« PreviousContinue »
country, it is the only organ by which I can exert the force of the country to protect its integrity; and so long as I believe that government to be honestly administered, I will throw a mantle over any mistakes that I may think it has made and support it heartily, with hand and purse, so help me God!
I have no loyalty to any man or men; my loyalty is to the government; and it makes no difference to me who the people have chosen to administer the government as long as the choice has been constitutionally made and the persons so chosen hold their places and powers. I am a traitor and a false man if I falter in my support. This is what I understand to be loyalty to a government; and I was sorry to learn, as I did the other day, that there was a man in New York who professed not to know the meaning of the word loyalty. I desire to say here that it is the duty of every man to be loyal to the government, to sustain it, to pardon its errors and help to rectify them, and to do all he can to aid it in carrying the country on in the course of glory and grandeur in which it was started by our fathers.
Let me say to you, my friends-to you, young men, that no man who opposed his country in time of war ever prospered. The Tory of the Revolution, the Hartford Conventionist of 1812, the immortal seven who voted against the supplies for the Mexican War -all history is against these men. Let no politician of our day put himself in the way of the march of this country to glory and greatness, for whoever does so will surely be crushed. The course of our nation is onward and let him who opposes it beware.
"The mower mows on-though the adder may writhe, Or the copperhead coil round the blade of his scythe." It only remains, sir, for me to repeat the expression of my gratitude to you and the citizens of New York here assembled for the kindness with which you and they have received me and listened to me, for which please again accept my thanks.
Breckinridge, John C., an American politician and soldier, born near Lexington, Ky., January 21, 1821; died at Lexington, Ky., May 17, 1875. He established himself as a lawyer in Lexington, held a major's commission in the army during the Mexican War, and at its close was sent to the lower house of the State Legislature, where his abilities as a debater became evident. He went to Congress in 1851, and was re-elected two years later. In 1857 he became Vice-President, and in 1860 was one of the four candidates for the Presidency. He was, however, elected to the National Senate that same year, and for a short time advocated there the cause of secession. Resigning his seat, he was appointed a major-general in the Confederate army, and from January to April, 1865, was Confederate Secretary of War. He then went to England, but returned in 1868, and passed the remainder of his life in Kentucky.
ADDRESS PRECEDING THE REMOVAL OF THE SENATE.
On the 6th of December, 1819, the Senate assembled for the first time in this Chamber, which has been the theatre of their deliberations for more than thirtynine years.
And now the strifes and uncertainties of the past are finished. We see around us on every side the proofs of stability and improvement. The Capitol is worthy of the Republic. Noble public buildings meet the view on every hand. Treasures of science and the
arts begin to accumulate. As this flourishing city enlarges it testifies to the wisdom and forecast that dictated the plan of it. Future generations will not be disturbed with questions concerning the centre of
population, or of territory, since the steamboat, the railroad, and the telegraph have made communication almost instantaneous. The spot is sacred by a thousand memories, which are so many pledges that the city of Washington, founded by him and bearing his revered name, with its beautiful site, bounded by picturesque eminences, and the broad Potomac, and lying within view of his home and his tomb, shall remain forever the political capital of the United States.
It would be interesting to note the gradual changes which have occurred in the practical working of the government since the adoption of the constitution; and it may be appropriate to this occasion to remark one of the most striking of them.
At the origin of the government the Senate seemed to be regarded chiefly as an executive council. The President often visited the chamber and conferred personally with this body; most of its business was transacted with closed doors, and it took comparatively little part in the legislative debates. The rising and vigorous intellects of the country sought the arena of the House of Representatives as the appropriate theatre for the display of their powers. Mr. Madison observed, on some occasion, that being a young man and desiring to increase his reputation, he could not afford to enter the Senate; and it will be remembered that so late as 1812 the great debates which preceded the war and aroused the country to the assertion of its rights took place in the other branch of Congress. To such an extent was the idea of seclusion carried that when this chamber was completed no seats were prepared for the accommodation of the public; and it
was not until many years afterward that the semi-circular gallery was erected which admits the people to be witnesses of your proceedings. But now, the Senate, besides its peculiar relations to the executive department of the government, assumes its full share of duty as a co-equal branch of the legislature; indeed from the limited number of its members and for other obvious reasons the most important questions, especially of foreign policy, are apt to pass first under discussion in this body, and to be a member of it is justly regarded as one of the highest honors which can be conferred on an American statesman.
It is scarcely necessary to point out the causes of this change, or to say that it is a concession both to the importance and to the individuality of the States, and to the free and open character of the government.
In connection with this easy but thorough transition, it is worthy of remark that it has been effected without a charge from any quarter that the Senate has transcended its constitutional sphere-a tribute at once to the moderation of the Senate, and another proof to thoughtful men of the comprehensive wisdom with which the framers of the constitution secured essential principles without inconveniently embarrassing the action of the government.
The progress of this popular movement in one aspect of it, has been steady and marked. As the origin of the government, no arrangements in the Senate were made for spectators; in this chamber about one third of the space is allotted to the public; and in the new apartment the galleries cover two thirds of its
In all free countries the admission of the people