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court and mere formalities, I must confess that I can not appreciate the force of the argument. In cases of war and desolation, in times of peril and disaster, we should look at the substance and not the shadow of things. I envy not the feelings of the man who can reason coolly and calmly about the force of precedents and the tendency of examples in the fury of the war-cry, when "booty and beauty" is the watchword. Talk not to me about rules and forms in court when the enemy's cannon are pointed at the door, and the flames encircle the cupola! The man whose stoicism would enable him to philosophize coolly under these circumstances would fiddle while the Capitol was burning, and laugh at the horror and anguish that surrounded him in the midst of the conflagration! I claim not the possession of these remarkable feelings. I concede them all to those who think that the savior of New Orleans ought to be treated like a criminal for not possessing them in a higher degree. Their course in this debate has proved them worthy disciples of the doctrine they profess. Let them receive all the encomiums which such sentiments are calculated to inspire.
But, sir, for the purposes of General Jackson's justification, I care not whether his proceedings were legal or illegal, constitutional or unconstitutional, with or without precedent, if they were necessary for the salvation of that city. And I care as little whether he observed all the rules and forms of court, and technicalities of the law, which some gentlemen seem to consider the perfection of reason and the essence of wisdom. There was but one form necessary on that occasion, and that was to point cannon and destroy the enemy. The gentleman from New York (Mr. Barnard), to whose speech I have had occasion to refer so frequently, has informed us that this bill is unprecedented. I have no doubt this remark is technically true according to the most approved forms. I presume no case can be found on record, or traced by tradition, where a fine, imposed upon a general for saving his country, at the peril of his life and reputation, has ever been refunded. Such a case would furnish a choice page in the history of any country. I grant that it is unprecedented, and for that reason we desire on this day to make a precedent which shall command the admiration of the world, and be transmitted to future generations as an evidence that the people of this age and in this country were not unjust to their benefactor. This bill is unprecedented, because no court ever before imposed a fine under the same circumstances. In this respect Judge Hall himself stands unprecedented.
The gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Dawson), who addressed the committee the other day, told us that General Wilkinson declared martial law at New Orleans and enforced it at the time of Burr's conspiracy. Where was Judge Hall then that he did not vindicate the supremacy of the laws and the authority of his court? Why did he not then inflict the penalty of the law upon the perpetrator of such a gross infraction of the Constitution which he was sworn to defend and support? Perhaps his admirers here will tell us that he did not advise, and urge, and entreat General Wilkinson to declare martial law. I believe that feature does distinguish the two cases, and gentlemen are entitled to all the merit they can derive from it. I am informed that in one of those trying cases during the last war, which required great energy and nerve, and self-sacrificing patriotism, General Gaines had the firmness to declare martial law at Sackett's Harbor; and when, after the danger had passed, he submitted himself to the civil authorities, he received the penalty of the law in the shape of a public dinner instead of a vindictive punishment. I doubt not many other cases of a similar nature may be found, if any one will take the trouble of examining the history of our two wars with Great Britain. But if the gentleman from New York intended to assert that it was unprecedented for Congress to remunerate military and naval commanders for fines, judgments, and damages assessed against them
by courts for violating the laws in the honest discharge of their public duties, I must be permitted to inform him that he has not examined the legislation of his country in that respect. If the gentleman will read the speech of the pure, noble, and lamented Linn in the Senate, in May, 1842, he will find there a long list of cases in which laws of this kind have been passed.
He said, "There were precedents innumerable where officers have been found guilty of breaches of law in the discharge of their public duty, and therefore calling for the interference of a just government. Of these it is only necessary to introduce a few where the government did interpose and give relief to the injured officer. These cases commenced as early as August, 1790, and have continued down to the present time. Thus, in April, 1818, Major General Jacob Brown was indemnified for damages sustained under sentence of civil law for having confined an individual found near his camp suspected of traitorous designs.
"At the same session Captain Austin and Lieutenant Wells were indemnified against nine judgments, amounting to upward of $6000, for having confined nine individuals suspected of treachery to the country. In this case it was justly remarked by the secretary of war (John C. Calhoun), that ‘if it should be determined that no law authorized' the act, 'yet I would respectfully suggest that there may be cases in the exigencies of the war in which, if the commander should transcend his legal power, Congress ought to protect him, and those who acted under him, from consequential damages.'
"In the case of General Robert Swartwout in 1823, the committee by whom it was reported stated that 'it is considered one of those extreme cases of necessity in which an overstepping of the established legal rules of society stands fully justified.'
I will not occupy the time of the committee with further quotations, but will refer those who may wish to examine the subject to the speech itself, and the cases there cited.
These cases fully sustain the position I have taken, and prove that the government has repeatedly recognized and sanctioned the doctrine that in cases of "extreme necessity the commander is fully justified" in superseding the civil laws, and that Congress will always "make remuneration when they are satisfied he acted with the sole view of promoting the public interests confided to his command." The principle deducible from all the cases is, that when the necessity is extreme and unavoidable, the commander is fully justified, provided he acted in good faith; and, in either event, Congress will always make remuneration. Then, sir, I trust I have shown to the satisfaction of all candid men that, instead of this bill being unprecedented, the opposition-the fierce, bitter, vindictive opposition to its passage is unprecedented in the annals of American legislation. Are gentlemen desirous of making General Jackson an exception to those principles of justice which have prevailed in all other cases? They mistake the character of the American people if they suppose they sever the cords which bind them to their great benefactor by continued acts of wanton injustice and base ingratitude.
Why this persevering resistance to the will of the people, which has been expressed in a manner too imperative and authoritative to be successfully resisted? The people demand this measure, and they will never be quieted until their wishes shall have been respected and their will obeyed. They will ask, they will demand the reason why General Jackson has been selected as the victim, and his case made an ignominious exception to the principles which have been adopted in all other cases, from the foundation of the government until the present moment. Was there any thing in his conduct at New Orleans to justify this wide departure from the uniform practice of the government, and single him out as an outlaw who had forfeited all claim
to the justice and protection of his country? Does the man live who will have the hardihood to question his patriotism, his honesty, the purity of his motives in every act he performed, and every power he exercised on that trying occasion? While none dare impeach his motives, they tell us he assumed almost unlimited power.
I commend him for it; the exigency required it. I admire that elevation of soul which rises above all personal considerations, and, regardless of consequences, stakes life, and honor, and glory upon the issue, when the salvation of the country depends upon the result. I also admire that calmness, moderation, and submission to rightful authority, which should always prevail in times of peace and security. The conduct of General Jackson furnished the most brilliant specimens of each the world ever witnessed. I know not which to applaud most, his acts of high responsibility and deeds of noble daring in the midst of peril and danger, or his mildness, and moderation, and lamb-like submission to the laws and civil authorities when peace was restored to his country.
Can gentlemen see nothing to admire, nothing to commend, in the closing scenes, when, fresh from the battle-field, the victorious general-the idol of his army and the acknowledged savior of his countrymen-stood before Judge Hall, and quelled the tumult and indignant murmurs of the multitude by telling him that "the same arm which had defended the city from the ravages of a foreign enemy should protect him in the discharge of his duty?" Is this the conduct of a lawless desperado, who delights in trampling upon Constitution, and law, and right? Is there no reverence for the supremacy of the laws and the civil institutions of the country displayed on this occasion? If such acts of heroism and moderation, of chivalry and submission, have no charms to excite the admiration or soften the animosities of gentlemen in the Opposition, I have no desire to see them vote for this bill. The character of the hero of New Orleans requires no endorsement from such a source. They wish to fix a mark, a stigma of reproach, upon his character, and send him to his grave branded as a criminal. His stern, inflexible adherence to Democratic principles, his unwavering devotion to his country, and his intrepid opposition to her enemies, have so long thwarted their unhallowed schemes of ambition and power, that they fear the potency of his name on earth, even after his spirit shall have ascended to heaven.
The bill passed the House, and subsequently passed the Senate.
After the adjournment of Congress, Messrs. Polk and Clay having been nominated for the Presidency by their respective parties, a monster convention was held at Nashville, Tennessee, to which delegations and distinguished men from all the Western States were invited. A large delegation from Illinois, including Mr. Douglas, went to Nashville. The attendance was immense. A letter now before us from one who was present states: "It was a monster gathering; forty acres were scarcely able to afford standing-room for the vast assemblage of men and women there collected from nearly every state in the Union. Some of the most brilliant orators in the country were there; the masses hung upon their lips day after day with increased interest, but at last the hour came for the adjournment.
Many had come from a great distance, not only to attend the convention, but also to see that GREAT MAN who had for so long a period and so prominently occupied the hearts of his countrymen. They could not leave without the long-wishedfor pleasure of seeing ANDREW JACKSON. The moment the speaking had closed, the immense throng turned their steps toward the 'Hermitage.' I remember well the appearance of the vast procession-the countless multitude, as it came surging down the main road leading to the home of Jackson. As the people entered the avenue leading from the high road to the plain but capacious dwelling, the old patriot, though feeble from age, roused himself once more to receive the sincere and unbought homage of his grateful and confiding countrymen. He took a seat on a sofa in the large hall opposite to the porch and entrance. The multitude filled every standing-point in front of the mansion. Affectionate friends surrounded him; the throng asked but the privilege of seeing and taking him by the hand once more. They approached in files, shook hands with him, and then passed on through the hall. Thousands passed thus before the old hero. ** ** At last our friend, Judge Douglas, of Illinois, approached. I remember well how pale he looked, and how small and plain he seemed beside the hundreds of robust and gallant specimens of Tennessee manhood. Governor Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, a senator of the United States, had been for some time acting as the medium of introduction to strangers. The scene that ensued was one never to be forgotten."
One of the Illinois delegation who accompanied Judge Douglas was WILLIAM WALTERS, Esq., the editor of the "ILLINOIS STATE REGISTER," the most influential as well as the ablest conducted paper in the state. Mr. Walters was with Judge Douglas at the moment of his introduction to General Jackson, and on his return to Springfield a few days thereafter he published the following description of what took place:
"Every thing that relates to Andrew Jackson, the hero of New Orleans and the friend of his country, is of deep interest to the American people; and although the incident we are about to relate is in itself of no great interest, it becomes so to us in consequence of those connected with it.
"At the Nashville Convention of August last, we visited the Hermitage, only twelve miles distant, in company with Judge Douglas, of this state, and some others of our fellow-citizens. The Hermitage was crowded with people from almost every state, who had been invited thither by the venerable patriot on the day succeeding the convention.
"Governor Clay, of Alabama, was near General Jackson, who was himself sitting on a sofa in the hall, and as each person entered, the governor introduced him to the hero and he passed along. When Judge Douglas was thus introduced, General Jackson raised his still brilliant eyes and gazed for a moment in the countenance of the judge, still retaining his hand. you the Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, who delivered a speech last session on the subject of the fine imposed on me for declaring martial law at New Orleans?' asked General Jackson.
"I have delivered a speech in the House of Representatives upon that subject,' was the modest reply of our friend.
"Then stop,' said General Jackson; sit down here beside me. I desire to return you my thanks for that speech. You are the first man that has ever relieved my mind on a subject which has rested upon it for thirty years. My enemies have always charged me with violating the Constitution of my country by declaring martial law at New Orleans, and my friends have always admitted the violation, but have contended that circumstances justified me in that violation. I never could understand how it was that the performance of a solemn duty to my country-a duty which, if I had neglected, would have made me a traitor in the sight of God and man, could properly be pronounced a violation of the Constitution. I felt convinced in my own mind that I was not guilty of such a heinous offense; but I could never make out a legal justification of my course, nor has it ever been done, sir, until you, on the floor of Congress, at the late session, established it beyond the possibility of cavil or doubt. I thank you, sir, for that speech. It has relieved my mind from the only circumstance that rested painfully upon it. Throughout my whole life I never performed an official act which I viewed as a violation of the Constitution of my country; and I can now go down to the grave in peace, with the perfect consciousness that I have not broken, at any period of my life, the Constitution or laws of my country.'
"Thus spoke the old hero, his countenance brightened by emotions which it is impossible for us to describe. We turned to look at Douglas-he was speechless. He could not reply, but convulsively shaking the aged veteran's hand, he rose and left the hall. Certainly General Jackson had paid him the highest compliment he could have bestowed on any individual.'
It has been stated publicly, and we know of no reason for questioning the truth of the statement, that General Jackson, at his death, bequeathed all his papers to FRANCIS P. BLAIR, the editor of the Washington Globe, and that among them was found the pamphlet copy of Judge Douglas's speech, with an endorsement, in Jackson's own handwriting, signed by him, in these words: "This speech constitutes my defense; I lay it aside as an inheritance for my grandchildren."
It is doubtful whether, in the long and eventful public life of Mr. Douglas, there has ever been a moment when words of applause and approbation have ever sounded so pleasant in his ears as those thrilling sentences of the venerable hero, General Jackson.
On the 8th of January, 1853, the magnificent equestrian statue of Jackson, by Clark Mills, was erected in Lafayette Square, Washington City, and the committee of arrangements