« ForrigeFortsett »
experience has afforded us the most satisfactory proof in its favor. Just as this constitution was put into action, several of the principal states of Europe had become much agitated, and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued, which have of late only been terminated. In the course of these conflicts, the United States received great injury from several of the parties, It was their interest to stand aloof from the contest, to demand justice from the party committing the injury, and to cultivate, by a fair and honorable conduct, the friendship of all. War became at length inevitable, and the result has shown that our government is equal to that, the greatest. of trials, under the most 'unfavorable circumstances. Of the virtue of the people, and of the heroic exploits of the army, the navy, and the militia, I need not speak.
Such, then, is the happy government under which we live; a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a government elective in all its branches, under which every citizen may, by his merit, obtain the highest trust recognized by the constitution; which contains within it no cause of discord; none to put at variance one portion of the community with another ; à government which protects every citizen in the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice from foreign powers.
Other considerations of the highest importance admonish us to cherish our union, and to cling to the government which supports it.' Fortunate as we are in our political institutions, we have not been less so in other circumstances, on which our prosperity and happiness essentially depend. Situated within the temperate zone, and extending through many degrees of latitude along the Atlantic, the United States enjoy all the varieties of climate, and every production incident to that portion of the globe. Penetrating, internally, to the great lakes and beyond the sources of the great rivers which communicate through our whole interior, no country was ever happier with respect to its domain. Blessed, too, with a fertile soil, our produce has always been very abundant, leaving, even in years the least favorable, a surplus for the wants of our
fellow-men in other countries. Such is our peculiar felicity, that there is not a part of our Union that is not particularly interested in preserving it. The great agricultural interest of our nation prospers under its protection. Local interests are not less fostered by it. Our fellow-citizens of the north, engaged in navigation, find great encouragement in being made the favored carriers of the vast productions of the other portions of the United States, while the inhabitants of these are amply recompensed in their turn, by the nursery for seamen and naval force, thus formed and reared up for the support of our common rights. Our manufacturers find a generous encouragement by the policy which patronizes domestic industry; and the surplus of our produce, a steady and profitable market by local wants in less favored parts at home.
Such, then, being the highly-favored condition of our country, it is the interest of every citizen to maintain it. What are the dangers which menace us? If any exist, they ought to be ascertained and guarded against.
In explaining my sentiments on this subject, it may be asked, What raised us to the present happy state? How did we accomplish the revolution? How remedy the defects of the first instrument of our Union, by infusing into the national government sufficient power for national purposes, without impairing the just rights of the states, or affecting those of individuals? How sustain and pass with glory through the late war? The government has been in the hands of the people. To the people, therefore, and to the faithful and able depositaries of their trust, is the credit due. Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles,- had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career, or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state, every thing will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an
easy attainment, and a usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us, by all wise and constitutional measures, promote intelligence among the people, as the best means of preserving our liberties.
Dangers from abroad are not less deserving of attention. Experiencing the fortune of other nations, the United States may again be involved in war, and it may in that event be the object of the adverse party to overset our government, to break our union, and demolish us as a nation. Our distance from Europe, and the just, moderate, and pacific policy of our government, may form some security against these dangers,
but they ought to be anticipated and guarded against. Many of our citizens are engaged in commerce and navigation, and all of them are in a certain degree dependent on their prosperous state. Many are engaged in the fisheries. These interests are exposed to invasion in the wars between other powers, and we should disregard the faithful admonitions of experience if we did not expect it. We must support our rights, or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it, can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen, is national strength. It ought therefore. to be cherished.
To secure us against these 'dangers, our coast and inland frontiers should be fortified, our army and navy regulated upon just principles as to the force of each, be kept in perfect order, and our militia be placed on the best practicable footing. To put our extensive coast in such a state of defence as to secure our cities and interior from invasion, will be attended with expense; but the work, when finished, will be permanent, and it is fair to presume that a single campaign of invasion, by a naval force, superior to our own, aided by a few thousand land troops, would expose us to a greater expense, without taking into the estimate the loss of property and distress of our citizens, than would be sufficient for this great work. Our land
and naval forces should be moderate, but adequate to the necessary purposes. The former to garrison and preserve our fortifications, and to meet the first invasions of a foreign foe; and while constituting the elements of a greater force, to preserve the science, as well as all the necessary implements of war, in a state to be brought into activity in the event of war. The latter, retained within the limits
proper in state of peace, might aid in maintaining the neutrality of the United States, with dignity, in the wars of other powers, and in saving the property of their citizens from spoliation. In time of war, with the enlargement of which the great naval resources of the country render it susceptible, and which should be duly fostered in time of peace, it would contribute essentially, both as an auxiliary of defence and as a powerful engine of annoyance, to diminish the calamities of war, and to bring the war to a speedy and honorable termination.
But it ought always to be held prominently in view, that the safety of these states, and of every thing dear to a free people, must depend in an eminent degree on the militia. İnvasions may be made too formidable to be resisted by any land and naval force, which it would comport either with the principles of our government, or the circumstances of the United States, to maintain. In such cases, recourse must be had to the great body of the people, and in a manner to produce the best effect. It is of the highest importance, therefore, that they be so organized and trained as to be prepared for any emergency. The arrangement should be such as to put at the command of the government the ardent patriotism and youthful vigor of the country. If formed on equal and just principles, it cannot be oppressive.
It is the crisis which makes the pressure, and not the laws which provide a remedy for it. This arrangement should be formed, too, in time of peace, to be the better prepared for war, With such an organization of such a people, the United States have nothing to dread from foreign invasion. At its approach, an overwhelming force of gallant men might always be put in motion.
Other interests of high importance will claim attention; among which the improvement of our country by roads and canals, proceeding always with a constitutional sanc
tion, holds a distinguished place. By thus facilitating the intercourse between the states, we shall add much to the convenience and comfort of our fellow-citizens, much to the ornament of the country, and, what is of greater importance, we shall shorten distances, and by making each part more accessible to and dependent on the other, we shall bind the Union more closely together. Nature has done so much for us by intersecting the country with so many great rivers, bays, and lakes, approaching from distant points so near to each other, that the inducement to complete the work seems to be peculiarly strong.
A more interesting spectacle was perhaps never seen than is exhibited within the limits of the United States a territory so vast, and advantageously situated, containing objects so grand, so useful, so happily connected in all their parts.
Our manufactures will, likewise, require the systematic and fostering care of the government. Possessing, as we do, all the raw materials, the fruit of our own soil and industry, we ought not to depend, in the degree we have done, on supplies from other countries. While we are thus dependent, the sudden event of war, unsought and unexpected, cannot fail to plunge us into the most serious difficulties. It is important, too, that the capital which nourishes our manufactures should be domestic, as its influence in that case, instead of exhausting, as it may do in foreign hands, would be felt advantageously on agriculture, and every other branch of industry. Equally important is it to provide at home a market for our raw materials, as, by extending the competition, it will enhance the price, and protect the cultivator against the casualties incident to foreign markets.
With the Indian tribes it is our duty to cultivate friendly relations, and to act with kindness and liberality in all our transactions. Equally proper is it to persevere in our efforts to extend to them the advantages of civilization.
The great amount of our revenue, and the flourishing state of the treasury, are a full proof of the competency of the national resources for any emergency, as they are of the willingness of our fellow-citizens to bear the burdens which the public necessities require. The vast amount of vacant lands, the value of which daily augments, forms an