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the character of John Quincy Adams, whom he claims as the author of the policy on re-colonization, generally ascribed to President Monroe. Passing to the discussion of the policy itself, he gives his reasons for holding to its substantial truth, while he protests against the manner in which it was brought in issue on that occasion. The speech is gravely and forcibly argued, though not without incidental touches of effective satire.
In February, the important question of our “ Relations with Mexico and the Continental Railroad” was debated in the Senate. The speech of Gov. Seward on that subject abounds in lucid views of national policy.
On the proposal to abolish or suspend the duty on foreign railroad iron, Gov. Seward addressed the Senate in one of his most characteristic speeches. This was followed by a speech on “ Texas and her creditors," which closes the list of his senatorial efforts at the time we are now writing. Both of these speeches are marked by the admirable union of statistics, general reasoning, and lofty, sentiment, of which the texture of his deliberative eloquence is composed.
It will be seen that Gov. Seward has not been an idle spectator of the proceedings of the Senate. His voice has been raised on the most momentous questions in those halls “where debate either wins a great influence or utterly wastes the speaker's power.” No one can doubt the effect of his active participation in the senatorial strife on his own fame. His speeches have not only been heard with profound respect in the august forum, where they were delivered, but they will be read with instruction and delight by the most intelligent portion of our republican population.
Rich in significant lessons of statesmanship, abounding in the treasured wisdom of years of study and practice in affairs, breathing a spirit of the most expansive humanity, and adorned with the classic embellishments of a susceptible and refined taste, they form an interesting memorial of the progress of American letters. Gov. Seward, we are persuaded, will henceforth occupy as enviable a place among the writers of his country, as he has long held among her practical statesmen.
In addition to his elaborate speeches in the Senate, Gov. Seward has often taken an incidental part in important debates, a record of which is preserved in the present collection. After the decease of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, he delivered a tribute to the memory of each of those illustrious statesmen, in chaste and dis
criminating sketches of their characters. For justness and vigor of conception, elevation of feeling, and felicity of diction, these are scarcely inferior to the best specimens of mortuary eloquence in our language.
Gov. Seward has now been four years in the Senate of the United States. Of his conduct in that exalted station, the speeches and debates now published, afford the most authentic illustration. Amid the heated excitements of the day, he has been found calm, watchful, and earnest, on the post of duty. Trustfully biding his time, he has cherished no anxiety to vindicate his reputation from the aspersions of his opponents, save by a uniform course of well-doing. In the most ardent zeal of senatorial debate, he has never lost sight of the decorum belonging to the place. Often the subject of violent personalities, he has preserved the courtesy of the gentleman and the dignity of the legislator. No provocation has induced him to violate the amenities of refined social life, nor to reply to ill
mannered abuse by a retort in kind.
His fidelity to his political associates has often been the subject of remark. During the administration which followed that of Gen. Taylor, to be a friend of Gov. Seward was to be proscribed. The price of such partiality, to an office-holder, was invariable removal. But that administration came into power through the action of the whig party, from which he derived his trust. Hence, it never failed to receive the support of Gov. Seward. He has neglected no suitable occasion to defend it; he has never been one of its assailants. It is said, and we believe truly, that he has promptly sustained all its nominations to office.
But the most remarkable feature in his public career is his consistent adherence to principle. Guided not by a low worldly policy, or motives of secular expediency, but by the radiant light of ideal truth, his course has been like the path of a noble ship on the ocean, faithfully steering by celestial luminaries. His past history presents the best assurance of his future activity. Whatever the sphere in which he may be placed, it is certain, that he will bring exalted talents to the performance of the humblest as well as the noblest duties, postponing all private interests to his love of humanity, and seeking as the highest boon of a manly life, the realization of truth, justice, and love, in the institutions of society.
THE SENATE, OF NEW YORK.
THE MILITIA SYSTEM.*
FEBRUARY 11, 1881.
I AM aware that the amendments I have submitted are such an innovation upon the existing militia system, as to require if not an apology for offering them, at least an explanation of the necessity for a change of some kind. Complaints long and loud have been made of the defects of the system, and the oppressive burden it imposes upon the people; these complaints have, at length, reached the executive ear, and have drawn from the governor a recommendation to the consideration of the legislature. I do not know that I should have ventured to suggest the amendments, had not the committee of the Senate, after mature deliberation, reported a bill which can be regarded in no other light but as going immediately to change the whole system, and, in the result, to abolish it. This bill originates in the deep conviction, I doubt not, of the committee, that some law must be proposed to relieve the people from the trouble of military duty under the present organization. I confess that it is not my object to destroy the system ; but, at the same time, that I would relieve the people from the burden it imposes I would, if possible, preserve and improve the militia, and would elevate it so that it might be what it ought to be—the ornament of the country, and the safeguard of the rights and liberties of the people. Whether the plan which I have proposed is the proper one to effect so desirable an object, is a question for the consideration of the committee. I confess that
* This appears to have been Mr. Seward's first parliamentary pofort-Ed.