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fervent prayers to the Father of all Mercies that it may continue to wave, for ages yet to come, over a free, a happy, and a united people.
At the conclusion of his peroration upon "Liberty and Union now and forever, one and inseparable," Webster's fame as the greatest orator of his age was assured, and thenceforth he received the high-sounding but none too extravagant title of "The Expounder and Defender of the Constitution."
The peroration, however, was eloquently, and, as it seemed then but not later, pertinently objected to a few days afterward (on February 2, 1830,) by Thomas H. Benton [Mo.] in a speech in the Senate.
AN UNTIMELY PRODIGY
SENATOR BENTON ON WEBSTER'S PERORATION
SENATOR BENTON said: Among the novelties of this debate is that part of the speech of the Senator from Massachusetts which dwells with such elaboration of argument and ornament upon the love and blessings of Union-the hatred and horror of disunion. It was a part of the Senator's speech which brought into full play the favorite Ciceronian figure of amplification. It was up to the rule in that particular. But it seemed to me that there was another rule, and a higher, and a precedent one, which it violated. It was the rule of propriety; that rule which requires the fitness of things to be considered; which requires the time, the place, the subject, and the audience, to be considered; and condemns the delivery of the argument, and all its flowers, if it fails in congruence to these particulars. I thought the essay upon union and disunion had so failed. It came to us when we were not prepared for it; when there was nothing in the Senate, nor in the country, to grace its introduction; nothing to give, or to receive, effect to, or from, the impassioned scene that we witnessed. It may be it was the prophetic cry of the distracted daughter of Priam breaking into the council and alarming its tranquil members with vaticinations of the fall of Troy; but to me it all sounded like the sudden proclamation for an earthquake, when the sun, the earth, the air announced no such prodigy; when all the elements of nature were at rest, and sweet repose pervading the world. There was
a time, and you, and I, and all of us did see it, sir, when such a speech would have found in its delivery every attribute of a just and rigorous propriety! It was at a time when the five-striped 1 banner was waving over the land of the North! when the Hartford convention was in session! when the language in the capitol was: "Peaceably if we can; forcibly if we must!" when the cry, out of doors, was: "The Potomac the boundary; the negro States by themselves; The Alleghanies the boundary; the Western savages by themselves! The Mississippi the boundary, let Missouri be governed by a prefect, or given up as a haunt for wild beasts!" That time was the fit occasion for this speech; and, if it had been delivered then, either in the hall of the House of Representatives, or in the den of the convention, or in the highway among the bearers and followers of the fivestriped banner, what effects must it not have produced! What terror and consternation among the plotters of disunion! But here, in this loyal and quiet assemblage, in this season of general tranquillity and universal allegiance, the whole performance has lost its effect for want of affinity, connection, or relation to any subject depending, or sentiment expressed in, the Senate; for want of any application, or reference, to any event impending in the country.
1The New England States were then only five in number, Maine being still a part of Massachusetts.
[DEBATE ON THE FORCE BILL OF 1833]
The Tariff Act of 1832: Senator Henry Clay [Ky.] on the Dissatisfaction of the South with It-Threats of Secession: Speech of Thomas Clayton [Ga.] in the House-Ordinance of Nullification of Tariff by South Carolina-Messages and Proclamation of President Andrew Jackson Against the Ordinance-Congress Enacts a "Force Bill" to Collect the Duties -Debate in the Senate on the Bill: in Favor, William H. Wilkins [Pa.], Felix Grundy [Tenn.], Daniel Webster [Mass.]; Opposed, John Tyler [Va.], and John C. Calhoun [S. C.]—Submission of South Carolina.
HREATS of secession arose again in 1832, when a new and more protective tariff act was passed [see Vol. XII, chapter v], and they were uttered with even greater determination because, in adding to the oppression of which the South complained, the act was in direct violation of the promise of Henry Clay [Ky.], the father of the bill, he having offered in the Senate, previously to its introduction, a resolution in favor of "reduction of duties."
In his speech on the tariff act on February 2, 1832, Senator Clay referred to the discontent of the South as follows:
And now, Mr. President, I have to make a few observations on a delicate subject which I approach with all the respect that is due to its serious and grave nature. It is impossible to conceal from our view the facts that there is great excitement in South Carolina; that the protective system is openly and violently denounced in popular meetings; and that the legislature itself has declared its purpose of resorting to counteracting measures a suspension of which has only been submitted to for the purpose of allowing Congress time to retrace its steps. With respect to this Union, Mr. President, the truth cannot be
too generally proclaimed nor too strongly inculcated that it is necessary to the whole and to all the parts-necessary to those parts, indeed, in different degrees, but vitally necessary to each; and that threats to disturb or dissolve it, coming from any of the parts, would be quite as indiscreet and improper as would be threats from the residue to exclude those parts from the pale of its benefits. The great principle which lies at the foundation of all free government is, that the majority must govern; from which there is or can be no appeal but to the sword. That majority ought to govern wisely, equitably, moderately, and constitutionally, but govern it must, subject only to that terrible appeal. If ever one or several States being a minority can, by menacing a dissolution of the Union, succeed in forming an abandonment of great measures deemed essential to the interests and prosperity of the whole, the Union, from that moment, is practically gone. It may linger on in form and name, but its vital spirit has fled forever! Entertaining these deliberate opinions, I would entreat the patriotic people of South Carolinathe land of Marion, Sumter, and Pickens; of Rutledge, Laurens, the Pinckneys, and Lowndes; of living and present names which I would mention if they were not living or present-to pause, solemnly pause! and contemplate the frightful precipice which lies directly before them. To retreat may be painful and mortifying to their gallantry and pride, but it is to retreat to the Union, to safety, and to those brethren with whom, or with whose ancestors, they, or their ancestors, have won on fields of glory imperishable renown. To advance is to rush on certain and inevitable disgrace and destruction.
THREATS OF SECESSION
Toward the close of the debate on this tariff bill the Southern statesmen lost control of their feelings and proclaimed resistance to the oppressive tariff by their States, even to the point of secession from the Union.
Thomas Clayton, a Representative from Georgia,
"The South is attached, warmly attached, to the Union; not, it is true, for its money, for we pay all and get nothing; but it is for those free and liberal principles so dear to the rights of man; those principles that form the best security for his life, liberty, and property, without which neither union nor any
thing else is worth preserving. In the words of a great man, give us union, but give us liberty first. Do not deprive us of all our blessings under the empty sound of union. Do not steal from us our senses under the bewitching charm of union. Do not, like the Madagascar bat, suck us to death while you are fanning us to sleep by the cooling breezes of your widespread wings of union. We begin to understand all this delusion, and we are awake to the sufferings you have insidiously inflicted upon us by the talisman of union. If you will not withdraw your exactions, if you will not live with us upon the terms of equal rights, I tell you in the language of plain truth, to which, perhaps, you are unaccustomed, we shall certainly part from you, and part, I hope, in peace. Then you may hug to yourselves your darling American system; then you may tax your people to your hearts' content; and then, if you choose, you may take to yourselves other gods; but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord of Liberty and all the people of the South shall cry, Amen.
In the ensuing presidential election South Carolina, in protest against the Democratic candidate, Andrew Jackson, and the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, both of whom had declared against nullification, voted for Governor John Floyd, of Virginia, a pronounced nullificationist.
On November 24, 1832 (two weeks after the presidential election), the people of South Carolina in convention assembled issued an ordinance of nullification against the tariff, the substance of which was as follows:
ORDINANCE OF NULLIFICATION
BY THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
"Whereas the Congress of the United States, by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but, in reality, intended for the protection of domestic manufactures and the giving of bounties to classes and individuals engaged in particular employments at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals, and by wholly exempting from taxation certain foreign commodities, such as are not produced or manufactured in the United States, to afford a pretext for imposing higher and excessive duties on articles similar to those intended to be protected, hath