Britain was able to prohibit our trade with her West 
India Islands, so far as that it should be exclusively carried on 
in her own bottoms ; and this trade amounted to six millions 
of doUars annually, on each side — in all twelve millions. It was 
obviously unjust, in its operation, on the navigation of the 
United States, and threw us out, as carriers, of a foreign trade 
of six millions a-year. It became a profound study of American 
statesmen how to recover this obvious right, whether to impose 
heavy duties on our imports from the British West Indies, or to 
enact a total prohibition. The subject was much discussed in 
1816, on a resolution ; and came up again in 1817, in the shape of 
a bill, when Mr. Clay made the following speech in Committee of 
the Whole. The bill proposed " to prohibit aU commercial in- 
tercourse with ports or places into or with which the vessels of 
the United States are not ordinarily permitted to enter or 
trade." Mr. Clay was in favor of the bill, first, because high 
duties on imports from these places, would be effectual only as 
they approximated to prohibition ; and secondly, because we 
would still have the same trade through islands belonging to 
other powers, and have our share of the carrying ; and this 
would bring Great Britain to terms. The biU, however, failed.] 

Mr. Clay (in Committee of the Whole), said, that in one sentiment ex- 
pressed by the gentleman from Georgia he most heartily concurred : that 
the measure contemplated by the bill, or by the proposed substitute, was 
the most important, as respected at least our foreign relations, that had 
come before Congress at this session, or would probably be brought before 
it for some years — a measure which, whatever fate attended it, ought to 



104 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

attract the attention of honorable members of this House, and to which he 
hoped, before the final question on it, they would give the most mature 
consideration. 

The importance of the question by no means depended simply on the 
value of the trade between this country and the colonies of Great Britain. 
But considering the question as it related merely to that trade, when the 
fact was stated, that it consisted of six millions of dollars imports, and of 
course a like amount of exports, it must be admitted the question was one 
of deep import, compared to any which at present presented itself to the 
attention of Congress. But, as was stated in the president's message, it 
was not solely important on account of the eflfect of the colonial system 
on that trade, but the fact was, that the exclusion from a participation in 
that navigation, essentially afiected the trade between this country and the 
British European possessions, and, by the operation of the system, de- 
piived us, in a great measure, of the benefits of the convention of com- 
merce with Great Britain, which provided for the establishment of a per- 
fect reciprocity of commerce between the United States and the British 
European possessions. Even if gentlemen were not disposed to do some- 
thing to obtain for the navigation of this country a participation in the 
colonial trade, they ought to go so far as to place it on an equal foot- 
ing as regarded the European trade. Some measure ought to be devised, 
by which the navigation of Great Britain should be prevented from enjoy- 
ing peculiar advantages over us, in a trade wherein reciprocity had been 
solemnly promised by the convention to which he had alluded. 

Let us, then, inquire into the character of the evil proposed to be rem- 
edied, and of the remedy that is offered. What is the evil ? Great 
Britain says that the whole commerce between her colonies and the United 
States shall be carried on in British ships, absolutely excluding American 
ships from any participation in it. The most natural course of the ex- 
change of commodities between nations might be thus defined : that each 
nation should carry its own products to market ; that we should carry of 
our produce what we do not want, but they do, to British ports ; and that 
they should bring what they do not want, but we do, to our ports. With 
this course, however^ Great Britain was not satisfied. The next and per- 
haps the u)ost equal and best mode of providing for the free and fair 
interchange of commodities, was to open the trade equally and recipro- 
cally to both parties, to let each carry the commodities of both countries, 
in a fair competition. Great Britain wac not, however, disposed to do 
this. She not only prohibited the carriage of her colonial commodities 
in our vessels ; not only entirely engrossed the export trade from her col- 
onies, but refused to allow us any participation, by conventional regula- 
tion or otherwise, in the trade to the colonies. The effect was, to deprive 
us of the advantages, in the augmentation of our commerce and increase 
of our seamen, which would result from the carriage of our own produce, 
to the amount of six millions of dollars annually. 



ON COMMERCIAL RESTRICTIONS. 105 

With regard to the importance of encouraging our navigation, he said, 
he need not resort to argument. The question of the importance of a 
navy, to maintain and defend our rights, which had been some years ago 
a question of a theoretical nature, was no longer so ; it was now a question 
of practical experience. All felt its importance and all acknowledged the 
expediency of cherishing, by all means in our power, that important branch 
of national defense. 

Gentlemen alarmed themselves by the apprehension that the other party 
would view as inimical any regulations countervailing her colonial policy, 
and that the issue of this conflict of commercial regulations would be 
war. He believed in no such result. If an exclusion of the navigation 
and shipping of Great Britain from our ports be a measure of a hostile 
character, said Mr. Clay, Great Britain has set us the example ; for she 
excludes our navigation and shipping from an extensive range of her ports. 
He considered this rather as a diplomatic than a hostile measure ; but, if 
it were otherwise, she had set the example, which she could not complain 
if we followed. 

But, said he, let us look to the fact. What would be the light in which 
Great Britain would view any such regulations as are proposed by the bill ? 
The convention of London contains an express stipulation on the subject ; 
and I will observe to gentlemen, that the clause which exempts the colonial 
trade from the second article of the convention, was introduced with the 
express view of retaining in our hands the right to countervail the British 
reo-ulations in this respect. It was so understood by the framers of that 
convention. But we have later evidence than that which is furnished by 
the terms of the convention. The president, in his message at the opening 
of the session, says, that it is ascertained, " that the British government 
declines all negotiation on this subject ; with a disavowal, however, of any 
disposition to view in an unfriendly light, whatever countervailing regula- 
tions the United States may oppose to the regulation of which they com- 
plain." Thus, then, we have evidence, both from the nature of the case, 
and from the express declarations of the British government, that it will 
not, because it can not, view in an unfriendly light any regulations which 
this government may find it expedient to adopt, to countervail their policy. 
Mr. Clay said, he did not think that the adoption of this policy on the part 
of Great Britain, ought to excite any hostile feeling toward her. She was 
not singular in this respect. Every countiy that has colonies in the West 
Indies, and which is not too weak to defend them, endeavored, he said, to 
appropriate to itself all the advantages of the trade with those colonies ; 
and it would be found that the relaxation of the rigor of that system by 
one nation or another, was precisely graduated by the degree of ability to 
maintain their colonies in peace, and defend them in war. There was 
nothing in the regulations of Great Britain, which could be oftensive, or 
possibly lead to war. They might be complained of as selfish or unfriendly, 
they certainly were the former. But Great Britain had a perfect right to 



106 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

set the example before us ; and the question was, whether the total exclusion 
of our ships from the colonial ports of Britain, was such a measure as we 
ought to fold our arms and submit to, without an eflfort to obtain some part 
of the trade which she had attempted to appropriate exclusively to herself ? 

Gentlemen had properly said, that this was a question which ought to 
be well weighed before decided. Whatever we do, it ought to be with a 
determination to adhere firmly to it. For, depend upon it, Great Britain 
will never lightly relax her policy. 

The policy of Great Britain was deeply laid in selfish considerations ; a 
policy which she had never relaxed, except in periods of war, when it be- 
came her interest to do so, from the commencement of her colonies to 
this time. The measure which we address to Ler interest, to induce her 
to relax from the rigor of her colonial policy, should be a measure framed 
with ample deliberation, which, when we adopt with resolution, we will 
maintain with fortitude. For, the first conclusion of the British govern- 
ment would undoubtedly be, that the American government would be in- 
capable of maintaining its regulations for any length of time ; and that 
government in the expectation of a retraction of the measure, would per- 
severe in its policy as long as it could. 

The question which presents itself then, is, whether we will adopt meas- 
ures to induce a relaxation so desirable to our interest ? 

What ought to be done, if any thing is ? There were two propositions 
before the House, and the question now was, on substituting high duties 
for the prohibitory system. He preferred the prohibition ; and if any 
gentleman would candidly compare the merits of the two proposed reme- 
dies, he would find that the whole value of the remedy, by the imposition 
of duties, was derived from its approximation to prohibition. 

Suppose the measure of prohibition be adopted, what would be its effect ? 
In the opinion of Mr. Clay, a mere change in the direction of the trade. 
St. Domingo would be opened to us, St. Thomas, Vera Cruz, and possibly 
St. Bartholomews, and other islands and ports. But, if not one port 
should be open, the necessity Great Britain would be under, to obtain sup- 
plies for her colonies, would dictate the expediency of opening some port 
at which an interchange of commodities could take place. If this opera- 
tion took place, all that is proposed to be efiected by the bill is accom- 
plished, by the participation of our navigation in the transportation of the 
wticles thus exchanged. Our ships will have obtained an employment, in 
carrying our products to that entrepot, and bringing return cargoes, of the 
same amount they would have now, if American, instead of British ships, 
wholly engrossed the trade. There might, in the case supposed, be some 
little increase in the cost of the articles, but so inconsiderable, as not to 
amount to any oflfset to the great advantages accruing to this country, from 
the employment of its tonnage. 

The present moment Mr. Clay considered as particularly propitious to 
the adoption of this regulation ; because, as regarded the great direct 
trade between the United States and British ports in Europe, that was reg- 



ON COMMERCIAL RESTRICTIONS. 107 

mated and unalterable for nearly three years. It stood on the footing of 
convention ; and we should not, by any regulation adopted in regard to 
the colonial trade, put to hazard the advantages in the other, at least until 
that convention expired. 

Regarding this regulation in another view, he anticipated beneficial 
effects from it. In consequence of the weakness of some of the powers 
of Europe in their maritime force, they had found it convenient to open 
ports to us, which were formerly shut, and we could thence draw our sup- 
plies, thus effecting a mere change in the channel of supply with the ad- 
vantage of the employment of our own navigation, as already stated. 
South America, besides, would be open to us, and we could there obtain a 
large portion of the commodities we import from the West Indies, except, 
perhaps, the article of rum. Whether that could be obtained there or not, 
he did not know. Sugar might be obtained, in quantity, from Louisiana, 
where the product of that article increased every year. Georgia, and a 
portion of South Carolina, too, had turned their attention to that object ; 
and the effect of this measure would be, to encourage the cultivation of 
that aiticle. With respect to the article of spirits, if its importation 
were totally cut off, he thought it would be a benefit. He believed, he 
said, that America was the only country that imported as great a quantity 
of spirituous liquors ; every other country he was acquainted with, used 
more of its own manufacture. 

I think that the suffering of the navigating interest, to which the atten- 
tion of Congress is attracted, is one which calls loudly on this body to do 
something to alleviate it. It is attributable greatly to the colonial system 
of Great Britain, though no doubt also greatly to the state of peace, and 
the consequent resumption of their navigation by the powers of Europe, 
who, during war, suspended a great proportion of it. Taking care of the 
interests of the nation, and guarding our commerce against the effect of 
foreign regulations, it becomes us to act on this subject. He should, he 
said, cheerfully give his assent, therefore, to the bill before the House ; and 
should vote for it, but with reluctance, if the amendment proposed by Mr. 
Forsyth should succeed. 

The great question was, the modus operandi of this bill, to use a favorite 
expression of a member of another body. Operating on the sympathy as 
well as the direct interest of the parent country, it would induce her to 
relax her system. Great Britain would find a greater interest in securing 
the amount of six millions of trade, necessary to support and cherish her 
colonies, than she would gain merely on the transportation of the articles 
of which that trade consists. That was the question on which the British 
people would be called on to decide ; and he believed the effect of this 
measure would be such as to induce them to decide in favor of admitting 
us, on a footing of reciprocity, into the West India trade. If the British 
government did not take this course, it would have to wink at the forma- 
tion of entrepots, by which the object proposed by the bill would be sub- 
stantially accomplishdtL 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FEBRUARY 4, 1811. 

[It was proposed by a bill introduced into the Fourteenth 
Congress, 1816-17, to set apart, as a fund for internal improve- 
ment, the bonus granted to the United States by the national 
bank, and the dividend accruing from the United States' shares 
in said bank ; and the bill was passed by both Houses of Con- 
gress, but was, unexpectedly, vetoed by President Madison, on 
constitutional grounds. This veto proved the beginning of ob- 
stacles of this kind, interposed by Virginia abstractions, to many 
other similar measures, afterward brought forward by Mr. Clay 
and his associates, for internal improvement. It is remarkable 
that the Hon. John C. Calhoun was in company with Mr. Clay 
at this time, on this subject. So also on the Bank question in 
1816, Mr. Calhoun himself, reported the Bank bill of that year, 
and advocated and voted for it. But the change which came 
over his dreams after that, is very notorious, both as regards a 
national bank and internal improvements. The following short 
speech of Mr. Clay is among his iirst efibrts in this great cause. 
The Cumberland road was already on its way to the great West, 
and Mr. Clay, as will be seen, contemplated a similar enterprise 
along the Atlantic coast, from Maine to Georgia. It is well 
enough, perhaps, that it was never undertaken, as our modern 
railway system has superseded its necessity. But the project, as 
announced, illustrates the genius, as well as the patriotic zeal, 
of Mr. Clay. He was right in his grand conception, though the 
mode of its accomplishment could not then be foreseen.] 

Mr. Clay (in Committee of the Whole) observed, that it was not his in- 
tention to enter into the general discussion of the subject ; he wished 
only to say, that he had long thought that there were no two subjects 
which could engage the attention of the national Legislature, more worthy 
of its deliberate consideration, than those of internal improvements and 
domestic manufactures. 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 109 

As to the constitutional point which had been made, he had not a doubt 
on his mind ; but it was not necessary, in his judgment, to embarrass the 
passage of the bill with the argument of that point at this time. It was 
a suflBcient answer to say, that the power was not now to be exercised. It 
was proposed merely to designate the fund, and from time to time, as the 
proceeds of it came in, to invest them in the funded debt of the United 
States. It would thus be accumulating ; and Congress could, at some 
future day, examine into the constitutionality of the question, and if it has 
the power, it would exercise it ; if it has not, the Constitution, there could 
be very little doubt, would be so amended as to confer it. It was quite 
obvious, however, that Congress might so direct the application of the 
fund, as not to interfere with the jurisdiction of the several States, and 
thus avoid the difficulty which had been started. It might distribute it 
among those objects of private enterprise which called for national patron- 
age in the form of subscriptions to the capital stock of incorporated com- 
panies, such as that of the Delaware and Chesapeake canal, and other 
similar institutions. Perhaps that might be the best way to employ the 
fund ; but, he repeated, this was not the time to go into their inquiry. 

With regard to the general importance of the proposition, the effect of 
internal improvements in cementing the Union ; in facilitating internal trade ; 
in augmenting the wealth and the population of the country ; he would 
not consume the time of the committee in discussing those interesting 
topics, after the able manner in which they had been treated by his friend 
from South Carolina. In reply to those who thought that internal im- 
provements had better be left to the several States, he would ask, he 
would put it to the candor of every one, if there were not various objects 
in which many States were interested, and which, requiring therefore their 
joint co-operation would, if not taken up by the general government, be 
neglected, either for the want of resources, or from the difficulty of regulat- 
ing their respective contributions. Such was the case with the improve- 
ment of the navigation of the Ohio at the rapids ; the canal from the 
Hudson to the Lakes ; the great turnpike road, parallel with the coast from 
Maine to Louisiana, These, and similar objects, were stamped with a 
national character, and they required the wisdom and the resources of the 
nation to accomplish them. No particular. State felt an individual in- 
terest sufficient to execute improvements of such magnitude. They must 
be patronized, efficaciously patronized, by the general government, or they 
never would be accomplished. 

The practical effect of turnpike roads in correcting the evil, if it be one, 
of the great expansion of our republic, and in conquering space itself, as 
was expressed by the gentleman from South Caroliaa, is about to be de- 
monstrated by the great turnpike-road from Cumberland to Wheeling. 
That road is partially executed, and will probably be completed in about 
three years. In the mean time, Maryland is extending a line of turnpike- 
roads from Baltimore to Cumberland, which is also partially finished, and 



110 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

will bfe completed in the same period. Three years from the present time 
we shall have a continued line of turnpilce roads from Baltimore to Ohio. 
The ordinary time requisite to travel from Wheeling to Baltimore, prior to 
the erection of these roads, was eight days. When the roads are com- 
pleted the same journey may be performed in three days. The distance, 
in effect, between these two points, will be diminished in the proportion 
of five eighths, or, in other words, they will be brought five days nearer to 
each other. Similar results will follow wherever this species of improve- 
ment is effected. 

Mr. Clay owned that he felt anxiously desirous for the success of this 
measure. He was anxious, from its intrinsic merits ; from his sincere con- 
viction of its tendency greatly to promote the welfare of our common 
country. He was anxious from other, perhaps more selfish considerations. 
He wished the Fourteenth Congress to have the merit of laying the founda- 
tiona of this great work. He wished this Congress who, in his opinion, 
had so many other just grounds for the national approbation, notwith- 
standing the obloquy which had attended a single unfortunate measure, to 
aad this new claim to the public gratitude. 



ON THE WAR BETWEEN SPAIN AND HER 
COLONIES. 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIYES, DECEMBER 3, 1817. 

[President Monroe, in his openiDg Message to the Fifteenth 
Congress, 1817, had noticed, among other topics, the obligations 
of neutrality on the part of the United States toward Spain and 
her American Colonies. The first resolution in answer to the 
President's Message, brought forward in Committee of the 
Whole, related to this subject ; and Mr. Clay moved and sup- 
ported the following amendment : " And that the said Commit- 
tee be instructed to inquire whether any, and if any, what, 
provisions of law are necessary to insure to the American 
Colonies of Spain, a just obserrance of the duties incidental to 
the neutral relation in which the United States stand in the 
existing war between them and Spain." It would seem that 
the courts of the United States had been employed by the agents 
of Spain to annoy the officers and agents of the Spanish Colonies 
when found within the jurisdiction of the United States, which 
was obviously a violation of neutrality between the two belliger- 
ent parties. Mr. Clay desired, at least, that both parties should 
be treated alike, and that Spain should have no advantage in 
our courts over the officers and agents of her rebellious provinces. 
If, therefore, our laws were defective, in reference to this object, 
he wished to have them amended. Mr. Clay's sympathies were 
on the side of the Colonies ; but he asked nothing for them but 
justice. He wished them to be recognized as a belligerent party, 
to whom we were under the same obligations as to Spain, in the 
observance of neutrality. Hence the speech given below.] 

Mr. Clay (m Committee of the Whole) said, that his presenting, at so 
early a period of the session, this subject to the consideration of the 
House was in consequence of certain proceedings which he had seen rep- 
resented in the public prints as having taken place before certain of our 



112 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

courts of justice. Two or three cases bearing on this subject had come to 
his knowledge, which he wished to state to the House. The first had oc- 
curred at Philadelphia, before the circuit court of the United States held 
in that city. The circumstances of the case, for which, however, he did 
not pretend to vouch, having received them through the channel already 
indicated, were these : if they were incorrectly stated, he was happy that 
a gentleman had taken his seat this morning from that city who would be 
able to correct him ; that aine or ten British disbanded oflScers had formed 
vn Europe the resolution to unite themselves with the Spanish patriots in 
the contest existing between them and Spain ; that to carry into eflfect this 
intention they had sailed from Europe, and in their transit to South 
America had touched at the port of Philadelphia; that during their resi- 
dence in Philadelphia, wearing, perhaps, the arms and habiliments of 
military men, making no disguise of their intention to participate in the 
struggle, they took passage in a vessel bound to some port in South 
America ; that a knowledge of this fact having come to the ears of the 
public authorities, or, perhaps, at the instigation of some agent of the 
Spanish government, a prosecution was commenced against these officers, 
who, from their inability to procure bail, were confined in prison. If, said 
Mr. Clay, the circumstances attending this transaction be correctly stated, 
it becomes an imperious duty in the House to institute the inquiry con- 
templated by the amendment which I have proposed. That this was an 
extraordinary case was demonstrated by the fact of the general sensation 
which it had excited on the subject in the place where it had occurred. 
Filled, as that respectable and populous city is, with men who differ 
widely on political topics, and entertaining various views of public affairs, 
but one sentiment prevailed on this subject, which was favorable to the 
persons thus arraigned. With regard to the conduct of the court on this 
occasion he would say nothing. The respect which, while he had a seat 
on this floor, he should always show to every branch of the government, 
the respect he entertained for the honorable judge who had presided, for- 
bade him from pronouncing the decision of that court to have been un- 
warranted by law. But be felt himself perfectly sustained in saying, that 
if the proceeding was warranted by the existing law, it was the imperious 
duty of Congress to alter the law in this respect. For what, he asked, 
was the neutral obligation which one nation owed to another engaged in 
war ? The essence of it is this : that the belligerent means of the neutral 
shall not be employed in the war in favor of either of the parties. That 
is the whole of the obligation of a third party in a war between two 
others; it certainly does not require of one nation to restrain the belliger- 
ent means of other nations. If those nations choose to permit their means 
to be employed in behalf of either party, it is their business to look to it^ 
and not ours. Let the conduct of the persons prosecuted be regarded in 
the most unfavorable light ; let it be considered as the passage of troops 
through our country, and there was nothing in our neutral obligations 



ON THE WAR BETWEEN SPAIN AND HER COLONIES. 118 

forbidding it. The passage of troops through a neutral countiy, accord- 
ing to his impressions, was a question depending on the particular interest, 
quiet, or repose of the country traversed, and might be granted or refused 
at its discretion, without in any degree affecting the obligation of the 
neutral to either parties engaged in the controversy. But, surely, this was 
not a case of the passage of troops ; the persons apprehended not being 
sufficient in number, nor organized or equipped in such a manner as, under 
aoy construction, to constitute a military corps. On this case he would 
detain the committee no longer, he said, for he was satisfied they could 
not but agree with him, if the law justified the proceeding that had taken 
place, that law ought to be immediately amended. Other cases had oc- 
curred in which, it appeared to him, it became the Congress to interpose 
its authority. Persons sailing under the flag of the provinces had been 
arraigned in our courts, and tried for piracy ; in one case, after having 
been arraigned, tried, and acquitted of piracy, the same individuals, on the 
instigation of a Spanish officer or agent, had been again aiTaigned for the 
same ofiense. The gentleman fii'om Massachusetts would correct him if 
he was wrong, for the case had occurred in the town of Boston. 

We admit the flag of these colonies into our ports ; we profess to be 
neutral ; but if our laws pronounce, that the moment the property and per- 
sons under that flag enter our ports, they shall be seized, the one claimed 
by the Spanish minister or consul as the property of Spain, and the other 
prosecuted as pirates, that law ought to be altered, if we mean to perform 
our neutral professions. I have brought this subject before this committee 
thus promptly, because I trust that here the cause will find justice ; that, 
however treated elsewhere, on this floor will be found a guardian interest 
attending to our performance of the just obligations of neutrality. Hith- 
erto, he said, whatever might have been our intentions, our acts had been 
all on the other side. From the proclamation of 1815, issued to terminate 
an expedition supposed to be organizing in Louisiana, an expedition only 
in the mind of Chevalier de Onis, down to the late act — whether the 
measure was a proper one or not, he did not say ; his confidence in the 
executive led him to suppose it was adopted on suflBcient grounds — down 
to the order for suppressing, as it was called, the establishments at Amelia 
Island and Galveston — all the acts of the government had been on one 
side ; they all bore against the colonies, against the cause in which the 
patriots of South America were arduously engaged. It became us, he said, 
to look to the other side, honestly intending neutrahty, as he believed we 
did. Let us recollect the condition of the patriots ; no minister here to 
spur on our government, as was said in an interesting, and, it appeared to 
him, a very candid work, recently published in this country, respecting the 
progress of the South American Revolution ; no minister here to be re- 
warded by noble honors, in consequence of the influence he is supposed to 
possess with the American government. No ; their unfortunate case was 
what om-s had been, in the yfars lYYS and 1779 ; their ministers, hke our 

8 



114 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Franklins and Jays at that day, were skulking about Europe, imploring in- 
exorable legitimacy for one kind look — some aid to terminate a war aflBict- 
ing to humanity. Nay, their situation was worse than ours ; for we had 
one great and magnanimous ally to recognize us, but no nation bad stepped 
forward to acknowledge any of these provinces. Such disparity between 
the parties, demanded a just attention to the interests of the party which 
was unrepresented ; and if the facta which he had mentioned, and others 
which had come to his knowledge, were correct, they loudly demanded the 
interposition of Congress. He trusted the House would give the subject 
their attention, and show that here, in this place, the obligations of neutral- 
ity would be strictly regarded in respect to South America. 

[The amendment moved \>j Mr. Clay was agreed to, without opposition]. 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MARCH 13, 1818. 

[For sound, irrefragable, irresistible argument, the following is 
one of Mr. Cla/s great speeches, characterized, in a high degree, 
with his peculiar style of eloquence. It is always understood, 
that Mr. Clay must have been heard to be fully appreciated. 
The eloquence of his manner and voice, when thoroughly roused, 
was always an ineffable charm. The tug of war for internal im- 
provements, had now arrived ; and the constitutional question 
was fairly brought into the arena, by the highest authority — to 
wit, that of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Monroe. Mr. 
Jefferson had expressed himself adverse to the power, before he 
retired from public life ; and as we have seen, Mr. Madison had 
vetoed a bill for internal improvement the day before the expir- 
ation of his term of office, notwithstanding that in his opening 
message to that session of Congress, he had recommended action 
on the subject. Mr. Monroe — who succeeded Mr. Madison, on 
the 4th of March, 1817— took the opportunity, at the open- 
ing of the first session of the Fifteenth Congress, gratuitously to 
declare in his Message, that he had adopted Mr. Madison's 
opinion on this question. Nevertheless, each of these three 
authorities recommended an alteration in the Constitution, con- 
ferring this power, which, they acknowledged, was so much 
needed. But an amendment of the Constitution was apparently 
out of the question. The only open path, -against such authority 
and the declared opinion of the incumbent of the executive 
chair, seemed to be, to obtain the sense of Congress, on this 
question by a resolution. Accordingly a resolution was offered 
in the House of Representatives, asserting the power of Congress, 
under the Constitution, to construct military roads, post roads, 
and canals, in support of which the following speech was deliv- 
ered by Mr. Clay. The resolution was carried by the decisive 
majority of ninety against seventy-five, a signal triumph over the 



116 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

authorities arrayed against it. Though others participated in 
the debate, on the same side with Mr. Clay, his argument had, 
doubtless, an irresistible influence. It is impossible to read it 
without feeling that such must have been its power. First, he 
encounters the argument of his opponents in the committee, 
and leaves them little ground to stand upon. The manner in 
which they are made to enact their part is amusing. Mr. Jeffer- 
son's reasoning and course on this subject, are shown to be 
puerile ; and as to Mr. Madison's veto, he killed his own bill ; 
for he had virtually recommended it ; and nothing could be 
more surprising to his friends and the public than his veto mes- 
sage. On Mr. Monroe's gratuity, in attempting, in his opening 
message, to foreclose all debate and action in Congress on this 
subject, Mr. Clay bestows a merited rebuke. Nothing could have 
been more improper. But Mr. Monroe had himself exercised 
these powers, and set the army to making military roads — all 
which Mr. Clay approved. But the terrible scathing which he 
gives Mr. Monroe for doing that very thing, as the executive 
officer of the government, which, he avers, Congress could not 
authorize to be done, was a caution against the practice of such 
inconsistency. Driven into such an uncomfortable corner, and 
lashed with such severity while there — the severity of sarcasm 
only — Mr. Monroe's position could hardly have failed to excite 
commiseration, at the same time that it afforded an inexhaust- 
ible fund of amusement. Mr. Monroe was an excellent man and 
a popular president ; but he made a grand mistake in this mat- 
ter. It is remarkable that the first difficulties thrown in the 
way of internal improvements, were from three Virginia presi- 
dents, alias, three Virginia abstractions. If they could always 
be served as Mr. Clay served these, it might be well for the 
country.] 

I HAVE been anxious, said Mr. Clay, (in Committee of the Whole), to 
catch the eye of the chairman for a few moments, to reply to some of the 
observations which have fallen from various gentlemen. I am aware that, 
in doing this, I risk the loss of what is of the utmost value — the kind favor 
of the House, wearied as its patience is, by this prolonged debate. But 
when I feel what a deep interest the Union at large, and particularly that 
quarter of it whence I come, has, in the decision of the present question, I 
can not omit any opportunity of earnestly urging upon the House the pro- 
priety of retaining the important power which this question involves. It 
will be recollected, that if unfortunately there should be a majority both 
MgaiDst the abstract proposition asserting the power, and against its prac- 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 117 

tical execution, tlio power is gone forever — the question is put at rest, so 
long as the Constitution remains as it is ; and with respect to any amend- 
ment, in this particular, I confess I utterly despair. It will be borne in 
mind, that the bill which passed Congress on this subject, at tlie last ses- 
sion, was rejected by the late president of the United States ; that at the 
commencement of the present session, the president communicated his 
clear opinion, after every effort to come to a different conclusion, that Con- 
gress does not possess the power contended for, and called upon us to take 
up the subject, in the shape of an amendment to the Constitution ; and, 
moreover, that the predecessor of the present and late presidents, has also 
intimated his opinion, that Congress does not possess the power. With 
the great weight and authority of the opinions of these distinguished men 
against the power, and with the fact, solemnly entered upon the record, 
that this House, after a deliberate review of the ground taken by it at the 
last session, has decided against the existence of it (if such, fatally, shall 
be the decision), the power, I repeat, is gone — gone forever, unless restored 
by an amendment of the Constitution. With regard to the practicability 
of obtaining such an amendment, I think it altogether out of the question. 
Two different descriptions of persons, entertaining sentiments directly op- 
posed, will unite and defeat such an .-miendmeat ; one embracing those 
who believe that the Constitution, fairly interpreted, already conveys the 
power ; and the other, those who think that Congress has not and ought 
not to have it. As a large portion of Congress, and probably a majority, 
believes the power to exist, it must be evident, if I am right in supposing 
that any considerable number of that majority would vote against an 
amendment which they do not beUeve necessary, that any attempt to 
amend would fail. Considering, as I do, the existence of the power as of 
the first importance, not merely to the preservation of the Union of the 
States, paramount as that consideration ever should be over all others, but 
to the prosperity of eveiy great interest of the country, agriculture, man- 
ufactures, commerce, in peace and in war, it becomes us solemnly, and de- 
liberately, and anxiously, to examine the Constitution, and not to surrender 
it, if fairly to be collected from a just interpretation of that instrument. 

With regard to the alarm sought to be created, as to the nature of the 
power, by bringing up the old theme of " State rights," I would observe 
that if the illustrious persons just referred to are against us in the con- 
struction of the Constitution, they are on our side as to the harmless and 
beneficial character of the power. For it is not to be conceived, that each 
of them would have recommended an amendment to the Constitution, if 
they believed that the possession of such a power, by the general govern- 
ment, would be detrimental, much less dangerous, to the independence and 
liberties of the States. What real ground is there for this alarm ? Gen- 
tlemen have not condescended to show how the subversion of the rights 
of the States is to follow from the exercise of the power of internal im- 
provements by the general government. We contend for the power to 



118 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

make roads and canals, to distribute the intelligence, force, and productions 
of the country, through all its paits ; and for such jurisdiction only over 
them, as is necessary to their preservation fiom wanton injury and from 
gradual decay. Suppose such a power is sustained and iu full operation ; 
imagine it to extend to every canal made, or proposed to be made, and to 
every post-road ; how inconsiderable and insignificant is the power in a 
political point of view, limited as it is, with regard to place and to pur- 
pose, when contrasted with the great mass of powers retained by the State 
sovereignties ! What a small subti-action from the mass ! Even upon 
these roads and canals, the State governments, according to our principles, 
will still exercise jurisdiction over every possible case arising upon them, 
whether of crime or of contract, or any other human transaction, except 
only what immediately affects their existence and preservation. Thus de- 
fined, thus limited, and stripped of all factitious causes of alarm, I will 
appeal to the candor of gentleman to say, if the power really presents any 
thing frightful in it ? With respect to post-roads, our adversaries admit 
the right of way in the general government. There have been, however, 
on this question, some instances of conflict, but they have passed away 
without any serious difficulty. Connecticut, if I have been rightly in- 
formed, disputed, at one period, the right of passage of the mail on the 
Sabbath. The general government persisted in the exercise of the right, 
and Connecticut herself, and every body else, have acquiesced in it. 

The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. H. Nelson) has contended, that I do 
not adhere, in the principles of construction which I apply to the Consti- 
tution, to the repubhcan doctrines of 1798, of which that gentleman would 
have us believe he is the constant disciple. Let me call the attention of 
the committee to the celebrated state paper to which we both refer for 
our principles in this respect — (a paper which, although I have not seen it 
for sixteen years until the gentleman had the politeness to furnish me 
with it during this debate, made such an impression on my mind, that I 
shall never forget the satisfaction with which I perused it.) I find that I 
have used, without having been aware of it, when I formerly addressed 
the committee, almost the same identical language employed by Mr. Mad- 
ison in that paper. It will be recollected, that I claimed no right to ex- 
ercise any power under the Constitution, unless such power was expressly 
granted, or necessary and proper to carry into effect some granted power. 
I have not sought to derive power from the clause which authorizes Con- 
gress to appropriate money. I have been contented with endeavoring to 
show, that according to the doctrines of ll98, and according to the most 
rigid interpretation which any one will put upon the instrument, it is ex- 
pressly given in one case, and fairly deducible in others. 

It will be remarked, that Mr. Madison, in his reasoning on the Constitu- 
tion, has not employed the language fashionable during this debate ; he 
has not said, that an implied power must be absolutely necessary to carry 
into effect the specified power, to which it is appurtenant, to elbible the 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 11S> 

general government to exercise it. No. This was a modern interj. rela- 
tion of tlie Constitution. Mr. Madison has employed the language of the 
.Tistrument itself, and has only contended that the implied power must be 
necessary and proper to carry into eflfect the specified power. He has 
only insisted, that when Congress applied its sound judgment to the Consti- 
tution in relation to implied powers, it should be clearly seen that they were 
necessary and proper to effectuate the specified powers. These are my 
principles ; but they are not those of the gentleman from Virginia and hie 
friends on this occasion. They contend for a degree of necessity absolute 
and indispensable ; that by no possibility can the power be otherwise ex- 
ecuted. 

That there are two classes of powers in the Constitution, I believe has 
never been controverted by an American statesman. We can not foresee 
and provide specifically for all contingencies. Man and his language are 
both imperfect. Hence the existence of construction, and of constructive 
powers. Hence also the rule that a grant of the end is a grant of the 
means. If you amend the Constitution a thousand times, the same imper- 
fection of our nature and our language will attend our new works. There 
are two dangers to which we are exposed. The one is, that the general 
government may relapse into the debility which existed in the old confed- 
eration, and finally disolve from the want of cohesion. The denial to it of 
powers plainly conferred, or clearly necessary and proper to execute the 
conferred powers, may produce this effect. And I think, with great defer- 
ence to the gentlemen on the other side, this is the danger to which their 
principles directly tend. The other danger, that of consolidation, is, by the 
assumption of powers not granted, nor incident to granted powers, or the 
assumption of powers which have been withheld or expressly prohibited 
This was the danger of the period of 1798-9. For instance, that, in direct 
contradictien to a prohibitory clause of the Constitution, a sedition act was 
passed ; and an alien law was also passed, in equal violation of the spirit, 
if not of the express provisions, of the Constitution. It was by such 
measures that the federal party (if parties might be named), throwing off 
the vail, furnished to their adversaries the most effectual ground of opposi- 
tion. If they had not passed those acts, I think it highly probable that 
the current of power would have continued to flow in the same channel ; 
and the change of parties in 1801, so auspicious to the best interests of the 
country, as I believe, would never have occurred. 

I beg the committee — I entreat the true friends of the confederated 
union of these States — to examine this doctrine of State rights, and to see 
to what abusive, if not dangerous consequences, it may lead, to what ex- 
tent it has been carried, and how it has varied by the same State at different 
times. In alluding to the State of Massachusetts, I assure the gentlemen 
from that State, and particularly the honorable chairman of the committee 
to whom the claim of Massachusetts has been referred, that I have no in- 
tention to create any prejudice against that claim. I hope that when the 



120 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

subject is taken up it will be candidly and dispassionately considered, and 
that a decision will be made on it consistent with the rights of the Union 
and of the State of Massachusetts. The high character, amiable disposi- 
tion, and urbimity of the gentleman to whom I have alluded (Mr. Mason, 
of Massachusetts), will, if I had been otherwise inclined, prevent me from 
endeavoring to make impressions unfavorable, to the claim, whose justice that 
gentleman sfcmds pledged to manifest. But in the peiiod of 1798-9, what 
was the doctrine promulgated by Massachusetts ? It was, that the States, in 
their sovereign capacity, had no right to examine into the constitutionality 
or expediency of the measures of the general government. 

[Mr Clay here quoted several passages from the answer of the State of Mas- 
sachusetts to the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, concerning the alien and 
sedition laws, to prove his position.] 

We see here an express disclaimer, on the part of Massachusetts, of any 
right to decide on the constitutionaUty or expediency of the general govern- 
ment. But what was the doctrine which the same State, in 1813, thought 
proper to proclaim to the world, and that, too, when the Union was men- 
anced on all sides ? She not only claimed but exercised the right which, 
io 1799, she had so solemnly disavowed. She claimed the right to judge 
of the propriety of the call made by the general government for her militia, 
and she refused the militia called for. There is so much plausibility in 
the reasoning employed by that State in support of her modern doctrine of 
State rights, that, were it not for the unpopularity of the stand she took in 
the late war, or had it been in other times, and under other circumstances, 
she would very probably have escaped a great portion of that odium which 
has so justly fallen to her lot. The Constitution gives to Congress power to 
provide for calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union, to sup- 
press insurrections, and to repel invasions ; and in no other cases. The 
mihtia was called out by tlie general government during the late war, to 
repel invasions. Massachusetts said, as you have no right to the militia, 
but in certain contingencies, she was competent to decide whether those 
contingencies had or had not occurred. And, having examined the facts, 
what then ? She said, all was peace and quietness in Massachusetts — no 
non-execution of the laws ; no insurrection at home ; no invjision from 
abroad, nor any immediate danger of invasion. And, in truth, I believe 
there was no actual invasion for nearly two years after the requisition. 
Under these circumstances, were it not for the supposed motive of her 
conduct, would not the case which Massachusetts made out have looked 
extremely plausible ? I hope it is not necessary for me to say, that it is 
very far from my intention to convey any thing like approbation of the 
conduct of Massachusetts. No. My doctrine is, that the States, as States, 
have no right to oppose the execution of the powers which the general 
government asserts. Any State has undoubtedly the right to express its 
opinion, in the form of resolution or otherwise, and proceed, by constitu- 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 121 

tional means, to redress any real or im;iginary grievance ; but it has no 
right to withho d its military aid, when called upon by the high authorities 
of the general goverument, much less to obstruct the execution of a law regu- 
larly passed. To suppose the existence of such an alarming right, is to sup- 
pose, if not disunion itself, such a state of disorder and confusion as must in- 
evitably lead to it. 

Greatly as I venerate the State which gave me birth, and much as I re- 
spect the judges of its Supreme Court, several of whom are my personal 
friends, I am obliged to think that some of the doctrines which that State 
has recently held concerning State rights, are fraught with much danger. 
If those doctrines had been asserted during the late war, a large share of 
the public disapprobation which has been given to Massachusetts would 
have fallen to Virginia. What are these doctrines ? The courts of Vir- 
ginia assert, that they have a right to determine on the constitutionality 
of any law or treaty of the United States, and to expound them according 
to their own views, even if they should vary from the decision of the Su- 
preme Court of the United States. They assert more — that from their de- 
cision there can be no appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States ; 
and that there exists in Congress no power to frame a law, obliging the court 
of the State, in the last resort, to submit its decision to the supervision 
of the Supreme Court of the United States ; or, if I do not misunderstand the 
doctrine, to withdraw from the State tribunal, controversies involving the 
laws of the United States, and to place them before the federal judiciaiy. I 
am a friend, a true friend, to State rights ; but not in all cases as they are 
asserted. The States have their appointed orbit ; so has the Union ; and 
each should be confined within its fair, legitimate, and constitutional sphere. 
We should equally avoid that subtle process of argument which dissipates 
into air the powers of this government, and that spirit of encroachment 
which would snatch from the State, powers not delegated to the general 
government. We shall thus escape both the dangers I have noticed — that 
of relapsing into the alarming weakness of the confederation, which is de- 
scribed as a mere rope of sand ; and also that other, perhaps not the 
greatest danger, consolidation. No man deprecates more than I do, the 
idea of consolidation ; yet, between separation and consolidation, painful 
as would be the alternative, I would greatly prefer the latter. 

I will now proceed to endeavor to discover the real difierence in the 
interpretation of the Constitution between the gentlemen on the other side 
and myself. It is agreed, that there is no power in the general govern- 
ment but that which is expressly granted, or which is impliable from an 
express grant. The difierence, then, must be in the apphcation of this 
rule. The gentleman from Virginia, who has favored the House with so 
able an argument on the subject, has conceded, though somewhat reluc- 
tantly, the existence of incidental powers, but he contended that they must 
have a direct and necessary relation to some specified power. Granted. 
But who is to judge of this relation ? And what rule can you prescribe 



122 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

different from that which the Constitution has required, that it should be 
necessary and proper ? Whatever may be the rule, in whatever language 
you may choose to express it, there must be a certain degree of discretion 
left to the agent who is to apply it. But gentlemen are alarmed at this 
discretion — that law of tyrants, on which they contend there is no hmit^ 
ation. It should be observed, in the first place, that the gentlemen are 
brought, by the very course of reasoning which they themselves employ, 
by all the rules which they would lay down for the Constitution, to cases 
where discretion must exist. But is there no limitation, no security, against 
the abuse of it ? Yes, there is such security in the fact of our being mem- 
bers of the same society, equally affected ourselves by the laws we promul- 
gate. There is the further security in the oath which is taken to support 
the Constitution, and which will tend to restrain Congress from deriving 
powers which are not proper and necessary. There is the yet further se- 
curity, that at the end of every two years, the members must be amenable 
to the people for the manner in which their trusts have been performed. 
And there remains also that further, though awful security, the last resort 
of society, which I contend belongs alike to the people and to the States 
in their sovereign capacity, to be exercised in extreme cases, and when op- 
pression becomes intolerable, the right of resistance. Take the gentleman's 
own doctrine (Mr. Barbour), the most restricted which has been asserted, 
and what other securities have we against the abuse of power, than those 
which I have enumerated ? Say that there must be an absolute necessity 
to justify the exercise of an implied power, who is to define that absolute 
necessity, and then to apply it ? Who is to be the judge ? Where is the 
security against transcending that limit ? The rule the gentleman con- 
tends for has no greater security than that insisted upon by us. It equally 
leads to the same discretion, a sound discretion, exercised under all the 
responsibility of a solemn oath, of a regard to our fair fame, of a knowl- 
edge that we are ourselves the subjects of those laws which we pass, and, 
lastly, of the right of resisting insupportable tyranny. And, by way of 
illustration, if the sedition act had not been condemned by the indignant 
voice of the community, the right of resistance would have accrued. If 
Congress assumed the power to control the right of speech, and to assail, 
by penal statutes, the greatest of all the bulwarks of liberty, the freedom 
of the press, and there were no other means to arrest their progress but 
that to which I have referred, lamentable as would be the appeal, such a 
monstrous abuse of power, I contend, would authorize a recurrence to 
that right. 

If, then, the gentlemen on the other side and myself differ so little in 
our general principles, as I think I have shown, I will proceed, for a few 
moments, to look at the Constitution a little more in detail. I have con- 
tended that the power to construct post-roads is expressly granted in the 
power to establish post-roads. If it be, there is an end of the controversy ; 
but if not the next inquiry is, whether that power may be fairly deduced, 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 123 

by implication, from any of the special grants of power. To show that 
the power is expressly granted, I might safely appeal to the alignments al- 
ready used, to prove that the word establish, in this case, cJin mean only 
one thing — the right of making. Several gentlemen have contended that 
the word has a different sense ; and one has resorted to the preamble of 
the Constitution, to show that the phrase " to establish justice," there used, 
does not convey the power of creation. If the word " establish" is there 
to be taken in the sense which gentlemen claim for it, that of adoption or 
designation, Congress could have a choice only of systems of justice pre- 
existing. Will any gentleman contend that we are obliged to take the 
Justinian code, the Napoleon code, the code of civil, or the code of com- 
mon, or canon law ? Establishment means in the preamble, as in other 
cases, construction, formation, creation. Let me ask, in all cases of crime, 
which are merely malum prohibitum, if you do not resort to construction, 
to creating, when you make the offense ? By your laws denouncing cer- 
tain acts as criminal offenses, laws which the good of society requires you 
to pass, and to adapt to our peculiar condition, you do construct and create 
a system of rules to be administered by the judiciary. But gentlemen say 
that the word can not mean make; that you would not say, for example, 
to establish a ship, to establish a chair. In the application of this, as of 
all other terms, you must be guided by the nature of the subject ; and if it 
can not properly be used in all cases, it does not follow that it can not be 
in any. And when we take into consideration that, under the old articles 
of confederation, Congress had over the subject of post-roads just as much 
power as gentlemen allow to the existing government, that it was the 
general scope and spirit of the new Constitution to enlarge the powers of 
the general government, and that, in fact, in this very clause, the power to 
establish post-ofBces, which was alone possessed by the former government, 
I think I may safely consider the argument, on this part of the subject, as 
successfully maintained. With respect to military roads, the concession 
that they may be made when called for by the emergency, is admitting 
that the Constitution conveys the power. And we may safely appeal to 
the judgment of the candid and enlightened to decide between the wisdom 
of these two constructions, of which one requires you to wait for the ex- 
ercise of your power until the arrival of an emergency, which may not 
allow you to exert it, and the other, without denying you the power, if 
you can exercise it during the emergency, claims the right of providing 
beforehand against the emergency. 

One member has stated what appeared to him a conclusive argument 
against the power to cut canals, that he had understood that a proposition, 
made in the convention to insert such power, was rejected. To this argu- 
ment more than one suflBcient answer can be made. In the first place, the 
fact itself has been denied, and I have never yet seen any evidence of it. 
But suppose that the proposition had been made and overruled, unless the 
motives of the refusal to insert it are known, gentlemen are not authorized 



124 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

to dra V the inference that it was from hostility to the power, or from 9 
desire to withhold it from Congress. May not one of the objections be, 
that the power was fairly to be inferred from some of the specific grants 
of power, and that it was therefore not necessary to insert the proposition ? 
that to adopt it, indeed, might lead to weaken or bring into doubt other 
incidental powers not enumerated? A member from New York (Mr. 
Storrs), whose absence I regret on this occasion, not only on account of 
the great aid which might have been expected from him, but from the 
cause of that absence, has informed me that, in the convention of that 
State, one of the objections to the Constitution by the anti-federalists was, 
tiiat it was understood to convey to the general government the power to 
cut canals. How often, in the course of the proceedings of this House, do 
we reject amendments upon the sole ground that they are not necessary, 
the principle of the amendment being already contained in the proposi- 
tion? 

I refer to the " Federalist," for one moment, to show that the only notice 
taken of that clause of the Constitution which relates to post-roads, is fa- 
vorable to my construction. The power, that book says, must always be 
a harmless one. I have endeavored to show, not only that it is perfectly 
harmless, but that every exercise of it must be necessarily beneficial. 
Nothing which tends to faciHtate intercourse among the States, says the 
" Federalist," can be unworthy of the public care. What intercourse ? Even 
if restricted on the narrowest theory of gentlemen on the other side, to 
the intercourse of intelligence, they deny that to us, since they will not 
admit that we have the power to repair or improve the way, the right of 
which they yield us. In a more liberal and enlarged sense of the word, 
it will comprehend all those various means of accomplishing the object 
which are calculated to render us a homogeneous people — one in feeling, 
in interest, and affection ; as we are one in our political relation. 

Is there not a direct and intimate relation between the power to make 
war, and military roads and canals ? It is in vain that the convention have 
confided to the general government the tremendous power of declaring 
war ; have imposed upon it the duty to employ the whole physical means 
of the nation to render the war, whatever may be its character, successful 
and glorious ; if the power is withheld of transporting and distributing 
those means. Let us appeal to facts, which are sometimes worth volumes 
of theory. We have recently had a war raging on all the four quarters 
of the Union. The only circumstance which gave me pain at the close oi 
that war, the detention of Moose Island, would not have occurred, if we 
had possessed military roads. Why did not the Union, why did not Mas- 
sachusetts, make a struggle to reconquer the island ? Not for the want 
of men ; not for the want of patriotism, I hope ; but from the want of 
physical ability to march a force suflBcient to dislodge the enemy. On 
the nor'h-western frontier, millions of money, and some of the most pre- 
cious biood of the State from which I have the honor to come, were waste- 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 125 

fully expended for the want of such roads. My honorable friend from 
Ohio (General Harrison), who commanded the army in that quarter, could 
furnish a volume of evidence on this subject. What now paralyzes our 
arms on the southern frontier, and occasioned the recent massacre of fifty 
of our brave soldiers ? What, but the want of proper means for the com- 
munication of intelligence, and for the transport;ition of our resources 
from point to point ? Whether we refer to our own experience, or that 
of other countries, we can not fail to perceive the great value of military 
roads. Those great masters of the world, the Romans, how did they sus- 
tain their power so many centuries, diflfusing law and liberty, and intelli- 
gence, all around them ? They made permanent military roads ; and 
among the objects of interest which Europe now presents are the remains 
of those Roman roads, which are shown to the curious inquirer. If there 
were no other monument remaining of the sagacity and of the illustrious 
deeds of the uufoitunate captive of St. Helena, the internal improvements 
which he made, the road from Hamburg to Basle, would perpetuate his 
memory to future ages. In making these allusions, let me not be misun- 
derstood, I do not desire to see military roads established for the purpose 
of conquest, but of defense ; and as a part of that preparation which 
should be made in a season of peace for a season of war, I do not wish 
to see this country ever in that complete state of preparation for war for 
which some contend ; that is, that we should constantly have a large 
standing army, well disciplined, and always ready to act, I want to see 
the bill reported by my friend from Ohio, or some other, embracing an ef- 
fective militia system, passed into a law ; and a chain of roads and canals, 
by the aid of which our physical means can be promptly transported to 
any required point. These, connected with a small military establishment 
to keep up our forts and gariisons, constitute the kind of preparation for 
war, which, it appears to me, this country ought to make. No man, who 
has paid the least attention to the operations of njodern war, can have 
failed to remark how essential good roads and canals are to the success of 
those operations. How often have battles been won by celerity and rap- 
idity of movement ! It is one of the most essential circumstances in war. 
But, without good roads, it is impossible. Members wiU recall to their 
recollections the fact, that, in the Senate, several years ago, an honorable 
friend of mine (Mr. Bayard), whose premature death I shall ever deplore, 
who was an ornament to the councils of his country, and who, when 
abroad, was the able and fearless advocate of her rights, did, in supporting 
a subscription which he proposed the United States Bank should make to 
the stock of the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal Company, earnestly rec- 
ommend the measure as connected with our operations in war. I listened 
to my friend with some incredulity, and thought he pushed his argument 
too far, I had, soon after, a practical evidence of its justness. For, in 
traveling from Philadelphia, in the fall of 1813, I saw transporting, from 
Elk r'ver to the Delaware, large quantities of massy timbers for the con- 



126 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Btruction of the Chierriere or the Franklin, or both ; and, judging from 
the number of wagons and horses, and the number of days employed, 1 
believe the additional expense of that single operation would have gone 
very far to complete that canal, whose cause was espoused with so much 
eloquence in the Senate, and with so much effect, too ; bills having pass- 
ed that body more than once to give aid, in some shape or other, to that 
canal With notorious facts like this, is it not obvious, that a line of mili- 
tary canals is not only necessary and proper, but ahnost indispensable to 
the war-making power ? 

One of the rules of construction which has been laid down, I acknowl- 
edge my incapacity to comprehend. Gentlemen say, that the power in 
question is a substantive power ; and that no substantive power can be 
derived by implication. What is their definition of a substantive power ? 
Will they favor us with the principle of discrimination between powers 
which, being substantive, are not grantable but by express grant, and 
those which, not being substantive, may be conveyed by implication ? 
Although I do not perceive why this power is more entitled than many 
implied powers, to the denomination of substantive, suppose that be 
yielded, how do gentlemen prove that it may not be conveyed by implica- 
tion ? If the positions were maintained, which have not yet been proved, 
that the power is substantive, and that no substantive power can be 
implied, yet I trust it has been satisfactorily shown that there is an express 
grant. 

My honorable friend from Virginia (Mr. Nelson), has denied the oper- 
ation of executive influence on his mind ; and has informed the committee, 
that from that quarter he has nothing to expect, to hope, or to fear. I did 
not impute to my honorable friend any such motive ; I knew his inde- 
pendence of character and of mind too well to do so. But I entreat him 
to reflect, if he does not expose himself to such an imputation by those 
less friendly disposed toward him than myself Let us look a little at 
facts. The president recommends the establishment of a bank. If ever 
there were a stretch of implied powers conveyed by the Constitution, it 
has been thought that the grant of the charter of the national bank was 
one. But the president recommends it. Where was then my honorable 
friend, the friend of State rights, who so pathetically calls upon us to re- 
pent, in sackcloth and ashes, our meditated violation of the Constitution ; 
and who kindly expresses his hope, that we shall be made to fwel the pub- 
lic indignation ? Where was he at that awful epoch ? Where was that 
eloquent tongue, which we have now heard with so much pleasure? 
Silent ! Silent as the grave ! 

[Mr. Nelson said, across the House, that he had voted against the bank bill 
when first recommended.] 

Alas ! my honorable friend had not the heart to withstand a second rec- 
ommendation from the president ; but, when it came, yielded, no doubt 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 12T 

most reluctantly, to the executive wishes, and voted for the bank. At the 
last session of Congress, Mr. Madison recommended (and I will presently 
make some remarks on that subject) an exercise of all the existing powers 
of the general government, to establish a comprehensive system of internal 
improvements. Where was my honorable friend on that occasion ? Not 
silent as the grave, but he gave a negative vote, almost as silent. No 
effort was made on his part, great as he is when he exerts the powers of 
his well-stored mind, to save the commonwealth from that greatest of all 
calamities, a system of internal improvement. No ; although a war with 
all the allies, he now thinks, would be less terrible than the adoption of 
this report, not one word then dropped from his lips against the measure. 

[Mr. Nelson said he voted against the bill.] 

That he whispered out an unwilling negative, I do not deny ; but it was 
unsustained by that torrent of eloquence which he has poured out on the 
present occasion. But we have an executive message now, not quite as 
ambiguous in its terms, nor as oracular in its meaning, as that of Mr. 
Madison appears to have been. No ; the president now says, that he has 
made great eflForts to vanquish his objections to the power, and that he 
can not but believe that it does not exist. Then my honorable friend 
rouses, thunders forth the danger in which the Constitution is, and sounds 
the tocsin of alarm. Far from insinuating that he is at all biased by the 
executive wishes, I appeal to his candor to say, if there is not a remarkable 
coincidence between his zeal and exertions, and the opinions of the chief 
magistrate ? 

Now let us review those opinions as communicated at different periods. 
It was the opinion of Mr. Jefferson, that, although there was no genera, 
power vested by the Constitution in Congress, to construct roads and 
canals, without the consent of the States, yet such a power might be exer- 
cised with their assent. Mr. Jefferson not only held this opinion in the 
abstract, but he practically executed it in the instance of the Cumberland 
road ; and how ? First, by a compact made with the State of Ohio, for 
the application of a specified fund, and then by compacts with Virginia, 
Pennsylvania, and Maryland, to apply the fund so set apart within their 
respective limits. If, however, I rightly understood my honorable friend 
the other day, he expressly denied (and in that I concur with him) that 
the power could be acquired by the mere consent of the State. Yet he 
defended the act of Mr. Jefferson, in the case referred to. 

[Mr. Nelson expressed his dissent to this statement of his argument.] 

It is far from my intention to misstate the gentleman. I certainly un- 
derstood him to say, that, as the road was first stipulated for in the com- 
pact with Ohio, it was competent afterward to carry it through the States 
mentioned with their assent. Now, if we have not the right to make a 



128 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

road in virtue of one compact made with a single State, can we obtain it 
by two contracts made with several States ? The character of the fund 
can not aflfect the question. It is totally immaterial whether it arises from 
the sales of the public lands, or from the general revenue. Suppose a con- 
tract made with Massachusetts, that a certain portion of the revenue, col- 
lected at the port of Boston, from foreign trade, should be expended in 
making roads and canals leading to that State, and that a subsequent com- 
pact should be made with Connecticut or New Hampshire, for the expend- 
iture of the fund on these objects, within their limits. Can we acquire 
the power, in this manner, over internal improvements, if we do not possess 
it independently of such compacts? I conceive, clearly not. And I am 
entirely at a loss to comprehend how gentlemen, consistently with their own 
principles, can justify the erection of the Cumberland road. No man is 
prouder than I am of that noble monument of the provident care of the 
nation, and of the public spirit of its projectors ; and I trust that, in spite 
of all constitutional and other scruples, here or elsewhere, an appropriation 
will be made to complete that road. I confess, however, freely, that I am 
entirely unable to conceive of any principle on which that road can be 
suppoi-ted, that would not uphold the general power contended for. 

1 will now examine the opinion of Mr. Madison. Of all the acts of that 
pure, virtuous, and illustrious statesman, whose administration has so pow- 
erfully tended to advance the glory, honor, and prosperity of this country, 
I must regret, for his sake and for the sake of the country, the rejection of 
the bill of the last session. I think it irreconcilable with Mr. Madison's 
own principles — those great, broad, and liberal principles, on which he so 
ably administered the government. And, sir, when I appeal to the mem- 
bers of the last Congress, who are now in my hearing, I am authorized to 
Bay, with regard to the majority of them, that no circumstances, not even 
an earthquake, that should have swallowed up one half of this city, could 
have excited more surprise than when it was first communicated to this 
House, that Mr. Madison had rejected his own bill — I say his own bill, for 
his message at the opening of the session meant nothing, if it did not rec- 
otnmend such an exercise of power as was contained in that bill. My 
friend, who is near me (Mr. Johnson, of Virginia), the operations of whose 
vigorous and independent mind, depend upon his own internal perceptions, 
has expressed himself with becoming manliness, and thrown aside the 
authority of names, as having no bearing with him on the question. But 
their authority has been referred to, and will have influence with others. 
It is impossible, moreover, to disguise the fact, that the question is now a 
question between the executive on the one side, and the representatives of 
the people on the other. So it is understood in the country, and such is 
the fact. Mr, Madison enjoys, in his retreat at Montpelier, the repose and 
the honors due to his eminent and laborious services ; and I would be 
among the last to disturb it. However painful it is to me to animadvert 
upon any of his opiiiions, I feel perfectly sure that the circumstance can 



on INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 129 

only be viewed by him >vith an enlightened liberality. What are the 
opinions which have been expressed by Mr. Madison on this subject I I 
will not refer to all the messages wherein he has recommended internal 
improvements ; but to that alone which he addressed to Congress, at the 
commencement of the last session, which contains this passage : 

" I particularly invite again the attention of Congress to the expediency of 
exercising their existing powers, and, where necessary, of resorting to the pre- 
scribed mode of enlarging them, in order to effectuate a comprehensive system of 
roads and canals, such as will have the effect of drawing more closely togetlier 
every part of our country, by promoting intercourse and improvements, and 
by increasing the share of every part in the common stock of national proa- 
perity." 

In the examination of this passage, two positions force themselves upon 
our attention. The first is, the assertion that there are existing powers in 
Congress to effectuate a comprehensive system of roads and canals, the ef- 
fect of which would be to draw the different parts of the country more 
closely together. And I would candidly admit, in the second place, that 
it was intimated, that, in the exercise of those existing powers, some defect 
might be discovered which would render an amendment of the Constitution 
necessary. Nothing could be more clearly aflBrmed than the first position ; 
but in the message of Mr. Madison returning the bill, passed in consequence 
of his recommendation, he has not specified a solitary case to which those 
existing powers are a})plicable ; he has not told us what he meant by those 
existing powers ; and the general scope of his reasoning, in that message, 
if well founded, proves that there are no existing powers whatever. It is 
apparent, that Mr. Madison himself has not examined some of those prin- 
cipal sources of the Constitution from which, during this debate, the power 
has been derived. I deeply regret, and I know that Mr. Madison regretted 
that the circumstances under which the bill was presented to him (the last 
day but oue of a most busy sessiou) deprived him of an opportunity of that 
thorough investigation of which no man is more capable. It is certain, 
that, taking his two messages at the same session together, they are per- 
fectly irreconcilable. What, moreover, was the nature of that bill ? It 
did not apply the money to any specific object of internal improvement, 
nor designate any particular mode in which it should be applied ; but 
merely set apart and pledged the fund to the general purpose, subject to 
the future disposition of Congress. If, then, there were any supposable 
case whatever, to which Congress might apply money in the erection of a 
road, or cutting a canal, the bill did not violate the Constitution. And 
it ought not to be anticipated, that money constitutionally appropriated by 
one Congress would be unconstitutionally expended by another. 

I come now to the message of Mr. Monroe ; and if, by the communica- 
tion of his opinion to Congress, he intended to prevent discussion, he has 
most wofuUy failed. I know that, according to a most venerable and ex- 

Q 



130 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

celleut usage, the opinion, neither of the president or of the Senate, upon 
any proposition depending in this House, ought to be adverted to. Even 
in the Parliament of Great Britain, a member who would refer to the 
opinion of the sovereign, in such a case, would be instantly called to order ; 
but under the extraordinary circumstances of the president having, with, I 
have no doubt, the best motives, volunteered his opinion on this head, and 
inverted the order of legislation by beginning where it should end, I am 
compelled, most reluctantly, to refer to that opinion. I can not but depre- 
cate the practice of which the president has, in this instance, set the ex- 
amj)le to his successors. The constitutional order of legislation supposes 
that every bill originating in one House, shall be there deliberately investi- 
gated, without influence from any other branch of the Legislature ; and then 
remitted to the other House for a like free and unbiased consideration. 
Having passed both Houses, it is to be laid before the president ; signed if 
approved, and if disapproved, to be returned, with his objections, to the 
originating House. In this manner, entire freedom of thought and of 
action is secured, and the president finally sees the proposition in the most 
matured form which Congress can give to it. The practical effect, to say 
no more, of forestalling the legislative opinion, and telling us what we may 
or may not do, will be to deprive the president himself of the opportunity 
of considering a proposition so matured, and us of the benefit of his reason- 
ing applied specifically to such proposition. For the Constitution further 
enjoins it upon him, to state his objections upon returning the bill. The 
originating House is then to reconsider it, and deliberately to weigh those 
objections ; and it is further required, when the question is again taken, 
Sh:dl the bill pass, those objections notwithstanding ? that the votes shall 
be solenmly spread, by ayes and noes, upon the record. Of this oppor- 
tunity of thus recording our opinions, in matters of great public concern, 
we are deprived, if we submit to the innovation of the president. I will 
not press this part of the subject further. I repeat, again and again, that 
I have no doubt but that the president was actuated by the purest motives. 
I am compelled, however, in the exercise of that freedom of opinion which, 
so long as I exist, I will maintain, to say, that the proceeding is irregular 
and unconstitutional. Let us, however, examine the reasoning and opinion 
of the president : 

" A difference of opinion has existed from the first formation of our Consti- 
tution to the present time, among our most enlightened and virtuous citizens 
respecting the right of Congress to establish a system of internal improvement. 
Taking into view the trust with which I am now honored, it would be improper, 
after what has passed, that this discussion should be revived, with an uncer- 
tainty of my opinion respecting the right. Disregarding early impressions, I 
have bestowed on the subject all the deUberation which its great importance 
and a just sense of my duty required ; and the result is, a settled conviction in 
my mind, that Congress does not possess the right. It is not contained in any 
of the specified powers granted to Congress ; nor can I consider it incidental 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 131 

to, or a necessary mean, viewed on the most liberal scale, for carrying- into 
effect any of the powers which are specifically granted. In communicating tliis 
result, I can not resist the obligation which I feel, to suggest to Congi-ess the 
propriety of recommending to the States the adoption of an amendment to the 
Constitution, which shall give the right in question. In cases of doubtful con- 
struction, especially of such vital interest, it comports with the nature and origin 
of our institutions, and will contribute much to preserve them, to apply to our 
constituents for an expUcit grant of power. We may confidently rely, that, if 
it appears to their satisfaction that the power is necessary, it will always be 
granted." 

In this passage the president has furnished us with no reasoning, no 
argument in support of his opinion — nothing addressed to the understand- 
ing. He gives us, indeed, an historical account of the operations of his 
own mind, and he asserts that he has made a laborious effort to conquer 
his early impressions, but that the result is a settled conviction against 
the power, without a single reason. In his position, that the power must 
be specifically granted, or incident to a power so granted, it has been seen, 
that I have the honor to entirely concur with him ; but, he says, the power 
is not among the specified powers. Has he taJseu into consideration the 
clause respecting post-roads, and told us how and why that does not con- 
vey the power ? If he had acted within what I conceive to be his con- 
stitutional sphere of rejecting the bill, after it had passed both Houses, he 
must have learned that great stress was placed on that clause, and we 
should have been enlightened by his comments upon it. As to his denial 
of the power, as an incident to any of the express grants, I would have 
thought that we might have safely appealed to the experience of the 
president, during the late war, when the country derived so much benefit 
from his judicious administration of the duties of the war department, 
whether roads and canals for military purposes were not essential to 
celerity and successful result in the operations of armies. This part of 
the message is all assertion, and contains no argument which I can com- 
prehend, or which meets the points contended for during this debate 
Allow me here to say, and I do it without the least disrespect to that branch 
of the government on whose opinions and acts it has been rendered my 
painful duty to comment ; let me say, in reference to any man, however 
elevated his station, even if he be endowed with the power and preroga- 
tives of a sovereign, that his acts are worth infinitely more, and are more 
intelligible than mere paper sentiments or declarations. And what have 
been the acts of the president ? During his tour of the last summer, did 
he not order a road to be cut or repaired from near Plattsburg to the 
St. Lawrence ? My honorable friend will excuse me, if my comprehension 
is too dull to perceive the force of that argument, which seeks to draw a 
distinction between repairing an old and making a new road. 

(Mr. Nelson said he had not drawn that distinction, having only stated the fact) 



132 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Certainly no such distinction is to be found in the Constitution, or ex- 
ists in reason. Grant, however, the power of reparation, and we will make 
it do. We will take the post-roads, sinuous as they are, and put them in 
a condition to enable the mails to pass, without those mortifying delays and 
disappointments, to which we, at least in the West, are so often liable. The 
president then ordered a road of considerable extent to be constructed or 
repaired, on his sole authority, in a time of profound peace, when no enemy 
threatened the country, and when, in relation to the power as to which 
alone that road could be useful in time of war, there exists the best under- 
standing, and a prospect of lasting friendship, greater than at any other 
period. On his sole authority the president acted, and we are already 
called upon by the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means to 
sanction the act by an appropriation. This measure has been taken, too, 
without the consent of the State of New York; and what is wonderful, 
when we consider the magnitude of the State rights which are said to be 
violated, without even a protest on the part of that State against it. On 
the contrary, I understand, from some of the military oflBcers who are 
charged with the execution of the work, what is very extraordinary, that 
the people through whose quarter of the country the road passes, do not 
view it as a national calamity ; that they would be very glad that the 
president would visit them often, and that he would order a road to be cut 
and improved, at the national expense, every time he should visit them. 
Other roads, in other parts of the Union, have, it seems, been likewise 
ordered, or their execution, at the public expense, sanctioned by the ex- 
ecutive, without the concurrence of Congress. If the president has the 
power to cause these public improvements to be executed at his pleasure, 
whence is it derived? If any member will stand up in his place and 
say the president is clothed with this authority, and that it is denied to 
Congress, let us hear from him ; and let him point to the clause of the 
Constitution which vests it in the executive and withholds it from the leg- 
islative branch. 

There is no such clause ; there is no such exclusive executive power. 
The power is derivable by the executive only from those provisions of the 
Constitution which charge him with the duties of commanding the phys- 
ical force of the country, and the employment of that force in war, and the 
preservation of the public tranquillity, and in the execution of the laws. 
But Congress has paramount powers to the president. It alone can de- 
clare war, can raise armies, can provide for calling out the militia, in the 
specified instances, and can raise and appropriate the ways and means 
necessary to those objects. Or is it come to this, that there are to be two 
rules of construction for the Constitution — one, an enlarged rule for the 
executive, and another, a restricted rule for the Legislature ? Is it already 
to be held that, according tr. the genius and nature of our Constitution, 
powers of this kind may V-^ safdy intrusted to the executive, but when at- 
tempted to be exercised by the Legislature, are so alarming and dangerous 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 183 

that a war with all the allied powers would be less terrible, and that the 
nation should clothe itself straightway in sackcloth and ashes ! No, sir ; if 
the power belongs only by implication to the chief magistrate, it is placed 
both by implication and express grant in the bands of Congress. I am so 
far from condemning the act of the president, to which I have referred, 
that I think it deserving of high approbation. That it was within the 
scope of his constitutional authority, I have no doubt; and I sincerely 
trust that the Secretary at War will, in time of peace, constantly employ 
in that way the military force. It will, at the same time, guard that force 
against the vices incident to indolence and inaction, and correct the evil 
of subtracting from the mass of the labor of society, where labor is more 
valuable than in any other country, that portion of it which enters into 
the composition of the anny. But I most solemnly protest against any 
exercise of powers of this kind by the president which are denied to Con- 
gress. And if the opinions expressed by him, in his message, were com- 
municated, or are to be used here to influence the judgment of the House, 
their authority is more than countervailed by the authority of his deliber- 
ate acts. 

Some principles drawn from political economists have been alluded to, 
and we are advised to leave things to themselves, upon the ground that, 
when the condition of society is ripe for internal improvements — that is, 
when capital can be so invested with a fair prospect of adequate remuneration, 
they will be executed by associations of individuals, unaided by govern- 
ment. With my friend from South Carolina (Mr. Lowndes) I concur in 
this as a general maxim; and I also concur with him that there are 
exceptions to it. The foreign policy which I think this country ought to 
adopt, presents one of those exceptions. It would, perhaps, be better for 
mankind if, in the intercourse between nations, all would leave skill and 
industry to their unstimulated exertions. But this is not done ; and if 
other powers will incite the industry of their subjects, and depress that of 
our citizens, in instances where they may come into competition, we must 
imitate their selfish example. Hence the necessity to protect our manu- 
factures. In regard to internal improvements, it does not follow that they 
will always be constructed whenever they will afibrd a competent dividend 
upon the capital invested. It may be true, generally, that in old countries 
where there is a great accumulation of surplus capital, and a consequent 
low rate of interest, they will be made. But, in a new country, the con- 
dition of society may be ripe for public works long before there is, in the 
hands of individuals, the necessary accumulation of capital to effect them ; 
and besides, there is, generally, in such a country, not only a scarcity of 
capital, but such a multiplicity of profitable objects presenting themselves 
as to distract the judgment. Further ; the aggregate benefit resulting to 
the whole society, from a public improvement, may be such as to amply 
justify the investment of capital in its execution, and yet that benefit may 
be so distributed among different and distant persons that they can never 



134 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

be got to act in concert. The turnpike roads wanted to pass the Alleghany 
mountains, and the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal are objects of this de- 
scription. Those who will be most benefited by these improvements reside 
at a considerable distance from the sites of them ; many of those persons 
never have seen and never will see them. How is it possible to regulate 
the contributions, or to present to individuals so situated a sufficiently 
lively picture of their real interests, to get them to make exertions in ef- 
fectuating the object commensurate with their respective abilities ? I think 
it very possible that the capitalist wlio should invest his money in one of 
these objects, might not be reimbursed three per centum annually upon it ; 
and yet society, in various forms, might actually reap fifteen or twenty per 
centum. The benefit resulting from a turnpike road, made by private as- 
sociation, is divided between the capitalist who receives his tolls, the lands 
through which it passes, and which are augmented in their value, and the 
commodities whose value is enhanced by the diminished expense of trans- 
portation. A combination, upon any terms, much less a just combination 
of all those interests, to efiect the improvement, is impracticable. And if 
you await the arrival of the period when the tolls alone can produce a 
competent dividend, it is evident that you will have to suspend its execu- 
tion long after the general interests of society would have authorized it. 

Again, improvements, made by pnvate associations, are generally made 
by local capital. But ages must elapse before there will be concentrated 
in certain places, where the interests of the whole community may call 
for improvements, sufficient capital to make them. The place of the im- 
provement, too, is not always the most interested in its accomplishment. 
Other parts of the Union — the whole line of the seaboard — are quite as 
much, if not more interested, in the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, as 
the small tract of country through which it is proposed to pass. The 
same observation will apply to turnpike roads passing through the Alle- 
ghany mountain. Sometimes the interest of the place of the improvement 
is adverse to the improvement and to the general interest. I would cite 
Louisville, at the rapids of the Ohio, as an example, whose interest will 
probably be more promoted by the continuance, than the removal of the 
obstruction. Of all the modes in which a government can employ its sur- 
j>lus revenue, none is more permanently beneficial than that of internal 
improvement. Fixed to the soil, it becomes a durable part of the land 
itself, diffusing comfort, and activity, and animation, on all sides. The 
first direct eftect is on the agricultural community, into whose pockets 
comes the difierence in the expense of transportation between good and 
bad ways. Thus, if the price of transporting a barrel of flour by the 
erection of the Cumberland turnpike should be lessened two dollars, 
the producer of the article would receive that two dollars more now than 
formerly. 

But, putting aside all pecuniary considerations, there may be political 
motives sufficiently powerful alone to justify certain internal improvements. 



ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. 135 

Does not our country present such ? How are they to be effected, if 
things are left to themselves ? I will not press the subject further. I am 
but too sensible how much I have abused the patience of the committee 
by trespassing so long upon its attention. The magnitude of the question, 
and the deep interest I feel in its rightful decision, must be my apology. 
We are now maJdng the last effort to establish our power, and I call on 
the friends of Congress, of this House, or the true friends of the State 
rights (not charging others with intending to oppose them), to rally round 
the Constitution, and to support by their votes, on this occasion, the legit- 
imate powers of the Legislature. If we do nothing this session but pass 
an abstract resolution on the subject, I shall, under all circumstances, con- 
sider it a triumph for the best interests of the country, of which posterity 
will, if we do not, reap the benefit. I tnist, that by the decision which 
shall be given, we shall assert, uphold, and maintain, the authority of 
Congress, notwithstanding all tkU has been or may be said against it. 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN 

STATES. 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MARCH 24, 1818. 

[Mr. Clay had had occasion, in 1816 and 1817, to make some 
incidental allusions to the great subject of the two following 
speeches, and in one instance to come out boldly upon it. The war 
between Spain and her American colonies, had now been carried 
on for several years, with great, even barbarous atrocities on the 
part of Spain, and with constantly augmenting chances in favor 
of the ultimate independence of the colonies. The example and 
successful career of the United States of North America, had 
inspired them with hope, and the wrongs of Spain were much 
more grievous than those inflicted by Great Britain on her 
colonies. Spain was more remote from her rebellious provinces, 
and less able to send against them efficient forces, being herself 
in a condition of rapid decadence. But her American continent- 
al possessions constituted a vast domain, and the richest gem in 
her crown. To lose them, was like cutting off the legs and arms 
of a man, leaving only the trunk. Three things, in such a case, 
invariably follow a relentless despotism, sooner or later : fijst, 
that despotism knows not how to relax its severities ; next, that 
it drives its victims to desperation ; and thirdly, that, if there 
be any hope of freedom, freedom will at last crown the efforts of 
the oppressed. 

It was morally impossible for a man of Mr. Clay's tempera- 
ment as a man, and his position as an American statesman, to 
look on this struggle with feelings of indifference, or not to make 
an effort, in some form, to aid these oppressed provinces of Spain. 
He had even suggested, on a former occasion, that it might be 
expedient for the United States to form an alliance, offensive 
and defensive, with these interesting communities, against the 
mother country. On the present occasion, however, he only pro- 
posed a recognition of one of these Spanish colonies — The United 
Provinces of Bio de la Plata — as a government de facto, and 
providing for a minister — as an entering wedge for a similar 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 137 

recognition of all the other South American States, when circum- 
stances should favor. In 1817, Mr. Monroe, president of the 
United States, had sent a commission of inquiry to South Amer- 
ica, Messrs. Rodney, Graham, and Bland, to report on the con- 
dition and political prospects of those Spanish provinces, and at 
the next session of Congress, asked for an appropriation to defray 
its expenses. Mr. Clay moved to amend the bill by providing 
for a minister to the La Plata, to be appointed in the discretion 
of the president ; and opened the debate by the following speech 
The entire field of the independence of the South American 
States was, of course, now open, and Mr. Clay entered it with a 
boldness characteristic only of himself — alone in the moral 
power of his sympathy and of his position. He consulted naught 
but his own heart and the cause of freedom. He regarded the 
American continental domains of Spain as occupying precisely 
the position of the North American British colonies, when they 
started and while they were struggling for independence — ex- 
cepting only, that the Spanish colonies had stronger claims for 
freedom, arising from their greater grievances. The political 
prospect was at that moment the most inspiring to every lover 
of freedom, which the world ever beheld. It was nothing less 
than that the entire American continent should become a repub- 
lican empire, in contrast with the European continent groaning 
under a variety of despotisms. Nor did Mr. Clay propose any 
thing that could be construed into a casus belli by Spain. It 
was only to send a minister to a government de facto — a right 
established by public law. Public law, therefore, was in har- 
mony with those sympathies which, at this time and in this 
case, were natural to all American freemen ; and the outburst 
of argument from the mouth of Mr. Clay, on this occasion, came 
down with tremendous effect, not only upon the House of Rep- 
resentatives, but upon the country ; and not only on this coun- 
try, but on the Spanish provinces ; and not only in these 
quarters, but it burst on Spain herself, and on all Europe, as a 
clap of thunder from the skies. It was republican America, 
from Cape Horn to Hudson's Bay, against monarchical Europe, 
from the Mediterranean to Finland, that suddenly started up 
before the surprised imaginations of men — all from this dthut of 
Mr. Clay for South American independence. Mr. Clay had now 
come out in this field, armed with a panoply which no weapon 
could pierce ; for he had only proposed to send a minister to a 
government defacto^ 



138 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

I RISE, Mr. Chairman, under feelings of deeper regret than I have ever 
experienced on any former occasion, inspired, principally, by the painful 
consideration, that I find myself, on the proposition which I meant to sub- 
mit, differing from many highly esteemed friends, in and out of this House, 
for whose judgment I entertained the greatest respect. A knowledge of 
this circumstance has induced me to pause ; to subject my own convictions 
to the severest scrutiny, and to revolve the question over and over again. 
But all ray reflections have conducted me to the same clear result ; and, 
much as I value those friends, great as my deference is for their opinions, 
I can not hesitate, when reduced to the distressing alternative of conform- 
ing my judgment to theirs, or persuing the deliberate and mature dictates 
of my own mind. I enjoy some consolation, for the want of their co- 
operation, from the persuasion that, if I err on this occasion, I err on the 
side of the liberty and happiness of a large portion of the human family. 
Another, and, if possible, indeed a greater, source of the regi'et to which 
I refer, is the utter incompetency, which I unfeignedly feel, to do any 
thing like adequate justice to the great cause of American independence 
and freedom, whose interest I wish to promote by my humble exertions in 
this instance. Exhausted and worn down as I am, by the fatigue, confine- 
ment, and incessant application incident to the arduous duties of the 
honorable station I hold, during a four-months' session, I shall need 
all that kind indulgence which has been so often extended to me by the 
House. 

I beg, in the first place, to correct misconceptions, if any exist, in regard 
to my opinions. I am averse to war with Spain, or with any power. I 
would give no just cause of war to any power — not to Spain herself. I 
have seen enough of war, and of its calamities, even when successful. No 
country upon earth has more interest than this in cultivating peace and 
avoiding war, as long as it is possible honorably to avoid it. Gaining ad- 
ditional strength every day ; our numbers doubling in periods of twenty- 
five years ; with an income outstripping all our estimates, and so great, as, 
after a war in some respects disastrous, to furnish results which carry 
astonishment, if not dismay, into the bosom of states jealous of our rising 
importance, we have every motives for the love of peace. I can not, 
however, approve, in all respects, of the manner in which our negotiations 
with Spain have been conducted. If ever a favorable time existed for the 
demand, on the part of an injured nation, of indemnity for past wrongs 
from the aggressor, such is the present time. Impoverished and exhausted 
at home, by the wars which have desolated the peninsula, with a foreign 
war, calling for infinitely more resources, in men and money, than she can 
possibly command, this is the auspicious period for insisting upon justice 
at her hands, in a firm and decided tone. Time is precisely what Spain 
now most wants. Yet what are we told by the president, in his messag« 
at the commencement of Congress ? That Spain had procrastinated, and 
we acquiesced in her procrastination. And the Secretary of State, in a 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 139 

late communication with Mr. Onis, after ably vindicating all our rights, 
tells the Spanish minister, with a good deal of sang froid, that we had 
patiently waited thirteen years for a redress of our injuries, and that it re- 
quired no great effort to wait longer ! I would have abstained from thu3 
exposing our intentions. Avoiding- the use of the language of menace, 
I would have required, in temperate and decided terms, indemnity for all 
our wrongs ; for the spoliations of our commerce ; for the interruption of 
the right of depot at New Orleans, guarantied by treaty ; for the insults 
repeatedly offered to our flag ; for the Indian hostilities, which she was 
bound to prevent ; for belligerent use made of her ports and territories, by 
our enemy, during the late war ; and the instantaneous liberation of the 
free citizens of the United States, now imprisoned in her jails. Cotem- 
poraneous with that demand, without waiting for her final answer, and 
with a view to the favorable operation on her councils in regard to our 
own peculiar interests, as well as in justice to the cause itself, I would 
recognize any established government in Spanish America. I would 
have left Spain to draw her own inferences from these proceedings, as 
to the ultimate step which this country might adopt, if she longer with- 
held justice from us. And if she persevered in her iniquity, after we have 
conducted the negotiation in the manner I have endeavored to describe, I 
would then take up and decide the solemn question of peace or war, with 
the advantage of all the light shed upon it, by subsequent events, and the 
probable conduct of Europe. 

Spain has undoubtedly given us abundant and just cause of war. But 
it is not every cause of war that should lead to war. War is one of those 
dreadful scourges, that so shakes the foundations of society, overturns or 
changes the character of governments, interrupts or destroys the pursuits 
of private happiness, brings, in short, misery and wretchedness in so many 
forms, and at last is, in its issue, so doubtful and hazardous, that nothing 
but dire necessity can justify an appeal to arms. If we are to have war 
with Spain, I have, however, no hesitation in saying, that no mode of 
bringing it about could be less fortunate than that of seizing, at this time, 
upon her adjoining province. There was a time, under certain circum- 
stances, when we might have occupied East Florida with safety ; had we 
then taken it, our posture in the negotiation with Spain would have been 
totally different from what it is. But we have permitted that time, not 
with my consent, to pass by unimproved. If we were now to seize upon 
Florida, after a great change in those circumstances, and after declaring 
our intention to acquiesce in the procrastination desired by Spain, in what 
light should we be viewed by foreign powers, particularly Great Britain 
We have already been accused of inordinate ambition, and of seeking to 
aggrandize ourselves by an extension, on all sides of our limits. Should 
we not, by such an act of violence, give color to the accusation ? No, Mr. 
Chairman ; if we are to be involved in a war with Spain, let us have the 
credit of disinterestedness. Let us put her yet more in the wrong. Let 



140 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

US command the respect which is never withheld from those who act a 
noble and generous part. I hope to communicate to the committee the 
conviction which I so strongly feel, that the adoption of the amendment 
which I intend to propose, would not hazard, in the slightest degree, the 
peace of the country. But if that peace is to be endangered, I would in- 
finitely rather it should be for our exerting the right appertaining to ev«ry 
state, of acknowledging the independence of another state, than for the 
seizure of a province, which, sooner or later, we must certainly acquire. 

In contemplating the great struggle in which Spanish America is now 
engaged, our attention is first fixed by the immensity and character of the 
country which Spain seeks again to subjugate. Stretching on the Pacific 
ocean from about the fortieth degree of north latitude to about the fifty- 
fifth degree of south latitude, and extending from the mouth of the Rio 
del Norte (exclusive of East Florida), around the Gulf of Mexico, and 
along the South Atlantic to near Cape Horn ; it is about five thousand 
miles in length, and in some places near three thousand in breadth. 
Within this vast region we behold the most sublime and interesting objects 
of creation ; the loftiest mountains, the most majestic rivers in the world ; 
the richest mines of the precious metals, and the choicest productions of 
the earth. We behold there a spectacle still more interesting and sublime 
— the glorious spectacle of eighteen millions of people, struggling to burst 
their chains and to be free. When we take a little nearer and more de- 
tailed view, we perceive that nature has, as it were, ordained that this peo- 
ple and this country shall ultimately constitute several difierent nations. 
Leaving the United States on the north, we come to New Spain, or the 
vice-royalty of Mexico on the south ; passing by Guatemala, we reach the 
vice-royalty of New Granada, the late captain-generalship of Venezuela, 
and Guiana, lying on the east side of the Andes. Stepping over the 
Brazils, we arrive at the united provinces of La Plata, and crossing the 
Andes, we find Chili on their west side, and, further north, the vice-royalty 
of Lima, or Peru. Each of these several parts is suflScent in itself, in point 
of limits to constitute a powerful State ; and, in point of population, that 
which has the smallest, contains enough to make it respectable. Through- 
out all the extent of that great portion of the world, which I have 
attempted thus hastily to describe, the spirit of revolt against the dominion 
of Spain has manifested itself. The Revolution has been attended with 
various degrees of success in the several parts of Spanish America. In 
some it has been already crowned, as I shall endeavor to show, with com- 
plete success, and in all I am persuaded that independence has struck such 
deep root, that the power of Spain can never eradicate it. What are the 
causes of this great movement ? 

Three hundred years ago, upon the ruins of the thrones of Montezuma 
and the Incas of Peru, Spain erected the most stupendous system of 
colonial despotism that the world has ever seen — the most vigorous, the 
most exclusive. The great principle and object of this system, has been, 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 141 

to renier one of the largest portions of the world exclusively subservient, 
in all its faculties, to the interest of an inconsiderable spot in Europe. To 
efl'ectuate this aim of her policy, she locked up Spanish America from all 
the rest of the world, and prohibited, under the severest penalties, any 
foreigner from entering any part of it. To keep the natives themselves 
ignorant of each other, and of the strength and resources of the several 
parts of her American possessions, she next prohibited the inhabitants of 
one vice-royalty or government from visiting those of another ; so that the 
inhabitants of Mexico, for example, were not allowed to enter the vice- 
royalty of New Granada. The agriculture of those vast regions was so 
regulated and restrained, as to prevent all collision with the agriculture of 
the peninsula. Where nature, by the character and composition of the 
soil, had commanded, the abominable system of Spain has forbidden, the 
growth of certain articles. Thus the olive and the vine, to which Spanish 
America is so well adapted, are prohibited, wherever their culture can in- 
terfere with the olive and the vine of the peninsula. The commerce of the 
country, in the direction and objects of the exports and imports, is also 
subjected to the narrow and selfish views of Spain, and fettered by the 
odious spirit of monopoly, existing in Cadiz. She has sought, by scatter- 
ing discord among the several castes of her American population, and by 
a debasing course of education, to perpetuate her oppression. Whatever 
concerns public law, or the science of government, all writings upon polit- 
ical economy, or that tend to give vigor, and freedom, and expansion, to 
the intellect, are prohibited. Gentlemen would be astonished by the long 
list of distinguished authors, whom she proscribes, to be found in Depon's 
and other works. A main feature in her policy, is that which constantly 
elevates the European and depresses the American character. Out of 
upward of seven hundred and fifty viceroys and captains-general, whom 
she has appointed since the conquest of America about eighteen only have 
been from the body of the American population. On all occasions, she 
seeks to raise and promote her European subjects, and to degrade and 
humiliate the Creoles. Wherever in America her sway extends, every 
thing seems to pine and wither beneath its baneful influence. The richest 
regions of the earth, man, his happiness and his education, all the fine 
faculties of his soul, are regulated, and modified, and molded, to suit the 
execrable purposes of an inexorable despotism. 

Such is a brief and imperfect picture of the state of things in Spaui^ 
America, in 1808, when the famous transactions of Bayoune occurred. 
The king of Spain and the Indies (for Spanish America has always constitu- 
ted an integral part of the Spanish empire) abdicated his throne and became a 
voluntary captive. Even at this day, one does not know whether he should 
condemn the baseness and perfidy of the one party, or despise the meanness 
find imbecility of the other. If the obligation of obedience and allegiance 
existed on the part of the colonies to the king of Spain, it was founded on 
the duty of protection which he owed them. By disqualifying himself for 



142 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the perfonnaBce of this duty, they became released from that obligation. 
The monarchy was dissolved ; and each integral part had a right to seek its 
own happiness, by the institution of any new government adapted to its 
wants. Joseph Bonaparte, the successor de facto of Ferdinand, recognized 
this right on the part of the colonies, and recommended them to establish 
their independence. Thus, upon the ground of strict right ; upon the foot- 
ing of a mere legal question, governed by forensic rules, the colonies, being 
absolved by the acts of the parent country from the duty of subjection to 
it, had an indisputable right to set up for themselves. But I take a broad- 
er and a bolder position. I maintain, that an oppressed people are author- 
ized, whenever they can, to rise and to break their fetters. This was the 
great principle of the English Revolution. It was the great principle of our 
own. Vattel, if authority were wanting, expressly supports this right. We 
must pass sentence of condemnation upon the founders of our liberty, say 
that they were rebels, traitors, and that we are at this moment legislating 
without competent powers, before we can condemn the cause of Spanish 
America. Our Revolution was mainly directed against the mere theory of 
tyranny. We had suffered comparatively but little ; we had, in some re- 
spects, been kindly treated ; but our intrepid and intelligent fathers saw, in 
the usurpation of the power to levy an inconsiderable tax, the long train 
of oppressive acts that were to follow. They rose, they breasted the storm ; 
they achieved our freedom. Spanish America for centuries has been doomed 
to the practical effects of an odious tyranny. If we were justified, she is more 
than justified. 

I am no propagandist. I would not seek to force upon other nations our 
principles and our liberty, if they did not want them. I would not disturb 
the repose even of a detestable despotism. But, if an abused and oppressed 
people will their freedom ; if they seek to establish it ; if, in truth, they, 
have established it ; we have a right, as a sovereign power, to notice the 
fact, and to act as circumstances and our interest require. I will say, in the 
language of the venerated father of my country, " bom in a land of hberty, 
my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes, are 
irresistibly excited, whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation 
unfurl the banners of freedom." Whenever I think of Spanish America 
the image irresstibly forces itself upon my mind, of an elder biother, whose 
education has been neglected, whose person has been abused and maltreat- 
ed, and who has been disinherited by the unkindness of an unnatural pa- 
rent. And, when I contemplate the glorious struggle which that country 
is now making, I think I behold that brother rising, by the power and en- 
ergy of his fine native genius, to the manly rank which nature, and nature's 
God, intended for him. 

If Spanish America be entitled to success from the justness of her cause, 
we have no less reason to wish that success, from the horrible character 
which the royal arms have given to the war. More atrocities, than those 
which have been perpetrated during its existence, are not to be found, even 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 143 

iii the annals of Spain herself. And history, reserving some of her black- 
est pages for the uame of Morillo, is prepared to place him by the side of 
his great prototype, the infamous desolater of the Netherlands. He who 
has looked into the history of the conduct of this war, is constantly 
shocked at the revolting scenes which it portrays ; at the refusal, on the 
part of the commanders of the royal forces, to treat, on any terms, with 
the other side ; at the denial of quarter ; at the butchery, in cold blood, 
of prisoners ; at the violation of flags, in some cases, after being received, 
with religious ceremonies ; at the instigation of slaves to rise against their 
owners ; and at acts of wanton and useless barbarity. Neither the weak- 
ness of the other sex, nor the imbecility of old age, nor the innocence of 
infants, nor the reverence due to the sacerdotal character, can stay the arm 
of royal vengeance. On this subject, I beg leave to trouble the committee, 
with reading a few passages from a most authentic document, the manifesto 
of the Congress of the United Provinces of Rio del la Plata, published in 
October last. This is a paper of the highest authority ; it is an appeal to 
the world ; it asserts facts of notoriety in the face of the whole world. It 
is not to be credited, that the Congress would come forward with a state- 
ment which was not true, when the means, if it were false, of exposing 
their fabrications, must be so abundant, and so easy to command. It is a 
document, in short, that stands upon the same footing of authority with 
our own papers, promulgated during the Revolution by our Congress. I 
will add, that many of the facts which it aflSrms, are corroborated by most 
respectable historical testimony, which is in my own possession : 

" Memory shudders at the recital of the horrors that were committed by Goy- 
eneche in Cochabamba. Would to heaven it were possible to blot from remem- 
brance the name of that ungrateful and blood-thirsty American ; who, on the 
day of his entry, ordered the virtuous governor and intendant, Antesana, to be 
shot ; who, beholding from the balcony of his house that infamous murder, cried out 
with a ferocious voice to the soldiers, that they must not fire at the head, be • 
cause he wanted it to be aflfixed to a pole ; and who, after the head was taken 
off, ordered the cold corpse to be dragged through the streets ; and, by a bar- 
barous decree, placed the lives and fortunes of the citizens at the mercy of his 
unbridled soldiery, leaving them to exercise their licentious and brutal sway du- 
ring several days. But those blind and cruelly capricious men (the Spaniards) 
rejected the mediation of England, and dispatched rigorous orders to all the gen- 
erals, to aggravate the war, and to punish us with more severity. The scaffolds 
were everywhere multipUed, and invention was racked to devise means for 
spreading murder, distress, and consternation. 

" Thenceforth they made all possible efforts to spread division among us, to 
incite us to mutual extermination ; they have slandered us with the most atro- 
cious calumnies ; accusing us of plotting the destruction of our holy religion, 
the abolition of all morality, and of introducing licentiousness of manners. They 
wage a religious war against us, contriving a thousand artifices to disturb and 
alarm the consciences of the people, making the Spanish bishops issue decrees 
of ecclesiastical condemnation, pubUc excommunications, and disseminating, 



144 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

through the medium of some ignorant confessor, fanatical doctrines in the tribu- 
nal of penitence. By means of these religious discords, they have divided fam- 
ilies against themselves ; they have caused disaffection between parents and 
children ; they have dissolved the tender ties which unite man and wife ; they 
have spread rancor and implacable hatred between brothers most endeared, and 
they have presumed to throw all nature into discord. 

" They have adopted the system of murdering men indiscriminately, to di- 
minish our numbers ; and, on their entry into towns, they have swept off all, 
even the market people, leading them to the open squares, and there shooting 
them one by one. The cities of Chuquisaca and Cochabamba have more than 
once been the theaters of these horrid slaughters. 

" They have intermixed vdth their troops, soldiers of ours, whom they had 
taken prisoners, carrying away the officers in chains, to garrisons where it is im- 
possible to preserve health for a year ; they have left others to die in their pris- 
ons, of hunger and misery, and others they have forced to hard labor on the 
public works. They have exultingly put to death our bearers of flags of truce, 
and have been guilty of the blackest atrocities to our chiefs, after they had sur- 
rendered, as well as to other principal characters, in disregard of the humanity 
with which we treated prisoners ; as a proof of it, witness the deputy Mutes 
of Potosi, the Captain-General Pumacagua, General Augulo, and his brother 
Commandant Munecas, and other partisan chiefs, who were shot in cold blood 
after having been prisoners for several days. 

" They took a brutal pleasure in cropping the ears of the natives of the town 
jf Ville-Grande, and sending a basket full of them as presents to the head- 
quarters. They afterward burnt that town, and set fire to thirty other towns 
of Peru, and, worse than the worst of savages, shutting the inhabitants up in 
the houses before setting them on fire, that they might be burnt alive. 

" They have not only been cruel and unsparing in their mode of murder, but 
they have been void of all morality and public decency, causing aged ecclesias- 
tics and women to be lashed to a gun, and publicly flogged, with the abomina- 
tion of first having them stripped, and their nakedness exposed to shame in the 
presence of their troops. 

" They established an inquisitorial system in all these punishments ; they 
have seized on peaceable inhabitants, and transported them across the sea, to be 
judged for suspected crimes, and they have put a great number of citizens to 
death everywhere, without accusation or the form of a trial. 

" They have invented a crime of unexampled horror, in poisoning our water 
and provisions, when they were conquered by General Pineto at Lapaz ; and in 
return for the kindness with which we treated them, after they had surrendered 
at discretion, they had the barbarity to blow up the head-quarters, under which 
they had constructed a mine, and prepared a train beforehand. 

" He has branded us with the stigma of rebels, the moment he returned to 
Madrid ; he refused to listen to our complaints, or to receive our suppUcations ; 
and, as an act of extreme favor, he offered us pardon. He confirmed the vice- 
roys, governors, and generals whom he had foimd actually glutted with carnage- 
He declared us guilty of a high misdemeanor, for having dared to frame a con- 
stitution for our own government, free h-oui the control of a deified, absolute, 
and tyrannical power, under which we had groaned three centuries ; a measure 
that could be offensive only to a prince, an enemy to justice and beneficence 
and consequently unworthy to rule over ua. 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 145 

" He then undertook, with the aid of his ministers, to equip large military ar- 
maments, to be directed against us. He caused numerous armies to be sent out 
to consummate the work of devastation, fire, and plunder. 

" He has sent his generals, with certain decrees of pardon, which they publish 
to deceive the ignorant, and induce them to facilitate their entrance into towns, 
while at the same time he has given them other secret instructions, authorizing 
them, as soon as they could get possession of a place, to hang, burn, confis- 
cate, and sack; to encourage private assassinations, and to commit every speiea 
of injury in their power, against the deluded beings who had confided in his pre- 
tended pardon. It is in the name of Ferdinand of Bourbon, that the heads of 
patriot officers, prisoners, are fixed up in the highways, that they beat and stoned 
to death a commandant of light troops, and that, after having killed Colonel 
Camugo, in the same manner, by the hands of the indecent Centeno, they cut 
off" his head, and sent it as a present to General Pazuela, telling him it was a 
miracle of tlie virgin of the Carmelites." 



In the establishment of the independence of Spanish America, the 
United States have the deepest interest, I have no hesitation in asserting 
my firm belief, that there is no question in the foreign policy of this coun- 
try which has ever arisen, or which I can coiiceive as ever occurring, in 
the decision of which we have had or can have so much at stake. This 
interest concerns our politics, our commerce, our navigation. There can 
not be a doubt that Spanish America, once independent, whatever may be 
the form of the governments established in its several parts, these govern- 
ments will be animated by an American feeling, and guided by an Amer- 
ican policy. They will obey the laws of the system of the New World, 
of which they will compose a part, in contradistinction to that of Europe. 
Without the influence of that vortex in Europe, the balance of power be- 
tween its several parts, the preservation of which has so often drenched 
Europe in blood, America is suflSciently remote to contemplate the new wars 
which are to afflict that quarter of the globe, as a calm, if not a cold and 
indifferent spectator. In relation to those wars the several parts of Amer- 
ica will generally stand neutral. And as, during the period when they 
rage, it will be importnnt that a liberal system of neutrality should be 
adopted and observed, all America will be interested in maintaining and 
enforcing such a system. The independence of Spanish America, then, is • 
an interest of primary consideration. Next to that, and highly important 
in itself, is the consideration of the nature of their governments. That is 
a question, however, for themselves. They will, no doubt, adopt those 
kinds of government which are best suited to their condition, best cal- 
culated for their happiness. Anxious as I am that they should be free 
governments, we have no right to prescribe for them. They are, and 
')ught to be, the sole judges for themselves. I am strongly incUned to be- 
lieve that they will in most if not all parts of their country, establish free 
governments. We are their great example. Of us they constantly speak 
as of brothers, having a similar origin. They adopt our principles, copy 

10 



'^ 146 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

our institutions, and, in manj instances, employ the very language and 
sentiments of our revolutionary papers. 

But it is sometimes said that they are too ignorant and too superstitious 
to admit of the existence of free government This charge of ignorance 
is often urged by persons themselves actually ignorant of the real con- 
dition of that people. I deny the alleged fact of ignorance ; I deny the 
inference from that fact, if it were true, that they want capacity for free 
government ; and I refuse assent to the further conclusion, if the fact were 
true, and the inference just, that we are to be indiflferent to their fate. All 
the writers of the most established authority, Depons, Humboldt, and 
others, concur in assigning to the people of Spanish America great quick- 
ness, genius, and particular aptitude for the acquisition of the exact 
sciences, and others which they have been allowed to cultivate. In astron- 
omy, geology, mineralogy, chemistry, botany, and so forth, they are al- 
lowed to make distinguished proficiency. They justly boast of their 
Abzate, Velasques, and Gama, and other illustrious contributors to science. 
They have nine universities, and in the city of Mexico, it is aflSrined by 
Humboldt, that there are more solid scientific establishments than in any 
/ city even in North America. I would refer to the message of the supreme 
j director of La Plata, which I shall hereafter have occasion to use for 
another purpose, as a model of fine composition of a State paper, chal- 
lenging a comparison with any, the most celebrated, that ever issued from 
the pens of Jeflferson or Madison. Gentlemen will egregiously err if they 
form their opinions of the present moral condition of Spanish America, 
) from what it was under the debasing system of Spain. The eight years' 
revolution in which it has been engaged has already produced a powerful 
effect. Ekiucation has been attended to, and genius developed. 

" As soon as the project of the revolution arose on the shores of La Plata, 
genius and talent exhibited their influence ; the capacity of the people became 
manifest, and the means of acquiring knowledge were soon made the favorite 
pursuit of the youth. As far as the wants or the inevitable interruption of af- 
fairs have allowed, every thing has been done to disseminate useful information. 
The liberty of the press has indeed met with some occasional checks ; but in 
Buenos Ayres alone, as many periodical works weekly issue from the press as 
in Spain and Portugal put together." 

The fact is not therefore true, that the imputed ignorance exists ; but, 
if it do, I repeat, I dispute the inference. It is the doctrine of thrones, 
that man is too ignorant to govern himself. Their partizans assert his in- 
capacity, in reference to all nations ; if they can not command universal 
assent to the proposition, it is then demanded as to particular nations ; and 
our pride and our presumption too often make converts of us. I contend 
that it is to arraign the dispositions of Providence himself, to suppose that 
he has created beings incapable of governing themselves, and to be 
trampled on by kings. Self-government is the natural government of 



BMANOIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMEBIOAN STATES. 147 

man, and for proof I refer to the aborigines of our own land. Were I to 
speculate in hypotheses unfavorable to human liberty, my speculations 
should be founded rather upon the vices, refinements, or density of popula- 
tion. Crowded together in compact masses, even if they were philoso- 
phers, the contagion of the passions is comraumcated and caught, and the 
effect, too often, I admit, is the overthrow of Uberty. Dispersed over such 
an immense space as that on which the people of Spanish America are 
spread, their physical, and I believe also their moral condition, both favor 
their liberty. 

With regard to their superstition, they worship the same God with us. 
Their prayers are offered up in their temples to the same Redeemer, whose 
intercession we expect to save us. Nor is there any thing in the Catholic 
religion unfavorable to freedom. All religions united with government, 
are more or less inimical to liberty. All, separated from government, are 
compatible with liberty. If the people of Spanish America have not already 
gone as far in religious toleration as we have, the difference in their condi- 
tion from ours should not be forgotten. Every thing is progressive ; and, in 
time, I hope to see them imitating, in this respect, our example. But grant 
that the people of Spanish America are ignorant, and incompetent for free 
government, to whom is that ignorance to be ascribed ? Is it not to the 
execrable system of Spain, which she seeks again to establish and to per- 
petuate ? So far from chilling our hearts, it ought to increase our solici- 
tude for our unfortunate brethren. It ought to animate us to desire the 
redemption of the minds and bodies of unborn millions, from the brutifying 
effects of a system whose tendency is to stifle the faculties of the soul, and 
to degrade them to the level of beasts. I would invoke the spirits of our 
departed fathers. Was it for yourselves only that you nobly fought ? No, 
no ! It was the chains that were forging for your posterity, that made 
you fly to arms, and, scattering the elements of these chains to the winds, 
you transmitted to us the rich inheritance of liberty. 

The exports of Spanish America (exclusive of tiiose of the islands) are 
estimated in the valuable little work of M. Torres, deserving to be better 
known, at about eighty-one millions of dollars. Of these, more than three 
fourths are precious metals. The residue are cocoa, coffee, cochineal, 
?ugar, and some other articles. No nation ever offered richer commodities 
in exchange. It is of no material consequence, that we produce but Uttle 
that Spanish America wants. Commerce, as it actually exists in the hands 
of maritime states, is no longer confined to a mere barter, between any 
two States, of their respective productions. It renders tributary to its in- 
terests the commodities of all quarters of the world ; so that a rich Amer- 
ican cargo, or the contents of an American commercial warehouse, present 
you with whatever is rare or valuable, in every part of the globe. Com- 
merce is not to be judged by its results in transactions with one nation 
only. Unfavorable balances existing with one State, are made up by 
contrary balances with other States, and its true value should be tested by 



148 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the totality of its operations. Our greatest trade, that with Great Britain, 
judged by the amount of what we sell for her consumption, and what we 
buy of her for ours, would be pronounced ruinous. But the unfavorable 
balance is covered by the profits of trade with other nations. We may safely 
trust to the daring enterprise of our merchants. The precious metals are 
in South America, and they will command the articles wanted in South 
America, which will pmchase them. Our navigation will be benefited by 
the transportation, and our country will realize the mercantile profits. Al- 
ready the item in our exports of American manufactures is respectable. 
They go chiefly to the West Indies and to Spanish America. This item 
is constantly augmenting. And I would again, as I have on another oc- 
casion, ask gentlemen to elevate themselves to the actual importance and 
greatness of our republic ; to reflect, like true American statesmen, that 
we are not legislating for the present day only ; and to contemplate this 
country in its march to true greatness, when millions and millions will be 
added to our population, and when the increased productive industry will 
furnish an infinite variety of fabrics for foreign consumption, iu order to 
Bupply our wants. The distribution of the precious metals has hitherto 
been principally made through the circuitous channel of Cadiz. No one 
can foresee all the efiects which will result from a direct distribution of 
them from the mines which produce them. One of these eflfects will prob- 
ably be, to give us the entire command of the Indian trade. The advan- 
tage we have on the map of the world over Europe, in that respect, is 
prodigious. Again, if England, persisting in her colonial monopoly, con- 
tinues to occlude her ports in the West Indies to us, and we should, as I 
contend we ought, meet her system by a countervailing measure, Venezu- 
ela, New Granada, and other parts of Spanish America, would afford us 
all we get from the British West Indies. I confess that I despair, for the 
present, of adopting that salutary measure. It was proposed at the last 
session, and postponed. During the present session, it has been again pro- 
posed, and, I fear, will be again postponed. I see, and I own it with 
infinite regret, a tone and a feeling in the councils of the country, infinitely 
below that which belongs to the country. It is, perhaps, the moral 
consequence of the exertions of the late war. We are alarmed at dan- 
gers, we know not what ; by specters conjured up by our own vivid im- 
agin;itious. 

The West India bill is brought up. We shrug our shoulders, talk of 
restrictions, non-intercourse, embargo, commercial warfare, make long facts, 
and — postpone the bill. The time will however come, must come, when 
this country will not submit to a commerce with the British colonies, upon 
the terms which England alone prescribes. And, I repeat, when it arrives, 
Spanish America will afford us an ample substitute. Then, as to our navi- 
gation : gentlemen should recollect, that if reasoning from past experience 
were safe for the future, our great commercial rival will be iu war a greater 
number of years than she will be in peace. Whenever she shall be ;;t 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 149 

war, and we are iu peace, our navigation being free from the risks and in- 
surance incident to war, we shall engross almost the whole transportation 
of Spanish Americat commerce. For I do not believe that that country 
will ever have a considerable maiine. Mexico, the most populous part of 
it, has but two ports. La Vera Cruz and Acapulca, and neither of them 
very good. Spanish America has not the elements to construct a marine. 
It wants, and must always want, hardy seameu. I do not believe, that, 
in the present improved state of navigation, any nation so far south wiU 
ever make a figure as a maritime power. K Carthage and Rome, in an- 
cient times, and some other states of a later period, occasionally made 
great exertions on the water, it must be recollected that they were 
principally on a small theater, and in a totally different state of the 
art of navigation, or when there was no competition from northern States. 

I am aware that, in oppositien to the interest, which I have been en- 
deavoring to manifest, that this country has in the independence of Span- 
ish America, it is contended that we shall find that country a great rival 
in agricultural productions. There is something so narrow, and selfish, and 
groveling, in this argument, if founded in fact, something so unworthy the 
magnanimity of a great and a generous people, that I confess I have scarce- 
ly patience to notice it. Bu'^ it is not true to any extent. Of the eighty odd 
millions of exports, only about one million and a half consist of an article 
which can come into competition with us, and that is cotton. The tobac- 
co which Spain derives from ber colonies, is chiefly produced in her islands. 
Breadstuffs can nowhere be raised and brought to market in any amount 
materially affecting us. The table-lands of Mexico, owing to their eleva- 
tion, are, it is true, well adapted to the culture of grain ; but the expense 
and diflSculty of getting it to the Gulf of Mexico, and the action of the 
intense heat at La Vera Cruz, the only port of exportation, must always 
prevent Mexico from being an alarming competitor. Spanish America is 
capable of producing articles so much more valuable th;in those which we 
raise, that it is not probable they will abandon a more profitable for a less 
advantageous culture, to come into competition with us. The West India 
islands are well adapted to the raising of cotton ; and yet the more valua- 
ble culture of coffee and sugar is constantly preferred. Again, Providence 
has so ordered it, that, with regard to countries producing articles apparent- 
ly similar, there is some peculiarity, resulting from climate, or from some 
other cause, that gives to each an appropriate place in the general wants 
and consumption of mankind. The southern part of the continent. La 
Plata and Chili, is too remote to rival us. 

The immense country watered by the Mississippi and its branches, has a 
peculiar interest, which I trust I shall be excused for noticing. Having 
but the single vent of New Orleans for all the surplus produce of their in- 
dustry, it is quite evident that they would have a greater security for en- 
joying the advantages of that outlet, if the independence of Mexico upon 
any European power were effected. Such a power, owning at the same 



150 SPEECHES OF HENRY OLAT. 

time Cuba, the great key of the Gulf of Mexico, and all the shore* of that 
gulf, with the exception of the portiou between the Perdido and Rio del 
Norte, must have a powerful command over our interests. Spain, it is true, 
is not a dangerous neighbor at present ; but, in the vicissitudes of States, 
her power may be again resuscitated. 

Having shown that the cause of the patriots is just, and that we have a 
great interest in its successful issue, I will next inquire what course of 
policy it becomes us to adopt. I have already declared it to be one of 
strict and impartial neutrality. It is not necessary for their interests, it is 
not expedient for our own, that we should take part in the war. All they 
demand of us is a just neutrality. It is compatible with this pacific policy 
it is required by it, that we should recognize any established government, 
if there be any established government, in Spanish America. Recognition 
alone, without aid, is no just cause of war. With aid, it is ; not because of 
the recognition, but because of the aid ; as aid, without recognition, is 
cause of war. The truth of these propositions I will maintain upon principle, 
by the ptactice of other States and by the usage of our own. There is no 
common tribunal among nations, to pronounce upon the fact of the sover- 
eignty of a new State. Each power does and must judge for itself. It is an 
attribute of sovereignty so to judge. A nation, in exerting this incontest- 
able right, in pronouncing upon the independence, in fact, of a new State, 
takes no part in the war. It gives neither men, nor ships, nor money. It 
merely pronounces that, in so far as it may be necessary to institute any 
relations, or to support any intercourse, with the new power, that power 
is capable of maintaining those relations and authorizing that intercourse. 
Maitens and other publicists lay down these principles. 

When the United Provinces formerly severed themselves from Spain, it 
was about eighty years before their independence was finally recognized by 
Spain. Before that recognition, the United Provinces had been received 
by all the rest of Europe, into the family of nations. It is true, that a war 
broke out between Philip and Elizabath, but it proceeded from the aid 
which she determined to give, and did give, to Holland. In no instance, 
I believe, can it be shown, from authentic history, that Sp>ain made war 
upon any power, on the sole ground that such power had acknowledged 
the independence of the United Provinces. 

In the case of our own Revolution, it was not until after France had 
given us aid, and had determined to enter into a treaty of alliance with us 
— a treaty by which she guarantied our independence — that England de- 
clared war. Holland was also charged by England with favoring our 
cause, and deviating from the line of strict neutrality. And, when it was 
perceived that she was, moreover, about to enter into a treaty with us, 
England declared war. Even if it were shown that a proud, haughty, and 
powerful nation like England, had made war upon other provinces, on the 
ground of a mere recognition, the single example could not alter the public 
law, or shake the strength of a clear principle. 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 151 

But what has been our uuifonn practice ! We have constantly pro- 
ceeded ou the principle, that the government de facto is that we can alone 
notice. Whatever form of government any society of people adopts, who- 
ever they acknowledge as their sovereign, we consider that government or 
that sovereign as the one to be acknowledged by us. We have invariably 
abstained from assuming a right to decide in favor of the sovereign dejure, 
and against the sovereign de facto. That is a question for the nation in 
which it arises to determine. And, so far as we are concerned, the sove- 
reign de facto is the sovereign de jure. Our own Revolution stands on 
the basis of the right of a people to change their rulers. I do not main- 
tain that every immature revolution, every usurper, before his power is con- 
solidated is to be acknowledged by us ; but that as soon as stability and 
order are maintained, no matter by whom, we always have considered, and 
ought to consider, the actual as the true government. General Washing- 
ton, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, all, while they were respectively presidents, 
acted on these principles. 

In the case of the French republic, General Washington did not wait 
until some of the crowned heads of Europe should set him the example 
of acknowledging it, but accredited a minister at once. And it is remark- 
able, that he was received before the government of the republic was con- 
sidered as established. It will be found in Marshall's Life of Washington, 
that, when it was understood that a minister from the French republic 
was about to present himself. President Washington submitted a number 
of questions to his cabinet for their consideration and advice, one of which 
was, whether, upon the reception of the minister, he should be notified that 
America would suspend the execution of the treaties between the two 
countries, until France had an established government. General Washing- 
ton did not stop to inquire whether the descendants of St. Louis were to 
be considered as the legitimate sovereigns of France, and if the Revolu- 
tion was to be regarded as unauthorized resistance to their sway. He 
saw France, in fact, under the government of those who had subverted 
the throne of the Bourbons, and he acknowledged the actual government. 
During Mr. Jefferson's and Mr. Madison's administrations, when the Cortes 
of Spain and Joseph Bonaparte respectively contended for the crown, those 
enlightened statesmen said, We will receive a minister from neither party ; 
settle the question between yourselves, and we will acknowledge the party 
that prevails. We have nothing to do with your feuds ; whoever all Spain 
acknowledges as her sovereign, is the only sovereign with whom we can 
maintain any relations. Mr. Jefferson, it is understood, considered whether 
he should not receive a minister from both parties, and finally decided 
against it, because of the inconveniences to this country, which might re- 
sult from the double representation of another power. As soon as the 
French armies were expelled from the peninsula, Mr. Madison, still acting 
on the principle of the government de facto^ received the present minister 
from Spain. During all the phases of the French government, republic, 



152 BPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

directory, consuls, consul for life, emperor, king, emperor again, kmg, our 
goveiTunent has uniformly received the minister. 

If, then, there be an established government in Spanish America, de- 
serving to rank among the nations, we are morally and politically bound 
to acknowledge it, unless we renounce all the principles which ought to 
guide, and which hitherto have guided, our councils. I shall now under- 
take to show, that the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata possess such 
a government. Its limits, extending from the South Atlantic ocean to the 
Pacific, embrace a territory equal to that of the United States, certainly 
equal to it exclusive of Louisiana. Its population is about three millions, 
more than equal to ours at the commencement of our Revolution. That 
population is a hardy, enterprising, and gallant population. The estab- 
lishments of Montevideo and Buenos Ayres have, during diiferent periods 
of their history, been attacked by the French, Dutch, Danes, Portuguese, 
English, and Spanish ; and such is the martial character of the people, 
that, in eveiy instance, the attack has been repulsed. In 1807, General 
Whitlocke, commanding a powerful English army, was admitted, under 
the guise of a friend, into Buenos Ayres, and, as soon as he was supposed 
to have demonstrated inimical designs, he was driven by the native and 
unaided force of Buenos Ayres from the country. Buenos Ayres has, 
during now nearly eight years, been, in point of fact, in the enjoyment of 
self-government. The capital, containing more than sixty thousand inhab- 
itants, has never been once lost. As early as 1811, the regency of old 
Spain made war upon Buenos Ayres, and the consequence subsequently 
was the capture of a Spanish army in Montevideo, equal to that of Bur- 
goyne. This government has now, in excellent discipline, three well-ap- 
pointed armies, with the most abundant material of war: the army of 
Chili, the army of Peru, and the army of Buenos Ayres. The first, under 
San Martin, has conquered Chili ; the second is penetrating in a north- 
western direction from Buenos Ayres, into the vice-royalty of Peru ; and, 
according to the last accounts, had reduced the ancient seat of empire 
of the Incas. The third remains at Buenos Ayres to oppose any force 
which Spain may send against it. To show the condition of the country 
in July last, I again call the attention of the committee to the message 
of the supreme director, delivered to the Congress of the United Prov- 
inces. It is a paper of the same authentic character with the speech of 
the King of England on opening his parliament, or the message of the 
President of the United States at the commencement of Congress. 

" The army of this capital was organized at the same time with those of the 
Andes and of the interior ; the regular force has been nearly doubled ; the mili- 
tia has made great progress in military discipline ; our slave population has been 
formed into battalions, and taught the military art as is consistent with their 
condition. The capital is under no apprehension that any army of ten thousand 
men can shake its liberties, and should the peninsularians send against us thrice 
that number, ample provision has been made to receive them. 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 153 

" Our navy has been fostered in all its branches. The scarcity of means under 
which we labored until now, has not prevented us from undertaking very con- 
siderable operations, with respect to the national vessels ; all of them have been 
repaired, and others have been purchased and armed, for the defense of our 
coasts and rivers ; and provisions have been made, should necessity require it, for 
arming many more, so that the enemy will not find himself secure from our re- 
prisals, even upon the ocean. 

" Our miltary force at every point which it occupies, seems to be animated 
with the same spirit; its tactics are uniform, and have undergone a rapid 
improvement from the science of experience, which it has borrowed from war- 
like nations. 

" Our arsenals have been replenished vnth arms, and a sufficient store of can- 
non and munitions of war have been provided, to maintain the contest for 
many years ; and this, after having supplied articles of every description to 
those districts, which have not as yet come into the union, but whose connec- 
tion with us has been only intercepted by reason of our past misfortunes. 

" Our legions daUy receive considerable augmentations from new levies ; all 
our preparations have been made, as though we were about to enter upon the 
contest anew. Until now, the vastness of our resources was unknown to us, 
and our enemies may contemplate, with deep mortification and despair, the 
present flourishing state of these provinces after so many devastations. 

" While thus occupied in providing for our safety within, and preparing for 
assaults from without, other objects of solid interest have not been neglected, 
and which hitherto were thought to oppose insurmountable obstacles. 

" Our system of finance had hitherto been on a footing entirely inadequate 
to the unfailing supply of our wants, and still more to the Uquidation of the 
immense debt which had been contracted in former years. An unremitted ap- 
plication to this object has enabled me to create the means of satisfying the 
creditors of the State who had already abandoned their debts as lost, as well 
as to devise a fixed mode, by which the taxes may be made to fall equally and 
indirectly on the whole mass of our population. It is not the least merit of this 
operation, that it has been efiected in despite of the writings by which it was 
attacked, and which are but Uttle creditable to the intelligence and good inten- 
tions of their authors. At no other period have the public exigences been so 
punctually supplied, nor have more important works been undertaken. 

" The people, moreover, have been reUeved from many burdens, which be- 
ing partial, or confined to particular classes, had occasioned vexation and dis- 
gust. Other vexations, scarcely less grievous, will by degrees be also suppresse<l, 
avoiding, as far as possible, a recurrence to loans, which have drawn after them 
tlie most fatal consequences to States. Should we, however, be compelled to 
resort to such expedients, the lenders vdll not see themselves in danger of los- 
ing their advances. 

" Many undertakings have been set on foot for the advancement of the gen- 
eral prosperity. Such has been the re-establishing of the college, heretofore 
named San Carlos, but hereafter to be called the Union of the South, as a point 
designated for the dissemination of learning to the youth of every part of the 
State, on the most extensive scale, for the attainment of which object the 
government is at the present moment engaged in putting in practice every 
possible diligence. It will not be long before these nurseries will flourish, ic 
which the liberal and exact sciences will be cultivated, in which the hearts ot 



154 8PEK0HE8 OF HENRY CLAY. 

those young men will be formed, who are destined at some future day to add 
new splendor to our country. 

" Such has been the establishment of a military d6p6t on the frontier, with 
its spacious magazine, a necessary measure to guard ua from future dangers, a 
work which does more honor to the prudent foresight of our country, as it was 
undertaken in the moment of its prosperous fortunes, a measure which must 
give more occasion for reflection to our enemies than they can impose upon ua 
by their boastings. 

" Fellow citizens, we owe our unhappy reverses and calamities to the deprav- 
ing system of our ancient metropolis, which, in condemning us to the obscurity 
and opprobrium of the most degraded destiny, has sown with thorns the path 
that conducts us to Uberty. Tell that metropolis that even she may glory in 
your works ! Already have you cleared all the rocks, escaped every danger, 
and conducted these provinces to the flourishing condition in which we now be- 
hold them. Let the enemies of your name contemplate with despair the ener- 
gies of your virtues, and let the nations acknowledge that you already apper- 
tain to their illustrious rank. Let us fehcitate ourselves on the blessings we 
have already obtained, and let us show to the world that we have learned to 
profit by the experience of our past misfortunes." 

There is a spirit of bold confidence running through this fine state paper, 
which nothing but conscious strength could communicate. Their armies, 
their magazines, their finances, are on the most solid and respectable foot- 
ing. And, amid all the cares of war, and those incident to the consol- 
idation of their new institutions, leisure is found to promote the interest of 
science, and the education of the rising generation. It is true the first 
part of the message portrays scenes of difficulty and commotion, the usual 
attendants upon revolution. The very avowal of their troubles manifests, 
however, that they are subdued. And what state, passing through the 
agitation of a great revolution, is free fi'om them ? We had our tories, our 
intrigues, our factions. More than once were the afiections of the country, 
and the confidence of our councils, attempted to be shaken in the great 
father of our liberties. Not a Spanish bayonet remains within the immense 
extent of the territories of the La Plata, to contest the authority of the 
actual government. It is free, it is independent, it is sovereign. It 
manages the interests of the society that submits to its sway. It is 
capable of maintaining the relations between that society and other na- 
tions. 

Are we not bound, then, upon our own principles, to acknowledge this 
new republic ? If we do not, who will ? Are we to expect that kings 
will set us the example of acknowledging the only republic on earth, ex- 
cept our own ? We receive, promptly receive, a minister, from whatever 
king sends us one. From the great powers and the little powers, we ac- 
credit ministers. We do more : wo hasten to reciprocate the compHment ; 
and, anxious to manifest our gratitude for royal civility, we send for a 
minister (as in the case of Sweden and the Netherlands) of the lowest 
grade, one of the highest rank recognized by our laws. We are the 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMKBIOAN BTATB8. 155 

natural head of the American family. I Tvould not intermeddle in the 
affairs of Europe. We wisely keep aloof from their broils. I would not 
even intermeddle in those of other parts of America, further than to exert 
the incontestable rights appertaining to us as a free, sovereign, and inde- 
pendent power ; and I contend, that the accrediting of a minister from 
the new republic is such a right. We are bound to receive their minister, 
if we mean to be really neutral. If the royal belligerent is represented and 
heard at our government, the republican belligerent ought also to be heard. 
Otherwise, one party will be in the condition of the poor patriots, who 
were tried ex-parte the other day, in the Supreme Court, without coimsel, 
without friends. Give Mr. Onis his conge, or receive the republican min- 
ister. Unless you do so, your neutrality is nominal. 

I will next proceed to inquire into the consequences of a recognition of 
the new republic. Will it involve us in war with Spain ? I have shown, 
I trust successfully shown, that there is no just cause of war to Spain. 
Being no cause of war, we have no right to expect that war will ensue. 
K Spain, without cause, will make war, she may make it whether we do 
or do not acknowledge the republic. But she will not, because she can 
not, make war against us. I call the attention of the committee to a re- 
port of the minister of the Hacienda to the King of Spain, presented 
about eight months ago. A more beggarly account of empty boxes was 
never rendered. The picture of Mr. Dallas, sketched in his celebrated re- 
port during the last war, may be contemplated without emotion, after 
survejang that of Mr. Gary. The expenses of the current year required 
eight hundred and thirty million two hundred and sixty-seven thousand 
eight hundred and twenty-nine reals, and the deficit of the income is rep- 
lesented as two hundred and thirty-three million one hundred and forty 
thousand nine himdred and thirty-two reals. This, besides an immense 
mass of imliquidated debt, which the minister acknowledges the utter in- 
ability of the country to pay, although bound in honor to redeem it. He 
states, that the vassals of the king are totally unable to submit to any new 
taxes, and the country is without credit, so as to render anticipation by 
loans wholly impracticable. Mr. Gary appears to be a virtuous man, who 
exhibits frankly the naked truth ; and yet such a minister acknowledges, 
that the decorum due to one single family, that of a monarch, does not 
admit, in this critical condition of his country, any reduction of the 
enormous sum of upward of fifty-six millions of reals, set apart to defray 
the expenses of that family ! He states that a foreign war would be the 
greatest of all calamities, and one which, being unable to provide for it, 
they ought to employ every possible means to avert. He proposed some 
inconsiderable contxibution from the clergy, and the whole body was in- 
stantly in an uproar. Indeed, I have no doubt that, surrounded as Mr. 
Gary is by corruption, by intrigue, and folly, and imbecility, he will bo 
compelled to retire, if he has not already been dismissed, from a post foi 
which he has too much integrity. It has been now about four years since 



156 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the restoration of Ferdinand ; and if, during that period, the whole ener 
gies of the monarchy have been directed, unsuccessfully, against the 
weakest and most vulnerable of all the American possessions, Venezuela, 
how is it impossible for Spain to encounter the diflSculties of a new war 
with this country ? Morillo has been sent out with one of the finest 
armies that has ever left the shores of Europe — consisting of ten thousand 
men, chosen ft'om all the veterans who have fought in the peninsula. It 
has subsequently been reinforced with about three thousand more. And 
yet, during the last summer, it was reduced, by the sword and the climate, 
to about four thousand effective men. And Venezuela, containing a popula- 
tion of only about one million, of which near two thirds are persons of 
color, remains unsubdued. The little island of Margaritta, whose popula- 
tion is less than twenty thousand inhabitants — a population fighting for 
liberty, with more than Roirian valor — has compelled that army to retire 
upon the main. Spain, by the late accounts, appeared to be deliberating 
upon the necessity of resorting to that measure of conscription, for which 
Bonaparte has been so much abused. The effect of a war with this coun- 
try would be, to insure success, beyond all doubt, to the cause of Amer 
ican independence. Those parts even, over which Spain has some prospect 
of maintaining her dominions, would probably be put in jeopardy. Such 
a war would be attended with the immediate and certain loss of Florida. 
Commanding the Gulf of Mexico, as we should be enabled to do by our 
navy, blockading the port of Havana, the port of La Vera Cruz, and the 
coast of Terra Firma, and throwing munitions of war into Mexico, Cuba 
would be menanced, Mexico emancipated, and Morillo's army, deprived of 
supplies, now drawn principally from this country through the Havana, 
compelled to surrender. The war, I verily believe, would be terminated in 
less than two years, supposing no other power to interpose. 

Will the allies interfere ? If, by the exertion of an unquestionable at- 
tribute of a sovereign power, we should give no just cause of war to Spain 
herself, how can it be pretended that we should furnish even a specious 
pretext to the allies for making war upon us ? On what ground could 
they attempt to justify a rupture with us, for the exercise of a right which 
we hold in common with them, and with every other independent state ? 
But we have a surer guaranty against their hostility, in their interests. 
That all the allies have an interest in the independence of Spanish 
Amenca, is perfectly evident. On what ground, I ask, is it likely, then, 
that they would support Spain, in opposition to their own decided inter- 
ests ? To crush the spirit of revolt, and prevent the progress of free 
principles? Nations, like individuals, do not sensibly feel, and seldom act 
upon dangers which are remote either in time or place. Of Spanish 
America, but little is known by the great body of the population of 
Europe. Even in this country, the most astonishing ignorance prevails 
respecting it. Those European statesmen who are acquainted with the 
country, will reflect, that, tossed by a great revolution, it will most prob- 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 157 

ably constitute four or five several nations, and that the ultimate modifica- 
tion of all their vaiious governments is by no means absolutely certain. 
But I entertain no doubt that the principle of cohesion among the allies is 
o^one. It was annihilated in the memorable battle of Waterloo. When 
the question was, whether one should engross all, a common danger 
united all. H'^w long was it, even with a clear perception of that danger, 
before an eftective coalition could be formed ? How often did one power 
stand by, unmoved and indifferent to the fate of its neighbor, although the 
destruction of that neighbor removed the only barrier to an attack ujK>n 
itself? No ; the consummation of the cause of the allies was, and all his- 
tory and all expeiience will prove it, the destruction of the alliance. The 
principle is totally changed. It is no longer a common struggle against 
the colossal power of Bonaparte, but it has become a common scramble for 
the spoils of his empire. There may, indeed, be one or two points on 
which a common interest still exists, such as the convenience of subsisting 
their armies on the vitals of poor suffering France. But as for action, for 
new enterprises, there is no principle of unity, there can be no accordance 
of interests, or of views, among them. 

What is the condition in which Europe is left after all its efforts? It 
is divided into two great powers, one having the undisputed command of 
the land, the other of the water. Paris is transferred to St. Petersburg, 
and the navies of Europe are at the bottom of the sea, or concentrated in 
the ports of England. Russia — that huge land animal — awing by the 
drea I of her vast power all continental Europe, is seeking to encompass 
the Porte ; and, constituting herself the kraken of the ocean, is anxious to 
lave her enormous sides in the more genial waters of the Mediterranean. 
It is said, I know, that she has indicated a disposition to take part with 
Spain. No such thing. She has sold some old worm-eaten, decayed, fir- 
built ships to Spain, but the crews which navigate them are to return from 
the port of delivery, and the bonus she is to get, I believe to be the island 
of Minorca, in conformity with the cardinal point of her policy. France 
is greatly interested in whatever would extend her commerce and regener- 
ate her marine, and consequently, more than any other power of Europe, 
England alone excepted, is concerned in the independence of Spanish 
America. I do not despair of France so long as France has a legislative 
body collected from all its parts, the great repository of its wishes and its 
will. Already has that body manifested a spirit of considerable independ- 
ence. And those who, conversant with French histoiy, know what mag- 
nanimous stands have been made by the parliaments, bodies of limited 
extent, against the royal prerogative, will be able to appreciate justly the 
moral force of such a legislative body. While it exists, the true interests 
of France will be cherished and pursued on points of foreign policy, in op- 
position to the pride and interests of the Bourbon family, if the actual 
dynasty, impelled by this pride, should seek to subserve these interests, 

England finds that, after all her exertions, she is everywhere despised 



158 8PEECHB8 OF HENRY CLAY. 

on the continent ; her maritime power viewed with jealousy ; her com- 
merce subjected to the most onerous restrictions ; selfishness imputed to 
•11 her policy. All accounts from France represent that every party, 
Bonapartists, Jacobins, royalists, moderes, ultras, all burn with indignation 
toward England, and pant for an opportunity to avenge themselves on the 
power to whom they ascribe all their disasters. 

It is impossible that with powers, between whom so much cordial dis- 
like, so much incongruity exists, there can be any union or concert. 
While the free principles of the French Revolution remained, those prin- 
ciples were so alarming to the stability of thrones, there never was any 
successful or cordial union ; coalition after coalition, wanting the spirit of 
union, was swept away by the overwhelming power of France. It was 
not until those principles were abandoned, and Bonaparte had erected on 
their ruins his stupendous fabric of imiversal empire ; nor, indeed, until 
after the frosts of heaven favored the cause of Europe, that an eflFective 
coalition was formed. No, the complaisance inspired in the allies from 
unexpected, if not undeserved success, may keep them nominally together ; 
but for all purposes of united and combined action, the alliance is gone ; 
and I do not believe in the chimera of their crusading against the inde- 
pendence of a country, whose liberation would essentially promote all their 
respective interests. 

But the question of the interposition of the allies, in the event of our 
recognizing the new republic, resolves itself into a question, whether En- 
gland, in such an event, would make war upon us ; if it can be shown 
that England would not, it results, either that the other allies would not, 
or that, if they should, in which case England would most probably sup- 
port the cause of America, it would be a war without the maritime ability 
to maintain it. I contend that England is alike restrained by her honor 
and by her interests from waging war against us, and consequently against 
Spanish America also, for an acknowledgment of the independence of the 
new State. England encouraged and fomented the revolt of the colonies 
as early as June, 1797. Sir Thomas Picton, governor of Trinidad, in vir- 
tue of orders from the British minister of foreign aflfairs, issued a procla- 
mation, in which he expressly assures the inhabitants of Terra Firma that 
the British government will aid in establishing their independence : 

" With regard to the hope you entertain of raising the spirits of those per- 
sons with whom you are in correspondence, toward encouraging the inhabitants 
to resist the oppressive authority of their government, I have little more to say 
than that they may be certain, that whenever they are in that disposition, they 
may receive at your hands all the auccors to be expected from his Britannic 
majesty, be it with forces or with arms and ammunition to any extent ; with the 
assurance that the views of his Britannic majesty go no further than to secure 
to them their independence," and so forth. 

In the prosecution of the same object. Great Britain defrayed the ex- 



■MANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMBRICAN STATES. 159 

penses of the famous expedition of Miranda. England, in 1811, when she 
was in the most intimate relations with Spain, then struggling against the 
French power, assumed the attitude of a mediator between the colonies, 
and the peninsula. The terms, on which she conceived her mediation 
could alone be eflfectual, were rejected by the Cortes, at the lowest state of 
the Spanish power. Among these terms, England required for the colo- 
nies a perfect freedom of commerce, allowing only some degree of prefer- 
ence to Spain ; that the appointments of viceroys and governors should be 
made indiscriminately from Spanish Americans and Spaniards ; and that 
the interior government, and every branch of public administration, should 
be intrusted to the cabildo, or municipalities, and so forth. If Spain, when 
Spain was almost reduced to the island of St. Leon, then rejected those 
conditions, will she now consent to them, amoimting, as they do, substan- 
tially, to the independence of Spanish America ? If England, devoted as 
she was at that time to the cause of the peninsula, even then thought 
those terms due to the colonies, will she now, when no particular motive 
exists for cherishing the Spanish power, and after the ingratitude with 
which Spain has treated her, think that the colonies ought to submit to 
less favorable conditions ? And would not England stand disgraced in the 
eyes of the whole world, if, after having abetted and excited a revolution, 
she should now attempt to reduce the colonies to unconditional submission, 
or should make war upon us for acknowledging that independence which 
she herself sought to establish ? 

No guaranty for the conduct of nations or individuals ought to be 
stronger than that which honor imposes ; but for those who put no confi- 
dence in its obligations, I have an argument to urge of more conclusive 
force. It is founded upon the interest of England. Excluded almost as 
she is from the continent, the commerce of America, South and North, is 
worth to her more than the commerce of the residue of the world. That 
to all Spanish America has been alone estimated at fifteen millions sterling. 
Its aggregate value to Spanish America and the United States may be 
fairly stated at upward of one hundred thousand dollars. The eflFect of a 
war with the two countries would be, to divest England of this great inter- 
est, at a moment when she is anxiously engaged in repairing the ravages 
of the European war. Looking to the present moment only, and merely 
to the interests of commerce, England is concerned more than even this 
country, in the success of the cause of independence in Spanish America. 
The reduction of the Spanish power in America has been the constant and 
favorite aim of her policy for two centuries ; she must blot out her whole 
history, reverse the maxims of all her illustrious statesmen, extinguish the 
spirit of commerce which animates, directs, and controls all her movements, 
before she can render herself accessory to the subjugation of Spanish 
America. No commercial advantages which Spain may offer by treaty, 
can possess the security for her trade, which independence would commu- 
nicate. The one would be most probably of limited duration, and liable 



160 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

to violatioa from policy, from interest, or from caprice. The other would 
bo as permanent as independence. That I do not mistake the views of the 
British cabinet, the recent proclamation of the prince-regent I think proves. 
The committee will remark, that the document does not describe the pa- 
triots as rebels, or insurgents, but using a term which I have no doubt has 
l>een well weighed, it declares the existence of a " state of warfare." And 
with regai'd to English subjects, who are in the armies of Spain, although 
thev entered the service without restriction as to their military duties, it re- 
quires that they shall not take part against the colonies. The subjects of 
England freely supply the patriots with arms and amrnunitiou, and an hon- 
orable fi'iend of mine (Colonel Johnson) has just received a letter from one 
of the West India islands, stating the arrival there froju England of the 
skeletons of three regiments, with many of the men to fill them, destined 
to aid the patriots. In the Quarterly Review of November last, a journal 
devoted to the ministry, and a work of the highest authority, as it respects 
their views, the policy of neutrality is declared and supported as the true 
policy of England ; and that, even if the United States were to take part 
in the war ; and Spain is expressly notified, that she can not and must not 
expect aid from England. 

" In arguing, therefore, for the advantage of a strict neutrality, we must en- 
ter an early protest against any imputations of hostility to the cause of genuine 
freedom, or of any passion for despotism and the inquisition. We are no more 
the panegyrists of legitimate authority in all times, circumstances, and situations, 
than we are advocates for revolution in the abstract," and so forth. " But it has 
been plausibly asserted, that, by abstaining from interference in the affairs of 
South America, we are surrendering to the United States all the advantages 
which might be secured to ourselves from this revolution ; that we are assisting 
to increase the trade and power of a nation which alone can ever be the mari- 
time rival of England. It appears to us extremely doubtful, whether any ad- 
vantage, commercial or pohtical, can be lost to England by a neutral conduct ; 
it must be observed, that the United States themselves, have given every public 
proof of their intention to pursue the same line of policy. But admitting that 
this conduct is nothing more than a decent pretext ; or admitting, still farther, 
that they will afford to the independents direct and open assistance, our view of 
the case would remain precisely the same," and so forth. " To persevere in force, 
unaided, is to miscalculate her (Spain's) own resources, even to infatuation. To 
expect the aid of an ally in such a cause would, if that ally were England, be 
to suppose this country as forgetful of its own past history as of its immediate 
interests and duties. Far better would it be for Spain, instead of calhng for our 
aid, to profit by our experience ; and to substitute, ere it be too late, for efforts 
like those by which the North American colonies were lost to tliis eonntry, the 
concihatory measures by which they might have been retained." 

In the case of the struggle between Spain and her colonies, England, 
for once, at least, has manifested a degree of wisdom highly deserving our 
imitation, but unfortunately the very reverse of her course has been pur- 



EMANCIPATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN STATES. 161 

Bued by us. She has so conducted, by operating upon the hopes of the 
two parties, as to keep on the best terms with both ; to enjoy all the ad- 
vantages of the rich commerce of both. We have, by a neutrality bill 
containing unprecedented features, and still more by a late executive meas- 
ure, to say the least of it, of doubtful constitutional character, contrived to 
dissatisfy both parties. We have the confidence neither of Spain nor the 
colonies. 

It remains for me to defend the proposition which I meant to subtnit, 
from au objection which I have heard intimated, that it interferes with the 
duties assigned to the executive branch. On this subject I feel the greatest 
solicitude ; for no man more than myself, respects the preservation of the 
independence of the several departments of government, in the constitu- 
tional orbits which are prescribed to them. It is my favorite maxim, that 
each, acting within its proper sphere, should move with its constitutional 
independence, and under its constitutional responsibility, without influence 
from any other. I am perfectly aware that the Constitution of the United 
States — and I admit the proposition in its broadest sense — confides to the 
executive the reception and the deputation of ministers. But, in relation 
to the latter operation. Congress has concurrent will in the power of pro- 
viding for the payment of their salaries. The instrument nowhere says or 
implies that the executive act of sending a minister to a foreign country, 
shall precede the legislative act which provides for the payment of his 
salary. And, in point of foct, our statutory code is full of examples of 
legislative action prior to executive action, both in relation to the deputa- 
tion of agents abroad, and to the subject-matter of treaties. Perhaps the 
act of sending a minister abroad, and the act of providing for the allow- 
ance of his salary, ought to be simultaneous ; but if, in the order of pre- 
cedence, there be more reason on the one side than on the other, I think 
it is in favor of the priority of the legislative act, as the safer depository 
of power. When a minister is sent abroad, although the legislature may 
be disposed to thitak his mission useless ; although, if previously con- 
sulted, they would have said they would not consent to pay such a min- 
ister ; the duty is delicate and painful to refuse to pay the salary promised 
to him whom the executive has even unnecessarily sent abroad. I can 
illustrate my idea by the existing missions to Sweden and to the Nelher- 
lands. I have no hesitation in saying, that if we had not ministers of the 
first grade there, and if the legislature were asked, prior to sending them, 
whether it would consent to pay ministers of that grade, I would not, and 
I believe Congress would not, consent to pay them. 

If it be urged that by avowing our willingness in a legislative act, to pay 
a minister not yet sent, and whom the president may think it improper to 
send abroad, we operate upon the president by all the force of our opinion ; 
It may be retorted, that when we are called upon to pay any minister, sent 
under similar circumstances, we are o^^eratec upon by all the force of the 
president's opinion. The true theory of our government, at least, supposes 

11 



162 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

that each of the two departments, acting on its proper constitutional re- 
Bpousibility, will decide according to its best judgment, under all the cir- 
cumstances of the case. If we make the previous appropriation, we act 
upon our constitutional responsibility, and the president afterward will pro- 
ceed upon his. And so if he makes the previous appointmenC. We have 
the right, after a minister is sent abroad, and we are called upon to pay 
him, and we ought to deliberate upon the propriety of his mission ; we 
may and ought to grant or withhold his salary. If this power of delibe- 
ration is conceded subsequently to the deputation of the minister, it must 
exist prior to that deputation. Whenever we deliberate, we deliberate 
under our constitutional responsibility. Pass the amendment I propose, 
and it will be passed under that responsibility. Then the president, when 
he deliberates on the propriety of the mission, will act under his constitu- 
tional responsibility. Each branch of government, moving in its proper 
sphere, will act with as much freedom from the influence of the other as 
is practically attainable. 

There is great reason, from the peculiar character of the American gov- 
ernment, for a perfect understanding between the legislative and executive 
branches, in relation to the acknowledgment of a new power. Everywhere 
else the power of declaring war resides with the executive. Here it is 
deposited with the Legislature. If, contrary to my opinion, there be even 
a risk that the acknowledgment of a new state may lead to wai', it is ad- 
visable that the step should not be taken without a previous knowledge of 
the will of the war-making branch. I am disposed to give to the presi- 
dent all the confidence which he must derive from the unequivocal expres- 
sion of our will. This expression I know may be given in the form of an 
abstract resolution, declaratory of that will ; but I prefer at this time pro- 
posing an act of practical legislation. And if I have been so fortunate as 
to communicate to the committee, in any thing like that degree of strength 
in which I entertain them, the convictions that the cause of the patriots is 
just ; that the character of the war, as waged by Spain, should induce us 
to wish them success ; that we have a great interest in that success ; 
that this interest, as well as our neutral attitude, requires us to ac- 
knowledge any established government in Spanish America ; that the 
United Provinces of the river Platte is such a government ; that we may 
safely acknowledge its independence, without danger of war from Spain, 
from the allies, or from England ; and that, without unconstitutional inter- 
ference with the executive power, with peculiar fitness, we may express, in 
an act of approbation, our sentiments, leaving him to an exercise of a just 
and responsible discretion ; T hope the committee will adopt the proposi- 
tion which I have now the honor of presenting to them, after a respectful 
tender of my acknowledgments for their attention and kindness, during, 1 
fear, the tedious period I have been so unprofitably trespassing upon their 
patience. 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMERICA. 

IN THE HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES, MARCH 28, 1818. 

[The following speech, as will be seen, is a mere continuation 
of the preceding one, after the subject had been debated by- 
others, and in reply to the opponents of Mr. Clay's amendment. 
The prima facie views of the former speech, occupy a distinct 
position on the naked merits of the question ; whereas this 
second speech is characterised chiefly by a refutation of the 
objections which had been raised against Mr. Clay's proposal. 
His motion, doubtless, took the House by surprise, as being too 
bold a measure, though we can not now see why it should be so 
regarded, especially in the light of Mr. Clay's argument. The 
prudence of its opponents strikes the reader of history as a cen- 
surable and truckling timidity. In the first place, there was no 
cause of war in what Mr. Clay proposed, and it was absurd to 
suppose that Spain would resent it as such, in the condition of 
her finances ; and in the protracted struggle of these South 
American provinces against the mother country, they had 
acquired advantages sufficient to justify a recognition of their 
independence, by all the world. They were in fact independent, 
and were becoming more and more so every year. Spain could 
neither hold, nor reduce them. Still it was a difficult matter to 
persuade the government of the United States of North America 
to recognize this position of our southern and sister republics, 
and Mr. Clay was the only man that would take the lead in it. 
To his immortal honor, he allowed himself to be borne onward 
by the current of his sympathies — a movement visible to all the 
world, and which made an ineffaceable impression of gratitude 
on the people of those countries whose cause and independence 
he so gallantly advocated in the time of their greatest need. 
Hemy Clay, of North America, was loved by them, celebrated in 
song, and monuments of gratitude were erected to his memory, 
which are standing to this day. Thanks were voted him by the 
governments of those States, and his name, as a heroic advocate 
of their independence, is incorporated with their history. 



164 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY, 

But Mr. Clay's amendment was lost 1 y a vote of one hundred 
and fifteen against forty-five. Even forty-five was a strong vote, 
considering that the motion was sprung upon the House so sud- 
denly. The recognition of the independence of the South 
American States, by the government of the United States, was 
now in Mr. Clay's hands, and it remained for him to achieve its 
consummation as he did two years afterward.] 

Mr. Chairman : The first objection which I think it iucurabent on me 
to notice, is that of my friend from South Carolina (Mr. Lowndes), who op- 
posed the form of the proposition, as being made on a general appropria- 
tion bill, on which he appeared to think nothing ought to be engrafted 
which was likely to give rise to a difference between the two branches 
of the Legislature. If the gentleman himself had always acted on this 
principle, his objection would be entitled to more weight ; but, the item in 
the appropriation bill next following this, and reported by the gentleman 
himself, is infinitely more objectionable — which is, an appropriation of 
thirty thousand dollars for defraying the expenses of three commissioners, 
appointed or proposed to be paiJ in an unconstitutional form. It can not 
be expected that a general appropriation bill will ever pass without some 
objectionable clauses, and in case of a diffeience between the two Houses 
(a difference which we have no right to anticipate in this instance), which 
can not be compromised as to any article, the obvious course is, to omit 
such article altogether, retaining all the others ; and, in a case of this 
character, relative to brevet pay, which has occurred during the present 
session, such has been the ground the gentleman himself has taken in a 
conference with the Senate, of which he is a manager. 

The gentleman from South Carolina, has professed to concur with me in 
a gi'eat many of his general propositions ; and neither he nor any other 
gentleman has disagreed with me, that the mere recognition of the inde- 
pendence of the provinces is no cause of war with Spain, excepfr the gen- 
tleman from Maryland (Mr. Smith), to whom I recommend, without 
intending disrespect to him, to confine himself to the operation of com- 
merce, rather than undertake to expound questions of public law ; for I 
can assure the gentleman, that, although he may make some figure, with 
his practical knowledge, in the one case, he will not in the other. No 
man, except the gentleman from Maryland, has had what I should call the 
hardihood to contend, that, on the ground of principle and mere public 
law, the exercise of the right of recognizing another power is the cause of 
war. But though the gentleman from South Carolina admitted, that the 
recognition would be no cause of war, and that it was not likely to lead to 
a war with Spain, we find him, shortly after, getting into a war with Spain, 
how, I do not see, and by some means, which he did not deign to discover 
to us getting us into a war with England also. Having satisfied himself^ 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMEBICA. 165 

by this course of reasoning, the gentleman has discovered, that the finances 
of Spain are in a most favorable condition. On this part of the subject, it 
is not necessary for nie to say any thing after what the committee has 
heard from the eloquent gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Holmes), 
whose voice, in a period infinitely more critical in our aftairs than the 
present, has been heard with so much delight from the East in support of 
the rights and honor of the country. He has clearly shown, that there is 
no parallel between the state of Spain and of this country — the one of a 
country whose resources are completely impoverished and exhausted, the 
other of a country whose resources are almost untouched. But, I would ask 
of the gentleman from South Carolina, if he can conceive that a State, in 
the condition of Spain, whose minister of the treasury admits that the 
people have no longer the means of paying new taxes — a nation with an 
immense mass of floating debt, and totally without credit — can feel any 
anxiety to engage in a war with a nation like this, whose situation is, in 
every possible view, directly the reverse ? I ask, if an annual revenue, 
equal only to five eighths of the annual expenditure, exhibits a financial 
ability to enter upon a new war, when, too, the situation of Spain is alto- 
gether unlike that of the United States and England, whose credit, resting 
upon a solid basis, enables them to supply, by loans, any deficit in their 
income ? 

Notwithstanding the diversity of sentiment which has been displayed 
during the debate, I am happy to find that, with one exception, every 
member has done justice to the struggle in the South, and admitted it to 
be entitled to the favor of the best feelings of the human heart. Even 
my honorable friend near me (Mr. Nelson) has made a speech on our side, 
and we should not have found out, if he had not told us, that he would 
vote against us. Although his speech has been distinguished by his ac- 
customed eloquence, I should be glad to agree on a cartel with the gen- 
tlemen on the other side of the House, to give them his speech for his 
vote. The gentleman says his heart is with us, that he ardently desires the 
independence of the South. Will he excuse me for telling him, that if he 
will give himself up to the honest feelings of his heart, he will have a mudi 
surer guide than by trusting to his head, to which, however, I am far from 
offering any disparagement ? 

But, sir, it seems that a division of the republican party is about to be 
made by the proposition. Who is to furnish, in this respect, the correct 
criterion — whose conduct to be the standard of orthodoxy ? What has 
been the great principle of the party to which the gentleman from Vir- 
ginia refers, from the first existence of the government to the present day ? 
An attachment to liberty, a devotion to the great cause of humanity, of 
freedom, of self-government, and of equal rights. K there is to be a 
division, as the gentleman says ; if he is going to leave us, who are follow- 
ing the old track, he may, in his new connections, find a great variety of 
company, which, perhaps, may indemnify him for the loss of his old 



166 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

friends. What is the great principle that has distinguished parties in all 
ao-es, and under all governments — democrats and federalists, whigs and 
tones, plebeians and patricians ? The one, distrustful of human nature, 
ap})reciates less the influence of reason and of good dispositions, and ap- 
peals more to physical force ; the other paity, confiding in human nature, 
relies much upon moral power, and applies to force as an auxiliary only to 
the operations of reason. All the modifications and denominations of 
political parties and sects may be traced to this fundamental distinction. 
It is that which separated the two great parties in this country. If there 
is to be a division in the republican party, I glory that I, at least, am 
found among those who are anxious for the advancement of human rights 
and of human liberty ; and the honorable gentleman who spoke of appeal- 
ing to the public sentiment, will find, when he does so, or I am much mis- 
taken, that public sentiment is also on the side of public liberty and of 
human happiness. 

But the gentleman from South Carolina has told us, that the Constitu- 
tion has wisely confided to the executive branch of the government, the 
administration of the foreign interests of the country. Has the honorable 
gentleman attempted to show, though his proposition be generally true, 
and will never be controverted by me, that we also have not our participa- 
tion in the administration of the foreign concerns of the country, when we 
are called upon, in our legislative capacity, to defray the expenses of for- 
eign missions, or to regulate commerce ? I stated, when up before, and I 
have listened in vain for an answer to the argument, that no part of the 
Constitution says which shall have the precedence, the act of making the 
appropriation for paying a minister, or of sending one. I have contended 
and now repeat, that either the acts of deputing or paying a minister 
should be simultaneous, or, if either has the preference, the act of appro- 
priating his pay should precede the sending of a minister. I challenge 
gentlemen to show me any thing in the Constitution which directs that a 
minister shall be sent before his payment is provided for. I repeat, what 
I said the other <Jay, that, by sending a minister abroad, during the recess, 
to nations between whom and us no such relations existed as to justify in- 
curring the expense, the legislative opinion is forestalled, or unduly biased. 
I appeal to the practice of the government, and refer to various acts of 
Congress for cases of appropriations, without the previous deputation of the 
iigent abroad, and without the preliminary of a message from the president, 
asking for them. 

[Here Mr. Clay cited a case where Congress led the way and the president 
tbllowed.] 

From these it appears that Congress has constantly pursued the great 
principle of the theory of the Constitution, for which I now contend — 
that each department of the government must act within its own sphere, 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMEBIOA. 167 

iadependently, aud on its own reaponsibility. It is a little extraoidiuary, 
indeed, after the doctrine which was maintained the other day, of a sweep- 
ing right in Congress to appropriate money to any object, that it should 
now be contended that Congress has no right to appropriate money to a 
particular object. The gentleman's (Mr. Lowndes's) doctrine is broad^ 
comprehending every case ; but, when proposed to be exemplified in any 
specific case, it does not apply. My theory of the Constitution on this par- 
ticular subject, is, that Congress has the right of appropriating money for 
foreign missions, the president the power to use it. The president having 
the power, I am willing to say to him, " Here is the money, which we alone 
have a right to appropriate, which will enable you to carry your power 
into efiect, if it seems expedient to you." Both being before him, the 
power and the means of executing it, the president would judge, on his own 
responsibility, whether or not it was expedient to exercise it. In this course, 
each department of the government would act independently, without in- 
fluence from, and without interference with, the other. I have stated cases, 
from the statute-book, to show, that, in instances where no foreign agent has 
been appointed, but only a possibility of their being appointed, appropriations 
have been made for paying them. Even in the case of the subject-matter of 
negotiation (a right much more important than that of sending an agent)^ 
an appropriation of money has preceded the negotiation of a treaty — thus, 
in the third volume of the new edition of the laws, page twenty-seven, is a 
case of an appropriation of twenty-five thousand eight hundred and eighty 
dollars to defiay the expense of such treaties as the President of the United 
States might deem proper to make with certain Indian tribes. An act, which 
has been lately refeiTed to, appropriating two millions for the purchase of 
Florida, is a case still more strongly in point, as contemplating a treaty not 
with a savage, but with a civilized power. In this case there may have 
been, though I believe there was not, an executive message, recommend- 
ing the appropriation ; but I take upon myself to assert, that, in almost all 
the cases I have quoted, there was no previous executive intimation that the 
appropriation of the money was necessary to the object ; but Congress haa 
taken up the subject, and authorized these appropriations, without any offi- 
cial call from the executive to do so. 

With regard to the general condition of the provinces now in revolt 
against the parent country, I will not take up much of the time of the 
House. Gentlemen are, however, much mistaken as to many of the points 
of their history, geography, commerce, and produce, which have been 
touched upon. Gentlemen have supposed there would be from those coun- 
tries a considerable competition of the same products which we export. I 
venture to say, that, in regard to Mexico, there can be no such competi- 
tion ; that the table-lands are at such a distance from the sea-shore, and the 
difficulty of reaching it is so great, as to make the transportation to La 
Vera Cruz too expensive to be borne, and the heat so intense as to destroy 
the bread-stufis as soon as they arrive. With respect to New Granada, 



168 SPEECHES OF HBNRY CLAT. 

the gentleman from Maryland is entirely mistaken. It is the elevation of 
Mexico, principally, which enables it to produce bread-stutfs ; but New 
Granada, lying nearly under the line, can not produce them. The produc- 
tions of New Granada for exportation, are the precious metals (of which, of 
gold, particularly, a greater portion is to be found there than in any of the 
provinces, except Mexico), sugar, coffee, cocoa, and some other articles of 
a similar character. Of Venezuela, the principal productions are coffee, co- 
coa, indigo, and some sugar. Sugar is also produced in all the Guianas — 
French, Spanish, and Dutch. The interior of the provinces of La Plata 
may be productive of bread-stuffs, but they are too remote to come into 
competition with us in the West India market, the voyages to the United 
States generally occupying from fifty to sixty days, and sometimes as long 
as ninety days. By deducting from that number the average passage from 
the United States to the West Indies, the length of the usual passage be- 
tween Buenos Ay res and the West Indies, will be found, and will show that, 
in the supply of the West India market with bread-stuffs, the provinces can 
never come seriously into competition with us. And in regard to Chili, 
productive as it may be, does the gentleman from Maryland suppose that 
vessels are going to double Cape Horn and come into competition with us 
in the West Indies ? It is impossible. 

But I feel a reluctance at pursuing the discussion of this part of the 
question, because I am sure these are considerations on which the House 
can not act, being entirely unworthy of the subject. We may as well stop 
all our intercourse with England, with France, or with the Baltic, whose 
products are, in many respects, the same as ours, as to act on the present 
occasion under the influence of any such considerations. It is too selfish, 
too mean a principle for this body to act on, to refuse its sympathy for the 
patriots of the South because some little advantage of a commercial na- 
ture may be retained to us from their remaining in their present condition, 
which, however, I totally deny. Three fourths of the productions of the 
Spanish provinces are the precious metals, and the greater part of the res- 
idue not of the same character as the staple productions of our soil. But 
it seems that a pamphlet has recently been published on this subject to 
which gentlemen have referred. Now permit ine to express a distrust of 
all pamphlets of this kind unless we know their source. It may, for 
aught I know, if not composed at the instance of the Spanish minister, 
have been written by some merchant who has a privilege of trading to 
Lima under royal license ; for such do exist, as I am informed, and some 
of them procured under the agency of a celebrated pereon by the name of 
Sarmiento, of whom, perhaps, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Smith) 
can give the House some information. To gentlemen thus privileged to trade 
with the Spanish provinces, under royal authority, the effect of a recogni- 
tion of the independence of the provinces would be to deprive them of that 
monopoly. The reputed author of the pamphlet in question, if I under- 
stand correctly, is one who has been, if he is not now, deeply engaged in 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMERICA. 169 

the trade, and I will venture to say that many of his statements are in- 
correct. In relation to the trade of Mexico, I happen to possess the 
Royal Gazette of Mexico of 1 804, showing what was the trade of that 
province in 1803 ; from which it appears that, without making allowance 
for the trade from the Philippine Islands to Acapulco, the imports into the 
port of Vera Cruz were, in that year, twenty-two millions in value, exclu- 
sive of contraband, the amount of which was very considerable. Among 
those articles were many which the United States could supply as well, if 
not on better terms, than they could be supplied from any other quarter ; 
for example, brandy and spirits, paper, iron, implements for agriculture and 
the mines; wax, spices, naval stores, salt fish, butter, provisions; these 
articles amounting, in the whole, to one seventh part of the whole import 
trade to Mexico. With regard to the independence of that country, which 
gentlemen seem to think improbable, I rejoice that I am able to congratu- 
late the House that we have, this morning, intelligence that Mina yet lives, 
and the patriot flag is still unfurled, and the cause infinitely more pros- 
perous than ever. This intelligence I am in hopes will prove true, not- 
withstanding the particular accounts of his death which, as there is so 
much of fabrication and falsehood in the Spanish practice, are not entitled 
to credit, unless corroborated by other information. Articles are manufac- 
tured in one province to produce efiect on other provinces, and in this 
country ; and I am, therefore, disposed to think that the details respecting 
the capture and execution of Mina are too minute to be true, and were 
made up to produce an effect here. 

With regard to the general value of the trade of a country, it is to be 
determined by the quantum of its population, and its character, its produc- 
tions, and the extent and chaiacter of the tenitory ; and, applying these 
criteria to Spanish America, no nation offers higher inducements to com- 
mercial enterprise. Washed on the one side by the Pacific, on the other by 
the south Atlantic ; standing between Africa and Europe on the one hand, 
and Asia on the other ; lying alongside of the United States ; her com- 
merce must, when free from the restraints of despotism, be immensely im- 
portant ; particularly when it is recollected how great a proportion of the 
precious metals it produces ; for that nation which can command the 
precious metals, may be said to command almost the resources of the 
world. For one moment, imagine the mines of the South locked up from 
Great Britain for two years, what would be tho effect on her paper system ? 
Bankruptcy, explosion, revolution. Even if the supply which we get 
abroad of the precious metals was cut off for any length of time, I ask if 
the effect on our paper system would not be, not perhaps equally as fatal 
as to England, yet one of the greatest calamities which could befall 
this country? The revenue of Spain, in Mexico alone, was, in 1809, 
twenty millions of dollars, and in the other provinces in about the same 
proportion, taking into view their population, independent of the immense 
contributions annually naid to the clergy. When you look at the re- 



170 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

sources of the country, and the extent of its population, recollecting that it 
is double our own ; that its consumption of foreign articles, under a free 
commerce, would be proportion ably great ; that it yields a large revenue 
under the most abominable system, under which nearly three fourths of the 
population are unclad, and almost naked as from the hands of nature, be- 
cause absolutely deprived of the means of clothing themselves, what may 
not be the condition of this country under the operation of a different sys- 
^m, which would let industry develop its resources in all possible forms t 
Such a neighbor can not but be a valuable acquisition in a commercial 
point of view. 

Gentlemen have denied the fact of the existence of the independence 
of Buenos Ayres at as eaily a date as I have assigned to it. The 
gentleman from South Carolina, who is well informed on the subject, has 
not, I think, exhibited his usual candor on this part of it. When the gen- 
tleman talked of the upper provinces being out of the possession of the 
patriots as late as 1815, he ought to have gone back and told the House 
what was the actual state of the fact, with which I am sure the gentleman 
is very well acquainted. In 1811, the government of Buenos Ayres had 
been in possession of every foot of the territory of the vice-royalty. The 
war has been raging from 1811 to 1814 in those interior provinces bor- 
dering on Lima, which have been as often as three times conquered by the 
enemy, and as often recovered, and from which the enemy is now finally 
expelled. Is this at all remarkable during the progress of such a revolu- 
tion ? During the different periods of our war of independence, the British 
had possession of different parts of our country; as, late as 1780, the 
whole of the southern States were in their possession ; and at an earlier 
date they had possession of the great northern capitals. There is, in re- 
gard to Buenos Ayres, a distinguishing trait which does not exist in the 
history of our Revolution. That is, that from 1810 to the present day, the 
capital of the republic of La Plata has been invariably in the possession of 
the patriot government. Gentlemen must admit that when, in 1814, she 
captured at Montevideo an army as large as Burgoyne's captured at Sara- 
toga, they were then in possession of independence. If they have been since 
1810 in the enjoyment of self-government, it is, indeed, not very material un- 
der what name or under what form. The fact of their independence is all 
that is netjessary to be established. La reply to the argument of the gentle- 
man from South Carolina, derived from his having been unable to find out the 
number of the provinces, this arose from the circumstance that, thirty-six 
years ago, the vice-royalty had been a captain-generalship ; that it ex- 
tended then only to Tucuman, while of late and at present the government 
extends to Desaguedera, in about the sixteenth degree of south latitude. 
There are other reasons why there is some confusion in the number of 
the provinces, as stated by different writers ; there is, in the first place, a 
territorial division of the country ; then a judicial ; and next a military 
division ; and the provinces have been stated at ten, thirteen, or twenty, 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMERICA. 171 

according to the denominations used. This, however, with the gentleman 
from South Carolina, I regard as a fact of no sort of consequence. 

I will pass over the report lately made to the House by the Department 
of State, respecting the state of South America, with only one remark — 
that it appears to me to exhibit evidence of an adroit and experienced 
diplomatist, negotiating, or rather conferring on a subject with a young 
and inexperienced minister, from a young and inexperienced republic. 
From the manner in which this report was communicated, after a call for 
information so long made, and after a lapse of two months from the last 
date in the correspondence on the subject, I w:is mortified at hearing the 
report read. Why talk of the mode of recognition ? Why make objec- 
tions to the form of the commission ? If the minister has not a formal 
power, why not tell him to send back for one ? Why ask of him to 
enumerate the particular States whose independence he wished acknowl- 
edged ? Suppose the French minister had asked of Franklin what num- 
ber of States he represented ? Thirteen, if you please, Franklin would 
have replied. But Mr. Franklin, will you tell me if Pennsylvania, whose 
capital is in possession of the British, be one of them ? What would Dr. 
Frankhn have said ? It would have comported better with the frankness 
of the American character, and of American diplomacy, if the secretary, 
avoiding cavils about the form of the commission, had said to the minister 
of Buenos Ayres, " at the present moment we do not intend to recognize 
you, or to receive or to send a minister to you." 

But among the charges which gentlemen have industriously brought 
together, the House has been told of factions prevailing in Buenos Ayrea. 
Do not factions exist everywhere ? Are they not to be found in the best 
regulated and most firmly established governments ? Respecting the Car- 
reras, public information is abused ; they were supposed to have had im- 
proper views, designs hostile to the existing government, and it became 
necessary to deprive them of the power of doing mischief. And what is 
the fact respecting the alleged arrest of American citizens ? Buenos Ayres 
has been organizing an army to attack Chili. CaiTera arrives at the river 
La Plata with some North Americans ; he had before defeated the revolu- 
tion in Chili, by withholding his co-operation ; the government of Buenos 
Ayres therefore said to him, We do not want your resources ; our own 
army is operating ; if you carry yours there, it may produce dissension, and 
cause the loss of liberty ; you shall not go. On his opposing this course, 
what was done which has called forth the sympathy of gentlemen ? He 
and those who attended him from this country were put in confinement, 
but only long enough to permit the operations of the Buenos Ayrean 
army to go on ; they were then pennitted to go, or made thcfr escape to 
Montevideo, and afterward where they pleased. With respect to the con- 
duct of that government, only recall the attention of gentlemen to the orders 
which have lately emanated from it, for the regulation of privateers, which 
has displayed a solicitude to guard against irregularity, and to respect the 



172 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

rights of neutrals, not inferior to that ever shown by any government, which 
has on any occasion attempted to regulate this licentious mode of warfare. 

The honorable gentleman from Georgia commenced his remarks the 
other day by an animadversion which he might well have spared, when he 
told us, that even the prayers of the chaplain of this House had been 
oflfered up in behalf of the patriots. And was it reprehensible, that an 
American chaplain, whose cheeks are furrowed by age, and his head as 
white as snow, who has a thousand times, during our own Revolution, im- 
plored the smiles of heaven on our exertions, should indulge in the pious 
and patriotic feelings flowing from his recollections of our own Revolu- 
tion ? Ought he to be subject to animadversion for so doing in a place 
where he can not be heard ? Ought he to be subject to animadversion for 
soHciting the favor of heaven on the same cause as that in which we fought 
the good fight, and conquered our independence ? I trust not. 

But the gentleman from Georgia, it appears, can see no parallel between 
our Revolution and that of the Spanish provinces. Their revolution, in its 
commencement, did not aim at complete independence, neither did ours. 
Such is the loyalty of the Creole character, that although groaning under 
three hundred years of tyranny and oppression, they have been imwilling 
to cast off their allegiance to that throne, which has been the throne of 
theii" ancestors. But, looking forward to a redress of wrongs, rather than 
^' change of government, they gradually, and perhaps at first unintention- 
ally, entered into a revolution. I have it from those who have been actively 
engaged in our Revolution, from that venerable man (Chancellor Wythe), 
whose memory I shall ever cherish with filial regard, that, a very short 
time before our Declaration of Independence, it would have been impossible 
to have got a majority of Congress to declare it. Look at the language 
of our petitions of that day, carrying our loyalty to the foot of the 
throne, and avowing our anxiety to remain under the crown of our 
ancestors ; independence was then not even remotely suggested as our 
object. 

The present state of facts, and not what has passed and gone in South 
America, must be consulted. At the present moment, the patriots of the 
South are fighting for liberty and independence ; for precisely what we 
fought. But their revolution, the gentleman told the House, was stained 
by scenes which had not occurred in ours. If so, it was because execrable 
outrages had been committed upon them by troops of the mother country, 
which were not upon us. Can it be believed, if the slaves had been let 
loose upon us in the South, as they have been let loose in Venezuela ; if 
quarter had been refused ; capitulations violated ; that General Washing 
ton, at the head of the armies of the United States, would not have re- 
sorted to retribution ? Retaliation is sometimes mercy, mercy to both 
parties. The only means by which the coward's soul that indulges in 
such enormities can be rearhed, is to show to him that they will be visited 
by severe but just retribution. There are traits in the history of this rev- 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMERICA. 173 

olution, which show what deep root liberty has taken in South America, 
I will state an instance. The only hope of a wealthy and reputable family 
was charged, at the head of a small force, with the care of the magazine 
of the army. He saw that it was impossible to defend it. " Go," said he 
to his companions in arms, " I alone am suflBcieut for its defense." The as- 
sailants approached ; he applied a match and blew up the magazine, with 
himself, scattering death and destruction on his enemy. There is another 
instance of the intrepidity of a female of the patriot party. A lady in New 
Granada had given information to the patriot forces, of plans and instruc- 
tions by which the capital might be invaded. She was put upon the rack 
to divulge her accomplices. She bore the torture with the greatest forti- 
tude, and died exclaiming, " You shall not hear it from my mouth ; I will 
die, and may those live who can free my country." 

But the House has been asked, and asked with a triumph worthy of a 
better cause, why recognize this republic ? Where is the use of it ? And 
is it possible that gentlemen can see no use in recognizing this republic ? 
For what did this republic fight ? To be admitted into the family of na- 
tions. Tell the nations of the world, says Pucyrredon, in his speech, that 
we already belong to their illustrious rank. What would be the powerful 
consequences of a recognition of their claim ? I ask my honorable friend 
before me (General Bloomfield), the highest sanction of whose judgment 
in favor of my proposition, I fondly anticipate, with what anxious solicitude, 
during our Revolution, he and his glorious compatriots turned their eyes to 
Europe and asked to be recognized — I ask him, the patriot of 'Y6, how the 
heart rebounded with joy, on the information that France had recognized 
us ? The moral influence of such a recognition, on the patriot of the 
South, will be irresistible. He will derive assurance from it, of his not 
having fought in vain. In the constitution of our natures there is a point, to 
which adversity may pursue us, without perhaps any worse efiect than that 
of exciting new energy to meet it. Having reached that point, if no gleam of 
comfort breaks through the gloom, we sink beneath the pressure, yielding 
reluctantly to our fate, and in hopeless despair lose all stimulus to exertion. 
And is there not reason to fear such a fate to the patriots of La Plata ? 
Already enjoying independence for eight years, their ministers are yet 
spurned from the courts of Europe, and rejected by the government of a 
sister republic. Contrast this conduct of ours with our conduct in other 
respects. No matter whence the minister comes, be it from a despotic 
power, we receive him ; and even now, the gentleman from Maryland, 
(Mr. Smith) would have us send a minister to Constantinople, to beg a 
passage through the Dardanelles to the Black Sea, that I suppose, we 
might get some hemp and bread-stuffs there, of which we ourselves produce 
none — he, who can see no advantage to the country from opening to its 
commerce the measureless resources of South America, would sent a min- 
ister to Constantinople for a little trade. Nay, I have seen a project in 
the newspapers, and I should not be surprised, after what we have already 



174 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Been, at its being carried into eflect, for sending a minister to the Porte. 
Yes, sir, from ConsUintiuople, or from the Brazils ; from Turk or Chris- 
tian ; from black or white ; from the dey of Algiers or the bey of Tunis ; 
from the devil himself, if he wore a crown, we should receive a minister. 
We even paid the expenses of the minister of his sublime highness, the 
bey of Tunis, and thought ourselves highly honored by his visit. But let 
the minister come from a poor republic, hke that of La Plata, and we turn 
our back on him. The brilliant costumes of the ministers of the royal 
governments are seen glistening in the circles of our drawing-rooms, and 
their splendid equipages rolling through the avenues of the metiopolis ; 
but the unaccredited minister of the republic, if he visit our President or 
Secretaiy of State at all, must do it incognito, less the eye of Don Onis 
should be offended by so unseemly a sight ! I hope the gentleman from 
South Carolina, who is so capable of estimating the effect of moral causes, 
will see some use in recognizing the independence of La Plata. I appeal 
to the powerful effect of moral causes, manifested in the case of the French 
Revolution, when by their influence, that nation swept from about her 
the armies of the combined powers, by which she was environed, and rose 
up, the colossal power of Europe. There is an example of the effect of 
moral power. All the patriots ask, all they want at our hands, is, to be 
recognized as, what they have been for the last eight years, an independent 
power. 

But, it seems, we dare not do this, lest we tread on sacred ground ; and 
a honorable gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Smyth), who, when he has 
been a little longer in this House, will learn to respect its powers, calls it 
an usurpation on the part of this House. Has the gentleman weighed the 
terms which he employed ? If I mistake not, the gentleman, in the de- 
bate respecting the power to make internal improvements, called that too 
a usurpation on the part of this House. That power, too, however, he 
admitted to belong to the executive, and traced it to an imperial source, 
informing us that Caesar or somebody else, had exercised it. Sir, the gen- 
tleman has mistaken his position here ; he is a military chieftain, and an 
admirable defender of executive authority, but he has yet to learn his horn- 
book as to the powers of this branch of the Legislature. Usurpation is ar- 
rogating to yourself authority which is vested elsewhere. But what is it 
that I propose, to which this term has been applied ? To appropriate mo 
ney to pay a foreign minister his outfit and a year's salary. If that be » 
usurpation, we have been usurping power from the commencement of the 
govei-nment to the present time. The chairman of the committee of ways 
and means has never reported an appropriation bill without some instance 
of this usurpation. 

There are three modes under our Constitution, in which a nation may be 
recognized : by the executive receiving a minister ; secondly, by its sending 
one thither ; and, thirdly, this House unquestionably has the right to rec- 
ognize, in the exercise of the constitutional power of Congress to regulate 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMERICA. 175 

foreign commerce. To receive a minister from a foreign power, is an ad- 
mission that the party sending him is sovereign and independent. So the 
sending a minister, as ministers are never sent but to sovereign powers, is a 
recognition of the independence of the power to whom the minister is sent. 
Now, the honorable gentleman from South Carolina would prefer the ex- 
pression of our opinion by a resolution, independent of the appropriation 
bill. If the gentleman will vote for it in that shape, I will readily gratify 
him ; all that I want to do is, to convey to the president an expression of 
our willingness, that the Government of Buenos Ayres should be recog- 
nized. Whether it shall be done by receiving a minister or sending one, 
is quite immaterial. It is urged, that there may be an impropriety in send- 
ing a minister, not being certain, after what has passed, that he will be re- 
ceived ; but that is one of the questions submitted to the discretion of the 
executive, which he will determine upon a view of all the circumstances; 
and who, of course, will previously have an understanding, that our minis- 
ter will be duly respected. If gentlemen desire to know what a minister 
from us is to do, I would have him congratulate the republic on the estab- 
lishment of free government and on their liberation from the ancient dy- 
nasty of Spain ; assure it of the interest we feel in its welfare, and of our 
readiness to concur in any arrangement which may be advantageous to our 
mutual interests. Have we not a minister at the Brazils, a nation lying 
alongside of the provinces of La Plata ; and, considering the number of 
slaves in it, by no means so formidable as the latter, and about equi-distant 
from us. In reference to the strength of the two powers, that of La Plata 
is much stronger, and the government of Brazil, trembling under the ap- 
prehension of the effect of the arms of La Plata, has gone further than any 
other power to recognize its independence, having entered into a military 
convention with the republic, by which each power guaranties the posses- 
sions of the other. And we have exchanged ministers with the Brazils. The 
one, however, is a kingdom^ the other a republic ; and if any gentleman 
can assign any other better reason why a minister should be sent to one 
and not to the other of these powers, I shall be glad to hear it disclosed, 
for I have not been able myself to discover it. 

A gentleman yesterday told the House that the news from Buenos Ayres 
was unfavorable. Take it altogether, I believe it is not. But I put but 
little trust in such accounts. In our Revolution, incredulity of reports and 
newspaper stories, propagated by the enemy, was so strengthened by experi- 
ence, that at last, nothing was believed which was not attested by the sig- 
nature of " Charles Thomson." I am somewhat similarly situated ; I can 
not beheve these reports ; I wish to see " Charles Thomson " before I give 
full credit to them. The vessel which has arrived at Baltimore — and by 
the way, by its valuable cargo of specie, hides, and tallow, gives evidence 
of a commerce worth pursuing — brought some rumor of a difference be- 
tween Artigas and the authorities of Buenos Ayres. With respect to the 
Banda Oriental, which is said to be occupied by Artigas, it constitutes but 



176 SPEECHES OP HENRT CLAY. 

a very subordinate part of the territory of the United Provinces of La 
Plata ; and it can be no more objection to recognizing the nation, because 
that province is not included within its power, than it could have been to 
our recognition, because several States held out against the adoption of th« 
Constitution. Before I attach any confidence to a letter not signed " Charles 
Thomson," I must know who the man is who writes it, what are his sources 
of information, his character for veracity, and so forth, and of all those par- 
ticulars, we are deprived of the information, in the case of the recent intel- 
ligence in the Baltimore papers, as extracted from private letters. 

But we are charged, on the present occasion, with treading on sacred 
ground. Let me suppose, what I do not believe to be the case, that the 
president has expressed an opinion one way and we another. At so early 
a period of our governiuent, because a particular individual fills the pres- 
idential chair — an individual whom I highly respect, more perhaps than 
some of those who would be considered his exclusive friends — is the odious 
doctrine to be preached here, that the chief magistrate can do no wrong ? 
Is the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, are the principles 
of the Stuarts, to be revived in this free government ? Is an opinion to 
be suppressed and scouted, because it is in opposition to the opinion of the 
president ? Sir, as long as I have a seat on this floor, I shall not hesitate 
to exert the independence which belongs to the representative character; 
I shall not hesitate to express my opinions, coincident or not with those of 
the executive. But I can show that this cry has been raised on the pres- 
ent occasion without reason. Suppose a case — that the president had 
sent a minister to Buenos Ayres, and this House had been called on to 
make an appropriation for the payment of his salary. I ask of gentlemen, 
whether in that case they would not have voted an appropriation ? And 
has not the House a right to deliberate on the propriety of doing so, :is 
well before, as after a minister is sent ? Will gentlemen please to point 
out the difierence ? I contend that we are the true friends of the execu- 
tive ; and that the title does not belong to those who have taken it. We 
wish to extend his influence, and give him patronage ; to give him means, 
as he Las now the power, to send another minister abroad. But, apart 
from this view of the question, as regards the executive power, this House 
has the incontestable right to recognize a foreign nation in the exercise of 
its power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Suppose, for exam- 
ple, we pass an act to regulate trade between the United States and Buenoa 
Ayres, the existence of the nation would be thereby recognized, as we could 
not regulate trade with a nation which does not exist. 

The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Smyth), the great champions of executive power, and the 
opponents of legislative authority, have contended that recognition would 
be cause of war. These gentlemen are reduced to this dilemma. If it is 
cause of war, the executive ought not to have the right to produce a war 
upon the country, withou* consulting Congress, If it is no cause of war. 



EMANCIPATION OF SOUTH AMERICA. 177 

it is an act which there is no danger in performing. There is very little 
difference in principle, between vesting the executive with the power of 
declaring war, or with the power of necessarily leading the country into 
war, without consulting the authority to whom the power of making war 
is confided. But I deny that it is cause of war ; but if it is, the sense of 
Congress ought certainly in some way or other to be taken on it, before 
that step is taken. I know that some of the most distinguished statesmen 
in the country have taken the view of this subject, that the power to rec- 
ognize the independence of any nation does not belong to the pi'esident ; that 
it is a power too momentous and consequential in its character, to belong 
to the executive. My own opinion, I confess, is different, believing the 
power to belong to either the president or Congress, and that it may, as 
most convenient, be exercised by either. If aid is to be given to afford 
which will be cause of war, however, Congress alone can give it. 

This House, then, has the power to act on the subject, even though the 
president has expressed an opinion, which he has not, further than, as ap- 
pears by the report of the Secretary of State, to decide that in January 
last, it would not be proper to recognize them. But the president stands 
pledged to recognize the republic, if on the return of the commissioners 
whom he has deputed, they shall make report favorable to the stability of 
the government. Suppose the chairman of the committee of foreign re- 
lations had reported a provision for an appropriation of that description 
which I propose, should we not all have voted for it ? And can any gen- 
tleman be so pliant, as, on the mere ground of an executive recommend- 
ation, to vote an appropriation without exercising his own faculties on the 
question ; and yet, when there is no such suggestion, will not even so far 
act for himself as to determine whether a republic is so independent that 
we may fairly take the step of recognition of it ? I hope that no such 
submission to the executive pleasure vrill characterize this House. 

One more remark, and I have done. One gentleman told the House 
that the population of the Spanish provinces is eighteen millions ; that we, 
with a population of two millions only, conquered our independence ; and 
that, if the southern provinces willed it, they must be free. This popula- 
tion, I have already stated, consists of distinct nations, having but little, 
if any, intercourse, the largest of which is Mexico ; and they are so sep- 
arated by immense distances, that it is impossible there should be any 
co-operation between them. Besides, they have diflSculties to encounter 
which we had not. They have a noblesse ; they are divided into jealous 
castes, and a vast proportion of Indians ; to which adding the great in- 
fluence of the clergy, and it will be seen how widely different the circum- 
stances of Spanish America are, from those under which the Revolution in 
this country was brought to a successful termination. I have already 
shown how deep-rooted is the spirit of liberty in that country. I have 
instanced the little island of Margarita, against which the whMe force of 
Spain has been in vain directed — containing a population of only sixteen 

12 



178 SPBEOHES OF HENRY CLAY 

thousand souls, but where every man, woman and child, is a Grecian sol- 
dier, in defense of freedom. For many years the spirit of freedom has 
been struggling in Venezuela, and Spain has been unable to conquer it. 
Morillo, in an oflBcial dispatch, transmitted to the minister of marine of 
his own country, avows that Angostura, and all Guayana are in possession 
of the patriots, as well as all that country from which supplies can be 
drawn. According to the last accounts, Bolivar and other patriot com- 
manders, are concentrating their forces, and are within one day's march of 
Morillo; and if they do not forsake the Fabian policy, which is the true 
course for them, the result will be, that even the weakest of the whole of 
the provinces of Spanish America, will establish their independence, and 
secure the enjoyment of those rights and blessings which rightfiilly belong 
to them. 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 

IN THE HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY, 1819. 

[When it is considered that the following speech has had more 
influence on the history and destiny of the United States, than 
any single event since the commencement of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, it should be read, for that cause alone, with profound 
interest and attention. And how has it had such influence ? 
Simply because it decided the question, whether Andrew Jack- 
son or Henry Clay should, from that moment, rise to a position 
of control over the counsels and policy of the nation, to run on 
for ages — perhaps forever. It was a speech which could never 
be forgiven by Greneral Jackson, and which may be regarded as 
the moral cause of his relative ascendancy with the American 
people over Mr. Clay. Other subsequent events fell into Kne 
with this, such as the charge of bargain and corruption in the 
election of Mr. Adams, in 1825, and augmented the force of the 
current ; but here, in this speech, was the beginning of that 
eternal enmity which General Jackson carried in his bosom 
against Mr. Clay, But Mr. Clay could never calculate conse- 
quences to himself, when duty summoned him to a field of 
combat ; and the repeated disclaimers found in this speech of all 
intention or willingness on his part, to disparage General Jackson's 
military fame, or to impeach the motives of his conduct in these 
afiairs, should be accepted as pledges, not that he loved Caesar 
less, but Rome more. Now that the passions of that hour have 
subsided, and all concerned have passed from the stage of life, 
the verdict of a calm review of that history may safely be trusted. 
There were political reasons at that time for sustaining General 
Jackson, both with the administration (Mr. Monroe's) and with 
Congress. Mr. Monroe, indeed, was mixed up in the affair, and 
had loaned his sanction to the general's course. Mr. Calhoun, 
however, of the Cabinet, is understood to have disapproved of 
the general's conduct, and to have taken strong ground, in 
Cabinet councils, against him, which fact was not known to 



180 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

General Jackson, until Mr. Van Buren discolsed it to him 
during the first term of his presidency, when Mr. Calhoun was 
vice-president, and a candidate for the presidency, Mr. Van 
Buren being his rival. Hence the beginning of the feud between 
General Jackson and Mr. Calhoun, which grew into a hatred 
toward the latter, like that which existed in the general's mind 
toward Mr. Clay, originating in precisely the same cause ; and 
hence General Jackson's opposition to the claims of Mr. Calhoun 
to be his successor, and his preference of Mr. Van Buren. As 
soon as Mr. Van Buren had whispered this secret in General 
Jackson's ear, the general (then president) wrote to Mr. Calhoun 
(the vice-president) and demanded to know if the facts were so ; 
and unable to deny it, Mr. Calhoun took the ground, that no 
one had a right to question him about Cabinet secrets. Having 
his adversary thus cornered, General Jackson took Mr. Van 
Buren's account of the matter as true, and acted accordingly. 
It was true. Mr. Clay and Mr. Calhoun were now equally out 
of favor, and equally hated ; and Mr. Van Buren was henceforth 
in the ascendant for the succession ; and he did succeed : for 
General Jackson's popularity was such that he had only to name 
his successor, to secure his election. Mr. Clay could afford the 
contest, and bide his time ; for he had bottom to stand upon. 
But from that hour, Mr. Calhoun's political fortunes were rapidly 
on the wane. From that hour, Mr. Calhoun was always in a 
false position, and never got right. He was soon involved in 
Nullification, and General Jackson declared he would hang him ; 
which, perhaps, he would have done, if Mr. Clay and his friends 
had not come to his rescue by the Compromise of 1833. 

The resolutions of censure on General Jackson, supported by 
the following speech, and opposed by the administration, were 
voted down, by majorities ranging from thirty to forty-six, in a 
House of one hundred and seventy members. There were 
numerous speeches on both sides, from the ablest members of the 
House, and it was one of the most animated debates ever sus- 
tained in that body. Mr. Clay spoke twice, but the other speech 
was not preserved. 

Now that the parties to that question are all gone, and since 
the political reasons which controlled it have ceased to operate, 
Mr. Clay's speech can be read witliout bias. It will now be felt 
that every sentence, and every word of it, is true and weighty. 
Such will be the verdict of aU coming time ; and the principles 
involved are immensely important. Nothing but a reluctance to 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 181 

censure the hero of New Orleans could have led to such a de- 
cision. No one can read this speech without having his sym- 
pathies powerfully excited, or without feeling that patriotism, 
soaring above all personal considerations, is the highest and no- 
blest virtue of the statesman. Such a vindication of humanity 
in war, and of those principles of public law which have softened 
its horrors, composes one of the brightest pages of American 
history.] 

Mr. Chairman : In rising to address you, sir, on the very interesting 
subject which now engages the attention of Congress, I must be allowed to 
say, that all inferences drawn from the course which it will be my painful 
duty to take in this discussion, of unfriendliness either to the chief magis- 
trate of the country, or to the illustrious military chieftain whose opera- 
tions are imder investigation, will be wholly unfounded. Toward that 
distinguished captain, who shed so much glory on our country, whose re- 
nown constitutes so great a portion of its moral property, I never had, I 
never can have, any other feelings than those of the most profound respect, 
and of the utmost kindness. With him my acquaintance is very limited, 
but, so fer as it has extended, it has been of the most amicable kind. I 
know the motives which have been, and which will again be attributed to 
me, in regard to the other exalted personage alluded to. They have been 
and will be unfounded. I have no interest, other than that of seeing the 
concerns of my country well and happily administered. It is infinitely 
more gratifying to behold the prosperity of my country advancing by the 
wisdom of the measures adopted to promote it, than it would be to expose 
the errors which may be committed, if there be any, in the conduct of its 
afiairs. Little as has been my experience in public life, it has been suf- 
ficient to teach me that the most humble station is surrounded by difficul- 
ties and embarrassments. Rather than throw obstructions in the way of 
the president, I would precede him, and pick out those, if I could, which 
might jostle him in his progress ; I would sympathize with him in his em- 
barrassments, and commiserate with him in his misfortunes. It is true 
that it has been my mortification to differ from that gentleman on several 
occasions. I may be again reluctantly compelled to differ from him ; but 
I will with the utmost sincerity, assure the committee, that I have formed 
no resolution, come under no engagements, and that I never will form any 
resolution, or contract any engagements, for systematic opposition to his 
administration, or to that of any other chief magistrate. 

I beg leave further to premise, that the subject under consideration, pre- 
sents two distinct aspects, susceptible, in my judgment, of the most clear 
and precise discrimination. The one I will call its foreign, the other its 
domestic aspect. In regard to the first, I will say, that I approve entirely 
of the conduct of our government, and that Spain has no cause of com- 



182 SPEECHES OF HENRY OLAT. 

plaint. Having violated an important stipulation of the treaty o I'TOS, 
that power has justly subjected herself to all the consequences which en- 
sued upon the entry into her dominions, and it belongs not to her to com- 
plain of those measures which resulted from her breach of contract ; still 
less has she a right to examine into the considerations connected with the 
domestic aspect of the subject. 

What are the propositions before the committee ? The first in order, is 
that reported by the military committee, which asserts the disapprobation 
of this House, of the proceedings in the trial and execution of Arbuthnot 
and Ambrister. The second, being the first contained in the proposed 
amendment, is the consequenae of that disapprobation, and contemplates 
the passage of a law to prohibit the execution hereafter of any captive, 
taken by the army, without the approbation of the president. The third 
proposition is, that this House disapproves of the forcible seizure of the 
Spanish posts, as contrary to orders, and in violation of the Constitution. 
The fourth proposition, as the result of the last, is, that a law shall pass to 
prohibit the march of the army of the United States, or any corps of it, 
into any foreign territory, without the previous authorization of Congress, 
except it be in fresh pursuit of a defeated enemy. The first and third are 
general propositions, declaring the sense of the House in regard to the 
evils pointed out ; and the second and fourth, propose the legislative rem- 
edies against the recurrence of those evils. 

It will be at once perceived, by this simple statement of the proposi- 
tions, that no other censure is proposed against General Jackson himself, 
than what is merely consequential. His name even does not appear in 
any of the resolutions. The Legislature of the country, in reviewing the 
state of the Union, and considering the events which have transpired since 
its last meeting, finds that particular occurrences, of the greatest moment, 
in many respects, have taken place near our southern border. I will add, 
that the House has not sought, by any oflBcious interference with the do- 
ings of the executive, to gain jurisdiction over this matter. The president, 
in his message at the opening of the session, communicated the very in- 
formation on which it was proposed to act. I would ask for what pur- 
pose ? That we should fold our arms and yield a tacit acquiescence, even 
if we supposed that information disclosed alarming events, not merely as it 
regards the peace of the country, but in respect to its Constitution and 
character ? Impossible. In communicating these papers, and voluntarily 
calling the attention of Congress to the subject, the president must himself 
have intended, that we should apply any remedy that we might be able to 
devise. Having the subject thus regularly and fairly before us, and pro- 
posing merely to collect the sense of the House upon certain important 
transactions which it discloses, with the view to the passage of such laws 
as may be demanded by the public interest, I repeat, that there is no 
censure anywhere, except such as is strictly consequential upon our legis- 
lative action. The supposition of every new law, having for its object to 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 183 

prevent the recurrence of evil, is, that something has happened which 
ought not to have taken place, and no other than this indirect sort of cen- 
sure will flow from the resolutions before the committee. 

Having thus given my view of the nature and character of the proposi- 
tions under consideration, I am far from intimating that it is not my 
purpose to go into a full, a free, and a thorough investigation of the facts, 
and of the principles of law, public, municipal, and constitutional, involved 
in them. And, while I trust I shall speak with the decorum due to the 
distinguished officers of the government whose proceedings are to be ex- 
amined, I shall exercise the independence which belongs to me as a rep- 
resentative of the people, in freely and fully submitting my sentiments. 

In noticing the painful incidents of this war, it is impossible not to 
inquire into its origin. I fear that it will be found to be the famous treaty 
of Fort Jackson, concluded in August, 1814 ; and I must ask the indulg- 
ence of the chairman while I read certain parts of that treaty. 

" Whereas, an unprovoked, inhuman, sanguinary war, waged by the hostile 
Creeks against the United States, hath been repelled, prosecuted, and deter- 
mined, successftilly on the part of the said States, in conformity with principles 
of national justice and honorable warfare : and, whereas, consideration is due to 
the rectitude of proceedings dictated by instructions relating to the re-establish- 
ing of peace : Be it remembered that, prior to the conquest of that part of the 
Creek nation hostile to the United States, nimiberless aggressions had been 
committed against the peace, the property, and the lives of citizens of the 
United States, and those of the Creek nation in amity with her, at the mouth 
of Duck River, Fort Mimms, and elsewhere, contrary to national faith and the 
regard due to an article of the treaty concluded at New York, in the year 1790, 
between the two nations; that the United States, previous to the perpetration 
of such outrage, did, in order to insure future amity and concord between the 
Creek nation and the said States, in conformity with the stipulations of former 
treaties, fulfill, with punctuality and good faith, her engagements to the said 
nation ; that more than two thirds of the whole number of chiefs and warriors 
of the Creek nation, disregarding the genuine spirit of existing treaties, suffered 
themselves to be instigated to violations of their national honor and the respect 
due to a part of their own nation faithful to the United States and the principles 
of humanity, by impostors, denominating themselves prophets, and by the du- 
plicity and misrepresentations of foreign emissaries, whose governments are at 
war, open or understood, with the United States. 

" Article 2. The United States will guaranty to the Creek nation the integrity 
of all their territory eastwardly and northwardly of the said hue (described in 
the first article), to be run and described as mentioned in the first article. 

" Article 3. The United States demand that the Creek nation abandon all 
communication, and cease to hold intercourse with any British post, garrison, or 
town ; and that they shall not admit among them any agent or trader who shall 
not derive authority to hold commercial or other intercourse with them, by U- 
cense of the president or other authorized agent of the United States. 

" Article 4. The United States demand an acknowledgment of the right to 
establish mihtary posts and trading-houses, and to open roads within the ter- 



184 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ritory guarantied to the Creek nation by the second article, and a right to tlir 
free navigation of all its waters. 

"Article 5. The United States demand that a surrender be immediately 
made, of all the persons and property taken from the citizens of the United 
States, the friendly part of the Creek nation, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and 
Choctaw nations, to the respective owners ; and the United States will cause to 
be immediately restored to the formerly hostile Creeks all the property taken 
from them since theu- submission, either by the United States, or by any Indian 
nations in amity with the United States, together with all the prisoners taken 
from them during the war. 

" Article 6. The United States demand the caption and surrender of all the 
prophets and instigators of the war, whether foreigners or natives, who have 
not submitted to the arms of the United States, and become parties to these 
articles of capitulation, if ever they shall be found within the territory guaran- 
tied to the Creek nation by the second article. 

"Article 7. The Creek nation being reduced to extreme want, and not, at 
present, having the means of subsistence, the United States, from motives of 
humanity, will continue to furnish gratuitously the necessaries of life, until the 
crops of corn can be considered competent to yield the nation a supply, and 
will establish trading-houses in the nation, at the discretion of the President of 
the United States, and at such places as he shall direct, to enable the nation, by 
industry and economy, to procure clothing." 

I have never perused this instrument until within a few days past, and 
I have read it with the deepest mortification and regret. A more dicta- 
torial spirit I have never seen displayed in any instrument. I would chal- 
lenge an examination of all the records of diplomacy, not excepting even 
those in the most haughty period of imperial Rome, when she was carry- 
ing her arms into the barbarian nations that surrounded her, and I do not 
believe a solitary instance can be found of such an inexorable spirit of 
domination pervading a compact purporting to be a treaty of peace. It 
consists of the most severe and humiliating demands — of the surrender of 
a large territory ; of the privilege of making roads through the remnant 
which was retained ; of the right of esUiblishing trading-houses ; of the ob- 
ligation of delivering into our hands their prophets. And all this of a 
wretched people reduced to the last extremity of distress, whose miserable 
existence we have to preserve by a voluntary stipulation to furnish then.. 
with bread ! When did the all-conquering and desolating Rome ever fail 
to respect the altars and the gods of those whom she subjugated ? Let me 
not be told that these prophets were impostors who deceived the Indians. 
They were their prophets ; the Indians believed and venerated them, and it 
is not for us to dictate a religious belief to them. It does not belong to 
the holy character of the religion which we profess, to carry its precepts, by 
the force of the bayonet, into the bosoms of other people. Mild and gentle 
persuasion was the gieat instrument employed by the meek founder of our 
religion. We leave to the humane and benevolent efforts of the reverend 
professors of Christianity to convert from barbarism those unhappy nations 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 185 

yet immersed in its gloora. But, sir, spare them their prophets ! spare 
cheir delusions! spare their prejudices and superstitions ! spare them even 
their religion, such as it is, from open and cruel violence. When, sir, was 
that treaty concluded ? On the very day, after the protocol was signed, 
of the first conference between tlie American and British commissioners, 
treating of peace, at Ghent. In the course of that negotiation, pretensions 
so enormous were set up by the other party that, when they were promul- 
gated in this country, there was one general burst of indignation through- 
out the continent. Faction itself was silenced, and the firm and unanimous 
detenuination of all parties was, to fight until the last man fell in the ditch 
rather than submit to such ignominious terms. 

What a contrast is exhibited between the cotemporaneous scenes of 
Ghent and of Fort Jackson ! what a powerful voucher would the British 
commissioners have been furnished with, if they could have got hold of 
that treaty ! The United States demand, the United States demand, is 
repeated five or six times. And what did the preamble itself disclose ? 
That two thirds of the Creek nation had been hostile, and one third only 
friendly to us. Now I have heard (I can not vouch for the truth of the 
statement), that not one hostile chief signed the treaty. I have also heard 
that perhaps one or two of them did. If the treaty were really made by a 
minority of the nation, it was not obligatory upon the whole nation. It 
was void, considered in the light of a national compact. And, if void, the 
Indians were entitled to the benefit of the provision of the ninth article of 
the treaty of Ghent, by which we bound ourselves to make peace with any 
tribes with whom we might be at war on the ratification of the treaty and 
to restore to them their lands, as they held them in 1811. I do not know 
how the honorable Senate, that body for which I hold so high a respect, 
could have given their sanction to the treaty of Fort Jackson, so utterly 
irreconcilable as it is with those noble principles of generosity and mag- 
nanimity which I hope to see my country always exhibit, and particularly 
toward the miserable remnant of the aborigines. It would have comported 
better with those principles to have imitated the benevolent policy of the 
founder of Pennsylvania, and to have given to the Creeks conquered as they 
were, even if they had made an unjust war upon us, the trifling considera- 
tion, to them an adequate compensation, which he paid for their lands. 
That treaty, I fear, has been the main cause of the recent war. And, if it 
has been, it only adds another melancholy proof to those with which his- 
tory already abounds, that hard and unconscionable terms, extorted by the 
power of the sword and the right of conquest, serve but to whet and stim- 
ulate revenge, and to give old hostilities, smothered, not extinguished, by 
the pretended peace, greater exasperation and more ferocity. A truce, 
thus patched up with an unfortunate people, without the means of exist- 
ence, without bread, is no real peace. The instant there is the slightest 
prospect of relief from such harsh and severe conditions, the conquered 
party will fly to arms, and spend the last drop of blood rather than live in 



186 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

such degraded bondage. Even if you again reduce him to submission, the 
expenses incurred by this second war, to say nothing of the human livea 
that are sacrificed, will be greater than what it would have cost you to 
grant him liberal conditions in the first instance. This treaty, I repeat, 
was, I apprehend, the cause of the war. It led to the excesses on our 
southern borders which began it. Who first commenced them, it is per- 
haps difficult to ascertain. There was, however, a paper on this subject, 
communicated at the last session by the president, that told, in language 
pathetic and feeling, an artless tale ; a paper that carried such internal 
evidence at least of the belief of the authors of it that they were 
writing the truth, that I will ask the favor of the committee to allow me 
to read it. 

'^ 2b the Commanding Officer at Fort Hawkins : 
"Dear Sir; 

" Since the last war, after you sent word that we must quit the war, we, 
the red people, have come over on this side. The white people have carried aO 
the red people's cattle off. After the war, I sent to aU my people to let the white 
people alone, and stay on this side of the river ; and they did so ; but the white 
people still continue so carry off their cattle. Bernard's son was here, and I in- 
quired of him what was to be done ; and he said we must go to the head man 
of the white people and complain. I did so, and there was no head white man, 
and there was no law in this case. The whites first began, and there is nothing 
said about that ; but great complaint about what the Indians do. This is now 
three years since the white people killed three Indians ; since that time they 
have killed three other Indians, and taken their horaes, and what they had ; and 
this summer they killed three more ; and very likely they killed one more. We 
sent word to the white people that these murders were done, and the answer 
was, that they were people who were outlaws, and we ought to go and kill 
them. The white people killed our people first ; the Indians then took satisfac- 
tion. There are yet three men that the red people have never taken satisfaction 
for. You have wrote that there were houses burned ; but we know of no such 
thing being done ; the truth, in such cases, ought to be told, but this appears 
otherwise. On that side of the river, the white people have killed five Indians, 
but there is nothing said about that ; and all that the Indians have done is 
brought up. All the mischief the white people have done, ou^ght to be told to their 
head man. When there is any thing done, you write to us ; but never write to 
your head man what the white people do. When the red people send talks or 
write, they always send the truth. You have sent to us for your horses, and 
we sent all that we could find ; but there was some dead. It appears that all 
the mischief is laid on this town ; but all the mischief that has been done by 
this town, is two horses ; one of them is dead, and the other was sent back. 
The cattle that we are accused of taking, were cattle that the white people took 
from, us. Our young men went and brought them back, with the same marks 
and brands. There were some of our young men out hunting, and they were 
killed ; others went to take satisfaction, and the kettle of one of the men that was 
killed was found in the house where the woman and two children were killed ; 
and they supposed it had been her husband who had killed the Indians, and took 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 187 

their Batisfactdon there. We are accused of killing the Americans, and so on ; 
but since the word was sent to us that peace was made, we stay steady at home, 
and meddle with no person. You have sent to us respecting the black people on 
the Suwany river ; we having nothing to do with them. They were put there 
by the English, and to them you ought to apply for any thing about them. We 
do not vpish our country desolated by an army passing tlirough it, for the con- 
cern of other people. The Indians have slaves there also ; a great many of 
them. When we have an opportunity, we shall apply to the English for them ; 
but we can not get them now. 

" This is what we have to say at present, 

" Sir, I conclude by subscribing myself, 

" Your humble servant, etc 

" September, the 11th day, 1817. 

" N, B. There are ten towns have read this letter, and this is the answer. 

"J. true copy of the original. Wm. Bell, Aid-de-camp." 

I should be very unwilling to assert, in regard to this war, that the fault 
was on our side ; I fear it was. I have heard that a very respectable 
gentleman, now no more, who once filled the executive chair of Georgia, 
and who, having been agent of Indian aifairs in that quarter, had the best 
opportunity of judging of the origin of this war, deliberately pronounced it 
as his opinion, that the Indians were not in fault. I am fer from attribut- 
ing to General Jackson any other than the very slight degree of blame that 
attaches to him as the negotiator of the treaty of Fort Jackson, and will be 
shared by those who subsequently ratified and sanctioned that treaty. 
But if there be even a doubt as to the origin of the war, whether we were 
censurable or the Indians, that doubt will serve to increase our regret at 
any distressing incidents which may have occurred, and to mitigate, in 
some degree, tlie crimes which we impute to the other side. I know that 
when General Jackson was summoned to the field, it was too late to hesi- 
tate ; the fatal blow had been struck, in the destruction of Fowl-town, 
and the dreadful massacre of Lieutenant Scott and his detachment ; 
and the only duty which remained to him, was to terminate this unhappy 
contest. 

The first circumstance which, in the course of his performing that duty, 
fixed our attention, has filled me with regret. It was the execution of the 
Indian chiefs. How, I ask, did they come into our possession ? Was it 
in the course of fair, and open, and honorable war ? No ; but by means 
of deception — by hoisting foreign colors on the staff from which the stars 
and stripes should alone have floated. Thus insnared, the Indians were 
taken on shore ; and without ceremony, and without delay, were hung, 
flang an Indian ! We, sir, who are civilized, and can comprehend and 
feel the effect of moral causes and considerations, attach ignominy to that 
mode of death. And the gallant, and refined, and high-minded man, 
seeks by all possible means to avoid it. But what cares an Indian whether 
you hang or shoot him ? The moment he is captured, he is considered by 



188 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

his tribe as disgraced, if not lost. They, too, are indifferent about the 
manner in which he is dispatched. But I regard the occurrence with 
grie^ for other and higher considerations. It was the first instance that I 
know of, in the annals of our country, in which retaliation, by executing 
Indian captives, has ever been deliberately practiced. There may have 
been exceptions, but if there were, they met with cotemporaneous con- 
demnation, aud have been reprehended by the just pen of impartial his- 
tory. The gentleman fiom Massachusetts may tell me, if he chooses, 
what he pleases about the tomahawk and scalping-knife ; about Indian 
enormities, and foreign miscreants and incendiaries. I, too, hate them ; 
from my very soul I abominate them. But I love my country, and its 
Constitution ; I love liberty and safety, and fear military despotism more, 
even, than I hate the monsters. The gentleman, in the course of his re- 
marks, alluded to the State from which I have the honor to come. Little, 
sir, does he know of the high and magnanimous sentiments of the people 
of that State, if he supposes they will approve of the transaction to which 
he refeired. Brave and generous, humanity and clemency toward a fallen 
foe constitute one of their noblest characteristics. Amid all the struggles 
for that fair land, between the natives and the present inhabitants, I defy 
the gentleman to point out one instance, in which a Kentuckian had stained 
his hand by — nothing but my high sense of the distinguished services and 
exalted merits of General Jackson, prevents my using a different term — 
the execution of an unarmed and prostrate captive. Yes, there is one 
solitary exception, in which a man, enraged at beholding an Indian pris- 
oner who had been celebrated for his enormities, and who had destroyed 
some of his kindred, plunged his sword into his bosom. The wicked deed 
was considered as an abominable outrage when it occurred, and the name 
of the man has been handed down to the execration of posterity. I deny 
your right thus to retaliate on the aboriginal proprietors of the country ; 
and unless I am utterly deceived, it may be shown that it does not exist. 
But before I attempt this, allow me to make the gentleman from Massachu- 
setts a little better acquainted with those people, to whose feelings and 
sympathies he has appealed through their representative. During the late 
war with Great Britain, Colonel Campbell, under the command of my 
honoiable friend from Ohio (General Harrison), was placed at the head of 
a detachment, consisting chiefly, I believe, of Kentucky volunteers, in order 
to destroy the Mississinaway towns. They proceeded and performed the 
duty, and took some prisoners. And here is the evidence of the manner 
in which they treated them. 

" But the character of this gallant detachment, exhibiting, as it did, persever- 
ance, fortitude, and bravery, would, however, be incomplete, if in the midst oi 
victory, they had forgotten the feelings of humanity. It is with the sincerest 
pleasure that the general has heard, that the most punctual obedience was paid 
to his orders, in not only saving all the women and children, but in sparing aU 
the warriors who cecused to resvit ; and that even when vigorously attacked by 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 189 

the enemy, the claims of mercy prevailed over every sense of their own danger, 
and this heroic band respected the lives of their prisoners. Let an account of 
murdered innocence be opened in the records of heaven, against our enemies 
alone. The American soldier will follow the example of his government, and 
the sword of the one will not be against the fallcTi and the helpless, nor the 
gold of the other be paid for scalps of a massacred enemy." 

I hope, sir, the honorable gentleman will now be able better to appreciate 
the character and conduct of my gallant countrymen, than he appears 
hitherto to have done. 

But, sir, I have said that you have no right to practice, under color of 
retaliation, enormities on the Indians. I will advance in support of this 
position, as applicable to the origin of all law, the principle, that whatever 
has been the custom, from the commencement of a subject, whatever has 
been the uniform usage, coeval and coexistent with the subject to which it 
relates, becomes its fixed law. Such is the foundation of all common 
law; and such, I believe, is the principal foundation of all public or inter- 
national law. If, then, it can be shown that from the first settlement of 
the colonies, on this part of the American continent, to the present time, 
we have constantly abstained from retaliating upon the Indians the excesses 
practiced by them toward us, we are morally bound by this invariable 
usage, and can not lawfully change it without the most cogent reasons. 
So far as my knowledge extends, from the first settlement at Plymouth or 
at Jamestown, it has not been our practice to destroy Indian captives, 
combatant* or non combatants. I know of but one deviation fi'om the 
code which regulates the warfare between civilized communities, and that 
was the destruction of Indian towns, which was suppoeed to be authorized 
upon the ground that we could not bring the war to a termination but by 
destroying the means which nourished it. With this single exception, the 
other principles of the laws of civilized nations are extended to them, and 
are thus made law in regard to them. 

When did this humane custom, by which, in consideration of their ig- 
norance, and our enlightened condition, the rigors of war were mitigated, 
begin ? At a time when we were weak, and they comparatively strong; 
when they were the lords of the soil, and we were seeking, from the vices, 
from the corruptions, from the religious intolerance, and from the oppres- 
sions of Europe, to gain an asylum among them. And when it is proposed 
to change this custom, to substitute for it the bloody maxims of barbarous 
ages, and to interpolate the Indian public law with revolting cruelties ? 
At a time when the situation of the two parties is totally changed — when 
we are powerful and they are weak — at a time when, to use a figure drawn 
from their own sublime eloquence, the poor children of the forest have 
been driven by the great wave which has flowed in from the Atlantic 
ocean almost to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and, overwhelming them 
in its terrible progress, has left no other remains of hundreds of tribes, 
now extinct, than those which indicate the remote existence of their former 



190 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

companion, the mammoth of the new world ! Yes, sir, it is at this aus- 
picious period of om- country, when we hold a proud and lofty station 
among the first nations of the world, that we are called upon to sanction 
a departure from the established laws and usages which have regulated our 
Indian hostilities. And does the honorable gentleman from Massachusetts 
expect, in this august body, this enlightened assembly of Christians and 
Americans, by glowing appeals to our passions, to make us forget our 
principles, our religion, our clemency, and our humanity ? Why is it that 
we have not practiced toward the Indian tribes the right of retaliation, 
now for the first time asserted in regard to them ? It is because it is a 
priuciple proclaimed by reason and enforced by every respectable writer 
on the law of nations, that retaliation is only justifiable as calculated to 
produce efiect in the war. Vengeance is a new motive for resorting to it. 
If retaliation will produce no efiect on the enemy, we are bound to abstain 
from it by every consideration of humanity and of justice. Will it, then, 
produce efiect on the Indian tribes ? No ; they care not about the execu- 
tion of those of their warriors who are taken captive. They are considered 
as disgraced by the very circumstance of their captivity, and it is often 
mercy to the unhappy captive to deprive him of his existence. The poet 
evinced a profound knowledge of the Indian character, when he put into 
the mouth of a son of a distinguished chief, about to be led to the stake 
and tortured by his victorious enemy, the words : 

" Begin, ye tormentors ! your threats are in vain : 
The son of Alknomook will never complain." 

Retaliation of Indian excesses, not producing then any effect in prevent- 
ing their repetition, is condemned by both reason and the principles upon 
which alone, in any case, it can be justified. On this branch of the sub- 
ject much more might be said, but as I shall possibly again allude to it, I 
will pass from it for the present, to another topic. 

It is not necessary, for the purpose of my argument in regard to the 
trial and execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, to insist on the innocency 
of either of them. I will yield for the sake of that argument, without 
inquiry, that both of them were guilty ; that both had instigated the war ; 
and that one of them had led the enemy to battle. It is possible, indeed, 
that a critical examination of the evidence would show, particularly in the 
case of Arbuthnot, that the whole amount of his crime consisted in hia 
trading, without the limits of the United States, with the Seminole Indians, 
in the accustomed commodities which form the subject of Indian trade, 
and that he sought to ingratiate himself with his customers by espousing 
their interests, in regard to the provision of the treaty of Ghent, which 
he mav have honestly believed entitled them to the restoration of their 
lands. And i^ indeed, the treaty of Fort Jackson, for the reasons already 
assigned, wese not binding upon the Creeks, there would be but too much 
cause to lament his unhappy if not unjust fate. The first impression made 



ON THE SBMINOLE WAB. 191 

on the examination of the proceedings in the trial and execution of those 
two men is, that on the part of Ambrister there was the most guilt, but, 
at the same time, the most irregularity. Conceding the point of guilt of 
both, with the qualification which I have stated, I will proceed to inquire, 
first, if their execution can be justified upon the principles assumed by General 
Jackson himself. If they do not afford a justification, I will next inquire, if 
there be any other principles authorizing their execution ; and I will in the 
third place make some other observations upon the mode of proceeding. 

The principle assumed by General Jackson, which may be found in his 
general orders commanding the execution of these men, is, " that it is an 
established principle of the law of nations, that any individual of a natior 
making war against the citizens of any other nation, they being at peace, 
forfeits his allegiance, and becomes an outlaw, and a pirate." Whatever 
may be the character of individuals waging private war, the principle as- 
sumed is totally erroneous when applied to such individuals associated with 
a power, whether Indian or civilized, capable of maintaining the relations 
of peace and war. Suppose, however, the principle were true, as asserted, 
what disposition should he have made of these men ? What jurisdic- 
tion, and how acquired, has the military over pirates, robbers, and outlaws ? 
If they were in the character imputed, they were alone amenable, and 
should have been turned over to, the civil authority. But the principle, 
I repeat, is totally incorrect, when applied to men in their situation, A 
foreigner connecting himself with a belligerent, becomes an enemy of the 
party to whom that belligerent is opposed, subject to whatever he may be 
subject, entitled to whatever he is entitled. Arbuthnot and Ambrister, by 
associating themselves, became identified with the Indians ; they became 
our enemies, and we had a right to treat them as we could lawfully treat 
the Indians. These positions are so obviously correct, that I shall consider 
it an abuse of the patience of the committee to consume time in their 
proof. They are supported by the practice of all nations, and of our own. 
Every page of history, in all times, and the recollection of every member, 
furnish evidence of their truth. Let us look for a moment into some of 
the consequences of this principle, if it were to go to Europe, sanctioned 
by the approbation, express or implied, of this House. We have now in 
our armies probably the subjects of almost every European power. Some 
of the nations of Europe maintain the doctrine of perpetual allegiance. 
Suppose Britain and America in peace, and America and France at war. 
The former subjects of England, naturalized and unnaturalized, are cap- 
tured by the navy or army of France. What is their condition ? Ac- 
cording to the principle of General Jackson, they would be outlaws and 
pirates, and liable to immediate execution. Are gentlemen prepared to 
return to their respective districts with this doctrine in their mouths, and 
to say to their Irish, English, Scotch, and other foreign constituents, that 
they are liable, on the contingency supposed, to be treated as outlaws and 
pirates ? 



192 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Is there any other principle which justifies the proceedings ? On this 
subject, if I admire the wonderful ingenuity with which gentlemen seek a 
colorable pretext for those executions, I am at the same time shocked at 
some of the principles advanced. What said the honorable gentleman 
from Massachusetts (Mr. Holmes), in a cold address to the committee? 
Why, that these executions weie only the wrong mode of doing a right 
thing. A wrong mode of doing the right thing I In what code of public 
law ; in what system of ethics ; nay, in what respectable novel ; where, if 
the gentleman were to take the range of the whole literature of the world, 
will he find any sanction for a principle so monstrous ? I will illustrate its 
enormity by a single case. Suppose a man, being guilty of robber}', is 
tried, condemned, and executed, for murder, upon an indictment for that 
robbery merely. The judge is arraigned for having executed, contrary to 
law, a human being, innocent at heart of the crime for which he was sen- 
tenced. The judge has nothing to do, to insure his own acquittal, but to 
urge the gentleman's plea, that he had done a right thing in a wrong 
way! 

The principles which attached to the cases of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, 
constituting them merely participes in the war, supposing them to have 
been combatants, which the former was not, he having been taken in a 
Spanish fortress, without arms in his hands, all that we could possibly have 
a right to do, was to apply to them the rules which we had a right to en- 
force against the Indians. Their English character was only merged in 
their Indian character. Now, if the law regulating Indian hostilities be 
established by long and immemorial usage, that we have no moral right 
to retaliate upon them, we consequently had no right to retaliate upon 
Arbuthnot and Ambrister. Even if it were admitted that, in regard to 
future wars, and to other foreigners, their execution may have a good 
efiect, it would not thence follow that you had a right to execute them. 
It is not always just to do what may be advantageous. And retaliation, 
during a war, must have relation to the events of that war, and must, to 
be just, have an operation on that war, and upon the individuals only who 
compose the belligerent party. It becomes gentlemen, then, on the other 
side, to show, by some known, certain, and recognized rule of public or 
municipal law, that the execution of these men was justified. Where is 
it ? I should be glad to see it. We are told in a paper emanating from 
the Department of State, recently laid before this House, distinguished for 
the fervor of its eloquence, and of which the honorable gentleman from 
Massachusetts has supplied ue in part with a second edition, in one re- 
spect agreeing with the prototype — that they both ought to be inscribed to 
the American public — we are justly told in that paper, that this is the Jirst 
instance of the execution of persons for the crime of instigating Indians to 
war. Sir, there are two topics which, in Europe, are constantly employed 
by the friends and minions of legitimacy against our country. The one is 
an inordinate spirit of aggrandizement — of coveting other people's goods ; 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAB. 193 

the other is the treatment which we extend to the Indians. Against both 
these charges, the public servants who conducted at Ghent the negotiatious 
with the British commissioners, endeavored to vindicate our country, and I 
hope with some degree of success. What will be the condition of future 
American negotiators when pressed upon this head, I know not, after the 
unhappy executions on our southern border. The gentleman from Massa- 
chusetts seemed yesterday to read, with a sort of triumph, the names of 
the commissioners employed in the negotiation at Ghent. Will he excuse 
me for saying, that I thought he pronounced, even with more complacency 
and with a more gracious smile, the first name in the commission, than he 
emphasized that of the humble individual who addresses you ? 

[Mr. Holmes desired to explain.] 

There is no occasion for explanation ; I am perfectly satisfied. 

[Mr. Holmes, however, proceeded to say that his intention was, in pronoun- 
cing the gentleman's name, to add, to the respect due to the negotiator, that 
which was due to the Speaker of this House.] 

To return to the case of Arbuthnot and Ambrister. Will the principle 
of these men having been the instigators of the war, justify their execution ? 
It is a new one ; there are no landmarks to guide us in its adoption, or to 
prescribe limits in its application. If William Pitt had been taken by the 
French army, during the late European war, could France have justifiably 
executed him on the ground of his having notoriously instigated the con- 
tinental powers to war against France ? Would France, if she had stained 
her character by executing him, have obtained the sanction of the world 
to the act, by appeals to the passions and prejudices, by pointing to the 
cities sacked, the countries laid waste, the human lives sacrificed in the 
wars which he had kindled, and by exclaiming to the unfortunate captive, 
You, miscreant, monster, have occasioned all these scenes of devastation 
and blood ? What has been the conduct even of England toward the 
greatest instigator of all the wars of the present age ? The condemnation 
of that illustrious man to the rock of St. Helena, is a great blot on the En- 
glish name. And I repeat what I have before said, that if Chatliam, or Fox, 
or even William Pitt himself, had been prime minister in England, Bona- 
parte had never been so condemned. On that transaction history will one 
day pass its severe but just censure. Yes, although Napoleon had desolat- 
ed half Europe ; although there was scarcely a power, however humble, 
that escaped the mighty grasp of his ambition ; although in the course of 
his splendid career, he is charged with having committed the greatest atro- 
cities, disgraceful to himself and to human nature, yet even his life has 
been spared. The allies would not, England would not, execute him upon 
the ground of his being an instigator of wars. 

The mode of the trial and sentencing of these men was equally object- 

13 



194 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ionable with the principles on which it has been attempted to prove a for- 
feiture of their lives. I know the laudable spirit which prompted the in- 
geuuity displayed in finding out a justification for these proceedings, I 
wish most sincerely that I could reconcile them to my conscience. It has 
been attempted to vindicate the general upon grounds which I am persuad- 
ed he would himself disown. It has been asserted, that he was guilty of a 
mistake in calling upon the court to try them, and that he might at once have 
ordered their execution, without that formality, I deny that there was any 
such absolute right in the commander of any portion of our army. The 
right of retaliation is an attribute of sovereignty. It is comprehended in 
the war-making power that Congress possesses. It belongs to this body 
not only to declare war, but to raise armies, and to make rules and regula- 
tions for their government. It is in vain for gentlemen to look to the law 
of nations for instances in which retaliation is lav^ful. The laws of nations 
merely lay down the principle or rule ; it belongs to the government to 
constitute the tribunal for applying that principle or rule. There is, for 
example, no instance in which the death of a captive is more certainly de- 
clared by the law of nations to be justifiable, than in the case of spies. 
Congress has accordingly provided, in the rules and articles of war, a tri- 
bunal for the trial of spies, and consequently for the application of the prin- 
ciple of the national law. The Legislature has not left the power over spies 
undefined, to the mere discretion of the commander-in-chief, or of any 
subaltern officer in the army. For, if the doctrines now contended for 
were true, they would apply to the commander of any corps, however 
small, acting as a detachment. Suppose Congress had not legislated in the 
case of spies, what would have been their condition ? It would have been 
a casus omissus, and although the public law pronounced their doom, it 
could not be executed, because Congress had assigned no tribunal for en- 
forcing that public law. No man can be executed in this free country 
without two things being shown — first, that the law condemns him to death ; 
and, secondly, that his death is pronounced by that tribunal which is au- 
thorized by the law to try him. These principles will reach every man's 
case, native or foreign, citizen or alien. The instant quarters are granted 
to a prisoner, the majesty of the law surrounds and sustains him, and he 
can not be lawfully punished with death without the concurrence of the 
two circumstances just insisted upon, I deny that any commander-in-chief, 
in this country, has this absolute power of life and death, at his sole discre- 
tion. It is contrary to the genius of all our laws and institutions. To con- 
centrate in the person of one individual the powers to make the rule, to 
judge and to execute the mle, or to judge and execute the rule only, is ut- 
terly irreconcilable with every principle of free government, and is the 
very definition of tyranny itself; and I trust that this House will never give 
even a tacit assent to sucli a principle. Suppose the commander had made 
even reprisals on property, would that property have belonged to the na- 
tion, or could he have disposed of it as he ple:ised ? Had he more power. 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 195 

will gentlemen tell me, over the lives of human beings than over property ? 
The assertion of such a power to the commander-in-chief is contrary to 
the practice of the government. 

By an act of Congress which passed in 1799, vesting the power of re- 
taliation in certain cases in the president of the United States — an act 
which passed during the quasi war with France — the president is autho- 
rized to retaliate upon any of the citizens of the French republic, the enor- 
mities which may be practiced, in certain cases, upon our citizens. Under 
what administration was this act passed ? It was under that which has 
been justly charged with stretching the Constitution to enlarge the execu- 
tive powers. Even during the mad career of Mr. Adams, when ever' 
means was resorted to for the purpose of infusing vigor into the executive 
arm, no one thought of claiming for him the inherent right of retaliation. 
I will not trouble the House with reading another law, which passed thir- 
teen or fourteen years after, during the late war with Great Britain, under 
the administration of that great constitutional president, the father of the 
instrument itself, by which Mr. Madison was empowered to retaliate on 
the British in certain instances. It is not only contrary to the genius of 
our institutions, and to the uniform practice of the government, but it is 
contrary to the obvious principles on which the general himself proceeded ; 
for, in forming the court, he evidently intended to proceed under the rules 
and articles of war. The extreme number which they provide for is thir 
teen, precisely that which is detailed in the present instance. The court 
proceeded not by a bare plurality, but by a majority of two thirds. In 
the general orders issued from the adjutant-general's office, at head-quar 
ters, it is described as a court-martial. The prisoners are said, in those 
orders, to have been tried, " on the following charges and specifications." 
The court understood itself to be acting as a court-martial. It was so 
organized, it so proceeded, having a judge advocate, hearing witnesses, 
and the written defense of the miserable trembling prisoners, who seemed 
to have a presentiment of their doom. And the court was finally dissolved. 
The whole proceeding manifestly shows, that all parties considered it as a 
court-martial, convened and acting under the rules and articles of war. 
In his letter to the Secretary of War, noticing the transaction, the general 
says, " these individuals were tried under my orders, legally convicted as 
exciters of this savage and negro war, legally condemned, and most justly 
punished for their iniquities." The Lord deliver us from such legal conviction 
and such legal condemnation ! The general himself considered the laws of 
his country to have justified his proceedings. It is in vain then to talk of a 
power in him beyond the law, and above the law, when he himself does not 
assert it. Let it be conceded that he was clothed with absolute authority 
over the lives of those individuals, and that, upon his own fiat, without trial, 
without defense, he might have commanded their execution. Now, if an 
absolute sovereign, in any particular respect, promulgates a rule, which he 
pledges himself to observe, if he subsequently deviates from that rule, ha 



196 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

subjects himselt lo the iinputatiou of odious tyranny. If General Jackson 
had the power, without a court, to condemn these men, he had also the 
power to appoint a tribunal. He did appoint a tribunal, and became, 
therefore, morally bound to observe and execute the sentence of that tri- 
bunal. In regard to Ambiister, it is with grief and pain I am compelled to 
say, that he was executed in defiance of all law ; in defiance of the law to 
which General Jackson had voluntarily, if you please, submitted himself^ 
and given, by his appeal to the court, his implied pledge to observe. I 
know but little of military law, and what has happened, has certainly not 
created in me a taste for acquiring a knowledge of more ; but I beheve 
there is no example on record, where the sentence of the court has been 
erase- 1, and a sentence not pronounced by it carried into execution. It has 
been suggested that the court had pronounced two sentences, and that the 
general had a right to select either. Two sentences ! Two verdicts ! It 
was not so. The first being revoked, was as though it had never been 
pronounced. And there remained only one sentence, which was put aside 
upon the sole authority of the commander, and the execution of the 
prisoner ordered. He either had or had not a right to decide upon the 
fate of that man, with the intervention of a court. If he had the right, 
he waived it, and having violated the sentence of the court, there was 
brought upon the judicial administration of the army a reproach, which 
must occasion the most lasting regret. 

However guilty these men were, they should not have been condemned 
or executed without the authority of the law. I will not dwell, at this 
time, on the efiect of these precedents in foreign countries ; but I shall not 
pass unnoticed their dangerous influence in our own country. Bad exam- 
ples are generally set in the cases of bad men, and often remote Irom the 
central government. It was in the provinces that were laid the abuses and 
the seeds of the ambitious projects which overturned the liberties of Rome. 
I beseech the committee not to be so captivated with the charms of elo- 
quence, and the appeals made to our passions and our sympathies, as to 
forget the fundamental principles of our government. The influence of a 
bad example will often be felt, when its authors and all the circumstances 
connected with it are no longer remembered. I know of but one anal- 
oo-ous instance of the execution of a prisoner, and that has brought more 
odium than almost any other incident on the unhappy Emperor of France. 
I allude to the instance of the execution of the unfortunate member of the 
Bourbon house. He sought an asylum in the territories of Baden. Bo- 
naparte dispatched a coi-ps of gen-d'armes to the place of his retreat, seized 
him, and brought him to the dungeons of Vincennes. He was there tried 
by a court-martial, condemned, and shot. There, as here, was a violation 
of neutral territory ; there, the neutral ground was not stained with the 
blood of him whom it should have protected. And there is another most 
unfortunate difference for the American people. The Duke d'Eughein wa* 
executed according to his sentence. It is said by the defenders of Napo- 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 197 

Jeon, that the duke had been machinating not merely to overturn the 
French government, but against the life of its chief. If that were true, 
he might, if taken in France, have been legally executed. Such was the 
odium brought upon the instruments of this transaction, that those persons 
who have been even suspected of participation in it, have sought to vin- 
dicate themselves from what they appeared to have considered as an asper- 
sion, before foreign courts. In conclusion of this part of my subject, I 
most cheerfully and entirely acquit General Jackson of any intention to 
violate the laws of the country, or the obligations of humanity. I am per- 
suaded, from all that I have heard, that he considered himself as equally 
respecting and observing both. With respect to the purity of his intentions, 
therefore, I am disposed to allow it in the most extensive degree. Of his 
acts, it is my duty to speak, with the freedom which belongs to my station. 
And I shall now proceed to consider some of them, of the most moment- 
ous character, as it regards the distribution of, the powers of government. 

Of all the powers conferred by the Constitution of the United States, 
not one is more expressly and exclusively granted, than that which gives 
to Congress the power to declare war. The immortal Convention who 
formed that instrument, had abundant reason, drawn from every page of 
history, for confiding this tremendous power to the deliberate judgment of 
the representatives of the people. It was there seen, that nations are often 
precipitated into ruinous war, from folly, from pride, from ambition, and 
from the desire of military fame. It was believed, no doubt, in committing 
this great subject to the Legislature of the Union, we should be safe from 
the mad wars that have afflicted, and desolated, and ruined other countries. 
It was supposed, that before any war was declared, the nature of the injury 
complained ot^ would be carefully examined, and the power and resources 
of the enemy estimated, and the power and resources of our own country, 
as well as the probable issue and consequences of the war. It was to guard 
our country against precisely that species of rashness which has been 
manifested in Florida, that the Constitution was so framed. If, then, this 
power, thus cautiously and clearly bestowed upon Congress, has been as- 
sumed and exercised by any other functionary of the government, it is 
cause of serious alarm, and it becomes this body to vindicate and maintain 
its authority by all the means in its power ; and yet there are some gen- 
tlemen, who would have us not merely to yield a tame and silent acquies- 
cence in the encroachment, but even to pass a vote of thanks to the 
author. 

On the 25th of March, 1818, the President of the United States com- 
municated a message to Congress in relation to the Seminole war, in 
which he declared, that although, in the prosecution of it, orders had been 
given to pass into the Spanish territory, they were so guarded as that the 
local authorities of Spain should be respected. How respected ? The 
president, by the documents accompanying the message, the orders them- 
selves which issued from the Department of War to the commanding gen- 



198 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

eral, had assured the Legislature that, even if the enemy should take 
shelter under a Spanish fortress, the fortress was not to be attacked, but 
the fact to be reported to that department for further orders. Congress 
saw, therefore, that there was no danger of violating the existing peace. 
And yet on the same 25th day of March (a most singular concurrence 
of dates), when the representatives of the people received this solemn 
messao-e, annouDced in the presence of the nation and in the face of the 
world, and in the midst of a friendly negotiation with Spain, does General 
Jackson write from his head-quarters, that he shall take St. Marks as a nec- 
essary dep6t for his military operations ! The general states, in his let- 
ter, what he had heard about the threat on the part of the Indians and 
negroes, to occupy the fort, and declares his purpose to possess himself of 
it, in either of the two contingencies, of its being in their hands, or in the 
hands of the Spaniards. He assumed a right to judge what Spain was 
bound to do by her treaty, and judged very correctly ; but then he also 
assumed the power, belonging to Congress alone, of determining what 
should be the effect and consequence of her breach of engagement. Gen- 
eral Jackson generally performs what he intimates his intention to do. 
Accordingly, finding St. Marks yet in the hands of the Spaniards, he seized 
and occupied it. Was ever, I ask, the just confidence of the legislakve 
body, in the assurances of the chief magistrate, more abused ? The Span- 
ish commander intimated his willingness that the American army should 
take post near him, until he could have instructions from his superior offi- 
cer, and promised to maintain, in the mean time, the most friendly rela- 
tions. No 1 St. Marks was a convenient post for the American army, 
and delay was inadmissible. I have always understood that the Indians 
but rarely take or defend fortresses, because they are unskilled in the modes 
of attack and defense. The threat, therefore, on their part, to seize on 
St. Marks, must have been empty, and would probably have been impos- 
sible. At all events, when General Jackson arrived there, no danger any 
longer threatened the Spaniards, from the miserable fugitive Indians, who 
fled on all sides, upon his approach. And, sir, upon what plea is this vio- 
lation of orders, and this act of war upon a foreign power, attempted to 
be justified ? Upon the grounds of the conveniency of the dep6t and the 
Indian threat. The first I will not seriously examine and expose. K the 
Spanish character of the fort had been totally merged in the Indian char- 
acter, it might have been justifiable to seize it. But that was not the 
fact ; and the bare possibility of its being forcibly taken by the Indians, 
could not justify our anticipating their blow. Of all the odious transac- 
tions which occurred during the late war between France and England, 
none was more condemned in Europe and in this country, than hei 
seizure of the fleet of Denmark, at Copenhagen. And I lament to be 
obliged to notice the analogy which exists in the defenses made of the two 
cases. 

If my recollection does not deceive me, Bonaparte had passed the Rhine 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAB. 199 

and the Alps, had conquered Italy, the Netherlands, Holland, Hanover, 
Lubec, and Hamburg, and extended his empire as far as Altona, on the 
side of Denmark. A few days' march would have carried him through 
Holstein, over the two Belts, through Funen, and into the island of Zeal- 
and. What then was the conduct of England ? It was my lot to fall into 
conversation with an intelligent Englishman on this subject. " We knew 
(said he) that we were fighting for our existence. It was absolutely nec- 
essary that we should preseive the command of the seas. If the fleet of 
Denmark fell into the enemy's hands, combined with his other fleets, that 
command might be rendered doubtful. Denmark had only a nominal in- 
dependence. She was, in truth, subject to his sway. We said to her, Give 
us your fleet ; it will otherwise be taken possession of by your secret and 
our open enemy. We will preserve it, and restore it to you whenever the 
danger shall be over. Denmark refused. Copenhagen was bombarded^ 
gallantly defended, but the fleet was seized." Everywhere the conduct of 
England was censured ; and the name even of the negotiator who was em- 
ployed by her, who was subsequently the minister near this government, 
was scarcely ever pronounced here without coupling with it an epithet 
indicating his participation in the disgraceful transaction. And yet we ar«> 
going to sanction acts of violence, committed by ourselves, which but too 
much resemble it ! What an important difference, too, between the rela- 
tive condition of England and of this country ! She, perhaps, was strug- 
gling for her existence. She was combating, single-handed, the most 
enormous military power that the world has ever known. With whom 
were we contending? With a few half-starved, half-clothed, wretched 
Indians, and fugitive slaves. And while carrying on this inglorious war, 
inglorious as it regards the laurels or renown won in it, we violate neutral 
rights, which the government had solemnly pledged itself to respect, upon 
the principle of convenience, or upon the light presumption that, by pos- 
sibility, a post might be taken by this miserable combination of Indians 
and slaves. 

On the 8th of April the general writes from St Marks that he shall 
march for the Suwaney river ; the destroying of the establishments on 
which will, in his opinion, bring the war to a close. Accordingly, having 
effected that object, he writes, on the 20th of April, that he believes he 
may say that the war is at an end for the present. He repeats the same 
opinion in his letter to the Secretary of War, written six days after. The 
war being thus ended, it might have been hoped that no further hostilities 
would be committed. Bnt on the 23d of May, on his way home, he re- 
ceives a letter from the commandant of Pensacola, intimating his surprise 
at the invasion of the Spanish territory, and the acts of hostility performed 
by the American army, and his determination, if persisted in, to employ 
force to repel them. Let us pause and examine the proceeding of the gov- 
ernor, so very hostile and affrontive in the view of General Jackson. Reo- 
oUect that he was governor of Florida ; that he had received no orders 



200 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

from his superiors to allow a passage to the American army ; that he had 
heard of the reduction of St. Marks ; and that General Jackson, at the 
head of his army, was approaching in the direction of Pensacola. He had 
seen the president's message of the 25th of March, and reminded General 
Jackson of it, to satisfy him that the American government could not have 
authorized all those measures. I can not read the allusion made by the 
governor to that message without feeling that the charge of insincerity 
which it implied had, at least, but too much the appearance of truth in it. 
Could the governor have done less than write some such letter ? We have 
only to reverse situations, and suppose him to have been an American gov- 
ernor. General Jackson says that when he received that letter he no 
longer hesitated. No, sir, he did no longer hesitate. He received it on 
the 23d, he was in Pensacola on the 24th, and immediately after set him- 
self before the fortress of San Carlos de Barancas, which he shortly reduced. 
Veni, vidi, vici. Wonderful energy ! Admirable promptitude ! Alas ! 
that it had not been an energy and a promptitude within the pale of the 
Constitution, and according to the orders of the chief magistrate. It is 
im4)ossible to give any definition of war that would not comprehend these 
acts. It wfis open, undisguised, and unauthorized hostility 

The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts has endeavored to derive 
some authority to General Jackson from the message of the president, 
and the letter of the Secretary of War to Governor Bibb. The message 
declares that the Spanish authorities are to be respected wherever main- 
tained. What the president means by their being maintained is explained 
in the orders themselves, by the extreme case being put of the enemy seek- 
ing shelter under a Spanish fort. If even in that case he was not to at- 
tack, certainly he was not to attack in any case of less strength. The 
letter to Governor Bibb admits of a similar explanation. When the 
secretary says, in that letter, that General Jackson is fully empowered to 
bring the Seminole war to a conclusion, he means that he is so empowered 
by his orders, which, being now before us, must speak for themselves. It 
does not appear that General Jackson ever saw that letter, which was 
dated at this place after the capture of St. Marks. I will take a moment- 
ary glance at the orders. 

On the 2d of December, 1817, General Gaines was forbidden to 
cross the Florida line. Seven days after, the Secretary of War having ar- 
rived here, and infused a little more energy into our councils, he was 
authorized to use a sound discretion in crossing or not. On the 16th, 
he was instructed again to consider himself at liberty to cross the line, and 
pursue the enemy ; but, if he took refuge under a Spanish fortress, the 
fact was to be reported to the Department of War. These orders were 
transmitted to General Jackson, and constituted, or ought to have consti- 
tuted, his guide. There was then no justification for the occupation of 
Pensacola, and the attack on tlai Barancas, in the message of the president, 
the letter to Governor Bibb, or in the orders themselves. The gentleman 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 201 

from Massachusetts will pardon ine for saying, that he has undertaken 
what even his talents are not competent to — the maintenance of directly 
contradictory propositions, that it was right in General Jackson to take 
Pensacola, and wrong in the president to keep it. The gentleman has 
made a greater mistake than he supposes General Jackson to have done in 
attacking Pensacola for an Indian town, by attempting the defense both of 
the president and General Jackson. If it were right in him to seize the 
place, it is imj)Ossible that it should have been right in the president im- 
mediately to surrender it. We, sir, are the supporters of the president. 
We regret that w^ can not support General Jackson also. The gentle- 
man's liberality is more comprehensive than ours. I approve with all my 
heart of the restoiation of Pensacola. I think St. Marks ought, perhaps, 
to have been also restored ; but I say this with doubt and diflSdence. That 
the president thought the seizure of the Spanish posts was an act of war, 
is manifest from his opening message, in which he says that, to have re- 
tained them, would have changed our relations with Spain, to do which 
the power of the executive was incompetent, Congress alone possessing it. 
The president has, in this instance, desei-ved well of his country. He has 
taken the only course which he could have pursued, consistent with the 
Constitution of the land. And I defy the gentleman to make good both 
his positions, that the general was right in taking, and the president right 
in giving up, the posts. 

[Mr. Holmes explained.] 

The gentleman from Massachusetts is truly unfortunate ; fact or prin- 
ciple is always against him. The Spanish posts were not in the possession 
of the enemy. One old Indian only was found in the Barancas, none in 
Pensacola, none in St. Marks. There was not even the color of a threat of 
Indian occupation as it regards Pensacola and the Barancas. Pensacola 
was to be restored unconditionally, and might, therefore, immediately have 
come into the possession of the Indians, if they had the power and the will 
to take it. The gentleman is in a dilemma from which there is no escape. 
He gave up General Jackson when he supported the president, and gave 
up the president when he supported General Jackson. I rejoice to have 
seen the president manifesting, by the restoration of Pensacola, his devoted- 
ness to the Constitution. When the whole country was ringing with 
plaudits for its capture, I said, and I said alone, in the limited circle in 
which I moved, that the president must surrender it ; that he could not 
hold it. It is not my intention to inquire, whether the army was or was 
not constitutionally marched into Florida. It is not a clear question, and 
I am inclined to think that the express authority of Congress ought to 
have been asked. The gentleman from Massachusetts will allow me to re- 
fer to a part of the correspondence at Ghent different from that which he 
has quoted. He will find the condition of the Indians there accurately 
defined. And it is widely variant from the gentleman's ideas on this sub- 



202 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ject. The Indians, inhabiting the United States, according to the state- 
ment of the American commissionere at Ghent, have a qualified sovereignty 
only, the supreme sovereignty residing in the government of the United 
States. They live under their own laws and customs, may inhabit and 
hunt their lamls ; but acknowledge the protection of the United States, 
and have no right to sell their lands but to the government of the United 
States. Foreign powers or foreign subjects have no right to maintain any 
mtercourse with them, without our permission. They are not, therefore, 
independent nations, as the gentleman supposes. Maintaining the relation 
described with them, we must allow a similar relation to exist between 
Spain and the Indians residing within her dominions. She must be, there- 
fore regarded as the sovereign of Florida, and we are, accordingly, treating 
with her for the purchase of it. In strictness, then, we ought first to have 
demanded of her to restrain the Indians, and, that failing, we should have 
demanded a right of passage for our army. But, if the president had the 
power to march an army into Florida, without consulting Spain, and with- 
out the authority of Congress, he had no power to authorize any act of 
hostility against her. If the gentleman had even succeeded in showing 
that an authority was conveyed by the executive to General Jackson to 
take the Spanish posts, he would only have established that unconstitu- 
tional orders had been given, and thereby transferred the disapprobation 
from the military oflBcer to the executive. But no such orders were, in 
truth, given. The president acted in conformity to the Constitution, when 
he forbade the attack of a Spanish fort, and when, in the same spirit, he 
surrendered the posts themselves. 

I will not trespass much longer upon the time of the committee ; but I 
trust I shall be indulged with some few reflections upon the danger of per- 
mitting the conduct on which it has been my painful duty to animadvert, 
to pass without a solemn expression of the disapprobation of this House. 
Recall to your recollection the free nations which have gone before us. 
Where are they now ? 

Gone glimmering through the dream of things that were, 
A school-boy's tale, the wonder of an hour." 

And how have they lost their liberties ? If we could transport ourselves 
back to the ages when Greece and Rome flourished in their greatest pros- 
perity, and mingling in the throng, should ask a Grecian if he did not fear 
that some daring military chieftain, covered with glory, some Philip or 
Alexander, would one day overthrow the liberties of his country, the con- 
fident and indignant Grecian would exclaim. No ! no ! we have nothing to 
fear from our heroes ; our liberties will be eternal. If a Roman citizen 
liad been asked, if he did not fear that the conqueror of Gaul might estab- 
lish a throne upon the ruins of public liberty, he would have instantly re- 
pelled the unjust insinuation. Yet Greece fell ; Caesar passed the Rubicon, 
and the patriotic arm even of Brutus could not preserve the liberties of his 



ON THE SEMINOLE WAR. 20$ 

devoted country ! The celebrated Madame de Stael, in her last and per- 
haps her best work, has said, that in the very year, almost the very month, 
when the president of the directory declared that monarchy would never 
more show its frightful head in France, Bonaparte, with his grenadiers, en- 
tered the palace of St. Cloud, and dispersing, with the bayonet, the depu- 
ties of the people, deliberating on the aflPairs of the state, laid the founda- 
tion of that vast fabric of despotism which overshadowed all Europe. I 
hope not to be misunderstood ; I am far from intimating that General 
Jackson cherishes any designs inimical to the liberties of the country. I 
believe his intentions to be pure and patriotic. I thank God that he would 
not, but I thank him still more that he could not if he would, overturn the 
liberties of the Republic. But precedents, if bad, are fraught with the most 
dangerous consequences. Man has been described, by some of those who 
have treated of his nature, as a bundle of habits. The definition is much 
truer when applied to governments. Precedents are their habits. There 
is one important diflference between the formation of habits by an individ- 
ual and by governments. He contracts it only after frequent repetition. 
A single instance fixes the habit and determines the direction of gov- 
ernments. Against the alarming doctrine of unlimited discretion in our 
military commanders when applied even to prisoners of war, I must enter 
my protest. It begins upon them ; it will end on us. I hope our happy 
form of government is to be perpetual. But, if it is to be preserved, it must 
be by the practice of virtue, by justice, by moderation, by magnanimity, by 
greatness of soul, by keeping a watchful and steady eye on the executive ; 
and, above all, by holding to a strict accountability the military branch of 
the public force. 

We are fighting a great moral battle, for the benefit not only of our 
country, but of all mankind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed at- 
tention upon us. One, and the largest portion of it, is gazing vrith con- 
tempt, with jealousy, and with envy ; the other portion, with hope, with 
confidence, and with afiiection. Everywhere the black cloud of legitimacy 
is suspended over the world, save only one bright spot, which breaks out 
from the pohtical hemisphere of the west, to enlighten, and animate, and 
gladden the human heart. Obscure that, by the downfall of liberty here, 
and all mankind are enshrouded in a pall of universal darkness. To you, 
Mr. Chairman, belongs the high privilege of transmitting, unimpaired, to 
posterity, the fair character and liberty of our country. Do you expect to 
execute this high trust, by trampling or suffering to be trampled down, law, 
justice, the Constitution, and the rights of the people ? by exhibiting exam- 
ples of inhumanity, and cruel ty, and ambition ? When the minions of 
despotism heard, in Europe, of the seizure of Pensacola, how did they 
chuckle, and chide the admirers of our institutions, tauntingly pointing to 
the demonstration of a spirit of injustice and aggrandizement made by our 
country, in the midst of an amicable negotiation ! Behold, said they, the 
conduct of those who are constantly reproaching kings ! You saw how 



204 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

those admirers were astounded and hiuig their heads. You saw, too, when 
that illustrious man, who presides over us, adopted his pacific, moderate, 
and just course, how they once more lifted up their heads with exultation 
and delight beaming in their countenances. And you saw how those min- 
ions themselves were finally compelled to unite in the general praises be- 
stowed upon our government. Beware how you forfeit this exalted charac- 
ter. Beware how you give a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our 
republic, scarcely yet two-scorey ears old, to military insubordination. 
Remember that Greece had her Alexander, Rome her Caesar, England 
her Cromwell, France her Bonaparte, and that if we would escape the 
rock, on which they split, we must avoid their errors. 

How different has been the treatment of General Jackson, and that 
modest, but heroic young man, a native of one of the smallest States in the 
Union, who achieved for his country, on lake EIrie, one of the most glorious 
victories of the late war. In a moment of passion, he forgot himself, and 
offered an act of violence which was repented of as soon as perpetrated. 
He was tried, and suffered the judgment to be pronounced by his peers. 
Public justice was thought not even then to be satisfied. The press and 
Congress took up the subject. My honorable friend from Virginia (Mr. 
Johnson), the faithful and consistent sentinel of the law and of the Consti- 
tution, disapproved in that instance, as he does in this, and moved an in- 
quiry. The public mind remained agitated and unappeased, until the 
recent atonement so honorably made by the gallant commodore. And is 
there to be a distinction between the officers of the two branches of the 
public service ? Are former services, however eminent, to preclude even 
inquiry into recent misconduct ? Is there to be no limit, no prudential 
bounds to the national gratitude ? I am not disposed to censure the presi- 
dent for not ordering a court of inquiry, or a general court-martial. Per- 
haps, impelled by a sense of gratitude, he determined, by anticipation, to 
extend to the general that pardon which he had the undoubted right to 
grant after sentence. Let us not shrink from our duty. Let us assert our 
constitutional powers, and vindicate the instrument from military viola- 
tion. 

I hope gentlemen will deliberately survey the awful isthmus on which 
we stand. They may bear down all opposition ; they may even vote the 
general the public thanks ; they may carry him triumphantly through this 
House. But, if they do, in my humble judgment, it will be a triumph of 
the principle of insubordination, a triumph of the military over the civil 
authority, a triumph over the powers of this House, a triumph over the 
Constitution of the land. And I pray most devoutly to Heaven, that it 
may not prove, in its ultimate effects and consequences, a triumph over th« 
hberties of the people. 



ON THE SPANISH TREATY. 

IN THE HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES, APRIL 3, 1820. 

[In a historical point of view, the following speech is chiefly- 
interesting, as it shows contingently what would have been the 
political results to the United States, in regard to Texas, if Mr. 
Clay's advice at this time, as set forth and advocated in this 
speech, had prevailed. The United States then owned the 
whole of Texas to the Rio Grande, or Rio del Norte. In the 
Spanish treaty negotiated by Mr. Monroe, in 1819, and ratified 
in 1820, the considerations given by the United States for Flor- 
ida were, first, Texas ; next, five millions of dollars ; thirdly, 
our claims on Spain, some fifteen millions ; and fourthly, about 
a million of acres of unseated lands in Louisiana, rated by Mr. 
Clay at ten dollars an acre — ten millions. The third and fourth 
considerations were contingent, but nevertheless, as Mr. Clay 
thought, worthy of a reckoning in the account. But the first 
and second alone were enormous, as compared with the price 
paid to France for Louisiana. Texas was an immense territory, 
and of great prospective, though of contingent, value. Politi- 
cally, it might be invaluable, and it has proved so ; for, as a 
possession of the United States, if it had been retained, its po- 
litical history would have been very different, and all the cost of 
annexing Texas, as a foreign State, and the war with Mexico, 
would have been saved. Florida, as Mr. Clay showed, was 
doomed to fall into our lap, and nothing would be lost by 
waiting a little longer. Here is another striking instance of Mr. 
Clay's fer-seeing political sagacity. From twenty to thirty 
millions for Florida, and thi'ow into the bargain the vast territory 
of Texas ! Was there ever such a folly ? In Mr. Clay's Ra- 
leigh Letter, of April 17, 1844, he says : " When the treaty was 
laid before the House of Representatives, being a member of 
that body, I expressed the opinion which I then entertained, 
and still hold, that Texas was sacrificed to the acquisition of 
Florida."* 

* Last Seven Years of Henry Clay, p. 26. 



206 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY, 

The speech of Mr. Clay on this occasion was in support of 
two resolutions offered by himself, as follows :] 

First, resolved, that the Constitution of the United States vests in Con- 
gress the power to dispose of the territory belonging to them ; and that 
no treaty, purporting to alienate any portion thereof, is valid without the 
concun'ence of Congress : 

Second, resolved, that the equivalent proposed to be given by Spain 
to the United States in the treaty concluded between them, on the 22d 
of February, 1819, for that part of Louisiana lying west of the Sabine, 
was inadequate ; and that it would be inexpedient to make a transfer 
thereof to any foreign power, or to renew the aforesaid treaty : 

Mr. Clay said, that, while he felt very grateful to the House for the 
prompt and respectful manner in which they had allowed him to enter upon 
the discussion of the resolutions which he had the honor of submitting to 
their notice, he must at the same time frankly say, that he thought thei'* 
character and consideration, in the councils of this country, were concerned 
in not letting the present session pass off without deliberating upon our 
affairs with Spain. In coming to the present session of Congress, it had 
been his anxious wish to be able to concur with the executive branch of 
the government in the measures which it might conceive itself called upon 
to recommend on that subject, for two reasons, of which the first, relating 
personally to himself, he would not trouble the committee with further no- 
ticing. The other was, that it appeared to him to be always desirable, in 
respect to the foreign action of this government, that there should be a 
perfect coincidence in opinion between its several co-ordinate branches. In 
time of peace, however, it might be allowable, to those who are charged 
with the public interests, to entertain and express their respective views, 
although there might be some discordance between them. In a season of 
war there should be no division in the public councils ; but a united and 
vigorous exertion to bring the war to an honorable conclusion. For his 
part, whenever that calamity may befall his country, he would entertain 
but one wish, and that is, that success might crown our struggle, and th« 
war be honorably and gloriously terminated. He would never refuse (o 
share in the joys incident to the victory of our arms, nor to participate in 
the griefs of defeat and discomfiture. He conceded entirely in the senti- 
ment once expressed by that illustrious hero, whose recent melancholy 
fall we all so sincerely deplore, that fortune may attend our country in 
whatever war it may be involved. 

There are two systems of policy, he said, of which our goverment had 
had the choice. The first was, by appealing to the justice and affections 
of Spain, to employ all those persuasives which could arise out of our 
abstinence from any direct countenance to the cause of South America, 
and the observance of a strict neutrality. The other was, by appealing to 
her justice also, and to her fears, to prevail upon her to redress the injuries 



ON THE SPANISH TREATY. 207 

of which we complain — her fears by a recognition of the independent 
governments of South America, and leaving her in a state of uncertainty 
as to the further step we might take in respect to those govemmenta. 
The unratified treaty was the result of the first system. It could not be 
positively affirmed what effect the other system would have produced ; but 
he verily believed, that, while it rendered justice to those governments, 
and would have better comported with that magnanimous policy which 
ought to have characterized our own, it would have more successfully 
tended to an amicable and satisfactory arrangement of our differences with 
Spain. 

The first system has so far failed. At the commencement of the session, 
the president recommended an enforcement of the provisions of the treaty. 
After three months' deliberation, the committee of foreign affairs, not being 
able to concur with him, has made us a report, recommending the seizure 
of Florida in the nature of a reprisal. Now the president recommends our 
postponement of the subject until the next session. It had been his inten- 
tion, whenever the committee of foreign aflfairs should engage the House 
to act upon their bill, to offer, as a substitute for it, the system which he 
thought it became this country to adopt, of which the occupation of Texas, 
as our own, would have been a part, and the recognition of the independ- 
ent governments of South America another. If he did not now bring 
forward this system, it was because the committee proposed to withdraw 
their bill, and because he knew too much of the temper of the House and 
of the executive, to think that it was advisable to bring it forward. He 
hoped that some suitable opportunity might occur during the session, for 
considering the propriety of recognizing the independent governments of 
South America. 

Whatever he might think of the discretion which was evinced in recom- 
mending the postponement of the bill of the committee of foreign relations, 
he could not think that the reasons, assigned by the president for that recom- 
mendation, were entitled to the weight which he had given them. He 
thought the House was called upon, by a high sense of duty, seriously to 
•animadvert upon some of those reasons. He believed it was the first 
example, in the annals of the country, in which a course of policy, re- 
specting one foreign power, which we must suppose had been deliberately 
considered, has been recommended to be abandoned, in a domestic com- 
munication from one to another co-ordinate branch of the government, 
upon the avowed ground of the interposition of foreign powers. And 
what is the nature of this interposition ? It is e\anced by a cargo of 
scraps, gathered up from this charge d'affaires, and that ; of loose conver- 
sations held with this foreign minister, and that — perhaps mere levee con- 
versations, without a commitment in writing, in a solitary instance of any 
of the foreign parties concerned, except only in the case of his imperial 
majesty ; and what was the character of his commitment we shall presently 
see. But he must enter his solemn protest again this and every other 



208 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

species of foreign interference in our matters with Spain. What have 
they to do with them ? Would they not repel as oflBcious and insulting 
intrusion, any interference on our part in their concerns with foreign 
states ? Would his imperial majesty have listened with complacency to 
our remonstrances against the vast acquisitions which be has recently 
made ? He has lately cranamed his enormous maw with Finland, and 
with the spoils of Poland, and, while the diflScult process of digestion is 
going on, he throws himself upon a couch, and cries out, Don't, don't dis- 
turb my repose. 

He charges his minister here to plead the cause of peace and concord ! 
The American " government is too enlightened" (ah ! sir, how sweet this 
unction is, which is poured down our backs), to take hasty steps. And 
his imperial majesty's minister here is required to engage (Mr. Clay said, 
he hoped the original expression was less strong, but he believed the 
French word engager bore the same meaning), " the American govern- 
ment," etc. " Nevertheless, the emperor does not interpose in this discus- 
sion." No ! not he. He makes above all " no pretension to exercise in- 
fluence in the councils of a foreign power." Not the slightest. And yet, 
at the very instant when he is protesting against the imputation of this 
influence, his interposition is proving etf'ectual ! His imperial majesty has 
at least manifested so far, in this particular, his capacity to govern his em- 
pire by the selection of a sagacious minister. For if Count Nesselrode 
had never written another paragraph, the extract from his dispatch to Mr. 
Poletica, which has been transmitted to this House, will demonstrate that 
he merited the confidence of his master. It is quite refreshing to read 
such state papers, after perusing those (he was sorry to say it, he wished 
there was a vail broad and thick enough to conceal them forever), which 
this treaty had produced on the part of our government. 

Conversations between my Lord Castlereagh and our minister at London 
had also been communicated to this House. Nothing from the hand of 
his lordship is produced — no ; he does not commit himself in that way. 
The sense in which our minister understood him, and the purport of cer- 
t^jin parts of dispatches from the British government to its minister at 
Madrid, which he deigned to read to our minister, are alone communicated 
to us. Now we know very well how diplomatists, when it is their pleas- 
ure to do so, can wrap themselves up in mystery. No man more than 
my Lord Castlereagh, who is also an able minister, possessing much greater 
Clients than are allowed to him generally in this country, can successfully 
express himself in ambiguous language, when he chooses to employ it. 
He recollected himself once to have witnessed this facility, on the part of 
his lordship. The case was this : When Bonaparte made his escape !":()ai 
Elba, and invaded France, a great part of Europe beHeved it was with the 
connivance of the British ministry. The opposition charged them, in 
Parliament, with it, and they were interrogated, to know what measures 
of precaution they had taken against such an event. Lord Castlereagh 



ON THE SPANISH TREATY, 209 

replied by stating that there was an understanding with a certain naval 
officer of high rank, commanding in the adjacent seas, that he was to act 
on certain contingences. Now, Mr. Chairman, if you can make any thing 
intelligible out of this reply, you will have much more success than the 
English opposition had. 

The allowance of interference by foreign powers in the affairs of our 
government, not pertaining to themselves, is against the counsels of all our 
wisest politicians — those of Washington, Jefferson, and he would also add 
those of the present chief magistrate ; for, pending this very Spanish 
negotiation, the offer of the mediation of foreign states was declined, upon 
the true ground, that Europe had her system, and we ours ; and that it 
was not compatible with our policy to entangle ourselves in the labyrinths 
of hers. But a mediation is far preferable to the species of interference 
on which it had been his reluctant duty to comment. The mediator is a 
judge, placed on high ; his conscience his guide, the world his spectators, 
and posterity his judge. His position is one, therefore, of the greatest 
responsibility. But what responsibiUty is attached to this sort of irregular, 
drawing-room, intriguing interposition ? He could see no motive for 
governing or influencing our policy, in regard to Spain, furnished in any 
of the communications which respected the disposition of foreign powers. 
He regretted, for his part, that they had at all been consulted. There was 
nothing in the character of the power of Spain, nothing in the beneficial 
nature of the stipulations of the treaty to us, which warranted us in seek- 
ing the aid of foreign powers, if in any case whatever that aid were desir- 
able. He was far from saying that, in the foreign action of this govern 
ment, it might not be prudent to keep a watchful eye upon the probable 
conduct of foreign powers. That might be a material circumstance to be 
taken into consideration. But he never would avow to our own people, 
never promulgate to foreign powers, that their wishes and interference 
were the controlling cause of our policy. Such promulgation would lead 
to the most alarming consequences. It was to invite further interposition. 
It might, in process of time, create in the bosom of our country a Russian 
faction, a British faction, a French faction. Every nation ought to be 
jealous of this species of interference, whatever was its form of govern- 
ment. But of all forms of government, the united testimony of all history, 
admonished a republic to be most guarded against it. From the moment 
Philip intermeddled with the affairs of Greece, the liberty of Greece was 
doomed to inevitable destruction. 

Suppose, said Mr. Clay, we could see the communications which hav« 
passed between his imperial majesty and the British government, respect- 
ively , and Spain, in regard to the United States ; what do you imagine 
would be their character ? Do you suppose the same language has been 
held to Spain and to us ? Do you not, on the contrary, believe that senti- 
ments have been expressed to her, consoling to her pride ? That we have 

14 



210 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

been represented, perhaps, as an ambitious republic, seeking to aggrandiw 
orarselves at her expense ? 

In the other ground taken by the president — the present distressed con- 
dition of Spain — for his recommendation of forbearance to act during the 
present session, he was also sorry to say, that it did not appear to him to 
be solid. He could well conceive, how the weakness of your aggressor 
might, when he was withholding from you justice, form a motive for your 
pressing your equitable demands upon him ; but he could not accord in 
the wisdom of that policy which would wait his recovery of strength, sc 
as to enable him successfully to resist those demands. Nor would it com- 
port with the practice of our government heretofore. Did we not, in 1811, 
when the present monarch of Spain was an ignoble captive, and the people 
of the peninsula were contending for the inestimable privilege of self- 
government, seize and occupy that part of Louisiana which is situated be- 
tween the Mississippi and the Perdido ? What must the people of Spain 
think of that policy which would not spare them, and which commiserates 
alone an unworthy prince, who ignominiously surrendered himself to the 
enemy — a vile despot, of whom I can not speak in appropriate language, 
without departing from the respect due to this House or to myself? What 
must the people of South America think of this sympathy for Ferdinand, 
at a moment when they, as well as the people of the peninsula themselves 
(if we are to believe the late accounts, and God send that they may be 
true), are struggling for liberty ? 

Again: when we declared our late just war against Great Britain, did we 
wait for a moment when she was free from embarrassment or distress* or 
did we not rather wisely select a period when there was the greatest prob- 
ability of giving success to our arms ? What was the complaint in E n- 
gland ; what the language of faction here ? Was it not, that we had cruelly 
proclaimed the war at a time when she was struggling for the liberties of 
the world ? How truly, let the sequel and the voice of impartial history 
tell. 

While he could not, therefore, persuade himself, that the reasons assign- 
ed by the president for postponing the subject of our Spanish affairs until 
another session, were entitled to all the weight which he seemed to think 
belonged to them, he did not, nevertheless, regret that the particular pro- 
ject recommended by the committee of foreign relations was thus to be 
disposed of ; for it was war — war, attempted to be disguised. And if we 
went to war, he thought it should have no other limit than indemnity for 
the past, and security for the future. He had no idea of the wisdom of 
that measure of hostility which would bind us, while the other party is 
left free. 

Before he proceeded to consider the particular propositions which the 
resolutions contained, which he had had the honor of submitting, it was 
material to determine the actual posture of our relations to Spain. He 
considered it too clear to need discussion, that the treaty was at an end; 



ON THE SPANISH TREATY. 211 

that it contained, in its present state, no obligation whatever upon us, and 
no obligation whatever on the part of Spain. It was, as if it had never 
been. We are remitted back to the state of our rights and our demands 
which existed prior to the conclusion of the treaty, with this only differ- 
ence, that, instead of being merged in, or weakened by the treaty, they had 
acquired all the additional force which the intervening time, and the faith- 
lessness of Spain, can communicate to them. Standing on this position, 
he should not deem it necessary to interfere with the treaty-making power, 
if a fixed and persevering purpose had not been indicated by it, to obtain 
the revival of the treaty. Now he thought it a bad treaty. The interest 
of the country, as it appeared to hira, forbade its renewal. Being gone, it 
was perfectly incomprehensible to him, why so much solicitude was mani- 
fested to restore it. Yet it is clung to with the same sort of frantic affec- 
tion with which the bereaved mother hugs her dead infant, in the vain hope 
of bringing it back to life. 

Has the House of Representatives aright to express its opinion upon the 
arrangement made in that treaty ? The president, by asking Congress to 
carry it into effect, has given us jurisdiction of the subject, if we had it not 
before. We derive from that circumstance the right to consider, first, if 
there be a treaty ; secondly, if we ought to carry it into effect ; and, thirdly, 
if there be no treaty, whether it be expedient to assert our rights, inde- 
pendent of the treaty. It will not be contended that we are restricted to 
that specific mode of redress which the president intimated in his opening 
message. 

The first resolution which he had presented, asserted, that the Constitu- 
tion vests in the Congress of the United States the power to dispose of the 
territory belonging to them ; and that no treaty, purporting to alienate any 
portion thereof, is valid, without the concurrence of Congress. It was far 
from his wish to renew at large a discussion of the treaty-making power. 
The Constitution of the United States had not defined the precise limits of 
that power, because, from the nature of it, they could not be prescribed. 
It appeared to him, however, that no safe American statesman would as- 
sign to it a boundless scope. He presumed, for example, that it would not 
be contended that in a government which was itself limited, there was a 
functionary without limit. The first great bound to the power in question, 
he apprehende;], was, that no treaty could constitutionally transcend the 
very objects and purposes of the government itself. He thought, also, that 
wherever there were specific grants of powers to Congress, they limited 
and controlled, or, he would rather say, modified the exercise of the gen- 
eral grant of the treaty-making power, upon the principle which was 
familiar to every one. He did not insist, that the treaty-making power 
could not act upon the subjects committed to the charge of Congress ; he 
merely contended that the concunence of Congress, in its action upon those 
subjects, was necessary. Nor would he insist, that the concurrence should 
precede that action. It would be alwavs most desirable that it should pre- 



212 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY 

cede it, if convenient, to guard against tlie commitment of Congress, on 
the one hand, by the executive, or on the other, what might seem to he a 
violation of the faith of the country, pledged for the ratification of the 
treaty. But he was perfectly aware, that it would be very often highly 
inconvenient to deliberate, in a body so numerous as Congress, on the na- 
ture of those terms on which it might be proper to treat with foreign pow- 
ers. In the view of the subject which he had been taking, there was a 
much higher degree of security to the interests of this country. For, with 
all respect to the president and Senate, it could not disparage the wisdom 
of their councils, to add to that of this House also. But, if the concurrence 
of this House be not necessary in the cases asserted, if there be no restric- 
tion upon the power he was considering, it might draw to itself and ab- 
sorb the whole of the powers of government. To contract alliances ; to 
stipulate for raising troops to be employed in a common war about to be 
waged ; to grant subsidies ; even to introduce foreign troops within the bosom 
of the country ; were not unfrequent instances of the exercise of this power ; 
and if, in all such cases the honor and faith of the nation were committed, 
by the exclusive act of the president and Senate, the melancholy duty alone 
might be left to Congress of recording the ruin of the republic. 

Supposing, however, that no treaty, which undertakes to dispose of the 
territory of the United States, is valid, without the concurrence of Con- 
gress, it may be contended, that such treaty may constitutionally fix the 
limits of the territory of the United States, where they are disputed, with- 
out co-operation of Congress. He admitted it, when the fixation of the 
limits simply was the object. As in the case of the river St. Croix, or the 
more recent stipulation in the treaty of Ghent, or in that of the treaty of 
Spain in I'JGS. In all these cases, the treaty-making power merely 
reduces to certainty that which was before unascertained. It an- 
nounces the fact ; it proclaims, in a tangible form, the existence of the 
boundary. It does not make a new boundary ; it asserts only where the 
old boundary was. But it can not, under color of fixing a boundary pre- 
viously existing, though not in fact marked, undertake to cede away, 
without the concurrence of Congress, whole provinces. If the subject be 
one of a mixed character, if it consists partly of cession, and partly of the 
fixation of a prior limit, he contended that the president must come here 
for the consent of Congress. But in the Florida treaty it was not pre- 
tended that the object was simply a declaration of where the western limit 
of Louisiana was. It was, on the contrary, the case of an avowed cession 
of territory from the United States to Spain. The whole of the corre- 
spondence manifested that the resi)ective parties to the negotiation were not 
engaged so much in an inquiry where the limit of Louisiana was, as that 
they were exchanging overtures as to where it should be. Hence, we find 
various limits proposed and discussed. At one time the Mississippi is pro- 
posed ; then the Missouri ; then a river discharging itself into the gulf 
east of the Sabine. A vast desert is proposed to separate the territories 



ON THE SPANISH TREATY. 213 

of the two powers ; and finally the Sabine, which neither of the parties 
had ever contended was the ancient limit of Louisiana, is adopted, and the 
boundary is extended from its source by a line perfectly new and arbitrary ; 
and the treaty itself proclaims its purpose to be a cession from the United 
States to Spain. 

The second resolution comprehended three propositions ; the first of 
which was, that the equivalent granted by Spain to the United States, for 
the province of Texas, was inadequate. To determine this, it was neces- 
sary to estimate the value of what we gave, and of what we received. 
This involved an inquiry into our claim to Texas. It was not his purpose 
to enter at large into this subject. He presumed the spectacle would not 
be presented of questioning, in this branch of the government, our title to 
Texas, which has been constantly maintained by the executive for more 
than fifteen years past, under three several administrations. He was, at 
the same time, ready and prepared to make out our title, if any one in the 
House were fearless enough to controvert it. He would, for the present, 
briefly state, that the man who is most familiar with the transactions of 
this government, who largely participated in the formation of our Con- 
stitution, and all that has been done under it, who, besides the eminent 
services that he has rendered his country, principally contributed to the 
acquisition of Louisiana, who must be supposed, from his various oppor- 
tunities, best to know its limits, declared, fifteen years ago, that our title to 
the Rio del Norte was as well founded as it was to the island of New 
Orleans. [Here Mr. Clay read an extract from a memoir presented in 
1805, by Mr. Monroe and Mr. Pinckney, to Mr. Cevallos, proving that the 
boundary of Louisiana extended eastward to the Perdido, and westward 
to the Rio del Norte, in which they say, " the facts and principles which 
justify this conclusion, are so satisfactory to their government as to con- 
vince it, that the United States have not a better right to the island of 
New Orleans, under the cession referred to, than they have to the whole 
district of territory thus described."] The title to the Perdido on the one 
side, and to the Rio del Norte on the other, rested on the same principle — 
priority of discovery and of occupation by France. Spain had first dis- 
covered and made an establishment at Pensacola : France at Dauphine 
island, in the bay of Mobile. The intermediate space was unoccupied ; 
and the principle observed among European nations having contiguous 
settlements, being, that the unoccupied space between them should be 
equally divided, was applied to it, and the Perdido thus became the com- 
mon boundary. So, west, of the Mississippi, La Salle, acting under France, 
in 1682 or 83, first discovered that river. In 1685, he made an establish- 
ment on the bay of St. Bernard, west of the Colorado, emptying into it 
The nearest Spanish settlement was Panuco ; and the Rio del Norte, about 
the midway line, became the common boundary. 

All the accounts concurred in representing Texas to be extremely valu 
able. Its superficial extent was three or four times greater than that of 



214 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Florida. The climate was delicious ; the soil fertile ; the margins of the 
rivers abounding in live oak ; and the country admitting of easy settle- 
ment. It possessed, moreover, if he were not misinformed, one of the 
finest ports in the Gulf of Mexico. The productions of which it was capa- 
ble were suited to our wants. The unfortunate captive of St. Helena 
wished for ships, commerce, and colonies. We have them all, if we do 
not wantonly throw them away. The colonies of other countries are 
separated from them by vast seas, requiring great expense to protect them, 
and are held subject to a constant risk of their being torn from their grasp. 
Our colonies, on the contrary, are united to and form part of our con- 
tinent ; and the same Mississippi, from whose rich deposit the best of them 
(Louisiana) has been formed, will transport on her bosom the brave, the 
patriotic men from her tributary streams, to defend and preserve the next 
most valuable, the province of Texas. 

We wanted Florida, or rather we shall want it ; or, to speak more cor- 
rectly, we want no body else to have it. We do not desire it for imme- 
diate use. It fills a space in our imagination, and we wish it to complete 
the arrondissement of our territory. It must certainly come to us. The 
ripened fruit will not more surely fall. Florida is inclosed in between 
Alabama and Georgia, and can not escape. Texas may. Whether we 
get Florida now, or some five or ten years hence, it is of no conse- 
quence, provided no other power gets it ; and if any other power should 
attempt to take it, an existing Act of Congress authorizes the president to 
prevent it. He was not disposed to disparage Florida, but its intrinsic 
value was incomparably less than that of Texas. Almost its sole value was 
military. The possession of it would undoubtedly communicate some ad- 
ditional security to Louisiana, and to the American commerce in the Gulf 
of Mexico. But it was not very essential to have it for protection to 
Georgia and Alabama. There could be no attack on either of them, by a 
foreign power, on the side of Florida. It now covered those States. An- 
nexed to the United States, and we should have to extend our line of de- 
fense so as to embrace Florida. Far from being, therefore, a source of 
immediate profit, it would be the occasion of considerable immediate ex- 
pense. The acquisition of it was certainly a fair object of our policy ; and 
ought never to be lost sight of. It is even a laudable ambition, in any 
chief magistrate, to endeavor to illustrate the epoch of his admiuistration 
by such an acquisition. It was less necessary, however, to fill the measure 
of honors of the present chief magistrate than that of any other man, in 
consequence of the large share which he had in obtaining all Louisiana, 
But, whoever may deserve the renown which may attend the incorporation 
of Florida into our confederacy, it is our business, as the representatives of 
that people who are to pay the price of it, to take care, as far as we con- 
stitutionally can, that too much is not given. He would not give Texas 
for Florida in a naked exchange. We were bound by the treaty to give 
not merely Texas, but five millions of dollars also, and the excess beyond 



ON THB SPANISH TREATY. 215 

that sum of au our claims upon Spain, which have been variously esti- 
mated at from fifteen to twenty millions of dollars ! 

The public is not generally apprized of another large consideration 
which passed from us to Spain ; if an interpretation which he had heard 
given to the treaty were just ; and it certainly was plausible. Subsequent 
to the transfer, but before the delivery of Louisiana from Spain to France, 
the then governor of New Orleans (he believed his name was Gayoso) 
made a number of concessions, upon the payment of an inconsiderable 
pecuniary consideration, amounting to between nine hundred thousand and 
a million acres of laud, similar to those recently made at Madrid to the 
royal favorites. This land is situated in Feliciana, and between the Mis- 
sissippi and the Amitie, in the present State of Louisiana. It was granted 
to persons who possessed the very best information of the country, and is 
no doubt, therefore, the choice land. The United States have never rec- 
ognized, but have constantly denied the validity of these concessions. It 
is contended by the parties concerned that they are confirmed by the late 
treaty. By the second article his Catholic majesty cedes to the United 
States, in fiiU property and sovereignty, all the territories which belong to 
him, situated to the eastward of the Mississippi, known by the name of 
East and West Florida. And by the eighth article, all grants of land 
made before the 24th of January, 1818, by his Catholic majesty, or by his 
lawful authorities, shall be ratified and confirmed, etc. Now, the grants in 
question having been made long prior to that day, are supposed to be con- 
firmed. He understood from a person interested, that Don Onis had as- 
sured him it was his intention to confirm them. Whether the American 
negotiator had the same intention or not, he did not know. It will not be 
pretended that the letter of Mr. Adams of the 12th of March, 1818, in 
which he declines to treat any further with respect to any part of the ter- 
ritory included within the limits of the State of Louisiana, can control the 
operation of the subsequent treaty. That treaty must be interpreted by 
what is in it, and not by what is out of it. The overtures which passed 
between the parties respectively, prior to the conclusion of the treaty, can 
neither restrict nor enlarge its meaning. Moreover, when Mr. Madison 
occupied, in 1811, the country between the Mississippi and the Perdido, 
he declared that in our hands it should be, as it has been, subject to ne- 
gotiation. 

It results, then, that we have given for Florida, charged and incimaber- 
ed as it is. 

First, unincumbered Texas ; 

Secondly, five millions of dollars ; 

Thirdly, a surrender of all our claims upon Spain, not included in that 
five millions ; and. 

Fourthly, if the inter]>retation of the treaty which he had stated were 
well founded, about a million of acres of the best unseated land in the State 
of Louisiana, worth perhaps ten milhons of dollars. 



216 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

The first proposition contained in the second resolution, was thus, he 
thought, fully sustained. The next was, that it was inexpedient to cede 
Texas to any foreign power. They constituted, in his opinion, a sacred in- 
heritance of posterity, which we ought to preserve unimpaired. He wished 
it was, if it were not, a fundamental and inviolable law of the laud, that 
they should be inalienable to any foreign power. It was quite evident, 
that it was iu the order of providence ; that it was an inevitable result of 
tlie principle of population, that the whole of this continent, including 
Texas, wMs to be peopled in process of time. The question was, by whose 
race shall it be peopled ? In our hands it will be peopled by freemen, and 
the sous of freemen, carrying with them our language, our laws, and our 
liberties ; establishing, on the prairies of Texas, temples dedicated to the 
simple and devout modes of worship of God, incident to our religion, and 
temples dedicated to that freedom which we adore next to Him. In the 
hands of others, it may become the habitation of despotism and of slaves, 
subject to the vile dominion of the inquisition and of superstition. He 
knew that there were honest and enlightened men, who feared that our 
confederacy was already too large, and that there was danger of disruption, 
arising out of the want of reciprocal coherence between its several parts. 
He hoped and believed, that the principal of representation, and the form- 
ation of States, would preserve us a united people. But if Texas, after 
being peopled by us, and grappling with us, should, at some distant day, 
break off, she will carry along with her a noble crew, consisting of our 
children's children. The difference between those who might be disin- 
clined to its annexation to our confederacy, and him, was, that their system 
began where his might, possibly, in some distant future day, terminate ; 
and theirs begin with a foreign race, aliens to every thing that we hold 
dear, and his ended with a race partaking of all our qualities. 

The last proposition which the second resolution aflSrms, is, that it is in- 
expedient to renew the treaty. If Spain had promptly ratified it, bad as 
it is, he would have acquiesced in it. After the protracted negotiation 
which it terminated ; after the irritating and exasperating correspondence 
which preceded it, he would have takeu the treaty as a man who has 
passed a long and restless night, turning and tossing in his bed, snatches 
at day, an hour's disturbed repose. But she would not ratify it ; she 
would not consent to be bound by it ; and she has liberated us from it. 
Is it wise to renew the negotiation, if it is to be recommenced, by announ- 
cing to her at once our ultimatum ? Shall we not give her the vautjige- 
ground ? In early life he had sometimes indulged in a species of amuse- 
ment, which years and experience had determined him to renounce, which, 
if the committee would allow him to use it, furnished him with a figure — 
shall we enter on the game, with our hand exposed to the adversary, while 
he slmffles the cards to acquire more strength ? What has lost us his 
ratification of the treaty ? Incoutestably, our importunity to procure the 
ratification, and the hopes which that importunity inspired, that he could 



ON THE SPANISH TREATY. 217 

yet obtain more from us. Let us undeceive him. Let us proclaim the 
iwknowledged truth, that the treaty is prejudicial to the interests of this 
country. Are we not told by the Secretary of State, in the bold and con- 
fident assertion, that Don Onis was authorized to grant us much more, and 
that Spain dare not deny his instructions? The line of demarcation is far 
within his limits ! If she would have then granted us more, is her posi- 
tion now more favorable to her in the negotiation ? In our relations to 
foreign powers, it may be sometimes politic to sacrifice a portion of our 
rights to secure the residue. But is Spain such a power, as that it be- 
comes us to sacrifice those rights ? Is she entitled to it by her justice, by 
her observance of good faith, or by her possible annoyance of us in the 
event of war ? She will seek, as she has sought, procrastination in the 
negotiation, taking the treaty as the basis. She will dare to ofiend us, as 
she has insulted us, by asking the disgraceful stipulation, that we shall not 
recognize the patriots. Let us put aside the treaty ; tell her to grant 
us our rights, to their uttermost extent. And it she still palters, let us 
assert those rights by whatever measures it is for the interest of our 
country to adopt. 

If the treaty was abandoned ; if we were not on the contrary signified, 
too distinctly, that there was to be a continued and unremitting endeavor 
to obtain its revival ; he would not think it advisable for this House to in- 
terpose. But, with all the information in our possession, and holding the 
opinions which he entertained, he thought it the bounden duty of the 
House to adopt the resolutions. He had acquitted himself of what he 
deemed a solemn duty, in bringing up the subject. Others could discharge 
theirs according to their own sense of them. 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, APRIL 26, 1820. 

[From the beginning of Mr. Clay's public life, as far back as 
his appearance in the Legislature of Kentucky, he was ever a 
steady, vigilant, and vigorous advocate for the protection of 
home industry. Amid all the fluctuations of opinion with other 
statesmen, and in face of all the free-trade theories of econo- 
mists, he never deviated on this subject. It was a part of his 
natural instincts to discern the position of American capital, 
labor, and art, as they are affected by foreign interests of the 
same kind, and to sympathize with the former, when suffering 
disadvantage by the action of the latter upon them. Eminently 
practical in his views, Mr. Clay had very little respect for the 
abstract theories of economists. 

The war of 1812 had, by necessity, built up a system of 
American manufactures, and when peace came, it began to tot- 
ter and fall, in competition with foreign products of the same 
classes. The Tariff of 1816 was enacted to save it, but it proved 
inadequate, or not well adapted. The experience of the country 
for the first five years subsequent to the peace, had taught our 
statesmen what was wanted, and the Tariff bill of 1820 was 
prepared with great care, and reported by Mr, Baldwin of Penn- 
sylvania, who was afterward promoted to the bench of the Su- 
preme Court of the United States. It was in support of this 
bill that the following speech was made. The bill passed the 
House by a vote of ninety to sixty-nine, but failed in the Senate 
Dy twenty-two against twenty-one — so narrow a chance doomed 
the country to four years more of the greatest commercial em- 
barrassments ; for it was not till the Tariff of 1824 that trade 
and business began to revive. Mr. Clay afterward found, by 
comparison, that the seven years previous to the Tariff of 1824 
was a period of the greatest commercial depression, and the seven 
years subsequent to that event a period of the greatest commer- 
cial prosperity which the country had ever experienced. The 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDU8TRT, 219 

last four years of the first-named period — the most pinching 
and most distressing of the seven — were brought about by that 
unfortunate vote of the Senate, in 1820, of twenty-two to 
twenty-one. The vote of the House for the Tariff of 1820 was 
a decided majority. To this result, the following speech of Mr. 
Clay no doubt contributed in a very large measure. Probably 
it was the means of it. Pity that the same influence could not 
have been carried into the Senate ; for four years of such ad- 
versity was an incalculable subtraction from the wealth of the 
country.] 

Mk. Chairman — Whatever may be the 7alue of my opinions on tho 
interesting subject now before us, they have not been hastily formed. It 
may possibly be recollected by some gentlemen that I expressed them when 
the existing tarifi' was adopted ; and that I then urged, that the period of 
the termination of the war, during which the manufacturing industry of 
the country had received a powerful spring, was precisely that period when 
government was alike impelled, by duty and interest, to protect it against 
the free admission of foreign fabrics, consequent upon a state of peace. I 
insisted, on that occasion, that a less measure of protection would prove 
more eflScacious, at that time, than one of greater extent at a future day. 
My wishes prevailed only in part ; and we are now called upon to decide 
whether we will correct the error which, I think, we then committed. 

in considering the subject, the first important inquiry that we should 
make is, whether it be desirable that such a portion of the capital and 
labor of the country should be employed in the business of manufacturing, 
as would furnish a supply of our necessary wants ? Since the first colon- 
ization of America, the principal direction of the labor and capital of the 
inhabitants has been to produce raw materials for the consumption or fab- 
rication of foreign nations. We have always had, in great abundance, 
the means of subsistence, but we have derived chiefly from other coimtries 
our clothes, and the instruments of defense. Except during those inter- 
ruptions of commerce arising from a state of war, or from measures 
adopted for vindicating our commercial rights, we have experienced no 
very great inconvenience heretofore from this mode of supply. The lim- 
ited amount of our surplus produce, resulting from the smallness of our 
nimabers, and the long and aiduous covwulsions of Europe, secured us good 
markets for that surplus in her ports, or those of her colonies. But those 
convulsions have now ceased, and our population has reached nearly ten 
millions. A new epoch has arisen ; and it becomes us deliberately to con- 
template our own actual condition, and the relations which are likely to 
exist between us and the other parts of the world. The actual state of 
our population, and the ratio of its progressive increase, when compared 
with the ratio of the increase of the population of the countries which 



220 SPEECHES OF UENRY CLAY. 

have hitherto consumed our raw produce, seem, to me, alone to demon- 
strate the necessity of diverting some portion of our industry from its ac- 
customed channel. We double our population in or about the tenu of 
twenty-five years. If there be no change in the mode of exerting our in- 
dustry, we shall double, during the same term, the amount of our export- 
able produce, Europe, including such of her colonies as we have tree ac- 
cess to, taken altogether, does not duplicat^e her population in a shorter 
term, probably, than one hundred years. The ratio of the increase of her 
capacity of consumption, therefore, is, to that of our capacity of pro- 
duction, as one is to four. And it is manifest, from the simple exhibition 
of the powers of the consuming countries, compaied with those of the 
supplying country, that the former are inadequate to the latter. It is 
certainly true, that a portion of the mass of our raw produce, which we 
transmit to her, reverts to us in a fabricated form, and that this return aug- 
ments with our increasing population. This is, however, a very inconsid- 
erable addition to her actual ability to afford a market for the produce of 
our industry. 

I believe that we are already beginning to experience the want of ca- 
pacity in Europe to consume our surplus produce. Take the articles of 
cotton, tobacco, and bread-stuffs. For the latter we have scarcely any for- 
eign demand. And is there not reason to believe that we have reached 
ii" we have not passed, the maximum of the foreign demand for the other 
two articles ? Considerations connected with the cheapness of cotton, as 
a raw material, and the facility wdth which it can be fabricated, will prob- 
ably make it to be more and more used as a substitute for other materials. 
But, after you allow to the demand for it the utmost extension of which it 
is susceptible, it is yet quite limited — limited by the number of persons 
who use it, by their wants and their ability to supply them. If we have 
not reached, therefore, the maximum of the foreign demand (;is I believe 
we have), we must soon fully satisfy it. With respect to tobacco, that ar- 
ticle affording an enjoyment not necessary, as food and clothes are, to 
human existence, the foreign demand for it is still more precarious, and I 
apprehend that we have already passed its limits. It appears to me, then, 
that, if we consult our interests merely, we ought to encourage home 
manufactures. But there are other motives to recommend it, of not less 
importance. 

The wants of man may be classed under three heads : food, raiment, and 
defense. They are telt alike in the state of barbarism and of civilization. 
He must be defended against the ferocious beast of prey in the one condi- 
tion, and against the ambition, violence, and injustice incident to the 
other. If he seeks to obtain a supply of those wants without giving an 
equivalent, he is a beggar or a robber ; if by promising an equivalent 
which he can not give, he is fraudulent, and if by commerce, in which 
there is perfect freedom on his side, while he meets with nothing but re- 
Btrictiona on the other, he submits to an unjust and degrading inequality. 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTBT. 221 

What is true of iudividuals is equally so of nations. The country, then, 
which relies upon foreign nations lor either of those great essentials, is not, 
in fact, independent. Nor is it any consolation for our dependence upon 
other nations that they are also dependent upon us, even were it true. 
Every nation should anxiously endeavor to establish its absolute independ- 
ence, and consequently be able to feed, and clothe, and defend itself. If it 
rely upon a foreign supply, that may be cut ofl" by the caprice of the nation 
yielding it, by war with it, or even by war with other nations ; it can not 
be independent. But it is not true that any other nations depend upon us 
in a degree any thing like equal to that of our dependence upon them for 
tlie great necessaries to which I have referred. Every other nation seeks 
to supply itself with them from its own resources ; and so strong is the 
desire which they feel to accomplish this purpose, that they exclude the 
cheaper foreign article for the dearer home production. Witness the En- 
glish policy in regard to corn. So selfish, in this respect, is the conduct 
of other powers that, in some instances, they even prohibit the produce of 
the industry of their own colonies when it comes into competition with the 
produce of the parent country. All other countries but our own exclude by 
high duties, or absolute prohibitions, whatever they can respectively pro- 
duce within themselves. The truth is, and it is in vain to disguise it, that 
we are a sort of independent colonies of England — politically free, com- 
mercially slaves. Gentlemen tell us of the advantage of a free exchange 
of the produce of the world. But they tell us of what has never existed, does 
not exist, and perhaps never will exist. They invoke us to give perfect 
free<-lom on our side, while, in the ports of every other nation, we are met 
with a code of odious restrictions, shutting out entirely a great part of our 
produce, and letting in only so much as they can not possibly do without. 
I will hereafUiT examine their favorite maxim, of leaving things to them- 
selves, more particularly. At present I will only say that I too am a friend 
to free trade, but it must be a free trade of perfect reciprocity. If the gov- 
erning consideration were cheapness ; if national independence were to 
weigh nothing ; if honor nothing ; why not subsidize foreign powers to 
defend us? why not hire Swiss or Hessian mercernaries to protect us ? why 
not get our arms of all kinds, as we do in part, the blankets and clothing 
of our soldiers, from abroad ? We should probably consult economy by 
these dangerous expedients. 

But, say gentlemen, there are to the manufacturing system some in- 
herent objections, which should induce us to avoid its introduction into 
this country ; and we are warned by the example of England, by her pau- 
perism, by the vices of her population, her wars, and so forth. It would 
be a strange order of Providence, if it were true, that he should create nec- 
essary and indispensable wants, and yet should render us unable to supply 
them without the degi'adation or contamination of our species. 

Pauperism is, in general, the eflfect of an overflowing population. Man- 
ufactures may undoubtedly produce a redundant population ; but so may 



222 SPEECHES OF HENBT GLAT. 

commerce, and so may agriculture. In this respect they are alike ; and 
from whatever cause the disproportion of a population to the subsisting 
faculty of a country may proceed, its eflfect on pauperism is the same. 
Many parts of Asia would exhibit, perhaps, as afflicting effects of an ex 
treme prosecution of the agricultural system, as England can possibly 
furnish respecting the manufacturing. It is not, however, fair to argue 
from these extreme cases against either the one system or the other. 
There are abuses incident to every branch of industry, to every profession. 
It would not be thought very just or wise to arraign the honorable profes- 
sions of law and physic, because the one produces the pettifogger, and 
the other the quack. Even in England it has been established, by the 
diligent search of Colquhoun, from the most authentic evidence, the 
judicial records of the country, that the instances of crime were much 
more numerous in the agricultural than in the manufacturing districts ; 
thus pronng that the cause of wretchedness and vice, in that country, was 
to be sought for, not in this or that system, so much as in the fact of the 
density of its population. France resembles this country more than En- 
gland, in respect to the employments of her population ; and we do not 
find that there is any thing in the condition of the manufacturing portion 
of it which ought to dissuade us from the introduction of it into our own 
country. But even France has not that great security against the abuses 
of the manufacturing system, against the effects of too great a density of 
population, which we possess in our waste lands. While this resource 
exists we have nothing to apprehend. Do capitalists give too low wages 
— are the laborers too crowded, and in danger of starving ? the unsettled 
lands will draw off the redundancy, and leave the others better provided 
for. If an unsettled province, such as Texas, for example, could, by some 
convulsion of nature, be wafted alongside of, and attached to the island of 
Great Britain, the instantaneous effect would be, to draw off the redundant 
portion of the population, and to render more comfortable both the emi- 
grants and those whom they would leave behind. I am aware, that while 
the public domain is an acknowledged security against the abuses of the 
manufacturing, or any other system, it constitutes, at the same time, an 
impediment, in the opinion of some, to the success of manufacturing in- 
dustry, by its tendency to prevent the reduction of the wages of labor. 
Those who urge this objection have their eyes too much fixed on the 
ancient system of manufacturing, when manual labor was the principal in- 
strument which it employed. During the last half century, since the 
inventions of Aikwright, and the long train of improvements which fol- 
lowed, the labor of machinery is principally used. I have understood, 
from sources of information which I believe to be accurate, that the com- 
bined force of ail the machinery employed by Great Britain, in manufac- 
turing, is equal to the labor of one hundred millions of able-bodied men. 
If we suppose the aggregate of the labor of all the individuals which she 
employs, in that branch of industry, to be equal to the united labor of two 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 223 

millions of able-bodied men (and I should think it does not exceed it), 
machine labor will stand to manual labor in the proportion of one hundred 
to two. There can not be a doubt that we have skill and enterprise 
enough to command the requisite amount of machine power. 

There are, too, some checks to emigration from the settled parts of our 
country to the waste lands of the west. Distance is one, and it is every 
day becoming greater and greater. There exists, also a natural repug- 
nance (felt less, it is true, in the United States than elsewhere, but felt 
even here), to abandoning the place of our nativity. Women and children 
who could not migrate, and who would be comparatively idle if manufac- 
tures did not exist, may be profitably employed in them. This is a very 
great benefit. I witnessed the advantage resulting from the employment 
of this description of our population, in a visit which I lately made to the 
Waltham manufactory, near Boston. There, some hundreds of girls and 
boys were occupied in separate apartments. The greatest order, neatness, 
and apparent comfort, reigned throughout the whole establishment. The 
daughters of respectable farmers, in one instance, I remember, the daugh- 
ter of a senator in the State Legislature, were usefully employed. They 
would come down to the manufactory, remain perhaps some months, and 
return, with their earnings, to their families, to assist them throughout the 
year. But one instance had occurred, I was informed by the intelligent 
manager, of doubtful conduct on the part of any of the females, and, after 
she was dismissed, there was reason to believe that injustice had been done 
her. Suppose that establishment to be destroyed, what would become of 
all the persons who are there engaged so beneficially to themselves, and so 
usefully to the State ? Can it be doubted that, if the crowds of little men- 
dicant boys and girls who infest this edifice, and assail us, every day, at its 
very thresholds, as we come in and go out, begging for a cent, were em- 
ployed in some manufacturing establishment, it would be better for them, 
and the city ? Those who object to the manufacturing system should rec- 
ollect, that constant occupation is the best security for innocence and vir- 
tue, and that idleness is the parent of vice and crime. They should con- 
template the laboring poor with employment, and ask themselves what 
would be their condition without it. If there are instances of hard task- 
masters among the manafacturers, so also are there in agriculture. The 
cause is to be sought for, not in the nature of this or that system, but in 
the nature of man. If there are particular species of unhealthy employ- 
ment in manufactures, so there are in agriculture also. There has been an 
idle attempt to ridicule the manufacturing system, and we have heard the 
expression, " spinning-jenny tenure." It is one of the noblest inventions of 
human skill. It has difiused comforts among thousands who, without it, 
would never have enjoyed them ; and millions yet unborn will bless the 
man by whom it was invented. Three important inventions have distin- 
guished the last half century, each of which, if it had happened at long 
intervals of time from the other, would have been suflScient to constitute 



224 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

an epoch in the progress of the useful arts. The first was that of Ark- 
vvright ; and our own country is entitled to the merit of the other two. 
The world is indebted to Whitney for the one, and to Fulton for the other. 
Nothing is secure against the shafts of ridicule. What would be thought 
of a man who should speak of a (!otton-gin tenure, or a steamboat tenure ? 

In one respect there is a great difference in favor of manufactures, when 
compared with agriculture. It is the rapidity with which the whole man- 
ufactunng community avail themselves of an improvement. It is instantly 
communicated and put in operation. There is an avidity for im])rovement 
in the one system, an aversion to it in the other. The habits of generation 
after generation pass down the long track of time in perpetual succession 
without the slightest change in agriculture. The plowman who fastens 
his plow to the tails of his cattle, will not own that there is any other 
mode equal to his. An agricultural people will be in tlie neighborhood 
of other communities, who have made the greatest progress in husbandry, 
without advancing in the slightest degree. Many parts of our country are 
one hundred years in advance of Sweden in the cultivation and improve- 
ment of the soil. 

It is objected, that the effect of the encouragement of home manufacture, 
by the proposed tariff, will be, to diminish the revenue from the customs. 
Tlie amount of the revenue from that soiirce will depend upon the amount 
of importations, and the measure of these will be the value of the exports 
from this country. The quantity of the exportable produce will depend 
upon the foreign demand ; and there can be no doubt that, under any dis- 
tribution of the labor and capital of this country, from the greater allure- 
ments which agriculture presents than any other species of industry, there 
would be always a quantity of its produce sufficient to satisfy that demand. 
If there be a diminution in the ability of foreign nations to consume our 
raw produce, in the proportion of our diminished consumption of theirs, 
under the operation of this system, that will be compensated by the substi- 
tution of a home for a foreign market, in the same proportion. It is true 
that we can not remain in the relation of seller, only to foreign jjowers, for 
any length of time ; but if as I have no doubt, our agriculture will con- 
tinue to supply, as far as it can profitably, to the extent of the limits of 
f<.' reign demand, we shall receive not only in return many of the articles on 
which the tariff operates, for our own consumption, but they may also form 
tlie objects of trade with South America and other powers, and our com- 
forts may be nmltiplied by the importation of other articles. Diminished 
consumption, in consequence of the augmentation of duties, does not nec- 
essarily imply diminished revenue. The increase of the duty may com- 
pensate the decrease in the consumption, and give you as large a revenue 
as you before possessed. 

Can any one doubt the impolicy of government resting solely upon the 
precarious resource of such a revenue ? It is constantly fluctuating. It 
tempts us, by its enormous amount, at one time, into extravagant expend- 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 225 

iture ; and we are then driven, by its sudden and unexpected depression, 
into the opposite extreme. We are seduced by its flattering promises into 
expenses which we might avoid ; and we are afterward constrained by 
its treachery, to avoid expenses which we ought to make. It is a system 
under which there is a soi't of perpetual war, between the interest of the 
government and the interest of the people. Large importations fill the 
cofiers of government, and empty the pockets of the people. Small im- 
portations imply prudence on the part of the people, and leave tlie treasury 
empty. In war, the revenue disappears ; in peace it is unsteady. On 
suoii a system the government will not be able much longer exclusively to 
rely. We all anticipate that we shall have shortly to resort to some ad- 
ditional supply of revenue within ourselves. I was opposed to the total 
repeal of the internal revenue. I would have preserved certain parts of 
it at least, to be ready for emergences such as now exist. And I am, for 
one, ready to exclude foreign spirits altogether, and substitute for the rev- 
e«ue levied on them a tax upoii the spirits made vrithin the country. 
No other nation lets in so much of foreign spirits as we do. By the en- 
couragement of home industry, you will lay a basis of internal taxation, 
when it gets strong, that will be steady and uniform yielding alike in peace 
and in war. We do not derive our ability from abroad, to pay taxes. 
That depends upon our wealth and our industry ; aad it is the same, what- 
ever may be the form of levying the public contributions. 

But it is urged, that you tax other interests of the State to sustain man- 
ufacturers. The business of manufacturing, if encouraged, will be open to 
all. It is not for the sake of the particular individuals who may happen 
to be engaged in it, that we propose to foster it ; but it is for the general 
interest. We think that it is necessary to the comfort and well-being of 
society, that fabrication, as well as the business of production and distri- 
bution, should be supported and taken care of. Now, if it be even true, 
that the price of the home fabric will be somewhat higher, in the first in- 
stance, than the rival foreign articles, that consideration ought not to pre- 
vent our extending reasonable protection to the home fabric. Present 
temporary inconvenience may be well submitted to for the sake of future 
permanent benefit. If the experience of all otber countries be not utterly 
fallacious ; if the promises of the manufacturing system be not absolutely 
illusory ; by the competition which will be elicited in consequence of your 
parental care, prices will be ultimately brought down to a level with that 
of the foreign commodity. Now, in a scheme of policy which is devised 
for a nation, we should not limit our views to its operation during a single 
year, or for even a short term of years. We should look at its operation 
for a considerable time, and in war as well as in peace. Can there be a 
doubt, thus contemplating it, that we shall be compensated by the certainty 
and steadiness of the supply in all seasons, and the ultimate reduction of 
the price for any temporary sacrifices we make ? Take the example of 
salt, which the ingenious gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Archer) has ad 

1.5 



226 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

duced. He says, daring the war, the price of that article rose to ten dol- 
lars per bushel, and he asks if you would lay a duty, permanent in its 
duration, of three dollars per bushel, to secure a supply in war. I answer, 
no, I would not lay so high a duty. That which is now proposed, for the 
encouragement of the domestic production, is only five cents per bushel 
In forty years, the duty would amount only to two dollars. If the recur- 
rence of war shall be only after intervals of forty years' ^ace (and we 
may expect it probably ottener), and if, when it does come, the same price 
should again be given, there will be a clear saving of eight dollars, by pro- 
moting the domestic fabrication. All society is an affair of mutual con- 
cession. If we expect to derive the benefits which are incident to it, we 
must sustain our reasonable share of burdens. The great interests which 
it is intended to guard and cherish, must be supported by their reciprocal 
action and re-action. The harmony of its parts is disturbed, the discipline 
which is necessary to its order is incomplete, when one of the three great 
and essential branches of its industry is abandoned and unprotected. If 
you want to find an example of order, of freedom from debt, of economy, 
of expenditure falling below rather than exceeding income, you will go to 
the well-regulated family of a farmer. You will go to the house of such 
a man as Isaac Shelby ; you will not fiad him haunting taverns, en- 
gao-ed in broils, prosecuting angry lawsuits ; you will behold every mem- 
ber of his family clad with the produce of their own hands, and usefully 
employed; the spinning-wheel and the loom in motion by day-break. 
With what pleasure will his wife carry you into her neat dairy, lead you 
into her store-house, and point you to the table-cloths, the sheets, the 
counterpanes which He on this shelf for one daughter, or on that for an- 
other, all prepared in advance by her provident care for the day of their 
respective marriages. If you want to see an opposite example, go to the 
house of a man who manufactures nothing at home, whose family resorts 
to the store for every thing they consume. You will find him perhaps in 
the tavern, or at the shop at the cross-roads. He is engaged, with the 
rum-grog on the table, taking depositions to make out some case of usury 
or fraud. Or perhaps he is furnishing to his lawyer the materials to pre- 
pare a long bill of injunction in some intricate case. The sheriff" is hover- 
ing about his farm to serve some new writ. On court-days — he never 
misses attending them — you will find him eagerly collecting his witnesses 
to defend himself against the merchant and doctor's claims. Go to his 
house, and, after a short and giddy period, that his wife and daughters have 
flirted about the country in their calico and muslin frocks, what a scene of 
discomfort and distress is presented to you there ! What the individual 
family of Isajic Shelby is, I wish to see the nation in the aggregate become. 
But I fear we shall shortly have to contemplete its resemblance in the op- 
posite picture. If statesmen would carefully observe the conduct of pri- 
vate individuals in the management of their own affairs, they would have 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 227 

much surer guides in promoting the interests of the State, than the vision- 
ary speculations of theoretical writers. 

The manufactunng system is not only injurious to agriculture, but, say 
its opponents, it is injurious also to foreign commerce. We ought not to 
conceal from ourselves our present actual position in relation to other 
powers. During the protracted war which has so long convulsed all 
Europe, and which will probably be succeeded by a long peace, we trans- 
acted the commercial business of other nations, and largely shared with 
England the carrying trade of the world. Now, every other nation is 
anxiously endeavoring to transact its own business, to rebuild its marine, 
and to foster its navigation. The consequence of the former state of 
things was, that our mercantile marine, and our commercial employment 
were enormous'y disproportionate to the exchangeable domestic produce 
of our country. And the result of the latter will be, that, as exchanges 
between this country and other nations will hereafter consist principally, 
on our part, of our domestic produce, that marine and that employ- 
ment will be brought down to what is necessary to effect those ex- 
changes. I regret exceedingly this reduction. I wish the mercantile class 
could enjoy the same extensive commerce that they formerly did. But, 
if they can not, it would be a folly to repine at what is irrecoverably lost, 
and we should see'k rather to adapt ourselves to the new circumstances in 
which we find ourselves. K, as I think, we have reached the maximum 
of our foreign demand for our three great staples, cotton, tobacco, and 
flour, no man will contend that we should go on to produce more and 
more, to be sent to the glutted foreign market, and consumed by devouring 
expenses, merely to give employment to our tonnage and to our foreign 
commerce. It would be extremely unwise to accommodate our industry 
to produce, not what is wanted abroad, but cargoes for our unemployed 
ships. I would give our foreign trade every legitimate encouragement, 
and extend it whenever it can be extended profitably. Hitherto it has 
been stimulated too highly, by the condition of the world, and our own 
policy acting on that condition. And we are reluctant to believe that we 
must submit to its necessary abridgment. The habits of trade, the tempt- 
ing instances of enormous fortunes which have been made by the success- 
ful prosecution of it, are such, that we turn with regret from its pursuit ; 
we still cherish a lingering hope ; we persuade ourselves that something 
will occur, how and what it may be, we know not, to revive its former 
activity ; and we would push into every untried channel, grope through 
the Dardanelles into the Black Sea, to restore its former profits. I repeat 
it, let us proclaim to the people of the United States the incontestable 
truth, that our foreign trade must be chcumscribed by the altered state of 
the world ; and, leaving it in the possession of all the gains which it can 
now possibly make, let us present motives to the capital and labor of our 
country, to employ themselves in fabrication at home. There is no danger 
that, by a withdrawal of that portion which is unprofitably employed oii 



228 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Other objects, and an application of it to fabricsation, our agriculture would bt 
too much cramped. The produce of it will always come up to the foreign 
demand. Such are the superior allurements belonging to the cultivation 
of the soil tO all other branches of industry, that it will always be preferred 
when it can profitably be followed. The foreign demand will, in any con- 
ceivable state of things, limit the amount of the exportable produce of 
agriculture. The amount of our exportations will form the measure of 
our importations, and whatever these may be, they will constitute the basis 
of the revenue derivable from customs. 

The manufacturing system is favorable to the maintenance of peace. 
F'jreigu commerce is the great source of foreign wars. The eagerness 
with which we contend for eveiy branch of it, the temptations whicb it 
offers, operating alike upon us and our foreign competitors, produce con- 
stant collisions. No country on earth, by the extent of its superfices, the 
richness of its soil, the variety of its climate, contains within its own Hmits 
more abundant facilities for supplying all our rational wants than ours 
does. It is not necessary or desirable, however, to cut oft' all intercourse 
with foreign powers. But, after securing a supply, within ourselves, of 
all the great essentials of life, there will be ample scope still left for pre- 
serving such an intercourse. If we had no intercourse with foreign states, 
if we adopted the policy of China, we should have no external wars. 
And in proportion as we diminish our dependence upon them, shall we 
lessen the danger of the recurrence of war. Our late war would not have 
existed if the counsels of the manufacturers in England had been listened 
to. They finally did prevail, in their steady and persevering effort to pro- 
duce a repeal of the orders in Council ; but it was too late to prevent the 
war. Those who attribute to the manufacturing system the burdens and 
misfortunes of that country, commit a great error. These were probably 
a joint result of the operation of the whole of her systems, and the larger 
share of it was to be ascribed to her foreign commerce, and to the ambi- 
tion of her rulers, than to any other cause. The war of our Revolution, 
in which that ambition displayed its monstrous arrogance and preten- 
sions, laid the broad foundation of that enormous debt under which she 
now groans. 

The tendency of reasonable encouragement to our home industry is fav- 
orable to the preservation and strength of our confederacy. Now our con- 
nection is merely political. For the sale of the surplus of the produce of 
our agricultural labor, all eyes are constantly turned upon the markets of 
Liverpool. There is scarcely any of that beneficial intercourse, the best 
basis of political connection, which consists in the exchange of the pro- 
duce of our labor. On our maritime frontier there has been too much 
stimulus, an unnatural activity ; in the great interior of the coimtry, there 
exists a perfect paralysis. Encourage fabrication at home, and there will 
instantly arise animation and a healthful circulation throughout all the parts 
of the republic. The cheapness, fertility, and quantity of our waste lauds, 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 22£ 

oflFer such powerful inducements to cultivation, that our countrymen are 
constantly engaging in it. I would not check this disposition, by hard 
terms in the sale of it. Let it be easily accessible to all who wish to ac- 
quire it. But I would countervail this predilection, by presenting to cap- 
ital and labor motives for employment in other branches of industry. 
Nothing is more uncertain than the pursuit of agriculture, when we mainly 
rely upon foreign markets for the sale of its surplus produce. In the fiist 
place, it is impossible to determine, a priori the amount of this surplus ; 
and, in the second, it is equally impossible to anticipate the extent of the 
foreign demand. Both the one and the other depend upon the seasons. 
From the fluctuations incident to these, and from other causes, it may hap- 
pen that the supplying country will, for a long series of years, have em- 
ployed a larger share of its capital and labor than is wise, in production, 
to supply the wants of the consuming countries, without becoming sensi- 
ble of its defect of policy. The failure of a crop, or the failure of a mar- 
ket, does not discourage the cultivator. He renews his labors another year, 
and he renews his hopes. It is otherwise with manufacturing industry. 
The precise quantum of its produce, at least, can with some accuracy be 
previously estimated. And the wants of foreign countries can be with 
some probabiKty anticipated. 

I am sensible, Mr. Chairman, if I have even had a success, which I dare 
not presume, in the endeavor I have been making to show that sound pol- 
icy requires a diversion of so much of the capital and labor of this country 
from other employments as may be necessary, by a diflferent application of 
them, to secure, within ourselves, a steady and adequate supply of the great 
necessaries of life, I shall have only established one half of what is incum- 
bent upon me to prove. It will still be required by the other side, that a 
second proposition be supported, and that is, that government ought to 
present motives for such a diversion and new application of labor and cap- 
ital, by that species of protection which the tariif holds out. Gentlemen 
say, We agree with you ; you are right in your first proposition ; but, " let 
things alone," and they will come right in the end. Now, I agree with them, 
that things would ultimately get right ; but not until after a long period 
of disorder and distress, terminating in the impoverishment, and perhaps 
ruin, of the country. Dissolve government, reduce it to its primitive ele- 
ments, and without any general effort to reconstruct it, there would arise, 
out of the anarchy which would ensue, partial combinations for the pur- 
pose of individual protection, which would finally lead to a social form, 
competent to the conservation of peace within, and the repulsion of force 
from without. Yet no one would say, in such a state of anarchy, Let 
things alone ! If gentlemen, by their favorite maxim, mean only that, 
within the bosom of the State, things are to be left alone, and each indi- 
vidual, and each branch of industry, allowed to puisue their respective in- 
terests, without giving a preference to either, I subscribe to it. But if they 
give it a more comprehensive import ; if they require that things be left 



230 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

alone, in respect not only to interior action, but to exterior action also ; not 
only as regards the operation of our own government upon the mass of 
the interests of the State, but as it relates to the operation of foreign gov- 
ernments upon that mass, I dissent from it. 

In this maxim, in this enlarged sense, it is indeed everywhere pro- 
claimed ; but nowhere practiced. It is truth in the books of European 
political economists. It is error in the practical code of every European 
State. It is not applied where it is most applicable ; it is attempted to be 
introduced here, where it is least applicable ; and even here its friends 
propose to limit it to the single branch of manufacturing industry, while 
every other interest is encouraged and protected according to the policy of 
Europe. The maxim would best suit Europe, when each interest is ad- 
justed and arranged to every other, by causes operating during many 
centuries. Every thing there has taken and preserved its ancient position. 
The house that was built centuries ago, is occupied by the descendants of 
its original constructor. If one could rise up after the lapse of ages, and 
enter a European shop, he would see the same hammer at work, on the 
same anvil or last, and almost by the same hand. There every thing has 
found its place and level, and every thing, one would think, might there 
safely be left alone. But the policy of the European States is otherwise. 
Here every thing is new and unfixed. Neither the State, nor the indivi- 
duals who compose it, have settled down in their permanent positions. 
There is a constant tendency, in consequence of the extent of our public 
domain, toward production for foreign markets. The maxim, in the com- 
prehensive sense in which I am considering it, requires, to entitle it to ob- 
servation, two conditions, neither of which exists. First, that there should 
be perpetual peace, and secondly, that the maxim should be everywhere 
respected. When war breaks out, that free and general circulation of the 
produce of industry among the nations which it recommends, is interrupt- 
ed, and the nation that depends upon a foreign supply for its necessaries, 
must be subjected to the greatest inconvenience. If it be not everywhere 
observed, there will be, between the nation that does not, and the nation 
that does, conform to it, an inequality alike condemned by honor and by 
interest. If there be no reciprocity ; if, on the one side, there is perfect 
freedom of trade, and on the other a code of odious restiictions, will 
gentlemen still contend that we are to submit to such an unprofitable and 
degrading intercourse ? Will they require that we shall act upon the 
social system, while every other power acts upon the selfish ? Will they 
demand of us to throw widely open our ports to every nation, while all 
other nations entirely or partly exclude theirs against our productions ? It 
is, indeed, possible, that some pecuniary advantage might be enjoyed by 
our country in prosecuting the remnant of the trade which the contracted 
policy of other powers leaves to us. But what security is there for oui 
continuing to enjoy even that? And is national honor, is national inde- 
pendence, to count as nothing ? I will not enter into a detail of the re- 



ON THE PEOTECTION OF HOME INDU8TBY. 231 

strictions with which we are everywhere preseuted in foreign countries. 
I will content myself with asserting that they take nothing from us which 
they can produce themselves, upon even worse terms than we could supply 
thera. Take, again, as an example, the English corn-laws. America pre- 
sents the image of a fine, generous-hearted young fellow, who has just 
come to the possession of a rich estate — an estate, which, however, requires 
careful management. He makes nothing ; he buys every thing. He is 
surrounded by a parcel of Jews, each holding out his hand with a packet 
of buttons or pins, or some other commodity, for sale. If he asks those 
Jews to buy any thing which his estate produces, they tell him no ; it is 
not for our interest ; it is not for yours. Take this new book, says one of 
them, on political economy, and you will there perceive it is for your in- 
terest to buy from us, and to let things alone in your own country. The 
gentleman from Virginia, to whom I have already referred, has surrendered 
the whole argument, in the example of the East India trade. He thinks 
that because India takes nothing but specie from us, because there is not a 
reciprocal exchange between us and India, of our respective productions, 
that the trade ought to be discontinued. Now I do not agree with him, 
that it ought to be abandoned, though I would put it under considerable 
restrictions, when it comes in competition with the fabrics of our own 
country. If the want of entire reciprocity be a suflBcient ground for the 
totfil abandonment of a particular branch of trade, the same principle re- 
quires that, where there are some restrictions on the other side, they 
should be countervailed by equal restrictions on the other. 

But this maxim, according to which gentlemen would have us abandon 
the home industry of the country, to the influence of the restrictive sys- 
tems of other countries, without an effort to protect and preserve it, is not 
itself observed by the same gentlemen, in regard to the great interests 
of the nation. We protect our fisheries by bounties and drawbacks. We 
protect our tonnage, by excluding or restricting foreign tonnage, exactly as 
our tonnage is excluded or restricted by foreign States. We passed, a year 
or two ago, the bill to prohibit British navigation from the West India 
colonies of that power to the United States, because ours is shut out from 
them. The session prior to the passage of that law, the gentlenian from 
South Carolina and I, almost alone, urged the House to pass it. But the 
subject was postponed until the next session, when it was passed by nearly 
a unanimous vote, the gentleman from South Carolina, and the two gentle- 
men from Virginia (Messrs. Barbour and Tyler) voting with the majority. 
We have now upon our table other bills connected with that object, and 
proposing restriction upon the French tonnage to countervail theirs upon 
ours. I shall, with pleasure, vote for these measures. We protect our 
foreign trade by consuls, by foreign ministers, by embargoes, by non-inter- 
course, by a navy, by fortifications, by squadrons constantly acting abroad, 
by war, and by a variety of commercial regulations in our statute-book. 
The whole system of the general government, from its first formation to 



282 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the present time, consists, almost exclusively, in one unremitting endeavoi 
t/) nourish, and protect, and defend the foreign trade. Why have not all 
these great interests been left to the operation of the gentlemen's favorite 
maxim ? Sir, it is perfectly right that we should have afforded this pro- 
tection. And it is perfectly right, in my humble opinion, that we should 
extend the principle to the home industry. I am a friend to foreign trade, 
but I protest against its being the monopolist of all the parental favor and 
care of this government. 

But, sir, friendly as I am to the existence of domestic manufactures, I 
would not give to them unreasonable encouragement, by protecting duties. 
Their growth ought to be gradual but sure. I believe all the circum- 
stances of the present period highly favorable to their success. But they 
are the youngest and the weakest interest of the State. Agriculture wants 
but little or no protection against the regulations of foreign powers. The 
advantages of our position, and the cheapness, and abundance, and fertility 
of our land, afibrd to that greatest interest of the State almost all the pro- 
tection it wants. As it should be, it is strong and flourishing ; or, if it 
be not, at this moment, prosperous, it is not because its produce is not 
ample, but because, depending, as we do altogether, upon a foreign market 
for the sale of the surplus of that produce, the foreign market is glutted. 
Our foreign trade, having almost exclusively engrossed the protecting care 
of government, wants no further legislative aid. And, whatever depres- 
sion it may now experience, it is attributable to causes beyond the control 
of this government. The abundance of capital, indicated by the avidity 
with which loans are sought, at the reduced rate of five per centum ; the 
reduction in the wages of labor, and the decline in the price of property 
of every kind, as well as that of agricultural produce, all concur favorably 
for domestic manufactures. Now, as when we arranged the existing tariff, 
is the auspicious moment for government to step in and cheer and counte- 
nance them. We did too little then, and I endeavored to warn this House 
of the effects of inadequate protection. We were called upon, at that 
time, by the previous pledges we had given, by the inundation of foreign 
fabrics, which was to be anticipated from their free admission after the term- 
ination of the war, and by the lasting interests of this country, to give 
them efficient support. We did not do it ; but let us not now repeat the 
error. Our great mistake has been in the irregularity of the action of the 
measures of this government upon manufacturing industry. At one period 
it, is stimulated too high, and then, by an opposite course of pohcy, it is 
precipitated into a condition of depression too low. First there came the 
embargo ; then non- intercourse, and other restrictive measures followed ; 
and finally, that greatest of all stimuli to domestic fabrication, war. 
During all that long period we were adding to the positive effect of the 
measures of government, all the moral encouragement which results from 
popular resolves, legislative resolves, and other manifestations of the publio 
will and the public wish to foster our home manufactures, and to rendw 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 233 

our confederacy independent of foreign powers. The peace ensued, and 
the country was flooded with the fabrics of other countries ; and we, for- 
getting all our promises, coolly and philosophically talk of leaving things 
to themselves — making up our deficiency of practical good sense, by the 
stores of learning which we collect from theoretical writers. I, too, son:>e- 
times amuse myself with the visions of these writers (as I do with those 
of metaphysicians and novelists), and, if I do not forget, one of the best 
among them enjoins it upon a country to protect its industry against the 
injurious influence of the prohibitions and restrictions of foreign countries, 
which operate upon it. 

Monuments of the melancholy effects upon our manufactures, and of the 
fluctuating policy of the councils of the Union in regard to them, abound 
in all parts of the country. Villages, and parts of villages, which sprang 
up but yesterday in the western country, under the excitement to which I 
have referred, have dwindled into decay, and are abandoned. In New 
England, in passing along the highway, one frequently sees large and 
spacious buildings, with the glass broken out of the windows, the shutters 
hanging in ruinous disorder, without any appearance of activity, and en- 
veloped in solitary gloom. Upon inquiring what they are, you are almost 
always informed that they were some cotton or other factory, which their 
proprietors could no longer keep in motion against the overwhelming press- 
ure of foreign competition. Gentlemen ask for facts to show the expe- 
diency and propriety of extending protection to our manufactures. Do 
they want stronger evidence than the condition of things I have pointed 
out ? They ask, why the manufacturing industry is not resumed under 
the encouraging auspices of the present time ? Sir, the answer is obvious, 
there is a general dismay ; there is a want of heart ; there is the greatest 
moral discouragement experienced throughout the nation. A man who 
engages in the manufacturing business is thought by his friends to be de- 
ranged. Who will go to the ruins of Carthage or Baalbec to rebuild a 
city there ? Let government comnjence a systematic but moderate support 
of this important branch of our industry ; let it announce its fixed pur- 
pose, that the protection of manufactures against the influence of the 
measures of foreign governments, will enter into the scope of our national 
policy ; let us substitute, for the irregular action of our measures, one that 
shall be steady and uniform ; and hope, and animation, and activity, will 
again revive. The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Lowndes) off"ered 
a resolution, which the House rejected, having for its object to ascertain 
the profits now made upon capital employed in manufacturing. It is not, 
I repeat it, the individuals, but the interests we wish to have protected. 
From the infinite variety of circumstances under which different manufac- 
turing establishments are situated, it is impossible that any information 
such as the gentleman desires, could be obtained, that ought to guide the 
judgment of this House. It may happen that, of two establishments en- 
gaged in the same species of fabrication, one will be prospering and the 



234 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Other languishing. Take the example of the Waltham manufactory near 
Boston, and that of Brunswick in Maine. The former has the advantage 
of a fine water situation, a manager of excellent information, enthusias- 
tically devoted to its success, a machinist cf most inventive genius, who is 
constautly making some new improvement, and who has carried the water 
loom to a degree of perfection which it has not attained in England — to 
such perfection as to reduce the cost of weaving a yard of cloth adapted 
to shirting to less than a cent — while it is abundantly supplied with cap- 
ital by several rich capitalists in Boston. These gentlemen have the most 
extensive correspondence with all parts of the United States, Owing to 
this extraordinary combination of favorable circumstances, the Waltham 
establishment is doing pretty well ; while that of Brunswick, not possess- 
ing all of them, but perhaps as many as would enable it, under adequate 
protection, to flourish, is laboring arduously, "Will gentlemen infer, from 
the success of a few institutions having peculiar advantages, which foim 
exceptions to the languishing condition of manufacturing industry, that 
there exists no necessity for protection ? In the most discouraging state 
of trade and navigation, there are, no doubt, always some individuals who 
are successful in prosecuting them. Would it be fair to argue, from these 
instances, against any measure brought forward to revive their activity ? 

The gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Whitman) has manifested pe- 
cuhar hostility to the tariff, and has allowed himself to denominate it a 
mad, quixotic, ruinous scheme. The gentleman is dissatisfied with the quar- 
ter — the west — from which it emanates. To give higher tone and more 
effect to the gentleman's declamation, which is vague and indefinite, he has 
even assumed a new place in this House, Sir, I would advise the gentle- 
man to return to his ancient position, moral and physical. It was respect- 
able and useful. The honorable gentleman professes to be a friend to man- 
ufacturers! And yet he has found an insurmountable constitutional 
impediment to their encouragement, of which, as no other gentleman has 
rehed upon it, I shall leave him in the undisturbed possession. The hon- 
orable gentleman a friend to manufacturers ! And yet he has delivered a 
speech, marked with pecuHar emphasis, against their protection. The hon- 
orable gentleman a friend to manufacturers ! And yet he requires, if this 
constitutional difficulty could be removed, such an arrangement of the tar- 
iff as shall please him, although every one else should be dissatisfied. The 
intimation is not new of the presumptuousness of western politicians, in 
endeavoring to give to the policy of this country such a direction as will 
assert its honor and sustain its interests. It was first made while the mea- 
sures preparatory to the late war were under consideration, and it now 
probably emanates from the same quarter. The predilection of the school 
of the Essex junto for foreign trade and British fabrics— I am far from in- 
sinuating that other gentlemen who are opposed to the tariff are actuated 
by any such spirit — is unconquerable. We disregarded the intimation when 
it was first made ; we shall be uninfluenced by it now. If, indeed, there 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 235 

were the least color for the assertion, that the foreign trade is to be crushed 
by the tariflf, is it not strange, that the whole of the representation from all 
our great commercial metropolises should unite to destroy it ? The mem- 
ber from Boston — to whose rational and disinterested course I am happy, 
on this, as on many other occasions, to be able to testify — the representa- 
tives from the city of New York, from Philadelphia, from Baltimore, all 
entered into this confederacy, to destroy it, by supporting this mad and 
ruinous scheme. Some gentlemen assert that it is too comprehensive. 
But its chief recommendation to me is, that it leaves no important interest 
unprovided for. 

The same gentleman, or others, if it hsd been more limited, would have 
objected to its partial operation. The general measure of the protection 
which it communicates, is pronounced to be immoderate and enormous. 
Yet no one ventures to enter into a specification of the particular articles 
of which it is composed, to show that it deserves thus to be characterized. 
The article of molasses has, indeed, been selected, and held up as an in- 
stance of the alleged extravagance. The existing taritf imposes a duty of 
five cents, the proposed tarifi" ten cents per gallon. We tax foreign spirits 
very high, and yet we let in, with a very low duty, foreign molasses, which 
ought to be considered as rum in disguise, filling the space of so much do- 
mestic spirits. If (which I do not believe will immediately be the case, to 
any considerable extent) the manufacture of spirits from molasses, should 
somewhat decline under the new tariff", the manufacture of spirits from the 
raw material, produced at home, will be extended in the same ratio. Be- 
sides the incidental advantage of increasing our security against the effect 
of seasons of scarcity, by increasing the distillation of spirits from grain, 
there is scarcely any item in the tariff" which combines so many interests 
in supporting the proposed rate of duty. The grain-growing country, the 
fruit country, and the culture of cane, would be all benefited by the duty. 
Its operation is said, however, to be injurious to a certain quarter of the 
Union. It is not to be denied, that each particular section of the country 
will feel some one or more articles of the tariff" to bear hard upon it, dur- 
ing a short period ; but the compensation is to be found in the more favor- 
able operation of others. Now I am fully persuaded that, in the first, 
instance, no part of the Union would share more largely than New En- 
gland, in the aggregate of the benefits resulting from the tariff". But thf 
habits of economy of her people, their industry, their skill, their noble en- 
terprise, the stimulating eff"ects of their more rigorous climate, all tend to 
insure to her the first and the richest fruits of the tariff". The middle and 
the western States will come in afterward for their portion, and all will 
participate in the advantage of internal exchanges and circulation. No 
quarter of the Union will urge with a worse grace than New England, 
objections to a measure, having for its object the advancement of the in- 
terests of the whole ; for no quarter of the Union participates more exten- 
sively in the benefits flowing from the general government. Her tonnage. 



236 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

her fisheries, her foreign trade, have been constantly objects of federal caie. 
There is expended the greatest portion of the public revenue. The build- 
ing of the public ships ; their equipments ; the expenses incident to their 
remaining in port, chiefly take place there. That great drain on the 
revenue, the revolutionary pension law, inclines principally toward New 
England. I do not, however, complain of these advantages which she 
enjoys. She is probably fairly entitled to them. But gentlemen from that 
quarter may, at least, be justly reminded of them, when they complain of 
the onerous effect of one or two items of the tariff. 

Mr. Chainnan, I fiankly own that I feel great solicitude for the success 
of this bill. The entire independence of my country of all foreign States, 
as it respects a sup})ly of our essential wants,' has ever been with me a 
favorite object. The war of our Revolution effected our political emanci- 
pation. The last war contributed greatly toward accomplishing our com- 
mercial freedom. But our complete independence will only be consum- 
mated after the policy of this bill shall be recognized and adopted. We 
have, indeed, great diflSculties to contend with — old habits, colonial usages, 
the obduracy of the colonial spirit, the enormous profits of a foreign trade, 
prosecuted, under favorable circumstances, which no longer continue. I 
will not despair ; the cause, I verily beheve, is the cause of the country. It 
may be posponed ; it may be frustrated for the moment, but it must 
finally prevail. Let us endeavor to acquire for the present Congress the 
merit of having laid this solid foundation of the national prosperity. I^ 
as I think, fatally for the public interest, the bill shall be defeated, what 
will be the character of the account which we shall have to render to our 
constituents upon our return among them ? We shall be asked. What have 
you done to remedy the disorder of the public currency ? Why, Mr. 
Secretary of the Tieasury made us a long report on that matter, containing 
much valuable information, and some very good reasoning, but, upon the 
whole, we found that subject rather above our comprehension, and we con- 
cluded that it was wisest to let it regulate itself. What have you done to 
supply the deficit in the treasury ? We thought that, although you are all 
endeavoring to get out of the banks, it was a veiy good time for us to go 
into them, and we have authorized a loan. You have done something 
then, certainly, on the subject of retrenchment. Here, at home, we are 
practicing the greatest economy, and our daughters, no longer able to wear 
calico gowns, are obliged to put on homespun. Why, we have saved, by 
the indefatigable exertions of a member from Tennessee (General Cocke), 
fifty thousand dollars, which were wanted for the Yellow Stone expedition. 
No, not quite so much ; for thirty thousand dollars of that sum were still 
wanted, although we stopped the expedition at the Council Bluffs. And 
we have saved another sum, which we hope will give you great satisfac- 
tion. After nearly two days' debate, and a division between the two 
Houses, we struck off two hundred dollais from the salary of the clerk of 
the Attorney Geueral. What have you done to protect home industry 



ON THE PROTECTION OF HOME INDUSTRY. 237 

from the eflPects of the contracted policy of foreign powers ? We thought 
it best, after much deliberation, to leave things alone at home, and to con- 
tinue our encouragement to foreign industry. Well, surely you have 
passed some law to reanimate and revive the hopes of the numerous 
bankrupts that have been made by the extraordinary circumstances of the 
world, and the ruinous tendency of our poUcy ? No ; the Senate could not 
agree on that subject, and tbe bankrupt bill failed ! Can we plead, sir, 
Ignorance of the general distress, and of the ardent wishes of the com- 
munity for that protection of its industry which this bill proposes ? No, 
sir, almost daily, throughout the session, have we been receiving petitions 
with which our table is now loaded, humbly imploring us to extend this 
protection. Unanimous resolutions from important State Legislatures have 
called upon us to give it, and the people of whole States in mass — almost 
in mass, of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio — have trans- 
mitted to us their earnest and humble petitions to encourage the home in- 
dustry. Let us not turn a deaf ear to them. Let us not disappoint their 
just expectations. Let us manifest, by the passage of this bill, that Con- 
gress does not deserve the reproaches which have been cast on it, of in- 
jensibility to the wants and sufferings of the people. 



ON SENDING A MINISTER TO SOUTH AMERICA. 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MAT 10, 1820. 

[Mr. Clay was the earliest advocate in Christendom for the 
recognition of the independence of the South American States, 
and had labored long and hard in this cause before it obtained 
favor in Congress, or with the administration. Now, however, 
in 1820, it was said that the President of the United States, 
Mr. Monroe, was running a race with Mr. Clay, to get ahead of 
him in appropriating the glory of this movement. As President 
of the United States, Mr. Monroe certainly had the advantage, 
inasmuch as a favorable disposition in him toward a recogni- 
tion of the independence of those States, might seem to have 
a greater official consequence. Nevertheless, Mr. Clay's early 
zeal in this cause, and his persistency, had made too deep an 
impression on the public mind of the world to admit of a rival. 
It is also a remarkable fact, that Mr. Canning, the British prime 
minister, claimed to have called a new world into existence, in 
having moved the Cabinet of George the Fourth to recognize 
the independence of Mexico, Colombia, and Buenos Ayres, in 
1824. But Mr. Clay had achieved this, through the American 
Congress, in 1 822. And thus Mr. Canning came into the race in 
company with Mr. Monroe ; but both of them were too late for 
the honor so modestly claimed. The South American patriots 
had recognized Mr. Clay's early advocacy of their cause, had 
voted him thanks, had translated his speeches and circulated 
them, had erected monuments to his honor, and celebrated his 
name in patriotic songs. It was simply absurd for Mr. Monroe, 
or Mr. Canning, or any body else, to attempt to rob Mr. Clay of 
the fame acquired by his early and disinterested advocacy of 
South American independence. All the world knows that he 
was the pioneer in this philanthropic enterprise. Mr. Clay's 
resolution was carried by a vote of eighty to seventy-five, which 
was the first majority obtained in Congress for this object. 



ON SENDING A MINISTER TO SOUTH AMERICA. 239 

There is one remarkable passage in this speech of Mr. Clay, 
which, if it had been uttered by him twenty years later, would 
have stamped him at the South as an AboUtionist " of the 
straitest sect." It is this : " Will gentlemen contend," said 
Mr. Clay, " because these people (the South Americans) are not 
like us in all particulars, they are therefore unfit for freedom ? 
In some particulars, he ventured to say that the people of South 
America were in advance of us. On the point which had been 
so much discussed on this floor, during the present session, they 
were greatly in advance of us : Granada, Venezuela, and Bu- 
enos Ayres, had all emancipated their slaves." 

The House being in committee of the whole, on the state of the Union, 
and a motion being made to that effect, the committee resolved to proceed 
to the consideration of the following resolutions : 

Resolved, That it is expedient to provide by law a suitable outfit and 
salary for such minister or ministers as the president, by and with the ad- 
vice and consent of the Senate, may send to any of the governments of 
South America, which have established, and are maintaining, their inde- 
pendence of Spain : 

Resolved, That provision ought to be made for requesting the President 
of the United States to cause to be presented to the general, the most 
worthy and distinguished, in his opinion, in the service of any of the inde- 
pendent governments of South America, the sword which was given by 
the viceroy of Lima to Captain Biddle of the Ontario, during her late 
cruise in the Pacific, and which is now in the oflSce of the Department of 
State, with the expression of the wish of the Congress of the United States, 
that it may be employed in the support and preservation of the liberties 
and independence of his country. 

When Mr. Clay arose and said : It is my intention, Mr. Chairman, to 
withdraw the latter resolution. Since I offered it, this House (by the pas- 
sage of the bill to prevent, under siutable penalties, in future, the acceptance 
of presents, forbidden by the Constitution, to prohibit the carrying of 
foreigners in the public vessels, and to limit to the case of our own citizens, 
and to regulate in that case, the transportation of money in them), has, 
perhaps, suflBciently animadverted on the violation of the Constitution, 
which produced that resolution. I confess, that when I heard of Captain 
Biddle receiving from the deputy of a king the sword in question, I felt 
greatly mortified. I could not help contrasting his conduct with that of the 
surgeon on board an American man-of-war, in the bay of Naples (I regret that 
I do not recollect his name, as I should like to record, with the testimony 
which I with pleasure bear to his high-minded conduct), who, having per- 
formed an operation on one of the suite of the Emperor of Austria, and 
being offered fifteen hundred pistoles or dollars for his skillful service, re- 



240 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

turned the purse, and said, that what he had done was the cause of hu- 
manity, and that the Constitution of his country forbade his acceptance of 
the proffered boon. There was not an American heart that did. not swell 
with pride on hearing of his noble disinterestedness. It did appear to 
me, also, that the time of Captain Biddle's interposition was unfortunate 
to produce an agreement between the viceroy of Lima and Chili, to ox- 
change their respective prisoners, however desirable the accomplishment 
of such a humane object might be. The viceroy had constantly refused 
to consent to any such exchange. And it is an incontestable fact, that tbe 
barbarities which have characterized the civil war in Spanish America have 
uniformly originated with the royalists. After the memorable battle of 
Maipu, decisive of the independence of Chili, and fatal to the arms of the 
viceroy, this interposition, if I am not mistaken, took place. The trans- 
portation of money, upon freight, from the port of Callao to that of Rio 
Janeiro, for royalists, appeared to me also highly improper. If we wish 
to preserve, unsullied, the illustrious character, which our navy justly sus- 
tains, we should repress the very first instances of irregularity. But I am 
wiUing to believe that Captain Biddle's conduct has been inadvertent. He 
is a gallant oflScer, and belongs to a respectable and patriotic family. His 
errors, I am persuaded, will not be repeated by him or imitated by others. 
And I trust that there is no man more unwilling than I am, unnecessarily 
to press reprehension. It is thought, moreover, by some, that the president 
might feel an embaiTassment in executing the duty required of him by the 
resolution, which it was far from my purpose to cause him. I withdraw it. 

There is no connection intended, or in fact, between that resolution and 
the one I now propose briefly to discuss. The proposition, to recognize 
the independent governments of South America, offers a subject of as 
great importance as any which could claim the deliberate consideration of 
this House. 

Mr. Clay then went on to say, that it appeared to him the object of this 
government, heretofore, had been, so to manage its affairs, in regard to 
South America, as to produce an effect on its existing negotiations with 
the parent country. The House were now apprised, by the message from 
the president, that this policy had totally failed ; it had failed, because our 
country would not di^onor itself by surrendering one of the most im- 
portant rights incidental to sovereignty. Although we had observed a 
course toward the patriots, as Mr. Gallatin said, in his communication read 
yesterday, greatly exceeding in rigor the course pursued toward them either 
by France or England ; although, also, as was remarked by the Secretary of 
State, we had obsei'ved a neutrality so strict that blood had been spilt in 
enforcing it ; still, Spanish honor was not satisfied, and fresh sacrifices were 
demanded of us. If they were not resisted in form, they were substan- 
tially yielded by our course as to South America. We will not stipulate 
with Spain not to recognize the independence of the south ; but we never- 
theless grant her all she demands. 



ON SENDING A MINISTER TO SOUTH AMERICA. 241 

Mr. Clay said, it had been his intention to have gone into a general 
view of the course of policy which has characterized the general govern- 
ment ; but on account of the lateness of the session, and the desire for an 
early adjournment, he should waive, for that purpose, and, in the observa- 
tions he had to make, confine himself pretty much to events subsequent 
to the period at which he had submitted to the House a proposition having 
nearly the same object as this. 

After the return of our commissioners from South America ; after they 
had all agreed in attesting the fact of independent sovereignty being ex- 
ercised by the government of Buenos Ay res; the whole nation looked 
forward to the recognition of the independence of that country, as the 
policy which the government ought to pursue. He appealed to every 
member to say, whether there was not a general opinion, in case the report 
of that mission should turn out as it did, that the recognition of the inde- 
pendence of that government would follow, as a matter of course. The 
surprise at a different course being pursued by the executive at the last 
session, was proportionably great. On this subject, so strong was the mes- 
sage of the president at the commencement of the present session, that 
some of the presses took it for granted, that the recognition would follow 
of course, and a paper in this neighborhood has said that there was, in r^ 
gard to that question, a race of popularity between the President of the 
United States and the bumble individual who now addresses the House. 
Yet, faithless Ferdinand refuses to ratify his own treaty, on the pretext 
of violations of our neutrality ; but in fact, because we will not basely sur- 
render an important attribute of sovereignty. Two years ago, he said, 
would, in his opinion, have been the proper time for recognizing the inde- 
pendence of the South. Then the struggle was somewhat doubtful, and a 
kind office on the part of this government would have had a salutary 
effect. Since that period, what had occurred ? Any thing to prevent a 
recognition of their independence, or to make it less expedient ? No ; 
every occurrence tended to prove the capacity of that country to maintain 
its independence. He then successively adverted to the battles of Maipu, 
and Bojaca, their great brilliancy, and their important consequences. 
Adverting to the union of Venezuela and New Granada in one republic, 
he said, one of the first acts was, to appoint one of their most distinguished 
citizens, the vice president Zea, a minister to this country. There was a 
time, he said, when impressions are made on individuals and nations, by 
kindness toward them, which lasts forever, when they are surrounded 
witb enemies, and embarrassments present themselves. Ages and ages 
may pass away, said he, before we forget the help we received in our day 
of peril, from the hands of France. Her injustice, the tyranny of her des- 
pot, may alienate us for a time ; but, the moment it ceases, we relapse 
into a good feeling toward her. Do you mean to wait, said he, until 
these republics are recognize-l by the whole world, and then step in and 
extend your hand to them, when it can no longer be withheld ? If we are 

16 



242 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

to believe General Vives, we have gone about among foreign powers, and 
consulted with Lord Castlereagh and Count Nessekode, to seek some aid 
in recognizing the independence of these powers. What ! after the pres- 
ident has told us that the recognition of the independence of nations is 
an incontestable right of sovereignty, shall we lag behind till the European 
powers think proper to advance ? The president has assigned, as a reason 
for abstaining from the recognition, that the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 
might take offense at it. So far from such an usurped interference being a 
reason for stopping, he would have exerted the right the sooner for it. 
But the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle had refused to interfere, and on that 
point the president was mistaken. Spain, it was true, had gone about beg- 
ging the nations of Europe not to interfere in behalf of the South Amer- 
icans ; but the wishes of the whole unbiassed world must be in their favor. 
And while we had gone on, passing neutrality bill after neutrality bill, and 
bills to punish piracy — with respect to unquestioned piracy, no one was 
more in favor of punishing it than he ; but he had no idea of imputing 
piracy to men fighting under the flag of a people at war for independence 
— while he pursued this course, even in advance of the legitimates of 
Europe, what, he asked, had been the course of England herself on this 
head ? Here he quoted a few passages from the work of Abbe de Pradt, 
recently translated by one of our citizens, which he said, though the author 
was not very popular among crowned heads, no man could read without be- 
ing enlightened and instructed. These passages dwell on the importance 
of the commerce of South America, when freed from its present restraints, 
and so forth. What would I give, exclaimed he, could we appreciate the 
advantages, which may be realized by pursuing the course which I propose ! 
It is in our power to create a system of which we shall be the center and in 
which all South America will act with us. In respect to commerce, we 
shall be most benefited ; this country would become the place of deposit of 
the commerce of the world. Our citizens engaged in foreign trade at pres- 
ent were disheartened by the condition of that trade ; they must take new 
channels for it, and none so advantageous could be found, as those which 
the trade with South America would afford. Mr. Clay took a prospective 
view of the growth of wealth, and increase of population of this country 
and South America. That country had now a population of upwaad of 
eighteen millions. The same activity in the principle of population would 
exist in that country as here. Twenty-five years hence it might be esti- 
mated at thirty-six millions ; fifty years hence, at seventy-two millions. 
We now have a population of ten millions. From the character of our 
population, we must always take the lead in the prosecution of commerce 
and manufactures. Imagine the vast power of the two countries, and the 
value of the intercourse between them, when we shall have a population of 
forty millions, and they of seventy millions ! In relation to South America, 
the people of the United States will occupy the same position as the people 
of New England do to the rest of the United States. Our enterprise, in- 



ON SENDING A MINISTER TO SOUTH AMERIJA. 243 

dustrj;, and habits of economy, will give us the advantage in any competi 
tion which South America may sustain with us, and so forth. 

But, however important our early recognition of the independence of 
the South might be to us, as respects our commercial and manufacturing 
interests, was there not another view of the subject, infinitely more grati- 
fying ? We should become the center of a system which would constitute 
the rallying-point of human freedom against all the despotism of the old 
world. Did any man doubt the feelings of the South toward us? In 
spite of our coldness toward them, of the rigor of our laws, and the con- 
duct of our oflBcers, their hearts still turned toward us, as to their brethren 
and he had no earthly doubt, if our government would take the lead and 
recognize them, they would become yet more anxious to imitate our insti- 
tutions, and to secure to themselves and to their posterity the same freedom 
which we enjoy. 

On a subject of this sort, he asked, was it possible we could be content to 
remain, as we now were, looking anxiously to Europe, watching the eyes 
of Lord Castlereagh, and getting scraps of letters doubtfully indicative of 
his wishes ; and sending to the Czar of Russia and getting another scrap 
from Count Nesselrode ? Why not proceed to act on our own responsibil- 
ity, and recognize these governments as independent, instead of taking the 
lead of the holy alliance in a course which jeopardizes the happiness of un- 
born millions. He deprecated this deference for foreign powers. If Lord 
Castlereagh says we may recognize, we do ; if not, we do not. A single ex" 
pression of the British minister to the present Secretary of State, then our 
minister abroad, he was ashamed to say, had molded the policy of our 
government toward South America. Our institutions now make us free ; 
but how long shall we continue so, if we mold our opinions on those of 
Europe ? Let us break these commercial and political fetters ; let us no 
longer watch the nod of any European politician ; let us become real and 
true Americans, and place ourselves at the head of the American system. 

Gentleman all said, they were all anxious to see the independence of the 
South established. If sympathy for them was enough, the patriots would 
have reason to be satisfied with the abundant expressions of it. But some- 
thing more was wanting. Some gentlemen had intimated, that the people 
of the South were unfit for freedom. Will gentlemen contend, said Mr. 
Clay, because those people are not like us in all particulars, they are there- 
fore unfit for freedom ? In some particulars, he ventured to say, that the 
people of South America were in advance of us. On the point which had 
been so much discussed on this floor, during the present session, they were 
greatly in advance of us. Granada, Venezeula, and Buenos Ayres, had all 
emancipated their slaves. He did not say that we ought to do so, or that 
they ought to have done so, under ditt'erent circumstances ; but he rejoiced 
that the circumstances were such as to permit them to do it. 

Two questions only, he argued, were necessarily preliminary to the rec- 
ognition of the independence of the people of the South ; first, as to the 



244 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

fact of thei- independence ; and, secondly, as to the capacity for self-goy- 
crnmeot. On the first point, not a doubt existed. On tlie second, there 
was every evidence in their favor. They had fostered schools with creat 
care, there were more newspapers in the single town of Buenos Ayres (at 
the time he was speaking) than in the whole kingdom of Spain. He never 
saw a question discussed with more abihtythan that in a newspaper of Buenos 
Ayres, whether a federative or consolidated form of government was best. 

But, though every argument in favor of the recognition should be ad- 
mitted to be just, it would be said, that another revolution had occurred in 
Spain, and we ought, therefore, to delay. On the contrary, said he, every 
consideration recommended us to act now. If Spain succeeded in establish- 
ing her freedom, the colonies must also be free. The first desire of a gov- 
ernment itself free, must be to give liberty to its dependences. On the 
other hand, if Spain should not succeed in gaining her freedom, no man 
can doubt that Spain, in her reduced state, would no longer have power to 
carry on the contest. So many millions of men could not be subjugated 
by the enervated arm and exhausted means of aged Spain. In ten years 
of war, the most unimportant province of South Ameiica had not been 
subdued by all the wealth and the resources of Spain. The certainty of 
the successful resistance of the attempts of Spain to reduce them, would be 
found in the great extent of the provinces of South America — of larger 
extent than all the empire of Russia. The relation of the colonies and 
mother country, could not exist, from the nature of things, under what- 
ever aspect the government of Spain might assume. The condition of 
Spain was no reason for neglecting now to do what we ought to have done 
long ago. Every thing, on the contrary, tended to prove that this, this was 
the accepted time. 

With regard to the form of his proposition, all he wanted was, to obtain 
an expression of the opinion of the House on this subject ; and whether a 
minister should be authorized to one or the other of these governments, or 
whether he should be of one grade or of another, he cared not. This re- 
public, with the exception of the people of South America, constituted the 
•ole depository of political and religious freedom ; and can it be possible, 
said he, that we can remain passive spectators of the struggle of those 
people to break the same chains which once bound us ? The opinion of 
the friends of freedom in Europe is, that our policy has been cold, heartless, 
and indifi'erent, toward the gi'eatest cause which could possibly engage our 
affections and enlist our feehngs in its behalf. 

Mr. Clay concluded by saying that, whatever might be the decision of 
this House on this question, proposing shortly to go into retirement from 
public life, he should there have the consolation of knowing that he had 
used his best exertions in favor of a people inhabiting a territory calculated 
to contain as many souls as the whole of Christendom besides, whose hap- 
piness was at stake, and which it was in the power of this government to 
do 80 much toward securing. 



ON THE GREEK REVOLUTION. 

IN THE H0U&3 OF REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 20, 1824. ^ 

[American citizens, who liave lived a quarter of a century 
since they were old enough to observe the public affairs of the 
world, will even now (1856) vividly remember the exciting in- 
terest of the Greek Revolution, the barbarous atrocities of the 
Turks in attempting to suppress it, and the sympathy of all 
Christendom for the Greeks, while fighting for independence. 
It was the Cross against the Crescent, Christianity against 
Mohammedism. The Greeks being nominally Christians, all 
Christian nations naturally sympathized with them, more espe- 
cially on account of the inhumanities practiced by the Turks on 
the Greeks, when the latter fell into the power of the former. 
The rules of civilized warfare were utterly disregarded by the 
Turks, and savage butchery followed in the train of their vic- 
tories. 

The President of the United States, Mr. Monroe, had noticed 
this struggle in his annual message, and expressed a sympathy 
for the Greeks, which met with a universal and approving re- 
sponse from the American people. Mr. Webster, then a member 
of the House of Representatives, introduced the following reso- 
lution : 

" That provision ought to be made by law for defraying the 
expense incident to the appointment of an agent or commis- 
sioner to Greece, whenever the president shall deem it expedient 
to make such an appointment." 

Upon which he (Mr. Webster) made an able and eloquent 
speech, which was followed by a speech from Mr. Clay, of which 
the following is a copy. It hardly need be said that Mr. Clay's 
sympathies for the South American States, in their struggle for 
independence, would naturally respond to the Greek Revolution. 
He seconded most earnestly and vigorously the motion of Mr. 
Webster, and declared, that if this were Federalism — as had 
been charged, because it came from Mr. Webster — then he (Mr. 



246 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

Clay) was a Federalist, and that he would quit the Republican 
ranks if he could find no sympathy there for such a cause as 
suffering Greece presented. The Holy Alliance had set itself 
up as the guardian of European affairs, and of Greece in her 
present struggle ; and it had been suggested in this debate, on 
the floor of the House, that for Republican America to express 
her feelings in view of this spectacle, would be displeasing to 
that tribunal. That was another reason why Mr. Clay would 
urge the independent and sympathetic action of the government 
of the United States. He would never be deterred by such a 
plea in terror em over the feelings of the American heart. We 
had first and alone recognized the independence of the South 
American States ; and if there were any good reasons for that, 
the reasons were much stronger to express our sympathy with 
the Greeks. Although this motion of Mr. Webster, so ably 
supported by himself and Mr. Clay, failed to obtain a vote of 
the House of Representatives, the instructions of our govern- 
ment to Commodore Rogers, in the Mediterranean, were doubt- 
less influenced by this debate, as appears by the following ex- 
tract from a letter of General Lafayette to Mr. Clay, dated 
La Grange, Nov. 25, 1825 : " The rumor of very peculiar acts 
of benevolence from the American squadron and Commodore 
Rogers in behalf of the Greeks, which has produced no party 
complaint that I know of, has, in the enlightened and liberal 
part of the world, added to the popularity and dignity of the 
American name." This incidental and indirect evidence verifies 
the argument of Mr. Clay, that nothing could be lost, and much 
might be gained, by our showing favor to the cause of the Greek 
Revolution.] 

In rising, let me state distinctly the substance of the original proposi- 
tion of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster), with that of the 
amendment of the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Poinsett). The 
resolution proposes a provision of the means to defray the expense of de- 
puting a commissioner or agent to Greece, whenever the president, who 
knows, or ought to know, the disposition of all the European powers, 
Turkish or Christian, shall deem it proper. The amendment goes to with- 
hold any appropnation to that object, but to make a public declaration of 
our sympathy with the Greeks, and of our good wishes for the success of 
their cause. And how has this simple, unpretending, unambitious, this 
harmless proposition, been treated in debate ? It has been argued as if it 
offered aid to the Greeks ; as if it proposed the recognition of the inde- 
pendence of their government; as a measure of unjustifiable interference 



OV THE GREEK RETVOLUTION. 247 

in the internal affairs of a foreign State, and, finally, as war. And they 
who thus argue the question, while they absolutely surrender themselves 
to the illusions of their own fervid imaginations, and depict, in glowing 
terms, the monstrous and alarming consequences which are to spring out 
of a proposition so simple, impute to us, who are its humble advocates, 
quixotism, quixotism ! While they are taking the most extravagant and 
boundless range, and arguing any thing and every thing but the question 
before the poramittee, they accuse us of enthusiasm, of giving the reins to 
excited feeling, of being transported by our imaginations. No, sir, the 
resolution is no proposition for aid, nor for recognition, nor for interference, 
nor for war. 

I know that there are some who object to the resolution on account of 
the source from which it has sprung — who except to its mover, as if its 
value or importance were to be estimated by personal considerations. I 
have long had the pleasure of knowing the honorable gentleman from 
Massachusetts, and sometimes that of acting with him ; and I have much 
satisfaction in expressing my high admiration of his great talents. But I 
would appeal to my republican friends, those faithful sentinels of civil lib- 
erty with whom I have ever acted, shall we reject a proposition, consonant 
to our principles, favoring the good and great cause, on account of the polit- 
ical character of its mover ? Shall we not rather look to the intrinsic 
merits of the measure, and seek every fit occasion to strengthen and per- 
petuate liberal principles and noble sentiments ? If it were possible for re- 
publicans to cease to be champions of human freedom, and if federalists 
become its only supporters, I would cease to be a republican ; I would be- 
come a federalist. The preservation of the public confidence can only be 
secured, or merited, by a faithful adherence to the principles by which it 
has been acquired. 

Mr. Chairman, is it not extraordinary that for these two successive years 
the president of the United States should have been freely indulged, not 
only without censure, but with universal applause, to express the feelings 
which both the resolution and the amendment proclaim, and yet, if this 
House venture to unite with him, the most awful consequences are to en- 
sue ? From Maine to Georgia, from the Atlantic ocean to the Gulf of 
Mexico, the sentiment of approbation has blazed with the rapidity of eleo- 
tricity. Everywhere the interest in the Grecian cause is felt with the 
deepest intensity, expressed in every form, and increases with every new 
day and passing hour. And are the representatives of the people alone to 
be insulated from the common moral atmosphere of the whole land? 
Shall we shut ourselves up in apathy, and separate ourselves from oxir 
country, from our constituents, from our chief magistrate, from our prin- 
ciples ? 

The measure has been most unreasonably magnified. Gentlemen speak 
of the watchful jealousy of the Turk, and seem to think the slightest 
movement of this body will be matter of serious speculation at Constanti- 



248 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY 

nople. I believe that neither the sublime porte, nor the European allies, 
attach any sucli exaggerated importance to the acts and deliberations of this 
body. The Turk will, in all probability, never hear of the names of the 
gentlemen who either espouse or oppose the resolution. It certainly is 
not without a vjilue ; but that value is altogether moral ; it throws our 
little tribute into the vast stream of public opinion, which sooner or later 
must regulate the physical action upon the great interests of the civil- 
ized world. But, rely upon it, the Ottoman is not about to declare war 
against us because this unoffending proposition has been offered by my 
honorable friend fi'om Massachusetts, whose name, however distinguished 
and eminent he may be in our own country, has probably never reached 
the ears of the sublime porte. The allied powers are not going to be 
thrown into a state of consternation, because we ajjpropriate some two or 
three thousand dollars to send an agent to Greece. 

The question has been argued as if the Greeks would be exposed to 
still more shocking enormities by its passage ; as if the Turkish cimeter 
would be rendered still keener, and dyed deeper and yet deeper in Chris- 
tian blood. Sir, if such is to be the effect of the declaration of our sym- 
pathy, the evil has been already produced. That declaration has been 
already publicly and solemnly made by the chief magistrate of the United 
States, in two distinct messages. It is this document which commands, at 
home and abroad, the most fixed and xmiversal attention ; which is trans- 
lated into all the foreign journals ; read by sovereigns and their ministers ; 
and, possibly, in the Divan itself. But our resolutions are domestic, for 
home consumption, and rarely, if ever, meet imperial or royal eyes. The 
president, in his messages, after a most touching representation of the feel- 
ings excited by the Greek insurrection, tells you that the dominion of the 
Turk is gone forever ; and that the most sanguine hope is entertained that 
Greece will achieve her independence. Well, sir, if this be the fact, if the al- 
lied powers themselves may, possibly, before we again assemble in this hall, 
acknowledge that independence, is it not fit and becoming in this House to 
make provision that our president shall be among the foremost, or at least 
not among the last, in that acknowledgment ? So far from this resolu- 
tion being likely to whet the vengeance of the Turk against his Grecian 
victims, I believe its tendency will be directly the reverse. Sir, with all his 
unlimited power, and in all the elevation of his despotic throne, he is at 
last but a man, made as we are, of flesh, of muscle, of bone and sinew. He 
is susceptible of pain, and can feel, and has felt the uncalculating valor of 
American freemen in some of his dominions. And when he is made to 
understand that the executive of this government is sustained by the rep- 
resentatives of the people ; that our entire political fabric, base, column, 
and entablature, rulers and people, with heart, soul, mind and strength, are 
ull on the side of the gallant people whom he would crush, he will be 
more likely to restrain than t« increase his atrocities upon suffering anc 
bleeding Greece. 



ON THE GREEK REVOLUTION. 249 

The g>3ntleinan from New Hampshire (Mr. Bartlett) has made, on this 
occasioD, a very ingenious, sensible, and ironical speech — an admirable de- 
hut for a new member, and such as I hope we shall often have repeated on 
this floor. But permit me to advise my young fnend to remember the 
maxim, " that suflScieut unto the day is the evil thereof ;" and when the 
resolution,* ou another subject, which I had the honor to submit, shall 
come up to be discussed, I hope he will not content himself with sjiying, as 
he has now done, that it is a very extraordinary one ; but that he will then 
favor the House with an argumentative speecli, proving that it is our duty 
quietly to see laid prostrate every fortress of human hope, and to behold, 
with indifference, the last outwork of liberty taken and destroyed. 

It has been said that the proposed measure will be a departure from our 
uniform policy with respect to foreign nations ; that it will provoke the 
wrath of the holy alliance ; and that it will, in effect, be a repetition of their 
own offense, by an unjustifiable interposition in the domestic concerns of 
other powers. No, sir, not even if it authorized, which it does not, an 
immediate recognition of Grecian independence. What has been the set- 
tled and steady policy and practice of this government, from the days of 
Washington to the present moment? In the case of France, the father of 
his country and his successors received Genet, Fouchet, and all the French 
ministers who followed them, whether sent from king, convention, anarchy, 
emperor, or king again. The rule we have ever followed has been this : 
to look at the state of the fact, and to recognize that government, be it 
what it might, which was in actual possession of sovereign power. When 
one government is overthrown, and another is established on its ruins, with- 
out embarrasssing ourselves with any of the principles involved in the con- 
test, we have ever acknowledged the new and actual government as soon as 
it had undisputed existence. Our simple inquiry has been, is there a gov- 
ernment de facto ? We have had a recent and memorable example. 
When the allied ministers retired from Madrid, and refused to accompany 
Ferdinand to Cadiz, ours remained, and we sent out a new minister, who 
sought at that port to present himself to the constitutional king. Why ? 
Because it was the government of Spain, in fact. Did the allies declare war 
against us for the exercise of this incontestable attribute of sovereignty ? 
Did they even transmit any diplomatic note complaining of our conduct i 
The line of our European policy has been so plainly described that it is 
impossible to mistake it. We are to abstain from all interference in their 
disputes, to take no part in their contests, to make no entangling alliances 
with any of them ; but to assert and exercise our indisputable right of 
opening and maintaining diplomatic intercourse with any actual sov- 
ereignty. 

There is reason to apprehend that a tremendous storm is ready to 

* Mr. Clay's resolution, that the people of the United States would not regard 
with indifference any interference of the holy alliance against the independence of 
South America. 



250 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

burst upon our nappy country— one which may call into action all our 
vio-or, courage, and resources. Is it wise or prudent, in preparing to breast 
the storm, if it must come, to talk to this nation of its incompetency to 
re{)el European aggression — to lower its spirit, to weaken its moral energy, 
and to qualify it for easy conquest and base submission 1 If there be any 
reality in the dangers which are supposed to encompass us, should we not 
animate the people, and adjure them to believe, as I do, that our resources 
are ample ; and that we can bring into the field a million of freemen, ready 
to exhaust their last drop of blood, and to spend the last cent in the de- 
fense of the country, its liberty, and its institutions ? Sir, are these, if 
united, to be conquered by all Europe combined ? All the perils to which 
we can possibly be exposed are much less in reality than the imagination 
is disposed to paint them. And they are best averted by a habitual con- 
templation of them, by reducing them to their true dimensions. If com- 
bined Europe is to precipitate itself upon us, we can not too soon begin to 
invigorate our strength, to teach our heads to think, our hearts to conceive, 
and our arms to execute the high and noble deeds which belong to the 
character and glory of our country. The experience of the world instructs 
us, that conquests are already achieved which are boldly and firmly re- 
solved on ; and that men only become slaves who have ceased to resolve to 
be free. If we wish to cover ourselves with the best of all armor, let ua 
not discourage our people, let us stimulate their ardor, let us sustain their 
resolution, let us proclaim to them that we feel as they feel, and that, with 
them, we are determined to live or die like fi-eemen. 

Surely, sir, we need no long or learned lectures about the nature of gov- 
ernment, and the influence of property or ranks on society. We may con- 
tent ourselves with studying the true character of our own people, and 
with knowing that the interests are confided to us of a nation capable of 
doing and sufiering all things for its liberty. Such a nation, if its rulers 
be faithful, must be invincible. I well remember an observation made to 
me by the most illustrious female of the age, if not of her sex, Madame 
de Stael. All history showed, she said, that a nation was never conquered. 
No, sir, no united nation, that resolves to be free, can be conquered. And 
has it come to this ? Are we so humbled, so low, so debased, that we dare 
uot express our sympathy for sufiering Greece ; that we dare not articu- 
late our detestation of the brutal excesses of which she has been the 
bleeding victim, lest we might oftend some one or more of their imperial 
and royal majesties ? If gentlemen are afraid to act rashly on such a sub- 
ject, suppose, Mr. Chairman, that we unite in an humble petition, ad- 
dressed to their majesties, beseeching them, that of their gracious con- 
descension, they would allow us to express our feelings and our syjupathies. 
How shall it run ? " We, the representatives of the free people of the 
United States of America, humbly approach the thrones of your im- 
perial and royal majesties, and supplicate that, of your imperial and roy- 
al clemency — " I can not go through the disgusting recital ; my lip» 



ON THE GREEK BEVOLUTION. 251 

have not yet learned to pronounce the sycophantic language of a degraded 
slave ! Are we so mean, so base, so despicable, that we may not attempt 
to express our horror, utter our indignation, at the most brutal and atro- 
cious war that ever stained earth or shocked high heaven ? at the ferocious 
deeds of a savage and infuriated soldiery, stimulated and urged on by the 
clergy of a fanatical and inimical religion, and rioting in all the excesses of 
blood and butchery, at the mere details of which the heart sickens and re- 
coils ? 

If the great body of Christendom can look on calmly and coolly, while 
all this is perpetrated on a Christian people, in its own immediate vicinity* 
in its very presence, let us at least evince, that one of ita remote extrem- 
ities is susceptible of sensibility to Christian wrongs, and capable of sym- 
pathy for Christian sufferings ; that in this remote quarter of the world 
there are hearts not yet closed against compassion for human woes, that 
can pour out their indignant feelings at the oppression of a people endeared 
to us by every ancient recollection, and every modem tie. Sir, attempts 
have been made to alarm the committee by the dangers to our commerce 
in the Mediteiranean ; and a wretched invoice of figs and opium has been 
spread before us to repress our sensibilities and to eradicate our humanity. 
Ah ! sir, " what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose 
his own soul ?" or what shall it avail a nation to save the whole of a miser- 
able trade, and lose its liberties ? 

On the subject of the other independent American States, hitherto it has 
not been necessary to depart from the rule of our foreign relations, ob- 
served in regard to Europe. Whether it will become us to do so or not, 
'vill be considered when we take up another resolution, lying on the table. 
But we may not only adopt this measure : we may go further ; we may 
recognize the government in the Morea, if actually independent, and it 
will be neither war, nor cause of war, nor any violation of our neutrality. 
Beside, sir, what is Greece to the allies ? A part of the dominions of any 
of them ? By no means. Suppose the people in one of the Philippine 
Isles, or any other spot still more insulated and remote, in Asia or Afiica, 
were to resist their former rulers, and set up and establish a new gov- 
ernment, are we not to recognize them, in dread of the holy allies ? K 
they are going to interfere, from the danger of the contagion of the ex- 
ample, here is the spot, our own favored land, where they must strike. 
This government, you, Mr. Chairman, and the body over which you pre- 
side, are the living and cutting reproach to allied despotism. If we are 
to offend them, it is not by passing this resolution. We are daily and 
hourly giving 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 in- 
terests of freemen, and dispensing the blessings of free government 
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 



252 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

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 prin- 
ciple 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 sovereignity, in which a 
new government, just struggling into being, can not be said yet perfectly 
to exist. But the premature recognition of such new government can 
give offense justly to no other than its ancient sovereign. The right of 
recognition comprehends the right to be informed ; and the means of in- 
formation must, of necessity, depend upon the sound discretion of the 
party seeking it. You may send out a commission of inquiry, and charge 
i* 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 
contending for her 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 effec- 
tuate. 

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 princij)ally 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 tlie 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 behold, with cold and un- 
feeling indifference, the unexampled wrongs and inexpressible misery of 
Christian Greece, a proposition was made in the Congress of the Unitt^d 
States, almost the sole, the hist, the greatest depository of human hope and 



ON THE GREEK REVOLUTION. 253 

human freedom, the representatives of a gallant nation, containing a mil- 
lion 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 sup- 
plicating and invoking high heaven to spare and succor Greece, and to in- 
vigorate her arms in her glorious cause, while 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 ofi'ered 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 can not tell how, but that some unknown 
dread, some indescribable apprehension, some indefinable danger, drove you 
from your purpose ; that the specters of cimeters, and crowns, and cres- 
cents, gleamed before you and alarmed you ; and that you suppressed all 
the noble feelings prompted by rehgion, by liberty, by national independ- 
ence, and by humanity. I can not 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 astd 31, 1824. 

[We come now to one of the most elaborate compositions of 
Mr. Clay, on a theme in which he always felt the deepest interest. 
No one can read the following speech without being sensible of 
the patient study and profound investigation, which it must have 
cost the author. Simple and unadorned, as Mr. Clay's style al- 
ways is, this is, nevertheless, what may be called an ornate, as 
well as an elaborate production. It is one of the greatest studies 
of his life, and the subject was worthy of it — called for it. We 
have before noticed the failure of the tariff bill of 1820, for lack 
of a single vote in the Senate, and how much depended upon it. 
After the close of the war of 1812, down to 1820, the country 
had suffered incalculably for want of adequate protection to 
home industry, and the loss of the tariff of 1820 was a calamity 
the extent of which could not be estimated. Besides the almost 
total paralysis of domestic trade and foreign commerce, and the 
painful contraction of the currency, Mr. Clay's estimate of the 
average depression of fifty per cent, in all kinds of property in the 
country, by reason of these misfortunes, was by no means extrav- 
agant. What an amazing reckoning this, if it were a just one ! 
Four years from 1820, the country had gone on suffering in this 
manner, in addition to all the disadvantages of the previous fou* 
years, from 1816 to 1820. If Mr. Clay's patriotism could ever 
prompt him to a great effort — of which no one will doubt — it 
was during the pendency of the tariff bill of 1824. The protec- 
tion of American manufactures was a subject of which Mr. Clay 
was now perfect master. He had studied it profoundly for more 
than twenty years, and had often advocated it, first, in the Legis- 
lature of Kentucky, and afterward, in Congress. He had closely 
observed the painful experience of the country from 1816 to 1824, 
for want of protection, and he came to the argument of the fol- 
lowing speech armed with facts, and stimulated in a high degree 
by his patriotic zeal. It was in this speech that his American 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 255 

System was baptized by himself, and leaped from the font, to 
bear that name forever in the political history of the country. 
The tariff of 1824 passed both Houses of Congress, was approved 
by the president (somewhat reluctantly), and became a law. In 
reference to this tariff, Mr. Clay said, in 1832, being then in the 
Senate : " If I were to select any term of seven years, since the 
adoption of the present Constitution, which exhibited a scene of 
the most wide-spread dismay and desolation, it would be exactly 
that term of seven years which immediately preceded the estab- 
lishment of the tariff of 1824 ; and if the term of seven years 
were to be selected, of the greatest prosperity which this people 
have enjoyed, since the establishment of their present Constitu- 
tion, it would be exactly that period of seven years which imme- 
diately followed the passage of the tariff of 1824." This descrip- 
tion of these two cycles of our history will, perhaps, be enough 
to commend to the profoundest consideration the following great 
argument of Mr. Clay, when it is considered, that it was greatly, 
not to say chiefly, influential, in procuring the adoption of the 
tariff* of 1824. It is the most compact and best constructed 
paper that was ever written upon the subject — a condensation of 
Mr. Clay's thoughts, of his reasonings, and of the fruits of his 
researches on this theme, for a quarter of a century — all brought 
to bear on this occasion.] 

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 senti- 
ments at large on the policy of the pending measure ; and it is scarcely 
necessary for me to say he has evinced his usual good temper, ability, and 
decorum. The parts of the bill are so intermingled and interwoven to- 
gether, 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 con- 
sideration 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 fulfill 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 



256 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

would aLxiously and ferveutly implore His divine assistance ; that He 
would be graciously pleased to shower on my country His richest bless- 
ings ; 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. Ac- 
cording 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. Ac- 
cording to the system of the other (-lass, while 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 ar- 
range the duties on foreign fabrics as to afford a gradual but adequate pro- 
tection 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 for- 
bearance. 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 diminish- 
ed exports of native produce ; by the depressed and reduced state of our 
foreign navigation ; by our diminished commerce ; by successive unthresh- 
ed crops of grain, perishing in our bams 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 employ- 
ment, and a consequent reduction of the wages of labor ; by the ravenous 
purcuit after public situations, not for the sake of their honors and the per- 
fomance of their public duties, but as a means of private subsistence ; by 
the '•eluctant resort to the perilous use of paper money ; by the interven- 
tioi jf legislation in the delicate relation between debtor and credito** ; 
an( above all, by the low and depressed state of the value of almost every 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 257 

deecription of the whole mass of the property of the nation, which haa, on 
an average, sunk not less than about fifty per centum within a few years. ^ 
This distress pervades every part of the Union, every class of society ; al) 
feel it, though it may be felt, at diflferent places, in ditierent 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 circumstance 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 in- 
terest consoled itself with its happy exemptions, but it has now reache'd 
this interest also, which experiences, though with less severity, the general 
suftering. 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 authoiized 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 rem- 
edies. We have not, thank God, suflfered 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. MoFal and pecuniary sufiering is, if possible, 
more poignant. It plunges its victim into hopeless despair. It poisons, it 
paralyzes, the spring and source of all usefiil exertion. Its unsparing ac- 
tion 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 ob- 
jects of his aflfection. What is the cause of this wide-spreading distress, 
of this deep depression, which we behold stamped on the public counte- 
nance ? We are the same people. We have the same country. We can 
not 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 can not now be justly preferreil. They, on the 
contrary, for the few last years, at least, have been practicing the most rig- 
id 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 government, we have shaped ou. 

\n 



258 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

-ndustry, our navigation, and our commerce, in reference to an extraordi- 
nary war in Europe, and to foreign markets, which no longer exist ; in the 
fact, that we have depended too much upon foreign sources of supply, and 
excited too little the native ; in the fact that, while we have cultivated, 
with assiduous care, our foreign resources, we have suffered those at home 
to wither, in a state of neglect and abandonment. 

The consequence of the termination of the war of Europe has been, the 
resumjjtion of European commerce, European navigation, and the extension 
of European agriculture and European industry, in all its branches. 
Europe, therefore, has no longer occasion, to any thing like the same ex- 
tent as that she had during her wars, for American commerce, American 
navigation, the produce of American industry. Europe, in commotion, and 
convulsed throughout all her members, is to America no longer the same 
Europe as she is now, tranquil, and watching with the most vigilant atten- 
tion all her own peculiar interests, without regard to the operation of her 
policy upon us. The effect of this altered state of Europe upon us has 
been to circumscribe the employment of our marine, and greatly to reduce 
the value of the produce of our territorial labor. The further effect of 
this twofold reduction has been, to decrease the value of all property, 
whether on the laud or on the ocean, and which I suppose to be about 
fifty per centum. And the still further effect has been, to diminish the 
amount of our circulating medium, in a proportion not less, by its trans- 
mission abroad, or its withdrawal by the banking institutions, from a ne- 
cessity which they could not control. The quantity of money, in whatever 
form it may be, which a nation wants, is in proportion to the total mass 
of its wealth, and to the activity of that wealth. A nation that has but 
little wealth, has but a limited want of money. In stating the fact, there- 
fore, that the total wealth of the country has diminished, within a few years*. 
in a ratio of about fifty per centum, we shall, at once, fully comprehend 
the inevitable reduction which must have ensued, in the total quantity of 
the circulating medium of the country. A nation is most prosperous 
when there is a gradual and untempting addition to the aggregate of its 
circulating medium. It is in a condition the most adverse, when there 
is a rapid diminution in the quantity of the circulating medium, and 
a consequent depression in the value of property. In the former case, the 
wealth of individuals insensibly increases, and income keeps ahead of ex- 
penditure. But in the latter instance, debts have been contracted, engage- 
ments made, and habits of expense established, in reference to the ex- 
isting state of wealth and of its representative. When these come to be 
greatly reduced, individuals find their debts still existing, their engage- 
ments unexecuted, and their habits inveterate. They see themselves in the 
possession of the same property, on which, in good faith, they had bound 
themselves. But that property, without their fault, possesses no longer the 
same value ; and hence discontent, impoverishment, and ruin, arise. Let ua 
suppose, Mr. Chairman, that Europe was again the theater of such a gen- 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY 259 

eral war as recently raged throughout all her dominions — such a state of 
the war as existed in her greatest exertions and in our greatest prosperity ; 
instantly there would arise a greedy demand for the surplus produce of our 
industry, for our commerce, for our navigation. The langor whicli now 
prevails in our cities, and in our sea-ports, would give way to an animated 
activity. Our roads and rivers would be crowded with the produce of the 
interior. Everywhere we should witness excited industry. The precious 
metals would reflow from abroad upon us. Banks, which have maintained 
their credit, would revive their business ; and new banks would be estab- 
lished to take the place of those which have sunk beneath the general 
pressure. For it is a mistake to suppose that they have produced our 
present adversity ; they may have somewhat aggravated it, but they were 
the effect and the evidence of our prosperity. Prices would again get up ; 
the former value of property would be restored. And those embarrassed 
persons who have not been already overwhelmed by the times, would sud- 
denly find, in the augmented value of their property, and the renewal of 
their business, ample means to extricate themselves from all their diflBcul- 
ties. The greatest want of civilized society is, a market for the sale and 
exchange of the surplus of the produce of the labor of its members. 
This market may exist at home or abroad, or both ; but it must exist 
somewhere, if society prospers ; and, wherever it does exist, it should be 
competent to the absorption of the entire surplus of production. It is 
most desirable that there should be both a home and a foreign market. 
But, with respect to their relative superiority, I can not entertain a doubt. 
The home market is first in order, and paramount in importance. The 
object of the bill under consideration, is, to create this home market, and 
to lay the foundations of a genuine American policy. It is opposed ; and 
it is incumbent upon the partisans of the foreign policy (terms which I 
shall use without any invidious intent), to demonstrate that the foreign 
market is an adequate vent for the surplus produce of our labor. But is 
it so ? First, foreign nations can not, if they would, take oiir surplus pro- 
duce. K the source of supply, no matter of what, increases in a greater 
ratio than the demand for that supply, a glut of the market is inevitable, 
even if we suppose both to remain perfectly unobstructed. The duplica- 
tion of our population takes place in terms of about twenty-five years. 
The term will be more and more extended as our numbers multiply. But 
it will be a suflScient approximation to assume this ratio for the present. 
We increase, therefore, in population, at the rate of about four per centum 
per annum. Supposing the increase of our production to be in the same 
ratio, we should, every succeeding year, have of surplus produce, four per 
centum more than that of the preceding year, without taking into the ac- 
count the differences of seasons which neutralize each other. If, therefore, 
we are to rely upon the foreign market exclusively, foreign consumption 
ought to be shown to be increasing in the same ratio of four per centum 
per annum, if it be an adequate vent for our surplus produce. But, as I 



260 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

have supposed the measure of our increasing production to be fumishe*? 
by that of our increasing population, so the measure of their power of 
consumption must be determined by that of the increase of their popula- 
tion. Now, the total foreign population, who consume our surplus pro- 
duce, upon an average, do not double their aggregate number in a shorter 
term than that of about one hundred years. Our powers of produc- 
tion increjise then, in a ratio four times greater than their powers of con- 
sumption. And hence their utter inability to receive from us our surplus 
produce. 

But, secondly, if they could, they will not. The policy of all Europe la 
adverse to the reception of our agricultural produce, so far as it comes 
into collision with its own ; and under that limitation we are absolutely 
forbid to enter their ports, except under circumstances which deprive them 
of all value as a steady market. The policy of all Europe rejects those 
great staples of our country which consist of objects of human subsistence. 
The policy of all Europe refuses to receive from us any thing but those 
raw materials of smaller value, essential to their manufactures, to which 
they can give a higher value, with the exception of tobacco and rice, which 
they can not produce. Even Great Britain, to which we are its best cus- 
tomer, and from which we receive nearly one half in value of our whole 
imports, will not take from us articles of subsistence produced in our 
'»untry cheaper than can be produced in Great Britain. In adopting this 
exclusive policy, the States of Europe do not inquire what is best for us, 
but what suits themselves respectively ; they do not take jurisdiction of 
the question of our interests, but limit the object of their legislation to 
that of the conservation of their own peculiar interests, leaving us free to 
prosecute ours as we please. They do not guide themselves by that roman- 
tic philanthropy, which we see displayed here, and which invokes us to 
continue to purchase the produce of foreign industry, without regard to 
the state or prosperity of our own, that foreigners may be pleased to pur- 
chase the few remaining articles of ours, which their restricted policy has 
not yet absolutely excluded from their consumption. What sort of a 
figure would a member of the British Parliament have made, what sort of 
a reception would his opposition have obtained, if he had remonstrated 
against the passage of the corn-law, by which British consumption is 
limited to the bread-stuffs of British production, to the entire exclusion of 
American, and stated, that America could not and would not buy British 
manufactures, if Britain did not buy American flour ? 

Both the inability and the policy of foreign powers, then, forbid us to 
rely upon the foreign market, as being an adequate vent for the surplus 
produce of x\merican labor. Now let us see if this general reasoning is 
not f<^rtified and confirmed by tlie actual experience of this country. If 
the foreign market may be safely relied upon, as furnishing an adequate 
demand for our surplus produce, then the official documents will show a 
progressive increase, from year to year, in the exports of our native pro- 



OK AMERICAN IKDUSTRT. 861 

duce, in a proportion equal to that whtich I have suggested. 11^ on the 
contrary, we shall find from them that, for a long term of past years, some 
of our most valuable staples have retrograded, some remained stationary, 
and others advanced but little, if any, in amount, with the exception of cot- 
ton, the deductions of reason and the lessons of experience will aifke com- 
mand us to withdraw our confidence in the competency of the foreign 
market. The total amount of all our exports of domestic produce for the 
year, beginning in 1796, and ending on the thirtieth September, 1796, 
was forty uiilliuns seven hundred and sixty-four thousand and ninety-seveu. 
Estimating the increase according to the ratio of the increase of our pop- 
ulation, that is, at four per centum per annum, the amount of the exports 
of the same produce, in the year ending on the thirtieth of September last, 
ought to have been eighty-five millions four hundred and twenty thousand 
eight hundred and sixty-one. It was in fact, only forty-seven millions one 
hundred and fifty-five thousand four hundred and eight. Taking the aver- 
age of five years, from 1803 to 1807, inclusive, the amount of native pro- 
duce exported, was forty-tbree millions two hundred and two thousand 
seven hundred and fifty-one for each of those years. Estimating what it 
ought to have been, during the last year, applying the principle suggested 
to that amount, there should have been exported seventy-seven millions 
seven hundred and sixty-six thousand seven hundred and fifty-one, instead 
of forty-seven milhons one hundred and fifty-five thousand four hundred and 
eight. If these comparative amounts of the aggregate actual exports, and 
what they ought to have been, be discouraging, we shall find, on descend- 
ing into particulars, still less cause of satisfaction. The export of tobacco 
in 1791, was one hundred and twelve thousand four hundred and twenty- 
eight hogsheads. That was the year of the largest exportation of that 
article ; but it is the only instance in which I have selected the maximum 
of exportation. The amount of what we ought to have exported last year, 
estimated according to the scale of increase which I have used, is two 
hundred and sixty-six thousand thi'ee hundred and thirty-two hogsheads. 
The actual export was ninety-nine thousand and nine hogsheads. We ex- 
ported, in 1803, the quantity of one million three hundred and eleven 
thousand eight hundred and fifty-three barrels of flour ; and ought to have 
exported last year, two millions three hundred and sixty-one thousand 
three hundred and thirty-three barrels. We, in fact, exported only seven 
hundred and fifty-six thousand seven hundred and two barrels. Of that 
quantity, we sent to South America one hundred and fifty thousand barrels, 
according to a statement furnished me by the diligence of a friend near 
me (Mr. Poinsett), to whose valuable mass of accurate information, in re- 
gard to that interesting quarter of the world, I have had occasion fre- 
quently to apply. But that demand is temporary, growing out of the 
existing state of war. Whenever peace is restored to it, and I now hope 
that the day is not distant when its independence will be generally acknowl- 
edged, there can not be a doubt that it will supply its own consumption. 



262 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

In all parts of it, the soil, either from climate or from elevation, is well 
a(japted to the culture of wheat ; and nowhere can better wheat be pro- 
dur-ed, than in some portions of Mexico and Chili. Still the market of 
South America, is one which, on other accounts, deserves the greatest con- 
sideration. And I congratulate you, the committee, and the country, on 
the recent adoption of a more auspicious policy toward it. 

We exported, in 1803, Indian corn to the amount of two millions seven- 
ty-four thousand six hundred and eight bushels. The quantity should have 
been, in 1823, three millions seven hundred and thirty-four thousand two 
hundred and eighty-eight bushels. The actual quantity exported, was 
seven hundred and forty-nine thousand and thirty-four bushels, or about 
one fifth of what it should have been, and a little more than one third of 
what it was more than twenty years ago. We ought not, then, to be sur- 
prised at the extreme depression of the price of that article, of which I 
have heard my honorable friend (Mr. Basse tt) complain, nor of the distress 
of the corn-growing districts adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay. We export- 
ed seventy-seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-four barrels of beef in 
1803, and last year but sixty-one thousand four hundred and eighteen, in- 
stead of one hundred and forty thousand two hundred and seventy-four 
barrels. In the same year (1803) we exported ninety-six thousand six 
hundred and two barrels of pork, and last year fifty-five thousand five hun- 
dred and twenty -nine, instead of one hundred and seventy-three thousand 
eight hundred and eighty-two ban-els. Rice has not advanced, by any 
means, in the proportion, which it ought to have done. All the small ar- 
ticles, such as cheese, butter, candles, and so forth, too minute to detail, 
but important in their aggregate, have also materially diminished. Cotton 
alone has advanced. But, while the quantity of it is augmented, its actual 
value is considerably diminished. The total quantity last year, exceeded 
that of the preceding year, by nearly thirty millions of pounds. And yet 
the total value of the year of smaller exportation, exceeded that of the last 
year by upward of three and a half millions of dollars. If this article, the 
capacity of our country to produce which was scarcely known in 1790, 
were subtracted from the mass of our exports, the value of the residue 
would only be a little upward of twenty-seven millions during the last 
year. The distribution of the articles of our exports throughout the United 
States, can not fail to fix the attention of the committee. Of the forty- 
seven millions one hundred and fifty-five thousand four hundred and eight* 
to which they amounted last year, three articles alone (cotton, rice, and to 
bacco) composed together twenty-eight millions five hundred and forty- 
nine thousand one hundred and seventy-seven. Now these articles are 
chiefly produced at the South. And if we estimate that portion of our pop- 
ulation who are actually engaged in their culture, it would probably not 
exceed two millions. Thus, then, less than one fiftli of the whole popula- 
tion of the United States produced upward of one half^ nearly two thirds, 
of the entire value of the exports of the last year. 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 268 

Is this foreign market, so incompetent at present, and wliich, limited as 
its demands are, operates so unequally upon the productive labor of our 
country, likely to improve in future ? If I am correct in the views which I 
have presented to the committee, it must become worse and worse. What 
can improve it ? Europe will not abandon her own agriculture to foster 
oui's. We may even anticipate that she will more and more enter into 
competition with us in the supply of the West India market. That of South 
America, for articles of subsistence, will probably soon vanish. The value 
of our exports, for the future, may remain at about what it was last year. 
But, if we do not create some new market ; if we persevere iu the existing 
pursuits of agiiculture, the inevitable consequence must be, to augment 
greatly the quantity of our produce, and to lessen its value in the foreign 
market. Can there be a doubt on this point ? Take the article of cotton, 
for example, which is almost the only article that now remunerates labor 
and capital. A certain description of labor is powerfully attracted toward 
the cotton-growing country. The cultivation will be gieatly extended, the 
aggregate amount annually produced, will be vastly augmented. The price 
will fall. The more unfavorable soils will then be gradually abandoned. 
And I have no doubt that, in a few years, it will cease to be profitably pro- 
duced, anywhere north of the thirty-fourth degree of latitude. But, in the 
mean time, large numbers of the cotton-growers will sufier the greatest dis- 
tress. And while this distress is brought upon our own country, foreign 
industry will be stimulated by the very cause which occasions our distress. 
For, by surcharging the markets abroad, the price of the raw material 
being reduced, the manufacturer will be able to supply cotton fabrics 
cheaper ; and the consumption, in his own country, and in foreign nations, 
other than ours (where the value of the import must be limited to the 
value of the export, which I have supposed to remain the same), being pro- 
portionably extended, there will be consequently, an increased demand for 
the produce of his industry. 

Our agriculture is our greatest interest. It ought ever to be predominant. 
All others should bend to it. And, in considering what is for its advantage, 
we should contemplate it in all its varieties, of planting, farming and grazing. 
Can we do nothing to invigorate it ; nothing to correct the errors of the 
past, and to brighten the still more unpromising prospects which lie before 
us ? We have seen, I think, the causes of the distresses of the country. We 
have seen, that an exclusive dependence upon the foreign market must lead 
to still severer distress, to impoverishment, to ruin. We must then change 
somewhat our course. We must give a new direction to some portion 
of our industry. We must speedily adopt a genuine American policy. 
Still cherishing the foreign market, let us create also a home market, to 
give further scope to the consumption of the produce of American in- 
dustry. Let us counteract the policy of foreigners, and withdraw the sup- 
port which we now give to their industry, and stimulate that of our own 
country. It should be a prominent object with wise legislators, to multi- 



264 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ply the vocations and extend the business of society, as far as is can be 
done, by the protection of our interests at home, against the injurious ef- 
fects of foreii^n legislation. Suppose we were a nation of fishermen, or of 
skippers, to the exclusion of every other occupation, and the Legislature 
had the power to introduce the pursuits of agriculture and manufactures, 
would not our happiness be promoted by an exertion of its authority ? 
All the existing employments of society — the learned professions — com- 
merce — agriculture — are now overflowing. We stand in each other's way. 
Hence the want of employment. Hence the eager pursuit after public 
stations, which I have before glanced at. I have been again and again 
shocked, during this session, by instances of solicitation for places, before 
the vacancies existed. The pulse of incumbents, who happen to be taken 
ill, is not marked with more anxiety by the attending physicians, than by 
those who desire to succeed them, though with very opposite feelings. 
Our old friend, the faithful sentinel, who has stood so long at our door, and 
the gallantry of whose patriotism deserves to be noticed, because it was 
displayed when that virtue was most rare and most wanted, on a memor- 
able occasion in this unfortunate city, became indisposed some weeks ago. 
The first intelligence which I had of his dangerous illness, was by an ap- 
phcation for his unvacated place. I hastened to assure myself of the ex- 
tent of his danger, and was happy to find that the eagerness of succession 
outstripped the progress of disease. By creating a new and extensive 
business, then, we would not only give employment to those who want it, 
and augment the sum of national wealth, by all that this new business 
would create, but we should meliorate the condition of those who are now 
engaged in existing employments. In Europe, particularly Great Britain, 
their large standing armies, large navies, large even on their peace arrange- 
ment, their established church, afford to their population employments, 
which, in that respect, the happier Constitution of our government does 
not tolerate but in a very limited degree. The peace establishments of our 
army and our navy, are extremely small, and I hope ever will be. We 
have no established church, and I trust never shall have. In proportion as 
the enterprise of our citizens in public employments is circumscribed, should 
we excite aod invigorate it in private pursuits. 

Tlie creation of a home market is not only necessary to procure for our 
agriculture a just reward for its labors, but it is indispensable to obtain a 
8upj)ly for our necessary wants. If we can not sell, we can not buy. That 
portion of our population (and we have seen that it is not less than four 
fifths), which makes comparatively nothing that foreigners will buy, has 
nothing to make purchases with from foreigners. It is in vain that we 
are told of the amount of our exports supplied by the planting interest. 
Tliey may enable the planting interest to supply all its wants ; but they 
bring no ability to the interests not planting; unless, which can not be 
pretended, the planting interest was an adequate vent for the surplus pro- 
duce of the labor of all other interests. It is in vain to tantalize us with 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 265 

the greater cheapness of foreign fabrics. There must be an ability t<> pur- 
chase, if an article be obtained, whatever mny be the price, high or low, 
at which it is sold. And a cheap article is as much beyond the grasp of 
him who has no means to buy, as a high one. Even if it were true tliat 
the American manufacturer would supply consumption at dearer rates, it 
is better to have his fabrics than the unattainable foreign fabrics ; because 
it is better to be ill supplied than not supplied at all. A coarse coat, 
which will communicate warmth and cover nakedness, is better than no 
coat. The superiority of the home market results, first, from its steadiness 
and comparative certainty at all times ; secondly, from the creation of re- 
ciprocal interest ; thirdly, from its greater security ; aud, lastly, from an 
ultimate and not distant augmentation of consumption (and consequently 
of comfort), from increased quantity and reduced prices. But this home 
market, highly desirable as it is, can only be created and cherished by the 
PROTECTION of our own legislation against the inevitable prostration of our 
industry, which must ensue from the action of foreign policy and legisla- 
tion. The efiect and the value of this domestic care of our own interests 
will be obvious from a few facts and considerations. Let us suppose that 
half a million of persons are now employed abroad in fabricating, for our 
consumption, those articles, of which, by the operation of this bill, a supply 
is intended to be provided within ourselves. That half a million of persons 
ai-e, in efiect, subsisted by us ; but their actual means of subsistence are 
drawn from foreign agriculture. If we could transport them to this 
country, and incorporate them in the mass of our own population, there 
would instantly arise a demand for an amount of provisons equal to that 
which would be requisite for their subsistence throughout the whole year. 
That demand, in the article of flour alone, would not be less than the 
quantity of about nine hundred thousand barrels, besides a proportionate 
quantity of beef, and pork, and other articles of subsistence. But nine 
hundred thousand barrels of flour exceeds the entire quantity exported last 
year, by nearly one hundred and fifty thousand barrels. What activity 
would not this give, what cheerfulness would it not communicate, to our 
now dispirited farming interest ! But i:^ instead of these five hundred 
thousand artizans emigrating from abroad, we give by this bill employment 
to an equal number of our own citizens, now engaged in unprofitable agri- 
culture, or idle from the want of business, the beneficial efiect upon the 
productions of our farming labor would be nearly doubled. The quantity 
would be diminished by a subtraction of the produce from the labor of all 
t!iose who should be diverted from its pursuits to manufacturing industry, 
and the value of the residue would be enhanced, both by that diminution 
and the creation of the home market, to the extent supposed. And the 
honorable gentleman from Virginia may repress any apprehensions which 
he entertains, that the plow will be abandoned, and our fields remain un- 
sown. For, under all the modifications of social industry, if you will secure 
to it a just reward, the greater attractions of agriculture will give to it 



266 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

that proud superiority which it has always maintained. If we suppose no 
actual abandonment of farming, but, what is most likely, a gradual and 
imperceptible employment of population in the business of manufacturing, 
instead of being compelled to resort to agriculture, the salutary eflfect 
would be nearly the same. Is any part of our common country likely to 
be injured by a transfer of the theater of fabrication, for our own con- 
sumption, from Europe to America ? All that those parts, if any there be, 
which will not, and can not engage in manufactures, should require, is, 
that their cousumption should be well supphed ; and if the objects of that 
consumption are produced in other parts of the Union, that can manufac- 
tui'e, far fiom having on that account any just cause of complaint, their 
patriotism will and ought to inculcate a cheerful acquiescence in what es- 
sentially contributes, and is indispensably necessary, to the prosperity of the 
common family. 

The great desideratum in political economy is the same as in private 
pursuits ; that is, what is the best application of the aggregate industry 
of a nation, that can be made honestly to produce the largest sum of na- 
tional wealth ? Labor is the source of all wealth ; but it is not natural labor 
only. And the fundamental error of the gentleman from Virginia, and of 
the school to which he belongs, in deducing, from our spai'se population, 
our unfitness for the introduction of the arts, consists in their not suflSciently 
weighing the importance of the power of machinery. In former times, 
when but Uttle comparative use was made of machinery, manual labor, 
and the price of wages, were circumstances of the greatest consideration. 
But it is far otherwise in these latter times. Such are the improvements 
and the perfection of machinery, that, in analyzing the compound value 
of many fe,brics, the element of natural labor is so inconsiderable as almost 
to es<:ape detection. This truth is demonstrated by many facts. Formerly, 
Asia, in consequence of the density of the population, and the consequent 
lowness of wages, laid Europe under tribute for many of her fabrics. 
Now Europe reacts upon Asia, and Great Britain, in particular, throws 
back upon her countless millions of people the rich treasures produced by 
artificial labor, to a vast amount, infinitely cheaper than they can be manu- 
factured by the natural exertions of that portion of the globe. But Britain 
is herself the most striking illustration of the immense power of machinery. 
Upon what other principle can you account for the enormous wealth which 
she has accumulated, and which she annually produces 1 A statistical 
writer of that country, several years ago, estimated the total amount of the 
artificial or machine labor of the nation, to be equal to that of one hun- 
dred millions of able-bodied laborers. Subsequent estimates of her arti- 
ficial labor, at the present day, carry it to the enormous height of two 
hundred miUions. But the population of the three kingdoms is twenty- 
one millions five hundred thousand. Supposing, that to furnish able-bodied 
labor to the amount of four millions, the natural labor will be but two per 
centum of the artificial labor. Tn the production of wealth she operates, 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 267 

therefore, by a power (including the whole population) of two hundred 
and twenty-one millions five hundred thousand ; or, in other words, by 
a power eleven times greater than the total of her natural power. If we 
suppose the machine-labor of the United States to be equal to that of ten 
millions of able-bodied men, the United States will operate, in the creation 
of wealth, by a power (including all their population) of twenty millions. 
In the creation of wealth, therefore, the power of Great Britain, compared 
to that of the United States, is as eleven to one. That these views are 
not imaginary, will be, I think, evinced by contrasting the wealth, the rev 
enue, the power, of the two countries. Upon what other hypothesis can 
we explain those almost incredible exertions which Britain made during 
the late wars of Europe ? Look at her immense subsidies ! Behold her 
standing, unaided and alone, and breasting the storm of Napoleon's co- 
lossal power, when all continental Europe owned and yielded to its irresist- 
ible sway ; and finally, contemplate her vigorous prosecution of the war, 
with and without allies, to its splendid termination on the ever-memorable 
field of Waterloo ! The British works which the gentleman from Virginia 
has quoted, portray a state of the most wonderful prosperity, in regard to 
wealth and resources, that ever was before contemplated. Let us look a 
little into the semi-oflScial pamphlet, written with great force, clearness, 
and ability, and the valuable work of Lowe, to both of which that gen- 
tleman has referred. The revenue of the United Kingdom amounted, 
during the latter years of the war, to seventy millions of pounds sterling ; 
and one year it rose to the astonishing height of ninety millions sterling, 
equal to four hundred millions of dollars. This was actual revenue, made 
up of real contributions, from the purses of the people. After the close 
of the war, ministers slowly and reluctantly reduced the military and naval 
establishments, and accommodated them to a state of peace. The pride 
of power, everywhere the same, always unwillingly surrenders any of those 
circumstances, which display its pomp and exhibit its greatness. Cotem- 
poraneous with this reduction, Britain was enabled to lighten some of the 
heaviest burdens of taxation, and particularly that most onerous of all, 
the income tax. In this lowered state, the revenue of peace, gradually 
rising from the momentary depression incident to a transition fsom war, 
attained, in 1822, the vast amount of fifty-five millions sterling, upward 
of two hundred and forty millions of dollars, and more than eleven times 
that of the United States for the same year ; thus indicating the difierence, 
which I have suggested, in the respective productive powers of the two 
countries. The excise alone (collected under twenty-five different heads) 
amounted to twenty-eight millions, more than one half of the total 
revenue of the kingdom. This great revenue allows Great Britain to con- 
stitute an efficient sinking fund of five millions sterling, being an excess 
of actual income beyond expenditure, and amounting to more than the 
entire revenue of the United States. 

If we look at the commerce of England, we shall perceive that its pros- 



268 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

perous condition no less denotes the immensitj of her riches. The average 
of three years' exports, ending in 1789, was between thirteen and fourteen 
millions. The average for the same term, ending in 1822, was forty mil- 
lions sterling. The average of the imports for three years, ending in 1*789, 
was seventeen millions. The average for the same term, ending in 1822, 
was thirty-six millions, showing a favorable balance of four millions. Thus, 
in a period not longer th;m that which has elapsed since the establishment 
of our Constitution, have the exports of that kingdom been tripled ; and 
this has mainly been the effect of the power of machinery. The total 
amount of the commerce of Great Britain is greater since the peace, by 
one fourth, than it was during the war. The average of her tonnage, 
during the most flourishing period of the war, was two millions four hun- 
dred thousand tons. Its average, during the three years, 1819, 1820, and 
1821, was two millions six hundred thousand — exhibiting an increjise of 
two hundred thousand tons. If we glance at some of the more prominent 
articles of her manufactures, we shall be assisted in comprehending the 
true nature of the sources of her riches. The amount of cotton fabrics ex- 
ported, in the most prosperous year of the war, was eighteen millions 
sterling. In the year 1820, it was sixteen millions six hundred thousand ; 
in 1821, twenty millions five hundred thousand; in 1822, twenty-one mil- 
lions six hundred and thirty-nine thousand pounds sterling — presenting the 
astonishing increase, in two years, of upward of five millions. The total 
amount of imports in Great Britain, from all foreign ports, of the article 
of cotton wool, is five millions sterling. After supplying most abundantly 
the consumption of cotton fabrics within the countiy (and a people better 
fed, and clad, and housei], are not to be found under the sun than the 
British nation) by means of her industry, she gives to this cotton wool a 
new value, which enables her to sell to foreign nations to the amount of 
twenty-one millions six hundred and thirty-nine thousand pounds, making 
a clear profit of upward of sixteen millions five hundred thousand pounds 
sterling ! In 1821, the value of the export of woolen manufactures was 
four millions three hundred thousand pounds. In 1822, it was five mil- 
lions five hundred thousand pounds. The success of her restrictive policy 
is strikingly illustrated in the article of silk. In the manufacture of that 
article she labors under great disadvantages, besides that of not producing 
the raw material. She has subdued them all, and the increase of the 
manufacture has been most rapid. Although she is still unable to main- 
tain, in foreign countries, a successful competition with the silks of France, 
of India, and of Italy, and therefore exports but little, she gives to the two 
millions of the raw material which she imports, in various forms, a value 
of ten millions, which chiefly enter into British consumption. Let us sup- 
pose that she was dependent upon foreign nations for these ten millions, 
what an injurious effect would it not have upon her commercial relations 
with them ! The average of the exports of British manufectures, during 
the peace, exceeds the average of the most productive years of the war. 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 



269 



Population. 


Taxes & public 


Taiation 




burdens. 


per capita. 


37,000,000 


£17,000,000 


£0 9 9 


30,700,000 


37,000,000 


1 4 



14,500,000 



40,000,000 



2 15 



The amount of her w ealth, annually produced, is three hundred and fifty 
millions sterling ; bearing a large proportion to all of her pre-existing wealth. 
The agricultural portion of it is said, by the gentleman from Virginia, to 
be greater than that created by any other branch of her industry. But 
that flows mainly from a policy similar to that proposed by this bill. One 
third only of her population is engaged in agriculture ; the other two 
thirds furuishiiig a market for the produce of that third. Withdraw this 
:!narket, and what becomes of her agriculture ? The power and the wealth 
of Great Britain can not be more strikingly illustrated than by a compari- 
son of her population and revenue with those of other countries and with 
our own. [Here Mr. Clay exhibited the following table, made out from 
autiientic materials.] 



Russia in Europe, 

France, including Corsica, 

Great Britain, exclusive of Ireland' 
(the taxes computed according 
to the value of money on the 
European continent). 

Great Britain and Ireland collectively, 

England alone, 

Spain, 

Ireland, 

The United States of America, 



From this exhibit we must remark, that the wealth of Great Britain, and 
consequently her power, is greater than that of any of the other nations with 
which it is compared. The amount of the contributions which she draws 
from the pockets of her subjects is not referred to for imitation, but as in- 
dicative of their wealth. The burden of taxation is always relative to the 
ability of the subjects of it. A poor nation can pay but little. And the 
heavier taxes of British subjects, tor example, in consequence of their 
greater wealth, may be more easily borne than the much lighter taxes of 
Spanish subjects, in consequence of their extreme poverty. The object of 
wise governments should be, by sound legislation, so to protect the indus- 
try of their own citizens against the policy of foreign powers, as to give to 
it the most expansive force in the production of wealth, Great Britain 
has ever acted, and still acts, on this policy. She has pushed her protec- 
tion of British interest further than any other nation has fostered its in- 
dustry. The result is, greater wealth among her subjects, and consequently 
greater ability to pay their public burdens. If their taxation is estimated 
by their natural labor alone, nominally it is greater than the taxation of 
the subjects of any other power. But, if on a scale of their national and 
artificial labor, compounded, it is less than the taxation of any other peo- 
ple. Estimating it on that scale, and assuming the aggregate of the natural 
and artificial labor of the United Kingdom to be what I have already 



21,500 000 


44,000,000 


2 





11,600,000 


36,000,000 


3 2 





11,000,000 


6,000,000 


11 





7,000,000 


4,000,000 


11 





10,000,000 


4,500,000 


9 






270 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

stated, two hundred and twenty-one millions five hundred thousand, the 
actual taxes paid by a British subject are only about three and seven-pence 
sterling. Estimating our own taxes on a similar scale — that is, supposing 
both descriptions of labor to be equal to that of twenty miilions of able- 
bodied persons — the amount of tax paid by each soul in the United States 
is four shillings and six-pence sterling. 

The committee will observe, from that table, that the measure of the 
wealth of a nation is indicated by the measure of its protection of its ii 
dustry ; and that the measure of the poverty of a nation is marked by that 
of the degree in which it neglects and abandons the care of its own in- 
dustry, leaving it exposed to the action of foreign powers. Great Britain 
protects most her industry, and the wealth of Great Britain is consequently 
the greatest. France is next in the degree of protection, and France is next 
in the order of wealth. Spain most neglects the duty of protecting the in- 
dustry of her subjects, and Spain is one of the poorest of European nations. 
Unfortunate Ireland, disinherited, or rendered in her industry subservient 
to England, is exactly in the same state of poverty with Spain, measured 
by the rule of taxation. And the United States are still poorer than either. 

The views of British prosperity, which I have endeavored to present, 
show that her protecting policy is adapted alike to a state of war and of 
peace. Self-poised, resting upon her own internal resources, possessing a 
home market, carefiilly cherished and guarded, she is ever prepared for any 
emergency. We have seen her coming out of a war of incalculable exer- 
tion, and of great duration, with her power unbroken, her means im- 
diminished. We have seen that almost every revolving year of peace has 
brought along with it an increase of her manufactures, of her commerce, 
and, consequently, of her navigation. We have seen that, constracting her 
prosperity upon the solid foundation of her own protecting policy, it is un- 
afiected by the vicissitudes of other States. What is our own condition ? 
Depending upon the state of foreign powers, confiding exclusively in a 
foreign, to the culpable neglect of a domestic policy, our interests are af- 
fected by all their movements. Their wars, their misfortunes, are the only 
source of our prosperity. In their peace and our peace we behold our con- 
dition the reverse of that of Great Britain, and all our interests stationary 
or declining. Peace brings to us none of the blessings of peace. Our 
system is anomalous ; alike unfitted to general tranquillity, and to a state 
of war or peace on the part of our own country. It can succeed only in 
the rare occurrence of a general state of war throughout Europe. I am 
no eulogist of England. I am far from recommending her systems of 
taxation. I have adverted to. them only as manifesting her extraordinary 
ability. The political and foreign interests of that nation may have been, 
as I believe them to have been, often badly managed. Had she abstained 
from the wars into which she has been plunged by her ambition, or the 
mistaken policy of her ministers, the prosperity of England would, unques- 
tionably, have been much greater. But it may happen that the public 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 271 

liberty and the foreign relations of a nation have been badly provided for, 
and yet that its political economy has been wisely managed. The alacrity 
or suUenness with which a people pay taxes depends upon their wealth or 
poverty. If the system of their rulers leads to their impoverishment, they 
can contribute but little to the necessities of the State ; if to their wealth, 
they cheerfully and promptly pay the burdens imposed on them. Enor- 
mous as British taxation appears to be, in comparison with that of other 
nations, but really lighter, as it in fact is, when we consider its great 
wealth and its powers of production, that vast amount is collected with tiia 
most astonishing regularity. 

Having called the attention of the committee to the present adverse 
state of our country, and endeavored to point out the causes which have 
led to it ; having shown that similar causes, wherever they exist in other 
countries, lead to the same adversity in their condition ; and having shown 
that, wherever we find opposite causes prevailing, a high and animating 
state of national prosperity exists, the committee will agree with me in 
thinking that it is the solemn duty of government to apply a remedy to 
the evils which afflict our country, if it can apply one. Is there no 
remedy within the reach of the government? Are we doomed to behold 
our industry languish and decay yet more and more ? But there is a 
remedy, and that remedy consists in modifying our foreign policy, and in 
adopting a genuine American System. We must naturalize the arts in 
our country ; and we must naturalize them by the only means which the 
wisdom of nations has yet discovered to be eftectual ; by adequate pro- 
tection against the otherwise overwhelming influence of foreigners. This 
is only to be accomplished by the establishment of a tariff", to the consid- 
eration of which I am now brought. 

And what is this tariff" ? It seems to have been regarded as a sort of 
monster, huge and deformed — a wild beast, endowed with tremendous 
powers of destruction, about to be let loose among our people, if not to 
devour them, at least to consume their substance. But let us calm our 
passions, and deliberately survey this alamiing, this terrific being. The 
sole object of the tariff" is to tax the produce of foreign industry, with the 
view of promoting American industry. The tax is exclusively leveled at 
foreign industry. That is the avowed and the direct purpose of the tariff". 
If it subjects any part of American industry to burdens, that is an eff"ect 
not intended, but is altogether incidental, and perfectly voluntary. 

It has been treated as an imposition of burdens upon one part of the 
community by design, for the benefit of another ; as if, in fact, money were 
taken fi-om the pockets of one portion of the people and put into the pockets 
of another. But is that a fair representation of it ? No man pays the 
duty assessed on the foreign article by compulsion, but voluntarily ; and 
this voluntary duty, if paid, goes into the common exchequer, for the com- 
mon benefit of all. Consumption has four objects of choice. First, it 
may abstain from the use of the foreign article, and thus avoid the pay- 



272 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ment of the tax. Second, it may employ the rival American fabric 
Third, it may engage in the business of manufacturing, which this bill is 
designed to foster. Fourth, or it may supply itself from the household 
manufactures. But it is said by the honorable gentleman from Virginia, 
that the South, owing to the character of a certain portion of its popula- 
tion, can not engage in the business of manufacturing. Now I do not 
agree in that opinion to the extent in which it is asserted. The circum- 
stance alluded to may disqualify the South from engaging in every brancU 
of manufacture, as largely as other quarters of the Union, but to somu 
branches of it, that part of our population is well adapted. It indispu- 
tably affords great facility in the household or domestic line. But if the 
gentleman's premises were true, could his conclusion be admitted ? Ac- 
cording to him, a certain part of our population, happily much the small- 
est, is peculiarly situated. The circumstance of its degradation unfits it 
for the manufacturing arts. The well-being of the other, and the larger 
part of our population, requires the introduction of those arts. What is 
to be done in this conflict ? The gentleman would have us abstain from 
adopting a policy called for by the interest of the greater and freer part 
of our population. But is that reasonable ? Can it be expected that the 
interests of the greater part should, be made to bend to the condition 
of the servile part of our population ? That, in effect, would be to 
make us the slaves of slaves. I went, with great pleasure, along with my 
southern friends, and I am ready again to unite with them in pro- 
testing against the exercise of any legislative power, on the part of Con- 
gress, over that delicate subject, because it was my solemn conviction, that 
Congress was interdicted, or at least not authorized, by the Constitution, 
to exercise any such legislative power. And I am sure that the patriotism 
of the South may be exclusively relied upon to reject a policy which should 
be dictated by considerations altogether connected with that degraded 
class, to the prejudice of the residue of our population. But does not a 
perseverance in the foreign policy, as it now exists in fact, make all parts 
of the Union, not planting, tributary to the planting parts ? What is the 
argument ? It is that we must continue freely to receive the produce 
of foreign industry, without regard to the protection of American industry, 
tliat a market may be retained for the sale abroad of the produce of the 
planting portion of the country ; and that, if we lessen in all parts of 
America — those which are not planting as well as the planting sections — 
the consumption of foreign manufactures, we diminish to that extent the 
foreign market for the planting produce. The existing state of things, 
indeed, presents a sort of tacit compact between the cotton-grower and the 
British manufacturer, the stipulations of which are, on the part of the cot- 
ton-grower, thiit the whole of the United States, the other portions as well 
as the cotton-growing, shall remain open and unrestricted in the con- 
sumption of British manufactures ; and, on the part of the British man- 
ufa^turpr, that in consideration thereof he will continue to purchase the 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 273 

cotton of the South. Thus, then, we perceive that the proposed measure 
instead of sacrificing the South to the other parts of the Union, seeks 
only to preserve them from being absolutely sacrificed under the operation 
of the tacit compact which I have described. Supposing the South to be 
actually incompetent, or disinclined, to embark at all in the business of 
manufacturing, is not its interest, nevertheless, likely to be promoted by 
creating a new and an American source of supply for its consumption ? 
Now foreign powers, and Great Britain principally, have the raonopOiy of 
the supply of southern consumption. If this bill should pass, an Amer- 
ican competitor, in the supply of the South, would be raised up, and ulti- 
mately, I can not doubt, that it will be supplied more cheaply and better. 
I have before had occasion to state, and will now again mention, the bene- 
ficial efiects of American competition with Europe, in furnishing a supply 
of the article of cotton bagging. After the late war, the influx of the 
Scottish manufacture prostrated the American establishments. The conse- 
quence was, that the Scotch possessed the monopoly of the supply ; and 
the price of it rose, and attained, the year before the last a height which 
amounted to more than an equivalent for ten years' protection to the 
American manufacturer. This circumstance tempted American industry 
again to engage in the business, and several valuable manufactories have 
been established in Kentucky. They have reduced the price of the fa- 
bric very considerably ; but, without the protection of government, they 
may again be prostrated, and then, the Scottish manufacturer, engrossing 
the supply of our consumption, the price will probably again rise. It has 
been tauntingly asked, if Kentucky can not maintain herself in a compe- 
tition with the two Scottish towns of Inverness and Dundee ? But is that 
a fair statement of the case ? Those two towns are cherished and sus- 
tained by the whole protecting policy of the British empire, while Kentucky 
can not, and the general government will not, extend a like protection to 
the few Kentucky villages in which the article is made. 

If the cotton-growing consumption could be constitutionally exempted 
from the operation of this bill, it might be fair to exempt it, upon the con- 
dition that foreign manufactures, the proceeds of the sale of cotton abroad, 
should not enter at all into the consumption of the other pai-ts of the 
United States. But such an arrangement as that, if it could be made, 
would probably be objected to by the cotton-growing country itself. 

Second. The second objection to the proposed bill, is, that it will di- 
minish the amount of our exports. It can have no effect upon our exports, 
except those which are sent to Europe. Except tobacco and rice, we send 
there nothing but the raw materials. The argument is, that Europe will 
not buy of us, if we do not buy of her. The first objection to it is, that 
it calls upon us to look to the question, and to take care of European abil- 
ity in legislating for American interests. Now if, in legislating for their 
interests, they would consider and provide for our ability, the principle of 
reciprocity would enjoin us so to regulate our intercourse with them, as to 

18 



274 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ieave their ability unimpaired. But I have shown that, in the adoption of 
their own policy, their inquiry is strictly limited to a consideration of 
their peculiar interests, without any regard to that of ours. The next re- 
mark I would make is, that the bill only operates upon certain articles of 
European industry, which it is supposed our interest requires us to manufac- 
ture within ourselves ; and although its eflfect will be to diminish the 
amount of our imports of those articles, it leaves them free to supply us 
with any other produce of their industry. And since the circle of human 
comforts, refinements, and luxuries, is of great extent, Europe will still find 
herself able to purchase from us what she has hitherto done, and to dis- 
charge the debt in some of those objects. If there be any diminution in 
our exports to Europe, it will probably be in the article of cotton to Great 
Britain. I have stated that'Britain buys cotton wool to the amount of 
about five millions sterling, and sells to foreign States to the amount of up- 
ward of twenty-one millions and a half. Of this sum, we take a little up- 
ward of a million and a half. The residue, of about twenty millions, she 
must sell to other foreign powers than to the United States. Now their 
market will continue open to her, as much after the passage of this bill, as 
before. She will therefore require from us the raw material to supply their 
consumption. But, it is said, she may refuse to purchase from us, and seek 
a supply elsewhere. There can be but little doubt that she now resorts to us, 
because we can supply her more cheaply and better than any other country. 
And it would be unreasonable to suppose that she would cease, from any 
pique toward us, to pursue her own interest. Suppose she was to decline 
purchasing from us. The consequence would be, that she would lose the 
market for the twenty millions sterling, which she now sells other foreign 
powers, or enter it under a disadvantageous competition with us, or with 
other nations, who should obtain their supplies of the raw material from 
us. If there should be any diminution, therefore, in the exportation of 
cotton, it would only be in the proportion of about one and a half of 
twenty ; that is, a little upward of five per centum ; the loss of a market 
for which, abroad, would be fully compensated by the market for the article 
created at home. Lastly, I would observe, that the new application of our 
industry, producing new objects of exportation, and they possessing much 
greater value than in the raw state, we should be, in the end, amply in- 
demnified by their exportation. Already the item in our foreign exports 
of manufactures is considerable; and we know that our cotton fabrics have 
been recently exported in a large amount to South America, where they 
maintain a succeasful competition with those of any other country. 

Third. The third objection to the tariff is, that it will diminish our 
navigation. This great interest deserves every encouragement, consistent 
with the paramount interest of agriculture. In the order of nature it is 
secondary to both agriculture and manufactures. Its business is the trans- 
portation of the productions of those two superior branches of industry. 
It can not therefore be expected, that they shall be molded or sacrificed to 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 276 

Buit i(a purposes ; but on the contrary, navigation must accommodate itself 
to the actual state of agriculture and manufactures. If, as I believe, we 
have nearly reached the maximum in value of our exports of raw produce 
to Europe, the effect hereafter will be, as it respects that branch of our 
trade, if we persevere in the foreign system, to retain our navigation at the 
point which it has now reached. By reducing, indeed, as will probably 
take place, the price of our raw materials, a further quantity of them could 
be exported, and, of course, additional employment might, in that way, be 
given to our tonnage ; but that would be at the expense of the agricultural 
interest. If I am right in supposing that no effect will be produced by 
this measure upon any other branch of our export trade, but that to Eu- 
rope ; that, with regard to that, there will be no sensible diminution of our 
exports ; and that the new direction given to a portion of our industry will 
produce other objects of exportation ; the probability is, that our foreign 
tonnage will be even increased under the operation of this bill. But, if ] 
am mistaken in these views, and it should experience any reduction, the in 
crease in our coasting tonnage, resulting from the greater activity of dome& 
tic exchanges, will more than compensate the injury. Although our navi 
gation partakes in the general distress of the country, it is less depressed 
than any other of our great interests. The foreign tonnage has been grad- 
ually, though slowly, increasing, since 1818. And our coasting tonnage, 
since 1816, has increased upward of one hundred thousand tons. 

Fourth. It is next contended that the effect of the measure will be to 
diminish our foreign commerce. The objection assumes, what I have en- 
deavored to controvert, that there will be a reduction in the value of our 
exports. Commerce is an exchange of commodities. Whatever will tend 
to augment the wealth of a nation must increase its capacity to make these 
exchanges. By new productions, or creating new values in the fabricated 
forms which shall be given to old objects of our industry, we shall give to 
commerce a fresh spring, a new aliment. The foreign commerce of the 
country, from causes, some of which I have endeavored to point out, has 
been extended as far as it can be. And I think there can be but little 
doubt that the balance of trade is, and for some time past has been, against 
us. I was surprised to hear the learned gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Webster) rejecting, as a detected and exploded fallacy, the idea of a balance 
of trade. I have not time nor inclination now to discuss that topic. But 
I will observe, that all nations act upon the supposition of the reaUty of its 
existence, and seek to avoid a trade, the balance of which is unfavorable, 
and to foster that which presents a favorable balance. However the ac- 
count be made up, whatever may be the items of a trade, commodities, fish- 
ing industry, marine labor, the carrying trade, all of which I admit shoxild 
be comprehended, there can be no doubt, I think, that the totality of the 
exchanges of all descriptons, made by one nation with another, or against the 
totality of the exchanges of all other nations together, may be such as to 
present the state of an unfavorable balance with the one or with all. It is 



276 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

true that, in the long run, the measures of these exchanges, that is, the to- 
tality in value of what is given and of what is received, must be equal to 
each other. But great distress may be felt long before the counterpoise can 
be eflfected. In the mean time, there will be an export of the precious met- 
als to the deep injury of internal trade, an unfavorable state of exchange, an 
export of public securities, a resort to credit, debt, mortgages. Most of, if 
not all, these circumstances, are believed now to be indicated by our coun- 
try, in its foreign commercial relations. What have we received, for exam- 
ple, for the pubUc stocks sent to England ? Goods. But those stocks are 
our bond, which must be paid. Although the sohdity of the credit of the 
English pubhc securities is not surpassed by that of our own, strong as it 
justly is, when have we seen English stocks sold in our market, and regu- 
larly quoted in the prices current, as American stocks are in England ? 
An unfavorable balance with one nation, may be made up by a favorable 
balance with other nations ; but the fact of the existence of that unfavor- 
able balance is strong presumptive evidence against the trade. Commerce 
will regulate itself! Yes, and the extravagance of a spendthrift heir, who 
squanders the rich patrimony which has descended to him, will regulate 
itself ultimately. But it will be a regulation which will exhibit him in the 
end safely confined within the walls of a jail. Commerce will regulate it- 
self! But is it not the duty of wise governments to watch its course, and, 
beforehand, to provide against even distant evils, by prudent legislation 
stimulating the industry of their own people, and checking the policy of 
foreign powers as it operates on them ? The supply, then, of the subjects 
of foreign commerce, no less than the supply of consumption at home, 
requires of us to give a portion of our labor such a direction as will 
enable us to produce them. That is the object of the measure under 
consideration, and I can not doubt that, if adopted, it will accomplish its 
object. 

Fifth. The fifth objection to the tariff is, that it will diminish the pub- 
lic revenue, disable us from paying the public debt, and finally compel a 
resort to a system of excise and internal taxation. This objection is found- 
ed upon the supposition that the reduction in the importation of the sub- 
jects, on which the increased duties are to operate, will be such as to pro- 
duce the alleged efiect. All this is matter of mere conjecture, and can only 
be determined by experiment. I have very little doubt, with my colleague 
(Mr. Trimble), that the revenue will be increased considerably, for some 
years at least, under the operation of this bill. The diminution in the 
quantity imported will be compensated by the augmentation of the duty. 
In reference to the article of molasses, for example, if the import of it 
should be reduced fifty per centum, the amount of duty collected would be 
the same as it now is. But it will not, in all probability, be reduced b} 
any thing like that proportion. And then there are some other articles 
which will continue to be introduced in as large quantities as ever, notwith- 
standing the increase of duty, the object in reference to them being reve- 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 277 

nue, and not the encouragement of domestic manufactures. Another cause 
will render the revenue of this year, in particular, much more productive 
than it otherwise would have been ; and that is, that large quantities of 
goods have been introduced into the country, in anticipation of the adop- 
tion of this measure. The eagle does not dart a keener gaze upon his in- 
tended prey, than that with which the British manufacturer and merchant 
watches the foreign market, and the course even of our elections as well as 
our legislation. The passage of this bill has been expected ; and all our 
information is that the importations, during this spring have been immense. 
But, further, the measure of our importations is that of our exportations. 
If I am right in supposing that, in future, the amount of these, in the old 
or new forms of the produce of our labor, will not be diminished, but prob- 
ably increased, then the amount of our importations, and consequently of 
our revenue, will aot be reduced, but may be extended. If these ideas be 
correct, there will be no inabiHty on the part of government to extinguish 
the public debt. The payment of that debt, and the consequent liberation 
of the public resources from the charge of it, is extremely desirable. No 
one is more anxious than I am to see that important object accomplished. 
But I entirely concur with the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Barbour) in 
thinking that no material sacrifice of any of the great interests of the na- 
tion ought to be made to effectuate it. Such is the elastic and accumulat- 
ing nature of our public resources, from the silent augmentation of our 
population, that if, in any given state of the public reveuue, we throw our- 
selves upon a couch and go to sleep, we may, after a short time, awake 
with an ability abundantly increased to redeem any reasonable amount of 
public debt with which we may happen to be burdened. The public debt 
of the United States, though nominally larger now than it was in the year 
1791, bears really no sort of discouraging comparison to its amount at that 
time, whatever standard we may choose to adopt to institute the compari- 
son. It was in 1791 about seventy-five millions of dollars. It is now 
about ninety. Then we had a population of about four millions. Now 
we have upward of ten millions. Then we had a revenue short of five 
millions of dollars. Now our revenue exceeds twenty. If we select pop- 
ulation as the standard, our present population is one hundred and fifty 
per centum greater than it was in 1791 ; if revenue that is four times 
more now than at the former period ; while the publi Jebt has increased 
only in a ratio of twenty per centum. A public debt of three hundred 
millions of dollars, at the present day, considering our actual ability, com- 
pounded both of the increase of population and of revenue, would not be 
more onerous now than the debt of seventy-five millions of dollars was, at 
the epoch of 1791, in reference to the same circumstances. If I am right 
in supposing that, under the operation of the proposed measure, there will 
not be any diminution, but a probable increase of the public reveuue, there 
will be no diflBculty in defraying the current expenses of government, and 
paying the principal as well as the interest of the public debt, as it becomes 



278 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

due. Let us, for a moment, however, indulge the improbable supposition 
of the opponents of the tariff, that there will be a reduction of the reve- 
nue to the extent of the most extravagant calculation which has been made, 
that is to say, to the extent of five millions. That sum deducted, we 
shall still have remaining a revenue of about fifteen millious. The treas- 
ury estimates of the current services of the years 1822, 1823, and 1824, 
exceed, each year, nine millious. The lapse of revolutionary pensions, 
and judicious retrenchments which might be made, without detriment to 
any of the essential establishments of the country, would probably reduce 
them below nine millions. Let us assume that sum, to which add about 
five millions and a half for the interest of the pubUc debt, and the wants 
of government would require a revenue of fourteen and a half millions, 
leaving a sm-plus of revenue of half a million beyond the public expendi- 
ture. Thus, by a postponement of the payment of the principal of the 
public debt, in which the public creditor's would gladly acquiesce, and con- 
fiding, for the means of redeeming it, in the necessary increase of our rev- 
enue from the natural augmentation of our population and consumption, 
we may safely adopt the proposed measure, even if it should be attended 
(which is confidently denied) with the supposed diminution of revenue. 
We shall not, then, have occasion to vary the existing system of taxation ; 
we shall be under no necessity to resort either to direct taxes or to an ex- 
cise. But, suppose the alternative were really forced upon us of continuing 
the foreign system, with its inevitable impoverishment of the country, but 
with the advantage of the present mode of collecting the taxes, or of 
adopting the American system, with its increase of the national wealth, 
but with the disadvantage of an excise, could any one hesitate between 
them ? Customs and an excise agree in the essential particulars, that they 
are both taxes upon consumption, and both are voluntary. They differ 
only in the mode of collection. The office for the collection of one is lo- 
cated on the frontier, and that for the other within the interior. I believe 
it was Mr. Jefferson, who in reply to the boast of a citizen of New York of 
the amount of the public revenue paid by that city, asked who would pay 
it, if the collector's office were removed to Paulus Hook, on the New Jer- 
sey shore ? National wealth is the source of all taxation. And, my word 
for it, the people are too intelhgent to be deceived by mere names, and not 
to give a decided preference to that system which is based upon their 
wealth and prosperity, rather than to that which is founded upon their 
impoverishment and ruin. 

Sixth. But, according to the opponents of the domestic policy, the pro- 
posed system will force capital and labor into new and reluctant employ- 
ments ; we are not prepared, in consequence of the high price of wages, 
for the successful establishment of manufactures, and we must tail in the 
experiment. We have seen that the existing occupations of our society, 
those of agriculture, commerce, navigation, and the learned professions, are 
overflowing with competitors, and that the want of e:ijployment is severely 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 279 

felt. Now what does this bill propose ? To open a new and extensive 
field of business, in which all that choose may enter. There is no com- 
pulsion upon any one to engage in it. An option only is given to indus- 
try, to continue in the present unprofitable pursuits, or to embark in h new 
and promising one. The effect will be, to lessen the competition in the 
old blanches of business, and to multiply our resources for increasing our 
comforts, and augmenting the national wealth. The alleged fact of the 
high price of wages is not admitted. The truth is, that no class of society 
suffers more, in the present stagnation of business, than the laboring class. 
That is a necessary effect of the depression of agriculture, the principal 
business of the community. The wages of able-bodied men vary from 
five to eight dollars per month, and such has been the want of employment, 
in some parts of the Union, that instances have not been unfrequent, of 
men working merely for the means of present subsistence. If the wages 
for labor here and in England are compared, they will be found not to be 
essentially different. I agree with the honorable gentleman from Virginia 
that high wages are a proof of national prosperity ; we differ only in the 
means by which that desirable end shall be attained. But, if the fact 
were true, that the wages of labor are high, I deny the correctness of the 
argument founded upon it. The argument assumes, that natural labor is 
the principal element in the business of manufacture. That was the an 
cient theory. But the valuable inventions and vast improvements in 
machinery, which have been made within a few past years, have produced 
a new era in the arts. The effect of this change, in the powers of produc- 
tion, may be estimated, fi"ora what I have already stated in relation to 
England, and to the triumphs of European artificial labor over the natural 
labor of Asia. In considering the fitness of a nation for the establish- 
ment of manufactures, we must no longer limit our views to the state of 
its population, and the price of wages. All circumstances must be re- 
garded, of which that is, perhaps, the least important. Capital, ingenuity 
iu the construction, and adroitness in the use of machinery, and the pos- 
session of the raw materials, are those which deserve the greatest consider- 
ation. All these circumstances (except that of capital, of which there is 
no deficiency) exist in our country in an eminent degree, and more than 
counterbalance the disadvantage, if it really existed, of the lower wages 
of labor in Great Britain. The dependence upon foreign nations for the 
raw material of any great manufacture, has been considered as a discourag- 
ing fact. The state of our population is peculiarly favorable to the most 
extensive introduction of machinery. We have no prejudices to combat, 
no persons to drive out of employment. The pamphlet, to which we have 
had occasion so often to refer, in enumerating the causes which have 
brought in England their manufactures to such a state of perfection, and 
which now enable them, in the opinion of the writer, to defy all competi- 
tion, does not specify, as one of them, low wages. It assigns three : first, 
capital ; secondly, extent and costliness of machinery ; and, thirdly, steady 



280 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

and persevering industry. Notwithstanding the concurrence of so many 
favorable causes, in our country, for the introduction of the arts, we are 
earnestly dissuaded from making the experiment, and our ultimate failure 
is confidently predicted. Why should we fail ? Nations, like men, fail in 
nothing which they boldly attempt, when sustained by virtuous purpose 
and firm resolution. I am not willing to admit this depreciation of Amer- 
ican skill and enterprise. I am not willing to strike before an eflfort is 
made. All our past history exhorts us to proceed, and inspires us with 
animating hopes of success. Past predictions of our incapacity have failed, 
and present predictions will not be realized. At the commencement of 
this government, we were told that the attempt would be idle to construct 
a marine adequate to the commerce of the country, or even to the business 
of its coasting trade. The founders of our government did not listen to 
these discouraging counsels ; and, behold the fruits of their just compre- 
hension of our resources ! Our restrictive policy was denounced, and it 
was foretold that it would utterly disappoint all our expectations. But our 
restrictive policy has been eminently successful ; and the share which our 
navigation now enjoys in the trade with France, and with the British WeRt 
India Islands, attests its victory. What were not the disheartening pre- 
dictions of the opponents of the late war ? Defeat, discomfort, and dis- 
grace, were to be the certain, but not the worst effect of it. Here, again, 
did prophecy prove false ; and the energies of our country, and the valor 
and the patriotism of our people, carried us gloriously through the war. 
We are now, and ever will be, essentially an agricultural people. Without 
a material change in the fixed habits of the country, the friends of this 
measure desire to draw to it, as a powerful auxiliary to its industry, the 
manufacturing arts. The difference between a nation with and without the 
arts, may be conceived by the difference between a keel-boat and a steam- 
boat, combating the rapid torrent of the Mississippi. How slow does the 
former ascend, hugging the sinuosities of the shore, pushed on by her hardy 
and exposed crew, now throwing themselves in vigorous concert on their 
oars, and then seizing the pendent boughs of overhanging trees : she seems 
hardly to move ; and her scanty cargo is scarcely worth the transportation ! 
With what ease is she not passed by the steamboat, laden with the riches 
of all quarters of the world, with a crew of gay, cheerful, and protected 
passengers, now dashing into the midst of the current, or gliding through 
the eddies near the shore ! Nature herself seems to survey, with astonish- 
ment, the passing wonder, and, in silent submission, reluctantly to own the 
magnificent triumphs, in her own vast dominion, of Fulton's immortal genius. 
Seventh. But it is said that, wherever there is a concurrence of favor- 
able circumstances, manufactures will arise of themselves, without pro- 
tection ; and that we should not disturb the natural progress of industry, 
but leave things to themselves. If all nations would modify their policy 
on this axiom, perhaps it would be better for the common good of the 
whole. Even then, in consequence of natural advantages and a greater 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 281 

advance in civilization and in the arts, some nations would enjoy a state of 
much higher prosperity than others. But there is no universal legislation. 
The globe is divided into different communities, each seeking to appro- 
priate to itself all the advantages it can, without reference to the prosperity 
of others. Whether this is right or not, it has always been, and ever will 
be the case. Perhaps the care of the interests of one people is sufficient 
for all the wisdom of one legislature ; and that it is among nations as 
among individuals, that the happiness of the whole is best secured by each 
attending to its own peculiar interests. The proposition to be maintained 
by our adversaries is, that manufactures, without protection, will in due 
time spring up in our country, and sustain themselves, iu a competition 
with foreign fabrics, however advanced the arts, and whatever the degiee 
of protection may be in foreign countries. Now I contend, that this prop- 
osition is refuted by all experience, ancient and modein, and in every 
country. If I am asked, why unprotected industry should not succeed in 
a struggle with protected industry, I answer, the fact has ever been so, 
and that is sufiBcient ; I reply, that uniform experience evinces that it 
can not succeed in such an unequal contest, and that is suflacient. If we 
speculate on the causes of this universal truth, we may differ about them. 
Still the indisputable fact remains. And we should be as unwise in not 
availing ourselves of the guide which it furnishes, as a man would be, who 
should refuse to bask in the rays of the sun, because he could not agree 
with Judge Woodward as to the nature of the substance of that planet, 
to which we are indebted for heat and light. If I were to attempt, to par- 
ticularize the causes which prevent the success of the manufacturing arts, 
without protection, I should say that they are, first, the obduracy of fixed 
habits. No nation, no individual, will easily change an established course 
of business, even if it be unprofitable ; and least of all is an agricultural 
people prone to innovation. With what reluctance do they adopt im- 
provements in the instruments of husbandry, or in modes of cultivation ! 
If the farmer makes a good crop, and sells it badly ; or makes a short 
crop ; buoyed up by hope he perseveres, and trusts that a favorable change 
of the market, or of the seasons, will enable him, in the succeeding year, 
to repair the misfortunes of the past. Secondly, the uncertainty, fluctua- 
tion, and unsteadiness, of the home market, when liable to an unrestricted 
influx of fabrics from all foreign nations ; and, thirdly, the superior advance 
of skill, and amount of capital, which foreign nations have obtained, by the 
protection of their own industry. From the latter or from other causes, 
the unprotected manufactures of a country are exposed to the danger 
of being crushed in their infancy, either by the design or from the neces- 
Bities of foreign manufacturers. Gentlemen are incredulous as to the at- 
tempts of foreign manufacturers to accomplish the destruction of ours. 
Why should they not make such attempts ? K the Scottish manufacturer, 
by surcharging our market, in one year, with the article of cotton bag- 
ging, for example, should so reduce the pnce as to discourage and put 



SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

down the home manufacture, he would secure to himself the monopoly 
of the supply. And now, having the exclusive possession of the market, 
perhaps for a long term of years, he might be more than indemniiSed for 
his first loss, in the subsequent rise in the price of the article. What 
have we not seen under our own eyes ? The competition for the trans- 
portation of the mail, between this place and Baltimore, so excited, that to 
obtain it an individual offered, at great loss, to carry it a whole year for 
one dollar ! His calculation no doubt was, that by driving his competitor 
off the road, and securing to himself the carriage of the mail, he would 
be afterward able to repair his original loss by new contracts with the de- 
partment. But the necessities of foreign manufacturers, without imputing 
to them any sinister design, may oblige them to throw into our markets 
the fabrics which have accumulated on their hands, in consequence of ob- 
struction in the ordinary vents, or from over-calculation ; and the forced 
sales, at losing prices, may prostrate our establishments. From this view 
of the subject, it follows, that, if we would place the industiy of our coun- 
try upon a solid and unshakable foundation, we must adopt the protecting 
policy, which has everywhere succeeded, and reject that which would 
abandon it, which has everywhere failed. 

Eighth. But if the pohcy of protection be wise, the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Barbour) has made some ingenious calculations to prove that 
the measure of protection, already extended, has been sufficiently great. 
With some few exceptions, the existing duties, of which he has made an 
estimate, were laid with the object of revenue, and without reference to 
that of encouragement to domestic industry ; and although it is admitted 
that the incidental effect of duties, so laid, is to promote our manufactures, 
yet if it falls short of competent protection, the duties might as well not 
have been imposed, with reference to that purpose. A moderate addition 
may acomplish this desirable end ; and the proposed tariff is believed to 
have this character. 

Ninth. The prohibitory policy, it is confidently asserted, is condemned 
by the wisdom of Europe, and by her most enlightened statesmen. Is this 
the fact ? We call upon gentlemen to show in what instance a nation that 
has enjoyed its benefits has surrendered it. [Here Mr. Barbour rose, 
Mr. Clay giving way, and said, that England had departed from it in the 
China trade, in allowing us to trade with her East India possessions, and 
in tolerating our navigation to her West India colonies.] With respect to 
the trade to China, the whole amount of what England has done, is, to 
modify the monopoly of the East India Company, in behalf of one, 
and a small part of her subjects, to increase the commerce of another 
and the greater portion of them. The abolition of the restriction, there- 
fore, operates altogether among the subjects of England ; and does not 
touch at all the interests of foreign powers. The toleration of our com- 
merce to British India, is for the sake of the specie, with which we 
mainly carry on that commerce, and which, having performed its circuit. 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 283 

returns to Great Britain in exchange for British manufactures. The lelax- 
ation from the colonial policy, in the instance of our trade and navigation 
with the West Indies, is a most unfortunate example for the honorable 
gentleman ; for in it is an illustrious proof of the success of our restrictive 
policy, when resolutely adhered to. Great Britain had prescribed the 
terms on which we were to be gi'aciously allowed to carry on that trade. 
The eflPect of her regulations was, to exclude our navigation altogether, 
and a complete monopoly, on the part of the British navigation, was se- 
cured. We forbade it, unless our vessels should be allowed a perfect 
reciprocity. Great Britain stood out a long time, but finally yielded, and 
our navigation nosv fairly shares with hers in the trade. Have gentlemen 
no other to exhibit than these trivial relaxations from the prohibitory policy, 
which do not amount to a drop in the bucket, to prove its abandonment 
by Great Britain ? Let them show us that her laws are repealed which 
prohibit the introduction of our flour and provisions ; of French silks, laces, 
porcelain, manufactures of bronze, mirrors, woolens ; and of the manu- 
factures of all other nations ; and then, we may be ready to allow that 
Great Britain has really abolished her prohibitory policy. We find there, 
on the contrary, that system of policy in full and rigorous operation, and 
a most curiously interwoven system it is, as she enforces it. She begins 
by protecting all parts of her immense dominions against foreign nations. 
She then protects the parent country against the colonies ; and, finally, 
one part of the parent country against another. The sagacity of Scotch 
industry has carried the process of distillation to a perfection which would 
place the art in England on a footing of disadvantageous competition, and 
English distillation has been protected accordingly. But suppose it were 
even true that Great Britain had abolished all restrictions upon trade, and 
allowed the freest introduction of the produce of foreign labor, would that 
prove it unwise for us to adopt the protecting system ? The object of pro- 
tection is the establishment and perfection of the arts. In England it has 
accomplished its purpose, fulfilled its end. If she has not carried every 
branch of manufacture to the same high state of perfection that any other 
nation has, she has succeeded in so many, that she may safely challenge 
the most unshackled competition in exchanges. It is upon this very ground 
that many of her writers recommend an abandonment of the prohibitory 
system. It is to give greater scope to British industry and enterprise. It 
is upon the same selfish principle. The object of the most perfect freedom 
of trade, with such a nation as Britain, and of the most rigorous system 
of prohibition, with a nation whose arts are in their infancy, may both be 
precisely the same. In both cases, it is to give greater expansion to native 
industry. They only differ in the theaters of their operation. The aboli- 
tion of the restrictive system by Britain, if by it she could prevail upon 
other nations to imitate her example, would have the effect of extending 
the consumption of British produce in other countries, where her writers 
boldly affirm it could maintain a fearless competition with the produce of 



284 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

native labor. The adoption of the restrictive system, on the part of the 
United States, by excluding the produce of foreign labor, would extend the 
consumption of American produce, unable, in the infancy and unprotected 
state of the arts, to sustain a competition with foreign fabrics. Let our 
arts breathe under the shade of protection ; let them be perfected, as they 
are in England, and we shall then be ready, as England iiow is said to be, 
to put aside protection, and to enter upon the freest exchanges. To what 
other cause, than to their whole prohibitory policy, can you ascribe British 
prosperity ? It will not do to assign it to that of her antiquity ; for France 
is no less ancient ; though much less rich and powerful, in proportion to 
the population and natural advantages of France. Hallam, a sensible and 
highly approved writer on the middle ages, assigns the revival of the pros- 
perity of the north of Europe to the success of the woolen manufactories 
of Flanders, and the commerce of which their fabrics became the subject ; 
and the commencement of that of England to the establishment of similar 
manufactures there under the Edwards, and to the prohibitions which began 
about the same time. As to the poor-rates, the theme of so much reproach 
without England, and of so much regret within it, among her speculative 
writers, the system was a strong proof, no less of her unbounded wealth 
than of her pauperism. What other nation can dispense, in the form 
of regulated charity, the enormous sum, I believe, of ten or twelve 
millions sterling? The number of British paupers was the result of 
pressing the principle of population to its utmost limits, by her protect- 
ing policy, in the creation of wealth, and in placing the rest of the world 
under tribute to her industry. Doubtless the condition of England 
would be better, without paupers, if in other respects it remained the 
same. But in her actual circumstances, the poor system has the salutary 
eflFect of an equalizing corrective of the tendency to the concentration of 
riches, produced by the genius of her political institutions and by her pro- 
hibitory system. 

But is it true, that England is convinced of the impolicy of the prohib- 
itory system, and desirous to abandon it ? What proof have we to that 
effect ? We are asked to i-eject the evidence deducible from the settled 
and steady practice of Ekigland, and to take lessons in a school of philo- 
sophical writers, whose visionary theories are nowhere adopted ; or, if 
adopted, bring with them inevitable distress, impoverishment, and ruin. 
Let us hear the testimony of an illustrious personage, entitled to the 
greatest attention, because he speaks after the full experiment of the un- 
restrictive system made in his own empire. I hope I shall give no offense 
in quoting from a publication issued from "the mint of Philadelphia ;" 
from a work of Mr. Carey, of whom I seize, with great pleasure, the oc- 
casion to say, that he merits the public gratitude, for the disinterested dili- 
gence with which he has collected a large mass of highly useful facts, and 
for the clear and convincing reasoning with which he generally illustrates 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY 285 

them. The Emperor of Russia, in March, 1822, after about two years' 
trial of the free system, says, through Count Nesselrode : 

" To produce happy efiecte, the principles of commercial freedom must be 
generally adopted. The state which adopts, while others reject them, must 
condemn its own industry and commerce to pay a ruinous tribute to those of 
other countries. 

" From a circulation exempt from restraint, and the facility afforded by recip- 
rocal exchanges, almost all the governments at first resolved to seek the means 
of repairing the evil which Europe had been doomed to suffer ; but experience, 
and more correct calculations, because they were made from certain data, and 
upon the results aheady known of the peace that had just taken place, forced 
them soon to adhere to the prohibitory system. 

" England preserved hers. Austria remained faithful to the rule she had laid 
down, to guard herself against the rivalship of foreign industry. France, with 
the same views, adopted the most rigorous measures of precaution. And Prus- 
sia published a new tariff in October last, which proves that she found it im- 
possible not to follow the example of the rest of Europe. 

" In proportion as the prohibitory system is extended and rendered perfect 
in other countries, that state which pursues the contrary system, makes, from 
day to day, sacrifices more extensive and more considerable. * * * j^ 
offers a continual encouragement to the manufactures of other countries, and 
its own manufactures perish in the struggle which they are, as yet, unable to 
maintain. 

'• It is with the most Uvely feeUngs ef regret we acknowledge it is our own 
proper experience which enables us to trace this picture. The evils which it 
details have been reaHzed in Russia and Poland, since the conclusion of the act 
of the 7th and 19th of December, 1818. Agriculture without a market, indus- 
try without protection, languish and decline. Specie is exported, and the most solid 
commercial houses are shaken. The public prosperity would soon feel the wound 
inflicted on private fortunes, if new regulations did not promptly change the 
actual state of affairs. 

" Events have proved, that our agriculture and our commerce, as well as our 
manufacturing industry, are not only paralyzed, but brought to the brink of 



The example of Spain has been properly referred to, as aflFording a strik- 
ing proof of the calamities which attend a state that abandons the care of 
its own internal industry. Her prosperity was the greatest when the arts, 
brought there by the Moors, flourished most in that kingdom. Then she 
received from England her wool, and returned it in the manufactured state ; 
and then England was least prosperous. The two nations have reversed 
conditions. Spain, after the discovery of America, yielding to an inordinate 
passion for the gold of the Indies, sought in their mines that wealth which 
might have been better created at home. Can the remarkable diflference 
in the state of the prosperity of the two countries be otherwise explained, 
than by the opposite systems which they pursued ? England, by a sedu- 
lous attention to her home industry, supplied the means of an advantageous 



286 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

commerce with her colonies. Spain, by an utter neglect of her domestic 
resources, confided altogether in those which she derived from her colonies, 
and presents an instance of the greatest adversity. Her colonies were in- 
finitely more valuable than those of England ; and, if she had adopted a 
similar policy, is it unreasonable to suppose that, in wealth and power, she 
would have surpassed that of England ? I think the honorable gentleman 
from Virginia does great injustice to the Catholic religion, in specifying 
that as one of the leading causes of the decline of Spain. It is a religion 
entitled to great respect ; and there is nothing in its character incompatible 
with the highest degree of national prosperity. Is not France, the most 
polished, in many other respects the most distinguished state, of Christen- 
dom, Catholic ? Is not Flanders, the most populous part of Europe, also 
Catholic ? Are the Catholic parts of Switzerland and of Germany less 
prosperous than those which are Protestant ? 

Tenth. The next objection of the honorable gentleman fi"om Virginia 
which I shall briefly notice is, that the manufacturing system is adverse 
to the genius of our government, in its tendency to the accumulation of 
large capitals in a few hands; in the corruption of the public morals, 
which is alleged to be incident to it ; and in the consequent dai>ger to the 
public liberty. The first part of the objection would apply to every lu- 
crative business, to commerce, to planting, and to the learned professions. 
Would the gentleman introduce the system of Lycurgus ? If his principle 
be correct, it should be extended to any and every vocation which had a 
similar tendency. The enormous fortunes in our country — the nabobs of 
the land — have been chiefly made by the profitable pursuit of that foreign 
commerce, in more propitious times, which the honorable gentleman would 
so carefully cherish. Immense estates have also been made in the South. 
The dependents are, perhaps, not more numerous upon that wealth which 
is accumulated in manufactures than they are upon that which is acquired 
by commerce and by agriculture. We may safely confide in the laws of 
distributions, and in the absence of the rule of primogeniture, for the dis- 
sipation, perhaps too rapid, of large fortunes. What has become of those 
which were held two or three generations back in Virginia ? Many of the 
descendants of the ancient aristocracy, as it was called, of that State, are 
now in the most indigent condition. The best security against the de- 
moralization of society is the constant and profitable employment of its 
members. The greatest danger to public liberty is from idleness and vice. 
If manufactures form cities, so does commerce. And the disorders and 
violence which proceed from the contagion of the passions, are as fre- 
quent in one description of those communities as in the other. There 
is no doubt but that the yeomanry of a country is the safest depository of 
public liberty. In all time to come, and under any probable direction of 
the labor of our population, the agricultural class must be much the 
most numerous and powerful, and will ever retain, as it ought to retain, 
a preponderating influence in our councils. The extent and the fertility 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 287 

of our lands constitute an adequate security against an excess in manufac- 
tures, and also against oppression, on the part of capitalists, toward the 
laboring portions of the community. 

Eleventh. The last objection, with a notice of which I shall trouble the 
committee, is, that the Constitution does not authorize the passage of the 
bill. The gentleman from Virginia does not assert, indeed, that it is in- 
consistent with the express provisions of that instrument, but he thinks it 
incompatible with the spirit of the Constitution. If we attempt to provide 
for the internal improvement of the country, the Constitution, according to 
some gentlemen, stands in our way. If we attempt to protect American 
industry against foreign policy and the rivalry of foreign industry, the Con- 
stitution presents an insuperable obstacle. This Constitution must be a 
most singular instrument ! It seems to be made for any other people than 
our own. Its action is altogether foreign. Congress has power to lay 
duties and imposts, under no other limitation whatever than that of their 
being uniform throughout the United States. But they can only be im- 
posed, according to the honorable gentleman, for the sole purpose of 
revenue. This is a restriction which we do not find in the Constitution. 
No doubt revenue was a principal object with the framers of the Constitu- 
tion in investing Congress with the power. But, in executing it, may not the 
duties and imposts be so laid as to secure domestic interests ? Or is Con- 
gress denied all discretion as to the amount or the distribution of the duties 
and imposts ? 

The gentleman from Virginia has, however, entirely mistaken the clause 
of the Constitution on which we rely. It is that which gives to Congress 
the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. The grant is 
plenary, without any limitation whatever, and includes the whole power 
of regulation, of which the subject to be regulated is susceptible. It is aa 
full and complete a grant of the power as that is to declare war. What is 
a regulation of commerce ? It implies the admission or exclusion of the 
object of it, and the terms. Under this power some articles, by the exist- 
ing laws, are admitted freely ; others are subjected to duties so high as to 
amount to their prohibition, and various rates of duties are applied to 
others. Under this power, laws of total non-intercourse with some nations, 
embargoes, producing an entire cessation of commerce with all foreign 
countries have been, from time to time, passed. These laws, I have no 
doubt, met with the entire approbation of the gentleman from Virginia. 
[Mr. Barbour said that he was not in Congress.] Wherever the gentle- 
man was, whether on his farm or in the pursuit of that profession of which 
be is an ornament, I have no doubt that he gave his zealous support to the 
laws referred to. 

The principle of the system under consideration has the sanction of 
some of the best and wisest men, in all ages, in foreign countries as well 
as in our own — of the Edwards, of Henry the Great, of Elizabeth, of the 
Colberts, abroad ; of our Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, at home. 



288 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

But it comes recommended to us by a higher authority than any of these 
illustrious as they unquestionably are — by the master-spirit of the age — 
that extraordinary man, who has thrown the Alexanders and the Caesars 
infinitely further behind him than they stood in advance of the most 
eminent of their predecessors — that singular man who, whether he was 
seated on his imperial throne, deciding the fate of nations and allotting 
kingdoms to the members of his family, with the same composure, if not 
with the same affection, as that with which a Virginia father divides his 
plantations among his children, or on the miserable rock of St, Helena, to 
which he was condemned by the cruelty and the injustice of his unworthy 
victors, is equally an object of the most intense admiration. He appears 
to have comprehended, with the rapidity of intuition, the true interests of 
a State, and to have been able, by the turn of a single expression, to de- 
velop the secret springs of the policy of cabinets. We find that Las 
Casas reports him to have said : 

" He opposed the principles of economists, which he said were correct in 
theory, though erroneous in their application. The political constitution 
of different States, continued he, must render these principles defective ; 
local circumstances continually call for deviations from their imiformity. 
Duties, he said, which were so severely condemned by political economists, 
should not, it is true, be an object to the treasury ; they should be the 
guaranty and protection of a nation, and should correspond with the nature 
and the objects of its trade. Holland, which is destitute of productions 
and manufactures, and which has a trade only of transit and commission, 
should be free of all fetters and barriers. France, on the contrary, which is 
rich in every sort of production and manufactures, should incessantly guard 
against the importations of a rival, who might still continue superior to her, 
and also against the cupidity, egotism, and indifference of mere brokers. 

" I have not fallen into the error of modern systematizers," said the 
emperor, " who imagine that all the wisdom of nations is centred in them- 
selves. Experience is the true wisdom of nations. And what does all the 
reasoning of economists amount to ? They incessantly extol the prosperity 
of England, and hold her up as our model ; but the custom-house system 
is more burdensome and arbitrary in England than in any other country. 
They also condemn prohibitions ; yet it was England set the example of 
prohibitions ; and they are in fact necessary with regard to certain objects. 
Duties can not adequately supply the place of prohibitions; there will 
always be found means to defeat the object of the legislator. In France 
we are still very far behind on these delicate points, which are still un- 
perceived or ill understood by the mass of society. Yet, what advancement 
have we now made ; what correctness of ideas has been introduced by my 
gradual classification of agriculture, industry, and trade ; objects so distinct 
in themselves, and which present so great and positive a graduation ! 

'* First. Agriculture ; the soul, the first basis, of the empire. 

" Second. Industry ; the comfort and happiness of the population. 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 289 

" Third. Foreign Trade ; the superabundance, the proper application, of 
the surplus of agriculture and industry. 

'* Agriculture was continually improved duiing the whole course of the 
revolution. Foreigners thought it ruined in France. In 1814, however, 
the English were compelled to admit that we had little or nothing to learn 
from them. 

" Industry or manufactures, and internal trade, made immense progress 
during my reign. The application of chemistry to the manufactures, caused 
them to advance with giant strides. I gave an impulse, the effects of which 
extended throughout Europe. 

" Foreign trade, which, in its results, is infinitely inferior to agriculture, 
was an object of subordinate importance in my mind. Foreign trade is 
made for agriculture and home industry, and not the two latter for the 
former. The interests of these three fundamental cases are diverging and 
frequently conflicting. I always promoted them in their natural grada- 
tion, but I could not and ought not to have ranked them all on an equahty. 
Time will unfold what I have done, the national resources which I created, 
and the emancipation from the English which I brought about. We have 
now the secret of the commercial treaty of 1V83. France still exclaims 
against its author ; but the English demanded it on pain of resuming the 
war. They wished to do the same after the treaty of Amiens, but I was 
then all-powerful ; I was a hundred cubits high. I replied, that if they 
were in possession of the heights of Montmartre I would still refuse to 
sign the treaty. These words were echoed through Europe. 

" The English will now impose some such treaty on France, at least, if 
popular clamor and the opposition of the mass of the nation, do not force 
them to di-aw back. This thraldom would be an additional disgrace in the 
eyes of that nation, which is now beginning to acquire a just perception 
of her own interests. 

" When I came to the head of the government, the American ships, 
which were permitted to enter our ports on the score of their neutrality, 
brought us raw materials, and had the impudence to sail from France with- 
out freight, for the purpose of taking in cargoes of English goods in Lon- 
don. They, moreover, had the insolence to make their payments, when 
they had any to make, by giving bills on persons in London. Hence the 
vast profits reaped by the English manufacturers and brokers, entirely to 
our prejudice. I made a law that no American should import goods to, 
any amount, without immediately exporting their exact equivalent. A 
loud outcry was raised against tliis : it was said that I had ruined trade. 
But what was the consequence ? Notwithstanding the closing of my ports 
and in spite of the English who ruled the seas, the Americans returned and 
submitted to my regulations. What might I not have done under more 
favorable circumstances 

" Thus I naturalized in France the manufacture of cotton, which inr 
eludes, 

19 



290 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

" First, spun cotton. We did not previously spin it ourselves ; the En- 
glish supplied us with it, as a sort of favor. 

" Secondly, the web. We did not yet naake it ; it canoe to us from 
abroad. 

" Thirdly, the printing. This was the only part of the manufacture that 
we performed ourselves. I wished to naturalize the two first branches ; 
and I proposed to the Council of State, that their impoitation should be 
prohibited. This excited great alarm. I sent for Oberkamp, and I con- 
versed with him a long time. I learned from him, that this prohibition 
would doubtless produce a shock, but that, after a year or two of persever- 
ance, it would prove a triumph, whence we should derive immense advan- 
tages. Then I issued my decree in spite of all ; this was a true piece of 
statesmanship. 

" I at first confined myself merely to prohibiting the web ; then I extend- 
ed the prohibition to spun cotton ; and we now possess, within ourselves, 
the three branches of the cotton manufacture, to the great benefit of our 
population, and the injury and regret of the English ; which proves that, 
in civil government, as well as in war, decision of character is often indis- 
pensable to success." 

I will trouble the committee with oiily one other quotation, which I shall 
make from Lowe ; and from hearing which, the committee must share with 
me in the mortification which I felt on perusing it. That author says, " It 
is now above forty years since the United States of America were definite- 
ly separated from us, and since, their situation has afforded a proof that the 
benefit of mercantile intercourse may be retained, in all its extent, without 
the care of governing, or the expense of defending, these once regretted 
provinces." Is there not too much truth in this observation ? By adher- 
ing to the foreign policy, which I have been discussing, do we not remain 
essentially British, in every thing but the form of our government ? Are 
not our interests, our industry, our commerce, so modified as to swell 
British pride, and to increase British power? 

Mr. Chairman, our confederacy comprehends, within its vast limits, great 
diversity of interests : agricultural, planting, farming, commercial, navigat- 
ing, fishing, manufacturing. No one of these interests is felt in the same 
degree, and cherished vnih the same soUcitude, throughout all parts of the 
Union. Some of them are peculiar to particular sections of our common 
country. But all these great interests are confided to the protection of 
one government — to the fate of one ship — and a most gallant ship it is, 
with a noble crew. If we prosper, and are happy, protection must be ex- 
tended to all ; it is due to all. It is the great principle on which obe- 
dience is demanded from all. If our essential interests can not find pro- 
tection from our own government against the policy of foreign powers, 
where are they to get it? We did not unite for sacrifice, but for preservation. 
The inquiry should be, in reference to the great interests of every sec 
tion of the Union (I speak not of minute subdivisions), what would be done 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 291 

for those interests if that section stood alone and separated from the resi- 
due of the republic ? If the promotion of those interests would not in- 
juriously aflfect any other section, then every thing should be done for 
them, which would be done if it formed a distinct government. If they 
come into absolute collision with the interests of another section, a recon- 
ciliation, if possible, should be attempted, by mutual concession, so as to 
avoid a sacrifice of the prosperity of either to that of the other. In such 
a case, all should not be done for one which would be done, if it were 
separated and independent, but something ; and, in devising the measure, 
the good of each part and of the whole, should be carefully consulted. 
This is the only mode by which we can preserve, in full vigor, the harmony 
of the whole Union. The South entertains one opinion, and imagines that 
a modification of the existing policy of the country, for the protection of 
American industry, involves the ruin of the South. The North, the East, 
the West, hold the opposite opinion, and feel and contemplate, in a longer 
adherence to the foreign policy, as it now exists, their utter destruction. 
Is it true, that the interests of these great sections of our country are ir- 
reconcilable with each other ? Are we reduced to the sad and aflBicting 
dilemma of determining which shall fall a victim to the prosperity of the 
other ? Happily, I think, there is no such distressing alternative. If the 
North, the West, and the East, formed an independent State, unassociated 
with the South, can there be a doubt that the restrictive system would be 
carried to the point of prohibition of every foreign fabric of which they 
produce the raw material, and which they could manufacture ? Such 
would be their policy, if they stood alone ; but they are fortunately con- 
nected with the South, which believes its interests to require a free admis- 
sion of foreign manufactures. Here then is a case for mutual concession, 
for fair compromise. The bill under consideration presents this compro- 
mise. It is a medium between the absolute exclusion and the unrestricted 
admission of the produce of foreign industry. It sacrifices the interest of 
neither section to that of the other ; neither, it is true, gets all that it 
wants, nor is subject to all that it fears. But it has been said that the 
South obtains nothing in this compromise. Does it lose any thing ? is the 
first question. I have endeavored to prove that it does not, by showing 
that a mere transfer is effected in the source of the supply of its consump- 
tion from Europe to America ; and that the loss, whatever it may be, of 
the sale of its great staple in Europe, is compensated by the new market 
created in America. But does the South really gain nothing in this com- 
promise ? The consumption of the other sections, though somewhat re- 
stricted, is still left open by this bill, to foreign fabrics purchased by 
southern staples. So far its operation is beneficial to the South, and pre- 
judicial to the industry of the other sections, and that is the point of 
mutual concession. The South will also gain by the extended consimip- 
tion of its great staple, produced by an increased capacity to consume it 
in consequence of the establishment of the home market. But the South 



292 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

can not exert its industry and enterprise in the business of manufactures \ 
Why not ? The diflSculties, if not exaggerated, are artificial, and may, 
therefore, be surmounted. But can the other sections embark in the 
planting occupations of the South ? The obstructions which forbid them 
are natural, created by the immutable laws of God, and, therefore, un- 
conquerable. 

Other and animating considerations invite us to adopt the policy of this 
systeoL Its importance, in connection with the general defense in time Oi 
war, can not fail to be duly estimated. Need I recall to our painful recol- 
lection the suflferings, for the want of an adequate supply of absolute nec- 
essaries, to which the defenders of their country's rights and our entire 
population, were subjected during the late war ? Or to remind the com- 
mittee of the great advatitage of a steady and unfailing source of supply, 
unaffected alike in war and in peace ? Its importance, in reference to the 
stability of our Union, that paramount and greatest of all our interests, 
can not fail warmly to recommend it, or at least to conciliate the forbear- 
ance of every patriot bosom. Now our people present the spectacle of a 
vast assemblage of jealous rivals, all eagerly rushing to the sea-board, 
jostling each other in their way, to hurry off to glutted foreign markets 
the perishable produce of their labor. The tendency of that policy, in 
conformity to which this bill is prepared, is to transform these competitors 
into friends and mutual customers ; and, by the reciprocal exchanges of their 
respective productions, to place the confederacy upon the most solid of all 
foundations, the basis of common interest. And is not government called 
upon, by every stimulating motive, to adapt its policy to the actual condi- 
tion and extended growth of our great republic ? At the commencement 
of our Constitution, almost the whole population of the United States was 
confined between the Alleghany mountains and the Atlantic ocean. Since 
that epoch, the western part of New York, of Pennsylvania, of Virginia, 
all the western States and Territories, have been principally peopled. Prior 
to that period we had scarcely any interior. An interior has sprung up, 
as it were by enchantment, and along with it new interests and new rela- 
tions, requiring the parental protection of government. Our policy should 
be modified accordingly, so as to comprehend all, and sacrifice none. And 
are we not encouraged by the success of past experience, in respect to the 
only article which has been adequately protected ? Already have the pre- 
dictions and the friends of the American system, in even a shorter time 
than their most sanguine hopes could have anticipated, been completely 
realized in regard to that article ; and consumption is now better and more 
cheaply supplied with coarse cottons, than it was under the prevalence of 
the foreign system. 

Even if the benefits of the policy were limited to certain sections of our 
country, would it not be satisfactory to behold American industry, wher- 
ever situated, active, animated, and thrifty, rather than persevere in a 
course which renders us subservient to tbreign industry ? But these ben- 



ON AMERICAN INDUSTRY. 298 

efits are twofold, direct, and collateral, and, in the one shape or the other, 
they will diflfuse themselves throughout the Union. All parts of the 
Union will participate, more or less, in both. As to the direct benefit, it 
is probable that the North and the East will enjoy the largest share. But 
the West and the South will also participate in them. Philadelphia, Bal- 
timore, and Richmond, will divide with the northern capitals the business 
of manufacturing. The latter city unites more advantages for its success- 
ful prosecution than any other place I know, Zanesville, in Ohio, only ex- 
cepted. And where the direct benefit does not accrue, that will be enjoyed 
of supplying the raw material and provisions for the consumption of 
artisans. Is it not most desirable to put at rest and prevent the annual 
recurrence of this unpleasant subject, so well fitted, by the various interests 
to which it appeals, to excite irritation and to produce discontent ? Can 
that be effected by its rejection ? Behold the mass of petitions which lie 
on our table, earnestly and anxiously entreating the protecting interposition 
of Congress against the ruinous policy which we are pursuing. Will 
these petitioners, comprehending all orders of society, entire States and 
communities, public companies and private individuals, spontaneously as- 
sembling, cease in their humble prayers by your lending a deaf ear ? Can 
you expect that these petitioners and others, in countless numbers, that 
will, if you delay the passage of this bill, supplicate your mercy, should 
contemplate their substsmce gradually withdraw to foreign countries, their 
ruin slow, but certain and as inevitable as death itself, without one expiring 
effort ? You think the measure injurious to you ; we beheve our preserva- 
tion depends upon its adoption. Our convictions, mutually honest, are 
equally strong. What is to be done ? I invoke that saving spirit of mu- 
tual concession under which our blessed Constitution was formed, and 
under which alone it can be happily administered. I appeal to the South 
■ — to the high-minded, generous, and patriotic South — with which I have 
so often co-operated, in attempting to sustain the honor and to vindicate the 
rights of our country. Should it not offer, upon the altar of the public 
good, some sacrifice of its peculiar opinions ? Of what does it complain ? 
A possible temporary enhancement in the objects of consumption. Of 
what do we complain ? A total incapacity, produced by the foreign policy, 
to purchase, at any price, necessary foreign objects of consumption. In 
such an alternative, inconvenient only to it, ruinous to us, can we expect 
too much from southern magnanimity ? The just and confident expecta- 
tion of the passage of this bill has flooded the country with recent import- 
ations of foreign fabrics. If it should not pass, they will complete the 
work of destruction of our domestic industry. If it should pass, they will 
prevent any considerable rise in the price of foreign commodities, until 
our own industry shall be able to supply competent substitutes. 

To the friends of the tariff I would also anxiously appeal. Every ar- 
rangement of its provisions does not suit each of you ; you desire some 
further alterations; you would make it perfect. You want what you will 



294 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

never get. Nothing human is perfect. And I have seen, with great sur- 
prise, a piece signed by a member of Congress, published in the " National 
Intelligencer," stating that this bill must be rejected, and a judicious tariff 
brought in as its substitute. Kjvdicious tariff! No member of Congress 
could have signed that piece ; or, if he did, the public ought not to be 
deceived. If this bill do not pass, unquestionably no other can pass at 
this session, or probably during this Congress. And who will go home 
and say that he rejected all the benefits of this bill, because molasses has 
been subjected to the enormous additional duty of five cents per gallon ? 
I call, therefore, upon the fnends of the American policy, to yield some- 
what of their own peculiar wishes, and not to reject the practicable in the 
idle pursuit after the unattainable. Let us imitate the illustrious example 
of the framers of the Constitution, and always remembering that whatever 
springs from man partakes of his imperfections, depend upon experience 
to suggest, in future, the necessaiy amendments. 

We have had great difficulties to encounter. First, the splendid talents 
which are arrayed in this House against us. Second, we aie opposed by 
the rich and powerful in the land. Third, the executive government, if 
any, afibrds us but a cold and equivocal, support. Fourth, the importing 
and navigaring interest, I vorily believe from misconception, are adverse to 
us. Fifth, the British factors and the British influence are inimical to our 
success. Sixth, long-established habits and prejudices oppose us. Sev- 
enth, the reviewers and literary speculators, foreign and domestic. And, 
lastly, the leading presses of the country, including the influence of that 
which is established in this city, and sustained by the public purse. 

From some of these, or other causes, the bill may be postponed, thwarted, 
defeated. But the cause is the cause of the country, and it must and will 
prevail. It is founded in the interests and aflfections of the people. It is 
as native as the granite deeply imbosomed in our mountains. And, in con- 
clusion, I would pray God, in his infinite mercy, to avert from our country 
the evils which are impending over it, and, by enlightening our councils, 
to conduct us into that path which leads to riches, to greatness, to glory. 



REPLY TO JOHN RANDOLPH 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1824. 

[Notwithstanding Mr, Randolph, from some cause which we 
will not attempt to divine, had shown much disposition to annoy 
Mr. Clay as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and made 
many thrusts at him, and notwithstanding the duel between 
them, they met at last in perfect amity, in the Senate chamber, 
when Mr. Randolph, being in declining health, and apparently 
near his end, approached Mr. Clay, and gave him his hand. It 
was a touching interview. The following morceau, in reply to 
one of Mr. Randolph's assaults, is worth preserving, and shows 
a pacific disposition, mingled with pleasantry.] 

Sib, I am growing old. I have had some little measure of experience 
in public life, and the result of that experience has brought me to this 
conclusion, that when business, of whatever nature, is to be transacted in a 
deliberative assembly, or in private life, courtesy, forbearance, and modera- 
tion, are best calculated to bring it to a successful conclusion. Sir, my 
age admonishes me to abstain fiom involving myself in personal diflBculties; 
would to God that I could say, I am also restrained by higher motives. 
I certainly never sought any collision with the gentleman fiom Virginia. 
My situation at this time is peculiar, if it be nothing else, and might, I 
should think, dissuade, at least, a generous heart from any wish to draw 
me into circumstances of personal altercation. I have experienced this 
magnanimity fi-om some quarters of the House. But I regret, that from 
others it appears to have no such consideration. The gentleman from 
Virginia was pleased to say, that in one point at least he coincided with 
me — in an humble estimate of my grammatical and philological acquire- 
ments. I know my deficiencies. I was bom to no proud patrimonial es- 
tate ; from my father I inherited only infancy, ignorance, and indigence. I 
feel my defects ; but, so far as my situation in early life is concerned, I may, 
without presumption, say they are more my misfortune than my fault. 
But, however I regret my want of ability to furnish to the gentleman a 
better specimen of powers of verbal criticism, I will venture to say, it is 
not greater than the disappointment of this committee as to the strength 
of his argument. 



ADDRESS TO GENERAL LAFAYETTE 

m THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DECEMBER 10, 1824. 

[Mr. Clay being Speaker of the House of Representatives 
when General Lafayette was presented to that body, it devolved 
on him to welcome the nation's guest ; and the following is a 
copy of his brief speech on that interesting occasion. Forty 
years had elapsed since G-eneral Lafayette had left our shores, 
and he, in the mean time, had enacted a prominent part in the 
eventful changes through which his own country had passed, 
besides having been once in captivity for his country's cause. A 
young man, he came to assist America in her struggle for free- 
dom, was the companion in arms of Washington, and continued 
in our service till the close of the Revolutionary War. Grateful 
for these services, the American people, through their represent- 
atives at Washington, had invited Lafayette to visit this country 
in his old age, as the nation's guest, and sent a public ship to 
bring him to our shores. This invitation was accepted, and 
General Lafayette had made his tour of the States, everywhere 
honored by an uninterrupted ovation, before Congress assembled. 
It was peculiarly fit, that the most prominent and most influen- 
tial American statesman in the war of 1812, should welcome to 
our midst this volunteer soldier of the war of 1776, who left his 
own country to fight our battles in company with Washington, 
and who never left the field till our independence was achieved. 
Mr. Clay, crowned with a civic laurel, stood in the presence of 
the man, who, a foreigner, had staked his fortune and drawn his 
sword for American Liberty, when it hung doubtful in the scales 
of the future, and whose brow was covered with military chap- 
lets, won on our own soil, and on that of his own country. 
Such were the men brought together as speakers on this occa- 
sion — one to express the gratitude of a nation, and the other to 
receive the first meed of praise for services, long past, in behalf 
of a generation now for the most part in their graves. But, 
while men die, history lives, and imparts unfading renown to 



ADDRESS TO LA FATKTTTE. 297 

those who have justly earaed it. It is rare, in the history of the 
world, that such an occasion occurs as that on which the follow- 
ing address was delivered ; and still more rare, that speakers 
occupying a like relative position should grace it and make it 
memorable.] 

General, The House of Representatives of the United States, impelled 
alike by its own feelings, and by those of the whole American people, 
could not have assigned to me a more gratifying duty than that of present- 
ing to you cordial congratulations upon the occasion of your recent arrival 
in the United States, in compliance with the wishes of Congress, and to 
assure you of the very high satisfaction which your presence affords on 
this early theater of your glory and renown. Although but few of the 
members who compose this body shared with you in the war of our Revo- 
lution, all have, from impartial history, or from faithful tradition, a knowl- 
edge of the perils, the sufferings, and the sacrifices, which you voluntarily 
encountered, and the signal services, in America and in Europe, which you 
performed for an infant, a distant, and an alien people ; and all feel and 
own the very great extent of the obligations under which you have placed 
our country. But the relations in which you have ever stood to the 
United States, interesting and important as they have been, do not consti- 
tute the only motive of the respect and admiration which the House of 
Representatives entertain for you. Your consistency of character, your 
uniform devotion to regulated liberty, in all the vicissitudes of a long and 
arduous life, also commands its admiration. During all the recent convul- 
sions of Europe, amid, as after the dispersion of, every political storm, the 
people of the United States have beheld you, true to your old principles, 
firm and erect, cheering and animating with your well-known voice, the 
votaries of liberty, its faithful and fearless champion, ready to shed the last 
drop of that blood which here you so freely and nobly spilled, in the same 
holy cause. 

The vain wish has been sometimes indulged, that Providence would 
allow the patriot, after death, to return to his country, and to contemplate 
the intermediate changes which had taken place; to view the forests 
felled, the cities built, the mountains leveled, the canals cut, the highways 
constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and the 
increase of population. General, your present visit to the United States is 
a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are in the midst 
of posterity. Everywhere, you must have been struck with the great 
changes, physical and moral, which have occurred since you left us. Even 
this very city, bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to you and to us, 
has since emerged from the forest which then covered its site. In one re- 
spect you behold us unaltered, and this is in the sentiment of continued 
devotion to liberty, and of ardent affection and profound gratitude to your 



298 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. ' 

departed friend, the father of his country, and to you, and to your illus- 
trious associates in the field and in the cabinet, for the multiplied blessings 
which surround us, and for the very privilege of addressing you which^I 
now exercise. This sentiment, now fondly cherished by more than ten 
millions of people, will be transmitted, with unabated vigor, down the tide 
of time, through the countless millions who are destined to inhabit this 
continent, to the latest posterity. 

[Gbneral Lafayette replied to this address in a befitting and touching man- 
ner.] 



MR. CLAY'S ADDRESS TO HIS CONSTITUENTS, 

ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1826. MARCH 26, 1825. 

[This, as will be seen, is one of Mr. Clay's literary composi- 
tions, and not a reported speech. It is dated some twenty days 
after he had entered on his duties as Secretary of State, under 
Mr. Adams, and was written to vindicate himself before his con- 
stituents in Kentucky, and before the country, from the charge 
of " bargain and corruption," with which he had been so vio- 
lently assailed, for the part he took, as a member of the House 
of Representatives, in the Presidential election of February, 
1825. It mattered not whether General Jackson or Mr. Adams 
should have been elected President by the House, Mr. Clay was 
bound to be Secretary of State, if the wishes of the country and 
of the great West had been regarded. Whether authorized by 
General Jackson himself, or not, it is certain that this office was 
tendered to him, by the General's friends, through Mr. Bu- 
chanan, if he (Mr. Clay) would support the General's preten- 
sions. But no such offer was made by Mr. Adams, nor was 
there any tacit understanding to this effect. On the contrary, 
so far as it is possible to prove a negative, it has been demon- 
strated. Mr. Clay denied any such overtures from Mr. Adams 
or his friends ; but he has caused it to be recorded in history, 
that it was made to him by Mr. Buchanan, for General Jackson, 
or in his behalf Unfortunately, however, Mr. Clay's relations 
to General Jackson and his friends were not of an auspicious 
character. He did not respect General Jackson's claims, but 
thought him very unqualified for civil trusts, although he con- 
ceded to him a very high order of military talents. 

There was a natural ground of suspicion with General Jackson 
and his friends, toward Mr Clay, and while Mr, Clay refused to 
throw himself into their hands, their inference was, that he was 
engaged in a conspiracy against them. Ready to bargain them- 
selves, they also believed that Mr. Clay would bargain on one 
side or the other ; and they believed it certain that if he would 



300 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

not bargain with General Jackson, it could only be because he 
had bargained with Mr. Adams. Hence the charge against Mr. 
Clay, without the slightest evidence to support it. It seemed 
morally impossible that General Jackson and his friends should 
appreciate the lofty ground occupied by Mr. Clay, as conceded to 
him by the country and by all parties, rendering it entirely un- 
necessary for him to have any understanding with any party, as 
to what place he should occupy in the government. The only 
question was, as to what party he might incline to favor. It 
was impossible that his sympathies, or his sense of duty to the 
country, should run on the side of General Jackson, as his speech 
on the Seminole War, before given, will show. Mr. Clay's opin- 
ion of General Jackson corresponded with that of Mr. Jefferson, 
which has lately come to light in the publication of the private 
correspondence of Daniel Webster, as having been uttered by 
Mr. Jefferson in 1824, when General Jackson was first run for 
the Presidency : " I feel much alarmed," said Mr. Jefferson to. 
Mr. Webster, " at the prospect of seeing General Jackson presi- 
dent. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a 
place. He has had very little respect for laws or constitutions, 
though an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When 
I was President of the Senate, he was a senator ; and he could 
never speak on account of the rashness of his feehngs. I have 
seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. 
His passions are, no doubt, cooler now ; for he has been much 
tried since I knew him. But he is a dangerous man." 

This is recorded by Mr. Webster as having been uttered by Mr. 
Jefferson in private conversation, when Mr. Webster was a guest 
at Monticello, and it is no doubt true. Mr. Clay had like rea- 
sons for believing General Jackson to be a dangerous man, and 
he conscientiously entertained them. Hence his preference of 
Mr. Adams, and hence the violent persecution of Mr. Clay on 
account of this preference, which is fully set forth in the chapters 
entitled " The Great Conspiracy," in the first volume of this 
work, and which is also briefly illustrated in the following ad- 
dress.] 

The relations of your representative and of your neighbor, in which I 
have so long stood, and in which I have experienced so many strong 
proofs of your confidence, attachment, and friendship, having just been, 
the one terminated, and the other suspended, I avail myself of the occasion 
on taking, I hope a temporary, leave of you, to express my unfeigned 
gratitude for all your favors, and to assure you that I shall cherish a fond 



MB. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 301 

and unceasing recollection of them. The extraordinary circumstances in 
which, during the late session of Congress, I have been placed, and the un- 
merited animadversions which I have brought upon myself, for an honest 
and faithful discharge of my public duty, form an additional motive for 
this appeal to your candor and justice. If, in the oflSce which I have just 
left, I have abused your confidence and betrayed your interests, I can not 
deserve your support in that on the duties of which I have now entered. 
On the contrary, should it appear that I have been assailed without just 
cause, and that misguided zeal and interested passions have singled me 
out as a victim, I can not doubt that I shall continue to find, in the en- 
lightened tribunal of the public, that cheering countenance and impartial 
judgment, without which a public servant can not possibly discharge with 
advantage the trust confided to him. 

It is known to you, that my name has been presented, by the respectable 
States of Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri, for the office of presi- 
dent, to the consideration of the American public, and that it had attracted 
some attention in other quarters of the Union. When, early in November 
last, I took my departure from the District to repair to this city, the issue 
of the presidential election before the people was unknown. Events, how- 
ever, bad then so far transpired as to render it highly probable that there 
would be no election by the people, and that I should be excluded from 
the House of Representatives. It became, therefore, my duty to consider, 
and to make up an opinion on, the respective pretensions of the three 
gentlemen who might be returned, and at that early period I stated to Dr. 
Drake, one of the professors in the Medical School of Transylvania Uni- 
versity, and to John J. Crittenden, Esquire, of Frankfort, my determination 
to support Mr. Adams in preference to General Jackson. I wrote to Charles 
Hammond, Esquire, of Cincinnati, about the same time, and mentioned 
certain objections to the election of Mr. Crawford (among which was that 
of his continued ill health), that appeared to me almost insuperable. Dur- 
ing my journey hither, and up to near Christmas, it remained uncertain 
whether Mr. Crawford or myself would be returned, to the House of Rep- 
resentatives. Up to near Christmas, all our information made it highly 
probable that the vote of Louisiana would be given to me, and that I 
should consequently be returned, to the exclusion of Mr. Crawford. And 
while that probability was strong, I communicated to Mr. Senator John- 
ston, from Louisiana, my resolution not to allow my name, in consequence 
of the small number of votes by which it would be carried into the House, 
if I were returned, to constitute an obstacle, for one moment, to an election 
in the House of Representatives. 

During the month of December, and the greater part of January, strong 
professions of high consideration, and of unbounded admiration of me, were 
made to my friends, in the greatest profusion, by some of the active friends 
of all the returned candidates. Every body piofessed to regret, after 
I was excluded from the House, that I had not been returned to it. I 



302 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

seemed to be the favorite of every body. Describing my situation to a 
distant friend, I said to bim, " I am enjoying, while alive, the posthumous 
honors which are usually awarded to the venerated dead." A person not 
acquainted with human nature would have been surprised, in listening to 
these praises, that the object of them had not been elected by general ac- 
clamation. None made more or warmer manifestations of these sentiments 
of esteem and admiration than some of the friends of General Jackson. 
None were so reserved as those of Mr. Adams — under an opinion (as I have 
learned since the election), which they early imbibed, that the western 
vote would be only influenced by its own sense of public duty, and that if 
its judgment pointed to any other than Mr. Adams, nothing which they 
could do would secure it to him. These professions and manifestations 
were taken by me for what they were worth. I knew that the sunbeams 
would quickly disappear, after my opinion should be ascertained, and that 
they would be succeeded by a storm ; although I did not foresee exactly 
how it would burst upon my poor head. I found myself transformed from 
a candidate before the people, into an elector for the people. I deliberate- 
ly examined the duties incident to this new attitude, and weighed all the 
facts before me, upon which my judgment was to be formed or reviewed. 
If the eagerness of any of the heated partisans of the respective candidates 
suggested a tardiness in the declaration of my intention, I believed that 
the new relation in which I was placed to the subject, imposed on me an 
obligation to pay some respect to delicacy and decorum. 

Meanwhile, that very reserve supplied aliment to newspaper criticism. 
The critics could not comprehend how a man standing as I had stood 
toward the other gentlemen, should be restrained, by a sense of propriety, 
from instantly fighting under the banners of one of them, against the 
others. Letters were issued from the manufactory at Washington, to come 
back, after performing long journeys, for Washington consumption. These 
letters imputed to " Mr. Clay and his friends a mysterious, a portentous 
silence," and so forth. From dark and distant hints the progress was easy 
to open and bitter denunciation. Anonymous letters, full of menace and 
abuse, were almost daily poured in on me. Personal threats were com- 
municated to me, through friendly organs, and I was kindly apprized of all 
the glories of village effigies which awaited me. A systematic attack was 
simultaneously commenced upon me from Boston to Charleston, with an 
object, present and future, which it was impossible to mistake. No man 
but myself could know the nature, extent, and variety, of means which 
were employed to awe and influence me. I bore them, I trust, as your rep- 
resentative ought to have borne them, and as became me. Then followed 
the letter, afterward adopted as his own, by Mr. Kreraer, to the Colum- 
bian Observer. With its character and contents you are well acquainted. 
When I saw that letter, alleged to be written by a member of the very 
House over which I was presiding, who was so far designated as to be 
described as belonging to a particular delegation by name, a member with 



MR. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 303 

whom I might be daily exchanging, at least on my part, friendly saluta- 
tions, and he was possibly receiving from me constantly acts of courtesy 
and kindness, I felt that I could no longer remain silent. A crisis appeared 
to me to have arisen in my public life. I issued my card. I ought not to 
have put in it the last paragraph, because, although it does not necessarily 
imply the resort to a personal combat, it admits of that construction ; nor 
will I conceal that such a possible issue was within my contemplation. I 
owe it to the community to say, that whatever heretofore I may have done, 
or, by inevitable circumstances, might be forced to do, no man in it holds 
in deeper abhorrence than I do, that pernicious practice. Condemned 
as it must be by the judgment and philosophy, to say nothing of the 
religion, of every thinking man, it is an affair of feeling about which 
we can not, although we should, reason. Its true corrective will be 
found when all shall unite, as all ought to unite, in its unqualified pro- 
scription. 

A few days after the publication of my card, " another card," under Mr. 
Kremer's name, was published in the Intelligencer. The night before, as I 
was voluntarily informed, Mr. Eaton, a senator from Tennessee, and the 
biographer of General Jackson (who boarded in the end of this city, op- 
posite to that in which Mr. Kremer took up his abode, a distance of about 
two miles and a half), was closeted for some time with him. Mr. Kremer 
is entitled to great credit for having overcome all the disadvantages inci- 
dent to his early life and want of education, and forced his way to the 
honorable station of a member of the House of Representatives. Ardent 
in his attachment to the cause which he had espoused. General Jackson is 
his idol, and of his blind zeal others have availed themselves, and have 
made him their dupe and their instrument. I do not pretend to know the 
object of Mr. Eaton's visit to him. I state the fact as it was communi- 
cated to me, and leave you to judge. Mr. Kremer's card is composed with 
some care and no little art, and he is made to avow in it, though some- 
what equivocally, that he is the author of the letter to the Columbian 
Observer. To Mr. Crowninshield, a member from Massachusetts, formerly 
Secretary of the Navy, he declared that he was not the author of that let- 
ter. In his card he draws a clear line of separation between my friends 
and me, acquitting them, and undertaking to make good his charges in 
that letter only so far as I am concerned. The purpose of this discrimina 
tion is obvious. At that time the election was undecided, and it was 
therefore as important to abstain from imputations against my friends, as 
it was politic to fix them upon me. If they could be made to believe that 
I had been perfidious, in the transport of their indignation, they might 
have been carried to the support of General Jackson. I received the 
National Intelligencer, containing Mr. Kremer's card, at breakfast (the 
usual time of its distribution), on the morning of its publication. As soon 
as I read the card I took my resolution. The terms of it clearly imphed 
that it had not entered into his conception to have a personal affair with 



304 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

me ; and I ehoiild have justly exposed myself to universal ridicule if I had 
sought one with him. I determined to lay the matter before the House, 
and respectfully invite an investigation of my conduct. I accordingly made 
a communication to the House on the same day, the motives for which I 
assigned. Mr. Kremer was in his place, and, when I sat down, rose and 
stated that he was prepared and willing to substantiate his charges against 
me. This was his voluntary declaration, unprompted by his aiders and 
abettors, who had no opportunity of previous consultation with him on tliat 
point. Here was an issue publicly and solemnly joined, in which the ac- 
cused invoked an inquiry into serious charges against him, and the accuser 
professed an ability and a willingness to estabUsh them. A debate ensued 
on the next day which occupied the greater part of it, during which Mr. 
Ej"emer declared to Mr. Brent, of Louisiana, a friend of mine, and to Mr. 
Little, of Maryland, a friend of General Jackson, as they have certified, 
" that he never intended to charge Mr, Clay with corruption or dishonor, 
in his intended vote for Mr. Adams as president, or that he had transferred 
or could transfer the votes or interests of his friends ; that he (Mr. Kre- 
mer) was among the last men in the nation to make such a charge against 
Mr. Clay ; and that his letter was never intended to convey the idea given 
to it," Mr. Digges, a highly respectable inhabitant of this city, has cer- 
tified to the same declarations of Mr. Kremer. 

A message was also conveyed to me, during the discussion, through a 
member of the House, to ascertain if I would be satisfied with an explana- 
tion which was put on paper and shown me, and which it was stated Mr 
Kremer was willing, in his place, to make. I replied that the matter was 
in the possession of the House. I was afterward told that Mr. Ingham, of 
Pennsylvania, got hold of that paper, put it in his pocket, and that he ad- 
vised Mr. Kremer to take no step without the approbation of his friends. 
Mr, Cook, of Illinois, moved an adjournment of the House on information 
wliich he received of the probability of Mr. Kremer's making a satisfactoiy 
atonement on the next day, for the injury which he had done me, which I 
have no doubt he would have m:ide if he had been left to the impulses of 
bis native honesty. The House decided to refer my communication to a 
committee, and adjourned until the next day to appoint it by ballot, I:. 
tlie mean time Mr. Kremer had taken, I presume, or rather there had been 
forced upon him the advice of his friends, and I heard no more of the apol- 
ogy. A committee was appointed of seven gentleuien, of whom not one was 
my political friend, but who were among the most eminent members of 
the body, I received no summons or notification from the committee 
from its first organization to its final dissolution, but Mr, Kremer was 
called upon by it to bring forward his proofs. 

For one moment be pleased to stop here and contemplate his posture, 
his relation to the House and to me, and the high obligations under which 
he iiad voluntarily placed himself. He was a member of one of the most 
august assemblies upon earth, of which he was bound to deftiad tlie ])urity 



MR. CLAY'S ADDRESS TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 305 

OT expose the corruption by every consideration which ought to intiuence a 
patriot bosom. A most responsible and highly important constitutional 
duty was to be performed by that assembly. He had chosen, in an anony- 
mous letter, to bring against its presiding officer charges, in respect to that 
duty, of the most flagitious character. These charges comprehend delega- 
tions from several highly respectable States. If true, that presiding oflBcer 
merited not merely to be dragged from the chair, but to be expelled the 
House. He challenges an investigation into his conduct, and Mr. Kremer 
boldly accepts the challenge, and promises to sustain his accusation. The 
committee appointed by the House itself, with the common consent of 
both parties, calls upon Mr. Kremer to execute his pledge publicly given, 
in his proper place, and also previously given in the public prints. Here 
is the theater of the alleged arrangements ; this the vicinage in which the 
trial ought to take place. Every thing was here fresh in the recollection 
of the witnesses, if there were any. Here all the proofs were concentrated, 
Mr. Kremer was stimulated by every motive which could impel to action ; 
by his consistency of character ; by duty to his constituents, to his coun- 
try ; by that of redeeming his solemn pledge ; by his anxious wish for the 
success of his favorite, whose interests could not fail to be advanced by 
supporting his atrocious charges. But Mr, Kremer had now the benefit of 
the advice of his fiiends. He had no proofs, for the plainest of all reasons, 
because there was no truth in his charges. They saw that to attempt to 
establish them and to fail, as he must fail in the attempt, might lead to an 
exposure of the conspiracy, of which he was the organ. They advised 
therefore, that he should make a retreat, and their adroitness suggested, 
that in an objection to that jurisdiction of the House, which had been ad- 
mitted, and in the popular topics of the freedom of the press, his duty to 
his constituents, and the inequality in the condition of the Speaker of the 
House, and a member on the floor, plausible means might be found to de- 
ceive the ignorant and conceal his disgrace. A labored communication 
was accordingly prepared by them, in Mr. Kremer's name, and transmitted 
to the committee, founded upon these suggestions. Thus the valiant 
champion, who had boldly stepped forward, and promised, as a represent- 
ative of the people, to " cry aloud and spare not," forgot all his gratuitous 
gallantry and boasted patriotism, and sank at once into profound silence. 

With these remarks, I will for the present leave him, and proceed to 
assign the reasons to you, to whom alone I admit myself to be officially 
responsible for the vote which I gave on the presidential election. The 
first inquiry which it behooved me to make was, as to the influence which 
orught to be exerted on my judgment, by the relative state of the electoral 
votes which the three returned candidates brought into the House from the 
colleges. General Jackson obtained ninety-nine, Mr. Adams eighty-four, 
and Mr. Crawford forty-one. Ought the fact of a plurality being given to 
one of the candidates to have any, and what, weight ? If the Constitution 
had intended that it should have been decisive, the Constitution would have 

20 



306 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

made it decisive, aud interdicted the exercise of any discration on the part 
of the House of Representatives. The Constitution has not so ordained, 
but, on the contrary, it has provided, that " from the persons having the 
highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as 
president, the House of Representatives shall choose, immediately, by ballot 
a president." Thus a discretion is necessarily invested in the House ; for 
choice implies examination, comparison, judgment. The fact, therefore, 
that one of the three persons was the highest returned, not being, by the 
Constitution of the country, conclusive upon the judgment of the House, 
it still remains to determine what is the true degree of weight belonging to 
it ? It has been contended that it should operate, if not as an instruction, 
at least in the nature of one, and that in this form it should control the 
judgment of the House. But this is the same aigument of conclusiveness 
which the Constitution does not enjoin, thrown into a different but more 
imposing shape. Let me analyze it. There are certain States, the aggre- 
gate of whose electoral votes conferred upon the highest returned candi- 
date, indicate their wish that he should be the president. Their votes 
amount in number to ninety-nine, out of two hundred and sixty-one elec- 
toral votes of the whole Union. These ninety-nine do not, and can not, 
of themselves, make the president. K the fact of particular States giving 
ninety-nine votes, can, according to any received notions of the doc- 
trine of instruction, be regarded in that light, to whom are those instruc- 
tions to be considered addressed ? According to that doctrine, the people 
who appoint, have the right to direct, by their instruction, in certain cases, 
the course of the representative whom they appoint. The States, there- 
fore, who gave those ninety-nine votes, may in some sense be understood 
thereby to have instructed their representatives in the House to vote for 
the person on whom they were bestowed, in the choice of a president. 
But most clearly the representatives coming from other States, which gave 
no part of those ninety-nine votes, can not be considered as having been 
under any obligation to surrender their judgments to those of the States 
which gave the ninety-nine votes. To contend that they are under such 
an obligation, would be to maintain that the people of one State have 
a right to instruct the representatives from ano ther State. It would be to 
maintain a still more absurd proposition ; that in a case where the representa- 
tives from a State did not hold themselves instructed and bound by the 
will of that State, as indicated in its electoral college, the representatives 
from another State were, nevertheless, instructed and bound by that alien 
will. Thus the entire vote of North Carolina, and a large majority of that 
of Maryland, in their respective electoral colleges, were given to one of the 
three returned candidates, for whom the delegation from neither of those 
States voted. And yet the argument combated requires that the delega- 
tion from Kentucky, who do not represent the people from North Carolina 
nor Maryland, should be instructed by, and give an effect to, the indicated 
will of the people of those two States, when their own delegation paid no 



MR. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 307 

attention to it. Doubtless, those delegations felt themselvns authorized to 
look into the actual composition of, and all other circumstances connected 
with, the majorities which gave the electoral votes in their respective 
States ; and felt themselves justified, from a view of the whole ground, to 
act upon their responsibility, and according to their best judgments, dis- 
regarding the electoral votes in their States. And are representatives from 
a diflferent State not only bound by the will of a people of the different 
commonwealth, but forbidden to examine into the manner by which the 
expression of that will was brought about — an examination which the im- 
mediate representatives themselves feel it their duty to make ? 

Is the fact, then, of a plurality to have no weight ? Far from it. Here 
are twenty-four communities united under a common government. The 
expression of the will of any one of them is entitled to the most respect- 
ful attention. It ought to be patiently heard and kindly regarded by the 
others ; but it can not be admitted to be conclusive upon them. The ex- 
pression of the will of ninety-nine out of two hundred and sixty-one elect- 
ors, is entitled to very great attention, but that will can not be considered 
as entitled to control the will of one hundred and sixty-two electors who 
have manifested a different will. To give it such controlling influence, 
would be a subversion of the fundamental maxim of the republic — that the 
majority should govern. The will of the ninety-nine can neither be allow- 
ed rightfully to control the remaining one hundred and sixty-two, nor any 
one of the one hundred and sixty-two electoral votes. It may be an argu- 
ment, a persuasion, addressed to all and each of them, but it is binding 
and obligatory upon none. It follows, then, that the fact of a plurality was 
only one among the various considerations which the House was called 
upon to weigh, in making up its judgment. And the weight of the con- 
sideration ought to have been regulated by the extent of the plurality. 
As between General Jackson and Mr. Adams, the vote standing in the 
proportions of ninety-nine to eighty-four, it was entitled to less weight ; 
as between the general and Mr. Crawford, it was entitled to more, the 
vote being as ninety-nine to forty-one. The concession may even be 
made that, upon the supposition of an equality of pretensions between com- 
peting candidates, the preponderance ought to be given to the fact of a 
plurality. 

With these views of the relative state of the vote with which the three 
returned candidates entered the House, I proceeded to examine the other 
considerations which belonged to the question. For Mr. Crawford, who 
barely entered the House, with only four votes more than one candidate 
not returned, and upon whose case, therefore, the argument derived from 
the fact of plurality operated with strong, though not decisive force, I have 
ever felt much personal regard. But I was called upon to perform a 
solemn public duty, in which my private feelings, whether of affection or 
aversion, were not to be indulged, but the good of my country only con- 
sulted. It appeared to me that the precarious state of that gentleman's 



308 SPEECHES OF HENKT CLAY. 

hea.th, although I participated with his best friends in all their regreta and 
sympathies on account of it, was conclusive against him, to say nothing of 
other considerations of a public natm-e, which would have deserved exam- 
ination if, happily, in that respect he had been differently circumstanced. 
He had been ill near eighteen months ; and, although I am aware that his 
actual condition was a fact depending upon evidence, and that the evidence 
in regard to it, which had been presented to the public, was not perfectly 
hai-monious, I judged for myself upon what I saw and heard. He may, 
and I ardently hope will, recover ; but I did not think it became me to 
assist in committing the executive administration of this great republic, on 
the doubtful contingency of the restoration to health of a gentleman who 
had been so long and so seriously afflicted. Moreover, if, under all the 
circumstances of his situation, his election had been desirable, I did not 
think it practicable. I believed, and yet believe, that if the votes of the 
western States, given to Mr. Adams, had been conferred on Mr. Crawford, 
the effect would have been to protract in the House the decision of the 
contest, to the great agitation and distraction of the country, and possibly 
to defeat an election altogether ; the very worst result I thought that could 
happen. It appeared to me, then, that, sooner or later, we must arrive at 
the only practical issue of the contest before us, and that was between Mr. 
Adams and General Jackson, and I thought that the earlier we got there, 
the better for the country, and for the House. 

In considering this only alternative, I was not unaware of your strong 
desire to have a western president ; but I thought that I knew enough of 
your patriotism and magnanimity, displayed on so many occasions, to be- 
lieve that you could rise above the mere gratification of sectional pride, if 
the common good of the whole required you to make the sacrifice of local 
partiality. I solemnly believed it did, and this brings me to the most im- 
portant consideration which belonged to the whole subject — that arising 
out of the respective fitness of the only two real competitors, as it appeared 
to my best judgment. 

In speaking of General Jackson, I am aware of the delicacy and respect 
which are justly due to that distinguished citizen. It is far from my pur- 
pose to attempt to disparage him. I could not do it if I were capable of 
making the attempt ; but I shall nevertheless speak of him as becomes 
me with truth. I did not believe him so competent to discharge the va- 
rious, intricate, and complex duties of the office of chief magistrate, as his 
competitor. He has displayed great skill and bravery, as a military com- 
mander, and his own renown will endure as long as the means exist of 
preserving a recollection of human transactions. But to be qualified to 
discharge the duties of President of the United States, the incumbent 
must have more than mere military attainments — he must be a statesman. 
An individual may be a gallant and successful general, an eminent law- 
yer, an eloquent divine, a learned physician, or an accomplished artist ; 
and doubtless the union of all these characters in the person of a chief 



MR. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 309 

magistrate would be desirable, but no one of them, nor all combined, will 
qualify him to be president, unless he superadds that indispensable re- 
quisite of being a statesman. Far from meaning to say that it is an ob- 
jection to the elevation to the chief magistracy of any person that he is 
a military commander, if he unites the other qualifications, I only intend 
to say that whatever may be the success or splendor of his military 
achievements, if his qualifications be only militaiy, that is an objection, 
and I think a decisive objection, to his election. If General Jackson has 
exhibited, either in the councils of the Union, or in those of his own State, 
or in those of any other State or Territory, the qualities of a statesman, 
the evidence of the fact has escaped my observation. It would be as pain- 
ful as it is unnecessary, to recapitulate some of the incidents, which must 
be fresh in your recollection, of his public life. But I was greatly deceived 
in my judgment if they proved him to be endowed with that prudence, 
temper, and discretion, which are necessary for civU administration. It 
was in vain to remind me of the illustrious example of Washington. There 
was in that extraordinary person united, a serenity of mind, a cool and 
collected wisdom, a cautious and deliberate judgment, a perfect command 
of the passions, and throughout his whole life, a familiarity and acquaint- 
ance with business, and civil transactions, which rarely characterize any 
human being. No man was ever more deeply penetrated than he was, 
with profound respect for the safe and necessary principle of the entire 
subordination of the military to the civil authority, I hope I do no in- 
justice to General Jackson when I say that I could not recognize in his 
public conduct those attainments, for both civil government and military 
command, which cotemporaries and posterity have alike unanimously con- 
curred in awarding as yet only to the father of his country. I was sensible 
of the gratitude which the people of this country justly feel toward Gen- 
eral Jackson, for his brilliant military services. But the impulses of public 
gratitude should be controlled, as it appeared to me, by reason and dis- 
cretion, and I was not prepared blindly to surrender myself to the hazard- 
ous indulgence of a feeling, however amiable and excellent that feeling 
may be, when properly directed. It did not seem to me to be wise or 
prudent, if, as I solemnly believe. General Jackson's competency for the 
oflSce was highly questionable, that he should be placed in a situation 
where neither his fame nor the public interests would be advanced. Gen- 
eral Jackson himself would be the last man to recommend or vote for 
any one for a place for which he thought him unfit. I felt myself sus- 
tained by his own reasoning, in his letter to Mr. Monroe, in which, speak- 
ing of the qualifications of our venerable Shelby for the Department of 
War, he remarked : " I am compelled to say to you, that the acquirements 
of this worthy man are not competent to the discharge of the multiplied 
duties of this Department. I therefore hope he may not accept the ap- 
pointment. I am fearful, if he does, he will not add much splendor to his 
present well-earned standing as a public character." Such was my opinion 



310 SPEECHES OF HENBY CLAY. 

of General Jackson, in reference to the presidency. His convicti-n of 
Governor Shelby's unfitness, by the habits of his life, for the appointment 
of Secretary of War, were not more honest nor stronger than mi le were 
of his own want of experience, and the necessary civil qualifications to 
discharge the duties of a President of the United States. In his elevation 
to this office, too, I thought I perceived the establishment of a fearful pre- 
cedent ; and I am mistaken in all the warnings of instructive history, if I 
erred in my judgment. Undoubtedly there are other and many dangers 
to public liberty, besides that which proceeds from military idolatry ; but 
I have yet to acquire the knowledge of it, if there be one more perilous- 
or more frequent. 

Whether Mr. Adams would or would not have been my choice of a presi- 
dent, if I had been left freely to select from the whole mass of American citi- 
zens, was not the question submitted to my decision. I had no such liberty ; 
but I was circumscribed, in the selection I had to make, to one of the three 
gentlemen whom the people themselves had thought proper to present to 
the House of Representatives. Whatever objections might be supposed 
to exist against him, still greater appeared to me to apply to his competitor 
Of Mr. Adams it is but truth and justice to say, that he is highly gifted, 
profoundly learned, and long and greatly experienced in public affairs, at 
home and abroad. Intimately conversant with the rise and progress of 
every negotiation with foreign powers, pending or concluded ; personally 
acquainted with the capacity and attainments of most of the public men 
of this country, whom it might be proper to employ in the public serv- 
ice ; extensively possessed of much of that valuable kind of information 
which is to be acquired neither from books nor tradition, but which is the 
fruit of largely participating in public affairs ; discreet and sagacious, he 
would enter upon the duties of the office with great advantages. I saw 
in his election the establishment of no dangerous example. I saw in it, on 
the contrary, only conformity to the safe precedents which had been estab- 
lished in the instances of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Monroe, 
who had respectively filled the same office from which he was to be trans- 
lated. 

A collateral consideration of much weight, was derived from the wishes 
of the Ohio delegation. A majority of it, during the progress of the 
session, made up their opinions to support Mr. Adams, and they were 
communicated to me. They said, " Ohio supported the candidate who was 
the choice of Kentucky. We failed in our common exertions to secure 
his election. Now, among those returned, we have a decided preference, 
and we think you ought to make some sacrifice to gratify us." Was not 
much due to our neighbor and friend ? 

I considered, with the greatest respect, the resolution of the General 
Assembly of Kentucky, requesting the delegation to vote for General 
Jackson. That resolution, it is true, placed us in a peculiar situation. 
While every other delegation, from every other State in the Union, waa 



MR. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 311 

left by its Legislature entirely free to examine the pretensions of all the 
candidates, and to form its unbiased judgment, the General Assembly of 
Kentucky thought proper to interpose, and request the delegation to give 
its vote to one of the candidates, whom they were pleased to designate. I 
felt a sincere desire to comply with a request emanating from a source so 
respectable, if I could have done so consistently with those paramount 
duties which I owed to you and to the country. But, after full and anxious 
consideration, I found it incompatible with my best judgment of those 
duties, to conform to the request of the General Assembly. The resolution 
asserts, that it was the wish of the people of Kentucky, that their delega- 
tion should vote for the general. It did not inform me by what means 
that body had arrived at a knowledge of the wish of the people. I knew 
that its members had repaired to Frankfort before I departed from home 
to come to Washington. I knew that their attention was fixed on import- 
ant local concerns, well entitled, by their magnitude, exclusively to engross 
it. No election, no general expression of the popular sentiment, had oc- 
curred since that in November, when electors were chosen, and at that the 
people, by an overwhelming majority, had decided against General Jack- 
son. I could not see how such an expression against him could be inter- 
preted into that of a desire for his election. If, as is true, the candidate 
whom they preferred was not returned to the House, it is equally true that 
the state of the contest, as it presented itself here to me, had never been 
considered, discussed, and decided by the people of Kentucky, in their col- 
lective capacity. What would have been their decision on this new state 
of the question, I might have undertaken to conjecture, but the certainty 
of any conclusion of fact, as to their opinion, at which I could arrive, was 
by no means equal to that certainty of conviction of my duty to which I 
was carried by the exertion of my best and most deliberate reflections. 
The letters from home, which some of the delegation received, expressed 
the most opposite opinions, and there were not wanting instances of letters 
from some of the very members, who had voted for that resolution, advis- 
ing a different course, I received from a highly respectable portion of my 
constituents a paper, instructing me as follows : 

" We, the undersigned voters in the congressional district, having viewed the 
instruction or request of the Legislature of Kentucky, on the subject of choos- 
ing a president and vice-president of the United States, with regret, and the 
said request or instruction to our representative in Congress from this district 
being without our knowledge or consent, we, for many reasons known to oiu-- 
selves, connected with so momentous an occasion, hereby instruct our represent- 
ative in Congress to vote on this occasion agreeably to his own judgment, and 
the best Ughts he may have on the subject, with or without the consent of the 
Legislature of Kentucky." 

This instruction came both unexpectedly and unsolicited by me, and it 
was accompanied by letters assuring me that it expressed the opinion of 



312 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

a majority of my constituents. I could not, therefore, regard the resolution 
as conclusive evidence of your wishes. 

Viewed as a mere request, as it purported to be, the General Assembly 
doubtless had the power to make it. But, then, with deference, I think it 
was worthy of serious consideration, whether the dignity of the General 
Assembly ought not to have induced it to forbear addressing itself not to 
another legislative body, but to a small part of it, and requesting the mem- 
bers who composed that part, in a case which the Constitution had con- 
fided to them, to vote according to the vdshes of the General Assembly, 
whether those wishes did or did not conform to their sense of duty. I 
could not regard the resolution as an instruction ; for, from the origin of 
our State, its Legislature has never assumed or exercised the right to in- 
struct the representatives in Congress. I did not recognize the right, 
therefore, of the Legislature, to instruct me. I recognized that right only 
when exerted by you. That the portion of the public servants who made 
up the General Assembly, have no right to instruct that portion of them 
who constituted the Kentucky delegation in the House of Representatives, 
is a proposition too clear to be argued. The members of the General As- 
sembly would have been the first to behold as a presumptuous interposi- 
tion, any instruction, if the Kentucky delegation could have committed 
the absurdity to issue, from this place, any instruction to them to vote in 
a particular manner on any of the interesting subjects which lately engaged 
their attention at Frankfort. And although nothing is further from my 
intention than to impute either absurdity or presumption to the General 
Assembly, in the adoption of the resolution referred to, I must say, that 
the difference between an instruction emanating from them to the dele- 
gation, and from the delegation to them, is not in the principle, but is to 
be found only in the degree of superior importance which belongs to the 
General Assembly. 

Entertaining these views of the election on which it was made my duty 
to vote, I felt myself bound, in the exercise of my best judgment, to prefer 
Mr. Adams ; and I accordingly voted for him. I should have been highly 
gratified if it had not been my duty to vote on the occa.sion ; but that was 
not my situation, and I did not choose to shrink fi'om any responsibility 
which appertained to your representative. Shortly after the election, it 
was rumored that Mr Kremer was preparing a publication, and the prepa- 
rations which were making excited much expectation. Accordingly, on 
the twenty-sixth of February, the address, under his name, to the " electors 
of the ninth congressional district of the State of Pennsylvania," made its 
appearance in the Washington City Gazette. No member of the House I 
am persuaded, believed that Mr. Kremer ever wrote one paragraph of that 
address, or of the plea, which was presented to the committee, to the juris- 
diction of the House. Those who counseled him, and composed both pa- 
pers, and their purposes, were just as well known as the author of any 
report from a committee to the House. The first observation which is 



MB. OLA"i ri ADDRESS TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 313 

called for by the address is the place of its publication. That place was in 
this city, remote from the center of Pennsylvania, near which Mr, Kremer's 
district is situated, and in a paper having but a very limited, if any circula- 
tion in it. The time is also remarkable. The fact that the president in- 
tended to nominate me to the Senate for the office which I now hold, in 
the course of a few days, was then well known, and the publication of the 
address, was, no doubt, made less with an intention to communicate inform- 
ation to the electors of the ninth congressional district of Pennsylvania* 
than to affect the decision of the Senate on the intended nomination. Of 
the chai'acter and contents of that address of Messrs. George Kremer <fe 
Co., made up, as it is, of assertion without proof, of inferences without 
premises, and of careless, jocose, and quizzing conversations of some of my 
friends, to which I was no party, and of which I had never heard, it is not 
my intention to say much. It carried its own refutation, and the parties 
concerned saw its abortive nature the next day, in the indignant counte- 
nance of every unprejudiced and honorable member. In his card, Mr. 
Kremer has been made to say, that he held himself ready " to prove, to 
the satisfaction of unprejudiced minds, enough to satisfy them of the ac- 
curacy of the statements which are contained in tliat letter, to the extent 
that they concerned the course of conduct of H. Clay." The object for ex- 
cluding my friends from this pledge has been noticed. But now the elec- 
tion was decided, and there no longer existed a motive for discrimination 
between them and me. Hence the only statements that are made, in the 
address, having the semblance of proof, relate rather to them than to me ; 
and the design was, by establishing something like facts upon them, to 
make those facts react upon me. 

Of the few topics of the address upon which I shall remark, the first is 
the accusation brought forward against me, of violating instructions. K 
the accusation were true, who was the party offended, and to whom was I 
amenable ? If I violated any instructions, they must have been yours, 
since you only had the right to give them, and to you alone was I respon- 
sible. Without allowing hardly time for you to hear of my vote, without 
waiting to know what your judgment was of my conduct, George Eiemer 
& Co. chose to arraign me before the American public as the violator of 
instructions which I was bound to obey. If, instead of being, as you are 
and I hope always will be, vigilant observers of the conduct of your public 
agents, jealous of your rights, and competent to protect and defend them, 
you had been ignorant and culpably confiding, the gratuitous interposition 
as your advocate, of the honorable George Kremer, of the ninth congres- 
sional district in Pennsylvania, would have merited your most grateful ac- 
knowledgments. Even upon that supposition, his arraignment of me would 
have required for its support one small circumstance, which happens not to 
exist, and that is, the fact of your having actually instructed me to vote 
according to his pleasure. 

The relations in which I stood to Mr. Adams constitute the next theme 



314 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

of the address, whicu I shall notice. I am described as having assumed 
" a position of peculiar and decided hostility to the election of Mr. Adams," 
and expressions toward him are attributed to me, which I never used. I 
am also made responsible for " pamphlets and essays of great ability," pub- 
lished by my friends in Kentucky in the course of the canvass. The in- 
justice of the principle of holding me thus answerable, may be tested by 
applying it to the case of General Jackson, in reference to publications 
issued, for example, from the Columbia Observer. That I was not in favor 
of the election of Mr. Adams, when the contest was before the people, is 
most certain. Neither was I in favor of that of Mr. Crawford or General 
Jackson. That I ever did any thing against Mr. Adams, or either of the 
other gentlemen, inconsistent with a fair and honorable competition, I ut- 
terly deny. My relations to Mr. Adams have been the subject of much 
misconception, if not misrepresentation. I have been stated to be imder a 
pubUc pledge to expose some nefarious conduct of that gentleman, during 
the negotiation at Ghent, whicfi would prove him to be entirely unworthy 
of public confidence ; and that, with the knowledge of his perfidy, I never- 
theless voted for him. If these imputations are well founded, I should in- 
deed, be a fit object of public censure ; but if, on the contrary, it shall be 
found that others, inimical both to him and to me, have substituted their 
own interested wishes for my public promises, I trust that the indignation 
which they would excite, will be turned from me. 

My, letter, addressed to the editors of the Intelligencer, under date of 
the 15th of November, 1822, is made the occasion for ascribing to me 
the promise and the pledge to make those treasonable disclosures on Mr. 
Adams. Let that letter speak for itself, and it will be seen how little just- 
ice there is for such an assertion. It adverts to the controversy which 
had arisen between Messrs. Adams and Russell, and then proceeds to state 
that, " in the course of several pifblications, of which it has been the oc- 
casion, and particularly in the appendix to a pamphlet, which had been 
recently published by the honorable John Quincy Adams, I think there 
are some errors, no doubt unintentional, both as to matters of fact and 
matters of opinion, in regard to the transactions at Ghent, relating to the 
navigation of the Mississippi, and certain liberties claimed by the United 
States in the fisheries, and to the part which I bore in those transactions. 
Those important interests are now well secured." " An account, therefore, 
of what occurred in the negotiation at Ghent, on those two subjects, is not, 
perhaps, necessary to the present or future security of any of the rights 
of the nation, and is only interesting as appertaining to its past history. 
With these impressions, and being extremely unwilling to present myself, 
at any time, before the public, I had almost resolved to remain silent, and 
thus expose myself to the inference of an acquiescence in the correctness 
of all the statements made by both my colleagues ; but I have, on more 
reflection, thought it may be expected of me, and be considered as a duty 
on my part, to contribute all in my power toward a full and faithful un 



MB. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS, 315 

derstanding of the transactions referred to. Under this conviction, I will, 
at some future period, more propitious than the present to calm and dis- 
passionate consideration, and when there can be no misinterpretation of 
motives, lay before the public a narrative of those transactions, as I un- 
derstood them." 

From even a careless perusal of that letter, it is apparent, that the only 
two subjects of the negotiations at Ghent, to which it refers, were the nav- 
igation of the Mississippi, and certain fishing liberties ; that the errors 
which I had supposed were committed, applied to both Mr. Russell and 
Mr. Adams, though more particularly to the appendix of the latter ; that 
they were imintentioual ; that they affected myself principally ; that I 
deemed them of no public importance, as connected with the then, or future 
security of any of the rights of the nation, but only interesting to its past 
history ; that I doubted the necessity of my offering to the public any ac- 
count of those transactions ; and that the narrative which I promised was 
to be presented at a season of more calm, and when there could be no mis- 
interpretation of motives. Although Mr. Adams believes otherwise, I yet 
think there are some unintentional errors in the controversial papers be- 
tween him and Mr. Russell. But I have reserved to myself an exclusive 
right of judging when I shall execute the promise which I have made, and 
shall be neither quickened nor retarded in its performance by the friendly 
anxieties of any of my opponents. 

If injury accrue to any one by the delay in publishing the narrative, the 
public will not suffer by it. It is already known by the publication of 
the British and American projets, the protocols, and the correspondence 
between the respective plenipotentiaries, that the British government made 
at Ghent a demand of the navigation of the Mississippi, by an article in 
their projet nearly in the same words as those which were employed in the 
treaty of 1783 ; that a majority of the American Commissioners was in 
favor of acceding to that demand, upon the condition that the British 
government would concede to us the same fishing liberties within their 
jurisdiction, as were secured to us by the same treaty of 1783 ; and that 
both demands were finally abandoned. The fact of these mutual proposi- 
tions was communicated by me to the American public in a speech which 
I delivered in the House of Representatives, on the 29th day of January, 
1816. Mr. Hopkinson had arrainged the terms of the treaty of peace, 
and charged upon the war and the administration the loss of the fish- 
ing liberties, within the British jurisdiction, which we enjoyed prior to the 
war. In vindicating, in my reply to him, the course of the government, 
and the conditions of the peace, I stated : 

" When the British commissioners demanded, in their project, a renewal to 
Great Britain of the right of the navigation of the Mississippi, secured by the 
treaty of 1783, a bare majority of the American commissioners oflferedto renew 
it, upon the condition that the liberties in question were renewed to us. I was 



316 flPEECHKS OF HENRY CLAY. 

not one of that majority. I will not trouble the committee with my reiisona 
for being opposed to the offer. A majority of my colleagues, actuated, I be- 
lieve, by the best motives, made, however, the offer, and it was refused by the 
British commissioners." 

And what I thought of my colleagues of the majority, appears from 
the same extract. The spring after the termination of the negotiations at 
Ghent, I went to London, and entered upon a new and highly important 
negotiation with two of them (Messrs. Adams and Gallatin), which resulted, 
on the third day of July, 1815, in the commercial convention, which has 
been since made the basis of most of our commercial arrangements with 
foreign powers. Now, if I had discovered at Ghent, as has been asserted, 
that either of them was false and faithless to his country, would I have 
voluntarily commenced with them another negotiation ? Further : there 
never has been a period, during our whole acquaintance, that Mr. Adams 
and I have not exchanged, when we have met, friendly salutations, and the 
courtesies and hospitalities of social intercourse. 

The address proceeds to characteiize the support which I gave to Mr. 
Adams as unnatural. The authors of the address have not stated why it is 
unnatural, and we are therefore left to conjecture their meaning. Is it be- 
cause Mr. Adams is from New England, and I am a citizen of the West ? 
If it be unnatural in the western States to support a citizen of New En- 
gland, it must be equally unnatural in the New England States to support 
a citizen of the West. And, on the same principle, the New England 
Stfites ought to be restrained from concurring in the election of a citizen 
of the southern States, or the southern States from co-operating in the 
election of a citizen of New England. And, consequently, the support 
which the last three presidents have derived from New England, and that 
which the vice-president recently received has been most unnaturally 
given. The tendency of such reasoning would be to denationalize us, and 
to contract every part of the Union within the narrow, selfish limits of its 
own section. It would be still worse ; it would lead to the destruction of 
the Union itself. For if it be unnatural in one section to support a 
citizen in another, the Union itself must be unnatural ; all our ties, all our 
glories, all that is animating in the past, all that is bright and cheering in 
he future, must be unnatural. Happily, such is the admirable texture of 
our Union, that the interests of all its parts are closely interwoven. If 
there are strong points of affinity between the South and the West, there 
are interests of not less, if not greater strength and vigor binding the 
West, and the North, and the East. 

Before I close this address, it is my duty, which I proceed to perform 
with great regret, on account of the occasion which calls for it, to invite 
your attention to a letter, addressed by General Jackson to Mr. Swartwout, 
oil the 23d day of February last. The names of both the general and my- 
self had been before the American public for its highest office. We had 
both been unsuccessful. The unfortunate have usually some sympathy for 



MR. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 317 

each other. For myself, I claim no merit for the cheerful acquiescence 
which I have given in a result by which I was excluded from the House. 
I have believed that the decision by the constituted authorities, in favor of 
others, has been founded upon a conviction of the superiority of their pre- 
tensions. It has been my habit, when an election is once decided, to for- 
get, as soon as possible, all the irritating circumstances which attended the 
preceding canvass. If one be successful he should be content with his 
success. If he have lost it, railing will do no good. I never gave General 
Jackson nor his friends any reason to believe that I would, in any contin- 
gency, support him. He had, as I thought, no public claims, and, I will 
now add, no personal claims, if these ought to be ever considered, to ray 
support. No one, therefore, ought to have been disappointed or chagrined 
that I did not vote for him, no more than I was neither surprised nor dis- 
appointed that he did not, on a more recent occasion, feel it to be his duty 
to vote for me. After commenting upon a particular phrase used in my 
letter to Judge Brooke, a calm reconsideration of which will, I think, satisfy 
any person that it was not employed in an oflfensive sense, if indeed it have 
an offensive sense, the general, in his letter to Mr. Swartwout, proceeds to 
remark : " No one beheld me seeking, through art or management, to en- 
tice any representative in Congress from a conscientious responsibility of 
his own, or the wishes of his constituents. No midnight taper burned by 
me ; no secret conclaves were held, nor cabals entered into to persuade any 
one to a violation of pledges given, or of instructions received. By me no 
plans were concerted to impair the pure principles of our republican in- 
stitutions, nor to prostrate that fundamental maxim which maintains the 
supremacy of the people's will. On the contrary, having never in any 
manner, before the people or Congress, interfered in the slightest degree 
with the question, my conscience stands void of offense, and will go quietly 
with me, regardless of the insinuations of those who, through management, 
may seek an influence not sanctioned by integrity and merit." I am not 
aware that this defense of himself was rendered necessary by any charges 
brought forward against the general. Certainly I never made any such 
charges against him. I will not suppose that, in the passage cited, he in- 
tended to impute to me the misconduct which he describes, and yet, taking 
the whole context of his letter together, and coupling it with Mr. Kremer's 
address, it can not be disguised that others may suppose he intended to re- 
fer to me. I am quite sure that if he did, he could not have formed those 
unfavorable opinions of me upon any personal observation of my conduct 
made by himself ; for a supposition that they were founded upon his own 
knowledge, would imply that my lodgings and my person had been sub- 
jected to a system of espionage wholly incompatible with the open, manly, 
and honorable conduct of a gallant soldier. If he designed any insinua- 
tions against me, I must believe that he made them upon the information of 
others, of whom I can only say that they have deceived his credulity, and 
are entirely unworthy of all credit I entered into no cabals ; I held no 



318 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

secret conclaves ; I enticed no man to violate pledges given or instructions 
received. The members from Ohio, and from the other western States. 
with whom I voted, were all of them as competent as I was to form an 
opinion on the pending election. The MoArthurs and the Metcalfs, and 
the other gentlemen from the West (some of whom have, if I have not, 
bravely *' made an effort to repel an invading foe"), are as incapable of dis- 
honor as any men breathing; as disinterested, as unambitious, as exclu- 
sively devoted to the bests interests of their country. It was quite as 
likely that I should be influenced by them as that I could control their 
votes. Our object was not to impair, but to preserve from all danger the 
purity of our republican institutions. And how I prostrated the maxim 
which maintains the supremacy of the people's will I am entirely at a loss 
to comprehend. The illusions of the general's imagination deceive him. 
The people of the United States had never decided the election in his fa- 
vor. If the people had willed his election, he would have been elected. It 
was because they had not willed his election, nor that of any other can- 
didate, that the duty of making a choice devolved on the House of Rep- 
resentatives. The general remarks : 

" Mr. Clay has never yet risked himself for his country. He has never sacri- 
ficed his repose, nor made an effort to repel an invading foe ; of course his con- 
science assured him it was altogether wrong in any other man to lead his coun- 
trymen to battle and victory." 

The logic of this conclusion is not very striking. General Jackson 
fights better than he reasons. When have I failed to concur in awarding 
appropriate honors to those who, on the sea or on the land, have sustained 
the glory of our arms, if I could not always approve of the acts of some 
of them ? It is true that it has been my misfortune never to have repelled 
an invading foe, nor to have led my countrymen to victory. If I had, I 
should have left to others to proclaim and appreciate the deed. The gen- 
eral's destiny and mine have led us in different directions. In the civil 
employments of my country, to which I have been confined, I regret that 
the little service which I have been able to render it falls far short of my 
wishes. But why this denunciation of those who have not repelled an in- 
vading foe, or led our armies to victory ? At the very moment when he 
is inveighing against an objection to his election to the presidency, foimded 
upon the exclusive military nature of his merits, does he not perceive that 
he is establishing its vaUdity by proscribing every man who has not suc- 
cessfully fought the public enemy ; and that, by such a general proscrip- 
tion, and the requirement of successful military service as the only condi* 
tion of civil preferment, the inevitable effect would be the ultimate estab- 
lishment of a military government ? 

If the contents of the letter to Mr. Swartwout, were such as justly to 
excite surprise, there were other circumstances not calculatec to diminish 
it. Of all the citizens of the United States, that gentleman is one of the 
last to whom it was necessary to address any vindication of General Jack- 



MR. clay's address TO HIS CONSTITUENTS. 319 

Bon. He had given abundant evidence of his entire devotion to the cause 
of the general. He was here after the election, and was one of a com- 
mittee who invited the general to a public dinner, proposed to be ^ven to 
him in this place. My letter to Judge Brooke waa published in the papers 
of this city on the 12th of February. The general's note, declining the 
invitation of Messrs. Swartwout and others, was published on the 14th, 
in the National Journal. The probability, therefore, is that he did not 
leave this city until after he had a full opportunity to receive, in a per- 
sonal interview with the general, any verbal observations upon it which he 
might have thought proper to make. The letter to Mr. Swartwout, 
bears date the 23d of February. If received by him in New York, it 
must have reached him, in the ordinary course of mail, on the 25th 
or 26th. Whether intended or not as a " private communication," 
and not for the " public eye," as alleged by him, there is much probabil- 
ity in believing that its publication in New York, on the 4th of March, 
was then made, like Mr. Kremer's address, with the view to its ar- 
rival in this city in time to affect my nomination to the Senate. In 
point of fact, it reached here the day before the Senate acted on that 
nomination. 

Fellow-citizens, I am sensible that, generally, a public officer had better 
abstain from any vindication of his conduct, and leave it to the candor 
and justice of his countrymen, under all its attending circumstances. 
Such has been the course which I have heretofore prescribed to myself. 
This is the first, as I hope it may be the last, occasion of my thus appear- 
ing before you. The separation which has just takan place between us, 
and the venom, if not the vigor of the late onsets upon my public conduct, 
will, I hope, be allowed in this instance to form an adequate apology. It 
has been upward of twenty years since I first entered the public service. 
Nearly three fourths of that time, with some intermissions, I have repre- 
sented the same district in Congi'ess, with but little variation in its form. 
During that long period, you have beheld our country passing through 
scenes of peace and war, of prosperity and adversity, and of party divis- 
ions, local and general, often greatly exasperated against each other. I 
have been an actor in most of those scenes. Throughout the whole of 
them, you have clung to me with an affectionate confidence which has 
never been surpassed. I have found in your attachment, in every embar- 
rassment in my public career, the greatest consolation, and the most en- 
couraging support. I should regard the loss of it as one of the most af- 
flicting public misfortunces which could befall me. That I have often 
misconceived your true interests, is highly probable. That I have ever 
sacrificed them to the object of personal aggrandizement, I utterly deny. 
And, for the purity of my motives, however in other respects I may be 
unworthy to approach the throne of grace and mercy, I appeal to the 
justice of my God, with all the confidence which can flow from a con- 
sciousness of nerfect rectitude. 



ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1825. 

LEWISBURa, VIRGINIA, AUGUST 30, 1826. 

[The preliminary correspondence which led to the following 
speech, will indicate the circumstances and the occasion. It is 
virtually an amplification of the previously-recorded address of 
Mr. Clay to his constituents, but touches more on the policy of 
the new administration than personal matters. As the persecu- 
tion of Mr. Clay by General Jackson and his party was rampant 
at this time, and continued in aggravated forms during the ad- 
ministration of Mr. Adams, whenever he spoke in public it was 
natural and unavoidable that he should allude to this state of 
things. This invitation to Lewisburg was occasioned by a feel- 
ing of sympathy with Mr. Clay, as well as by admiration of his 
talents and character. It was, doubtless, mutually agreeable to 
the parties — the guest and the entertainers — and gave Mr. Clay 
an opportunity to say something of the administration of which 
he was a member, and which was assailed by the Jackson party, 
already at war with it.] 

Lewisburg^ August 23d, 1826. 
The Honorable Henry Clay : 

Sir, at a meeting of a respectable number of the inhabitants of Lewisburg and 
its vicinity, convened in the court-house on the 22d instant, it was unanimously 
determined to greet your arrival among them by some pubUc demonstration of 
the respect which they in common with a great portion of the community feel 
toward one of their most distinguished fellow-citizens. It was therefore unani- 
mously resolved, as the most eligible means of manifesting their feelings, to re- 
quest the honor of your presence at a public dinner to be given at the tavern of 
Mr. Frazer, in the town of Lewisburg, on Wednesday the 30th instant. 

In pursuance of the above measures, we, as a committee, have been ap- 
pointed to communicate their resolutions and solicit a compliance with their 
invitation. In performing this agreeable duty, we can not but express our ad- 
miration of the uniform course which, during a long political career, you have 
pursued with so much honor to yourself and country. Although the detractions 
of envy, and the violence of party feeling have endeavored to blast your fair 
reputation, and destroy the confidence reposed in you by the citizens of tlie 
United States, we rejoice to inform you, that the people of the western part of 



ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1825, 321 

that State which claims you as one of its most gifted sons, still retain the same 
high feehng of respect, which they have always manifested, in spite of the male- 
dictions and bickerings of disappointed editors and interested politicians. We 
can not close our communication without haihng you as one of the most dis- 
tinguished advocates of that system of internal improvement which has already 
proved so beneficial to our country, and which at no distant period will make 
even these desert mountains to blossom as the rose. 

We have the honor to subscribe ourselves, yours with esteem, 
J. G. M'Clenachen, John Beirne, 

James M'Laughlin, J. A. North, 

J. F. Caldwell, Henry Erskine. 

White Sulphur Springs, 2Uh August, 1826. 

Gentlemen, I have received the note which you did me the honor on yestei^ 
day lo address to me, inviting me, in behalf of a respectable number of the 
citizens of Lewisburg and its vicinity, to a pubhc dinner at Mr. Frazer's tavern, 
on Wednesday next, which they have the goodness to propose, in consequence 
of my arrival among them as a manifestation of their respect. Such a compli- 
ment was most unexpected by me on a journey to Washington, by this route, 
recommended to my choice by the pure air of a mountain region, and justly- 
famed mineral waters, a short use of which I hoped might contribute to the 
perfect re-establishment of my health. The gratification which I derive from 
this demonstration of kindness and confidence, springs in no small degree, from 
the consideration that it is the spontaneous testimony of those with whom I 
share a common origin, in a venerated State, endeared to me by an early tie 
of respect and affection, which no circumstance can ever dissolve. In com- 
municating to that portion of the citizens of Lewisburg and its vicinity, who 
have been pleased thus to favor me, by their distinguished notice, my ac- 
ceptance of tlieir hospitable invitation, I pray you to add my profound ac- 
knowledgments. And of the friendly and flattering manner in which you 
conveyed it, and for the generous sympathy, characteristic of Virginia, which 
you are so obliging as to express, on account of the detractions of which I have 
been the selected object, and the meditated victim, be assured that I shall al- 
ways retain a lively and grateful remembrance. 

I am, gentlemen, with great esteem and regard, faithfully, your obedient 

servant, 

Henry Clay. 

Messrs. M'Clenachen, North, M'Laughlin, Caldwell, Beirne, and Erskine, 
etc, etc. 

TOAST 

Seventh. Our distinguished guest, Henry Clay — the statesman, orator, pat- 
riot, and philanthropist : his splendid talents shed luster on his native State, his 
eloquence is an ornament to his country. 

When this toast was drunk, Mr. Clay rose, and said, that he had never 
before felt so intensely the want of those powers of eloquence which had 
been erroneously ascribed to him. He hoped, however, that in his plain 
and unaffected language he might be allowed, without violating any es- 
tablished usage which prevails here, to express his grateful sensibility, ei: 

21 



322 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

cited by the sentiment with which he had been honored, and for the kind 
and respectful consideration of him manifested on the occasion which had 
brought them together. In passing through my native State, said he, 
toward which I have ever borne, and shall continue, in all vicissitudes, to 
cherish, the geatest respect and affection, I expected to be treated with its 
accustomed courtesy and private hospitality. But I did not anticipate that 
I should be the object of such public, distinguished, and cordial manifesta- 
tions of regard. In offering you my poor and inadequate return of my 
warm and respectful thanks, I pray you to believe that I shall treasure up 
these testimonies among the most gratifying reminiscences of my life. 
The public service which I have rendered my country, your too favorable 
opinion of which has prompted you to exhibit these demonstrations of your 
esteem, has fallen far below the measure of usefulness, which I should have 
been happy to have fiUed. I claim for it only the humble merit of pure 
and patriotic intention. Such as it has been, I have not always been for- 
tunate enough to give satisfaction to every section and to all the great in- 
terests of our country. 

When an attempt was made to impose upon a new State, about to 
be admitted into the Union, restrictions, incompatible, as I thought with 
her coequal sovereign power, I was charged in the North with be- 
ing too partial to the South, and as being friendly to that unfortunate 
condition of slavery, of the evils of which none are more sensible than 
I am. 

At another period, when I believed that the industry of this country 
required some protection against the selfish and contracted legislation of 
foreign powers, and to constitute it a certain and safe source of supply, in 
all exigences ; the charge against me was transposed, and I was converted 
into a foe of southern, and an infatuated friend of northern and western 
interests. 

There were not wanting persons in every section of the Union, in an- 
other stage of our history, to accuse me with rashly contributing to the 
support of a war, the only alternative left to our honor by the persevering 
injustice of a foreign nation. These contradictory charges and perverted 
views gave me no concern, because I was confident that time and truth 
would prevail over all misconceptions, and becaiise they did not impeach 
my public integrity. But I confess I was not prepared to expect the as- 
persions which I have experienced on account of a more recent discharge 
of public duty. My situation on the occasion to which I refer, was most 
peculiar and extraordinary, unlike that of any other American citizen. 
r)ne of the three candidates for the presidency presented to the choice of 
the House of Representatives, was out of the question, for notorious reasons 
now admitted by all. Limited as the competition was to the other two, I 
had to choose between a statesman long experienced at home and abroad 
in numerous civil situations, and a soldiei', brave, galhmt, and successful, 
but a mere soldier, who, although he had also filled several civil offices, 



ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1825. 323 

had quickly resigned them all, ft-ankly acknowledging, in some instances, 
his incompetency to discharge their duties. 

It has been said that I had some diflPerences with the present chief 
magistrate at Ghent. It is trae that we did not agree on one of the 
many important questions which arose during the negotiations in that city, 
but the difference equally applied to our present minister at London and to 
the lamented Bayard, between whom and myself, although we belonged to 
opposite political parties, there existed a warm friendship to the hour of 
his death. It was not of a nature to prevent our co-operation together 
in the public service, as is demonstrated by the convention at London 
subsequently negotiated by Messrs. Adams, Gallatin, and myself. It was 
a difference of opinion on a point of expediency, and did not relate to 
any constitutional or fundamental principle. But with respect to the con- 
duct of the distinguished citizen of Tennessee, I had solemnly expressed, 
under the highest obligations, opinions, which, whether right or wrong, 
were sincerely and honestly entertained, and are still held. These opinions 
related to a military exercise of power believed to be arbitrary and uncon- 
stitutional. I should have justly subjected myself to the grossest incon- 
sistency, if I had given him my suffrage. I thought if he were elected, 
the sword and the Constitution, bad companions, would be brought too 
near together. I could not have foreseen that, fully justified as I have 
been by those very constituents, in virtue of whose authority I exerted the 
right of free suffrage, I should nevertheless be charged with a breach of 
duty and corruption by strangers to them, standing in no relation to them 
but that of being citizens of other States, members of the confederacy. 
It is in vain that these revilers have been called upon for their proofs ; 
have been defied, and are again invited, to enter upon any mode of fair in- 
vestigation and trial ; shrinking from every impartial examination, they 
persevere, with increased zeal, in the propagation of calumny, under the 
hope of supplying by the frequency and boldness of asseveration, the want 
of truth and the deficiency of evidence ; until we have seen the spectacle 
exhibited of converting the hall of the first legislative assembly upon earth, 
on the occasion of discussions which above all others should have been 
characterized by dignity, calmness, and temperance, into a theater for 
spreading suspicions and groundless imputations against an absent and in- 
nocent individual. 

Driven from every other hold, they have seized on the only plank left 
within their grasp, that of my acceptance of the office of Secretary of 
State, which has been asserted to be the consummation of a previous cor- 
rupt arrangement. What can I oppose to such an assertion, but positive, 
peremptory, and unqualified denial, and a repetition of the demand for 
proof and trial ? The office to which I have been appointed is that of the 
country, created by it, and administered for its benefit. In deciding whether 
I should accept it or not, I did not take counsel from those who, foreseeing 
the probability of my designation for it, sought to deter me from its accept- 



324 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

ance by fabncating anticipated charges, which would have been preferred 
with the same zeal and alacrity, however I might have decided. I took 
counsel from my friends, from my duty, from my conscious innocence of 
unworthy and false imputations. I was not left at liberty by either ray 
enemies or my friends to decline the office. I would willingly have de- 
clined it from an unaffected distrust of my ability to perform its high duties, 
if I could have honorably declined it. I hope the uniform tenor of my 
whole public life will protect me against the supposition of any imreason- 
able avidity for public employment. During the administration of that 
illustrious man, to whose civil services more than to those of any other 
American patriot, Kving or dead, this country is indebted for the blessings 
of its present Constitution, now more than ten years ago, the mission to 
Russia, and a place in his cabinet, were successively offered me. A place 
in his cabinet, at that period of my life, was more than equivalent to any 
place under any administration at my present more advanced age. His 
immediate successor tendered to me the same place in his cabinet, which 
he anxiously urged me to accept, and the mission to England. Gentlemen, 
I hope you will believe that far fcom being impelled by any vain or 
boastful spirit, to mention these things, I do it with himiility and morti- 
fication. 

If I had refused the Department of State, the same individuals who now, 
in the absence of all proof, against all probability, and in utter disregard 
of all truth, proclaim the existence of a corrupt previous arrangement, 
would have propagated the same charge with the same affected confidence 
which they now unblushingly assume. And it would have been said, with 
at least much plausibility, that I had contributed to the election of a chief 
magistrate, of whom I thought so unfavorably that I would not accept that 
place in his cabinet which is generally regarded as the first. I thought it 
my duty, unawed by their denunciations, to proceed in the office assigned 
me by the president and Senate, to render the country the best service of 
which my poor abilities are capable. If this administration should show 
iteelf unfriendly to American liberty and to free and liberal institutions ; 
if it should be conducted upon a system adverse to those principles of 
public policy, which I have ever endeavored to sustain, and I should be 
found still clinging to office ; then nothing which could be said by those 
who are inimical to me, would be undeserved. 

But the president ought not to have appointed one who had voted for 
him. Mr. Jefferson did not think so, who called to his cabinet a gentleman 
who had voted for him in the most warmly contested election that has 
ever occurred in the House of Representatives, and who appointed to other 
highly important offices other members of the same House, who voted for 
him. Mr. Madison did not think so, who did not feel himself restrained 
from sending me on a foreign service, because I had supported his elec- 
tion. Mr. Monroe did not think so, who appointed in his cabinet a gen- 
tleman, now filling the second office in the government, who attended the 



ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1825. 325 

caucus that nominated and warmly and eflBciently espoused his election. 
But, suppose the president acted upon the most disinterested doctrine which 
is now contended for by those who opposed his election, and were to ap- 
point to public office from their ranks only, to the entire exclusion of those 
who voted for him, would he then escape their censure ? No ! we have 
seen him charged, for that equal distribution of the public service among 
every class of citizens, which has hitherto characterized his administra- 
tion, with the nefarious purpose of buying up portions of the community. 
A spirit of denimciation is abroad. With some, condemnation, right or 
wrong, is the order of the day. No matter what prudence and wisdom 
may stamp the measures of the administration, no matter how much the 
prosperity of the country may be advanced, or what public evils may be 
averted, under its guidance, there are persons who would make general, 
indiscriminate, and interminable opposition. This is not a fit occasion, nor 
perhaps am I a fit person, to enter upon a vindication of its measures. But 
I hope I shall be excused for asking what measure of domestic policy has 
been proposed or recommended by the present executive, which has not 
its prototype in previous acts or recommendations of administrations at 
the head of which was a citizen of Virginia ? Can the liberal and high- 
minded people of this State condemn measures emanating from a citizen 
of Massachusetts, which, when proposed by a Virginian, commanded their 
express assent or silent acquiescence, or to which, if in any instance they 
made opposition, it was respectful, limited, and qualified ? The present 
administration desires only to be judged by its measures, and invites the 
strictest scrutiny and the most watchful vigilance on the part of the public. 

With respect to the Panama mission, it is true that it was not recom- 
mended by any preceding administration, because the circumstances of the 
world were not then such as to present it as a subject for discussion. But 
during that of Mr. Monroe, it has been seen that it was a matter of con- 
sideration, and there is every reason to beheve, if he were now at the 
head of afiairs, his determination would correspond with that of his suo- 
cessor. Let me suppose that it was the resolution of this country, under 
no circumstances, to contract with foreign powers intimate public engage- 
ments, and to remain altogether unbound by any treaties of alliance ; what 
should have been the course taken with the very respectful invitation which 
was given to the United States to be represented at Panama ? Haughtily 
folding your arms, would you have given it a cold and abrupt refusal ? 
Or would you not rather accept it, send ministers, and in a friendly and 
respectful manner, endeavor to satisfy those who are looking to us for 
counsel and example, and imitating our free institutions, that there is no 
necessity for such an alhance ; that the dangers which alone could, in the 
opinion of any one, have justified it, have vanished, and that it is not 
good for them or for us ? 

What may be the nature of the instructions with which our ministers 
may be charged, it is not proper that I should state ; but all candid and 



326 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

reflecting men must admit that we have great interests in connection with 
the southern republics, independent of any compacts of alliance. Those 
republics, now containing a population of upward of twenty millions, 
duplicating their numbers probably in periods still shorter than we do, 
comprising within their limits the most abundant sources of the precious 
metals, oflfer to our commerce, to our manufactures, to our naviga- 
tion, so many advantages, that none can doubt the expediency of culti- 
vating the most friendly relations with them. If treaties of commerce 
and friendship, and liberal stipulations in respect to neutral and bel- 
Jgerent rights, could be negotiated with each of them at its separate seat 
of government, there is no doubt that much greater facilities for the con- 
clusion of such treaties present themselves at a point where, all being 
represented, the way may be smoothed and all obstacles removed by a 
disclosure of the views and wishes of all, and by mutual and friendly 
explanations. There was one consideration which had much weight 
with the executive, in the decision to accept the mission ; and that 
was the interest which this country has, and especially the southern 
States, in the fate and fortunes of the island of Cuba. No subject of 
our foreign relations has created with the executive government more 
anxious concern, than that of the condition of that island and the pos- 
sibility of prejudice to the southern States, from the convulsions to 
which it might be exposed. It was believed, and is yet believed, that the 
dangers which, in certain contingences, might threaten our quiet and 
safety, may be more successfully averted at a place at which all the Amer- 
ican powers should be represented than anywhere else. And I have no 
hesitation in expressing the firm conviction that, if there be one section of 
this Union more than all others interested in the Panama mission, and the 
benefits which may flow from it, that section is the South. It was, there- 
fore, with great and unaffected surprise that I witnessed the obliquity of 
these political views which led some gentlemen from that quarter to regard 
the measure, as it might operate on the southern States, in an unfavorable 
light. Whatever may be the result of the mission, its moral eflect in 
Europe will be considerable, and it can not fail to make the most friendly 
impressions upon our southern neighbors. It is one of which it is diflBcult, 
in sober imagination, to conceive any possible mischievous consequences, 
and which the executive could not have declined, in my opinion, without 
culpable neglect of the interests of this country, and without giving dis- 
satisfaction to nations whose friendship we are called upon by every dictate 
of policy to conciliate. 

There are persons who would impress on the southern States the belief 
that they have just cause of apprehending danger tc a certaia portion of 
their property from the present administration. It is not difiicult to com- 
piehend the object and the motive of these idle alarms. What measure 
of the present administration gives any just occasion for the smallest ap- 
prehension to the tenure by which that species of property is held ? How- 



ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1825. 327 

ever much the president and the members of his admioistration may 
deprecate the existence of slavery among us, as the greatest evil with 
which we are afflicted, there is not one of them that does not believe that 
the Constitution of the general government confers no autliority to inter- 
pose between the master and his slave, none to apply an adequate remedy, 
if indeed there be any remedy within the scope of human power. Suppose 
an object of these alarmists were accomplished, and the slaveholding 
States were united in the seatiment, tliat the policy of this government, in 
all time to come, should be regulate<l on the basis of the fact of slavery, 
VFOuld not union on the one side lead to union on the other ? And would 
not such a fatal division of the people and States of this confederacy pro- 
duce perpetual mutual irritation and exasperation, and ultimately disunion 
itself? The slaveholding States can not forget that they are now in a 
minority, which is in a constant relative diminution, and should certainly 
not be the first to put forth a principle of public action by which they 
would be the greatest losers. 

I am but too sensible of the unreasonable trespass on your time which I 
have committed, and of the egotism of which my discourse has partaken. 
I must depend for my apology upon the character of the times, on the 
venom of tlie attacks which have been made upon my character and con- 
duct, and upon the generous sympathy of the gentlemen here assembled.. 
During this very journey a paper has been put into my hands in which a 
member of the House of Representatives is represented to have said that 
the distinguished individual at the head of the government, and myself, 
have been indicted by the people. If that is the case, I presume that some 
defense is lawful. By-the-by, if the honorable member is to have the sole 
conduct of the prosecution without the aid of other counsel, I think that it 
is not difficult to predict that his clients will be nonsuited, and that they 
will be driven out of court with the usual judgment pronounced in such 
cases. 

In conclusion, I beg leave to offer a toast which, if you are as diy as I 
am, will, I hope, be acceptable for the sake of the wine if not the senti- 
ment : 

" The continuation of the turnpike road which passes through Lewis- 
burg, and success to the cause of internal improvement, under every 
auspice." 

He then took his seat amid the repeated cheers of the w »ole company. 



AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 

AT THE ANNUAL MEETINa OP THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SO 
CIETT, WASHINGTON, JANUARY 20 1827. 

[From almost the first start of African Colonization, Mr. 
Clay took an interest in it, and that interest increased to the 
day of his death. He was for many years president of the So- 
ciety, and never failed to give it his countenance and support 
when he could. He made several important speeches in its be- 
half, of which the following is one. He has incorporated this 
scheme in his project of emancipation for the State of Ken- 
tucky, published in 1849, and found in the third volume of this 
work.* Mr. Clay was never a man to think that slavery must 
endure forever in this country. Look at the remarkable pas- 
sages italicised in the following speech, and consider the stand 
he took in the Compromises of 1850, against the extension of 
slavery. He would go as far as the farthest for the constitu- 
tional rights of the slave States ; but his voice and feelings 
were : Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further. As a friend 
of Colonization, however, he would never consent that it should 
interfere with slavery ; but, in his view, the simple and restricted 
mission of Colonization was to operate on the free colored pop- 
ulation, in the free and slave States ; and this he regarded as 
beneficent in the present and in the future. 

The present condition and prospects of the Colony of Liberia 
(1856), have more than realized the most sanguine hopes of Mr. 
Clay and others in the early stages of its history. It has a dis- 
tinct and recognized political existence among nations, and is as 
likely to rise and increase in importance as any State that is yet 
in a small beginning. It has all the elements of growth and 
importance, with the moral advantage of the favor of the civil- 
ized world. No Christian nation would plant any obstacle in 
the way of its progress ; and with such a start, in such circum- 
stances, it can not fail to become a bright spot of Christian 

* Laat Seven Years of the Life of Henry Clay, page 346. 



ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 329 

civilization and of freedom on the western coast of Africa — des- 
tined, no doubt, to extend its benign influence widely over that 
Continent.] 

Mr. Clay said : I can not withhold the expression of my congratula- 
tions to the Society, on account of the very valuable acquisition which we 
have obtained in the eloquent gentleman from Boston (Mr. Knapp), who 
has just before favored us with an address. He has told us of his original 
impressions, unfavorable to the object of the Society, and of his subsequent 
conversion. If the same industry, investigation, and unbiased judgment, 
manifested by himself and another gentleman (Mr. Powell), who avowed 
at the last meeting of the Society a similar change wrought in his mind, 
were carried by the public at large, into the consideration of the plan of 
the Society, the conviction of its utility would be universal. 

I have arisen to submit a resolution, in behalf of which I would bespeak 
the favor of the Society. But before I oflfer any observations in its sup- 
port, I must say that, whatever part I shall take in the proceedings of this 
Society, whatever opinions or sentiments I may utter, they are exclusively 
my own. Whether they are worth any thing or not, no one but myself 
is at all responsible for them. I have consulted with no person out of 
this Society, and I have especially abstained from all communication or 
consultation with any one to whom I stand in any official relation. My 
judgment on the object of this Society has been long since deliberately 
formed. The conclusions to which, after much and anxious consideration, 
my mind has been brought, have been neither produced nor refuted, by 
the official station, the duties of which have been confided to me. 

From the origin of this Society, every member of it has, I beUeve, 
looked forward to the arrival of a period, when it would become necessary 
to invoke the public aid in the execution of the great scheme which it was 
instituted to promote. Considering itself as the mere pioneer in the cause 
which it had undertaken, it was well aware that it could do no more than 
remove preliminary difficulties, and point out a sure road to ultimate suc- 
cess ; and that the public only could supply that regular, steady, and effi- 
cient support, to which the gratuitous means of benevolent individuals 
would be found incompetent. My surprise has been, that the Society has 
been able so long to sustain itself, and to do so much upon the charitable 
contributions of good, and pious, and enlightened men, whom it has hap- 
pily found in all parts of our country. But our work has so prospered 
and grown under our hands, that the appeal to the power and resources 
of the public, should be no longer deferred. The resolution which I have 
risen to propose, contemplates this appeal. It is in the following words : 

" Resolved, that the board of managers be empowered and directed, at 
such time or times as may seem to them expedient, to make respectful ap- 
pUcation to the Congress of the United States, and to the Legislatures of 



330 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the different States, for such pecuniary aid, in futherance of the object of 
this Society, as they may respectively be pleased to grant." 

In soliciting the countenance and support of the Legislatures of the 
Union and States, it is incumbent on the Society, in making out its case, to 
show, first, that it offers to their consideration a scheme which is practic- 
able, and secondly, that the execution of the practicable scheme, partial or 
entire, will be fraught with such beneficial consequences as to merit the 
support which is solicited. I believe both points to be maintainable. 

First, it is now a little upward of ten years since a religious, amiable, 
and benevolent resident of this city, first conceived the idea of planting a 
colony, from the United States, of free people of color, on the western 
shores of Africa. He is no more, and the noblest eulogy which could be 
pronounced on him would be, to inscribe upon his tomb, the merited 
epitaph, "Here lies the projector of the American Colonization Society." 

Among others, to whom he communicated the project, was the person 
who now has the honor of addressing you. My first impessions, like those 
of all who have not fully investigated the subject, were against it. They 
yielded to his earnest persuasions and my own reflections, and I finally 
agreed with him that the experiment was worthy of a fair trial. A meet- 
iag of its friends was called, organized as a deliberative body, and a Constitu- 
tion was formed. The Society went into operation. He lived to see the 
most encouraging progress in its exertions, and died in full confidence of 
its complete success.* The Society was scarcely formed before it was ex- 
posed to the derision of the unthinking ; pronounced to be visionary and 
chimerical by those who were capable of adopting wiser opinions, and the 
most confident predictions of its entire failure were put forth. It found 
itself equally assailed by the two extremes of public sentiment in regard 
to o\ir African population. According to one (that rash class which, 
without a due estimate of the fatal consequence, would forthwith issue a 
decree of general, immediate, and indiscriminate emancipation), it was a 
scheme of the slaveholder to perpetuate slavery. The other (that class 
which believes slavery a blessing, and which trembles with aspen sensibil- 
ity at the appearance of the most distant and ideal danger to the tenure by 
which that description of property is held), declared it a contrivance to let 
loose on society all the slaves of the country, ignorant, uneducated, and 
incapable of appreciating the value or enjoying the privileges of freedom. 
The Society saw itself surrounded by every sort of embarrassment. What 
great human enterprise was ever undertaken without diflSculty ? What 
ever failed, within the compass of human power, when pursued with per- 
severance and blessed by the smiles of Providence ? The Society prose- 
cuted undismayed its great work, appealing for succor to the moderate, the 
reasonable, the virtuous, and religious portions of the public. It protested, 

* Mr. CaldwelL The Rev. Robert Finley, of New Jersey, was the first mover in 
African Colonization, and Mr. Caldwell was chieflv instrumental in the organization 
of the Society. 



ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 331 

from the commencement, and throughout all its progress, and it now pro- 
tests, that it entertains no purpose, on its own authoiity or by its own 
means, to attempt emancipation, partial or general ; that it knows the gen- 
eral government has no constitutional power to achieve such an object ; 
that it believes that the States, and the States only, which tolerate slavery, 
can accomplish the work of emancipation ; and that it ought to be left to 
them, exclusively, absolutely, and voluntarily, to decide the question. 

The object of the Society was the colonization of the free colored people, 
not the slaves, of the country. Voluntary in its institution, voluntary in 
its continuance, voluntary in all its ramifications, all its means, pui-poses, 
and instruments, are also voluntary. But it was said that no free colored 
persons could be prevailed upon to abandon the comforts of civilized life 
and expose themselves to all the perils of a settlement in a distant, inhos- 
pitable, and savage country ; that, if they could be induced to go on such 
a quixotic expedition, no territory could be procured for their establishment 
as a colony ; that the plan was altogether incompetent to efiectuate its pro- 
fessed object ; and that it ought to be rejected as the idle dream of vision- 
ary enthusiasts. The Society has outlived, thank God, all these disastrous 
predictions. It has survived to swell the list of false prophets. It is no 
longer a question of speculation whether a colony can or can not be plant- 
ed from the United States of free persons of color on the shores of Africa. 
It is a matter demonstrated ; such a colony, in fact, exists, prospers, has 
made successful war, and honorable peace, and transacts all the multiplied 
business of a civilized and Christian community. It now has about five 
hundred souls, disciplined troops, forts, and other means of defense, sover- 
eignty over an extensive territory, and exerts a powerful and salutary in- 
fluence over the neighboring clans. 

Numbers of the free African race among us are willing to go to Afiica. 
The Society has never experienced any difficulty on that subject, except 
that its means of comfortable transportation have been inadequate to ac- 
commodate all who have been anxious to migrate. Why should they not 
go ? Here they are in the lowest state of social gradation ; aliens — ^polit- 
ical, moral, social aliens — strangers, though natives. There, they would be 
in the midst of their friends, and their kindred, at home, though born in a 
foreign land, and elevated above the natives of the country, as much as they 
are degraded here below the other classes of the community. But on this 
matter, I am happy to have it in my power to furnish indisputable evidence 
from the most authentic source, that of large numbers of free persons of 
color themselves. Numerous meetings have been held in several churches 
in Baltimore, of the free people of color, iu which, after being organized as 
deliberative assembhes, by the appointment of a chairman (if not of the 
same complexion) presiding as you, Mr. Vice-president, do, and secretaries, 
they have voted memorials addressed to the white people, in which they 
have argued the question with an ability, moderation, and temper, sui-pass- 
ing any that X can command, and emphatically recommended the colony 



332 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAT. 

of Liberia to favorable consideration, as the most desirable and practicablt 
scheme ever yet presented on this interesting subject. I ask permission ol 
the Society to read this highly creditable document. 

[Here Mr. Clay read the memorial referred to.] 

The Society has experienced no difBculty in the acquisition of a territory 
upon reasonable terms, abundantly sufficient for a most extensive colony. 
And land in ample quantities, it has ascertained, can be procured in AMca, 
together with all rights of sovereignty, upon conditions as favorable as 
those on which the United States extinguish the Indian title to territory 
within their own limits. 

In respect to the alleged incompetency of the scheme to accomplish its 
professed objects, the Society asks that that object should be taken to be. 
not what the imaginations of its enemies represent it to be, but what it 
really proposes. They represent that the purpose of the Society is, to ex- 
port the whole African population of the United States, bond and free ; and 
they pronounce this design to be unattainable. They declare that the 
means of the whole country are insufficient to affect the transportation to 
Africa of a mass of population approximating to two million of souls. 
Agreed ; but that is not what the Society contemplates. They have substi- 
tuted their own notion for that of the Society. What is the time nature of 
the evil of the existence of a portion of the African race in our population ? 
It is not that there are some, but that there are so many among us of a 
different caste, of a different physical, if not moral, constitution, who never 
can amalgate with the great body of our population. In every country, per- 
sons are to be found varying in their color, origin, and character, from the 
native mass. But this anomaly creates no inquietude or apprehension, be- 
cause the exotics, from the smallness of their number, are known to be 
utterly incapable of disturbing the general tranquillity. Here, on the 
contrary, the African part of our population bears so large a proportion to 
the residue, of European origin, as to create the most lively apprehension, 
especially in some quarters of the Union. Any project, therefore, by which, 
in a material degree, the dangerous element in the general mass, can be di- 
minished or rendered stationary, deserves deliberate consideration. 

The Colonization Society has never imagined it to be practicable, or with- 
in the reach of any means which the several governments of the Union could 
bring to bear on the subject, to transport the whole of the African race 
within the limits of the United States. Nor is that necessary to accomplish 
the desirable objects of domestic tranquillity, and render us one homoge- 
neous people. The population of the United States has been supposed to 
duplicate in periods of twenty-five years. That may have been the case 
heretofore, but the terms of duplication will be more and more protracted 
as we advance in national age ; and I do not believe that it will be found, 
in any period to come, that our numbers will be doubled in a less term 
than one of about thirty-three and a third years. I have not time to entei 



ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 333 

now into details in support of this opinion. They would consist of those 
checks which experience has shown to obstruct the progress of population, 
arising out of its actual augmentation and density, the settlement of waste 
lands, etc. Assuming the period of thirty-three and a third, or any other 
number of years, to be that in which our population will hereafter be 
doubled, if, during that whole term, the capital of the African stock could 
be kept down, or stationary, while that of European origin should be left 
to an unobstructed increase, the result, at the end of the term, would be 
most propitious. Let us suppose, for example, that the whole population 
at present of the United States, is twelve millions, of which ten may be es- 
timated of the Anglo-Saxon, and two of the African race. If there could 
be annually transported from the United States an amount of the African 
portion equal to the annual increase of the whole of that caste, while the 
European race should be left to multiply, we should find at the termination 
of the period of duplication, whatever it may be, that the relative propor- 
tions would be as twenty to two. And if the process were continued, dur- 
ing a second term of duplication, the proportion would be as forty to two 
^-one which would eradicate every cause of alarm or solicitude from the 
breasts of the most timid. But the transportation of Africans, by creating, 
to the extent to which it might be carried, a vacuum in society, would 
tend to accelerate the duplication of the European race, who by all the 
laws of population, would fill up the void space. 

This Society is well aware, I repeat, that they can not touch the subject 
of slavery. But it is no objection to their scheme, limited, as it is, exclu- 
sively to those free people of color who are willing to migrate, that it ad- 
mits of indefinite extension and application, by those who alone, having the 
competent authority, may choose to adopt and apply it. Our object haa 
been to point out the way, to show that colonization is practicable, and to 
leave it to those States or individuals who may be pleased to engage in the 
object, to prosecute it. We have demonstrated that a colony may be 
planted in Africa, by the fact that an American colony there exists. The 
problem which has so long and so deeply interested the thoughts of good 
and patriotic men, is solved ; a country and a home have been found, to 
which the African race may be sent, to the promotion of their happiness 
and our own. 

But, Mr. Vice-president, I shall not rest contented with the fact of the 
establishment of the colony, conclusive as it ought to be deemed, of the 
practicability of our purpose. I shall proceed to show, by reference to indis- 
putable statistical details and calculations, that it is within the compass of 
reasonable human means. I am sensible of the tediousness of all arithmetr 
ical data, but I will endeavor to simplify them as much as possible. It 
will be borne in mind that the aim of the Society is, to establish in Africa 
a colony of the free African population of the United States, to an extent 
which shall be beneficial both to Africa and America. The whole free 
colored population of the United States, amounted, in 1Y90, to fifty-nine 



334 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

thousand four hundred and eighty -one, in 1800, to one hundred and ten 
thousand and seventy-two; in 1810, to one hundred and eighty-six thou- 
sand four hundred and forty -six ; and in 1820, to two hundred and thirty- 
three thousand five hundred and thirty. The ratio of annual increase 
during the first term of ten years, was about eight and a half per cent, per 
annum ; during the second, about seven per cent, per annum ; and during 
the third, a little more than two and a half. The very great difierence in 
the rat© of annual increase, during those several tenns, may probably be 
accounted for by the efiect of the number of voluntary emancipations ope- 
rating with more influence upon the total smaller amount of free colored 
persons at the first of those periods, and by the facts of the insurrection in 
St. Domingo, and the acquisition of Louisiana, both of which, occurring 
during the first and second terms, added considerably to the number of our 
free colored population. 

Of all descriptions of our population, that of the free colored, taken in 
the aggregate, is the least prolific, because of the checks arising from vice 
and want. During the ten years, between 1810 and 1820, when no ex- 
traneous causes existed to prevent a fair competition in the increase be- 
tween the slave and the free African race, the former increased at the rate 
of nearly three per cent, per annum, while the latter did not much exceed 
two and a half. Hereafter it may safely be assumed, and I venture to pre- 
dict will not be contradicted by the return of the next census, that the in- 
crease of the free black population will not surpass two and a half per cent, 
per annum. Their amount at the last census being two hundred and 
thirty-three thousand five hundred and thirty, for the sake of round num- 
bers, their annual increase may be assumed to be six thousand, at the 
present time. Now if this number could be annually transported from the 
United States during a term of years, it is evident that, at the end of that 
term, the parent capital will not have increased, but will have been kept 
down at least to what it was at the commencement of the term. Is it prac- 
ticable, then, to colonize annually six thousand persons from the United 
States, without materially impairing or affecting any of the great interests 
of the United States ? This is the question presented to the judgments of 
the legislative authorities of our country. This is the whole scheme of the 
Society. From its actual experience, derived from the expenses which have 
been incurred in transporting the persons already sent to Africa, the entire 
average expense of each colonist, young and old, including passage-money 
and subsistence, may be stated at twenty dollars per head. There is reason 
to believe that it may be reduced considerably below that sum. Estimat- 
ing that to be the expense, the total cost of transpoiiing six thousand souls, 
annually to Africa, would be one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. 
The tonnage requisite to efiect the object, calculating two persons to every 
five tons (which is the provision of existing law) would be fifteen thousand 
tons. But as each vessel could probably make two voyages in the year, it 
may be reduced to seven thousand five hundred. And as both our mer- 



ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 335 

cantile and military marine might be occasionally employed on this col- 
lateral service, without injury to the main object of the voyage, a further 
abatement might be safely made in the aggregate amount of the necessary 
tonnage. The navigation concerned in the commerce between the colony 
and the United States (and it already begins to supply subjects of an in- 
teresting trade) might be incidentally employed to the same end. 

Is the annual expenditure of a sum no larger than one hundred and 
twenty thousand dollars, and the annual employment of seven thousand five 
hundred tons of shipping too much for reasonable exertion, considering 
the magnitude of the object in view ? Are they not, on the contrary, 
within the compass of moilerate efforts ? 

Here is the whole scheme of the Society — a project which has been 
pronounced visionary by those who have never given themselves the 
trouble to examine it, but to which I believe most unbiased men will yield 
their cordial assent, after they have investigated it. 

Limited as the project is, by the Society, to a colony to be formed by 
the free and unconstrained consent of free persons of color, it is no ob- 
jection, but, on the contrary, a great recommendation of the plan, that it 
admits of being taken up and applied on a scale of much more compre- 
hensive utility. The Society knows, and it affords just cause of felicitation, 
that all, or any one of the States which tolerate slavery, may carry the 
scheme of colonization into effect in regard to the slaves within their re- 
spective limits, and thus ultimately rid themselves of a universally ackowl- 
edged curse. A reference to the results of the several enumerations of the 
population of the United States will incontestably prove the practicability 
of its application on the more extensive scale. The slave population of 
the United States amounted, in 1790, to six hundred and ninety-seven 
thousand, six hundred and ninety-seven; in 1800, to eight hundred and 
ninety-six thousand, eight hundred and forty-nine ; in 1810, to eleven huu- 
dred and ninety-one thousand, three hundred and sixty-four; and in 1820, 
to fifteen hundred and thirty-eight thousand, one hundred and twenty- 
eight. The rate of annual increase (rejecting fractions and taking the in- 
teger to which they made the nearest approach), during the first term of 
ten years, was not quite three per centum per annum ; during the second, 
a little more than three per centum per annum ; and during the third a 
little less than three per centum. The mean ratio of increase foi- the 
whole period of thirty years was very little more than three per centum 
per annum. During the first two periods, the native stock was augmented 
by importations from Africa in those States which continued to tolerate 
them, and by the acquisition of Louisiana. Virginia, to her eternal honor, 
abolished the abominable traffic among the earliest acts of her self-govern- 
ment. The last term alone presents the natural increase of the capital unaf- 
fected by any extraneous causes. That authorizes, as a safe assumption, that 
the future increase will not exceed three per centum per annum. As our 
population increases the value of slave-labor will diminish, in consequence of 



336 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the superior advantages in the employment of free labor. And when the 
value of slave-labor shall be materially lessened, either by the multiplica- 
tion of the supply of slaves beyond the demand, or by the competition be- 
tween slave and free labor, the annual increase of slaves will be reduced, 
in consequence of the abatement of the motives to provide for and rear the 
ofispring. 

Assuming the future increase to be at the rate of three per centum per 
annum, the annual addition to the number of slaves in the United States, 
calculated upon the return of the last census (one million five hundred 
and thirty-eight thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight), is forty -six 
thousand. Applying the data which have been already stated and ex- 
plained, in relation to the colonization of free persons of color from the 
United States to Africa, to the aggregate annual increase, both bond and 
free, of the African race, and the result will be found most encouraging. 
The total number of the annual increase of both descriptions is fifty-two 
thousand. The total expense of transporting that nimiber to Africa (sup- 
posing no reduction of present prices), would be one million and forty 
thousand dollars, and the requisite amount of tonnage would be only one 
hundred and thirty thousand tons of shipping — about one ninth part of 
the mercantile marine of the United States. Upon the supposition of a 
vessel's making two voyages in the year, it would be reduced to one half, 
sixty-five thousand. And this quantity would be still further reduced, by 
embracing opportunities of incidental employment of vessels belonging 
both to the mercantile and military marines. 

But, is the annual application of one million and forty thousand dollars, 
and the employment of sixty-five or even one hundred and thirty thousand 
tons of shipping, considering the magnitude of the object, beyond the 
ability of this country ? Is there a patriot, looking forward to its domes- 
tic quiet, its happiness, and its glory, that would not cheerfully contribute 
his proportion of the burden, to accomplish a purpose so great and so 
humane ? During the general continuance of the African slave-trade, 
hundreds of thousands of slaves have been, in a single year, imported into 
the several countries whose laws authorized their admission. Notwithstand- 
ing the vigilance of the powers now engaged to suppress the slave-trade, 
I have received information, that in a single year, in the single island of 
Cuba, slaves equal in amount to one half of the above number of fifty-two 
thousand, have been illicitly introduced. Is it possible that those who are 
concerned in an infamous traffic can efi^ct more than the States of this 
Union, if they were seriously to engage in the good work? Is it credible, 
is it not a libel upon human nature to suppose, that the triumphs of fraud, 
and violence, and iniquity, can surpass those of virtue, and benevolence, 
and humanity ? 

The population of the United States being, at this time, estimated at 
about ten millions of the European race, and two of the African, on the 
supposition of the annual colonization of a number of the latter, equal to 



ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 837 

the annual increase, of both of its classes, during the whole period neces- 
Bary to the process of duplication of our numbers, they would, at the end 
of that period, relatively stand twenty millions for the white and two for 
the black portion. But an annual exportation of a number equal to the 
annual increase, at the beginning of the term, and persevered in to the 
end of it, would accomplish more than to keep the parent stock stationary. 
The colonists would comprehend more than an equal proportion of those 
of the prolific ages. Few of those who had passed that age would 
migrate. So that the annual increase of those left behind, would continue 
gradually, but at first insensibly, to diminish ; and by the expiration of tha 
period of duplication, it would be found to have materially abated. But 
it is not merely the greater relative safety ;ind happiness which would, at 
the termination of that period, be the condition of the whites. Their abil- 
ity to give further stimulus to the cause of colonization will have been 
doubled, while the subjects on which it would have to operate, will have 
decreased or remained stationary. If the business of colonization should 
be regularly continued, during two periods of duplication, at the end of 
the second, the whites would stand to the blacks, as forty miHions to not 
more than two, while the same abihty will have been quadrupled. Even 
if colonization should then altogether cease, the proportion of the African 
to the European race will be so small, that the most timid may then, for- 
ever, dismiss all ideas of danger from within or without, on account of 
that incongruous and perilous element in our population. 

Further; by the annual withdrawal of fifty-two thousand persons of 
color, there would be annual space created for an equal number of the 
white race. The period, therefore, of the duplication of the whites, by the 
laws which govern population, would be accelerated. 

Such, Mr. Vice-president, is the project of the Society ; and such is the 
extension and use which may be made of the principle of colonization, 
in application to our slave population, by those States which are alone 
competent to undertake and execute it. All, or any one, of the States 
which tolerate slavery, may adopt and execute it, by co-operation or 
separate exertion. If I could be instrumental in eradicating this deepest 
stain upon the character of our country, and removing all cause of re- 
proach on account of it, by foreign nations ; if I could only be instru- 
mental in ridding of this foul blot that revered State that gave me birth, or 
that not less beloved State which kindly adopted me as her son ; I would 
not exchange the proud satisfaction which I should enjoy, for the honor of 
all the triumphs ever decreed to the most successful conqueror. 

Having, I hope, shown that the plan of the Society is not visionary, 
but rational and practicable ; that a colony does in fact exist, planted 
under its auspices ; that free people are willing and anxious to go ; and 
that the right of soil as well as of sovereignty, may be acquired in vast 
tracts of country in Africa, abundantly sufficient for all the purposes of the 
most ample colony, and at prices almost only nominal, the task which re- 

22 



338 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

mains to me of showing the bsneficial consequences which would attend 
the execution of the scheme, is comparatively easy. 

Of the utility of a total separation of the two incongruous portions of 
our population, supposing it to be practicable, none have ever doubted. 
The mode of accomplishing that most desirable object, has alone divided 
public opinion. Colonization in Hayti, for a time, had its partisans. 
Without throwing any impediments in the way of executing that scheme, 
the American Colonization Society has steadily adhered to its own. The 
Haytien project has passed away. Colonization beyond the Stony Mount- 
ains has sometimes been proposed ; but it would be attended with an ex- 
pense and difficulties far surpassing the African project, while it would not 
unite the same animating motives. There is a moral fitness in the idea of 
returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her 
by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign 
land, they will carry back to their soil the rich fruits of religion, civiliza- 
tion, law, and liberty. May it not be one of the great designs of the 
Ruler of the universe (whose ways are often inscrutable by short-sighted 
mortals) thus to transform an original crime into a signal blessing, to that 
most unfortunate portion of the globe. Of all classes of our population, the 
most vicious is that of the free colored. It is the inevitable result of their 
moral, political, and civil degradation. Contaminated themselves, they 
extend their vices to all around them, to the slaves and to the whites. If 
the principle of colonization should be confined to them ; if a colony can 
be firmly established and successfully continued in Africa which should 
draw off annually an amount of that portion of our population equal to 
its annual increase, much good will be done. If the principle be adopted 
and applied by the States, whose laws sanction the existence of slavery, to 
an extent equal to the annual increase of slaves, still greater good will be 
done. This good will be felt by the Africans who go, and by the Africans 
who remain, by the white population of our country, by Africa, and 
by America. It is a project which recommends itself to favor in all the 
aspects in which it can be contemplated. It will do good in every 
and any extent in which it may be executed. It is a circle of philan- 
thropy, every segment of which tells and testifies to the beneficence of 
the whole. 

Every emigrant to Africa is a missionary carrying with him credentials 
in the holy cause of civiHzation, religion, and free institutions. Why is it 
that the degree of success of missionary exertions is so limited, and so dis- 
couraging to those whose piety and benevolence prompt them ? Is it not 
because the missionary is generally an alien and a stranger, perhaps of a 
different color, and from a dift'erent tribe ? There is a sort of instinctive 
feeling of jealousy and distrust toward foreigners which repels and rejects 
them in all countriee ; and this feeling is in proportion to the degree of 
ignorance and barbarism which prevail. But the African colonists, whom 
we send to convert the heathen, are of the same color, the same family, 



ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION. 839 

the same physical constitution. When the purposes of the colony shall be 
fully understood, they will be received as long-lost brethren restored to the 
embraces of their friends and their kindred by the dispensations of a wise 
Providence. 

The Society is reproached for agitating this question. It should be rec- 
ollected that the existence of free people of color is not limited to the 
States only which tolerate slavery. The evil extends itself to all the 
States, and some of those which do not allow of slavery (their cities 
especially), experience the evil in an extent even greater than it exists in 
slave States. A common evil confers a right to consider and apply a com- 
mon remedy. Nor is it a valid objection that this remedy is partial in its 
operation or distant in its eflBcacy. A patient, writhing under the tor 
tures of excruciating disease, asks of his physician to cure him if be can, 
and, if he can not, to mitigate his sufferings. But the remedy proposed, 
if generally adopted and perseveringly applied, for a sufiieient length of 
time, should it not entirely eradicate the disease, will enable the body poli- 
tic to bear it without danger and without suffering. 

We are reproached with doing mischief by the agitation of this ques- 
tion. The Society goes into no household to disturb its domestic tranquil- 
lity ; it addresses itself to no slaves to weaken their obligation of obedience. 
It seeks to affect no man's property. It neither has the power nor the 
will to affect the property of any one contrary to his consent. The execu- 
tion of its scheme would augment instead of diminishing the value of the 
property left behind. The Society, composed of free men, concerns itself 
only with the free. Collateral consequences we are not responsible for. 
It is not this Society which has produced the great moral revolution which 
the age exhibits. What would they, who thus reproach us, have done ? If 
they would repress all tendencies toward liberty and ultimate emancipation, 
they must do more than put down the benevolent efforts of this Society. 
They must go back to the era of our liberty and independence, and muzzle 
the cannon which thunder its annual joyous return. They must revive 
the slave-trade, with all its train of atrocities. They must suppress the 
workings of British philanthropy, seeking to meliorate the condition of 
the unfortunate West Indian slaves. They must arrest the career of 
South American deliverance from thralldom. They must blow out the 
moral lights around us, and extinguish that greatest torch of all which 
America presents to a benighted world, pointing the way to their rights, 
their liberties, and their happiness. And when they have achieved all these 
vurposes, their work will be yet incomplete. They must penetrate the 
human soul, and eradicate the light of reason and the love of liberty. 
Then, and not till then, when universal darkness and despair prevail, can 
you perpetuate slavt^y, and repress all sympathies, and all humane and 
benevolent efforts among freemen, in behalf of the unhappy portion of our 
race doomed to bondage. 

Our friends, who are cursed with this greatest of human evils, deserve 



340 SPEECHES OF HENRY CLAY. 

the kindest attention and consideration. Their property and their safety 
are both involved. But the liberal and candid among them will not, can 
not, expect that every project to deliver our country from it is to be crush- 
ed because of a possible and ideal danger. Animated by the encourage- 
ment of the past, let us proceed under the cheering prospects which lie 
before ns. Let us continue to appeal to the pious, the liberal, and the wise. 
Let us bear in mind the condition of our forefathers, when, collected on 
the beach in England, they embarked, amid the scoffings and the false 
predictions of the assembled multitude, for this distant land ; and here, in 
spite of all the perils of forest and ocean, which they encountered, success- 
fully laid the foundation of this glorious republic. Undismayed by the 
prophecies of the presumptuous, let us supplicate the aid of the American 
representatives of the people, and redoubling our labors, and invoking the 
blessings of an all-wise Providence, I boldly and confidently anticipate 
success. I hope the resolution which I offer will be unanimously 
adopted. 



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